Liberty Lost Volume 2: How Anti-Choice Policies Change Education Into Indoctrination
The ways people think directs the ways they act. China and the U.S. recognize that changing the path of others is best achieved by redirecting their way of thinking. In other words, “educate” them and their children; indoctrinate them. The difference between actual education and indoctrination is: actual education is received willingly, and indoctrination is not. If a government forces a group of people to “learn” something, then that government is not providing education. This problem has been evident with the First Nations, the Amish, the original native Hawaiians, and Chinese practitioners of Falun Dafa.
The First Nations
Arguing in support of “educating” the First Nations (ie. native Americans) for their own good, then later adding “in the interest of the state”, many of the First Nations children were forcibly taken from their families to be placed in boarding schools. The First Nations were not completely unfamiliar with European-American schools. Some had been voluntarily receiving education in Christian missions since 1634. But, interactions between European nations and the First Nations grew substantially. Their respective ways of life were radically different, creating conflict in their relationships. Americans observed that the First Nations were vanishing. Something needed to change. Someone needed to change, and the U.S. government decided it would not be them.
Since 1819, the U.S. had been giving a small amount of money to private Christian schools for the education of First Nations, but attendance was not mandatory until 1870. Because attendance was mandatory, the government could not depend upon missionaries as the sole educators of all First Nations youth. So, government schools were constructed. Since this required spending much more of the people’s money, then government regulated the curriculum in these schools to ensure that the instruction supported state interests; Congress did not want to spend money without getting something in return. For example, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Thomas J. Morgan wanted students taught to look upon “the United States Government as their friend and benefactor”, and advocated keeping from students parts of history that made his nation, his people, look bad.
Although attendance for all First Nations youth was mandatory, approximately half were wilfully sent by their parents. Some youth wanted to attend these boarding schools, which were usually located far from home, such that traveling to them meant visiting new land. They felt this was an opportunity to live in a foreign country, or learn an exotic way of life.
But, none wanted to be forced. Those denied choice experienced a great loss being separated from their families, and having their culture and identity torn away from them. Parents on reservations received welfare, and those who kept their children from government would have food and clothing kept from them. Police came to their home to take the children. Some members of the Navajo nation were employed as police to remove Hopi youth from their homes because the Navajo and Hopi were enemies. Several tribes had historically been in conflict with each other, which added hardship to students attending classes and living with members of these hostile tribes.
Before these dark times, missionaries spoke tribal languages with students as much as they could. But, in 1880, the government required all instruction to be in English, and even the students were banned from speaking their native language at school. From this point forward, teachers taught using methods referred to today as “direct method” and “total immersion”. The mandate naturally required giving students new, English names. A Sioux originally named Ota Kte, meaning “Plenty Kill”, was given the name Luther Standing Bear, which was easier to pronounce and not associated with killing. Some were given silly names like Rip Van Winkle and Julius Caesar.
In addition to math and science, students were taught to accept Christianity. Some became Christian, some refused, and others were conflicted. Part of their conflict was based on the fear that all this new knowledge obligated them to abandon their tribal ways. Others experienced no internal conflict, accepting science instruction with such confidence that they became arrogant believing they had superior knowledge relative to their tribe.
Their difficulties did not end upon returning to their reservation. Many realized that the skills and trades taught at these schools were useless. There were no wagons to fix, horses to cattle, or houses to maintain. That which was taught at U.S. schools fit within U.S. culture, but not First Nations cultures. Further, students who embraced aspects of this foreign way of life were treated poorly by fellow tribe members who hated white people.
To this day, some First Nations still hate white people and the U.S. government. Others harbor no hatred, and have embraced at least some aspects of U.S. culture. Yet, theft of their freedom continues today. The Bureau of Indian Affairs regulates life on reservations, taking control out of the hands of residents and placing it into the hands of the President. The consequences of this are high poverty and suicide rates. They lack the economic freedom to purchase and use land, and build on it, severely restricting their power to form their own culture, and manifest their own destiny.
The power of the Amish to choose their own future became restricted in Switzerland during the 1600’s. To regain their freedom, they began immigrating to America. As the centuries passed, technology moved forward. Some Amish communities sacrificed using most new technologies, and continued a rural way of life to serve God in the manner of their choosing. The more that technology developed, the greater the differences grew between the Amish and their neighbors, even those who likewise farmed and worked in trades. Because the Amish married only other Amish, they became their own ethnic group, and as history repeatedly shows, when one ethnic group becomes significantly different from their surrounding community, conflict is often the result.
The greatest conflict endured by the Amish in the U.S. has been protecting themselves from compulsory education. To make compulsory is to force and compel others. U.S. courts frequently decided that forcing Amish children to learn what the state desired was in the best interests of the children. This compulsory “education” threatened the Amish for the same reason it threatened the First Nations: it obstructed the path they desired for the future of their people. Learning is an essential part of the path that the Amish have chosen. But, the ambition driving government education has never converged with the purpose guiding Amish education. The purpose for the Amish is not to get ahead, but to get to Heaven.
“We are not interested in building missiles and jet aircraft.
They are not interested in building Christians.
We must go separate ways” (Kleim, p.42)
Education is part of this purpose. Their entire life is for Christ, and the Amish educate their children to prepare them for life. Since life exists throughout the day, then education exists throughout the day. Life is not limited to the schoolhouse, so neither is education. Education is embedded into the entire day, and the day is devoted to being Christian. Therefore, the Amish do not separate their faith and their education.
Their union of education, life, and devotion to Christ are essential for understanding why they have fought for control over their children’s education, and even useful for understanding First Nations cultures. Neither the Amish nor the First Nations traditionally separate their spiritual practices from their daily living. Work, learning, and prayer are all one. They are life. Therefore, separating their spiritual practices from their education separates them from their life, and life from them. Removing Christ from Amish education is death to their way of life. ‘Cultural genocide’ describes death of First Nations’ ways of life, and ‘secularization’ describes death of the Amish way of life.
The Amish fervently support separating the state and their church, and are happy to be exempt from federal taxes. They do not use the state to force others to be Amish, and they do not want others using the state to force them to be secular. They do not want the state to force any values on them, period.
Values promoted by governments have historically conflicted with values of the Amish. As pacifists, abhorrent to them has been the glorification of war in government history books. A people’s beliefs about their history lays the path for ther future. Because governments and the Amish desire different futures for themselves, the paths they lay are marked by different values. Government schools emphasize scientific progress, competitiveness, pride and self-praise, secularism, and love for government. The Amish emphasize goodness, wisdom, cooperation, humility rather than recognition, tradition rather than novelty, and the Christ rather than the State. Thus, the Amish prefer teachers with good values more than teachers with knowledge of the latest teaching methods. Their freedom to embed these values into education fills education with purpose, and purposeful education allows for motivated students.
U.S. governments began taking action against the Amish in 1914 Ohio. Until 1950, most courts ruled against their methods of education. The hardship for the Amish was not as severe as for First Nations; Amish parents were fined or jailed for not sending children to government-approved schools, but they were never en masse removed from their land. Being pacifists, the Amish did not resist punishments, and practiced civil disobedience while continuing to raise their children according to the ways of their people. After 1950, elected officials sometimes ignored court rulings against the Amish because public opinion began to favor them.
When law enforcement did intervene, events on Amish property were disheartening. For example, in 1965 Iowa, inspectors came to examine their land, and were appalled by qualities such as outhouses, and even a bird’s nest on a window sill. Amish teachers did not have licenses to teach the children, so officials attempted to take the children and send them to government schools. Under advice from their parents, the children ran to safe spaces and hid, ignoring the bus driver who presented himself as kind and there only to help. Parents were expectedly distressed, but the children–God bless them–saw this as an adventure, and were scolded by their parents.
State governments were very strict about how children were educated. Kansas v Garber in 1966 ruled that an Amish girl had not been educated the proper way. A child who does not attend a government school “must attend a private or parochial school having a school month consisting of four weeks of five days each of six hours per day during which pupils are under direct supervision of its teacher while they are engaged together in educational activities” (p. 89). In 1966, an entire community emigrated from Arkansas to Honduras simply to educate their children as they desired.
The fate of the Amish turned in 1967. Reverend William Lindholm, a Lutheran pastor in Michigan, created the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom to help fight for the educational rights of the Amish. It was comprised of educators, church leaders, and lawyers. A series of court cases culminated in 1972 with Wisconsin v. Yoder, wherein the Supreme Court ruled that forcing the Amish to send children to school after grade eight was a violation of their religious rights. As stated earlier, their entire way of life is their religion, and they do not separate education from this.
Today, the Amish enjoy their freedom without attempting to impose their way of life on others. Teachers do not have a college education, but have the power to bring their values to their work. In arithmetic, they promote honesty and shun cheating; in language, saying what is meant; in history, humaneness, mercy, and kindness; cleanliness in health, respect for the Earth in geography, and praise for God in music. As a result, Amish youth are highly literate, and parents are active participants in their education, donating supplies, attending events, and helping maintain the schoolhouse. Education in the schoolhouse ends at grade eight, neither the federal government nor state governments regulate the curriculum, and taxpayers do not fund their education. A minority of Amish parents consent to send their children to government schools, and the majority do not. Both the minority and the majority get what they want. This does not mean Amish life is perfect, but it is their own, and they hope to keep it that way.
The Original Native Hawaiians
The original Hawaiians are not First Nations people. The First Nations lived on the American continent, and the original Hawaiians did not. However, the experiences of the original Hawaiians are similar to that of the First Nations. Prior to the Hawaiian islands first being governed by the U.S. in 1900, the Hawaiian Kingdom welcomed businessmen from the United States. These businessmen initially had friendly relations with the monarchy. However, the number of American immigrants eventually outgrew the number of indigenous Hawaiians, and this led to the U.S. taking control of these lands. The original Hawaiians did not consent to this takeover. Many of their descendents still object to being governed by the United States, and desire to govern themselves as a sovereign nation. Their ability to govern themselves means they must have authority over the education of their youth.
The State of Hawaii and the federal government does not educate the original Hawaiians in a manner satisfactory to them. This has been acknowledged by Congress. In 1983, Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate, a private original Hawaiian organization, funded the Native Hawaiian Educational Assessment Project at the request of the Office of Education. They reported that–among other observations–original Hawaiian youth have different learning styles than Asian and Caucasian Hawaiians, and the curriculum mandated by the Department of Education is not relevant to them. The Native Hawaiian Education Act was passed in 1988, which acknowledged that the needs of these youth were different than the needs of the other Hawaiians. The instruction mandated by the U.S. government was inconsistent with the culture of original Hawaiians, and Kamehameha Schools asked the Department of Education to alter its policies concerning them.
Thirty years later, the U.S. has not succeeded in its education of original Hawaiians. Advocates for these youth share the same goal of improving education, but their methods vary. Some, such as the Education Institute of Hawaii, prefer to work to keep but improve government schools. They fight for teachers having more freedom to create their own curriculum and apply their own methods. They believe that the best method of improving education is to allow teachers to have ownership over education and the responsibility that comes with that ownership. prefer to bypass the entire system and educate their own youth without regulation by the federal or state Department of Education. The Hawaiian teachers’ union favors a similar method, albeit contradictory. Recently, teachers organized to fight for more control over the service they provide, but they also fought for more funding by government. Of course, the more money government gives, the more control it will insist on having. Finally, other original Hawaiians advocate bypassing the current system entirely and educating the youth themselves.
Falun Dafa Practitioners
Falun Dafa is a form of Qi Gong, which is a type of physical and meditative exercise. Qi Gong groups do not described themselves as religious organizations because doing so would prompt the Chinese government to regulate them. However, the Chinese government has described practitioners of Falun Dafa as a cult and promoters of superstition, and they are not treated as well by the state as are other Qi Gong practitioners. Because of this perception, Falun Dafa practitioners have been suppressed in various ways, including regulation of thoughts. But, because Falun Dafa is relatively new, restrictions of their freedom have been documented only minutely.
Perhaps the earliest example of suppression concerns freedom of speech. Chinese citizens who form groups that China determines are religious are required to be licensed to engage in that activity, and the government had determined that Falun Dafa was a religion. On July 20, 1999, 55-70 Falun Dafa instructors were arrested. Two days later, the Ministry of Public Security did not permit distribution of literature or presentation of pro-Falun Dafa images in public because it had been determined Falun Dafa was a religion a that was not authorized to exist, yet it was promoting unscientific beliefs and fake news that harmed the social order. That same year, between 10,000 and 16,000 practitioners protested peacefully outside the capitol building. Five Falun Dafa representatives were invited inside, wherein they asked to be permitted to speak publicly about their beliefs.
Falun Dafa instructors have been punished as criminals, and regular practitioners were “re-educated” about science and technology. They were sent to special camps to learn about science, but these were only labor camps that did not provide science education. Soon, Chinese children were required to attend anti-Falun Dafa classes.
In 2013, China claimed to have abolished these “education” camps. However, the Chinese government still perceives practitioners of Falun Dafa as threats, which practitioners inform people about through the classical Chinese dance group, Shen Yun.
These four are not the only groups of people who demand control over the education of their children, and the U.S. government is not the only group that restricts how children are educated. Since education influences thoughts, and thoughts guide behavior, then the education of children influences their behavior when they become adults. Therefore, to have power over this education is to have power concerning the behavior of future adults. Parents who love their children will work tirelessly to provide education that will benefit their children, whereas people who love their own power will work tirelessly to mandate “education” that will benefit themselves. Different parents prefer different methods for the education of their children, but the desire to choose this method and to shape their children’s future is universal. When people are denied their freedom to select a method, then they develop a distrust towards those who restrict their power, and distrust is always a sign of a conflicting and unhealthy relationship.
Chang, Maria Hsia. Falun Gong: the end of days. Yale University Press, 2004.
Coleman, Michael, C. American Indian Children at School, 1850-1930.University Press of Mississippi, 1993.
Cooper, Michael, L. Indian School: Teaching the White Man’s Way. New York: Clarion Books, 1999.
Kleim, Albert, N. ed. Compulsory Education and the Amish: the right not to be modern.
Penny, Benjamin. The Religion of Falun Gong. University of Chicago Press, 2012.