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Education vs. Indoctrination

A surprising number of people (some of whom are even educators by profession) don’t seem to understand the difference between education and indoctrination. While at times indoctrination may be used to educate, the fact is that they are two very different things.

Education is a process of teaching people things. Indoctrination is something which may or may not be used as part of that process. Indoctrination is a particular type of education… usually a pretty poor form of education. The simple way of saying this is that education is the process of educating people about how to think while indoctrination is the technique used to tell people what to think. When schools tell children to memorize facts, they are using a sort of form of indoctrination in the process of education. But then students are usually encouraged to ask questions about those facts and perhaps even question the facts themselves. This is where indoctrination ends and thinking begins.

I bring up this topic, because religion is notorious for using indoctrination and in criticizing education or at the very least thinking that their indoctrination is education. When people go to a religious house of worship, they are told to repeat the words from the holy book, or to recite from something that someone else has prepared. There are no questions asked about the material, because religion has no answers.

Fundamental religious believers are also notorious for home-schooling their children. This isn’t to say that all fundamentalists home-school, but I am saying that if you home-school, you are probably a religious fundamentalist. There are of course some exceptions. The thing about home-schooling is that it is very easy to get into indoctrination mode. This is especially true with religious home-schoolers.

Science doesn’t have all the answers, but science is also aware of what answers they have and what answers they don’t have. Also, all of science is open to questions and re-evaluations. In short, science encourages education and critical thinking which religion does not. Religion claims to know the answers, but can’t justify those answers with any evidence at all. Religion discourages questioning one’s faith and when people do question religious faith they are called “bigots” or “intolerant.”

When religion tries to answer questions about their faith, they usually do so dogmatically with arguments which had been refuted centuries past. When religion is called out on this and exposed, religion always falls back to blind faith which is a way of shutting down questions and critical thinking. It is a way of maintaining the indoctrination.

There is a big difference between religion and reality and that is the difference is how we know things. Religion uses indoctrination while science and other reality based disciplines encourage critical thinking and questioning as part of the education process.


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  • Robb

    While I agree with the general premise, theme and details of the blog, I would, however, point out that not everyone choosing to home school their children is a religious fundamentalist. I and a number of other parents who have children with Asperger’s or other low grade learning disabilities are opting to home school rather than see our children’s needs repeatedly ignored as special needs programs are eliminated in the public education system. No child left behind?

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I agree with you Robb. I too know parents of children with Asperger’s who home-school. I did say in the article that there are of course exceptions to the Fundamentalist home-schooling rule.

    • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

      I have Asperger’s and I went to a public school my whole life and then did college. I had a special class my first two years, then it was normal school. Whenever I find out someone is being home schooled, I assume it is because they want them to never learn evolution. There are two families I know in the small town I now live in that home schooled kids and I encouraged rivalry with my siblings because of it.

      However, public schools need to focus more on people with Asperger’s since the syndrome produces people like Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, Issac Newton, and Albert Einstein. I think Michael Jackson can be added to that list after a discussion I had in an aspie group just moments ago.

      Society focuses too much on certain things. I didn’t major in science because I don’t like the process one must go thru to be a scientist. They teach mimicry rather than creativity. Screw APA format, that’s just a system designed to keep an aspie down. All teachings in college are indoctrination into certain ideas like how they made me pro-business for the longest time when I majored in management. They encourage questioning and thinking but not enough. Education is a process of teaching people in a certain way while ignoring others who have differently learning styles. I managed to get thru but not everyone can. I still have yet to get a real job due to inability to social network properly.

  • Ryan

    Definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVI4kzoZmy0

  • http://www.finalsolution88.com Renegade

    when I was in school, the lady who was supposed to teach my English class usually turned the lesson into bible study. It pissed me off, as I was a practicing pagan. she would make comments like “you should believe hell is a literal burning place” and she kept a bible in her podium, and she did not like me when I complained about religious persecution.
    This is why I home-school, to teach kids about science and reading and have fun. schooling should be fun, and not that half-assed attempt some schools make. kids should enjoy learning, and that means having discussions where peoples personal opinions are heard and not attacked, but politely agreed or disagreed with by peers.
    also, real experiments like throwing bowling balls at the trampoline can be fun.