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Feedback archive Feedback 2009

The “indoctrination” of children

Maddi and Grandad with her finished world timeline

This grandfather reserves time to spend with his grandchildren specifically to teach them important biblical truths—see Biblical worldview project for parents and grandparents.

Published: 7 November 2009(GMT+10)

A correspondent from the northern hemisphere (name and country were provided, but are being withheld from publication at their request) complained about our article The Indoctrinator and a few other articles, arguing that we also indoctrinate. The letter is first published in its entirety, then with a point-by-point response by Lita Cosner:

Hi,
I was removed from the state primary school system by my parents about mid-way through the school, and since then I have been homeschooled by them until I joined the local Sixth Form last year. Until then, I was a devote Creationist and supporter of CMI but due to my interaction with my friends and teachers at school and with the more secular institution in general I have started to question some of the teachers of my church minister and family. It seems to me, that the more I look around me at the evidence on both the creation and evolution sides of the argument, I quickly find flaws in both sides of the argument, but especially with creation which surprised me! It now seems to me that Genesis may not be a true history and it was the teachings of my closed upbringing that have chosen what I should believe in before I was old enough to understand. I recently read on CMI in an article called ‘The Indoctrinator’ about the brainwashing of people into believing evolution etc. Further reading of the Family/Marriage section of CMI however seemed to indicate to me that in fact evangelicals and creationists are just as bad or worse with the brainwashing of young people as the evolutionists! I have found several quotes from this section which help to further indicate this:
“Firstly, you can teach your children about God’s creation. Begin when they are very young. Read to them over and over again the story of God’s creation until they have it firmly fixed in their memory”
“Teach your children about the fallacies of evolution before they learn about its supposed truth at school”
“Personally, for our children over the years, we chose a combination of homeschooling and Christian schooling”
“We have to teach our children to be very different”
“So how can we as parents prepare our children to face this world? To resist peer group pressure? To live morally? To keep believing the Bible when so much of what they are taught contradicts it”
“We must set aside time each day to teach our children”
Is this the case, and how can the Word of God simply be forced onto young people before they can understand it or are old enough to be able to look at alternate views to reach a balanced conclusion to what they believe? Is this morally right?
Thanks for the help,
[name withheld]

CMI’s Lita Cosner responds:

Dear [name withheld],

You wrote …

I was removed from the state primary school system by my parents about mid-way through the school, and since then I have been homeschooled by them until I joined the local Sixth Form last year. Until then, I was a devote Creationist and supporter of CMI but due to my interaction with my friends and teachers at school and with the more secular institution in general I have started to question some of the teachers of my church minister and family. It seems to me, that the more I look around me at the evidence on both the creation and evolution sides of the argument, I quickly find flaws in both sides of the argument, but especially with creation which surprised me!

… but if you had pointed out some of the things you think are flawed about creation, I could have endeavoured to answer your objections. Certainly, there are flawed arguments for creation, but CMI advises people not to use those arguments.

It now seems to me that Genesis may not be a true history and it was the teachings of my closed upbringing that have chosen what I should believe in before I was old enough to understand.

Maddi busy at work

When children know that what they are being taught is the truth, they have a positive attitude toward schooling.

Unfortunately, attending state schools has this effect on many young people; I experienced the same effect when I went through the US public school system. Thankfully though I discovered the truth of Christianity, which would have been impossible for me without also believing the history in Genesis.

I recently read on CMI in an article called ‘The Indoctrinator‘ about the brainwashing of people into believing evolution etc. Further reading of the Family/Marriage section of CMI however seemed to indicate to me that in fact evangelicals and creationists are just as bad or worse with the brainwashing of young people as the evolutionists! I have found several quotes from this section which help to further indicate this:
“Firstly, you can teach your children about God’s creation. Begin when they are very young. Read to them over and over again the story of God’s creation until they have it firmly fixed in their memory”
“Teach your children about the fallacies of evolution before they learn about its supposed truth at school”
“Personally, for our children over the years, we chose a combination of homeschooling and Christian schooling”
“We have to teach our children to be very different”
“So how can we as parents prepare our children to face this world? To resist peer group pressure? To live morally? To keep believing the Bible when so much of what they are taught contradicts it”
“We must set aside time each day to teach our children”

We indoctrinate young children all the time in all sorts of areas, not just religion. We teach them to recite the alphabet as well as numbers, and all sorts of other things when they are small. As they grow, we might drill multiplication tables and grammar rules into them, through repeating over and over. I remember having to recite all the American presidents of history, which were put into rhymes with notable achievements for easy memorization. Their young minds may not fully understand the implications of the things they are memorizing, but their memorization provides a crucial foundation for later learning. And as the uncontested academic superiority of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean schools show, this is an effective method of learning.

Parents have the responsibility to ‘indoctrinate’ their children in the truth

Indoctrination is necessary because young children are simply not mature enough to investigate religious matters for themselves, any more than they could figure out the multiplication tables on their own, and parents have a responsibility therefore to oversee what their children learn. To put it a little differently, parents have the responsibility to “indoctrinate” their children in the truth. On the surface, the way we are encouraging people to teach their children may look like how evolutionists indoctrinate children. But in fact it is very different, primarily because our teaching is based on God’s truth, revealed in Scripture. Also, often the evolutionists indoctrinating children are their teachers in school, not their parents. Some even make it their goal to supplant the parents’ values and beliefs in the child’s mind with their own. This is thoroughly unbiblical.

Ideally, as the child grows and is able to understand the reasoning behind creationism, Christian parents would teach their children about the reasons behind why they believe what they believe, including about Genesis creation, and thus help the child to build a coherent Christian worldview. Of course when someone reaches the age where he is able to investigate the truth claims of various philosophies and religions, he becomes responsible for what he believes and must work through the issues on his own.

Is this the case, and how can the Word of God simply be forced onto young people before they can understand it or are old enough to be able to look at alternate views to reach a balanced conclusion to what they believe? Is this morally right?

The notion that Christians should not lead their children to believe what they are convinced is the truth owes much to the postmodern secular philosophy that there is no such thing as absolute truth

The short answer is that God commands us to teach our children about His Word, and I would argue that Christian parents would be showing that they hated their children if they did not teach them about Christianity (which by definition they are convinced is true) and help them to gain a firm grasp on the issues involved in their faith. The notion that Christians should not lead their children to believe what they are convinced is the truth owes much to the postmodern secular philosophy that there is no such thing as absolute truth, something that stands in total opposition to Jesus Christ, who is “the Truth, the Way and the Life” (John 14:6).

It is important to understand that it is not a question of whether views will be forced onto young minds—they are completely incapable of forming their own views, and need the help of adults to make sense of the world. The question is whether the views that the child is taught will be from the Word of God or from secular or pagan philosophies. The idea of ‘neutrality’ is a convenient myth. Again, the goal of a Christian education in the faith is not to produce a mindless drone that can automatically state the tenets of the faith, but to produce a thinking person who can give a reason for the hope that they have.

Thanks for the help,
[name withheld]

My pleasure. I hope this answer has been helpful for you.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner
Information Officer
Creation Ministries International


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Readers’ comments
Fiona S., Australia, 7 November 2009

As a state (public) high school teacher may I please comment that it has been forbidden by the Board of Studies to give BOTH sides of the argument in our schools. We teachers are only allowed to preach evolution and the Big Bang. Perhaps, if parents and children would complain, the students could receive a proper education. See the movie ‘Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed’. It’s the same in this country. Scientists are not allowed to have freedom of thought anymore, nor are the children they teach.

Robert B., Australia, 7 November 2009

My daughter attends Year 7 in a ‘good’ public high school in [Australia]. Recently the geography teacher spent two hour-long lessons showing DVD’s about the creation of the Earth and the Universe. I checked the syllabus’s desired outcomes and found that this origins area is not included. When two students voiced their disagreement with the Big Bang Theory the teacher belittled them and said they were only Year 7 and didn’t know anything. When they asked her for proof of her views she said ‘It’s true because I’m a teacher’ and ‘I know more than you’. The science teacher in the same week had voiced her doubts about the same Big Bang Theory. I certainly will be talking to both teachers at the parent teacher interviews this term.

Leon B., Australia, 7 November 2009

I think it’s time for another standing ovation in response to Lita’s calm, friendly patience in the face of what many would regard as an attack.smiley

Paul H., United States, 8 November 2009

You have done well here.

There are stated principles in the Bible about learning.

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 "…diligently teach…"

Luke 10:21 "…hidden these things from the wise…and revealed them to babes…"

John 3:12 "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe…?"

1 Corinthians 2:14 "…a natural man does not accept…"

Hebrews 11:3 "By faith we understand…"

This last one is my favorite, because it shows that rote memory is a key to learning. We actually have to be given the facts before we can understand them. When we are given the facts it is only by faith that we can accept them as true. Once we accept them as true this puts us in a position to deal with more unknowns which we must further accept by faith in order to further understand. This is how we grow. By faith we understand. The teacher may mislead us, so it is important to choose a good teacher. God is the best teacher. Parents would do well to believe God themselves and in teaching their children they would do better to admit that they get their information from God and to also admit that they are passing on His information, not inventing their own or taking credit for what they have not invented. That way we avoid the arguments that arise between people of differing opinions. It is better to say that God said it, than to say this is what I believe. Who cares what I believe anyway? If I can say that God said it, then the child or student, etc., has God to deal with about his acceptance or rejection of information.

Your statement that "Neutrality is a convenient myth" is also true. But it is a dangerous myth as well, since the underlying principle of neutrality works out at the end of the day in denying that certain information is true. It reaches across the barriers we try to protect ourselves from and into the areas of denying the truths we are trying to make clear. It is a self-defeating strategy. It is both convenient and insidious.

Ruth T., Australia, 8 November 2009

I believe children should be told what the Bible teaches about creation and who God is, and how Jesus died so they could go to heaven.

I have told my grandchildren, "This is what nanny believes". Their parents (in some cases) describe what nanny believes as "a load of c---". I have always told them that they need to choose for themselves what they believe, and I then pray for them daily that the Holy Spirit will guide them.

It is not "brainwashing". It is simply supplying them with my view from a Biblical perspective

Judy W., Canada, 3 December 2009

Please note that the public school textbooks are full of known errors of so called science … including Haeckel’s drawings, the light and dark moths, the tree of life and many other teachings that have all been discarded by science yet are still taught as truth in public schools. No wonder the child thinks they have a leg to stand on. If she only knew that most of the drivel she has been taught about evolution is not fact even to evolutionists at all then she might not be so sure about it. Why are evolutionists so SLOW to correct errors in textbooks? Haven’t they got any facts that are true to teach?

[Editor’s note: Quite right, Judy, as CMI’s Dr Don Batten also makes clear—see his DVD: How textbooks mislead]

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