Published Online: September 2, 2014

Some Tenn. schools pass on social studies books

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A number of Tennessee school systems have decided not to purchase social studies textbooks, and instead rely on the Internet and digital resources.

The Tennessean ( reports that Metro Nashville Public Schools, in particular, have asked teachers to use websites, interactive videos and primary resources as the main way to teach history, geography and other social studies topics. Though older textbooks will still be in classrooms, and teachers can use them as resources, they are no longer the central focus.

School officials say it's a "digital classroom" these days, and teachers need flexibility to use curriculum not offered in the old-fashioned print textbook.

"The textbook should not be the primary resource for teachers," said Jay Steele, Metro's chief academic officer. "It is a resource only, and it's one of many resources."

As Tennessee shifted to higher academic standards in social studies this year, some other Tennessee school districts, including Sumner County, Tullahoma and Memphis-Shelby County, also have opted not to buy new social studies textbooks. In contrast, school districts in Rutherford and Williamson counties went ahead with buying new books.

"We honestly never considered not buying those resources for our students because we feel like it's important for our students to have the latest edition of whatever we're using," said Williamson County Superintendent Mike Looney.

He said relying too much on online resources puts a "very heavy burden" on teachers to research materials.

However, Paul Beavers, a world history teacher at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, said he hasn't heard too much grumbling about the move. He said teaching has already started to shift more digitally, "and if we're buying a bunch of textbooks, that's going the opposite direction."

"That engagement makes a huge difference," he said of online resources, "at least in my classes."

Steele said textbooks are "out of date as soon as they are printed" and that the Internet is better equipped to stay up to speed. He said many teachers have already embraced the changes, but he acknowledged others may not.

"We know that there's going to be a group of naysayers ... that will take a little bit of more time and convincing that this is the way students want to learn," Steele said.


Information from: The Tennessean,

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