Unbound Growth Blog

Why you may need to ditch the traditional textbook method

Posted by Carole Mahoney

 12/31/19 7:30 AM

WSCLF Teacher ditching the textbook

Textbooks are created solely to help students learn. But what happens when that just isn't working?

In this clip, we discuss how teacher, blogger, and presenter, Matt Miller, decided it was time to write a book about ditching the traditional textbook teaching methods.



Matt Miller: This came very much out of my own teaching where, after teaching in the classroom for four or five years, I was doing the traditional thing. The way that I had been taught before and the way that people had been taught for decades and decades and decades... And it was that the textbook was the focal point of the class and that we would work our way through the chapters and do the discussion questions at the end. I did that for a little while, and in my high school Spanish classes, I started to realize that my students couldn't speak Spanish. I was doing all the things I was supposed to do and I was not getting any of the results.

I started to realize those textbooks were very much in the way. I sort of wrestled with this for a while, and in a moment of what I call calculated frustration, like it'd been building and building and then all of a sudden something just snapped, and I told them one class of my students, I said, "Everybody go put your textbooks up."

And it was that one of those like Cortes sinking the ships moment, like if I put the ships in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, I wouldn't go back to them. And so after that, it was just a lot of figuring out what I believed about education and how I should go forward. So by throwing out my textbooks, I was throwing out the textbook way of teaching too, and was taking some risks and trying some things that nobody else in my building was doing. And as some of it started to slowly work and I started to figure some of it out, I thought, my goodness, I've learned from so many other people through their blogs and through their YouTube videos and podcasts and everything, I feel like it's my turn to give back. I don't have all the answers, but I at least have something that I can share my own unique experience. And that's really where the book came from was, it was my turn to give back, to complete the cycle of get help, give help, and repeat.

Carole Mahoney: And I really want to get in a little bit more to some of those things that you tried and that you did, but also pointing out how many managers that I talked to that say. "I've given them every answer to every question. We've gone through the book. We've gone through all of these things..." and at the end of it they go through a training in two or three days or a week and they still can't sell. My students still don't know Spanish.

So this is something I think that we see happening, not just in teaching, but in sales and marketing, in a lot of industries, this kind of disruption of attention is happening.

Matt Miller: Oh yeah, absolutely. I've got to think that for sales managers working with their salespeople, and for salespeople working with their clients, a lot of times you think, I told them... I told them in very clear specific words what it is that they needed to know. But of course if we're experts at it and it comes so easily in our brains, when you've got to introduce something like to somebody else- in my case it was high school freshmen learning how to conjugate verbs in Spanish- but for a salesperson it might be educating them about a new product. And there's all of these million things going on in their brain while they're trying to take it in. Salespeople learning from their managers, or clients learning from their salespeople. And not only are they trying to gather information, they're also trying to fit it into their paradigm of what their business looks like. And they're also having their BS meter go off like in the background and they're going, "Is this too good to be true?"

With all of that noise in your brain, it's like, "Hey, I need to slow down."

And I found that so much in the classroom, too. I could conjugate a verb as well as anybody. I could speak fluent Spanish, but my students couldn't. And I realized that I needed to slow the pace down and I needed to try to put myself on their level instead of going at a level that I was comfortable with.

Stay tuned to learn more!

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Topics: What Sales Can Learn From Series

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