Issues with Textbooks (and Text Book)

I would like to start by saying I have honestly enjoyed all of our readings thus far. That being said, I have to say that I am finding Text Book very difficult to wade through. Is it the choices of literature that are inserted? No, many of them I like very much. Is it the thought-provoking questions at the end? Not really…some of them I have found quite interesting and, well, thought-provoking. No, the most difficult part of getting through Text Book is the book itself. The format drives me crazy!

Each literary text runs one right after the other without a break in between, so you feel as if there are no real stopping points. Nothing introduces each literary text in any grandiose way before you read it, so you feel bogged down by the amount of reading you feel you’re doing. Similarly, the discussion/writing questions are formatted right at the end, rather than on a separate page, so that they seem to “run in” to the story, rather than come after the story. Some stories have a small blurb on a literary element just before them: “Character and Confrontation,” “The Short Story,” for example, but these seem short and not very well separated from the element/story that came just before the new introduction. It would have been much easier, and much less overwhelming, had each element been given its own chapter, with the stories contained in that chapter, and discussion questions placed on a separate page from the end of the story, rather than running along just after, if that makes sense.

As I said, the stories are interesting, as are the questions, and even the thoughts about the various literary elements are insightful and good information for every literature major to know, but the format threw my poor little mind into a stressed-out overdrive. This just goes to show that formatting in textbooks can make a difference to how someone perceives and/or intakes information. Something to keep in mind when looking at the textbooks that our own students have to navigate through.

One thought on “Issues with Textbooks (and Text Book)

  1. Professor Sample

    I’ve experienced the same frustration with Text Book. If I were to boil it down to one problem it’s this: we never know who is speaking in the book at any given time. There are very few cues to rely on, so we don’t know if we’re reading the editors, an anthologized text, an introduction to that anthologized text, and so on.

    I’m thinking, in fact, that the question of voice in the book (probably unintentionally but maybe not) invites the same kind of analysis that it’s asking us to submit the other texts to. Are we supposed to treat Text Book as yet another text to analyze (or “evaluate” to use Labov’s term)?

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