This is a think aloud about textbooks … I invite you to add your thoughts too…
Recently I received a survey from one of the major textbook publishers seeking information about our current textbooks and the cycle for reviewing and purchasing new books. As I worked my way through the questions it was increasingly evident just how much my thinking about textbooks has changed.When I first started teaching school anyone with some basic teaching skill could pick up a text walk into a classroom and be confident that they could be at least moderately successful. Every 4 years or so new textbooks were slated for purchase. Through the accreditation process one part of the discussion explored the copyright dates of the texts and schools were (and still are) oftenpraised or dingedin part based on these dates.
I am not suggesting that textbooks do not serve a function in our educationalprocessor that they have no value as one of our curricular tools. What I am saying is that they no longer are the gate keepers of knowledge and therefore are not in the place of primacy they once occupied.So what do we need and want?
I am not going to invest money every year in new textbooks unless there is a significant reason to make the purchase. I need textbooks which are responsive to the idea of ubiquitous sources of information. I need textbooks which are digital and accessible for all of my students. I need textbooks which respect the teacher and the students as unique learners and do not roll out a prepackaged product that says this is how you do it and this is all you need to know. I need textbooks which recognize, respect and encourage digital literacy, connections with new sources of knowledge and construction of new meaning.
So if we take a holistic approaching to budgeting and it is driven by student learning where do textbooks fit into the picture? How often do we need to purchase new texts? What criteria do we use to evaluate this question?