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  They quickly ( like many reference materials ) can become outdated and irrelevant and I just didn't wish to deal with all of that.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. 

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