Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Textbook Dilemma-

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Over the past few weeks I have been working on transitioning my teen from 8th grade studies into Highschool. I have been reading over lots of information and plans I had outlined previously for our 9th grade are being tweaked just a bit as I observe further into my teens unique abilities, interests and needs.

I have long avoided using textbooks. I don't think I have ever really liked them except for the pictures, I just really never found them to have all that much to offer a child.  Many can be tainted with agendas and offer inaccurate information especially in the areas of science and history.  They quickly ( like many reference materials ) can become outdated and irrelevant and I just didn't wish to deal with all of that.

My thinking has really evolved over time.  With my teen going into Highschool and reading more and planning things out in greater detail for this new year, chatting with colleges he shows real interest in attending and speaking to professors and also veteran homeschool parents of children who have now moved on from the homeschooling environment, I have a bit of a different perspective on them.

I have learned over this past year that for my 8th grader it has been a "growing year" for him and also for me as his teacher and now facilitator.  I am learning to let go more embrace his way of learning with his own needs and abilities.

Here is some brief insight I have picked up on over the past month or two;

1. All textbooks are not ALL bad. They CAN have a place in your home learning. ( used as a guide for a general theme or starting point on a topic, these texts can be useful).

2. Special Needs children CAN benefit from using these as your guide and starting point for learning more in depth concepts about a topic.

3. Errors occur not only with textbooks publishers and writers but also with authors who do not write for textbooks.  Unless it is a primary resource or something similar you will run into the same thing because it depends on the authors purpose and ideals of what they are trying to bring forth.  Also, these errors we might find can be a real opportunity for our children to dig deeper and using critical thinking skills to processing these errors also. * this is something much more conducive for learners who are gifted/twice exceptional or are more Middle/Highschool age. This would NOT be something I would recommend for younger learners in Elementary grades*.

4. Children with APD or Dyslexia can take advantage of using textbooks or similar learning books because the information is presented mostly in little chunks and as a very high level of understanding and can be used as an overview and guide and then you can dive deeper more complex concepts for your special learner to understand and in doing this, you may use many other books to bring this information forward.

5. Upper level (highschool textbooks and college level) can be helpful in learning about a topic since they are so much more in depth and cover much more material.  I have found the younger textbooks act more as a workbook approach and are not as valuable.

6. Pictures and links ( now available in many textbooks or media texts) can be a real advantage for our more visual children when learning.

I am still not satisfied and never will be completely satisfied with using ONLY textbooks for our learning but Textbooks can play a role with a combination of good literature and resources to surround your subject or topic.

Allowing the textbooks to be your guide to enter into a more organized, laid out approach to tackle a large subject like Biology can really be helpful in teaching and for helping our children learn about such a vast topic that has so many sub-topics. 


GinaG said...

We have found that, in general, college level textbooks tend to be much better than high school level textbooks because they tend to offer better explanations and more examples. We have some HS level textbooks and they are just collecting dust. My husband uses a lot of his college math texts to supplement our son's main math and I absolutely love my son's college level biology text. He currently inherited a box of Psych books that he is going to look through just for fun and to help him determine whether that is a subject he wants to major in. The main problem we've had with textbooks this year is that they can take a long time to read and really get through.

So, yes, I agree, textbooks have a place in the high school experience. I also think that using some textbooks combined, with The Teaching Company lectures, gives the kids some clue as to what is coming up if they are college bound. I loved textbooks as a high schooler but I am very glad that my kids don't need to rely on them exclusively.

Learners at Home said...

Very true Gina~ and I also think that a more combined effort along with a text is much more beneficial.

Laura O in AK said...

I'm frantically trying to map out high school for my eldest son after our contact teachers at the charter school said we should not make him repeat 8th grade. So, I'm gathering up ideas. Science is already set, math depends upon what he gets done this summer to catch up, and other things are in early planning stages now.

I will say that I've used some textbooks even for elementary learners. It's finding a balance between textbook, living books, and hands on activities that works best for us.

Learners at Home said...

I hear ya Laura~ lol We should really compare notes! lol I had everything planned out and then things took some twists and turns and now I am fine-tuning..which I think can be typical with a 9th grade student and having special needs. :)

Mary said...

I have used a combination of high school and college texts along with primary source documents and books written in the time period bieng studied. Rigorous co-op classes and dual enrollment classes at the community college have also been helpful.

Good luck and have fun!


Learners at Home said...

Mary~ thank you for your support :) We are planning some of those same things~ :)


Jackie said...

My daughter has dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, CAP... I have never been a huge fan of textbooks only. I think you need a healthy balance of hands-on also thrown in. We use an online, interactive curriculum; Teaching Textbooks; and some K-12 math books. She is very visual/auditory. The interactive curriculum keeps her attention. My husband uses the textbooks to further explain things to her that she needs more help understanding. She is nearing 9th grade now and is hoping to improve her skills and return to public school.

Jackie who stays busy homeschooling a high-spirited 14 year old special needs sweetie.

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