I’ve always been pretty good at school. I’m what I call a chronic participator: one of those people with their hand always raised. Based on my reading of Chapter 2 “How Expert Differ from Novices” I might just be very skilled at being a novice learner:
Fluent Retrieval does not mean that experts always perform a task faster than novices. Because experts attempt to understand problems rather than jump immediately to solution strategies, they sometimes take more time than novices.
Novice learners often have a large cursory understanding of many topics, without deep understanding of the subject or how it applies to others. In school (and in many professional situations) people are always rewarded for being the first: for having the first answer, the first submission, the first response. Often these responses are not the most thoughtful or even the correct one. I know I often dislike “discussion board” questions where I suddenly find that my “first hand up” classroom response is no longer rewarded and instead I find myself having to gather my thoughts and actually reflect.
I can apply this to my own library instructional experiences as well. Over spring break last year, I was lucky to get to present a “Demonstrating a Dozen Databases” workshop at the New York Public Libraries. It was an hour long session for library paraprofessionals about library databases. In later reflection, perhaps 13 databases in a hour probably wasn’t the best way to teach people about databases. There were certainly many ways to improve the format of the talk, not all in my control, but perhaps if I had sent out a poll of what sorts of databases the audience wanted to hear about, I could have focused on them, instead of trying to cover all kinds of databases I could.
Perhaps more was not more at all. Maybe more databases meant less expert learning, less deep understanding that the audience could pick up with and actually share at the desk. I’m a “good” teacher. I want my students to learn and feel valued and I’m excited with this happens. Perhaps one of the first steps is not to rely on what made me good at school and instead look outside that understanding for deeper instruction and learning.
Photo used without permission from http://huakailani.com/curriculum.html