In this chapter we argue that the kind of consensus that would make it feasible to publish single textbook programs to be marketed across the entire nation while maintaining high standards of instructional quality does not exist.
The recent interest in textbook adoption stems from the general criticisms of education that reached a crescendo with the publication of A Nation at Risk. Criticisms of education included the claim that since textbooks dominated classroom instruction and were relied on to such an extent by classroom teachers, the textbooks should be examined as one of the potential culprits in the decline in educational achievement. When researchers and educational critics declared that the textbooks were inadequate, attention shifted to the procedures for adopting textbooks.
Present research evidence indicates that textbooks are widely used, yet most are poorly written and conceived and emphasize lower-order facts and skills rather than higher-order cognitive activities. There is also a body of evidence indicating that teachers feel compelled to follow these materials, flawed though they may be, and policies and practices supporting the use of textbooks are in effect in most school districts across the country.
In this chapter I review the origins of ways of thinking about technologically enhanced alternative materials in American schooling. I then examine new alternatives that have recently become available (especially computers and related technologies), and the usefulness and capabilities of these materials as "textbooks." I conclude with a look at possible futures, and the likelihood of further incorporation of electronic text materials into classrooms of the twenty-first century, given probable continuities and changes in schools.
The preceding chapters of this Yearbook have described the status of commercially published textbooks as the premier instructional material of American public elementary and secondary schools, how they achieved that status, and some of the problems involved. In this final chapter, we summarize and briefly reflect on what we see as the major themes that have emerged from the preceding chapters and then conclude by presenting what we see as some promising directions for future curriculum development efforts and the role of textbooks in these efforts.
This volume explores the relationship between teachers and texts.
It does so within a structure that departs noticeably from the usual
format of the yearbooks of the National Society for the Study of
Education. Unlike the typical volume in this series, ours does not offer
a systematic coverage of a single topic nor does it examine a
controversial issue from a variety of perspectives.
The essays which make up Section One of this volume draw our
attention to teachers who appear in the works of Plato, John Dewey,
Charles Dickens, and Charlotte Brontë. Each of the teachers studied
here differs dramatically from the others, as does their creator's view
of education. And so, these essays arouse in us a succession of queries,
worries, puzzlements, and perspectives on the subject of teaching. We
find ourselves wondering about such things as the nature of the ideal
teacher, the effects of teachers upon students, and the consequences of
teaching for the teachers themselves. The power of these essays to
provoke our thought derives in part from the fact that they take
moving portrayals of educators as their subjects.
Why is the textbook, along with other books in the classroom and
school library, so dominant and durable? In an age of microelectronic-media
technology, why is it that the textbook and other conventional
print media continue to serve as the predominant classroom resource?
Is the dominance of the textbook and other conventional print media
largely attributable to the resistance of the school to change? Or are
there unique attributes and functions indigenous to these conventional print media which distinguish them from other media as a principal
teaching-learning resource? These are some of the questions, along
with related issues, to be addressed in this chapter.
I will begin this exploration of the role of print in our society by
outlining the popular view of literacy in crisis. Then I will pose the
question of print and other media in terms most commonly used by
educators, namely, the cognitive and social consequences of shifts in
media dominance in a society.
Our attack on the problems of the "media revolution" is in three parts. The first concerns
the general structure of the symbolic world that is created by our
media of expression and communication. The second section concerns
the particular potentials and limitations of several media for
educational purposes. The third examines the social context of educational
technological reform. These sections will be introduced successively.
In the following it will be argued that thought and knowledge
are always active processes and that they exist in a variety of distinct
modes. These modes are systems of symbolic thought and action which (dependent upon the nature of our biological structures
and physical environment) determine the kinds of information we
can perceive, manipulate, and communicate.
The task of this paper is and must be to defend print as a medium
of instruction. This task is paradoxical in the extreme, if only
for the reason that all the "papers" for this yearbook were initially
circulated in "print" (if one can use that term for mimeograph),
now formally appear in print, and, if they are attended to at all,
will be nearly always read rather than listened to. It is also paradoxical
because I am very sure that, whatever I might say in this
paper, instruction will continue to occur in the print medium—if
anything, increasingly so. It does not appear necessary to defend
print as a medium of instruction, yet it is. Voices have been raised
to the effect that print is a plague upon us. After having devoted
a considerable amount of effort to reviewing the research literature
on learning from verbal discourse—primarily printed discourse—I find myself confronted with the coy question: why
should anyone want to learn from printed discourse?
Throughout this brief survey we shall have to keep in mind the
active as well as the passive use of the various media. Passive use
serves the dispensing of knowledge. Pictures carry images of the
world into the classroom. They offer the raw material for factual
information. However, the pictures or models have been made by
experts somewhere else. They arrive ready-made. Student and
teacher act as consumers. Their acts are responses.
This chapter is intended as a kind of model for an
attempt to understand icons and like displays. It will try to suggest
some ways to study icons, give examples appropriate even for
children, and provide a practical theoretical viewpoint for the instructor.
The viewpoint is that only some displays rely on cultural
canons; other displays (icons) rely heavily on perceptual skills
that usually develop spontaneously, without tutoring.
The purpose of this paper will be an attempt, first, to clarify
some of the causes of the current confusion, which is characterized
by seemingly irreconcilable goals, theories, and statements of purpose
as to what film is and what it should be in education; second,
to present a description of film as a process of communication that
can be used in subsequent discussion; third, to discuss how film is
used in the classroom; fourth, to present some evidence supporting
several new directions in the use of film as a means of instruction
related to the notion that film is a means of communication; and
fifth, to suggest lines for future research in education relating to
such uses of film.
There is currently in the United States unparalleled interest in
the systematic use of broadcast television to promote the social,
emotional, and intellectual growth of young children. Support for
this movement lies in the recognition that television is ubiquitous,
reaching into 97 percent of all U.S. households; that young children
are exposed to upwards of thirty hours of television fare each
week; that while they learn a great deal from what they watch,
there have been far too few significant attempts to plan program
content in order to address important areas of learning and development
systematically; and that no other approach can promise
to deliver so much to so many at so small a unit cost.
Any statement of the potentials and limitations of television as
a means of expression, communication, and education is necessarily
tentative, given the rapid changes in this powerful technology.
The four factors of media use in education interact with each other in rather complex
ways. However, before attempting to describe these interactions,
three basic distinctions need to be made. These distinctions should
aid us in identifying the educationally most significant features of
Recently, public and professional attention has focused
on the few television programs designed to contribute positively to
the development of cognitive and social skills. Simultaneously, empirical
literature devoted to observational learning and imitation has
burgeoned in the field of child development. In the following discussion,
direct studies of the media are integrated with those of
imitative learning in order to draw conclusions and implications
concerning media effects on "young children," that is, those of preschool
and early elementary school age. The review is restricted to
studies of publicly distributed media, primarily television and films,
which are the subject of most publications.
A reporter assigned to a school area describes his experiences.
This book is prepared with teachers, parents, supervisors, principals,
and superintendents in mind. Its title, Mass Media and Education,
suggests that mass media play a role in education and that
these media must, therefore, be looked upon with concern and
respect. We are concerned with these mass media as influences
arising in the out-of-school life of the child or youth and in the
normal experiences of the adult.
The functions and control of the mass media of communication
in any organized society are inextricably bound up with the basic
theories, both political and economic, which underlie that society.
The functions which the mass media perform, the purposes for
which they are used, and the controls which are imposed upon them
are, by and large, determined by the fundamental political and economic
principles which provide the foundations for the society in
which these media operate.
As the libertarian philosophy of freedom developed in England
and America, the press became accountable for performing at least
six social functions. In brief, its six assigned jobs are these: (a) enlightening
the public, (b) servicing the political system, (c) safeguarding
personal liberties, (d) making a profit, (e) servicing the
economic system, and (f) providing entertainment.
The production methods in the making of a radio program,
a television broadcast, or an issue of a daily newspaper are
historically different from those involved in the production of a
motion picture. It is to these beginnings of the industry, then, and
to these methods that we must turn to assess the present condition
and problems of the motion picture as a mass medium.
What is the purpose of broadcasting? What functions do radio
and television perform for individuals and for society? Only with
a clear understanding of the part these media play in present-day
life can we appraise their success or failure or take appropriate
action with regard to them.
It will be easier to see how mass communication works if we
first look at the communication process in general.
The emphasis in this chapter is upon learning from the
printed word what occurs today beyond the reach of your senses.
What does communication
do to people? Or, perhaps the more meaningful question:
What does it do for people? The answers will depend upon
the level of sophistication, the insights, and perhaps the urgency of
the questioner's need.
In this chapter we will be considering the material which comes
on the TV screen and over the radio, and its effects. This is a
large order, for the number of radio and TV programs broadcast
every day in the year in the United States is very great. No one
has ever measured all of it over the same interval of time. When
we attempt to determine the content of TV and radio, we are forced
to rely on samplings. When we come to consider the effects of all
this material, we are even more certainly on a frontier of knowledge.
There are a number of theories about the effects of mass communications
in general. We will consider some of them as they apply
to radio and TV, but it is appropriate to warn the reader at the
outset that these theories are still far from thoroughly tested or adequately