Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Has Math changed that much in the last 2 years?

This is something that really bugs me. Every few years the math books are updated and changed by the publishing companies for no good reason but to squeeze more money out of the schools and parents. Why they are let do this I’ll never know.
These new editions have at best a few cosmetic changes and an updated front cover. Then the schools all gradually move to this “new” book and this forces the parent to shell out for a new book instead of the old one or a second-hand one. The “new” book is in reality has exactly the same content as the old one because it has to cover the same curriculum. The standards in California for instances, haven’t changed in 20 years so the math taught is exactly the same and hasn’t changed in 20 years. Usually if you check through the old and “new” books most of the chapters are word for word exactly the same and a few chapters are re-named...that’s it!
For me there is a simple solution, just don’t put up with it. The school districts should just pick a book they are happy with and leave it. When a new edition comes out ignore it, finally when the math book is out of print and no second-hand ones are freely available allow the students to pick a newer edition of the same book and gradually move over to that. If all districts went with this the nonsense would stop because there would be no point in re-printing the same content in a new edition if everyone just ignored it, except for the people who were in the market for a new book anyway. These people would have just brought the old book if no new edition was printed because they’d know it was basically the same anyway.
This would free up resources and effort in the publishing houses to do something real and not waste their time re-hashing the same stuff over and over again. It would also allow the publishing houses to get more content online and do more for students and teachers in the way of resources and benchmark testing and standards tracking. All these extra goodies are losing resources because of this endless cycle of uselessness.
Nice dream I guess but let’s face it, we live in a different world and we just have to put up with this messing from the publishing houses. But if we can just get our own houses in order let everyone else sort them selves out the problem might eventually work its self out.
Will the publishing houses do the right thing? Only time will tell but I wouldn’t hold my breath.