…would discourage a student from taking on more challenging work, to better help him to gain knowledge?
The book assigned for my post-colonial Latin American history class sucks. A lot. It reads like almost like a high school text book. It just has far fewer pictures. It could probably easily be turned into a high school text book with a bunch of pictures, maps, graphs and end-of-chapter questions. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly impressed with it. So I went to see my Latin American history prof from last semester to see if he could recommend a better one. He loaned me one that is much better. I figured, though, just for the sake of maybe trying to get to know this semester’s prof–who strikes me as less than great, especially compared to last semester’s prof–that I would ask him how important he felt it was to read the book that he had assigned as opposed to a different one. I told him that I found the one that he assigned rather simplistic and a bit too concise. He didn’t really like the idea of my not reading it though. He suggested that I could supplement it if I wanted to, but that I shouldn’t really not read it at all.
Now, if I were a professor I wouldn’t have assigned such a horrid book to begin with, at least not for a 300-level class. I would expect rather more from my students. Secondly, if a student came to me to ask if he could read a larger, more challenging and more advanced book I would probably make an effort to accommodate him. Sure, he might miss out on some of the themes that I was planning to mirror in lectures from the assigned book, but I’d probably encourage him to strike out on his own, so long as it was clear that he was a serious student. I got none of that from this prof.
I still plan to read the better book. But I’m just frustrated.