Ban textbook torture

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‘Wherever they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn human beings’, so said Heinrich Heine.  Mike Elgan, writing in Computerworld last week, would likely disagree. In a provocative piece that clearly rattled a few readers, judging by some of the comments, Elgan leads with the title: Education reform: Let’s start by burning all the textbooks. Having written a couple of texts myself, I might also have taken umbrage at his suggestion. The fact is, he has a point. I stopped prescribing texts a long time ago, and simply make use of what’s freely available on the web, not just text resources, of course, but all the rich media that textbooks cannot provide. I’d never burn books — and I don’t think Elgan would either — but the $200 500-page marketing book I’ve just had to buy my daughter does not exactly send the pulse racing. The chances of her using it again after this semester are pretty slim, and the resale value will be low given a new edition is likely to be used next year.

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