Library: The best place for growth


Huiqing Yolanda Xu,
Librarian, Wuhan Globe School, China


Rousseau, the Enlightenment thinker, has an incisive view on education:Education is growing up. Rousseau thought that education is a natural growth process of human innate instinct, education should obey the eternal rules of nature, and adapt to the natural development of children. Dewey, a famous American pragmatist educator, believed that growth is the continuous development of innate instinct. That growth has its own rules, and the purpose of education lies in continuous and full growth. I think so, too. Human growth is internal and active growth. What education should do is not to force knowledge into people. It should instead provide a good environment and stimulate people’s innate growth ability to make for the best state. Children should be respected in the process of growing up, separate from passive or repressed states.


Let education conform to the needs of children’s psychological development level and interest. But respect is not an indulgence, and laissez-faire is negative, which is not “growth”. In short, education cannot ignore and suppress the internal forces of children’s growth. Mr. Zhou Guoping, a well-known contemporary Chinese scholar, writer and philosophical researcher,  mentioned that intellectual education is to develop the ability of curiosity and rational thinking, rather than instilling knowledge; moral education should encourage lofty spiritual pursuit, not instil norms; Aesthetic education is to cultivate rich souls, not to instil skills. But growth should not set an external purpose. Growth itself is the purpose, otherwise, it will lose the value of growth. On the contrary, it will suppress growth.


Rousseau also has a point that many people don’t understand: The most important principle of education is not to cherish time, to waste time. Education is growing up. If so, then education shoulders the responsibility of providing a good environment for growth. Free time is essential to a good environment because children need plenty of time to experience and meditate. Rousseau once said: “Time lost by misuse is greater than time lost by waste,children who are wrongly educated are farther away from wisdom than those who are uneducated.” Therefore I believe we should leave enough space for children to have free time. The essence of achievement education: “all education is self-education”,especially in mental ability.


In view of the above ideas, the role of school libraries is highlighted. School libraries can provide abundant nutrients and space for free growth and self-education. It can make children’s leisure full of spiritual enjoyment. Children can talk with sages at any time from any country, and they can swim freely in the long river of art while watching the metamorphosis of history.


Based on the above description, school libraries can play the role of buffer and balance in various educational systems, in order to counteract the internal forces of different education systems. The school library should be the cultural learning centre of the campus, to cultivate students’ reading and information literacy, to cultivate their love of reading, to cultivate the habit and will of lifelong self-education. Alongside this, the school library should support the teaching of various subjects on the basis of the characteristics and objectives of school education, serving the whole community including teachers, students and parents. If the school gives the library enough attention and freedom, then the unparalleled advantage of the library can become the balanced force to make up for any lack of school education.


Under the examination-oriented education system, students can use the library to care for their spirituality and freedom. Under the international education system, students can use the library to build a more complete knowledge system suitable for the depth and breadth of personal level. In all kinds of characteristic education mode, the use of a library can highlight the characteristics but also can supplement the knowledge structure beyond the characteristics. In a tense learning atmosphere, the library can become a habitat for students to relax. In a relaxed learning atmosphere, the library can provide challenges and moderate stress. Libraries can also break through the barriers between disciplines and become the fusogen of the big education system.


By paying attention to the school library, and giving enough support, space, free growth and self-education to students, schools will provide more protection, naturally open the students’ ideals, hope and will, make them unlimited in their imagination and innovation, free to explore the beauty of the world. Based on this positioning, library education will be in a new plane, bringing students more enjoyment and experience of beauty, so as to stimulate more innovation and value of beauty. Lu Xingwei, a famous educational thinker and reformer, has three sentences to explain this:


“Education is a cause, and its significance lies in dedication. Education is science, and its value lies in seeking truth. Education is art, and its life lies in innovation.”


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Huiqing Yolanda Xu is a librarian at Wuhan Globe School in China.

“I have been engaged in the education industry for 12 years. I use years of experience and comprehensive ability in the library to have a deep connection with students and teachers. I have been exploring the integration course of Library and subjects, bringing the awareness and ability of information literacy and lifelong learning to students. We are on the way to build the library into a learning centre on campus and hope to keep going.”

Building Community, Connections, & Learning


Johanna Schooley
ES Librarian
Seoul International School

Learning, connecting and the building of community took a different twist this year as world events forced educators to think, plan and instruct in ways never before considered. This included how the Elementary School Library at Seoul International School in South Korea remained an “open” and active hub of learning. As the pendulum has swung from virtual learning to in-person and back again, students were never without opportunities to have fresh library books.
Although students might not have been able to walk in and freely “shop” the shelves, the library doors were never “closed” to them. We created the Tiger Book Shuttle which allowed patrons to request books and have them available for pickup. Students, Parents and the community could request either a specific title or make a more general request and a member of the library team “shopped” the shelves. The books, after having been sanitized, could then be picked up outside the SIS ES Library or through Curbside Pick-up, depending upon whether students were learning in person or virtually.
Students also have access to over 1,000 eBooks that are available for check out 24 hours a day. Creating opportunities to bring the SIS Elementary school community together to celebrate, connect and learn as one has been an important focus for the ES Library. The year began by collaborating with the ES Art Department to Celebrate Dot Day as a school. It was kicked off with a Virtual Assembly to watch a reading of The Dot by Peter Reynolds. Students attended via Zoom from home, joining teachers who were gathered in the school auditorium. The entire school community, no matter their location, dressed creatively in Dots to celebrate the day. Students then created their own Dot Art during Art class and their creations were placed into a Virtual Dot Art Gallery, which was unveiled during our second all Elementary School Virtual Assembly two weeks later. In October, the Elementary school began a Virtual Authorator in Residence program, connecting and working with author/illustrator David Biedrzycki.
He Zoomed in every few months to work with the entire student body in a series of writing and illustrating workshops. Workshops have been held by grade level and have been tailor-made to directly impact each grade’s student learning. From Mr. Biedrzycki, students have learned the writing and editing process and have been able to apply some of those techniques to their own writing directly after working with him. Our youngest students were even able to provide Mr. Biedrzycki with specific story elements – characters, setting, and problems and help him to create an original story just for them. The learning, connection, and memories students have of working and talking with Mr. Biedrzycki, a published author, is something they will carry with them throughout their elementary school years and beyond. While how the Seoul International School Elementary Library has operated throughout this year may have been different, our mission has remained the same – to support SIS as a community of passionate readers, collaborators, critical thinkers, inquirers and life-long learners who connect and contribute to the world around them.

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Ms. Schooley is currently the ES Librarian at Seoul International School. She has worked as a teacher-librarian across the world for many years developing information literacy programs and re-designing libraries into flexible centers of learning. These centers of learning have inspired students, faculty and the community to connect, collaborate, create, or reflect, allowing for them to acquire new knowledge and skills. She has presented at various educational conferences around the world on a variety of topics including Research Tools for Young Researchers and Rethinking Libraries into Learning Hubs.

When it comes to reading and writing, volume matters


Kelly Gallagher
Educator, Author


When I first started teaching, I ran a “4 x 4 classroom.” My students read four “big” books a year (one per quarter), and they wrote four “big” papers a year (one per quarter). Four big books and four big papers—a 4 x 4 classroom.

At the time this made sense to me. It took a week or two to teach students how to write a specific essay. They took another week or two to move their papers completely through the writing process. Then it took me an additional three weeks to read and comment on 180 papers. (While students were waiting for their papers, I shifted the focus in the classroom to the core work we were reading). By the time I eventually returned the essays, we were into the next quarter and it was time to start thinking about the next big paper.

The same pacing held true when I taught core novels and plays. I took a week to prepare my students for the reading of Book X. We then spent six weeks reading the work, stopping frequently to make sure students were analyzing it to death. Then we spent a couple of weeks revisiting the work via numerous “beyond” activities. By the time students finished these culminating activities, we were into the next quarter and it was time to start reading our next core work.

Years later, I have come to understand the severe limitations of the 4 x 4 approach. The central reason why 4 x 4 doesn’t work can be summed up in one word: “volume.” Volume matters a great deal and, simply put, students stuck in 4 x 4 paradigms do not read and write enough over the course of the school year to significantly improve. A 4 x 4 approach ensures adequate progress will not occur.

Considering the importance of volume leads me to think about my students’ reading and writing journeys this year and I noticed two important things. 1) when students are given choice in their selections—whether limited or wide-open—they read and write more, and 2) I recognized that grading everything slows my students’ reading and writing growth.

The volume of writing is the key ingredient. If I provide good modelling, but my kids do not write much, they will not grow. If I confer with them, but they do not write much, my students will not grow. If I provide a lot of choices, but they do not write much, my students will not grow. Modelling, conferring, and choice are critical to growth, but if my students are not writing a lot, these factors become irrelevant.

In my school system, I am required to score essays, and I imagine this may be true for you as well (Atwell runs her own school and gets to create her own rules). But let’s not lose sight of the lesson Atwell teaches us here: students should be writing way more than a teacher can grade (I have a goal of at least a 4:1 ratio). When teachers grade everything, the writing pace of the classroom slows down. Volume suffers. It is only when students begin writing (and reading) more than the teacher can grade that they approach the volume necessary to spur significant growth.

I cannot shake the feeling that despite the progress in my classroom, my students are still not reading and writing enough (especially considering the deficiencies some of them have). My thoughts are already turning to next year’s classes and I am already wrestling with some big questions: How can I build more choice into the curriculum? When and where can I provide more modelling?

How can I build in more time to confer? What else can I do to increase the volume of my students’ reading and writing?


This article was originally published by Savvas.  Request a sample of myPerspectives, their English Language Arts Curriculum for grades 6-12.


What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.



Since 1985, Kelly Gallagher has devoted himself to the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking—first and foremost, as a high school ELA teacher in Anaheim, California, and also as an author/consultant who works with educators around the world.  Today, he is considered one of the leading voices in literacy education.  Inspired by his classroom, mentors and professional development experiences, Kelly has written six books for teachers, many of which have been used in education schools around the world. He is also a featured author for several ELA classroom textbooks and programs. In 2005, Kelly received the Award for Classroom Excellence from the California Association of Teachers of English, the state’s highest honour for English teachers.

Writing in the world language classroom does not have to be simplistic


Isabelle Wolfe
Language Teacher, International School Aberdeen


More often than not, writing in a typical world language classroom setting implies the students putting sentences together related to the topic they are learning at that time and more often than not students throughout their years of language instruction at school would write a paragraph describing themselves with a few variants over the years in the number or the length of sentences. However, does writing have to be limited to the topic being learnt/ taught in the curriculum?

Very often when the suggestion of creating a student multilingual newspaper is put forward, such an idea is met with reactions ranging from incredulity to disbelief and to a certain blasé attitude. “There’s no point” “Nobody reads it” “This is not in the curriculum” “The kids don’t have the vocabulary” “We don’t have time” …

In order to be successful, writing needs to have two main elements: a purpose and an audience. My students range in age from elementary to high school. For sure, students should not be restricted by their vocabulary and should be entitled to have the same writer’s voice they have when they write in their mother tongue. I firmly believe that there cannot be language acquisition if there isn’t a meaningful message being conveyed.

When I started thinking about a digital multilingual paper, we had been in virtual school for 6 weeks already and were going to be for another 4 weeks. Therefore, the topic that I found the most relevant was what they were experiencing. Lockdown was therefore an obvious choice. This topic is relevant and meaningful to our students. What does it mean to them? How did they go through this experience? Would the lack of vocabulary prevent the students from expressing themselves and what about their restricted grammar? Does it have to be perfect? However, should we not worry instead about their lack of voice rather than their lack of vocabulary?

As Stephen Krashen says “Learning-inspired approaches, normally tied to a syllabus, will emphasize the production of knowledge about the target language, especially its grammatical structures, at the expense of communicative skills. They will hardly meet the learner’s immediate goals. If not offset by a lively and charismatic teacher, the learning-inspired approach will drain the motivation, especially considering that proficiency in a foreign language can take a long time to be attained.

The efficient teaching of languages isn’t that tied to a packaged course of structured lessons based on grammatical sequencing, translation or oral drilling, nor is the one that relies on technological resources. Efficient teaching is personalized”.

As the students wrote and shared their experiences of lockdown, they then made the exercise highly personal. As a teacher, I learnt a lot about them such as for example, the huge disappointment one of them felt when he missed out on a basketball camp he was looking forward to for months and another missing out on a field trip to London .. By letting the audience know about their experiences and their ideas, a close relationship is then built between the teacher and the students which enables us to establish a more personalised relationship.

Teachers who have created positive teacher-student relationships are more likely to have above-average effects on student achievement. Stephen Krashen also states that “efficient teaching is based on the personal skills of the facilitator in building relationships and creating situations of real communication with comprehensible input focusing on the learner’s interests.” When students write, grammar is used in context and the teacher, as the facilitator, can then lead the students into using specific syntax or grammatical structures.

The next question that we should also consider is the following: what is the best medium to convey the students’ messages? One thing that the pandemics have taught us is that we need to “make things better” as John Hattie says. We cannot ignore virtual school and one of the teachings that have come out of virtual school is that educators should use social media in a safe classroom environment.

Indeed, after all, how many school-age students do we routinely see reading a “traditional” printed newspaper versus how many do you see reading their phones going through different news websites? Not only the written form is conveyed digitally but in some cases exclusively via social media. This is why our first edition is digital and features a blog. To this day, the blog has reached a total of 171 views for a student population of 300 students in middle and high school. Visible displays within the school along with a social platform are the two avenues that need to be explored so that the students’ articles are the most accessible and be ultimately read, which is after all what writing is about.

At the International School of Aberdeen, where I currently teach, we are in the process of writing our second edition. In the light of the current news, the topic chosen is “No to racism”. I have no doubt that this topic should generate opinions and views in our

international school. After all, even though the students might not know the French word for “respect”, I am sure they can still express their opinions on this topic.

For a link to the first edition of our French newspaper, click on this link.

What do you think about the points raised in this article? We’d love to hear your feedback.


Leaders Lounge


My name is Isabelle Wolfe. I am the language subject leader at the International School of Aberdeen. I teach French in Middle and High school as well as the French Mother Tongue programme to our French native students. Prior to teaching at ISA, I have been teaching in England, Australia, and Egypt.