The high school algebra books that my students have to carry probably weigh around 5 pounds.
Heck, I’ll go weigh one.
Correction: My blue Algebra 2 book weighs 6.4 pounds. Algebra 1 is only slightly lighter. I carried three textbooks out to my car at the start of the year, my home set. These books together weigh 15 or 16 pounds or so.
If we want to know one reason why the homework is not getting done and the books are not getting home, or from home back to class, I’m sure I know part of the reason. Students don’t want to carry these books around. If their locker is near class, they’ll grab the book during a passing period. But if that locker is across the school, the book’s such a big pain that they often don’t bother. Teachers and administrators say, “you should carry your books with you during the day.” But we don’t allow them to have backpacks in the classroom for security reasons. That means they have to carry the books in their arms. My shoulders hurt after carrying three books downstairs and to my car (I’m a bit of a wimp.) so I can see their point of view.
These books are simply too heavy. If they must be sold as hardcover books so they will survive longer, they ought to be broken up into three or four books. Carrying home over 1,000 pages of algebra when you only need three is a recipe for unfinished homework. For that matter, what algebra class is going to finish over 1,000 pages of algebra in one school year?
Eduhonesty: These books are absurd.
I also wonder if these books do not represent another piece of subtle discrimination against our impoverished and urban school systems. Middle-class high schools rarely require uniforms. They frequently allow students to keep their backpacks during the day. Uniforms and backpack-rules are features of schools with gang problems and high levels of security. But in the absence of a backpack, there’s no good way to carry 20 pounds of books.