This has been the strangest of weeks, which has meant that I have not yet been able to contribute to this fascinating discussion, although I hope to do so properly tomorrow.
Two things for now, though.
Firstly, Barbara makes the enormously important point that “she has learned the most about the skills she needs to teach students by engaging in inquiry as a learner herself and reflecting on the process”. My journey to inquiry – which began in 2008, resulted in FOSIL in 2011, and continues beyond 2021 – started with an inquiry. If we are expecting students in Year 12 (Grade 11) who have chosen to do the IB Diploma Programme – which requires them to complete the compulsory Extended Essay, which requires them to cite and reference to a recognized bibliographic standard – to cite and reference to a recognized bibliographic standard, then how do we effectively equip them for this requirement systematically and progressively in all of their years leading up to Year 12? This led me to what I mistakenly thought was an information literacy framework – FOSIL originally stood for Framework Of Skills for Information Literacy – but, serendipitously, turned out to be Barbara’s framework of the inquiry process and underlying framework of inquiry learning skills. I had an opportunity to reflect on this incredibly steep learning curve in an interview with Elizabeth, which I hope will serve as both inspiration and encouragement on this journey that we are all still on – see An Extraordinary Journey: FOSIL (Framework Of Skills for Inquiry Learning).
[Edit: I forgot to mention in this regard that the tag line for FOSIL is Learning by finding out for yourself (not by yourself, which suggests minimal or no guidance and/ or interventions). This is as true for our students as it is for us. This is also necessitated by the situation that many of us find ourselves in, which Ruth raises above about the lack of specialist sector training, which I also touch briefly on below.]
Secondly, this paradigm shift, which we should continue discussing, coincides with what may be another paradigm shift, which is the shift from a predominantly print to a predominantly digital environment, and which we should begin discussing. This paradigm shift, which I think it is, presents us with opportunities, but also challenges. We should, therefore, give some thought to what, if anything, fundamentally changes when we shift from a predominantly print to a predominantly digital environment. Two examples come to mind:
If our students struggle to read print texts thoughtfully, which they appear to do, then they are likely to struggle much more with reading digital texts thoughtfully, and for a range of reasons. Is this essentially the same problem, or a fundamentally different one?
In reading Jacques Ellul, I came to appreciate that a sufficient change in quantity results in a change in quality, which, in turn, requires a different response. So, when information, which knowledge is constructed from, is scarce, then the problem is finding reliable information. However, when we are confronted with a superabundance of information, then the problem becomes discerning reliable information, which may appear to be the same, but is qualitatively, and therefore fundamentally, different, I think.
Finally, in passing, school librarians are teachers, regardless of whether they, or anyone else for that matter, recognize this. The challenge for many of us, as Ruth points out, is that our profession may not recognize this, which then makes developing ourselves as specialist teachers, which we are, significantly more challenging.