OUR CHILDREN: THE DRONES
Ann Herzer, M.A.
November 14, 2012
This was written in 1984 and is reprinted with permission of the author.
With taxpayers’ money through a National Science Foundation grant, in 1968 Richard I. Evans wrote B.F. Skinner: The Man and His Ideas. The philosophy stated in this book should be of critical interest to all people that are interested in education and value the individual. Following are some direct quotes from Skinner included in Evans’s book:
I could make a pigeon a high achiever by reinforcing it on a proper schedule. (p. 10)
When I say a concept is irrelevant, I mean that it has no bearing on the kind of analysis I am trying to develop. (p. 23)
For 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)
It is conceivable that a technique of control will be developed which cannot be discovered. The word “brainwashing” is dangerous. (p. 54)
We want him [the student] to come under the control of his environment rather than on verbal directions given by members of his family. (p. 64)
I predict that the curriculum of the future will be designed around various capacities and abilities rather than subject. (p 72)
I don’t believe in mental discipline as such.... I’m much more concerned with the student’s so-called personality traits. (p. 72)
I should not bother with ordinary learning theory, for example. I would eliminate most sensory psychology and I would give them [the students] no cognitive psychology whatsoever. (p. 91)
It isn’t the person who is important, it’s the method. If the practice of psychology [operant conditioning] 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—and I am more concerned with promoting my theories in education [operant conditioning]. (p. 106)
I should like to see our government set up a large educational agency in which specialists could be sent to train teachers [in operant conditioning]. (p. 109)
Have the radical psychologists achieved their goals? Let’s take a look at exactly what they believe.
The study of human emotions, feelings, and individual worth are of no concern to these psychologists. They believe that by shaping behavior one can produce any “human machine” that society needs. Skinner proposes to achieve this utopian goal through the American school system.
Evans asked Skinner what would happen if a “hostile government were to gain control and proceed to shape the development of children, putting such techniques totally into use." Skinner replied, “There’s no doubt about it, but what are you going to do? To impose a moratorium on science would be worst of all.” Would it?
A Nation at Risk states that “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.” Did we? Did the American people really know what was happening in education and to their children? The answer is no.
A naive and great nation of freedom-loving people has been deceived by a “technique of control” that cannot be discovered by the average American. By subtle means of mind manipulation from clever propaganda techniques to out-and-out lies, the American people have been sold these radical ideas, methods, and techniques that truly place our nation and our children at risk.
Skinner said, “You will teach your student as he wants to be taught, but never forget that it is within your power to make him want what you want him to want.” In other words, a teacher can program and shape a child into being anything the radicals decide he should be.
Parents and American citizens should be aware of the government-sponsored programs being disseminated throughout the United States by the National Diffusion Network. The Network was established in 1974 to promote government-approved educational programs. Many of these programs are subtly designed with behavioral psychology techniques that could train young children to aim for limited goals of common labor. These programs prey on the poor and minority children in our nation. Many of these programs started in the 1960’s.
You might wonder who selects these programs. A panel of twenty-two so-called “experts” selects the programs and approves them for dissemination by the Network. They are promoted in a book called Educational Programs That Work published by the U.S. Department of Education.
A great number of programs being promoted by the Network state in the book that, “No evidence has been submitted to or approved by the Panel.” It seems that even these great experts are not willing to accept the responsibility if these government programs fail or succeed.
The radical behavioral psychologists believe in a totally planned society with so many elite to rule, while the drones follow like programmed robots.
Very few college professors, teachers, school board members, or the news media have ever heard of the National Diffusion Network, and certainly the average American citizen is not aware of the Educational Programs That Work book or the programs therein. Every American should obtain this book and take a long look at just what their children are being taught or not taught.
One experimental program after another has been placed in the American classroom over the last twenty years. Many of these programs have been brought into the classrooms over the objections of teachers and parents—those teachers and parents who understood what was happening. These programs have proliferated to such an extent that the school child has become a human guinea pig for these radicals who propose to bring about the good life for the whole world by “brainwashing.”
When is the last time you heard your children speak of the “American dream”?
An unfriendly, “hostile government” in action? Well, maybe.
At taxpayers’ expense, preparation of B. F. Skinner’s dehumanizing book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (grant number K6–MH–21, 755–01). Skinner suggested that “what is called for now is a ‘technology of behavior’—a systematic and scientific program to alter the nature of man.”
The major theme in Evans’s book is that because of the complexity of the modern world we can no longer afford freedom and dignity; therefore, the scientific method of operant conditioning should be used to control and shape mankind for the good of the world.
Man is considered a “human machine” with no soul, no free will, just a number like “K6–MH–21, 755–01” to be manipulated by change agents—a group of self-anointed, radical behavioral psychologists proposing to brainwash man into submission to whatever they determine to be the best for mankind.
This is not a new theme in history. It is older than the Inquisition. What is new in history is that a scientific method of brainwashing does exist. The American soldier in Korea and [the Jones cult in] Jonestown, Guyana are only two recent examples of this fact.
If one were to attempt this radical change, the most logical place to start this step-by-step “technology of control” would be to start in the schools and the free marketplace.
A planned curriculum and a planned economy could strangle a nation like the United States within a few short years, and help to bring about “equality” for the whole world. This is conceivable if a technique of control could be developed that could not be detected by the average American. Has it happened? Just look at our schools and the economy. How many small companies have gone broke recently? How many small farmers are being forced out of business? Who controls the schools, the industries, the media, the natural resources, and, more importantly, who will control the land in the United States?
For the unread and skeptics, I’m going to suggest several books that give a comprehensive overview of American education and the extensive use of classical and operant conditioning in our society. Of course, one must first read Skinner’s books to fully understand what he has proposed.
Perhaps the best and most comprehensive book written which truly gives historical documentation for the decline of our system was written by Augustine G. Rudd in 1957 and is called Bending the Twig. Mr. Rudd was chairman of the Educational Committee for the New York Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Far too much blame has been placed on John Dewey, in my opinion. At least his educational theories were child-oriented, but of course the radical psychologists were not in vogue in 1957.
A Report of the Comptroller General of the United States, dated April 15, 1977 (HRD–7749) should be obtained from government records and read by all Americans. The title is “Questions Persist about Federal Support for Development of Curriculum Materials and Behavior Modification Techniques Used in Local Schools.” It appears that nothing has been done about the questions.
Other titles that everyone should read are:
The Psychological Society, Martin Gross
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Robert Jay Lifton
Mind Control, Peter Schrag
The People Shapers, Vance Packard
Change Agents in the Schools, Barbara M. Morris
Behavior Mod, Philip J. Hilts
The Literacy Hoax, Paul Copperman
Legal Challenges to Behavior Modification, Reed Martin
Walden Two, B. F. Skinner
The Suicide Cult, Marshall Kilduff and Ron Javers
Snapping, Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman
Below are direct quotes from Beyond Freedom and Dignity:
Why should I care whether my government, or my form of government, survives long after my death?...
Why should I be concerned about the survival of a particular kind of economic system?...
A remote personal good becomes effective when a person is controlled for the good of others, and the culture which induces some of its members to work for its survival brings an even more remote consequence to bear.... It is a matter of the good of the culture, not of the individual....
A programmed sequence of contingencies may be needed. The technology has been most successful where behavior can be fairly easily specified and where appropriate contingencies can be constructed—for example, in child care, schools, and the management of retardates and institutionalized psychotics. The same principles are being applied, however, in the preparation of instructional materials at all educational levels, in psychotherapy beyond simple management, in urban design, and in many other fields of human behavior....
Such a technology is ethically neutral....
It is not difficult to see what is wrong in most educational environments, and much has already been done to design materials which make learning as easy as possible.
"Our Children: The Drones,” I quoted some of the change agents and how they proposed to bring about the change in society and education.
This next article will deal with actual enactment of the methods and programs, and how they are being promoted by the United States Department of Education through the National Diffusion Network.
The first program I’m going to tell you about is the one that started what I now refer to as my “search for freedom and dignity” for myself, children, and teachers. The first program is known as The Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction. The word “reading” is a misnomer. This program is pure operant conditioning in the best tradition of B.F. Skinner.
In 1978, I was working in a Title I program in Phoenix, Arizona. Our program was one of forty that had been selected as outstanding programs in the United States. The government was doing a three-year study on forty programs. The study was called the “Sustaining Effects Study.” I assumed that study was being done so our program and the other successful ones could be used as examples for the rest of the country.
Our program was based on an individualized diagnostic program for each child. The child’s reading and math needs were determined and we were taught to remediate the specific needs in each child’s area of weakness, while trying to build on the child’s strong areas as well. We were proud to have been selected as one of the innovative programs in the nation. Part of our program also called for continuous training in our area of specialization. Mine was reading. I was also a member of the parent advisory committee.
In early 1978, our principal, Title I supervisor, and assistant superintendent of schools for the district met with the Title I teachers and proposed a week-long workshop based on a mastery teaching and learning theory. Quite a sales pitch was given for the method and the director. My principal said he had known her for several years and that she was a personal friend of a prominent church and business leader in our community. Since his daughter was a personal friend of mine and he is highly respected as a church and community leader, this was a good selling point from my point of view. Another selling point was the limited cost of the workshop, and the training would include the Title I aides and some of the classroom teachers as well.
The time arrived for the workshop, and substitute teachers were obtained for the teachers. The training session was held at the district office. Our trainer’s name was Mrs. Currington, from Hawkins, Texas.
We were to meet from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day, Monday through Friday. We were told that if we could not keep those hours and attend every day, not to attend the workshop. I thought that was rather strange, but said nothing at the time.
One of our teachers, Sherri _____, had small children and was having a problem with adjusting the hours with baby sitters. Since her husband was a medical doctor, she could not depend on him for before-and-after school care. She asked if she could come late and leave early on some days. She was told no, and that it was her problem to work out. Somehow she did.
On Monday when we arrived at the district office, we found our tables arranged in a U shape with Mrs. Currington at the head. We were never introduced to her, nor were any words of welcome extended. She started to teach, and I started to take notes. My supervisor told me not to take notes, that all the information would be supplied later. I thought this was a very strange arrangement, but I stopped taking notes for the time being.
Two hours into the program I whispered to Sherri, “Just what in the [h— ] is this?” By this time they had handed out a massive workbook that made no sense whatsoever. Sherri pointed out that no method or philosophy was stated in the book and asked me if I thought this was strange.
When we broke for lunch, I met one of our outstanding classroom teachers in the restroom and she was in tears. She said, “Ann, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I have never reacted to anything like this before.” I said, “Deanna, this is the worst thing I have ever been exposed to.” She said, “Me too. I just thought it was me.”
teachers had lunch together and we were all very alarmed about the workshop.
One old timer said, “This is just another program that we have
to put up with—we have had one after the other for several years.
We just learn one method and program, then they bring in another one.
This will pass like all the rest.”
Since two hours’ credit was being offered by UCLA at Davis, some of the teachers asked me if I was going to sign up for it. I said no, because I would not want such a thing on my transcripts. None of our teachers signed up for credit.
Daily, more and more of the teachers were raising their eyebrows and my friend Mary_____ was beside herself. Finally, I said, “Look, Mary, we bought a pig in a poke and none of the teachers are buying this.”
We were pressured to memorize the word-by-word directives and pass the proficiency tests on a daily basis. Each teacher taking her turn, we were required to follow each directive exactly as the students would. Finally, the teachers and aides started asking questions. Some became downright hostile toward the teacher-trainer. Our questions were deferred by intimidation. For example, when someone would question a portion of the teaching technique, the trainer would say, “Shame on you. Don’t you want to do what is best for children?”
When Deanna pointed out that the program did not take into consideration the learning styles of individual children, Mrs. Currington said, “The group is more important than the individual and we should raise our children to be people pleasers.” That is when I really sat up to take notice. I recognized the philosophy right away, and I recognized this program as being political.
Children were required to master each and every small step before moving on, and only perfect penmanship was to be allowed from the child. Mary asked about small children whose fine motor skills had not developed. Mrs. Currington said, “All fine motor skills have developed by the age of one.” Wow!
By this time Sherri was laughing. At one point an administrator from the district office came in and said, “We thought this was awful too when we attended the workshop last week, but it gets better as the week goes along.” This was the first time we realized that the administrators had taken the workshop, also.
At one point in the training we were required to raise our arms to a 45-degree angle with our fingers pointed. The children were to do this whenever they completed an assignment and the teacher was to check for perfect penmanship, etc. If the work was not perfect, then the child had to start over. The rest of the class traced their word with their finger and said the word in unison while the others made the correction.
I kept asking, “What is this method?” I was somewhat more verbal than the rest. At one point my principal said they used this method in Germany. This is when I said to Sherri, “I recognize the salute: Sieg Heil! I’m not going to do this again.”
At this point I sat with my arms folded and Sherri continued to chuckle. I was not laughing. This workshop was no longer funny. I was thinking that something was very amiss.
Sherri and I were sitting at the same table across from each other. Mrs. Currington came and moved our table out from the others and told us to work with the group across the room. Since this was impossible, I thought it was very strange. That’s when I noticed that our behavior was being monitored by the teacher-trainer, Mrs. Currington. I told Mary and Sherri to be careful of their actions because we were being monitored. They said, “Oh come on, Ann.”
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The next day our table had been moved to the end of the room, in direct view of the teacher-trainer.
On the last day of our workshop, Mrs. Currington said she had just returned from doing a workshop in Boston, and they drove her out of town with police escort. Someone asked her why, and she said it was because of a paper she had presented in the workshop. She said she would not present the paper again unless Dr. Reid (the program director) ordered her to. Deanna asked if she could see the paper, and Mrs. Currington said yes, if Deanna would return it right after lunch and promise not to show it to anyone.
The next day Deanna told me that the paper was the “Children’s Hour.” I said, “I’m not surprised that they ran her out of Boston with police escort because that is where they threw the tea overboard!”
I am happy to report that I did not pass their fidelity or proficiency tests.
1-. “The Children’s Hour” is a story by James Clavell which deals with the ability of a “new” teacher, brought to an elementary classroom as a result of a “hostile government’s takeover,” who is able to completely subvert the values, beliefs and loyalties of the children in a half hour’s time. At the end of the story the children had cut up the American flag and thrown the flagpole out of the window, and had been convinced that prayer was a waste of time because “what you receive always comes from somebody else,” not God. (See pp. 70–71 of the 1999 book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.)
© 2012 - Ann Herzer, M.A. - All Rights Reserved