7 Sep

I admit it. I’m worried this week about my children being indoctrinated.

Within a mile of our house, we have a McDonald’s, a Taco Bell, Taco Cabana, KFC, Jack in the Box, DQ and a Sonic. They can sing the commercials or tell you the slogans of pretty much all of them, and know at any given time what the Happy Meal/Wacky Pack/Cabana Kids Meal prize is.

The other girls in Middle School indoctrinate my daughter about the need to be popular, the importance of names like Aeropostale, why it’s just not cool to take a shower after gym, and why having a “boyfriend” is important for a sixth-grader.

The boys in elementary school tell my son only nerds have to play E-rated video games, and tell him the Halo and Doom and Mortal Kombat are way more fun than Wii Sports.

My kids are indoctrinated by Hannah Montana, the Wizards of  Waverly Place, the Transformers, Ben 10 and a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Sure, I swim against these tides. It’s what parents do. We teach our children our values, share our wisdom, encourage them to think for themselves. I fight indoctrination tooth and nail.

But this?

Obama’s Speech to School Children

This “indoctrination?” I say this.

Bring. It. On.

Take the bully pulpit, Mr. President.

Tell my son, whose birth family was torn apart by addiction and violence, “Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”

Tell my daughter, struggling with the pressure to conform, worried about popularity, that “Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is,”

If their schools lack the courage to stand up to the fearmongers and won’t play your address in the classrooms, we will read it at home. Because sir, I need all the back-up I can get. We’ve got a great support system. Good neighbors, committed teachers, a church family, grandparents, lots of friends who share our values.

But if you are willing to take time away from wrestling with our nation’s present struggles, and encourage the guardians of our country’s future? Mr. President, we don’t agree on everything. But in this, you be my guest.

Indoctrinate away.

23 Responses to “Indoctrination”

  1. Neil September 7, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    This whole discussion has been very very weird in my opinion, hasn’t it? What can he possibly say that would be a threat?

  2. RJ Flamingo September 7, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    I’ve read the speech, and I just can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want their child(ren) to hear it. Well, yes I can. The same people who don’t believe that President Obama was born in the United States, and those who believe that health care reform means euthanasia for the elderly and infirm. And the people behind the scenes who egg them on. The fear-mongers. They don’t want children to be inspired by the first black president of the United States. There. I’ve said it out loud.

    Glen Beck called him a racist and Sarah Palin called him a communist. I really hoped these denizens of the dark would skulk back into their caves after the election. I really hoped that the politics of fear would be replaced by civil discourse and exchange of opinions and ideas with the mutual vision of a better future for all.

    I guess I’ve been watching too much Star Trek again. And I think I just wrote a blog post. 🙂

  3. carlos September 7, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    It’s socialism, I tell you! Telling kids to study and work hard, and to not blow off school is straight out of Stalin’s play book! Next thing you know, kids will be smarter than adults. And that is simply not the natural order.

  4. denisequintana September 8, 2009 at 4:38 am #

    Oh, President Obama, PLEASE indoctrinate my 17 yr. old sons to do their homework! PLEASE brainwash them into studying hard, setting goals, and becoming self-reliant individuals. Then, just maybe, we could explore one particular pillar of Socialism… a college scholarship!

  5. KathyCalculates September 8, 2009 at 5:33 am #

    I’m so glad you wrote this and I can’t agree more. I blame the media for taking the ridiculous opinions of a few and lending them credence by making them appear credible and on an equal standing as the vast majority who welcome the speech.

  6. Amy Doucette September 8, 2009 at 5:56 am #

    THANK YOU for being a voice of reason in a sea of sheer stupidity. My theory is that the extreme right wing believes anything they’re told by their pundits (Rush, O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, etc.). Therefore, they have raised children who also have the inability to think for themselves. They are very afraid that Obama is going to brainwash their children because they know, deep down, that they themselves have been “indoctrinated.” Just my theory.

  7. Ed Harvey September 8, 2009 at 6:23 am #

    Personally,.. I think it’s all about,.. PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY! If the President is encouraging children to stay in school and be responsible citizens then what’s the problem?!?!? Even if parents disagree with the President on other issues, THEY should explain that to their children. They should NOT be teaching children to be unconstitutional. So,..Dawn,..I am with you on this! My 11 yr. old asked me “Dad, does the President have freedom of speech?” It would be really sad if I had to tell him no.

  8. Jennifer w A Regal Affair September 8, 2009 at 6:40 am #

    Again, a great post. Of course, I reside in a school district who will only post the speech online. That’s okay. They’ve already read it, from the 8 yr old to the 14 yr old. The 6 yr old didn’t’ care. His words: “Is it funny? No? never mind” I think he was hoping for a viral video on you tube.

    Yes Mr. President, indoctrinate my children.

  9. Lee Dunkelberg September 8, 2009 at 6:49 am #

    Way to go!
    So many school districts showed their true colors when it comes to guts and inspiration and for too many they were all shades of yellow.

  10. Sherry Carr-Smith September 8, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    From the beginning of this dust-up, I couldn’t help but think of watching Nancy Reagan telling me to “say no to drugs”, of our local Congress people coming to my tiny school to talk with us about civic responsibility, of my 5th grade classroom watching the President address the nation after The Challenger explosion, and of watching the presidential debates in high school. I am certain that my family didn’t agree with all of the political stance of these people, but it taught me to listen to differing views and that it was good to serve your country no matter your politics. It saddens me that parents aren’t allowing their children the same opportunities now.

  11. RuthWells September 8, 2009 at 8:00 am #


  12. Kami Lewis Levin September 8, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    If kids think they don’t have to listen to the president of the United States, the leader of the free effing world, then what on earth would possess us to think that they’d to listen to their teachers?

  13. Jlhpisces September 8, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Excellent post! Thank you for putting into words what so many parents are feeling!

  14. Denise September 8, 2009 at 10:46 am #


  15. Cyndi September 8, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Dawn, how is it that you have the ability to write the exact thoughts that are running through my head? Maybe it’s because we have a daughter at the same stage in life, I dunno. But keep doing it! This scaredy cat doesn’t know when (if) she’ll ever write a personal blog and since you’re writing many of my thoughts……I might as well let you continue 😉

  16. Beth September 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    I wrote about this very topic a couple of days ago. I was SO pissed off at the parents who were calling me and saying they didn’t want their kids to see it. So short sighted and selfish and idiotic. It was nice to check in with you today and read that somebody else was just as angry as I am. By the way, I watched it with a group of 7th graders today, and it was awesome!

  17. Suziwong66 September 9, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    “But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
    And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. ”

    This is, in Australia, what we call neo-Liberalism. Where the powers that be present a view that ‘it’s up to you’ to succeed. This particular political stance fails to account for the government’s lack of responsibility in giving equal opportunity or even equity for those who are marginalised. It legitimises the governments failure to be equitable. This stance says you’ve got to work hard and you’ll succeed and presents a few examples of success that don’t really represent the reality of who is and isn’t succeeding in a white middle-class dominant society (university enrollments show an overwhelming majority of white middle class enrolment; generally degrees transform into social and economic acceptance and success). I ask the question, why is it okay for white middleclass Australia/America (insert any first world capitalist nation) to work hard but the marginalised peoples of those countries have to work three times harder and still not succeed at the same rate?

    “Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need…” “I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too.”

    This particular statement fails to address that schools are different! The hidden curriculum that is taught through socialisation at white middle-class schools is consistent with the values and behaviours of wider society and thus those students, from the benevolence of their birthright succeed and go on to higher education; university statistics certainly tell us who is and who isn’t attending higher education institutions. The idea that all kids need to succeed is better resources (and a work ethic equal to martyrdom) to get to higher education or be successful is ludicrous; again the socialisation one inhibits from the benevelence of birthright goes a long way in ‘writing the script’; social statistics prove this fact. Past first world capitalist policy that has addressed a lack of resources has failed miserably because as over 100 years of research has shown; it is more than resources that are required to succeed in this type of society.

    I’m in agreeance with President Obama in saying that we do indeed need to work hard, but the way in which he presents this as a value that guarantees success is fallacious. In essence, he has become a kinder surprise…black on the outside and white on the inside because he is espousing white middle-class values to the voters (largely white middle class) to gain acceptance which transforms into votes.
    Relating that back to the two major political parties in Australia, our labour party has become reflective of our liberal party. The poles that were once separate are now closely aligned with their values and beliefs; they just present them in ways that are palattable e.g. using inclusive terms that allow us to believe the notion that we are indeed all the same. (we are all equal, we are all humble Australians/Americans etc, we’ve got to pull together -which really means those on lower socioeconomic stratas have to work harder to bear the load).

    I’ll say one thing, whoever wrote the President’s speech is a masterful writer appealing to Mr & Mrs Average who are artfully guided in thought by global media.

    I like President Obama; it think it’s a step in the right direction that America has voted for an African American president; it’s sends a great global message. However, will he represent African Americans and other minority groups adequately? That remains to be seen.

    As an educator and a parent I wouldn’t want this speech played in a school. Unless of course it is used as a tool for students to develop their critical thinking skills…in effect i would want them to pull it apart to understand the underlying truth of the ‘truth-claims’ that were spoken in that monologue. The political, historical, and social lesson/unit plans that could come out of this speech are endless. Presenting a few ‘inspirational’ success stories as the ticket to success for the working and/or under-class is failing to acknowledge the reality of the way it really is for the overwhelming majority of these groups.

  18. Foodycat September 13, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    It’s not cool to shower after gym? What the hell? I hope that is a short-lived trend. There is nothing stinkier than a classroom full of teenagers on a hot day.

    I’m not American and I don’t have kids, so I don’t feel that it is up to me to comment on the rest of your post.

  19. ingrid September 13, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Hey, I just asked my three if they saw the speech. Only one out of the three did. I’m printing it out so we can discuss it.

    Thanks, I can’t believe I might have missed this.

  20. Leigh Gardner September 14, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    It wasn’t the speech that was objected to, it was the assignments that accompanied the speech(something I didn’t see anyone comment on).
    And if a President telling kids to study hard is a good idea why didn’t “progressives” support it when the President’s last name was Bush?

  21. Allin September 15, 2009 at 12:39 am #

    It wasn't the speech that was objected to, it was the assignments that accompanied the speech(something I didn't see anyone comment on).
    And if a President telling kids to study hard is a good idea why didn't "progressives" support it when the President's last name was Bush?…


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