Indoctrination

From Academic Kids

The word indoctrination has accumulated negative connotations over the past century. As a result, it is difficult to distinguish it from education, without raising genuine issues of controversy, and some spurious ones too, for no one wants to be informed that they are indoctrinated. Expressions like "common sense" show us how thoroughly indoctrinated we all are. Expressions like religious instruction demonstrate how the word indoctrination is commonly avoided.

Often the context in which indoctrination is criticized is one that would generally be identified by Americans as "leftist" and by Europeans as "centrist:" Noam Chomsky has been quoted saying, "For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of 'brainwashing under freedom' to which we are subjected and which all too often we serve as willing or unwitting instruments."

Indoctrination is not pejorative, though if it could be demonstrated to be so, then the term would become discommended, and if enough educated people agreed, then perhaps discussion of its nature would also become forbidden. The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual defines indoctrination as "the initial security instructions/briefing given a person prior to granting access to classified information." Set within the contexts of religion, this would serve perfectly as a definition of the preparation for receiving secret arcane knowledge not generally available to the world-at-large, a preparation that is a prerequisite for initiation into any mystery religion. Compare entries for Gnosticism or Mormons or Catechism.

Another serviceable partial definition, drawn from the website of The Henry Wise Wood High School [1] (http://schools.cbe.ab.ca/b836/curriculum/social/socialgloss.html) is "To teach systematically partisan ideas— propaganda." This definition opens the most basic difference between indoctrination and education: indoctrination teaches the doctrina that structures a subject, as observed from within, whereas educatio literally "leads out" from a subject, one that is being dispassionately observed from without.

At Princeton the Cognitive Science Laboratory's "WordNet 2.0" defines "indoctrination" as "teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically." [2] (http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn). However, an indoctrinating organization or person, like the notorious cult leader Jim Jones may sometimes be open for criticism and even encourage questioning, or at least pretend to be so. [3] (http://employees.oneonta.edu/downinll/mass_suicide.htm) The faculty of critical assessment of information is essential to education and the enemy of indoctrination.

No human being is perfectly rational, dispassionate and neutrally skeptical so everybody is vulnerable to indoctrination. But most of the aims and techniques of indoctrination may still be assessed.

The subtle effects of a highly indoctrinated environment may rise unexpectedly to the surface in examining a culturally-freighted term such as "knee-jerk skeptic": the hearer recognizes immediately the cognate expression "knee-jerk liberal", describing a person considered to be thoughtlessly and inappropriately liberal, instinctively and on all occasions. Then the sub-text presents itself: it has been assumed, conversely, that there also exist subjects in which a skeptic analysis is inappropriate. Education teaches that skepticism is always appropriate. Indoctrination forbids inappropriate examinations.

In a similar way, however, such logical conclusions, proceeding from the defined meanings of words, may be classed as "opinion" and dismissed.

See also

External Link

nl:indoctrinatie pl:Indoktrynacja

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