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Wednesday
May072008

Media special - itis

A fellow Minnesotan teased me a little about the name of ISTE's special interest group for library media specialists - SIGMS. He teased that MS was a disease, not a profession.

After reading this comment, I began wondering - might it be both? Do we suffer from media specialitis when one reads this on LM_Net:

In our district we have a policy which says that I keep the money tendered for lost books for 2 weeks and then turn the money in to the district treasurer.  I had a child return the lost book after that 2-week window.  So, I did not return his money.  Well, doesn't his mom call saying he should have the book back or his money back.  After counting down from 10, I said "okay" and gave him back the lousy $3.99. If it had been more, I would have had the district treasurer deal with
her.  But, for that piddly amount, I picked my battles.....BUT I walked right over to the child's classroom and told him and the classroom teacher that the library was not a bookstore!  And this is NOT going to happen again!

What a great deal - for only $3.99 this librarian bought at least $399 worth of ill will and bad feelings from a student, a parent and, BONUS, a classroom teacher. If the teacher complains to the principal, this might just be a bad PR home run.

Scott McLeod at Dangerously Irrelevant writes about his "not so friendly library," and reminds his readers:

Seth Godin reminds us that every interaction with a customer / client / patron / stakeholder / visitor is a marketing interaction. It’s an opportunity for us to build or erode our brand, a chance to increase or decrease the trust and goodwill of the people with whom we are interacting.

 "Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face" is a trite, but in this case apropos expression.

What are other symptoms of "media specialitis?"

lookitup_tn.jpg 

 

 Yes, you can get this image on a t-shirt here. <http://www.strangersinparadise.com/>

 

Wednesday
May072008

Open response to Stager's complaint

The Noah Principal: No more prizes for predicting rain. Prizes only for building arks. Louis Gerstner

One of my favorite educational scolds, Gary Stager, yesterday excoriated "the most popular, hired and prolific members of the EduBlogosphere" for not jumping up and down about the recent findings that showed the Reading First program was not as effective as promised. He writes:

Literacy dominates my esteemed colleague's thoughts about education. Therefore, I find it shocking that there is so little [read: none] discussion of the news that the federal Department of Education has concluded that Reading First, the $6 billion shock and awe approach to literacy education at the core of No Child Left Behind, has FAILED to improve the reading comprehension of American students.

Why the silence among EduBloggers? Is this issue unimportant? Should we ignore the calamity created by Reading First just because it doesn't mention Twitter, Apture, Ning or other made-up words?

Or, are you waiting to be told what to think by Tom Friedman or Daniel Pink?

First let me say that I am positive that I am not even on Mr. Stager's radar, so this did not hurt my feelings in the least. But I have a much different take on whether Reading First was shamefully neglected as a topic of discussion among the bloggers I like to read for a few reasons:

  1. I too was shocked, shocked to learn that politics and money and cronyism have ever played a role in education in this country. What will they discover next - that politicians have affairs? That governments sometimes spend money on stupid things?  Gary takes great pride in predicting Reading First would not be a success. Ya know, Gary, guessing this didn't require the skills of a Nostradamus. Sorry. And while this is a case of politics influencing education, most of us think of ourselves as educators first, political pundits a distant second. Or tenth.
  2. A great many of us at a school district level simply have not been impacted by Reading First, didn't buy the product, didn't sacrifice other programs. Those bloggers working in schools tend to write and be interested in what they know and what impacts them. On a fundamental level, as long as federal funding accounts for about 3-4% of my district's financing, I will invest about 3-4% of my energy on federal issues. Even NCLB has had less impact on how a state decides to enforce it and district's to have it impact what they do as a result of it.
  3. A great many bloggers would prefer to write about the positive, offering concrete suggestions about how education can be improved on a daily, personal, school or classroom level. I think we take Emily's to heart when she writes: "I dwell in Possibility-- A fairer House than Prose." We need people like you, Gary, with that 20,000 foot view. It's just that the stuff here on the ground is of more immediacy, more interest, more importance to many of us - even Nings. It's naive, I suppose, to think we can make change by celebrating the positive rather than crticizing negative, but ya just never know.
  4. As a corollary, many of us have a pretty accurate perception of the limits of our influence (which I explored more fully here), knowing where we can most make a difference. Besides ranting - and belaboring the obvious that politicians (on both sides of the aisle) are clueless and corrupted by special interests - what in the Sam Hill do I have to contribute to this discussion, to urge my readers to do, to act in a way that will actually change a system? I'll certainly share this information within my own district to make better informed decisions about our reading efforts, but what more? Venting feels good, but does it do good?

Gary, I sincerely appreciate YOU writing about this. It does need to brought to all educators' attention. But the world only needs (and can take) so many Gary Stagers!

I like my bloggers building arks - not just predicting rain. 

NoahsArk.jpg

www.vegetarianfriends.net/
 
Tuesday
May062008

Do I write like Dick Cheney looks?

Paul Bogash at Blogush argues that blog authors should NOT include their photos with their blogs. He writes:

I like using my imagination to create an image of the person I am listening to or reading. Some of the people that I have been reading or listening to for over a year have become real people in my imagination. Their hair is cut a certain way, they wear certain clothes, and they walk a certain way.

OK, the theory is fine and dandy, but then he gets .... PERSONAL:

There is one person that I am lucky to not have seen his picture. Doug Johnson. I have read his blog on and off for a year. I know he is a short, squat, cigar, crushed hat, beard that is white, no hair, I mean nothing on top, slick talkin’ Minnesotite. He looks weathered, in a way that makes someone look tough, not old. He has been on one too many ice fishing trips without a shelter, even though people offer him a beer and he accepts, he would rather have a malted milk. He is definitely a hunter and has a stuffed rabbit, no deer, no moose head above the computer he works at. I hope that image is never shattered.

As anyone who has seen me knows, I can best be described as a cross between George Clooney and Brad Pitt - only taller, more buff, and with better hair. Although I am over half a century old, I still get carded in most bars. The only taxidermy near my desk is the rabid grizzly bear I killed in self-defense when I was twelve-years-old, using only my pocket comb.

Just wanted to set the record straight, OK?

Now when read I Paul I envision him looking like the love child of Don Knotts and RoseAnne Barr... Ewwwwwwww, as the kids would say. (He may have slipped up on January 18th and left a photo of himself.) Regardless of looks, Paul has a great blog. Put it in your reader.

So what do you think, would prefer a picture or your imagination for the bloggers you read?

boot.jpg

Illustration of your humble author from May '08 School Library Journal's Re-Boot Camp article.. At least they got the body right.