I always doubt that I’m teaching classes the best ways of using the Library. And I think that’s healthy, so long as it encourages improvement. And improvement requires reflection, so …

  • Do pupils see investigations as a way of learning how to research or just another class task to get through?
  • Do they recognise that they’re being taught secrets for tackling research, or is it all a massive waste of time when they’d rather just get to work?
  • Do they see materials organised in advance as a help or as something crippling their own discoveries?
  • Do they regard investigation questions as a useful way to analyse information or as something bloody awkward when they’d rather just spout the facts?

I’m guessing their responses would mainly fall within the the second halves of those questions. And in one sense, that’s tough. My job is not about making their lives easier by giving them all the answers, but to make their lives more manageable by giving them the skills to search out material for themselves, to encourage them to think more deeply and more widely and to help them understand and analyse and question information in all its forms.

But those responses would also be understandable; at their age, I’d have probably gone with all of the latter options too, unless challenged to consider what I was actually doing. Because an equally important part of my job is to ensure that pupils understand the purpose of each activity, and hopefully gain a sense of the importance of the skills we’re trying to pass on.

And I believe the first step is to ask them for their answers to the questions above. I’ve been considering a questionnaire on information and literacy for a while, one that covers access to information, as well as understanding.

Secondly, more guidance for pupils on exactly what skills the Library does teach might be useful, especially if people are reminded of those skills, say any time they walk past, maybe on a big banner?  🙂