Comment on the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) in practice with regard to constructivist learning and the Australian curriculum.
Information Literacy has been a major push in the role of the Teacher Librarian. School libraries are no longer just a collection of books available for students to borrow, but have become centres to collaborate with teachers to ensure students are able to obtain the correct information and use it in the correct way. Information comes from all sources not just books and basic web searches. It is the teacher librarian who can lead instruction on how to do this best.
Constructivism can be used to impart information literacy. Constructivist theories of learning, which view knowledge not as some external block of ideas, concepts and information to be acquired, but as something constructed by individual learners, have become more accepted in schools. (Herring, 2007).
One element of constructivism is that it should contain tasks that can be used in real life. If the teacher librarian were to instruct a class on researching for an assignment, then a genuine assignment should be used. The teacher librarian should collaborate with the classroom teacher to obtain this. In this way, the students could use the lesson to obtain information for the up-coming assignment while skilling themselves on how to research future assignments. This is a good demonstration of constructivism in the classroom as students learn by minimal teacher instruction and they learn a real skill that can be applied in other situations.
Another element of constructivism is the use of the inquiry based units of work. Constructivist learning approaches include several subsets of pedagogical techniques, including discovery learning (Allen, 2008). This is where the Australian Curriculum ties in. The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the writing of the Australian Curriculum.
The school library and the teacher librarian will be integral to the implementation of the Australian Curriculum. The integration of information literacy into the curriculum and the explicit teaching of information skills are essential to ensure that students become independent, discerning lifelong learners. (ALIA 2010)
In the ALIA submission to ACARA 1 Submission from the Australian Library and Information Association to the ACARA consultation on the draft K-10 Australian Curriculum: English, mathematics, science and history, May 2010, Sue Hutley stated :
Information literacy is part of an authentic, constructivist and resource-based learning and is most effective in a collaborative planning, teaching and reviewing model between the teacher librarian and the classroom teachers.
Teacher Librarians would be an asset to their school if they had as much knowledge of the Australian Curriculum as possible, were able to assist teachers in inquiry based learning and taught this to students with a constructivist approach. Teacher librarians are well-versed in information literacy and the ability to pass on this skill to students and other teachers through authentic resources and thereby teaching students and other teachers about life-long learning. If the Australian Curriculum is said to favour making life-long learners then teacher librarians can make an invaluable contribution to the curriculum and the school.
Allen, M. (2008). Promoting critical thinking skills in online information literacy instruction using a constructivist approach. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 15(1), 21-38
Australian Library and Information Association, (2010), ALIA submission to the ACARA consultation on the draft K-10 Australian Curriculum, http://www.alia.org.au/advocacy/submissions/acara.html ,(accessed 18/03/2013)
Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed) Libraries in the twenty-first century : charting new directions in information (pp. 27-42) Wagga-Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.