NCLB is looking better all the timeJune 1st, 2005 by infomancy
Dubbed the Parental Empowerment Act of 2005, the measure if passed would create local review boards of five to 15 parents who would have the authority to review and make recommendations on elementary school library and classroom materials before they could be purchased. Under the law, introduced May 11, states that failed to put the parental panels in place would lose all federal education funding.
Not only does this proposal make NCLB look hands off, it represents the latest in a wave of “father knows best” legislation. I am not trying to make this a political blog, but educators need to take an early, and firm, stand against ideas this bad.
Leaving the Orwelian and McCarthyian discussions of “local review boards” for others, I want to focus more on how this impacts infomancy in that it is a view of information literacy. This bill presumes that the “highly qualified” teachers and librarians mandated under NCLB are, in fact, incompetent. It assumes, as with filtering software discussed before, that students are incapable of making decisions on their own. This creates an environment where information is driven underground. Information literacy cannot be learned in a controlled environment. Students learn to evaluate the crush of information sources they will face in the world only by encountering examples of good and bad.
This whole concept is the opposite of what I am trying to write about here…this concept of infomancy as a way to navigate the chaos of information. I see at least two levels of infomancy: 1) the infomancer adept who creates navigational aids to help make sense of the chaos, and 2) infomancer novices who learn by repeatedly stepping just off the charted path to see what they can find. It is in those risky moments, when a novice steps off the path (but keeps it in sight) that they are challening themselves. They are testing the limits of their new-found infomantic powers.
I don’t want to get too deep into educational theory, but this is based very heavily upon Lev Vygotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development(ZPD). The ZPD theory states that learners do not learn when they are comfortable, they only learn in situations that challenge them. That involve risk. That include problems. That aren’t approved by a “local review board.”