Uninspiring textbooks: Who is responsible?
A reader responds to an article in the previous issue of the Quest titled "Uninspiring textbooks".
It is essential that books be priced within the buying power of students. So it is obvious that a textbook can provide only information of a reasonable depth in coverage. The teacher has to interact with students and they decide the content that should be delivered, as per the interest level and talent of the student.
Hence it is for the teachers:
To give supplementary subject related interesting information in the classroom.
To give reference text in the classrooms.
To encourage students to read other books to get more information.
In the article "Uninspiring textbooks" in the Quest issue dated December 14, the writer mentioned that students learn from cover to cover to get centum. As for the Matriculation, Std. X, SSLC and HSC XII examinations, the existing Government Order states that in the examination only questions from the prescribed text will be asked. If there is any question is out of syllabus, students will be awarded full marks for attempting it. Assume for a moment that the Government passes a GO saying that any question is based on syllabus can appear in the examination. This would encourage students to refer other books, making them more resourceful. Bound by responsibility the teaching community too will become more resourceful. Many academicians are puzzled that students should be given full marks for attempting to answer questions that are out of the syllabus. Instead, they can convert the 90 per cent (minus the 10 per cent for the question that was not in the syllabus) into 100 per cent while marking the students.
The article in the Quest also mentioned that textbook exercises are obnoxiously repetitive. Many quality conscious authors and publishers would have avoided this in the preliminary stage. Even otherwise, they would have removed such exercises on receiving review feedback.
Do textbooks have an Indian flavour?
All school textbooks are written by Indian authors with local flavour and nowadays many Indian authors write books for under-graduate and post-graduate courses in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Biology and so on. Only where there are no Indian authors do foreign authors pitch in. In general the number of interesting textbooks are more than the number of uninspiring textbooks. After all, every uninspiring textbook has been written by a teacher and one should blame and pity the publisher for investing and publishing the book relying on the wisdom and commitment of the teacher.
G. Soundara Pandian
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