Splendid Company

I was fortunate to be in attendance at a high school athletic awards banquet where a relative of mine was being inducted into a sports hall of fame. He had been a great track and field coach who was well loved and greatly admired by his colleagues and students. I listened with interest as speakers – coaches, teachers, and parents – related stories about all the recipients into the hall of fame, and I enjoyed the wisdom of some of the great coaches from the past who they quoted. Not being particularly sports connected, I’ve missed many of the bits of advice that coaches give, so it was a revelation to me to hear some of the great quotes from UCLA coach John Wooden, a man revered not only because of his success on the field, but because he understood what was important not only in sports but in the life of his players.

His success as a coach centered as much on his focus on the process of learning, whether one is learning how to execute the perfect shot in basketball or struggling to learn mathematics. JD of Sources of Insight writes: Wooden would say, “I liked our practices to be the journey, and the game would be the end … the end result.”

In the library, “getting there” is as important as “arriving there.” An excellently written and sourced paper shows the process as much as the product – each citation indicates the author searched, read, and transferred knowledge from someone else to his/her own internal world view and then turned it around to new and creative thinking and writing.

Wooden, in a TED talk, referred to an answer a teacher gave him when she was asked why she teaches: “they asked me why I teach and I replied: where could I find such splendid company?”

Every day in the library, we see hundreds of students, teachers, parents, administrators as they make their way in and out our doors. We have the most interesting conversations, and get asked the most intriguing questions. How many professions are there when one can be asked: “do cats dream?” or “why wasn’t Hitler stopped before he came into power?” or even “what kind of lipstick lasts the longest?”

I would bet that each one of us library folks, when asked why we do what we do, whilst looking around at the chaos that is lunchtime in the library, would answer without a moment’s hesitation that we, too, do it for the splendid company.

As we head off toward our well-deserved summer break, we can do so knowing that we will continue enjoying splendid company with the many books we read and friends that make up our lives; and that we will return once again in oh-too-short of a time to the splendid company of that makes up our world at school.

Happy summer to all!

Author: Connie Williams

NBCTeacher Librarian and author of “Understanding Government Information: a Teaching Strategy Toolkit for grades 7-12”. Member of the CA State Library Services Board, and History Room Librarian at the Petaluma Regional Library [Sonoma County Library]. She welcomes all conversation.. give a holler!



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics

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