Monday, April 23, 2012
Day 23: Lobject's textbook
Every novel, literary anthology, chapbook, and textbook I own looks the same. I highlight with a highly specialized color-coding system. I write, crowding the margins with words that shouldn’t be abbreviated into fragments uncomfortable to an English instructor. I bend, tear, and mutilate pages, usually out of love and respect. I stuff, inserting notes into specific pages. A book just isn’t about words on the page. It’s about my response to the information I’m receiving. My reactions, learning process, and reflections are just as important to me as the author’s words and purpose. Each book I encounter becomes my own.
I first taught ENG 114: Professional Research and Reporting in the spring of 2008. My college uses the Gerson and Gerson text pictured but, in the past four years, the 7th edition is the third edition we have upgraded to. After one ENG 114 course, the textbook is overpopulated with information that might not make sense to many others. I’ve added writing assignments, chapter notes, pages I’ve printed off of random websites, and hand written notes to future me from past me for the next time I embark on the 114 journey. Pink fluorescent sticky notes, my first layer of additions, aren’t even visible anymore with the book closed. I’ve photocopied checklists, examples, and entire chapters from past editions of the book and inserted them into the 7th edition. What sits on my shelf is a personalized how to teach ENG 114. I’ve made my 114 textbook just like I did with the two versions I’ve used before this one. They are all stuffed— much, much thicker than originally intended.
More than anything, I think, I’m a space filler. I put thoughts, conclusions, and questions into tiny margins. I take the time to find images and illustrations that I print out in color just to enhance a section or chapter. I revise polished, published writing as much as I revise my own drafts. I’m always looking for innovative course content—a new idea, cartoon, assignment—to bookmark, highlight and stuff into a textbook for next time, another note for future me. I hope I always treat learning and teaching as a contact sport, tackling each subject and notion and making each my own.