Plurality of Textbooks:

Plurality of Textbooks:

Given the perspective that curricular content must meaningfully incorporate experiences of children and their diverse cultural contexts, including languages, it is important that textbook writing is decentralised keeping in view the capacities that are required as well as the systems that will make this possible. The writing of textbooks requires a range of capacities that include academic and research inputs, understanding of children's developmental levels, effective skills of communication and design, etc. While SCERT, which has been given the task of textbook writing at present, can continue to be the nodal organisation for this purpose, the actual envisioning of the process, selection and writing of content must be done in a collaborative manner by teams rather than by individual subject experts. Among the reasons for such a collaborative exercise are perspective building, clarification of assumptions about how children learn, undertaking of the required revisiting of subject knowledge and research input, understanding of processes of how to communicate with children, providing structured space for reflection and feedback by peers as an ongoing process in the making of textbooks, and so on. Academic and research support from universities, and the rich experiences of NGOs as well as practitioners, must be important inputs in this exercise. 

The trial of the textbook is extremely critical given that at present children often find text lessons difficult to comprehend, with content that is dense or at times trivial. Lessons are often written without relating them to the time that is assigned for the subject to be taught in the school year. It may be a good idea for the initial lessons to be piloted, i.e. to be taught on a trial basis, with the textbook writer observing its transaction in the class while also receiving feedback from both teacher and students. This is also important when innovating with textbook content (for instance, providing space for integrating children's experiences) in order to understand and place them within the realities of the classroom and teacher preparation. 

It follows that we are ideally looking at the availability of multiple textbooks for schools as they widen teachers' choices and also provide for the incorporation of diversity in relation to children's needs and interests. When a number of books and supplementary materials are available, the teacher can be encouraged to decide which text lessons are appropriate for specific themes for her pupils. This would substantively enhance the teacher's autonomy and choice. Alternatively, they can also provide opportunities to encourage children to explore diverse sources and understand how the same content may be presented in different ways. This will encourage library work. The support system that must be ensured will include training programmes/workshops to orient and enable teachers to use textbooks and supplementary materials as resources for curriculum transaction and access to library facilities within the school or in a resource centre for a set of schools. The sharing of libraries between schools must also be consciously planned for, and this can be built into partnerships between private and government schools. The setting up of community libraries can also be explored. 

Encouraging the production of multiple textbooks that are officially prescribed by schools will increasingly bring the private sector into the area of textbook production. In this context, it is important to equip state institutions for research and training in education (whose responsibilities include textbooks production) to compete with private publishers and capacities built for this purpose. As mentioned earlier, if SCERTs can make the production of textbooks a collaborative exercise, it will improve the quality of their textbooks, build capacities, as well as energise these institutions. NGOs have also produced excellent textbooks and supplementary materials that can be used in schools. Some thought must also be given to the regulatory mechanism that must be set in place to ensure that textbook writers abide by the guiding principles and values of the Constitution (especially equality, secularism and democracy), the aims of education, authenticity and developmental appropriateness of content, and so on. In addition, it is essential to see that textbook production does not lend itself to private profiteering and deny easy access to education. Discussion of textbooks by parents, teachers and citizens' groups must be encouraged, and they must be made available in the public domain (the Internet can provide space for this purpose, and textbooks can be made available on the Web) for discussion, feedback, critique, etc. Universities can be encouraged to conduct studies of textbooks so that regular research output on school knowledge is available.

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Clear CTET - Coaching Institute for CTET, DSSSB and KVS: Plurality of Textbooks
Plurality of Textbooks
Clear CTET - Coaching Institute for CTET, DSSSB and KVS
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