When I was a radical unschooler my position on textbooks was that I would have nothing to do with them. Textbooks were dry, boring and rigid accounts of things better learned through experience or good books.
Now I have about a couple of dozen different textbooks and my collection grows every time I visit the thrift store or our local used bookstore. Sometimes I bring them home and realize they do indeed suck. Sometimes though, especially when I've chosen a textbook with some care, I find that they're interesting and engrossing and catch the interest of the kids. One of the first I picked up, Mathematical Ideas, sort of a general college text for kids not headed into math and science, is one I've worked through in parts and still enjoy taking down and reading. The Oxford Canadian geography and history texts have fantastic illustrations and lively writing. Catherine's Singapore Math texts constantly make me think about math in new ways. The art textbooks may weigh a ton but are still fun to flip through. The high school biology text doesn't turn my crank but Catherine loves the pictures and illustrations.
It is my opinion that, like any genre, textbooks have their stinkers but also have their masterpeices.
I was recently following a discussion on textbooks on an unschooling list (which I joined hoping to rediscover my unschooling roots) where the general thinking (or my interpretation of it anyway) seemed to be that textbooks weren't capable of being good learning tools and perhaps really had no business in an unschooling house. It surprised me although, considering that was my own opinion a few years back, it shouldn't have.
But are there unschoolers out there, honest-to-goodness radical unschoolers, who love a great textbook? Who see real value and joy in sitting down with say, an algebra text and working through it? Who clap their hands and squeal with joy when they see a copy of Campbell's Biology in a thrift store for a dollar?
Because I do love a great textbook. I'm sort of wondering if that love means I've taken an irreversible step over into the dark side.