Saturday, November 10, 2012

Delving into Dewey

Two Mr Dewey's have a profound impact on my life as a Teacher Librarian. They were contemporaries of one another but not related in any way. I wonder if they even met each other. 

Melvil Dewey (December 10, 1851 – December 26, 1931) - the man who invented a method of organising libraries known as the Dewey Decimal System. He was one of the founders of the American Library Association - am Association which has been of great help to me personally and to thousands of others. Project Gutenberg has his Dewey Decimal System pamphlet online. In the course of our work processing books ready for borrowing we refer often to our copy of the Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index to help us know where to place a book in our collection. For a librarian it is important to place books of a similar subject together so our borrowers can find the title they want and browse the shelves for similar titles.

John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an educator who brought in many social and educational reforms. His work My Pedagogic Creed was published in the School Journal vol. 54 (January 1897), pp. 77-80. It has so many things in it that I agree with. I work in a school which has the word "community" in its name. Dewey valued school as a community and wrote, "I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life." He also challenges the teacher to be active in helping to create proper social life he wrote,  "I believe, finally, that the teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of individuals, but in the formation of the proper social life.
       I believe that every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling; that he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order and the securing of the right social growth." I immediately think of the mission of the IB which is more than its educational programmes and certificates. On its website it states, "At our heart we are motivated by a mission to create a better world through education. We value our hard earned reputation for quality, for high standards and for pedagogical leadership. We achieve our goals by working with partners and by actively involving our stakeholders, particularly teachers.We promote intercultural understanding and respect, not as an alternative to a sense of cultural and national identity, but as an essential part of life in the 21st century.The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect."

Apart from my musings here - where is all this leading? Having completed my "Around the World in 80 books" challenge I decided I would try in expand my non-fiction reading. I have been using LibraryThing to catalogue the books I read for school since November 2007. I have 831 books catalogues so far. I can see them according to Dewey classification and less than half are nonfiction, which is not surprising due to my love of fiction. My goal this academic year is to read high interest non-fiction which I hope I can encourage my colleagues and students to read. I will, of course continue with my fiction reading but now I am looking for the high interest, high quality non-fiction as well. 

I think the two Mr Dewey's would approve.