Thursday, June 18, 2015

. A Textbook as a Teacher


There is a lot of nuance that goes into writing textbooks.  I am especially interested in information retention when I write.  A textbook can be a repository of information or it can be a teacher.  The intention of all the textbooks I write is that the book functions as a second teacher in the classroom a teacher for the student as well. Novel repetition is a necessary aspect of learning.  This means that the same information must be presented multiple times in different ways.  The content must also scaffold or spiral so that the learning process proceeds up the from novice type remembering to competent entry level practice based on using of the information. This aspect of learning is described in the first chapter of Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage as Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage.  I also use novel repetition and scaffold concepts in the Mosby’s Massage Therapy Review.  

I have had to learn to present content so that the repetition feels fresh and not just regurgitation.  I recently read about brevity in writing.  I rely on my copy editors to reduce wordiness in my writing.  However, I will insist on repetition of key and foundationally content and concepts. Learning sort of seeks up on students if they actually study the textbooks.
The textbook design is set up to support competency and practice skill.  Units consist of chapters bundled into broad topics supporting competency. A unit can be considered a book within a book. Both Fundamentals and Essential Sciences have 4 units. The chapter design I use is based on a chunk of content that relates to a skill. Each chapter is designed like a mini booklet  within the larger unit. I then divide each chapter into sections that covers a specific aspect of the chapter topic. Each section has its own objectives. I also have the sections blocked for study segments of 15-30 minutes.  At the end of each chapter section is some sort of feature such as an activity to reinforce the content of the section.   Each chapter has a range of sections from about 5 – to as many as 20 sections. This design supports how the brain intakes information.   This is an example of Fundamental's design.


1             Therapeutic Massage as a Profession
2             Ethics, Professionalism, and Legal Issues
3             Business Considerations for a Career in Therapeutic Massage

4             Massage Cultural, Healthcare and Medical Terminology for Professional Record Keeping


5             Research Literacy and Evidence-Based/Informed Practice

6             Indications and Contraindications for Therapeutic Massage

7             Hygiene, Sanitation, and Safety


8             Body Mechanics

9             Preparation for Massage: Equipment, Professional Environment, Positioning, and Draping

10           Massage Manipulations and Techniques

11           Assessment Procedures for Developing a Care/Treatment Plan


12           Complementary Bodywork Systems

13           Massage Career Tracks and Practice Settings

14           Adaptive Massage

15           Wellness Education

16           Case Studies

Different types of writing help keep the student engaged.  The textbooks have the main text which is the typically content writing. Then there are boxes ,which can and in my opinion should be, written in a different style.  A box can take the main text content and turn it into bullet points. Or a box and expand on main text content.  A box can tell a story or give an example.  Boxes should not be ignored when studying a textbook. Textbooks can have features that can be used to support content retention and more importantly content application.  I like practical application features and activities.   Activities that manipulate the main text content are important learning methods.  Sense of humor is important so I use features to present information with a chuckle.  Story telling is also helpful.  There are activities and other features that tell stories.  The most recognizable type of storytelling is the case study.  Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage is embedded with case studies and there is an entire chapter of case studies.  All of the case study stories I write are based on a melding of client experiences I have actually had. I may mash two or three of my clients into one case study person  yet the content is something  from my own professional practice that has challenged me.  The format I use for case studies reinforces the critical thinking and clinical reasoning model.

Figures are also important.  I have strong opinions about photos and drawings.  The models have to look like the general population and also be reflective of population diversity.  Figures need to simplify text content.

Summaries and chapter workbook segments should act like a recap of the chapter.  When I write these pieces I go back to the chapter and section objectives.  

When I teach from my own book sI expect the students to read the assignments, complete the chapter workbooks sections and complete a multiple choice exam for each chapter.  Now I have been teaching a LONG time so I know that students may or may not complete the assignments. In the classroom I act as if they have.  When I set up daily lesson plans I focus on chapter and section objectives, boxes, features and activities. We look at pictures.  I do not read from the main textbook content.  Fortunately my publisher has myself and other educational experts plan all this out for teachers in what is called TEACH which is available as an instructor support on the textbook EVOLVE website.  I am surprised at how few educators used these resources.

The textbook Mosby’s Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage is set up the same way.  I love Essential Sciences. The content is comprehensive and mostly importantly ,specifically framed for massage therapy practice. The next blog will look at the importance of science content in massage practice and how presenting it to support professional practice is superior to a generalized science course.
If you look closely at my right eye in the picture at the beginning of the blog you can see my surgurically   enhanced eye.  This jouney of glaucoma  treatment has given my time to reflect. Writing these blogs has been a challenge since my vision is weird.  Just like in learning clarity does immerge from the blur.



  1. As a student fortunate enough to learn from these books, I can honestly say they do teach...even 10 years later! I keep them handy in my massage room and refer to them often. I recently looked up muscle firing patterns for hip abduction and have used the dermatome charts many times! Great Books written by a Great Teache with lots of love and forethought...So Greatful!

  2. As a student fortunate enough to have been taught on these books, I agree they teach...even ten years later! I keep my copies in my massage area and refer to them often. Recently I looked up muscle firing patterns for hip abduction and use the dermatome chart regularly. The layout makes fast work of it. Great books written by a Great Teacher with lots of Love and Greatful for your insights!