First of all, I want to thank everyone I have talked with this week. This conference has been an amazingly rich learning experience for me, and I haven’t seen a single presentation yet. I have learned from conversations with many very smart people.
Yesterday morning, I road to the conference center with a woman who is a school librarian in San Francisco. She was telling me how most librarians there serve several schools. It seems that they are lucky to have so many librarians, because San Francisco is funding many of them because of an explicit decision to serve student needs beyond reading, math, and science. In the rest of California, libraries are almost disappearing. And I know that this goes way beyond one state.
It’s easy to understand why. The library that people remember from their school experience (decades ago) seems to have less meaning when we have access to a global library of information with a mouse-click. But this logical piece of visionary budgeting misses an essential point in where education is evolving. When the child graduates, the teacher will be gone. The classroom will be gone. The textbooks will be gone. But for the first time in history, continual learning will be the ONLY road to prosperity. Teacher and classroom as the model for continual learning will be meaningless. Far more relevant will be the library and the skills that a talented librarian will help patrons to develop.
I’m not saying that classrooms and teachers are obsolete — BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT. Students should learn together. They should be guided, by the hand, into their future by caring and creative adults. But they should be equipped with the eternal skills required to continue to teach themselves. And the library is challenged to reinvent itself into a learning experience that is more relevant to today’s information landscape.
But anyone who believes that teaching reading, math, and science in a classroom is all that education is about — IS CHEATING A GENERATION. They should be banished from government in shame.