Personal Professional Development: An Interview with Steve Hargadon

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: If you have not met Steve Hargadon or listened to some of his hundreds of interviews, then it is time you meet an outside voice that is not only a supporter of teacher librarians but also a proponent of educational change. We caught up with him recently to ask about this passion for learning and education. Here is the result.

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DVL: How did you become interested in being a super interviewer in the field of education?

SH: I was interested in open-source software and education and decided to interview a few people like Richard Stallman, and my interests shifted to Web 2.0 software. Now, after more than 300 interviews under my belt, it is interesting how the conversation has changed from just technology to the changes in the culture of education.

In 2007, I had just interviewed Mark Andreson, the creator of the Mosaic browser and the cofounder of Ning. And I had been listening to folks discussing how blogs were a way to connect people together. The Ning became a new platform for social learning, and it became apparent to me that this was an incredible way for peers to connect with one another without going through some formal institution. So these technologies began to reshape from whom and how we learn.

DVL: What flavor of education do you find the most attractive?

SH: The Internet has allowed a tremendous amount of teaching and learning to take place outside the ordinary boundaries of the traditional institution, which is why librarians are so critical today. If you think about how we can now find resources, we can reframe how learning can take place. It is helping us reshape our perceptions of the lecture format and how social learning is developing and giving us opportunities to discover the influence of peers in the learning process.

If you like this flavor, it is easy to listen to the various voices that I have interviewed by connecting to the major webinar sources I have created: The Future of Education, The Global Classroom Project, Classroom 2.0, and Library 2.0. You can subscribe to these sources to keep up on current interviews but also search back to find the interviews I have done in the past.

The interviews are interesting because they are kind of my own personal learning process. When there is a book, I spend some time with the book getting to know its content and its author because I am a better interviewer when I know something about the author. I am also intrigued at the significant value in everything that I read. Even when I don't agree with what the author is saying, there is something to be learned, especially from the thoughtful, civil conversation that takes place about those issues beyond judgment and point of view. A subject that I have explored a lot lately is the notion of "agency'--the idea that the learner is the one who should be making the choices about the learning. Looking at the long-term value of education, we live in a world in which it is impossible to learn all we need to know in school to prepare for a career. So it is more important to be teaching our students how to learn; our end goal should be to promote the self-direction and the agency of the learner. Once we commit to that, a whole host of conclusions comes with it. It is hard for us to think of the learner as the agent while we are consumed with the idea of testing and assessment, which essentially requires training, not learning. It is accepted that our kids need to be innovative in order to compete with other countries. Producing kids who are innovative requires supporting and liberating the learner rather than the kind of control and mandating we are seeing in education today. Also, in an era when we are thinking of financing, there is no one who will benefit financially directly from a critical independent thinker. It is hard to find a financial backer for independent thinking.

DVL: Thinking back over the last year, what interviews would you recommend to school librarians? …