I have not been able to get Seth Godin’s post, “Within Reason”, out of mind since reading it yesterday.  When I think about this post might apply to libraries and schools, I can’t help but think of statements, explicit and implicit,  like these that many of us hear (and maybe utter ourselves) on a regular basis:

  • “That would be great for students to have access to social media websites…within reason.”
  • “Sure, you can check out and read whatever books you want…within reason.”
  • “You can use these information sources in your research project…within reason.”
  • “Yes, it would be great for students to post their work online and share information about their learning processes…within reason.”
  • “Students may have access to the Internet…within reason.”
  • “Of course we want teachers to integrate technology and use cutting edge resources…within reason.”
  • “We encourage and ask our teachers to think for themselves and use their professional judgement…within reason.”
  • “We will give teachers the right to override blocked websites and to submit filter removal requests…within reason.”
  • “We will examine open source and cloud computing solutions for our schools and libraries…within reason.”
  • “We promote and encourage intellectual freedom…within reason.”
  • “Of course teachers can still implement inquiry based projects and units of learning in a testing driven school culture…within reason.”
  • “Students can use school and library computers for learning…within reason.”
  • “Yes, you may use your cell phone or MP3 player here in the library/classroom...within reason.”
  • “Of course you can develop whatever research questions you want for your project…within reason.”
  • “We support your efforts to expand the concept of what a library can be in the 21st century…within reason.”

Can we really create successful, vibrant, meaningful libraries and schools as long as stay within reason?  Do current educational and/or library  practices and policies undermine the mission statements and vision we claim to have?  Is it reasonable to stay within reason?