Thursday, January 16, 2014

Changing the Textbook

One of the problems for modern day students is the price for textbooks. It becomes worse when the “required” textbook is never used for a class. However, the problem I’m focusing on today is the readability of a textbook.
I remember trying to read through my Humanities textbook and how difficult it was to read it without the desire to sleep. The same with my Technology classes. Some teachers seem to think that a textbook might be good if they feel like it explains things in “layman’s terms.” This is a good step for the students who cannot understand pure technical information. However, just using everyday language doesn’t make it readable. I think the key to that is to make it interesting.
 I recently saw a clip of an Andy Griffith Show episode where Andy gets his son interested in History by telling him stories. It’s very effective. It’s also why educational programs like Zoom were liked. They made the academics interesting for students. I still occasionally ask myself, “Do you truly know how to learn?” but it’s also important to ask, “Do the teachers and textbooks truly know how to teach?”
 It is important to have the facts and to present them in an unbiased manner. However, it should be possible to tell an interesting story while keeping bias to a minimum. After most textbooks are still biased in what they teach and what they neglect to inform.
 One method of rewriting the textbooks is how I see things in articles or TV programs like History Channel’s Big History. They present a question we would ask like “What is the origin and importance of coffee?” to explain how weather in the tropics work and how caffeine is a natural pesticide. Now whether everything is true, I wouldn’t know, but those are the things that stick, hence actually learning.
 Now this doesn’t mean teachers and textbooks cannot use stuff like dates, but to know what year Columbus sailed to America is not as important as that Columbus sailed to America. This also is not the most perfect solution, just one I think would work for more people like me. That’s all I can say. Do you think this would help you learn?

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