28 August 2010

Indoctrination, propoganda and instructional design

I just got my new passport. It's embarrassing. I want my old one back. The surface of every page is covered corner to corner with Americana images and sayings clearly designed to teach its user what it means to be American.  This is much more than an official document that let's you go to Bali on vacation. It's an expertly designed Patriotism job aid.

If only it weren't so full of propaganda. In  Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality: A Brief History of the Education of Dominated Cultures in the United States, Joel Spring tells a different story than the cowboy picture does: Minority peoples were systematically stripped of their identity and property. Education came in the form of indoctrination or marginalization. 

And take the Liberty Bell, who would mis re- interpret its stoic portrayal of freedom as a universally-understood value? Lots of people here and around the globe, like Noam Chomsky, an internationally-recognized intellectual and activist who critiques "American foreign policy and its ambitions for geopolitical hegemony and the neoliberal turn of global capitalism."1

Point is: We IDers don't work in politically-neutral bubbles; each word and image we piece together tell a singular story. We have power in that regard. And even if you don't agree that the passport is a job aid, you can't deny its instructive intent.

 1 Garland, 2009  http://www.chomsky.info/bios/2009----.htm