I left high school as I was raised by it: a politically correct, social justice espousing, reform movement supporting, conservative hating, globalization loving Marxist.
The final three years of pre-secondary education is when most students begin to pour the concrete foundation on which they will build the structures of their lives upon. Everything before the tenth or eleventh grade is warm-up: these years are the training for the real show.
During my senior year of high school, Canada was having its 42nd Federal Election and every kid in Canada wanted to ensure that their opinion was heard, so a student vote project was run across all 338 electoral ridings (Canadian electoral districts) to see who the next generation of voters would have elected, and the results were consistent across all 13 provinces and territories.
- New Democrat Party
This trend, although to the glory of Liberals, is a bit scary to young Conservatives. Unfortunately, I and many of my friends were part of the Liberal majority.
Six months later, however, I was beginning to sing a different tune. As I transitioned into university, my beliefs and values began to clash with those I held previously, and along with them, my political affiliation changed hands.
Looking back to the shock victory, I had one question in mind: why did the youth vote so overwhelmingly for the Liberal party? None of us were very educated in politics and so we could not have voted based on anything other than generalizations about parties and their leaders.
There are many different perspectives on this question and it’s looked at in almost every country, as more and more youth are coming out of high school very Liberal. The only conservative youth to be found in Canada are those who, like myself, expose themselves to conservatism – which is a frightful thing to do because of the hateful rhetoric that teachers give to their students.
In an eleventh grade, social studies class where we were talking about political ideology, my teacher laid out a spectrum to provide a starting point in exploring the differences. The chart was fairly standard, going from left to right: anarchism, communism, socialism, conservatism, religious conservatism, monarchism, and lastly, fascism.
However, the notes taken from the lecture are scary. This is what that class, and many others like it, were told:
Under socialism: “an ideal system in which everyone works to contribute to the greater good, no citizen is left behind, and collective group happiness is generally at a high standard.”
For conservatism: “a system where the world is designed to be kept old-fashioned and non-progressive. In conservatism, money is king, and who has money is king of kings.”
These descriptions were supposed to teach me about politics, yet all they did is provide an extremely biased representation of what the instructor thought, not an equal interpretation of all the different views that exist.
Incidents like this lead many conservative youths to believe in the need for education reform. Things can not continue as they are today. There are plenty of ideas about how education should be remodeled, but I firmly believe that a few steps need to be taken to avoid indoctrination of young minds. That means indoctrination of any kind. I do not want to see children pushed to be right-wing believers to counter the other cultural factors pushing them to the left-wing.
First off, we need to see mandatory politics and economics classes in high school. Many people believe that these fields are far too broad to study at such a young age, and I agree with that. However, these two fields have shaped the world you live in, and it astounds me that people refuse to be informed about them. Along with that, students should be taught and expected to understand rhetoric and how to use it, also how it is used against them. I’m not advocating that everyone be told to major in economics or politics, but I believe in a secondary school education that prepares students for the world, not just a stepping stone to post-secondary education.
This would involve making classrooms more open to debate and free thinking, with teachers presenting full and sound arguments for and against all political ideologies and students being left to do the choosing for themselves. Silencing a certain set of principles does not create an educated society, it only moves us in the opposite direction.
Secondly, teachers who have decided to present biased opinions in the past or do so in the future must be punished for it, preferably in the form of a fine or suspension. Doubtlessly, some administration members would use such a ruling to unjustly punish teachers they dislike, so an ethics commission put together in individual school districts would investigate charges on a case-by-case basis.
Thirdly, and definitely most controversially, is to create less reliance on public schools for education. Champion of the free market Milton Friedman laid out his idea for public education in his 1955 essay titled, “The Role of Government in Education”. He believed, essentially, that schools should be funded by the taxpayers yet run privately. I highly support Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s notion to implement Friedman’s idea through use of the voucher program (which you can read more about here).
I’m glad that I was able to educate myself to a fuller extent than what was fed to me in high school and learn that free markets are not the work of an evil genius and that Stephen Harper isn’t a fascist as my high school classmates insisted. However, I worry for those old classmates and others like them, as you should too. Many people never take the time to properly educate themselves in a broad spectrum, and thus stay confined to whatever they’re spoon fed in their formative years.
Either teachers need to become less biased, or we need to revise our public education system, because I do not want to have my kids brainwashed like I was.
Be sure to follow the author on twitter at @ajgrether and check out his website.