What is the future for school geography textbooks?

‘Why are you spending all this effort on a dinosaur? Textbooks will soon be completely replaced by trade books, video disks and computers. You’re wasting my time and yours!’

(Chambliss and Calfee, 1998: 1)

Some background….

A decade ago Chambliss and Calfee (1998), Graves (2001) and Marsden (2001) positioned textbooks as a medium for representing the purpose of education and subject disciplines; a lens through which authors, readers and society at large view subject matter, pedagogy and the values of society. Lambert (2000: 116) used Soaniak (1990: 440) to exemplify the classroom virtues of geography textbooks, stating that they ‘introduce students to other worlds and to that which cannot be studied directly’; perhaps this is one of the key reasons they are extensively used within geography classrooms. 

Some questions….

What is the place of geography textbooks in the era of an established National Curriculum, and the ‘new times’ of economic and social change (Lambert and Morgan, 2010: 16-20)?

What is the place of textbooks in the world of the ‘New Millennium Learner’ (OECD, 2008), ‘digital generation’ (Livingstone, 2009: 1) or ‘born digital generation’ (Anderson and Balsamo, 2008: 244 in Lambert and Morgan, 2010: 156)?

What is the function, or the ‘why’ of geography textbooks in a transformed world where ‘Google’ can potentially replace them?

The purpose of this blog is….

To create a space in which to pose some questions, and also debate geography textbooks used within British schools. This needs contributions from practising geography teachers.

The point is to try and establish….

  1. What geography teachers think geography textbooks are for?
  2. How geography textbooks are used by geography teachers
  3. How geography teachers evaluate and select the texts they use?
  4. What geography teachers feel the future holds for geography textbooks?

Please be aware that comments made on this blog may well be cited by the blogger as part of his MA dissertation. If so they will be clearly cited in the work using the conventional norms of academic writing.

References:

Anderson, S. and Balsamo, A. (2008) A pedagogy for original sinners, in McPherson, T. (Ed.) (2008). Digital Youth, Innovation and the unexpected, Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Lambert, D. and J. Morgan (2010). Teaching Geography 11-18: a conceptual approach. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Chambliss, M. and Calfee, R. (1998). Textbooks for Learning: nurturing children’s minds. Oxford: Blackwell.

Graves, N. (2001). School Textbook Research: The case of geography 1800-2000. London: Institute of Education, University of London.

Lambert, D. (2000). Textbook pedagogy: issues on the use of geography textbooks in geography classrooms, in Fisher, C. and Binns, T. (Eds.) (2000). Issues in geography teaching, London: Routledge Falmer.

Lambert, D. and J. Morgan (2010). Teaching Geography 11-18: a conceptual approach. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Livingstone, S. (2009). Children and the internet. Cambridge: Polity.

Marsden, W. (2001). The School Textbook: Geography, History and Social Studies. London: Routledge.

OECD (2008) New Millennium Learners: Initial findings on the effect of digital technologies on school age learners. Online. Available at: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/39/51/40554230.pdf [Accessed 14 April 2010].

Soaniak, A. and Lauren, A. and Perlman, C. (1990) ‘Secondary education by the book’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 22:5, pp. 427-442, in Lambert, D. (2000). Textbook pedagogy: issues on the use of geography textbooks in geography classrooms, in Fisher, C. and Binns, T. (Eds.) (2000). Issues in geography teaching, London: Routledge Falmer.

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About mageographer

Geography teacher
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2 Responses to What is the future for school geography textbooks?

  1. Pingback: Teach Geography with GEOGAMES « Eduhowto

  2. Christopher Mayer says:

    Hi mageographer

    I am a Geography student from Germany and I am currently working on my M.A. Thesis which analyses if and to what extent heterogeinity and differentiated instructions are implemented in german geography schoolbooks. As far as I know form my literature research I think that these topics are much more common and frequently used in the UK. While searching for an english geography school book I came across your site and I like the questions you have raised a lot, very interesting indeed. My question is: What are the most commonly used school books for geography? Where can I get a copy of these books? Which of them include differentiated instructions the most. Hope to hear from you soon, either via email or wordpress 😉

    Regards Christopher Mayer

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