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Fear of indoctrination starting dangerous trend


October 4, 2009

Two years ago, we took my grandson Jason to Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. Since he had an interest in photography, we got him a small, one-use camera and he took some wonderful shots, worth entering in county fair.

This was at age 7, and a few opportunities that came along later confirmed his interest in, and eye for, photography. Last summer, I gave him a book of Ansel Adams photographs.

Our 5-year-old granddaughter, on the other hand, has long been drawn to art in any form but photography. Painting seashells, creating with wood, drawing on any uncovered piece of paper; these are right up her alley.

Having inherited from a friend a book on the National Museum of American Art, I gave this book to Mikayla, and we spend a lot of time in general looking at various forms of art, just as Jason and I do in looking at various photographers’ work.

Until recently, that is. Now, I am almost afraid to do these interest explorations with them for fear I might be accused of indoctrinating them. After all, what if I am charged with trying to turn Jace into a photographer, or of dreaming that Mikayla’s interest in the arts might someday give her wonderful hobbies, if not a career?

Yes, the above is meant to be tongue in cheek, or maybe even downright sarcastic. It seems that the latest buzzword, in some partisan political arenas, seems to be charging the other faction with “indoctrinating” the country’s youth.

Nasty word, and nasty idea.

I have even heard comparisons, in some talk radio venues, with the Hitler Youth Movement. To this, there can only be one response, and that is to not dignify it with a response.

When a particular faction does not agree with what is being taught in the classroom, the charge of indoctrination is occasionally mustered out.

When a particular faction believes that politicians should not have media access to the classroom (as they have done since at least President Kennedy), the accusation is disguised as fear of indoctrination.

Having coached numerous children’s sports teams, I wonder if my attempts to instill love of exercise and fair values might not be construed as indoctrination.

Having just come from a Pintores meeting, I wonder, as well, if the efforts by the Artists of America group to start an after school arts program for kids might also be falsely accused.

We could go on with examples, but I think the point is clear. It is a dangerous trend in any society when we misconstrue efforts to broaden the horizons of children, to teach values and morals and pique interest in many facets of life, as attempts at indoctrination.

It is even more dangerous, when this is done deliberately, in the interest of partisanship.

We then run the risk of being like certain religious groups which severely limit the education of their children, lest they learn too much.

Today was Book Fair day at ENMU, and I was looking for Christmas gifts to empower Jace’s interest in photography, and sharpen Mikayla’s tastes in art. Perhaps we better not tell anyone, though.


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