Raising Children in the ‘Post Truth’ World

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Here is an article that I wrote that was published in the January edition of Ipoh Valley of Dreams. I was provoked to write it in response to more and more media comments about the world we’re living in and the nature of politics in the world.

I found myself very conscious of the impact all this can potentially have on children and young people, growing up confronted by all this.

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The Maggi Scandal

As I write, today, I don’t have any idea whether Maggi noodles contain bad and dangerous ingredients. I also have no idea whether or not the product they sell in India is different to what they’re selling elsewhere. However, what I can see clearly is that the whole saga has come about because there’s an underlying mistrust and disquiet when it comes to MNCs and how they behave in India.

Of course, the cynic in me would also wish to point out that these cases most often bubble up whenever there’s a nationalist government. Within their party they carry a rump of ‘fortress India’ zealots who will sniff around for any opportunity to get anti-foreigner. Just think, if UKIP had been elected in the UK, then my home country would have been doing similar things right now in relation to foreign products.

However, I believe there’s more than enough reason in this case to doubt the moral integrity of MNCs operating in India, and have done so for a long time. I recalled this article that I wrote for this blog back in 2009. I wish i could say things are better than they were then, but my suspicion is nothing’s really changed. That’s not to say Indian companies don’t cut corners, make bad and harmful products, exploit consumers or behave in underhand ways. However, I believe that when MNCs practice different standards in different countries people will always have every right to call them on it:

My 2009 Article – Embarrassment of Being a Foreigner in India

Gulf News – Article 4

This week’s article was published in the newspaper this morning. For this article i chose to tackle the sensitive issue of cheating, dishonesty and integrity, concluding that a commitment to be ‘honest later’ doesn’t work and that low integrity carries too high a price:

gulf news article 15092013

Please share your thoughts. I’d love to have feedback and ideas from the regular blog readers. Also, whilst Article 5 is virtually finished, I’m open to any ideas for what should be the themes of articles 6 and 7.

Trust is Still Valid in This World

This is a nice little story. I first heard about it verbally and then someone forwarded this piece on the subject.

North Point Integrity Article

After reading it I was reminded that, especially when we’re dealing with children, if we really want to get trustworthy behaviour, somewhere we have to be willing to give trust. Ultimately, no amount of ‘policing’ to prevent breaches of trust brings trustworthy behaviour.

However, regrettably, we live in a world where this is often forgotten. So, for example, if people are jumping red traffic lights people consider that the only way to prevent it is to have a policeman physically stationed by the lights and/ or video cameras to catch the wrong doers.

And then, all the way down the line, we see the overall levels of trust in the society dwindling. Somewhere, we have to be willing to go the longer, harder route, working with children to build an understanding that the price/ cost of lack of trust is too high a price to pay. However, I acknowledge – there’s a very long road ahead.

Caring Confrontation

In these times of so much debate and discussion about children’s vulnerability to bullying, ragging, aggression and other inappropriate behaviour educators have to be ready to explore all avenues for what can be done to find the best ways to minimise destructive and negative behaviours and replace them with good, healthy ways.

Whether as a child or an adult, a sense of alienation or ‘aloneness’ can be one of the worst and most debilitating feelings for anyone. In schools, despite the ‘crowds’ such feelings can come about in many ways, driven by a sense of competition, by a sense that only some can succeed in relative terms (for which others would inevitably have to ‘fail’ or perform less well.

A scarcity mindset can so easily create beliefs that success and achievement are limited and reserved for the few. I believe we need to develop a real, strong sense amongst our students that if they are in competition with anyone, it’s with “them out there”, the rest of the world and not with their colleagues inside the Shri Ram School community. In fact, all their interests can best be achieved if, within the community they are really there for each other, really giving each other genuine support and help, boosting each other up, helping ensure that all achieve to their highest potential.

With these thoughts in my mind i really loved this article from Educational Leadership online magazine, so wanted to share it.

Enjoy!

Caring Confrontation

Being A Foreigner in India – The Embarrassment

India is a developing country. Apart from many other things that makes it a country of relatively less wise and ‘smart’ consumers when it comes to marketing, advertising and exploitation.

For the last 10 1/2 years I have been continually troubled and embarrassed by the plain fact that there are a whole bunch of western companies who do things here that they wouldn’t dare to do in their home markets. What wouldn’t they dare to do and why?

Well, i’m talking about companies that dump waste, e-waste and other refuse here as a cheap option for disposal and relief from a headache back home. Then I’m talking about some of the ships they will happily and quietly send to Alang in Gujurat for wrecking, regardless of the fact that the average lifespan for the workers who break the ships is less than 40!

However, day to day the most invidious reminders of how low my fellow ‘first-worlders’ will stoop when nobody is looking properly are all around us and especially in the lives of our children. We only need to make a list of the foreign ‘products’ with the biggest marketing budgets in India;
cigarettes
coke, pepsi and other fizzy drinks
chewing gums
WWE
Violent cartoons and children’s programming

The list could go on. What all these products have in common is that consumers in the developed countries have realised just how harmful they are and turned their backs on them – so they have turned their attention and their marketing dollars to markets like India and China. What these people are basically saying is – by now we know our products are bad for people. People in some markets have got smart, so we must go to the markets where people won’t get wise to just how bad we are, at least for a while. It harms children? Shame, but we have to make our money.

I feel like i don’t just want to feel embarrassed any more. I would rather voice the reality as I see it.The consumers of this country need to wise up rapidly and find their voice. Just think, there are plenty of countries where a child won’t hear bad language, won’t see anything obscene, won’t witness gratuitous violence on the TV before 9.00pm. Why won’t they hear it or see it? Because the TV companies are subject to controls brought about by consumers (parents) finding their voice and using it. Basically, the public, in big enough numbers, made it clear to politicians that they had better have some purpose and had better start representing what really mattered to the people.

Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Stephen Covey will recall that a few years after the publishing mega-success that was the Seven Habits he felt compelled to add an eighth habit – Enabling people to Find their Voice. I don’t believe the people of this phenomenal country want their children to be poisoned, to be tricked into becoming addicted to products that will stunt and diminish their lives (or their minds). It’s high time people find their voice and the confidence to believe that speaking up can and will really make a difference.

Maybe then, one day, the reason for my embarrassment will diminish. Until then ……. we strive …….

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