Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a blog post published on August 4, 2016.
Interest in maths textbooks fell out of fashion in the 1970s. The renewed interest is largely the result of a report from Tim Oates, called Why Textbooks Count.
The report is worth reading in full, but a key takeaway is that only 10 percent of teachers in England use maths textbooks as the basis for their teaching. In Singapore, that number jumps to 70 percent — a huge gap.
This ‘very problematic’ ethos, Oates concludes, is a contributing factor in England’s poor maths performance in international league tables. Recently, he spoke to that fact at our leadership conference. “It’s not surprising that textbook use is so low; the quality hasn’t been great. But the low use has also been driven by an anti-textbook ethos,” Oates says.
Watch the talk in full:
Tim Oates' research into high-performing education systems and use of textbooks
Having examined the issue, Oates concludes that using high-quality textbooks is key to ensuring schools in England teach maths to a standard that matches those countries that top the international league tables.