The above definition of ‘indoctrinate’ is from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. It includes, elsewhere, that indoctrination usually involves being taught a view uncritically or without question. It is something negative.
Don’t say you don’t
Outside, it’s a dark and rainy day. (I suppose that’s true somewhere, anyway.)
Billy’s mum says, “What a miserable day.”
Sam’s mum says, “How beautiful! Now the garden will get a good watering!”
Both Billy and Sam are being indoctrinated. Billy is learning that a good day is one where we can enjoy sunshine for our own pleasure. Sam is learning that what might be an inconvenience to us can be a blessing of another kind.
The fact is, we cannot help but “imbue [our children] with a… partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.” In fact, as parents, it’s our job to do so. Where else should they get their views from? From the neighbourhood kids? From television? Perhaps from songs on the radio?
People sometimes criticize Christian education, including the A.C.E. resources, of indoctrinating the children. We should not be naive about this, however. The news, magazines, advertisements and cartoons indoctrinate as well. Writers and actors of nearly all modern movies are fiercely pushing social agendas. All media present their points of view and opinions of what is right and what is not.
Just by allowing children to watch, listen and read, we participate in indoctrination.
As parents, we need to be aware of what indoctrination our children receive from schools and educational resources. Or anything else that comes into contact with our children. We might be happy with it, or we might want to filter or even block it.
I have heard the following comment from a parent who favoured sending their child to school, rather than homeschool: “I want Sandy to hear lots of points of view, then make up her own mind and work out what’s right and wrong for herself.”
Is this indoctrination? Absolutely! Here, Mum is indoctrinating Sandy that she is able, at her age, to determine the best set of values for herself without parental help or guidance. Moreover, that the opinions of her peers have as much value as those of the parents. If that is what this parent believes then so be it, but we cannot say Sandy is not being indoctrinated into this belief.
Christian worldview education is a distinctive of A.C.E. resources. Many or most or even all of the teachings (doctrines) may be similar to the parents’ teachings for their children; some may differ to some degree. This is much the same as any situation in which the child is placed.
The responsibility of the parent is to choose carefully which doctrines their child will be taught, and at the right time expose their child to other doctrines in a controlled way that informs and challenges but does not confuse. Let the child question when they are mature enough to understand the answer. In other words, indoctrinate, but not forever uncritically or without question.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (NASB)
Greg Simon BA; Dip Ed; Cert Teach
Greg taught secondary Maths, Science and ICT for over thirty years, and been a school principal before dedicating his life to working with home-educating families. He was actively involved with the homeschooling of his four children.