If I Could Turn Back Time

AKA What I want to do differently in Session 2.

I did reasonably well, finishing with a Distinction in both subjects.  But I don’t feel like I did a good job of balance.  I think I did pretty well with juggling family life and uni, but I don’t feel like I did a good job of looking after myself while juggling family life and uni.  I feel like I’m out of sync with myself.  I am bored out of my brain on uni break – which started early for me as I completed my course work and handed my assignments in early.

Exercise

I really let my exercise habits slide to the point when it’s all to hard, I’ve lost so much fitness, and I don’t even want to do those things anymore.  It’s ok to change interests – I don’t have to be a runner forever – but I can’t just become sedentary.  It’s not good for my mental health.  Exercise also helps your brain work better for studying and the like.  So I need to prioritise exercise, even if all I can manage that day is a walk around the block.  But I also have to make sure that a walk around the block doesn’t become the norm for my level of exertion.

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Glenbrook, Knapsack Reserve.  Photo taken by me.

Mood

I seem to have some fluctuations of mood that are cyclical but I haven’t kept a close track of them to be able to predict them. If I can predict when my mood is likely to be low, I can plan quieter days for that time, and more exercise and sunshine in the lead up, to try to head it off. To that effect, I have downloaded a mood tracking app so that I can see if there are any patterns emerging. The cool thing about the app I’m using (Daylio) is that I can also input the activities I’ve been doing, so I can correlate if lower moods are connected to periods of inactivity. I already know that my mood is adversely impacted by a lack of sunshine, and can suffer from something resembling Seasonal Affective Disorder by the end of winter. I am not a doctor, and I don’t think the severity of my symptoms (or lack thereof) is enough to warrant a SAD diagnosis, but I know from looking at my mental health history over the last two and a bit decades, that I tend to feel lethargic and depressed around August most years. And I know exercise has an impact on my moods, but I’m not sure about other things. So I’m tracking.

Rest and Recreation

Before Uni started I was determined to take a “day off” once a fortnight to pursue hobbies, go on longer hikes, get some rest… I took a day off ONCE all session. Yes it meant that I finished early, but by the end of it I was OVER it (and it shows in my final assignment submission). Even though taking time off will drag the work out a little longer, I know that research proves that regular rest and recreation (both in short breaks each day and day long breaks every week or two, and longer breaks a few times a year) breaks help you work better for longer. So I’m hoping it will pay off.

Distraction

While not officially, clinically diagnosed, I identify as an adult with ADHD. (My psychologist, my GP, my mother and my husband all agree with this diagnosis. My GP says the only point in seeking an official diagnosis at this point was if I needed medication.) One of the ways this manifests in me is that I want to do ALL THE THINGS. I want to read every great sounding book I hear about. So I reserve it from the library. The my reserves all come in at once and I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of reading all these books before they are due back so I get paralysed and the joy of reading them isn’t there anymore. Or I get bored, commit to a whole pile of things, get overwhelmed because I’ve committed to too much, then I get bored so I take on a pile of projects but take on too much and get overwhelmed and… the cycle continues. So, this week I have unsubscribed from nearly every mass mail out email that I can. I’ve reviewed my Facebook likes (pages, celebrities, books, movies etc) and cut it down by 40% from 700 to 450, and unfollowed a pile of pages I still chose to “like”. I’ve unfollowed people on Facebook and/or changed them to acquaintances. I will sit down today and review my Twitter feed also. The less I am bombarded with, the fewer “cool things” I can be tempted to do, read, cook, get involved with, and the lower the chance of getting overwhelmed.

Expectations

In session one, I would set myself goals of getting a certain module, or sub-module completed that day. The trouble is, the length of the modules, and the time taken to complete them was entirely unpredictable. Sometimes I could knock over an entire module in an hour or two. Sometimes completing a single reading for a module would take an hour. So, in the coming session, I am going to set myself a time goal each day, rather than a “complete this” goal. So an hour, or two, or three on this assignment, or this subject or whatever. Rather than aiming for a module complete and realising it’s waaaaay longer than the three before it, and it’s going to mean breaking my plans for the evening so I can GET IT DONE. That’s not healthy, long term.

Also, I do still want to get ahead. I have five children, three with disabilities. Life can be unpredictable at times. Emergencies happen. I want to have some “wiggle room” so that I can take a few days or a week off, and not have to be anxious because I am behind on my work. I *should* be able to achieve this if I can get started on the course work when the subject outlines are released two weeks before session starts. The release of the module content doesn’t always happen straight away so I will have to play that one by ear. The first two weeks of this session coincide with the school holidays so it will be challenging to stay on top of work during that period but I will do my best.

Perfect?

I cannot expect perfection. I know that some fortnights will be crazy and I won’t get my day off. I know someone will get sick. We might have a wet week with no sunshine. Life will not go to plan. But I will do my best. That’s all I can expect.

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End of Session Wrap Up

I can say, without a doubt, that this course was not quite what I expected.  Of course, things are never as they seem, and I learned that there’s a lot more to the role of teacher-librarian than I understood from the outset of this course.

I’ve struggled with a lot of things during my first session of study. I’ve struggled to find the right balance of study and exercise, as that’s one thing that’s really “taken a hit” over the session.  I’ve struggled with poorly resourced course materials – where our “academic” references were videos made by overseas library students, or are slideshows for what was most likely a riveting keynote delivered by Well-Regarded Speaker, but the slides are next to meaningless without the content of the speech.

I’ve struggled with the inconsistency between our subject coordinators – we have had the bad luck of losing our coordinator mid session, and replaced with another and the other subject had our coordinator take five weeks of sick leave in the middle of the session, and the replacements had different ideas about things, including students being marked down for following the assignment as set out in the subject outline!  There’s also been subject coordinators go AWOL from the forum, one for nearly two weeks in the lead up to assignment due date.

 I grappled with, and continue to grapple with the inherent privilege that seeps through every pore of the guided inquiry process, a particular pet-topic of my subject coordinator.  I struggle with the disparity between how the uni speaks about our role, and how teacher-librarians are seen by school executives.  My thoughts are not merely based on the anecdotal, but lived experience and research, which I’m not going to reference here.

I’ve surprised myself by realising that I am a critical thinker, as I know I can sometimes get caught up in the hype and take things at face value. I’ve been helped along this road by an incredible professional support network, mostly found on Twitter, and supported by getting involved in events and (potentially) volunteer roles within relevant organisations.

Recently, I’ve come to realise why I have had an enormous amount of trouble finding Australian teacher-librarians and librarians to follow on social media, read blogs of and so on.  Many organisations actively discourage or do not permit their employees to be active on social media in this way.  I understand privacy concerns and the like, but by not allowing professionals to share in this manner, we are not allowing them to grow and develop their own skills, which has to be done on their own time anyway.

During my break between sessions (which has now started for me, as all I have left of this session is a webinar and evaluation forms to fill in) I will be pursing some hobbies that have been neglected (including reading, bushwalking, theological study and cycling), continuing professional development through reading on critical librarianship and the history of some famous librarians, and some projects in the broader GLAMR field.  I will post about those GLAMR readings and projects from time to time.

I am writing this post well in advance of it going live on my blog.  I certainly don’t want my critical comments regarding the uni to impact on my marks and I don’t want to impact anyone else’s evaluation of our subjects.

Plastic Bag Ban Unit of Work

For one of my uni subjects I had to create a unit of work and so I created a Plastic Bag Ban Unit which I am now offering to the world.  Click on the link to download the pdf.

This unit of work has been prepared for Stage 2, in Design and Technology. The content focus is researching the suitability of materials as they design a replacement for a plastic shopping bag and evaluate the design. Students will complete a workbook (not included) as evidence of learning as well as a final piece of work to present.  Lessons take place with a combination of whole class instruction, small group work and independent work.

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Screenshot taken from http://www.abc.net.au/btn/story/s4704469.htm

Stigma? What stigma?

I’ve posted recently about issues within the cataloging system, specifically as they relate to sexuality (well anything that is non-reproductive sex), so I thought I would investigate.

Today, while I was at a local library, I searched the catalogue for “homosexuality” (because I’m not the sort of person who know where everything is) and the call number “306.766” kept coming up, apart from a few titles that dealt with specific arenas, such as “A history of gay cinema”. So I had a look at the 306.7 area, to get a feel for what other sort of titles those books were shelved with.

As you can see, the books about homosexuality are shelved with books on extra-marital affairs, dating over 60, marriage and a history of sex. So, from this quick shelf-glance, it seems nothing is the matter.

And I think that’s part of the problem. Unless you’re a very big library, or an academic Library, you may not carry books on paedophila, child abuse or sex crimes to shelve nearby.  The average librarian may not realise that this classification is even a problem.  And if we don’t know that there is a problem we can’t do anything about it.

If you want to read more, I did a little bit of investigating…

Continue reading “Stigma? What stigma?”

What I’m Reading Today

Inclusive Citation: How Diverse are Your References? by the incredible Maha Bali.

It can be hard to determine someone’s ethnicity from just a name on a paper.  One can make assumptions but they are not always correct.  You can, generally (but not always), determine an author’s gender and I do find that a disproportionate number of men are published and are asked to speak at conferences, given that librarianship (and teacher librarianship specifically) have a majority population of females.  This article should be compulsory reading for every Masters level student, and really should be encouraged for undergraduates as well.

Towards a Critical (Art) Librarianship

The more I read on critical librarianship the more I want to read.

Not technically reading but I listened to This is Not a Door – GLAMCity podcast with Maxine from Museophilliac (who I was fortunate to meet at GLAMSLAM18).  It was so interesting to hear about how she engages adult audiences with critical thinking as they examine the hallowed spaces of museums.  I’m excited to hear that they are producing a podcast!  Next up is the first episode of History Lab!

The violent collectors who gathered Indigenous artefacts for the Queensland Museum relates the unsurprising but sad facts regarding collection practices for indigenous artefacts between 1870 and 1970.  As memory institutions we cannot ignore our histories.

The Cake Is A Lie

Image by Duncan C from Flickr.com The cake is a lie

Passion. Follow your passion. Choose a career you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Our schools squash passion. We hear this all time.

I’m here to tell you The. Cake. Is. A. Lie.

The idea of pursuing your passion is dripping with affluent white male living in the first world privilege. The average person who doesn’t fit into that little niche cannot and most likely should not give up everything in pursuit of their passions. Most people don’t have enough time to have cultivated their passion to a point where they have “marketable” (another problematic term but that’s a rant for another day) skills that people are willing to pay for. Most people don’t have enough savings to ride them over the months or years it takes to make a new enterprise profitable.

When they say pursue your passion, they don’t tell you that only 3% of entrepreneurial endeavours succeed. They don’t tell you that most small business owners work 60-80 hour weeks for years before they can turn a profit and take a day off.

I am aware of my privilege as a middle class white woman, living in a first world country. We got into the housing market before it got too crazy. We have been able to manage (not without difficulty) on one income for some time and I am afforded the ability to study again so I can pursue a profession in a field that I care about and am good at. I can afford to follow my “passion” because of my privilege.

And yet I wouldn’t call it a “passion”. I identify as an adult with ADHD and there are many benefits that come with that (just as there are many deficits for me to overcome). One of the benefits of ADHD is that I can hyperfocus on whatever I’m interested in currently – perhaps to the level of passion – but it doesn’t last.

The other issue with this privileged passion narrative is gender. As a woman, I’ve taken an extended break from the workforce. Because that’s what women do. It’s been fifteen years since I worked full time. About fourteen years since I’ve worked part time. About twelve years since I’ve had a casual job. For the last fifteen years I’ve been a stay at home parent. Returning to study this year made me realise how bored I had become. For many and varied reasons, despite my privilege as a white, cishet woman in Australia, I have not had the ability to return to work. I had to put any “passions” aside for fifteen years.

So, before you exhort all and sundry to pursue their passions, check your privilege.

If you’re interested in hearing similar thoughts from someone who is not me, check out this article by Janelle Quibuyen titled Maybe Don’t Quit Your Job to Pursue Your Passion.

Image by Duncan C on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons BY NC license.

Cultureless?

I didn’t think I was ready to post about this but… it seems that multiple things in my life are all pointing in the same direction, and so I’m posting.

Oftentimes, over the course of my life, I’ve wished I was… someone else.  I’ve wished I was Maori or Irish or Spanish or Latino or… anything but this.  In recent days I’ve come to realise that I feel like as an Australian, we don’t have a distinctive culture.  Whether that’s due to the rabid Americanisation of the globe, whether it’s because of our colonial, colonising history… I don’t know.  Other cultures have their music, their language, their dance, national dress… While Australia has a rich indigenous culture – the oldest continuous culture in the world – I am not Indigenous and I am not going to pretend to be.

Today I read Alissa‘s post titled “Cò mise? = Who am I?“.  You should go read it.  She talks about her own exploration of questions about her own identity, in the context of her Scottish heritage and Gaelic language learning.

She writes;

Is there a performative aspect to this exploration of my identity? Am I only aligning myself more with ‘Scottish’ because it’s politically expedient to not be ‘English’? Is it part of a quest for a more concrete ethnicity than ‘generic white Australian’? Am I echoing middle-class Lowland Scots in appropriating a culture and language which is no longer truly mine? Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland (today, chiefly the Hebrides) are cold, remote and economically disadvantaged. Is it my place to enjoy the good things without the bad?

Am I looking for a point of difference? A homeland? A place I can point to, despite never having lived there, and say ‘That is my home’? I was privileged to visit Scotland last year, the realisation of a lifelong dream. When I first saw the outskirts of Edinburgh from the plane window, Scotland felt like the strange, exciting, foreign country it was. But it also felt like home. Should it have done?

Is it a response to becoming more educated and aware (some might say ‘woke’) about the black history of Australia, and in particular what Scottish settlers did to Aboriginal people? A reaction to the knowledge that the land I live on, the only home I have ever known, is not mine and was never ceded? A realisation that if I were to repatriate myself, to go back to where I came from, I’d better know where to start?

So… I ponder.  What does it mean to be Australian? What does it mean to have a culture in an increasingly homogenised world?  Do we have a distinctive culture, as Australians?  Today, I began examining some historical documents produced around 1st Jan 1901, the date when Australia became a nation in its own right.  I read a couple of issues of a supposed feminist newspaper, The Dawn.  Now I am not fluent in the culture of Victorian Australia, but to me, honestly, it just seemed like any housewives magazine anywhere in the world.  There were tips on home medical remedies, fashion, the etiquette of dinner parties (very very British), dressing children appropriately for the weather, sewing and cooking.  There was a reproduction of a letter from an international newspaper about women’s suffrage, but nothing groundbreaking. To me, a Sydney woman in 1901 doesn’t seem all that different to a woman living in London or Los Angeles in 1901.

So on day one of my new project, I don’t feel I have gotten very far.  In fact, I wonder if there’s anywhere to go.  Which brings imposter syndrome into the mix, as I question what I really have to bring to this question.  Can I really create something with meaning?   Can I ever find any satisfactory answers to what makes Australians distinctly Australian and what culture we have that we can celebrate?

In the library and information field I’m an infant.  Only months into my study with no practical experience.  And yet I have thirty-seven years experience of being an Australian, nearly fifteen years experience of raising young Australians… surely I have something I could offer?