The value of a good textbook

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The value of a good textbook


I still have many of the textbooks that I used while I was studying on my bookshelf at home.  The other day I took one of those textbooks off the shelf again to check on something and I started thinking about what makes a really great textbook.

What makes you keep the textbook on your bookshelf as opposed to selling it off at the second-hand bookshop as soon as you’ve passed your exam?

For me, the main reason I kept certain books were that they were the ones I most enjoyed learning from.  The content was easy to understand and I could relate to the subject. These textbooks all contain my scribbled notes, are highlighted in places with exclamation marks and contain references to other texts or express my opinion on what the author is saying.  The spine definitely doesn’t crack and the book is not stiff when you open it. That shows me that I was actively engaged in the subject, I used the book, I learnt from it.

Using it means remembering it.  Those subjects and the subject content is still with me today.  I most easily recall the content of those classes.  I also did well in those classes, passed my exams and feel like I truly made the knowledge and the application of it part of my everyday life.  And when I can’t remember the exact detail I can use the index or table to contents or glossary to look for it.

Even though I know that some of the content is out of date in my particular edition, I still trust the original source document.  I do cross-reference other books and Google to make sure that the content has not changed too dramatically, but I do that with everything I read.  Still being able to access that information quickly and easily years later and still trusting the source makes my old textbooks a pretty permanent feature in our house.

Yolandi Farham, TVET Publisher, Oxford University Press Southern Africa


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