Systems that Teach Things that are not True

Systems that Teach Things that are not True

We have powerful systems in place that teach us to believe things that are not true. Paradoxically, we are frustrated when people in society believe things that are not true. In our churches and many of our schools (particularly religious schools), our children learn to dismiss objective criteria and critical thinking. It is my contention that we should never teach people things that are not true.

Here are some of the tools used to teach and reinforce false beliefs:

  • Exaggeration – Ex. “the most holy…”
  • Unison mantras
  • Memorized statements
  • Funny hats and religious garb – to imply “specialness”
  • Hand gestures – sign of the cross, laying hands, etc
  • Coercion – pressure from the group to do as they do
  • Enforcement – school administrator standing with crossed arms enforcing group prayer
  • Planned settings – prayerful music to evoke an emotional response
  • Automatic responses – liturgical call and response
  • Rituals
  • Tokens – bread and wine distributed to ingroup only
  • Preaching false notions and ideas – such as the power of prayer and path to salvation

Even if we do not believe, we often unwittingly contribute to the problem by participating in religious activities, or just in letting it go. Children are particularly susceptible to the constant reinforcement of religious belief. As educators, we must not teach things that are false and we must teach young people to use critical thinking skills.


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