Oak Meadow has recently developed several textbook-independent high school courses. These courses consist of a coursebook (syllabus), and a student can use any textbook, or any resources, to complete the assignments and research laid out in the coursebook: there is no specific text associated with the course.
In the past, OM used textbooks mainly as research tools. What is essential to a course is not the textbook, but the essential questions presented in the course and the ability of students to answer those questions by learning how to evaluate information. Understanding information in the context of a topic or the real world requires students to analyze material from a variety of sources.
Textbook-independent courses encourage and challenge students to develop strong research and technology skills, engage in critical thinking, and take charge of their learning. Rather than seeing students as passive receivers of information, our textbook-independent curricula are organized around important central questions that challenge students to think critically about subject matter and help them engage with key knowledge by making it relevant to the world in which they live. We achieve this by both freeing our courses from simply following the content of any one textbook and, simultaneously, challenging students to answer questions and complete their lessons by consulting one or more sources.
Textbooks are not courses; they are just a tool students can use to find condensed information. While textbooks can be valuable sources of information, the skills and perspectives a student gains by seeking out other sources and evaluating information can lead to more meaningful learning than simply turning to a textbook for answers. With textbook-independent courses, Oak Meadow has taken an important next step forward in developing courses that offer students the opportunity to continue an outside-the-box education.
Practical tips: Students can use ANY relevant textbook or other research materials to learn about the topics listed in each lesson. Ideally, students will use a wide variety of print and online sources, such as non-fiction books, educational websites, films, textbooks, journals, novels, artwork, news archives, and podcasts. Students may need help locating relevant sources and developing good research and note-taking skills. Having adult guidance in the first few lessons can help them set up effective habits. The introduction to each course includes tips on how to read research materials and evaluate internet sources.
Our bookstore offers a textbook that can be used with each textbook-independent course, but there is no specific text that must be used.