Bernardo M. Villegas
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Character Education for Generation Z

          Those born after 2000 are part of Generation Z, coming immediately after the Y Generation, also referred to as the Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000).  The millennials are already considered as being quite difficult to handle in the work place because of their alleged lack of loyalty to any organization, their inability to focus, and their loose morals especially as regards sexuality (especially in the burgeoning call centers).  Parents and educators who are now responsible for the upbringing of the Generation Z children are faced with even a more formidable challenge because of the ever accelerating speed of innovations in digital technology.  There is a growing crisis in character already very visible in at least the urban populations of the Philippines:  our country topped the world in porn viewing.  Very recently, actual bullying in schools went viral while cyber-bullying is common in social media.  More and more teenagers are falling into depression with cases of suicide on the rise.  Many parents are at a loss on how to help their children avoid falling into the worst practices in social media and the internet.  It is no longer safe for parents just to depend on their common sense and practical wisdom.  They must have recourse to the advice of experts on how to raise and educate the so-called “Wired Generation.”

         It is for this purpose that PAREF Northfield School for Boys in partnership with Catalyst for Character Formation (CCFA) is holding the International Conference on Character Formation and Digital Lifestyles at the AFP Theater on January 31, 2019 from 9 a.m to 7 p.m.  Around 1,000 people (parents, educators, business executives and NGO officials) are expected to attend sessions that are separately designed for students, educators and the parents.  Four global experts—Sierra Filucci and Caroline Knorr from North America’s Common Sense Media; Paul Graas and Luis Blasquez form Europe’s Interaxion Group—will be the main resource persons.  They will address the topic on how to raise and educate the wired generation, giving very practical advice on how to help young people survive and flourish in the new digital environment with its own moral, intellectual, emotional and mental challenges. 

         Nationally-renowned speaker and educator Mann Rentoy and Executive Director of CCFA highlighted the primordial importance of character formation in today’s digital age.  “To form character and mold minds are the educator’s most important role if our kids are to grow up to be men and women of character,” he said.  He added that character formation must be integrated into the academic programs especially at the basic education level.  CCFA decided to partner precisely with a private institution imparting basic education that is one of the pioneers in integrating character formation with the academic program and ensuring that parents are the first ones to be actively involved in the character formation of their children.  PAREF Northfield has been in existence for 23 years and has accumulated a great deal of experience in the formation of values and virtues among its pupils by engaging the parents and the teachers in a collaborative task.

         There will be three conference sessions on January 31 for three separate core groups:  9 a.m. to 12 noon for the students themselves; 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for teachers; and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for parents. In the conference for educators, Paul Grass (Master in History/Sociology from Utrecht University) will talk about “How to help children and adolescents build character in a digital age while Luis Blazquez (Director of Interaxion) will discuss cyberbullying, pornography and other digital concerns.  Sierra Filucci (Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley) will give advice to parents and teachers on keeping kids safe online while Caroline Knorr (Senior Parenting Editor of Common Sense Media) will describe the digital lifestyles of teens and give parents and educators advice on how to educate the digital generation. 

         Parents and educators have no alternative but to seek the advice of experts on how to bring up children in the very complex environment brought about by the digital revolution which is the very essence of the so-called fourth industrial revolution.  Those interested in attending the various sessions may email conferences@parefnorthfield.edu.ph or call 928 59 56, local 106.   Those who wish to register online are enjoined to go to the following link:  www.bitly.com/nfdconferenceform.  More information about the conference can be found at www.facebook.com/parefnfd.  Participants who are attending the whole day or at least two sessions of the conference can obtain discounts.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia