Education and indoctrination in the Americas

Ricardo Israel

I was one of the speakers at a recent forum organized by the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Diario Las Américas and the Adam Smith Center at Florida International University. I kept the title since it is fully applicable to allof the Americas, since the struggle between education and indoctrination occurs not only in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also in the United States. By other authors, Iknow that something similar happens in other regions, but I do not yet have the personal study to affirm it.

In our Spanish-speaking countries it is an explanatory element of electoral behavior in several places as it also occurs in the Caribbean islands, in Brazil and in the United States itself, a country where education and its control isa central element of thecultural war that polarizes and divides thecountry. So much so that it is expected to have a major influence on the outcome of the November elections, especially the local ones.

What happened?
It is not the first time that indoctrination has existed, but it is clearly a phenomenon where what was understood as education at the end of the last century is being replaced in this twenty-first century. It is a problem of such magnitude that it far exceeds the partisan control of teachers’ unions and the university education that prepares them.

The truth is that there was a general mistake, since everything seemed to indicate that, with the Soviet Union disappeared, our countries would orient education towards the future and development, but they did not count on this penetration of the indoctrinating phenomenon, sometimes without control or limits. Today it is clear that optimism was as exaggerated as what happened with the end of military dictatorships and the transition to democracy, where today we see an increase and not a decrease in dictatorships, including those of organized crime, and an increase in populism and confrontation, together with a near disappearance of the political center in several countries.
The current situation is worrying, and, in this regard, there is a lot of responsibility of large capitals and traditional media, whose owners often come from the former.

What is happening today is not a sudden event, but the culmination of a process of several decades, and the teaching that is delivered is what voters transfer to electoral preferences that distance countries from the desired development, and where emotion surpasses reason and narrative or narrative to the facts themselves. It is the indoctrination received in colleges and universities that helps to understand why arguments are replaced by a story without nuances, that of good and bad.

By influencing in this way, the learning processes of people, it goes against the Enlightenment itself, a European cultural and intellectual process that from the eighteenth century brought us the current idea of the West as well as much progress, including the departure from religious dogma to explain both history and the world. Today, indoctrination has replaced education proper, bringing back the categories of good and bad as an explanatory phenomenon, a new religion, only without God.
It is opposition to education as a method, since it is this that prepares us to question, to ask. Indoctrination only shows us the answers it wants to show, the worst thing is that it believes it has not only the answers, but the only correct ones.

What constitutes education? What is the right way to educate? The questions are not mine, and were asked by Greeks that included none other than Aristotle, and the truth is that we are still looking for a unique answer. In relation to the former, each generation seeks the answers according to historical, scientific and cultural changes. In relation to the latter, to give an idea of the complexity, even the Greeks themselves had more than one model, at least two, when comparing Athens with Sparta, also in society, democracy versus militarism.

Indoctrination only knows certainties, prefabricated solutions, when we always have more doubts than unique answers. Many times we only have the questions that will serve as guidance, such as when looking for the best way to educate we wonder about the location of the future. Where do we place it? Moving forward or in the present? It is what indoctrination does not do, since it does not ask questions, but only delivers the answer. It has no doubts but certainties, and it is what often leads them to place the future in the past, to idealize realities that only exist as such in utopia.

It is what explains that when some ideological slogans are presented as truths, those people transformed into voters, in adulthood support obsolete ideas and surprise with their electoral preferences for failed alternatives, sometimes again and again, and it is not for lack of information, which exists and in abundance, but that learning transformed into a story is superimposed on the evidence of the truth and the facts themselves.

It is basically a certainty of religion rather than in science, very different from education itself, which asks whether it is necessary to know a little of everything or only the most important, as well as the role of principles and values in the individual and in the social, so that education in democracy is also civic education. Moreover, unlikeindoctrination, education also asks whether everything shouldbe swallowed as revealed truth, also wondering if it is essential to be correct in everything that is communicated, since many things have been done even with wrong ideas, as evidenced by the fact that many territories were occupied or conquered thinking that the land was flat.

By the way, it baffles when you have all the truth and evidence about it, that the idea that the earth is flat reappears and with force , in no small measure thanks to the internet and social networks, which shows that the battle of education is never completely won and is always an unfinished task.

Today, because of its destructive effects, the main battle of education is to defeat indoctrination, and the battlefield is the whole of the Americas. What is needed?
In this regard, be clear about several challenges, without the order being indicative of anything special.

The first has to do with how we achieve – in times of deployment of the culture of the image over the book – that learning (the new) surpassed simple training (the known).
The second is to try to ensure that one can be both creative and educated, and the third is that education goes beyond mere instruction to also form good citizens. The fourth is very important and has to do with defining the basics of the teaching process, that is, whether it is minimum knowledge or certain fundamental values.

Fifth, as the system must process information and not only to memorize and accumulate it, in order to defeat indoctrination through the triad, understand, explain, understand.

Sixth, we continue to talk about stages (pre, post, primary, higher, others), when we should speak only in terms of a continuous process that lasts a lifetime, individual as well as social.

Seventh, education should not only define a suitable place for a growing visual culture, but also seek solutions more in why than in how. Finally, eighthly, to renew the challenge of education for every generation, that is, the ethical commitment to the truth, since there is no absolute truth even in science, which does not advance with revealed truths as in indoctrination, but also through what is known as breaks. epistemological, including competing theories.

Indoctrination takes advantage of the feeling of permanent crisis with which one lives, that difficulty in giving coherence and meaning to the world. In this regard, there is something that totally separates education, where even technology is of importance. The best weapon available is the critical attitude, that which allows progress, an attitude towards life that is not an occasional spark but a way of being.

To defeat indoctrination, education itself must remember that nothing is more stable in the human being than his capacity to change, manifested throughout history, from the caves to the present day. Indoctrination is defeated, when the truth is understood that great changes such as the fall of the Berlin Wall occurred when they were not expected and without any planning to trigger the events. This is so because the human being is unpredictable, since he modifies and modifies himself, constantly and regularly.

Its main limits are internal, given by the belief system, including dreams and rites, not just genes. To defeat indoctrination, the educational process must alsoharness tools to prepare us both to change several times in life and to resist that change when it tries to be imposed from the outside on people, through manipulation.

Sometimes the most difficult change is not the social but the interior, so the process known as education must help us to be aware of the existence of indoctrination to defeat it, especially on days like the current ones, where young people facethis conflict in greater solitude and with less help and family support. For the damage generated by indoctrination, it is about being able to understand that plasticity and flexibility are assets of human evolution that should allow us to overcome that aggression.

In conclusion, intelligent is not the one who knows more, but that person who also has the capacity for change, not only as part of a species, but in the most difficult thing for a society, which is to get the educational system to help and not obstruct the development of the capacity for wonder that allowsand build bridges between emotion and reason, so that intelligence can defeat that existential boredom thatis exploited byindoctrination so that anti-democratic forces achieve control from within societies.

Education must be defended and just as all knowledge can be used, we must also be aware of the misuse that can be made, visible for years in so many electoral decisions in Latin America, where indoctrination is imposed, paralyzing and pushing back societies. For a quality democracy we need a better education that defeats the indoctrination that grows and advances in the region, and that like everything that ultimately has to do with principles and values is what costs the most, but if victory is achieved, it is always the most lasting.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.