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The Destruction of Indoctrination
The Destruction of Indoctrination
Jamie Jo Corne
Published by Twistedgypsychild
Default The Destruction of Indoctrination

The Destruction of Indoctrination
June 1, 2010

“Ignorance, the root and then stem of every evil.” - Plato (427 BC - 347 BC)

In developing critical thinking skills and the attainment of broad knowledge, children are given the chance to succeed in life. As they wade through the pages of life with the ability to be critical thinkers in their bag full of life essentials, they also come to find that happiness is not something they have to work for. It is through the indoctrination children receive in childhood that they find the bridges to their goals broken and unable to be met.

Children are indoctrinated in different ways by their parents, caregivers, teachers, and the occasional friend much like the prisoners of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave found in The Republic. Even though not literal prisoners, children are metaphorical prisoners because they are inhibited by the adults around them from autonomous thought and experience. On top of the constant pressure, a child also experiences indoctrination through religion, cultural isms, and socio-economic status where they find themselves trapped in a sea of emotions such as guilt. The answer to such limitations is to encourage children to learn and practice the disciplines of philosophy and science, which encourage knowledge and critical thought.

While parents indoctrinate their children with numerous ideals, they are also essentially taking away future sovereign thought. Children are at the mercy of the experiences that they are allowed to have as defined by the adults around them. Parents often use the shackles of censorship, instead of literal shackles, such as the ones found in Allegory of the Cave, with their children. This leads to fear of the unknown and becomes an obstacle for the children to overcome when and if they become brave enough to venture into the realms of thought that were discouraged during childhood. When parents allow their children to engage in a wide range of experiences, the children will be less apt to play the role of the prisoners of Plato’s cave.

There is no way to walk out of the “cave” to experience different realities as a child. Incipience is not attended by innate knowledge of what the world is supposed to be. The child’s world-view is based solely on the experiences that he or she is allowed to have by the people in authority. It isn’t until the later teenage years, that the adolescent is able to escape the cave and experience the world differently from that of suppressed experience. There comes a new struggle with new ranges of emotions that are unfamiliar within the new perception. Suffering compels the child to learn in faster ways than before. Heartache and disappointment come from all directions and are not based on acumen of what love and relationships should be.

Caregivers shelter the child from suffering in most situations. As the child matures into adulthood, he or she is no longer given things as gifts on a consistent basis. Experiences such as the suffering of making decisions financially and otherwise begin to set a tone from which learning arises. Once he or she begins raising children, instruction from experience often leads to ridicule and mockery which sometimes climaxes to the insinuation of dishonesty. Accusations of misunderstanding and ignorance soon develop in most cases.

Religion plays a big role in the conditioning of children. While religion can be a good thing with regards to giving children direction and morals, it can also be one of the key issues to the deterioration of their psychological well being as well as their freedom to think. When children are allowed to experience a limited set of morals and doctrine, they are inhibited from the ability to break free from the cave as metaphorical prisoners. Any religion that is fueled by fear, essentially, becomes the shackles that bind the children to the cave. The importance of allowing children the opportunity to research and explore religions other than those practiced at home is that the child will then be allowed to find the religion that works for them as well as having open communication with their parents during the process. When a child has to go behind their parent’s back in order to seek out their own path, it causes problems for not only the child, but the parent as well. Many times, a parent will tell their children that to question the dominant household religion is wrong, and from that perspective, the child will be fearful of researching out the path that works for them and will continue to blindly follow the path of their parents without understanding why. This dynamic is what keeps children participating in the role of the prisoners of Plato’s cave and perpetuates a dominate reality. Parents rarely give allowance for their children to seek other truths that fit their own belief system.

Another “shackle” that arises in a child’s life is the cultural norm. People outside of the United States live where there is a dominant cultural characteristic such as the machismo found in Hispanic/Latino cultures or the arranged marriages found in Muslim communities. They are bound not only by their immediate family, but by their community and nation to these strictures. According to Kevin Macdonald, a Psychology professor at California State University, “A dispersed group that actively remains generic and socially segregated from surrounding societies must develop methods to ensure social cohesion and prevent defection.”

Social pressures that are found in Japan compel the surrendering of the self. This acts as a social norm that also binds children to a specific reality. If a child deviates from the norm in Japan, they are ridiculed for many years if not their entire life not only by their family, but by society at large. In engaging in this type of behavior, the child is again, dominated by a tsunami of emotions in which they find difficult to organize and understand.

Confusion begins to close their mind and eventually, succumbing to the cultural norm seems the only way to succeed and be respected. This type of indoctrination differs from that of religious indoctrination, but does the same type of damage. Both inhibit a person from experiencing autonomous thought and freedom of thought. Should the child move to another region of the globe, they will be met with anger, frustration, and misunderstanding. Eventually, they will either make the choice to delve into the forbidden actions of the indoctrination that they received or move back to the place they came from.

This indoctrination of children essentially takes away the discretion of escaping the “cave” and thus they find themselves trapped in a scenario where they feel compelled to engage in thought and behavior only accepted by those around them with the fear of rejection looming on the horizon. Any type of indoctrination carries with it the potential for disaster and should be avoided at all costs.

Diversity, in any sense of the word in the sum total of the childhood experience – usually found later in the teenage years – can be the undoing of Plato’s cave. As children enter adulthood, they experience life as they’ve never been allowed to experience it thus far. They no longer have people sheltering them from the life experience. Although the shackles can still be carried into adulthood, they eventually wear off and the children – now adults – roam the layers of life in search of joy and happiness that is only found through trial and error and of failing from time to time.

After having children, they return to the cave only this time, not as prisoners, but as the prison guards enslaving their own children in an unhealthy dynamic that has been derived from their own childhoods. The Allegory of the Cave begins anew. Their children mock them and claim that they are ignorant and thus the allegory overlaps itself until the next generation escapes the cave and starts a new cycle all of their own. Allegory of the Cave is a good way for us to relate our lives to the lives we choose to lead today – and more so how we choose to parent our children.

One of the conclusions to be drawn from the preceding material is that parents, caregivers, and teachers alike have a responsibility to be as flexible as possible. Exposing children to a broad set of experiences is paramount with regard to their development on into adulthood to become productive members of society. The focus of a child’s development and how they will react to any given mindset is extremely important. It is even more important than any dogma based on fear and insecurity whether that is rooted in religion, societal norms or cultural assignments. If parents allow their children to remain metaphorical prisoners, they will grow up to continue that destructive cycle. Flexibility is the key to molding children and if we give the ancient philosophers their due, they too, can give modern day civilization a hint as to the appropriate level of teachings and experiences that we as parents, caregivers, and teachers give to the children.


Dobbs, D. (1994). The Piety of Thought in Plato’s Republic. Retrieved on June 20, 1010 from Error
Lye, Diane. (1996). Adult Child-Parent Relationships. Retrieved on May 18, 2010 from Error
MacDonald, K. (2002). Indoctrination and Group Evolutionary Strategies. Retrieved on June 20, 2010 from http://www.csulb.edu/~kmacd/MUNICH1.PDF
Small, Albion. (1925). Sociology and Plato's "Republic". Part II. Retrieved on May 18, 2010 from Error

Sturm, Harlan. (1974). From Plato's Cave to Segismundo's Prison: The Four Levels of Reality and Experience. Retrieved on May 18, 2010 from Error

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