When will it end!
December 22, 2004
A 16-year-old took a .38 caliber hand gun to school on Friday, December 10, 2004, and shot himself in the commons area of the high school. He died later that day. It’s appropriate here that we give full credit for his being able to get the gun on campus to all the cameras and equipment the school has used taxpayer dollars to buy and install over the past few years since the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado; and all in the name of keeping children “safe” at school.
Enter the talking heads —
Talking head number one — the news media:
who showed up in force (as usual) to “capture” and broadcast the scene, showing crying children and anxious parents and the usual “I just didn’t think he would do it” quotes from shocked individuals in the building when the young man pulled the gun out and took his own life. The inevitable “problems at home” (insinuation: the cause) quip popped out on the multitude of re-runs flashing across the TV screen. In keeping with the new goals to achieve the outcomes of “school safety”, however, the news media carefully avoided going beyond the surface to an in-depth investigation of why this young man, who had so much to look forward to, took his life.
Talking head number two — law enforcement:
“we just don’t know why he did it — we have many days of investigation before us.” (But we sure have made ourselves available for the cameras) Months from now, law enforcement findings will maybe show up on the inside of the back page of a newspaper somewhere, and the findings will also be in keeping with the goals to achieve the outcomes.
Talking head number three — the school district superintendent:
“we just don’t know about his social life.” (But be sure he also made himself very available to the camera) Of course, how stupid of me! It isn’t possible that this young man’s suicide had anything to do with the school despite the fact that in every instance where a gun has been used on a school campus, causal factors associated with that campus have come to light!
Pages from a book used in this school district found their way into my hands via a parent whose child was having nightmares after being exposed to the morbid, sordid, sadistic and macabre material in this book. The purpose of the stories in the book is best described in the words of one of systems educations earliest advocates, Benjamin Bloom,
... a large part of what we call "good teaching" is the teacher's ability to attain affective objectives through challenging the students' fixed beliefs and getting them to discuss issues.
... our concern is to indicate two things: (a) the generalization of this control to so much of the individual's behavior that he is described and characterized as a person by these pervasive controlling tendencies, and (b) the integration of these beliefs, ideas, and attitudes into a total philosophy or world view. (1)
What we are classifying is the intended behavior of students—the ways in which individuals are to act, think, or feel as the result of participating in some unit of instruction. (2)
Ralph Tyler, another early advocate, states;
Since the real purpose of education is not to have the instructor perform certain activities but to bring about significant changes in the students' patterns of behavior, it becomes important to recognize that any statement of the objectives — should be a statement of changes to take place in the student. (3)
And last, but certainly not least, David Conley, a present day advocate, states,
... education, as now conceived, leads to demonstrable changes in student behaviors, changes that can be assessed using agreed-upon standards.
The argument for transformational outcomes is that specific content is only marginally relevant, that it is merely a means to an end, that students can demonstrate mastery through many different types of content knowledge, and that student learning skills and attitudes are more important. (4)
“Oh, but the schools aren’t doing that” — are they? “They would never do anything that wasn’t in the best interests of the child” — would they? “That’s not happening in our school; it must be that school over there!”
How long does this go on before parents finally take their heads out of the sand and look at what is going on in their child’s school and classrooms? How many more children have to die before Legislators have the guts to stand up and say, “enough is enough, already”?!! How long before teachers, administrators, schools rise up in rebellion and refuse to participate in the psycho-education that is the hallmark of systems education?
Parents, as the “silent” partner in their child’s education under systems education, are the ready scapegoats when children go off the deep end and kill themselves or others on school grounds.
This is not to say parents don’t hold some responsibility in what is happening. Parents, as parents, are responsible for bringing a child into this world. It is their God-given and inherent responsibility to oversee the upbringing and education of the child/ren they bring into this world. Today, parents are only too glad to delegate their responsibility, without so much as a backward glance, to the state. Too many parents have no idea what is going on in their child’s classrooms. If parents demanded education instead of psycho-education; if parents relied on their common sense instead of the psycho-babble of the so-called “experts”, it would go a long way to curing the problem.
And Legislators — what is their part in this? Legislatures, across the United States, wrote and passed the legislation that was the “buy-in” to the agenda of systems education. And they did it in the name of getting federal grant money. First it was Goals 2000, then School to Work, then the Workforce Investment Act; and, of course, all the peripheral legislation that goes with them, changing the focus of classrooms from educating children for intelligence to producing a workforce with the wanted attitudes, values, and beliefs according to the SCANS competencies: teamwork, critical thinking, making decisions, communication, adapting to change and understanding whole systems — the “new basic skills.” Legislators say, “but we don’t control curriculum.” Oh really? That’s like buying a Ford chassis and trying to put a Chevy engine and drive-train in it. The Legislatures, one and all, built the chassis, and the curriculums being used in schools today are the only curriculums that are compatible with the chassis that has been established. And kids are being submersed in a culture of death: in the morbid, sordid, masochistic, sadistic, whether the issue is the environment or life-style “choices”.
And schools, teachers, administrators — what is their part in psycho-education? If teachers refused to teach it, if schools refused to participate, if parents would back schools when they refuse to participate, the fall-out would hit the state Legislatures like a ton of bricks. As a teacher responded, regarding the refusal of some teachers to participate in the state assessment, “What are they going to do, fire us all?” As it is now, teachers who refuse to participate are being pushed out, schools who protest find themselves under fire at the state an/or federal level, and states that protest are quickly brought into line by the threat of the legalities of applying for and accepting the federal grant money.
Systems education, in total, is the outreach of one world view: Humanism — “no deity will save us, we must save ourselves” — we must create the future according to our own design. (5)
If anyone is interested, and I would hope at least some people would be, Humanism has been the world view of many famous, or should I say infamous leaders: Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, Tito, Mao, Milosevic … those good communists, socialists, and fascists who fought (and sometimes won) “for the people.”
And in the process of fighting “for the people” they exploited those issues which are seen in America today in the name of “political correctness”: gender neutrality, rabid environmentalism, homosexuality, mutli-cultural diversity, and so on — the pluralistic society, not of one people (the melting pot), but of many tribes all pitted against each other instead of against the greatest enemy of all — the nation state comprising a centralized government in which people become the subjects, not the masters. Stalin, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini exterminated millions of people “for the common good” which means they exterminated those who would cause them problems in retaining their new power as a self-appointed “leader.” And the first to go were those who helped these self-appointed leaders attain power but found their absolute love turning to absolute hate when they discovered they had been used and deceived.
I remember very clearly the day a good friend called to tell me he was studying the writings of the early advocates for the transformation of American culture we are seeing happen today; that these advocates admitted there would be those who would go off the deep end, but that losing a few was acceptable in achieving the whole of the agenda.
This writer spent the better part of a day exploring the website of the young man who killed himself on December 10, 2004. He called himself a geek. He published macabre animated image files on his website. He was different in a society that increasingly does not tolerate those who are different. It is obvious, from his website, that he was intelligent, accomplished, and had much to live for. I grieve for him; I grieve for his family; I grieve for his parents.
His death will only have been in vain if we continue to shrink from Goliath.
(1) Bloom, Benjamin, David Krathwohl and Bertram B Masia; Taxonomy of Educational Objectives; Book 2: Affective Domain; New York: Longman; 1964.
(2) Bloom, Benjamin, editor; Taxonomy of Educational Objectives; Book 1: Cognitive Domain; New York: Longman; 1956.
(3) Ralph Tyler; Basic Principles of Curriculum and Instruction; Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1949.
(4) David T Conley; Roadmap to Restructuring; Eugene: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, University of Oregon; 1993.
(5) Humanist Manifesto II; 1973.
© 2004 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved