The only form of indoctrination that should be enforced absent question or criticism is that of common decency and human empathy. Growing up as a child if ever I were rude, out of line or expressed any form of selfish behaviour my parents would punish me accordingly. While they never beat or abused me, they would express the value and sincerity of being kind and how my actions were simply unacceptable. This was an effective way of nurturing and reinforcing the decency that is within all human beings from the moment we enter this world. It is that spark of light that should be considered gospel and irrefutable in our teaching resources Australia wide – everything else should be open to critical thinking and interpretation; especially when it comes to religion.
In this day and age, what kind of message are we sending to our children when we try to encourage critical thinking and problem solving in schools and yet insist that they accept a certain set of stories to be gospel absent ANY questioning whatsoever. That in itself is the definition of absurdity and if you ask me: irony too!
The only way that we can truly reverse the negative effects of indoctrination in education (and they are indeed negative) is to introduce a curriculum that incorporates all manner of beliefs and more importantly the long and colourful history that goes with it. We should be enabling our children to cultivate their own beliefs by providing them with a multitude of ideas and philosophies and allow them to explore them in real time without scrutinising them for having alternative views.
By forcing one particular set of rules and ideas onto them and punishing them for speaking out against it we are teaching them a certain brand of elitism that is cause for so much of the pain and suffering that has long plagued our world. Instead we should encourage them to understand that there is much beauty and diversity in the world and that there are many ways in which we can express or deliver a particular set of values – that is indeed what all religions are: a type of branding in which to deliver incredibly similar principles.
Love, respect, decency, charity – regardless to whether or not you believe that it was Jesus Christ, The Buddha or Allah who foretold these principles with the utmost eloquence; they are all spreading the same message regardless. What should we be teaching our children? Not which of the boundless religions bears the most legitimacy, but which of the boundless religions makes the most sense to them on a personal level, if at all.