The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Bonnie Snyder (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) Guest-Blogging About "Undoctrinate" …

"How Politicized Classrooms Harm Kids and Ruin Our Schools―and What We Can Do About It."


I'm delighted to report that Bonnie Snyder of FIRE will be guest-blogging this week about this new book; here's an excerpt from

The purpose of is to expose and address the growing problem of biased teaching and indoctrination in K12 classrooms.

Indoctrination is antithetical to education. When a school, teacher, or class promotes an "orthodoxy" (a preferred point of view), students perceive that only certain opinions are welcome or allowed. This creates a "chilling effect" which short-circuits the thinking process. Students quickly learn to self-censor, stop questioning or thinking independently, and simply memorize expected responses in order to please the person in charge of assigning grades. Biased teaching and orthodoxy lead to many long-term societal problems, such as diminished critical thinking ability and impaired reasoning, decreased creativity, and declining support for free speech and misunderstanding of established civic norms, at the college level and in society.

Our goal is to "undoctrinate" our schools – i.e., restore robust intellectual diversity, open inquiry, reasoned dialectic, rigor, credibility, ideological curiosity and inclusiveness, and respect for our shared enlightenment inheritance and traditions. These traditions include humility about the limits of one's own knowledge and understanding, participation in the ongoing, shared search for "truth" (veritas), and tolerance for dissenting, minority, or unorthodox views.