Textbook options vary for students

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Textbook options vary for students

LMC Bookstore employee Nick Murphy sorts through the diverse selection of English 100 textbooks.

LMC Bookstore employee Nick Murphy sorts through the diverse selection of English 100 textbooks.

Taylor Stroud

LMC Bookstore employee Nick Murphy sorts through the diverse selection of English 100 textbooks.

Taylor Stroud

Taylor Stroud

LMC Bookstore employee Nick Murphy sorts through the diverse selection of English 100 textbooks.

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When thinking about the material read in a typical college English class, the usual list of literary classics comes to mind, but at Los Medanos College, a variety of alternatives are offered to the students.

“In our English department we have book lists that faculty have developed for each course, and instructors choose from these book lists,” said Jo Ann Hobbs, LMC’s English Department Chair.

In English 100 for example, Professor Scott Warfe’s classes read “Not a Genuine Black Man” by Brian Copeland at the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester. In Professor Cristine Ashton’s English 100 class, students read Into Thin Air by John Krakauer.

“Having instructors choose the books for their courses is a standard policy at most colleges.  I support this idea as faculty can teach those texts that relate to a particular theme for the class or a text that she or he is passionate about and this will hopefully inspire students to appreciate the text as well,” said Hobbs.

In addition to the “story”-type books assigned, English classes also have textbooks. Warfe’s English 100 class used “Language and Prejudice” whereas Ashton’s students read from “A Conscious Reader.” Both books are composed of articles on varying subject matters that are used to supplement their coursework, as well as giving the students a touch of independence.

Salvador Martinez, one of Ashton’s former English 100 students, says he found this method of teaching “enjoyable.”

“As someone who necessarily doesn’t like to read, I found the Conscious Reader system to be enjoyable because it contains a bunch of smaller texts that may or may not be relevant. So if I had to write something in class, I got to select a relevant and enjoyable article from that book,” said Martinez.

Since the end of the Fall 2015 semester, the books used in Warfe’s English 100 classes have changed. This semester he is using “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. Although this change in reading material occurred after one semester, some professors like Alex Sterling wait a few semesters before switching books.

“I try to choose something I like and that the students would like too. I change every couple of semesters,” said Sterling.

This semester Sterling’s English 100 class is reading “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, whereas a few semesters ago his students were reading “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga. Both books come from the list of preapproved books designed for LMC students.

“Students do not read the same book in every English 100 course. There are currently about 20 choices of fiction or nonfiction texts on the English 100 book list,” said Hobbs.

In Warfe’s English 100 classes last semester, he allowed his students to pick from a small list of books he recommended to them in order to complete their proteus project. Some of these books included “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander and “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.

“One of the greatest factors in the development of student writers is to give them topics they care about. Generally speaking, if I care about it, they will care about it. But this isn’t a guarantee. This is why I now give students a choice of seven books or so, the topics of which range from motivation to stereotypes. Students choose a book that interests them and then read it with my support and the support of others who’ve chosen the same book. They then choose the topic from the book on which they write their final two papers,” said Warfe about allowing his students to have more freedom in the classroom.

A great amount of support is given to this method of teaching and learning. Both Warfe and Hobbs have similar beliefs on the matter.

“I support this idea as faculty can teach those texts that relate to a particular theme for the class or a text that she or he is passionate about and this will hopefully inspire students to appreciate the text as well,” said Hobbs.