a way of synthesizing what you already know, and building a rich framework onto which you can add new learning over a career
The real point is to teach some very core foundations of computer science that show up everywhere. For example, supposedly revolutionary XML looks a heck of a lot like a nested scheme list, first described in 1960. And processing an active server page (or Java server page) is very much like the textbook's specialized language evaluator. Finally, c++ polymorphism through vtables and part of Microsoft's COM mechanics are the exact same thing as the book's data-directed programming section.
Put another way: why do so many popular computer books take 1000 pages to describe a few trivial concepts?
Napoli's book employs an inductive approach to teaching this material. Students are presented with data from the start and led to considerations of the data that enable them to develop a theory of grammar. The organization is designed to allow students access to the intricate theory of Government and Binding without intimidation or mindless memorization. Extensively classroom tested, each chapter of the text is enhanced by numerous problem sets (covering English, Japanese and Romance languages), reflecting Napoli's conviction that in order to truly understand syntactic analysis, one must do syntactic analysis.
The best thing about Donna Jo in my opinion is that, unlike other syntacticians, she doesn't tell you things. She makes you come up with your own ideas, and discard them if they turn out to be invalid
This gets very frustrating at times for students because it seems that she never actually tells the reader anything; merely waits for them to discover everything without too much help.