Parallels Between Cult Technique and our Glorious Education System
It is time to acknowledge that the failure of our school system does not just mean less opportunity for our kids. It means pain for our kids, psychological pain. Because it is a system based on psychological manipulation. A system that has too many parallels with the tools used by cult leaders to control their followers.
Here are some of those parallels and what we can do to make school about education instead of manipulation. As with every solution, the first step is acknowledging the problem. These steps are from Stephen Mason, Ph.D. and Dr. Anthony Pratkanis, a professor from UC, Santa Cruz and the co-author of Age of Propaganda.
Create your own reality
Step 1: “Begin by creating your own reality. You do this by keeping your members away from outsiders.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
School is a sub-world, separated from the functions of life as a whole. We take children and isolate them from the rest of society for 7–8 hours a day for 5 days a week for 18 years. Then we wonder why they expect life to be like school. Why do they have so much trouble adjusting to real life? It is no secret that school is not like life. This means school is a sub-culture, sitting apart from many realities of daily life.
Be the key to paradise
Step 2: “Next set the leader and his/her inner circle up as the only link to paradise…only they hold the keys to the kingdom.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
In the world of education, paradise is the happy-ever-after world that we tell children they are assured to have at the end of their toil. The keys are the secrets that only teachers and school administrators have. Compliance with these leaders is the only way we can obtain happiness and success as adults.
In other words, study hard, do what you are told and you will live happily ever after.
More, more, more
Step 3: “Remember to make increasing demands.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
Parents in the system have been conditioned to give the school whatever it demands. Whether that is all of their child’s free time spent on homework, fees that rise with each consecutive year of education, or accepting the constant cries of children who are deeply unhappy. Schools are given whatever they ask for, with little to no questioning. Why? Because parents care deeply about their children’s education and we will do anything necessary to support it.
The key to happiness
Step 4: “Keep turning out stories about the greatness of the leader.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
Our school system operating on cult-like principles is not a conspiracy. There is no one leader who is manipulating the masses. This is one of the last remaining bright spots in our system, and if we want to see a better future, we need to cling to this freedom from a leader.
Centralizing decisions will put too much power in the hands of one man. The uncomfortable truth is that our education system is very much like the education system of pre-World-War II Germany, with the important exception that our President is not allowed to decide what curriculum is taught, and which teachers should be fired and promoted, let’s keep it that way.
We cannot ask the federal government to force our system to be great. To make a great education system we need the power in the hands of the people.
Although there is no one leader in this system, we can look at the leaders of our top-level education system, college administrators. Looking at the salaries of the administrators of our colleges and universities reveals some interesting things about how we view this position. The average wages of many of these college presidents exceed the salary for the president of our country.
Really? It is harder and takes more skill to run one college than to run the United States of America? Also, with rising costs of education, the salary of the university presidents is rarely taken into account, or seen as an area where costs could be cut. When we compare the average salaries of governors of the states, they make little compared to the salaries of many university presidents, including public universities. Why? What magical skill is needed to run a school, that you do not need to run a state?
We must think our school leaders are pretty great, or we would not pay them so much. I am just saying, salary may be a clue here as to how high of a pedestal we put these leaders on.
Step 5: “Remember to use your converts to bring in more converts.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
Social shame and stigma are placed on those who choose a different lifestyle. Parents proselytize the system and whisper behind the back of anyone who chooses to educate their children differently. I have seen this done to both homeschoolers and those who send their children to private schools.
Don’t allow time for reflection
Step 6: “Keep everybody busy.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
This needs little explanation. Young children are fed tons of homework and older kids are told they need to be “well-rounded” and therefore must cram in as many sports, clubs and extracurriculars as is humanly possible. As long as their grades don’t suffer, there is no such thing as being too busy or overloaded.
“This doesn’t allow time for potentially critical thought.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
Happily ever after is just around the corner
Step 7: “And finally, keep your flock fixated on the carrot.” — Stephen Mason Ph.D.
The carrot we dangle in front of children is the magnificent life they will have if they keep doing their due drudgery. In the end, they will go to college and live happily-ever-after as gainfully employed-middle class citizens who can afford not only food, clothing, shelter, and cars but as many modern gadgets as they want and as much entertainment as they need to dull the ache left by this purgatorial education. Most will believe in this carrot for many years before hitting the disillusionment of a quarter or mid-life crisis.
This is a system designed to manipulate. It is the system Hitler used to bring up a nation of Nazis. Why is it the system for the US of A? A country that knows and acknowledges the worth of all people…we cut ourselves to the core by limiting our citizens to one choice, an educational system that brainwashes our children instead of teaching them how to think.
Do we love freedom or brainwashing?
Our current educational system has no business among freedom lovers. It will either transform, crumble, or remain and be the root of the end of freedom in this nation.
It will give birth to a nation of cultism. There will be no religious leader, but there will be ideals held in such high regard that they will be worshiped as if they are flawless and no critical thinking will be allowed in the scrutiny of these ideals.
The Nazi’s had ideals too, and I think it is fairly simple to see they are a modern example of a cult with a leader who was not religious. Is this what we want for our children’s and grandchildren’s future?
More laws do not equal better outcomes
Transforming our education system will not be achieved by adding more regulations and laws. The government cannot educate, they have proven incompetence, again and again, it is time to stop putting out trust in the failed leadership of government powers.
It will come about only by the demand of the adults of the nation. When parents collectively demand broad and sweeping change. Change for the sake of the next generation. An insistence on the balance between academics and other important life areas. A determination that the school as an entity is not some higher power. Not a god to be worshipped. Just a tool to be used. A tool that is currently cracked and breaking, rusted to the core.
We must demand more. This may happen slowly, but the crux of what keeps education a wreck is that we allow it. We do not reject it, even when it is destroying our kids.
Our kids are not just miserable, they are actually killing themselves
It is no secret that the suicide rate among teens in the US has been skyrocketing. In fact, more children die by their own hand every year than from car accidents. It is time to look in the mirror and quit pretending we don’t know why our kids want to kill themselves.
Our children are living with a level of daily regulation higher than any seen in the past, they essentially have little to no freedom in their lives. While some blame the media and kid’s access to information for this dramatic rise, suicide among teens is seasonal, and it is lowest in the summer.
Surely, most teens have more access to media and free time for information browsing during the summer. The rate is highest in the fall… I wonder what happens in the fall of every year that depresses kids to the point they just want to die? They are suffering from a culture that has chosen to ignore their basic needs (such as sleep and play) in favor of cramming them into a system.
Even shadows of cult techniques can be psychologically devastating
You may think I am exaggerating the point, but only people who have experienced what it is like to find yourself in the midst of attempted cult psychological control can really understand how these kids feel.
Acknowledging the issues pointed out above, it is clear there is too much control, indoctrination, and manipulation in our children’s lives. The solution is freedom. The first step in undermining cult control is always showing the followers the bigger world and giving them the choice of freedom.
(Unfortunately, many who are raised in a cult have often been so brainwashed they will never leave the cult, they really think it is right, even when physical abuse and other crimes are prevalent. Hopefully, we are not at the point of manipulation where we are blinded by brainwashing.)
Do not confuse free enterprise with monopolies
This is why so many people support the idea of school choice. Because putting the money to educate children directly in the hands of parents creates a customer with choices. A free enterprise system. It gives power to the human who cares most about the child’s education and emotional well-being.
As it stands now, the public education system, like a cult leader who has isolated his group from the outside world, is accountable to no one.
The system has no need to succeed, evolve, or transform itself for the better because across the nation millions of parents feel they have no other educational option for their children. The schools keep getting money no matter how deeply they fail our children because they are a government-funded and approved monopoly. The majority of customers (parents), with the exception of those rich enough for private school or adventurous enough for homeschool, have nowhere else to go.
School choice has already been tried, most notably in Washington D.C. and been proven to improve not only the individual outcome for students who suddenly have an opportunity where there was none before, but it has also improved the quality of the public schools. It is time to let the success spread across the nation.
The schools are accountable to no one, and as long as we do not demand that they become accountable, by allowing parents to take their children out of bad schools, they will fail our children. No amount of accountability to the government will wield the power of putting the money in the customers (parents) hand.
After all, the government does not pay for education, we pay. The money just passes through the government, they are not the customer. Government leaders will never be as passionate or as enraged about wrongdoing against a child as a parent.
Do we want to keep raising generations who have been conditioned to be nothing more than a follower?
Let’s stop conditioning our children to be cult followers. Once they leave the school system, they will look for other leaders, leaders that make them feel comfortable, that tell them what to do and how not only to live but what they should think. This is the new comfort zone of our culture, and it needs to stop.
It can be stopped easily from the ground up. Teach yourself how to think critically, and teach your kids too. Recognize cult psychology and quit giving the power to manipulate our children into the hands of our government. Let’s rise up together, from both sides of the political lines and demand school choice for our children.