Teaching and Learning

Publications and Presentations

In my classroom...

Why yes, I am hopping mad. Here’s why. #teamharpy

Ok, I wasn’t going to write more about this. I felt like other people were doing a much better job, and I don’t have much of substance to add. And besides, writing about this kind of thing is apparently risky business and I’m kind of risk averse. But here’s the thing: I’m mad. So here I am again.

I’m mad because I myself am reluctant to put names into the sentence “So-and-so created a hostile environment for me and other women at such-and-such conference” in a public and googleable place. I’m mad because women like Amanda, who experienced blatant and totally illegal sexual harassment at conferences, are afraid to name their harassers. I’m mad because the sentence “But he continues to be famous and I’m just a small fish in libraryland” is such a ridiculously common theme in these conversations, and such a silencing force in our profession (the quote is from Amanda’s post).

The only men who have created hostile environments in gatherings of librarians that I’ve been part of (online and off) have been big name librarians who are on the keynote speaking circuit. I have seen pictures of their naked crotches. I have seen pictures of their daughters in bustiers. I have heard them use their keynote microphones to talk about tea bagging. And I have heard of them doing even more things of this nature that I didn’t witness directly, like using the phrase “you ignorant slut” towards fellow panelists.

And yet they continue to rise through the ranks of librarians and become more and more powerful. These kinds of things are apparently “all in good fun” and hilarious jokes.

Here’s news for you powerful men and the conference organizers who keep you in business: These things are not funny. I no longer attend your sessions for a reason. And no, I am not a super sensitive little girl who just needs to grow up and realize that you’re joking. I have a pretty good sense of humor, actually. Cut it out.

Looking for a way to help out? Consider supporting #teamharpy with words or money or both, and let conference organizers know when this kind of thing happens to you.

[Edited to add: for those of you who don't know about #teamharpy, conversations about sexual harassment in libraryland were recently sparked off by one prominent male librarian suing two women for 1.25 million dollars. He's claiming defamation because they spoke out about his harassment. Libraryland is in heated conversation, now, about power dynamics, the silencing affect that lawsuits like this cause, and exactly how much of a problem this is, and how prevalent. Right now the message is clear, speaking out is more dangerous than harassing.]

Doing it Wrong?

Two students have come to me in the last week saying that they listened and understood while taught how to navigate the MLA International Bibliography, but then when they tried it themselves, nothing seemed to work.

This tells me two things. First, MLA is hard. Second, I’m teaching it wrong.

There are caveats, of course. One of them being that my “research for compsing seniors” instruction session is rapid-fire review of things they’ve hopefully learned in lower level courses, plus advanced techniques they’ll need now more than every before. This is the one class where covering a bunch of stuff quickly matters to me (rather than experimenting and playing with a thing or two in class).

On the one hand, perhaps these and similar caveats really do mean that I should be doing lecture/demo, having them do the “workshop” portion of a hands-on class outside of class, and then wrap up with me one-on-one, just as they’re doing. On the other hand, maybe I’m using this as permission to rely on the less difficult instruction format of lecture/demo when really I should be working at finding an efficient hands-on approach to that session. Or maybe I need to rethink the approach of my lecture/demo.

So many options, so little clarity. All I know is that these students didn’t learn what I wanted them to learn, and that’s got to be at least partly my fault.