Sunday, August 17, 2008

On textbooks...

The first time I heard Cheryl Lange explain why she usually doesn’t use textbooks for more than just a resource, I was hooked. She pointed out the simple fact that all of the good, active learning was already done by the textbook writers.

Consider how a textbook is created. It starts with a group of people who go out and gather information and do research. They talk to experts in the field, test out theories, and learn everything they can on the subject.

Then they all get back together and they organize their findings. They discuss and write and debate and connect their thoughts until it is all clear, concise and easily understood. At that point they put it in a book and send it to the publisher.

When you open the book, you have dry, often boring facts. Leftovers from someone else’s learning experience.

This is not interesting! The process they went through to make the book is the learning we want! We want to be the ones to gather and discover and analyze and organize. That is where the meaningful, exciting learning takes place. Not in memorizing facts from a textbook.

Textbooks can be wonderful resources for learning. But alone, most of them are pretty uninteresting and uninspiring. However you can find a few textbooks that are like living books. We have used Apologia science books as a resource and have loved them. For our family, being involved in the process is an important part of our learning.

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