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 Pipewherein 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.

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