A Semi-Cynical Look at Higher Edjamacation Textbooks of Yore

A Stack of Books (top)

a stack of books (top)

University is a popular time for amassing a vast assortment of books whose titles were equivalent in word and letter count to the first paragraph of a few university theses that I wrote.

Examples: An Introduction to Management Science: Quantitative Approaches to Decision Making (Fifth Edition); The Economics of the Canadian Financial System (Second Edition); and Microcomputers and Microprocessors: The 8080, 8085, and Z-80 Programming, Interfacing, and Troubleshooting.  Why the mouthful when it comes to titles? Academic writers are given to bouts of verbosity, a disorder that seems to worsen with every successive publication. I seriously think that some of them could have successful secondary careers as lawyers.

Post-university life is an equally infamous time for getting rid of the same books you never knew you needed. Who knew that Elementary Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems (Third Edition); Technical Physics; and Linear LSI Data and Applications Manual could have such real-life relevance? I’m still trying to wrap my mind around differential calculus.

Some simply inspire nostalgia. Networking: An Electronic Mail Handbook and Computers and Information Systems take me down Sentimental Street. They were groundbreaking material … in their day. And now, good for a chuckle. As well as the Smithsonian Museum (the mint copies, anyway).

Others were downright misleading. General Chemistry: Principles and Structure (Third Edition) does not teach one how to find a significant other. Basic Marketing: Fifth Canadian Edition should actually be reclassified as a psychology text; since businesses spend 95% of their time and money trying to get inside the head of a consumer or client and finding what makes them tick and buy, and 5% on actual advertising. And how to invest in canadian securities — well, is there a tried-and-true formula to that game of chance?

Many of the ones I was forced to buy (i.e. for giving some professor a bit of academic notoriety as a published author) were either new and expensive but unsaleable in the consignment store come the end of the course/final exam time because one or two hundred other copies were also being consigned at the same time; or the reading material had just been changed over; or old, marked up in yellow highlighter and falling apart, thus and worth a few pennies at the consignment store.

A Stack of Books (bottom)

a stack of books (bottom)

Ah, the best-laid plans of tertiary education to both leave us destitute and with bad backs in the name of meaningful course material that is guaranteed to not have any real-world applications in our actual lives. If you are considering a university education, invest in back protectors, up the time you spend at the gym, cash out those high-performing stocks, and stock up on yellow and orange highlighters.

Although they have never been accepted for their alternating biting and jocular nature to shortcut the learning process, I have never given up the For Dummies books; with their shiny, yellow softcovers and easy-to-read vernacular, they are keepers.

Using the “File and Pile (in the recycling bin)” method of sorting books, the house is now a lot lighter. Or, at least, it will be. Soon.


2 thoughts on “A Semi-Cynical Look at Higher Edjamacation Textbooks of Yore

Your comments are like chocolate for my soul ... I can never get enough of them! Bonus brownie points for witty comments! I love a good turn of phrase. :)

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