Research Project for ETEC 540

By Glenn Goslin Section 66B



History of Textbooks

Records in history have shown that as long as writing and some form of schooling has existed, textbooks have also been present in one form or another. They have been printed on such media as clay tablets, scrolls and papyrus up to bound, mass produced books (Encyclopedia of Education, 2008a). The earliest known textbooks up to a period in the 16th Century were written in Latin, the common language of schooling and scholars. These textbooks were probably developed to help students to learn the language Latin. These students probably had learned basic reading and writing of the language, but were not ready for reading of long passages (Ellsworth, Hedley, and Baratta, 1994). These early passages for education were probably from the Bible and some poetry.

There are records of textbooks being used in ancient Greece, Rome, China, India, Egypt and other early societies (Encyclopedia of Education, 2008a).Aristotle created textbooks for numerous subjects specifically for educational processes, such as instruction (Ellsworth et al., 1994).

In the fifteenth Century printing presses with movable type were invented. Books could now be reproduced quickly and easily. Before this textbooks were rare and only available to a minority of people, generally the affluent. This rarity was partially due to the fact that these books had to be hand made. The ability to mass produce books opened up schooling to many more people, creating an increasing loop of higher demand for books.

During the time of colonization, textbooks were imported from the mother country and taught as facts for the new territory, even if the facts did not match the history of the region. These texts served in part, as a form of indoctrination to the history of the mother country. However, when these territories have gained independence, becoming nations through revolution or their succession from the colonizing country, they have changed their textbooks to reflect their new realities (Encyclopedia of Education, 2008a). For example, When Canada became an independent nation, textbooks were changed to meet a popular Canadian view that the War of 1812 was won in fact by the Canadians, not the British or Americans since they had successfully defended the border from invasion from the United States (Encyclopedia of Education, 2008a).

For several centuries elementary textbooks were undifferentiated by age or grade level and were used mainly to aid in memorization. They were created to help the school system when there were few trained teachers ore even proper teacher training. By making the textbook the ultimate authority, there was little need to have the teacher exhaustively trained to know the subject matter.



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