Sarah Elliott’s Blog

Travel with me on my voyage of learning and discovery…

Mental Models

Posted by sarahelliott on May 7, 2009

After reading Joy McGregor’s chapter How do we learn? I can see how her discussion about mental models applies to myself as I continue on my journey to understand what it means to be a teacher librarian. She states how mental models are quite simple in the beginning and then over time, once they are challenged by strong new ideas, they change and become more sophisticated.
I feel that my mental model of a TL is not and will not become too resistant to change! But, it has certainly evolved rapidly over the past few months. At the beginning of this course I already had an idea that TLs are more than just the stereotypical keeper of books. Although, admittedly, a couple of years ago my perception of their role was much closer to the stereotype than I had imagined. But, now I have moved totally away from that (thank goodness!).
I truly see the TL as a leader in schools and I hope to develop my own leadership skills. I’m growing in confidence and feel that as I really believe in what I’m saying about the role of the TL in school, I should be able to stand up and advocate that position.
I can see that as a TL, priority should be given to the leadership, teacher and curriculum involvement (as outlined in the statement on information literacy from Catholic Education South Australia, 2002). However, my issue with this is that there is noone else to cover the manager, services and literature promotion side of things in the library. Parent volunteers can help to some extent with the management of the online catalogue, but they cannot assume responsibility for the bulk of the work. In a small school with a limited budget, how should this be addressed?
Back to the idea of Mental Models – I hope that the presentation that I will give on Monday will challenge their mental models and that they will feel compelled to let their perceptions of the role of the TL evolve so that we can make progress as an ILSC.

2 Responses to “Mental Models”

  1. Joy McGregor said

    Hi Sarah,

    I happened upon your post totally by chance–searching the website ‘pipl’ for people I know, including myself. First I want to thank you for this post. I’m honoured that something I wrote clicked with you. I love the concept of mental models, and I use it in conversation all the time. I often get a funny look from the person I’m speaking to, as they try to figure out what ‘mental model’ must mean. Then something must click in their brains, because a look of (semi-) understanding comes over their faces and they nod (sort of). I imagine that at that moment they begin to form a mental model of mental models!

    I just had my mental model of the internet challenged by finding your post through pipl. I had no idea so much information about me was out there, much that I was never even aware had been written (like your post). I attended a webinar about how we must teach kids to be aware of their online persona, and finding your post–and many other things–made me extend my mental model considerably!

    Hope your study is rewarding to you, and that you have many mental models challenged and developed/extended/modified.


    Joy McGregor

    • sarahelliott said

      Hi Joy

      Thanks for connecting via my blog. I have just come across your name again whilst researching the I-Search information process for my next assignment – in Amy Jent’s article “My I-Piphany”. The funny thing about the I-Search Process for me is that it’s all about students researching something that they are truly, personally interested in. And, whilst looking into different information processes to use as a basis for my second assignment, I came across I-Search and I can’t help but have a genuine interest in that process! I would love to have had the opportunity to follow the process itself to write my assignment, but unfortunately that would ultimately have resulted in me failing – as I wouldn’t be following the assignment guidelines.

      I have come across quite a few useful articles on this topic, but if you have any thoughts that you wish to share with me on it, that would be really interesting for me. Jent referred to your article ‘Teaching the Research Process…’, so I am off to read that next.

      It’s difficult when having to read for an assignment not to be distracted (in a positive way) by other information that I come across. I am feeling like I wish the guidelines were quite different for this assessment, to allow us a little more freedom – to practise what is preached…

      Thanks again

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