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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Today's word: Indoctrination [updated]

First of all, OMG, people, listen to yourselves! Can you really be as ignorant as you're acting? Or, do you just like sounding ignorant?

From the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University, WordNet, what it is:

Indoctrination: The noun has one meaning: Meaning #1: teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically

The only thing I would like to add to WordNet would be: Even worse, and worth standing up against, when said doctrines go against your own values and the values you're trying to teach your kids. Or, words to that effect.

Today I was fascinated, and disturbed, and a little sad, but not surprised, to hear about all the people who are calling indoctrination on President Obama's proposed speech next week to school kids.

At noon on Tuesday, September 8th the President will be welcoming America’s students back to school - after all, sometimes they need a little extra motivation after a glorious summer. The President has spoken often about the responsibility parents have for their children and their education, but in this message he’ll urge students to take personal responsibility for their own education, to set goals, and to not only stay in school but make the most of it. (White House: "My Education, My Future.")

What could possilby be wrong with that? It's good. It's decent. It's important. It's the president talking to future citizens. It's a necessary discussion no matter who it comes from. Apparently, not everyone sees it that way:

imahowellgal: Call your School Superintendent and JUST SAY NO to Obama indoctrination #tcot #skoolaid
JeffreyKing4Ky: Stand for freedom, dont let your children be victims of Obamas socialist propaganda. NO INDOCTRINATION!
Freedomwarrior: Keep ur kids home from school September 8th, 2009; Indoctrination U is coming----Again!

That's just a sampling from Twitter. There are hundreds, maybe thousands more out there. And probably more on Facebook, blogs, talk radio, lodges, and taverns.

But, here's the thing, we allow our kids to be subjected to all kinds of indoctrination everyday - some of it actually evil - and we manage not to lock them up and keep them home from school.

Some people get it:

NReeding: Was it "political indoctrination" when Bush 41 broadcast a POLICY ADDRESS to schools in '91? Hypocrite traitor fucks. #tcot #teaparty #palin
kevinarth: @TAFischer if you believe that, then I feel sorry for you. churches want you for indoctrination (means power and money for them)

And this one is right on:

yintercept: @doubletrouble08 Sept8 isn't the problem as people are watching. The real indoctrination takes place throughout the skool year.

Just to recap. People are objecting that the democratically elected president of the country in which they live, the country to which they've pledged their allegiance, is going to talk to kids about their education in a meaningful way. Someone explain to me why this is a bad thing. Otherwise, like I said, ignorant.

This just in:

Connectionary: Oklahoma lawmakers say planned Obama speech to students is about indoctrination/propaganda, urge parents to voice concerns to schools.

Oh, come on! This is getting totally out of control. The lawmakers of the State of Oklahoma? I seriously doubt it. Or, are they that whack out there?

Sidenote: When I was a kid growing up, my dad often ranted about indoctrination. He always uttered the word with disdain, while drawing it out as long as possible. You'd have thought he was going to spit afterward. These were not discussions. I wish he was still here so we could discuss it like adults.

Update, Saturday, September 5, 2009, at 9:30 p.m.: Just spotted this in our local paper: Area students don't have to watch Obama.

Students in the Springfield public schools and neighboring districts won’t be required to watch President Barack Obama’s speech Tuesday stressing the importance of education and self-responsibility, but they are encouraged to be in school that day, area school officials say.

And, as expected, the Springfield commentariat are out in full force on this one.

Posted by Marie at September 3, 2009 4:23 PM


IDK, to be fair: Many people decried the 1991 Bush address. And the @kevinarth argument, at least in the context given here, is a strawman argument (though we don't see why he's using religious indoctrination). And the #palin hashtag is ludicrous.

OTOH, I feel like the right is severely overreacting to this. So whatever, ya know?

Posted by: ben Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 5:35 PM

Thanks, Ben. Your comments and point of view always remind me of the ebb and flow of politics.

Posted by: Marie at September 3, 2009 7:29 PM

I think the big overstep was in asking kids to write about how they could help President Obama. That's what set people off the most, because it at least seems to go beyond what all reasonable people agree is a good thing, motivating kids to take education seriously, and asks kids to adopt his political agenda. The administration seems to have backed off, and so I have no problem with President Obama making that kind of "value education" address to the nation's kids. That's a good and valuable thing if he actually delivers it, and then good for him.

Posted by: Dave E. at September 3, 2009 10:15 PM

Dave, thanks for reminding me of that. I knew there was some detail that was being omitted from the indoctrination conversation, but I had forgotten what.

Also, sorry to anyone who is getting their comments blocked. I don't know what's going on. I've had this blog set-up for years, haven't changed the spam settings in at least a couple years, and now suddenly everyone's comments, including my own, are getting thrown into the spam folder. I'll get it straightened out eventually.

Posted by: Marie Author Profile Page at September 3, 2009 11:12 PM

Actually, not everyone. Just some, but not every time. It makes no sense. And I bet this doesn't go through.

Edit: Well, this one went to the waiting to be approved folder. So, that's something, I guess.

Posted by: Marie at September 3, 2009 11:15 PM

Causing quite a fuss here. Several schools won't show it or are offering opt-out plans for parents and their kids. Some of those people are not only worried that the President will somehow undermine parents but that teachers will retaliate in some form against parents and kids who are opting out. If I had kids or was a kid, I'd be thrilled to have the President speak directly to the class. Even that line Dave mentions doesn't bother me. The thought expressed is not a whole lot different to me than President Kennedy's "Ask not". I honestly don't think the President is enlisting the help of schoolchildren for his struggles with Congress. I don't know much about indoctrination but I think it probably takes longer than 20 minutes.

Posted by: Rob Author Profile Page at September 5, 2009 3:53 PM

Here too, even. I heard today that our local school district is going to offer parents a choice of whether to let their kids hear Obama or something else. Not sure what the something else is.

Posted by: Marie at September 5, 2009 8:36 PM

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