Education is indoctrination in as much as all indoctrination is in itself a form of teaching established beliefs, a mode of providing the received ideas of the culture. Doctrine comes from doctrina which is teaching or learning, from the Latin doctor or teacher. Education is thus systematic instruction, all instruction a form of building, yes structure, structure, structure. All systems of instruction are based on established procedures, principals, method; what is established has at least the illusion of permanence.
However, there has also been a kind of learning that is other than the above; the former explanation of education used to be glaringly obvious in all Publ;ic forms of schooling. Today, it seems to have become entrenched in our universities.
Liberty, Democracy, Civil Rights–these are all ideas, metaphysical energies, that can be co-opted by the State, by the systems of education, by the media, by governmental bureaucrats and used in the processes of indoctrination. The first line of State sponsored and state supported indoctrination comes from our schools. Elementary school is elemental in disseminating the elements of doctrine. HIgh School completes this task of changing people into a Public that serves the State. Only today, it is not just the Public Schools, or the Community Colleges, but in our four year schools, including Ivy League other four year institutions equal to them.
All public schooling is this titularly asserted indoctrination. Indoctrination is always doctrinal; we understand what it means to be doctrinaire, itself unavoidable in any process of indoctrination. School is where people go to be informed, which is just what it says, to be put in form. Information, as I have said before, is in formation. Indoctrination has always been to teach a person or group of people to accept a set of values or beliefs without question. There is no political unit that does not do this. The doctrine then becomes dogma; no society is without its dogmas. These dogmas are protected and enforced by the agents of the State. Public School is a factory where the raw material of the people is made into a State supporting and defending public who in turn do not question the values of the Status Quo because the Status Quo is the one truth, the only truth they need. And those who are in formation are rewarded according to a hierarchy of their importance and/or service.
You probably imagined that indoctrination into the values of the Status Quo only happens in States like Nazis Germany or the Soviet Union or North Korea. You probably imagined that dogma is something that only religious institutions manage and disseminate and enforce–of course, in America, this would have to mean the Catholic Church and not the White House, or your college, or the Public School systems across America, or your office at work, or your family . . .
It is not the existence of this in our society, or the pervasiveness of it everywhere, or the persistence of it over time historically that is disturbing–even the best possible system of education will have this tendency to indoctrinate; all systematizing tends towards this. Any process of enculturation is in effect an indoctrination of a kind. Tribal rituals are indoctrinations. Doctrine and dogma are everywhere, in all groups. We are not even talking the difference between benign or malignant indoctrination, but simply how little effort we make to confront or alter this tendency. This is what is most disturbing. It’s not that the forces working to insure that this is the primary way we educate will disappear, but that we must remain vigilant in our efforts against this kind of pedagogy.