Sunday, April 03, 2016

Who Controls the Textbooks??

I think in theory most of us know that we are in charge of our home education.  We make plans, we decide what to study, and we tell the textbook what to do.  Well. . most of the time.  Sometimes I think we let the textbook decide what is best for our students.  We let the text decide how many problems our students need to do for mastery of a math concept, we let the text decide what stories are good to read, how much grammar should be included, and when our students should take a test.  In a way we give the text book authority in our lives, and it comes with enough stuff to keep us all busy.

Back in my Reading Masters program  I remember having this discussion with one my professors in our class.  He said that most of us will trust the text book over our ability to teach our students.  We will listen to what it says without questioning.  I was fascinated with that.  I am a rule follower and it is easy for me to follow the rules of the text book.

Knowing this about myself so  I try to modify how I deal with my math texts, and some other ones.

1. In Math if there are too many problems I  have my student do just the even numbered ones or just the odd numbered ones.  Some kids need a great deal of practice in some areas and less in others.  The textbook is just a resource.

2.  I remember that I do not have to do every question, activity, or suggestion in the book.  There is no textbook police.

3.  I do not have to finish the text book.  I remember my first year teaching I thought I did have to finish the Social Studies textbook.  I made sure we covered all 50 states in the text.  If the students wanted to work more on a state I said no . . we must finish all 50.  We trudged through.  I remember telling one of the other 4th grade teachers and she said.  "Wow, really??  We have never finished a text. "  I remember thinking, really??  I appreciated her for her wisdom. 

4. Textbooks and books can be wrong. I can disagree with them.  

5.  If a students knows the materiel I can have them take an end of the unit test and if they do well skip that section of the text.  Or we can just decide to. 

6.  I try to remember that I know my students' needs better than the text.   So do you!  

Do you feel the need to follow the text?    Let me know.


LLee Murray said...

When I first homeschooled my son, it was as though I was giving him a "public school " education at home. We honestly were miserable. One day, after much soul searching, I stopped letting my public school education box me in. Now, my son has a much bigger role in his education. He helps me fined books, websites, and other sources to use as our homeschool material.
When we do math, I usually pick the problem that I feel he needs work on. I will say, "Do problem 3, 6,10, 12..." I don't give busy work.
Textbooks are a guide for us, and all sources of information are questioned, "my favorite saying is look it up, read several sources and THINK FOR YOURSELF "

ohiohomeschool said...

What a great story! Texts are the guide. I bet he does better knowing that you are specifically choosing problems to meet his needs.
Thank you for taking the time to write.

Kelly said...

In our English grammar book, the text alternates between grammar chapters and writing chapters. As it won't be long until the end of the year, I recently had 2 elementary students skip a writing chapter which was how to write a business letter. While I think it is important for them to know how to write creatively, it is such a gradual process-they learn the skill over years of practice. I felt our most immediate need is grammar, so I just let them skip the writing chapter. Also, I believe if they go into a job that needs the skill of writing a business letter, someone will teach them how to do it by then or they may be able to figure it out themselves or there may be no such thing as a business letter in 10years. In the early elementary years, I am concerned about their most basic education needs: reading, english grammar, math facts, etc. Also, I don't want to kill their love of learning by assigning too much.

ohiohomeschool said...

That is wise Kelly with so many good points. I think too it communicates to our students that we have a plan and want the best for them when we make these decisions. Doing too much does kill their love of learning.
Thank you for taking the time to share.