Analyzing the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America
By: Abdullah El Talib Mosi Bey
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Wilhelm Wundt and John Dewey et al reconstructed definition of education was developed based on their study of animal training. The dehumanizing definition of education used by the experimental psychologists is found in An Outline of Educational Psychology (Barnes & Noble: New York, 1934, rev. ed.) by Rudolph Pintner et al.
The Redefinition of Education
Learning is the result of modifiability in the paths of neural conduction. Explanations of even such forms of learning as abstraction and generalization demand of the neurons only growth, excitability, conductivity, and modifiability. The mind is the connection-system of man; and learning is the process of connecting. The situation-response formula is adequate to cover learning of any sort, and the really influential factors in learning are readiness of the neurons, sequence in time, belongingness, and satisfying consequences.
This constructive definition of education is a total departure from the traditional definition of education like the one given in The New Century Dictionary of the English Language (Appleton, Century, Crofts: New York, 1927)
The Original Meaning of Education
The drawing out of a person’s innate talents and abilities by imparting the knowledge of languages, scientific reasoning, history, literature, rhetoric, etc. – the channels through which those abilities would flourish and serve.
Etymology of Education
Etymology of the word education – education [e-(from, out of) + duco (I lead)]
Analyzing the Redefinition of Education Developed from the Study of Animal Training
The redefinition of education is about the altering of the electrical signals carried by nerve cells. The paths of neural conduction connects one part of the nervous system to another enabling a signal to be sent from one region of the nervous system to another.
Thought Provoking Questions:
- What happens when paths of neural conduction are changed?
- Why would the paths of neural conduction need to be changed?
- Why would there be a need to alter the electrical signals carried by nerve cells?
“Learning is the result of modifiability in the paths of neural conduction”.
Modify in a biological sense means to transform (a structure) from its original anatomical form during development or evolution.
Nerve conduction – is a general term for electrical signals carried by nerve cells.
Electric currents in the vastly complex system of billions of nerves in our body allow us to sense the world, control parts of our body, and think. These are representative of the three major functions of nerves.
First, nerves carry messages from our sensory organs and others to the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord.
Second, nerves carry messages from the central nervous system to muscles and other organs.
Third, nerves transmit and process signals within the central nervous system.
Neural pathway – is the connection formed by axons that project from neurons to make synapses onto neurons in another location, to enable a signal to be sent from one region of the nervous system to another.
A neural pathway – connects one part of the nervous system to another using bundles of axons called tracts. The optic tract that extends from the optic nerve is an example of a neural pathway because it connects the eye to the brain; additional pathways within the brain connect to the visual cortex.
An Example of How to Modify the Paths of Neural Conduction
In The Principles of Teaching Based on Psychology (1906), Thorndike proposed making “the study of teaching scientific and practical.” Thorndike’s definition of the art of teaching is
…the art of giving and withholding stimuli with the result of producing or preventing certain responses. In this definition the term stimulus is used widely for any event which influences a person – for a word spoken to him, a look, a sentence which he reads, the air he breathes, etc. 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.
The Fathers of the Modern Day “Progressive Educational Model” and the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America
Wilhelm Wundt, Edward Lee Thorndike and John Dewey
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, provides us with insight into the motives of the orchestrators of the modern dehumanizing definition of education in her book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.
Wilhelm Wundt, founder of Experimental Pyschology and the force behind its dissemination throughout the Western world, was born in 1832 in Neckarau, southern Germany. The following excerpts concerning Wundt’s contribution to modern education are taken from The Leipzig Connection: The Systematic Destruction of American Education by Paolo Lionni and Lance J. Klass (Heron Books: Portland, Ore., 1980):
To Wundt, a thing made sense and was worth pursuing if it could be measured, quantified, and scientifically demonstrated. Seeing no way to do this with the human soul, he proposed that psychology concern itself solely with experience. As Wundt put it… Karl Marx injected Hegel’s theories with economic and sociology, developing a “psychology of dialectical materialism.”
From Wundt’s word it was only a short step to the later redefinition of education. To the experimental psychologist, however, education became the process of exposing the student to “meaningful” experiences so as to ensure desired reactions (See the Redefinition of Education above).
Edward Lee Thorndike was trained in the new psychology by the first generation of Wilhelm Wundt’s protégés. He did research with chickens, testing their behavior, and pioneering what later became known as “animal psychology.” As briefly stated by Thorndike himself, psychology was the “science of the intellect, character, and behavior of animals, including man. To further excerpt The Leipzig Connection’s excellent treatment of Thorndike’s background:
Thorndike applied for a fellowship at Columbia, was accepted by Cattell, and moved with his two most intelligent chickens to New York, where he continued his research and earned his Ph.D. in 1893. Thorndike’s specialty was the “puzzle box,” into which he would put various animals (chickens, rats, cats) and let them find their way out by themselves. His doctoral dissertation on cats has become part of the classical literature of psychology. Thorndike took a job at Teachers College, where the experimenter remained for the next thirty years. Thorndike was the first psychologist to study animal behavior in an experimental psychology laboratory and apply the same techniques to children and youth; as one result, in 1903, he published the book Educational Psychology. In the following years he published a total of 507 books, monographs, and articles. Thorndike’s primary assumption was the same as Wundt’s: that man is an animal, that his actions are actually always reactions, and that he can be studied in the laboratory in much the same way as an animal might be studied. Thorndike equated children with the rats, monkeys, fish, cats, and chickens upon which he experimented in his laboratory and was prepared to apply what he found there to learning in the classroom. He extrapolated “laws” from his research into animal behavior which he then applied to the training of teachers, who took what they had learned to every corner of the United States and ran their classrooms, curricula, and schools, on the basis of this new “educational” psychology.
Psychology by John Dewey, The Father of “Progressive Education” was published in 1896. This was the first British zone (United States) textbook on the “revised” subject of education. Psychology would become the most widely-read and quoted textbook used in schools of education in the British zone (United States). A year prior to the publishing of his landmark book, John Dewey joined the faculty of the Rockefeller-endowed University of Chicago as the head of the combined departments of philosophy, psychology and pedagogy (teaching). A commentary on the importance of Wundt’s theories comes from Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D., in an excellent article entitled “The Conditioning of America” (The Christian News, New Haven, Mo., December 11, 1989). An excerpt follows:
The conditioning of modern American society began with John Dewey, psychologist, a Fabian Socialist and the “Father of Progressive Education.” Dewey used the psychology developed in Leipzig by Wilhelm Wundt, and believed that through a stimulus-response approach (like Pavlov) students could be conditioned for a new social order.
The General Education Board (GEB) was incorporated by an act of the United States Congress. Approved January 12, 1902, the General Education Board was endowed by Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Sr., for the purpose of establishing an educational laboratory to experiment with early innovations in education.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s Director of Charity for the Rockefeller Foundation, Frederick T. Gates, set up the Southern Education Board (SEB), which was later incorporated into the General Education Board (GEB) in 1913, settling in motion “the deliberate dumbing down of America.” The Country School of Tomorrow: Occasional Papers No. 1 (General Education Board: New York, 1913) written by Frederick T. Gates contained a section entitled “A Vision of the Remedy” in which he wrote the following:
Is there aught of remedy for this neglect of rural life? Let us, at least, yield ourselves to the gratifications of a beautiful dream that there is. 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 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.
In 1905 the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) was founded in New York City by Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Clarence Darrow and others. Its permanent headquarters were established at the Rand School of Social Studies in 1908 and ISS became the League for Industrial Democracy (LID) in 1921. John Dewey became president of the League for Industrial Democracy in 1939.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905. Henry S. Pritchett served as the Foundation’s first president. Pritchett was the author of What Is Religion and Other Student Questions (Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 1906), Relations of Denominations to Colleges (1908), and A Woman’s Opportunities in Christian Industry and Business (1907).
National Education Association (NEA) became a federally chartered Association for teachers in 1906 under the authority of H.R, 10501. Originally founded in 1857, it was known as the National Teachers Association until 1870.
Objecting to the Rockerfeller’s Plan of the “Deliberate Dumbling Down of America”
A Resolution was passed by the Normal School Section of the National Education Association at its annual meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota in the year 1914. An excerpt follows:
We view with alarm the activity of the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations – agencies not in any way responsible to the people – in their efforts to control the policies of our State educational institutions, to fashion after their conception and to standardize our courses of study, and to surround the institutions with conditions which menace true academic freedom and defeat the primary purpose of democracy as heretofore preserve inviolate in our common schools, normal schools, and universities.
The 1917 Congressional Record of the United States Senate published the following excerpt from a booklet containing articles by Bishop Warren A. Candler, Chancellor of Emory University in Atlanta:
This board [the General Education Board] was authorized to do almost every conceivable thing which is anywise related to education, from opening a kitchen to establishing a university, and its power to connect itself with the work of every sort of educational plant or enterprise conceivable will be especially observed. This power to project its influence over other corporations is at once the greatest and most dangerous power it has (p. 2831).