When I look back at my school days, I can’t say I look back at them fondly. I wasn’t great in Kindergarten, finding myself and what it was like to be in school and around so many kids. I had been in a sort of preschool, but it wasn’t like it is today and I scarcely remember it. Kindergarten for me was only a half-day but for kids who are not used to being gone that long, it’s hard. Leaving home, getting on a bus, going away, it’s all traumatic. It’s part of growing up and being educated, but it is hard. Hard on kids and families.
I didn’t love Kindergarten though.
My strongest memory was getting in trouble for talking when the teacher was talking and having to sit in the corner with a literal dunce cap on. It wasn’t a great way to handle that situation. I am sure, there are many, many out there who will laugh and say – that’s how it should be handled. These are people who feel that force is a better tool for teaching than empathy. These are people I don’t really try to interact with a lot. That whole, spare the rod and spoil the child jive is nonsense. It’s carrying forward something from our past, when force seemed the only way to deal with an unruly, dangerous world. Sure, it can work, but it works in a way that it works for, say, a dog. You stop that behavior because you are afraid of being taught that ‘lesson’ again. You are afraid of punishment. Fear is a teacher, yes, but it’s not a good one, because the lessons it teaches you are not to do that ‘thing’, sure, but it also teaches you to stop trusting, to stop being yourself, and to curb your behavior for fear of further reprisal. And again, I am sure there are those who say GOOD! These are people though who use God as a weapon, threatening their wrath and their judgment, and not espousing their love and forgiveness.
In a way it’s telling about the kind of person you are – do you believe in a wrathful god or a forgiving
For some reason we have convinced ourselves that abuse and meanness are how you make good citizens. How you make good people.
You may make ‘obedient’ people but you don’t make healthy ones.
Besides, I thought we were sorta founded on our rebellious spirit?
I liked elementary school pretty well. I mean, I never liked school really, but I had a lot of friends, and I remember school trips, and movie days, and holidays, and Field Day, and while I still struggled, I did OK. I was always struggling, now that I look back. I had a lot of issues. I ended up in Speech Class for a little while, a separate class in my first/second grade era, because I was having trouble saying some letters. It was a nurturing environment, and I adored the teacher. The older I got though the more I seemed to struggle. I had teachers who looked out for me, but the older I got the more trouble I had it seemed. Everything came to a head in middle school and beyond, where I had an invisible sort of breakdown and pulled away from a lot of my friends and started skipping a LOT of school.
A LOT of school.
I still harbor deep regrets and issues with the Hell I put my mom through because we had to hide my absences from my dad, and it got so bad I never wanted to go to school at all. I was dealing with anger issues, with depression, with self-hate, and the ship of me was starting to tip to the side. Things came to a head in high school, when there had to be an intervention to save me and my education. The guidance counselor got involved and I was given a lot of tests and ended up in Special Education for emotional issues in tenth grade. I had to see a counselor. I was in SpEd for half of my day. It saved my life, but the issues were still there.
My father was enraged that I had ended up in SpEd and had been doing so poorly in school.
My mom was worried about me.
I was a suicidal teen trying to find my place in a world that didn’t seem to fit. I was bullied. I felt isolate. The closest friend I had moved away for two grades. I got into an offsite art program that was part of a ‘skill center’ where you learned a trade. The instructor made very clear he did not want me there and didn’t think I was any sort of artist.
It was a hard time.
But I survived.
None of that is to try to garner any sort of sympathy, but to set the table, in a very longwinded way.
It is so very easy for adults to forget how formative our educational years are for us and so easy to sit in an office and rage against faulty perceptions of ‘indoctrination’ and ‘wokeness’ and I wonder if we see the damage we do with that language and attitude.
I wonder if we care.
For me, it wasn’t until I was in college that I got my bearings, learned more about myself, learned about the world, and finally started trusting my voice.
My emotional issues didn’t go away.
The bullying didn’t fully go away – though for me the bully was a professor or two.
I learned though that the world was better, and wider than just high school and that changed everything.
I am nearly fifty now and I can tell you that I cannot recall ever being ‘indoctrinated’. The closest I can say I came to that was being in a Philosophy of Religion class where the professor glossed over world religions to get to Christianity and insisted that ‘there’s no atheist in a fox hole’.
Sure, there aren’t.
Indoctrination is not a new buzz word, but it’s a common one these days, paired with the idea of ‘woke’ schools and somehow infecting modern kids with, what empathy?
What’s funny is they throw all these words around and don’t seem to tell you what they’re afraid of.
THEY’LL BECOME COMMUNISTS!
Do kids even know or care about socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures enough in their formative years to understand or care about that stuff?
THEY’LL BECOME GAY!
Does anyone REALLY believe that’s how homosexuality works?
Is that a thing?
If it is, then, I dunno what to say.
I literally don’t.
THEY’LL BECOME FEMINISTS OR BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Well, I mean, so they’ll care about women’s rights or the rights of Black people? And that’s a bad thing. I get it, again, that’s a modern buzz word topic where cartoon people are shown jumping up and down and burning things and wearing vagina hats but, I mean, I guess I’ll take that to people shouting at cars as they hold pictures of dead fetuses trying to force me to feel like I have a right to tell a woman whether she wants to be a mother or not.
Sign me up for BLM and FEMINISM.
THEY’LL BECOME LIBERALS!
Again, do kids even care?
They learn though, from us.
As we storm school board meetings and threaten teachers and administrators who are trying to keep the kids safe.
Storming in and causing scenes as they demand books be banned.
Marching against schools who don’t do what a handful of parents want.
We are destroying public education with the idea of sending everyone to private school where they can legally be indoctrinated and fed lies and agendas while those that can’t afford it get left behind.
All of this is particularly funny to me because I don’t think most teachers want to dig into the quagmire that comes with ‘WAKING’ kids. They are stressed out, underpaid, and they are consistently badgered by parents who think their kid is a special angel who deserves all the magic things they want without any of the work and struggle that other kids go through. We have these helicopter parents who hover around enough to obsess over their kid living up to some sort of invisible standard but not so much that they want to help them achieve their goals. What’s funny is most of us went through a similarly broken system, and while it has its issues, did many of us, back then declare – I FEEL INDOCTRINATED? No. We felt overwhelmed, sure, but not so much indoctrinated. And sure, as one recalls abuse in the past years later, you could look back and declare that you HAD been indoctrinated, is that really the case, or did you just paint it that way, the way we paint that waitress that smiles at us and calls us ‘hon’ as wanting to bed us.
Here’s some hard truth, friend – indoctrination happens at home, at churches, and with our peers. Now, I am SURE that out there somewhere there are teachers who are trying to force their worldview on kids, good or ill, but overall, seriously, schools don’t have the funding or the ability to focus on trying to pass tests AND indoctrinate kids. The indoctrination happens in churches where preachers tell you how to vote and preach the world and not the Bible. Indoctrination is when our parents scream about THEM and THOSE and consistently rage about this person or that person, instilling in us a hidden layer of distrust and hate for people we haven’t even met. Indoctrination happens when our friends try to push us, to pull us, and to force us into being like them. We call it peer pressure but it’s still indoctrination and we can’t act like we all haven’t been privy to it.
The American education system is a fragmented and cracked mess that has had patches applied and has had changes made ad hoc without any thought as to how it all works together. Instead of just taking time to find the best way to educate kids we change it with the winds. It differs by state. It differs by national leadership. It differs by era. The book companies make the slightest of changes to try to sell more books. The educators try to keep up with bleeding edge trends. The politicians target isolated things that are against their talking point and try to make it out as if that one thing will tear down our country.
We push kids.
We pull kids.
We change things up on them without any explanation as to why.
We force our own fractured dreams and goals on them.
We tell them to enjoy childhood while telling them to not be lazy and to get jobs and to do chores and to grow up.
We make it out as if their dances and proms are like child weddings and we fetishize them that way.
But wait, who is it that is grooming kids?
We throw parties for them and get them alcohol, just so long as they drink it at home!
We expect teachers to teach our children, to look after our children, to encourage and engage them, to make sure they are fed, to make sure they are doing their work, to keep them safe from harm, and to become the leaders of tomorrow.
We expect teachers to do the things that not even every parent will do.
YET, we tell them they are evil and wrong and groomers and indoctrinators!
We tell them to hide their sexuality, and their race, and their religion because it will scar those fragile minds that can watch as parents fight, drink, swear, or rage against a world they don’t feel reflects what they feel.
These are people who don’t want kids EDUCTATED but INDOCTRINATED into their beliefs. They want their kids to be robots that do as they are told, that become what they are told, and who will parrot the world views of their parents. They want them to hate on command and to preach the gospel of a book few of them even seem to grasp.
How often do you hear how TERRIBLE teens are and how HARD middle schoolers are but how CUTE babies are?
We love babies because, well, they’re cute, but they can also only do what we let them do.
It’s once a kid start trying to find themselves and what the world is about that we get angry because the world is vastly bigger than we realize and full of ideas and dreams we can’t even imagine.
School is such a hard place for kids. It’s such a hard time. We expect them to deal with their own emotions and hormones, with peer pressure, with social pressure, we expect them to get good grades, we expect them to be social, we expect them to do chores, we expect them to get summer jobs, and we expect them to grow up to be successful.
We don’t want to fund schools properly, so that they can stay up to date in technology and resources…unless it’s an exclusive private school, that is. We WILL spend, spend, spend though to make sure those football stadiums are state of the art for the handful of kids that benefit from that. Sure, they’ll never be professional athletes but darn it, they’ll make memories. The arts though, oh, well, that’s LIBERAL, it’s in the darned name, so those shouldn’t get funding.
We put so many pressures on kids that it’s any wonder that so many turn out as generally well as they do. It’s almost as if they just understand that they have to get through it and get to adulthood so they can move on and live THEIR lives.
The trouble isn’t schools indoctrinating kids with LIBERAL ideas, which is to say ideas about a holistic view of the world and its peoples, and a wide view of science and history, it’s that schools are expected to be something they just are not funded to be.
The trouble isn’t the schools, it’s the adults who treat children like property and pawns and use them as political symbols without worrying over how it affects them. The trouble is parents who can’t be bothered to care enough to be involved in their kid’s education but who will be the first to demand their schools bend to their wills when something offends them. We forget that as parents, we are also their teachers, and that it is on us to help our kids develop the morals and compassion, and empathy, and life lessons that they can’t always learn in school. Many of us though use that time to, ahem, indoctrinate these kids and to convince them that they are right, and that the world is wrong, and that they must never give in to this wrong, wrong world.
It’s exhausting and it’s one of many reasons our kids are falling beyond the rest of the world in education. Because we care less about getting them ready for their futures and more about putting them on the front lines of our culture wars.
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