With new technology emerging constantly, there has been some debate about the relevance of paper textbooks in the classroom. E-books are an electronic form of textbooks that allow students to store entire books on their tablets or computers in one place. However, tablets and software are expensive. Additionally, textbooks that contain timeless information, such as historical facts or mathematical principles, will be relevant for years. While cost may be an issue for districts or individual families, there are many advantages of textbooks beyond a lower price point.
Flipping the pages of a book allows for visual and tactile stimulation. While students can also turn pages and make notes on e-books, these are only visible page by page and lack the overall visual effect of a textbook. Physically holding a book and turning to the necessary page helps the brain process the information and increases reading fluency. Research from Woody, Daniel and Baker in 2010 suggests that textbooks provide a medium that is more easily processed and understood by the brain. Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, among other professionals featured in an article in The New York Times about electronic reading, suggests that reading paper books eliminates more distractions and is not as tiring.
Material Is Organized Logically
Textbooks are broken down into chronological chapters that present information logically. They are are organized by units that cohesively group related information so that content is understood to be linked. Units and chapters include lessons that provide all necessary details, practice and test information. This fluid presentation of chronological information helps students make connections between concepts and identify necessary details.
Sources Are Credible
Secondary sources such as blogs, articles and videos may not have author credibility, but textbooks are written by professionals highly qualified in their fields. Textbooks are edited rigorously. According to the Association for American Publishers, all school textbooks must not only meet standards for content, but also must comply with the Manufacturing Standards and Specifications for Textbooks that regulate size and weight restrictions. State governments may impose additional standards as well.
Resources for New Teachers
The resources of a textbook, including lessons, comprehension questions, guides and classroom aids, are invaluable for teachers new to teaching or to a given subject. Teachers who have not yet accumulated a variety of tests, quizzes, practice questions and handouts are able to use all of these included with the textbook to guide instruction. Textbooks ensure that all aspects of a standard are included and presented, and teachers may use the resources included in a textbook to guide and supplement their teaching.
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