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Classrooms are great incubator for great textbooks

Should you teach from your own textbook?The classroom is a crucible for textbook development, said geography author Robert Christopherson, and that’s why publishers are looking for people who love to teach to write textbooks. “The development of the sequences of topics and the text outline is done through experimentation, he said, which is best done in the classroom using the author’s own students. Student questions in the classroom, for example, may be an indication of where a figure label is needed in the textbook.”

Christopher said another plus for authors in teaching from their own own text is that it creates an ice-breaker. “Drawing students into who wrote the book defuses classroom tension,” he said. He does this by:

  • Awarding students points for finding errors in the textbook.
  • Sharing the production process with them. He brings in the pen and ink drawings of the final print of the book and tells students how the textbook evolved and how students were involved in the process.
  • Explaining the copyright page to students on the first day of class.

Christopherson created his own student study guide for his geography text for use in the classroom. This is important, he said, not only pedagogically but also as a commercial product used to reduce the sale of used books.

“Use your book, overheads, web site and supporting CD-ROM,” he said. “If you don’t use your own book, there’s something wrong with it. Revise it and use it.”