The importance of learning and relationships

May 9, 2013

Photo courtesy of homas Ryberg

Photo courtesy of Thomas Ryberg

In her TEDTalk, Rita Pierson discusses how learning occurs because of a relationship.  I loved the following from her talk:

James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships. Everyone in this room has been affected by a teacher or an adult. For years, I have watched people teach. I have looked at the best and I’ve look at some of the worst.

A colleague said to me one time, “They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learn it. I should teach it. They should learn it. Case closed.”

Well, I said to her,”You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Two things through the above made me think:

  • How do you create a relationship between what you are teaching (what the students need to know) and the student?
  • How do you get them to LIKE you enough that they will learn and listen to you?

Both of these are challenges when teaching Info Lit and one-shot library classes. Much of what we teach seems boring to students, who often begin their research with Google anyway.  Adding to this, we sometimes only see the students once, at the moment the teacher brings them into the library.  We don’t have time to establish our credentials in a meaningful way, or to develop any kind of lasting rapport with the students.

One way we are exploring how we can provide more of a relationship with students is by partnering with their instructors, not just in their classrooms or the library, but outside their classrooms and in the hallways, where the students are, and being available at this additional point of need.  Being available OUTSIDE the library but still with the capacity to answer questions allows for additional contacts with students, building both your reputation and the trust with the students.

We also need to explore other ways of teaching–not just lecturing and clicking through databases, but getting to the RELATIONSHIP part.  Why does the student need to use this database?  How do you portray your resources–as the best thing ever, and with enthusiasm?  Do we look at other types of teaching techniques, and breaking the students into groups to explore parts of the research process to make it more meaningful? Breaking down the session into step-by-step exercises that use the database in a more concrete way?

Next week I will be attending Meredith Farkas’ Serving the DIY Patron Workshop through ALA and will be interested in how she approaches this aspect of IL.

Unfortunately, our students and patrons do much research on their own and often bypass the library.  To exist, we need to keep forming these relationships in all aspects, because it is those relationships that truly foster learning.

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