Saturday, June 27, 2009

postcard from poland

Twice a year we usually have to deal with our son getting very upset and having a week or so of sadness, crying and inability to sleep. This is because on his birthday and at christmas his dad sends him a parcel and a letter.

He is torn because, of course, he is really really pleased that his dad still remembers to do this but he is also gutted that his dad apparently doesn't want to engage with him on a regular basis. His dad tells him of all his wonderful travels but all his son sees is that he never comes to see him or offers to take him with him.

We have tried to get his dad to communicate with his son directly by phone, email, letter or, even better, with visits both to us and to him. His father has refused to communicate with me for about 6 years now (which does make things difficult). I have tried emails, letters and even using solicitors to help establish an ongoing relationship with his son. He must still want one in some way as he sends these warm letters twice a year.

After the christmas parcel last year L tried to send him an email with some recent pictures but his dad's work email no longer worked. Presuming that he's moved jobs I was unable to find another email so L sent him a letter telling him his new email address and asked his dad to send him emails. I was hoping that this may be a start to developing enough of a relationship to start visits between them as there would need to be hardly any communication with me.

He would check his email every day to see if his dad had responded. Not a sausage...

Then yesterday - out of the blue - L got a postcard from Poland from his dad.

well thanks a lot mate - L spend most of yesterday in tears and will be upset for several days. He was talking to one of his twitter pals and told them he was having a bad day. When he told her why she said "well at least he has sent something" and L said "I'd rather he didn't".

He doesn't mean that though - he really wants to see his dad.

It is such a shame. I think it's to do with pride and intransigence and maybe even intending to hurt me. I just want to somehow tell him what he is missing by not spending time with this fantastic boy. His dad could teach him so much and as a scientist would really be able to inspire him. He could learn alot from his son too who is so loving.

Of course he also misses all the difficult bits, which his stepdad deals with. Like today.

Well his step dad has taken him out to play football in the park to try to cheer him up. His dad is missing that too!

I hope his dad might read this and understand that his son (deep down) really needs to see him. I also worry that one day he will meet his dad and he will say I stopped him seeing him. But I have a box full of evidence of my attempts to encourage regular contact. A parcel twice a year and a monthly payment into my bank account does not really cut it dad...

Monday, June 22, 2009

standing on the shoulders of giants...

This image is called 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants'. It is my son on the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland but it is accompanying this blog post because of the title and in acknowledgement of how much I have learned from two of my friends and colleagues.

I have waited years for an opportunity to articulate my thoughts on learning literacies in a way that may be heard.

As a librarian in the education field I have always been concerned with information literacy. What used to really drive me potty in the Higher Education institutions I worked in were the barriers I had to break down to get academic teams to engage with this and see it as crucial for their students (whether undergraduates or postgraduates).

I had the occasional coup and got invited onto some course planning meetings to discuss the potential for integrating information literacy within the curricula. The needs of Distance Learning Students was always a useful way in to these discussions. So was broadening the defintion of information literacy (seen by many academic colleagues as being library literacy - how to use the catalogue!) to include plagiarism, critical literacy and digital literacy. I tried to get people to use the term Learning Literacies as a way of not thinking in narror terms... often a lone voice with little or no impact... I eventually moved into elearning work but was still concerned with working towards embedding learning literacies within the curricula.

I was really pleased to recently join two brilliant colleagues to undertake a study into learning literacies for JISC - Helen Beetham and Allison Littlejohn. The intellectual rigour and research experience that they brought to the study was fantastic and I found it a great learning experience. The study has just been completed and is available to download as a pdf document. It is fairly extensive so we have also produced an Executive summary.

We have also presented the report on our project wiki which includes the tools and some best practice snapshots.

The study examined the following issues:

  • What skills and aptitudes we should be focusing on (current frameworks for learning literacies)
  • How these requirements may be changing due to new demands and opportunities
  • What provision is currently being made at a snapshot of UK HE and FE institutions
  • What examples of excellent practice we can identify which point the way towards better provision and more effective learner support
I really enjoyed working with Helen and Allison - the study certainly offered value for money with a series of institutional audits and snapshots of best practice to augment the desk based research.

The report includes some general recommendations as listed below (these recommendations are expanded on in the report....). There are also recommendations around institutional provision and some specific recommendations for JISC.

But look at number 2 and 5 - and it's not just me saying it....

1.Tutors need to be proactive in helping learners to develop learning and digital literacies

2. Learning and digital literacies need to be embedded into the curriculum

3. Learners need to be engaged in their own development

4. Academic staff need to be engaged in rethinking their own knowledge practices

5. Information literacy needs to be broadened to include – or needs to be supplemented with - communication and media literacies

6. Employability needs to be more carefully and critically defined

I hope you enjoy reading the report - do get back to us if you have any queries or comments.