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No textbooks and using the internet for collating info for projects - WTF

(39 Posts)
ReelingLush18 Wed 14-Feb-18 17:40:54

DD has no textbooks and it seems as if for most homework (except Maths) they are expected to use the internet to research projects (on which her relatively leafy comprehensive seems very keen). She has some 'Jobs in London' (now and in the future) homework which with the best will in the world (in my opinion) is requiring picking out of info well beyond that which you'd expect most DC of her age-group to be capable of. It seems much more like sixth form work IMHO, as most searches throw up proper reports to sift through. As far as I'm aware her school has not even taught them the relevant skills to do proper key word searches. I'm a bit gobsmacked about what seems to be required of them TBQH (as is DD!), unless we're missing a very basic trick. I cannot recall DS (at super-selective) ever doing anything as hard at the same age, although they had full access to text-books. AIBU? It all seems unnecessarily hard?

TalkinPeace Wed 14-Feb-18 21:18:53

Sounds normal to me

BrownTurkey Wed 14-Feb-18 21:36:20

What is her age group? Internet research skills seem more relevant than text book work tbh. Although I was a little startled that dd had internet safety homework to ‘research news stories about online grooming’ to present to the class, at age 12. Some really horrible headlines, mostly involving teachers, came up when I decided to narrow it down for her first. So that must have been a fun lesson for him to lead.

Lentils Wed 14-Feb-18 22:32:31

Not being AIBU at all - and this is why people are such suckers for fake news and why it will only get worse. Our dcs are being let loose to "research" on the Internet (ie plagiarise) when they haven't even been taught how to understand or identify the bias of their sources.

ReelingLush18 Thu 15-Feb-18 11:03:03

Glad it's not just me then!

Whilst I am all for them learning robust research skills (and not having to carry hugely heavy text books around), I get the decided impression that they're not being taught them at school. I just think it does indeed require more education than 11/12 year olds have had to 'filter' the internet correctly, using the right type of search terms.

And it's fine and dandy doing 'searches' if they can find the relevant info easily via secondary-school aimed websites (such as Bitesize) which they can then easily collate, but that's not always possible. And I'm not entirely convinced their teachers are really expecting them to be trawling through reports aimed at adults to find said info (as with the ^ London jobs project). I would have thought at their age/stage it would be better to give them some printed off assets (or at least suggested URLs) from which to put together their project info?

BrownTurkey I'm truly shocked at that.

nocampinghere Thu 15-Feb-18 11:44:39


Fruitloopcowabunga Thu 15-Feb-18 11:49:31

DS started secondary school in September and I was puzzled at the no textbooks thing. Asked a teacher friend and apparently it's so they can tailor lessons to individual ability. I find it a pain though - DS sometimes (often!) goes into a world of his own in lessons so when it comes to homework there's no notes to work from. We are also going through printer cartridges at an alarming rate as so much has to be printed off at home. Computer studies seems to be all about safety ( not a bad thing, but as you say, some lessons in search technique would be helpful!)

OutyMcOutface Thu 15-Feb-18 11:56:59

I didn't even use text books enough to justify owning them during university (law degree). There are a lot of really great subject specific databases out there and, unlike text boooks, they don't go out of date because they are constantly updated and they can hold much more information because they aren't limited by size. They are also easier to use because of the search functions. I would expect someone to be able to find better quality information online than from a text book.

ReelingLush18 Thu 15-Feb-18 12:03:00

We are also going through printer cartridges at an alarming rate as so much has to be printed off at home. Computer studies seems to be all about safety ( not a bad thing, but as you say, some lessons in search technique would be helpful!)

Fruitloopcowabunga - it's expensive having to print off assets for them time and time again.

I am going to be interested in how revision is going to be done without text books to refer to?

It is interesting to see the way that different schools do things. DS's super-selective always used text books (and still does, in the main, in the sixth form). I recall him very little of this type of super vexxing taxing project work requiring research skills beyond most 16-18 year olds, let alone Yr 7s!

ReelingLush18 Thu 15-Feb-18 12:03:48

there's a missing doing in that last para!

Rosieposy4 Thu 15-Feb-18 12:20:02

Textbooks are super expensive and need changing every time the spec changes. Last time we bought textbooks we had 16 ( code for a class set, sharing 1 between 2 ) for both y10 and 11. You needed to book them a week in advance and would get bumped off if someone was illso we ended up rarely using them. The kids were not allowed to take them home anyway.
We do have subscriptions to online textbooks now for y10-13.
I do think the teacher could email the students some suitable links for starters to direct them.

ReelingLush18 Thu 15-Feb-18 12:38:05

Rosieposy4 yes I can understand the issue about the expense of text books.

Agree that suitable links or printed off resources (at least as a starting point) would be super helpful. And that they give a 'Levels' reference sheet instead (which goes all the way up to what to achieve to get a L9) seems ludicrous for Year 7s.

MaisyPops Sat 17-Feb-18 20:03:42

Much as I don't like that type of homework, no textbooks is standard.

However they assess ks3 is down to individual schools. Levels may link to GCSE or it might be their own new way of assessing.

I'd be wary of assuming what is or isn't too high for Y7. Around 50% of my Y7s are writing essays that would get a grade 4 at GCSE and some could get 5s. They're really quite impressive and a lovely bunch of kids.

ourkidmolly Sat 17-Feb-18 20:12:07

My 11 yr old dd had a bizarrely difficult research RE homework too: reasons for the the different Christian churches. I mean where do you start? No other info or steer provided.

MaisyPops Sat 17-Feb-18 20:23:48

That's dreadful homework.

There's probably a timeline of churches splitting online somewhere. E.g. find the date when Henry 8th split from the catholic church and tall about the origins of the church if England.
Then find creation of methodism with Wesley.
Then Baptists
Then maybe look at eastern orthodox

Just an idea where to go but ut is a shockingly poorly framed piece of homework.

Anasnake Sat 17-Feb-18 20:34:46

East - west schism molly in the year 1054.

kesstrel Sun 18-Feb-18 10:35:37

As far as revision for GCSEs go, switched-on parents who can afford it buy the appropriate "revision guide2 for the spec. The rest just have to struggle through.

These ridiculous Internet search homeworks drove me batty (past that stage now). I did eventually work out that it can help if you put, in addition to the search term, something like "Key stage 3" but that doesn't always work. I feel sorry for the kids who don't have reasonably knowledgeable parents to help them. It's a classic example of the under-estimation of how much knowledge is needed to gain more knowledge, while pretending that "skills" are all you need.

Another big problem with the absence of textbooks is that it means children get very little exposure to reading academic-style prose - the same kind of prose that they're somehow miraculously supposed to be able to use when they start writing essays.

ReelingLush18 Sun 18-Feb-18 10:41:05

I feel sorry for the kids who don't have reasonably knowledgeable parents to help them. It's a classic example of the under-estimation of how much knowledge is needed to gain more knowledge, while pretending that "skills" are all you need. I totally agree.

alpineibex Sun 18-Feb-18 10:48:25

I'm not sure what is so hard about key word searching. Has she not used the internet much beforehand? This is pretty normal. If everything coming up is too difficult, just type 'easy', 'simple', 'for kids', or whatever after your search terms.

What is it about the Jobs in London project that is the issue?

alpineibex Sun 18-Feb-18 10:51:26


Search 'Why are there different Christian denominations?' on Google, loads of info on it.

alpineibex Sun 18-Feb-18 10:52:53

We also had no textbooks. Well, we would have them in class, but not at home.

ReelingLush18 Sun 18-Feb-18 10:57:18

alpineibex she does but not for studying. They certainly didn't at primary school. This is pretty normal in Year 7 without any teaching on how to do searches? Is there an assumption being made about what they should be able to do and what they actually can do?

Most of the Jobs in London project has thrown up staid, 'grown-up' reading reports from the GLA and ONS. I cannot imagine that the teachers really expect them to be filtering through this type of resource, or are they?

LoniceraJaponica Sun 18-Feb-18 12:08:26

DD is in year 13, and the only textbooks she had provided in KS3 and KS4 was for her English literature GCSE. At A level the school provided textbooks for psychology, chemistry and biology, but we have had to buy the geography textbook.

I think the reasons behind the lack of textbooks are perfectly valid:
Lack of funding
Exam specs changing
Tailoring work according to the pupil’s ability

It does make it more expensive for parents – printer cartridges and paper. Plus it helps to have parents who are computer literate. If your child goes on to do any A level science subjects I would advise that you buy shares in your printer cartridge supplier grin. All the science subjects have anything between 8 and 12 page homeworks that need to be printed off before completing.

“I am going to be interested in how revision is going to be done without text books to refer to?”

You will have to buy them. DD’s school sells the CGP revision guides and DD found them really helpful for her GCSEs. She achieved A* in all her subjects that she had the revision guides for.

I agree that it would help to guide the year 7s on how to search for something online as you need to think laterally sometimes, and maybe they don’t have the vocabulary to think of synonyms for the same word to maximise their searches.

alpineibex Sun 18-Feb-18 12:23:53

OP, no I wouldn't say that's normal. But then, I don't know exactly what you're supposed to be researching, as Jobs in London is pretty broad.

I had in mind them having to look up the types of jobs that have been in London in the past that aren't around now, or which sector is the largest.

ScipioAfricanus Sun 18-Feb-18 12:52:39

I think ‘tailoring to their ability’ is a euphemism which schools use rather than the reality that textbooks aren’t affordable due to cuts in funding and constantly changing specs. Printouts also unaffordable so if pupils research at home the cost of printing goes to parents.

It is ridiculous to expect children to wade through huge amounts of information at various levels (some of it more likely wrong or from dubious sources than if it were in textbooks) to find the actual knowledge (e.g. for the schisms in the churches, under GCSE Level, most likely looking for Henry VIII vs Catholicism and rise of Protestantism in Weatern Europe in 1500s. But a child could research in depth about Mormonism in Utah in 1870s and still have worked as hard and followed instructions - and got entirely useless knowledge for the scheme of work.

When I occasionally give internet research I always give some starting websites which I’ve found are useful/right level. I’m lucky enough to still have had textbooks (my subject doesn’t change that much and I’ve recently worked in independents so photocopying etc was much easier to afford).

When it comes to revision, children will often have a rag tag assortment of printouts and they can’t go back to an authoritative source and know that the information they are covering is what they need. I completely agree with kesstrel : this is a worrying pretence that skills are superior to knowledge and it discriminates against children from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds, generally.

Of course, they should learn internet research skills and by the time they are in sixth form should be able to use the internet much more extensively.

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