Textbook and Curricular Material

Creation and Use

Educational Material Importance

One of the most important aspects of education, which is often overlooked, is curricular material which includes textbooks. Not considered the strong educational tools they once were, textbooks are still invaluable tools in and out of the classroom. Textbooks cost school districts enormous amounts of money each year. They can be the determine factor to make or break standardized test scores that are so valuable to school districts. As educational curriculums continue to change, so does the creation and use of textbooks and other curricular materials. The changes that are occurring in the information contained in these vital tools are disheartening and oppressive when it comes to the future of education.


If education is to undergo any kind of reformation, it appears the beginnings must stem from instructional materials, such as textbooks. According to Finn and Ravitch (2004) textbooks are purchased by a centralized government system that allows content designed with political correctness (i.e. no ethnic, gender, religious, social, status, or political intender). It is this central system that is putting pressure on the creators and publishers to follow the strict guidelines imposed for textbook design. It appears this whole system of textbook creations, adoption, and use is causing a dysfunctional educational process.

Textbook Adoption and Censorship

Censorship is becoming prevalent in the world of textbook publication. Censorship involves imposing certain values on others through ideas, words, and images. Censorship of the content of textbooks supports the indoctrination of orthodox teaching that is becoming more prevalent in educational settings. This indoctrination imposed by people and groups encompasses the common pop-culture and social hierarchy that is presently growing in educational systems. The beginning of the indoctrination came when, “publishers were self-censoring in order to win contracts from state education departments in big states that practice statewide adoption and purchasing” (Finn et al., 2004, p.15). This practice has filtered slowly and surely into the main stream of textbook design and publication.


Has the adoption of textbooks in the American education system caused so much injury that it can never be repaired? Have the textbooks and the textbook adoption process caused inevitable damage and weakness to the foundation of the educational system? One weakness in the diminished quality of textbooks is the use of politically correct and shallow language, which in turn has had a serious effect on learning and educational achievement. The intention of the material in the textbooks is not to cause any offense or oppression to anyone with regard to race, gender, religion, or social affiliation. Because of this oversimplification of information, textbooks have become weak and often ineffective as shown by continued lowering of standardized test scores. With the lowering of standardized test scores, it appears that schools are failing to educate children. Therefore, ultimately the final finger points to the teacher who is the person that spends the most time in the classroom and ultimately held responsible for the educational achievement of the students.

episode 7 - Diane Ravitch - part 01

Textbook Adoption and Legislation

In 1995, the state of Texas mandated that textbooks could not be challenged unless they contained inaccurate information or did not adhere to the curriculum standards set forth by the state (Finn et al., 2004). No other limitations would allow the textbooks to be denied. However with Texas in the forefront of educational success, especially with standardized testing scores, textbook designers and publishers still work to honor the ideas that legislation provides in the area of textbook content.


On the other side of the coin, states that do not have a central textbook adoption system, but legislation allows them to chose their own textbooks, appear to have higher standardized test scores. Ideally the thought then would be to allow states or individual districts to use their own system for textbook adoption based on their own individual needs and differences. By following this simple plan states and school districts could in effect stop the degradation of the system and allow functionality to once again come into place for the future of education.

Educational Material and Choices

As it is with so many ideologies in education that come-and-go, the textbook industry follows suit. The methods of textbook design, publication, adoption, and use continue to change. An example of this is the introduction of e-books. Even though e-books are not really books at all, but merely software on a technological device, they are a fast growing fad in an ever-increasing technological classroom environment. They are gaining popularity because of the vast amounts of information that can be packed into such extremely small amounts of space. They are also interactive and have peaked the interest of students as they challenge learning through technology.


In summary, one of the most important aspects of education is curricular material and textbook design and use. The future of education now depends not just on textbook and other curricular material content, but also type, style, and method of content delivery. Whatever the content and delivery method used, it appears textbook censorship will continue to play a deliberate role in the future of education.

References

Finn, C. E., & Ravitch, D., (2004). The mad, mad world of textbook adoption. Retrieved from http://https://harding.instructure.com/courses/1035471/modules/items/6975205


Westwater, A. C. (2014, February 6). Get this alarming book just as soon as you can (Review of the book The language police how pressure groups restrict what students learn). The Textbook Letter, 12(4), 1-8. Retrieved from http://https://harding.instructure.com/courses/1035471/modules/items/6975204


The DrexelInterview. (2011, June 14). Episode 7 - Diane Ravitch - part 1. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTzkAkcQghU