Friday, October 31, 2014

"Humanistic Cesspools"

Day 31: Skinner Horror Files

The ultimate trouble with Skinnerian 
“scientific, research-based” standards,
outcome-based methods,
and “common core” results

Who were these children?
How were they the subjects of a "scientific, research-based" study?

If we as parents and citizens believe that the same “scientific, research-based” standards[2] applied to research in education and psychology are those applied to medicine, geology, or engineering, we are sadly mistaken. If we believe that objective criteria are employed when evaluating educational curriculum or behavioral analysis, we are likewise mistaken. Therefore, when presented with proposals in academic curricula that purport to be founded in “scientific, research-based” evaluation, we should take them with a grain of salt!

The bottom line for understanding this conflict between science and psychology is that the application of statistical methods to human behavior in the name of science is misdirected and inappropriate. When we measure natural phenomena, we get results that will vary depending upon the environmental factors affecting the thing being measured. For example, we can measure the speed at which a rock falls from a certain height. Although the rock’s speed may be affected by external factors, such as air resistance, there is nothing the rock can do, no decision it can make that will change the speed at which it falls. However, when we attempt to measure a person’s attitudes or opinions, that person can change his or her attitude, opinion, or belief at any time—often because of a conscious, deliberate decision to do so, as an act of will. Such deliberate assertion of a person’s will is extremely difficult, if not impossible to measure.

The social “sciences” and psychology have long yearned for the respectability of scientific disciplines, and have touted themselves as science for many decades. However, both fields emerged from the same humanistic cesspools of the last century.

In discussing the massive paradigm shift over to adopting a modern “naturalistic” or “materialistic” science, and postmodern pseudo-science, the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer[3] warned:
When psychology and social science were made a part
of a closed cause-and-effect system,
along with physics, astronomy and chemistry,
it was not only God who died.
Man died.

within this framework love died.
There is no place for love
in a totally closed cause-and-effect
There is no place for morals
in a totally closed cause-and-effect system.
There is no
place for the freedom of people
in a totally closed cause-and-effect system.
Man becomes a
People and all they do become only a part of the machinery.
1. The graphic image at the top of this post is from WWII. These beautiful children were part of Dr. Mengele's so-called "scientific" research.This photo was retrieved from the YouTube film footage of “Romani children used in Nazi racial studies,”
2. This post is excerpted from the entry in my book, p. 121-123, citing FOUNDATIONS OF BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH, Second Edition by Fred N. Kerlinger of New York University (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.: New York, 1973).. 
3. See yesterday's post "Shaping Mankind's Behavior" for more quotes from Dr. Schaeffer. "Francis August Schaeffer (30 January 1912 – 15 May 1984) was an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor."
4. Another View of Philosophy and Culture: Back to Freedom and Dignity by Francis Schaeffer (Crossway Books: Wheaton, Ill.,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Shaping Mankind's Behavior

Day 30 : Skinner Horror Files

The Horrible Truth Comes Out! 

In 1982, just as the Skinnerian machine was rolling full-speed ahead into the classrooms of America, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FRANCIS A. SCHAEFFER: A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW was published.[1] In a treatise entitled “A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture: Back to Freedom and Dignity,” noted Christian scholar and theologian Dr. Francis Schaeffer warned of B.F. Skinner and his methods. This treatise was written specifically to counter Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity, and to warn the world about the far-reaching horrible consequences of adopting Skinner's worldview:
Skinner says that up until the present time all of humanity has considered man to be in some sense autonomous—that is, that there is in each individual an “ego” or mind or center of consciousness which can freely choose one or another course of action. But, Skinner says, autonomous man does not exist, and it is the task of behavioral psychology to abolish the conception.... Skinner declares that everything man is, everything man makes, everything man thinks is completely, 100 percent, determined by his environment.

After the publication of Beyond Freedom and Dignity [1972], when he [Skinner] was at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, he spoke at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. There he said, “The individual does not initiate anything.” In fact, he said that any time man is freed from one kind of control, he merely comes under another kind of control. Christians consider that man is autonomous in that he is significant, he affects the environment. In behavioristic psychology, the situation is reversed. All behavior is determined not from within but from without. “You” don’t exist. Man is not there. All that is there is a bundle of conditioning, a collection of what you have been in the past: your genetic makeup and your environment. But Skinner goes a step further, subordinates the genetic factor, and suggests that man’s behavior can be almost totally controlled by controlling the environment.... Some behaviorists would differ with him on this last point. How is it that the environment controls behavior?

Read more about Watson HERE
Here Skinner brings up the concept of “operant conditioning.” This notion is based on his work with pigeons and rats. The basic idea is that “when a bit of behavior is followed by a certain consequence, it is more likely to occur again, and a consequence having this effect is called a reinforcer.” (p. 27) That is, for example, “anything the organism does that is followed by the receipt of food is more likely to be done again whenever the organism is hungry.”

There are two kinds of reinforcers: negative reinforcers which have adverse effects, and positive reinforcers whose effect is positive. Skinner contends that only the positive reinforcers should be used. In other words, in order to reinforce a certain kind of behavior, one should not punish; he should reward. If a person is surrounded by an atmosphere in which he gets a sufficient reward for doing what society would like him to do, he will automatically do this without ever knowing why he is doing it.... Within the Skinnerian system there are no ethical controls. There is no boundary limit to what can be done by the elite in whose hands control resides. [bold added]
Note that last statement above. Even though Skinner claimed that only positive reinforcers should be used, his successors, most notably including David Hornbeck (see Day 28 and Day 29 posts) adopted penalties as the most effective method of controlling human behavior. So Dr. Schaeffer was right when he warned, "Within the Skinnerian system there are no ethical controls. There is no boundary limit...."

Dr. Schaeffer also perceived that
The reduction of man’s value to zero is one of the important factors which triggered the student rebellion at Berkeley and elsewhere in the 1960s. Those students sensed that they were being turned into zeros and they revolted. Christians should have sensed it long before and said and exhibited that we have an alternative.... We are on the verge of the largest revolution the world has ever seen—the control and shaping of men through the abuse of genetic knowledge, and chemical and psychological conditioning.

Will people accept it? I don’t think they would accept it if (1) they had not already been taught to accept the presuppositions that lead to it, and (2) they were not in such hopelessness. Many of our secular schools have consistently taught these presuppositions, and unhappily many of our Christian lower schools and colleges have taught the crucial subjects no differently than the secular schools. [bold added]

This warning hit the mark! We now have Christian and Conservative leaders who have adopted Skinner's Humanistic presuppositions about the malleability of man, and are now carrying the banner for the very Skinnerian coercive methods that Dr. Schaeffer was warning against!

Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s “Conclusion” is ominous:
What do we and our children face? The biological bomb, the abuse of genetic knowledge, chemical engineering, the behavioristic manipulation of man. All these have come to popular attention only a few years ago. But they are not twenty years away. They are not five years away. They are here now in technological breakthroughs. This is where we live, and as true Christians we must be ready. This is no time for weakness in the Church of Christ. What has happened to man? We must see him as one who has torn himself away both from the infinite-personal God who created him as finite but in his image and from God’s revelation to him. Made in God’s image, he was made to be great, he was made to be beautiful, and he was made to be creative in life and art. But his rebellion has led him into making himself into nothing but a machine.[2]

1. This post is excerpted from page 185-186 of my book.
2. This treatise can be found in Volume One, a Christian View of Philosophy and Culture (Crossway Books: Westchester, Ill., 1982), pp. 374–384

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hornbeck's Horrors

Day 29: Skinner Horror Files

Part 2: Trick or Treat?

As mentioned in yesterday's post, David Hornbeck's "draft" plan for Iowa's education transformation initiative, leaked to the press and dated September 19, 1990, told the whole story. It was a most comprehensive explanation of the Skinnerian totalitarian system applied to society.

For the next 25 years Hornbeck would go on to become a change agent in key places of school leadership, leaving devastation in his wake wherever he went. A simple "google" search of his name will reveal the sweeping controversies surrounding this man as he stage-managed his intrusive and onerous Skinnerian transformation system.

Below are some key excerpts from Iowa's revealing "Draft" that told too much about the overall plan for school transformation. Read it and weep:
TO: The Iowa Business-Education Roundtable Task Force
FROM: David W. Hornbeck
RE: First Draft of Recommendations on the Iowa Initiative for World Class Schools

Virtually all students can learn at high levels....

1. ...The success of schools in the new system should be judged on how well students master a clearly defined, measurable core of learning that sets high expectations of all students....

2. Student performance should be measured with a variety of tools that reflect the complexity of what students are expected to learn....

3.  Successful schools, judged on student achievement, should be rewarded, unsuccessful schools should be helped to improve, and consistently inferior schools should be penalized. [bold in original, color added]

There you have it. The first two points have to do with measurable performance required of students under the Skinnerian method. The third one spells out that any schools that don't perform up to par will be penalized. Here is the shift -- Skinnerian operant conditioning would be applied to entire institutions in society, which includes the punishments of local school districts. This was 1990. We are now in the year 2014 and many, many schools have now been penalized. Read on and notice who is held responsible for students performing up to par:
4. Staff in individual schools must have the authority to make decisions affecting student achievement and must be accountable for results....

7. Schools in the new system must be responsible for ensuring collaboration with health and human services agencies to reduce barriers to student learning....

8...Schools must assist parents in assuming their full role as partners in educating their children.... [bold in original, underlining and color added]

Next Hornbeck spelled out the outcomes -- a term that would go on to become well-known across America as Outcome-Based Education, now known as Common Core. Skinnerian outcomes were defined by Hornbeck as  
"results which schools are expected to produce with their students.... Results... used to measure success...." [bold, color added]

Note that word "success." The elite educrats would define this nebulous "success," not parents, not classroom teachers, not local districts. There was a lot of hoopla over the "outrageous outcomes" of OBE in the 1990s because they didn't have much to do with solid academics, but were obviously politically correct outcomes and mind-bending junk science.

Hornbeck said of "ASSESSMENT" that 
"An outcome or result which cannot be measured may be a useful goal but it is relevant as a result for which a school or school district can be held accountable." [bold, color added]
The term "accountability" became a code word associated with measurable outcomes -- not only in education reform but in other areas of society as well. These results in Hornbeck's report included such intrusive privacy-invading things as 
"personal qualities related to self-esteem, good health habits and ethical decision-making." [bold, color added]
So the State, according to Hornbeck, would be prescribing and pre-determining the acceptable measurable "result" in these highly personal areas of a child's thinking and feeling.

Hornbeck was disingenuous. He insisted that "the state assessment program's objective is to determine school and school district performance, not individual student performance." But this is not true, and little Johnny and Susie sitting at their desk on big bad SCARY ASSESSMENT DAY knew full well that if they don't perform well on the test, they would face stiff penalties. This is why teachers across the nation have had to learn how to teach to the test. It preserves their own job. Plus they care about their students and worry about them failing.

The worst part of Hornbeck's "Draft" is this frightful scenario he outlines for those school districts that don't perform up to par. There is a series of interventions, leading to a total takeover of the district. This was unfathomable back in 1990, but now we've all seen it happen in cities across the country. The really sad thing about Hornbeck's proposal was that those schools already struggling would be further penalized, often via so-called "remediation" which was intrusive and punitive.

Hornbeck wrote: "On the penalty side, I envision the following consequences for schools and their staff...." He went on to describe in elaborate detail the horrors that teachers would be facing. These penalties included loss of the following things: teacher longevity pay, local control, administrative decision-making authority, state and local financing, and even students. Administrators could be put on probation, staff could suffer financial penalties, and good (and wealthy) students could flee the district as it was sinking like the Titanic. And somehow Hornbeck envisioned that by imposing such extremely negative penalties this would help students feel good about themselves?! And teachers teach better?! And districts be proud?! Hornbeck's penalties were stifling, killing true freedom and the spirit of joy in learning.

Another whole section of the Hornbeck report included detailed instructions about how to institute site-based decision making that would supplant the duly-elected school boards and wrest control away from local parents and citizens. A token parent or two would be permitted on this controlled council. He was already using this formula. Note that his "Draft" was prepared for the "Iowa Business-Education Roundtable Task Force," an unelected board of Who's Who leaders, some of whom admitted they signed onto the dotted line without even reading the report! In this way, the site-based councils became a clever form of managed change in which they rubber-stamped any new innovation towards implementing the Skinnerian operant conditioning methods on their schools, teachers and students.

The following ulterior motives to transform ALL OF SOCIETY were divulged by Hornbeck: 
This report sets a course in which schools are expected to produce results at unprecedented high levels. They will be expected to produce them with a broader group of students -- and eventually with all students....

...If we are to have a high expectation, outcome based, consequences-driven, school-based shared decision making system that is evaluated with substantially different assessment strategies, it will require different capacities, skills and patterns of renewal for staff than presently exist. Literally everyone will need retraining at least to some degree. 

The collection and analysis of school performance data will be done more quickly, more powerfully and with greater accuracy through technology. Technology is critical to a strong data base at many levels.

Technology will reduce reliance on single sources of instructional material (such as textbooks)....[bold and color added]

Parent, Advocate, Health, and Social Service Support -- Children need far more than academic instruction if they are to succeed in school.... They requires [sic] connecting education, health and social services in unprecedented ways.... [bold and underline in original, color added]

...One illustrative approach to accomplishing that objective would be to abolish the present State Board of Education and local boards of education and replace them with Boards of Children and Families at the state and local levels.  One could then establish results for children we wish to achieve that cut across education, health and social services....[bold and color added]

Hornbeck then went on to propose the formation of a "Family Resource Center in or near each elementary school" that would offer preschool, child care, home visits, parent education, family support services, health services, social services, employment counseling, job development, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, family crisis counseling, and teenage pregnancy prevention services. This last one was connected with Planned Parenthood's school-based clinic initiative! 

In conclusion, David Hornbeck put wheels on Skinner's operant conditioning machinery and 25 years ago he traveled the country with his word-processor, equipping well over 30 states with his massive plan for the transformation and overhaul of our nation's schools. His grandiose plan became part of  America 2000, Goals 2000, and No Child Left Behind. Hornbeck would almost single-handedly put Skinnerian methods into American mainstream.

Many in the field of education adopted a cult-like conformance to predetermined "outcomes" and "results" mandated from on high. Teachers didn't dare ask the questions -- after all, there were penalties for their non-compliance! And administrators were hooked in, forced into the mold, or they retired. And poor little Johnny and Susie sitting at their desks, still feel the HORRORS of the pressure to perform measurable results and outcomes every single day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Skinner Arrives on Your Doorstep

Day 28: Skinner Horror Files

Trick or Treat?

In the Fall of 1990 a document was prematurely leaked to the Iowa public. This document was a landmark guide to understanding the direction that education reform would take in the decades to come. It was never intended to be reviewed by the public, but was supposed to remain in the upper realms of the education elite. This September 19, 1990 report was titled "First Draft of Recommendations on the Iowa Initiative for World Class Schools," and it was authored by David Hornbeck.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s David Hornbeck, a change agent extraordinaire who came out of Carnegie, was cynically dubbed by parents and citizens as "Mr. Have Word-Processor Will Travel." He traveled from state to state as a highly paid consultant and regurgitated nearly identical state "transformation" plans to every state board of education. Since that time he has left a huge wake of controversy in his path wherever he has gone to do his social engineering. Here is a brief bio:
Mr. Hornbeck previously served as Philadelphia’s Superintendent of Schools, Maryland’s State Superintendent of Schools, Pennsylvania’s Executive Deputy Secretary of Education, President and CEO of the International Youth Foundation, an architect of Kentucky’s education reform law KERA, a partner in the law firm of Hogan and Hartson, Co-director of the National Alliance for Restructuring Education, Senior Education Advisor to the Business Roundtable and Deputy Counsel to the Governor of Pennsylvania, He has chaired the boards of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Children’s Defense Fund, Council of Chief State School Officers, Good Schools Pennsylvania and the Public Education Network,  Mr. Hornbeck served as chair of the Carnegie Corporation’s commission that produced Turning Points and chair of the National Chapter I Commission.
Hornbeck's "draft" report to Iowa was more honest than any of the other state reports he issued. In it he divulged the EXTREME Skinnerian plan to produce "results" in all of society. Below is an insightful article from the November 1992 Iowa Report, "Did Hornbeck Fail?" that gives a broad overview of his plan for education transformation:

It remains a matter of record that to read Hornbeck is to understand America 2000. His sweeping recommendations explicitly outline every detail in the future transformation of education, not only in Iowa, but also across America. He was simply re-stating the grand, master plan at the national level....

Hornbeck covered the assessment testing in elaborate detail. His proposal for Iowa included every aspect of the new individual student testing that would incorporate feelings, behaviors, values, opinions and attitudes. He acknowledged that the core curriculum would be built around the assessment outcomes, meaning the intended test results....

Hornbeck was also open and realistic about rewards and penalties. Later documents would hide the hideous fact that individual schools and teachers would be rewarded and penalized based upon their success at implementing the goals of his report. If the students scored the politically-correct way on the new assessment tests, then the schools would remain open and the teachers would keep their job. If not Hornbeck proposed severe penalties.

...the rewards and penalties... are listed on page after page in Hornbeck's Draft. Ultimately teachers will be subject to the same rigorous assessment of beliefs, opinions, behaviors, values and attitudes as their students. It is likely that the rank and file of teachers do not fully comprehend the ramifications of Hornbeck's penalties, for if they did they might have protested. As it was, the key leaders of each state education organization went with the plan, stating only minor objections.

It was in Hornbeck that one could first learn what the term "mentor" really means, i.e. monitor. He spelled out a job description for an "Iowa Mentoring Educator" who was to travel around the state policing and enforcing transformation efforts. These individuals would be given broad, sweeping powers to shut down schools, manage schools defined to be "in crisis," and generally supersede any remnant of true local control. This shocking job category disappeared from later documents, but the entire proposal makes no sense without some type of policing entity to enforce change...

It was also from Hornbeck that one could first learn that school based shared decision-making was a lie, and why. Hornbeck laid out in vivid detail how these committees should be structured and how they were to function. He made it clear that the entire education accountability system in our country and state was to be superseded by a committee of non-elected officials. Voters and American citizens were thrown out in Hornbeck's equation. Inserted in was a modest concession to a token parent on the committee.... Hornbeck makes it abundantly clear that his master plan must be accepted in its totality in order to work. 

Hornbeck also spelled out the entire America 2000 plan, including early chidhood education, school-based clinics, the merging of human services with education, and the absolute dependence upon technology rather than texts....
Tomorrow, on Day 29 of this Skinnerian Horror Files series, we will publish Part 2 and include significant Skinnerian excerpts from Hornbeck's "Draft" proposal to Iowa that was too honest about what would become the agenda of America 2000, Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, Outcome-Based Education... and what we now know as "Common Core." Stay tuned. . . .

Monday, October 27, 2014

"We Can No Longer Afford Freedom"

Day 27: Skinner Horror Files

B.F. Skinner's Legacy
I am not the only one who has written the history of education reform. Dr. Dennis wrote an excellent book in 1993 titled Chronology of Education With Quotable Quotes. Below is his warnings about B.F. Skinner:
1948: Walden II by B. F. Skinner (1972 Humanist of the Year) is published describing a society in which children are reared by the State rather than their parents, are taught only "desirable" characteristics from birth, and are never punished.

1972 November: Psychology Today publishes "Shapers at Work" by Kenneth Goodall describing a number of behavior modification programs around the country, including a 3-year program in Prince George's County, Maryland, designed not only to change students' behavior but also "to manage the behavior of the whole community." The project is conducted by the Institute for Behavioral Research, with whom B. F. Skinner and Buckminster Fuller are associated. The IBR is headed by Harold Cohen, who states, "I'm not a moralist, it just doesn't work."

1977 August 1: The Washington Post prints Lawrence Feinberg's "Competency Tests Set in 26 Schools," in which he reports that a new "competency based curriculum" to be used in every school in Washington, DC, "is based on the work in behavioral psychology of Harvard University's B.F. Skinner, who developed teaching machines and even trained pigeons during World War II to pilot and detonate bombs and torpedoes." Washington, DC, Associate School Superintendent James Guines tells Feinberg, "If you can train a pigeon to fly up there and press a button and set off a bomb, why can't you teach human beings to behave in an effective and rational way? We know we can modify human behavior. We're not afraid of that. This is the biggest thing that's happening in education today.'

Dr. Dennis Cuddy is a regular writer for and you can read his columns HERE.

Below is an excerpt from the Introduction to his book:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Totalitarian Data-Gathering


Behavioral Psychology and the Invasion of Your Child's Privacy
Benjamin Bloom
The following alarming information comes from Appendix XVI in my book, an article titled “Totalitarian Data-Gathering System Prepared by U.S. Department of Education” by Samuel Blumenfeld.* You can read his article in its entirety by going to my website: and clicking to download the original edition of my book.

Blumenfeld's insightful article is a must read for parents who want to know what sort of data is being collected on their children. Sam begins with the statement:

If ever proof were needed to confirm that the New World Order would be totalitarian in its control of individual citizens, the U.S. Department of Education’s recent release of its handbooks on data-gathering on students and faculty should be enough to satisfy any freedom-loving citizen. The two publications are the Student Data Handbook for Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education (NCES 94–303) released in June 1994, comprised of 226 pages plus about 100 pages of appendices, and the Staff Data Handbook: Elementary, Secondary and Early Childhood Education (NCES 95–327) released in January 1995, comprised of 219 pages and about 70 pages of appendices. Both Handbooks were produced under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Chapter 1 also provides this revealing Overview:
"Accurate and comprehensive information is needed in order to make appropriate cost effective and timely decisions about students within both public and private schools. Teachers, school administrators, school district administrators, school board members, and state and federal education agency personnel must use information about students to plan and carry out programs of learning that meet the needs of children with different abilities and requirements, from divergent backgrounds, and of different ages. School health officials and other service providers also use information about individual students to ensure appropriate services are provided to them. These information needs are being met in an increasing number of instances by automated management information systems that allow data to be analyzed in a variety of ways to address the questions and needs of the decision-makers. A management information system is effective, however, only to the extent that data are consistently entered into the system according to established definitions, data are updated and maintained on a regular basis, and information relevant for ongoing decision-making can be added to the system. This handbook addresses the importance of consistency in how data are defined and maintained within the education system."
Blumenfeld's article documents an diverse array of highly personal information on your child that is being collected by the government. Blumenfeld understands how this is tied all to the behavioral psychology of B.F. Skinner. He wrote:


What Can Be Done?
It is absolutely essential, if we are to remain a free people, that this entire data-collection system be stopped and dismantled. It has no place in a free society. The legislation that authorized it must be repealed or rescinded or defunded. This entire system is based on the need of behavioral scientists for a detailed, longitudinal accumulation of data to verify the [efficacy] of their programs to change human behavior. Benjamin Bloom, the godfather of Outcome-Based Education, wrote in his 1964 book Stability and Change in Human Characteristics:

"We can learn very little about human growth, development, or even about specific human characteristics unless we make full use of the time dimension. Efforts to control or change human behavior by therapy, by education, or by other means will be inadequate and poorly understood until we can follow behavior over a longer period." (p. 5)

That the behaviorist’s purpose of education is to change human behavior was spelled out in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Goals dealing with the affective domain. He was greatly concerned with the need to get control of children as early as possible. He wrote:
"The evidence points out convincingly to the fact that age is a factor operating against attempts to effect a complete or thorough-going reorganization of attitudes and values." (p. 85)
"The evidence collected thus far suggests that a single hour of classroom activity under certain conditions may bring about a major reorganization in cognitive as well as affective behaviors. We are of the opinion that this will prove to be a most fruitful area of research in connection with the affective domain." (p. 88)

And in Stability and Change in Human Characteristics, Bloom wrote:

"We believe that the early environment is of crucial importance for three reasons. The first is based on the very rapid growth of selected characteristics in the early years and conceives of the variations in the early environment as so important because they shape these characteristics in their most rapid periods of formation.

"Secondly, each characteristic is built on a base of that same characteristic at an earlier time or on the base of other characteristics which precede it in development….

"A third reason… stems from learning theory. It is much easier to learn something new than it is to stamp out one set of learned behaviors and replace them by a new set." (p. 215)
The data collection system outlined in the Student Handbook will give the behaviorists the vital tool they need to hone their ability to thoroughly reorganize the values, attitudes and behaviors of the American student. God help us if this system is implemented.

*from The Blumenfeld Education Newsletter, October 1995 (Vol. 10, No. 10, Letter #109). All bold and color emphasis in this post is added.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The ABCs of Rat Psychology

Day 25: Skinner Horror Files

Behavioral Psychology Explained
Albert Bandura

The following information is from Jed Brown's report "The 'Skinner Box' School" which is reproduced in its entirety as Appendix XX in my book the deliberate dumbing down of america. This will be very helpful for those who have never been taught about behavioral psychology. If you want to understand what is happening to children, this briefly tells the story:
Three different types of psychological conditioning have invaded schools with Outcome- Based Education and education reform. Each type has its specified purpose in controlling the behavior, and therefore the minds, attitudes, and values of our young. The first is Classical Conditioning, developed by a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov only a few years before Watson’s conception of Behaviorism. The second, credited to B.F. Skinner, is Operant or Instrumental Conditioning. The third, attributed to Albert Bandura, is Observational Learning. Each of these Behaviorist conditioning approaches is woven through the OBE reforms of education to accomplish only one thing: to control attitudes by controlling behavior.

, or Pavlovian Conditioning can be defined as creating a relatively permanent change in behavior by the association of a new stimulus with an old stimulus that elicits a particular response. Working on physiology experiments, Pavlov noted that each time the dogs he used as subjects were to be fed they began to salivate. He identified the food as the “old” stimulus and the salivation as the response, or behavior. Pavlov rang a bell each time the food was presented to the dogs. The bell was identified as the “new” stimulus. After several pairings of the bell and the food, he found that the dogs would salivate with the bell alone. A change in behavior had occurred.


All well and good, but what do dogs, food, saliva, and bells have to do with changing attitudes in children? Just like Pavlov’s dogs, children’s behavior patterns can be changed with Classical Conditioning. Upon sufficient pairings, a child will associate old behavior patterns and consequent attitudes with new stimuli. The Pavlovian approach is therefore a potent weapon for those who wish to change the belief structures of our children. Further, Classical Conditioning may be used to set children up for further conditioning that is necessary for more complex attitude shifts. The method is being used to desensitize children to certain issues that heretofore would have been considered inappropriate for school-age children.

One example of an attitude change by Pavlovian conditioning revolves around the word “family.” The term “family,” as it is applied to the home setting, is used as the old stimulus. The allegiance to parents and siblings that is normally associated with the term “family” may be thought of as the response, or behavior. With the current education reform movement the child is told by the teacher that the school class is now the family. Thus, the term “class” may be thought of as the new stimulus. By continually referring to the class or classroom as the family, an attitude change takes place. By association, the child is conditioned to give family allegiance to the class and teacher.

An example of desensitizing children through Classical Conditioning can be seen in the inclusion of gender orientation within the curriculum. The school setting may be thought of as the old stimulus. The formal school setting carries with it a whole set of emotional-behavioral responses, or behaviors. There is an air of authority and legitimacy that is attached to those subjects included in the curriculum. This feeling of legitimacy can be considered a behavioral response. By placing the topic of gender orientation into the curriculum, it is associated with legitimacy of the school settings. Thus, children are desensitized to a topic that is different from the traditional value structure, and hence they are predisposed to further conditioning.

The real meat and potatoes of Outcome-Based Education is Operant Conditioning, or Rat Psychology, so called because B.F. Skinner used rats as his experimental subjects. A “Skinner Box,” a box containing a press bar and a place to dispense a food pellet, is used to condition the rat to press the bar (the behavior). A food pellet (the stimulus) is used to reinforce the desired behavior, pressing the bar. The rat, having no idea what to expect, is placed in the box. Once in the box, the rat’s movements are exploratory and random. As soon as the rat looks towards the bar, the experimenter releases a food pellet. After eating the food the rat resumes his random movement. Another look, another pellet. Another look, another pellet.

Once the rat is trained to look at the bar, he is required to approach the bar before the pellet is delivered. The rat must then come closer and closer to the bar each time before reinforcement is given. Over time, the rat’s behavior is slowly shaped by the experimenter; each trial the rat successively approximates more closely the ultimate behavior of pressing the bar. Eventually the well-conditioned rat will continually press the bar as fast as he can eat. Operant Conditioning is, therefore, defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior by successive approximations through repeated trials using positive or negative reinforcements.

The concept of “successive approximation” is key to understanding the use of Operant Conditioning with Outcome-Based Education. Just as for the rat, the experimenter (the State) establishes the ultimate goals for children (pressing the bar). OBE requires that specific behavioral outcomes be designed such that the children must master each outcome in succession. The outcomes are designed in a spiral fashion, such that as the child goes further in school, the outcomes more closely approximate the ultimate goals. As children master an outcome, the reinforcement is found in approval (food pellets). Another outcome, more approval. Another outcome, more approval (successive approximation). When the Skinner Box experiment is complete, our children, like rats, will dance to the tune of the State.

Observational Learning, although it does not carry the name conditioning, has been described by Dollard and Miller as a special case of Operant Conditioning. It is Operant Conditioning applied to social behavior. Observational Learning is the twenty-five cent word for modeling. There are two purposes for Observational Learning in the schools. First, it is a method used to condition a host of social behaviors, like parenting styles, gender roles, problem-solving strategies, and discipline boundaries. Second, it is used as reinforcer of the behaviors and attitudes previously conditioned with Classical and Operant Conditioning.

According to Observational Learning, people model the behavior of those within their “reference groups.” Under normal conditions, the child’s primary reference group is the family. Nevertheless, children are being conditioned with Classical methods to shift allegiance to their new school family, their new reference group. Once the new group is established, schools use surveys to gauge attitudes and then orchestrate the conditioning process through Observational Learning. Relying almost exclusively on cooperative learning (group learning), OBE reforms unfortunately use Observational Learning to establish and enforce the proper behaviors and attitudes through peer pressure and a forced “group think” process.

The idea that our schools are not dealing in attitudes and values is ludicrous. The psychologists have ripped the schools from parents and teachers alike. Their only objective is to create children who may look different, but behave the same, think the same, and believe the same. They shall create in each child the “perfect child.” Like John B. Watson, they shall create children as they see fit. They shall do it with conditioning, not teaching. Is it any wonder that our schools are failing to educate children when we use rats as the example of exemplary learning? Welcome to the “Brave New World.” Welcome to the “SKINNER BOX SCHOOL.” [all emphases added]


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.