Lynn M. Stuter
February 22, 2003
In one week, in the region of my residence, the following occurred:
1. two 13 year-old boys were arrested for the stabbing death of a 14 year-old boy;
2. an 18 year-old was arrested in a drive-by shooting incident;
3. a 13 year-old was arrested in the stabbing death of his mother;
4. a school was locked down when two juvenile males were reported in the area carrying guns;
5. an unwed mother in her early twenties wrapped the body of her supposedly stillborn baby girl in a towel and plastic bag and dumped the remains in an alley;
6. a foster parent was turned in by his wife for allegedly molesting young girls in his care.
Can anyone, hearing this type of thing on a day-in, day-out basis, not conclude that something is decidedly wrong in a society where incidents of this type are happening more frequently? Even ten years ago, it was unusual to hear of a juvenile killing someone. Now it seems it's a daily occurrence.
What has changed that could possibly bring this on? Many things, but some are more serious and with greater consequence than others.
What most parents don't know, and don't care to know, is what their child is actually being subjected to in the classroom in the name of education reform.
Chester Pierce, Professor of Education and Psychiatry, Harvard University, spoke to teachers at a convention some years ago. He told teachers:
"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our Founding Fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It's up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well - by creating the international child of the future."
Following the Columbine incident, it came to light that Columbine students had been subjected to death education, complete with talking about suicide, contemplating suicide, taking a trip to the local cemetery, visiting a funeral home, and writing their own epitaph. This is but one example of how all these "sick" children are being made well.
Why would anyone want to subject a child to such a traumatic experience? Harking back to the non-directive, feelings-based education theories and teachings of Dr. Carl Rogers and Dr. Abraham Maslow, subjecting a child to something so traumatic has the wanted effect of making it easier to unfreeze, change, and refreeze a child's existing belief system.
One mother became concerned when her child started having nightmares. On investigating, the mother discovered her child began having nightmares at the same time the child was being subjected to a morbid, sordid, sadistic curriculum in the classroom. The mother requested to look at the curriculum, and there, in the front of the book, was a graph showing at what point in the application of the curriculum the child would mostly likely come into conflict with his or her existing belief system; at what point the child would most likely be willing to change his or her existing beliefs; and at what point the child's belief system would most likely refreeze with the new beliefs. When the mother questioned the teacher about it, the teacher informed the mother that she, the mother, should not impart her moral values on her child!
How about putting Hansel and Gretel on trial for the murder of the wicked witch? This has the same affect. Children have been taught, traditionally, that Hansel and Gretel are good and the wicked witch, who wishes to cook them in the oven for her supper, is bad. By putting Hansel and Gretel on trial for the murder of the wicked witch, the child is brought into conflict with his or her existing belief system.
Why do this? In the words of Richard Paul, guru of "critical thinking," another concept based on the theories of Maslow and Rogers, we don't want a Naive Nancy or a Selfish Sam, we want a Fair-minded Fran.
Okay. So what does a Fairminded Fran look like? Fairminded Fran believes that all things are relative (values clarification also based on the theories of Maslow and Rogers), that there is no right or wrong, that truth is constantly changing or in flux.
Undoubtedly, stated in this way, this raises concerns and questions for many, and eyebrows, too. And well it should. The bottom line is that a Fairminded Fran blows in the wind, and whichever way the driving force blows is the way Fairminded Fran goes. The driving force, of course, being the facilitators who are supposedly "the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage" but who are actually just the opposite. Facilitators use what is known as "covert authority" to manipulate people. As one unwitting participant said of the facilitator, "she knows just how to facilitate so everyone thinks it is their idea..."
In as much as non-directive, feelings-based education -- what is being called by a plethora of names, most notably outcome-based, competency-based, or performance-based education -- focuses on feelings (affective), not fact (cognitive), it is easy to see that a Fairminded Fran is easily manipulated. Such a child can tell you how he or she feels about 2 + 2 = 5 but can't tell you why the answer is wrong. Likewise, he or she can and will tell you that you shouldn't cut down a tree, not for reasons based on fact, but because of his or her feelings for the tree.
A prime example of this was demonstrated at a school board meeting in Pasco some years ago. Pasco, of course, was one of the school districts in Washington state that was a pilot for education reform or outcome-based education.
During the school board meeting, members of an elementary class, 5th or 6th graders, were in attendance to make a presentation to the board, to demonstrate what they were doing in school. The teacher got up and gushed over what a wonderful job these children had done at coming up with a solution to the war in Sudan. The child chosen to make the presentation then got up, amid applause, and presented to the school board the solution the group had come up with: the people should trade guns for food.
The adults in the audience stood and began clapping and cheering. My, they were so proud of these children. Not one adult present asked what should have been the obvious question in an educational setting: After trading their guns for food, how would the people protect themselves against the tyrants who would still have guns, would have the people's guns, and would also control the food?
And what the adults didn't realize, as they stood clapping their approval, was that these children had been taught to come up with a solution based on what they felt as opposed to using the scope of their knowledge to formulate a reasoned conclusion. After all, if you are young, isn't food more important than guns, especially if no one has pointed out to you the philosophy of a tyrant?
This affective, feeling-based education system is why, on state assessments, the priority is not whether the child obtains the right answer, but whether the child demonstrates the wanted process; process being defined as "behavior/procedure" by assessment guru Richard Stiggins who was a subcontractor in the writing of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, the infamous WASL.
Wouldn't you just love to fly on an airplane with a pilot that doesn't know where he's going, but feels he's flying in the right direction and feels that he knows how to fly? How about a doctor who feels he knows what's wrong with you and feels he can make you well? Rather mindful of the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions!
A Fairminded Fran is a child easily manipulated by the covert authority of facilitators. The child can be said to be extrinsically motivated, meaning the child is motivated by stimuli outside or beyond self.
This is where rewards come in. The frequency of rewards in the government schools these days is amazing. There's an award for everything. Like Pavlov's slobbering dogs or Skinner's rats in the maze, if the child does what the facilitator wants, the child is rewarded.
Now, let's take this one step further. The facilitator rewards the child when the child does what the facilitator wants. What happens when the facilitator isn't there to reward the child for doing what the facilitator wants? What happens when the child is standing there with a gun in his hand, pointing it at someone with his finger on the trigger, and there is no facilitator there to reward the child for not pulling the trigger? You got it, the child will pull the trigger, just as the child will see nothing wrong with stabbing someone to death, disposing of a baby in an alley or in a garbage can or dumpster, killing and/or dismembering a parent, taking guns and shooting up a school or classroom of fellow students ...
Since there is no intrinsic motivation, establishing in the child an internal moral compass of right and wrong that the child relies upon to make decisions (the opposite of extrinsic motivation), the child has no inhibition about doing this kind of thing.
Educators talk about kids without a conscience. Those kids are coming out of their classrooms. Law enforcement decries how young the criminals are becoming, but yet has no qualms about teaching DARE, another program based on non-directive, feelings-based education. Courts are dismayed by the number of juvenile offenders they are having to deal with but when it comes to addressing why, they really don't want to. Legislators are likewise dismayed by the rise in juvenile crime but have done nothing to put a stop to the use of non-directive, feelings-based education in the classroom.
And parents are not blameless either. The responsibility of parents to oversee the upbringing and education of their child(ren) is inherent, God given, irrefutable. It is the responsibility of the parents to know what their child(ren) is being exposed to in the classroom.
But few do.
Note: The following methodologies are based on non-directive, feelings-based theory: higher order thinking skills, critical thinking skills, values clarification, peer mediation, conflict resolution.
The following curriculums, found in government schools, are most likely based on non-directive, feelings-based education: death and dying curriculums, suicide prevention curriculums, sex education curriculums, drug and alcohol prevention and education curriculums, leadership building curriculums
Paul, Richard; "Critical Thinking Handbook: K-3"; Santa Rosa: Foundation for Critical Thinking; 1995.
Stiggins, R. J.; "Evaluating Students by Classroom Observation: Watching Students Grow"; Washington, DC: National Education Association, 1986.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: http://www.icehouse.net/lmstuter E-Mail: [email protected]