Not agreeing with the ASLA president and video for my students

In the latest issue of the ASLA journal Access,  ASLA President Rob Moore writes a column which focuses on his love of literature and how this influences many TLs’ views of their post. Unfortunately, he comes out with the statement “We all know that the teacher librarian is a multi-faceted creature and foremost (my bold and underlining) amongst these facets is an unashamed love of literature, matched with the desire and skills to put the right book into the right hands”. One of the bees in this writer’s Scottish bonnet has always been that TLs and their equivalents around the world, have done themselves and their profession no good at all by identifying themselves primarily as promoters of children’s literature. What I have yet to find is a job description for a TL – anywhere in the world – which identifies literature promotion as the key element. Excuse the pun, but in my book, TLs are employed to work with school colleagues to develop learning in the school and they do this via the school curriculum. I’m afraid that views like Rob Moore’s can only lead to greater marginalisation of TLs in schools. This of course is my own view and not necessarily that of my colleagues at CSU.

I’m going to be talking to some of my new students on 28th July on Skype from my home here in Scotland. It will be 5am my time and 2pm in Sydney where the students are gathering. So I thought I’d do a wee video to give them a flavour of where I’ll be speaking from. As it will be 5am, I will not be sitting outside the back of my house – not because it might not be a beautiful morning, but because my wife will be asleep in the bedroom next to where I sat in the video. If you want a look, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSEelhK88eo – it’s only 2.14 minutes, so not Lawrence of Arabia.

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7 Responses to “Not agreeing with the ASLA president and video for my students”

  1. Frances Manning Says:

    Thankyou, James for affirming a view I also share about TL’s. My work revolves heavily in supporting the Leadership Team of the school, the Teachers and the Students in accessing and using effectively, the incredible amount of information available to them in today’s world. My ‘job’ is to lead, instruct and assist our learning community using both traditional and ’21st Century’ tools, for accessing & presenting information.
    Included in this role is the need to develop and maintain sound organizational structures for the vast array of resources at our disposal, while continually promoting new and existing ‘finds’.
    The library in which I work of course, includes a well developed fiction section, which has indeed been developed with love. My role also includes promoting and instilling that ‘love’ of story into the community in which I work. Admittedly I have always enjoyed this part of the role, especially when I have a class of 5 year olds, but unfortunately, in this fast paced world, there is little time. As with all TL’s, I must try and ‘juggle’ & squeeze in literature appreciation into a very crowded timetable.
    In a way it demeans the role of TL to focus on this component of the role. The TL’s that I know, are all dually qualified professionals who manage a many faceted position. In today’s world, where I am finding TL’s struggle with recognition of their role, we don’t need statements that undermine their work.

  2. Cathy Says:

    I’ve just read his piece and must say I’m surprised by his photo, I thought he’d be much older. The first part of his article did indeed have a Norman Rockwell-ish romantic note about our profession that TLs have been working hard to correct. Like the old image of the housewife in the perky cocktail apron, it trivializes what the job really entails.

    A love of literature may still be the motivating factor for many people entering the field of TL but the reality quickly becomes apparent when working with the ‘main customers’ — the kids. They require so much more than a good book when they come to the LRC at school. Even in a small primary school I struggle to keep the weekly 40 minute library sessions from being swallowed up by all the other demands and only the younger children really seem to enjoy the time to read. The older children are quickly bored with ‘sit and read’, they’d rather flick through magazines, watch/check out something online, talk about things like movies and MMORPG’s (massive multi-player online role-playing games – awesome stories in themselves). I’m not knocking them, their literacies just don’t lean towards novels — altho’ there are still many readers out there. We need to look far beyond ‘a good book’ when promoting a love of literature now.

    Sorry Rob Moore, I have to agree, we don’t need a “President of Books”.

  3. John Harycki Says:

    Here, here James. I was inspired to read as a year 6 student by our new and first teacher librarian in 1974. I graduated from CSU as a MEd(TL) in 2007 and began work as a TL in 2007 also. Whilst I love inspiring my students with literature, my job is so much more. Literature, information, multi-literacies, intERnet, inTRAnet, sharing, creating, publishing, communicating, collaborating … that’s my role. Thank you James and the CSU TLship team … you prepared me so well for my role!

  4. Carole Says:

    Thanks James, for the encouragement to hold on to the vision of the TL as a mover and shaker of the new literacies and learning. Sure, my love of books will also be evident as I enthuse about them to the students, but I’m expected to contribute leadership of the new Victorian Essential Learning Standards in all things ICT. (That’s in Australia btw 🙂 )

    Watched your YouTube clip and felt quite sick with envy. How could you do that to exiles like me?

    Mark Cavendish or Cadel Evans – who’s your hero?

  5. Sandra Amoore Says:

    Sorry, do not agree with James. Here in my primary school literacy and numeracy are our key goals for all students. The teachers focus, especially in the first five years, is to promote reading, writing and a love of literature. We have just been to the Whitsunday Voices Literature Festival this week and it has been wonderful. The children have returned enthused and revitalised for a lifetime love of reading and writing. Children must read widely to become informed adults. Literature promotion is a vital part of our school curriculum. I find it is becoming more important as a section of our parents no longer read to their children. I find it very rewarding to “find the right book for the right student” as this opens up a new world. Of course there are many more aspects of my position but I enjoy the most positive interactions about literature.

  6. Ian McLean Says:

    Hi James,

    I’m sure there are TLs out there who do an amazing job but don’t have an “unashamed love” of literature. Some have an unashamed love of techie things, or art, or music, or sport, or hundreds of other things.

    I recently spent several years back in the classroom, and found that the successful element for matching the right student with the right anything is the passion for doing so. That “desire and skills” to put the right anything “into the right hands”, and at the right time, is not something rare and special to TLs.

    Having said that, though, I know that school libraries are my niche and I’m glad to be back in one.

  7. Rob Moore Says:

    I’m responding a little after the fact here but just in case anybody scrolls to the bottom of blogs I thought I’d offer a brief reply. Firstly, my thanks for the constructive criticism – some interesting thoughts here which I must say mirror my own in many ways. Indeed, they reflect some of the things I said in the article in content terms if not emphasis. Secondly, a note of explanation about that emphasis: each issue of ASLA’s ACCESS journal is based around a theme. The issue for which I wrote the article being discussed here was centred around a theme of ‘literature’ – hence my focus. The next issue about to hit your mailboxes has a ‘learning’ theme. I’ve quoted Toffler rather than Pound and promise there’s no mention of books at all. Look forward to your feedback. Cheers, rob.

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