Go back to basics with textbook learning

THE shutting of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic may continue for some time.

It’s important and urgent for all stakeholders to ensure that students continue to learn daily albeit them having to stay at home.

Online learning is the buzzword today in all learning institutions. With proper software, teacher guidance and school planning, online learning can be enlightening, enriching, empowering and certainly benefiting.

While fast, effective and efficient Internet connectivity and availability are essential, it has pushed education out of the reach of many schools in the rural and remote areas, creating an urban-rural divide.

So what do we do now? Let’s go back to basics and explore the wonders of our school textbooks.

Textbooks are readily available to every student, whether in remote, rural, or urban settings. In fact, textbooks were with us from the very beginning.

Somehow over time, it lost its significance and usership to the now ubiquitous revision texts, notes and books.

I am surprised to learn that some teachers are resorting to teaching from these sources rather than from textbooks.

Schools must bring back the due recognition to textbooks and emphasise its importance and usefulness besides instructing students on the correct way to study using textbooks.

We have good textbooks written by experienced, knowledgeable and excellent teachers and lecturers.

The Education Ministry Curriculum Development Division and the Education Resources and Technology Division identified these writers, gave them professional and specific guidelines on their writing approaches and got the selected manuscripts printed and distributed to all schools.

We have a treasure trove of high-quality textbooks out there. Students must not waste these valuable assets by leaving them in their school bags.

I had the pleasure of glancing through a recent ministry-approved Form Four Physics textbook.

The chapters are written with many features of Bloom’s taxonomy and pedagogy implicitly and explicitly embedded in them.

Besides the facts, the three domains of knowledge, skills and values are appropriately emphasised in the Physics topics to be taught.

The chapters incorporate thinking skills, scientific skills and computational thinking to equip students with 21st century skills for them to become science-driven individuals.

In addition, the chapters are infused with activities which are project-based using the Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering approach.

I believe that textbooks of other subjects are also similarly structured and possess the same quality as they are under the supervision of the same ministry. Textbooks today are unlike textbooks of yesteryears which were mainly content laden.

Our students must be taught how to read and learn from their textbooks.

A common complaint is that they do not understand a particular section, paragraph or chapter.

Students must revise previous materials and learn to cultivate the attitudes of perseverance, diligence and passion for new knowledge.

Spoon-feeding will not lead them to real success. Teachers are there to guide and help students during classroom lessons.

Confined to their homes and on their own, much real learning would have to come from themselves.

Nevertheless, students can still get help in their textbook learning from other resources such as lessons broadcasted by TV Pendidikan, or lessons produced and circulated on CDs by the ministry. These resources do not need Internet connection.

Good textbooks provide the base and foundation upon which students can build and structure deeper understanding of the subjects.

Students must try different assumptions so as to arrive at the right conclusions, formulae and equations as depicted in the textbooks.

This is true learning. Many a time, we hear of students giving up on their studies without trying hard enough to understand and persevere.

Whether in school or outside school, students must strive to learn from their textbooks. Schools must emphasise and place textbooks in its rightful position in the teaching and learning process.



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