I’ve just completed the Higher Politics Course Book and can genuinely say it’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved in.
I’ve written a few textbooks over the years and I think they’ve all been fit for purpose. You look at what the course content is and organise chapters and sections around the key knowledge youngsters need for the exam. You hope to cover all the bases and when the SQA exam appears, hopefully there’s enough information in the book to think, “well if the teacher taught this and the youngster processes it, then all is ok”.
But, why, when most information about political/social/international issues is online should any teacher or parent buy a book? Especially one that can go out of date due to Brexit shenanigans or an SQA update?
The stock answer to this that random, even well searched online information will not be specific to the Higher in question. Scottish Highers are very bespoke. The information online is unlikely to be appropriate for the precise knowledge and skills needed to do well in a Scottish Higher. It could be too easy or too difficult or just irrelevant.
So, there are any number of “How to Pass Higher (insert subject) books out there.
But are these books what teachers and young people need? They may be full of great advice, practical advice, written by subject experts but what do youngsters do with the content of the books? Passively read it, often with music on, kidding themselves on they’re revising? Highlight passages? Make mind maps? “Take notes” (whatever that means)?
The bottom line is when it comes to SQA exams, these activities are not the ones youngsters are graded on. The book acts as a comfort blanket. Like joining a gym in January. It makes you feel better at the time but how much good does it really do?
So, after speaking with some young people I thought this new Higher Politics book would be different.
1 It’s not packed full of writing. If youngsters want to know the stuff they need to do well in essays and source based questions they can read the Articles on the website. They can listen to the audio presentations on the website. They can even turn up for class and listen to their teacher!
2 What’s in the book are essay and source questions. Just like the ones in the exam. But there is guidance on where the marks come from. There are prompts on what to write and how to write it. There is self assessment at the end of each activity, even scope for the teacher to mark the work! The book is write on, either in class or outside it. The more you practice, the luckier you get, as someone said. These are genuine exam style learning experiences, which will prepare youngsters properly for the exam experience they will encounter.
3 The book is part of an integrated online Learning Management System within the website of Articles, videos, audio presentations, static presentations, quizzes and, as modernityscotland is an SQA presenting centre, proper classes in a purpose built environment.
4 The book is available for teachers to buy from modernityscotland at a discount price of £9 per book or individually from Amazon for £10. Delivery will be quick, two days at most, from purchase.
This is the first Course Book in the series. There are other Politics ones in the pipeline and Gordon Black and myself are working on Modern Studies ones too. Details soon. I genuinely think these books will make a difference.
Feedback I’ve had from youngsters has been along the lines of “that will help me write essays“, “writing notes is not the same as writing essays‘, “it took me til the prelim ’til i knew where I was going wrong, I’ll know right away now“.
I hope you like this new approach.