Textbooks’ Brief History

history of textbook, library

A textbook is a manual of instruction or a standard book in any branch of study. They are produced according to the demand of educational institutions. Textbooks are used in educational system and as manuals for self-tuition. They are composed with regard for educational level and age characteristics of the potential reader.

First textbooks appeared several thousands years ago. The Sumerian educational clay tables are approximately 4 500 years old. In ancient times a lot of texts were written. With the course of time they got an educational character. Here are some of them: Euclid’s Elements - the most successful textbook in the history of mathematics. In it, the principles of what is now called Euclidean geometry are deduced from a small set of axioms. In Middle Ages worship books were used as manuals (e.g. “Psalter”). Illustrated book of Jan Amos Comenius (a Czech teacher, scientist, educator, and writer) “Orbis Pictus” (1658) was the first picture encyclopedia for children. Its author was the first who formulated the significance of the textbook as an educational instrument. For a long time “Orbis Pictus” had been considered as a standard for the publishers of manuals.

ABC - history of textbook, library

In Russia the first textbook was “Azbuka” written by Ivan Fedorov in 1547. The major part of all textbooks was grammar manuals: Lavrentiy Zizaniy’s “Grammar” (1596), Meletiy Smotritskiy’s “Grammar” (1619), Carion Istomin’s “Alphabet Book” (1694), etc. It is interesting that K. D. Ushinskiy’s “Native Word” (1864) has 146 reprints.

During the Soviet period, since 1917 till 1933 educational system was put to the set of pedagogical tests. There was published a great number of textbooks, based on new systems. In 1934 the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR adopted a decree about the common for all textbooks pattern. In the Soviet Union there was only one publishing house, having the manuals publication right – “Uchpedgiz”. Later it was renamed to “Prosveshchenie”.

In 90-s of the XXth century with the collapse of the Soviet Union some modifications in educational system were made, particularly the Unified System of Textbooks was abolished. This led to the appearance of a mass of Publishing Houses, producing study materials. Textbooks quality management is carried out by the Russian government. Quite recently it was the duty of the Federal Expert Soviet (FES), nowadays partially – Russian Academy of Science (RAS). In accordance with the check results an edition can be given a sign “Recommended” or “Approved”. Textbooks with this mark are put on the Federal List of textbooks, which is yearly renovated.

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