Friday, December 28, 2012

Civilized Brainwashing

This is not a compare and contrast blog post. I'm highlighting the problem in both the US and India. As in they're both equally bad. Neither country is worse, it's completely wrong no matter how you look at it. It promotes inequality, racism and the misconception of nation superiority. While each nation has different issues, overall the problem is the same. Children are being taught narrow-minded concepts that lead to major issues that cripple each respective nation.

America, and other nations thought of as mostly white or white-dominated, take a lot of crap over their school systems. We are institutionalizing our children. We're continually standardizing our education system to make it even for everyone. But what does this really mean? And is it really even? Are children and people getting what they need to thrive and really live?

This means that someone out there is mandating what the kids can and cannot learn. They pick and choose what they feel is important in history and give the kids only the information they deem appropriate. Sometimes this is a group of parents or elected school officials but they are choosing it from curriculum already approved by someone else. So the choices get more and more limited the closer the books actually get to our children. We are telling our children what to think and not enlightening them to any other way of thinking than the standardized one. We are robbing our children and future generations of the right to know the whole truth.

Standards in the US:
  • Conformist behaviors taught to children and enforced on adults
  • Streamlined "civilized" normalcy
  • Stifled creativity in non-artistic outlets (meaning you can only do the job you were specifically hired for and you must do school work the exact way your teacher tells you, etc.) 
Other things that are becoming institutionalized:
People no longer trust the local man who has hands-on experience as much as they trust the newly educated with a standard degree or the big stores. 

In India, these same things are occurring. It's a growing problem for many pardesi's living in India that have children to be chastised about food choices for their children. The dominant concept is that the children must bring only Indian foods and that all the kids should bring similar things. Some schools even go so far as to send home a menu of what parents are to cook for their children each day. They do not include foods from other nations and thus exclude any part of other cultures.

Standards in India:
  • Eating only Indian food
  • Conformity taught through (or with) an emphasis on fear
    Keeping the old ways (doing what your ancestors did and upholding tradition)

There's many more I'm sure but these are just a few to give you an idea. In some ways teaching a set of standards and rules is a good thing. It keeps us from wondering and wandering through life. But in many ways it's bad. People just don't fit into conformist cookie cutters. We're not all alike and shouldn't be forced into compliance with someone elses image of what we should be. Of course I don't believe we should never punish criminals but the laws we're enforcing should represent the people and not just the rich or the religious zealots.

Unfortunately this is rarely the case. That goes for both India and the US. Both countries have laws based on strongly religious principles.In both instances people who have no affiliation with those religions still support the laws. Of course this indicates a mindset taught for centuries and spoon fed to the children of each generation out of the same conformist mindset I talked about earlier.

I often wonder who really made up these rules. Yes, religion teaches us these rules came from a divine source but I'm not buying that. They're tainted by humans and they reek of non-conformity. That's right. You can see plenty of instances where laws or societal rules were created by jilted humans who didn't fit and either A.) felt the need to punish others who didn't have the self control to not engage in the behavior or B.) needed a way to break the rules and get away with it.

People weren't meant to be cut from the same cookie cutter. They just weren't.


  1. I can add my two cents about American education standards because I have gone through it with my three kids through different states/school systems and even with international schools. Having some national standards in subjects like math or history is not a bad idea. In fact many countries have national a national curriculum for many subjects. A kid taking Algebra I should be learning the same material no matter where he is, and you appreciate that when you have to change states. Even the idea of a basic core curriculum in which every student takes American History, for example, is not bad in my opinion. A high school diploma should mean that there is a general knowledge of history, math, literature, etc. although I seriously think it has been watered down over the last decades. This is also important when kids apply to college because they will not succeed if they have had a substandard preparation. Perhaps you are thinking of how conservative religious groups try to influence subjects such as science by pushing for Creationism over Evolution. Texas does that with science and history and tries to deny what they don't approve of. You have said you are from the conservative part of Virginia, and I imagine you are along the I-81 corridor somewhere. You probably hear a lot from conservative Christians in your area who generally fight any federal input and only want local input. I'm from New England so it's completely different where we raised our kids. I'd also like to add that having some national or state standard does not mean that local teachers can't supplement the basic standards, just that the minimum standards have to be taught.

  2. One thing I hate about the Indian School system is the fact that kids are taught not to question anything, the schoolbooks are teaching the truth and it must be learnt as such and spat out in exams int he exact same way. Things are slowly changing though. One other superbly disturbing trend is for kids to be pushed to perform at an early age, I kid you not my daughter's pre-school think kids should have homeworks, and colour int he line, she is 3.5 years old! They study the alphabet too. I recently went for a admission interview in a school that follows the International curriculum and they were quick to tell me that they do not push on reading and writing that early, I wanted to hug the principal! She got admission in that school, so she will be taught the same topics taught in more traditional schools but emphasis on free thinking and problem solving will be much higher than in the traditional system.
    My daughter's pre-school was issuing set menus for a while claiming it was to teach kids healthy eating habits, perect, exept all it had on the menu was fried food: french fries, fried veg nuggets, paratha, puri, dosa, maggi noodles....I along with several parents voiced our sheer disapproval very strongly, and they abandonned the idea, turns out that most parents prefer putting whole grain sandwiches and fresh fruits in their kiddos tiffin, beats the set menu when it comes of health.

  3. That's sort of what I meant. Standards like learning abc's or the wars we've been in are great. Where the problem lies is that (and these are just examples) Texas teaches a different version of the Alamo than Tennessee and Virginia teaches a different version of the Civil War than New York. While more individualized lessons can be beneficial, the versions they're teaching are not accurate - in either state. The books don't always stick to facts, there's too much speculation in them and it only increases some of the problems we have in this country. I truly think as a country we're becoming more and more narrow minded and critical in all the wrong ways.

  4. That's great most of the parents wanted healthy foods and the school is that good. I'm glad you found somewhere like that to take her. I too don't like the notion of not questioning. It only makes things worse because no one source can be completely accurate. Children should be taught to broaden their minds and choices.

  5. If anyone has the option of raising their children outside India they should do that. Of course these are my views and anyone does not have to endorse them. The Indian education system is very hard on a child. Even after high school there aren't many avenues present for children to pursue. Take engineering for example, even in the most elite colleges in the country the standards of education are questionable. To add to that you have to be lucky to even get into these colleges, you have to do better than 99.5% of other people taking the exams to enter these colleges. So from amongst a million people that take the exam you have to be within the top 10K. People as young as 12-13 start preparing for these exams that they have to take when they are 17-18, it is ridiculous. I can only speak mostly for Science students, I have that background, but then in the first place most people in this country choose Engineering or other science related careers because they are considered to be the best paid ones by the mainstream.

    So, i just believe that if the future of my children was the sole criterion on which I had to decide, where to raise my children I would run abroad.

    It hasn't been too long since I have left touch with the education system in India, I finished my higher education in 2011.I know I have rambled but trust me it is frustrating ;)

  6. I've seen some of what you mention. I've witnessed the exam system first hand and you're right. It's not very good. It's too difficult for people to get into college or get a good job. I can't imagine competing that way and I've seen what it does to the children. Ashu has been talking of college since he was 13 - just like you said, they have to start early to have any hopes of passing the exam.

  7. wats wrong with you if kids eating indian food in school. You want
    them to eat in Mcdonalds (your US product)? Its like telling italiens to forget pasta and eat indian food. common, i will see how many american kids have indian lunch in their meal.

    From your post it looks that you want to act like some instructor for this human race and you should make all the rules for this world.

  8. Clearly you don't have a child in the Indian school system. In the US lunch is provided by the schools and is regulated by the government. In India it's prepared by the parents. So the schools should not designate that the meal has to be one specific thing. The children I'm referring to have parents from 2 different cultures. The child should not be forced to comply with only one culture. We do not force children here in the US to comply with one set cultural norm. If a child's parent packs their food for school, they can pack whatever they want be it Indian, Mexican, Italian, etc. The school does not tell them they have to send only American food as if it's the only cuisine in the world that is healthy or matters.

  9. Oh and just for the record. I think I've said it plenty of times but I can't stand McDonalds. The food is mostly flavorless and not tasty at all. I would not have kids eat it daily, that would be called torture.