I recently read a Time Magazine article on youth indoctrination involving privately held utility companies and their involvement in teaching the importance of private ownership in public school via propaganda and donations. Accusations of youth indoctrination have been around since the dawn of time, but have you ever really looked up the definition? In definition, indoctrination differs from education in that those being supplied with information via indoctrination are not to question that information. Education, on the other hand, is supposed to encourage thought and even discourse. But, “indoctrination” is such an ugly word! There is another. Perhaps you have heard it. Maybe in your children’s school as they are parting out classes. That word, the one so much more accepted, is “socialization”.
At some point, education moved from an imparting of history, practical knowledge, mathmatics, and scientific fact and theory and the concept of self thought to a culture of socializing information to shape the community view of children. A role that was previously held by family, neighbors, churches and real life experiences. Now, you can expect that your child will be offered, from the very beginning of their formal education, nearly endless opportunities to “improve their school” and “help their community” in ways that do not offer individual growth or viewable results, but by participating in some form of “peace” ritual to solve school yard disputes and in fundraising to “help the poor”.
Parents who argue for this type of socialization in schools often do so because they are too busy to take on the job themselves. Imparting problem solving skills, confidence, compromise, and a love for community were all once the heart of family life and establishing a place in the community. It is easy to argue that some of the role of parenting needed to be handed off to school since economy often “requires” the absence of both parents to the workplace, but it would be a justification for relinquishing the most basic of parental obligations. The “socialization” of information via the public education system has created a much bigger monster than anyone could have ever imagined : the complete dependence of entire generations on each other, on the common good, and the lack of individual voice in the face of wrongs done in the same of the very same “common good”. In other words, a lack of individual importance, ability and individual priorities and a sense of guilt to any child who thinks in terms of self or personal achievement.
Imagine, if you have a moment, the six year old who comes home with a brochure touting her school’s commitment to helping the poor. Imagine her gathering her pennies from her piggy bank and asking her parents for all that they can spare. Imagine that little girl, who has spent an hour in assembly listening to her educators tell her of her importance in helping these destitute masses who have not enough food, or clothing, and most certainly no toys and her innocent drive to donate the MOST pennies! And then, imagine her guilt when her parents must tell her that she must not donate her pennies and that there are none to spare from her parents because it went to her own family’s food, or home, or education fund for her future. Imagine her shame when she returns to school with no pennies, when the teacher proudly calls each student to turn in their donations and she has none. Now that you can see this eager child crushed and ashamed, imagine it happening every month, every week. Imagine each fundraiser she cannot participate in because there is no money at home, or because the money that is there has gone to other family priorities. Imagine the ice cream parties she misses and the class movies that do not happen because she did not help her class raise the most money or bring in the most canned goods. Imagine, at six, that she carries the weight of the poor, the disappointment of a classroom, and the feeling of not being able to help ANYONE, when so many need her.. already.. at the age of six.
By the way, the Time article I mentioned, was from 1928. The only thing that has changed is the word, because “indoctrination” is such an ugly one. “Socialization” sounds so much more… important and helpful to all.