Education Versus Indoctrination: Re-imaging our Future As A Plural State | David Antia
It need be mentioned that the indoctrination of children in early childhood kills the development of their rational autonomy and limit them to a particular worldview in such manner that make them view opposites or varying opinions with repugnance – David Antia
Deborah Samuel, a great soul, smitten and scourged by a vile passion that was advanced by religious loyalty, lay
down beneath the sublunary sphere, with the dignity of immortality.
Our dear Deborah reportedly engaged in a controversial argument with her colleagues at College of Education (Sokoto State), she enjoyed her freedom of expression and obliged to a sense of protection, bandied freely without a hint of death that was waiting for her to exhale a breath of gale. She left to school the following morning, hoping that the little exchange on their WhatsApp group sailed away into the golden distance of insignificance. Hoping to embrace her colleagues and continue to work together with them in love to achieve the purpose that took her to the college of education. To her utter dismay, something anomalous was planned to happen.
What she took likely was conceived by some of her Muslim school mates as a gargantuan insult to Prophet Mohammad (Peace be unto him).
Young and harmless Deborah saw her colleagues approached her with stick and stones. Her eyes dilating with fear and pain, could not sustain enough vision of the milisecond event, before she could weep over the reality of the rising and condensed paroxysm of rage, her killers lynched on her and exert their hate.
The atmosphere changed for Deborah, her soul was quiet and the deep irredeemable gloom over her pervaded the conscience of humanity when she asked her killers what they will gain from the maudlin and grotesque wickedness.
In her words, “ what will you people gain by this”?
Sadly, despite her plea, a quieting touch was laid upon her soul by means of callous and conscienceless brute.
When the news of the sad incident found a way into our media, Nigerians again swung open a gate of complain which usually don’t last for more than a month. Our media increasingly became immured with daily avalanche of vituperation, one region accusing another region of being misfits unworthy of existence in the Nigeria enclave.
Also, some persons have expressed genuine worry over the sad incidence without attacking the ethnic group that share nativity with the culprits. Some persons including Muslims have also condemned the act which is condemnable by any standard.
The Catholic Church, CAN and Even Islamic groups have condemned the killers of Deborah. The condemnation issued by Islamic leaders have induced a conclusion on the propriety of the action of those extremists , thus spelling it as unacceptable and inconsistent with the teachings of the esteemed Prophet Mohammad (Peace unto him).
Some of our Northern Muslim Brothers and Sisters including Professors, have also openly defended the killers of Deborah. But while this incursion of the loud, compassionate and empathetic , the vulgars and the meretricious subsist, our politicians who are contesting the presidential election stay clocked in prim pretense.
They have refused to condemn the act.
Personally, I have refused also to demonize them for their aloofness since the political climate in Nigeria rain only at the conjecture of religious sentiment. Nobody wants to risk the vote of the majority because of a single tweet. Common sense cannot engage in futile protest with hypocrisy. While what IS superintend over what OUGHT, wisdom must be profitable to direct.
While the family of the Deborah weep and maybe regret over ever sending their child to school in the college, such poignant reflection and harvest of barren regret did not enjoy a free wheel when some Islamic extremists took to the street in protest to demand for the release of the two persons who have been arrested by the Nigerian police on grounds of their alleged involvement in the murder .
This group of people are so detached from the feeling of humanity and the mourning that characterizes the time. While the Christian community are crying, while their fellow Muslim brothers and Sisters are mourning and sympathizing with Deborah , while the entire country palpitates with wounded sensibility, new ambitions pressed upon their fancies, they planned a protest and carried it out in large numbers. How sad!
This event leave to the imagination the endless vista of our problem as a people. But if we can take leave away from the emotive reactions of some people who have demonized the entire Islamic religion, if we can take our focus away from those who have accused the mourning Christian community of insensate prattles, if we can lend our countenance to the possibility of fixing this problem, then we will do honor to the memory of our beloved sister .
We can’t afford to mourn Deborah for only a month and return back to our normal activities in the manner in which we always mourn our insecurity and worsening economy and return to live with it like nothing is happening.
Nigeria’s education system must be summoned into perspective if we care about finding a solution to this menace.
WHAT DO I MEAN?
Those Muslims who pursue a defense of that lugubrious act by our Northern Islamic Extremist do so not because they are necessarily wicked human species. They don’t see anything wrong with the killing of Deborah, not because they themselves are killers, but because they are product of our malfunction education system that promotes indoctrination and religious conditioning at the developmental stage of childhood.
This our brothers have an internal reference that was instructed into their consciousness during their early childhood education and such reference provide them with a perspective and judgement, a stead from which they measure the value and propriety of events. So I can exonerate them for their absurd views. We can’t afford to pay braggart pretense to the reality of the connection that people have with their religious prophets. They have an identity with their prophets to such level that any insult on their prophets touches their own very essence. A Man is tied to his essence and the estimation of his value must not be taken in far proximity from what constitutes his essence. Because of this, the knowledge of religion should never come before philosophy. Since Philosophy as defined by Manly Paul, is the science of estimating values. Yes, I condemn their act, but I do not see them as the main problem. It is the system that produce them that I am interested in.
How about some Christians who are condemning the murder, are they really different from the Muslim extremists? In my opinion, NO!
Some of them when they come across Atheists, they wish that God will bring them to the knowledge of him through disastrous events that will teach them lessons. They will most likely say this to an unbeliever, “ My brother, you don’t believe in God because something terrible has not happened to you before, God will appear to you the way he did to Paul”. What they usually mean by that is that something terrible will happen to you that will make you helpless and feel the need to call on God. As subtle as this wicked thought is, it is an extremism born from upsurge indoctrination. I equally exonerate them.
As we reflect on, a snapshot of the difference between the Athenian and Spartan historical voyage, in comparison with our educational system in Nigeria from Childhood to Tertiary level, will leave us with a satisfying equipoise.
Those who are familiar with the history of education in Sparta know that Sparta aimed at Military Superiority. The citizens of Sparta were largely indoctrinated with military discipline. They were given to blind obedience, an atmosphere too toxic for the flourishing of liberal contemplation.
Unlike Sparta, the Athenians avoided crude conditioning, they allowed citizens from childhood to think for themselves, ask questions and even interrogate the State on issues. They operated a democratic state that nurtured and yield an harvest of poets, great historians , scientists and philosophers.
In spites of its subjugation by Sparta , Athens as a State survived while Sparta the conqueror was obliterated from the face of the earth.
This shows that force as akin to religious indoctrination, does not build up an enduring civilization.
In the Nigerian education System, a child is indoctrinated with a particular religion from Pre-nursery to high school. During this period his teachers and some of his pastors and Imams already warn him not to accept critical thinking that will be delivered to him through a compulsory Introduction to Philosophy and Logic at the tertiary level.
It need be mentioned that the indoctrination of children in early childhood kills the development of their rational autonomy and limit them to a particular worldview in such manner that make them view opposites or varying opinions with repugnance .
When the child passes this developmental stage, the critical thinking offered him through Philosophy in tertiary level does him little or no good, because it is almost impossible to get him reflect critically on the committed perspectives into which he was nurtured. At this level, the individual is already an extremist. I have seen Muslim Professors and scholars from Nigeria defend the killing of Deborah, just as I am familiar with the situation of some Christian Professors who are very superstitious- who still believe they will be killed by witches if they visited their village.
Do you then wonder why people are schooled even to PhD level and yet their mind is not fully enlightened?
Wonder no more my esteemed reader, the cart was put before the horse. Their mind was put on a narrow frame during their formative years before it was exposed to deep learning during their adulthood. A seed that fall on stone cannot yield.
Other countries of the world like Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, e.t.c recognized this harm and caused their curriculum to be revised.
Example, in the United States, the Supreme Court in the 1963 Schempp/ Murray case ruled against the teaching OF religion in Favour of the teaching ABOUT religion in public schools. This was established on the distinction that the latter involved a historical and comparative approach (like one will teach literature) while the former entails dogmatic indoctrination of children in promoting only one religion as true.
WHAT AM I ADVOCATING FOR?
Simple – Either our country stop the teaching of CRK and Islamic Studies in Early Childhood and secondary education or the teaching should be carried out phenomenologically with the two major religion taught together( no one without the other) Introduce philosophy and critical thinking in our primary schools or at least, in our secondary schools.
Every child is naturally a philosopher, she is a asker of questions and seeker of answers. She browse freely all the uplands of knowledge and thought, trying to understand the world. Her mind is not yet developed enough to understand sublimer issues of divine order and human destiny. She is still wondering. Indoctrinating her mind at this point with one religion is an effort that will only limit her rational capacity.
Because development does not involve the arising of something totally new, you must allow the potentiality of butterfly in the caterpillar to mature and manifest into actuality by indeed becoming a butterfly.
When you make a religious extremist out of the mind of a child who is a potential philosopher, you have stifled the growth of that child through induced hypnotics and autosuggestion. You prevent the child from growing into a full human with rational autonomy. Religion cannot do good to such mind.
Aristotle opened his “metaphysics” with these words “ All men naturally desire to know”. Francis Bacon tersely summarized the situation of the process by saying this “ A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to Atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s mind about religion”.
From a deeper introspection, one will observe that man was naturally born a philosopher, if a child then, is introduced to critical thinking that will sharpen her natural gift of inquisitiveness, she will grow into a full rational human empowered to launch a search at the sublimer issues of divine order. The outcome of such search will be a deeper knowledge of self and a connection with the supernatural.
Such human when he finds the religion that resonates with her will not find other people’s path intolerable.
So if the teaching of religion in early childhood education in Nigeria cannot be completely avoided, emphasize, should therefore be placed on religious KNOWLEDGE and not religious INSTRUCTION. This phenomenological approach must be adopted if we care about neutrality, openness and pluralism.
Most importantly, the teaching of philosophy should be introduced in Primary school or at least secondary school.
The introduction of philosophy and critical thinking into our early childhood education curriculum will help us re-image our future as a plural state (marked with ethnic and religious diversity). This is my Ray of Thought.
David Bassey Antia firstname.lastname@example.org Author of ‘You And Others’