IndoctriNation: the truth behind public education {a review}

As a part of the TOS Review Crew, I had a chance to review IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America ($19.95 physical disc), a DVD by Great Commission Films.

IndoctriNation-the truth behind public education

In case you are wondering what indoctrination is: Indoctrination is not education; indoctrinated people are expected not to question or critically examine what they have learned.

First, I want to say that I really don’t think the movie trailer does this film justice.  It does get across one main idea of the film (we need to question public school education), but what I think is just as important as the main idea is the history of education that is explained while watching.

What IndoctriNation the film is:

IndoctriNation is a documentary, 102 minutes long, about Scottish film maker Colin Gunn and his homeschooling family; they load up on a bus and travel the country in search of answers to questions parents in the United States should be asking about their children in public school:

  • Who established the American public school system?
  • Are my kids physically and morally safe in schools?
  • Are the public schools religiously neutral?
  • Should Christians try to be “salt and light” in public schools?
  • Can the public school system be fixed or redeemed?

IndoctriNation answers the above questions and gives you more food for thought by interviewing real teachers, superintendents, parents, and students as well as historians.  This film, among so many other things, shows you clips of actual material teachers are trained with- clips of films I myself saw during my time in college.

What We Thought and What We Took Away From It:

I am a Christian, homeschooling mother with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.  This film hit very close to home for me; by trade I am a product of the State’s teacher’s college, my mom is a public school teacher, as are many other people in my family.  For the last two years of my degree I was taught about the many theorists and psychologists mentioned in this film.  I wrote papers, taught lessons to real students, and presented units of study that took me hours to prepare based on these theorists and psychologists all in the name of “education.” All in the name of something that is truly far from education.  This film shows Christian families wanting to hold their children’s spirits in tact where they are sending their children every day.

I will say as a product of public schools myself, and as a product of the State’s teacher college program, Gunn pretty much hit every nail on the head.  Most parents have no idea that the structure of the school system we have adopted today is based on a system from Prussian Germany (for Nazi control), which was proposed by Carl Marx; a system which is not only not Christian, but not American (as is stated in the film).

Did you know the first compulsory schools (in the 1800s) were not only experimental, but educational practices we use today were set up by G. Stanley Hall who applied the theory of evolution to how we teach our children?  (ie: “age segregated, peer based, grade based education.)  It was not founded on quality education, but created as a test lab and later as a way to train mass numbers of people for positions in mass-manufacturing jobs (factories).  This documentary will open your eyes to those and many, many more facts that will leave you questioning public education today. Many of these things I knew from courses I took in college, and many I did not.

As much as I agreed with and enjoyed the film, I do wonder if it comes on a bit strong for Christian parents that have chosen public school.  I say this because to some extent I think this film will make parents question their own faith (which most people don’t want to do), as well as what they want for their children’s future.  While watching it I imagined showing it to my college peers who have now gone on to teach in the public sector, and while I can see some agreeing, I can see some defending public education because they are afraid to question their own choices for their family.

Overall it is a very well produced, honest documentary that makes it hard for anyone to argue where mandatory, public education began and where it is now (which is not far from where it began).  If it doesn’t begin with God and the Bible, then it begins with man (quoted from the film), and the bible warns us against following man’s ideas.  Sadly, that is the state of our public school system today.  It is wonderful that we have Christian educators in our classrooms who pray for students and faculty.  But “you cannot Christianize it top down.  It must be foundation up,”- schools are not religion neutral, they teach worldly views (naturalism) with a little morality sprinkled on top.

So, who is IndoctriNation for?  I think it is for parents who want to homeschool, parents who do homeschool, and open minded parents who would consider homeschool.  If you are a homeschooling family that wants to better understand the foundation of public education, or where education in our country is headed, then you should definitely watch this documentary (and share it with your family that doubts your decisions to homeschool!).

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