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High Standards or a High Standard of Standardness?

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This paper explores the difference between "high standards" and a "high standard of standardness" of professional service provision in teacher-librarianship. That is to say, it explores the difference between a demonstrated deep commitment to 21st century learning ("high standards") and demonstrated compliance with a pre-determined checklist of skills and capacities ("a high standard of standardness"). A case is made for maintaining skepticism about all schema for defining "standards" at the same time that professionals should work for their advancement and improvement. Educators of all stripes find themselves working within an increasingly regulated, system and accountability-driven education environment. The "audit explosion" has brought with it new accountabilities and new demands for contributing to the flows of information on which the effective management of our organisations is increasingly dependent. This threatens the collapse of "high standards" into a demand to provide evidence that risks to institutional performance have been avoided--the risk of declining standards, of wastage of resources. The implications that flow from this are that school libraries, like other educational service sectors, are under greater pressure than ever to consider cutting back on certain services and functions that are not directly "auditable" by means of standard quality measures. The argument advanced in this paper is that building and maintaining high professional standards is a more complex issue that involves, among other things, learning from the historical antecedents of such service provision. It is posited that the skills and dispositions relevant to the cafe and/or the coffee shop of old are as relevant to the professional standards of teacher-librarians as are teacherly and information management capacities. The paper concludes by suggesting that, through reconnecting with the capacities of successful cafe be possible to inform in a more contextualised way our on-going debates about what counts as high standards of teacher-librarianship. (Contains 2 footnotes.)

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Author:McWilliam, Erica
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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