Running Amok in the Stacks

The Ever Changing World of Education

In reviewing this week’s reading by Woolls, I was struck by how much our educational system has changed since the 1800’s.  As an educational system we moved from a style of teaching by rote memorization where students were simply expected to memorize information whether or not they understood what was being taught.  As we moved into the nineteenth century, John Dewey, “believed that education was life…”, (Woolls, p. 2).  Learning become the goal of education rather than simply memorizing facts and figures.  Dewey’s goal is still at the forefront of our educational system, but the idea is now not just simply learning, but learning how to learn.  Unfortunately, many other factors influence and impact our educational system today.  More specifically, I question, have we moved away from learning to learn, through external factors, such as economics and standardized testing?  The need for common core standards and goals is evident with the transient nature of many families and students moving not just from one school in a district, but across the country.  In trying to implement these standards and meet the requirements of NCLB, I think we are not necessarily teaching students how to be lifelong learners, but in some ways reverting to the learning styles of the nineteenth century as teachers “teach to to the test” at the exclusion of other subjects because their jobs and livelihood depends on how well their students perform on standardized tests.

The role of the library media specialist is one though that needs to champion not just what information students need to do well on standardized tests, but how to utilize tools and resources to learn about any subject.  Basically, to get back to Dewey’s idea of learning how to learn and how that ability can translate to any subject matter that a student has an interest.  In short, to have the tool, resources, and ability to be a life long learner.

Stephen Abram posted a list by Doug Johnson regarding “15 Educational Experiences My Granddaughter Won’t Have”, with an addendum of fifteen educational experiences he hoped she would not have.  As much as I agree with his ideas, such as using personal mobile computing devices or social networking, most school districts have not adopted such forward thinking educational ideas.  Textbooks are still the norm.  There is limited class time each week in a computer lab working on study guides and usually those are not of a collaborative nature, but basically the paper format of a class study guide in the guise of a website quiz or review.  There is little student collaboration to creatively problem solve and create new learning outcomes.  While technology is rapidly changing, as a educational system we are not embracing the use of these new and ubiquitous learning tools such as cell phones and social networks.

Andra Brichacek, asked if brick and mortar libraries are still necessary in schools today in her ISTE Community Ning post.  While I believe with a resounding yes, we do still need brick and mortar libraries, but I have a caveat.  Libraries are not going to look like the libraries of the past with shelves and shelves of books and materials. As pointed out by Hay and Ross, libraries will be a place of inquiry in an increasingly digital age.  As  library media specialists,  we will collectively need to address the new methods of inquiry and teach those to our students as new technologies develop.   Libraries will be more of a place of congregation and collaboration with students working together on webcasts, blogs, book trailers as well as more traditional research activities through less traditional means such as greater use of online databases and ebooks instead of the familiar, but little used traditional World Book Encyclopedia.  Librarians will not be, ( as some have been in the past) “gatekeepers of information”, but there to unlock, “gateways to information”.

Joyce Valenza’s Revised Manifesto was perhaps the most daunting of this week’s readings.  While I wholeheartedly agree with the technology-based collaborative nature of her manifesto, I find it almost overwhelming to consider how to implement her ideas full scale in this educational climate.  I work in a school district that not only bans cell phone use by students, but by teachers as well and does not allow access to any social networking sites.  This lack of movement forward by district administration coupled with budgetary constraints that don’t allow for items such as video cameras and computer access so students can create book trailers or collaborative video clips on a research subject, Valenza’s manifesto seems to be an almost insurmountable goal to achieve.

References:

Abram. Stephen. “15 Educational Experiences my Granddaughter Won’t Have.” Stephen’s Lighthouse, 8 May 2012. Web. 5 June 2012. < http://stephenslighthouse.com/2012/05/08/15-educational-experiences-my-granddaughter-wont-have/>.

Brichacek, Andra. “ READERS RESPOND: Do Schools Still Need Brick-and-mortar Libraries?” ISTE Community Ning 17 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 June 2012. <http://www.iste-community.org/group/landl/forum/topics/readers-respond-do-schools>.

Hay, Lyn, and Ross J. Todd. School Libraries 21C. Rep. NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010. Web. 19 June 2012. <http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/21c_report.pdf>.

Valenza, Joyce. “A Revised Manifesto.” NeverEnding Search 3 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 June 2012. <http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto>.

Woolls, Blanche. The School Library Media Manager. 4th ed. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 279. Print.

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