We’re midway through this year’s Summer Institute, hosted by Sarah Lucy at The Bishop’s School here in lovely La Jolla. This summer’s theme is Collaboration, specifically with the teachers we work with throughout the year. Phrases from the prospectus include ‘intellectual enrichment’, ‘building enhanced relationships with teachers and the subjects’, and ‘deep thinking’. This summer’s focus will be on developing a connection with some of the topics our teachers present in order to increase our effectiveness when we work with our teachers. When we have a better understanding of a topic, we are able to be more effective in our work with both teachers and students. That’s the thinking, anyway, and I can already see that it’s spot on.
Yesterday we were privileged to participate in focused sessions on Shakespeare, Beethoven, Chaucer and Poetry in World War I presented by master teachers from the Bishop’s faculty. Each session was distinct and (in theory) independent from the others, but as we librarians know, everything is connected. Beethoven’s 9th symphony’s role as a paean to Peace echoed through the poetry of Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen. Thinking of new ways to present scenes from Coriolanis or Twelfth Night connected down the centuries with the ways Chaucer came to write his Canterbury Tales. Climate Change, Global Markets, George Washington and Women in the Bible are the other sessions covered at this institute. Two parts to this brings rewards. The ideas that spring forth about how to work with teachers connected to these subjects are exciting, but also– the personal inspiration of my own exposure to these amazing topics is surprisingly rewarding. To be able to have the time to be a student and to learn– it seems like a real indulgence. But stepping back from my inner guilty conscience, I can see that this time spent on immersing myself in these topics is a very useful exercise which will enhance my ability to work effectively with our teachers and students. It just happens to be, in addition, exciting and deeply satisfying. As you can see, I am working hard on trying not to feel guilty.
As we continue with our sessions, I am very grateful for the opportunity to feed the intellectual curiosity that I have perhaps let lie fallow in the decades since college. With all the librarians here there is a wonderful synergy flowing throughout the conference, with tasty box lunches out on the terrace, at dinners and breakfasts and on quiet conversational walks through the delightful village of La Jolla. We are able to discuss these issues that are of personal interest, and -wouldn’t you know- we often end up figuring out how these issues would fit into our projects and curricula. That’s education for you!
Thanks to Sarah Lucy for organizing this amazing Summer Institute, and thanks to Linda Mercer for being the brains behind the development of AISL’s Summer Institute in the first place. Next year the Institute is being organized by Katie Archambault to be held at the Emma Willard School. Watch for details and don’t miss this opportunity to get your AISL fix in the middle of the summer, when there is a little bit more time for reflection and regeneration.