This sign is outside my local public library:
Archive for the ‘Life Related’ Category
Posted by lpearle on 17 November 2012
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I use Facebook for personal connections, not professional ones. I’ve been asked (nicely, but with that “and we really really think you should do this” undertone) to ‘Like’ various professional pages and groups, and that’s not going to happen. It’s not that I don’t support the group or am ashamed of my affiliation with them, but they’re professional and my preference is to keep my usage there personal. I know each and every one of my friends there, most of whom are former classmates or family.
Then I read this about Facebook and the new couples pages. One word: ugh. It’s why I wouldn’t ever be officially in a relationship on Facebook. Again, it would have nothing to do with being ashamed of the other person, just a belief that 1. not everyone needs to see my personal relationship as a Relationship, and 2. we have different friends and interests and sometimes things are separate for a reason.
Recently my college alma mater was in the news. Sigh. It did mean that I and a friend, who graduated a year behind me, talked about the school for a change. I’d also had dinner with his parents a week before, and again, the school came up. In his father’s case, he’s reached an age where the school has felt comfortable asking him to “remember them in his future plans” (in other, less tactful words, “leave us money when you die”). Neither my friend nor I are on Hamilton’s radar, but I’m sure that if either of us did something that meant fame (and, more importantly, wealth) they’d find us.
Posted by lpearle on 26 April 2012
Last night I was talking with a librarian friend who was bemoaning the conduct of the Chair of her ALA-division committee. This person was acting in an unprofessional manner, making comments about the committee’s work and future that probably shouldn’t have been made. Part of the problem is that she’s been paid – often – to present on and talk about the committee’s work, and yet she was being rotated off the committee.
I’ve seen this before, in several of my friends and colleagues as they retire or rotate off committees, etc.: they start to question who they are, what they can do without the stamp of this job, this career, this committee. You’ve probably seen it, too. Here’s the thing that bothers me most – don’t these people have other interests? how can they see themselves as being so tied to one definition that they can’t imagine themselves not being that any longer?
Years ago, in my pre-librarian days, I worked for a three-partner executive recruiting firm. The partners ranged in age from 67 to 82. The oldest was mostly retired, coming in to the office once or twice a month on his trips to NYC; he sold his share and moved to Arizona and spent the final few years of his life in warmth and golfing. The two younger partners, on the other hand, couldn’t see themselves retiring. Before the oldest left, he’d had a conversation with the next oldest about his retiring. Partner 2′s response? “What would I do?” Now, this was a man who loved photography, loved jazz and enjoyed travel… yet he couldn’t think of anything to do if he retired. Even the thought of cutting back, of working fewer days and easing into a more relaxed schedule was beyond his ken.
No big surprise, the two younger partners never retired and died very nearly at their desks.
On the other hand, there’s a woman I used to work with, whose husband kept “failing upward” (he worked for one Major Corporation which got taken over and received a golden parachute… then another… and another… nice work if you can get it!). At the age of slightly under 50 she retired and has reported that she’s not sure how she ever found time to work, because all the other things she’d squeezed into her life before had now blossomed. My uncle retired nearly 20 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
That’s given me pause for thought. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a school librarian. I love helping people find “just the right book” and showing them how to do research and find credible information. You want a Fountain of Youth? Work with teens and you’ll never totally grow old. But… I’m not my job. I’m not my profession. I’m not the committees I work on or the divisions of ALA to which I belong. I was helping people find information and recommending books before I got my MLS and I suspect I’ll be doing that long after I leave librarianship.
When I retire, there won’t be the anger, angst and floundering that I’ve seen in too many of my library peers. What about you? Aren’t you more than your titles and commitments?
Posted by lpearle on 1 March 2012
In the second and tenth of Time’s 10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life, Joe, Mika and the crew talk about cloud computing and stress. Joe’s comments about the value of serendipity when doing research in law school vs. Google’s giving you the exact answer, and Mika’s about stress and always being on really struck home with me.
Over 10 years ago I remember a conversation with some techies who were bemoaning the growth of Lego kits that were “something” (car, house, rocket, etc.) and the paucity of those that were just “make it yourself”. One person said that he’d seen children upset because they couldn’t exactly replicate the image on the box: somehow they’d failed. I remember buying one Barbie and then adding outfits, today it’s many Barbies with one outfit each. Where’s the imagination or sense of play?
Many people declare a “cyber Sabbath” or vow to turn off during their vacations. Then I see them still “on”, or hear that they read/saw/blogged something during this downtime. While I understand the addiction and the fear that by being “off” you’ll miss something big, I’m less and less worried about that. As educators, one of the things we must teach students is the value of quiet, reflection, concentration and the ability to be alone with an idea. Modeling that is critical – yet I fear many of us are failing to do this. How can we shift our culture and practice?
Even more important, what harm are we doing our children by not highlighting the importance of these things?
Posted by lpearle on 1 January 2012
This year was filled with highlights and a few lowlights – but why dwell on the latter? The most important thing for me this year was learning with, and from, my friends, peers and colleagues. Some are librarians, some administrators, others teachers or “civilians”: my professional life has been made richer by knowing them. Note that I’m not using the overused acronym PLN or PLE, because I think a less jargon-filled world is a good thing.
Posted by lpearle on 1 January 2012
Posted by lpearle on 27 September 2010
Yesterday I spent several hours with a group of women I’m proud to call classmates – we didn’t all graduate at the same time, but we all feel connected to each other and to our school. The reason for our gathering was to begin preparing for the bicentennial of the school, in 1814. One of the things we continually came back to was how much of an influence Emma Hart Willard and the school she founded (fittingly called Emma Willard School) have had on the lives of many more people than have actually attended, and how our time at the school has profoundly affected our lives.
As I drove home, I started thinking about other schools I’ve known either through personal involvement or through the involvement of others. One friend calls it the Cult of Emma Willard; I think it’s not quite that, but we do seem to be an incredibly committed group. When I talk to the students with whom I’ve worked over the years, their ties to their alma maters is less than mine is to Emma. Yes, they feel a closeness with their classmates or with people in their “generation” (those that were 1-2 years ahead and behind them). Often there’s a teacher or two they remember with particular fondness. But the depth of a feeling of community is not there.
Here’s an example: in a few weeks, Hackley will host Alumni Weekend. Many people from different classes will attend, but the mingling between the classes isn’t quite the same as it was at my reunion last June; the same holds true for college reunions. This cross-generational mingling is something that I think is unique to Emmies.
Yet it’s a different sense of community than the one my friend K told me exists at Sudbury Valley, the school her daughter attended. We weren’t all one big happy family at Emma, and there was a sense of Us v Them vis-a-vis faculty/administration and students. At Sudbury, one of the things that attracted my friend was that when there were infractions of the rules, the discussion wasn’t a top-down “you bad person you! you broke a rule!!” but one of a community discussion centered on “you’ve hurt the community and how can we heal this?” – two very different approaches.
While I think the things that make the Emma Willard community special can’t necessarily be duplicated at other schools, it should be possible to repeat the Sudbury Valley community. As the school year progresses, I’m going to do my best to work to create that collaboration between faculty and student. Perhaps one will follow the other?
Posted by lpearle on 8 February 2010
A while ago I wrote about destination fatigue; I’ve been thinking about this more and more, particularly after a conversation I had with a friend this past weekend. My friend teaches graphic design at a SUNY not far from where I live, and we were talking about preparing students for the World Out There. Their ideas of appropriate dress and behavior are different from ours but those are the things that can be changed and molded. What’s more difficult is their ideas of privacy and how best to work.
In this day of Augmented Reality and games like Foursquare, with Facebook’s creator deciding that privacy is not important, how do we teach students to create a private space? How do we let them know that not sharing everything has value – it’s not just about mystery, it’s about preserving a sense of self in a world where we’re increasingly nakedly “out there”. Will there be a backlash, a move to going off the grid?
As for the way in which they work, they’ve been told that their generation has mastered the art of multitasking (or continuous partial attention). They’ve had expectations lowered and distractions raised so that working on one thing, mindfully, is a novel idea. How many of my students watch tv and do homework and text and listen to their iPod at the same time? I’d venture a guess that it’s quite a lot of them.
I’m guilty, too. I feel compelled to keep up professionally, so at night I read my RSS feeds and try to catch up on the links being shared on twitter and look at the elists to which I’m subscribed; all that takes about around 3 hours a night. For me to accomplish all that, I have to watch tv at the same time – otherwise, I won’t be able to spend time reading before bed. It’s difficult for me to concentrate on the tv AND the professional ‘keeping up’ at the same time, so neither get done particularly well.
I think back to my life before I became a librarian, when work was 9-5 and that was it; my evenings and weekends were my own. There wasn’t a need to carve out “me” time because that was abundant. I didn’t feel guilty about not attending the Knowledge Building Center seminar tonight. I didn’t have a sense of panic about not doing the right thing by my students and school because I was missing something that could help them in their search for academic success. Getting an invitation to become part of the New Media Literacies site shouldn’t make me resent opening my e-mail.
What I need – what we all need – is to stop time a little. To really think about what’s more important, ourselves or everyone else, and to find a way to balance that. All this overwhelm and scrambling to keep up just means that something is getting left behind; I’d rather it not be my life, or yours.
Posted by lpearle on 1 February 2010
One of the sessions I “attended” at Educon was “Managing Filter Failure: Getting to the Good Stuff“. This wasn’t about how schools (and students) often miss out of “good stuff” because of CIPA-mandated filters, it was about what we often call “information overload” and what Clay Shirky says is really “filter failure”.
We talked a lot about what our concerns were and how we managed things. The word that kept coming up the most was “guilt” – guilt that we weren’t as aware as we should be, that others were getting ahead while we were treading water, that we weren’t doing the best job/providing the best experience for our schools because we weren’t staying on top of it all. There are some (and I’m not going to name names, you know who you/they are!) that appear to always been in the know, following every new trend/pedagogical change/tech innovation and Thinking Big Thoughts about it all in coherent, concise posts and tweets. There are also those that have such wide-ranging interests, some of which I share and some of which I really care less about.
As my New Year’s Resolutions suggest, this is an area of some concern for me. I’m not saying that there is no value to keeping up – there is! there is! – but that there’s no way we can do it all.
So then comes the question, how do I manage? RSS and iGoogle and Pageflakes and the delete button are all fine and dandy, but they don’t meet all my needs. There are some really wonderful people I get a lot from, but then they have a child/adopt a pet and half their conversation is about the new addition to their lives; there are others who are now playing with Foursquare and that kind of intimate knowledge of their lives clutters their professional contribution to mine. How do I filter out the clutter and keep the good stuff? Is there a twitter feed filter that will delete all the Foursquare and puppy tweets? How do I get rid of the multiple retweets/link love so that I only see the same information once?
This just popped into my RSS feed. It reminds me that it’s ok to not be the most In the Know, that there are things I can let go. And that most of all, it’s important to breathe.
Posted by lpearle on 4 January 2010
Not literally, although that’s happening, too (Winter Break is over) - I’m one of the lucky participants in Simmons’ Online class Instructional Design: Creating Effective Materials for Online Learning. It’s “only” a four-week course, so my January will be busy!
My school is using WhippleHill’s classroom management platform, so this class will be my first experience with Moodle. I’ve heard pluses and minuses about it, and right now my feelings are squarely in the “what is this and how can I make it work” camp. Given the nature of the class, the ease of use and integration into our work should be simple. Right now, all I can say is that it looks very different from the environment in which my last class (on copy editing, at New School) lived.
Stay tuned for thoughts about the online experience as well as what I’m learning.