As I explore and teach information literacy, I find myself wondering how others take in information. One can choose to look at the pretty Japanese garden and just enjoy the beauty, for example, but that only scratches the surface -- How big do Koi get? How do they survive the winter? How do they keep that tree pruned? Is a big pruned tree like that called a "Bonsai" tree or is that just little trees? From where did all these visitors here today come? How many gardens in the United States were gifted to us by Japan? How about other nations? Do the United States ever gift gardens to other countries? How do these gardens help us cross cultural boundaries? What does a natural paradise such as this one mean to the citizens of this area?
Objects are underutilized in the classroom to encourage inquiry and I would like that to change. I have written before about the value of objects for education. I have encouraged my museum colleagues to partner with others to introduce their objects to teachers and students, but some of the burden needs to be placed with educators too. Cultural heritage institutions exist, in part, to help you with your mission to educate. Think about the following:
- What kinds of objects will make your students more curious?
- What kinds of questions do you want your kids to ask?
- What connections between curriculum and "real world" should your kids be making?
- What information links should they be forming to better understand contexts and develop information literacy skills?
- What museums are in your area that can help?
Information literacy involves layers of knowing and inquiry. It is our challenge as educators and keepers of objects to consider these layers, and to get our students/patrons to consider them too.