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Textbook Cinderellas: how metacognition takes a worn format to the ball

Dr Johnson defined a lexicographer as “a harmless drudge”: writers of textbooks are often seen in the same way and textbooks in the humanities are usually taken to offer as a character in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose says not innovative research but “a continuous and sublime recapitulation” of what is known. However in my report I argue that textbooks can and should be pedagogically innovative responding dialogically to their audience and context. More I argue they are the prime location for stimulating a reflection on ends and purposes – what educational theorists call ‘metacognition’ – which is central to university education. Textbook writers may be drudges – but textbooks can still go to the ball.

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