Basal texts are textbooks designed to provide all students with a common base of information and generally proceed from easier to more difficult ideas. They are available in all subjects and are generally accompanied by numerous prepackaged materials, including workbooks. In the primary grades, basal texts are used mainly for reading and language arts, but in the intermediate years they begin to be used for all subject areas. Whatever the grade or subject, though, if basal texts are rigidly followed, they do not match the principles of developmentally appropriate classrooms, and they limit what is learned.
The basal texts assume that all children of the same age start from the same point. This is especially the case with the language arts texts, but is true, as well, of the textbooks in math, science, and social studies. Because everything in these programs is sequential, those who begin the program with less language experience, prior knowledge, or confidence tend to stay behind as readers. Children do not need this kind of negative experience with learning.
Reprinted from the series 101 Educational Conversations by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.
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