Last week I had a lot of fun joining Jason, Anna, and Rachel on Adventures in Library Instruction. I’d had a bit of a rough day, but talking with three people as enthusiastic and interesting as these three really turned things around. They’re awesome!
Since then, I’ve been thinking about part of that conversation where I realized I really only gave half of an answer to a really good question. I was talking about using both Google Scholar and disciplinary databases together (expanding on my post about why undergraduates need those clunky databases anyway) and Rachel asked how I justify teaching some of this stuff when the assignment is really VERY basic: find 3 articles. I think there could be a lot of reasons, some better than others, but I think the main one for me is that I teach for my own amusement.
I don’t mean that I teach things that aren’t useful (well, I probably do, but not on purpose) but that I really think it’s ok to geek out a little in the classroom. That was one of the key things I learned at ACRL Immersion: being authentic is more important than being perfect, and students engage more with people who are engaged. If I’m actually interested in what I’m teaching, the classroom experience has got to be better than if I’m bored. And I am NOT interested in database interfaces. I’m just not. But boy can I ever geek out over citation and the way that it reveals how disciplines construct knowledge, and boy can I get excited about the ways people build up enough knowledge about a topic to do intelligent searches for new information on that topic.
I can’t possibly expect my students to care about something I don’t care about. But I can hope that if I care a lot they’ll at least be interested enough to wonder why I care. And if they’re nodding and smiling and laughing with (ok, maybe at) me, they’re more engaged than if they’re asleep, and maybe at that point I have a hope of pulling them along on the coat-tails of my own enthusiasm into the nitty-gritty of research.
Barring that, at least I won’t have been bored.
Posts referenced in the podcast: