Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Should There Be An Exodus from Public Education in America? {A Review of IndoctriNation}

Ever have a tough home education day?

I certainly have!

In fact, it was at the tale end of one such day when I finally decided to take some "me" time to view Great Commission Films' DVD IndoctriNation, a 102 minute documentary that costs $19.95, which I was offered an opportunity to review as a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Before I tell you more about the film, let me just say that I use the phrase "me time" loosely.  For, in truth, this homeschool mama gets few to no 102-minute stretches of solo time.  Thus, the film was viewed by me alongside my three children, two of which, thankfully, dozed off as I sat, pen and notepaper at hand, watching the film, and one who, surprisingly, not only stayed awake through the entire documentary, but, then, wanted to talk about some of topics tied to the film before going to sleep.

Once you watch the film, you will understand why the conversation I had with my son about the IndoctriNation could have gotten dicey.  For, the documentary starts with a parental advisory which states that parts of the film may not be suitable for children.  As I learned, this warning is not to be taken lightly. 

Topics such as sex, birth control, drugs, homosexuality and school shootings are clearly discussed in IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.   So, if you, like me, end up watching the film with children, expect to say, "I will explain that further  when you are a bit older and ready for it" more than once; hope that your kids don't realize the lollipop looking things being handed out at schools by Planned Parenthood are really condoms (if they even know what condoms are; mine do not); be ready to explain that "gay" does not just mean happy; and, in general, be prepared for a wide variety of comments and questions to arise.  For, although IndoctriNation deals with sensitive topics appropriately and well, such topics are, inevitably woven into large portions of the documentary.  If they were not, how else could the filmmaker fully explore the crux of the IndoctriNation: Should there be an exodus among Christians from American public schools?

Just What Is IndoctriNation?

In a nutshell, IndoctriNation is the story of one family's field trip across the United States in order to better understand what the current state of American public schools is,  how it got that way and what Christian families might do about it.  As such, it is also an exploration of a highly charged question among Christians about whether Christian children should be pulled from America's public schools in order to best disciple them or whether they should remain in the schools as "salt and light" for the world.

To answer this question, Scottish filmmaker Colin Gunn, his American wife, and their seven homeschooled children set off  in a big yellow bus to interview teachers, administrators, parents, and more as they trace the history and current state of American public schools.  What they find is edited into the 19 segments of the IndoctriNation documentary , which can be viewed in either English or Spanish with subtitles. 

Testimonies are offered.  The history of how America's schools began and developed is chronicled.  And questions such as the following are explored:

  • Are today's children morally and physically safe in the public school system?
  • Are public schools religiously neutral or are they hostile towards Christians?
  • Is it possible for students, teachers or administrators to be "salt and light" in America's public schools?
  • What figures in history have influenced and changed the American public school system and what is the result?
  • Can the public school system be fixed or is there no hope?

Throughout the film, the bus that the Gunn family in drive as they travel throughout America runs into a number of issues.   It breaks down numerous times and this becomes and analogy for the American school system.  As the documentary ends, the bias of the film is made clear.  The bus is willfully destroyed.  The conclusion that America's public schools are beyond repair is drawn.

IndoctriNation essentially argues that Christian families should not trust American public schools with their children.  

My Thoughts

Without question, IndoctriNation preaches to the choir with me on many points.  I am already a home educator.  I am a former schoolteacher as well -- one that witnessed some of the detriments of America's public school system firsthand and does not want my children involved with bastions of relativism,  godlessness, questionable practices, teaching to the test and so much more. 

I found the documentary powerful, easy-to-follow and packed with facts and opinions that made me go, "hmmm...."  However, even though the film includes testimony from an array of students, teachers, administrators, theologians, politicians, historians and more, who corroborate facts with real-life testimonies, I cannot help but wonder if the film's bias might lessen its impact for some viewers.

IndoctriNation has an ultra-conservative, Christian and Creationism bias.  Thus, although the parts of film which chronicle the history of public education in the United States and those that discuss some of the challenges that today's students face would be worthwhile for any audience to view, it is likely that a non-Christian audience would not tolerate the majority of the film.

Further, since IndoctriNation calls all Christian families to withdraw their children from public schools, I wonder if even some Christians would be turned off by the documentary.  For example, lower-income families might feel exhorted by the film to pull their children from the public school system, but also unable to imagine who to make ends meet if they did so.  How would they pay for private or home education?  Does it make them "bad parents" if they cannot do so, and, therefore, do not release their children from the dangerous grasp of the public school system?  Confusion, guilt, hopelessness and defensiveness may arise for such viewers.

Would I Recommend IndoctriNation?


I already have, in fact.  The day after watching it, a fellow home educator and I were talking about today's schools and her daughter's experience in them as a new teacher.  I ended up mentioning IndoctriNation to her and the idea that it might not be possible to be "salt and light" in some schools.  I suggested she and her daughter watch the movie.

However, I would not recommend the IndoctriNation to everyone.

  • If you are a family that is involved with the public school system, are happy, see no problems with it and would be unwilling to have your views challenged, then this film won't appeal to you.

  • If you are not willing to be open to the idea that public schools might be the wrong place for practicing Christian children, teachers and administrators, then the film might be pointless for you to watch.

  • If you disagree with the idea that today's schools are owned by the government and designed to train servants to the state adept at little but a dependence ideology, then, well, you won't like what the film has to say.

But, if you are debating whether to begin or to continue to home educate; if want to know more about how American public schools got to the place they are today; or if you are looking for facts and testimonies to support your decision to be "salt and light" outside of the school system instead of within it where there simply may be no room for saltiness, then watch IndoctriNation.

A Final Thought

My nine year old said after watching IndoctriNation, "Mom, I liked it...  I sometimes wonder why you and Daddy don't put us in school.  Now, I know why."  This after a tough day where, yes, we might have mentioned the option of putting our son on the big yellow bus "if..." (even we would not really do so.)

This after a chat where my boy and I decided that I could never go back to teaching in public schools even if I wanted to because I cannot take my faith out of my life or my conversation.

This after I explained to my son that everything he was seeing and hearing in IndoctriNation was from one point of view and that there are other points of view, only to have him comment that even if he watched the other points of view later, when he is older and when he is ready, he still thinks we are making a good choice.

I could not agree more.
Should there be an exodus from today's public schools? 
IndoctriNation says yes.  I say, it is up to each family, led by the Spirit to decide.  I also attest that, agree with its bias or not, IndoctriNation is worth viewing when making -- or remaining steadfast -- in such a decision.  It is a well-put together, controversial and powerful film that is sure to garner reaction.

Want More Information?

IndoctriNation DVD Review


IndoctriNation DVD Review

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