To text or not to text?

As I start my lesson planning for the fall I am struggling with a dilemma. Do I use a textbook or not? I have already made the decision to “flip” the classroom again providing students with assigned Khan Academy videos to watch prior to class and then move through a series of centres (or “studios” as one of my brilliant friends recommended) during class time. But I am still hesitant to complete throw away the standard art history survey text. Perhaps it is just a security blanket?


After reading Alexandra Peers’ ArtNews article, Canon Fodder, I am seriously considering just doing away with the text all together! She notes “Some schools, such as Columbia and Wesleyan, have thrown out art-history textbooks altogether. Other schools still use them, although they find them seriously lacking. ‘Over the past 12 years, we have worked with, and been dissatisfied with, almost all of the major survey texts—we flood our students with too many places, titles, subjects, and dates,’ says [David] Levine.”

With a similar argument in her blog post, Bye, Bye Survey Textbook! Michelle Miller Fisher observes:

For a start, the books – pick any of the “big name” survey textbooks – are constantly going through editions for the purpose of making money (and improving images, text, etc – but really, baseline profit is the reason). The newest editions of any of them are well over $100. This is a great deal for any student to invest in, and a waste given that many of the students are going to use the books as giant and expensive coffee coasters before trading them at the end of the semester. Pearson, Stokstad’s publisher, did put together “My Arts Lab” which sourced materials from the web and synched them with their own to provide a “multi-media” experience for students that could be set as homework by the instructor. There’s also the “less expensive” $60 online textbook versions. None seem like thrilling alternatives.

Maybe it is time for me to let go of my glossy, illustrated security textbook!

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