“Education or Indoctrination.” Are those our two choices? There are 7.5 billion people on this planet. How can a statement like this be made, reducing it to either/or?
Mr. Roper, of the Ethan Allen Institute, posits that education is reading, writing, math, etc. I ask, read what? Write what? Calculate what? And what is “etc.?” Could it be science? Some say science is a hoax. Is that claim education or indoctrination? History? Some say history is written by the winners, to which there is some truth. Is it education to accept it and indoctrination to question it? Or is it the other way?
Some would like their religion taught in schools. Would that be education, or indoctrination? Some require the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the day. Is that education or indoctrination?
Mr. Roper seemed to be bothered that climate denial is being questioned by (gasp) children. He thinks the children are being used by the educators. He seems to think children are not capable of observing and acting upon those observations.
The one phrase I did not see in the essay was “critical thinking.” That skill, more than anything else, is the goal of education. I admit that when I went to school in the ‘60s, critical thinking was almost discouraged. Fortunately, I had a father who would engage us in debates from supper on through the night. He would play devil’s advocate. He would force us to substantiate our claims. Reason and logic were required: not by fiat, but by the course of discussion. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the teachers heard a compelling case from their students.
The students of today are savvy. They see our generation and previous generations have poisoned the planet, first by ignorance, then by indifference, and now through gross, deliberate negligence. They connect the dots. They see a scramble for mined resources, even though the technology now exists to leave it be.
Mr. Roper knows his arguments are weak. “Shock Troops?” Isn’t that a bit hyperbolic?
“Strolling of the Heifers?” I won’t even ask. That’s mocking and degrading. He bemoans the inconvenience of held up traffic. That’s the point: It wouldn’t get anyone’s attention without a little inconvenience. That is how demonstrations work.
And, of course, we couldn’t have any screed from the Ethan Allen Institute that didn’t bemoan taxes. He cites $22,000 per student, then complains they are brainwashed (more hyperbole and fear mongering). It’s always about the money, isn’t it?
Mr. Roper’s arguments are weak at best. The students of this state, the nation and the world regard him and his arguments inconsistent, self-serving and dismissive.
George Simpson lives in Pittsfield.