EMBRACING CHANGE

DATE

1 April, 2022

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We live in a time of ever-accelerating change in our daily lives, be this at home, in workplaces or at school. Much has been, and is being, written about this and its impact on us all. An excerpt from an article that I read recently is one example:

“… until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By 1945 knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of change. For example nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every 2 years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. On average, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM the build-out of the Internet of Things will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours. Not only is our knowledge doubling at a rapid rate, but also the amount of data is growing exponentially. The chart above depicting how much data we are currently dealing with. A myriad of other growth factors has many researchers, futurists, and scientists believing we are on an exponential upward swing of progress. This progress can mean many things….”

Note that on top of the content and scale of change focused on here, current COVID-19 related change and uncertainty can be layered in as well.

Change can be discomforting, particularly if it impacts something that we think is going well. This often means that our first reaction to change is resistance, or at least uncertainty.

For all of us, but especially for our students, there are important aspects of how we embrace change that are important, not only for management of this but also for personal wellbeing.

Understanding and accepting that change is an inevitable part of life is the first step. So, too, is thinking critically about changes as we frame our responses and adjust accordingly. Having a positive outlook and being able to approach and manage change in positive and constructive ways is critical to success in school and in life.

Each of us handles change differently. Change can be welcome and exciting or cause stress and anxiety and often it’s a little of both. Among other things this can depend on the nature of the change and how we are feeling at the time.

For all of us, if we think for a moment about our College Learner Attributes, while all ten of these can be viewed as foundation stones for supporting us in embracing change, four are especially relevant: being agile, courageous, innovative and self-regulating well.  Add to these the importance of an optimistic mindset that views change as the seeds of opportunity and new learning – so much of the change that we experience is exactly this – and we have a core set of traits to help us embrace change.

Focusing on our younger students and supporting them through change is extremely important.

The early years provide one of the best opportunities to develop the skills and dispositions we need to live and thrive in a world of continual change.

Balancing change with consideration of constants such as bigger picture values (the College values of Compassion, Commitment, Courage, Respect, Responsibility as a starting point) and simpler daily routines such as a well planned morning from get up time to leave for school time, or the all important evening hour before sleep time, and we have the genesis of a recipe setting young children up for an optimal day at school. Importantly, these constants provide them with the belonging and security needed to embrace change in their lives.

Helping children to experience positive transitions and changes, at home and at school, builds their resilience. In child development a resilient child is one who is better equipped to manage stress and cope with new, different and sometimes challenging situations, as well as to view changes as opportunities.

Change provides opportunities for children to experience important learning. This includes that we can exercise control during change. It also includes important life skills such as being able to communicate worries and concerns, identify and self-regulate feelings, and importantly how to problem solve. Each time we, as parents or teachers, support children in experiencing a positive change or transition we are helping them build their resilience.

Children’s everyday relationships, role-models and experiences provide avenues for ongoing learning on change. These are not only important to children at the time, but set the foundation for their future health, learning and wellbeing.

More than 2 millennia ago Socrates is reported to have said: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Hmmm!

Lachie Wright
Head of Junior School

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