Okay, I’ve Had It With Textbooks Used as Self-Study Aids!

The text on invertebrates is (physically and mentally) falling apart, not to mention my tendency against regular order in reading textbooks “for fun” as well as factors in past posts.

I’m not condemning college texts themselves.  They serve as the compass for college (or other) instruction.  But they certainly aren’t light reading, and certainly things you wouldn’t take to the beach.  Moreover, essentially being scholastic course manuals, they are to be read in order, or how your professor would organize it.  He may even add important topics not included!  But without a course to follow it?  It’s just like oil and water!

And yes, there are alternatives.  General-subject encyclopedias, like the immortal Encyclopedia Britannica as well as specialized ones (in this case, a single main subject yet geared to the lay public), let you pick and choose what you want to learn.  Confused on a topic?  Cross-reference! And with today’s Internet technology, that is a simple as a click.  Many of them, if not in print, are unfortunately either part of your county library system, or your own bill.

While textbooks, on the other hand, give a more thorough understanding of an entire subject, and do walk you through the subject in sequence, may not always provide you with the appropriate breadth and/or depth you are seeking.  From a perspective of a textbook, if you are strictly looking for a given topic, for instance, transpiration, you may be perplexed due to inadequate knowledge on plant vascular structure.  And due to the fact they intend such a book for students, the author will put substantial detail that is not-so-practical to your “average Joe”

And of course, there’s Google.  But you must be prudent, especially when it comes to the site’s domain.  “.edu” and “.gov” are the best, “.org” can be iffy (after all, Wikipedia uses such a domain), and “.com,” while generally suspicious, can have nice morsels of fact.  There are exceptions to all.

So entire textbooks may not be the best way.  But I am fervent for learning, always have been and always will be.  After all, since much of your knowledge in college becomes useless, perhaps except for a relevant course or two for your current job, you’ll likely forget most of it.

The next post will be a sequel to this.  Until then, enjoy any learning you may encounter for its process — and product.

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Invertebrate Study Update

I discovered there is a Catch-22 in reading a book and taking notes from it.

On one instance, when I read a book, I may hope to sell it, and keep my notes as a remnant.  On the other hand, I may want to keep the book, as a reference, which may have some details that weren’t recorded in the notes, for they may have not been important at the time.  But sooner or later, from a reference standpoint, those very facts may gain relevance.

So the best resolution to this dilemma, fortunately, is simple.  My invertebrate textbook works equally well as a reference as well as an actual college “textbook.”

As a result, I therefore will keep it indefinitely, and always available right on the shelf.  Since the first 4 chapters, pun intended, are the backbone of the rest of the book, they are the only chapters needed to be read in order.  The rest can be read whenever wanted or needed.  Best of all, as discrete units depending universally (for the most part) on the first four “master” chapters, the other chapters can be read individually, without regard to sequence!

There are a number of other textbooks on the subject, which indeed may be better suited to actual semester college courses (which may, or may not, be in my future; I might as well take it if offered and ace it!).  But this one is quite a leader in the subject.

So, from sea to shining sea, and everywhere in between, invertebrates are “in!”

My Summer 2017 “Invertebrate Investigation”

Invertebrates
Invertebrates may not have a backbone, but this self-study (using this textbook) will need one from me!

A few months ago I obtained the above textbook from Amazon.  As someone who enjoys biology, especially as one of the natural sciences that explains (to the best degree possible) God’s wonderful creation, I think this will be a great summer to explore it.

This will probably the last text I will buy; in the future, I will use Amazon’s rental function.  You can read it, and summarize the information in a note-taking program (whether it’s the old-school Windows Notepad, or slicker ones like MS Office OneNote or the Mac Notes).  By the end of the period, you can return a textbook to its source, and move on to the next!  And do the same over and over again with future rentals.

Since not many people read true collegiate textbooks (due to their “heavy” nature and thus demanding deep concentration), my job is to summarize the info and trim out such details such as the actual jargon (often mere Greek compound words which may be well, Greek to many people), taxonomic boundaries.  Also, I will burn a CD-R (or DVD-R) whenever I finish covering a text, so you have the main notes just in case you need them.  And it is a good way to share facts with people whenever appropriate.  Using a banking metaphor, the notes allow you to deposit and withdraw information when needed or wanted.  I might also be able to add some other details from more sources, e.g., Britannica.

Rentals generally span the fall and spring semesters and summers.  While this follows the rule that college students primarily use them, me as well as some other heavy readers, are a key exception.

Maybe I can even market them someday.  I may need a lawyer’s advice on that, though, concerning copyrights, but I’ll worry about that then.  If I ever learn to code, that is also a way of making an “encyclopedia” of sorts.  Again, a lawyer may be helpful.

Well, when this study is over, hopefully around Labor Day, there will be another book to choose.  Something to pray about, as well as previewing the next book (in Amazon) for the fall.  Whether I go to college or not, this can be beneficial.  In the former case, you’ll have an ahead-of-the-pack edge in a relevant class (if, the is, your school offers it).  Otherwise, often with the help of preparatory materials, you can learn it on your own.  If I do compile notes, of course, you would even need the original text (LOL).

A relevant Biblical relationship is Philippians 2:3, 4, where it is written that we should be humble and prioritize the needs of other above ourselves.  Making summaries from complicated sources can potentially help the world, little by little, appreciate the wonder and awe they are missing due to the knowledge they miss out on, for it may be too technical for them.  Therefore, I would be a “middleman” of sorts in this transmission of knowledge.

Anyway, wish me luck on my taxonomic travels!

Why Textbooks Don’t Cut It On Their Own

Since high school, I’ve had a draw to college textbooks of many kinds, especially in the sciences.  Even though a given subject is of interest, the truth is, I’ve never felt confident to finish a text front to back.

Perhaps the main reason for such is the fact that without any instructor, you can’t guarantee your getting the right information.  Even if you can comprehend the writing with no problem, textbook material needs that actual power imparted by the professor in order to know exactly what is going on. This is especially true when you consider a college’s prerequisites for a given subject.  Reading such a book (and usually, thus taking such a class) warrants previous knowledge.

Moreover, especially in the natural sciences, you need labs, field trips, and many other practical exercises to truly learn concepts.  And of course, the lecture is at the center of it all.

Also, the fact that textbooks are constantly updated means inevitably that, as you grow older, you will miss newer material taught long after you graduated.  But again, you should be content with the position you are in now.

Now if you are out of college and wish to use a textbook for additional learning (e.g., when your school didn’t offer  a given class), I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there, as I would have to test that statement.

So I must resist spending money on texts that have nothing to do with my coursework, and just take “baby steps” toward the goals I may aspire to achieve.  And I’ll leave the choices of texts to the professors.  And ultimately, all of it is in God’s hands.

So until then, just Google things, or if you dare, use Wikipedia.  LOL

Putting God In Charge of All Intellectual Pursuits

Our individual lives are a tiny fragment of all time.  Yet God gave us a mind to learn, reason, analyze, and create.  We must therefore come to terms with certain areas of our transient lifetime, and let our intellect follow suit.

1.  Unlike God, knowledge always changes.

Consider great minds like Newton, Descartes, Franklin, Jefferson, Pasteur, Einstein, and sundry others.  Some were Christians, some were not, the important thing to remember is that we have moved far beyond the potential of their time.  Yet they never got to see this later activity and development.  Not to get too morbid, but all people should consider what they have achieved and leave the achievement of future generations to God.  In the case of Christians, we could care less what happens on earth once we enter and eternally enjoy the overwhelming and magnificent heavenly fellowship with God and his people.  That’s at least how I see it.

For practical consideration on this earth today, we must accept the fact that we will never know everything.  As a budding scientist (and most likely a biologist of some sort), I understand that people in my bunch may make discoveries (or at least participate in such activity), but those discoveries always change.  A college textbook used when one is say, age 20, will be a dinosaur (no pun intended) when one is 50.  Yet people aren’t chasing after newer editions.  Instead, they keep up to date with scholarly periodicals focused on their field.  While some people love holding onto their textbooks, others would rather limit it to those books that are relevant as a reference, especially in the courses most pertinent to your current job.  The rest might as well be rubbish.

2.  Only God is omniscient and only He knows the “exact truth”

Earthly information is not only subject to change, it is also really only a shadow of the exact truth.  Whether antiquated or cutting-edge, all human knowledge is fallible.  Even the Bible, God’s Word, is subject to interpretation.  (This causes splits in churches, but that’s for another post.)  In any case, what is quite commonsense today was highly arcane at one time.  Newton was quite intrigued by the falling apple, which we now know as the law of gravity, which is now a mere staple (unless you wanted to study it in detail).  Same thing with living cells (the name came from the resemblance to a prison “cell”).  And let’s not forget Franklin’s kite, which could have put his life in jeopardy.  Copernicus and Galileo were the first heliocentric proponents, yet they got some pretty nasty treatment from the Inquisition, etc.

Whatever it is, science is an interpretation.  Hypotheses and theories change over time, and they are the backbone of science.  Another type of scientific statement, the law, is a more stable, observational principle, e.g., Newton’s three laws.  Even they could occasionally be modified.

Conclusion

All human endeavors (including science and many others) are imperfect.  Thanks to Jesus, we now enjoy the freedom of exploring our world, sometimes to a scientific extent.  And that includes people like me.  As Thomas Aquinas put it, if faith or reason need to be chosen, pick faith.  There is nothing wrong with reason, but it is always secondary to faith.  God created our minds, not vice versa.

Because knowledge is a creation of the Creator, it should never be worshiped.  It may very well be fruitful to detach from books that it would be time to move on from, as you have learned many of the main principles, though perhaps not all the details, and certainly not verbatim (hardly anyone can do that!)  I think God is in action when “pruning” the knowledge that is not needed.