On Indoctrination

Indoctrination to me has always meant forcing someone to learn something. If I force my children to go to church and sit in primary, I am indoctrinating them. However, the real meaning is a bit different at first glance, but not really.

According to Google's many lookups, indoctrination is "teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically" and "indoctrination is the process of ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine). It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned."

One could say that as long as the learning is forced, but so is thinking critically about it, that it's not indoctrination, but that seems unrealistic. How do you force someone to think critically about something you're forcing them to learn? When or where has that ever happened? If someone, usually children, are forced to learn something, they are very unlikely to think critically about on the basis that the one forcing them to learn is exalted in the child's mind as an authority figure (they are using force/violence), and authority figures shan't be questioned!

So it really comes back to my original thinking, that forced learning is a form of indoctrination. And what are forms of forced learning? Let's see, we've got church, when children are forced to go, and this is usually the area that most people equate with indoctrination, ie. religious indoctrination. But equally, we have schools, be them public, private, or home. If schooling is forced, it's a form of indoctrination, albeit secular indoctrination.

So to conclude, the only type of learning that is not indoctrination is free learning, natural learning, child-interested learning, life-centered learning, or in other words, unschooling.

Update: Another way of stating the above is, how often are kids allowed to question the necessity of what they're being forced to learn? If they aren't, you have indoctrination.