Remarkably, although educational publishing has flourished for over 200 years in Britain, there has been no comprehensive study of the school textbook. This book is a ground-breaking work which should clarify the issues surrounding what the author regards as the dysfunctional anti-textbook ethos in Britain. "The School Textbook" is grounded in historical and comparative perspectives. The approach is broadly chronological, revealing changes in the theory and practice of textbook production and use. While many of the issues covered are relevant to other areas of the school curriculum, the focus is largely on three associated subjects: geography, history and social studies. These areas have long exhibited common features, and have at the same time differed in significant respects from textbooks on other subject areas. Marsden exposes the widening gap between theory and practice -the British educational elite have been critical of the substance, purpose and usage of textbooks, while teachers have continued to regard them as necessary props. "The School Textbook", therefore, makes a plea for a retreat from negative stereotyping and a call for major initiatives in this field.
William E. Marsden is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Liverpool. His publications include Unequal Educational Provision in England and Wales (1987); Educating the Respectable; A Study of Fleet Road Board School, 1879-1903 (1991); (editor, with R.K. Goodenow), The City and Education in Four Nations (1992); (edited with J. Hughes) Primary School Geography (1994); Geography 11-16 Rekindling Good Practice (1995); and An Anglo-Welsh Dynasty; The Adams Family from the 1840s to the 1930s (1997) among other titles.