Indoctrination represents a classic dilemma in the field of curriculum studies and raises the issue of whether all acts of teaching impose content, perspective, or values. In essence, indoctrination refers to both a normative belief that teachers should impose good values on students and an empirical belief that schools do in fact impose values on students. The term, however, took on specific historical significance as an ideological stance for educators from the early-to-mid 20th century who maintained that schools should serve as a tool for the reconstruction of society and should engage in the indoctrination of students.

Concerns of indoctrination have more recently justified the importance of examining programs of study to ascertain the reproduction of knowledge, social control, and the hidden curriculum.

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