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How To Use Your Textbook Effectively

A colleague in the teaching profession once complained that the textbook prescribed for the course cramps his style and its coverage fall short of what he thinks need to be included in terms of content. He wanted to do away with the book.

There are instances when a textbook is prescribed by a department or by the institution and a certain degree of compulsion is imposed to conduct teaching along the lines of the textbook. In many institutions, however, the prescription of a textbook is left to the discretion of the teacher who may prescribe a book or use a number of books as a teaching learning resource. In any which way instruction is to be conducted, a teacher must use a book effectively.

The teacher in the social sciences should know how to examine a book for its relevance as a teaching learning resource. This examination will involve the coverage of the subject matter. There are some books that tend to concentrate on certain areas while dealing with other areas only in passing. This happens because authors are influenced by their own competencies in the writing of the book. They tend to concentrate in the areas of their forte and tend to deal lightly in the areas where they are either inadequate or less interested. If in the mind of the teacher a textbook has some failings in subject matter treatment, then he or she should skilfully draw a strategy for augmentation with the use of cross-references on certain topics available in other books.

When the cross-reference materials are not adequately available in the library, the teacher should be prepared to obtain the supplementary lecture materials from her own sources and deliver the content to the class. This is where the challenge of being an effective teacher lies.

A good book is well-organized but there are instances when presentation in the book is by chronological order or by presentation of the whole and the corresponding parts of the subject matter. When the teacher is convinced that the presentation of the subject could be in some other way enhance better intellective skills, he or she may present to the students a reading and study scheme that will deepen learning through analogies, cause-and-effect, analysis of input and output, interpretation of motives, assessment of situations or identification of missed opportunities which are the more meaningful areas of learning in the social sciences.

In essence, the teacher who is textbook dependent on instruction can fail because of not putting himself to the task of using the book in a creative and functional manner. The teacher might become wholly bound to the subject matter organization of the textbook.

A textbook is a resource and not a Bible, and must therefore be used by the teacher in a dynamic way. This means managing the learning process for the students with some degree of skill and planned work.

At certain times, the book is in the language level and style of a foreign author. Sometimes a Filipino author may have merely rehashed the text and still maintained the foreign style and presentation. At worse, there are authors who make the mistake of using the book they are writing as the vehicle for their exercise of pedantic language intended to impress but which may not be effective. When the textbook suffers from this stylistic malady, the teacher should readily come in to provide his or her own glossary of terms to complement the textbook which has to be made digestible for the students. In this instance the author of the book has prescribed homework for the social science teacher.

Even a textbook that has served the purposes of instruction for sometime will eventually suffer from inadequacy. An example is a textbook in history in which the Head of French Government was still François Fillon. When the teacher failed to make the necessary informational input, the students got the idea that François Fillon was still Head of the French Government in 2014. The need to update information on personalities involved and the changes in political structure oftentimes requires a lot of work on the part of the teacher to make the textbook useful especially when most of its content continues to be relevant.

When a textbook becomes obsolete, the teacher should discard it altogether and request for a more recent edition. Failing to get an updated edition, the teacher should buckle down using the body of updated materials which he or she has compiled. In this instance, the teacher will have profitably acquired a stock of teaching materials up to date vis-a-vis a book that has become obsolete.

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