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Foundation in Education

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Discuss how each of the foundation areas provide needed insights for librarians in their efforts to create and sustain a learning community in schools.

According to Speck (1999) in Schools as Professional Learning Communities (2008) “a school learning community is one that promotes and values learning as an ongoing, active collaboration process with dynamic dialogue by teachers, students, staff, principal, parents and the school community to improve the quality of learning and life within the school” (pg 7). All the members of the learning community are responsible for building the community to encourage and enhance learning in the school as a whole. The learning community inspires the personal growth and development of all its members. The learning community should be centered in the classroom but also extend to the wider school and into the community where all members are engaged in similar activities. The aim of the learning community is for all members to become actively involved so that the students are motivated to learn, develop better, think creatively and have originality in thought. Foundation areas are core areas in the growth and development of a school librarian, which allows the new role of the teacher librarian to develop a learning community to motivate students to learn.

The main goal of the foundation areas are to develop creative, critical and original thinkers who will be able to better understand the school curriculum thereby achieving academic excellence which is the main philosophy of the education system. The library is often seen as the storehouse of knowledge in the school. Foundations in Education touch on four key areas each of which provides insightful information into the society, the individuals and their interactions with each other. The four main areas in Foundations in Education are psychology, sociology, philosophy and language. We will look at each in turn to see the benefits of Foundations in Education to create a learning community. The librarian has a difficult role in the school community as they are the ones to ensure that the current, relevant and insightful information is available on a wide range of topics that will assist students in the completion of the school curriculum ensuring that they acquire information to develop each individual full potential. In addition they are geared towards achieving the school’s motto for students to pursue excellence.

The trust is the creation of a learning community in the school, thus there is need to change the culture of the school. In psychology the individual is the main focus and how the individual adapts to societal changes. Psychology as a Foundation subject encourages the librarians to promote change in dialogue. The school administration usually operate from a top down approach, whereby all the decisions are made by them and then implemented without taking anyone else opinion into consideration. However, psychology teaches about development of the individual and thereby the community, decision making should involve all the shareholders in the school community so that they feel part of the organization. Students are usually the last to hear about the decisions but are often the most affected, this leads them to be disenchanted with the whole organization as a whole and they are frustrated as they do not have a voice. Also students learn according to different intelligence levels. Gardner (1983) put forward the theory of multiple intelligences to explain student’s abilities. It is often found that no two persons think alike, thus different people think in different ways.

Additionally, this also affects their learning capabilities since many students learn differently. The school has to create an open creative environment which values the contribution by all members in the community. The librarian as the caretaker of knowledge should be the bridge between the administrators, teachers and students. Teachers should leave home work assignment in the library for the easy accessibility by students. Also home work and other school assignments could also be posted up on the schools website to ensure that students that are absent have access. The school librarian is seen as the information specialist. In many schools they are usually seen as the “invisible” professionals according to Hartell (1997). He posits the librarian has a vital role in the creation of the learning community in the schools. Education is for the benefit of all in the society, Philosophy in Education argues that the school librarian should try to make all the people in the school part of the learning community.

This will lead to the development of students’ core values which should reflect the values of the school and the larger society. For example respect should be given to all staff on the school compound, such as the cleaners, security, civil staff as well as, visitors to the school. A school that puts this as its core values leads to the development of socially caring, civil minded students and this will be to the benefit of the wider society. Students learn that character is very important in their lives and that these are desirable qualities to possess (class notes). Most schools presently even though they have school rules they do not enforce that respect should be given to all staff members on the school compound, thus there is a breakdown in the moral values education being taught in the schools today. The education system is seen as a place only for academic development to take place and not individual development of self worth and morale values. Philosophy in Education gives a wider meaning to the education system as a whole.

According to Peters (1966) in An Introduction to the philosophy in education (pg 25) the word “education” has normative implication, as it has criterion built into it that something worthwhile should be achieved in a morally acceptable manner”. The education system is the moral that we all need to achieve, thus there is a movement to education achievement for all students. There is more of an emphasis on the educational aspiration and achievement of students and not a focus on their moral and social development grow up as morally upstanding people doing menial tasks. According to the human development paradigm which was put forward by Mahbub ul Haq there are four main tenets of human development which are equity, sustainability, productivity and empowerment. The human development paradigm is focused on the human aspects of development, such as trying to deal with the inequalities that people face in society.

This can therefore be transferred into the education system in the development of a learning community, as the school librarian tries to ensure that students develop to be functional, productive individuals that will contribute to the further development of society. All members of the school will play a key role in the development of our human capital. Presently at the Chaguanas North Secondary there is a lack in the collaboration for the development of the students. Previously, all teachers, especially the form teachers played a key role in the lives of their form class students, today however, this has changed as teachers are now doing what they have too without any extra effort on the well being and development of the student. There is need to encourage the learning community so that students are motivated to do better academically.

There seems to be less caring in the education system and society as a whole as the nation becomes more developed. Language is concisely defined in our dictionary as a “human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.” However, language is far too complicated, intriguing, and mysterious to be adequately explained by a brief definition. Language is the most unique form of human attribution, as it is the primary mode of communication, thought and learning. Language is important part of the interaction process in all schools to create a learning community. Language is descriptive, expressive and social and it involves talking, reading, writing and listening. Language is the core for theoretical knowledge for research and practical skills which allows us to derive meaning of all our activities. However, in the Caribbean schools Creole language is very prevalent and teachers find it difficult to get children to speak and write the Standard English that they are to use as part of the curriculum. Many teachers are faced with the attitude of students that do not want to learn to speak properly, since there is a tendency to write the same way they speak.

There is a need to encourage reading as part of the school curriculum, students that read have are better able to express themselves, be creative and communicate better thus performing at a higher level academically. In many schools the literacy levels are very low especially among male students. Additionally, there is stereotyping that boys should only read particular books and not read romance novels as well as books about hairstyling and dress making. The librarian motto should be to encourage all students to read as long as it leads to their development, students have different ideas of what they would prefer to read and should not be boxed in as this discourages them from reading for any reason at all. Sociology of Education as a foundation subject helps to establish the link between the home, school and the wider society. According to Haralambos and Holborn (1995) in Sociology Themes and Perspectives, posits that the education system is where the “active socialization of an individual in the acquisition of knowledge in the learning of skills. It helps to shape the moral values and beliefs of the individual”.

In the Haralambos and Holborn in Sociology Themes and Perspectives socialization (pg 3) is a lifelong process. Thus via the education system the students are better able to adapt to the education society to become well rounded individuals. Thus the culture of the society is learned via the education system, however, it is not learned to the same aspect by all but depends on the socialization of the individual. The existence of class has caused divisions in society in terms of labor that cannot be bridged. This division of labor and plantation society has lead to an increased emphasis on the education system as the means of getting out of poverty. The family became the main support for the students. However as we move into the 20th century the school has become the main supporter of the education system. Culture is an integral part of the learning community. According to the Complete A-Z Sociology Handbook (pg 61) culture is seen as a way of life. Culture looks at the individual’s language, custom, dress and symbols that they use.

Thus, in the learning community in the school there needs to be acceptance in the school environment for individual differences, views, ideas and thoughts. There should be a celebration of individual differences rather than an emphasis on the differences. The school should celebrate all religious and public holidays to show cultural acceptance. Additionally, the library should post up displays and tours so that students are able to understand the significance about the occasion such as Emancipation Day or Shouter Baptist Liberation Day. This brings together the students in the learning community and forms bonds that are not only based academically but based on the rich history of the Caribbean and the struggles that was conquer with group solidarity.

Thus it can be seen that all members of the school needs to work together for the development of a well rounded individual that will strive to be socially upstanding citizens. The school community is vital to this development since many students need encouragement and motivation to stay away from peer pressure that is faced on a daily basis in secondary schools together. The school librarian plays a major role to develop the school community in addition with administration, teachers, parents and other staff on the school compound.

1. Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (1995). Sociology: Themes and perspectives. London: Collins Educational. 2. Lawson, T., & Garrod, J. (2003). Complete AZ sociology handbook. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 3. Barrows, R., & R Woods, R. (2006) An Introduction to the philosophy in education. (4th ed.) New York: Routledge. 4. The free dictionary. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/language 20/04/2010. 5. Roberts, Sylvia M. & Pruitt, Eunice Z. (2008). Schools as Professional Learning Communities. London: Corwin Press. 6. UNDP. (2006). Millenium Development Goals. Retrieved from http://www.undp.org/mdg/basics.shtml 30/03/2010. 7. Haq, M. ul. (1995). Reflections on Human development. New York: Oxford University Press. 8. Class notes. (Lecturer notes).

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