Miseducation

The following is an excerpt from a book I recently read, Chomsky on Miseducation.

Beyond a Domesticating Education: A Dialogue

Donaldo Macedo: I was intrigued some years back by a twelve-year-old student at Boston Latin School, David Spritzler, who faced disciplinary action for his refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which he considered “a hypocritical exhortation to patriotism,” in that there is not “liberty and justice for all.” The question I want to ask you is why a twelve-year-old boy could readily see through the hypocrisy in the Pledge of Allegiance, while his teacher and administrators could not? I find it mind-boggling that teachers, who by the very nature of their work should consider themselves intellectuals, are unable or willfully refuse to see what is so obvious to one so young.

Noam Chomsky: This is not hard to understand. What you just described is a sign of the deep level of indoctrination that takes place in our schools, making an educated person unable to understand elementary thoughts that any twelve-year-old can understand.

Macedo: I find it mind-boggling that a highly educated teacher and a principal would sacrifice the content in the Pledge of Allegiance in order to impose obedience by demanding that a student recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Chomsky: I don't find that mind-boggling at all. In fact, what happened to David Spritzler is expected of schools, which are institutions of indoctrination and for imposing obedience. Far from creating independent thinkers, schools have always, throughout history, played an institutional role in a system of control and coercion. And once you are well educated, you have already been socialized in ways that support the power structure, which, in turn, rewards you immensely. Let's take Harvard for example. You don't just learn mathematics at Harvard. In addition, you also learn what is expected of you as a Harvard graduate in terms of behavior and the type of questions you never ask. You learn the nuances of cocktail parties, how to dress properly, how to develop a Harvard accent.