History and Politics-Acting for Change or Reacting to Trends

I always find myself amazed at just how much trends and politics play into the history of education and through that to school libraries. I know its one of those things that actually should be fairly obvious since its been going on for a couple centuries, but it still surprises me. Part of it I think is that there’s this ideal of education that it should somehow be beyond the normal back and forths of politics and focused on teaching. Though as you go more into things then its clear that what’s going to be taught really depends a lot on what’s going on in the world and what’s seen as important by the people who are teaching. Then it all makes sense, because education is very reactionary, most of the trends and movements seem to have been caused by we have to get better at this or we’re not good enough at this.

One thing I like especially about the AASL guidelines is that they seem to be taking action and saying, well we’ve been reactionary and it hasn’t worked that well. So now we’re going to take charge and say, this is what we think is important and why. Its a powerful idea that I really like since it seems to be a way to really do more in the world of a school where so much is reactionary to be the one in charge of taking action. It seems like school librarians have a lot of power in terms of changing things, because they have the possibility of moving in and around the various structures that teachers might not be able to. A good school librarian can see and identify the current and coming trends and make a plan that will use them but not hopefully be fully controlled by them. I’m really curious to learn more about how school librarians try to take action instead of just being reactionary.

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5 Comments

Filed under school library management reflection

5 responses to “History and Politics-Acting for Change or Reacting to Trends

  1. Kristin

    You make a great point about school librarians being proactive instead of reactive. My friend Chris- who will be guest-lecturing on technology this term, says the way he deals with change is to lead the change – very similar to what you’re talking about here.

  2. Julie

    In my experience, there are times when educators (and this includes school librarians) can’t help but be reactive. For example, NCLB and high stakes testing has drastically effected the curricula and instructional strategies of many school districts nationwide. Many educators are forced to “teach to the test” — even if they do not feel that the instructional strategies and techniques being used are appropriate, challenging, or engaging for the students.

    I completely agree with your idea that school librarians “have a lot of power in changing things.” We can do our best to anticipate upcoming trends in technology, collection development, and information literacy. But we also must react sometimes, or risk the possibility of students not making adequate yearly progress, losing funding, and damaging district reputations. I guess it’s a fine balance, but a necessary one.

    • You make a good point about how the world of education is set up that it really forces people to become reactive even when that’s not their choice. I think its a complicated world and no one can really be either fully proactive or reactive all the time, the most you can do is figure out how to make sure what you’re doing is effective.

      • Elizabeth

        I think you are right, though, when you say school librarians have the “possibility of moving in and around the various structures that teachers might not be able to.” While school librarians certainly seem to have a huge and varied job description and often must justify their positions, they do have a certain amount of freedom that teachers — more tied to classroom, curriculum, assessments, and subject area — do not have. I think that there is a lot of power and potential for change in that.

  3. Kristin

    The change agent chapter (Hughes-Hassell & Harada) for this week definitely hones in on the possibility of the school librarian to adapt as needed. Julie’s right about times when folks must be reactive. One way we can help is by really staying on top of trends, though — so we’re prepared when the national directives hit our little ole schools.

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