Tuesday, March 06, 2007

School Indoctrination

We have a problem in our schools. There is a methodical, subtle, and disturbing force at work in our schools. I am talking about indoctrination. And it has been going on for at least one generation. Let me explain.

When I was small, it started. My kindergarten teacher insisted that we color in the lines. And then there was the whole "don't color faces blue" rule that the teachers enforced. The first little sign about indoctrination. Granted, I did not know what the word "indoctrination" meant, but I did realize that school was organized to squash the crap out of original thought.

The next thing happened was a few years later. One plus one equals two. Our school system forced this piece of "knowledge" down our throats. Not-so-subtle indoctrination. I heard years later that for higher math, that one plus one equals something other than two. Now I tried googling this, but I could find no evidence of what I am saying. The reason for this is clear: the school systems are suppressing this knowledge, part of their overall scheme of indoctrination.

Later we learned about pollination. Yeah, the part of sex education that did not make me blush. Well, I learned years later that those supposed facts were, in fact, wrong. Easier to teach so we learned them. Freekin' indoctrination.

The reason for this post – I heard some right wing nut talking about "school indoctrination." He has a new book out and is trying to get people to buy it; no crime in that. But some of his reasons for pointing to school indoctrination were, at best, weak. One example he gave was that there was a school paper assignment with the subject: "Tell me why you think the war in Iraq is unjust." Someone wrote that it was a just war and received a D. Two things occurred to me: (1) the student did not follow the assignment and should have been given a lower grade anyway, and (2) maybe it was a crappy paper.

If the student wrote about sun spots, for instance, even if it was a good paper, why award them a good score. If that were the case, I could write one freekin' awesome paper and hand it in for all assignments. I would revise the same paper and just keep racking up "A-" grades. School does not work like that. I once had to write a paper from some English man, explaining that the colonists should just shut their traps and pay taxes to England. That did not mean I believed it; just that I was able to write from a different point-of-view.

I did not read the D paper, and sometimes bad writing and poor content makes a paper a D paper.

So I was thinking, people really are extremely sensitive. I think in school, people ought to learn how to discuss things even if they don't agree with the teacher/professor. Furthermore, when you are in college, you are preparing yourself for "the real world." How real world is it when you don't agree with the professor but have to work with him anyway? You normally don't tell your boss to feck off, do you, if he does not agree with you?

Anyway, I just wanted to play with words today – but I still think I should be able to color my faces blue. Maybe I gave someone an idea for Blue Man Group.


kathi said...

The blue men scare me, I dunno why, but they just sort of give me the creeps.

On the teaching, I have always encouraged kids to look at things from another view point other than their own. Not to change their minds, but to help them see how others may see things. I'm a strong conservative, but will give points of view from a liberal or middle of the road stand point. Just to get kids to think. I may speak my own view at the end, but never ever tell them which is my point of view. They're not there to learn what I think, but to learn to think for themselves with the facts. Too many develope a point of view without any facts, and they, too, scare me.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

"school was organized to squash the crap out of original thought."

You know, I never ever thought of it that way until I saw you put it into words. That is SO true.

Sad....but true.

Ian Lidster said...

And if schools aren't bad enough, take a look at our colleges and universities where god help you if you are student or even a faculty member and don't subscribe to the accepted philosophy of the place. No room for dialogue or divergent opinions there. Your example of the Iraq war question perfectly exemplifies what you're saying.
As a former teacher I doff my hat to you, Miss L.


LarryLilly said...

I was in college during the late 60's. I was at a small midwestern liberal arts college studying to be a petroleum engineer (we were part of the problem). But I was a member of the campus SDS chapter, and boy, did I get an earful from the dept head on that choice. Up to that time, I didnt know about singular views, i went to a HS that was in a district run entirely by liberal people, so divergent views were not only accepted, but encouraged.

But before that I went to catholic school, and the Sisters there beat the snot out of you if you didnt toe THEIR line. And color inside the line? I colored like I had advanced Parkinson's, i was lucky to get the color on the page, yet alone between the lines. LOL

RWA said...

I don't think discussion of different points of view is wrong at all - even if it is an assignment.

However, when you get a teacher/instructor/professor who should be in a nuthouse instead of influencing lives, and they penalize students because the students have enough common sense to know that 9/11 was not a government conspiracy (just one example), they shouldn't get an "F" in the class simply for disagreeing with their whacked-out instructor.

I'm not sure that makes any sense. Hopefully it does, though.

Z said...

1.4 + 1.4 = 2.8.
0.6 + 0.6 = 1.2

Or, to the nearest whole number, 1+1=3. And 1+1=1. I don't know if that's the sort of thing you have in mind?

As for the assignation, it was badly phrased. "Tell me why you think the war in Iraq is unjust" leaves you nothing to say if you think the war is just. If it asked "Give an argument as to why the war in Iraq is unjust" your personal opinion doesn't come into it and you would be rightly penalised for giving what you consider a balanced, or partisan the other way, opinion.

Of course, to know if you were any good at writing a cogent argument, it would be necessary to set another assignment requiring a different opinion.

Leesa said...

kathi: yes, yes, yes. That's what I meant to say.

stacy: scary though, huh?

ian: thanks, Ian, but you know, that's how the world is.

larry: I have a warm spot in my heart for nuns. And their rulers. But I know what you mean about coloring in the line. Or not coloring in the line.

rwa: but whacked out instructors are so much fun. Maybe not for your grade, but you remember them forever.

z: even if you think the war is just, you should be able to make arguments to the contrary. That's part of learning. And, by the way, there is "just war theory", which tries to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of organized armed forces.

Prata said...

Indocrination in school is not new. That is why there are public schools and private schools and christian schools.

Gerbera Daisy said...

Great post Leesa! I agree with your statement school was organized to squash the crap out of original thought. I feel like students should be encouraged NOT discouraged to think outside the box. Sometimes there is more than one right answer.