Evidence for Textbooks? Evidence for Classroom Computers?

Forgive me Larry & readers…I keep forgetting to reblog a post when I comment so my readers benefit from both, and subsequent discourse…kinda like how I still hand my credit card to a clerk and he/she frowns and points me to the reader in front of me, which I rarely see…


“…it is the text that remains central to most, but surely not all, teachers’ lessons.”

As a fairly new mathematics teacher, I am stunned at how appallingly bad most mathematics text books are these days, chock full of distracting commentary, pictures, and other kaleidoscopic and kinematic-esque artifacts that dilute the value of a subject area that distilled over thousands of years.

Nonetheless, at the more advanced levels, I require my students to read their text and attempt homework BEFORE I mention anything about the content. I learned this at West Point in the early 1980’s using what is known as The Thayer Method, or with videos these days, The Flipped Classroom. In my day, black boards surrounded our classroom with white and other colored chalk and yard sticks in the trays for students to present their work while the “P” pondered Socratically.

Many of my youngest honors precalculus students and their parents despise me for it. However, I know it is the most effective method to instill in them the necessity to engage with text, technical or otherwise, as they learn how to learn along with the calculus or precalculus.

While I utilize a website for disseminating and displaying lesson plans and homework assignments, nothing surpasses the power of a well-written textbook as the fount of knowledge from which our students must drink.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

In the three part series on evidence for use of computer devices in classrooms I posted recently, one reader highly supportive of classroom technology questioned my focus on evidence by pointing out on his blog that  no studies had been done when textbooks were introduced so why should the introduction and use of electronic devices and their software be held to that standard. Here is, in part, what the reader said:

For instance, we spend a lot of money on textbooks. Is there evidence, research based, that paper textbooks are an effective teaching tool with today’s students? How about pencils? Pens? Air conditioned classrooms? The point is, there are lots of things we spend great deal of money on in education without asking if there is evidence to show that the program works. I have NEVER, in all my years in education, ever heard any school board or state legislator…

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About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Independent consultant and junior college adjunct instructor. Former secondary math teacher who taught math intervention, algebra 1, geometry, accelerated algebra 2, precalculus, honors precalculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Statistics. Prior to teaching, I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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