The Skinner Horror Files

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Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt

31 Days of B.F. Skinner Horror Stories

 

HorrorBecause so much education reform rests upon Skinner’s methods and ideologies, it is time to tell the truth. The next 31 days this blog will be posting current and historical information about the true nature of Skinner’s “education” that has been foisted upon our nation’s children.

“I could make a pigeon a high achiever
by reinforcing it on a proper schedule.”
-B.F. Skinner

“Almost all major problems involve human behavior,
and they cannot be solved by physical
and biological technology alone.
What is needed is a technology of human behavior.”
-B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity

In 1968 B.F. SKINNER: THE MAN AND HIS IDEAS by Richard I. Evans was published (Dutton and Company: New York, 1968). Here are some key Skinner quotes with a comment by Evans:

“I could make a pigeon a high achiever by reinforcing it on a proper schedule.”

… His [Skinner’s] concern for what he believes to be the inadequacy of our formal education system led to applying the principles of operant conditioning to a learning system which he called the teaching machine, but Skinner’s approach is concerned with more than merely methods and techniques. He challenges the very foundations by which man in our society is shaped and controlled. (p. 10)

“[F]or the purpose of analyzing behavior
we have to assume man is a machine.”(p. 24)

“You can induce him to behave according to the dictates of society
instead of his own selfish interest.”(p. 42)

“I should not bother with ordinary learning theory….
I would eliminate most sensory psychology and
I would give them no cognitive psychology whatsoever
[meaning the students, ed.].”(p. 91)

B.F“ It isn’t the person who is important, it’s the method. If the practice of psychology survives, that’s the main objective. It’s the same with cultural practices in general: no one survives as a person.”(p. 96)

“It does bother me that thousands of teachers don’t understand, because immediate gains are more likely in the classroom than in the clinic. Teachers will eventually know—they must [understand]—and I am more concerned with promoting my theories in education [operant conditioning].”(p. 96)

“I should like to see our government set up a large educational agency in which specialists could be sent to train teachers.”(p. 109)
B.F. SkinnerIn 1953 Skinner wrote Science and Human Behavior (Macmillan & Co.: New York, 1953), within which is found the following quote:

“A rather obvious solution is to distribute the control of human behavior among many agencies which have so little in common that they are not likely to join together in a despotic unit. In general this is the argument for democracy against totalitarianism. In a totalitarian state all agencies are brought together under a single super-agency.”

Obviously, even before the U.S. Department of Education was established and organized teacher in-service training had taken a behaviorist (performance-based) turn, Skinner was advocating these very operant conditioning methods in all phases of education. Beginning in 1965, the federal government implemented several teacher education programs based on performance —performance-based teacher education—which would fulfill Skinner’s plan. Skinner was always more concerned with “how” teachers teach than with “what” teachers teach.

One must never forget that this is all about our children. Stay tuned in the next 31 days!
For the full context of these remarks and quotes above, see my book the deliberate dumbing down of america, available freely online as a downloadable document.