From Charlotte Iserbyt's Deliberate Dumbing Down of America...
The term response is used for any reaction made by him—a new thought, a feeling
of interest, a bodily act, any mental or bodily condition resulting from the stimulus.
The aim of the teacher is to produce desirable and prevent undesirable changes in human
beings by producing and preventing certain responses. The means at the disposal of the
teacher are the stimuli which can be brought to bear upon the pupil—the teacher’s words,
gestures, and appearance, the condition and appliances of the school room, the books
to be used and objects to be seen, and so on through a long list of the things and events
which the teacher can control.
Since the beginning of Western civilization, the school curriculum was centered
around the development of academic skills, the intellectual faculties, and high literacy.
Dewey wanted to change all of that. Why? Because high literacy produced that abominable form of independent intelligence which was basically, as Dewey believed, anti-social.
In our dream, we have limitless resources,
and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present
educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our
own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these
people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science.We are
not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not
search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler
ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen,
of whom we now have ample supply.
If there are those who think we are to jump immediately into a new world order,
actuated by complete understanding and brotherly love, they are doomed to disappointment.
If we are ever to approach that time, it will be after patient and persistent effort of long
duration. The present international situation of mistrust and fear can only be corrected by
a formula of equal status, continuously applied, to every phase of international contacts,
until the cobwebs of the old order are brushed out of the minds of the people of all lands.
This means that the world must await a long process of education and a building up
of public conscience and an international morality, or, in other words, until there is a
world-wide sentiment which will back up the modern conception of a world community.
the Educational Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, to ask me to attend...
my talk on the teaching of functional physics in high school, and the fact that I was a
member of a group known as the Progressive Educators of America, which was nothing
but a Communist front. I thought the word “progressive” meant progress for better
schools. Eleven of those attending the meeting were leaders in education. Drs. John
Dewey and Edward Thorndike, from Columbia University, were there, and the others
were of equal rank. I checked later and found that ALL were paid members of the
Communist Party of Russia.
We spent one hour and
forty-five minutes discussing the so-called “Modern Math.” At one point I objected
because there was too much memory work, and math is reasoning; not memory. Dr.
Ziegler turned to me and said, “Nelson, wake up! That is what we want... a math that
the pupils cannot apply to life situations when they get out of school!”
THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION CREATED THE EDUCATIONAL POLICIES COMMISsion (EPC)
in 1932 for the purpose of changing the Goals for American Education. In 1944 the EPC
The Troubling Thirties : c. 1932
20 prepared a volume of extreme importance entitled Education for All American Youth. This
highly promoted document told, in fictional format and as though it were a fait accompli,
how the “Planners” would solve all the problems; not just of youth, but of two imaginary
communities—a village and a city—through involving citizens in cooperation for the goals
of the planners. The following goals are laid out in this book:
• federal programs for health, education and welfare combined in one giant bureau
• Head Start programs
• getting pre-school children into the system
• teacher participation in curriculum decisions
• federal funds without federal control
• youth services through a “poverty program”
• removal of local control of political and educational matters “without seeming
to do so”
• sex education
…For good or for ill, we must cease training people for what they are going to do, and
point out instead what they should do. It will probably fall to our generation to resurrect the
word “ought” to its rightful status in the affairs of men—for what else are values if not areas
of experience with an imperious push or pull emanating from them?
There are some purists who will be frightened by the indoctrination which must
inevitably follow if this recommendation is effective.... Such an objection is silly, for
since indoctrination of attitudes occurs anyhow, our sole concern must be to ensure
that the right ones are established....
How any one with the least pretensions to higher education can fail to be thrilled by
the ultimate prospects of a single world government, the abolition of war and poverty, the
enhancement of beauty in daily life, and the enlightened practice of eugenics and euthenics,
is a riddle which can be explained only by a blind, exclusive regard for the immediately
practicable.... What nobler and more enlightened aim for education in this century can
possibly be proposed than that it enlists the enthusiasms of youth for the attainment of
more rational forms of group living.
Summing up: the populist state will have to put general scholastic instruction into a
shortened form, including the very essentials. Outside of that, opportunity must be offered
for thorough, specialized scholarly training. It is enough if the individual person is given a
store of general knowledge in broad outline, receiving a thorough detailed and specialized
training only in the field which will be his in later life.... The shortening of the schedule and
of the number of classes thus attained would be used for the benefit of the development of
the body, the character, of will and resolution
Skinner’s novel, Walden Two, recommended—amongst
other radical things—that “children be reared by the state, to be trained from birth to demonstrate
only desirable characteristics and behavior.”