REsources for learning textBOok
This new concept of the textbook is the result of a study that was begun in the early 1990s.
This study demonstrated a mismatch between existing textbooks and the pedagogical and epistemological expectations of instructional programs. In particular, the "rational" type of organization that was common in textbooks began to appear as an obstacle to giving students experience with learning procedures of a more "functional" type, that are in better conformity with the basic discoveries of the psychology of education and the epistemology of history. Thus it has appeared to us to be necessary to carry out an in-depth reform of this way of thinking about textbooks.
The proposed name – RESources of Learning TextBOok – expresses the force of the idea of this new concept of textbook: it is a textbook that does not display the knowledge that is to be learned, but actually offers resources to assist in learning. Unlike the vast majority of existing history textbooks, the ones constructed in this manner do not present a list of items of knowledge that are to be learned, but offer rather a modular, diverse grouping of documentary and informational resources; teachers and students may "circulate" or "navigate" within this grouping to investigate the matter at hand, finding and making use of the elements necessary for learning.
The first group of resources (so called “Heritage” in the Construire l’Histoire collection) connects the knowledge to be learned to the present day: questions about society and contemporary problematics (“Issues”), representations of the object of instruction that are commonly recognized today (“Representations”), traces of cultural heritage (“Cultural heritage”).
The second group of resources (“Documents”) is intended to allow students to develop their knowledge based on the analysis of a documentary corpus that is organized around one or more research questions. They gather together a diverse grouping of documentary and informational resources, including historical sources, expert opinions, written or iconographic documents, excerpts of actual media, statistical data, maps, plans, schemas, timelines, and texts written by the textbook authors... All this offers teachers a range of material that helps them direct the students toward problematizing the objects of study, and organizing their learning experience within the procedures of research and information handling, fostering spaces for complex activities based on documentary corpuses, opening spaces for the structuring of knowledge by students who remain in contact with a certain functional or heuristic thread; it is intended that they should conceptualize the matter for themselves.
The third group of resources (“Reference Points”) is intended to complete, to place in context, to validate and to nuance the different forms of knowledge that students develop in working with the resources presented in the textbook. The third group is different from the first two because it offers constituted elements of knowledge: texts that synthesize various matters, written by the textbook authors and supported by documentary evidence (“The argument”), items of information concerning the nature and the modes of critical analysis associated with certain types of documents that appear several times in the textbook (“Evidence”), maps and timelines (“Spaces and times”), and lexicons and biographical material about the authors of documents excerpted in the textbook ( “Dictionaries-Lexicons”).