History (3): The Great Indoctrination Tool

A big criticism that I hear thrown at both strict religious observance and homeschooling is that “parents are indoctrinating these poor children with their misguided beliefs.  Thank God for public schools that keep religion, bigotry, and racism out and offer truth and logic.”  Most of these same critics do not realize the hypocrisy of their own statements.

What they are really saying is that they don’t want parents indoctrinating their own children to believe in God, because the critics want to indoctrinate the children to not believe in God.  And most people are completely oblivious to the indoctrination that goes in most schools, public and private.

History classes and textbooks are the greatest tools of indoctrination in the United States.  First of all there are millions of errors in history texts; you can find a sample of those in the wonderful book Lies My Teacher Told Me.  And then every event and person is portrayed in the simplest and most black and white terms.  There is no room for complexity.  Furthermore, history textbooks strive to be so “politically correct” and patriotic that they skew details, so as not to offend.  And of course, the children don’t know that they’re being fed a big carton of bologna.

Erin at bearing blog offered this post about how she was setting up history instruction for next year.  One of the key things that struck me is when she wrote:

It is my job to teach children that reasonable people can and do disagree.  I like to point out the existence of, and the reasons for, a tension between two political ideals, and make sure that the children are able to articulate the basic arguments of both “ends.”

Her family co-schools two days a week with two other families who have different religious backgrounds and sometimes differing political and philosophical ideas.  She goes on to describe how she doesn’t expect the kids to form their own opinions yet, but she wants them to be able to understand both points of view so that down the road they can make an informed conclusion of their own.

This is not something you are going to find in most history textbooks or classes.  Depending on the text and/or the teacher, there will be a right side and a wrong side, a smart side and a stupid side, the moral side and the evil side.  Children are rarely given the whole truth but just the truth that the schools want them to hear; schools act as the Ministry of Truth and history class is their greatest tool of indoctrination.  In the hands of homeschoolers, it can be the greatest tool in teaching children how to think and not just what to think.

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5 Comments on “History (3): The Great Indoctrination Tool”

  1. Kelly Says:

    I think it is also a great opportunity to point out how wording can subtly influence how you perceive the subject. Such as the example I gave to you from our history encyclopedia where Muhammed received a revelation to found Islam, but Jesus’s apostles founded Christianity after his death, and no mention is made of the claim to divinity.

  2. Kibrika Says:

    I strongly disagree with the second paragraph 🙂 Wanting people to be taught logic and not be indoctrinated in one faith is not the same as wanting to indoctrinate them in not believing in God. (Lenin did that, I think. That turned out very bad.)

    And I’m not at all sure that public schools do not indoctrinate children (in Christianity in some places, something else – elsewhere).

    I greatly respect that you teach your daughters about other religions too. I would have an even greater respect if at a reasonable age you’d let them choose what religion (or non – religion) they wish to practice.

  3. barboo77 Says:

    As long as my daughter is under my care, it is my responsibility to raise her as a Christian Catholic or I will have to answer to God for it one day. However, I have made it very clear to her that one day she will have to decide for herself. She will have to make that commitment to God of her own free will, perhaps multiple times.

    Of course, the assumption is that logic and strict religious observance are mutually exclusive. And most of the ardent atheists I have known in real life or on the internet have been as intent on saving poor souls from “their own stupidity” as many religious folk who feel it is their duty to convert the unbelievers to Christ.

    My argument is that schools not only indoctrinate to their own purposes, but they are very rarely places where truth or logic are taught. As the great Paul Simon once wrote, “When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”

  4. Kibrika Says:

    That’s why I don’t mind you being a Christian. You are one of the wise ones.

    Still, from what I’ve read, there are far less fanatic atheists than there are religious fanatics.

    And it’s hard for me to see how atheists curriculum (with science, logic and hopefully wide cultural education) can hurt a person who wishes later in life to believe in God of his or her own will. But I can see that in some cases being brought up believing in God can make it hard to chose to stop believing or changing beliefs.

    As a general rule I think public schools do a poor job of educating, but I do agree that in some cases a public school is better than no.

    Not in your case though, from what I’ve read, you take great care to educate your daughters way better than a public school would.

  5. Mstr Rick Says:

    Take a look at what they are teaching us in Texas. It’s disturbing and no one seems to mind?

    http://mstrrick.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/indoctrination-in-college-texts/


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