Reflection on Infinite Learning

Almost immediately when reading through the options for this module, I knew I wanted to focus the idea of “Library as Classroom.” Not only does this fit extremely well with my current profession as a high school teacher and match the concept of what I’d like my future high school library (#dreamjob) to be like, but I was thrilled to discover all the exploration of libraries running programs like the one I discussed in my Emerging Technology Planning Assignment. I absolutely love this concept of people learning skills in the libraries, and not just in the traditional ways. As much as the newer skills of digital literacy, digital responsibility, and use of digital resources is an important aspect of what libraries – especially school libraries – can offer to their patrons, there is so much more that libraries can do. Opening up to the possibilities of hands-on learning, of interest-based learning, and the acquisition of skills necessary for life outside of school and work.

Many of the articles from this module had me excited and smiling and nodding in agreement, but one of them addressed something I hadn’t considered before. In Embracing Messy Learning, Joshua Block discusses how – as a teacher – letting students have a bit of free reign, so to speak, does involve some messy learning. There are periods of time, especially at the beginning, where the kids seem to be doing nothing at all. Doubt seeps in. As a teacher, I understood this immediately. Without enough direction, won’t student just be lazy and unproductive and waste time? Or worse, be disruptive and cause problems? Being okay with a bit of “messy” learning is definitely something that would be necessary in a library that invites the type of hands-on, exploratory, interest-based skill development that I have been so eager to try. It reminded me of the book that I read for this class at the beginning of the semester by Tim Harford, appropriately titled Messy. When reading that book, I connected with the concepts. It made sense. And reading Block’s article of how amazing his students’ projects when they were given the chance to choose their own direction, once they started actually focusing on it, I realized that of course students should be allowed this messy style of learning. It’s a lesson I’ll no doubt have to keep reminding myself of in the future, but an important one that I should keep in mind.

3 thoughts on “Reflection on Infinite Learning

  1. Sometimes I equate messy with chaos. When I worked on a 23 Things program for School Library Journal, the editor told me he wanted the whole learning program to feel chaotic! Out of that messiness, some super neat things happened: school librarians shared all sorts of things they had made with the tools we explored, etc.

  2. Hi Kristin,

    I love the idea of “messy learning.” My sister is a 2nd grade teacher and I have heard her mention this approach in her classroom. She likes giving her students the independence to explore and create, with her primary role being simply to guide and ask questions. I wish I had more opportunities like this when I was in grade school!

    Great job!

    • Thanks! And wow, I have a tricky time feeling okay with my high school classroom getting a little chaotic when I give them some independence… I can’t imagine the energy and hustle with a bunch of little 2nd graders! But that’s just fear talking; I’m sure that she must see some amazing results! Kids are so creative if given the chance. That does sound fun, too. I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to have class like that??

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