I’m currently undertaking an MA in Library and Information Services Management as a distance learner with the University of Sheffield. I came to the MA via a reasonably long career in education and a growing sense of unease. Tutoring and teaching students undertaking GCSEs, A Levels, the Humanities Access to HE, undergraduate degrees and PGCEs has drawn me to conclude that our education landscape is disappointingly geared to exam success and standards. This has increasingly felt as though students are spoon-fed information designed to pass exams via mark schemes, matrices and rubrics. Why wouldn’t you? As a teacher, you want them to win the game. There is little time or opportunity to develop students’ resilience, critical thinking or analytical skills in state education classrooms; consequently, as adults, they frequently struggle to independently acquire, filter and use information in learning, professional or personal settings. This gap needs to be bridged so that all learners hone the skills related to effective research: selection, verification, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
It wasn’t until I started the MA at Sheffield that I realised the skillset or bridge I was describing not only had a name (information literacy) but also that other LIS professionals and bodies are dedicated to its advocacy. It feels like I have found my people and my purpose!
My current role is in a FE setting where I see first-hand and close-up the empowering impact of information literacy and the debilitating effect of a lack thereof. It feels as though the FE sector is where I am meant to be.