There will be no more social studies textbooks for students whose districts have opted to purchase electronic versions to replace outdated texts.
Metro Nashville Public Schools and some Middle Tennessee systems have begun the replacement process. The textbooks were to be replaced every six years, and that became an expensive proposition.
Administrators have asked teachers to use interactive videos, websites, and other resources as the major way to teach social studies topics. Older texts will still be in the classrom, used as resources, but not the main focus of instruction.
Officials want to encourage the digital classroom, and give teachers flexibility to use curriculum that is beyond the old fashioned print textbook
“The textbook should not be the primary resource for teachers,” Metro’s chief academic officer, Jay Steele, said. “It is a resource only, and it’s one of many resources.”
The purchase of new math textbooks is up next year, and MNPS is still weighing whether it will buy them.
Cost wasn’t part of the calculus, Metro officials insist. They say funds the district normally uses for social studies textbooks — $5.3 million in 2008 — simply went to purchase digital materials instead. New textbooks, however, were still purchased for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses that fall under social studies.
While Metro’s textbook shift has been made only for social studies, officials emphatically reject the suggestion that the subject is being shorted as more attention in standardized testing seems to go to math, reading and science. It’s just the opposite, they say.
“The idea that if you don’t have a five-pound hardcover book that you’re getting less of an emphasis in a subject is wrongheaded completely,” Metro schools spokesman Joe Bass said. “If we really want to leverage the unbelievable amount of information that’s on the Internet, we need to start using technology in smarter ways.”