This post was adapted from my reflections section in my dissertation:
‘Ladies and Gentlemen the School Library has Left the Building: An Investigation into School Libraries, their Efficacy, Successes and Dilemmas’.
The dissertation process has been akin to driving a new car badly; stopping at the traffic lights to reconsider which direction to turn at the introduction, bumping up the side of the kerb during the literature review, then swerving at the methodology, before hitting a few potholes along the way in the Findings and Conclusions chapters.
The dissertation modus operandi is as about applying the processes, understanding the etiquettes and knowing yourself and your gremlins. It is about timing, effort, understanding, grappling with content, literature, information ethics and the influence of the internet (Bawden & Robinson, 2012). It is about truth, dissecting the facts from the fake or and the emotive. It is about showing the knowing of academic progression and understanding that nothing is as it seems. Finding the angle, the discrepancies and not accepting the status quo. It is about showing the knowing of the ‘how to do it’ as well as the information content.
My choice to concentrate on the school library survival conversation and pupils’ rights as a conduit for information skills was a natural one, it builds upon my previous life and craft and has made me a more competent practitioner. Working with pupils, many from poorer or difficult backgrounds has given me insight and proved how often a small intervention can cause such a large shift in thinking and practice. Merging this with the information literacy histories, theories and competencies of this course need far more than a basic nod in acknowledgement, it needs to be front and centre in educators and teachers’ hearts and minds. The school library sits at the heart of not just the school but the community, debate and the solution if only more out of the box thinking was applied.
Now to my Butterfly Effect philosophy. Every stakeholder in this dissertation has the power to influence reading outcomes and information literacy skills, if not for the many, then for the few within our reach. From government to busy head teachers along the chain, to parents and pupils themselves, each can take a step towards better school libraries by adding their voice. We all need to aspire to better reading and information literacy outcomes for our students regardless of the bottom line.
Reading is the main key to success in so many illuminating ways and affects self-esteem, progress overall curriculum subjects and most of all wellbeing. Successive governments meddle constantly with education policy, yet they absolve themselves of overall accountability as yet another generation of pupils and teachers suffer the changes and fashionable ideas. This is neither ethically or economically sound thinking. The rights of a child Fitzsimmons (1998) are every bit, if not more, important than adults for they are our adults of tomorrow. Here my research has shown that reading/literacy skills are an overriding factor that is intertwined with economic and social wellbeing and the library is part of that journey.
Globally the trends ebb and flow in similar patterns and comparative educational borrowing melds cultural learning styles as each country chases that golden top Programme for International Studies Assessment (PISA) prize. Intriguing theories of learning and behaviour affect students and as such, all should have a basic understanding of how they think especially in an era of the ‘digital natives’ needs. Learning is changing, yet, some educators remain entrenched in a stagnant cycle of dogmatic teaching to the test principles.
As for writing a dissertation, be in no doubt to all those that are yet to go there, it is hard. There have been difficult moments, particularly knowing how much to include, how to do so and when to stop. Technology that is there to aid you can often decide to show you how little you actually know about how to use it. It takes an age to do what is perceived to be the simplest of tasks, the contents page formatting has at times driven me to distraction. Yet, I have learned along the way that we all have the potential to drive through the barriers and commit to going a little further and to seek out more than simply the mundane. The information science world is a complicated realm to navigate but it is a worthwhile struggle.
One overriding element that has influenced me greatly this year are the philosophies of Luciano Floridi (2009; 2016) and his Infosphere, Inforgs and Onlife/off life theories. Information ethics and philosophical positions of what we each perceive to be ethical weaves its web through the learning zones, professional practice debates and hints at how governments and global economics empower the digital space, have been intriguing, enlightening and empowering. When you combine these themes and consider how they flow through the veins of information seeking behaviours, raging social media influences and the populations’ ever-increasing demand for information, be that factual or fictitious, it bleeds into all we know as LIS professionals and will inform the future path that we tread.
The views in this post are my own. Thank you for stopping by P.