There's perhaps a better title for this question, but I can't immediate think of one - suggestions for amendment welcome.
I'd like to clarify the purpose of reading textbooks. It sounds obvious at first, but what I mean is opaque to me.
I'm currently reading a textbook describing ~35 problem-solving and improvement methods, as part of this course. It is densely packed with definitions, ideas, procedures etc. I'm highlighting as I go through and occasionally making notes in the margins.
When I finish reading, I barely remember what I've just read, let alone what I've learned. If I was asked to describe the characteristics of a technique I've just read about, I would struggle to put forward a coherent and strong answer.
Even if I condense my notes and read through them, the problem remains - there are too many 'facts' to learn, remember and regurgitate.
This leads me to ask what the purpose of reading textbooks is. Is it to learn and understand 'facts' and be able to remember them? Or is it to learn and understand? That is, it doesn't necessarily matter if you can't remember, so long as you can understand ideas when you revisit them and can argue them in your work.
For clarity, I'm a distance-learning student with The Open University, so the textbook I'm referring to isn't a traditional textbook, but one that is perhaps closely identified by F'x as a coursework book. These books are used in place of lectures, and so are meant to be read in a linear fashion on a week-by-week basis.