As some of you may know, I am currently the President of The School Library Association.
One of my key pledges when I accepted the role, was to help promote the need for skilled librarians to support schools and teachers when teaching young people more about information, misinformation, bias, and fact.
The events of the last thirty years, fuelled by the explosion of social and digital media have led us to live in very dangerous times. Some very powerful people have used new technologies as weapons to drive anger, division, and influence. Their use of analytics, bots, AI, and other techniques have had a major influence on all of our lives.
Today we are seeing the horrific results of a dictator who has manipulated so many for years and exploiting the chaos he has reaped. At this stage, it appears that his atrocities have had the opposite effect, bringing the global community closer together.
We now need to reflect now and not allow future generations to head into the world without a greater understanding of the virtual world and how they can seek truth and avoid sophisticated manipulation.
Education must be a central part of the answer. Globally, we need to ensure that we place the knowledge, skills and awareness needed to counter this significant and growing evil at the heart of our curriculum.
When Google was founded by Sergei Bryn and Larry Page, they did so to find a way to democratise information under the belief that if you could stop the powerful controlling that information you could create greater freedom. Their founding vision was:
To organise the world’s information, to make it accessible to everybody and by so doing, diminish evil.
Whether they have succeeded or even done it in the right way is possibly a debate to be had, but the sentiment is one I passionately support.
Whether we work in education or not, we must all work to ensure that our children and their children are better prepared to deal with the threat of misinformation in all its guises.