On Campus

University textbooks: untouched by public-school hands

And surprisingly well-written

Describing a school textbook as “well written” would have seemed bizarre back in high school. Kind of like saying that the instructions on the back of a tile cleaner has a thrilling narrative. Maybe it’s just the new sense of ownership, but all of my university textbooks are actually really interesting.

Sure, I didn’t exactly spend the last few weeks of my summer vacation exploring my chemistry textbook. And I’m not claiming I’d ever buy any of these really expensive books if I didn’t have to. I can think of way more “interesting’” books to buy if I somehow found myself in Chapters with $1,400+ to spend. But unlike any textbook from high school, my political sciences textbook, as one example, is surprisingly well-written.

One chapter outlined the differences between studying political history and studying scientific history. The author explained how, when a new discovery is made in science, it obliterates everything that came before it. When scientific history is taught, it’s basically along the lines of, “People in the 16th century thought is was possible to transform lead into gold. Isn’t that cute?” The author argued that politics, on the other hand, is a continuing conversation. When someone has a new idea, unlike in science, it’s just a contribution to the conversation.

Never mind the fact that university textbooks seem more interesting than high school textbooks. After more than 12 years of public school, I learned to equate “textbook” with “public bathroom.” As in, they’re both usually covered in graffiti. And could use a good hosing. But now that I’m in university, I suddenly own my textbooks.

Meaning, for the first time ever, there aren’t any skeletal remains of a muffin or cookie in the spines of my books.

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