by Chuck Rybak/@chuckrybak
Yesterday, Slate ran an interesting piece on what is an important and contentious issue: faculty assigning self-authored texts. When I was a member of my campus’s faculty senate, let’s just say that we had one or two mildly contentious discussions about this. There are things to be concerned about: in the worst cases, a faculty member can nakedly profit from their students and have no problem doing so—I think we see this most with encouragement from the textbook industry, when faculty accept an “author credit” for revising a chapter of a larger text in exchange for assigning the book. In the best cases, not only is the faculty member a leading expert in their field, but assigning their own text leads to significant student savings, especially when the book is in paperback form.
Now, as much as I like any Gilderoy Lockhart reference, especially since it allows me to revisit my deep dislike of Kenneth Branagh’s full body of work, I’d like to respectfully disagree with Rebecca Schuman’s advice that students should immediately drop into Defcon One and “get out now.” This may turn out to be the best advice when confronted with a verified Lockhart manifestation, and I can surely think of a few examples, but there are good learning opportunities here for students that would be a shame to miss.
Full disclosure: I have never assigned a self-authored text, and I did drop a class in graduate school because the professor not only assigned his own work, but spent the majority of our first three-hour meeting reading from it. (!) (“Um, I’m just going to run down to the vending machine… in the next state over.”)
So, what should a student do if they have concerns about this issue? Use it as an opportunity to learn about policy and governance, both at the faculty and student level. Continue reading Tweet