Reflections upon “What do first year students know about information research? And what can we teach them?” by Kate Manuel

What I really need to do is sit at the keyboard, read, and write as I am reading.  Things get assimilated so quickly, i forget what i knew before i read an article, and then it (new info) is inside my head, and i cannot unknow it for the purposes of writing a reflection.  How unanalytical is that, i wanna know?

Anyway, Ms. Manuel begins with an amusing litany of the supposed flaws of undergraduates’ intellectual, ethical, and scientific capabilities, and bearing in mind that it is every generation’s duty to drive older generations nuts, I say “so?”  In my limited time with GIS and riding the reference desk at Bruno, I have seen the breaking light in undergraduate faces when they see a search being constructed for the first time or they make a connection between a resource and the fact that it is at their fingertips.  Put me down as one who says that gaining “information literacy” is what undergraduates need, and if they have not caught on by the time they reach us, then they need that floatation device.  It is what feeding or gaining an inquiring mind is all about, and THAT is the beginning of any intellectual career.

One of the first things I learned via GIS is how important it is to begin at the beginning, and Manuel’s paper illustrates the many gaps that may exist among students.  Exploring exactly what a “source” is.  Giving students a good 360 tour of the Scout interface or the library homepage.  All good stuff.  Our boy, George Boole, and his scion, Professor Venn.  More good stuff than can be covered in an hour, but getting students interested and involved means that they can return to us with the next-level questions in their journeys.  Yay librarians.

Sobering thoughts: things like the Production Paradox and the Principle of Least Effort are always peeking over our shoulders, but each person’s education is that person’s responsibility.  If someone is determined to “C” their way through school and life, I cannot do much about that, even if they do wind up pushing my wheelchair (or hovercraft or whatever).  Education is a selective and a selection process—we can help pique interest, we can help construct searches, we can teach those who want to fish well how to fish well.

I like being involved with the EN 102 crew, and have found that the instructor participation and assistance really makes a difference, and now I understand Sara Whitver’s willingness to modify lesson plans at the last minute because an EN instructor has done so.  Being the most effective and flexible instructor that I can be is where it is at.  Find a way to get the “C” people interested in doing at least “B” work, and you may have just helped create a solid B student who aspires to be an A student.  One never knows.  I have teachers I remember.  I can’t stop and wonder right now if anyone will ever remember me.   Too much to do.  Too many young folks out there who have not yet seen the information literacy sun come up.  Just heard the alarm clock.  Later.

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