Sunday, May 9, 2010

Artists & Mentors

Photo credit: earl53 from

Two things fired up my thinking this week.  Steve Hargadon interviewed Seth Godin and and talked about his book Linchpin.  Listen to the recording here or if you've read Linchpin, join in the book discussion here.   Elizabeth Stark's post The Gender Gap in Tech: Why Mentors Matter  from the Huffington Post was cross-posted on The Committed Sardine.

These readings have made me think about the importance of librarians (and teachers) in being innovators, risk takers, leaders, role models and mentors.  I give about a dozen workshops each year to rooms full of strangers.  As someone who has been an educator for many (many) years I love to see the reaction I get from people who were perhaps expecting a young, possibly male, speaker to lead them in an exploration of technology.  I think it's important to be seen by these teachers as a learner and a risk taker.  I have never, NEVER, given a workshop where I did not learn something myself.  Maybe it came from a participant or maybe because someone asked a question I couldn't answer and felt compelled to find the answer.

What I hope to impart, along with whatever tech is on the agenda for the day, is that everyone can, and should be a learner; everyone can and should share what they've learned and engage in conversations with anyone else who will listen.  What better way to teach our students than to model our learning for and with them?  One of Seth Godin's messages is that anyone can be a genius some of the time, everyone has a gift to offer if we approach our craft as if it were an art.

One of the things that is keeping us from becoming learners, leaders and mentors is fear.  Fear of the technology, fear of the 'ya, buts' we sometimes work with, fear of not delivering the content we deem to be important.  Fear goes away when we have company so it's important to learn with others, other librarians, teachers, our PLNs AND our students.  When we learn with our students we are often in problem solving mode.  We are often at the edges or our comfort zone, taking risks and that's a great place for modelling how to learn, how to problem solve.  If we only teach what we know we may very soon find that no one needs the information we know.  It's showing how to learn the things we don't know that is the real commodity.

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