Editorial

 

Paradigm continues to move ahead. This issue is a little fatter than the last two but it has, once again, been unfortunately necessary to omit some notices and reviews due to lack of space. Interest in our subject continues and the Colloquiumís membership is growing, albeit quite slowly. Production of Paradigm has re-located yet again and it is now designed and printed closer to the editor's home in York. Thanks must be extended to the Educational Studies Department at the University of York who have helped both materially and spiritually in the effort to produce this issue.

A minor vignette revealing the up-hill struggle involved in the promotion of the study of textbooks may interest readers. After the summer I am going to teach a new and advanced undergraduate module entitled "The presentation of knowledge in textbooks". I have been advertising my wares to educational and combined studies students who have had the misfortune to come my way. Responses have been interesting. The main response has been one of utter incredulity that there is anything worthy of interest in textbooks and total disbelief that such a study could provide half a term's worth of work. Crushed and defensive I have a prepared script loaded with anticipatory manoeuvres with which to counter their objections, show them the intellectual heights that the study can lead to and provide radical insights into sociology, pedagogy, ideology, and important global, social and scientific issues. I have promised them practical 'skills' with 'vocational' potential. I have enthused, demonstrated, led and argued to the extent of bullying, that such a study is worthwhile. My efforts do not appear to have totally been in vain and I am pleased to report that sufficient 'punters' have signed up. Yet I still note that glazed tombstone-like look in my putative students' eyes as if they donít know what the hell I'm talking about. Furthermore, I suspect that students' resistance may be reinforced by a kind of anti-textbook ideology that seems to permeate academic circles and which suggests that reaching for a textbook is somehow a cheat and a very low form of intellectual activity. I view next term with a degree of trepidation. Any advice from readers on how to survive the forthcoming months will be gratefully received.

This issue contains four very varied contributions to the study of textbooks. Ann Low-Beer records the fortunes of textbooks in the war-torn Balkans. Fiona Black traces the fortunes of English-language school-books introduced to Georgian Canada. John Breakell analyses 1960s maths textbooks and Colin McGeorge treats us to an examination of textbooks for Maoris. We have reports of papers given in previous Colloquia, a book review and, very sadly, an obituary of a member of the Board of the Textbook Colloquium, -- John Fauvel. An advertisement for our WEB site is also included and readers are encouraged to publicise it where possible -- it does seem that a presence on the WEB has been instrumental in attracting new members.

 

John Issitt