Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting With the Program @JO

Edu-blogger/Administrator Gino Bondi from John Oliver Secondary here in Vancouver is blogging the vision for a Learning Commons this week.  How nice is that!  Check out his "Points of Inquiry" post ... Learning the Now, January 26, 2011.  If you are checking for Tweeps to follow, Gino is:  @gmbondi.

Who else but Bondi could post a blog about Ekdahl, Machiavelli, McCarthy's darkness, life on the edge, tweeting and the Learning Commons and make the connections work!  Nice work, Mr Bondi.  Love that engaged enthusiasm for the work we do and can do in school libraries.

1 comment:

Al Smith said...

Repost....sorry. FYI
Great post and interesting comments Gini. As a teacher-librarian in Kelowna attempting to move our program and school practices into the same direction I am a keen observer. I also know Ms Ekdahl rather well and comprehend her intentions and the model of inquiry learning so well laid out in the BCTLA document; however, I am having some serious pause for concern in implementation. It would appear to me at this early stage two things: 1. The traditions and deep rooted soul of a strong library was service, research and literature. Our school culture has grown to expect and appreciate all three from it's library but now has some struggle with independent inquiry. The school(people in it) still see research as a librarian's domain more than their own. 2. Good or bad or indifferent, I now see our incoming middle school learnere, who have had 1to1 computing classrooms for three years, LESS independent, less skilled at inquiry and more entitled to facility and resouces with less respect. I know it's a new age and a transition but when ' their' commons is increasingly disrespected as a place of scholarship and perceived as a place to simply socialize, I have serious concerns. I have more trouble with broken furniture, spilled drinks and disruptive behavior than ever before when the student knew it was the 'librarians' space. I see many wonderful kids in a day but I also have 25 years of ethnographic data to compare with. The teens today are as amazing as they ever were but they are not the same. They are far less mature and independent thinkers and problemsolvers than educators and parents assume. They expect an immediate return or reward for every deed.( ya I know you think I'm an old geezer) The 'average' teen student I observe and communicate with, has more trouble with inquire now than previous generations! Yes. Why? Well I think it is because their base knowledge is inadequate to generate further questioning but also that WE, teachers and parents have spoon fed and delivered everything for them. When I see mothers trying to get an exempt note for a freshman college student I know we have enabled kids too much.
I think the concept of inquiry learning is vital but also demanding for our system and society that loves tests and 'merit' cookie cutter COSTCO solutions. We dont walk the talk.
I think a learning commons demands serious cultural support and time to practice(like most educational objectives) I believe it demands a level of student maturity and faculty training and attitude. As one teacher-librarian in any given hour, I must support a Commons full of 160 teens plus a class of collaborative instruction. This is a testimony to our service and efforts to welcome everyone but it also requires huge energy, resources, and space. A Commons such as ours had the square footage but it requires funding of materials, technology, resources and staffing to survive- but most of all it demands that an entire school must trust and support the leaders who espouse a shift toward inquiry based learning. Successful models require energy and time to mature and adapt. Schools and Libraries are cultural entities not just FTE's or Msquared, they are complex organisms.
I will roll out my welcome matt slowly and cautiosly because I do not feel, like father toward his children, that those put under my responsibility are grade ready for an inquiry driven learning commons model so eloquently described in Ms Ehdahl's narrative. Anyone who know me, understands I am a progressive educator, even risk-taker, but I will not risk damaging what I know IS supporting learning for what MIGHT support a new kind of learning. Not yet, not on my watch. It isn't Mr. Smith's Library that could be lost but an educational program built on 2 decades of proven academic and anecdotal success. That said, oh what a future to aspire to and what a vision it would be.