The textbook in an age of transition

I very much enjoyed Tuesday’s #edchat discussion about textbooks.It raised a number of interesting points for me:

(1) The role of the textbook as a central part of so many teachers’ approach to education

(2) The way that so many teachers have now gone down the path of not using textbooks and distrusting any book that purports to have all the answers to what a child needs to know

(3) The way that teachers have gone down the road of internet use for access to the many and varied sources of information out there.

It was an interesting discussion that seemed to back up the fact that we are definitely in an age of transition. We are going from the industrial age to a post-industrial information age that seems to be dominated by the internet and communications technology.

Many of the participants in the discussion were, like me, raised in an age of textbooks which were used by teachers as the main (usually only) means of getting the information that it was thought I needed to know. As I said in one of my contributions to the discussion, as a teacher, I never felt comfortable with textbooks. I remember one textbook on Geology (that I took as part of my Advanced Level Geography) that was totally forbidding in that it was almost unreadable and had difficult terms which were never really explained. I did not do very well at this part of the course.

There were the strong proponents for “don’t dump the textbook yet” and there were the “internet has the answers”. Interestingly, there were a large number who, like me, realised that we are in an age of transition and that the textbook will eventually be superceded but that we needed to train our students in effective use of the internet for their information. This raises the question, yet again, of the key importance of Information Literacy as the core subject in any future (indeed present) curriculum.

It was a great discussion and yet again, excellent  Professional Development material. If you haven’t come across it before it takes place at 12 noon EST 5 p.m. (in U.K.) and there is a second discussion at 7 p.m. EST (midnight in U.K., if you can stay up that long). The discussion can be seen (and participated in) on Twitter (where else?) using  #edchat in search. I would advise anyone following the discussion to use an online program  like Tweetgrid http://tweetgrid.com/ just put in the #edchat search and follow the discussion, join in and express your ideas.

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2 thoughts on “The textbook in an age of transition

  1. Interesting points on the textbook. I started teaching in the USA and for many reasons, class sizes and the positive interest of publishers amongst them, I found US text books to be much better than UK ones. My view was that US textbooks are written for the user, that is the learner, and UK books were written to demonstrate the sheer brilliance of the author. You can have learner-centric or ego-centric text books, as with any other resource

  2. “distrusting any book that purports to have all the answers to what a child needs to know” well put. I do have a problem with teachers discarding textbooks in favour of handouts. The photocopying is simply a replacement for the text because it is used the same way. Everyone has it, everyone answers the same questions to the same problem.

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