I was one of the 600,000 plus public school teachers who served in the May 9, 2022 elections. It was apparent that both voters and the electoral board staff were beaming with hope last May 9.
Unlike precincts reported in social and mainstream media, ours went smoothly.
Our precinct ended the polling by 7:00 pm. As we did the post-election activities, I was nervous, not because of errors from vote-counting machines (VCM), but of how consequential these elections were.
As we enter the dawn of a new regime, whoever wins will face a polarized Philippines. A new enemy drives the great divide in our electorates in the digital world.
It is the virus that plagued countries worldwide, and now ours. I am not talking about COVID; I refer to the “Infodemic.”
The Infodemic, coined by the World Health Organization (WHO), was a term popularized during the onslaught of COVID-19. The misinformation and fake news disenfranchised the truth and twisted the accounts of academicians-from medical experts to historians.
Promoted by some social media influencers, the infodemic greatly opposes mainstream media and books, clawing and claiming to be the supreme knowledge of all.
Worst, since this information is dressed in motional wokeness, many are easy to click the bait.
We cannot deny the infodemics’ power; it instigates violence and extremism in the streets, influences elections, and, saddest of all, revises the history of a nation.
The infodemic’s crucial role in disrupting our democratic process is apparent based on election results. The landslide victory of politicians marred with corruption and autocracies further solidified the plague on our nation’s psyche.
Teachers, where do we go from here?
Since the inception of the K-12 curriculum, one of the macro skills we have to instill in our students is to be critical thinkers. Our students should be able to filter out opinions from facts and the truth from lies.
We must admit that we may not have been successful partly. Our teachings might’ve been lacking or incorrect. We, too, are not-so critical thinkers.
As teachers, we are the purveyor of truths, but our silence in engaging in the elections might’ve contributed to the infodemic. It is then natural for us to make up for these mistakes.
First, check our cognitive bias. Cognitive bias is our subjective reality, and we have to reckon if the infodemic fuels this reality of ours.
Second, we may have to revisit our ways of teaching and assess whether we are contributors.
Third, we must check our teaching materials, books, and self-understanding. The plethora of sources is a boon and a bane.
But perhaps the most important thing is to speak up. More often than not, teachers are silent on specific issues, even those that affect them.
Almost everyone respects teachers’ voices, and we must use this power to combat misinformation and fake news proliferation.
We have to speak up when an unvalidated version of history is festering, when an influencer acts as if they have a monopoly of information, and when fake news pushes our teachings aside.
For years, the infodemic problem in our country has increased.
But my dear co-teachers, we cannot lose hope, as we are the leading personalities in this battle. We shouldn’t drown in the tidal wave of misinformation but rather surf with the truth on our teaching boards.
The fight is far from lost, but we have to step up and win against the infodemic.