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Discusson for July 2021 - Reading: Why it Matters.
In General Discussions
Stephanie
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Forum contributor
Aug 12, 2021
I think reading expands your mind in the sense of introducing you to new ideas and concepts and vocabulary, all of which is beneficial because when further new ideas come along, it gives you tools to help deal with that. I also think there's an element of practice makes it easier with reading. I think sometimes people assume that you learn to read when you're little and that that's it. You know how to do it and you don't need to practice. And perhaps at a basic level, you don't, but for the purposes of having the stamina to read a long piece of text, you do. I have family on both ends of the spectrum, those who are keen readers and those who aren't. I have a close family member who for years only read maybe one novel a year during the summer holiday and that was it. A year or two back, he decided he was interested in reading the books that inspired some of the tv series he particularly enjoyed and has started to get into reading more as a result. What I have seen watching him is that when he started, he struggled. He could read, he read the newspaper cover to cover every day, but reading a whole chapter was hard work and he wasn't used to it. Gradually, he found it easier. He gained stamina. He could read for longer without having to stop to give his brain a break. But even now he can't cope with distractions like music, the television or other people talking for long. This is no different to getting better at something physical like riding a bike or throwing a ball. But it is something that I think isn't always taken into account, that physicality of reading and the development process involved. You're never too old to start, as my family member showed (he was in his late 60s when he really got into reading), but don't expect to do the reading equivalent of the Tour de France straightaway 😁
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Discussion for June 2021: UNESCO's Nine Ideas for Education
In General Discussions
Stephanie
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Forum contributor
Jun 11, 2021
I think the nine points raised are interesting and I would agree in principle with all of them. In terms of us specifically as library professionals, some points perhaps link most closely to our work than others at least in the sense of what we as individuals can do specifically in our day to day practice to contribute towards these goals. Taking each point in turn: 1. Commit to strengthen education as a common good. Education is a bulwark against inequalities. In education as in health, we are safe when everybody is safe; we flourish when everybody flourishes. - Arguably, this is one of our overarching major aims. The library should be a source of information and ideas from across the spectrum, ideally not just the topics covered in their curriculum but more widely still, allowing students both to expand their classroom-gained knowledge and to delve into other topics that spark their interest. It is a place where they gain insight into social issues through both non-fiction and empathic fiction. They can become more rounded individuals through this and gain empathy for others in different positions. This all supports a goal of tackling inequality. 2. Expand the definition of the right to education so that it addresses the importance of connectivity and access to knowledge and information. The Commission calls for a global public discussion—that includes, among others, learners of all ages—on ways the right to education needs to be expanded. - This point is clearly targeted at the disparity in access to computers and internet highlighted by the pandemic, which proved problematic when learning moved online. But libraries are surely about access to knowledge and information, both in digital and physical form, and so this raises the question of how we as librarians try to tackle this issue too. What part do we play in helping individuals access this knowledge? 3. Value the teaching profession and teacher collaboration. There has been remarkable innovation in the responses of educators to the COVID-19 crisis, with those systems most engaged with families and communities showing the most resilience. We must encourage conditions that give frontline educators autonomy and flexibility to act collaboratively. - I would suggest here that this point should be expanded as to me it rather implies teachers collaborating solely with other teachers. I would argue it should also mention teachers collaborating with other professionals and support staff including librarians. 4. Promote student, youth and children’s participation and rights. Intergenerational justice and democratic principles should compel us to prioritize the participation of students and young people broadly in the co-construction of desirable change. - This could be linked to providing space for students to inform themselves on social issues, environmental issues, and other concerns of students today, as well as how democratic political systems work etc in order to better enable them to participate in constructing the future. 5. Protect the social spaces provided by schools as we transform education. The school as a physical space is indispensable. Traditional classroom organization must give way to a variety of ways of ‘doing school’ but the school as a separate space-time of collective living, specific and different from other spaces of learning must be preserved. - I would suggest that the library should be classified as one of these other spaces of learning. It isn't a traditional classroom. But it is nonetheless where knowledge and information can be gained. 6. Make free and open source technologies available to teachers and students. Open educational resources and open access digital tools must be supported. Education cannot thrive with ready-made content built outside of the pedagogical space and outside of human relationships between teachers and students. Nor can education be dependent on digital platforms controlled by private companies. 7. Ensure scientific literacy within the curriculum. This is the right time for deep reflection on curriculum, particularly as we struggle against the denial of scientific knowledge and actively fight misinformation. - We have discussed fake news and similar topics before in these discussions and I think all of those ideas about how the library can participate in the fight against misinformation would be relevant towards this point. 8. Protect domestic and international financing of public education. The pandemic has the power to undermine several decades of advances. National governments, international organizations, and all education and development partners must recognize the need to strengthen public health and social services but simultaneously mobilize around the protection of public education and its financing. - With hopefully the recognition of the importance of libraries to public education and their addition to the list for funding. 9. Advance global solidarity to end current levels of inequality. COVID-19 has shown us the extent to which our societies exploit power imbalances and our global system exploits inequalities. The Commission calls for renewed commitments to international cooperation and multilateralism, together with a revitalized global solidarity that has empathy and an appreciation of our common humanity at its core. - See many of the comments for point 1 here too.
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Discussion for April 2021 - Lizard People in the Library
In Inquiry Learning
Stephanie
Forum contributor
Forum contributor
Apr 16, 2021
@dawnwoods2000 I think this is all very true, Dawn. I think social media has the potential to be an 'echo chamber'. The people we follow, the filters we use, all restrict the variety of opinions expressed. For example, on Twitter, I mostly follow others related to my career in some fashion so almost everything that appears on my feed is linked to that. Like lots of other people, I will click 'show more' or 'show less' to alter what gets on to the feed. Because you have to filter or drown in the sheer amount of posts. But I'm aware that in so doing I'm reducing the points of view shown to me. I have friends who use various kinds of social media who have said things to me like: I have hidden such and such because I'm tired of topic X turning up in my feed all the time. The more feelings are running high when it comes to whatever topic X is, the greater the odds (in my experience) of people doing exactly that. It's understandable, especially when certain things seem to be everywhere, to say enough, but it does obviously restrict what does subsequently appear on their social media feeds and it will mean people aren't being exposed to a variety of different opinions. I use social media in this example because I feel that a lot of the case studies referred to in the article are spread primarily through social media and other online forums. And, whilst more conventional media sources - print, television and so on - may have something in their charters about putting both sides of a debate, social media is not set up that way. Any and all opinions are treated as if they have equal weight and its up to the reader to decide whether to believe them or not.
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Stephanie
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