Limitations of the Secondary Textbook

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For ages, students have relied upon secondary school books in the upper grades to obtain information on subjects from everything from writing to science to history and more. While these books are generally well thought out and researched, these physical secondary school books have their limits, in some subjects areas more than others. With the growing availability of electronic books, some teachers are making the push for a change, and with good reason.

Here are some of the most popular arguments for abandoning the traditional bound volumes of old.

Changing Subject Matter

When presented with the prospect of writing a history book, ancient history does not present too much of a problem, because aside from recent discoveries, it does not change. More recent events are a big issue, however, since things are constantly in flux. With a pressing need for more and more up to date information, the older style secondary school books just do not cut the mustard with the modern audience. Also gone are the days where students merely read a history book and blindly accept anything and everything as fact. Online sources present the information from many different angles and philosophies, giving modern students perspective that a one-sided text cannot.

The Demand for Technology

From the moment most children are born in this day and age, they begin consuming electronic information. Like it or not, technology better captures their attention than the written page, even when it is virtually the same material being presented. Give a student a Kindle and copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, and he will almost always choose the digital format for consumption. Additionally, today’s students are used to getting all of their information in a single device, making it a natural idea to combine their secondary school books with the technological device they already use.


Most adults remember the days of toting a large heft of books from home to school and back, and the memories are not always fond ones. Do you recall the days of broken bookbag straps, sore arms and backs, and muttering under your breath because you accidentally brought the wrong book to class? Well, if students have all of their books in one place, namely a svelte electronic reading device, then these memories need not repeat themselves for them. We all want better for our kids than we had for ourselves.


Using an electronic version of a text allows both readers and writers to make suggestions, corrections, alterations, and comments to be viewed by a group of people, making the text far more interactive and alive. If something changes or a typo is overlooked, authors can update the text to reflect these differences. Students can enter comments and/or questions to be reviewed by their peers and teachers, as well.

Changing Methods

In subjects such as mathematics and music, two plus two will always equal four and F-sharp and G-flat will always be the same note on the piano. What does change, though, are the methods teachers use to present this information to their students. This is why publishers spend countless amounts of money and time on revisions of textbooks every few years. Electronic formats would allow publishers to change their material to reflect changes in educational philosophies without the expense of a new printing. This would ease the costs for the publishers as well as the parents and schools who consume the information.

ABC Books reckons it does not look as if the standard paper texts are going anywhere anytime soon, there are good reasons to move that direction. It also seems that we are moving that direction behind the scenes, with more and more books available in both electronic and paper formats. In the future, it will be interesting to see if the change becomes more pervasive, particularly within the school system. Until then, we will simply have to wait and see what happens.

I am the co-founder of this blog. I hope you enjoy your visit here. When I'm not blogging, I enjoy taking pictures, movies and playing computer games.

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