Textbooks remain a valuable tool in the classroom

Audio, Education, Frontier Centre

The use of textbooks in our schools has been declining in recent years.

Many so-called ‘Progressive’ teachers argue that textbooks are a waste of money because all of their content is available online at the click of a mouse.

These same educators argue that textbooks are full of biased and out-dated information.

But in fact the quality of online information varies widely.

Websites are a hit-and-miss collection of good and bad sources, while a well-written textbook can still organize the most important information in a way that most students can easily understand.

Quality textbooks are subject to extensive review by experts in the field and representatives of various interest groups.

This process weeds out mistakes and misrepresentations.

Also, a quality textbook tends to include the perspective of more than one author.

An excellent example is a history text called Shaping Canada. It provides a chronological overview of Canadian history and contains many excerpts from primary sources.

While textbooks are undoubtedly useful, good teachers should never rely on them exclusively.

Additional resources help to ensure that students learn more than what is simply written in a prescribed text.

It is definitely too soon to consign textbooks to the recycling bin.

I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.

For more on education policy, visit our website www.fcpp.org.