Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Cerebral Cortex—The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The cerebral cortex is a wonderful thing.  It’s the gray matter in your brain that is the storage depot for long-term memory.  That it exists is why I still remember The Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution that I had to memorize in 5th grade, thousands of song lyrics, the state capitals, and game show trivia from the '60s.  But did you know that if you receive the same correct or incorrect information repeatedly, you’re likely to believe that it’s all true?

Stephen Colbert coined the term ‘wikiality’ to describe this phenomenon--we continue believing misinformation, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, or in the face of common sense because “if enough people believe in a notion, it must be true”. Don't Tell Me Again The Web is full of so-called ‘information’, but much of what we read is not ‘factual’. 
Here’s the point:  it’s imperative for researchers such as yourselves to Google with a critical eye.  Who’s posting this stuff?  What are their credentials?  Are they historians?  Professors at well-known colleges or universities?  Scientists?  Museum curators?  Students?  Shopkeepers?  Or, worse yet, hate groups?  Is it the purpose of the website to sway the readers’ opinion?  What is their bias?  Is the information timely, or is there more recent data that’s better?  Of course, using our online databases is a safe way to know you’re getting accurate, timely information.  We pay fees for these resources each year, so take advantage of them, at school or at home.  Truth: Can You Handle It?
So, discerning readers, be skeptical when you get those emails with dire warnings, photos of people surfing tsunamis, and offers from Nigerian royalty.  Be wary of websites run by questionable characters.  Check out their authenticity on, seek out the truth, and don’t let your pesky cerebral cortex get in the way!
Mrs. Hodge

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Sense of Place

Krone Library, Idyllwild Academy during Summer Program

What defines a sense of place?
     Famous structures can define a sense of place: the Eiffel Tower, the Washington Monument, Disney Concert Hall.
     Emotional connections can create a sense of place. Think of your favorite eatery. It might not be glamorous, but I’ll bet it makes you happy to even think of it.
     Libraries are designed to give a sense of place. And, if they are successful, you feel a sense of belonging when you step inside. Whether your quest is to find an answer to a question, a respite from stress, or to check your email, a library with a sense of place is a beautiful thing.
     I found myself appreciating the Krone Library at the Idyllwild Arts Academy during the Summer Program. Unexpectedly stranded on campus after class, in a mood (much) less than congenial, I entered the library. A two hour wait stretched out before me,and I wasn’t sure the library had anything to offer.
But its calm surrounded me and I noticed:
•it’s quite comfortable stretching out on this blue seating area.
•art books are scattered on a generous pedestal table; ready for browsing.
•a $1 book sale is set up on the study tables (who can resist?)
the windows frame a series of naturescapes, each worthy of a sketch or painting.
•interesting things are happening on campus: concerts, exhibits, artist’s talks, art openings, and the library has flyers, postcards and information about them.
•it’s not so bad in here.
     I left thinking, “what a nice place that library is.” An unexpected lesson for a librarian, but its value has stayed with me. The importance of place. A whole list of attributes merge to create a sense of place; some tangible, some abstract. But when it works, you notice.
     Here at Prep today, in the Chandramohan Library, I overheard a Peer Counselor remark, “this is the library, the rockin-est place on campus.” That reminded me of Krone library, not because it was the rockin-est place (that’s reserved for Prep’s library) but because it had a sense of place. And I think that’s the lesson: the importance of place. When it works, you notice.

-Mrs. Eldridge

A Library, You Say?

Spontaneity in the Reading Room
You hear the word library--what immediately comes to mind?  Books?  Study rooms?  Computers?  Shushing librarians?  Yes, we definitely have all of those, but so much more happens here.  Authors speak, The Flintridge Press editors work on the latest edition, student artists display their work, the Arts Club hosts the annual poetry slam, students sign up for clubs, activities, Senate offices, and checking out laptops, senior leaders tutor, groups make videos for class projects, share iPods, do crossword puzzles and Sudoku, collect items for various charities, like the Cinderella Project...the list goes on and on.  We host somewhat unconventional, and sometimes unintentional events, like spontaneous dancing. 

And clowns.   

The entire cast, in all their glory
Sparknose debuted in the library last weekend, with a troupe of 17 amazingly talented student clowns, led by Ms. Bierman.  It was a creative use of our space, using both floors, the stairwell, the study rooms, and reading room.  Very cool.  And very Prep.

Mrs. Hodge