Sunday, April 15, 2012

In pursuit of the good life...

I carry a card in my wallet worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It provides access for hours of entertainment, comes equipped with the best “concierges” I have ever known, and allows me unlimited entry to the most exclusive public club in the world. With this card I have acquired the resources to plan my wedding and honeymoon, complete a Masters degree, decorate my home, change my look at least a half dozen times, and interact with some of the most amazing minds in history. It allows me to shop virtually unlimited with a generous return policy. And as for romance, well, kids cover your ears…Nothing is more romantic than my husband saying: Honey, grab your card and I’ll drive you to the library!

It broke my heart to discover that many of my students rarely visit this Mecca of fabulousness. Recently I played a game with a class in which they tried to come up with the best (meaning irrefutable) excuse for why they might potentially not have their homework on a set due date. If I played the same game with the idea of why they do not go to the library, I imagine it might go something like this:

Me: Give me five good reasons why you don’t go to your local library.

Students: I like to watch movies and I have my (Netflix, Hulu, movie theatre pass) so that I can do that instead.

Me: Why waste your money (allowance, salary, reward money for getting good grades) when you can rent movies for free at the library? Next reason!

Students: I don’t read books, I like magazines….

Me: (After gasping in horror at the idea of not liking books) The library has magazines – in a wide variety of interests – and many popular teenage selections! Come on guys; hit me with something hard….

Students: Well, I like to play video games…

Me: (Interrupting in the same excited manner that I tell them not to do) Many libraries now have games that can be checked out, game nights for teens, computer access in a teen room which allows for gaming…..You can do better than that!

Students: Well, no one I know goes to the library.

Me: Get new friends…okay but seriously many teens go to the library…so many that most libraries host functions just for students your age. My local library holds teen knitting clubs for the fashionistas among us (Vogue knitting anyone?), poetry slams, book clubs, and the aforementioned game nights for a start. You have one more try to come up with a reason…so make it good….

Students: Well, aside from the stuff you mentioned, there is nothing else to do at a library…

Me: (At this point I have climbed on a chair or desk per my usual behavior when excited) Nothing else to do? 
  • How many of you are into music? (98% of my class would raise their hand….2% have zoned out) The library has access to CDs and even free downloadable music! 
  • Anyone planning on going to college? (100% would raise their hand as the 2% have noticed I am on a chair or desk) The library has college planning books, SAT/ACT prep books and videos, and other resources you can use to plan for college. 
  • Anyone working or planning on getting a job? The library has resume and job planning resources, and many offer babysitting courses. 
  • Want to get a good grade in my class? (I can’t help sneaking that one in and the students would laugh….) The library has databases for research, plus good-old fashioned books. 
  • Looking to fulfill your community service requirement for our school? Many libraries offer volunteer opportunities for students. 
  • Where are my artists in the room? Libraries often have passes for free or reduced fee visits to museums!

At this point in my imagined scenario my students would be out of their seats, dancing around the room to the chant of LI-BRA-RY! LIBRARY! LIBRARY! Half a dozen would be pulling out their wallets and dusting off this most valuable card and wondering if it had an expiration date. At least 10 would have their hands waving around while shouting out questions about how to acquire one of these ultra-cool library cards...

As the excitement came to a crashing halt with the bell ringing to announce their next class, I would climb off my desk. Then I would begin plotting the rest of my not-so-evil plan to get my students ultimately enjoying the rarest and most valuable of library possessions – the books.

After all, part of a teacher’s job is getting his or her students the resources to enjoy “the good life,” right?

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