Monday, December 3, 2007

Rethinking the Textbook

Motivated by a fellow blogger, I have decided to discuss a topic I feel passionate about. Textbooks have been a life-long problem for me. I never enjoyed buying, covering or reading them. In fact, I can't remember one that I have read. However, I do enjoy reading.
Along with being boring, textbooks are also outdated. Taking on average 2 years to create, by the time they are published, the information is ancient. Using textbooks presents another problem with the whole learning process. Students read and retain information for a short period of time. Is this really learning? What would happen if students were asked to create their own textbooks?
Students with the power to create their own textbook in the form of a wiki would have stake in the information. The information could be edited on a daily basis. The students would have the power to create, delete, and edit information. The creation process provides the student with a road to pave with information and creativity.
The independent learner would strive in this environment. This leads me to my next discussion... creating independent learners.
Until we as teachers let students make their own decisions as to how they learn, students will continue to depend on their teacher to guide them through the learning process. Welcome to a downward spiral of a stagnate education system.


David Robb said...

Not all textbooks are bad, they just need a 21st century update. I think as eReaders, like Amazon's new Kindle, become more mainstream, school districts will look into buying eReaders instead of textbooks. It would be less expensive in the long run, better for the environment, and it will be much easier to get updated versions of textbooks. Plus students wouldn't have to carry a 20+ pounds of textbooks home at night.

Woody, I can't link back to my blog anymore from the "Choose an identity" menu?
- David

A. Woody DeLauder said...

Congratulations on the addition to your family. I do agree with you on using eReaders. The written waste of paper is what I am focusing on. I am not quite sure I know what you mean by your last comment. Where is the "Choose an identity" menu?

David Robb said...


When you leave a comment there's a menu on the right hand side and one of the options is "Choose an identity." There are options to identify yourself with your Google/Blogger account, use a nickname, or leave an anonymous comment.
There used to be a choice of "Other" where you could also input your web/blog URL. That's not available anymore.

A. Woody DeLauder said...

Gotcha, I will look into this. I don't know why this happened. It must be a change that Google made.

JJ said...

As a reading teacher in a middle school I can't begin to name all of the concerns with textbooks, especially in the social studies and sciences. Woody, you like reading and yet abhor them. Imagine the students who have yet learned to crack the code of reading, assigned chapter after chapter of text written above their grade level. Add their lack of prior knowledge both of informational text and the current content being studied and the result is NO learning.
Creating independent learners means first creating independent teachers: Ones who can and want to present and share their content without the coveted teachers' editions.

A. Woody DeLauder said...

This seems to be one of the largest obstacles to jump over. Teachers need to definitely become more independent. Some teachers have seemed to stop learning. It seems as if teachers need to learn how to learn all over agian