Friday, April 20, 2012

Teach Your Children

Education & Children

“The world exists only because of the innocent breath of schoolchildren. The instruction of the young should not be interrupted, even by the building of a sanctuary.”
Talmud, Shabbat (119b)

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”
Chinese proverb

Jewish Children with their teacher in Samarkand, Uzbekistan (then part of Russia). Early color photograph from what was then Russia, created by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, as part of his work to document the Russian Empire from 1909 to 1915.
Photo Credit:
 Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii [1863-1944]. Taken between 1905 and 1915.

SourceU.S. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div., Washington, D.C.

The teaching of young minds, eager to learn and obtain knowledge, is an important privilege. In some nations, children do not attend school. In others they do but students receive state indoctrination, where teachers cannot deviate one iota from the curriculum. Truly, teaching is a difficult often thankless job, but it has rich rewards when students go on to do great and wonderful things, improving the lot of humanity.

Then there are cases where teachers, under the weight of sensitivity training, political correctness and pressure from Saudi oil money, are obliged to teach facts that are contrary to credible history and the weight of evidence—or at least minimize salient facts that older persons and parents know are true. This is now the case in many classrooms in the United States, where even teaching school-children about one of the worst acts of terrorism committed on U.S. soil, the Islamist terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has undergone historical redaction and revision.

A non-profit organization founded by Brigitte Gabriel, Act! for America Education, studied 38 textbooks from popular publishers like McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin, for example, to determine whether American schoolchildren are being taught the facts about Islam and its role in 9/11. It has found gross errors in textbooks directed at school-age children in grades six to 11, and has written a detailed report about it called “Education or Indoctrination?: The Treatment of Islam in 6th through 12th Grade American Textbooks." As one writer, Drew Zahn, noted in WND Education:
“This report shines a bright light on a pattern of errors, omissions and bias in the textbooks reviewed,” explained ACT! for America Education founder Brigitte Gabriel in an email. “To give you just one example of the errors our research uncovered, in discussing the 9/11 attacks, the textbooks typically fail to mention the perpetrators were Muslims or that they acted in the cause of Islamic jihad. In one book the terrorists are portrayed as people fighting for a cause.
The report compares what it found in the textbooks with 275 historical sources, listing 375 footnoted citations, an excellent and painstaking piece of scholarly work. It might be hard to believe, that a mere ten years after 9/11, in the United States, revisionist history is already being rewritten and taught to young, impressionable minds. I am sure that even the most hard-core Leftists might find this problematic, the value of sensitivity taken to extreme measures. Even so, sensitivity can go too far when it aims to omit and distort relevant facts. Textbooks are often the singular most important source of information for young school-age children; equally important, teachers are considered an authority figure.

That is why it is appalling that many textbooks in American schools are full of fallacies, half-truths and outright falsehoods, Act! for America Education says:
Misinformation is conveyed by methods as simple and seemingly innocent as the order in which facts are presented. Order of presentation implies priority of importance. Another very common and effective method of falsifying or rewriting history is through the use of partial truth: emphasize and repeat facts that are favorable to one side, and omit or minimize unfavorable facts. Responding to an outright falsification is fairly straightforward: cite authoritative historical reference materials that contradict and correct the falsification. The use of partial truth is much more difficult to expose and refute. In order to demonstrate that selective omission of facts amounts to a falsification of history, it is necessary to show not only the omitted facts themselves, but why they are essential to create an accurate understanding of the issue.
As egregious as this example might be, notably to persons who care about facts and truth, students in America have options— they can bypass the educational propaganda that they and their parents find objectionable, and look to more credible sources either online or at bookstores and libraries. In nations with more authoritarian governments, such as China, Iran and North Korea, this is more difficult.  Even so, such historiography pales to what is currently taught today to Palestinian children. Very young children. Alongside reading, writing and mathematics, young minds are inculcated with hatred, in particular, hatred of Israelis and the Jews [see also here].

The Intelligence and Information Center, based outside Tel Aviv, Israel, writes about the continuing activities of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and its educational initiatives:
Hamas and the PIJ consider children to be a highly important target audience and the organizations' potential future recruits. They therefore subject the children to a wide variety of intensive indoctrination techniques, including the inculcation of radical Islamic jihadist ideology in kindergarten children, the distribution of publications geared towards children, and the integration of children into propaganda activities carried out in the Gaza Strip, where children are often seen wearing masks and carrying arms.
The children are also rewarded with candy to celebrate the murder of Israelis and Jews, as was the case after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. For the young the simple equation is made that the death of a Jew is something good, a moral lesson imprinted on the brain. This anti-human lesson repeats itself after every suicide bombing or terrorist attack against Israeli Jews. One can only draw one conclusion. In the estimation of the Palestinian pedagogues and their political masters, it is a worthy and noble endeavour to teach hatred to young minds, whose ultimate purpose is to train the children to become killing machines—martyrs for the state—devoid of emotion or sympathy.

Done in the name of a cause. Hardly a whimper of protest from the international community. Do they care, at least, about the Palestinian children scarred by years of indoctrination?

All research shows, sadly, that such indoctrination works: young minds are ready, willing and able to accept the most noxious and hateful ideology to please an authority figure; it takes years of strenuous effort afterward to turn around such a mind, if it can be done at all. The schools and their leaders bear a responsibility: they have taken away a precious childhood from these youngsters, all in the name of a reprehensible ideology of hate. A nation or group that continues to teach hate will eventually find its end, history shows, since hate is an unsustainable force for longevity. The opposite is also true.

In the battle for the hearts and souls of the young, and it is a battle in many ways of overcoming evil with good, the good prevails... eventually. Teaching the values of goodness, knowledge, and love of life is a sure way to ensure the healthy long-term success and endurance of a society or a people. The Jewish People are prime examples, having survived all kinds of difficulties, oppression and campaigns of evil throughout their long almost 4,000-year history— for many, even those without any religious sentiments, the Jewish People's long-term survival and existence can be likened to a miracle.

On the human level, it is marked by a persistent and tenacious desire to learn and to acquire knowledge, it to be used for a proper purpose, namely, to repair the world (tikkun olam), to value life and to do good. Such are characteristic traits of people that build society for its betterment. Moreover, the religious values and beliefs contained in the Torah and the covenant at Sinai underscore the importance of time-honored traditions that have kept the Jewish People from straying too far. Without putting too fine a point to it, such is the true strength of the Jewish People.

Simply put, and its importance cannot be overemphasized, what we teach our children is much more important than how we teach them. It's what enters the mind that greatly influences thought and ideas. That in itself is worth thinking about.


  1. I read your article with much interest. Thank you for addressing this important issue. As someone who was born and raised in Lebanon, I can assure you that the propaganda of hate is pervasive across countless settings be it governmental agencies, educational institutions, and/or parental influences. The venomous vitriol that is taught to children is astonishing. I recall an incident in school where the teacher had asked the students to stand up in turn and share what they'd like to be when they grow up. Following several standard responses (e.g., policeman, teacher, soccer player, etc.), a boy stood up and stated: "When I grow up, I want to be a Jew killer." This was received with much enthusiasm from the majority of individuals present in the classroom. The teacher hardly batted an eye at such a horrifying instance of genocidal hate.

    Gad Saad

  2. Gad,

    Thank you for your comment. One wonders why the international community is silent on these matters, or pays so little heed to its noxious influences. Is It that hate speech against the Jews is allowed if it comes from the lips of Muslims?

  3. There is nothing as beautiful as a fact. One would think that in this internet age, accurate information would spread and erase misconceptions. The opposite seems to be happening. Blind faith is making use of technology to promote nonsensical and harmful prejudice.

  4. Quite true--there seems to be as much mis-information as facts on the Internet. It's important to go to credible sources.

  5. Propaganda and propagandists are alive and well in this age. It is becoming extremely difficult to discern fact from fiction. And in many places, not accepting the official spin on history will cost you your life. We should be living in a age of enlightenment. Instead it seems as the light of truch is going out. We live in an age of truth by consensus where each is entitled to his/her opinion of what is. If enough people agree, then it must be. It's a shame. Whatever happened to peace, love and understanding!

  6. Modern Times,

    Thank you for your comment."Peace, love and understanding" have always been in short supply. To humanity's misfortune, it far easier to hate. Love and understanding takes concerted effort.

  7. Your article addresses several related issues of great importance. The writing of history is a very serious and consequential undertaking that has to be attended to with great care and circumspection if it is to be done well. When societies care little for history, or use it only selectively for political ends, history-writing becomes prone to all sorts of maladies that can have very destructive effects. This is really just another way of saying that when people care little for truth, they will not care much for justice either. As for the hate propaganda with which so many young children are now indoctrinated, it is an unspeakably horrible phenomenon. The silence or even approval of the world as a whole with regard to the virulent, exterminationist anti-Semitism now taught to children in many countries shows, once again, a complete disregard for truth and justice. At the same time, we should recognize the vulnerability of all societies to the temptation of hating the 'Other'. Even some radical Jewish groups are today indoctrinating children with horrific and hateful propaganda. A grave warning to all of us to be careful about the ideas we entertain in our minds and tolerate in our surroundings.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Hate propaganda of all kinds ought not to be tolerated. The only comment that I would like to add is that while some radical Jewish groups in Israel might be indoctrinating children, a noxious practice, this is not an official government policy. Such distinctions are important to make.


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