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  • Writer's pictureTara O'Brien

Opinion: Let`s Re-Imagine Teaching Manuals

Over the years, international schools have moved away from using inflexible text books in Primary schools, shifting to more inquiry-based and transdisciplinary programs for their students. However, it seems that stand-alone teaching manuals still persist. There are so many popular stand-alone teaching manuals representing countless subject specific programs for math, language, science, and art. As a teacher, I appreciate resources to help plan my lessons, however, in many schools these teaching manuals are used so prescriptively that teachers follow every lesson and procedure in the manual regardless of what their students actually need. Furthermore, these stand-alone manuals often require specific amounts of lesson time each week and take time away from transdisciplinary units of inquiry. Due to the way that these resources are usually written, there is little possibility to integrate lessons from these stand-alone teaching manuals into the transdisciplinary units of inquiry. These manuals weren’t written flexibly enough to facilitate integration into transdisciplinary units.

Before I begin to sound like a grumpy stick in the mud, I suggest we look forward to the future and re-imagine how teaching manuals are organized and written. Imagine a teaching manual that isn’t composed sequentially, but organized by objective, strategy, concept, or big idea. What if each lesson was flexible enough to adapt to an individual school’s cultural context? Maybe the teaching manual of the future will allow for adaptation and make suggestions in the text about how each lesson can connect across subject areas?

We have made great strides in education over the past decades, but unfortunately some of the resources that we use have not. Here`s hoping that the teaching manuals of the future keep up.

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