October 11, 2017

Open your eyes, learn to be suspicious of the media, learn to recognize the fact that information is not an absolute truth but, at best, it is a representation of the truth rendered in good faith, and, finally, learn to compare multiple sources to develop your own opinion of what is happening in the world. 

On October 11, 2017, the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori organized a major event in Florence during which, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, met a thousand students from all over Italy representing the large community of young people participating in the project "Quality information in the classroom"." Andrea Ceccherini, President of the Osservatorio, addressed the young people and opened the meeting with the following message.

"With Tim Cook, we share a whole value system, starting with the irrepressible desire to change the world. A desire that is well captured by an oath that I am sure he knows by heart, a Native American oath that is taken by boys who are about to become men and who stand in front of a fire with the village Chief who rests a stick on them and in front of the whole community tells them, “Remember, we don't inherit the earth from our fathers, we borrow it from our children, and you must make it a better place than the one you found.”

Tim Cook and I believe that education is the most effective tool to improve this world and that working with young people means working on very fertile ground.

Young people and education are the two goals the Osservatorio has always pursued and let me say that if you put these values together and add the centrality of the individual, the dignity of the individual (with technology only at his service), you will find our most important project, the one that brought you here, "Quality information in the classroom".

It is a project that brings you a message in the era of fake news and post-truth. Do not rely solely on fact-checking to know if a piece of news is true or false. Remember that real solutions, those that live on, start from recognizing the centrality of the individual; since each one of us has a head on our shoulders, we must learn to use it. We must learn to use it by training that critical thinking that tomorrow will allow us to be a free citizen.

And what is critical thinking? It is the filter through which you see the world; the stronger the filter, the more independent you will be in the future.

You know our project very well because it has brought you here. It is a project that starts with one simple concept: every piece of news can be told in a different way. Through the "Quality information in the classroom" project you can access three different newspapers and see how each one offers a different angle on the same story. It is a way to tell you, 'Open your eyes; maybe you will learn to be suspicious of the media but learn to recognize the fact that information is not the ultimate truth, but at best a representation of the truth made in good faith and, for God's sake, learn to compare multiple sources to develop your own opinion of what is happening in the world.’

So, this is the message with which I would like to conclude my welcoming message. And remind you of the words Einstein used when he said that 'The mind is like a parachute; it is only useful when it is open.'