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Freedom's Phoenix

I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Gonna Listen Anymore!

September 8, 2009
 by Kimberly Ruff


With President Obama's plan to deliver a "Back to School" speech to schools across the nation came public outcry about the Administration's efforts to indoctrinate children into socialist thinking. Kim Ruff looks at how writing off the speech before it's been given only overrides one of the fundamental skills necessary in good education: critical thinking.

On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, President Obama delivered his "Back to School" speech to school age children nation-wide. Naturally, in this heated political climate, his speech was not without controversy. Pundits and some upset parents protested to the content, claiming that his speech was designed to indoctrinate children into socialist thinking. While I would not put it past politicians to try and take advantage of young, malleable minds, I had to wonder where this general sense of enragement came from as the speech still had yet to air and thus, err.

President Obama's speech said relatively little about government's role in education. Instead, he focused on a student's responsibility for their own education and how true success will come not through handouts and government mandates, but from an individual's efforts. It's difficult to see how, as a libertarian or a parent, someone could balk at a message of personal responsibility and self-determination, much less spin it into a rhetorical assassination on these decidedly American values.

"But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. And that's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education." - President Obama, 09/08/09

Yet the level of political discourse in this country has become so painfully polarized that there are some who would rather stuff cotton in their ears than expose themselves to his words, already certain they know what he's going to say. They pull their children out of school to shield them from his dogmatic lies and lambast him for trying to sink his socialist teeth into the youth of America.

While I will be the first to defend a parent's right to teach their children what they wish in the manner they see fit, I find this attitude incredibly bizarre. The most important thing we can teach our children - aside from the basic tools of reading, writing, and arithmetic - is critical thinking.

Critical thinking is absolutely vital to our success, both individually and socially. It allows us to take complex problems, isolate the causes from the effects, and develop workable solutions. On a microcosmic level, it makes us better consumers, intelligent voters, more compassionate in relationships, and wiser, self sufficient individuals. On a macrocosmic level, critical thinkers have been responsible for our great achievement in math, science, philosophy, engineering, and politics. It is, in a word, the ability to reason.

To engage in critical thinking, one must actively expose themselves to all sides of an argument, weigh each side objectively, and arrive at a logical conclusion. Thus, for one to say beyond a shadow of a doubt that President Obama is trying to indoctrinate our children into a socialist mindset would require them to not only actively listen and analyze what he says, but to also have a solid understanding of socialism and why it is an undesirable political system. It can be taxing to plow through the transcripts of Obama's speeches or giant tomes dedicated to socialist thought, as well as tiresome to actively think about what one has been exposed to, but doing so will bring them closer to the truth.

Isn't that, after all, what this whole journey is about – finding the truth? At the core, each of us is trying to understand who we are and what our purpose is in the context of our environment. To adequately do this, we must build on the work of the critical thinkers of the past and add to the vast tapestry they have helped weave. Each new thread gets us closer to complete understanding, but we cannot progress if we deny good ideas simply because we don't agree with who's saying them.

Related Content:

The Perils of Success - The Angry American
Obama Speaks to School Children - Nick Coons
Why We Shouldn't Abandon Our Principles - Kimberly Ruff

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