Monday, September 7, 2009

Before They Can Even Think....

It has been announced that Obama plans on addressing a special speech to students on September 8th, Tuesday. There seems to have been quite an upset over this, so much so that some are calling that day to be a national "Keep Your Kids Home Day". The charge being leveled is that this address amounts to indoctrination, but is it?

First, let us make our terms clear. Indoctrination is the process of instructing a person in a doctrine or an ideology. While this definition is harmless enough and does not set off any alarms, it is the who that it applies to that matters. If one were to indoctrinate, say, a thinking adult, then that would be fine as he would possess the capability to critically assess what he is being presented with and would be able to reject or accept it accordingly. A young child that has not learned how to think, however, is an inappropriate target for indoctrination as he cannot properly do a critical evaluation of the information before him, and will therefore have few other options than to accept the presented doctrine on faith.

The proper function of a school is to train a child in how to use his mind. Certainly the intellectual content is very important in that training, but the intellectual method holds primacy. Instruct a child in the proper methods of gathering data and thinking and you will have a child that will continue learn throughout the entirety of his lifetime, as opposed to the kids today who are being instructed in brute memorization and coming out of schools explicitly stating they hate learning.

Also, how morally bad a particular case of indoctrination in a school is to be regarded depends on what level of schooling is being considered. On a college campus the students should have developed to the point where they at least *should* have had some basic instruction in proper thinking methods, so indoctrination in a college classroom should be considered in bad taste rather morally wrong. In an elementary school, however, it is to be considered morally despicable. Indoctrination at that age is not to be considered wrong merely because it may happen against a parent's consent or because it may enforce unjustified prejudice, but because doing so hinders the minds of the children. Since they do not possess the ability at that age to rationally think about the doctrine they are being presented with, they have few other choices but to accept it on irrational grounds and thereby learn methods of non-thinking which could hinder or stunt the growth of their mind for the rest of their life. To fail to teach a child how to learn is the most condemnable failure any teacher could allow to happen.

Now, what evidence do we have that Obama may be presenting a speech which is a shielded attempt to indoctrinate students? First, we have evidence directly from official White House sponsored documents. From the prek-6 PDF file listed under the heading "Classroom Activities" in the link presented above:

During the Speech

  • As the president speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note‐taking graphic organizer such as a “cluster web;” or, students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children could draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:

What is the president trying to tell me?

What is the president asking me to do?

What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about?

  • Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes, or place notes on a butcher‐paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, such as citizenship, personal responsibility, and civic duty.

  • Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:

What do you think the president wants us to do?

Does the speech make you want to do anything?

Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?

What would you like to tell the president?
[All emphasis is mine except for bold on heading above bulleted list]

As Michelle Malkin has noted, this has a rather heavy activist type of wording to it, especially that which I have put in bold. Why should an American President be telling anyone to "do" anything? Given the nature of a proper government, it is highly inappropriate that he instruct children in "civic duty".

But we still have yet more evidence. Take into consideration this four minute video, which some schools have already showed in classrooms (although not at the behest of the Department of Education):

The use of celebrities in this video indicates that it is directed at the youthful crowd. Many of the pledges made in this video are obviously tinged with politics, and the last portion where they state "I pledge to be a servant to our president and all mankind" in unison drips of the philosophical doctrine of altruism and of slavery.

So, to conclude, yes, the probability is that Obama is going to use his address as a means of indoctrination. Regardless of whether or not one thinks the content of Obama's ideas is true, it is still not proper to present them in this format, let alone present them at all, to children.

Furthermore, this would not be proper no matter which President wished to do it and what his intentions were. It is not the job of the government to instruct its citizenry, using involuntarily extracted funding (taxes) from which the original owners may not approve of its usage.

What of opting out?, one may ask now. Surely if a parent disapproves of a certain activity he can submit his refusal and have the educators accommodate with an alternative activity. Not in all cases, states Michelle Malkin:

Reader Ernest emails a link to the notice on the Broward County FL school district site, which informs parents that they cannot opt their kids out of the president’s speech on Tuesday because the administrators are committed to “encouraging civics education in the broadest sense.”

Who controls your kids?

This amounts to physical coercion in public schools. It is a law that children must receive education in some form, whether it is via home schooling or attending an educational facility. Taxes for education may make it so that parents cannot afford to home school their children, as they may have to work, nor afford to send them to a private school, so the government forcibly limits their options down to government-run public schools.

Let us call it then: Tuesday shall officially be Keep Your Kids Home Day.

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