Textbook plagiarism

Who writes textbooks? Not necessarily the academics whose names are on the title page. Two history textbooks contain nearly identical language about the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2000 election, apparently added by plagiarising freelancers.

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  1. Anyone who has ever attended college past the freshman year should understand that textbooks are basically a racket.

  2. Robert Wright says:

    Revolutionize the writing and purchasing of textbooks and you’ll go a long way in improving public schooling.

    I’d like to see a panel of experts tackle the issue.

    And I’d like Joanne Jacobs and Terry Moe be on it.

    So what’s wrong with school textbooks?

    Everything that you can imagine is wrong with them for the same reason that things go wrong when market forces are removed from buying and selling.

    The quality of a text is not a factor in it’s creation, it’s marketing nor it’s selection.

    If you want to see what good textbooks look like, find one that’s 40 years old. Or find a texbook used for instruction in industry. If you go through the H&R Block tax training course, you’ll get excellent materials? Why? Because outcome matters.

    Look at one of today’s textbooks. All you have to do is take 5-10 minutes and you’ll realize that something has gone terribly wrong.

    They’re big and heavy with more graphics than People Magazine. See if you can find an index. See if you can tell where one chapter begins and another one ends.

    Because one of the state standards has to do with reading for information, my textbook devotes three pages to an instrution manual for a cell phone that’s long been obsolete. For graphics, it shows a young, black female in a wheel chair chatting away with a male hispanic who appears effeminate.

    I like books. It makes me uncomfortable that we give these things to students and refer to them as books.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The hundred dollar laptop is here – where is the two dollar Britanica on a dvd to go with it?
    As soon as they figure out you can hollow out a tome and put Twinkies and a Coke inside the big book is gone.

  4. Robert Wright — I am not sure about the textbooks even 40 years ago. The following is a link to an article by the great physicist Richard Feynman about his experience on the selection board for new textbooks back in 1964.


    While I do not disagree that texts are getting worse, in some cases they have always been bad.

    I can tell you that in the last 6 or 7 years the physics text I use in my class has definitely gone down hill. I was using the 1998 version of a physics text, and it was not so bad. Fortunately the authors of this text also authored a college text that I could supplement from.

    I got the newest edition and it is horrible. They took out some of the more interesting but of course harder material, took out about half of the problems at the end of each chapter, and basically dumbed down the book. I teach an honors class at a very high powered college prep school and this book is to low a level for my students.

    Fortunately I found a publisher that has a college level text that has the binding of a high school text and will last for the 5 – 6 years that we must keep a text. I am also lucky in the fact that the other physics teacher, who teaches the lower level CP classes, is willing to take my current texts and let me get new ones early. The stuff that was taken out of the new version is stuff he does not cover any way.

  5. I posted an entry entitled “Highschool Textbooks Be Gone!” in response to this New York Times story on my own blog: http://www.pass-ed.com/2006/07/high-school-textbooks-be-gone.html

    Andrew Pass