I loved the term Char Booth re-introduced to me: Gleaning (2011, p. 26). It sounds just right, especially to this farm girl, when Booth spins it to mean the gathering of new ideas and perspectives “through chance and diligence” and “an attitude of constant curiosity” (Booth, p. 26). It is a habit of mind — that constant, careful gathering — that seems especially suited to the state of nimble, avid awareness and experimentation that Booth advocates in her chapter on Teaching Technologies (p. 63-81).
To be successful at incorporating and inspiring the use of new ideas and technologies, I need to be a master gleaner. But, to be honest, I feel like a pretty unskilled laborer. Booth’s four pages of technologies that every gleaner should glean are more than a bit daunting (p. 66-69). Sometimes it is just the sheer volume and rush of the new and the “things we are afraid to try”, as Booth puts it, that can be overwhelming (p. 65).
I think the secret may lay in one more habit of mind…. a sort of Zen-like letting go of a lot of what is out there. Instead, by practicing Booth’s diligent and constant gathering, we should make the most of what captures our attention and avidly follow the winding, serendipitous path our discoveries take. It is not about the Every Thing, but instead about the choice Some Things that matter.
For the past month, I’ve been going blueberry picking every weekend. The blueberry farmer gave me the drill on my first visit: How to pick the perfect blueberry.
My brown bear technique of pawing big batches of blueberries off the branch was frowned upon. I was to pluck the choice ones, he instructed. Not too firm but not too soft. Not too big but not too small. I was supposed to be Goldilocks, but choosier! Go home with a pint, not a bushel.
He held out his palm to show sub-standard blueberries next to a single, hand-selected blueberry of pure perfection. To my eye, there was no telling the difference. It was not until I ate his perfect blueberry that I began to believe that choosy just might lead to choice.
So I took his advice and paid attention. I was still a bit of a mauling bear but I was careful. Selective. More discriminating.
This is the approach I need to cultivate in my professional life as well. Gleaning is good. Indiscriminate gleaning? Better than none. But discerning gleaning – now that’s the skill I want to develop. In LIBR 281, we’ll be spending some time developing our own Personal Learning Network. I’m thinking it will be Gleaning 101 for me, a chance to credit the ways I currently take in information and also cultivate multiple, varied new resources.
Are these the most perfect blueberries on the face of the earth?
I don’t know.
What I do know is this: They are the ones that I picked this week and they taste pretty damn good.
Next week, I’ll pick some more.
Booth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional literacy for library educators. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.