Q&A #8654

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: textbooks and publishers

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From: Loyd Epperly

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2002071506:44:52
Subject: Compact Math Books That are Manageable Size

A few years ago, most math books (algebra I in particular) were about the size of a best selling novel. Now they are huge with many illustrations, many notes etc. These large books are so heavy, the young kids struggle to carry all their books in their back packs. I personally prefer a concise book that contains the core material for the kids I teach. Much of the extra material in the large books is beyond the ability of about 50% of many of the students. Even I, a good reader, do not want the wade through the glossy write-ups these books give. I will relate one example. My son, in high school, was using a book by Thomas. I bought a book by Thomas that was being used in the local university. The high school version, was much too wordy to learn from, although the books contained much of the same material. The other day I picked up a compact little book that presented basic arithmetic through algebra. This book was intended to be sort of a reference book, but I was surprised that the treatment of linear equations, quadratics was complete and very concisely presented. A certified teacher could very effectively used that little book for algebra I. If a teacher is certified in mathematic for high school, I don't think they should be saddled with an oversize heavy book that tries to cover every trick problem in the book, especially when 30 to 40 percent of our students are failing in high school algebra. What is difficult in teaching algebra I, is teaching the basic core material that is common to most text books published since 1950. A paper back review text sold in most book stores, is about the right approach in my opinion. I think the books are big, because the school boards keep hiring uncertified or nearly uncertified mathematic teachers and they need all this extra material to teach the class; therefore the books are big. My opinion only.

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