20 May 2014

Standards of recruitment and sub-standard textbooks

Last week I had a phone call from Orient Longman (Publishing Company), Chennai, in response to my email seeking a freelance editing position. (I sought a freelance position which would allow me to work from my home so that I can take care of my mother).

The guy asked me to let him know of a convenient date and time on which I could take an editorial test in their Office. I told him that I'd let him know after some time. He replied that he would call me in half an hour's time. But he didn't.

In 2008, I had applied for an editorial position at Oxford University Press, Chennai. I attended their editorial test. After a few days, I was called for an interview at a 5 star hotel in the city. The interviewer was an individual (no panel). This guy who was as old as I am, said that he didn't believe that a good writer could also be a good editor. The result of the interview was obvious: I was not selected. I heard that a young person with no experience in K-12 classroom teaching or curriculum development wasn't selected for reasons known to market (instead of quality) oriented K-12 textbook publishing industry.

Well, one of the main reasons as to why our textbooks are not as good as those developed in the West and countries such as Singapore may be that many of our textbook publishing companies are headed by non-academics.

When I was working in the Chennai regional office of Macmillan India Limited from 1998 to 2002, my regional vice-president (to whom I had to report) was a non-academic with no teaching or curriculum development experience. He had a lot of experience selling FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) other than school and college textbooks. Regional office of Orient Longman situated next door was headed by someone qualified in architecture. (Oddly enough, such a trend exists in many of our K-12 school systems, which are managed by people with no relevant experience in classroom teaching or educational administration).    

Our textbook publishing companies should aim at quality, plan appropriately and recruit right professionals at all levels so that our textbooks can be toned up in quality. Our textbook publishing industry has a lot to learn from Singapore and Western countries, develop stringent standards of recruitment and avert sub-standard textbooks. Otherwise, our textbooks may continue to contain conceptual and linguistic mistakes thereby misleading children (and teachers who don't have adequate time to review and develop their own lessons). 

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a K-12 Education Management Professional turned freelance Education writer. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.