The darkside of textbooks

This may illustrate what could (and most likely will) be the darkside of opensource digital textbooks. Any individual or small group could create a textbook and make it digitally available, but it could either be slanted to a certain view or not include information that an author disagreed with. Yes, teachers should be able to supplement information provided by the textbook to provide a better picture of the actual situation, but that too has issues. For many teachers, the textbook is the curriculum. For example, in science classrooms, teachers have been known to rely heavily on textbooks (Driscoll, Moallem, Dick, & Kirby, 1994).   The textbook, often a critical part of developing the curriculum for a school, and has relegated the teacher to occupy more of a passive role in the planning process.  

Historically, published curriculum materials, such as textbooks, have been the main component for teaching in the US (Goodlad, 1984).  These textbooks provided a variety of aspects of the educational situation, from a framework of presentation structure, to objectives, standards alignment, and assessments, providing the daily teaching materials to the students.   Even now, for many courses, textbooks act as a “default-setting” for curriculum, often presenting students the facts learned in most subjects.  Stein, Stuen, Carnine, and Long (2001) estimate that “textbooks serve as the basis for 75 to 90 percent of classroom instruction” (p.  6), even though pedagogical content knowledge for teaching now would include the ideas of appraising, selecting, and modifying textbooks (Ball, 2000).   Often, teachers use these subject-matter books to help them organize their courses, decide what is most important to teach, and provide background content information (Ball & Feiman-Nemser, 1988; Hutchinson & Torres, 1994). And with so many schools requiring common tools between classes and schools, it can be difficult for teachers to supplement the text with their own materials. 

History textbooks in Texas are being called into question by some for their portrayal of slavery and Jim Crow laws. In some cases, educators and others say, the textbooks do not offer an accurate portrayal of these issues. Others say the textbooks in combination with educators will ensure students receive a full picture of U.S. history. National Public Radio (7/13)