My capping paper for my Masters of Education degree is finally, finally done! Hip, hip, hooray! I will post the monster paper here in a few weeks, but I thought the University of Alberta should get first shot at sharing it publicly.
I will be attending quite a few workshops and conferences in the next few months. I attended a gathering last week of some area teacher-librarians. I did a presentation on how you can tie graphic novels into differentiated instruction and into the teaching-learning critical pathways that many schools are involved with. As is often the case, I learned just as much as I shared. In particular, I found one good idea and one bad idea.
Good idea first - the organizers of the event came up with a very clever tactic: if the teacher-librarian at one of their area schools was unable to attend, they were allowed to send a teacher in their place. I thought this was ingenious for several reasons. Class teachers had an opportunity to share what they were doing and see how their goals aligned with the school library. In addition to that, the class teachers had a chance to see what it's like on "the other side" and to see what possibilities working collaboratively with their TL might bring. I really enjoyed talking to several of the classroom teachers that came, because they brought a fresh perspective.
I need to describe the bad idea cautiously because it was presented as a good idea by the TL that said it. As a presenter and as a fellow unionized teacher, one must be very careful about publicly criticizing the practices of a colleague. This teacher was proud of a club she has that goes through her collection of comic books searching for "bad words". When they find them, they show the TL and then they are encouraged to scratch them out. Good intentions are behind this, but I shudder at the censorship and message this is giving this group of boys. I have to confess that when I was in grade 8, I borrowed a book from a family friend to help me with research on the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana in the 1970s, and I scratched out all the "f words", even though they were used correctly in context. However, as a teacher, I feel very uncomfortable with this practice. Would she ever do this to any of her fiction books? Would the next "logical" step be to rewrite the ending to Charlotte's Web because the spider's death is too sad? I tried to express my feelings about this TL's revelation by sharing an anecdote of my own, about a TL that went on a rampage against nipples and black-barred all bare breasts in all books, including ones of The Little Mermaid. That particular TL may have missed my point but hopefully some of the other listeners picked up on the hidden response. (Speaking of comics, TCAF is coming to Toronto May 8 & 9, so attend if you can!)