Wednesday, July 30, 2008
If they asked me I could write... a blog?
Talking with family members this weekend, my older brother Michael and my baby sister Jennifer recommended that I write a math book. Currently, there are two classes I teach out of my notes, statistics and math for liberal arts. One of my students from a few semesters back used to be in the textbook biz, and she thought it would be a good idea as well.
My feeling is that textbooks are a racket. For some authors, it can be a very lucrative racket. If you write a book that is being used at a few hundred schools, there is some serious cash in it, but that's like saying "I'm going to become an actor because George Clooney and Julia Roberts are so rich." A lot of textbooks don't make it to the big time.
But financial considerations for me aside, the college textbook buying public is being soaked, and even in the five years since I left school, the students have steadily seen the kind of inflation that everybody is currently experiencing at the grocery store. I wouldn't feel good taking part in that.
Another option would be to write a webpage text. My current idea for a title would be Statistics on a Budget, and it would have the lesson plan for a stats class based on teaching the material to students who buy a particular calculator, the very useful TI-30X IIs. My reasoning is that this particular calculator is ubiquitous, reasonably priced and does all the really difficult calculations that a one semester stats class will cover. You can pick one up nearly anyplace, including drug stores, department stores, office supply stores, electronics stores, etc., and even at the places where the mark-up is high, the list price is under $20. The high end TI-83 does more, of course, but the cost is usually in the $100 to $120 range, and for a stats student, it's a lot more calculator than they need.
I know there are several students and teachers among my regular readers, so I ask them this. What would you want to see on such a website? To my mind, an hour by hour lesson plan is the absolute minimum, with step by step examples of how to solve the problems using the TI-30X IIs and practice problems. What else makes sense?