Your Child, the “Organism”

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDay 10: Skinner Horror Files

More History You Aren’t Supposed to Know…Skinner quote4

THE presidentially appointed National Council for Educational Research (NCER) issued two “Policies on Missions for Educational Research and Development Centers,” dated June 14 and October 25, 1984, shortly after regional hearings had been held regarding the need for regulations to implement the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). Most parents have no idea about these two NCER policy statements:

JUNE 14, 1984. In the past two decades, federally funded research and curriculum projects have frequently provoked considerable controversy. This is primarily a result of deeply divergent philosophical views on the nature and purpose of public education in this country. During this period, the views of the general public were, for the most part, excluded from serious consideration as educational research came to be viewed as the observation and measurement of the education process using the largely quantitative techniques of modern social science [Skinnerian behaviorism].

OCTOBER 25, 1984. Insofar as it represents a broad spectrum of interests, including parents who have a serious stake in the outcomes of federally funded educational research, the Council affirms that the fundamental philosophical foundation for such research should be the unambiguous recognition and respect for the dignity and value of each human person.

Skinner pigeon boxFor decades the U.S. Department of Education has ignored the testimony taken at these regional hearings, described above, as well as the requirements of the PPRA. These two policy statements represent a strong position taken by the National Council, which oversaw the research activities of the former National Institute of Education prior to its being incorporated into the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). The Council had quite obviously read the important testimony regarding Skinnerian mastery learning/direct instruction which was given at the regional hearings on the PPRA. The Council took a stand on the most important question facing us today in education:

Are we, as free Americans, going to continue to accept the succinctly expressed definition of educational research included in the last sentence of the June 14 policy, a definition which is undeniably behaviorist and part of the behavioral psychologists’ vocabulary—“observation and measurement of the educational process using the largely quantitative techniques of modern social science”? Or do we agree with the Council that the fundamental philosophical foundation for such research should be the “unambiguous recognition and respect for the dignity and value of each human person”?

  • The OLD worldview teaches that man is a human being, created in the image of God, with conscience, soul, intellect, creativity, free will.
  • Skinner rat pushThe NEW worldview is one based on the new psychology of learning (“scientific,” evolutionist, “research-based”)—it is a worldview that believes man is an animal whose behavior can be manipulated by creating the necessary environment to bring about predictable, predetermined, neurologically conditioned responses.

As a complete counterpoint to the strong policy position taken by the council (described above), the following information should be carefully considered. Professor Robert Glaser, professor of psychology and education and co-director of the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh, was for all intents and purposes put in charge of the Commission on Reading in 1983. It was Glaser who appointed members to the Commission on Reading, thereby wielding considerable influence on the recommendations resulting from that Commission’s report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, for which Glaser wrote the foreword and which was published under the auspices of the National Academy of Education’s Commission on Education and Public Policy with sponsorship from the National Institute of Education. That report was probably the most important study which set the stage for the Reading Excellence Act of 1998 (REA), setting in motion numerous activities which resulted in a determination that only proposals which were based on “scientific research” would be accepted for funding under the REA. In the foreword to Becoming a Nation of Readers, Glaser said:

In teaching, as in other professions, well-researched methods and tools are essential. This report makes clear the key role of teachers’ professional knowledge. Research on instructional pacing and grouping and on adaptation to children’s accomplishments has contributed to new ideas that can help all children master the basics and then attain levels of literacy far beyond the basic competencies. The reading teacher’s repertoire must draw upon the deepening knowledge of child development, of the nature of the art and elegance of children’s literature, and of the psychology of learning.… The report indicates why changes in teacher training, internship experiences, continuing, and sabbatical periods are necessary if teachers are to learn and refine their skills for their complex task.

Professor Glaser’s credentials are uniquely important, placing him in a position of prominence regarding what method of instruction will be used in American classrooms.

According to the following quote from an official Mission, Texas, school memorandum to concerned parents, Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction (ECRI), the fraternal twin of DISTAR (Direct Instruction for Systematic Teaching and Remediation), led the pack as far as Robert Glaser’s National Commission on Reading was concerned:

In 1986 ECRI was evaluated as playing a primary role in the United States becoming a nation of readers. The Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement (sponsored by the U.S. Office of Educational and Improvement) published Implementing the Recommendations of Becoming a Nation of Readers. This document makes a line-by-line comparison of 31 reading programs, including ECRI. ECRI received the highest score of all 31 programs in meeting the specific recommendations of the National Commission on Reading.

Siegfried Engelmann’s DISTAR (Reading Mastery) and ECRI are both based on the very sick philosophical world view that considers man nothing but an animal—an “organism” (in Skinner’s words)—responsive to the manipulation of stimulus-response-stimulus immediate reinforcement or rewards to bring about predetermined, predictable behaviors. Skinner’s quote about making a “pigeon a high achiever by reinforcing it on a proper schedule” is repeated often on this blog to impress on the reader the horrifying aspect of animal training masquerading as education in these programs.

Traditional education depicted. Notice the open door and airy atmosphere: FREEDOM!

Traditional education depicted.
Notice the open door and airy atmosphere: FREEDOM!

The National Research Council’s Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, compiled by Catherine E. Snow, M. Susan Burns, and Peg Griffin, Eds. (National Academy Press: Washington, D.C., 1998) acknowledged G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the Learning Disabilities, Cognitive, and Social Development Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) who supports behaviorist reading programs like ECRI and DISTAR (Reading Mastery) as well as instruction based on so-called “medical and scientific research.” Other individuals mentioned in Preventing Reading Difficulties who were involved in the promotion of DISTAR include Edward Kame’enui, Department of Special Education of the University of Oregon and Marilyn Jager Adams. These two individuals also served on the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children, and Adams is mentioned in Becoming a Nation of Readers.

What does all of this tell the reader? Perhaps the same thing that is suggested to this writer: that the Reading Excellence Act will provide the funding and technical assistance to implement across the nation not just reading programs, but all curricula—including workforce training—in the mode of DISTAR and ECRI, which are based on “scientific, medical research.” It is difficult to come to any other conclusion.

Interview with Siegfried Engelmann HERE

Interview with Siegfried Engelmann HERE

 

ENDNOTE: Portions of this post are adapted and excerpted , with added emphasis, from pages 210-213 of my book the deliberate dumbing down of america.