Monday, January 28, 2013

Teaching Philosophy

To prepare for some course development tasks I've been assigned this year, I'm reading through Char Booth's Reflective Teaching Effective Learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators.1 During the first chapter, Booth talks about teaching philosophy: a short (75 words or less) statement of what motivates you to teach. Booth gives her own philosophy as an example of what she means:
I want to redefine the way people think about librarians, inspire as much critical thought as I do laughter, make sure they come away with something they can actually use, and most important, to never, ever, ever bore anyone to tears. (7)
After reading her example (and 15 other examples she got from many awesome librarians), I tried putting together a teaching philosophy of my own. A few days reflection and a couple drafts later, here's what I have:
I want to create critical consumers and producers of information, do so through activities and discussion that engage and provide the chance for self-reflection and collaboration, and broaden students' minds to how the library can support them as researchers and information users.
Thinking back on this, one point sticks out to me: I kind of have the library/librarians in a somewhat secondary position. Partially this could be attributed to the context in which I am an instructor. I teach a for-credit class at the moment that, while incorporating library use instruction, is more structured around the whole research process, including not just finding information but first developing an information need and then evaluating the information once it has been found. Also, I think that not putting the library first and foremost in my philosophy possibly helps make my teaching of more interest to students. Learning about library resources for the sake of library resources is of interest to the following groups: librarians, library science researchers, library students, and prospective library students. That's it (okay, maybe vendors). For everybody else, the library is but a tool to some end.

Anyway, have you thought about your teaching philosophy? What is it?

1) Everything is literacy for librarians, yeah?

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