WHAT!!!??? No Textbooks Allowed

Without a doubt I lambasted textbooks and publishers in my last post. Many of you may be wondering, if school districts stopped buying textbooks what teachers should use to teach. To the dismay of textbook publishers, I would suggest the solution is as simple as “open-source digital textbooks.” Just to be clear, I’m in no way advocating that we simply digitize textbooks… No I’m imagining something much, much more than digitizing the past.

Global Collaboration for Curriculum Development

I suspect that all over this great country, there are common conversations taking place lamenting the limitation of textbooks, yet feeling overwhelmed by the idea of taking on the task of creating all content at all grade levels etc.. The beauty is, there are literally hundreds of thousands of teachers in the United States alone. Collaboration is the key to designing meaningful, engaging, dynamic, digital learning opportunities.


What if teachers all over the country banded together to populate a web-resource that included teacher-vetted online articles, lesson plans, games, simulations, videos, or other interactive instructional content etc. that were all aligned to standards? What if this resource were created in a wiki-type environment, allowing open-editing by all members of the community? What if the framework for such a community embraced universal design principles and differentiated instruction practices.

I’m not advocating for districts to abandon all textbooks tomorrow. Rather, I’m suggesting that instead of spending another dime on uninspiring textbooks that are often loosely aligned to standards, that teachers could be ‘weaned’ off their textbook-dependence over time.

I can’t help but believe such an approach would not only be cost-effective for districts in the long-run, but more importantly, such an approach would provide a more engaging, relevant curriculum for kids. Furthermore, such an approach would require that teachers develop a deep understanding of the standards they are expected to teach. Unfortunately, a reader’s comment in last week’s post was spot on as he pointed out that stark reality that some teachers lack the knowledge necessary to be trusted with curriculum development decisions.

Final Note–The time has never been better for such a wide-spread approach to curriculum reform. The adoption of Common Core Standards by all but a handful of states, has created the perfect opportunity for collaboration to extend between and among states.


About Deb

I am a lifelong educator with experience in special education, counseling and staff development. Special interests outside of my chosen career field include entrepreneurship, investing and financial literacy.
This entry was posted in Professional Development, School Reform, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to WHAT!!!??? No Textbooks Allowed

  1. Your post motivates me to delve deeper into open source and self created nextbooks!

  2. ed says:

    In theroy, your idea is a brilliant one. I would love to be able to pick the best brains of my field via the web. Reality tells me that I do not have enough hours in a day to do so. As it stands now there is more information out on the web than is humanly possible to read let alone digest. That then leaves the question of who and how do we filter and decide what is best. I admit, it’s an exciting concept but I don’t see how it could work.

  3. tamarak says:

    ABSOLUTELY! Thank you for writing this post! I am excited to turn this theory into action! The reality is that there will be even more information available to us in the future and the sooner we provide our teachers and students opportunities to learn how to sift through, analyze, interpret, and respond to the vast amount of information available to them, the better! Information will not be decreasing…it will increase in number and if we only allow students to find meaning using one source (i.e. a textbook), it is a belief that we are preventing them from learning important skills for future jobs! I can’t think of too many jobs where they are required to look in only one manual to find information! Thanks again for writing this post!

  4. Pingback: Educating the Public for FREE | Because Our Future Depends On It

  5. Joseph McLean says:

    This is exactly what I was searching for and exactly what I would like to see. The reality of mathematics textbooks for most math teachers is this…the textbook is primarily a source of problems. Most teachers do not use the lesson ideas from the textbook. The textbook drives the order in which concepts are learned but this is not a necessity. That sequence could easily be defined at the district or school level and then quality lessons chosen from the wiki that help the teacher deliver the desired content for the day. It is silly for schools to continue to expend billions of dollars for glossy books full of nothing more than bad lessons and homework problems.

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