Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough or maybe the kids have all gotten too good at hiding and getting away with things. Maybe I’m imagining it all, because I want to believe so badly that what we do in the library media center (LMC) matters, and that it is a reflection of what is going on in the rest of the school. Maybe what I’m sensing, though, is real and I have seen a change in the overall behavior and study habits of the students.
I know what you’re thinking … c’mon, September just finished. But that is the point, it’s early in the year and I like what I see. I believe that habits and attitudes are a matter of practice. Communities take time to build and people need time to recognize what is acceptable, expected, rewarded and punished. School cultures are created slowly over time with everyone being a part of the big picture. What I have seen so far, this year, in the LMC has been exemplary of what I have always wanted to see happening.
I have seen students studying, typing out reports, checking out books, reading and, for the most part, working. I have completed most of my freshman orientations without having to stop once to ask a student to raise their head and pay attention. These may seem like minor things, but they are not. They reflect a general attitude about why we’re here and what we’ve all shown up to do.
I often tell students that the library is like a holy place for me. It is a collection of the knowledge that humans have gathered throughout the generations and passed on to us. We stand on their shoulders and everyone that walks into that library owes someone (a lot of someone’s actually) a huge debt. The knowledge in our library is just a tiny representation of the hours of human labor spent not just imagining impossible things like agriculture or flight. Our library, and every other library in the world, is a collection of documents that attest to the universal quest for information and ultimately a very personal understanding of all that data. If knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon said four centuries ago, then every new generation is equipped to be more powerful than the last.
My job, in part at least, is to help students understand what a grand inheritance they’ve stumbled upon. That they, too, no matter where they come from, no matter how they label themselves, no matter what they speak or eat at home, have a share of the marvelous spoils that humanity has gathered. Undoubtedly, some will walk away from this, unable to appreciate or comprehend what a tremendous gift it is. But for those who long to share it, and ultimately contribute to this precious cargo that we will pass along, I stand prepared and eager to make sure they are granted a place in our school, where the most uniquely human qualities of thinking and learning can happen.
Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to see you all tomorrow.
Copyright © henry toromoreno, 2009. All rights reserved