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An American Affidavit

Monday, September 24, 2018

171.Therapy As Curriculum: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

171.Therapy As Curriculum: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Therapy As Curriculum

    To say that various psychologies dominate modern schooling is hardly to plow new  ground. The tough thing to do is to show how that happened and why — and how the  project progresses to its unseen goals. The Atlantic Monthly had this to say
in April 1993:   

     ...schools have turned to therapeutic remediation. A growing proportion of many school  budgets is devoted to counseling and other psychological services. The curriculum is  becoming more therapeutic: children are taking courses in self-esteem, conflict  resolution, and aggression management. Parental advisory groups are conscientiously  debating alternative approaches to traditional school discipline, ranging from teacher  training in mediation to the introduction of metal detectors and security guards in the  schools. Schools are increasingly becoming emergency rooms of the emotions,  devoted. ..to repairing hearts. What we are seeing. ...is the psychologization of American  education.  

     Two years before I ran across that Atlantic broadside, I encountered a different analysis  in the financial magazine Forbes. I was surprised to discover Forbes had correctly  tracked the closest inspiration for school psychologizing, both its aims and its techniques,  to the pedagogy of China and the Soviet Union. Not similar practices and programs, mind  you, identical ones. The great initial link with Russia, I knew, had been from the  Wundtian Ivan Pavlov, but the Chinese connection was news to me. I was unaware then  of John Dewey's tenure there in the 1920s, and had given no thought, for that reason, to  its possible significance: 

      The techniques of brainwashing developed in totalitarian countries are routinely used in  psychological conditioning programs imposed on school children. These include  emotional shock and desensitization, psychological isolation from sources of support,  stripping away defenses, manipulative cross-examination of the individual's underlying  moral values by psychological rather than rational means. These techniques are not     confined to separate courses or programs. ..they are not isolated idiosyncracies of  particular teachers. They are products of numerous books and other educational materials  in programs packaged by organizations that sell such curricula to administrators and  teach the techniques to teachers. Some packages even include instructions on how to deal  with parents and others who object. Stripping away psychological defenses can be done  through assignments to keep diaries to be discussed in group sessions, and through role-  playing assignments, both techniques used in the original brainwashing programs in  China under Mao.  

     The Forbes writer, Thomas Sowell, perhaps invoking the slave states in part to rouse the  reader's capitalist dander, could hardly have been aware himself how carefully industrial  and institutional interest had seeded Russia, China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands with the  doctrine of psychological schooling long ago, nearly at the beginning of the century, and  in Japan's case even before that. All along we have harvested these experimental growths  in foreign soil for what they seem to prove about people-shaping. 

      For example, the current push for School-to-Work deep mines specific practices of the  former Soviet Union, even to the point of using identical language from Soviet texts.  School-to-Work was a project installed in Russia by Americans in the 1920s to test the  advice of the nineteenth-century Swiss aristocrat von Fellenberg that manual labor should  be combined with academic schooling. Fellenberg's doctrine was a short-lived fad in this  country in the 1830s, but ever after it had a place in the mind of certain men of affairs and  social theorists. The opportunity afforded by Russia's chaos after WWI seemed too  promising to pass up. 

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