New Textbooks, Really?

Home Editorial & Opinion New Textbooks, Really?

John Curtis – The Corsair

As many a student will attest, financial excess and attending college seldom co-exist.  There is no doubt that a college education is expensive, but this point is only exacerbated by our current textbook system.

I considered taking a Pre-Calculus course this fall as an elective, but eventually passed on the notion.  What I found interesting was the cost of the textbook at $171.  This semester finds students needing to buy a new book, which has been introduced into the Pensacola State College (PSC) curriculum.  My first thought is, “what new discovery have they found in this branch of Mathematics, or in any math course offered at PSC?”  I would be inclined to believe there is none. 

Why must Literature courses, which have textbooks with hundreds of literary works, change the course required books in favor of new books containing the same stories and authors.  Why not utilize all the works in one book before considering a new textbook.  Has Faulkner or Hemingway or Shakespeare written something new since their death?  I hope not.

And then there are history books on eras prior to the 21st century that must be changed periodically.  Have historical figures such as George Washington, Julius Caesar or Henry VIII been resurrected to add to their historical biographies?  Have the events changed in centuries gone by? 

There are many other courses, which I have not taken, that are subject to this same criticism. 

While there changes that occur daily, are they so dire to higher education that we need to continually change our textbooks?  Why not supplement textbooks with addendums?  I’ve had courses where the textbook was seldom used, because the instructors lectured or taught the course through their presentations.

In fairness to everyone involved, I have encountered instructors who allow their students to use outdated books as long as the student doesn’t mind the possible drawbacks or inconveniences.  I’ve also heard instructors express their sympathy for a student’s plight in the politics of textbooks.

Most people believe our current system of textbook requirements is simply in place for the revenue it generates.  Who is paying?  Those who can very often least afford to pay.  Typical of a political system, there needs to be change.

Most students are more than willing to pay for what is required of them to attain their education goals, but don’t needlessly take our limited resources to feed the greedy beast.