On coursebooks and watering cans

In the ELT studies module Steve lead us in a discussion and evaluation process of coursebooks. Interesting stuff indeed, especially if you have already been in a situation where you have to decide on which material adopt and you have all those publishers’ reps trying to convince you that their material is the best one in the world and that they will give you all the support you need.

Last week we were asked to draw our metaphor for the coursebook and now, after the week’s work I have decided to go back to it and reflect on where I stand after my initial representation. My metaphor for a coursebook is a watering can. I suppose if we use the garden as a metaphor for teaching/learning, then the watering may serve quite well.

I see coursebooks as a tool. Not indispensable, but useful. The watering can can help the gardener to give to the plants the water and the source of nourishing ingredients they need. The water will help them to develop. But you have to use it in the right amount and use it judiciously: some periods you will have to water the plants more frequently than others; some species will need more water than others and the watering can can help you to make this process easier. Besides that, not only the gardener can use the watering can, other people who look after the garden can also do that – it is not a tool that will be in the exclusive control of the Head Gardener. More importantly, there are situations and periods around the year, when you do not need to use it at all. All the water your plants need can also come from other and more important sources as the rain and the dew.

Besides that, the quality of the material your watering can is made of and also its design are important because they till determine its durability and also how comfortably you handle it, but they are not that decisive at the end of the day. It’s just a tool. The most important thing is how you use it to help your plants grow and bloom.