Almost to a student, kids have been, in a Pavlovian way, turned off to textbooks. That especially hurts an English teacher’s aim of trying to develop them into readers through the use of textbooks because it’s not just an ELA association they have with them; they come into class with a history of pretty much loathing these things in their other core areas of study as well.
From 6th grade on, kids are pounded with math textbooks that far-too-many teachers use in a drill and kill style… and science textbooks that teachers use in a “Do the unit questions at the end of the chapter” style… and then history textbooks where it’s “remember these 15 dates and names by rote” style… so even if the ELA textbooks were the cat’s meow (and in my opinion, they ain’t) the kids come in with emotional baggage about using textbooks that is almost insurmountable.
And from there it feels like we’re just putting lipstick on a pig by trying to show them just how amazing these tepid, issue-free, sanitized, 12 pound tomes are.
They don’t buy it. And yet, we keep trying to sell it to them. Worst of all, district admins remain deaf to the cries of “these things ain’t working”. Cause if they were really working, maybe our “data” would be better. After all, what’s been the primary educational tool in the classroom for the past two decades?
Textbooks have ben at the center of the curricular wheel in all of the core subject areas and yet, how come few, if any, people point to them as perhaps the problem with our curriculum/low achievement/poor test scores as opposed to viewing them as the solution?
However, here’s a school district that is embracing new ideas. And I gotta say, it makes me feel like the folks out there in Pulaski are doing the sorts of things that I’d like to see embraced by more and more and more of our schools.