In November 2014, Tim Oats wrote a paper ‘Why Textbooks Count’ which prompted the now Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, to call for a “renaissance” of high quality textbooks in England’s classrooms. Textbooks are certainly to be found lacking in this country. I would argue that it is not a ‘renaissance’ which is needed, but banishment.
One of the issues I have found teaching Philosophy within the framework of Secondary Religious Education is that textbooks over-simplify material. It is a problem which goes beyond my subject. As teachers, getting the best out of our pupils means spending time extending and reinventing existing support materials so that our lessons might give them access to their content in an imaginative and relevant way. One textbook I, regrettably, handed out to my Year 11 group last year stated in its blurb that, by using it, both teacher and students can be ‘absolutely confident that they are learning what we want them to learn and following the course as our examiners intended’.
It is a sad but telling summary. Textbooks are prescriptive, containing lifeless information designed for passing the test. What love of learning is that?
This ‘In Brief’ Article was first published in the August 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine. You can freely read the magazine online by clicking here.
Arabella Carter – @MissAVECarter Derbyshire – Teacher of Religious Studies