Indoctrination Is Not Education
(Part 4 in our Cancel Culture Series)
By Judie Brown
From early infancy and throughout our lives, education has long been an integral part of our days. In fact, if we are blessed with an ability to learn, and the tools are put at our disposal to be educated, there is no limit to the knowledge one can attain. But the key word in this process is education.
In today’s politically charged climate, education has suffered immensely in many areas, not the least of which is the thin line drawn between educating and indoctrinating students. To combat this rise in skewed forms of so-called education, parents have formed Instagram sites that seek to mobilize parents in ways that will rebuke the current drive toward “the edgy, new educational materials [that] indoctrinate pupils with identity politics and leftist ideology, and leave no room for discussion.”
Will Reusch, a teacher with 14 years of experience educating children, has sounded an alarm that should call us to attention immediately. He writes: “The lack of humility on the part of educators, when it comes to teaching students about cultural, religious, political, viewpoint, and ideological diversity, has resulted in a climate that stifles learning. While all of these components are important, in recent years, the need for an understanding of political diversity has become the most salient.”
We know this is true simply based on the fact that most young people today not only have no problem with aborting babies but find phony concepts of choice preferable to accepting responsibility for their actions. And while we might think that public opinion polls on such matters are often skewed, we do know that what they are learning in school does not affirm the ethics and moral values once held dear in our society.
- One of the goals of education should be to prepare students for the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Fostering the ability to think about complex and controversial issues from a variety of perspectives, with an eye towards problem-solving, is a necessary part of that process.
- Modeling respectful discourse has to start early if it is to become internalized. K – 12 students need to observe their instructors articulating and defending various positions and exhibiting genuine and thoughtful curiosity about views different from their own. Moreover, students should see that the ability to reason through an argument and the demonstration of curiosity are desirable and valuable traits to have.
Taking his recommendations and comparing them to the principles of pro-life education according to the wisdom of Aquinas provides a valuable starting point. If we truly want to address education at any level in order to make it better, we must shine a light on the reasons why young people today are being treated like blind mice instead of human beings with minds capable of critical thinking.
One insight worthy of consideration comes from the Culture of Life Studies Program’s Mary Kizior, who wrote:
St. Thomas [Aquinas] recognized that education was good, but only if it was used to serve others. Education must focus on formation as well as evangelization. If we want to end abortion, we know that we have to start changing people’s hearts and minds and enlighten them with the truth that abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. Education, if done correctly, not only informs a person about human dignity, it also inspires positive action to correct the injustices in society.
Education that does not inform but propagandizes according to a political agenda denies young people the ability to use their minds. When education informs and is guided by truth, great things occur. When it doesn’t, disaster awaits.
This is why indoctrination can never be a substitute for education.
Read more in this series: Cancel Culture