Useful or useless

Textbooks have become unreliable in classrooms over time


Sara Salgado-Garcia

Students no longer use textbooks in school. Technology has taken over and changed the way we learn.

Bonita Vista High (BVH) students check out heavy textbooks from the library only for them to never see the light of day again. While students go to school, the textbooks collect dust in their bedrooms. Like every school year, the Sweetwater Unified High School District (SUHSD) has required students in the district to check out textbooks.

Each year, all students check out between four to six textbooks, only using about one or two of them for the whole year. Many teachers do not require their students to bring their textbooks to class when teaching, leaving the textbooks with no purpose. At the beginning of the year teachers often tell their students they won’t need their textbooks and suggest leaving them at home, so they won’t have to carry around all the deadweight of textbooks. Alternatively, teachers provide online PDF substitutes. 

Stated by the Washington Post, “[textbook editor and author of ‘Tyranny of the Textbook’ Beverlee] Jobrack argues textbooks can help students learn well only if they are part of a curriculum designed by educators who know what works in the classroom. There is research on which curricula are [the] most effective, but textbook companies don’t use it because their customers aren’t interested in that.” Textbook companies should include successful curricula found by teachers so they can produce practical textbooks. It is crucial that they include this curriculum so students will actually be able to learn from the textbooks and use them often.

Textbook companies work and produce to make a profit. Like any other company, their products are guided by what customers want and not what is actually needed. “Publishers are incentivized to create materials that appeal to teachers who don’t want to change, so curriculum materials that could have a significant impact on education reform are less profitable,” according to the Washington Post. Textbook companies only create textbooks for the purpose of benefiting themselves financially. Textbooks should be made with the intent of educating and providing accurate information for students in school

Many argue that textbooks are no longer a reliable source and have become outdated. “Textbooks: Advantages and Disadvantages” by TeacherVision Staff explains, “Some teachers reject a textbook approach to learning because the textbook is outdated or insufficiently covers a topic or subject area.”  In order to receive accurate and credible information for different subjects they must be up to date. When students are looking for information, they should be able to find accurate and evolved information that helps them better understand a subject.

In reality, these obstacles restrict access to information for student’s learning. Schools should give students access to all points of view due to the fact that having textbooks can be one sided. It is vital to receive information that is inclusive to all sides of a story when learning.

Since textbooks have become an unwanted resource, many people are switching to online sources. Textbooks become obsolete since teachers give students information that can be found on online websites. Using online resources is simple and effortless compared to using textbooks; scrolling on a website is easier than flipping through pages to find one piece of information.

To students, using a textbook can be more frustrating. When reading information little by little, it appears to be more appealing to students. They can take in information easier without feeling the weight of getting work done. “Op-Ed: When reading to learn, what works best for students — printed books or digital texts?” by the Los Angeles Times states, “Several of the more than 400 surveyed commented that digital texts seemed shorter than the print versions (when they’re actually the same length) or declared that digital is more entertaining and print can be boring.” Students shared how reading printed text made them more tired whereas they felt more awake when reading on a digital screen. Overall, the students felt it was easier reading digitally than it was reading printed text.

Therefore, students can look to online sources that are more active and appealing, such as ExploreLearning Gizmos, DeltaMath and Achieve3000. Schools provide many online resources that are more engaging for students and help them better understand the curriculum.

Schools provide many online resources that are more engaging for students and help them better understand the curriculum.”

— Isabella Garcia

Since schools provide and pay for some of the websites used to teach and help students, they should take advantage and use those provided resources instead of giving students outdated textbooks.

All students need to receive vital information that is necessary to grow and expand their thought process and learning. Textbooks only restrict them and confine them to think inside the box. There are other alternatives which allow students to be more creative and have their own thoughts and opinions from what they have learned.