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When Does Teaching End and Indoctrination Begin?

If there were another example of indoctrination that I had been exposed to, it would not be what I was taught, but what I wasn’t taught.

During my US history classes, or any history classes, there was never a proper distinction between the concept of country and the concept of government, except when trying to make the government appear as a tool that is meant to fix the shortcomings of the United States and her citizens.

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There are differences between love of country and love of government. Based on personal experience, love of country is based on the ability to exercise my rights under the Constitution. Love of government is the expectation that the government will administer my rights on an as-needed basis, in exchange for services to be paid for by someone else.

Love of country is the ability to take risks with the hope of bettering myself. Love of government is the hope that a safety net will protect me from myself.

Love of country is when American citizens help each other during a disaster. Love of government is waiting for approval for help from a political and bureaucratic nightmare that almost never fails to disappoint.

When abuses of power, such as crony capitalism, are exposed, it is easy to blame the United States as a country, since the media – and teachers with an agenda — do not make the distinction of how the free market is perverted by politicians and bureaucrats to favor a select few people.

Trying to influence children as they are learning is definitely not a new idea; the Soviets are the most obvious example of using classrooms for indoctrination purposes. The best explanation of why children are so important to influence comes from First Lady, Michelle Obama on January 25, 2012. When she said this, it was at an appearance at a school meant to bring attention to the federal government’s new school lunch regulations, but it could be used for any other subject where personal opinion is being repackaged as political fact: “That’s the beauty of children — they change,” the first lady said. “They change much easier than we do, and when we give them an opportunity to try something new, they embrace it oftentimes, and they come back for more.”

Despite the many examples of teachers, instructors, and professors diverting class time away from math, science, and other subjects toward politics, I remember one US political history college instructor who had done just the opposite. As the semester had come to a close, one student had said to the professor “I have been in your class for almost four months, and I have no idea where you stand politically.” The instructor said that, while almost everyone in academia leaned toward liberal ideals, his philosophy was “if you want a war, vote for Democrats. But if you want a scandal, vote for Republicans.” Keep in mind that this was back in 1988.

While there are those who try to shape children’s thoughts when they are most influential, just like their immune systems, children also have the ability to fight off unwelcomed indoctrination attempts by rebelling. And it is this rebellion that causes adults today to laugh at those who tried to change how they thought as children yesterday.

Image: Hitler Youth with Awards; Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1973-060-55 / Soltmann / CC-BY-SA; German Federal Archives; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license


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Chuck Gruenwald

Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for

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