My twitter stream has been filled most of the morning with the hashtag #beyondthetextbook and it has been an interesting conversation. I thought while I was thinking about it I would write a couple of short notes about the conversation.
#1. I am all for losing the traditional textbook. As it stands now, most of my classes don't use the textbook very often. I don't think that US History has used their text at all this year. World History has done some work out of their book here and there. AP US has nightly reading assignments from their book but I could just as easily give them readings from somewhere else. But there are problems.
Internet access is absolutely critical to losing the text. In the classes that I teach that use the computer lab, I almost never refer to the book. But in the classes without access, the students use their book more. It would either be a text of some kind or internet access. If I ran off all the things that I wanted my students to read then my school might get angry and the way that I was using up paper resources for readings.
#2. The biggest resistance would come from people who use the book quite a bit. Some of these might be veteran teachers but some might also be new teachers who are still learning content. It's nice when veteran teachers have been teaching the same thing for many years and have lots of resources. Unfortunately, most novice teachers don't have many resources. I wonder if we made veteran teachers teach a new subject if those teachers would so easily be able to get rid of the text.
#3. Parents like to know that the students have textbooks. We would have to change the way that parents view education in order to get rid of all textbooks. Of course, this applies to everyone who has ever gone to school. Part of the problem with any ed reform is the fact that we have to convince stakeholders that the schools do, in fact, know what they are doing.
Anyway, just a few quick thoughts. Maybe I'll come back to this later after I have more time to think on it.