March 14, 2011

Indoctrinating children.

I'm working on editing some video I took at the Capitol today, showing the political indoctrination of children. It pains me to see children taught to intone or chant things that should be understood first. When you think of things like that, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of the schoolkids taught to sing "Mmm mmm mmm/Barack Hussein Obama." Maybe you think about making kids say the Pledge of Allegiance, about which Justice Frankfurter wrote:
The wisdom of training children in patriotic impulses by those compulsions which necessarily pervade so much of the educational process is not for our independent judgment. Even were we convinced of the folly of such a measure, such belief would be no proof of its unconstitutionality. For ourselves, we might be tempted to say that the deepest patriotism is best engendered by giving unfettered scope to the most crochety beliefs.... But the courtroom is not the arena for debating issues of educational policy. It is not our province to choose among competing considerations in the subtle process of securing effective loyalty to the traditional ideals of democracy, while respecting at the same time individual idiosyncracies among a people so diversified in racial origins and religious allegiances. So to hold would, in effect, make us the school board for the country. That authority has not been given to this Court, nor should we assume it....
(Details on that case, Gobitis, here.)

I'll have my video up in a separate post soon.

UPDATE: Here.

IN THE COMMENTS: What Irene thinks of is "The old country."

36 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

I heard Bono comment on the pledge. He thought at first it was crazy. They don't do this in Ireland. It made no sense to him. And then he realized in such a diverse and spread out country like the United States, the pledge played an important purpose.

Which I thought was interesting.

Synova said...

We're supposed to indoctrinate our children. That's our JOBS.

We're supposed to help them learn right from wrong. We're supposed to encourage them to help others and be involved in their community. We're supposed to teach them about God. We impart social skills and social values.

So if someone wants to bring their kids with them to a protest, be it anti-Walker or Tea Party, that's part of that. Or send them to Jesus Camp, or Sunday School, or a Tree Hugger retreat.

And in the end, kids pretty much think whatever they decide to think anyhow.

Synova said...

I favor the pledge and I think that those who find it uncomfortable haven't thought it through.

It says some important things about our identity as a nation and gives children a template from which to recognize when something is wrong.

PETER V. BELLA said...

The whole purpose of the Progressive movement is indoctrination of the young. That is how you raise good socialists.

Revenant said...

I attended church and Sunday School weekly for my entire childhood. That indoctrination didn't take. Kids are less easily indoctrinated than one might think. Their peers and their community have a much greater impact.

Revenant said...

It says some important things about our identity as a nation and gives children a template from which to recognize when something is wrong.

It also perpetrates the lie that this is "one nation, under God".

It isn't the good parts that we object to. It is the bad part. :)

Irene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred4Pres said...

And if the pledge bothers you, you or your kids can opt out.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

What Synova said. Some things must be taught before they can really be understood, because only in practicing them can you begin to understand them.

I studied music in high school. I could play the notes -- badly, but I could play a recognizable tune. Only later, when I worked on music software, did I begin to understand harmonics and chords and why they worked and how to successfully break the rules. If I hadn't learned the basics, I would've been in no position to understand the deeper concepts.

And this continues into adulthood. Boot camp doesn't start by teaching soldiers complex issues of logistics and tactics and military philosophy; they start by teaching the soldiers to drill, and to follow orders, and to think in the Army way. That makes them ready later to learn why those lessons were important.

I think it was absolutely wrong for any teachers to take kids to the protests without express written permission from the parents. That is indoctrination, pure and simple. But if parents brought their children, that's absolutely approriate. Whether I agree with what those parents believe or not, I absolutely feel they're right to teach those kids what's important to them.

Irene said...

"When you think of things like that, what comes to mind?"

The old country.

(Link fixed.)

Ann Althouse said...

"What Synova said. Some things must be taught before they can really be understood, because only in practicing them can you begin to understand them."

Yeah, but NOT politics. For politics, they should begin by learning about history, government, and the rule of law. All along they should gain understanding and the ability to look for the truth and to apply judgment. They should learn to read and look for answers and how to discuss and debate with others. They should learn that they need to think for themselves and that they are free.

Revenant said...

And if the pledge bothers you, you or your kids can opt out.

Thanks for the permission.

Julius said...

When you think of things like that, what comes to mind?

I'm thankful that my children are growing up in Scandinavia, where they live with my ex-wife and where I spend nearly half of each year.

You might think of the Scandinavian countries as big, socialist states. But the children there don't see it that way. They are insulated from all that; and, especially in Denmark, they develop an extremely healthy and helpful cynicism toward dogma from a very young age. They seem so much happier than American kids.

Young Scandinavians will take a check from the State for, say, the full cost of their university tuition plus room and board and a small stipend. Thank you very much! But that doesn't mean that they believe in the system, or any system for that matter. Sure, some of them will have put a Marx or Che poster up, but that's more because it can be hip than because of any ideological identification. My kids don't do that, though.

My ex-wife bought my 11-year-old son an Obama poster, however, with the colorful image created by Shepard Fairey. It's just the image, no words. Fine. It looks good. My son doesn't really care what Obama stands for but is proud of him being American and proud that he is so well-known in Denmark. I've subsequently been explaining to my son that that poster comes from a heritage of anarchic Street Art.

Want to teach your kids morals? Then do so. Classical stories are great for that-- the real ones that haven't been watered down for gentle American sensibilities. So are movies. Developing a sense of morality has nothing to do with politics, nothing at all. The two are like oil and water.

My kids know that America is a great country, and that Denmark is a pretty good country too. Life is good, opportunities are many, and you need to work mindfully and diligently to achieve what you want. Relationships are essential. I always tell my son, since he's old enough to understand, that the most important thing to learn in school is how to relate with others-- it's even more important than any academic thing.

The idea of having them chant for Obama-- or, for that matter, hold up one of those anti-abortion signs by the roadway as I've seen American kids do from time to time-- is anathema to a healthy childhood. It's downright scary.

The world is large. Opinion is diverse. Kids shouldn't be limited to some tiny American political pigeonhole.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Many other nations have cultural, linguistic, ethnic, or religious elements that unify them. Think of French people, or Chinese. America doesn't have those things.

I think things like the pledge are helpful because our national unity is based on ideals. Provided that the pledge and other civic ceremonies remain voluntary, I have no objection to them.

Synova said...

"It isn't the good parts that we object to. It is the bad part. :)"

I don't necessarily see the inclusion of a power higher than the State as a *bad* thing, since it precludes the notion of the State as the highest loyalty owed, but I concede your point.

The one rather lengthy article I read about a progressive Mom getting uncomfortable with the pledge and what-not in the lovely school that her child attended on her foray into picturesque small-town North East US wasn't about the "God" part, though. It was about the icky nationalism, the simplicity of love for country that her young son displayed... that sort of thing.

PaulV said...

I still hve my economics 101-102 textbook where Samuelson predicted USSR would soon surpass USA in GDP. What a idiot, but wealthy capitalist idiot from the sale of his textbook. Government worker met their 5 year goals by producing crap products. The inferiority of the steel, concrete, clothing and housing was pathetic.

Irene said...

Also: Mr. Gobitas (misspelled in the case) was Lithuanian.

:-)

Browndog said...

This was my point in my comment on Althouse's earlier thread about Barbara Clark Smith only collecting pro-union, anti-conservative memorabilia from the Capitol.

Future generations will learn in museums and text books that once upon a time in Madison, righteous unions fought a holy war against evil conservatives.

So it will be written...

So it will be so.

Synova said...

In the end I think I disagree even about politics.

I think of all of the supposed educational programs to help kids understand History and Government and it's all pretty biased and more or less calorie free. Maybe in a perfect world it would be different.

The notion that kids should be given all of the tools to make informed evaluations of the issues is a laudable notion that lasts just as long as it takes Linda Ellerby to open her mouth.

I don't mind when people take their own kids to whatever they're up to themselves, be it a pro-life march or an anti-war demonstration. It's always good to see what Mom and Dad think is important enough to spend time doing. Including politics.

But that's a specific prerogative of Mom and Dad or whichever adult has the specific moral and legal authority for the specific child.

I object strongly to outside persons invading this space with insipid attempts at "education" or other urgings to community involvement, sad crayon pictures of drowning polar bears or mandatory volunteer hours.

edutcher said...

Irene's point translates to many places, not the least of which would be Red China and North Korea.

The irony here is that nobody practiced it better than Der Fuhrer. In 1935, 70,000 10 year olds were sworn into the Hitler Jugend as a "birthday gift". doubtless, many of those young Aryans ended up in the Waffen SS or Wehrmacht and did not survive the war.

The people who compare Walker to Hitler are doing exactly what he did.

Surprise!!!

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Ann Althouse said...

"What Synova said. Some things must be taught before they can really be understood, because only in practicing them can you begin to understand them."

Yeah, but NOT politics. For politics, they should begin by learning about history, government, and the rule of law.


For you, this is politics. And I agree.

But to many of these protesters, and to garage and FLS and MadisonMan, this is about human rights and liberty. Patriotism. Morality.

That's not a political pretense for them. (For others, I'm a lot more cynical.) That's what they truly believe: that this is a moral issue, not a political issue, and that they're on the side of morality.

They're wrong. Absolutely, positively wrong. And I have the right to tell them that at the ballot box. I have the right to tell them that on the streets (in a civil discussion). I have the right to tell them that on this blog, assuming you grant me commenting privileges.

But I do not have the right to tell them that in their homes. I do not have the right to tell them that in regards to raising their children. If they believe this is a moral issue, then I have no right telling them they can't teach their children right and wrong as they see it.

That's the sort of thing the nanny state does; and it's wrong, no matter who the nanny is. I will not be that nanny. (Now if only more on the left were equally ready to renounce the nanny role...)

And besides, I'm not sure the indoctrination is that effective. I grew up with issues of Solidarity and UAW magazines on the coffee table. I grew up with a bust of JFK on the hearth. Family members ran for local office and managed campaigns, all on the Democrat ticket. I went to that liberal indoctrination university in Ann Arbor. And yet a little thinking on network topologies was all it took to convince me that local control is on the whole more effective, efficient, and fair; and from there, I found myself branded a conservative (though more libertarian than anything).

So I say relax, Professor. The kids are all right.

Revenant said...

I don't necessarily see the inclusion of a power higher than the State as a *bad* thing, since it precludes the notion of the State as the highest loyalty owed, but I concede your point.

It isn't about loyalty, but about primacy. Our nation is "under" the people themselves; it exists to serve us. Its power is bound by the rights of the people, by the rights and powers of the States, and by the text of the Constitution.

There is no god of any sort with authority over it -- not one bit of scripture that has the slightest say in how we conduct our business, except inasmuch as individual Americans find such scripture convincing.

Carol_Herman said...

This is not a school production. (School kids have the day off, today, no?)

But it is a union production!

Part of some day care arrangement?

I can't imagine this is a field trip that has the kids real interested. (When I was a kid it was bus outings to Ebbets Field)

The Rotunda has terrible echo problems.

DADvocate said...

Reminiscent of this one.

Liberal fascism is not a book. It's a fact.

Eileen said...

@Revenant- I think that the point of "under God" extends beyond the idea of a creator and more to a daily reminder that the state which the school represents is not the final authority over us. Our rights which are beyond the power of the state to remove are what makes this a unique nation. Regardless of origin, the starting point for us all is our freedom,
which is what vests us as the masters of our government. "God" may be a higher power, or merely the receptacle for our rights. It is the source of the "Blessings" in the preamble to the constitution, and the beauty is you can make it whatever you wish.

Elliott A said...

"Eileen" was an accidental commenter. Though a petite and attractive blonde named Althouse, she is not a blogger, and the comment came from Elliott A. Sorry. I do not favor multiple personality blogging disorder.

Craig said...

The important thing is to remind the kids to try out for the goon ball team.

Peano said...

The only part of that opinion worth quoting in the present context is this:

the courtroom is not the arena for debating issues of educational policy. It is not our province to choose among competing considerations in the subtle process of securing effective loyalty to the traditional ideals of democracy ....

Revenant said...

@Revenant- I think that the point of "under God" extends beyond the idea of a creator and more to a daily reminder that the state which the school represents is not the final authority over us.

Neither is any god.

WE are the final authority over us. That's the principle this country was founded on.

"God" may be a higher power, or merely the receptacle for our rights.

"God" is a proper noun and, in English, refers to a specific, omnipotent deity. It is not a generic term for "the receptacle of our rights".

Fred Drinkwater said...

Re: school kids and the Pledge -
Way back in '72 or thereabouts, the student council at my highschool modified the words of the pledge, and got the modified pledge accepted by the faculty and student body. I don't remember all the edits, but for instance, the phrase "with liberty and justice..." was changed to "dedicated to the principle of liberty and justice...". On the whole I thought, at the time, that the changes were reasonable. I still think so. After all, the Pledge is not some sacred thing, handed down through eternity. Remember its origins.

WV: bysheen. Oh, no, it's not. NOT.

The Crack Emcee said...

"God" is a proper noun and, in English, refers to a specific, omnipotent deity. It is not a generic term for "the receptacle of our rights".

That's true - it may be a bunch of hooey, but you better believe they mean it.

So what do we do if that specific, omnipotent deity doesn't exist again?

Rumpletweezer said...

I won't use my two daughters, or allow them to be used, as props in a protest that they don't understand.

As for the Pledge, I won't say it. Words mean something. I won't pledge allegiance to a symbol. I would say a pledge to the Constitution.

lemondog said...

As Synova said And in the end, kids pretty much think whatever they decide to think anyhow.

I've told my niece at some point I hope to hear that her kids have told her to go to hell.

Drew said...

Young Scandinavians will take a check from the State for, say, the full cost of their university tuition plus room and board and a small stipend. Thank you very much! But that doesn't mean that they believe in the system, or any system for that matter.

Really? Try taking that check away.

rcocean said...

I'm so glad all the SCOTUS judges followed Frankfurters advice.

Oh wait, they didn't. Anyway, I look forward to Justice Kennedy deciding whether little Susy in Nowhere Nebraska can or cannot mention the word "God" at her Elementary School "holiday" party.

John0 Juanderlust said...

It's a cheap shot to use kids at a protest or any sort of debate in an adult forum. Who would be anything but the bad guy if they confronted the protestors, or tried to engage the chanting zombies in discussion?

Do I bring my kids to shout down your kids? Maybe they can fight it out.
It's a very creepy way to do things.
But lots of people think creepy is great. Look at all the money spent over the years on Che T-shirts.