Chinese Schools Attempt to Control Students’ Minds

Relocating the current row in Colorado over whether a local school board should be able to control educational curricula in the interest of specific ideological aims, let’s see how the same language sounds transported to, say, China (all quotes are real):

The official advocating curriculum change said: “I want to teach them [the students] that our country is a great place to live.”

The board sought changes that would “promote citizenship [and] patriotism” as well as “respect for authority,” among other aims.

The board held that all curriculum materials should be removed that “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

When pressed, a board spokesperson clarified: “what I’m saying is let’s not encourage our children to disobey the law.”

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The problem here is the attempt to control minds. Instead of teaching children about the US or its economic system, the Jefferson Country school board wants to teach them what to think about the US and its economic system. This approach immediately devolves into mindless propaganda and chauvinistic nationalism, brought within the framework of education. So what the school board is actually trying to do is propagandize children and control their values, opinions, and judgments, rather than promote their abilities to think for themselves, come to their own conclusions as individuals, and effectively analyze the material of history.

Moreover, some of the board’s points are laughable, except that these people have real power, so perhaps cryable is a better term. The Jefferson County school board is calling for celebration of “the free enterprise system,” which means they must be prepared to condemn the economic policies of Hamilton, Jefferson, and the rest of the Founding Fathers, who established a policy that was anything but free market (instead it sought to deny British access to American markets and to grow infant industries in cotton, tobacco, and others). They must also be prepared to condemn the economic policies of Reagan, whose advocacy of protectionism is notorious (sources: one, two, three, four). The assertion that students should be unequivocally taught that disobeying the law is a negative thing assumes that laws are, and have always been, just and legitimate. They must then be prepared to condemn the Boston Tea Party, a direct action involving property destruction and theft, Rosa Parks, who flagrantly disobeyed the law and invited arrest, Daniel Ellsberg, whose leaking of classified documents was perfectly illegal (even though he was exposing the government’s systematic lies to the public). All of these people, apparently, had not properly learned from their history classes that they must always respect authority and obey the law.

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