Classroom Rulez

My dearly beloved wife is starting a new year teaching (6th grade) and is laying out some classroom rules.

I’ve never been, let’s say, a particularly avid fan of rules, but I really liked these and asked her permission to post them here. So here they are, the

ARCH Qualities:

Accountable students understand that everything has a consequence: good or bad.

Accountable students take responsibility for their actions and the outcomes that follow. Accountable students don’t blame others.

Accountable students know they won’t always make the right decisions and that’s okay. Accountable students own up to their mistakes and try to make the situation right and accept what follows.

Accountable students know that they can only control themselves and their actions.

Resilient students understand that hard work leads to success, not “being smart”.

Resilient students are unafraid to ask for help: from the teacher, from other students, from other adults in their lives.

Resilient students know there’s nothing wrong with not being good at something right away. A resilient student isn’t afraid to ask a question or give a wrong answer. Resilient students enjoy the process of learning something new.

Resilient students know that if they gave up learning to ride a bike because they got a few bruises, they wouldn’t know how to ride a bike today.

Resilient students try hard and stick with it.

Caring students try to understand other people. A caring student knows that each person they meet deserves respect and kindness.

Caring students reach out when someone else is having a hard time, even if that person is not their friend. They understand the power of a kind word or action.

Caring students are brave enough to offer help. Caring students strive not to bring anyone else down. Caring students don’t use their words or actions to bring anyone down.

Honest students don’t pretend to be anything they are not.

Honest students don’t change themselves to please anyone else: they are honest about who they are to themselves and to others.

I was, if I may say so myself, extremely impressed by Mrs. Klipfel’s articulation of these values, what with her hodgepodge of growth mindset, autonomy-support, empathic caring, and existentialism. They embody qualities of character not only necessary for learning in the 6th grade, but for lifelong learning, and personal fufillment. I think they’re also a really interesting example of how we can build in a growth mindset directly into the structure of a classroom and one’s classroom management policy.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel

Crossing to the ~Dark Side~ or, Librarians Working for Vendors, and Why It’s Actually Pretty Awesome (Guest Post by Emily Gover)

Finishing library school in 15 months and transitioning into a professional job two years after the 2008 collapse wasn’t easy. It took me nine months from graduating library school to starting my first job as a web services librarian at a small college in the South. It took me five months from starting my first job in the South, to leaving it for a vendor in New York. I left my job for the same reasons many people leave their job: Being closer to my family, and higher pay. Yet, part of me felt guilty.

I mean, I’m a librarian. I’m supposed to be an honorable public servant, someone who cringes at the very thought of working for a profitable, capitalist entity, right? At least, that’s the vibe I picked up from mutterings of jaded colleagues. Librarians embody freedom of information, for all… how could I go and work for (and condone) The Man—and the greed for power and money that comes along with it?

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Filed under ...Etc., Education, Guest Posts, Library Instruction, On Being Human, The Library Game

Vindictive Protectiveness: The Impact of the New Political Correctness on Students

Extremely important and really interesting article by renowned social psychologist Jonathan Haidt in The Atlantic on a truly disturbing cultural phenomenon, what Haidt terms “vindictive protectiveness” (or what others have called the “New Infantilism“).  The Haidt article focuses on how this victim stance impacts, and is ultimately psychologically harmful to, college students:

The press has typically described these developments as a resurgence of political correctness. That’s partly right, although there are important differences between what’s happening now and what happened in the 1980s and ’90s. That movement sought to restrict speech (specifically hate speech aimed at marginalized groups), but it also challenged the literary, philosophical, and historical canon, seeking to widen it by including more-diverse perspectives. The current movement is largely about emotional well-being. More than the last, it presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm. The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. And more than the last, this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse […]

But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically.

I think this term Haidt uses – vindictive protectiveness – is really quite apt for describing a larger cultural phenomenon, often attributed to Millennials, for a certain kind of oversensitive, entitled, victim stance many people in the contemporary culture are wont to take, and how they use this stance to create a climate of fear which serves to silence anyone with (gasp!) an opinion they happen not to like (see, for example, the case of liberal feminist Northwestern University Professor Laura Kipnis who said some stuff some liberal students didn’t like and got in a lot of trouble over nothing).

I’ve briefly touched on a variant of this in a piece I wrote a while back for Ethos Review, “Have We All Turned into A Bunch of Wusses?” It’s nice to see a social psychologist – and another liberal – calling this pernicious bullshit out for what it is, at least within the context of higher education.

The truth is, we need to be respectful, empathic, tolerant, unbearably wonderful human beings to each other. But we don’t need to like all the shit someone has to say.

Nevertheless, “I”m offended!” [read “I don’t like what you said] has become the hallmark of vindictive protectiveness.

Here’s Haidt:

The thin argument “I’m offended” becomes an unbeatable trump card. This leads to what Jonathan Rauch, a contributing editor at this magazine, calls the “offendedness sweepstakes,” in which opposing parties use claims of offense as cudgels. In the process, the bar for what we consider unacceptable speech is lowered further and further.

Setting aside the deleterious psychological impact of this attitude on each individual’s psychological well-being, the greater downside of vindictive protectiveness is one of curtailing speech: all of the sudden saying stuff other people may not happen to like is a reason not to say it:

Since 2013, new pressure from the federal government has reinforced this trend. Federal antidiscrimination statutes regulate on-campus harassment and unequal treatment based on sex, race, religion, and national origin. Until recently, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights acknowledged that speech must be “objectively offensive” before it could be deemed actionable as sexual harassment—it would have to pass the “reasonable person” test. To be prohibited, the office wrote in 2003, allegedly harassing speech would have to go “beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive.”

But in 2013, the Departments of Justice and Education greatly broadened the definition of sexual harassment to include verbal conduct that is simply “unwelcome.” Out of fear of federal investigations, universities are now applying that standard—defining unwelcome speech as harassment—not just to sex, but to race, religion, and veteran status as well. Everyone is supposed to rely upon his or her own subjective feelings to decide whether a comment by a professor or a fellow student is unwelcome, and therefore grounds for a harassment claim. Emotional reasoning is now accepted as evidence.

If our universities are teaching students that their emotions can be used effectively as weapons—or at least as evidence in administrative proceedings—then they are teaching students to nurture a kind of hypersensitivity that will lead them into countless drawn-out conflicts in college and beyond. Schools may be training students in thinking styles that will damage their careers and friendships, along with their mental health.

This should give librarians – individuals who advocate freedom of information and the free exchange of ideas – an enormous amount of pause.

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Filed under Education, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game


“I heartily recommend starting in the academic world at the top level,” [Rogers] once wrote. “I have often been grateful that I have never had to live through the frequently degrading competitive process of step by step promotion in university faculties, where individuals so frequently learn only one lesson – not to stick their necks out.”

-Carl Rogers (as quoted in Howard Kirschenbaum, On Becoming Carl Rogers

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Last Chance to Register: Learner-Centered Reference & Instruction Course

This is the last chance to register for the online course Dani and I will be teaching via RUSA/ALA on learner-centered pedagogy as it applies to libraries (the class starts Aug 10th).

Bit of info:

This course will introduce library practitioners to empirically sound approaches to learner-centered teaching that can be applied to creating effective reference and instruction services that maximally facilitate student learning. The first part of the course will be devoted to understanding the current science of how students learn from the perspective of cognitive and educational psychology, and concrete ways that library practitioners can apply this learning to the library context. The second part of course will deal with motivational aspects of learning: What does the psychological research say about what makes students want to learn, and how can we use this research to motivate information literacy learning? The final part of the course will cover issues of diversity and inclusive pedagogy from within the framework of culturally responsive pedagogy: In a diverse educational landscape, how can we construct our teaching so that it includes, rather than alienates, as many students as possible?

The aim of this course is to give librarians the tools to feel more confident in their instructional strategies and ability to support student-centered learning. Not only will the course introduce participants to scientifically grounded pedagogies, but will lead them through exercises to concretely apply these theories to their own library contexts. This course will be of interest to any librarian who engages in reference or teaching, and is unique in providing a current overview of the current educational literature alongside practical strategies.

We’re excited to teach it again; feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

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Filed under Bibliographic Instruction is Dead, Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, The Library Game

“Ditching the Desk”

Interesting little piece from Edutopia with possible relevance for library instruction discussing the possible negative impact a teacher’s desk creates for learning in classrooms. An excerpt:

2. Approachability

The teacher desk has always created a barrier between student and teacher. Some students won’t approach the teacher because of the intimidation factor that the desk represents. By getting rid of it, I had more students coming up to ask me for help or to answer their questions. These little interactions can be the difference maker for a struggling student.

Via Emily Gover’s great twitter feed.

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Summer Re-Run: “Librarianship, A Philosophical Investigation”

Since it’s summer I thought it might be worth re-posting a casual little thought piece I published elsewhere a while back- at Ethos Review – called “Librarianship: A Philosophical Investigation,” since it seems like we may have a lot of new readers since that’s been published, and the topic’s been on my mind again lately. It draws quite a bit from some of my scholarly work and is intended for a general audience but at the time it seemed of interest to librarians as well.

So here you go, one of my previous self’s opinion’s on what exactly it is we’re doing here:

One of the first things you learn as a professional librarian is that very few people have any idea what you do. In fact, enough people who actually want to become librarians are sufficiently in the dark about the nature of the profession that many Information and Library Science graduate programs explicitly require their prospective applicants to state in their applications what interests them about the field other than loving books.

arcimboldoIn fairness, the whole “librarians love books” thing isn’t entirely misguided. The very etymology of the word ties librarians to books, and, when Emerson famously announced the need for a “professor of books,” it was a role librarians consciously sought to fill. Nevertheless, I am a librarian and not only have I never read a novel during work, I’ve never shelved a book in any professional capacity either. In fact, my experience of the librarian-esque is really rather limited. I’ve never had the chance to use one of those little stamp things telling you when your book is due, because I’ve never actually checked out a book to someone. Only if forced to at gunpoint could I find a book using a card catalog (probably, if you gave me a minute); and my most frequent exposure to a rare book is the copy of former Buffalo Bills nose tackle Fred Smerlas’s autobiography sitting on my home bookshelf—a piece of childhood esoterica I’ve kept all these years merely to preserve proof of its existence. Recently, a girl I did not recognize came up to me at Starbucks and said, “Aren’t you a librarian?” When I said “Yes,” she said, “That’s so cool, it must be nice to have a job that isn’t very stressful.” I smiled and nodded, thinking it not worth the effort to explain that the whole reason I was at Starbucks was that I was so stressed out about something at work I was pretty sure my life was over.

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