Feb 4, 2008

Read the book!

This part of third term's lectures are kind of coming across like those old Time-Life book collection ads. Are they getting commissions on the textbooks?

I'm not much for textbooks unless I don't understand a concept presented in lecture and notes. Some people are. When I'm confused, I heart the textbook, like in biochemistry, where I wanted the supplementary information (though all testable material was presented in lecture and notes), thus I made the Lippincott my bedside reading. A good example is the urea cycle. The urea cycle was covered 'sufficiently' (testably) in lecture. It helped me UNDERSTAND the lecture to go through the logistic stages of the urea cycle in the textbook. But saying "The urea cycle is important and testable... so read about it", seems insufficient. By giving the important information in lecture, it allows people that have a pretty good familiarity with the topic to be done with it and people that don't understand to have a base to expand on.

What I *don't* like is having professors attempt to coerce students into reading the textbooks by saying things like "This is testable material and it's really important, but I'm not going to really cover it in lecture, nor is it in your notes."

What priority does that then set between what is "important" in lecture and what is "important" in the book? Why is what's in the book less important than lecture but barely worth mentioning elsewhere? If we're being sent to the book just for the sake of being sent to the book (which is what it seems like, particularly since many of the lectures run a little short), then what's the purpose of lecture or notes? I really feel like they're doing this because it's been brought to their attention that many students haven't read the book in the past... and have done perfectly well. Relax, guys, it reflects well on your teaching style! If you can present the important material concisely and memorably sufficiently that half the students can get high marks on an exam without a text, that means you're a damn good lecturer. Embrace it.

ANYway, back to it.

Oh, edit to clarify: I actually like most of our professors this term, and they either seem nice, competent, or both. It's just that the 'read the book' thing is a pet peeve.

No comments: