Collaboration is air to us

And we need it to survive.

I meant to write this post a little while back, but then school started, and whoosh there went all my potential blogging time.

On one of the FB groups I follow someone was asking about teaching academic integrity / honesty. Naturally the librarians in the group responded with “ask your librarian”. To which the poster responded “I took it on. Go me!”

There are so many things wrong with this response it’s hard to know where to begin. And yet it is pretty common. Even in IBO programs. Maybe especially in IBO programs? You see a lot of IB educators (PYP, MYP, IBDP) are really smart people. Often they’re subject specialists. They’ve had additional post-graduate training specific to the IB, and often also have post-graduate degrees.

So what can be so hard for a person like that to teach information literacy / academic honesty etc? Why on earth should they involve their teacher-librarian (assuming that one still survives in their organisation and hasn’t been replaced by a (unqualified) parent volunteer or the principal’s wife?

In the first instance it’s not quite as easy and clear cut as people presume it is. Heck there are people like Mike Caulfield make it their life’s work to seriously consider information literacy and over the years boil it down to its most useful essence – perhaps in response to the “go me!” attitude of educators.

I’ve walked into classrooms where teachers have been talking old-fashioned nonsense that was relevant in the time they studied and had to go back to micro-fiches or dig through unfederated databases. Classrooms where teachers are mixing up APA in-text citations with MLA7 works cited lists in an environment where MLA8 is the norm. Classrooms where teachers have unattributed images or texts in use…

But worse than all of that, they have a black and white view of plagiarism. One that is unsubtle and non-nuanced. One that makes students “good or evil” and neglects the approach that academic honesty is a community effort. That it’s too late to make it a quick add on to a lesson. I’ve written on this in the past – plagiarism is not a simple matter, but mired in assumptions, teaching, culture and ignorance. And that’s the exact reason why it should be addressed centrally with common language, common understanding and be phased in over years with teachers and the rest of the community as role models.

Academic honesty is not just about consistent, correct citations. It is an integral part of how we look at research and inquiry. It’s not just a once off lesson taught in isolation, it’s part of us helping students to develop as researchers (please read this post on citations helping research in backward design). But if the teacher librarian is left out of the equation, it is not part of a progression, not part of ongoing development. And then we get teachers grumbling about how students are lazy and just copying and pasting, and having no integrity blah blah blah.

So don’t “go you” – unless you’re going to your teacher librarian (TL). And if you haven’t bothered to talk to, or collaborated with your TL, do yourself, and your students a favour and do so. Yes you’re smart and all that. But the TL is a specialist in this stuff (remember the two masters degrees they need?). And if they’re not used, you’ll be left with a bunch of apps and ignorance. And the problem will not go away with some nifty templates from teachers-pay-teachers or your mates on FaceBook.


Photo by Fedor GoldBerg from Pexels

One comment

  1. Hi Nadine, Thanks for this post. I agree that collaboration with the librarian is essential if teachers and teams are to systematically embed a culture of academic honesty/integrity in the programs/school. Partnerships based on what each party is skilled and knowledgeable create exponential benefits to students. Piecemeal implementation serves to create gaps in the system toward a collaborative goal. Collaboration is air to the living organism of a school, and without it being our go-to support function there is at best a weak, hit-and-miss process of coherent learning. Best, Aloha


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