The Art of Teaching Discovery

Ami Ewald

Information Literacy Lead Librarian

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery” is a quote by Mark Van Doren, which has served as my guiding compass for the last 20 years. I’ve carried it with me through lesson planning and long days, inside the classroom and the library. Sometimes even when eating my lunch in Gannon and a student stops to chat with me. It has led me on a teaching journey that brought me to the LCC library, where every day I strive to embody this quote.

As a librarian, every day I help students discover what they need. Some days it easy and what they need is simple: a textbook or directions to the bathroom. Some days it is harder and they need someone to hear them vent or the gentle suggestion that counselors are available to help them too. There are moments that shine and moments when I failed. Moments that filled me up and made me smile for days, and moments that I would rather forget. Those cringe worthy moments still relate back to my compass in a hope that despite my short comings, I offered them lifelong skills to discover things well beyond my fumbled attempt to help.

Many moments have been spent assisting students on their journey towards discovering the information they need. Information for a paper, for a personal need, for a friend. Those moments of sitting next to a student as we try different search terms. When we brainstorm and creatively problem solve, till that moment when the results look promising and that discovery is obtainable. Then quietly, I step back. Letting them uncover and absorb the information. Again the quote plays in my mind as their smiling faces stop back to share with me what they discovered. Sharing that sense of accomplishment with them and knowing that the next time they need information, they have acquired a toolbox of Information Literacy skills that they will use throughout their lifetime.

Over the years, my art has evolved. It has changed along with me and the setting, but that guiding compass has steered me in the right direction. It always reminds me that everyone, from anywhere and for whatever reason deserves a chance to learn, uncover, and discover the information they need. My role is to assist and give them the space, tools, and opportunities for their discoveries.