We’ve all heard it said, and maybe even said it ourselves: “I don’t want to tell my kids what to think, but how to think.”
Is that possible? What is indoctrination, and is it always bad?
Indoctrination has a negative connotation in society today, but what if that’s only so parents refrain from teaching their kids so that the schools can fill in for them?
How can you learn to think without having knowledge with which to think? What if indoctrination is necessary precisely for learning how to think?
Listen to the podcast:
Teaching, Thinking, & Indoctrination
has been indoctrinated to think California is a great place to live.
now lives in the indoctrination capital of the reformed world.
wants to indoctrinate us all to believe exercise is fun.
Scholé Everyday: What We’re Reading
Foundations of Christian Education, Berkhof & VanTil
Mystie is finally reading an education book that’s been on her shelf for over a decade and wondering why she waited so long because it’s so, so good!
Church History in Plain Language, Bruce Shelley
Abby is reading this with her teens for school.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein
Brandy is rounding out her distopian category for the year with a libertarian take.
What does it mean to indoctrinate?
Doctrine means teaching, so indoctrinatation means to teach. So indoctrination is education in the strictest sense. Indoctrination is to give an idea to someone else.
Formerly also endoctrinate, 1620s, “to teach,” formed as if from Latin (but there seems to have been no word *indoctrinare), perhaps modeled on French endoctriner or extended from earlier (now obsolete) verb indoctrine, endoctrine, “to instruct” (mid-15c.); see in- (2) “in” + doctrine + -ate (2)). Meaning “to imbue with an idea or opinion” first recorded 1832. Related: Indoctrinated; indoctrinating.The Dictionary
The resistance we feel with the world indoctrination is that a part of indoctrination can be imbuing someone with opinions
Doctrine refers to the fundamental principles of a field of knowledge, so in one sense, we should be firmly committed to giving our children doctrine. Each person should not have to start from scratch to discover the fundamentals. Part of giving our children their inheritance is giving them the doctrines we also have received.
The word can also mean, particularly now,
But archaically, the word did not include the “uncritically” part.
Taking a position is mandatory
We don’t really have the capacity to think unless we have material to think about, unless we have ideas to consider.
In Norms and Nobility, Hicks discusses teaching dogma – held beliefs or doctrines – as a positive and necessary thing for dialectic education.
To teach and learn dialectically, one must take a position. Only by taking a position can you begin to see another perspective. With no commitment to an idea, you can’t actually understand someone else’s commitment.
How to we raise critical thinkers?
The current emphasis on critical thinking is actually an emphasis of skepticism. Students are told to begin with a blank slate, with doubt, and from that they will discover their own truth.
It’s an emphasis on information coming from analysis rather than the Charlotte Mason and classical approach of knowledge coming from connections and synthesis, which requires a foundation, a starting place.