Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wisdoms from the Treasure Mountain Summit

Pat Parungao, Canada's TL of the Year 2010
with Dr Ross Todd at Treasure Mountain, Edmonton
Here are some of the key points from the keynote evening at Treasure Mountain, a think-tank for practicing Canadian TLs and school library researchers held in Edmonton in conjunction with the Canadian Library Association Conference. Pat Parungao, Heather Daly, Coquitlam consultant and president, BCTLA, Richard Beaudry in his capacity as Past President of CASL and Joanie Probskie, both from Langley, also attended.

Dr Ross Todd gave us the global picture, from countries like Portugal and Sweden, where school libraries are now mandated, and Australia where stimulus money is being used to build school libraries and where a national inquiry is under way into school libraries to the decimation of school library programs in the US. The digital divide is clearer and enhanced by these "ends" of service to students.

For Todd, there are three critical issues:


The vision of a school library as "learning or knowledge commons" -- a shared space for all that enables deep knowledge outcomes and thus intellectual agency through accessible resources, including a teacher-librarian -- is an empowering one for young minds. In a flexible, dynamic, 24/7 learning centre, young learners find the help, digital and print resources and tools to create, produce, and share knowledge. By providing opportunities for students and teachers to engage in discovery and inquiry learning in an environment that is safe and that offers opportunities for deep reading, collaboration, creativity, cooperation, and intellectual play, TLs are supported both within and beyond the school as they guide and awaken minds and enable intellectual development, agency, and empowerment.


The primary focus of such a re-visioned school learning commons to build the capacity for creative and critical engagement. There is a shift in the instructional role, from helping people "find stuff" to doing something with the found information. The LC is a centre for learning innovation. The LC is a place, space, and mindset for staff and students in a school. Engagement is social, academic, and intellectual where children become part of a "thinking conversation" (Knodt).


The questions for us are these: How do we immerse our young learners in learning that enables them to develop their sense of self and a sense of the future? How can we be a key part of their learning to develop intellectual, personal, and socio-cultural agency? And how can we provide evidence to district decision-makers, administrators, teachers, and students that what we are proposing and, in some cases, already doing, works? The opportunities lie in the rich leadership TLs offer beyond the traditional imparting of information literacy, in designing learning partnerships that enable TLs to guide teachers and students to develop capabilities that are resource-base, thinking-based, and knowledge-based, that are personal and interpersonal, and that are about reading to learn and learning management.

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