The metaphors we choose to describe library instruction matter, as Sarah Polkinghorne points out in her recent article for In the Library with the Lead Pipe, wherein she problematizes the concept of “teaching as entertainment.”
“In conceiving of students as recipients to be entertained, edutainment contributes to a transactional environment where students expect a fun experience to consume. As such, the edutainment discourse is incompatible with the active, constructivist aspirations articulated by the authors of the Association of College and Research Libraries’ new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. For librarians who focus on critical information literacy, aiming through their teaching to problematize library and information systems and to equip students to contribute to change in the world, edutainment is even more irreconcilable.”
When I talk about “performing” for students in my own teaching, more often than not I mean stretching beyond my professional persona to become a more enthusiastic, engaging, and empathetic person. I’m not being disingenuous: I’m simply bringing out an aspect of my personality that I usually reserve for close friends and private settings.
Readers who are interested in learning more about how metaphors describe and create not only our language but also our experience should check out Metaphors We Live By [public library] by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. This book was the central critical text for my thesis in grad school and holds a special place in my heart.
One must needs make and seize his soul, and then cleave fast to’t, or go babbling in the corner; one must choose his gods and devils on the run, quill his own name upon the universe, and declare, ‘Tis I, and the world stands such-a-way!’ One must assert, assert, assert, or go screaming mad. — John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor.
At the beginning of last month, I challenged myself to get up every morning at 4:45 and walk the dog. Both she and I need the exercise and it’s a much gentler way to wake up in the morning than being jolted into awareness by a hot shower or cup of coffee. This is the first time that I’ve tried a month-long challenge, an idea that I picked up from Matt Cutts. It was such a success that I’m working on a new 30-day challenge this month. No spoilers: apparently, telling other people your goal [SLYT] is a great way to ruin your motivation to complete it.
Instead, here is a list of 30-day challenges that I’m planning to attempt, many of which were inspired by Cutts’s list. Which one should I do next? What others do you recommend?
- write a page of text daily
- eat vegan
- get 8 hrs of sleep each evening
- give my partner a new compliment each day
- meditate for 30 minutes daily
- eat more slowly (take 10 seconds between each bite)
- remove the work email app from my phone
- stretch daily
- record 1 second of video per day
- stop reading the news
- play the ukulele daily
- draw a picture daily
- discover something new to be thankful for each day
- learn a new word daily
- take a non-selfie picture a day
- no facebook
- no refined sugar
- no caffeine
- no TV
- set a vacation message on my personal email
- get rid of one household item each day
The goal of each of these isn’t necessarily to learn a new skill or develop a new habit, but to see how I react to a concerted effort to change my daily routine. To spice things up. As I said, I’m working on one of these already for the month of September. I’ll let you know how it goes in a few weeks!