It’s hardly news is it? It’s like announcing “Lady Gaga wears an unusual outfit”. But in fact there is information of real value hiding behind the announcement today by English minister Nick Gibb that schools should make more use of textbooks, and we would be missing out if we didn’t look a little deeper into the particular reasons for this.
Tim Oates of Cambridge Assessment has just released a paper called ‘Textbooks count’ based on his analysis of over 200 textbooks from a number of education systems, and on his and others' research into how textbooks are used in each country. It was the conclusion of this paper that prompted Gibb’s announcement; that the use of high quality text books most likely contributes to the success of these ‘top performing’ education systems, and that England has fallen behind the times in this respect. Oates found English textbooks to be highly instrumental and heavily led by the structure of examinations, whereas the highest quality textbooks among those he studied included a series of important features that enabled solid conceptual understanding and encouraged reflection and varied application.