Wed. Apr 21st, 2021

The Paradox of Indoctrination in Education

Taiba Yar Baig
Aga Khan University-Karachi

Whether education is distinguished from indoctrination is a question that has been very much argued and discussed. The current paper is therefore from one of my MPhil courses: Foundations of Education; Aga Khan University Institute of Educational Development (AKU-IED), which presents the “Paradox of Indoctrination in Education”. In this paper, the concept of “Paradox of Indoctrination in Education” reflects on how indoctrination affects the educational pattern.

In an educational context, the word “Indoctrination” is the process of inculcating a person with thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, intellectual strategies, and specialized pedagogies (Whit, 2005).  The original connotation of indoctrination is pedagogical. In Latin, Doctrina means doctrine, education, science, which will persistently substitute one for another. The earlier meaning of doctrine attained knowledge, whereas that of the verb to indoctrinate was: to teach and instruct, to provide someone with knowledge, to teach science. These elements/terms assimilated other meanings that permitted a semantic shift to the political ideology. (Momanu, 2012)

For Education, the term “Education” and “Indoctrination” are used analogously for education to graft child’s belief of laws, morality, orders, and admired régime, and to stimulate in them reverence and respect. Indoctrination comes from the controversy between ‘child-centered’ and conventional theories of education. The conventional teacher simply tries establishing bits and pieces of information in some students’ minds, without letting them find out knowledge for themselves, receiving children to become skilled up environmental facts for rote reproduction, and like teaching algebra by chalk and talk’.

Subsequently, the concepts of indoctrination in educational consideration linked with education, also similar to converse sides of the similar coin. Sometimes it solely means manipulating the immature; means manipulating them in a certain or a particular way, as by a play feeling; and sometimes it means handling them in like to hamper their autonomy /freedom of thought.  It also influences the children’s immature, influences them in particular by playing upon their feelings, and sometimes deals in hindering their freedom of thought in certain areas. This association has been confirmed to be demanding difficulty in deliberations of the appropriate purposes and means of education. Without working on many forms of problem, the quandary may merely position this way: if ”thinking for oneself” (autonomy) is a primary mean of education, and if students are deficient in full capacity to think themselves, the process of enlightening that competency must essentially entail particular beliefs, principles, and abilities, despite child’s intentions, reasons, or choices (indoctrination).  The reason is students need flexibility in thought, emotional response, and imagination to regulate their moral beliefs. This may lead to creating certain circumstances that may differ from those of what went before. This right of adaptation justifies education over indoctrination. Children, whether young or adult, have to respond to circumstances in which they may find that establishes principles and values are insufficient or inconsistent with changing situations. In this situation, they have to break the status quo. Indoctrination thus can take place in any subject area, together with science and religion, and even in liberal education where students may be indoctrinated, not in content also, but in the styles of belief.

Indoctrination constantly encompasses an authority relationship. Not all forms of authority are associated with indoctrination, particularly because authority may be a universal phenomenon. The universality and polymorphism of authority which isn’t instituted within human society. With this regards, in education, he/she who teaches or indoctrinates others to exercise an impact deliberated more or less legitimate. almost like teachers, he/she who indoctrinates others is that the representative of an establishment of authority; he/she asserts him/herself within the name of God, society, people, culture, truth, humankind, etc. On the one hand, exposing children to diverse positions and attitudes assimilates them into the pluralist culture, thereby preparing them for participation in a democratic society. Hence, this exposure includes children in civic life but also threatens the survival of certain traditional ways of life. On the opposite hand, insulating children from exposure to diversity helps to guard and perpetuate their parents’ customary way of life, but it also reduces the children’s less fit participation during a pluralist democracy. Teaching turns into indoctrination when it encourages the transfer of contents subordinated to a political, educational, social, religious ideology or of the other nature. We affect teaching when the teacher persuades the academics (Teachers) of what he/she knows and with indoctrination when he/she persuades or endeavors to sway the academics (Teachers) of what he/she believes.

Considering indoctrination as pedagogy, teaching may additionally become an indoctrination act when it uses authoritarian methods, no matter the content type and therefore the objectives of the teacher. For example, teaching mathematics may provide a transparent example of indoctrination, if this is often made in an exceedingly intimidating and authoritarian way. Refusing authoritarian education was one in all the conjoint concepts of all the “new education” trend options. This concept is present within the work of J.-J. Rousseau, the setter of this trend, to whom the proper education is natural, non-coercive, and respectful towards the child’s liberty. Rousseau contemplates that the bookish form of education slower down the thinking of the child. Therefore, to educate means to provide the child with the freedom to the child’s own life experiences. Hence a serious psychological argument in favor of the thesis on indoctrination as a method: the intimidating education is contrary to the child’s nature.

To conclude, indoctrination features a very multifaceted and anecdotal connotation: its original meaning is pedagogic and optimistic; by shifting to the political ideology it attained negative meanings. If indoctrination is defined as any kind of teaching which hampers independent thinking during a given field, or according to Hanks (2008), “any determination to protect acceptance of a thought in such a manner as does not thereby help to make the child an independent learner in such matters,” education as contrasted with indoctrination is said to be a process of teaching the pupil the way to think instead what to think. 


Hanks, C. (2008). Indoctrination and the space of reasons. School of education, 58(2), 193-211.

Momanu, M. (2012). The pedagogical dimension of indoctrination: Criticism of indoctrination and the constructivism in education. Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy, 1 (IV), 88-105.

White, J. (2015). Indoctrination, 1967. The concept of education, 1-16. Retrieved, from 

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