For new teachers, textbooks can provide a hugely helpful source of support. But, as many of us know, a huge number of them are next-to-useless.
Here’s a new excerpt from a summary of recent research on the topic (Do Textbooks Matter?):
I wish we could instead spend the millions wasted on textbooks towards more useful materials like high-interest books. Unfortunately, here in California, this unfortunate laser-like focus on textbooks has led to the well-intentioned but flawed Williams Act, which requires every student to have an up-to-date textbook but which doesn’t allow those funds to be spent on more useful materials. In fact, apart from our Theory of Knowledge textbook, all the useful texts I’ve in my classes have come out of our school’s funds. Fortunately, our school’s leaders understand what our students need.
To be fair, however, there’s no guarantee that districts and schools would spend the money saved on textbooks towards better materials or effective professional development (see The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers — Help Me Find More).
You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Adapting Your Textbook So It Doesn’t Bore Students To Death.