Obviously, with a pricing model that can afford sales costs like that and a price tag like $175,000 for district-wide adoption of a single textbook, the industry is ripe for disruption. At the same time, the industry probably has lobbyists poised to protect their model with "think of the children."
I know that my wife (who has been through several of these textbook adoption periods) is frustrated beyond belief based on the cost/benefit ratio of these textbooks as opposed to what the district could probably pay its teachers to produce themselves. I can only imagine that if this sort of thing spreads beyond a negligible percentage of schools making their own texts, the textbook makers will probably become more actively involved in stopping it.
My children routinely carried 5 kg of books from the age of 8 years old up to 10 kg at times now that's they're 12 and 14. If there's an industry that should die for the benefit of the children it's this one...
But for the time being the schools probably have something like 1 computer for 10 pupils, so the infrastructure really isn't there to switch to true online material -- Though a 200 euros tablet could replace easily a huge stack of books for a lot less money.
Unfortunately here in France the books must be certified by the ministry of education, making the lobbying power of school books editors much more efficient, because they only need to please a few government officials.
I take that back, the books he carries are the ones he reads for pleasure (the Harry Potter books are really huge, too). Once I get my Kindle Fire, I'm giving him my old Kindle, which should help with that.
1. Teachers have a lot more motivation to produce a good textbooks - just like me they are lazy but want to be productive - so it is in their interests to compress as much info into the heads of children with the minimum amount of time and effort. This interest is aligned with parents and children.
2. The reduction in costs is a bonus to the parents of school-going children. That bonus can be utilised in a more productive way.
> The problem with mass-produced textbooks, Engelhaupt explained, was that they can cost $65 each and aren't aligned with Minnesota's math tests so the district would be paying for whole chapters that are never used.
> She said most high school textbooks are written to the requirements of Texas and California, the two biggest markets for the book publishers. It means often a third of the books go unused in Minnesota, she said.
appear to be the current state of things. Instead of targeting a good education in the subject, the norm today seems to be to teach k-12 students to pass the aptitude tests, not necessarily to learn the material itself.
I mean, if the tests have 100% coverage, there's no problem with the education only covering what's on the test, right? It just means kids have to sit through exams that are perhaps eight hours long.
(Which is fine, really, if those exams get split up so that they're given one exam per unit, rather than one humongous state-wide test. And while they're at it, if those exams were also, say, given online, accessible at the student's whim, and able to be repeated indefinitely without penalty (because of some form of procedural question generation), they could even be used as gates to determine when the student was ready for the next level of material...)
I was taught to think, not so much by school but by a select few teachers and especially my father. I learnt metric growing up. When I started construction everything was done in millimetres and meters. I moved from the UK to Canada, where the construction trade is solely imperial (it's not like the UK where you can get legacy tape measures that have inces and meters, I have inches and feet) and I didn't struggle. It was about a month before my boss said "Doesn't the UK only use meters, are you coping with the change?"
Of course I coped, I learnt to think. A foot is a generalised measurement so that multiple people can work to the same measurements. A meter is a generalised measurement so that multiple people can work to the same measurements. If someone calls out to me "cut at 1321mm" I cut at "1321" the same as if they'd just called "cut at 52 inch".
I've seen guys, high school graduates (in the UK I only did high school until I was 16, and the newbies I get given did it until they were 18) and they're confused by the mere notion that an inch is divisible up to a 16th on a tape measure.
I personally cannot comprehend how they don't understand. How lacking is your education that you can't find 9/16ths on a tape measure? How lacking is your education when you can't cut a 22.5 degree angle from a 16x16 square (measure up to the half way point and trace a line to the 0 point giving you the desired pattern)?
My work doesn't even require a high school education to get hired and we've had some phenomenal employees who failed high school. The irony is we get bucket loads of retards who graduated high school.
There's a big difference between learning and merely storing data. The problem is that we're creating a generation of databases. I'm sorry, but I have computers, and phones, and fuck a pocket book that can retain data for me. I don't need a million kids to do that. I need a kid that can read a tape and cut an angle so that I can train them.
I don't know how I'm supposed to train someone who's passed high school that should so obviously have failed.
No one disagrees.
However, saying "students should be thought to think" is useless. We need to know to if they're being taught to think.
And no, "trust teachers" doesn't work. The testing fetish is a response to generations of kids who can't think taught by teachers who said "we're teaching kids how to think".
Are there bad tests? Yes. Are there perfect tests? No.
But that doesn't imply that testing is unnecessary. It just says that testing is hard.
Funny, I thought it was driven by too many politicians who'd taken management 101 and learned to "measure everything". Do you have a cite? (Honestly wondering).
The only way to administer tests at scale is with multiple choice and number 2 pencils. The easiest way to pass a multiple choice test is to memorize a bunch of crap and not bother thinking.
I'm not saying that all testing should be abolished, but it's pretty clear that testing is insufficient -- any real learning-to-think that goes on with a testing-dominated system is going to be the product of teachers going above and beyond, and totally unmeasurable so those teachers will never be rewarded (and probably punished).
I think that there's an alternate way, but it comes at a cost: we have to de-standardize the tests. Here's how I see it playing out.
Jill is an eighth grade match teacher with thirty students in her class. When testing time comes around, she writes an exam for the state which she feels represents what an eighth grade math student should know. She sends a copy of the exam to the state. In return, she receives thirty different exams from the state, each written by a different teacher and assigned to exactly one of her students. She distributes the tests assigned to each student. At the end of testing, she sends back the completed exams. In return, the state sends her thirty answers to her exams, which she grades as she sees fit. Finally, she sends her grades in to the state.
The state then looks at how Jill's student performed on the assorted exams that they were given. The raw score isn't at issue, but rather how they performed compared to the other students who took that specific exam (e.g. how many standard deviations that they were above or below the mean). If most of her students scored above average, we're happy. If most of her students were below average, we question why.
Since the teachers don't know what will be on the test, they can't coach the students to memorize answers. Thus, the teachers who teach the students to think and handle unfamiliar situations will be rated higher by the test than students who simply regurgitate what their teacher taught them.
Why do you think that "standardized test" means "same questions for everyone"?
Also, we're actually not that interested in the score at the end of the year but in the difference between what the kids could do at the beginning and end of the year.
It also involves a total lack of control from the top-down, so it'd probably be resisted pretty strongly. I really like the basic idea, though.
> Funny, I thought it was driven by too many politicians who'd taken management 101 and learned to "measure everything". Do you have a cite? (Honestly wondering).
You haven't seen the "Asian kids are doing better" and "schools are failing" stuff? Really?
> The easiest way to pass a multiple choice test is to memorize a bunch of crap and not bother thinking.
How would "memorize a bunch of crap" work for an algebra test? Unless "crap" means "rules of algebra and how to apply them"....
How about three examples of this "learning to think" that can't be measured with a test? (Skill in playing a musical instrument is arguably one, but mostly at the extremes. However, ranking Carlos Santana vs Jeff Beck isn't the problem.)
I suspect that your definition of "test" is too limited, which says more about you than it does about testing.
OK. How do you propose to determine whether a student has been taught to think? Whatever your answer is, that's your test. Maybe it's questions like "build me a catapult with these materials and tell me how efficient it is" or "explain how so many Latin words came to be part of the English language and give examples". Answering those would demonstrate thinking ability. But that would still be a test.
Tests are important. If they are made well, teaching with the test in mind is fine.
Whether we're testing and teaching the right things is another question. But "students shouldn't be taught to pass tests" sounds to me like "buildings shouldn't be built using blueprints." How can you know whether you've succeeded if you have no stated goal or way to measure results?
Tests are used because a metric is useful for identifying weak schools so that they may be improved. Do you have a better metric?
In reality, they know how to use hollow rhetoric to make a convincing case for their own prejudices, and present straw-man arguments to pretend you've covered both sides of an issue. They also find some way to "twist" the question, if it's easy.
The most important part of essay writing is not to be a perfectionist, and try to think too much. You come up with a few points (supported by examples, augments, or references - depending on the requirements), throw in some formulatic meta-discussion (i.e. '... though it may be more important to ask "why", not "if" ...') and get the fucker done. Don't worry to much if you're right or not, just make the bloody sausage. Oh, and try to predict what the markers (generally soft-left yuppies, who went from school to college back to school) will want to hear, or will get their attention - they have dozens (or hundreds) of similar papers to read and do not want to think.
My point isn't that essay writing is necessarily harmful. It's just another mostly useless technique to learn, and probably adds up to something if you can mix it with other techniques, and a little knowledge.
No. There are many books on the problems with high-stakes testing, and covering the 'right' material is only one out of many issues.
If you want to read a more intellectual take on the issues with high stakes testing, Alfie Kohn has some good books on this. If you want to know the specific problems with No Child Left Behind, then Diane Ravitch's new book probably does a good job explaining it. But it's difficult to really understand the issue without reading a lot of different books on education in general, since testing by definition is designed to enforce its own normative preconceptions.
this article, for example, is a good read on the subject: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/06/27/ed...
Such a teacher will receive a very high score according to most modern Value Added Modelling assessments (such as the one the article complains about).
In fact, it's the teachers of upper middle class kids who are hurt the most by VAM. If the VAM predictor says your student average should be 95/100, it's hard for your students to beat that by a significant margin.
The only reprieve I have for standardises testing in the UK was that a teachers opinion of you doesn't reflect on your ability to get grades. I was a d-average student in one of my classes. I never got marked well for my essays, etc. I took the exam expecting failure and received a B, comparing with friends I found I was only a few marks short of an A. The teacher never liked me, because he never liked my brother, because my brother was a cocky asshole. If I'd have been graded by him, I would have failed.
Great Feynman quotes!
The trouble with many texts is that they aren't tailored to any particular course (mainly I imagine because courses vary so greatly even within countries). This is why it's really great to see lots of resources like Khan Acadamy out there where things are more focused on concepts rather than courses and you can pick and choose what you need to learn about.
One of the problems with teaching that I've seen since I started is that many people produce their own sets of resources, but there's very little sharing going on when you consider the total population. Considering the networks of really knowledgable people out there, we really don't need textbooks; we just need smart people willing to collaborate more and the technology to make that accessible.
Edit: With some afterthought, some of this is probably a systemic problem with the bureauracy which has large scale contracts with publishers and so on, and thus little interest in using the resource they already have (ie their teachers).
When implementing some new courses here in Westeran Australia the department of education implemented groups of teachers to produce sample material, but it wasn't particularly well funded or promoted nearly well enough to make it very successful, and it was only accessible to other government schools and not independent and religious schools (Catholic, Anglican systems etc). It would have been nice (and completely surprising) for the systems to work together or set up an independent body to manage something like this.
Why is Minnesota cutting out so much of the math that California and Texas teaching? The students often end up going to the same colleges, where they will need to do the same work?
It almost certainly isn't just that MN is a simple subset of the CA/TX material, or else the Byron district's scores wouldn't have gone up from the new material.
End result: we learned the same material, just in a different order.
Secondly, different teachers have different experiences and teach differently. We're human!
How could it be the same? The only way I see is to remove as many human elements as possible (teachers most notably). Are we headed that way?
States are the ones responsible for picking what material to teach their children. This is why material can be different.
There is so much that we could teach our children, there isn't a clearly defined set of "This is what is best to teach them", so different people will produce different sets of things to teach. This is why material is different.
The 30% that aren't covered in the mass market books have to be provided by the teachers as additional material, while 30% of the books are not used in school.
For $65, I'd expect more, too.
On the upside: Assuming that the additional material isn't provided centrally, these teachers who wrote the book have more exposure to writing course work than their colleagues in Texas, who get optimized books.
Here are some open textbook sites:
Related are the many wiki-based books & notes created in or for courses. For example:
Perhaps a useful idea would be some kind of version control system; allowing people to fix errors, trim needless fluff, and improve examples.
This could be funded by schools and by philanthropic grants.
Yes, I'm a bit far out about this stuff, but education is big business and the more this sort of idea spreads, the more it erodes publishers' profits - they'll fight back sooner or later (maybe it's already happening?)
If that were an actionable offense, you'd be able to sue half the startups in Silicon Valley.
B) there may have been some unspoken agreements with earlier decision makers which, while not contractual, might still constitute some good faith issue.
I really think there's probably less a chance of lawsuits specifically, and more likely variable pricing, with "use of free texts" thrown in as an equation that's not shared with anyone but mgt and sales teams.
These people would lose their very lucrative business. They'd let their lawyers figure out something to sue for, but the decision to find some way to sue would be based on the prospect of losing sales, not on knowing what legal wrong they had suffered.
Remember SCO? They kept up that lawsuit for about a decade. Good lawyers can find some reason to sue.
The district won't let him sell the book to his students, so they have to print it out online. (It's here for anyone that's interested: http://www.tamdistrict.org/Page/3217)
I think the problem lies with the notion that people who teach physics are more qualified to write a text-book than people who do physics. The result is a pretty text-book that uses all the latest teaching tricks, but teaches things that are wrong.
I'd like to see text-book companies moderate some kind of collaboration between teachers and do'ers to produce a book that is both correct in its content and easy for students to learn from. In a sense, first year physics profs can also be viewed as the ultimate consumers of minds educated by high-school texts. They have a good idea of what students need to learn in high-school to be well grounded in their subject area for their first year of university. Instead, we design text-books to help students perform well in standardized tests that frequently prioritize the wrong things and make the same mistakes as text-book writers.
It's pretty lame, but the good teachers are totally capable of making sure they cover the standards that people seem to value so much, while still teaching they're own unique experience or style. It just sucks because first year teachers are handed the bare curriculum/standards/readings and don't realize how much freedom they have to make it way better.
I don't understand this comment. The only person I know that's involved in creating high-school textbooks (UK) is certified by the subjects professional body and has 40 years experience teaching their subject; as well of course as a Uni education in the subject.
People writing textbooks are surely (paraphrasing) 'groups of people well educated in the given subject' with years of experience teaching the material? If not, what on Earth are they doing writing textbooks?
Also why don't States just buy in the whole syllabus and materials that other States have developed and save their time and money - it's not like Physics or Mathematics or whatever is a different subject according to the State you live in.
Partly this is because physics is hard and people use analogy or simplified models. These are fine for high-school understanding, but more advanced students need correct understanding.
I think kids are supposed to print out the relevant chapter before a lesson. It's probably a waste of paper, but at least the teacher can make sure everyone has the reading in class.
I've never actually seen a digital learning experience, whether it's a textbook or online lesson or whatever else, work. Things like the Khan Academy are great but you have to be motivated to use them. It's too easy for people to blame their inability to focus on the technology being hard to use.
I particularly like how many of the illustrations and examples came from students (presumably course projects of some sort) in earlier iterations of the course.
That said, yes, education publishing is a huge business. It's really only a matter of time until the publishers take over the digital publishing space, too.
But that raises a concern of mine, where every school creates their own textbook, they are free to include their own side or angle of a particular topic, much to the detriment of their students. Sure this can be done in the current situation, but I would wager it would be easier to get experts to review one or a handful of textbooks rather than one for every school.
Maybe some sort of cooperative organisation is what is required here, to share the best of the cooperatively created textbooks around.
True, but who's to say a major publisher has experts and know what they're doing? Signs point to the fact that they don't.
Also, they all have to teach to the standardized tests anyway, so they don't have a massive amount of say.
The regional issues raised in this article are a great example of how computers still have a lot of world-changing to do. Doing things the old-fashioned way is sometimes just senseless when there's an alternative.
Obviously, the optics will be terrible for the textbook company. That's problem one.
Problem two: The first strategy of a lawsuit is scorched-earth: Force your opponent to settle out of fear of legal expenses or an unpredictable jury. But:
Foundation Executive Director Neeru Khosla said the foundation started five years ago because she and her husband, Vinod Khosla, the founding CEO of Sun Microsystems, wanted to improve math and science education in the country.
Gosh, I wonder if Neeru and Vinod Khosla know any IP lawyers who'd be willing to help their nonprofit foundation defend some public schoolteachers?
The remaining strategy is to win the case. Maybe one of the schoolteachers was actually foolish enough to copy a whole chapter from a copyrighted book. Oops. Congratulations, that book goes off the web ...
... to be replaced by a different book with a new version of the infringing chapter, written by a completely different schoolteacher.
Given that mathematics is hardly a trade secret, it's going to be hard to squelch all of it.
The textbook companies should save their money for lobbyists and free gifts.
 I wonder if the foundation hosting this textbook has a DMCA safe harbor defense. You would think so. But this is probably a good place to point out that I Am Not A Lawyer, IP Or Otherwise, So I Know Nothing.
The article reminds me that this will extend to textbooks.
The tool is called CK-12 FlexBooks, and the link
is near the bottom of the submitted article.
I'm actually not a big fan of the text. I skimmed it a bit and I don't think it's as well written as one might hope for. In particular, I hate when formulas just appear with no explanation of how they where derived, and in sections 1.2 to 1.3, the use of big names such as "Fundamental Counting Principle" makes stuff sound more intimidating than it is. I think the discussion about the cardinality of the sample space when you have events that are order sensitive vs order insensitive (ie just counting permutations) could be clearer. Nonetheless, it's an awesome start and the teachers involved should be congratulated.
This seems like a massive waste of time as most of these teachers spend a large amount of time creating these resources and most of these schools teach very similar syllabuses.
Creating resources like this textbook is a great step forward, if more teachers could collaborate to create really great resources it would not only improve the education provided to students but also free up teachers from spending all of their time creating custom resources.
I thought the whole point of the article is that the alternative taken up was a digital one. The scenario you describe seems unlikely, and very cynical.
and I started reading it.
No one should take a course from that book. The authors of the book don't know the subject.
That book won't be a prerequisite for anything important.
So, if want a first course in probability and statistics, then get a college textbook and/or just go to college.
More generally, in college in the US, in math, physical science, and engineering, quite good texts are easy to find, and the best texts are excellent. Moreover, the prerequisites for college are quite basic, essentially just the '3Rs' where for 'rithmetic' we do include algebra and plane geometry (trigonometry and solid geometry would also be good).
So, in K-12, just get the 3Rs and then start with college texts and/or just college.
In particular, for anything much past the 3Rs, just f'get about K-12. Bluntly, as illustrated by the book of this thread, the K-12 system is rarely able to teach anything worthwhile much beyond just the basic 3Rs.
This conclusion is not new: Once I looked at AP calculus. Don't. The people who wrote the AP calculus materials don't understand calculus. Instead, for calculus, just get a good college text and dig in. I learned from Johnson and Kiokemeister, taught from Protter and Morrey, and have seen several other good college calculus texts, e.g., from Thomas. When I was studying and, later, teaching calculus in college, there was no shortage of good texts. Just why K-12 has so much trouble getting good calculus texts is strange and tragic.
Once I looked at some materials on optimization, i.e., linear programming, developed by the K-12 system in North Carolina. Don't. Those materials fill several much needed gaps on the library shelves and would be illuminating if ignited. The authors didn't understand linear programming.
has some excellent quotes from Feynman looking at K-12 texts. Feynman was correct, and apparently the situation has not changed.
My qualifications: I hold a Ph.D. from one of the world's best research universities; there I did research on optimization and also on stochastic optimal control. For calculus, I've done well studying it, advanced calculus, and well beyond, taught calculus in college, applied calculus in business and to problems of US national security, and published peer-reviewed original research using calculus. For optimization, I've studied it at advanced levels, applied it in both in business to problems of US national security, taught it in college and graduate school, and published peer-reviewed original research in it. My startup has some original, crucial, core, powerful, valuable 'secret sauce' that is based on some advanced topics in applied math including 'analysis' (way past calculus), probability, and statistics.
There's nothing wrong with relative quality of this textbook, compared to regular high school textbooks on this subject. The thing is, all high school textbooks are total crap.
I wouldn't go as far as to state that author don't know the subject (although, saying from experience, it's highly likely). The problem is that they don't teach anything substantial, and what they do teach, is vague and unclear. The chapter about distributions and density functions is total nonsense.
Serious probability course covers all contents of this book on one or two 2-hours lectures, in much, much more general setting (i.e., probability being the measure on measurable space). This book seems to be meant for 40 hours (one hour per section). It's not like undergraduates are 20 times smarter than high school kids. They just want to learn it, or at least to get a passing grade. The same is the case with high school kids, but the amount of actual work to get a passing grade there is negligible, and they're motivated accordingly. High school teachers cannot just give a failing grade to 80% of her class, because it would mean that there's a problem with her, not with her students. She also cannot depend on necessary prerequisites to serious probability theory to be already known, because it's not, just like university professors cannot depend on probability to be known, because if one learns from books like this, it's not. Without system reform, there's not much that can be done from bottom up.
Wouldn't having a teacher, or teachers, write their own text books give them better control over what to teach?
Couldn't a collection of teacher add something to the curriculum through the text book and watch it get adopted higher up structurally based mostly on the fact that if the teachers teaching those students specifically added material they found was necessary then it must be important enough to require it officially.
The story is written as a money saving venture first, and then a better alignment of course material to state standards, but I'd also like to think it might democratize what those state standards should be amongst a population of professionals who interact on a daily basis with the people who have to test against those standards.
Seriously though, I've recently graduated from an undergraduate institution where the mathematics courses were rigorous and proof based. While I thought I was learning a lot of math in High School (I was working hard, which should mean I was learning, right?), it did very little to prepare me for any sort of real mathematics. I think this was a function of both the textbooks and the teachers.
However, when I entered college, for most of my mathematics courses, the professors taught out of their own books. Some of these were published texts, but most were collections of notes they had refined over years of teaching. In every case, I much preferred these to doing math from a random textbook. The professors just taught better when they were using their own book.
Part of this may be that better professors are more likely to write their own book. However, I think there actually would be value from K-12 teachers writing or at least collaborating on the main body of their course material. It might help to remove the scenario where a student asks a teacher a question, and they give an answer that directly contradicts what is said in the book.
Commonly in K-12, the best 'math' taught is plane geometry because there, at least when it's a theorem proving course instead of paper cutouts, which sometimes happens, can see in clear terms the roles of the big three -- definitions, theorems, and proofs. You can also see the role of one more -- intuition, especially its best form, geometric intuition. Right: Intuition doesn't prove anything, but it can be one of the best ways to guess what is true and how to prove it. For more, eventually you can get a useful intuitive feeling for a topic.
which at face value is supposed to be about women in math but describes Harvard's Math 55. At least at one time for that course the three main texts were:
Paul R. Halmos, 'Finite-Dimensional Vector Spaces, Second Edition', D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey.
Walter Rudin, 'Principles of Mathematical Analysis, Third Edition', McGraw-Hill.
Michael Spivak, 'Calculus on Manifolds: A Modern Approach to Classical Theorems of Advanced Calculus', W. A. Benjamin, New York.
Working successfully through those three is quite sufficient to understand proof-based college math!
Those three are all old; in particular Halmos wrote the first edition of his book in 1942 when he was an assistant to von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study.
I had Rudin's book in college but later rushed to work carefully through both Halmos and Spivak ASAP after college.
Instead of Spivak, I preferred:
Wendell H. Fleming, 'Functions of Several Variables', Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts.
Might also consider:
Lynn H. Loomis and Shlomo Sternberg, 'Advanced Calculus', ISBN 0-201-04305-X, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts.
For exterior algebra, now can get in English:
Henri Cartan, 'Differential Forms', ISBN 0-486-45010-4, Dover, Mineola, NY.
Since mentioned Halmos and since this thread is about probability and statistics, should mention that Halmos was one of the best in those topics in the US in the 20th century.
Halmos was a student of J. Doob at University of Illinois as in:
J. L. Doob, 'Stochastic Processes', John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1953.
and has a very nice start on probability in:
Paul R. Halmos, 'Measure Theory', D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., Princeton, NJ, 1950.
Halmos also wrote:
Paul R. Halmos, "The Theory of Unbiased Estimation", 'Annals of Mathematical Statistics', Volume 17, Number 1, pages 34-43, 1946.
and also the crucial:
Paul R. Halmos and L. J. Savage, "Application of the Radon-Nikodym Theorem to the Theory of Sufficient Statistics", Annals of Mathematical Statistics, Volume 20, Number 2, 225-241, 1949.
Yes 'Finite-Dimensional Vector Spaces' is really a finite dimensional introduction to Hilbert space which mostly have to attribute to von Neumann (who once reminded Hilbert what it was).
The set of all real valued random variables X such that E[X^2] is finite forms a Hilbert space. The amazing part is completeness, and there is a proof in:
Walter Rudin, 'Real and Complex Analysis', ISBN 07-054232-5, McGraw-Hill, New York.
which also has a nice chapter on Hilbert space.
Yes, having professors write their own books is now more common and can make a course more efficient for the students. It was long the case that a student had to copy the 'text' off the board or just take notes and turn them into a text. Now with TeX and LaTeX, PDF, and the Internet, finally the word whacking for the math can often be less work than the math!
Still, it will be difficult to improve on some of the best texts, e.g., Halmos. Rudin went through at least three editions of his 'Principles', and the level of polish started high and increased. A good book is actually NOT easy to write.