Philosophy and Mission Statements Definition
Information literacy is of dire necessity in the 21st century mainly because it serves as a guide to individuals’ success in life. Knowing how to access and use information appropriately has become a critical objective of most education centers with most schools developing platforms for addressing the need for information literacy amongst learners. As such, library media specialists are focusing on the most effective ways of ensuring that learners encounter learning opportunities which will boost their lifelong learning.
The key to achieving this lies in the development of an effective media program. Planning for these media programs involves engaging in several steps which are essential in the overall expected outcome of a collaborative, technological and leadership oriented media program (American Library Association et al, 1999, p. 47). These steps include defining the philosophy, mission and vision statement of the program, evaluating current media program, assessing goals and objectives, facilities, budgeting planning, outlining roles of media committee and a plan for planning.
This paper seeks to identify the most important step in media program planning and provide a critical analysis of its importance. Identifying the philosophy and mission statement of the library media program is the most important step of all. It is the point where the media program’s foundation is built and where its effectiveness is determined. Apart from setting the pace of the entire planning process, this step basically encompasses all the aspects of the media program. Each and every day that a librarian or media specialist spends in the library they are articulating the philosophy and mission statement of the media program.
This both conscious and unconscious activity establishes that these aspects of planning underlie the basic functions of media programs in fostering information literacy. In essence, media program planning is beneficial in that it makes the program known to others, identifies the priorities, provides a sense of purpose, forms a blueprint for future planning and development, gives a basis for decision making, offers an avenue for the evaluation of current programs and anchors the development of the program’s budget.
A look at these benefits clearly indicates that without establishing a clear vision and mission statement of the media program and linking them to the specific school’s vision and mission statements the program is likely to be ineffective. A philosophy statement provides justification for the creation of a media program as part of the school system. Ideally, without this philosophy statement the planning process has no reason to continue as there is no specific purpose it is seen to serve.
Therefore, media program planners must first devise a philosophy statement which will authenticate their endeavor to promote information literacy. Using information literacy standards library specialists are able to formulate clear visions during program planning (Taylor, 2006, p. 36). Basically library media programs set out to provide the learners with an environment which is effective in providing them with skills, knowledge and resources where information literacy can flourish.
These elements of the desired outcomes provide a vision with which the media program must work towards fulfilling. Therefore, the vision aids in showcasing the beneficiaries of the media program, the specific benefits, the results of the benefits and the importance of these benefits. In general media programs benefit the student by actualizing their efficient, effective and intelligent use of information. This outcome ensures that they become informed lifelong learners as it is important to the overall positive growth of the society.
In an ever changing society, information literacy is paramount to the individual and society based needs satisfaction. As Haycock (1998) asserts putting their focus at this vision of the future makes program planners more attuned to what will serve the program best. In defining the philosophy statement of the media program planners try to capture the media programs impact the school and the students. In doing so, they describe the worth of this program and conceptualize on what involved parties will have to do in order to realize this vision.
While doing this, the roles played by teachers, administrators and librarians become evident. This is very important as it installs a deep belief in the program and also makes the program an individual responsibility for all who are involved. As earlier mentioned media programs draw on the ideas of collaboration, leadership and technology and the deliberation process links teachers, librarians and administrators with these ideologies. As highlighted in American Association of School Librarians (1998, p.
4) library media specialists incorporate all these roles with their reflection as teachers seen in their collaboration with learners and teachers in analyzing the needs of the learners, finding the resources, understanding and communicating these resources’ information to those who need it. Without identifying the vision statement of the program, library media specialists may not wholly acknowledge the weight of their roles. Furthermore, it is during this step of media program planning process that media library specialists accomplish their leadership role.
As experts in this field they are better placed to know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Thus, at this moment they create awareness to teachers, administrators and learners about information literacy and highlight strategies for achieving it. For instance as illustrated by Berkowitz and Eisenberg (1988) they are able to inform teachers and administrators of their role in providing support services for the curriculum implementation. All these only emerge as they form descriptions of the requirements of realizing the desired vision.
Indeed both teachers and administrators must value information literacy, understand what it means to the learners’ future lives and also comprehend the importance of equipping learners with critical skills which allow them to use information efficiently. In addition, they must also become aware of the importance of information in their instructional initiatives. It is in communicating the philosophy statement that this can be further cemented in their mindsets. Crowley (1994, p. 51) sights that visions are what keep individuals motivated and ready to persevere till their goals are accomplished.
This analogy only depicts a part of how important this step is in media program planning. Without motivation, it is easy to give up and discard a program whose benefits are crucial to learners and the larger society. A vision statement must be realistic and set within a time frame which reflects on the current and predicted capacities of the school. This sense of reality also trickles down to teachers, learners and administrators as they are forced to anticipate their every move towards achieving the vision.
Accountability is bred at this particular stage as involved parties become aware that they are fully in charge of the program and its success. Also, it allows them to project their thoughts on the implications of these future developments. After defining the vision statement it is then remodeled to a mission statement for the media program. The mission statement unlike the vision statement not only showcases a perceived future outcome but it also postulates the organization of the media program. At the heart of the medial program plan, it articulates its work, value and nature.
Free of the details observed in the philosophy statement, it reflects a clear objective and focus of the media program. As such, it must briefly highlight the program’s values, approaches, curriculum focus, learners’ focus, outcomes and goals. Mission statements differ with each program as schools present different needs. In formulating these statements, planners are able to observe their unique situations and formulate strategies which serve these individual needs. This is opposed to adapting a general program which may not fully acknowledge these specific needs.
It is then that both the philosophy and mission statements must be connected to the school’s vision and mission statements. Farmer (2003, p. 40) argues that the media program and the overall school program are interrelated and while the media program may promise many benefits it cannot implement its vision and mission statements without the entire school’s support. It becomes vital at this stage that planners ensure that their program’s objectives fit those of the school’s and that they do not inhibit other programs which are also important to the school.
For instance, a school’s mission statement may offer the vision of improving learners outcomes and even provide activities which can be implemented by teachers and learning departments in the school. As such, it is important that a media program’s mission statement makes it clear that it will only heighten these outcomes and not delay or jeopardize them. As illustrated in the Massachusetts School Library Media Association (2003, p. 2) students benefit from the library media program by achieving critical thinking skills and reading literacy skills.
These benefits articulate the vision and mission statements for schools which aspire to foster critical and inquiry thinking using their curriculum. Creating the links between the media program’s mission statement and that of the school opens avenues where further initiatives can be explored. This symbiotic relationship between the school’s mission statement and the media program’s mission statement also forms a tool for evaluation or assessment of the program’s effectiveness. Mission statements stipulate goals, objectives and implementation strategies for achieving them.
In doing so, they allow future evaluations of learners’ achievements to be measured against these statements. Phillip (1984) showcases that media programs are ideally linked to instructional objectives of teachers and learners as they share a similar desire of enhancing student’s achievements. Therefore, in accomplishing these goals the media program basically reflects similar outcomes for the school’s instructional objectives. In essence, both the philosophy and mission statement ensure that the overall scorecard of the school’s learning management is balanced. Dugan and Hernon (2002, p.
68) emphasizes that measures for evaluation are often equated with the program’s desired outcomes in order to derive the level of effectiveness of the program. These measures which reflect the program’s success is only established when planners are connecting the mission statement of the program to that of the school’s. The philosophy and mission statements of a media program are need and time specific. That is, they exist as long as there is reason to have the media program in operation. As such, in defining these elements planners are able to allow room for changes in future developments of the program.
Indeed as the program is implemented and constantly evaluated, the needs of learners and the entire school change making it advisable to devise new initiatives. At his point, the earlier utilized vision and mission statement serve as reminders of the current state of the program and also form a basis for a new vision and mission statement. The importance of defining the philosophy and mission statements and connecting them to the schools’ cannot be overemphasized as its neglect may spell failure for the entire program even before it is in motion.
From the above discussion it is evident that the first step in media program development which involves defining the philosophy and mission statements is the most vital step. Firstly, it forms a foundation for the entire planning process because without it the process has no meaning. In establishing a clear sense of purpose for the program, this step allows for the identification of the most appropriate strategies for implementing the media program. Furthermore, both the vision and mission statements provide a guide towards expected and desired results.
In so doing, teachers, administrators and learners are made aware of their responsibilities in the implementation process of the program. More so, they acknowledge their specific roles and accept that they are accountable for the success of the media program. This form of acknowledgement acts as an instant motivator for all involved parties. Their individual goals become aligned with those of the program and they become more driven to accomplish them. Finally, this step also forms a basis for the evaluation of the program’s success.
In fulfilling the mission and vision statements’ objectives they become a parameter for success while the reverse indicates ineffectiveness. It is essential that program planners pay keen attention to this first step in the planning process. A sound foundation forms the basis for success now and in the future, which is very significance in enhancing information literacy among learners. References American Association of School Librarians, & Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1998). Information power: Building partnerships for learning.
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(2002). An Action Plan for Outcomes Assessments in your Library, Part 5. Chicago: American Library Association. Farmer, L. S. J. (2003). Student Success and Library Media Programs: A Systems Approach to Research and Best Practice. Westport CT: Greenwood Press. Haycock, K. (1998). (Ed. ). Foundations for Effective School Library Media Programs. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. Massachusetts School Library Media Association. (2003). Massachusetts School Library Media Program Standards for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved on 14th May, 2010 fromSample Essay of EduBirdie.com