ADVICE TO EDUCATORS ON THE USE OF TEXTBOOKS

THE PRIORITY OF TEXTBOOKS

As our name implies, Africa Christian TextbookS (ACTS) puts a priority on supplying textbooks that will equip teachers and their students. ACTS therefore wants to help you:

  1. To get the right book at the right level and at the right price;
  2. To get sufficient quantities for each of your students to have one copy each;
  3. To get the book and make it available to you on time for your course.

REASONS FOR THE IMPORTANCE OF TEXTBOOKS

It is true that a teacher can teach without a textbook, but it is also true that some teachers manage without textbooks for selfish reasons. The sale of their hand-outs has been banned by Nigerian universities because of the corruption involved, but it still practiced in many seminaries. Sometimes it is a way of making money from the students. Sometimes it is an attempt to prevent the student knowing more than the lecturer. Sometimes it reflects poor planning and laziness in preparation – where too often things are done at the dying moment and so useful books are not available for the students. Perhaps one can say that the hand-out is better than nothing and a guide to what the lecturer is looking for in the exam, but it is usually of little value after the course has finished.

It is our contention and experience that the teaching and learning process is wonderfully enhanced by the provision of textbooks and other theological tools for our students to use.

TEXTBOOKS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

  1. Teaching is easier – you can easily assign a chapter from the textbook as homework. Most of our textbooks have study questions to help the student make good use of the textbook.
  2. Teaching is broader / wider / richer because you are drawing on the expertise of the author of the textbook. It is unwise for any of us to act as if all wisdom stops with us.
  3. Teaching / learning is more effective with a textbook compared to a situation where the teacher may be new, inexperienced, weak, or even careless. At least the students have the textbook to help them get something from the course.
  4. Teaching can go forward and the course can be successful even where classes are assigned at the last moment with little time for the teacher to prepare.
  5. Life-long learning is facilitated as the student can add the book to his library and has something which is more accessible than hand-outs and therefore more useful as he goes from the course into a lifetime of ministry. He or she can refer to the textbook again and again.
  6. Teaching is more easily transferable. The student can loan the book to others, and can also promote the use of the book himself or herself in future teaching situations.

TEXBOOK SELECTION IS IMPORTANT

ACTS strongly recommends you to sit down and choose at least one textbook for every subject in your curriculum. We are ready to advise on the selection of textbooks. This website and our catalogue (available on request) give you some important suggestions. We are ready to work with you in ordering and obtaining these vital tools. However, the more you can advise us in advance, preferably six months in advance, the more likely we are to be able to supply what you need.

TEXTBOOK AFFORDABILITY – ACQUISITION STRATEGY

There are several options for those who are serious about textbooks:

  1. The school buys: your institution itself can buy a set of textbooks which will then be loaned out to the students and recovered at the end of the course – this is ideal since the teachers will always be able to rely on having something available.
  2. The student buys: the teacher can recommend a textbook and make sure it is available for students to buy. The student will then own the book and be able to take it away with him after the course. Students may protest because of the cost but in the end they may appreciate this option the best. It also gives the teacher his or her own choice of a current book rather than relying on the choice made by the college some years earlier. Again advanced planning with ACTS is essential to in order have the book available on time.
  3. The school buys using student funds: some institutions add a charge for textbooks as part of the school fees. This means they can supply the books to all the students without some students complaining that they have no money. This way also the sponsors of the students are not tempted to view a book grant as an optional extra.

TEXTBOOK AVAILABILITY – DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY

Every theological training programme should try to make sure that textbooks and other supplementary study tools are available to teachers and students. This will enhance your programme immensely. This can be done in cooperation with ACTS either through a local bookshop (who will link with ACTS) or by an agent of ACTS within the school or even by inviting ACTS to open and run a bookshop on your campus. Contact us to find out the conditions for such developments.

TEXTBOOK WRITING

We in ACTS recognise that we do not yet have enough textbooks for every subject and every level and every language. There is much yet to be done to produce textbooks which are “evangelical, relevant (contextualised) and affordable.” ACTS stands ready to work with serious and capable authors or translators for the production of high quality textbooks which relate directly to the African situation.

CONCLUSION

We in ACTS appeal to all involved in theological education in Africa. Let us put hands together to end the famine of good books, and especially the famine of textbooks.

by Rev. Dr. Sid Garland, ACTS Executive Director

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