When I first stumbled into school librarianship from teaching in 2003, I also stumbled across Jesse Shera’s seminal work, The Foundations of Education for Librarianship (1972), which was “the first attempt to systematically view the librarian’s professional education and to explore their role in society’s “total communication system'”.
In it, he observed (p. 177) that:
Increasingly, research as a method of instruction and an environment for formalized learning is being introduced into undergraduate as well as graduate programs. This undergraduate research, or more properly, inquiry, has its own characteristic information needs, though academic librarians generally have given these requirements slight attention, while the faculty has tended to ignore them almost entirely.
Since then, inquiry as a method of instruction and an environment for formalized learning has increasingly been introduced into school programs – the International Baccalaureate is an obvious example, but not the only one, and the IFLA School Library School Guidelines, as another example, frame learning though inquiry, which is a core instructional activity within the school library’s pedagogical programme.
Equally formative was Curriculum connections through the library, which was edited by Barbara Stripling and Sandra Hughes-Hassell, and published in the same year that I first came under Jesse Shera’s influence. I still have two chapters bookmarked: Inquiry-Based Learning, by Barbara Stripling, and Librarian Morphs into Curriculum Developer, by Charlotte Vlasis. Little could I have known then that these two concerns would combine in FOSIL in 2011, and eventually lead to the formation of the FOSIL Group in 2019.
Which brings us to today.
While I have the deepest respect and admiration for what Barbara has done, as Barbara herself will point out, what has been done only matters insofar as it lays a solid foundation for what must still be done. And not by her alone, but any and all who have resolutely adopted inquiry as a stance of wonder and puzzlement that gives rise to a dynamic learning process that is truly empowering for our children, and therefore transformational, both inwardly and outwardly.
In this spirit, Barbara has made her work freely available under Creative Commons, without which FOSIL and the FOSIL Group would not exist, and in this same spirit we meet today to share our part in this important and urgent work that is beyond us on our own.
Our discussion today is framed by two paradigm shifts.
The first requires of us a deeper understanding of the characteristic information needs of inquiry as a method of instruction and an environment for formalized learning. The second requires of us a deeper understanding of what happens to these characteristic information needs in a digital environment.
With thanks and apologies to Gil Scott-Heron, the revolution will not be televised.
I’ve been following this discussion with interest. Having started a new job in Sept, I am slowly learning a bit more about our curriculum and SOW’s whilst trying to fill my knowledge gaps (hence me being here) I can see opportunities where as Elizabeth says earlier “I can work my way in to” it just requires a bit of bravery on my part but I am gaining confidence and am working on an idea to introduce some FOSIL to a library lesson plan next term. This thread has made me realize that it’s important for me to carve a niche in this area in order to stay relevant and advocate what the library is and does.
Thanks for posting your thoughts, Rachel! A new job in a pandemic is a real challenge! I am delighted that we have inspired you to try using FOSIL. There is lots of help here so please make sure you use the forum and ask any questions you have. The best place to post questions about using FOSIL is here.
Thanks to all who managed to join in our discussion yesterday. We have had some lovely feedback about how useful the session was. If you missed it and want to catch up on what was said here is a link to our Q&A Webinar with Barbara Stripling.
I just wanted to say thank you for putting this on, I’ve really enjoyed participating in the forum and the webinar on Sunday was really helpful. A lightbulb moment for me, was when Darryl said that FOSIL is a different approach to learning. We’ve got a long way to go on our journey, but I am OK with that. For now, we’re building really important foundations, that will enable this different approach to learning to happen. One important step will be our migration to a new library management system over the holidays, which will make a massive difference. We’re also continuing a weeding project in one of the libraries, so that we can ensure that we’ve got the right resources for pupils and staff. I am so thankful that I’ve got some library friends to talk about this with as you need that and the collaboration that goes on, is one of the reasons why I like being a librarian.
Thanks for sharing the q and a. I’ve just got round to watching it and lots of food for thought. I was really interested in what was said about using fiction as a way in as I had been pondering using the carnegie books we are reading with our year 8s to do a bit of inquiry using fosil and whether it could work in the very same way Barbara mentioned about “real life issues” so this has encouraged me to give it more thought. I would also be very interested in learning more about the delivery of fosil as you discussed since I am so new to all this.