Wednesday, April 12, 2006

EARCOS, Ross Todd, etc.

My notes from the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council on Overseas Schools) Teachers' Conference in Manila held two weeks ago are now typed up. Useful as my own memory enhancement technique -- even if no one else ever reads them!

In terms of school librarianship, the time spent with Ross Todd of CISSL was invaluable. He's an iconoclastic pixie in adult form -- terribly knowledgeable and 'naughty' -- effectively campaigning for guided inquiry and evidence-based practice (proving that you're actually adding to the learning process) rather than the drum-beating and public worship of information literacy as the focus of the Information-Learning Specialist (aka the school librarian):

--- Step out of libraryland! -- Step out of information literacy land! -- It's not about finding stuff anymore! -- Get over it! -- That annual library tour and all that Dewey babble are just a waste of time! -- Get off that information literacy pedestal! -- Get over it!

Instead

-- What we want is the discovery of knowledge, not the discovery of resources -- knowledge construction, not product construction
-- I see appalling things going on - with little learning as the outcome
-- Guided inquiry is back-door Information Literacy
-- Guided inquiry is a staged process and mediation is where you come in
-- Intervention is about identifying what the kids need and figuring out how to get them to the next stage
-- Kids are being abandoned (usually in the name of 'independent research') at the most critical stage - when they're ready to interrogate all the 'stuff' they've found
-- Knowledge in - or via - conflict is what's really important
-- We need to confront kids with alternative perspectives and conflicting ideas -- and help them grapple with evidence, arguments and judgements
-- It's about getting the kids to develop personal positions
-- Think outside the information literacy box -- Think about what intellectual scaffolds you can provide
-- Don't make information literacy standards or library skills separate from curriculum standards! Information literacy is a secondary, derived standard -- You need to look at the curriculum standards THROUGH the information literacy lens.
-- Documenting your sources (i.e., teaching bibliographic citation skills) is part of the knowledge experience -- it shouldn't be a library lesson!
-- Highlight your rubrics on your school library webpage - not your library rules!
-- Avoid PFS ("petty fine syndrome") and LHC ("loans harrassment complex")!
-- Keep asking yourself: "Did they learn anything?"


But it was Ross's excitement over doing research that made the biggest impression. I started thinking about mini research projects of my own in my new job come August, e.g., establishing baseline surveys of kids' knowledge and levels of multi-literacies in order to track just what added value a teacher librarian can provide (especially as the school doesn't have one at the moment) and the positive difference created by collaboration...


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