The line between “education” and “indoctrination” is, at times, a fine one, and often not a clear one. However, common sense dictates that greater care should be taken to avoid what appears to be indoctrination when the objects of the information are children and youth. Experience demonstrates that children are more malleable than adults. Adults can be reasonably expected to be more able than children to distinguish between objective education and indoctrination.
Therefore, what is taught to children in our public schools should be subjected to a higher standard of scrutiny in order to ensure that what is taking place in the classroom is “education” rather than “indoctrination.” This is especially the case when the subject matter is world religions.
This Report does not argue that Islam should not be taught in our public schools. The major religions of the world are one part of our human history, and to exclude teaching about them impedes our understanding of who we are and why the world is at it is.
But when it comes to the teaching of any religion, Islam included, extra care should be exercised by textbook writers and teachers to ensure that what is being taught to their diverse student population is in fact “education” and not “indoctrination.” In public schools Muslim parents would no more want their children indoctrinated in Christianity,Judaism or Hinduism than Christian, Jewish or Hindu parents would want their children indoctrinated in Islam – regardless of whether what amounted to indoctrination was the result of honest mistakes, inattention to detail, ignorance of the subject matter, or bias.
Thus the question posed by this Report. Does the manner in which Islam is generally presented in 6th through 12th grade public school textbooks constitute proper and appropriate education – or does it amount to indoctrination?
Is Islam presented in a manner in which facts are embellished and its virtues exaggerated, while unfavorable, negative or detrimental information about the religion is omitted, glossed over, understated, or rationalized, thus amounting to “indoctrination” rather than education?
Is Islam presented in a manner that leads students to predetermined conclusions about the religion that are unsupported by historical facts and critical analysis, amounting to “teach[ing] (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically?”
This Report set out to address and answer these questions. For as the British philosopher and educator Richard Stanley Peters wrote: “What matters is not what any individual thinks, but what is true. A teacher who does not equip his pupils with the rudimentary tools to discover this is substituting indoctrination for teaching.” (As quoted on http://quotes.yourdictionary.com/indoctrination.)
To download and read the full report, click here.