Why Textbooks Suck.

By August 30, 2015 One Comment



I really enjoy almost all books and yet I generally hate textbooks, even the ones I am writing. I think most academic books are largely unreadable because they have no narrative and humans are deeply programmed to follow stories as a way of learning.
[layerslider id=”35″] For millions of years we told stories to each other to explain how to get along in the wide, wild world around us. The inspirational teacher enthusiastically adds back the narrative to string together the fact and theories but when we go to write this all down we allow ourselves to be flattened down and the narrative slips away.
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What we want to read is something that  consists of a series of occurrences brought together in a plausible way. What we have to do is bring back the story.
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One Comment

  • Minha says:

    Bruce Wainman is one of exemplary educators, who also happens to have created interactive textbooks (e.g. anatomy courseware; e-book on midwifery pharmacology) with high visual quality and layered organisation of information on e.g. human structure. This post made me more curious about the use of ‘story’ in science education. Indeed, one of the reasons why inquiry-based learning was so effective for me in learning immunology was the opportunity to construct a detailed story about how systems work (in phenomena such as eczema and cancer). I do note that this immunology class had no textbook, and the students had to deconstruct many resources in order to re-construct our understanding.

    The questions I’m left with: Are we in a place where we must re-think the role of textbooks in higher education? Or re-think the form/structure and how they are used? Are we favouring one form of communication over another?

    Are we skilled and judicious in integrating them for intellectual clarity, depth, complexity, as well as transformative impact? And are we transparent in our teaching and resource development decisions?