Friday, 13 January 2012

More on spoon feeding

Marilyn and Susan having fun

Spoon feeding is only the start for students, but we may also want to go back to it later in their careers.

Ned Potter (thewikiman ) has also blogged on the spoon feeding debate. I was pleased to see that he had taken a similar line to my post yesterday emphasising the need to take a developmental approach.  He says
spoon-feeding should be the first step in a structured approach to helping students navigate their way through a degree, with the library embedded and responsive at all stages 
I couldn't agree more!  Although of course he acknowledges this is the ideal and not the norm yet!

What also caught my eye was the comment from jothelibrarian talking about the same process in the corporate library where she works.

This reminds me of discussions I've had before about the poor transfer of information skills from one context to another.  I worked with a librarian in an FE college who had recently joined us from a local high school.  One day she was literally banging her head against the office wall in frustration.  Students she had taught in the high school were in but had forgotten everything she had taught them there about using indexes in books, online catalogues etc.  She knew they had these skills in high school, why not in College a few months later?

It looks like this spoon feeding analogy doesn't quite go along the same lines as weaning a baby - we will need to do it more than once!

Lastly Jo comments that she goes back to spoon feeding herself with senior colleagues
However those colleagues that go on to become senior managers often have need of the spoon again. They are so busy, and have so much going on that there is simply no way they could do all the research they need. With those colleagues, I find a good (fast!) reference interview followed by some swift research on their behalf is the way to go.
This is a very similar approach to the one I used with teaching staff in the FE & Sixth Form Colleges I have worked in.  Not only does it support our colleagues and organisations by using our skills to best effect, it is also great PR and really helps to build the good relationships that are likely to foster the partnerships we want to build in teaching all those literacies.

Picture credit freeloosedirt


  1. Great post! I have added a link to it in the comments section of the blog-post.

    Maybe a better analogy than spoon-feeding might be learning a language? In that, if you don't keep at it, your basically forget everything and have to start again. (I do, anyway.)

    1. Thanks for the link! Language analogy works well. I think there might be a PhD in the transferability of information literacy - given a lottery win to fund it ...