It is, of course, the basic position of this blog that librarians are teachers and that, as such, we’d better know something about pedagogy in order to be effective at what we do. More and more I think you can’t be a good instruction librarian without an intrinsic curiosity about what motivates students and the cognitive processes by which they learn; please stay tuned for further polemics on the topic I’ll be sure to post in the future. In the meantime, do be sure to check out this Buzzfeed list of “15 Books That Will Make You a Better Teacher.” I’ve read, I think, only three of the books on this list, so I’m excited to do some exploring. What I think is particularly good about it is that it pitches the books at the exact right level that will be useful for librarians without a whole bunch of formal training in education. The books are “pop” enough to be easily digestible; but are backed up with the proper rigorous content that will then allow librarians to apply it to information literacy instruction.
For example, a book we’ve talked about quite a bit on this blog, Daniel Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School? is included on that list. This book was used as a starter in the first two weeks of the educational psychology doctoral seminar Dani and I took while we were students at UNC as a kind of primer to get us prepared for the much more hard core stuff that followed (the usual peer-reviewed articles; chapters from the really great Handbook of Educational Psychology; etc.). That other, harder, less self-teachable stuff ended up being helpful, especially with the articles Dani and I are co-authoring and have in the works now. But in terms of basic practice, books like Why Don’t Students Like School? can give you a lot of information that will be immediately applicable to information literacy instruction if you’re creative and interested enough in doing that. You don’t need to be an educational scholar to learn enough educational theory to ground your information literacy practice in good teaching practice. Sure, that background may help you do research that’ll contribute to the field. But if you want to be a better teacher, you can learn an awful lot from more popular books like those mentioned in this list. Doing so will make you a better librarian as well.