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Schoolkids are more indoctrinated than during late communism

A report by Václav Klaus, quick translation by L.M.

Summary of the fifth Dialogues at Hanspaulka
Is the degree of indoctrination at our schools higher or lower than during late communism?



On Wednesday 19th, the halls of the Institute of Václav Klaus witnessed the fifth "Dialogues at Hanspaulka [a neighborhood in Prague]". The participants – about 20 panelists – were spending their time with the issue of our education system from a particular angle described in the title above: they were deciding whether the degree of indoctrination of our kids at schools is higher or lower than it used to be during the final years of communism. I emphasize the adjective "late" i.e., to a large extent, "stale" communism that was self-evidently displaying no powerful charge. We wanted to completely avoid discussions about our schools in the scary decade of the 1950s; communism wasn't "stale" then at all.




During the debate, the participants understood very quickly that it was necessary to sharpen the topic and make it narrower and it helped to structure the discussion in a useful way, but a more general discussion about our education system and the whole society ultimately couldn't be avoided. Our schools don't live in the vacuum; not just the children at schools, but the society as a whole is a subject of some extraordinarily intense indoctrination. Topics such as the gender equality, education towards the planetary conscience, education of Europeism, bringing up the children to see in the "green" way, and so on is affecting not only the children but even their parents, and it is doing so in a very dramatic way. Children are nevertheless more vulnerable to an indoctrination organized in sophisticated ways (we need to emphasize that indoctrination is something completely different than education) than the adults. Only one participant was defending the opinion that the young people were and are immune towards all forms of indoctrination. (It's a similar opinion as someone's bold claim that he isn't affected by advertisements!) The prevailing opinion was the opposite one: children are much more defenseless towards this indoctrination than the adults.




The dominant sentiment was the feeling of erosion, decay, and destruction of the Czech education system. The debaters were seeing it in a plethora of symptoms (which belong among more general symptoms of the decay of broader institutions – the state and the family). The first of them was the abandoning of the traditional, verified model of Czech (and in many respects Central European) education system and, as one participant said, "permanent looking abroad" to find the guides telling us what to do. Repeatedly, we could hear about the decreasing difficulty and weakening demands of our schools which expands the space for "soft", doctrinal topics. The prevailing value is the desire "not to overload kids", to primarily discuss with them, not to want them to study much and solve too much homework, and to leave lots of leisure time to them. (I would add, time to follow Facebook.) It's important to maximally reduce the amount of boring learning and to increase the entertainment value.

We are worried about the long-term pressure to leave the paradigm of the "classical education shaping a new human being", a pressure designed according to the ideals of the currently dominant European politically correct, intrinsically left-wing, progressivist reasoning. First, we liked the goal to "codify the value-neutral education system" but later we realized that the education isn't possible in the vacuum. The invitation to the value-neutral education system superficially looks nice and intriguing but we mustn't give up the values that underlie our Western (and European) civilization. The participants of the discussion had the feeling that our society is abandoning these values. Words like "gender correctness of textbooks" (explicitly mentioned in a material of our Ministry of Education from September 2013) aren't igniting the same shock and disagreement in an overwhelming majority of the parents – it seems – as they are among the participants of the yesterday's discussion.

As one debater has said, "our school system mostly reacts to the interests and opinions of the minorities only"; in other words, the opinion of the majority is absent. It's also caused by the fact that our main political parties aren't interested (and, since 1989, have never been interested) in these topics and the chair of the minister of education has always been underestimated. (The criticism was directed against me as well and I admitted that I have never found a high-quality minister of education during my tenure as the prime minister.) We didn't want to talk about details but many debaters who work at schools nevertheless emphasized a giant problem of the RVPs (framework-level education programs), the planned career rules for teachers, the role and quality of the pedagogic faculties of universities, and other things, but our debate wasn't primarily about these matters.

During the debate on the relative degree of indoctrination, participants would remind everyone not to underestimate the indoctrination of the 1980s. This was being stressed especially by those who spent those years as students or young teachers. My generation has had already figured out the truth about all these things and it was convinced that no one could have believed communism anymore. This feeling is a topic for a deeper discussion in a different forum. The dominant opinion was that the current indoctrination is stronger than it was then. In the 1980s, the indoctrination was stripped of the content and unconvincing but today, much more indoctrination than in the 1980s is coming from "below, from excited grassroot individuals". We're finally getting to the elementary classification of indoctrination to the top-down indoctrination and the bottom-up indoctrination. Even though people would mention that the actual structure of types of indoctrination is more complex, I nevertheless think that this basic classification is useful.

The top-down indoctrination means the official documents (and everyday political work) of the Ministry of Education as well as the general policies of the government that is completely mindlessly adopting the opinions and attitudes coming from Brussels. The debaters would point to an extraordinarily dangerous propagation of the belief that "the Czech education system may only be saved by the European funds". The belief is so dangerous because these European funds inseparably arrive in a package along with the inevitable indoctrination by the politically correct European topics of the present. The bottom-up indoctrination (and maybe the indoctrination from the side) was agreed to denote the activities of assorted NGOs that extraordinarily vigorously – as many directors and principals of schools were showing using numerous examples from their experience – present their promotion of certain ideological doctrines, instead of the standard education, on a daily basis, often paid by the Czech taxpayer or from the European funds. Another unusually pernicious development identified by the debaters was the mass proliferation of the new soft disciplines at our universities which basically represent "an industry to mass produce future activists". The activities of the Green Party were graded extraordinarily negatively – the influence of this party doesn't seem to fade away even though the party is no longer in the government or the parliament. The classification of indoctrination to the bottom-up and top-down types has some fuzzy boundaries and we shouldn't forget about one of the unfortunate trends of the present, namely the "privatization of the public executive power by various no-profit organizations".

If you allow me to summarize the discussion, most participants shared the opinion that the trend is deteriorating – schools spend less and less time by education and upbringing and more time by indoctrination. More than a few isolated participants have voiced the opinion that the present is only some "tickling" and that the evidence indicates that very soon, the conditions will "cool down i.e. become harsher and in the name of progress, things will cease to be just fun". The struggle for our education system is – even though an overwhelming majority of the people (and especially parents) isn't realizing this point at all – "one of the main battles of the present in which the sides are waging a silent war about the future of the young generation". This struggle for education, but also for the family, is a political battle par excellence but in our country – as opposed to some other countries – it is not being considered as a political one at all. So far, it's just a one-sided Blitzkrieg staged by one side that isn't meeting the resistance by those of us who see things totally differently. And that's why we have organized these Dialogues at Hanspaulka.

Václav Klaus, March 20th, 2014

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reader cynholt said...

The human condition is one that does not readily accept the notion of equality unless it is used to gain advantage to surpass any perceived equality. Said another way, our competitive nature seeks to overpower those around us and will only press for equality when it is seen as a way of handicapping the competition. No racial or other "group" will ever be satisfied with equality. Humans, like every other living creature, play to win. Laws to ensure equality of opportunity are all that is required of a free system and anything that demands equality of results is anything but freedom.


reader Honza said...

"The prevailing value is the desire "not to overload kids", to primarily discuss with them, not to want them to study much and solve too much homework, and to leave lots of leisure time to them. (I would add, time to follow Facebook.)"
A nice poem on related topic:
This Generation (REDUX)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hPxHLob9wE


reader Gene Day said...

Indeed, Cynthia, but there is a lot of wiggle room in deciding just how to structure society so that it does ensure equality of opportunity.


reader Uncle Al said...

A child who is educated but not indoctrinated might doubt necessary conclusions, even argue against the, or be poisoned by the illusion of other possibilities.

http://chapters.kappakappagamma.org/deltaeta/
Oh Kappa Kappa Kappa Gamma
I'm so happy that I am a
Kappa Kappa Kappa Gamma
Nobody knows how happy I am!


we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children.

Barack Obama

We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama
"We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
"There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and asian America - there's the United States of America."
"We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded [as our military]."


reader lukelea said...

Nice article, Lubos. I question one thing though. You write (or translate), "Children are nevertheless more vulnerable to an indoctrination organized in sophisticated ways." I'm not sure that's true. Sometimes I think adult indoctrination of children rolls off like water off a duck's back. I'll be surprised if the next generations is as green as the present one, for instance. We'll see. (Or you will, I'm too old.)


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, isn't the right way for society to ensure "equality of opportunity" to simply have the laws that codify these principles? It is my strong belief that this is sufficient, every other "addition" to insure "more equality of opportunity" is pernicious, de facto a way to impose "equality of outcomes", and a well functioning society is utterly incompatible with these pernicious principles.


reader Shannon said...

I would say that young children are easily endoctrinated, however when they turn into teenagers there is a natural way to go against the conventional thinking, whatever this might be ;-).


reader Shannon said...

In the UK, this 14 year old kid has organised a strike followed by 100 pupils to complain about the lack of homework and the low level of teaching. Another proof that one should never under-estimate the power of teenage:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2582648/Schoolboy-14-excluded-lessons-organising-mass-walkout-LACK-homework.html


reader Luboš Motl said...

Wow, a little hero! ;-) It's clear that the kids who like homework - e.g. because these show some advantage they have over other kids - may think like him. But the problem is that such kids are being suppressed, and this seems to be the result here, too. We de facto live in the dictatorship of the lazy stupid spoiled brats and whatever grows out of them, assorted NGO activists.


reader cynholt said...

When Obama made the "Trayvon being my son" comment, he legitimized the racial divide on this case. He owns the racial divide fallout for that reason. If Trayvon was white, would he have said this, in fact, would anyone of have even heard about the case? Doubt it.


reader stevenjohnson2 said...

As a committed anti-communist, I am puzzled as to why you are disturbed by changes in the educational system appropriate to the permanentl revolution of capitalist economy. There is less need for highly educated but highly expensive workers. At the highest levels of skill even in STEM there is a plethora of candidates from all around the world, but cheaper. From a business point of view, less waste on educating more expensive workers locally makes little sense. At the same time, a general emphasis on conformity is socially valuable and contributes to the proper atmosphere in the simpler, less educationally demanding jobs.

As to your concern over the environmental education, I don't think you realize the extent to which the goal is to indoctrinate children and youth into personal material sacrifice. This is quite useful for a world in which material inequality is rising as capitalist democracy works its magic. The diminishing middle class will find its attitudes towards a green life easily changed by practice. And I dare say the elite youth will never be exposed to this kind of indoctrination, going to private schools anyhow.

And that leaves gender roles. There just isn't any other way than to say this, but this is basically just hysteria. Changes in gender roles are inevitable when most father and husbands must rely on the wives' and mothers' contributions to the family. Their equal contributions (or even superior) will give them an equal authority. OverallYou write, "First of all, it's not true that the United States government "spent $5 billion to destabilize Ukraine," as some agitators have claimed. " The claim was made, not by agitators, but by Victoria Nuland.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm

Nuland was the official who should be infamous for having picked Arseniy Yatsenyuk for PM before the fact. She also made a point that Oleg Tyahybok should be very close to the new regime, talking "four times a week."

Vaguely talking about unspecified agitators making these claims is rather misleading. The further point that not all this money was spent destabilizing Ukraine relies on a fundamental error, namely that interfering to establish a capitalist democracy is somehow good, and only some of that money was misspent.

First of all, as the above shows I think, you didn't start very well. Second of all, frankly if there really were millions of Ukrainians doing this, Putin couldn't have taken the Crimea the bloodless way he did. I'm afraid I think you're basically making stuff up. , as more and more of the population becomes lower-class, lower-class sexual mores will prevail, inevitably. The supposed gender indoctrination is merely an attempt to fit real world needs.

Chill, dude, it may not look like what you thought you wanted, but things are what they are.


reader Tom said...

Suppose a collection of humans constitute a closed system with autarkic economics holding. Given some technological level for the system, there must exist a set of all possible human actions, finite, countable or uncountable as the case may be. Taking terminology from Anthony de Jasay, this admissible set decomposes into two sets: the admissible acts and the inadmissible acts. Human nature spontaneously generates awareness of inadmissible acts by the forceful reactions of others, and the boundary between the two sets essentially defines the collection’s culture.

Now, given a metric of human flourishing, is there a unique boundary between admissible and inadmissible sets maximizing the metric? I believe this to be true and it implies a unique ordering of society. The rub is that only a stochastic searching by humans finds this spontaneous order, and the required searching implies maximizing freedom and liberty in the political arrangements: the resulting order, however inegalitarian, defines Justice.


reader Shannon said...

Well yeah... this is called "jurisprudence".


reader Tom said...

Common law is more apt.


reader Luboš Motl said...

I wrote an extensive debunking of your thought-provoking comment but it got lost and I don't have time to write it again.


reader John Archer said...

I agree, nice comment, Cynth, only you went and spoilt with this:
"Laws to ensure equality of opportunity are all that is required of a free system...."

It's none of the law's business, in a free system.

This equal-opportunities lunacy may have a nice happy-clappy, hail-fellow-well-met ring to it but it's just another social cancer.

It is clear that people are neither equal in personal talent and charm nor in economic circumstance, both of which can greatly effect the opportunities open to them. So what then can 'equal opportunity' POSSIBLY mean?

Answer: it means nothing. It's an empty notion. But it can be given a meaning. And that's what this is really all about.

'Equal opportunity' is simply a scam, an opportunity for psychopaths and other undesriables disposed to people-farming to let themselves loose on the population. Equivalently, it's yet another facile turdly emanation from society's fundament, the moralising classes.

So if you have to handle it, get a stick and wear rubber gloves.

[b]Disclaimer[/b]: Opinions expressed by this author are not always necessarily held by him. But this one certainly is.


reader stevenjohnson2 said...

Sorry I didn't proofread. I copy any posts lest they get lost. Apparently it glitched and mingled posts made at different websites. I'm pretty sure that you don't defend the Ukrainian neo-fascists as the erroneously included portion of another post implied in this context. Again, my apologies.


reader Werdna said...

Oh, they would have heard of the case. You overestimate Obama's significance. Racial demagoguery has a long pre-Obama history.


reader Teacher said...

I teach math at a public high school in the US. If you compare the number of exercises in the Algebra 2 textbook on any given topic ( for instance , the factoring of quadratic trinomial expressions ), you may find a total of 14, versus 40 or (many) more in texts of 20 or more years ago. As far as indoctrination goes, I constantly remind my students that math is learned by solving math problems. There is always some degree of shock in the students when I tell them not to worry about using too much paper, as their education is more important than the trees. They clearly have been taught the trees have intrinsic importance AT LEAST EQUAL TO, if not more than, their own, as persons. It is vignettes such as this that have convinced me that environmentalism is simply fascism re-branded. The goal - human domination- is the same.


reader Shannon said...

Good point John. Equality of opportunity could lead to crazy complaints like discrimination against the otherwise located...
I guess equal opportunity means that it is the right for everyone to access all that society offers without special privileges. Well I guess for a British like you ;-) and your royal families this might be a difficult concept to grasp. You are after all only a "subject of your queen", aren't you?


reader John Archer said...

Hi Shannon,

Had a slow day at the river bank?

TOP TIP: Change your bait supplier. :)