Wednesday, February 2, 2011
My take on workbooks
One often hears, especially among the home educating crowd, about the ills of mind numbing texts and awful workbooks, dull drill, etc. All of the above could certainly be and often are, true. But I found with my kids, that good quality workbooks, yes there could be such an animal, if used judiciously could actually be quite useful and the kids could enjoy using them. I picked up one in the store the other day, called Eretz Yisrael V'yoshveha (the Land of Israel and its inhabitants). I have a hard time passing up anything educational with beautiful pictures of Israel in it and it was inexpensive too to my great joy (and relief). It's a local geography book for beginning elementary students. It's written from a religious perspective, so besides the geographical information, one also finds, Jewish historical landmarks and verses from T'nach. It's full of beautiful photographs and other lovely illustrations. I brought it home, announced it's arrival and then just left it. Before I knew it, the kids were passing it around, looking at pictures, reading, asking questions, answering some of the questions in the book. To my excitement, it was a worthwhile purchase and enjoyed by everyone, parents and children ages 8.5 to 3, except the 8 months old baby who is as of yet, too young to appreciate the fine points of geography and would just eat it:). So I found, in this and other instances, if kids are just allowed to go through the text/workbook as quickly or as slowly as they like, answer some or all the questions orally instead of in writing, ask questions and discuss things in addition to or instead of the ones provided in the book, it could be quite an enjoyable and enriching experience for all. I think even more than the quality of the text, what is mind numbness inducing in schools is that the speed of progress, up or down is regulated by the teacher and not the student, that text and workbook use is confined to a particular age, time, grade, space, day, etc which makes everyone feel stuck.. So creative use of textbooks and workbooks, especially if they are not the sole but one of many sources of information and instruction being used, is quite conducive to knowledge acquisition.