Critical Thinking v Indoctrination

Much has been written, editorialized, studied, blogged, tweeted etc. about education in this country. On both sides of the political and ideological aisle there are complaints. However the complaints vary. The left bemoans how underfunded public schools are and how conservatives are taking tax dollars meant for public schools and diverting them to private schools, which they claim have better outcomes. The right complains we spend too much on public schools, we’re throwing money at them with little return on the investment. You can see how these complaints go hand in hand with each other to represent different problems.

I have my Masters in Educational Leadership and I take a keen interest in the politics of education. As a former Young Republican, I once bought into the argument that private schools were better and parents should have “choice” in to where to send them. However as I matured, observed, reasoned, studied, compared and contrasted the situation I came to see that I was wrong. The focus in this blog posting boils down to development of Critical Thinking which is favored by the left to that of Indoctrination which I will show is clearly what’s favored by the Right although they claim it’s a product of “Liberal Thinking”.

in·doc·tri·na·tion: NOUN The process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically:

“I would never subject children to religious indoctrination” · archaic teaching; instruction: “methods that were approved for indoctrination in divinity”

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and there are several different definitions which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis or evaluation of factual evidence.

You will hear pundits from the Right complain that Liberal Universities and public schools are centers of indoctrination steering children away from the moral teachings of the Church. That is a very interesting argument to make in light of the fact that Church and Parochial Schools are designed to indoctrinate students into the religious teachings and beliefs of the Churches that run them.

Public schools as part of their overall curriculum once promoted Critical Thinking as part of the subject matter. Critical thinking requires the student to look beyond the historic dates and events, the simple formulas used to determine mathematical equations or chemical compounds. Critical thinking requires not taking facts at face value. Critical Thinking requires reasoning relationships between events, how and why did they occur. What more can be gleamed from what is known, where is it heading and why? Critical thinking requires looking at multiple variables and see how those variables may or may not impact what is considered to work.

Indoctrination is what the Right has been trying to introduce into Public Education, and they have been very successful. By sending tax dollars to private schools (that unlike public schools can deny any student they don’t want) and hold students to a strict curriculum of indoctrination, they defund public schools who in turn struggle to hire qualified teachers who can take the time to help students learn to think for themselves. Further, conservatives have been taking over School Boards to implement curriculum to their liking and eliminates any concept of Critical Thinking.

Conservatives prefer Indoctrination because it simply tells students what they say the facts are. They’re told to memorize them but don’t question them. It goes to Religious indoctrination where they want you to know your Bible or Torah or Quran but not question what they say or religious leaders’ interpretation of what they say. If there are inconsistencies in verses, if something seems far-fetched don’t bother questioning it. Take it as a matter of faith. To question “doctrine” is heresy. This is the opposite of Critical Thinking. (If you didn’t catch it, doctrine is the root word for indoctrination and that word has almost an entirely religious connotation.)

In 2012 conservative school boards in both Texas and Arizona began programs rejecting critical thinking being used in public schools. In Arizona the issue was that they didn’t want expanded thinking regarding Latino history and Latino issues in Arizona Public Schools. The opponents to critical thinking were clear they didn’t want White History blurred with other perspectives. In Texas they didn’t want history books discussing slavery from the perspective of the slaves. They didn’t want students expanding their minds to consider what slavery was really about, how it came to exist, the problems it created and the problems that continue to this day from its history.

Conservatives want students to only learn what they need to learn to pass standardize testing and nothing that interferes with White religious doctrine. You will hear conservatives complain about Liberal schools “indoctrinating students to not believe in Christian values and morals”. The true indoctrination in the Public Schools has been in implementing as part of curriculum religious based education that can’t be proven, like intelligent design, Bible events are real history, etc. It’s in the Bible so trust us, it happened and it’s true, use you faith.

Studies have shown that conservatives prefer order, a hierarchy, a clear set of beliefs based on religious doctrine. Sorry folks, that is indoctrination and that holds people accountable to leadership and dissuades anyone from questioning validity of what they’re being told and contemplating other causes for why things are the way they are. Liberals want people to learn the facts, but to keep learning and if possible come up with their own answers based on observations and studies. Using liberal thought as a basis of education makes it inherently difficult to hold people to a single view or belief because everything is always in flux. However, this is the only way we learn, grow and advance as a society.

When I was 18 years old beginning my college career I was a Young Republican at ASU. I attended the meetings which were of course very orderly and designed to indoctrinate us into the truth of conservative thought and ideology. Problem for me was my studies in Sociology and Social History placed a high emphasis on Critical Thinking. My college education taught me not to take anything at face value while my membership in the Young Republicans essentially told me “hey trust us, we’re right. You’ll understand later”.

I registered as a Republican in the Red State of Arizona when I turned 18. I had the honor of meeting Barry Goldwater in person when he came to a Young Republican meeting and I’ll admit there was some hero worship with him being a native Arizonan like myself and running for President. All those years later as I matured, observed, studied, reasoned and used my Critical Thinking Skills I no longer take conservative views at face value because today’s views from the Right simply don’t make sense on analysis, they don’t add up. Despite that, I’m still a registered Republican, I just don’t vote for Republicans who take positions I find contrary to what is needed to govern all the people fairly and consistently. That has of course meant I haven’t voted for a Republican in a General Election since 2004.

The Right say the Left are the ones using indoctrination. However, telling students to question facts, dwell more, question authority, don’t take things at face value is the opposite of indoctrination. The right projects the concept of indoctrination on the left despite the indisputable fact that it’s how they maintain control. They oppose critical thinking in public schools and colleges/universities because like me, you start to use your mind, the indoctrination you underwent in years past begin to fade away.

The Right fears true education because the well educated person who effectively uses Critical Thinking is less likely to fall for what the Right Wing says. Thus they’re working more and more to implement strict rightwing indoctrination in Public Schools and make College/University out of reach for most Americans. Over the past 30 years they’ve been very successful which is why the Republicans have the power and influence they have today. Fewer Americans think for themselves anymore, they take what Republicans say on faith.

Whether it’s believing a three time married adulterer President who is on tape boasting he can as a celebrity grab pussy whenever he wants and has walked in on naked teenagers changing for a pageant is a devout moral Christian, or a man who admits as a 30 year old hung out at the Mall trying to hook up with 14, 15 and 16 year old girls and was then banned from that mall is also a devout moral Christian, or believing that a third major stab at huge corporate and 1% tax cuts will finally trickledown despite the fact the last two time led to recession. You will trust the lies the GOP tells you because over the past 30 years, you’ve been indoctrinated.

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