Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Literacy of Change?

This is something that has been brewing in the back of my mind for months, but it wasn't until a recent 2 day seminar I attended on management and leadership where it really gelled.

The idea of change literacy.

In the management seminar we talked a good deal about "managing change" and about how it really isn't possible to "motivate" people or get them to accept change, but instead we can work towards creating an environment where people can choose to be motivated, can choose to adapt to and even lead the way toward change.

The same thing might be said for college students and all the various literacies and information skills we try to instill in them.  Most of us handle change of most kinds badly. It's instinctual to react negatively to change. Change requires thinking, it requires effort. It comes down to this: students might be more capable of navigating and effectively using the wide variety of information tools and types for the wide variety of purposes required of them in their academic and professional careers if they had a better handle on how to deal with change, or at the very least an understanding of how we instinctively react to change so that it can be counter balanced to achieve a goal.

I've encountered so many students who are completely flustered and frustrated by the constantly fluctuating set of academic search tools and information platforms. When faced with a library database different that what we used in a workshop, or when faced with a different menu of options (of search terms, of search tools, of search or result options) students often panic and then flee to the familiar territory of Google.

I have yet to do any research into the science and psychology of change and change management, but I suspect that if those of us dealing with teaching information and other literacies had a better understanding of how people react to change, we might be better equipped to instill in our students skills that will truly be lifelong, instead of just for the length of a specific class or academic career.

Who knows, a focus on change literacy might even go a ways in helping citizens of  democracies more critically evaluate and react to the often empty and usually manipulative calls for generic "change" that seem to dominant our political arenas.

This video is business and "change management" oriented and aimed at "futurists," but it's interesting:

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