Wesley Fryer from the Infinite Thinking Machine edublog in the US has followed that critical motto of any successful blogger: don’t be afraid to be controversial. In fact, embrace it.

He is calling for the immediate halt to all textbook purchasing in the US.

“The day of the paper-based textbook is over. The era of digital curriculum has dawned, and it is fiscally irresponsible for school district leaders to continue to purchase paper-based curriculum materials in light of the digital curriculum resources now available and continuing to become available via electronic means. Digital, web-based curriculum materials are vastly superior to static, analog/paper based curriculum materials”

Wesley Fryer, Infinite Thinking Machine, Call for textbook purchasing moratorium

An over reliance on, frankly, out dated content delivery methods does the next generation of learners no good. Everything a 21st student does outside the classroom (and more pertinently, later on in the workplace) works in direct contrast to what happens in most classrooms who rely on textbook and pencil/paper learning.

In these revolutionary times can you truly consider yourself a good educator if these are the main tools in your arsenal? Essentially Wesley is saying tough luck if you don’t agree, times have moved on, either make the shift or get out of the way.

What qualities define a good teacher? Empathy? Patience? Expertise? Confidence? Can I suggest that to be considered a good modern teacher you should add “passion for technology“? A good teacher will always be a good teacher if they have the former qualities but what defines a successful teacher now will have to include the latter.

“Free digital curriculum materials are now available which would boggle the mind of anyone living in the 19th or 18th centuries. Those free curriculum sources are not sufficient for learning, however. In my view, there are still valid needs for commercial curriculum tools, but the proliferation of free curriculum materials will continue to challenge commercial providers to further differentiate their “value add” in the marketplace of content and digital assessment tools available online.”

Wesley Fryer, Infinite Thinking Machine, Call for textbook purchasing moratorium

One of the comments said: “I am a Spanish teacher in England, who is genuinely committed to not using textbooks. The look on a pupil’s face when you say to them to open to a certain page destroys any hope of either longterm learning or, that mecca of our current educational systems (especially for languages!) MOTIVATION!!

It’s been a while since I’ve been at school but I well remember that particular heart sinking feeling and that was before widespread technology in classrooms…