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Back to Feb. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 241 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS FEBRUARY 2006

Dangers of 'Teaching Machines'
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Public Schools
Adopt Soviet Techniques

By Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt

(The following is Part 2 of a series. The complete series may be downloaded from www.deliberatedumbingdown.com)

Stimulus/Response,
Rewarding & Punishing

The following quotes from overseas are included as proof that the "restructured" American education system is part of the international (lifelong) computerized work force training system. An important Australian research paper, published on the Internet in March of 2000, documents the fact that the computerization of the classroom is the model for the international system to which all the world's children and adults will be subjected . . . and brainwashed. (As you read them, please remember that the Bush Administration strongly supports the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO's) plans for world education (brainwashing and training). Mrs. Laura Bush and Secretary of Education Spellings addressed UNESCO's Education for All Conference in February 2005. Secretary Spellings said: "The No Child Left Behind Act and UNESCO's Education for All Campaign complement each other . . .")

"Preparing for Virtual/World Classrooms: Globalization of Education and Training — a Learning Web Approach along the Information Superhighway" by Dell Campbell, 1997, Department of Further Education and Training, Australia. Excerpts:

Computers and the World Wide Web as Skinner's Teaching Machine

"Probably the most influential theorists in the development of web-based teaching are the behaviourists, especially B. F. Skinner, Robert Gagne and Benjamin Bloom and his associates. Over a long lifetime and through half a century of experimentation and writing, Skinner developed behaviourist theories into a conceptual structure for teaching machines. Skinner's theory of operant conditioning - that anyone could be taught as long as instruction is broken down into short sequenced steps and appropriately reinforced - Gagne's task analysis, and the later work by Bloom and his associates on taxonomies of educational objectives, provided conceptual frameworks for developing positively-reinforced computer-based education (programmes such as typing tutors provide good examples), frame-sequenced, web-based information presentation (Andy White, 1996) and broad principles of self-paced learning (Penn State University). Gagne's task analysis (Penn State University) developed concepts of hierarchies of learning tasks which Bloom and his associates elaborated into the well-known Taxonomies of Educational Objectives.

"Unlike Romantic theory which was derived from theory of learning through sensory perception (Berkeley) and discovery (Rousseau), behaviorist theory is based on scientific investigation and measurement. Early theory in behavioural psychology has been reinforced and modified by discoveries in cognitive psychology, especially discoveries related to the understanding of cognition needed to develop Artificial Intelligence. Developments in cyber technology, therefore, are likely to reinforce the scientific approach to computer-and Internet-based education. It is worth noting that web-based resources for computer-based Distance Education (e.g. Penn State University) and Instructional Design are primarily behaviourist.

"Perusal of national qualifications frameworks, standards-based vocational (e.g. U.S. Department of Labor, NCRVE) and school curricula (e.g. Putnam Valley Schools, UK DFEE), and national qualifications frameworks (AOAB, DFEE) indicates the influence of behaviourist theory on current education and training curricula. Statements of standards and benchmarks such as the UK national curriculum in science, a combination of science and life skills standards and benchmarks from the USA and the West Australian Year 11 Chemistry Syllabus (SEA) show not only remarkable similarity, but a consistency of structure reflecting general behaviourist principles and more specific cognitive and other objectives from Bloom et al's taxonomies.

Behaviourist educational structures as compatible with international ideologies and industry trends.

"The U.S. Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks, highlights another trend reinforcing the use of behaviourist structures in educational/curricular frameworks and syllabi — the extent to which a behaviourist approach can be manipulated to match economic rationalist demands for demonstrably quality teaching and learning outcomes. Behavioural emphases on general objectives stated in terms of learning and performance outcomes, and of short sequenced steps can readily be identified as general and specific benchmarks and specifications demanded by industry; as student performance on internationally standardised testing can be used to demonstrate continuous improvement. Behaviourist educational structures, therefore, being compatible with current management procedures and quality systems, are likely to remain international systems in states where economic rationalism is a dominant ideology of government.

"Behaviourist structures, therefore, facilitate the internationalisation of education by providing comparable international benchmarking; and enhance the possibility of such system's being entrenched by the congruence between behaviourist structures and the techniques of Total Quality Management. Behaviourism speaks the language businesses committed to TQM understand."

Curricula for the Global Classroom -The emergence of generic national curricular frameworks.

In Australia and the United States, existing federally funded programs provided a bridge to the development of national curricular systems. The Australian Commonwealth Schools Commission's Reports, provided a vehicle for the advocacy of unified national approaches to secondary schooling, and its final report In the National Interest (CSC 1987) the shell about which the new Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) was able to launch its new policy (Pusey 1990). In the United States, the National Commission on Excellence in Education launched the national educational debate with A Nation at Risk (1983). These reports, and similar reports in other English-speaking and European countries fostered a sense of crisis and urgency which allowed national governments to dominate educational policy making (Odden and Marsh in Hanaway and Crowson 1989), even in nations in which educational policy was constitutionally a state not national responsibility."

Show me one parent or teacher who wants his child trained like a rat for the global workforce, rather than educated like a human being for his own upward mobility. Parents and teachers don't want children subjected to operant conditioning which bypasses the brain with all the important functions which distinguish man from an animal: memory, conscience, imagination, insight, and intuition, functions by which human beings know absolutes and truths and are able to know God.

Now is the time for parents and public and private school teachers to DEMAND that our schools be restored to their original intent: to provide a strong traditional academic education, focusing on reading (good literature, not the depressing, politically correct, values-changing literature promoted by the American Library Assn.), writing, with a strong emphasis on spelling and grammar, mathematics, traditional United States and world history, geography, science, foreign languages, including Latin, art, music, and an understanding of the need for sound morals and values, the invaluable support structure for all major (successful) civilizations. (Note: Some Christian schools and home schoolers have unfortunately adopted this Skinnerian, individualized, proceed at your own pace, continuous progress, computer curriculum, which is dangerous no matter what it teaches. There is no free will involved in this type of education!)

If parents and teachers allow schools and universities to become computerized operant conditioning, attitude-changing/workforce training centers for lifelong learning, we can look forward to the realization of the following disastrous prediction advocated by Professor Skinner in his 1968 book Technology of Teaching:

"Absolute power in education is not a serious issue today because it seems out of reach. However, a technology of teaching will need to be much more powerful if the race with catastrophe is to be won, and it may then, like any powerful technology, need to be contained. An appropriate counter control will not be generated as a revolt against aversive measures but by a policy designed to maximize the contribution which education can make to the strength of the culture. The issue is important because the government of the future will probably operate mainly through educational (Skinnerian/Pavlovian, Ed.) techniques." (p. 260)

(Note: The use of rewards and punishment by a totalitarian government can lead to atrocious abuses. An article in The Washington Post, 8/27/05 titled "Who Controls the Family? . . . Blind Activist Leads Peasants in Legal Challenge to Abuses of China's Population-Growth Policy" by Philip P. Pan states in part: "The government adopted the law granting citizens the right to make an 'informed choice' in family planning, and in recent years it has moved toward a system of economic rewards for couples with only one child and fines or fees for those with more. But many local officials continue to rely on forced abortion and sterilization, in part because the ability to limit population growth remains a top consideration in party deliberations about promotions and raises. In much of China, an official who misses a population target, even if he or she excels in other fields, is dismissed, according to researchers and family planning officials.")

Fast forward to 1981 and Project BEST: Basic Education Skills through Technology. BEST's Informational Brochure suggests what Skinner predicted in his 1968 book Technology of Teaching:

"The government of the future [various government agencies, not just education, Ed.], will probably operate mainly through educational techniques."

The informational brochure for Project BEST: Basic Education Skills through Technology, stated:

"In addition, the State Team approach and the communications network with professional associations and other groups established by the project will serve as a model for the states in implementing similar efforts in other areas of education, or in such program areas as health, human services, housing, transportation, etc."

Twenty-two years later an article entitled "Extraordinary Acts of Kindness" published in the January 27, 2003 issue of The Times Record, Brunswick, Maine illustrates what Project BEST called for above: the use of the Skinnerian operant conditioning method in government programs, not exclusively in education:

"Beginning on Saturday, police officers on patrol in the two communities (Bath and Brunswick, Maine) will carry with them coins embossed with their department's patch. When an officer witnesses someone aiding a fellow citizen or committing a noteworthy act, the officer can award the coin in immediate (behaviorist term, Ed.) recognition of the kind deed . . ."

This use of the technology of teaching (operant conditioning to modify behavior) in my home town of Bath, Maine is not an isolated incident. The federal and state governments are deeply involved in rewarding and punishing individuals and state and local agencies, by withholding funds (punishment) or by providing additional funding or perks (rewards) depending on whether or not an agency or person performs as mandated by government. (Ref: Population control in China)

If we are trained as animals, only doing good deeds when a reward is forthcoming, and refraining from doing what is right, according to our conscience, . . . for fear of government reprisal (punishment), who can say that we are any different from animals who are not expected to know right from wrong?

If human beings are trained like animals, why should we be surprised when they increasingly behave even worse than animals, and when confronted by their misdeeds seem to have no remorse?

If the majority of Americans are willing to accept the Darwinian evolutionist view that they are in fact animals to be trained (conditioned) . . . without free will, lacking the ability to think and make decisions for themselves, lacking conscience or personal responsibility for their actions, (i.e., blaming and suing McDonald's for the "too hot" coffee they spilled in their lap while driving away from the takeout window; blaming and suing the cigarette companies for their addictions which caused cancer; blaming and killing their parents due to abuse, etc.), we and our nation are dead in the water, no matter our military or economic superiority.

Does not the acceptance of this Darwinian/evolutionist view that man is nothing but an animal to be trained, without free will, spell the end of Christianity as a major world religion which, due to its singular emphasis on free will, focuses on man's personal responsibility toward God, his neighbor, and society in general?

This is the bottom line: if we allow and pay for agents of the government to manipulate and control our behavior in this way, we are in effect turning all responsibility for our lives and fortunes or misfortunes over to the government.

© 2005 Charlotte T. Iserbyt. All Rights Reserved

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt is the author of the deliberate dumbing down of america .. . . A Chronological Paper Trail and Back to Basics Reform Or . . .OBE *Skinnerian International Curriculum? She has served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration, where she first blew the whistle on a major technology initiative which would control curriculum in America's classrooms.

Download free PDFs of the publications at: www.deliberatedumbingdown.com

E-Mail: dumbdown@blazenetme.net


 
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