Monday, 15 April 2013

Textbooks, or not?

Today, I wonder about the usefulness and practicality of textbooks.   I don't use them often in my classroom.  As a relatively new teacher, I do find them to be a good resource for collecting information for my lessons.  I will often show a picture or diagram from a text under the document camera for the class to analyze/discuss. 
In my school, we share textbooks on carts, stored in the doorways of the classrooms.  Whenever I roll that cart into the class, there are always groans and moans.  To me, that's a signal that the students aren't engaged by them and will likely learn less from a textbook lesson.
That being said, texts do contain valuable information, and students do need to know how to use these books as a tool.  Teachers in their future will use texts, surely in university.  I feel that it's my responsibility to teach my students how to read captions, search for information, understand headings and work the index. 
Textbooks are quite costly, and it seems they are constantly putting out new editions to keep up with new information.  For the cost of approx. 3 - 4 texts, a school could buy an iPad.  The technology is more engaging for sure.  (Though I don't feel I should teach with a tool simply because it's fun.)  With an iPad we would have access to new information immediately.  With that though, comes the responsibility to teach proper internet usage, how to sort relevant information from false, and proper referencing. 
As I write this, I realize I seem to have a preference for no text books.  What are your thoughts?

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