Caution on adopting open textbooks

In an attempt to engage students, the New York City system is considering the use of open educational resources, which are referred to as open textbooks (“Open textbooks, in more ways than one: Save money and increase educational diversity with high-quality, up-to-date, learning options,” New York Daily News, June 29).  The idea is that when students see themselves reflected in their textbooks, they will be more likely to succeed.

I understand the intent, but I wonder if using open textbooks at this time is going to serve as indoctrination.  Let me explain. When young people are exposed to instructional material that hasn’t been properly vetted, they have no basis for evaluating what they read, see, or hear.  Social media are the best example.  There is no context – only opinion.  Traditional textbooks for all their faults at least have been reviewed before being adopted.

Open textbooks will likely present only one side of current issues.  That’s not education; it’s indoctrination.

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2 Replies to “Caution on adopting open textbooks”

  1. Not a teacher, but it seems that most teachers do not have the time — or the expertise — to compile “open” texts that comprehensively cover the curriculum material. I could probably do a reasonably effective job of teaching a law school course in labor law using an already-existing book of labor law court decisions as the class text, but it would take me months to assemble such a casebook on my own drawing on recent court decisions.

    Perhaps a central admin in a large school system could develop open texts for each course that cover the curriculum material in the course and then all the teachers in the school system could use those same open texts when they teach the course. But, that would end up looking a lot like the already-existing text books.

    In any event, I completely agree re open texts providing indoctrination rather than education.


  2. Labor Lawyer: The problem unique to K-12 is that students lack the background and maturity to put such new material into proper context. As a result, they become indoctrinated rather than educated.


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