Educating in the New Technologies (Part 1)

Manila Bulletin, July 6, 2018 | Go to article overview

Educating in the New Technologies (Part 1)


By Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas

Millenials and those belonging to Generation Z (born after 2000) are no different from the rest of us who are older. They have the same potentials for a virtuous life as well as for evil as all descendants of Adam and Eve. They are not inherently selfish, disrespectful to elders, unfit for productive work, sexually permissive, seekers of instant gratification, and unable to make long-term commitments. In fact, when I read studies which attach some of these labels to the youth of today, I have the same feeling that I had when economists of my generation described the typical "homo economicus" or economic man as the consummate selfish creature whose only goal in life is to maximize profit or personal pleasure. These were oversimplifications of human behavior that economists of the liberal tendencies (Milton Friedman, et al) made in order to apply mathematical tools to economic analysis. The free enterprise economists ignored the very important fact that human beings have a wide range of motivations when they act, i.e., psychological, cultural, moral, spiritual, etc., other than the maximization of profit or physical pleasure. Because of this oversimplification in assuming that the business man is motivated by purely selfish reasons, the capitalist started behaving according to the theoretical model. The theory of the purely competitive economy became self-fulfilling and we ended up with the excesses of rugged capitalism that produced the Great Recession of the last ten years.

We have to refrain from giving unflattering labels to the millennials if we want to avoid the same self-fulfilling phenomenon. We have to be convinced that the women and men of the so-called digital age are capable of being humble, temperate, generous, caring, prudent, just, and truthful as those of preceding generations. They can overcome the threats posed by the new technologies that the digital age is bringing with it if their parents and grandparents are able to draw out from them these virtues of which they are capable as human beings through the right child rearing and educational practices. In this very important educational task (the etymology of education, "educare," means drawing out) we must make a realistic assessment of the technological, economic, and cultural environment being faced by the youth today in order to come out with the right approaches. In this article, I summarize the suggestions made by educational experts found in three articles that appeared in www.opusdei.org. The three articles are entitled "Educating the New Technologies," "Interior Quiet in the Digital Age," and "The New Technologies and Christian Coherence."

First, what differentiates the so-called digital age from what preceded it, the analog era? There are usually three trends that are associated with the coming of the digital age: a) the disappearance of some forms of work (both physical and mental) as a result of automation and artificial intelligence (AI); b) the challenge of maintaining privacy in the digital age in the face of such intrusive innovations as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the Internet in general; and c) The prevalence of social media. These three "mega" trends have important impacts on the behavior of everyone, not only the millennials. As I mentioned in a separate article, in facing the challenges posed by these trends, "We can all be millennials." That is why, the most important way we can educate the youth in the digital age is by personal example. Baby boomers and those of Generation X have to be the first ones to practice the virtues and values needed so that we do not succumb to the harmful effects of the new technologies. …

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