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Indoctrination or education?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by burk48237, Apr 14, 2006.


Political indoctrination is OK in

Poll closed May 4, 2006.
  1. Elementery and Jr. High Schools

    2 vote(s)
    3.2%
  2. High School

    5 vote(s)
    7.9%
  3. College

    3 vote(s)
    4.8%
  4. Never, Schools are their to educate not indoctrinate

    48 vote(s)
    76.2%
  5. when kids are old enough to eat carrots

    5 vote(s)
    7.9%
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  1. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Their have been several stories in the news lately of attempted indoctrination of High School students. In one case a teacher launched into a profanity laced tirade comparing the evils of the current administration to Hitler. In another case High school students were forced to listen to a pro illegal immigration speaker at an assembly with no attempt to present an opposing viewpoint. In this case a young Chinese immigrant didn't like what the speaker was saying and asked to leave but was forced to stay. My question is not the political side of this but the ethical side. I attended many college classes that were taught by politically motivated professors. In one case a teacher very clearly graded you on expressing the "right" political view point. So I have two questions one of which is part of a poll.

    #1 Is it ever "OK" for a teacher to politically indoctrinate a class? And where is the line drawn? For instance in our own OT recently a few have been called racist for expressing certain points of views (my own take, usually people who resort to calling someone racist are doing it out of insecurity), would it be OK for a teacher to call a student a racist if that student disagreed with their point of view? And should a teacher be allowed to grade based on the political points of view expressed by a student?

    #2 The poll question: If political discussions are too occur in schools, at what age group should they be allowed? Is it OK to promote hard core political views on High Schoolers remember, some are 13-14 years old? Too me in college a teacher has a right to promote a political point of view PROVIDED the class room environment promotes disagreement, freedom of expression, and freedom from grade pressures based on a point of view? It should be OK to take any side in a political discussion provided you are willing to defend it rationally. But at the High School/Jr. High level most kids are not astute in world affairs and my feeling is ANY discussion that doesn't reasonably present multiple points of view by it's own nature becomes indoctrination, not education.

    A QUICK NOTE: I know the examples I gave were from a "conservative" political perspective, but before you answer remember this could and probably does work both ways. I'm sure those of you on the political left would be mad if Karl Rove was to speak at a High School assembly that students were forced to attend, with no opposing viewpoints being presented though out the school year?
     
  2. Diggler

    Diggler

    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    1. Of course not.
    2. A classroom should be objective, if a student wants to join a political club or the debate team, they can do that on an extracurricular basis.
     
  3. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    "Schools are THERE to educate"

    Interesting to note that this is one with the most votes.
     
  4. Marlat

    Marlat

    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Can you explain the difference between education and indoctrination and how it differs from say, the selective history that is taught in high schools. Clearly learning about "white" American history 85% of the time and spending 15% on African American or Native American or, for that matter, European history, is a form of ethnocentric indoctrination. It seems to me, some kind of politicfal indoctrination is okay, or at least, you havent taken issue with it in your post, and others are not. Where do you draw the line?

    For that matter, some would argue teaching established, but unproven, scientific theories like evolution are also a form of indoctrination. What do you think about those?
     
  5. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Mark,

    I would draw the line by basically saying that my state and school district tells me what I have to teach and what book(s) I have to teach it from. Injecting one's own opinion beyond that is probably what Burk is referring to. BTW, in social studies we've spent quite a bit of time on native americans and hispanic history and culture. I wouldn't say it's slanted to teach a majority of white history. When we studied about the battle of the Alamo they had sections that gave fictional diary entries from the viewpoints of both an alamo soldier and a mexican soldier.

    When my class brings up something controversial (they are 4th graders but it still happens occasionally) I usually let them discuss it and flesh it out and if one of them doesn't hit on one of the main arguments for or against something I'll often throw it out there whether I believe it or not just so they can hear all sides.

    bc
     
  6. Indroctination in an educational setting, of ANY kind is unacceptable. Period.

    [Gard pulls out soapbox]

    Well, not to stir a pot here :)D) but - evolution IS a proven fact by scientific standards (I know there are those that dislike it and try to deny it, but it IS). The debate within the scientific community that those outside it and against the idea latch onto and use as "proof it isn't real" is not about evolution itself - any biologist that can tie his shoes without directions is aware of the factual basis of the theory of evolution - but over the mechanisim of evolution, the engine that drives it.

    Those of you that think "theory" means "guess" don't know the scientific definiton of theory, and need to learn it - it isn't the same definiton someone like Mark here would use in a legal sense! A scientific theory is a factual process that we KNOW occurs, but there is still some question over the actual MECHANISM that allows or causes said process - evolution is a prime example of this, another is quantum mechanics.

    Therefore, teaching evolution in school science classes, as a basic fact of biology, is NOT indoctrination. Teaching "intelligent design" in a science class WOULD be indoctrination, as it is not a true scientific theory. You must have a falsifiable, i.e. it can be proven wrong, premise for something to be a true scientific theory, and ID cannot be disproven, evolution COULD BE, but won't be, because it is a fact (totally supported by ALL the evidence found). Now, teaching the idea of ID in a religious studies class, a sociology class, or some kind of class studying social anything, that is not indoctrination, and I don't see it as a problem. Teaching it as an actual scientific theory is complete hogwash.

    [Gard puts soapbox away]

    (PS: I've a feeling this thread is quickly headed to the Lobby :D)

    (PPS: Burk, the correct spelling would be "there" not "their"....;) )
     
  7. Marlat

    Marlat

    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    That doesnt make it any more or less an "indoctrination" - sure, it may not be your opinion, but its someones opinion as to what is an appropriate thing to learn and what balance is put on that.

    I guess the distinction between "education" and "indoctrination" is not that clear cut. In some ways, all "eduction" is "indoctrination" perhaps not as directly as Karl Rove teaching you, but the reality is every text book is written using someones history or perspecive. Hell, don't you have to sing the national anthem each morning (or is it the pledge of allegiance)..that seems like a pretty clear cut case of indoctrination.
     
  8. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Actually in the US with most of the new textbooks the situation is probably reversed. The odds are your going to learn more about Malcolm X then you are about the civil war or the Constitution. I draw the line with "current" political discussions. Those found outside the textbooks, With textbooks their is always the possibility that parents can counter the discussion (they get to see them). But with in class discussion, they are rarely taped and parents many times have little idea what is being fostered on kids.

    As far as presenting the theory of evolution as "prevailing scientific thought" I have no problem with that. As long as a teacher doesn't belittle or punish a student who attempts to present an alternative in a paper or class discussion.

    Like I said before, at the High school level teachers are viewed as "authorities" and bare a special responsibility. Students are very rarely versed in current events, so for a teacher to launch into a tirade against either political side is unacceptable. And for schools to have mandatory assemblies and show things like Fairenheight 9/11, especially with no opposing point of views expressed is a gross injustice to the education of a child. Like I said if Karl Rove was to speak and no alternatives were invited or allowed it would be just as bad.

    Another thing thats rarely discussed is that educational schools (college level) are teaching education as a means of indoctrination. At many education schools their is a new educational discipline, it's called, "teaching math for social justice". Where teachers are taught how to teach "math" to "prepare students to be activist in the cause of social justice around the world". Amongst the topics discussed are "Wal Mart and social justice", "national health care", the "causation of capitalism and world poverty". This in MATH CLASSES! It wouldn't be so bad, but judging from our recent math test scores in the US we probably should add to the subject line "the teaching of social justice in math classes causing the US to become a third world economy". In many of our high schools kids are graduating who know how bad Wal Mart is for "socail justice" but aren't qualified to be cashiers there!:rollno:
     
  9. trog

    trog

    Nov 8, 2003
    Scotland
    This is one thing I've noticed from my few trips to the USA. It seems kids are brought up with a "Yeah! Go USA! We are the best damn country in the world!" mindset. There's nothing wrong with national pride, but it does seem a tad exorbitant to me, coming from the UK culture where we're constantly winging about the state of the country.

    As far as I'm concerned politics has absolutely no place in a school, except perhaps in an English class - where ideas should be discussed, not force fed. Politics also has no place in Off Topic, but I think this thread is walking the line... :bag:
     
  10. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Good post from Gard, there. The fact that organisms evolve is about as much in dispute as the Earth orbiting the sun. I'm pretty sure Mark was using this example in a rhetorical way to ask where we draw the line between what should and should not be taught in schools.
     
  11. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I'm with Mark on this. At some level, there is a political ideology that is shaping the way a person is educated. I can't think of any public schools whose curriculum emphasizes history and cultural study that focuses on the experiences of African-Americans, native Americans or immigrants. Most of these experiences are dealt with in a sidebar manner, a chapter or section in between talking about the comings and goings of white male elites and their international affairs. And while they may indeed be sympathetic to terrible atrocities that occured, the treatment is largely one of those that these are unfortunate but necessary for the advancement of the nation, or the world. At some level, there is indoctrination intrinsic in all education. In order to maintain stability, there needs to be a certain level of reverence instilled in the population.
     
  12. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I feel it worth noting that I, as well as a number of my friends, were punished or belittled for bringing up a "left" point of view in my (and other) high school. However, there was no talk then of including 'alternate viewpoints' into the discussion.
     
  13. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    All history is somewhat flawed, be it American, Australian, European, etc. History is written by the victor and history is written by opinionated human beings who are bound to let some of their own personal biases into the writing. It's just a fact of life. Sure, you can rewrite history, but you'll just be doing it from someone elses perspective. So, by your argument, all history is some form of indoctrination and there's nothing we can do about it.

    Maybe indoctrination was the wrong word. The question seems to be: should teachers and school adminstrators be allowed to use their position of authority to promote their own personal views and beliefs on the students in their charge. Furthermore, if it is allowed, at what age should it begin? I believe that this type of grandstanding has no place in schools when it is performed by those in a position of authority. I consider that an abuse of power and trust placed in the teacher and gives the opinion an air of authority that it doesn't deserve. The teachers should teach the circulium that has been approved by the school and should leave their personal beliefs at the door. In a high-school setting, it seems reasonable for the STUDENTS to be allowed some polital debate and discussion, but the opinions of the teachers and administrators should not be expressed.
     
  14. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Not sure how many times you've been here, but there's plenty of "winging" going on here,too. In many circles, it is considered "uncool" to love and respect your country.

    Then again, we ARE the best country in the world..........:bag:
     
  15. Indoctrination? Never. But frank and thorough political discussion? Hell yes. I was involved in some pretty deep and intelligent discussions about the current political situation back when I was in junior high (96-98) so we were discussing the whole Monica Lewinsky thing. And those discussions were fun and enlightening. Our teacher acted as more of a moderator, and only once let us know what his viewpoint was, and made sure that we understood that it was his opinion, not fact.

    Politics are a major portion of our society, and I see no reason to keep people in the dark about it. Now I think that a 4th grader isn't going to understand the complexities of, say, the situation in Iraq, but I think that they can still be informed as to the fact that there is a conflict here and abroad over what we are doing.

    But we should NEVER allow a teacher to force THEIR opinions on their students, especially when it is under the guise of being fact and not opinion.

    Rock on
    Eric
     
  16. wolfs

    wolfs

    Jan 18, 2006
    nyc
    I like the point that burk brought up to begin this thread (in fact, all the viewpoints expressed have been wonderful); however, the poll seems kinda superfluous... I like the original point of the thread because it presupposes true education is about a multiplicity of views and making intelligent informed decisions.

    In digesting and confronting many different views, we find that issues aren't always in black and white terms (sure, some actions will have to be considered right and wrong in a moral and ethical sense, laws and trial by jury are there to help keep the balance of the order of society, rights of the individual, etc.). Given this complexity, it seems that the poll renders the situation back to a black and white affair... knowledge isn't easily gained, nor should it be. It makes us value it all the more when we've reached some hard fought understanding...

    Just a side thought, really... carry on...
     
  17. wolfs

    wolfs

    Jan 18, 2006
    nyc
    I think that's simplifying things a bit much... or are you talking about militias, terrorists, and revolutionary Marxists?
     
  18. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck

    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    How about wannbe hip and illinformed teens?
     
  19. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI

    Actually all over the country and in most large urban areas their are public Charter schools that are Afro-centric in their approach. And if anything in most of these schools western civilization is a "sidebar". I personally don't have a problem with that because most of the parents chose these schools for their kids. As far as the "white male elites" if you receive college level history/social studies classes thats all you hear about. It amazes me that these "white male elites" who "control everything" keep paying all these college professors to tell the world how bad they are.

    Do you know of any educational system run by "brown elites" that allows similar dissenting viewpoints a similar platform? I don't recall for instance Natan Sharansky or Alexander Solzonetzen ever being given a platform to lecture at let's say, Havana University? The "white male elites" in this country sure give the dissenting "oppressed brown peoples" a loud platform, which is in some cases augmented by a six figure salary for expressing an opposing viewpoint.

    Your assertion that a history that focuses on "African Americans, native Americans or immigrants" is not taught in public High Schools in America shows that you need to get out and read some high school history books. It is just plain false. In fact at the college level, Zinns, "A peoples History of the United States" is the most required college level history book. And Zinn makes no apologies for the fact that the book is slanted. And in fact says, "Objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable.....if you think history should serve society in some way."

    The book by the way is nothing more then a "Marxist tract" and blames the US for EVERY evil that has ever occurred in Modern History including WW I, WW II, the Holocaust, and Communist Aggression which was always a response to the oppressive west. Zinn characterizes Cuba, as having no record of "bloody suppression" and claims the Contra's (winners of a landslide in the Jimmy Carter supervised first election in Nicaragua) "had no Public support". In his book he makes no mention of the Wright Brothers, Jonas Salk, or Alexander Graham Bell but he devotes whole chapters to Joan Baez and the Berrigan Brothers. Amongst his false claims are "George Washington was the richest american", and "Unemployment grew during the Reagan years" He fails to mention Washington's Farewell Address, Lincoln's Gettysburg address, and Reagans "Tear down this wall speech". Zinn, is a self proclaimed Stalinist and his book is also required reading for most educational schools.
     
  20. Woodchuck

    Woodchuck

    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Your post on history reminds me of the time I was helping my neice with her homework, and her American History book read, and I quote: "The Africans were brought over to help build the country." Oh really?! :eyebrow: The words "slave" or "enslavement" were mentioned nowhere in the chapter.
     

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