Use it or lose it, students urge thoughtful use of required textbooks:

Illustration by Destiny Kranthoven.

Did that new textbook give you a papercut as you ripped off the protective shrink wrap at the beginning of the semester? Well, go ahead and pour a little salt and lemon juice on your wound because that’s how it’s going to feel when you finally realize that your professor required a book you’ll never use.

College classes and textbooks have been going steady since the time of Aristotle, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Sure, you may soon be using digital copies, but the knowledge contained within their pages is usually essential to the learning process… or is it? We, the Ranger staff, feel it’s a complete waste of money and time for a professor to require a book and then never engage the content in class.

There are a couple of different types of professors: those who use the book in and out of the classroom, those who only require readings but never cover the material during the lecture time and those who seemingly insist that you own a book for giggles.

Those faculty members that use the book during class tend to make the content come alive and connect real-world experience with the concepts being taught. We applaud these instructors for being conscientious stewards of student, government and foundation money.

To the remaining professors, we suggest a bit of soul-searching when deciding whether to require a textbook and how it will support the goals of the class. The money being spent on these books doesn’t always come from a student’s pocket, it also comes from other resources like foundations and grants that could support many more individuals if monies were not wasted on the thoughtless tradition of having a book for the sake of having a book. With the costs of textbooks at an all-time high, any books purchased in vain represent many other people who won’t get the opportunity to attend classes because “there was simply not enough money to go around.”

In addition to the financial burden represented by a textbook, one must consider the strained student/faculty relationship due to the resentment on both sides. Students today are reading fewer books and moving to more digital means for assimilating knowledge.

When a book goes unread, professors become agitated with their pupils which creates a more hostile learning environment. Students who see the book as being pointless begin to question their instructor’s educational priorities.

Moving forward, the staff of The Ranger would like to see teachers either utilize the book to its fullest potential, thereby maximizing the student’s time and financial investment, or see professors eliminate the unused textbooks. We feel the focus should be on the course content and ways to maximize the student’s ability to retain that knowledge rather than mindlessly adhering to antiquated habits that only cause frustration and dissent.

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