Bring back textbooks

In schools and school board meetings, and in the news, they are often ridiculed. People say they are too heavy. They are too expensive. They induce sleep. They stand in the way of creative teaching. They are filled with errors. Ideologues on state textbook committees use them to achieve their political or religious agendas, reports Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews. I have visited the classrooms of gifted teachers, loved by their students, where the textbooks are stacked in the corner, grimy from neglect. The teacher has developed her own set of materials. She communicates the subject matter better her way, with state test results that prove it. And yet, at educational conferences and in scholarly papers, the textbook is making a comeback. Sure, its defenders say, many textbook series have deteriorated into fuzzy platitudes, with little use for teachers or students, but that does not mean that our classes are doing better without them…

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Laura Ascione

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