The ‘Skinner Box’ School”

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDay 19: Skin­ner Hor­ror Files

…to con­trol a child’s atti­tudes and val­ues
it is first nec­es­sary to mod­i­fy the child’s behav­ior.”PUNISHMENT0

Par­ents have been told that Out­come-Based Edu­ca­tion has noth­ing to do with chang­ing the atti­tudes and val­ues of their chil­dren;
that OBE will improve learn­ing for all chil­dren through “best-prac­tices” research.
What par­ents are not being told is that the research base for OBE
is from the field of psy­chol­o­gy, not edu­ca­tion;
that in psy­chol­o­gy the term “learn­ing” is syn­ony­mous with the term “con­di­tion­ing.”
What par­ents are not being told is that Out­come-Based Edu­ca­tion [Com­mon Core]
is not edu­ca­tion at all;
it is but the hol­low sub­sti­tute of psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion­ing or,
as it is some­times called, behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion.”
~Jed Brown, “The ‘Skin­ner Box’ School” [empha­sis added]

Punishment2Jed Brown’s report “The ‘Skin­ner Box’ School is reprint­ed in its entire­ty as Appen­dix XX in my book the delib­er­ate dumb­ing down of amer­i­ca. This is mate­r­i­al that every par­ent in Amer­i­ca should know! Espe­cial­ly when they real­ize that Com­mon Core is but the lat­est man­i­fes­ta­tion in a long lin­eage of aber­rant edu­ca­tion reform agen­das. Below are some fur­ther insight­ful com­ments and his­to­ry from Brown’s report. At the time he wrote it, Out­come-Based Edu­ca­tion (OBE) was in full swing. His com­ments are are very rel­e­vant:

…to con­trol a child’s atti­tudes and val­ues it is first nec­es­sary to mod­i­fy the child’s behav­ior. If the child has the “right” behav­ior, then his atti­tude will change to accom­mo­date the behav­ior, his val­ue sys­tem will change to reflect his new set of atti­tudes. It is like falling domi­noes: if the first piece is top­pled, then the rest will tum­ble after. Thus, con­di­tion­ing, i.e., mod­i­fy­ing behav­ior, is the per­fect method for instill­ing in chil­dren the new val­ue sys­tem required of cit­i­zens of the New World Order. Our schools know that chang­ing behav­ior is the first domi­no. Remem­ber, “the stu­dent shall demon­strate.”

To under­stand the dev­as­ta­tion of OBE con­di­tion­ing, it is impor­tant to know its ori­gins and how it is being used to change chil­dren for­ev­er. The lin­eage of psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion­ing can be for­mal­ly traced back to the ear­ly part of this cen­tu­ry, to an Amer­i­can psy­chol­o­gist named John B. Wat­son. Wat­son is cred­it­ed as the father of the Behav­ior­ist School of Psy­chol­o­gy. He believed that psy­chol­o­gy should become the sci­ence of behav­ior, dis­card­ing ref­er­ences to thoughts, feel­ings, and moti­va­tion. For Wat­son, only that which was observ­able was impor­tant. The goal of psy­chol­o­gy, he thought, should be to pre­dict a behav­ioral response giv­en a par­tic­u­lar stim­u­lus.

John B. Watson

John B. Wat­son

Fur­ther, it was a time of great debate in psy­chol­o­gy. The debate cen­tered on whether hered­i­ty or the envi­ron­ment had the most pro­found effect on the devel­op­ment of the indi­vid­ual. Wat­son believed that hered­i­ty had lit­tle or no effect, that a person’s devel­op­ment was almost total­ly depen­dent upon his envi­ron­ment. In fact, Wat­son boast­ed,

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed, and my own spec­i­fied world to bring them up in, and I’ll guar­an­tee to take any one at ran­dom and train him to become any type of spe­cial­ist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, mer­chant-chief, and yes, even beg­gar-man and thief, regard­less of his tal­ents, pen­chants, ten­den­cies, abil­i­ties, voca­tions, and race of his ances­tors.”

Watson’s state­ment is at the heart of OBE. Wat­son became the most influ­en­tial force in spread­ing the idea that human behav­ior was noth­ing more than a set of con­di­tioned respons­es. Accord­ing to the nar­row view of Behav­ior­ism, learn­ing is noth­ing more than “a rel­a­tive­ly per­ma­nent change in an organism’s behav­ior due to expe­ri­ence.” Oth­er psy­chol­o­gists first, then edu­ca­tion­al lead­ers, and final­ly rank-and-file teach­ers have been per­suad­ed to adopt the Behav­ior­ists’ view of edu­ca­tion. The rich­ness of edu­ca­tion is thus lost, as the school­ing expe­ri­ence is reduced to only applied learn­ing. No longer does learn­ing enhance the inter­nal locus of man—it is but an exter­nal shell. The cur­ricu­lum has become hol­low and learn­ing has become mere con­di­tion­ing.

In case one won­ders about Wat­son, here is a brief sum­ma­ry of his child-rear­ing ideas: