Killing creativity with education


Educators are starting to realize the need to teach students how to think. Creativity has been squashed for so long in the traditional 19th century education model of: listen, read, memorize, regurgitate, repeat. Of great concern is the need to develop a generation of people who can synthesize old knowledge and original ideas into something new. Conferences, books, courses, webinars, and blogs about education are discussing this topic, but not a lot of action is being taken.


Disciplines are hierarchical and separate (Rainie, 2011) creativity is often relegated to the arts silo. Rainie asserts the need for conversations between disciplines within academic institutions in order to transform education into a system useful for the 21st century. 

Let’s examine instructional practices. Even in progressive schools in which “cross-discipline studies” occur (for instance, between History and English programs), the basic unit of instruction remains the discipline (e.g. Math, Science, Foreign Languages, etc.). We do not find schools organized according to themes, problems, or areas around which knowledge might be organized. In the larger society, problems do not show up demarcated by discipline (Bidga-Peyton, 2010).

Sir Ken Robinson thinks that the current system of education kills creativity:

Schools kill creativity

Schools kill creativity

We know that education is largely stuck in the past, and we have identified the goal, but how do get there? If we cannot overcome the fear of failure and do not know how to be innovative, we need to ask the experts. Artists have the creativity and are not afraid to use their imaginations. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin


Bigda-Peyton, T. (2010, September 20). The problem of education: can a 19th century model succeed in a 21st century world? [Blog post]. An Economy of Meanings: the official blog of some really neat ideas. Retrieved from

Rainie, L. (2011, October 18). Libraries and learning communities [Video and slides]. Pew Internet: Internet Librarian Conference. Retrieved from

Robinson, K. (2006, February) Do schools kill creativity? TED: Technology, education, design. Retrieved from


Creative adult. Retrieved from

Education system. Retrieved from

School thought bubbles. Retrieved from


Repurposing Moodle- Incorporating Emerging Trends and Technology

Information Literacy

Information Literacy

Information Literacy Through Moodle

As discussed in the post Transparency Through Blogging I would like to repurpose Moodle at my workplace. I propose using a Moodle course management site (CMS) as a platform for information exchange about information literacy in high school students.  Faculty are familiar with the technology, information can be archived, and cross-pollination of ideas across academic department lines would be possible. The CMS will be called RESEARCH (Research Articulation Community Home). It will start as a site for faculty only and eventually be shared with all school stakeholders.

TechPlanStephensLIBR287 – Finn

Email-Research Skills

Screenshots of Moodle Course Management Site


Goodin, M. E.. (1991). The transferability of library research skills from high school to college. School Library Media Quarterly, 20(1). Retrieved from

Landreau, J. (2011). Research: why wait till high school? Phi Delta Kappan, 92(6). 55-57.

O’Sullivan, M. K. & Dallas, K. B. (2010). A collaborative approach to implementing 21st century skills in a high school senior research class. Education Libraries, 33(1), 3-9.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2009) Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved from

The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking

While we all cannot be as bold as Amanda Palmer in The Art of Asking, the video shows that people are often willing to give from their hearts if they feel a connection to the person who is asking for something. Creating a rapport with past, present, and future information users can be achieved by creating a brand for your library. Know your users, do not hesitate to ask them what they want. Of course, observation and research are valuable tools for learning about your users, but it is more effective to foster relationships of trust.

The university students who were subjects Marshall, Burns, & Briden’s study shared information about library use and the process of writing a research paper. While the findings are interesting, I am more impressed by the willingness of the students to openly share their views of the library.  They shared information that “provided many ‘aha’ moments for us (Marshall, Burns, Briden, 2007),” said library staff. The importance of reaching out to users by asking what they want and need creates a responsibility to take action with information that is gathered. Without a willingness to listen AND take action librarians run the risk of losing the trust of information seekers. Librarians must not lose sight of the fact that they are information seekers themselves – they are seeing ways to reach all users.

Marshall, Burns, & Briden. (2007). Rochester’s two-year ethnographic study reveals what students do on campus and how the library fits in. Library Journal. Retrieved from

TED conferences. (2013). Amanda Palmer: the art of asking. TED: technology, entertainment, design. Retrieved from

Transparency in Censorship

China Filtering Closeup

China Filtering Closeup

I am privileged to have the opportunity to travel to Korea and China as the chaperone for a school trip. While I knew that some websites would be blocked, I was surprised by the transparency with which censorship is practiced in China. I have to wonder how long websites such as You Tube, Twitter, and Facebook will continue to be blocked. People are clearly aware of the existence of social media websites. The Freedom of Information Act can be touted as a reason for the importance of permitting an unrestricted exchange of information. What surprises me is the failure of the Chinese government to see the potential marketing avenues that exist through the use of social media.

China Filtering

China Filtering

YouTube Fail

YouTube Fail

Transparency Through Blogging

Have you ever been in a meeting where people are asked to locate information distributed months or years ago?  Time is wasted as people search through electronic and paper file folders. Information resides in static silos than can be accidentally deleted with the click of a mouse. People who are new to the organization do not have access to the past, and information is lost with the departure of employees. A web log or blog provides a searchable repository of information that can be revisited as needed. It makes sense to use a blog for its intended purpose – to keep a log of information.  A blog is not only an archive of information, it is a venue for an open exchange of ideas (Casey & Stephens, 2007).

First World Problems

First World Problem

Emergence of a Transparent Tech Plan
As discussed in The transparent library: turning “no” into “yes,” sometimes ideas are shot down because the “idea had been tried five years earlier (Casey & Stephens, 2007).” When this happens, we need to ask why the idea has surfaced again – perhaps the need still exists, or the workplace lacked resources to put a good idea into action. Either way, an open source of communication is needed to stop the cycle of rehashing the same issues ad nauseam.

After ruminating over the concept of transparency I decided that I would like to use social media to create a platform for information exchange at my workplace. Sample topics would include: 5-Year Plan, Conferences, WASC Accreditation, and Water Cooler. It is imperative that the intended audience and purpose of the blog is communicated to employees. Employees will need to know:

  • What is the intended purpose of the blog?
  • Is it a public blog, or internal?
  • What are the expectations for grammar and netiquette?
  • Is participation required, or optional?

The Culture of “No”
Sometimes I become obsessed with a new idea for which I craft a plan to bring the idea to fruition. Then I worry that dystopians will derail my plans. I have witnessed all of the following scenarios either personally or indirectly.

  1. I am inspired by new ideas learned at a conference!
  2. I am not asked to share information about the conference, and do not take initiative to share information.
  3. I am asked to present information in a short PowerPoint to document conference attendance. The End.
  4. “A committee forms to analyze the (idea), then a team comes together to write best practices, and then a workgroup begins a pilot program–and suddenly it’s 12 months later, and nothing has happened (Casey & Stephens, 2007, December 15).”

The Culture of No

Heed the Signs
Flash forward to a time when my envisioned blog debuts. While I may say, “I have a great idea! Come with me to blogland!” Others may hear, “You have been doing something wrong, I want you to change!” or “Here is more work for you – check mailroom, voicemail, email, and now blog daily!” Part of the problem with technolust for a new idea is that some employees will respond defensively, no matter the potential rewards. Failure can be averted giving due attention to the signposts along the way (Casey & Stephens, 2008). If I build the blog, it is imperative that I assess, evaluate, and modify the project as needed. Success is dynamic journey, not a static destination.

Keep calm and ask a librarian

University of South Carolina Lancaster Medford Library’s Photos – Facebook page


Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2008, December 15). The transparent library: six more signposts on the way [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2008, November 15). The transparent library: six signposts on the way [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2008, April 15). The transparent library: measuring progress [Web log post].  Library Journal. Retrieved from

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, May 1). The transparent library: turning “no” into “yes” [Web log post]. Library Journal. Retrieved from

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, December 15). The transparent library: a road map to transparency [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Dockett, E. (2011). What they don’t teach you in library school. Chicago: American Library Association.

Quickmeme. (2013). First world problems [Meme generator]. Retrieved from

Craving community

The Third Place
Work and home (or school and home) are the places where people spend the majority of their time. But, people crave a Third Place where they can fulfill the social need to connect with society. Where do you choose to hangout?

I was intrigued by the existence of places where books are the impetus for face-to-face social interaction in the digital age. People can use computers and smart phones to communicate from just about anywhere – so why do they choose to go to a physical place to be in the presence of real, live, people? Social media is a tool that enables people to connect virtually. But, people still desire the opportunity to connect in person. As discussed in The Library of the Future in Plain English (Stephens, 2013), people need a physical place for collaboration and communication. There is an attitude shift about the purpose and design of libraries. Gone are the days of shushing, libraries that evolve will survive.

Customer Service
Look at the successful service model of the Apple store – welcoming, no question is seen as stupid, staff members are experts about their product, customers can browse without pressure to purchase. What fascinates me most about the Apple store is the Genius Bar – a walk-up help desk.  Most of the people visiting the Genius Bar could get remote technical help for their computer problems, but they CHOOSE to visit the Apple store in person. Apple was smart enough to recognize their customers’ desire for face-to-face interaction. Several years later, Microsoft copied the Apple store’s customer service model. Libraries would be foolish to abandon the walk-up reference desk as they expand online library services.

Seeing triple?

Apple Store Genius Bar

Apple Store Genius Bar

Microsoft store

Microsoft Store

Reference Interview

Reference Interview-Archives of Ontario

Rebirth of Reading Rooms
There is a common misconception that as more library content becomes digitized, the number of people who visit physical libraries will decrease. In fact, library functions are now appearing in non-traditional venues. Today we are seeing an evolved version of traditional reading rooms. We need to feed our souls’ need for a sense of community.

Click here for Books and Bars video

Some examples of public places where people can relax, socialize and read are:

Beijing Bookworm

Beijing Bookworm

Witness the Beijing Bookworm – a library, bookstore, event venue, reading room, restaurant, and bar. I discovered the Bookworm online and was curious about the multi-purpose nature of this place. How do library and bookstore coexist? Are there trained librarians on staff?

I will be traveling to South Korea and China from March 6-17, 2013 for work. If time permits, I will visit some libraries and bookstores. Beijing Bookworm is not too far from the hotel where I will be staying in Beijing.  Wish me luck!

Community at the Bookworm

Community at the Bookworm

Archives of Ontario. (2013). What does an archivist do? [Image: reference interview]. Ontario Ministry of Government Services. Retrieved from

Books & bars: L.A.’s thirst for literature (and style) [Blog post]. (2011). Styleture. Retrieved from

Bookworm, The. (2013). [Website]. Retrieved from

Erikson, R., & Markuson, C. (2009). Designing a school library media center for the future. Chicago: American Library Association.

Haselton, Todd. (2012). Apple: Retail layoffs were a mistake, staff changes being reversed. TechnoBuffalo [Image from blog]. Retrieved from

Kamin, Jeff. (2013) Reinventing the book club as show [Blog post]. Books and Bars. Retrieved from

Nazaryan, A., Zaraick, K., & Santo, F. (2012). Drink a beer, open a book: the best bars for reading in New York [Blog post]. New York Daily News. Retrieved from

Stephens, M. (2013). The hyperlinked library model. LIBR 287-The Hyperlinked Library [Blog post]. Retrieved from 

Fantasy Conclave

Where the worlds of social media and the papacy intersect.

Social media and the papacy

Social media and the papacy

At first I thought this was a joke, but it is actually designed to teach people about how a person gets elected to be Pope. Working in a Catholic high school, this is truly a way of meeting information users where they reside. I shared this with the religion teachers,  they are intrigued.