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.

My Summer 2017 “Invertebrate Investigation”

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!

Race for the Bachelor’s

So, as we have just entered May, I am hoping to be accepted by West Chester U.  However, while I am a step away from admission, we still need one factor to be settled.  And it’s quite goofy.

Goofy, you may think.  Yes, this is due to an incident at a community college 5 years ago (2012).  I won’t describe it, but it could put some restrictions (if not a total ban of admission) on me at West Chester U, despite it being well past.  By the way, that very same behavior did not truly cause expulsion from the community college, but an odd “permanent suspension” from the campuses.  So while I couldn’t physically attend the classrooms, I did manage to complete an online course.

Thus, to get this issue settled, which apparently may seem trivial due to great progress in coping with issues and not using assaults to communicate (especially by putting an end to a 13-year series of assaults earlier this year, which started in high school), I must defend my eligibility at an interview at the university.  If not, I could go elsewhere.

But Here’s the Catch…

As a product of the special education system, due to my mild autism and the behaviors that came forth through that, I had little college-preparation.  All throughout middle and high school, I did little homework and similar academic activities (and the stuff I did was far less challenging than a true college-prep high school student).

Later, when I started attending that very community college mentioned above, I never finished a semester with any more than one course complete.  At a later community college, I successfully completed no more than two per semester.

So, is the prospect of a bachelor’s impossible?  Well, I’ll see.  I will probably change my proposed full-time status (12+ credits, roughly 4 courses) to one that is part-time (11 or lower).  Then I can ease my way into the Biology curriculum, especially since I already have 33 credits down (and thus a sophomore status).  Their contribution to my college progress depends on where they fit into the curriculum.

And a Brief Addendum…

Eureka!  I know why I hardly ever completed reading a textbook without an instructor.  While I have looked at textbooks for just the enjoyment of it, time and time again, they have always backfired.  A textbook is chock full of facts, and unless you don’t have a professor as your compass, you will (metaphorically) drown in that factual sea!  Personal reading of textbooks is a sink-or-swim deal, for you won’t know what facts are important and what are not.  In fact, in most courses, I understood why certain things in their corresponding texts didn’t matter so much, not to mention some information that was included in the lectures had relevance.  It’s also a matter of your school’s curriculum in a given area, as well as its strength at it.

So I’ll probably stick to more “popular press” stuff for now, especially for things outside my prospective major (namely, biology).

“Reading textbooks for fun”…nothing but an oxymoron.

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

College Courses Just Around the Corner!

On January 20, I start my next batch of college courses at the Community College of Philadelphia, namely, Calculus I and a Chemistry course, the latter for preparation for the majors-level Biology and Chemistry in the fall (or even summer!).

Since I will be more focused on coursework (and the textbooks that go with them), I will leave the pleasure text reading aside until after the bachelor’s is complete.  If I don’t cross paths with the subject matter of the sold books (yes, Cedar City!), no problem, I’ve got Amazon (and maybe other sites) on your side in case you still want them.  (Cedar City Books is a seller in the Amazon Marketplace among many others).  Bibliographies at the back pages of books often point the way.  However, many adult duties, such as work, childrearing, etc., may get in the way, so I must always budget my time properly.

In a spirit of lifelong learning, I have a whole lifetime ahead of me to independently learn things not covered in college (if desired) through textbooks and other resources; for now, though, reading and related collegiate activities are paramount.  Indeed, we’ll never get to read all books made.  But rigorous reading not required by the classes (or any hobby for that matter) may become just another Facebook, not in its communicative nature, but in its power to distract.  Again, all things in moderation.

However, I will try to get as much Bible study in there as possible.  But that’s for another post.

Wish me a great spring semester, as my knowledge and understanding blossoms!

Reading and Learning 21st Century Style

These may not last very long.
These may not last very long.

(Disclaimer:  This is not an endorsement for any organization, including eSword, Phoenix, Britannica, Amazon, etc.)

First papyrus, then Gutenberg’s printing press.  And now, there’s the internet, which has many sites (alas, of varying trustworthiness) to view.

For example, the e-Sword computer program, provides commentaries and other great resources for Bible study.

While my time at Phoenix U (the popular online school) was short, I still get to enjoy the textbooks (and other library resources) they have.  I am one of those few who would read a textbook for fun, and enjoy it.  Some are directly viewable on the Phoenix portal, others must be downloaded.  Still, it is invaluable, both for first-time reading and review.  If I feel disposed to do so, I’d be more than happy to blog about updates in fields of such.

And of course, you got the Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble’s rival (the Nook).  This will make all valid books (which is only a fraction of all books out there) available on either format, and may lead to their print demise.

While I probably prefer physical books over an e-book, life goes on and print books are on their slow decline.  The beloved Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, is only available online; print and CD/DVD versions have been discontinued.  The online Britannica, by the way, is also available via Phoenix as well as the Community College of Philadelphia library.

And of course, there’s the pesky Wikipedia.  (Need I say more?)

So whether you prefer the old-school (pardon the pun) physical book format, online reading, or a little of both, all learning and other reading won’t change.