We Can No Longer Afford Freedom”

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDay 27: Skin­ner Hor­ror Files

B.F. Skinner’s Lega­cyWalden IIA

I am not the only one who has writ­ten the his­to­ry of edu­ca­tion reform. Dr. Den­nis [Cud­dy] wrote an excel­lent book in 1993 titled Chronol­o­gy of Edu­ca­tion With Quotable Quotes. Below is his warn­ings about B.F. Skin­ner:

1948: Walden II by B. F. Skin­ner (1972 Human­ist of the Year) is pub­lished describ­ing a soci­ety in which chil­dren are reared by the State rather than their par­ents, are taught only “desir­able” char­ac­ter­is­tics from birth, and are nev­er pun­ished.

1972 Novem­ber: Psy­chol­o­gy Today pub­lish­es “Shapers at Work” by Ken­neth Goodall describ­ing a num­ber of behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion pro­grams around the coun­try, includ­ing a 3-year pro­gram in Prince George’s Coun­ty, Mary­land, designed not only to change stu­dents’ behav­ior but also “to man­age the behav­ior of the whole com­mu­ni­ty.” The project is con­duct­ed by the Insti­tute for Behav­ioral Research, with whom B. F. Skin­ner and Buck­min­ster Fuller are asso­ci­at­ed. The IBR is head­ed by Harold Cohen, who states, “I’m not a moral­ist, it just doesn’t work.”

Walden Skinner1977 August 1: The Wash­ing­ton Post prints Lawrence Feinberg’s “Com­pe­ten­cy Tests Set in 26 Schools,” in which he reports that a new “com­pe­ten­cy based cur­ricu­lum” to be used in every school in Wash­ing­ton, DC, “is based on the work in behav­ioral psy­chol­o­gy of Har­vard University’s B.F. Skin­ner, who devel­oped teach­ing machines and even trained pigeons dur­ing World War II to pilot and det­o­nate bombs and tor­pe­does.” Wash­ing­ton, DC, Asso­ciate School Super­in­ten­dent James Guines tells Fein­berg, “If you can train a pigeon to fly up there and press a but­ton and set off a bomb, why can’t you teach human beings to behave in an effec­tive and ratio­nal way? We know we can mod­i­fy human behav­ior. We’re not afraid of that. This is the biggest thing that’s hap­pen­ing in edu­ca­tion today.’

Cuddy Chrono coverDr. Den­nis Cud­dy is a reg­u­lar writer for NewsWithViews.com and you can read his columns HERE.

Below is an excerpt from the Intro­duc­tion to his book:Cuddy Chrono Intro