One needs but scroll through Facebook or watch Fox News for a few minutes to hear an accusation of indoctrination in public schools. Some would have people believe that indoctrination is utterly rampant in K-12, though The Common Core Standards, adopted by many public schools, including in Kentucky, the first state to adopt them, explicitly and intentionally guide students in critical thinking.
Indoctrination and critical thinking can't coexist, since indoctrination is, by definition, "the act or process of forcing somebody to accept a particular belief or set of beliefs and not allowing them to consider any others." There is no room for criticism, for objection, for individuality of thought with indoctrination.
If work coming out of The Louisville Christian Academy is any indication, it is private schools we might need to watch more carefully for indoctrination.
In a recent tweet by JP Davis, a Kentucky business owner, a leaked assignment shows one of the clearest examples of indoctrination and heartbreaking homophobia I've ever seen in any curriculum.
In the assignment, a student must imagine a friend of a similar age and gender that they've known "since kindergarten" who attends their church and is "struggling with homosexuality" (sic). Given eight short sentences, they are asked to use logic and scripture to show the friend that "homosexuality will not bring them satisfaction" while making sure to signal they "don't approve of their lifestyle" all while making sure to communicate that they "love" them.
In short, the students are set up to fail, since the task is impossible.
More: Homework at Christian Academy of Louisville: Persuade your friend to stop being gay
How the assignment set students up to fail
First, being gay is not a choice. This is settled truth. No one asking a gay person to change can be acting in love towards them while doing it, because they erase basic truths about their personhood. Anyone asking a gay person to change is saying to them that who they are, at an intrinsic, immutable level, should not be - we can't be acting in love while we are actively telling someone that a fixed part of them shouldn't exist.
Secondly, it is utterly impossible, and I speak as an English teacher, to appeal to logic when telling someone that being gay won't bring them satisfaction, since, despite heavy discrimination, gay people tend to be happier in marriage than their straight counterparts. More importantly, gay people are equally satisfied in life only when they are accepted, so not accepting a person because of a characteristic and then blaming the characteristic for their unhappiness over not being accepted is not only a textbook example of a fallacy of cause and effect, it's cruel.
This assignment, given by a school purporting to prepare students "to reason logically" sets students up not to understand rational thinking and equally conflates love and cruelty.
Moreover, the assignment utterly lacks critical thinking because it is indoctrination.
Despite the fact that many mainstream churches (and the majority of Christians) believe homosexuality should be accepted, this assignment is predicated upon one narrow understanding and requires all students to comply with it to get points. In fact, according to the rubric, a student can receive a "fair" grade if they employ "little love" and "no scripture". The lowest descriptor on the rubric, interestingly, requires at least "one truth" - but it requires "little love" and neither logic nor scripture.
In a school system based upon Christ, neither love nor scripture are required for minimum points. The assignment does, however, mandate truth - but as the school defines it.
From where, then, does that truth come?
This is indoctrination
David Gooblar explains that indoctrination is "an effort to change … beliefs and instill a fear or reluctance to consider conflicting evidence."
It is in this fear that the rejection of LGBTQ people (and any other people) resides.
Students will not come to reject LGBTQ people based upon love. It's impossible because love is the opposite of hate. This is why the rubric still gives points even if little love is shown.
Students will not come to reject LGBTQ people based purely upon scripture; denominations are divided, but plenty of scripture-bound churches affirm gay people. This is why the rubric still gives points even if no scripture is shown.
Students will not come to reject LGBTQ people based upon logic. It's impossible because homophobia is recklessly illogical. This is why the rubric still gives points even if no logic is shown.
Students will only come to reject LGBTQ people as people always have: through indoctrination. This is why the rubric requires at least "one truth" for even the lowest-performing students to get a minimum score-the "truth" that being gay is wrong.
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This is the "one truth" on which the assignment rests, the "one truth" that must be confessed for a student to get any points, the "one truth" for which the entire assignment was made.
This is the thing about indoctrination - it necessarily requires coercion, because, were it to use any other approach, like truth, logic, or love, the lesson simply falls apart.
Willie Carver teaches French and English at Montgomery County Schools in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. He is the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: CAL homework shows indoctrination happening in private school: Opinion