I do not like the public “education” system. I say “education” because there’s a difference between education and school. School is through and through an indoctrination system of obedience. This is just one aspect of why I don’t like schools.
From the time we are young, we are told that we have to raise our hand for everything. To go to the bathroom, to speak, to ask a question. To clarify. As adults, we see that this is not the way the world works. In board meetings at work, we do not raise our hands to make a point. If there’s a quarterly meeting where all the employees are in one meeting, yes we raise hands hands to ask questions of the speaker, or other presentations, but that’s only because there’s a specific speaker in the front and they have an agenda; after all, that’s the polite thing to do rather than jump into the middle of the speech. We do not send emails to our bosses to ask if we may use the restroom. Somehow as adults, we manage to navigate the world without raising our hands.
So why, as children, are we taught that we must raise our hands for everything in school? The reason has nothing to do with politely waiting your turn. It has to do with obedience and authority. We are taught to never question authority. If children so dare as to question authority, it’s called “talking back,” and the action is usually quickly stifled. “Don’t you talk back again, young lady!” If we don’t raise our hands, there’s various punishments to show that disobedience in this realm is unacceptable, from the teacher ignoring kids who speak out of turn to the principal’s office for repeat offenders. I think that this is unacceptable.
Whenever I say in discussions that authority must always be questioned, I am agreed with (I have never been disagreed with). However, is this what we are teaching our children? Is questioning authority ever practiced, or do people just agree with the theory and principle without ever actually questioning authority? When you stifle a child’s natural inclination to question what’s valid, they are being told not to “talk back.” How does this circular logic make any sense? Do any of these adults actually believe that authority should be questioned? I think that children should question the authority of everyone, including their own parents.
There is a reason I think this is very important, and should be closely examined. How many terrible things happen because no one questions authority, and just does as they’re told? Psychological testing has shown that people will do horrific things if they believe in the authority role someone else supposedly has over them. This has also happened in real life.
There are two well known tests that show this. One is the Stanford prison experiment. There were two groups randomly chosen from the participants: the prison guards, and the prison inmates. They played their roles in a basement of a building at Yale. The two groups quickly fell into the roles, even though they were just acting. The experiment was supposed to last for two weeks, but was stopped after six days because of the harassment and abuse the “guards” inflicted on the “inmates,” even though the abuse started on only the second day. The professor who designed and carried out the experiment got caught up in the experiment, and it was an intern who said that the experiment should stop. This study was a good example of how people fall into the role of authority and how it can be abused.
The other study was done by Stanley Milgram. He would have the participants come in, and had an intern, and they would draw slips of paper to determine the “learner” and who would be the “teacher.” However, both would say “teacher” and the intern would say he had the paper that said “learner.” The third person would be the authoritative figure. The learner would be strapped to a chair connected to an electroshock system. The teacher would have to read lists of words that the learner was supposed to learn, but would always get something wrong. The teacher was told to shock the learner every time an error occurred, and to notch up the amount of electricity delivered. There was actually no electricity and no shock, but the teacher did not know this. The learner would also say he had a heart condition, and after a certain point of “shocks” would start screaming in agony. The authority figure would tell the teacher to keep going, until all 450 volts of electricity were amped up. 65% of people went all the way, because the authority figure told the participant to keep going, even through screaming and pleading, and finally silence at some point.
Milgram’s experiments were controversial, because the participants were not aware that there was no shock actually being delivered. But if they had known, would they have gone as far as they did administering shocks? But this has also happened in real life. Did all of the soldiers under Hitler actually believe that they were doing the right thing to the Jews? Or were they just following orders? At what point do you stop simply saying it’s a good thing to question authority, and actually doing it? When it starts harming other people? If you were a soldier, and ordered to kill people in a certain house, would you do it? How about if your commanding officer tells you that your family is in that house, but there’s also “the bad guys” in there, and you have to kill them all? Is it because you’re taught to dehumanize the “enemy?” They aren’t people, they don’t matter? How many innocent people are murdered because people are just following orders?
Where’s the line? When are people going to start actually standing up and questioning the validity and legitimacy of these perceived authority figures? People are all too good at rationalizing behavior. “Well, there are terrorists out there, so, yeah, we need the government to spy on us.” Is that really legitimate? Who creates the enemies? It’s a really good question to ask yourself. The CIA puts people all over the globe to intervene in foreign matters. Doesn’t that create a situation where there could be some upset people that want retribution? Since this is a country that claims to have control over the government because they are the People elected by the People, other countries think that attacking the inhabitants of this soil is the same as attacking the government. Nationalism, right?
So when does it stop? Where does it begin to stop? This is why it’s SO fundamentally wrong to indoctrinate children to not question authority. It’s downright dangerous. It puts everyone in jeopardy, from liberty to actual physical harm because the US government meddles. How many people need to die? How many liberties are going to be taken away, before people start questioning the authority of the people in power?
Thankfully, there ARE people that question authority. People like Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and other whistleblowers. The brave journalists that continue to publish information that’s important for the People to know. I just wonder when more people will start to do the same.