Summer Grab Bag: does your jumping style limit your capabilities?

July 17, 2013, 2:53 pm

I hope your summer is going well. I wish that I could turn the calendar back to June in order to get more work done. It feels like a fast push into August and the new school year is looming. I just wanted to share a few random thoughts.

The Kids Today…

kidsWhen I read statements like this it always makes me think of Elvis, The Beatles, or Metallica— artists that parents blamed for corrupting the youth. Oh these kids with their horrible music, their wacky fashions, and so on and so on. It seems there is always a perpetual superiority complex among generations. They don’t read the same books that we did. They don’t write very well. They are so dumb. Why can’t they be more like us?



Don’t these kids know they should be reading print books instead of mixing and editing audio files in the library? It’s almost as if their assignments require multimedia skills! @brendan_f92

I like to flip the argument. What is it that this generation is able to do that previous generations could not? How is this generation more creative or more industrious and hopefully more successful? How are they able to think differently? How are they able to ask different questions or examine problems in new ways or with new formats?


 High Jumping: Evolution of Capacity


Govindarajan, Harvard Business Review, Jan 2011

I’m working on a paper and I wanted to use a high jump example, but it just didn’t fit. So here it goes. The high jump has evolved over the last century. It started out Scissor style and Olympians could only get so high. Then it went to the Western Roll and they inched a little higher. Then the Straddle pushed it further. And today we have the Fosbury Flop which was a radical change. While going from 1.90 to 2.39 meters might not sound like much – as the cliché goes— it’s a game of inches.

Instead of keeping with a tried and true approach the athletes re-invented the sport. By experimenting with new techniques, new methods, and new capabilities they were able to push the boundaries of what was possible. If they had just stuck with the Scissors method they likely would never have crossed the two-meter barrier.

This general theme has been on my mind a lot lately when thinking about education. Is our system designed to teach Scissor style jumping? Is the Western Roll our benchmark? Are we preparing students for Fosbury Flop? And what’s next? Who is exploring the edges of the next breakthrough, the next style or method that propels the intellect deeper, further, and higher?

That Journal Issue

A few months ago I wrote about guest editing a special issue of the Journal of Library Administration. Damon and I kicked around several possibilities but in the end I decided to hand it over to PORTAL. I hope it all comes together and I hope that you are able to read it next year. There are some potentially important papers that I know would be useful to me and to other library leaders. I’m backing away from the project in order to focus on other matters, but I’ll keep you updated on any progress.

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