What galls me the most is how easily these textbooks are discarded after each term or school year by most schools. The sheer waste is appalling; all of that paper and the volume of contents within them. Imagine if they were digitised, and are thereby easier to edit and adjust. Portability becomes easier and there is less waste created from discarded books.


Textbooks are going to remain a key part of learning. They just need to go digital, become more interactive and they need more analytics. – Osman Rashid

I love watching thrillers. When a monumental scene that has far reaching effects to the movie or show occurs, I mull over every detail about the characters and the theme of the movie/show. It is the same when an accident occurs, we examine every detail about the incident. Yet, when students are unable to learn, we ignore investigating the details around their instructional design.

If an education system fails to ensure that all six year olds can read the rudimentary sentence, “The name of the girl is Rose” or that all eight year olds find the solution to two digit subtraction problems like 55 minus 16, this means that we need to take our readings and mathematics instructional designs apart.

Being on top of great instructional design – such as working out the details of fashioning a car or building a building – is too serious to be left to mere chance or guesswork. We need to have clarity about what are excellent practices.

Direct Instruction (DI) is definitely the most empirically-validated form of designed pedagogy; it is setup to teach subjects effectively, while enabling students to learn their materials in the shortest amount of time.

In studying this form of pedagogy, one realises the pervasiveness of textbooks and how they undermine efforts to reform learning.

Majority of the current textbooks we have right now don’t have learning goals as their centerpiece. The textbooks don’t focus on the students’ mastering of each learning goal. The textbooks’ approaches are not precise enough to ensure that all students attain their learning goals. They guess at the number of trials required to master their materials and are mostly inadequate because their answers require testing and research demonstrating the benefits of practice distributed over time.

We need major improvement in our current textbooks model to ensure that learning outcomes for our children are those that enable them to be the successful, well rounded and adjusted adults we all desire they become.


What aids retention over a long period is when previously learnt materials are periodically reexamined skilfully. The trouble with most textbooks is that information from one chapter doesn’t get reassessed in successive chapters.

How then do we fix the malfunctioned state of most of our current textbooks?

We need to review materials from previous lessons across the books. The problem with broken textbooks is that from lesson to lesson and chapter to chapter, they move on to new learning goals without ever revisiting the old ones.

What galls me the most is how easily these textbooks are discarded after each term or school year by most schools. The sheer waste is appalling; all of that paper and the volume of contents within them. Imagine if they were digitised, and are thereby easier to edit and adjust. Portability becomes easier and there is less waste created from discarded books.

We need major improvement in our current textbooks model to ensure that learning outcomes for our children are those that enable them to be the successful, well rounded and adjusted adults we all desire they become.

Adetola Salau, Carismalife4U@gmail.com, an advocate of STEM education, public speaker, author, and social entrepreneur, is passionate about education reform.