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Thursday
Mar052009

How do you draw a librarian?

I have commissioned my creative son to do illustrations for a new book I'm writing. Here's a pretty good question from him:

I had a funny question about Head for the Edge- what's a telltale sign that a person looks like a librarian? It seems silly but when I think drawing a librarian my instinct tells me to draw the stereotypical lady in a big dress with round glasses and a hair in a bun (sorry). Any ideas that would make a person look like a librarian without them literally having a name tag on there shirt that says so? I'm probably going to go out and do some life drawings this weekend before I start with the sketches- maybe get some more ideas.

Ideas?

Thursday
Mar052009

Are they really "21st century" skills?

 

In the Bridging Differences blog, Diane Ravitch writes:

... the movement for “21st Century skills” sounds similar—if not identical—to earlier movements over the past century. Its calls to teach critical thinking skills, creativity, problem-solving, and cooperative group skills are not at all “21st Century.” Certainly for the past generation, these goals have been virtual mantras in our schools of education. If there is anything that teachers have been taught over the years, it is the importance of pursuing these goals, which are certainly laudable in themselves.

Earlier manifestations of the movement to teach outcomes directly was referred to as “life adjustment education,” or “outcome-based education,” or most recently in the 1990s, “SCANS skills.” In every manifestation, the movement says that we should teach students how to think and teach them real-life skills but downplay academic subjects because students can always look up “bits of information.”

and adds...

Is it [the 21st Century Skills movement] an effort on the part of the technology companies to sell more high-tech hardware and software to schools? Is it an effort to throw a wrench into the effort to develop meaningful and reasonable academic standards by replacing them with vague and pleasing-sounding goals?

Read Ravich's column for a reality check. The blogosphere has rightly been called an echo-chamber of like-minded commentators who reinforce each other's beliefs with few other voices offering divergent opinions. (Tribes?)

So why, if "21st century skills" have been promoted for the past 30 years have they not risen to level of importance of the basic 3rs? Why is NCLB not demanding that schools unable to demonstrate that they are teaching critical thinking be placed on AYP?

I have always been skeptical that society or schools actually want students who are capable of critical thinking. Who are information literate. Who are genuinely creative. These scary people threaten the status quo and may lead a better class of legislators, CEOs, and school administrators. See "Why Robots Make the Best Students" and "The Illusion of Change."

I am also beginning to think that both ISTE, AASL, and other organizations who promote "21st Century skills" have done a disservice to students by their very ambition attempts to incorporate all the skills today's kids need in their documents. Rather than a modest list of well-defined and achievable skills written in a language the general education community and public can understand, we are now working with "vague and pleasing-sounding goals."

OK, call me a geezer, but I still like "research skills" and "computer skills." I suspect teachers who encourage creativity, expect higher-level thinking skills, collaboration, and all these fuzzy  "dispositions" will do so even if they aren't spelled out in standards - or continue to ignore them if they are is so inclined.

Tuesday
Mar032009

Continuums of library use

How are the ways students are using libraries, especially in the secondary schools, changing?

Accessing print .......................................................................... Accessing electronic/multimedia

Solitary work....................................................................................................... Social work

Directed use............................................................................................. Independent use

Information consumer ............................................................................... Information producer

Academic research ........................................................................................ Personal research

Static needs, resources, tasks ............................................... Rapidly changing needs, resources, tasks

And how might those changes reflect on library facility design?

Study carrels ................................................................................................... Study rooms

Tables ..................................................................................................... Upholtered chairs

Computer labs ............................................................................................. Production labs

Reseach stations ....................................................................................... Wireless notebooks

Print shelving and storage .................................................................... Collaborative work spaces

Fixed spaces ................................................................................................... Flexible spaces

 What are the changes of library use you see and how do our physical libraries need to change to meeting them?