Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine). It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned.
Do we teach through repeated instructions? Yes, I see this often. Inculcating check.
Do we present a vision of a practice or approach being positive or negative? Agile manifesto – yes, Waterfall negatively viewed. Attitudes check.
Metacognition is defined as “cognition about cognition”, or “knowing about knowing.” It can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving.
Do we use cognitive strategies? Yes. Are we cognizant of them? Yes.
Do we often treat ourselves as a professional methodology? Yes.
The term indoctrination came to have awkward connotations during the 20th century, but it is necessary to retain it, in order to distinguish it from education. In education one is asked to stand as much as possible outside the body of accumulated knowledge and analyze it oneself. In indoctrination on the other hand, one stands within the body of knowledge and absorbs its teachings without critical thought.
Are we educating or teaching and allowing critical thought? This is the big question and the key differentiator.
Firstly it depends on the trainer and the coach. I would say most professional Agile training I have seen (and yes I would include CSM in this) don’t allow critical thought. The exception to this rule is what I have heard of Alistair Cockburn’s advanced training which begins with a critical look of Agile and positive look on Waterfall.
So what about the coaches? Most coaches I know would respond positively to critical thought. But do we actively enable it? I am not so sure we do a good job of this.
Which practices have empirical proof that they are beneficial? Ten years and how much data do we have about whether pair programming is really better? Yes I know the point is always made ‘but no one will pay for the same software to be created twice’ – but have we tried to get a real answer on this? Scientists study all sorts of things – why is it that Agile practices and techniques have such little data behind them? No one is willing to pay for it (except maybe Scott Ambler). Maybe as a community we should start working together and get some real information behind us so that we can respond strongly against critical thought.