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Had to chuckle, because one of the negative comments I received one semester was: "She expects us to read the textbook!" (in the context of the whole comment this was written with an expression of horror and disbelief.)

 

Cruel and unusual punishment! For some reason, many students feel that math texts are only used for homework problems. When I was teaching in a college classroom, I would regularly include an example or two directly from the text as test problems. Students began reading through examples when they realized they might have a heads up for exams! But it is the rare student who reads the proofs. Sigh...

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Actually the major reason I use college textbooks for my high schoolers is the abysmal quality of high school textbooks...

 

We have had the same experience. When we were looking for a fairly simple explanation of how genetics works, we turned to a high school bio book (dragonfly cover, fairly popular here). The explanation was simplified into non-sense. It sounded ok, but in an effort not to be too complicated, it left out some major steps. These wouldn't be a problem if you weren't really trying to understand how meiosis works. My mother, with the help of my sister's college textbook, had to explain the process (this was before easy access to the web). After that, I was suspicious of high school textbooks. Not all college textbooks may be suitable for my children to do in their entirety in high school, but they certainly make a better base than high school textbooks. In history, we found the high school level history textbook we tried to be little better than the Kingfisher my children used in middle school. Spielvogel was much better. (So, interestingly, is our French history book series meant for 6th - 9th. It is almost all primary texts. It took awhile for my youngest to develop the skills needed to deal with this.) We use TWEM for literature so I can't judge literature textbooks. When we used Hewitt's Conceptual Physics, both my sons were very frustrated at first until they got used to using a textbook. They both needed their textbook skills when they took chemistry at the community college despite saying that the lecture was basically a repeat and clarification of the textbook materials. The professor expected his class to have read the textbook before the class and put a few questions on the exams that could only be answered if one used the textbook.

 

As I said before, in my opinion, a student who has used no textbooks might have a problem when they get to college and are expected to be able to use one and to answer textbook questions. Mine were very bad at this when we first began. Some of it might have been because they are not early bloomers academically, but most of it wasn't, in my estimation. Most of it was because textbooks are strange compared to other sorts literature and textbook questions unlike other questions. Being able to summarize a scientific article, for example, did not appear to help them to be able to deal with a textbook. I'm not saying they definately will. I am just saying beware. Mine had only a few textbooks before dealing with their college courses and they were able to cope. I think if they had had none, they would have foundered, at least at first, and since we were relying on the community college classes to strengthen their college applications, this would not have been good. YMMV. We did no tests, no grades, and very few textbooks.

 

Nan

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LOL My youngest came home from our cc one day ranting that he seemed to be the only one capable of reading the textbook, that people in both his math and his chemistry class kept asking him to explain things once they figured out that he could and that the prof had to waste valuable lecture time explaining simple things rather than helping everyone to understand the more complicated bits or do more helpful examples.

 

Nan

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LOL My youngest came home from our cc one day ranting that he seemed to be the only one capable of reading the textbook, that people in both his math and his chemistry class kept asking him to explain things once they figured out that he could and that the prof had to waste valuable lecture time explaining simple things rather than helping everyone to understand the more complicated bits or do more helpful examples.

 

Sigh.

It is a vicious cycle. I assign reading, but know most of the class won't read it, so I have to go over stuff in lecture they could easily have read on their own (or I could let them fail which I am being "discouraged" to let happen). Which in turn means the students who DID read find it boring.

(It happened when my DD13 took my class. I taught her to do it right, read the assigned reading, take notes from the book - only to have her be bored in lecture... after which I allowed her to skip the reading.)

Every single one of my colleagues is wrestling with this issue, and nobody has come up with a good solution. Reading quizzes don't work.

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TWTM mixes skills and projects fairly successfully but still specifically teaches academic skills.

 

Yes, and it doesn't recommend JUST textbooks for everything. In my experience so far (no high school yet, though, OP, so I'm not speaking from experience there) it has made for an interesting education - far more interesting than what I experienced.

 

:iagree:

Most high school textbooks are unbearable. Sidebars, colored boxes, sound bites...

Go for intro college texts, which are of much better quality and have more consecutive written text, less of the distracting stuff. (Unfortunately, this nonsense starts in college texts now too...)

 

Thanks for mentioning this. I'll be giving thrift store books a closer look for college texts (esp. science) now, to see what they're like.

 

Awesome post, Nan! Gives me much to think about...

 

:iagree:

 

...I have decided to hold her back from starting high school for one more year since I don't think she can handle the workload and all the writing required. She is extremely creative and bright, really smart kid, but just struggles with the drudgery of school, probably has dysgraphia because she complains of writing so much, would prefer typing on the computer.

 

Is there any reason she can't type her writing assignments on the computer? It might take some of the drudge out of her work. I let my writing-phobic ds start typing in Grade 5 - I was going to hold off on typing for another year or two, but he HATED handwriting, so I let him learn typing. His compositions improved drastically after that, because he wasn't so focused on the handwriting anymore. (and his handwriting remains good now, so he didn't lose that skill)

 

So I'm finding myself curious why, with all the emphasis on textbook skills, there is, relatively speaking, little on skills for the lecture-based college course.

 

I'd think that's just as big a hurdle as textbook reading for many kids, and I'm surprised in light of that not to see more worry and trickle down of lecture skills into the junior high years, or more stress on it in high school, along with the textbook stuff.

 

But it seems over-represented on the boards, and to me personally, it seems an unbalanced focus

 

I see that your account here is new - have you tried doing a board search on this topic? I did a quick search using a few different keywords, and came up with many posts about it. So, people here do worry about it. I knew it had been discussed here before, because I remember thinking, "Oh, must make sure at some point that I teach my kids how to take notes both from a book AND from audio lectures." It was an issue I'd never really thought about before, probably because I'd had an easy time figuring out how to take lecture notes myself. But when I read those posts in the past, I realized that it doesn't come naturally to everyone.

 

Anyway, it has been discussed, so a board search might set your mind at ease.

 

But back to my greater point: Despite the trust that I have in my child, I am not sure that his lack of knowledge in a subject placed him in a position for evaluating course materials.

 

This is why I do depend on texts/spines/courses recommended by people whose knowledge I trust. After I get a basic rhythm/learning pattern in place (which takes time at the beginning of each new school year, and is periodically tweaked for various reasons), then I can turn my kids loose with their specific interests within a subject, in a variety of ways. But my lack of knowledge (and my children's lack of the bigger life picture) dictates that I have to start somewhere and put a pattern in place first.

 

LOL, and of course financial and time restrictions do some of the dictating!

 

It never fails to amaze me how people read my responses as either/or, black or white, when I have gone out of my way to repeatedly state that they are not.

 

:confused: Have you been misunderstood many times in the couple of months you've been registered here? If so, I am sorry to hear that. But Jane is just trying to add to the discussion here, and that was her first post in the thread.

 

My goodness. I had hoped to add to the discussion but apparently my musings are not welcome.

 

We have been here before, haven't we?

 

I enjoyed your musings, esp. the first paragraph. It speaks of my reality, and probably the realities of many other home educators.

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So summing up:

 

We all seem to be agreeing that you certainly don't need them for every class. The only disagreement seems to be about whether one can avoid them completely in high school and then manage a STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) major in college easily. There also seems to be some agreement that a good textbook makes math and foreign languages easier, especially if they are heavily supplimented by real-life experience. Some people think that basic physics is included in this (since it is very mathy). Some people think that they are useful to provide an overview, especially of science.

 

Do I have that right?

 

Nan

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Nan, I still suggest that while we can totally avoid textbooks in high school if we choose, I highly doubt that any college major can avoid them entirely, especially if you take into account the required general education courses. Like so many things which depend on a particular college, the best way to find out is to go to their site and see what the professors require in the different courses, or call the college and ask. I can't imagine any college suggesting that texts won't be used in any of the classes. Many texts are available as e-books, but the skills needed to read through them on screen should be very similar to the ones needed to get through the paper versions, one exception being that they might not seem as "intimidating" as a two or three inch thick textbook.

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...For her, that is the least interactive method of learning she could possibly do...

 

So perhaps for the occasional content-heavy class where you would like to use a textbook, you can approach the textbook as a guessing game. I totally agree with your daughter (and I think most people, unless they have one of those extraordinary memories, agree) that textbooks tend to be very un-interactive and that for that reason, they often don't work particularly well. When we talk about learning to use a textbook here, I think most of us mean learning to interact with the textbook enough to learn from it.

 

Instead of just wading into the textbook, you might instead do this:

 

Begin by asking:

What do I already know about this?

What do I need to know?

Map (using a graphic organizer) the whole textbook using the table of contents. Use coloured pencils and a giant piece of paper, or use a whiteboard and photograph it and transfer it to your computer.

 

Then for each chapter:

 

-Read the subject headings, picture captions, and bold bits.

-Map the first chapter using the subject headings.

-Translate the map into a series of questions that need to be answered. If the chapter is about genetics and the subject heading is meiosis, ask: What is meiosis? Why is it important? How does it work?

-Run your eye down all the text, not really reading, just seeing what stands out.

-Read each section trying to answer the questions you wrote.

-At all times, keep in mind the question: What is this trying to teach me?

 

It might help to read the bio of the author and think of the textbook as that person trying to teach the reader something.

 

The problem doing textbooks this way is that it takes time. But that is part of what you are trying to teach - that to really read a textbook takes time and effort. Textbooks may appear to be uninteractive, but that is deceptive. You have to work to get the material out of a high-level textbook. It took time for my children to learn to do this without it taking absolutely forever. It turned out not to be practical to teach this within the context of a class because it was way way too slow at first. Instead, they had to practice it a little at a time separately from the more hands-on or reading/discussion based sort of learning they were doing. I found that my children needed help learning to read some science "real" books this way, also. It was easy for them to read through the book and not necessarily learn what the author was trying to convery (teach) because the "lessons" were obscured by interesting anecdotes. One has to be able to take those anecdotes and ask what they show. The same was true of youngest's history book, which was almost all primary sources. He had to learn to take a spread of primary sources and draw conclusions from them. This may come naturally to some people but it didn't to my children. Or maybe I asked them to do before they were ready to do it? I don't know. I just know it was something they had to learn to do. They tended to take each primary source or science anecdote separately, as something interesting, and not necessarily put them together into a big picture.

 

Nan

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So summing up:

 

We all seem to be agreeing that you certainly don't need them for every class. The only disagreement seems to be about whether one can avoid them completely in high school and then manage a STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) major in college easily. There also seems to be some agreement that a good textbook makes math and foreign languages easier, especially if they are heavily supplimented by real-life experience. Some people think that basic physics is included in this (since it is very mathy). Some people think that they are useful to provide an overview, especially of science.

 

Do I have that right?

 

Nan

 

I agree with many of the previous posters that most high school text books are full of problems. I'll probably error on using advanced or college texts with my kids because of the issues previously mentioned.

 

I would like to add that in college it is very difficult to avoid text books. I can think of only a few classes (excluding seminars) of the top of my head that didn't use text books during my undergrad years. A few classes were entirely textbook and lecture based such as art history and astronomy while many had a text that was the spine and it was ultimately supplemented with other readings. I don't think text books are restricted to STEM courses-they certainly weren't at the liberal arts college I attended.

 

My point being that, I think that any student considering attending university needs to understand how to handle both lectures and text books before arriving for their first freshman class. Not just in STEM subjects but in humanities as well. To not have that experience would have you starting with a disadvantage.

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S

The problem doing textbooks this way is that it takes time. But that is part of what you are trying to teach - that to really read a textbook takes time and effort. Textbooks may appear to be uninteractive, but that is deceptive. You have to work to get the material out of a high-level textbook. It took time for my children to learn to do this without it taking absolutely forever. It turned out not to be practical to teach this within the context of a class because it was way way too slow at first. Instead, they had to practice it a little at a time separately from the more hands-on or reading/discussion based sort of learning they were doing.

Nan

 

We started using textbooks Nan's way this year. For my son it is definitely a skill to practice, not something that will just happen with maturity. He's pretty right-brained and sometimes apathetic about his studies. He sees a textbook is one big glop of information. We tried middle school level texts in middle school. One paragraph into the science I wanted to toss it, 4 glossy pictures and one paragraph that said almost nothing. We quit using it one day 1.

 

Yes, I've walked him through a text many times this year. It's ONE of the many skills we will be working on through the high school years, which includes lectures and notes from lectures.

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My stance is that textbooks are fine, work really well for many kids, but certainly have no claim to the only effective presentation of the basics of course material in most subjects. It is possible to use them in a supplementary fashion for many subjects rather than as core texts, or to minimize their use in some areas if that is what parent and child feel works most effectively. This is not a dismissal of or an attack on textbooks, but rather a different perspective from which to view their use.

 

It never fails to amaze me how people read my responses as either/or, black or white, when I have gone out of my way to repeatedly state that they are not.

 

Actually, this is what I think many of us here prefer to do.

 

Sort of skips the more interesting thing I've noticed is the difference in reaction when a dc reads a textbook that IS written by an expert vs. a textbook that is NOT.

 

It makes a big difference in the quality of the text. This is why we used RS4K Chem 2 & then Conceptual Chemistry, for eg. The author of RS4K is an expert in Chemistry, and Conceptual Chemistry is for college liberal arts students. Of course, it doesn't have all of the math, but dd did that with the lab kit we bought & had she been interested in Chem, she'd have taken AP Chem.

 

Math is a big one for this, too, as are all subjects.

 

My goodness. I had hoped to add to the discussion but apparently my musings are not welcome.

 

I welcome your musings :).

 

My preference has always been for math books written by mathematicians as opposed to math educators. Your point resonates well with me.

 

Jane is the one who led me to the best Algebra 1 book my eldest used for her, the 1965 Dolciani. I also like Gelfand's Algebra, but dd got bogged down with a very long, challenging problem & wouldn't continue with it after that.

 

Sigh.

It is a vicious cycle. I assign reading, but know most of the class won't read it, so I have to go over stuff in lecture they could easily have read on their own (or I could let them fail which I am being "discouraged" to let happen). Which in turn means the students who DID read find it boring.

(It happened when my DD13 took my class. I taught her to do it right, read the assigned reading, take notes from the book - only to have her be bored in lecture... after which I allowed her to skip the reading.)

Every single one of my colleagues is wrestling with this issue, and nobody has come up with a good solution. Reading quizzes don't work.

 

That irks me--it seems to me if they failed that first test, they'd wake up & start reading the text so you could make your college classes more like college!

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Ok - so the humanities people are now chiming in? Yes? Previously, it was the STEM people saying that one probably needed to meet textbooks before college in order to survive as a STEM major. I didn't mean to imply that this was true for non-STEM majors, just that most people hadn't specifically said so in the thread.

 

Nan

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I can only share my experiences w/my kids (3 homeschooled high school graduates so far.)

 

I am a textbook avoider for almost every subject all the way through graduation. The main exceptions are math and science. We use math textbooks from K up and science textbooks starting at high school credit level courses. (ETA: I need to add foreign languages as well b/c I am not proficient enough in any other language to not rely on a text.) While I love the non-textbook approach, I do not believe that the non-textbook approach is a good one for the nitty-gritty and necessary application practice when it comes to what should be foundational exposure for the student. I am not strong enough in science myself to actually ensure that those 2 categories are mastered at the appropriate level. Finding materials that fulfill conceptual understanding and overview of subject matter.......I am very comfortable w/and have been doing for yrs. But no so with the other.

 

My kids have all managed extremely well at the college level mostly w/o using textbooks for other subjects. (the odd textbook might have been a spine occasionally, but not consistently and certainly not as my objective.)

 

My kids do outline chpts of the books they are reading and are inundated w/lectures (from TC and OCW). Learning to take notes from books and lectures has made their transition from homeschool to college a non-issue for my kids. All 3 have done (did for college grad) well in their college classes.

 

ETA: I meant to tell Regentrude that when I was in college I had profs who stated emphatically at the beginning of their courses that 50% of their exams would be from the text and 50% would be from their lectures and the 2 would not overlap. They stated that if we were in college we obviously knew how to read and that they weren't going to waste our $$ by repeating in the classroom what we could read in our texts. They weren't kidding either. That is precisely how their classes functioned. (granted they were not math/science classes. I do remember that those were the texts I actually did read in college, though!)

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ETA: I meant to tell Regentrude that when I was in college I had profs who stated emphatically at the beginning of their courses that 50% of their exams would be from the text and 50% would be from their lectures and the 2 would not overlap. They stated that if we were in college we obviously knew how to read and that they weren't going to waste our $$ by repeating in the classroom what we could read in our texts. They weren't kidding either. That is precisely how their classes functioned. (granted they were not math/science classes. I do remember that those were the texts I actually did read in college, though!)

 

Thanks.

For Physics, this is not an approach I can replicate, because there is not such thing as "material from the book" and "material form the lecture". Students have to master problem solving and demonstrate this mastery on the exam. It is quite possible for a good student to develop this mastery from lectures only, but most students would benefit from using the textbook as well. However, at the exam, there is no such thing as testing content in a separate way. I could give a problem identical to a textbook example problem, but that would not send the message, since the procedure developed in class and practiced on the homework would apply to any problem.

I frequently give problems that are identical to homework problems in order to send the message that homework is important. this is, however, still not sufficient for quite a portion of the class.

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Thanks.

For Physics, this is not an approach I can replicate, because there is not such thing as "material from the book" and "material form the lecture". Students have to master problem solving and demonstrate this mastery on the exam. It is quite possible for a good student to develop this mastery from lectures only, but most students would benefit from using the textbook as well. However, at the exam, there is no such thing as testing content in a separate way. I could give a problem identical to a textbook example problem, but that would not send the message, since the procedure developed in class and practiced on the homework would apply to any problem.

I frequently give problems that are identical to homework problems in order to send the message that homework is important. this is, however, still not sufficient for quite a portion of the class.

 

I didn't believe it was approach that would work for science or math for tests. :D Too bad the administration does not approve of letting students fail, b/c it is an approach that would work for what would be covered in class itself. (meaning pace.....expecting them to arrive in class prepared for the topic based on assigned reading) I feel for professional teachers and being hamstrung. :tongue_smilie:

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Adding this. Excluding math, science and foreign language textbooks, what exactly does a student need to successfully use textbooks? If he can read and write well and take notes, what else is needed? I can see practicing notetaking from oral lectures (another thread) as prep for college classes, but what else comes into play with textbooks? Why would a student who has strong core skills struggle with a textbook?

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Adding this. Excluding math, science and foreign language textbooks, what exactly does a student need to successfully use textbooks? If he can read and write well and take notes, what else is needed? I can see practicing notetaking from oral lectures (another thread) as prep for college classes, but what else comes into play with textbooks? Why would a student who has strong core skills struggle with a textbook?

 

There are a couple of things at play here. High school textbooks are notoriously busy. Besides the body of the text, there are all sorts of annotated pictures, sidebars with information, boxes with calculator algorithms in math texts. It is hard to read the text passages without flipping back and forth to see what one missed in the sidebars--or one reads the sidebars and loses one's place in the text material. This is a trick used in magazine layouts too. I suspect some students just need to become accustomed to reading both these busy texts or a busy magazine.

 

Some students have difficulties with "just the facts, ma'am". They find textbooks to be dull. I suspect that working on notetaking with these students would be beneficial.

 

Textbooks can be dense with loads of information that requires processing. Have you ever looked at Campbell's Biology? This is a college text commonly used in AP Bio, which is over a thousand pages. To some (many?), this sort of book might be completely intimidating. It is challenging to stay on pace not just reading the book but understanding the material. There is a temptation to highlight everything which doesn't help when attempts to go back over the text for review.

 

I think that everyone has their own approach to text book use--just like with notetaking. I love sticky notes but hate highlighters. Shrug.

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Adding this. Excluding math, science and foreign language textbooks, what exactly does a student need to successfully use textbooks? If he can read and write well and take notes, what else is needed? I can see practicing notetaking from oral lectures (another thread) as prep for college classes, but what else comes into play with textbooks? Why would a student who has strong core skills struggle with a textbook?

 

Well I can only tell you my experience which was that I struggled mightily in freshman history of civ. I avoided it for years and finally had to take it as a senior. I was fine in all my other classes (languages, linguistics, that sort of thing) but History of Civ was a real doozy for me. The tests required more synthesis of the information than I was getting from my reading and notetaking of the text. The high school I went to (phtht, phtht...) thought CONCEPTS and discussion were all great and dandy and didn't bother to give us a TEXTBOOK for history to work through. I had no clue what I was doing, and I struggled, ending up with a B and certainly not my usual A.

 

That's why I'm pretty determined to make sure dd has some exposure to textbooks in high school, because I KNOW there's a level of synthesis there and a way of interacting with the text. Many of the popular texts (Spielvogel, etc.) have study guides which have the level and types of synthesis questions which would be on the tests or at least which were on the types of tests I was having to take. So it's not hard to have a way to check what you're doing and check the way your dc is interacting with the material to see if he's getting there. I certainly wasn't. History isn't my thing, but it was more than that. I fundamentally lacked the skills to interact with the text and extract and synthesize at the level they wanted. I could do it with something I liked where I naturally asked those questions but not when I just needed to be able to turn it on as a skill.

 

As Doodler said, colleges and approaches vary. I suppose someone else's freshman history of civ class has all essay tests on themes and wouldn't have tripped me up. Know your poison I guess.

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Thanks for explaining the distinction. I understand where you're coming from a bit better.

 

But I had exactly the opposite experience that you did: I could get by without cracking a textbook much at all because the main material was presented in lectures. And while there are some incredibly wonderful professors out there, there are also ones whose lectures are disorganized, rambling, deadly dull, disconnected, etc. Plus kids are going to be having to listen to lectures in required general ed classes they may not be interested in taking.

 

In my own classes it was also rare indeed to have a class that totally depended on a textbook -- calculus and one science class are all that I recall. Instead, in undergraduate classes we read a range of articles, xeroxed bits of regular books or entire real books, and, for introductory courses only, bits of a textbook. A lot of times there was no textbook but a course reader, assembled by the professor and xeroxed (and I made such packets for my students some years too); now I think most are online. Perhaps being a humanities major made the difference? But at our local university, many upper division science classes also require students to read journal articles and online research publications. Where is the work to get high schoolers ready to do that?

 

I just see such a weird process of overcompensation -- from my point of view, that is, not necessarily from anyone else's -- where textbook reading of high school texts is pushed down into junior high, college textbooks are pushed into high school. For some kids clearly this is absolutely the right fit. But it seems over-represented on the boards, and to me personally, it seems an unbalanced focus.

 

I also see people saying that because they had to write 20-page papers by the end of college, that's what their high schoolers do. Because a particular essay would get "ripped to shreds" in a college classroom, they don't allow it to pass for their high schoolers.

 

All this is problematic enough in my mind. But the emphasis on textbooks, like that on essay-writing, often seems to emphasize quantity -- ever earlier, so for much longer, and daily practice across the boards -- at the expense of other equally vital skills, and disregarding the idea that for some kids, later is better, and using a mix of materials is more effective.

 

Emphasis on textbook reading at the expense of other skills, like attending to a badly organized but important lecture, reading articles in discipline journals, finding quality research online, etc. seems in general to lead to other skills/areas being downplayed. My dh is dealing with grad students who still can't read through science publications easily or well although they're ace at textbook skills.

 

Sorry, OP, I've kind of taken your thread on a detour! To me it's relevant, as my experiences as a teacher, student, and homeschooling parent all have led me not to dismiss or reject textbooks entirely, but to use them only when dd has chosen to do so. I've also had plenty of chance to see how very many well-written books and other media out there cover much of the same material as a textbook pretty well across the board (excluding, in our own limited experience, math and beginning Latin -- but even there we don't use textbooks exclusively). In some cases, other books and materials do so more engagingly, more memorably, and certainly better stylistically (important to my dd).

 

What I'm seeing is that people's own experiences and modes of learning really shape what they emphasize for their kids -- no surprise there, and that includes me too. But I think it's good for an OP to see this too, and realize that the reasons other people may put such enormous emphasis for so many years on textbook skills (personal experience, the learning issues or strengths of themselves and their individual kids) may or may not apply in her case.

 

I have picked up intro non-majors college texts for high school work, not because I think working with textbooks is an essential skill (although I do), but because I find that texts written for middle school and even high school are superficially written and seem filled with distracting sidebars that try to make the subject enticing. I prefer that competence in the topic brings its own relevance.

 

We use a textbook for history or science or foreign language as a concentrated vehicle for communicating fundamentals. With a chapter or two of historical reading on slavery in the US and the laws and court cases surrounding slavery and states rights questions, they are able to more fully understand a trip to Harper's Ferry or their reading of Frederick Douglas.

 

So I'm not picking a textbook in these instances because I am afraid they won't know how to handle them. I'm picking it because it's efficient as a springboard. For our Civil War studies this summer, they are also reading Battle Cry of Freedom, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, Red Badge of Courage and listening to a Teaching Company series on the Civil War.

 

For reading journal articles or the sort of material that I've seen in teacher created reading packets, we get The Economist, Wall Street Journal and several professional journals.

 

I think some of the reaction stressing the need to know how to effectively use a textbook is that there seem to be many homeschoolers who prefer to toss textbooks on the dustheap entirely. Either because they don't like them or aren't comfortable with them.

 

(I'm not thinking this was your suggestion, but it seems like there are plenty of folks who WILL chime in with, don't worry you child doesn't need to ever use a textbook/read challenging books they don't enjoy/master algebra/study science because I/my kids didn't and they turned out just fine. I've generally seen this stated without clarification of what said students are doing now for college or career. So it's difficult or impossible to know if such claims support my students' college and life goals.)

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Ok - so the humanities people are now chiming in? Yes? Previously, it was the STEM people saying that one probably needed to meet textbooks before college in order to survive as a STEM major. I didn't mean to imply that this was true for non-STEM majors, just that most people hadn't specifically said so in the thread.

 

Nan

 

With the humanities courses I took, I think there is a distinction between a survey course that might lend itself to a textbook and one that is a topical course, which might not.

 

US History often has a good textbook. But by the time you move to the history of the Civil War or the Cold War or the Middle Ages, you are probably moving to specific secondary works or primary sources.

 

In my English degree, I can't remember any textbooks (not counting an anthology as a textbook) except for Creative Writing, where we used a text that we were beta testing for the prof.

 

German had textbooks ranging from combined instructional texts to grammars to leveled readers to histories for language learners. It wasn't until upper level courses (300+) that we moved to mostly reading German works.

 

Russian had horrid texts that were used by nearly every Russian student I've met who studied during the late Soviet period.

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It seems there are two main types of university courses in the humanities.

 

I'll reflect back on history and political science courses I took as the basis for this statement.

 

In one model there is a textbook with occasional readings outside of that book. The book is the basis for the class.

 

In another model there is a survey text and a large amount of supplemental reading or primary source reading. The text is there as a spine, it provides all the background information on the subject being discussed. That background information may not be lectured on by the professor but a knowledge of it will be assumed in order to properly discuss the primary sources (or perhaps a more detailed secondary source) and will provide the context for essays assigned out of class or on an exam. Using a text for background material allows the professor to focus lectures and discussions on a given topic rather than spending their time on generalities.

 

I am certainly not a fan of textbook alone in humanities courses but it does have its place and uses. Because I understand this and know that my children, who wish to attend university, will run up against textbooks more than once I intend for them to have exposure to them and how to properly use them in a humanities course. In the end it really is an advanced version of what you see in a variety of homeschool history programs, one text as the spine and others to flesh out details. It may be impossible for a child to read a primary source book that describes every aspect of World War II-there is only so much time, occasionally a textbook can be useful to give the broad scope of the war and the social history of the time while other readings and activities can be used to focus in on certain parts of the history.

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I meant to add this earlier, but got distracted.

 

One less common reason to use textbooks (at least to some extent) is because it seems to be easier for NCAA to evaluate a known high school or higher textbook as indicating that a course was on a high school level.

 

So if you anticipate having a college athlete that needs to have NCAA eligibility, this is a consideration. There are a couple subjects where I'm making sure that I have a textbook as a backstop to list in the course description, even if it is a point of departure, rather than the main source of information.

 

This is not to say that NCAA won't also approve a course that uses great books or lots of literature or non-fiction works. But it does seem to make it easier to have a known text. (I've specifically gotten a text to back up our OSU German Online, which uses worksheets created by the program rather than a published text.)

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txhomemom, my 17yo sounds a lot like your dd. I used NARHS for her -- I wanted accountability for both of us, without a stack of textbooks. It has been a great fit. You can download their free handbook here and I highly recommend their course descriptions book as an inspiration to you & your dd. If my 15yo or 12yo had been born first I'd not have even been looking for "out of the box" guidance, but the course description book has been a lifesaver for homeschooling my oldest!

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It seems there are two main types of university courses in the humanities.

 

 

In one model there is a textbook with occasional readings outside of that book. The book is the basis for the class.

 

In another model there is a survey text and a large amount of supplemental reading or primary source reading. The text is there as a spine, it provides all the background information on the subject being discussed.

.

 

The second model is one I think can work very well, and what I really prefer teaching at home. Sadly, two of my dc aren't much into history & since they are strong in math & science, we've used the first method for history here.

 

I meant to add this earlier, but got distracted.

 

One less common reason to use textbooks (at least to some extent) is because it seems to be easier for NCAA to evaluate a known high school or higher textbook as indicating that a course was on a high school level.

 

This is not to say that NCAA won't also approve a course that uses great books or lots of literature or non-fiction works. But it does seem to make it easier to have a known text. (I've specifically gotten a text to back up our OSU German Online, which uses worksheets created by the program rather than a published text.)

 

This is a good point for any who have teens who may qualify for sports scholarships. Something I just learned very recently is that sometimes some schools (not Division I schools, I don't think) even give sports scholarships for athletes who are good, but not stellar.

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