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Schnee's Misguided View on Education

Kris Schnee ("Misguided Values in Education," Feb. 12) asserts that grade-school education has been increasingly promoting "ideological" curricula to advance radical political ends contrary to America's interests. Schnee writes, "Modern students spend a lot of time learning about the sins of America. Do you think that kids who have been told all their lives that theirs is an evil, racist, sexist, oppressive nation will be willing to risk their lives for it? It would be better to have no political messages at all in the school curriculum than to spread doctrines which teach Americans to be hostile to America."

The elements of ideology are constantly being generated by every conceivable source: family, school, popular culture, advertisements, television, the workplace, and so on. Even given the arguably major influence that education has on developing minds, assuming that "politicized" education will leave children brainwashed ignores every other societal influence. When faced with competing value systems, people are more likely to question all of the systems than to accept blindly one or the other.

Schnee's supposedly "post-ideological" version of education ("no political messages at all") is more likely to leave students indoctrinated with political messages than a supposedly politicized curriculum that causes students to question values that students formerly thought universal. It is far better to educate future citizens to think critically about the controversial moral issues of their day than to create unquestioning patriots willing to kill and be killed for their fatherland.

Aram W. Harrow '01