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THE DELIBERATE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA by CHARLOTTE ISERBYT

THE DELIBERATE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA by CHARLOTTE ISERBYT
Charlotte Iserbyt argues that since the 1960s the American education system has undergone dramatic changes, i.e. from traditional education whcih aimed at academic skills, individual faculties and high literacy to a school-to-work traing, also know by synonyms such as workforce training, outcome-based education (OBE), mastery learning or direct instruction. The new system, she argues, is strongly based on skinner's 'stimulus-response-stimulus operant conditioning' philosophy, which compares human beings with animals who also learn by a positive response strategy. Skinner, however, forgets that human beings are also equipped with consciousness, conscience and emotions and aer not robot-like beings. During the past decades the new approach to education (i.e. training) has been disseminated by so-called 'change agents' across all the US. These agents were self-proclaimed proponents (mostly university professors and politicians) who turned to teachers and local schoolboard members in order to propagate their ideas. By lowering standards through standardized tests which are mostly based on multiple choice and false/right answers, they are trying to train people for the economy and industry. Job placements and community or social work are parts of the new curriculum. Teaching in front of the classrom by discussing human issues or literature was substituted by prescribed teaching modules and narrow-scaled competencies.

But the shortcomings of the new view on education made many teachers and parents skeptical, but 'change agents' invented new terms (hence different terms for school-to-work education) in order the implement their new ideas in schools.

Iserbyt in her "the deliberate dumbing down of america" gives the following comment:

"Parents, Direct Instruction is not back-to-basics (teacher-directed instruction of content, with the teacher teaching in the front of the classroom). It is fast-forward into the world of global workforce training, where the teacher will be in front of the classroom chanting, not instructing; your children will be expected to "perform" like rats or pigeons, not learn academic content.

Parents want teachers to teach content which their child can relate. to other parts of his/her life for complete understanding; they want their child to be able to make connections between what he/she learns and past knowledge, to be used in the future. Chanting back what a teacher chants is not learning—it is training. There can be no transfer of knowledge when bits and pieces of information which relate to nothing are all the "robots" can repeat. Parents don't want teachers to be controllers or directors, and they surely don't want their children to be passive learners chanting back answers like parrots, mimicking what a teacher says. Such training considers your child as nothing but a raw resource to be prepared and molded as a product. Traditional education, which allows for give and take between teacher and student (creativity) is the last thing in which the corporate/ education elite is interested.

This new type of education (training), in conjunction with mandatory community service, workforce preparation starting in elementary school, mandatory uniforms for America's school children, new school board policies regarding fighting in school which will allow the police to come to the school and drag your children into holding tanks for further prosecution, etc., sends chills down the back of this writer. It brings to mind the ugliness of a recent era in history which many seem to have forgotten." (p. 376)

Source: THE DELIBERATE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA by CHARLOTTE ISERBYT, p.376




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