We read manuals, blogs, personal notes, emails, web sites, reference books, novels, non-fiction bestsellers, magazines, journals, newspapers (or their digital replacements), trade journals and much more. Unless we work in a school, we probably don’t use textbooks or worksheets very much. Consider the venn diagram below. Depending upon our job and home life, specific items might move to different places on the diagram, and some move on occasion (like tests when we need to pass a driver’s exam to renew our license). Given the myriad of reading materials listed, how much do we need textbooks in schools? Why not focus upon learning experiences where students explore the types of texts that they will read in the other parts of their lives? The more authentic the text, the easier it will be for students to grow in the knowledge and skills that they will use elsewhere, even for those who choose careers in the field of education. I’m sure that there are specific scenarios where a textbook is a good option, but I see no reason why it should be the default option. I’m not arguing against textbooks as much as I’m advocating for greater use of these others types of texts. By the way, this site does a nice job summarizing a few advantages and disadvantages of textbooks.
Reflecting upon my own work, I read textbooks less than almost any other text in the diagram. I read a great deal of non-fiction texts, whitepapers, emails, student papers and projects, journals, and blogs…but very few textbooks.