Textbooks are the lifeblood of a university sometimes.
Through the last eight semesters, I’ve noticed three different ways professors use these books. The first one forgot they made students buy the book for the class. The second kind of professor does a nice mix between the book and supplemental notes. They include more multimedia features, current events and reading materials like journal articles to add to the readings. This professor likely has multiple textbooks they want the student to buy so they get multiple opinions on subjects pertaining to controversial issues.
The third professor reads from the book. This is by far the most frustrating, because the education comes from a corporation like Thomson Wadsworth, instead of Washburn University.
Just because a book is published doesn’t mean the material in it is fact, or is the best perspective on a subject. I’ve had multiple professors tell me they don’t like what the book says about a subject, or the book doesn’t go in-depth enough.
Everyone complains when publishing companies put out a new version because they added a few sentences and changed some definitions – nothing that really improved the book. So why do we keep giving in?
Together, universities can put Thomson Wadsworth, one of the largest publishers of textbooks, out of business. It’s as simple as demanding better books.
When a professor requires students to buy a book they don’t use in class they are giving into the industry. When I hear in class “I don’t think the book is right about this,” or “this is too generalized in the book,” more than when I do hear the book is right on, it makes me wonder why we are giving into the industry that doesn’t produce the best book. And when a professor does nothing but read out of the book, you never get a different perspective – the book is like God to them.
Instead, we should try a class with no textbook – bring in theories and make students do their own research on it. See how many different opinions and perspectives one gathers. This happens in some classes, but going beyond the textbook isn’t even mentioned in others.
We can also use the original sources cited in books. General education courses in government classes cite John Locke all the time, communication courses cite Aristotle – why don’t we read the originals instead of the over analyzed and misused theories in textbooks?
We’re going to be forced to go to the original source in academia that is higher than our undergraduate career, so we should start practicing now, and stop buying so many books.