I have been studying my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship) for almost a semester now, and again and again I have been told about the benefits of teacher’s and teacher-librarian’s collaborating. As part of a current assignment, I’ve been exploring the lack of such collaboration as an obstacle to the promotion and development of information literacy skills throughout a school. And I just can’t help but get angry at the complete lack of discussion that exists between the different departments of education and the different spheres within the schools.
Of course there is a lack of teacher interest in collaborating with teacher-librarians! I would argue that many teachers out there have no idea what could be achieved if they collaborated with their teacher-librarians, no idea of the benefits. I certainly wouldn’t have, and I qualified as a teacher at the end of last year.
What makes me so much more angry is that I’ve just read an article that advocates for lecturers of future teachers and lecturers of future teacher-librarians to work together and ensure that their students are aware of the importance and benefits of collaboration. This is to ensure that the teachers and teacher-librarians who are entering our schools are aware of the best ways for them to achieve standards in education and information literacy. What makes me angry about this is that I received no such education about the benefits of collaboration in the degree I just finished. And the article was published in 2002 (Small, 2002)!
The author of the article goes on to state that researchers in 1999 “found that teachers had a limited vision of the total librarian potential” (Small, 2002). And no wonder. Before beginning this degree, I had little real understanding of just what teacher-librarian’s did. To me, they were the library staff, circulating books in and out of the library, restocking shelves and ordering new books for student enjoyment. I never stopped to think about what they did when the students weren’t there. Before beginning this degree I had never heard the term ‘information literacy’. Oh, I’d studied literacy. I did a whole semester of study on different types of literacy and attempting the answer the question ‘what is literacy?’, but I had never heard of information literacy.
And this is what annoys me so much. The fact that future teacher-librarians are being educated to believe in the importance of collaboration with teachers, and yet the future teachers hear nothing of this… it’s almost so befuddling as to be beyond my comprehension. How could the education system be getting it so wrong? Haven’t they ever heard of collaboration???
Lack of collaboration between teachers and teacher-librarians, and the way that it hampers the development of information literacy skills, is clearly not a new problem. And nothing is going to change unless the way that universities educate future teachers and teacher-librarians changes. We need collaboration in all levels of education, and we need to start doing something about it yesterday. Talking about it is one thing, but what is that really going to achieve? People have been talking about it for at least twelve years, and it doesn’t look to me like it’s really gotten them very far.
I’ll leave you with this thought:
“Collaboration cannot be fully realized without creating a collaborative culture in which all partners see the importance and understand the benefits of collaboration to themselves, each other and their students.”
– Ruth Small.
Article Reference: Small, R.V. (2002). Collaboration: Where does it begin? Teacher Librarian, 29 (5). Retrieved from EBSCOhost.