Radical ideas have been infiltrating our academic systems for decades, but for a long time, most of the worst ideas were limited to universities. However, in recent years, these radical ideologies have taken a more insidious and parasitical form — and it’s not just higher education that’s infected.
Now, children as young as kindergarten are being indoctrinated with harmful ideas rooted in cultural Marxism and Critical Theory. As conspiratorial as it sounds, the bias in pedagogy has now mutated into overt propaganda. Children are being taught that biological sex doesn’t exist, that words can be an act of literal violence, and that the most important thing about a person is their group identity. And all of this is being presented as fact.
Critical Theory and “Woke” Ideology
The problem is, these ideas aren’t coming from any type of moderate belief system. Instead, they come from the so-called “woke”: those of a critical theorist persuasion who believe the world is neatly divided into oppressors and the oppressed. They categorize everyone into two classes: the privileged (usually straight white males) and the underprivileged (typically those from minority groups such as the LGBT or BAME community). Over time, these ideas have spawned new areas of study including “postcolonial theory, queer theory, critical race theory, intersectional feminism, disability studies, and fat studies.”
Indoctrination is “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.”
Indoctrination is “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” Which is exactly what’s going on here. A 2018 report from the National Association of Scholars found that among liberal arts colleges, 39% had zero registered Republican professors in the whole college. Surrounded by such political homogeneity, students are being exposed to these ideas without any alternative viewpoints. And the indoctrination is now starting younger and younger.
So, What’s on the Curriculum?
Author James Lindsay warns that this kind of thinking is now invading all subject areas. “Rather than focusing on the mechanics of mathematics,” he writes as an example, “students will be taught to focus on the ways they can explore topics like racism and oppression through mathematics, or leaning on math as a foil that facilitates discussions on important topics — like ‘who it benefits’ to focus on getting right answers in mathematics.”
Simply put, everything is now viewed through the lens of power and victimhood, particularly with regard to race, gender, and sexuality. Here are just a few examples:
At Edina Highlands Elementary School in Minnesota, first-graders — as part of a “melanin project” — were taught that “their identities are tied to their skin color” and that the Black Lives Matter movement is entirely peaceful. Extremely young kids were given an alphabet book claiming that “A is for Activists (Are you one?), C is for Creative Counter to Corporate Vultures, T is for Trans, and X is for Malcolm X.”
A white teacher at Norman North High School in Oklahoma was recorded by a student stating in class, “To be white is racist, period.”
Students at Aloha High School were given a “White Privilege Survey” for homework. This included questions such as “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed” and “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the newspaper and see people of my race widely and positively represented.”
The principal’s page on the website of Highlands Elementary School in Edina, Minnesota celebrates Black Lives Matter’s plea to disrupt the nuclear family and reports that “students of color” had experienced 291 “microaggressions” in a 90-day period.
Students at Lowell High School in San Francisco were recently required to take this anti-racism assessment. Their answers weren’t anonymous, meaning they could be used against them later:
Freshmen at Salem Junior High School in Utah were told by a teacher to “get inside the mentality of a terrorist organization like ISIS.” Their worksheet asked them to list “eight reasons why young Muslims join ISIS” and instructed them to create a “terrorism propaganda poster.”
It’s time we stop training young activists and start training young thinkers.
Gender and Sexuality
Unscientific theories about gender and explicit lessons on sexuality are now also taught in schools, with lessons beginning as early as kindergarten.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina assigned the book Jacob’s New Dress to all first-grade classes, a story about a young boy who likes to dress like a girl. Following one teacher’s complaint, the decision was reversed, and first-graders instead were given Red: A Crayon’s Story about a red crayon who identifies as blue.
Another book kindergarteners have been assigned is Introducing Teddy. In it, a teddy bear named Thomas is asked why he is sad, to which he responds “I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy” and asks to be called Tilly.
At Fox Chapel Middle School in Spring Hill, Florida, sixth-graders were given a survey that included questions on their sexuality. They were made to indicate how they felt about various situations, such as “You go to a gay bar and a person of the same sex invites you to dance” and “Your mother ‘comes out’ to you.”
In Washington state public schools, third-grade students are introduced to the idea of “gender identity” and how they can choose their own gender. By fourth-grade, they are expected to “define sexual orientation.” Fifth-graders then move on to the fluidity of gender roles and learn why they’re social constructs. In seventh grade, students are made to “distinguish between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
A Curriculum of Cognitive Distortions
What worries me most about this kind of curriculum is that it teaches children a faulty way of thinking. According to social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, the assumptions Critical Theory makes are the exact opposite of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques, and will only increase anxious behavior in kids. Woke ideology is simply training these children to use cognitive distortions like emotional reasoning, catastrophizing, overgeneralizing, labeling, and negative filtering.
Woke ideology is training children to use cognitive distortions like emotional reasoning and catastrophizing.
The “privileged” kids are taught to feel ashamed of their ethnicity, guilty about the actions of their ancestors, and to atone for their inherent racism.
Just as dangerously, the “underprivileged” kids are taught that the West is defined by tyrannical patriarchy and institutionalized white supremacy. And so, raised on a diet of victimhood and vengeful identity politics, they grow up fearful and resentful of the world. They then go to university with more radical ideas and are inevitably afraid of any opposing viewpoints.
This way of teaching is not compassionate to minorities, nor will it create a more tolerant and empathetic society in the future. It’s damaging for all children. White kids and young boys should not grow up with guilt and shame, and children from minority backgrounds should not be made to feel like helpless victims.
Of course, freedom of speech means that all ideas can be discussed freely. But forcing one singular and subjective narrative onto young, impressionable children, without any opposing viewpoints, is fundamentally totalitarian. Students can be introduced to these ideas as they get older, but they should be able to challenge them and make up their own minds.
Children are told there’s no such thing as objective truth or reality.
But right now, truth is being sacrificed at the altar of political correctness. Children are told there’s no such thing as objective truth or reality, and instead, they should value personal “lived experiences” and emotional reasoning. As James Lindsay writes, “Critical theories nearly always begin with their conclusion — their own assumptions about power dynamics in society, how those are problematic, and the need for their disruption or dismantling — and then seeks to find ways to read them into various aspects of society.” But without objective truth, there can be no progress.
And these ideas are now taking up so much time and distorting reality to such an extent that children aren’t learning important facts. For example, 66% of 18 to 34-year-olds don’t know what Auschwitz is, yet 51% say there are “a great deal of” neo-Nazis in the U.S. today. A third of younger generation students in the UK believe that more people were killed under George Bush than Joseph Stalin. Among Australian Millennials in favor of Socialism, 51% have no idea who Communist revolutionary Mao Zedong was.
Whether well-intentioned or not, these radical ideas are extremely harmful to young children — especially those from minority backgrounds that they purport to protect. If “woke” beliefs are popular now, imagine what’s to come when those raised on these theories from kindergarten eventually enter the workforce.
To escape this, we have to teach children the value of critical thinking, the Socratic and scientific method, and how to challenge ideas they don’t like. (Accurate history lessons wouldn’t hurt either.) Education should provide them with the tools to decide what they think, rather than teaching them what to think. It’s time we stop training young activists and start training young thinkers.
This shouldn’t just be the concern of those on the political right, either. It should terrify both the right and the left, enraging anyone who cares about the survival of truth, reason, and objectivity. To stop the spread of these ideas, both sides must unite against them. What will our future look like if we don’t?