Social Studies teacher Charlie Blair-Broeker and his co-author Randy Ernst have just released the third edition of their Introduction to Psychology textbook, but before divulging any further, it’s best to start back at the beginning.
The first edition of textbook was released in 2000. Blair-Broeker and Ernst, who met at a Texas A & M University Science Conference, were both teaching high school psychology at that time and found the textbooks they were using not exactly high school friendly.
“They were really mediocre, and the vocabulary was far beyond a high school level, and there were no real national standards either, which is why we wanted to come up with a textbook that could relate to students,” Blair-Broeker said.
But the road to being published was not as easy as anticipated. Despite having numerous college outlets, the project remained at a stand still. Blair-Broeker said the main reason for the struggle was due to the huge wall that divides the K-12 textbooks publishing from the college textbooks publishing.
“Many of the college professors we knew only had publishers that worked with college textbooks, so we were stuck and unsure how to move forward until one day I got an email from my friend Dave Meyers,” Blair-Broeker said.
Meyers, the author of quite a few Advanced Placement and college textbooks, was the in that both Blair-Broeker and Ernst needed.
After Meyers set up the pair with a publisher, Blair-Broeker said that his salary for the year was half paid for to ensure that he would be able to have ample time to write.
“It was nice for a while. I taught all morning classes and then would go home and grade papers, maybe write for a little bit, take a break and go for a run, maybe walk the dog. Then on the weekends I would work on the book for 10 hours,” Blair-Broeker said. "But I missed being in the classroom. I like being a teacher, and not being in the classroom, it felt like I wasn’t being productive.”
Then after two years, Blair-Broeker finally had his book in hand.
“I felt a sense of relief when I held the textbook in my hand. It made it more real, that I had actually accomplished this,” Blair-Broeker said.
The first edition of book was used at the high school, and Blair-Broeker said that it made him a little nervous using his own book to teach.
“It was a little weird, but I liked that now I knew what was in the textbook and could teach it to students better. Plus, student seem to listen more because I have this status now because I’ve written a textbook, but I also didn’t want students to not question me just because I wrote the book,” Blair-Broeker said.
Now after a few years, Blair-Broeker is back with the third edition of his book, and he is excited to use it next year.
“It’s our turn to get new textbooks, and we didn’t have the second edition, so I’m excited to use this book and to have others use it as well,” Blair-Broeker said.
After writing his first book, Blair-Broeker said he has learned a lot about the process of writing a textbook. When Blair-Broeker wrote his first book, everything was paper. In fact he said that everyday FedEx was dropping off edited papers from his publisher.
“It was a very strange process to me; I have never met any of my editors, and I have one in New York, Canada and Pennsylvania, and they are all telling me what is wrong with my book. But they kept me on track, and I wouldn’t have gotten it done without them,” Blair-Broeker said.
One of the biggest changes he said since then is how the editing has gone from paper to electronic editing.
“I’m emailing my editor daily, and it’s convenient because I don’t have to waste all this paper and I can save all of my edits on my computer. And everything is instantaneous; now I don’t have to wait on the mail person. I can just do it and then email it back to her,” Blair-Broeker said.
Blair-Broeker also said since first publishing the textbook, he has been able to get feedback from numerous people through the country on the book and how to make it better.
Some of the changes that Blair-Broeker and Ernest have made are instead of dividing the book into chapters, the books now are divided into modules, which many high schooler have found to be easier to read and understand.
Blair-Broeker said much of this feedback comes from teachers that the pair have met at events like the National Council of Social Studies and the AP Conference.
“I have met a tremendous amount of people through this. In fact, I’m Twitter friends with some of the people I have met promoting and surveying my book, and it’s incredible how positive much of it is,” Blair-Broeker said.
With the third edition of his book out, Blair-Broeker already has his sights on new opportunities — one being possibly writing a developmental psychology textbook for classes such as Family and Consumer Science or Child Growth and Development, where a large part of their curriculum is based around learning about caring for children and how they develop.
“I feel there is so much that the psychological perspective could offer in these courses, and I enjoy teaching (this area). In fact, it’s one of best sections to teach,” Blair-Broeker said.