Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

Learning for living, Character for life, Hope for the Future

Textbooks, or No Textbooks? Your thoughts!

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picture of an e-learning classroom

21st-Century Students Need Books, Not Textbooks

An Opinion Piece by Colette Marie Bennett,

‘Colette is the English department chair at Regional School District #6 in Connecticut. She has spent 21 years teaching grades 6-12. She blogs about increasing classroom libraries and issues in education at Used Books in Class and tweets at @Teachcmb56.’

In her article Colette refers to new textbooks that are being published aligned to the recently introduced US Common Core State Standards. Considering that the  first four learning areas of the new Australian Curriculum are already being implemented in some states and are imminent in others, should we not also be looking at whether or not textbooks will or should continue to have a prominent place or indeed any place at all in 21st century teaching and learning in our country?

What is your opinion?

Colette writes:

‘My mailbox is stuffed with brochures showing glossy pictures of the brand new literature textbooks available for grades 7-12 in English/language arts. This generation of new anthologies will incorporate the same old materials newly packaged with activities aligned to the ELA Common Core State Standards. Many of the big names in education have contributed to the development of these textbook materials and offer expert advice in implementing objectives. The textbooks are stuffed with literary pieces, discussion questions, suggested topics for essays, and so many supplemental activities that no one teacher could teach all of the material contained in a single school year. However, if these textbooks are waiting for my endorsement, they’ll be waiting forever…

‘The literary pieces in these textbooks have not changed over multiple editions; most of the titles are in the public domain. They came with cartons of supplementary materials; however, at my school we not use these worksheets or canned quizzes. These materials are aligned to outdated educational standards and are not a resource for teachers interested in developing 21st-century skills. These issues highlight a central problem with textbooks: standards change, assessments change, and teaching methods change. The textbooks cannot keep up…

‘The reality today is that the materials in textbooks need only take up digital space. Most stories, poems, essays, plays, and novels currently offered in these textbooks can be found online and linked on teacher websites or class wikis…

‘Today’s new textbook anthologies are already outdated. They do not support a 21st-century classroom, they are expensive, and they stifle teacher development. But the most serious charge against any textbook, new or old, is that it does not foster a student’s love of reading. School districts should let the tradition of the textbook waste away and instead feed a student a book.’ Read the entire Opinion Piece here…

Author: Sandra England

Learning & Teaching Coordinator F-12 at Gilson College, an Adventist Schools Victoria school. Twitter: @GCLandT or @sandy_e

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