Kevin Jacobson

This conversation is closed.

Schools need to update their text books for higher, up to date, education.

Schools tend to keep a set of textbooks for up to a decade. That just doesn't seem right. Especially in science, chemistry or social studies classes. Plus, if something happens to the book while your in possession of it during the school year, the school, at least in my case, charges you full price for the book when it was already in poor condition from previous use.

Closing Statement from Kevin Jacobson

Basically, The educational system needs to change for better education around the world.

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    Jun 16 2012: Kevin, I just finished your 30 year question nice to be with you again. Text books are BIG business into billions of dollars a year. My major problem is that text book designers are dictating what a teacher teaches. The reason is that the test designers review the texts to see what should be tested. Ergo the text developers are driving education. If you review the PISA exams (where the US bombed out) you would find the Singapore system (who blew the rest of the countries out of the water) encourages learning not the accumulation of knowledge in 8 domains .. Lang and Lit, math, natural science, social science, Technology, arts, Phys ed, practicum. Teachers develop their courses and the goal is application.

    I support that each student should be issued a lap top. Using flipped classrooms the students, using lap tops only connected to the school computer, would do their homework in advance to the class and the teacher would review the paper and provide review, assistance, and mastery during the class time. Student who "get it" would move on to future lessons as the course map provides for. (Do the math .. computer cost VS text book costs @ seven books per student)

    Do you really need a text book for math. The teacher can write the lesson plan for adding, subtracting, etc ... in this way they can teach beyond the test not to the test.

    Kevin as a 13 year old who excells you should be offered the opportunity to advance at your rate of learning but yet remain with your peers to develop socially.

    So I am saying that text books may be part of the problem not the solution. This would take great care in changing paths but is "doable".

    I am interested in your reply as a student who is living the problem. How can I refine this approach?

    All the best. Bob.
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      Jun 16 2012: ...And I just finished your behemoth response:). I agree with you 120%. I think text books should be replaced with computers. But not laptops as you stated, I think they should be replaced with something like a touchscreen i pad type device were it has it's own recharge station on the desk. I also thing instead in switching classes every hour or so, the school should have a small stadium where students have a single desk were they keep there keep the few school items that they would need. Different teachers would come in every hour to explain certain subjects and give examples. Almost everything would be done online instead of in a textbook.the students would get 3 breaks throughout the day. Teachers, instead of teaching from a book, would teach from their mind so that everything flows more evenly. If a student doesn't quite get it, they can go online and read about the topic. Learning would be easier and better. Phy. ED would be focused on a little more so students get a required amount of exercise. Don't even get me started on the greasy mush that the school calls lunch. I also think discipline is somewhat of a problem as well. Teachers at my school literally goof off and get sidetracked. I really irritates me. I don't want to tell the principle since he hates me now for calling him worthless. Ironically, many if my teachers have sign on their desk that reads "True teachers teach from their heart, not from the pages of a book". If only that were true.
      • Jun 17 2012: While I definitely agree on textbooks being an outdated concept, I'm not entirely on board with the idea of tablets (or laptops) -> being online, replacing books as a method of gathering knowledge. Textbooks aren't very useful, I agree, they list facts -> you rehearse them -> you reproduce them.
        Thats a very linear way of learning, which is bad.
        However, online, a lot of good and proper information is hard to find, so if you don't change the -> absorb -> rehearse -> reproduce way of teaching and learning, you will only get a worse educational system.

        Teach kids in a Library, where you have selected various books and reading material by scholars related to the subjects you teach. Give them assignments on that subject, and have them present their assignments to the other students. If you want you can give students a preliminary assignment to find relevant literature online and in the provided books.
        This changes the learning process. The kids will have to find their facts, eliminate irrelevant facts, and then actually work *with* the facts to create theories, which means that even the same assignment can net 5 different results. Then presenting (the most important human skill since the Greek Democracy) would give them feedback, which encourages a creative and ever changing learning environment.

        Also I think philosophy should become a baseline subject for all students, I think it is the subject that has the largest potential in teaching kids about the world we live in, while encouraging a critical attitude to subject (which no other subject does, encouraging a critical attitude), because in philosophy, there is no consensus, which makes it an ideal subject for creative thinking.
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          Jun 17 2012: I think there would be a school website with trustworthy information for the students. Its not like they would be using wikipedia.
      • Jun 17 2012: No, I'm not implying that students would use wikipedia (my university has a database with academic articles and books, online). But I want to stress that reading books Is still very important. And for some subjects there is a lot of essential information that is not easily accessible trough the internet, because the books have not been put online, due to them being old or very specific.
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          Jun 17 2012: I was just using Wikipedia as an example. If your university has a database, then you shouldn't have to worry about having less info than a book.
      • Jun 17 2012: Actually, that is the mistake a lot of people make. While my university has a database, a very useful and large one at that. All the papers I've written so far, required me to spend hours in the city library looking through stacks of old books and papers by scholars. Sometimes the information you need is not where you want it to be. All the knowledge of this world is in the books, it's not on the internet, because not enough effort has been put in putting all the information on the web yet.
        For the future it would be great, but we still have a lot of innovation and effort to put into getting "the web" ready for educational purposes.
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    Jun 27 2012: That might be old thinking. Why upgrade textbooks which will surely be out of touch next week. Why not show them TED talks and stay perfectly current? It can maximize class time if they watch as homework and then you can get comments or feedback or bring them here to make postings.
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      Jun 28 2012: I never thought of that. Great idea.
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        Jun 28 2012: It would absolutely thrill me if it were good enough to be plugged in and I hope you will find it so....it is now yours.
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      Jun 29 2012: Hi Debra,

      I think your idea of showing them all TED talks is good, but I think it should be as a complement of the education. We must not loose the importance of a book, even if it is digital.
      Here in Mexico, and I think in many other countries, we have a problem, people don't like to reed, they just want to know, but not make the effort of reading.
      Personally, I found reading the most revealing experience, why?, because it help us develop our imagination. I can give you an example of that, in the case of history, is not the same that a child can imagine who the World War I or II develop, than watching a film, because in the film he is watching the imagination of someone else, and he doesn't get the opportunity to imagine by himself.
      It is true that our society receives updated information almost by every day, and that we must find a solution, but I don't think the answer for that will be the elimination of the text book.
      Beside the text book, we have forgotten the importance of the teacher. The teacher in the classroom is the person in charge of the children education, if the teacher is not updated with the information just released, it doesn't matter how many changes a book may have, it will be worthless. That's why I think the change in this should start with our teachers.
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    Jun 18 2012: As someone who is in a biochemistry PhD program, I can say that at least for chemistry, the fundamental principles have not changed too much. How we apply these principles does change though. Supplementary materials might familiarize students with some of the latest discoveries in the field, journal or magazine articles might be helpful.

    For biology it is a completely different story though, in biology you do need up to date textbooks because new experiments are constantly revealing things which force us to change how we think about living organisms.
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    Jun 18 2012: I have just completed a highschool physics text in the form of an e-book, as where I work all students are issued with lap-tops. It is pretty much set out like a traditional text but with hyperlinks to related websites and simulations etc. The idea is it functions like a text but can be updated from year to year with minimal expense. It also provides direction for self motivated web browsing. If you don't want to use a laptop you can print a hard copy and it still functions as a traditional text. In the near term I think this is a good compromise. It also solves the damaged text book problem as it comes on a $5 thumb drive.
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    Jun 15 2012: Many subjects as they are taught at the middle school level do not change so quickly that new textbooks need to be purchased every five years. In addition textbooks are expensive. In a moderate sized school district, bringing in a new high school textbook series can cost, say $2 million.

    As school districts have limited budgets, putting double the resources into books probably would require a significant cut-back in the number of teachers and a significant increase in class sizes. Is it worth the minor changes between one edition and the next?

    And this doesn't even include the cost of reviewing textnbooks to make new decisions as to which to use.
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      Jun 16 2012: You wouldn't be buying new textbooks every five years for every subject, you would be buying new textbooks every five years for the subjects that are still receiving new information not taught in are schools many outdated textbooks. For example, social studies and science classes are subjects that receive new information all the time.
  • Jun 15 2012: I think textbooks are an outdated concept. With the vast amount of knowledge available from anywhere at any time (smartphones, tablets, the internet), teaching should be more than pushing facts into students heads. Right now, discussion and forming opinions is way more important than if you memorized what the second mineral layer of the earth is.

    Education should change from 'memorizing' knowledge of other to learning how to work with theories, how to interpret facts (a often neglected skill), and how you form your own opinion and knowledge. Research should become more important. Independence and discussion! Why would you spend your valuable time memorizing something you have access to at any time right now?
  • Jun 29 2012: Ideal: Use new textbooks, TED Talks, tech concept of abstract thinking, practical applications in math and science and every subject, just new ways to learn it.
  • Jun 19 2012: I had a girlfriend who went here: http://www.exeter.edu/. She later went on to Yale and Harvard, but said that she got her real education there. They are already doing what you describe. Many private schools offer scholarships and the costs aren't as ridiculous as people think they are.
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    Jun 18 2012: I know from being in education department that its not material that changes but also teaching methods change. Our children are growing up in a new age of Technology and information. With just the changes in teaching methods materials change to adapt to this.
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    Jun 16 2012: It is good for books to be updated. But not like the demands of a trend-spotting audience of a fashion magazine. Updating textbooks, especially in middle school or primary and secondary schools, can not be too frequent.
    The fact that a book has a more recent edition does not make that book worthless. That is why the world is still interested in writings like the Timbuktu manuscripts and the dead sea scrolls.
    The basic principles of science that has not changed. And human nature remains human nature.
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    Jun 16 2012: In a middle sized school district it cost $2.7 million a couple of years ago to replace four years of math books (grades 9-12). This was the cost for one subject across four grades. At my son's middle school, 7th grade social studies was US History until 1900 and 8th grade was Ancient History. Current events were covered as well on a weekly basis using newspaper and online sources. While new information is unearthed and expressed about these subjects all the time, there is no reason these additions cannot be added in from sources other than the basic textbook at much lower cost to the school district - as well as to the environment.
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    Jun 15 2012: in addition to that, they teach lies.
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    Jun 15 2012: I respectfully disagree with you on this. If textbooks taught everything we wouldn't need teachers. Every semester I buy books brand new because the 15.1.2.1 edition is out of date so I must get the 15.1.2.2 text. Both books are usually exactly the same except for the cover and a few minor changes.

    I agree that some topics need to be updated frequently for accuracy but history, science, and English are basically cut and dry. You sound like your coming from a High School perspective because you say your school keeps books for decades. In college this is not the case by any means.
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      Jun 15 2012: How would we not need teachers. It's not like a kid is just going to sit down and read the textbook on their own. Plus, teachers are needed to give assignments and tests to see how much the students knowledge on the subject is growing. I am talking about this from a middle school perspective. There is no reason the school can't upgrade their text books AT LEAST every five years. Even classes that don't receive modern knowledge anymore still need new text books since they get in wretched condition.