Textbooks. Textbooks! Textbooks?…..

As I near the end of my semester and my literacy course, I am forced to think about what I have learned and consider how I will apply it as I start my student teaching in January. Although I feel I have learned valuable strategies and have envisioned ways that I can implement them, I still struggle with the idea of textbooks in a health class which is one of my majors. I know there is a purpose and when used correctly, they can be a great asset. With that said however, at essentially the conclusion of this course and having spent so much time imaging the possibilities of literacy in my future health classes, I look at the textbook in my pre-student teaching experience and find it hard to get inspired from it. While I know each school is different, but from my experiences throughout my K-12 and postsecondary education, I have not come across a health textbook that I have felt really was useful.

In my health education classes here at Central Michigan University, there is an emphasis on straying away from the experience many of us had in our health classes that consisted of reading the textbook and doing the chapter review at the end or completing a worksheet. While I understand that there are ways that the reading can be spiced up to entertain and engage students more, the idea behind my coursework here has been to expand teaching outside of the book with hands on activities, projects, skits, the list goes on and on but essentially about as far left as you can get from reading a textbook. I think that is the biggest part that is conflicting to me. In this particular course, we learn and I can see how a math teacher could use it or a science teacher could benefit, but with health, I feel like since so much is related to real life everyday experiences, it could be better learned through simulations and scenarios and would have a greater chance of retention and application later on compared to being read. So as I reach this ending point, I find myself contemplating where is the happy medium.

Soon I will begin my student teaching and after that, hopefully be getting a job but in both settings I am left to assume there will already be textbooks for me and not the opportunity for me to select one. I will then be faced with this struggle of how to use this tool, that I know could have great potential, but is something I often feel that the information found in health texts that I have had experience with, could be taught in a more meaningful way. I don’t want to lose that literacy component in my classroom of having students dissect information while processing and organizing it as they go along, however I just am challenged when thinking of where the balance is. 


3 thoughts on “Textbooks. Textbooks! Textbooks?…..

  1. jschmid450 December 6, 2016 / 12:30 am

    The CMU health education field has done a similar thing to me. I also feel the need to stray away from textbooks even though they can be used efficiently inside of the classroom. Luckily, my major is physical education instead of english or math. I feel the health field is definitely a place to stray away from the book slightly, and let experiences guide the teaching a bit more. That is just my take on it though, and seeing as how we have been in the same classes I understand you dilemma.


  2. LoriBruner December 8, 2016 / 4:48 am

    Hi Kari,

    Your post really spoke to me because I remember wrestling with this same thing as a teacher education student. In my education program (and yours!), we learned about all of these amazing research-based teaching practices, and I began to envision my classroom full of these strategies in practice. However, when I was actually out in the schools for my pre-student teaching experiences and my internship year as a teacher, what I saw looked much different than what my instructors were preaching – and it was disheartening and confusing.

    Textbooks are rarely inspiring on their own – even when you get to choose them yourself. I actually did not get to choose our literacy textbook this semester as it was already chosen before I was invited to teach our class. I liked our textbook and appreciated certain aspects of it, but I viewed it more as a guide and just one of the many resources we had at our disposal. I would view my textbook in this way even if I DID get to choose it! Like health, I believe literacy is best learned through many different avenues – and the more authentic you can craft experiences for your students, the deeper their understanding will be.

    I think a textbook can have a place in any classroom (even terrible ones), but I don’t believe a textbook should stand alone. If you have a particularly rich textbook, you might pull from it a little more than you would pull from a less than ideal one. But with any lesson or unit, you should always strive to begin by imagining the experience you want for your students, defining your overall goals for the unit or lesson, and THEN figuring out what resources and materials can serve your purposes. If the textbook helps you achieve your objectives, then that’s great! You can let the text support your goals to whatever extent makes sense. But if it doesn’t, then that’s okay too. Maybe you just use it as a resource for yourself and let the students know there is further information in the text if they’d like to read more about what you’re doing in class.

    I hope this discussion helps a little! It’s certainly a complex issue, but I truly believe that keeping your goals and objectives at the center of your planning and teaching – as opposed to the textbook at the center – it will help guide you in choosing the best instructional methods and resources for your students.


    • karkk1ka December 13, 2016 / 4:15 am

      Thank you! I really appreciate that comment and feel like it was a lot of what I was looking for.


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