Textbooks are here to stay


Will advancing technology edge the trusty old text book out of the schoolroom? Avnita Bir, award-winning Principal of RN Podar School (Santacruz) shares her views

“Various kinds of books are used for reference and learning, but textbooks will be around for a while, as they spell out the curriculum and also provide some kind of structure to the syllabus for schools across boards. Right now, there is no curriculum laid down for schools. The National Curriculum Chamber prescribes the syllabus in a very broad manner and doesn’t have specifications. We get curriculums only for classes 10 and 12 from the board, not for other classes. In order to set a benchmark for rest of the students, it is essential to have textbooks to help decide what topics to teach. Textbooks set standards and norms for academics, and for students across the nation or the world for that matter. We certainly need a point of reference. A student, a teacher, an educationist, a school principal or any individual needs concrete guidance to know what constitutes the curriculum, what needs to be taught to the students, how much needs to be studied and so on.

Currently, all of this is decided by our school textbooks. Consequently, as long as there is a need to define the curriculum, we would need textbooks in schools. A lot of people are suggesting that we do away with textbooks altogether and use gadgets instead. But this would be very difficult to implement and I do not see it materialising anytime soon. The major shift in the future, would be that textbooks would not be the only source of reference and learning would not be limited to textbooks.

Additionally, textbooks won’t remain the way they are now (i.e. in the printed format). There is a huge possibility they could go online, become video books or even e-books. Nonetheless, even if their form changes, the textbook would still define the curriculum. In conclusion, I feel that gradually learning from reference books and online portals will be more openly adopted; but school textbooks will continue to remain sacred for a very long time.”