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Maths textbooks should be banned, apparently

(26 Posts)
LadyLance Mon 06-Aug-18 16:32:08

www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/08/02/maths-textbooks-should-banned-intimidate-pupils-headteacher/

Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

It does sound like what the school was doing before wasn't ideal- but I would have thought textbooks have a place in maths teaching.

If all practice questions come from worksheets instead, this must be increasing teacher workload at the school!

I wonder if they should be working on the resilience of their pupils instead!

OP’s posts: |
Hizz Mon 06-Aug-18 16:44:25

Do many state schools actually have maths text books? Or any others for that matter?
Neither of my DC ever had text books throughout secondary school.
DS is a maths teacher and seems to produce all his own worksheets which seems a huge waste of time to me if every teacher does the same.

spaghettipeppers Mon 06-Aug-18 16:56:50

Oh what nonsense.

We have textbooks for our upper primary children. They are well-written, take the children through a topic well, and ease teacher workload.

Our children constantly say that they like textbooks. It can be very calming to come into class and complete a textbook exercise in peace and quiet. They like the satisfaction of starting at the start and getting to the end by the end of the year.

PumpkinPie2016 Mon 06-Aug-18 18:49:05

The school I teach in has maths textbooks and they are well used!

I teach science and we also have plenty of textbooks that are well used. Fair enough that will not be used all lesson, every lesson but I often use them for questions. I found an NQT typing the questions from the textbook into a worksheet for a top set. When I asked why in Earth she was doing this she said at her placement school, textbooks were not to be seen during lessons confused We managed to persuade her that using the textbooks were perfectly ok to use in class!

When I was a kid, I used to love working through the questions in the maths textbook during lessons blush it was literally my favourite thing!

GHGN Wed 08-Aug-18 00:56:44

If I worked in this school, they would need to find another teacher asap.

noblegiraffe Thu 09-Aug-18 10:55:36

Instead of using textbooks in classes, teachers write questions on the board which cater to different abilities, and homework questions are accessed online.

Another benefit is that teachers can slip in harder exercises, which would not ordinarily feature in a textbook for that age group.

The more able students are able to challenge themselves by attempting these questions, without being put off by the knowledge that they are actually aimed at an older age group.

What absolute total bullshit, the implication that if you use textbooks, you can’t do this. It’s not one thing or the other, a good teacher uses a range of resources. A bad headteacher stops them from doing this.

MsAwesomeDragon Thu 09-Aug-18 11:05:21

We have textbooks. The pupils don't take them home, we don't use them religiously, but they're nice to have in the classroom.

I don't see why teachers should have to write their own worksheets when there are perfectly good exercises for that topic in a textbook but the had has decided they can't be used. I generally write my own homework sheets which focus on skills the kids need to practice. I frequently look at the exercise in a textbook and think "that's to hard/not hard enough" so I find something to supplement it. It's nonsense to say you shouldn't use textbooks at all though.

TeenTimesTwo Thu 09-Aug-18 18:59:33

As a parent I don't care whether it is text books or worksheets (though my DDs have never actually had textbooks).

But what I hate are worksheets with a bit of space for working out, but not enough. It encourages my DDs to try to squash in work rather than laying out properly.

OpiningGambit Sun 12-Aug-18 22:47:22

Honestly surprised that any primary schools use textbooks in any subjects! I thought they died out after the '90s!

I did have a textbook of sorts for maths homework last year, but found it almost unusable as nothing matched exactly what I needed for the kids, or didn't have the right level of challenge etc. Barely used it, got bits off twinkl or made my own.

RaymondHolt Sun 12-Aug-18 22:52:29

Our school doesn't have textbooks.

We use a range of resources, there are some great websites and we can create our own.
Not just worksheets.

I tend to find textbooks restrictive and don't really understand why they are still used. Maybe for at home or tutoring?

I would rather teach Maths and adapt to the class or student rather than plonking a book in front of them.

Cauliflowersqueeze Sun 12-Aug-18 22:58:52

It makes me quite angry that there are so many poor quality textbooks. There should be brilliant textbooks which can be the backbone of the lesson, with the teacher pulling out or supplementing if they wish, rather than hundreds of thousands of teachers re inventing the wheel every lesson.

noblegiraffe Mon 13-Aug-18 00:29:52

I would rather teach Maths and adapt to the class or student rather than plonking a book in front of them.

What’s the difference between an exercise from a worksheet and an exercise from a textbook?

I had to strong-arm our latest student teacher into using a textbook. She was working herself into the ground creating resources, trying to find stuff on TES etc. The university had sneered at textbooks and said it was ‘lazy’ to use them. I said ‘There’s a good exercise for that topic in this textbook, JUST USE IT FFS’. Decent textbooks have well-written exercises with increasingly difficult questions and extension questions. Having the answers in the back is brilliant at GCSE - you can make sure that bright classes check their work as they go along, it’s instant feedback.

I still use the same GCSE textbooks that I used when I started teaching over a decade ago. They are falling apart now and only held together with ‘Maths is gay’ graffiti. I use them regularly, with a variety of classes, but a minority of lessons. I know which topics they’re really good for, and I know I can grab them if I need extension work on a topic or a class need more practice. Obviously they don’t cover the new topics on the GCSE

The school has bought a few different sets of GCSE textbooks since then, and none are as good. The ones that were rushed out for the new GCSE were so bad that we didn’t buy any of them.

I think some people who are anti-textbook have never actually seen a decent one, or think that the kids are supposed to teach themselves from them. Of course not. The teacher teaches, the textbook replaces the worksheet.

ChipsForSupper Wed 15-Aug-18 01:33:33

A text book, well-researched, planned in depth and written by experts, beautifully laid out, tried and tested, carefully proof-read and checked over by professional editors and publishers......or something prepared in a rush by tired, overworked me around midnight the night before, printed in a squashed up word-format and photocopied on another half a rain forest......

Hmmmm......tough one.

DumbledoresApprentice Wed 15-Aug-18 10:46:32

I’m also a big fan of textbooks. I actually think it’s almost impossible to teach my subject well without textbooks at GCSE and totally impossible at A Level. Anyone trying to teach GCSE or A Level history without any textbooks has totally lost the plot IMO. I don’t often use the exercises in the books but the information in them is central to the way I teach. I use textbooks every day, although perhaps not every lesson of every day. I’m baffled to see people in the staff room spending hours making PowerPoints that involve them typing out information from their textbooks onto pretty slideshows with pictures. Why not just give the kids the book? I see the benefits of PowerPoint for putting up instructions or pictures or extra information that the textbook doesn’t cover but I just cannot ever see the point in typing out onto slides what is written in a textbook anyway.
I really try to discourage my NQTs from duplicating content that already exists and encourage them to use the textbooks wherever possible. Maybe other subjects are different but most of the stuff for my subject on TES is far poorer quality than the textbooks available from the main publishers.

SJCV Wed 15-Aug-18 13:11:08

It completely depends on their use IMO.

If schools use one textbook exclusively and don’t evaluate whether the content is appropriate for the pupils, or if they follow it blindly and don’t assess if pupils have understood previous content before moving on (e.g. We were on page 4 yesterday so we are on page 5 today, even though you didn’t understand the work.) then IMO textbooks are bad.

If schools use a textbook as part of a range of resources, evaluating whether the content meets the learning objective (taught by the teacher first) and providing extension/support where necessary, textbooks save a lot of teacher time (including photocopying) and are a valuable resource.

Nuffaluff Wed 15-Aug-18 13:15:16

I’m primary and we dip into our textbook. It’s good - the children like using it. It’s differentiated three ways on each page and the children choose which ‘level’ they want to work at.
I don’t see how it’s a problem.

ChipsForSupper Thu 16-Aug-18 00:00:18

If schools use one textbook exclusively and don’t evaluate whether the content is appropriate for the pupils, or if they follow it blindly and don’t assess if pupils have understood previous content before moving on (e.g. We were on page 4 yesterday so we are on page 5 today, even though you didn’t understand the work.) then IMO textbooks are bad.

But this is obvious whatever resource you are using. If you have produced worksheets or powerpoints and the pupils didn't get it - then, of course, you can't go on to the next thing you were preparing. In fact, that's another benefit of textbooks - they are often set out progressively so it's clear where you need to stick and go over (or use another resource to reinforce) before you go on and, also, where you need to go back to once you've moved on a bit but realised students have forgotten something essential.

EBearhug Thu 16-Aug-18 00:24:17

We never had a the textbooks till the GCSE years. Worksheets all the rest of the way, supplemented by SMP cards from about age 9-13, but still with added worksheets.

Don't really remember any text books in primary. They started creeping in from age 11 with foreign languages.

I'm now mid-40s.

5000KallaxHoles Fri 17-Aug-18 08:50:21

Don't really remember any text books in primary. They started creeping in from age 11 with foreign languages.

I remember an epic race to see who could blast through to the next colour Ginn book going on when I was in primary (and I'm 40 this year reluctantly ), do your page of work, queue up at the teacher's desk, collect nice neat line of ticks... go away to do next page of work. Probably a less joy-making experience if you struggled with the work, and the quality of the learning that went on was iffy - my grasp of long division was shocking until I did my PGCE as a result of it - but that was primary school in the 1980s. Plus in secondary the eternal teenage hobby of drawing little faces on all the sperm pictures in the biology textbook convent school girls were as bad as anyone else in this regard

I think these days schools hold off buying sets of textbooks more these days because as soon as they invest in them - they'll change the curriculum and partially-obsolete them anyway.

SJCV Fri 17-Aug-18 13:32:42

@ChipsForSupper

But this is obvious whatever resource you are using. If you have produced worksheets or powerpoints and the pupils didn't get it - then, of course, you can't go on to the next thing you were preparing. In fact, that's another benefit of textbooks - they are often set out progressively so it's clear where you need to stick and go over (or use another resource to reinforce) before you go on and, also, where you need to go back to once you've moved on a bit but realised students have forgotten something essential.

I completely agree that it’s the same for any resource. As a maths specialist teacher, I go into a lot of primary schools and support with the teaching of maths. It’s surprising how many schools I have been into that have bought into a scheme e.g. Abacus/Busy Ants/MNP even White Rose and follow it to the letter, without deviating if it doesn’t go to plan or the children need different input. You’d be surprised how many teachers (even experienced teachers) have told me, “Well that was the next lesson in the book”, even when a child hasn’t got the previous objective. I know this is a teaching problem, not a textbook problem, and I think textbooks help ensure that sequences of lessons are cohesive, but I do think they have the potential to be used badly.

ChipsForSupper Fri 17-Aug-18 13:52:01

I do take your point. But teachers who are that hopeless/misguided/ground down/blind will certainly not improve without text books. That is a valid concern but, as you say, I don't believe that the text books are the problem. In the hands of such "educators" almost anything has the potential to be used badly.

Kazzyhoward Fri 17-Aug-18 19:47:55

I think some people who are anti-textbook have never actually seen a decent one

Have to agree with that. A well-chosen text book is worth it's weight in gold. But crap ones do more harm than good. Constantly creating your own worksheets is just making work for yourself - nothing more than reinventing the wheel.

Kazzyhoward Fri 17-Aug-18 19:52:56

Only one thing worse than a bad text book and that's the awful online versions. Most are just a pdf of the paper book and are irritating/hard to use online as they are usually A4 Portrait in paper, but a computer screen is A4 landscape, so sizing is always a problem. Then often topics span two pages, which the text books tend to format to be opposite eachother so you can see both together - the online version can't do that so you're constantly flipping pages. They really are the devil's work. A "proper" online text book would contain hyperlinks, auto marking of the questions etc. I'd far rather have paper text books than the current breed of online ones. If the heads/dept heads who are responsible for encouraging/financing online resources had to actually use them, they'd soon change their mind and go back to paper ones!

noblegiraffe Fri 17-Aug-18 20:12:45

Oh I knew a school who had no money for paper textbooks or for photocopying worksheets and so bought an online textbook so that teachers could project questions for the class to work through from the board.

It was the worst thing ever. In order to get the text readable, you could only project about 2 questions at a time, so you had the kids who were still on Q1 so needed it up there and the kids who had finished Q2 and had nothing to do but the teacher couldn’t move the screen on.

RaymondHolt Sun 19-Aug-18 05:58:25

We can't afford nor want textbooks. I imagine if we had some that were as good as you say they could be thrown into the mix.

There are so many places to find good thought provoking questions and resources that are easily adaptable.

Eg - Median blog - Don Steward is amazing
Increasingly difficult questions - Taylord1(?)
Mathsbox
Mathspad
Justmaths
Resourceaholic

These are just a few - mostly free. Mathsbox we pay for, great for practise of key skills.

I cannot be doing with tes - so unreliable and can take an age to find anything suitable.

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