Friday, March 23, 2018

Power of Word in Value Based Education: Discriminating Truth from Falsehood

Honorable Prime Minister, Group Chairperson City School, dignitaries, educationists, teachers and my dear students. I thank the organizers for giving me the opportunity to speak about value based education, some thing that is near and dear to my heart. Power of Word emanates from the depth of our feelings. Words are only words unless they have conviction and heart felt emotions supporting the message. The reason why we are talking about values today is because we have lost sight of the fundamental value that used to be ingrained in the lives of the students. Some 40 years ago, all the corridors and halls of the schools in the morning would start with the reverberation of that prayer from Iqbal that outlines the purpose of life of the students: To make my life a beacon of light whose purpose is to remove the darkness from the entire world and to spread light everywhere. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of this noble value. Our education's purpose became my personal career and prosperity for me and my family. My only objective became to have a generator that would lit my home instead of my knowledge spreading light everywhere. 
[This post is "based" on my keynote speech presented at the Value Based Conference-2018 organized by City School at PM House, Islamabad on March 21, 2018]
As per Howard Gardner, the renowned educationist, there are three major objectives of education, each addressing a different dimension:
  1.  Ability to discriminate between right and wrong, and the ability to discriminate between good and evil. This is the moral dimension about which Dr Haroona Jatoi referred earlier quoting Piaget. 
  2. Ability to discriminate between truth and falsehood. This is the intellectual dimension. 
  3. Ability to discriminate between beauty and ugliness. This is the aesthetics dimension. 
Because of the paucity of time, I would only speak about one of these i.e. the ability to discriminate between truth and falsehood. Ability to discriminate between truth and falsehood has now become the most important feature of being educated. 
In today's world and digital media we are living in filter bubbles designed by googles and facebooks of the world. What we see is that we are exposed to an explosion of false and true information. We are inundated with floods of pictures, suggestions. messages, tweets, sms, ads, videos, news, channels and so on. We are being bombarded with raw messages, invective, slander, jokes and foul language. We are being manipulated with cleverly disguised and psychologically designed messages to impact our behavior and psychology. Our thoughts are being impacted, our perceptions are being changed and through these our behaviors are being modified to increase the earnings of facebooks and googles. We are living in filter bubbles and are being micro-targeted through sophisticated campaigns.

In this era and time, it is imperative: 
  • we learn to differentiate between behavioral control messages and facts. 
  • We need to understand how truth is being mixed with falsehood. 
  • How fact is being clouded by fiction. 
We need to understand how sophisticated and tech based marketers understand our psychometric profiles and how they customize the messages that are being fed to us to create the desired swell of emotions to bring about behavioral effect that they intend to gain from. This can lead to our buying things that we do not need, or desire, and thinking in directions that we never intended. They can make us vote differently from what we wanted. They can compel us to support agendas that we may not originally be in favor of. There are manipulators who are targeting our students on the axis of good vs evil, mostly towards evil. We just heard Ms Feroze, chairperson of the City School Group,  highlight the challenge of drug menace that is being pushed through the social media and targeting the vulnerable students through social interactions. 

Differentiating truth from falsehood is now no longer an intellectual and rational debate. It is now individual, very personal, psychological, emotional, perceptual, motivational, and behavioral. It works without us knowing how we are being manipulated by whom. In USA they managed to sway the elections in the favor of Trump by just spending $100,000. In Pakistan a few millions here and a few millions there will now buy the votes of the population. We need to understand power and how dissent is manufactured. We need to understand micro-targeting, echo-chambers, and fake-news.

The challenge for educationists and schools is to teach the students how to discriminate between truth and falsehood and learn the ability to listen to their inner voice, and not the voice of googles and facebooks mirco-targeting their psychological makeup. We need to focus on enabling them to differentiate between good vs evil, right vs wrong and be able to stand up to the moral values for which they are willing to take a fall. We need to enable them to differentiate beauty from ugliness and not fell for crass and carnal in pursuit of arts and refinement. 

We need to refocus our education to the fundamental purpose of life of a human being, which is to value light and abhor darkness, which is to spread light and remove darkness from the entire world. To make our life a beacon of light for everyone and not just our homes and our family! 
Thank you.

See Also:

1 comment:

  1. learn the ability to listen to their inner voice, and not the voice of googles and facebooks mirco-targeting their psychological makeup.

    Yes Sir, this is what we need to do and highlight.

    Sir by following your posts on FB and Blogger, i am now some what able to distinguish between fake and legit news/posts and my perception of information on the internet is quite change and now i refer to books to find the facts.
    Allah help you in every step, keep writing....

    Thank You

    ReplyDelete