When I arrived at SU I was the most hardcore school librarian type you could find. Even among my school media classmates I was among the most committed to actually working in a school. I wasn’t cynical about it, I just wanted to do a good job. I’m well into my fourth semester of grad school and am sort of wondering how I got here.
I still think school libraries are important and may be the only hope there is for modern education, but I’m infuriated at the number of ridiculous requirements intended to boost teacher performance that in reality result in kids getting cheated out of real learning – discovery, critical thought, and freedom to pursue interests.
I also don’t think there’s enough time or room in the curriculum to let kids struggle. Part of really learning something inside and out is wrestling with it, and that isn’t happening any more. Teachers do things for students rather than forcing them to figure it out, because there’s just not time. Students ask me for help in the library, for things that they could easily figure out if they actually looked at the shelf or explored a few drop down menus on the computer. That was how I learned best. I had a task to complete, so I figured it out. Even now- I’m writing an HTML website for my practicum…I don’t know HTML. I don’t know a damn thing. Iwas lucky enough to have a tech savvy friend give me a crash course over about 2 hours, and I’ve been flying solo. I don’t think students now realize that A. The answers are out there if you think about how to look and B. That they are 100% competent to figure things out on their own.
I keep looking at how things are done and imagining a different model for education. It’s scary enough that I can imagine why people homeschool, although I don’t think that’s a great option either. It seems to me that schools are a leftover from a time when work was far more routine and required less creativity. Schools are buildings crammed with kids, staffed with authority figures charged with keeping them disciplined enough that learning is not disrupted. It’s not an atmosphere that encouraged individuality, rebellion, learning for its own sake, thinking outside the box etc., yet that’s what the “real world” values. Of course that’s not universal, but it’s becoming more and more true.
I’m sure I’ll continue to ruminate on the state and future of education, but in short, I’m trying to understand whether my frustrations are an obstacle or an opportunity. Will I be hopelessly frustrated and unhappy as a school librarian, or will I attack it and bring passion to it? I remind myself that when that time comes, it will have my full attention, not the crazy 5 way split my life has been in for years.
The other wild card is that my public library job has been increasingly complex, interesting and rewarding of late. I guess it’s good to know that there is a happy place for me in one or the other of these worlds.