Labor (and TLs?) a chance to win in the ACT

3 09 2012

Labor a chance to win 22 Oct.

Long term lobbying by ACT TLs working with the AEU education union has gotten Labor to make some pre-election noise about the need for teacher-librarians in ACT government schools.

The ACT is in full election campaign mode and the Chief Minister has released information regarding ACT Labor’s funding to ‘equip our students for the digital age’. (http://www.katygallagher.net/?p=1914).
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Investment in new library resources – public primary schools
This program will deliver $1 million in grants to students in public primary schools, delivering more resources to school libraries to encourage reading and digital literacy.

This funding will support the excellent level of existing literacy within public primary schools, as well as introducing students to the exciting possibilities of online learning and digital literacy from a young age.

Students will be able enjoy a range of new reading resources including:

  • Digital tablets and e-readers;
  • Computer and video conferencing infrastructure;
  • Books and e-books; and
  • Journal, magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

ACT Labor believes that school teacher-librarians remain best placed to manage the roll out of these modern resources in school libraries. As such, a condition of the annual grant will be that the school maintains a teacher-librarian.

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The Canberra Times has followed up with an opinion piece by TL Holly Godfree, reprinted in the SMH “TLs crucial in info age.”  The last two paragraphs are particularly valuable:

Has this ”invisibility” [of TLs] hurt the profession? Perhaps it has. Maybe this is why teacher librarian numbers have been dwindling in the ACT’s public schools, particularly primary schools and early childhood schools, at an alarming rate. Further declines can be anticipated under the new school autonomy plans: cuts to less ”showy” parts of the learning environment are easier to make if one is forced to balance a school budget.

Noises from candidates in the upcoming ACT election regarding boosting teacher librarian numbers, along with ACT Labor’s recent announcement about the provision of extra digital resources in primary schools being conditional upon a teacher librarian being maintained to manage these resources, are encouraging developments. Governments must also commit to concrete measures to train and recruit more of these professionals, who are critical components in the transformation of mere information into true knowledge.

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Keep up the great work all!

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One response

4 09 2012
Erica Jolly

In a society that is becoming almost totally dependent on electricity, where education is concerned, it is unwise to concentrate almost totally on technologically based learning, like the one-to-one lap-top based approach.

We need alternatives available. Students and members of the wider community, (at a time when life-long learning is no longer just a phrase – see Valerie Hannon’s concern for an innovative eco-system of education) need that life-time engagement to be based on a ‘love of learning’. We need human interaction with trained, knowledgeable teacher librarians who understand the full range of options. We need their resource centres to become avenues for access for parents and friends of schools as well. We do not need students to be locked into classrooms.

People do not need batteries to be made to work. They do not decide to cut out or refuse access because a newer model has replaced the one currently in use. They do not black out when a power source cuts out. We are seeing the word ‘intuitive’ used, in advertising, of machines! A human being has to turn them on. Their computers break down and they must be repaired or replaced. Even Skype has limitations.

Departments of Education wash their hands of responsibility for caring for the provision of alternative avenues of access to learning and foster, by passive acceptance, the undermining of human-based, interdisciplinary, cross cultural, across age and capacity and interest levels approaches to discovery. They are terribly short-sighted. This particularly at a time when English, Maths and Science are central on the agenda.

Not all students will be happy to learn in a linear way to pass exams. Some will realise that the concentration on those three subjects/disciplines is too narrow. Besides the sciences, there is maths in geography, in history, in classics, in economics, in art, in music, in drama, in ground water examination, in ecology, in cross-cultural studies, in so many aspects of technology, in physical education and certainly in politics! The humanities have an essential connection with how people think and feel about the life they lead.

So, many will need to be brought, for example, to the sciences through cross-disciplinary approaches that include the humanities. That too will be true of mathematics. [Think of the writing of Robyn Arianrhod, a mathematician in love with mathematics but valuing David Malouf, William Blake and Shakespeare as well.] Worthwhile non-fiction by outstanding writers in the sciences will need to have a place in English. Library/resource centres will need to have material for students to borrow or even sit in the quiet and read. Not everything will be available electronically. Classroom teachers pushed to the limit to meet NAPLAN demands and My School ‘brands’ will not have the time for the research needed to keep ahead.

Students will need enquiry methods that should move them beyond Google. Non-judgmental teacher librarians interested only in helping students – now being used to teach in some classrooms when enrolments exceed budget expectations – need to be there at all times, for classes, before school, at recess, at lunch time and after school to meet needs wherever they can.

Departments and governments of both persuasion are allowing principals, through the move to local autonomy, to move to a totally electricity-based approach to schooling if they so choose. Too often politicians do not think beyond the three-or- four year term in office. It is so easy to destroy and undermine. [Look how Asian languages were undermined from 1996 – 2007.] It can take decades to recover. Universities have to include the courses again. Lecturers will have moved on. Able people will have to be found to replace them. That is also true of the provision of teacher librarians. Recognition of the value of library/resource centres and teacher librarians should be bi-partisan.

Principals might think they are saving a cost. Instead they are denying those who find the classroom stifling, an avenue of learning that can make classroom-based study relevant. What is happening is a false economy. We need to realise there is life outside of the digital domain.

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