Science textbooks stink (for the most part)

The middle school science textbooks we have been using for many years at BCA are old and worn, so it is time for a textbook search. Being that I cannot go to the National Science Teachers Association convention, I’m looking online for replacement textbooks. One of the first things I found was an article from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: Heavy Books Light on Learning: Not One Middle Grades Science Text Rated Satisfactory By AAAS’s Project 2061.

Here’s the first few paragraphs:

Washington, DC—Not one of the widely used science textbooks for middle school was rated satisfactory by Project 2061, the long-term science, mathematics, and technology education reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). And the new crop of texts that have just entered the market fared no better in the evaluation.

The in-depth study found that most textbooks cover too many topics and don’t develop any of them well. All texts include many classroom activities that either are irrelevant to learning key science ideas or don’t help students relate what they are doing to the underlying ideas.

“Our students are lugging home heavy texts full of disconnected facts that neither educate nor motivate them,” said Dr. George Nelson, Director of Project 2061. “It’s a credit to science teachers that their students are learning anything at all. No matter how `scientifically accurate’ a text may be,” Nelson continued, “if it doesn’t provide teachers and students with the right kinds of help in understanding and applying important concepts, then it’s not doing its job.”

I know that the textbook is not the curriculum, but I do want a textbook that does a good job of supplementing and implementing our curriculum. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Grace and Peace

Additional thoughts 3/9/07. I actually have two textbooks that I am fairly happy with:

  • Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt, Addison-Wesley. It is weak on math, but I can give supplementary work for that. The descriptions are clear and accurate, and it is a good book for a general physics course that all students can take.
  • Biology, by Miller and Levine, Pearson Prentice Hall. This book is well written, and contains very few errors. Overall, I’m happy with the book, but like all high school biology textbooks, it is way too long. It has enough material for perhaps a 1½ year course, or maybe even more.

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