What Students Are Saying About Military Service, School Textbooks and Stargazing
At my school, we do not use hard copy textbooks. If there is ever a textbook need for a class, it is downloaded online. As a student that has dyslexia and has an IEP, I requested and have the right for textbooks, hard copy.
Hardcover textbooks allow students to be more attached to their learning, instead of starting at a screen. The schools say that online books are: lighter, easier to access, and cheaper. Yes, these might be true, but when using online textbooks have to be accessed on a computer or iPad, these divides have distractions built into them. On the other hand textbooks allow you to stay focus and “feel” what you are doing. Textbooks help me get through school, without them school would be nearly impossible. But it seems like every year there are less and less textbooks used in classes.
Primary sources and other ways of learning
Personally, I have found that finding and using primary sources of information combined with a textbook is the most engaging form of teaching when it comes to history. I had always been bored by history until one class where we used a lot of our own research and sources other than the textbook, and I came to enjoy it.
Physical textbooks are becoming dinosaurs — mostly due to high cost and an effort to be more environmentally friendly. However, I don’t see textbooks (either electronic or paper versions) disappearing completely. Instead, I think teachers are more often adding other resources like videos, articles, primary sources, and hands-on learning to the classroom.
These other resources can help address bias in textbooks or make the subject more relevant. For example, in Civics and Economics, our teacher didn’t just teach about the market economies, she had us research industries in our state by looking at an economic development site run by the state government. We didn’t just learn about gerrymandering. We learned about the dispute about our state’s districts in the Supreme Court by reading the case and briefs to see both sides of the argument.
I think that some classes shouldn’t need textbooks because it is easier to learn the subject from experience or actually looking at someone doing something. For example I personally find math easier if I watch someone solve the problem and explain what they are doing. Even in my automotive technology class we read textbooks but, I find it easier to understand when I’m hands on and actually working on a car.
Two notable conversations
As a public school student, I have used many outdated textbooks. I find that most of them contain biased information that could be perceived as ignorant toward certain groups of people throughout history. For example, in some history textbooks, Christopher Columbus was a hero who “discovered” the Americas and was an ally to the Native Americans. In other cases, the mistreatment of slaves is wildly unexaggerated. Slaves are said to have been “often harmed by their masters.” The brutal violence and sexual abuse that slaves endured is seldom mentioned. The founding fathers are praised, and the fact that they were slave owners seems to be forgotten. All in all, textbooks often deny that the worst parts of history even happened.
@Calliope Beatty I agree, textbooks used with our public education system always seem to be so outdated and biased. I think that being biased with this type of history causes many issues especially for students who are trying to shape their own political views but are being forced to read someone else’s opinions. It can be confusing to students who are always told they have the freedom to believe what they want but at the same time the government wants you to learn a specific thing a specific way.
Throughout school, I always loved reading my colorful textbook. Whenever I was bored in class, I would flip through its entertaining pictures and devour the stories of world history. I was astounded by the vast unique cultures and their way of life. I learned everything from nomads and gatherers to the French Revolution and Ming dynasty. The only problem I’ve ever had with it was its heavy weight in my backpack. But now that I’m older, I’ve realized the textbooks I had read as a kid might’ve been censored. If I’m being honest, I’m sort of glad that the actual history of the world wasn’t revealed to me as a kid. I would’ve had a different view of the nation if I’d known about the crimes of raping, lynching, and enslaving my ancestors committed when I was in elementary school. I understand that it might be wrong to tell half truths to the next generation, but, come on, they’re still kids. As humans, we can all agree that the world we live in is corrupt and nowhere near perfect. But should kids know about our imperfection so soon?
@Nakia Spore I agree with you on sheltering elementary kids on the harsh realities of our country but it’s like they’re trying to shelter the high schoolers too and I think that’s wrong. I think in high school we should get the truth about the history of our country so we can be properly informed.