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The Conversation Every Parent Should Have with a College-Bound Child

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For high school graduates, college is often the first real experience living away from home. Most parents are instrumental in helping their young adults pack for college, attending to details such as buying the right sheets to fit the twin xl dorm room bed and helping them to move-in. Upon the teary-eyed goodbyes, Moms and Dads will typically tell their kids to do well, get involved, have fun, and be safe. But one serious subject might be overlooked, how to avoid being indoctrinated.

Cambridge Dictionary defines indoctrination as the process of repeating an idea or belief to someone until they accept it without criticism or question. A primary reason for attending college is to expand one’s mind. However, the process of indoctrination does the opposite. It shrinks the mind by telling students that they must conform to a prescribed ideology, the one the instructor or facility perceives to be correct. It is a form of brainwashing and often tends to bend politically toward the left.

A college student sitting in class might be told, for example, that all people who believe in capitalism are greedy, that all people who use energy do not care about the environment, or that all people who own firearms are bad. The instructors may misrepresent arguments as facts and introduce one-sided claims as the sole truth when their teachings are essentially based on their opinions. A young mind may absorb such information, accept it as fact, and conform to the belief rather than challenge the information they are fed.

Former President Trump warned of indoctrination in education during a July 3, 2020 speech at Mount Rushmore. In front of the dramatic stone carvings of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and T. Roosevelt, President Trump described the pursuit of our Founders towards justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity and the freedoms our ancestors shed blood to secure. Trump proclaimed, “Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that they were villains. The radical view of American history is a web of lies. All perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged. The record is disfigured beyond all recognition.”

Though instruction is regularly based on scholars’ teachings and their intellectual offerings, to attend a higher education facility to simply memorize material, take tests, and accept whatever is being taught does nothing to stimulate the mind. Instead, students must be told to think for themselves, ask questions, get creative, and push the boundaries, even if it is uncomfortable. An examination of remarkable successful individuals who have made lifetime contributions, such as Noble Prize or Pulitzer Prize winners, does not deliver conformists but rather independent thinkers with bold imaginations.

As colleges reopen after shutdowns from the pandemic, and more sons and daughters prepare for the college journey, parents should let them know – it’s okay to be curious, ask questions, seek knowledge, think daringly, and engage in subjects for which they feel a passion. The education system is not well served by a misrepresentation of facts, nor by submission and compliance. At best, it should perpetuate original thought and build students’ confidence and ability to grow and go out and change the world.

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