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Compelled to Attend Part One

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Compelled to Attend Part One of Three

Can you think of a better way to insure that you will be “made” according to the dictates of others than by forcing you, by law, to

Indoctrination - the teaching to accept a system of thought uncritically.

Indoctrination - the teaching to accept a system of thought uncritically.

appear at a government-funded, state-controlled institution where you spend a predetermined number of years as part of a crowd subject constant scrutiny and evaluation? No, I am not talking about prison. I refer to public school.

The following is the first of three parts of “Compelled to Attend” from The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self by Linda Dobson, published by Home Education Press in 1995.

In August, 1991, John Howard, Counselor with the Rockford Institute, told the University of Wisconsin Center faculty that their university’s catalog “acknowledges that education is a process in which the student learns things the educational institution has decided will be beneficial to the learner and to the society.” The catalog goes on to insure parents the university “will strive to fit the student for civic responsibilities.”

Dr. Bowen, President of Princeton University, called this type of thinking “indoctrination in accepted ideas.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language calls indoctrination “the teaching to accept a system of thought uncritically.” (As in do what you are told, “they” know what is best for you, don’t question authority.) I call indoctrination the saddest abuse of human potential and the sorriest waste of human minds that could ever be imagined. I call it shaping our thinking.

And if colleges and universities ignore the true meaning of education and accept indoctrination as their function in society, what then is the purpose of all the years of schooling that lead up to college, starting at the tender age of five or, in many cases today, even younger?

“School,” says Ivan Illich in Deschooling Society, “prepares for the alienating institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.” This way you may spend the rest of your life seeking out and paying others for thinking you are capable of doing, if only you knew that to be true. But, sadly, not too many people making a living in the education business are ready to teach themselves out of jobs. Furthermore, “Once a man or woman has accepted the need for school, he or she is easy pretty for other institutions,” wrote Illich.

This is the essence of how school becomes what just may be your ultimate maker. Through the legal power to make you attend for a minimum of ten years, you are part of a captive audience taught to uncritically accept that 1) you need someone outside yourself to provide you an education, 2) your education need only ready you for confinement within yet other institutions, and 3) the value or truth of these notions should never be questioned.

This programming comes to you courtesy of the education institution representative closest to you – the teacher…

End of Part One; Part Two Tomorrow

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2 Responses to “Compelled to Attend Part One”

  1. MaryBelle says:

    Interesting Part One.

    And you are preaching to the choir, Linda. I have for many years found our “system” of raising our young to be nothing buy preparation for institutionalization.

    Our young ‘uns go into day care as early as possible, from there they transition to pre-school, then elementary school, then high school, then it splits – either they go into the corporate controlled work system or college. Then the path gets even more disturbing as individuals who have never known any social life except the institutional model, either move into positions of control in the corporate society, stay in academia or move into the safe, comfortable, familiar, everything-is-done-for-you justice system.

    All these institutions are a substitute for the family, which is just about obsolete in our consumer driven society. On occasion adults round up their offspring from the various institutions, assemble as a unit, and visit the now extraneous family and drop off a present. Tomorrow everyone goes back to his or her peer group. The old saw about being married to your job isn’t so funny anymore.

    These are people who have learned from the very beginning not to form attachments with others because no one is constant in their lives. They cry and no one picks them up. The only social life they know is their fellow cribmates. They do not get the family education of right and wrong, which is now replaced by playground ethics. We literally have children raising each other. The only difference I can see between playground ethics and prison ethics is the size of the people involved.

    Taken to the very end, there are senior citizen complexes with a central management providing food, shelter and activities for them. That is followed by nursing homes. Our whole lives are being managed by institutions. It is what people expect, and when the institution fails to manage a life, it falls apart. Those who try to break away from it, are labeled failures.

    So where does that leave homeschooling? Are we raising broken cogs? Or the survivors of the Institutional System? Or is that system so seductive that it will lure them right in? Or will they be obsolete, too?

    Can’t wait for Parts two and three!

  2. Hi, MaryBelle,

    Thanks for reading and writing.

    You're sure right about the cradle-to-grave of institutionalization; we're into it full-throttle at this point.

    My hope is it leaves homeschoolers as the initiators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Given that the systems for the most part have grown too large to dismantle even from within, the hope is that the home educated will be too uncomfortable there and build something else, even if that something else is for a small minority of the same mind.

    I recently read an op-ed piece (sorry, I don't remember where) by a Gen-Xer blaming Boomers for having been so good at protesting "the man," but failing to have actually changed anything because here we are with Boomers "at the helm" and really bad off. Maybe there are enough spunky ones like the author out there…if that seductive system doesn't get them first.

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