Textbook Use and Education
One elementary aim of education is to promote student’ thinking. Developing their abilities to delve further and deeper into new and pre-existing ideas. Curiosity, and the notion that everything can and should be challenged is an essential aspect of education. The use of a textbook, should assist in this aim.
Walt Disney once pointed out that curiosity drove his business, and the Disney Company is now one of the biggest companies in the world. Education should be the key to curiosity in the same way that Franz Kafka once stated that “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long.We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney
However, the starting point for much education is the textbook. Textbooks are excellent tools, yet too often textbooks are used to teach students information, rather than as learning supports. Using the following routine, teachers can use textbooks to promote critical thinking and learning. Instead of being used to teach whole lessons, textbooks can truly become the teacher tool they need to be.
Textbook Interview (run across 3 lessons)
In this Lesson, students are directed to a textbook overview, in which 8 subtopics for the overall topic feature. Here, students in pairs, are asked to choose the sub-topics to start becoming ‘experts’ about. They then begin researching. This occupies the entire lesson.
In this Lesson, students are provided with further time to reflect upon their chosen sub-topic. This is time to refresh prior knowledge. Then students are asked to write down questions as a group. These are questions for each of the other topics that they would like to know answers for.
In this Lesson, students present their expert knowledge. According to the order the information is presented in the textbook, teachers can run this sequentially. Students present any information from the textbook that they have learnt, as well as any further research. Most students choose to use powerpoint visuals to back-up their evidence and information. When one group presents, the teacher directs the other groups to ask their questions of the experts.
These questions challenged the experts and prompted further critical thinking on the subject. In the final few minutes of the lesson, the teacher asks students to consider the following two questions: Before this lesson I thought…? And now I think...? At the beginning of the next lesson, teachers can address these questions. This provides students with an opportunity to consider and resolve what they have learnt from their fellow students and from their own research.
Textbooks are a tool teachers need to use. For good, or for ill. Yet, too often textbooks are used to replace teacher knowledge and the ability of teachers to teach. Instead, textbooks should be used together with teacher knowledge – in order to best help students become knowledge seekers for themselves.