Friday, October 24, 2014


Skinner's Erosion of Privacy

LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF Education, wrote “Education, Technology, and Individual Privacy” (ECTJ, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 195–208) in 1976. The following are some excerpts from this important paper which serves as a clear warning regarding the indiscriminate use of behaviorist methods and technology:
The right to privacy is based on a belief in the essential dignity and worth of the individual. Modern technological devices, along with advances in the behavioral sciences, can threaten the privacy of students. Fortunately, invasions of privacy in education have not been widespread. However, sufficient violations have been noted to warrant specific legislation and to promote a sharp increase in attention to procedures that will ensure protection of individual privacy. Technology that can reveal innermost thoughts and motives or can change basic values and behaviors, must be used judiciously and only by qualified professionals under strictly controlled conditions. Education includes individuals and educational experimentation is human experimentation. The educator must safeguard the privacy of students and their families....

Privacy has been defined as “the right to be let alone” (Cooley, 1888) and as the “right to the immunity of the person—the right to one’s personality” (Warren and Brandeis, 1890). Individuals have the right to determine when, how, and to what extent they will share themselves with others. It is their right to be free from unwarranted or undesired revelation of personal information to others, to participate or withdraw as they see fit, and to be free of unwarranted surveillance through physical, psychological, or technological means.
Justice William O. Douglas expressed the concerns of many people when he stated:
We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy; when everyone is open to surveillance at all times; when there are no secrets from the government.... [There is] an alarming trend whereby the privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen—a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a man’s life at will.

Behavioral science, which is assuming an increasing role in educational technology, promises to make educational techniques more effective by recognizing individual differences among students and by patterning instruction to meet individual needs. However, behavioral science is more than an unbiased means to an end. It has a basic value position (Skinner, 1971) based on the premise that such “values as freedom and democracy, which imply that the individual ultimately has free will and is responsible for his own actions, are not only  cultural inventions, but illusions” (Harman, 1970). This position is contradictory to the basic premise of freedom and is demeaning to the dignity of the individual. Behavioral science inappropriately applied can impinge on individual values without allowing for personal differences and in education can violate the privacy of the student....

Reflecting on the ethical values of our civilization in 1958, Pope Pius XII commented:
There is a large portion of his inner world which the person discloses to a few confidential friends and shields against the intrusion of others. Certain [other] matters are kept secret at any price and in regard to anyone. Finally, there are other matters which the person is unable to consider.... And just as it is illicit to appropriate another’s goods or to make an attempt on his bodily integrity without his consent, so it is not permissible to enter into his inner domain against his will, whatever is the technique or method used....
Whatever the motivations of the teacher or researcher, an individual’s privacy must take precedence over effective teaching, unless good cause can be shown to do otherwise. Good cause, however, does not relieve the teacher or school administrator from the responsibility of safeguarding the privacy of the student and the family. Yet, many teachers and administrators remain insensitive to the privacy implications of behavioral science and modern technology in education....

Intent on improving education, educators, scientists, and others concerned with the development and application of technology are often insensitive to the issues of privacy raised by the use of their techniques. For example, many psychological and behavioral practices have been introduced on the ground that they will make education more efficient or effective. However, improvements in efficiency through technological applications can reinforce these practices without regard to their effects. What is now being done in education could be wrong, especially if carried out on a massive scale. As the use of technology becomes more widespread, we may reach the point where errors cannot be detected or corrected. This is especially important because technology interacts with society and culture to change established goals and virtues. Propagating an error on a national level could change the original goals to fit the erroneous situation. The error then becomes acceptable by default.

In developing and applying technology to education, potential effects must be analyzed, so that negative possibilities can be identified and overcome before major resources are committed to projects that could produce undesirable long-term social consequences.
In matters affecting privacy it is better to err on the side of the individual, than on that of research or improved educational practice. Violations of privacy can never be fully redressed.
Ftnt. No. 14. Privacy is a constitutionally protected right; education is not. The Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut (decided in 1965) that the right of privacy is guaranteed by the Constitution. In Rodriguez v. San Antonio Independent School District (decided in 1973), the Court ruled that education is not a protected right under the Constitution.
Excerpted from my book the deliberate dumbing down of america, pages 137-138.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Common Core is a distraction"

Libertarian Candidate Quotes Charlotte!

We interrupt the current Skinner Horror Files series to announce that the Libertarian candidate for governor in New York state has just quoted Charlotte in his opposition to charter schools!
Go to:
Start listening at 36 minutes. The subject is Common Core. Below is a transcript:

38.20 Michael McDermott, Libertarian candidate for Governor, New York State:
"I don't agree with that...not for one minute. You know what charter schools are?  Charter schools are publicly-funded schools. They have no local control. Charlotte Iserbyt, former U.S. Education Secretary (wrong title!), under Ronald Reagan, said

"Charter Schools is the end game. Common Core is a distraction."
"Think about that for a minute. We cannot have charter schools expanded. We need to bring schools back to local control, to the local people - local school boards. There is no local school board with charter schools.  I know that Mr. Astorino has come through with "Stop Common Core" and all that might be true, but he seems to support charter schools.  We will see about that when he speaks today. Charter Schools is terrible. It takes away the people's control of education.

My little girl, Gracie...she is not going to a charter school. I will home school before she goes to a charter school. I want local control. I am the parent; my wife is the parent. I want us to control our children's education. I want local control. Local school board and  teachers being allowed to teach. That doesn't happen with charter schools and it won't." 

Performance-based Teacher Education:


Teaching the way it used to be
before performance-based outcomes on a predigested learning tools
Over the years one has seen the departure of many talented teachers who have left the profession due to Skinnerian Performance-based Teacher Education. Teaching used to be a joyful job in a creative environment where students thrived on learning and applying that knowledge to real life situations. B.F. Skinner stole that joy.  In performanace-based instruction, there is a narrow scripted learning process with behavioral outcomes that have been predetermined. Below is an indication of why so many teachers felt they needed to leave the profession. 

The following quotes are excerpted from Appendix VII in my book the deliberate dumbing down of america. This comes from a vintage 1971 report that spells out in alarming detail the pervasive influence of Skinner. Not only students would be required to be "performance-based," but also the teachers. The title of the report says it all -- Performance-based Teacher Education: What Is the State of the Art?, Stanley Elam, Ed. (Phi Delta Kappan Publications: Washington, D.C., 1971).*
The Association is pleased to offer to the teacher education community the  Committee’s first state-of-the-art paper. In performance-based programs performance goals are specified, and agreed to, in rigorous detail in advance of instruction. The student must either be able to demonstrate his ability to promote desirable learning or exhibit behavior known to promote it. He is held accountable, not for passing grades, but for attaining a general level of competency in performing the essential tasks of teaching…. Emphasis is on demonstrated product or output. Acceptance of this basic principle has program implications that are truly revolutionary....
[T]he student’s rate of progress through the program is determined by demonstrated competency rather than by time or course completion.... Instruction is individualized and personalized.... Because time is a variable, not a constant, and because students may enter with widely differing backgrounds and purposes, instruction is likely to be highly personand situation-specific.... The learning experience of the individuals is guided by feedback....
[T]eaching competencies to be demonstrated are role-derived, specified in behavioral terms, and made public; assessment criteria are competency-based, specify mastery levels, and made public; assessment requires performance as prime evidence, takes student knowledge into account; student’s progress rate depends on demonstrated competency; instructional program facilitates development and evaluation of specific competencies....
The application of such a systematic strategy to any human process is called the systems approach.... We cannot be sure that measurement techniques essential both to objectivity and to valid assessment of affective and complex cognitive objectives will be developed rapidly enough for the new exit requirements to be any better than the conventional letter grades of the past. Unless heroic efforts are made on both the knowledge and measurement fronts, then PBTE may well have a stunted growth....
To recapitulate, the promise of performance-based teacher education lies primarily in:
1) the fact that its focus on objectives and its emphasis upon the sharing process by which those objectives are formulated in advance are made explicit and used as the basis for evaluating performance;
2) the fact that a large share of the responsibility for learning is shifted from teacher to student;
3) the fact that it increases efficiency through systematic use of feedback, motivating and guiding learning efforts of prospective teachers;
4) the fact that greater attention is given to variation among individual abilities, needs, and interests;
5) the fact that learning is tied more directly to the objectives to be achieved than to the learning resources utilized to attain them;
6) the fact that prospective teachers are taught in the way they are expected to teach;
7) the fact that PBTE is consistent with democratic principles;
8) the fact that it is consistent with what we know about the psychology of learning;
9) the fact that it permits effective integration of theory and practice;
10) the fact that it provides better bases for designing research about teaching performance. These advantages would seem sufficient to warrant and ensure a strong and viable movement.
From “The Scope of PBTE”:
Among the most difficult questions asked about the viability of performance-based instruction as the basis for substantial change in teacher preparatory programs are these:
Will it tend to produce technicians, paraprofessionals, teacher aides, etc., rather than professionals?… These questions derive from the fact that while performance-based instruction eliminates waste in the learning process through clarity in definition of goods, it can be applied only to learning in which the objectives sought are susceptible of definition in advance in behavioral terms. Thus it is difficult to apply when the outcomes sought are complex and subtle, and particularly when they are affective or attitudinal in character.
From “Philosophic Underpinning”:
Some authorities have expressed the fact that PBTE has an inadequate philosophic base, pointing out that any performance-based system rests on particular values, and the most important of which are expressed in the competencies chosen and in the design of the learning activities.

From “Political and Management Difficulties”:
...4) There are political aspects to the question of how far the professor’s academic freedom and the student’s right to choose what he wishes to learn extend in PBTE.
5) …The mere adoption of a PBTE program will eliminate some prospective students because they do not find it appealing. The question remains: Will these be the students who should be eliminated?…
6) The PBTE movement could deteriorate into a power struggle over who controls what.
7) PBTE removes students regularly from the campus into field settings and emphasizes individual study and progress rather than class-course organization, thus tends to isolate the people involved. We live in a period when such isolation is not a popular social concept, and since many aspects of the PBTE approach could be conceived as Skinnerian, dehumanizing etc., it is important that programs be managed in such a way as to minimize isolation?…
9) Finally, there is a need to overcome the apathy, threat, anxiety, administrative resistance, and other barriers that stand in the way of moving toward PBTE and toward performance-based teaching in the schools.

*This excerpt was reformatted and emphasized for blog posting. Paper prepared for the Committee on Performance-based Teacher Education of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education pursuant to a contract with the U.S. Office of Education through the Texas Education Agency, Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Global Skinnerian Outcomes


Pavlov's Children

To read this book, go to and type in the key word "Pavlov" into the search box. You will find this book on the list (bottom), and if you click the red "Download Now" box, the book will download onto your computer into a pdf file. 

Here is the table of contents:

Below are some key quotes that 3D Research Group member Chey Simonton pulled from this book:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Skinnerizing Teachers

Day 21: Skinner Horror Files

The Skinnerization* of Teachers

Teaching like it has been done for millennia
*DEFINITION of Skinnerize:
The process by which students, teachers, principals, administrators, etc. - and anyone else for that matter - conform to B.F. Skinner's model, methods, goals, process and system. To become Skinnerized means one has adapted themselves, willingly or through compulsion, to the entire modus operendi of B.F. Skinner and his subsequent behavioral clones and change agents.
Related terms: Skinnerization, Skinnerizing.

Creative joyful teaching means enthusiastic learners
Thus it isn't a surprise to read how the Skinnnerian system is applied to the behavior of teachers. The Effective School Report's May 1985 issue contained an article titled “Principal’s Expectations as a Motivating Factor in Effective Schools.” Notice how the principal is expected to shape the behavior of teachers, who are then expected to shape the behavior of their students. And notice how "achievement" is no longer about academic goals, but "ability" and "perceptions" and "attitude" changes:
The principal expects specific behavior from particular teachers which should then translate into achievement by the students of these teachers; because of these varied expectations, the principal behaves differently toward different teachers; i.e., body language, verbal interactions and resource allocations. This treatment also influences the attitudes of the teacher toward the principal and their perception of the future utility of any increased effort toward student achievement. If this treatment is consistent over time, and if the teachers do not resist change, it will shape their behavior and through it the achievement of their students….
The oppressive Skinnerian classroom
With time teachers’ behavior, self-concepts of ability, perceptions of future utility, attitude toward the principal and students’ achievement will conform more and more closely to the behavior originally expected of them.

Just say no to

A real life example of Skinnerian teaching.
Click HERE to watch and read HERE

Monday, October 20, 2014

Your Child the Guinea Pig

DAY 20: Skinner Horror Files

Behavioral Science Teacher Education Program (BSTEP)

George Orwell

“We are getting closer to developingeffective 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)
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.

One 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.”

In 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”
…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)

Lewis 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 the BSTEP utopian futurist dream that turns into an ugly totalitarian nightmare for children, teachers, and the rest of society. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"The 'Skinner Box' School"

Day 19: Skinner Horror Files
" control a child’s attitudes and values
it is first necessary to modify the child’s behavior."

 "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]

Jed 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: 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

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: