Your Child the Guinea Pig

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDAY 20: Skin­ner Hor­ror Files

Behav­ioral Sci­ence Teacher Edu­ca­tion Pro­gram (BSTEP)


George Orwell

George Orwell

We are get­ting clos­er to devel­op­ing effec­tive meth­ods
for shap­ing the future
and are advanc­ing in fun­da­men­tal social and indi­vid­ual evo­lu­tion.”

Few Amer­i­cans know about this pro­gram unless they were trained in edu­ca­tion. Even few­er know how seri­ous­ly bad this pro­gram was. And very, very few have ever spo­ken out pub­licly and repent­ed (or at least recant­ed) their indoc­tri­na­tion expe­ri­ences in this dan­ger­ous change agent train­ing. Teach­ers have been trained to become psy­cho­log­i­cal manip­u­la­tors, human­is­tic “change agents” to mod­i­fy children’s behav­ior.

Behav­ioral Sci­ence Teacher Edu­ca­tion Pro­gram (BSTEP), 1965–1969, fund­ed by the U.S. Depart­ment of Health, Edu­ca­tion, and Wel­fare, was ini­ti­at­ed at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty. Its pur­pose was to change the teacher from a trans­mit­ter of knowledge/content to a social change agent/facilitator/clinician. Tra­di­tion­al pub­lic school admin­is­tra­tors were appalled at this new role for teach­ers. Long-time edu­ca­tion researcher Bet­tye Lewis pro­vid­ed a cap­sule descrip­tion and cri­tique of BSTEP in 1984. Her com­ments and ver­ba­tim quotes from BSTEP fol­low, which is tak­en from Appen­dix V in my book the delib­er­ate dumb­ing down of amer­i­ca. This has been adapt­ed, and por­tions empha­sized, for blog post­ing.

Objec­tives of BSTEP are stat­ed as fol­lows:

Three major goals:

1. Devel­op­ment of a new kind of ele­men­tary school teacher who is basi­cal­ly well edu­cat­ed, engages in teach­ing as clin­i­cal prac­tice, is an effec­tive stu­dent of the capac­i­ties and envi­ron­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tics of human learn­ing, and func­tions as a respon­si­ble agent of social change.

2. Sys­tem­at­ic use of research and clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence in deci­sion-mak­ing process­es at all lev­els.

3. A new lab­o­ra­to­ry and clin­i­cal base, from the behav­ioral sci­ences, on which to found under­grad­u­ate and in-ser­vice teacher edu­ca­tion pro­grams, and recy­cle eval­u­a­tions of teach­ing tools and per­for­mance.

…The BSTEP teacher is expect­ed to learn from expe­ri­ence through a cycli­cal style of describ­ing, ana­lyz­ing, hypoth­e­siz­ing, pre­scrib­ing, treat­ing, and observ­ing con­se­quences (in particular—the con­se­quences of the treat­ment admin­is­tered)….

The pro­gram is designed to focus the skills and knowl­edge of Behav­ioral Sci­en­tists on edu­ca­tion prob­lems, trans­lat­ing research into viable pro­grams for pre­ser­vice and in-ser­vice teach­ers. The tra­di­tion­al con­cept of research as the­o­ry is not dis­card­ed, but the empha­sis is shift­ed to a form of prac­ti­cal action-research in class­rooms and lab­o­ra­to­ry.

The human­i­ties are designed to pro­mote an under­stand­ing of human behav­ior in human­is­tic terms…. Stu­dents are to be exposed to non-west­ern thought and val­ues in order to sen­si­tize [read “desen­si­tize,” ed.] them to their own back­grounds and inher­ent cul­tur­al bias­es.… Skills ini­ti­at­ing and direct­ing role-play­ing are devel­oped to increase sen­si­tiv­i­ty and per­cep­tion. Sim­u­la­tion games are includ­ed for train­ing in com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills as lead­ers or agents of social change. (p. 1)Guinea pig

Lewis’s com­ments regard­ing “Sys­tem­at­ic Analy­sis of Future Soci­ety,” tak­en from p.
237 of BSTEP:

B.F. Skinner’s behav­ioral phi­los­o­phy is quite appar­ent in this BSTEP Design which states

Cal­cu­la­tions of the future and how to mod­i­fy it are no longer con­sid­ered obscure aca­d­e­m­ic pur­suits. Instead, they are the busi­ness of many who are con­cerned about and respon­si­ble for devis­ing var­i­ous modes of social change.

guinea pig5One can’t help but wonder—who gave the edu­ca­tors the “respon­si­bil­i­ty” or the “right” to devise modes of social change, to use teach­ers as the “change agents,” and to use the chil­dren as the guinea pigs through which soci­ety is to be changed? One real­izes the extent to which this “future soci­ety plan­ning” has already gone after read­ing through the fol­low­ing lengthy list of orga­ni­za­tions involved in this behav­ioral design­ing:

1. Depart­ment of Health, Edu­ca­tion, and Welfare—Exploring Pos­si­bil­i­ties of a Social State-of-the-Union
2. Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Arts and Sciences—Commission of the Year 2000
3. Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Polit­i­cal and Social Sci­ence
4. Unit­ed Nations Future-Plan­ning Oper­a­tion in Gene­va, Switzer­land
5. World Future Soci­ety of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.
6. Gen­er­al Elec­tric Company—Technical Man­age­ment Plan­ning Orga­ni­za­tion 7. The Air Force and Rand Cor­po­ra­tion [design­er of PPBS, ed.]
8. The Hud­son Insti­tute [fund­ed New Amer­i­can School Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of the Hud­son Institute’s “Mod­ern Red School House” pro­pos­al. The Design Team was head­ed by for­mer Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion William J. Ben­nett and includes Chester Finn, for­mer Assis­tant Sec­re­tary to Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, and for­mer Gov­er­nor Lamar Alexan­der and author of Amer­i­ca 2000 (Pres­i­dent Clinton’s Goals 2000)]
9. Ford Foundation’s Resources for the Future and Les Futuribles—a com­bi­na­tion of future and pos­si­ble
10. Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, South­ern Illi­nois Uni­ver­si­ty, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, Syra­cuse Uni­ver­si­ty, etc.
11. IBM (Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness Machines)

This sec­tion of the report con­cludes with: “We are get­ting clos­er to devel­op­ing
effec­tive meth­ods for shap­ing the future and are advanc­ing in fun­da­men­tal social and indi­vid­ual evo­lu­tion.”

guinea pig1In the sec­tion enti­tled “Futur­ism as a Social Tool and Deci­sion-Mak­ing by an Elite” (p. 248) which Lewis quotes at length. This is a scary sec­tion. BSTEP veered far away from edu­ca­tion into full-fledged orches­trat­ed futur­ism. Note what is high­light­ed in red. Obvi­ous­ly a behav­ior­is­tic approach to trans­form­ing soci­ety would rely on press­ing the plea­sure but­tons to con­trol the mass­es of peo­ple:

The com­plex­i­ty of the soci­ety and rapid­i­ty of change will require that com­pre­hen­sive long-range plan­ning become the rule, in order that care­ful­ly devel­oped plans will be ready before changes occur.… Long-range plan­ning and imple­men­ta­tion of plans will be made by a tech­no­log­i­cal-sci­en­tif­ic elite. Polit­i­cal democ­ra­cy, in the Amer­i­can ide­o­log­i­cal sense, will be lim­it­ed to broad social pol­i­cy; even there, issues, alter­na­tives, and means will be so com­plex that the elite will be influ­en­tial to a degree which will arouse the fear and ani­mos­i­ty of oth­ers. This will strain the demo­c­ra­t­ic fab­ric to a rip­ping point….

A Con­trol­ling Elite”

…The Protes­tant Eth­ic will atro­phy as more and more enjoy var­ied leisure and guar­an­teed sus­te­nance. Work as the means and end of liv­ing will dimin­ish.… No major source of a sense of worth and dig­ni­ty will replace the Protes­tant Eth­ic. Most peo­ple will tend to be hedo­nis­tic, and a dom­i­nant elite will pro­vide “bread and cir­cus­es” to keep social dis­sen­sion and dis­rup­tion at a min­i­mum. A small elite will car­ry society’s bur­dens. The result­ing imper­son­al manip­u­la­tion of most people’s lifestyles will be soft­ened by pro­vi­sions for plea­sure-seek­ing and guar­an­teed phys­i­cal neces­si­ties. (p. 255)

Sys­tems Approach and Cyber­net­ics”guinea pig2

…The use of the sys­tems approach to prob­lem solv­ing and of cyber­net­ics to man­age automa­tion will remold the nation. They will increase effi­cien­cy and deper­son­al­iza­tion.… Most of the pop­u­la­tion will seek mean­ing through oth­er means or devote them­selves to plea­sure seek­ing. The con­trol­ling elite will engage in pow­er plays large­ly with­out the involve­ment of most of the peo­ple.… The soci­ety will be a leisure­ly one. Peo­ple will study, play, and trav­el; some will be in var­i­ous stages of the drug-induced expe­ri­ences. (p. 259)

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Capa­bil­i­ties and Poten­tial­i­ties for Opin­ion Con­trol”

Each indi­vid­ual will receive at birth a mul­ti­pur­pose iden­ti­fi­ca­tion which will have, among oth­er things, exten­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions uses. None will be out of touch with those autho­rized to reach him. Each will be able to receive instant updat­ing of ideas and infor­ma­tion on top­ics pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied. Rou­tine jobs to be done in any set­ting can be ini­ti­at­ed auto­mat­i­cal­ly by those respon­si­ble for the task; all will be in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their employ­ers, or oth­er con­trollers, and thus exposed to direct and sub­lim­i­nal influ­ence. Mass media trans­mis­sion will be instan­ta­neous to wher­ev­er peo­ple are in forms suit­ed to their par­tic­u­lar needs and roles. Each indi­vid­ual will be sat­u­rat­ed with ideas and infor­ma­tion. Some will be self-select­ed; oth­er kinds will be imposed overt­ly by those who assume respon­si­bil­i­ty for oth­ers’ actions (for exam­ple: employ­ers); still oth­er kinds will be imposed covert­ly by var­i­ous agen­cies, orga­ni­za­tions, and enter­pris­es. Rel­a­tive­ly few indi­vid­u­als will be able to main­tain con­trol over their opin­ions. Most will be pawns of com­pet­ing opin­ion mold­ers. (p. 261)

guinea pig4Lewis com­ments fur­ther:

In order to imple­ment this train­ing and to make sure that future ele­men­tary teach­ers accept the “right atti­tudes” and “behav­ioral objec­tives,” the use of com­put­ers and the col­lec­tion of infor­ma­tion are stressed. The “Cen­tral Proces­sor” or the com­put­er pro­grammed to accept or reject on the basis of behav­ioral objec­tives, will be the “judge and the jury” as to who will and who will not be the future teach­ers. For any­one who loves indi­vid­ual free­dom, who desires it for their own chil­dren, and prays for a future Amer­i­ca with indi­vid­ual free­dom held sacred—BSTEP has to be a most fright­en­ing and dev­as­tat­ing plan. It is indeed the “world” of Orwell’s 1984, the Iden­ti­ty Soci­ety, and the Walden II of B.F. Skin­ner. In ref­er­ence to the lat­ter, it is indeed Beyond Free­dom and Dig­ni­ty, the title of a B.F. Skin­ner book. It is a “night­mare” cre­at­ed by the Behav­ior­ists and Human­ists who are fast becom­ing the Major Direc­tors of Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion.

Sug­ges­tion: After you read through this the first time in an edu­ca­tion mind­set, then re-read the entire post from the per­spec­tive of a utopi­an futur­ist dream that turns into an ugly total­i­tar­i­an night­mare for chil­dren, teach­ers, and the rest of soci­ety. guinea pig3