Me Without My Information is Like…

It’s Sunday morning, and we are railing west on board a really fast train toward Penzance — final destination? A tiny town called Saint Ives.  We spent yesterday walking (and walking) around in London and got to see Westminster Abbey, Buckingham palace, lots of swans, The Tower of London, and track 9 3/4 at Kings Cross.  Actually, we finally decoded the Underground subway system, to a point where we could navigate  the city fairly well, regardless of the two (essential) lines that were down due to engineering.

A Quick Picture out the Train Window
A quick picture I took out the train window.
The only problem, all day, was a lack of Internet.  Even though home broadband seems to cost about half of what it does in the U.S., the cost at the Hilton Green Park (12:00 to 12:00) was about three times what I usually pay at hotel in my country, on the occasions that I have to pay at all.  No problems.  We’ve been too busy to spend any time working on the Net.  However, in planning our excursions, I found myself constantly needing the answers to questions that I was accustomed to finding easily with ubiquitous access the the Net.  I’m certain that if I’d had a data plan here in the UK, my iPhone would have been out constantly, to Wikipedia this and Wikipedia that.  I actually had to walk up to a security officer and ask if just one of the towers in front of me was The tower of London, or if the whole thing was The Tower of London.

Anyway, at this moment, while sliding past house boats docked on the canal to my right, I am reminded of the lamenting blog entry (Local Control and Other Educational Myths) that Doug Johnson posted on The Blue Skunk Blog a few days ago.  Dispite intense lobbying by  Minnesota’s school library/technology assocation, the state legislature’s Senate Education Committee declined to pass on a bill “…that would have given all Minnesota students access to the services of a professional library media specialist throughout the school day…

I’m reminded of Doug’s post, because it occurs to me that a school, without a full time information specialist (librarian), is a lot like me trying to plan the most efficient use of our few hours in London, without Internet.  So many of my questions demand the Internet.  So much of what happens in 21st century schools demands an information specialist. 

The saddest part is that many schools today simply are not asking those questions.  They’re still teaching students from package-published information sources, based on 15th century technology, and, as a result, teaching them to spoon-feed themselves from safe and sterile information sources that prevent them from thinking, rather than helping them learn to solve problems and accomplish goals by effectively navigating today’s prevailing information environment.