My wife, our son, daughter-in-law, their children, and I spent a frenetic week in Orlando. We hit Universal twice, Disney twice, and spent full days floating around the resort’s pools. In the course of these adventures, I saw some remarkable things and an aside comment by someone put these questions before me. “When does teaching become indoctrination?” or “Has teaching always been about indoctrination?”
For a child, the world is brand new and they absorb everything. Social Science tells us a child learns at a remarkable rate, how much of what they learn becomes unquestionable truth that forms the basis of their adult judgements? Interestingly, we see in many of today’s social media memes that my generation believes the things we learned as children are absolute truths. Is this because we were taught them as an absolute truth, or because their truth has been confirmed by our life experiences?
As we moved through the crowds of the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom we were constantly reminded of man’s obligation to preserve the environment, yet there was little, actually no, mention of the massive impact Walt Disney world had on the natural environment of Central Florida. We were shown pictures of how sea turtles are killed by ingesting floating plastic in the ocean, but were then given the expensive merchandise we bought in plastic bags.
All the way up the “Expedition Everest” ride we were informed of the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas and how the legendary Yeti was its protector, and would be mad if we didn’t help save the planet. Yet, on the ride at the very peak were empty plastic drink bottles, and what looked like rubber wrist or hair bands that had been thrown from the cars and left to sit on display.
On the newest Animal Kingdom ride “Avatar Flight of Passage,” we are shown pictures of how the evil strip mining practices of man had almost destroyed the natural beauty of Pandora, but now enlightened scientists were working with the Na’vi to help restore the natural balance, as we snaked our way through probably two miles of concrete passageway made to resemble rock caves. Once on the ride about 100 or so visitors are taken on a breath-taking banshee ride through the trees and oceans of Pandora. I rode this at 11pm so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t solar powered.
I wonder, what lessons do my grandchildren take from these experiences? It seems to me to be just modern indoctrination given by a corporation that appears not to follow its own advice. But perhaps I am just jaded by today’s political polarization and the fact so many claim “the science is settled” when we attempt to debate the environment and the needs of mankind.