Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Textbook analysis at UT Tyler

As an English Graduate student a large part of what I want my future to include is teaching. I am a self-admitted loud mouth who always has something to say about everything and this includes wanting people to have the best future possible. In my case I take 'best future possible' to mean 'you can understand why rhetoric and writing are important and you can use this skill to go where you want to go in life.' Every student has different needs and so, as a wanna-be-teacher, my interest often turns to subjects like 'teaching with unorthodox materials,' ie: graphic novels, movies, images, etc...

Currently I am taking a course entitled Studies in Composition, a class designed to teach on the history of the English course, how if operates, where the course stems from historically, etc... One of our recent projects was to seek out a textbook of our own to evaluate according to criteria that we could pick/design. This project then got  me thinking about looking at every book we read is designed. Not how it reads (ie: how the content impacts us) but how we physically read it. Is the book nothing but text? Is the book huge and heavy or is it cheaply made? Is the text something that is easy to read or can you not navigate it without bookmarks?

One of the more interesting things about textbook is that they impact everyone at some point, from grade school to graduate school. When we examine what we read we might then come to understand why we are reading it (did somebody made us?), who wrote it (do they have an agenda in writing what they have?), and if reading it is easy or hard for a reason (is it meant to be easy, is it meant to be hard? Why?).

Understanding what we read and why is just as important as understanding the thing being read. Often texts are made to be difficult to "encourage close reading" or they might be easy because "everybody needs to know this."

Let us take this blog for example - I am writing it in this format because, well, that is a part of my job, right? My format for this is meant to be simple as my goal is just to get your mental engines running a little faster. I am not trying to seem "deep" and I hope this post comes across as casual. In the realm of authorial intent I know just because *I* say this post means X, *you* can decide to read it as Y. You will (almost) always have the right to re-imagine texts in whatever way you desire.

Just remember to think about the physical nature of what you are reading, who wrote it, why they wrote it, and how any of this fits into the quality/nature of what the content of the book tells you!

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