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Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy

Abstract

Philosophers who have been concerned with the problem of indoctrination have focused attention chiefly on teaching, textbooks, and the curriculum in elementary and secondary schools where the age of the students and the fact that they have yet to fully develop their own critical judgment suggests a certain vulnerability and susceptibility to non-rational persuasion. On the one hand, teachers may abuse their power and authority and seek to impose certain beliefs and values, actively discouraging their students from raising problems or objections; on the other hand, certain views may simply escape scrutiny and pass unchallenged in education because they have become part of what Karl Popper (1975) labels uncritical common sense. In either case, the real danger is that young students will become incapable of assessing such views for themselves. Indoctrination results when students lose the ability to assess the merits of the ideas they are studying or coming to acquire and find themselves locked into certain beliefs and assumptions in such a way that they cannot seriously consider alternative views because their minds have been closed.

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