They are “out of date.” “Paper dinosaurs.” “A waste of trees.” Traditional classroom textbooks have taken a beating in the last decade, being blamed for holding back progress, technology, and even student performance. The rush to the internet, where all manner of subjects and instruction can be found, has only quickened it’s pace. Why would we physically burden our children and their backpacks with these lumbering doorstops when the information can be found on a slim device weighing only ounces?
Of course, textbooks deserve some of their bad reputation: outdated, costly, and way too thick. But our purpose here is a defense for the textbook. Any good teacher can take a textbook and make magic with it by blending it with technology to create an engaging lesson. Textbooks give a progressive story that brings a whole subject into focus.
Pros of Textbooks
Especially in Math, a textbook provides examples, practice, and a linear quality that builds from one lesson to the next. A major problem I’ve seen in tutoring some students in Math is that when I ask what information is covered, they have to look on-line, which only provides context for that day, not what was worked on before, and provides no follow-up. It would take the student some time to find relevant problems on-line, wasting valuable tutoring time. Their teacher and school weren’t using textbooks, so when I wanted to prepare the student for what should be coming their way, it was a guessing game.
Pros of Technology
I was teaching an 8th grade History class on the Civil War using a textbook that had been published twenty years earlier. Trying to delve into the importance of cotton, the book gave a good story-line on its importance to the South’s economy, slavery, and production. But when a student asked what the cotton gin looked like, the book had a very bad black and white drawing from a newspaper in the 1870s. The text had the proper information, but no visuals worthy of the story’s impact. After a quick internet search, I plugged the laptop into a projector and there were hundreds of photos and videos.
A Little Bit of Both
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for on the internet, or don’t know what to expect from your upcoming classes, you can waste valuable time in your studies. I encourage parents to use textbooks or find textbooks for relevant material if their students aren’t provided one by the school. Instead of being the only source of classroom material, textbooks can be looked at as one many helpful tools at a student’s disposal.
Meet the author:
Brendan, with his Masters in Education, a Math Credential, and a Bachelors in Psychology is a highly-qualified tutor at Oxford Tutoring with over a decade of teaching in the classroom. As a curriculum and lesson planning expert who knows the Common Core State Standards inside and out, Brendan can ensures that his students understand the material they are being taught, by making certain they articulate and express their comprehension.
© Oxford Tutoring 2015