Letters to the Editor

Re: USF fights to keep notes out of sellers’ hands (Feb. 13)Dear Editor,

When I teach a course, I’m not happy about students selling their notes to an outfit like Einstein’s How I Got An A. But I am bothered by what Einstein’s is doing: It is defrauding students.

Students often turn to an outfit like Einstein’s if they aren’t attending regularly, have fallen behind, or gotten scared or something. But just relying on notes often creates a delusion of following the course material when one doesn’t actually understand it. The only way to combat this delusion is to struggle with the notes and the text, making sure one understands them, and this works better when working with the notetaker (or a tutor). And don’t forget that tuition and tax dollars pay for the teacher’s office hours, so one should make use of them.

Einstein’s just offers the notes.

In fact, the company engages in false advertising. “Be an Einstein, we can help.” But this is not how Einstein became an Einstein. He would work obsessively (in those classes he was interested in) and got high marks in those classes. This pattern continued through his life.

Notice that the key verb is “work”. Einstein’s is offering a product, implicitly, as a substitute for work. But as Thomas “Light Bulb” Edison said, “There is no substitute for hard work,” at least if you want to be an Einstein, or even an Edison. Edison thought a lot about how to succeed, and wrote: “A genius is a talented person who does his homework.”

I am certain that every student at USF is talented, and that Edison is offering the best advice. He should know. And if you would spend good money on a kit, buy a college outline with lots of sample problems to practice on.

Greg McColm is an associate professor of mathematics.