Darryl Toerien continues his series – Between the Library and the Classroom: Becoming Integral to the Educational Process – for The School Librarian, the Quarterly Journal of the School Library Association.
The School Librarian, Volume 71, Number 1, Spring 2023
“The greatest events – they are not noisiest but our stillest hours. The world revolves, not around the inventors of new noises, but around the inventors of new values; it revolves inaudibly.” Thus spoke Nietzsche in Zarathustra.
What values, then, are we inventing, around which, in the fullness of time, the worlds of our schools will come to revolve?
About Reading for Pleasure (RfP) we are noisiest, but about why and how the school library is integral to the educational process, less inaudible than silent, and this noisy silence testifies against us.
On the one hand, RfP, while absolutely necessary for a vital school library instructional program,* is not sufficient in and of itself to warrant a school library, and evidence of this continues to mount. Keith Curry Lance – who knows a thing or two about the actual value that a “high quality library program” adds to the educational process in terms of student achievement – and Debra Kachel, in lamenting the mounting losses of school librarians, attribute those losses in large part to a “disconnect” between school librarianship and the larger education community. This disconnect, somewhat perversely, is in part a consequence of a preoccupation with RfP within the school library program. The reasons for this are many and varied, which we will return to.
Therefore, and on the other hand, whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent (with apologies to Wittgenstein). For if, as Ruth Ann Davies points out, perspective in viewing the function and role of the school library program begins logically by building a historical understanding of education itself, then our lack of historical understanding of education silences us on matters of our educational value. Can we, for example, tell Dewey (John) from Dewey (Melvil)? And are we, for example, as intimately conversant with Bruner, Piaget and Vygotsky, as we are with Bramachari, Pichon, and Veronica Roth? If not, then those who have and still would testify most eloquently to our value necessarily stand mute.
The revolution will not be televised.
*Essentially: literacy and reading promotion (includes appreciation of literature and culture); inquiry-based teaching and learning (includes media and information literacy); technology integration; professional development for teachers. Of course, this is a big ask, possibly impossibly so, given our currently dire state of affairs, but that is precisely the point – we are (re)valuing a vital library program that is appropriately funded and suitably staffed.
The FOSIL Group is an international community of educators who frame learning through inquiry, which is a process and stance aimed at building knowledge and understanding of the world and ourselves in it as the basis for responsible participation in society.