There was a lot to take in in this first readings for the course, but it was all very interesting and a lot of it got me even more excited for a future in librarianship.
Let’s start with the reading from How People Learn. Quite a bit of this clicked with me, both from prior experience and what I have been learning so far in my journey to become a school librarian. A great deal of my K-12 education was spent in the kinds of classes where teachers had to focus on breadth of topics instead of depth of knowledge on one concept. I really enjoyed school and did very well, but we didn’t do a lot of the deep concept building that is mentioned in the text as something to strive for. I can definitely see that in things like physics, where we did some coverage of the concepts but focused a lot of our time on the equations needed to solve for specific values. The parts of the text dealing with instruction to master instead of memorize made me think of the kinds of things I have been learning about the Common Core State Standards and the promises that have been made about how students will be evaluated. In my youth media class, we discussed how the goal is to have computer-based testing that can be taken by a student any time in the year in which the content of the test is covered, so that they can master it. The testing software is supposed to be “smart” so that it can ask a question many ways to give a student more chances to understand. I’m not sure how this will be implemented or when it would be possible to have this kind of testing for all students, but the ideas behind it line up with this first chapter of HPL. If there is a way to pull this off, it could allow educators to focus on depth instead of breadth and give students many ways to succeed. It’s definitely one of those things that remains to be seen.
With regards to the chapter on novice versus expert learning, I could again connect this to my experiences in school. We didn’t really get a lot of expert examples in K-12, though I do think I had several teachers that acted more as experts than “accomplished novices” who remember what it is like to be just starting a base of knowledge. In college, I feel like I’ve gotten more expert examples and been taught by more “accomplished novices,” especially since a lot of my professors were themselves scholars who were conducting their own research in the field and so could probably identify with what we were going through. I think SI 502 also had a similar feel, in that we all know Dr. Chuck knows a ton about Python and computer programming but he really tried to present it to us in a way that we could absorb a lot of it while trying to structure it in the way an expert would. I think this is important for me to get used to as a future educator. It makes me think of teaching crochet during Michigan Makers and how much I have learned about teaching through that. I’m trying to show newbies how to do something that I have been working on for years (I’m the expert in this situation, though I’d think of myself as an accomplished novice). At first I thought about what I was showing the middle schoolers in term of how it made sense to me (like how I make a slip knot and how I can just crochet a circle without any sort of pattern), but I’m really starting to look at how my students are seeing what I’m doing and how it makes no sense to them. I’m far from perfect, but I think this experience is giving me a lot of tools I will need in the future to help students build up their knowledge and become experts in their own right.
Thinking about the profession after doing these readings was exciting and yet it made me a little nervous. Looking at the ALA’s core competencies, it’s a lot to pick up in two years. Some things like management and cataloging have specific courses here at UMSI, and some of the stuff on the list has come up in the classroom, at my job, and at Michigan Makers. However, the sheer number of things on the list made me anxious. There are 8 categories, so that means I have to pick up two a semester. Of course I know that’s not how it works, but the thought crossed my mind. I think that I’m either learning a lot of it now and I don’t realize it or it’s coming down the road. Though the Core Competencies got me worrying, my attitude changed when I watched Josh’s speech. It helped me think yet again about why I’m in this profession: to help people. I absolutely love that Josh’s life was changed so much by the library in his younger years and that he is now able to help people in the same way. His stories brought tears to my eyes. I especially loved the quote from the director about the library being meant to create a better community and Josh’s definition of a library as a place where people can be free. It is astounding to me how much a place like a library can mean to people, especially those in dire situations. People see the library as an inclusive place, and I need to carry on this tradition. When I interact with like-minded people or hear people like Josh speak, I get even more fired up to take this path and work somewhere that I already feel like I belong.