serval textbooks stacked on tope of each other, white background

“Shaping Tools: Textbooks and the Development of Composition-Rhetoric”

I never put much thought into how the teaching of writing, writing textbooks and that has progressed over time. I also never thought much about how I was taught to write in general. My memory kind of jumps to writing papers in middle and high school, but obviously there was writing before then and someone had to teach me how to write. 

Robert J Connors’ “Shaping Tools:Textbooks and the Development of Composition Rhetoric” caught my attention because it explored the evolution of the textbook. Again, I had to go deep into my memory and think about the textbooks I had as a kid. Right away I thought about history textbooks, but then tried to focus on any writing books I might have had. I remember being young and the teacher telling us to go get out “Language Arts notebook” which was probably a writing textbook now that I think of it. The text goes through how textbooks have changed over time depending on the world around us. That is not something I thought about too often and found it interesting.

Textbooks and their Evolution

After the civil war textbooks changed drastically, because the world was changing. This pushed colleges to modernize their education systems. Writing became more prevalent because there was more to learn and new jobs. People needed a better way to communicate since the learning topics expanded. That makes me think about how much writing will change as our world changes. Our world has changed so much in just the last few years that I am  curious to see how that will change the teaching of writing, its textbooks and how people write. We went through, or might still be in the midst of, a global pandemic. I guess one of my predictions would be that even more writing and teaching of writing will be done online. We can see changes like that already. Maybe they will do away with textbooks altogether.


One response to ““Shaping Tools: Textbooks and the Development of Composition-Rhetoric””

  1. Chris Friend Avatar

    We already have done away with textbooks altogether in this class. I’m curious whether going without a textbook can work with 1) lower grade levels, especially K-12, and 2) inexperienced teachers. Textbooks provide an unmatched degree of predictability that can be a godsend for folks just starting out.

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