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  • Anne Pemberton

Preaching to the Choir?

Dear Interwebs,


Mindful.org published its "Best Mindfulness Books of 2020" on December 17: https://www.mindful.org/the-best-mindfulness-books-of-2020/.

I am eager to read "Keep Calm and Log On: Your Handbook for Surviving the Digital Revolution" by Gillian “Gus” Andrews that made the list. This book seems to articulate many of my concerns with the information literacy skills of many adults, including university students, and it seems to provide concrete strategies for individuals who are concerned about these "information issues." From the publisher's summary (MIT Press): "How to survive the digital revolution without getting trampled: your guide to online mindfulness, digital self-empowerment, cybersecurity, creepy ads, trustworthy information, and more."

I have gotten in the habit of seeing if I can identify the primary model/framework/competency/literacy the author leans into, if there is one, when I discover a new resource. After a quick glance at a preview of the book, Andrews does not appear to use the term "metaliteracy" at any point (dang it!). However, the Association of College and Research Libraries "Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education" is noted (yay!). The Framework itself describes "metaliteracy" and notes the importance of the concept in the creation of the Framework. The book also uses the phrase "media literacy." More about Thomas Mackey and Trudi Jacobson and their metaliteracy model and its connections to the Framework to come. But noting that there was no direct mention of that model in this particular book.

I look forward to reading this and will return to this post when I have the opportunity.

But in the meantime ...

Let's say that everyone who has concerns about these information and technology issues and who wants to develop their skills in this area, reads this book or another to get guidance. That still leaves all the people who do not have any concerns and therefore are not looking for guidance, right? I have to acknowledge here that nearly 75 million people voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election. I am not confident in our metaliteracy levels in the U.S. right now nor in most people to identify there is a gap in their knowledge and seek help for it.

How do we get people interested in the first place if they do not have a finely tuned self-reflective mindset or a friend who is a librarian? How do we nudge someone who is in the "what I think is fact" mentality to a state of curiosity and self-reflection? What is the role of higher education here? Should this be woven into a general education curriculum across disciplines? Should this be a primary focus of a First Year Seminar? And for those who will never attend college, how are they made aware and then so moved to make changes to their patterns of behavior in seeking information? What IS covered in K-12? Again, I need to find out. Are we forever preaching to the choir when we talk about all of this?


And a bigger question: Is there a correlation between those who do not think their information literacy skills can be improved and racisms?


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