A few years ago, Randall Munroe of xkcd became fascinated with explaining difficult concepts with small, easily understood words. An example is here. His project and later book Thing Explainer grow out of his efforts. Munroe’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, also publishes textbooks, and they thought his simple explanations could work for their high school texts.
“We just all had an a-ha moment,” said Peggy Smith-Herbst, the senior vice president who oversees content development for science and mathematics. “We always knew we wanted to work with him.”
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced on Tuesday that it was collaborating with Mr. Munroe to incorporate parts of “Thing Explainer” into the next editions of its high school chemistry, biology and physics textbooks, to be published this summer. “It’s a way of deepening the engagement level for students,” Ms. Smith-Herbst said.
Students who attend schools that will get new textbooks this fall will be in for a treat. It might even get them to read their textbooks. Read more about the plan at the New York Times.
(Image credit: Randall Munroe)