I recently attended an educational conference here in North Africa and was intrigued by one of the presentations offered by a gentleman working for the US Department of state from the local US Embassy which was entitled ‘Critical Thinking in the Classroom’.
My interest was initially quite innocent as I had taught English lessons to students and had always thought critical thinking was almost a seditious act in today’s world of political lies and media programming. I chatted with the fellow shortly before the start of the presentation and explained how, in a recent lesson using a student book which suggested various ways to change things about the local environment such as using social media or writing letters to local officials, my wish to encourage ‘critical thinking’ in students, could lead to increased citizen activism and a general improvement in the democratic process.
He smiled and nodded as if he agreed, and little more was said and no kindling of dark suspicion of his motives occurred to me at this stage.
The presentation began with a pretty standard ‘discuss with your partner’ moment, where we had to talk about instances of using ‘critical thinking’ in our own classrooms.
I turned to a chap sat next to me and mentioned my recent adventures using a certain student text book, and I jokingly mentioned that despite eliciting various local issues in the city such as a lack of green-spaces and water pollution and ways we could attempt to involve ourselves as citizens such as protests and social media campaigns, we stopped short of flying the red-flag starting the revolution.
And the thought occurred to me, if ‘critical thinking’ as I understood it, was necessarily, to understand injustice and the corruption of society, then how would a gentleman from the US Embassy handle such a topic?
Soon enough, the deception became apparent, and I settled myself down to the realisation that I was about to witness a session of indoctrination into a particularly pernicious form of mind control which is prevalent in Schools all over the United States, particularly the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) High schools, which the speaker trumpeted as a ‘critical thinking’ school and also a website was alluded to: changingminds.org.
Some weeks following the presentation I investigated the website recommendation. Changingminds.org, whose tag line is, at the time of writing ‘How we change what others think, feel, believe and do.’ among other things, offers psychological advice on how to change people’s thinking. This seemed to be the crux of the speakers thesis, that we must ‘change’ what people think so they think what we tell them to think. There are many techniques suggested by the changing minds website, among which are the following particularly duplicitous and unethical suggestions:
Much of persuasion and other forms of changing minds is based on a relatively small number of principles. If you can understand the principles, then you can invent your own techniques. It thus makes sense to spend time to understand these principles (persuaded yet?).
- Assumption: Acting as if something is true often makes it true.
- Authority: Use your authority and others will obey.
- Closure: Close the door of thinking and the deal is done.
- Confusion: A drowning person will clutch at a straw. So will a confused one.
- Contrast: We notice and decide by difference between two things, not absolute measures
- Deception: Convincing by trickery.
- Dependence: If you are dependent on me, I can use this as a lever to persuade you.
- Distraction: If I distract your attention, I can then slip around your guard.
- Framing: Meaning depends on context. So control the context.
- Hurt and Rescue: Make them uncomfortable then throw them a rope.
- Obligation: Creating a duty that must be discharged.
- Perception: Perception is reality. So manage it.
- Pull: Create attraction that pulls people in.
- Push: I give you no option but to obey.
- Repetition: If something happens often enough, I will eventually be persuaded.
- Trust: If I trust you, I will accept your truth and expose my vulnerabilities.
- Unthinking: Go by the subconscious route.
So we can see what kind of vision has been created for education policy both domestically and abroad. One which advocates changing students thinking, by fair means or foul. But what kind of ‘thoughts’ do they want students to have?
I also took a look into the KIPP charter programme being rolled out across America and seen as a model of good practice by the speaker. The organisation was set up in 1994 by Yale graduate and possible Bonesman, David Levin along with Michael Feinberg. As of writing they have 144 schools in 20 states with a total or around 50,000 students, from largely poor and disenfranchised urban areas and a result of this is has charitable status.
I looked into this ‘charitable’ educational foundation and discovered that is was financed by several large social engineering foundations including the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (3rd world eugenics programme), National Geographic Education foundation (pushing the global warming scam) Goldman Sachs (international financial fraud).
Online educational journal ‘Schools Matter’ recently reported in its December 2013 issue, how one hundred grade 8-9 year old year 5 students, were forced to sit on the floor a single classroom for one week until they had ‘earned’ their desks. According to a teacher, students were forced to sit on the floor the whole length of the day, from Monday until Friday, until they were split into groups and sent to their respective classes. The length of the class day at KIPP schools is usually from 7:30 am until 5 pm, but in this instance the new students attended half days initially, this is still the best part of four hours in a state of discomfort for a period four days. This exercise somewhat makes me think of some of the images which were leaked into the media of Guantanamo bay prison in Cuba, where part of the prisoners’ brutal psychological conditioning involved being placed in positions of extreme discomfort for many hours of the day. This clearly is a favoured method to effect a subtle transformation. ‘Changing minds’ indeed.
Apparently these students were forced to sit on the floor until they could follow instructions. A teacher present reports how the students seem to become frustrated and other staff had instilled fear in the students that they might not pass. Thus promoting a sense of uncertainty and fear which is the key base ingredient in any mind control process. The teacher present even describes it as a ‘mind game’. The method of course is completely illegal and is a highly unethical shortcut to ensure good classroom discipline. But at what cost? Some educational commentators describe KIPP schools as ‘military style boot camps, with drill sergeants’. What is more alarming is that the majority of students at these schools are children of colour, which has led some to describe this educational system as a new kind of apartheid.
The KIPP schools seem to have generated rumours and tales of brutality, tension and victimisation. Mike Feinberg, the co-creator of the KIPP programme, was reported to have thrown a chair threw a plate glass window in rage at an unsatisfactory apology from a student (Mathews 2009, 235-239). One wonders why the man was allowed to remain in a position of care with young children with such an explosive and uncontrollable temperament. One suspects the reason is he was a place man rolling out a government agenda, and as such, these people are beyond reproach and accountability.
The schools have a ‘no excuses’ policy, and any infractions are treat with in a summary manner, with offenders ritually ostracised from other students and forced to wear a label with the word ‘miscreant’ on it. Other students are punished if they are caught talking or communicating in any way with these students, either in school or out of school, and other students have a duty to inform or report on any students breaking these injunctions. So a culture of mutual espionage, surveillance and insecurity exists within the student body, which is only assuaged by total obedience to the rules.
Commentators have claimed that psychological this system creates ‘learned helplessness’ the same behaviour exhibited by beaten or tortured animals. The teachers similarly exist at the school under what one might term a state of duress with a 65 hour week including 2 hours a night of telephone homework assistance and the staff attrition rate is reportedly extremely high. Much of the information relating to KIPP I have cited has been gleaned from the Schools Matter website, and I will quote the following directly which relates specific examples of abuse carried out at KIPP schools. This remember, is apparently the model for education for the children of the economically disenfranchised section of the community:
In the KIPP schools and the charter school knockoffs that continue to be inspired by KIPP, this forced separation between culture and socioeconomic class is required in order to draw attention away from the effects of poverty, which, in turn, exacerbates the kinds of callous cruelty by KIPP personnel acting with little oversight, while under unrelenting pressure to achieve the unsustainable. The “no excuses” ideology, then, not only ignores the documented and substantive effects of poverty on the poor, but it becomes the all-pervasive, blinding excuse for justifying dangerous, damaging, and morally-repugnant acts that, otherwise, would not be entertained in a society grounded by humane values and ethical rules of conduct. This pervasive “no excuses” mentality results in an authoritarian organizational model that spawns a dark moral nihilism (Hedges, 2009a) that gets played out against the most vulnerable children in schools that operate from public funds but without the benefit of any credible public oversight.
This moral nihilism would have terrified Adorno. He knew that radical evil was possible only with the collaboration of a timid, cowed and confused population.
More recently, other disturbing events have been reported by parents at the Fulton County KIPP (Vogell 2009), and still other more serious allegations involve excessive punishment, child endangerment, and violations of state and federal laws (Grannan 2009) by school officials at KIPP Fresno, a school that was shut down within a few months after Fresno Unified School District filed a detailed report (Fresno Unified School District 2008) with the State of California. Fresno Unified’s 63-page “Notice to Cure” alleged legal and ethical lapses at the school by the principal and staff that involved abusive treatment, risks to student safety, breaches in test security, copyright infringement, teacher credentialing irregularities, and mishandling of school funds. Among the long list of allegations in the “Notice to Cure” are these published by Grannan (2009):
. . . Student (name deleted) said that in December of 2007, Mr. Tschang [the school principal] told him to get on his hands and knees and bark like a dog. (Name deleted) said it was a metaphor to get him to stop joking around in class.
. . . It was reported by Kim Kutzner that students who were late to school would not be allowed to eat their meals provided by the state. Student (name deleted) stated that Mr. Tschang told her, “People who are late don’t get to eat.”
. . . Parent (name deleted) reported that Mr. Tschang took student (name deleted) glasses away from him because (name deleted) was constantly adjusting his glasses. (Name deleted) is totally dependent on his glasses and cannot see without them. Mr. Tschang admitted to taking (name deleted) glasses away.
At the time none of the above information was available to me at the time of the presentation, but with hindsight, within the context of what the speaker went on to say, a chilling vision for the future of global education was revealed.
Initially the talk seemed amiable enough with comforting and easily digestible platitudes such as ‘the art of analyzing evaluating thinking’ and exhorting teachers to ‘elicit ideas and provoke a response’.
All the while, during these early innocent minutes of the talk, I was busy taking notes and chomping at the bit to respond to any request for contributions with the examples of my evening class and their wish to end corruption in this country and the various ways they thought up to tackle this fundamental problem. Corruption was something I know quite a bit about from my encounters and research into Freemasonry, though I wasn’t quite ready to stand up and denounce the Illuminati to someone who works for the US Dept of State. I would probably find myself on some ominous sort of ‘teacher non gratia’ list.
So when the speaker fielded a hypothetical situation for us to think about, where a student is asking a teacher if he can buy an A grade and the teacher agrees to sell one, and asking us as the audience who would be the corrupt agent in this transaction. Clearly to logic and common sense, it would be the teacher who would be corrupt since he is in the position to exercise his authority to undertake a duplicitous transaction, however this answer did not satisfy our friend from the US government, and instead he wanted us to realise that the student could equally be the ‘corrupt’ one.
It was at this point I started to see where this was heading, and like Worzel Gummidge, I changed my naive and receptive, and put on my conspiracy sleuth head and started taking notes in earnest, and trying to find the angle.
It was at this point, after the vaunting of Mr Jason Singer and his work at the King’s Collegiate high school in San Antonio, that he quoted the gentleman’s pronouncement on critical thinking activities, that they are ‘perpetually arguable’ and that there is ‘no right or wrong answer’.
Nothing is true, everything is permissible
Moral relativism anyone? How about child abuse…. should one engage their brand of so called ‘critical thinking’ on this one and declare that the rights and wrongs of child abuse are ‘perpetually arguable’ and that there is no ‘right or wrong answer’? In fact why not just boil down what these people are trying to do by removing the superfluous word ‘answer’ and declare that there is no such thing as ‘right and wrong’.
This my friends, is what is being taught in many American High Schools and this is what they would like us ex-pat teachers to teach in the schools we find in whatever country we travel to. The speaker himself is a very busy little bee, offering training and guidance to high-school teachers in this country, no doubt to whittle away their so called ‘prejudices’ about such quibbling trifles such as right and wrong, the existence of God, the moral implications of euthanasia, homosexuality, the importance of the family and our own immortal souls, and whatever else they can manage to destabilise and corrupt.
This however is not limited to the United States education system, which as we may or may not know, has its origins in the German theories of education which all came from the various Illuminati infested universities of Germany and were shipped over lock stock and barrel to the US, where at the same time incidentally, Yale University and its attendant ‘Skull and Bones’ German Illuminati society was created.
With my eyes opened I awaited with anticipation what he would come out with next. We were asked to discuss in groups of three, were one person would be the teacher and the other two would be students discussing for and against the proposition about war and whether it is necessary for a nation to use war to create peace or not.
Now there are two things I immediately noticed about this situation. First of all a representative from the US State Department working at the US Embassy was asking the audience, who were mostly Arab Muslims teaching English, and were attending a well mannered and largely enjoyable conference at a comfortable 5 star hotel, whether now was the time and place to bring attention to the obvious elephant in the living room. It must be a trap, best to put it out of mind for fear of offending the American, we do teach at American schools after all.
The second thing of course was the question was clearly loaded to the acceptance of a false proposition, namely the 1984 lie that ‘War is Peace’. So I started to realise, that this rather cleverly disguised ‘critical thinking’ concept, is nothing of the sort but in fact some kind of semantic game used in order to provoke the desired thinking in any students unfortunate enough to end up with a teacher who either knowingly or unknowingly, is trying to corrupt their thinking processes.
The question was answered from within the audience from what I believe was a plant. I had spoken previously with a colleague who was also doing a presentation and he regretted not having had the time to organise his own plants in the group in order to better demonstrate his aims. Another speaking I saw later that day also used plants to provide wrong answers to basic questions, so he could demonstrate his particular teaching method.
The gentlemen however who raised his hand and was selected to answer for our esteemed colleague from the US State Dept however was planted in the audience to give the ‘right answer’ or at least, the kind of answer which we as teachers, were supposed to accept to defuse these potentially trouble and contentious moral issues. He said the following: “The absence of tolerance in the world is the root cause of war.” Phew, glad that one was safely sorted out, because I always laboured under the distinct impression that American foreign policy was the cause of most war in the world. Still, having a member of the US government asking us about war is like having a cannibal asking us what we fancy for dinner.
We soon got to the meat of the issue. With the audience suitably dazed and acquiescent over the war question and our own critical thinking faculties shut down by our refusal to admit the presence of the elephant in the room, the esteemed speaker got to work pumping us with pernicious and sometimes, risible nonsense.
The method involved: probing assumptions, which is one can pretty much accept, then probing reasoning, well ok, I guess, but mostly people have a pretty good reason for their reasons. Questioning viewpoints, surely one is entitled to a point of view? Probing implications, now this is where the dirt really starts because any idea has an almost infinite set of possible implications. But an implication is not the idea itself and the attempt to challenge someone ideas and beliefs based on drawing out limitless implications in psychological manipulation pure and simple.
Finally, the road to hell and the final initiation into madness was complete with the last sentence: Questioning questions, namely: why are you asking that question? We were encouraged to challenge the very motivation for someone asking a question. So you see, what they call ‘critical thinking’ has very little to do with thinking at all, but more to do with acquiescence to moral relativism, the acceptance that we do not know the right answer and that therefore, it’s probably a good thing that the US bombs women, children and wedding celebrations, and also that asking questions itself, can compromise our own position of authority on any subject.
There are no right answers except OURS
Clever, fiendishly clever, also suitably ridiculous, but people tend not to notice once they have agreed to a concept, but they didn’t pull the wool over this old dog’s eyes. And so it went on, and it seemed to me to be only a matter of time before that old chestnut ‘global warming’ entered the room. But there was already more than enough hot air in the room! Ha, see what I did there. Anyway, and so it did, but this time however, the rules of critical thinking and ‘no right or wrong answers’ no longer seemed to apply. If one were of a cynical persuasion one might begin to imagine that when US Government policy is concerned, then the Government answers are the right ones, whereas say, if its some ideas and concepts the US Government wants to change, then those ideas and concepts are probably the wrong ones.
And so the US Government representative carried out an imaginary dialogue.
This is it verbatim.
“Student A said: ‘I think global warming is carried out by humans’ Great! That’s awesome. Can you explain why? Student B said: Another ice-age is going to happen anyway so who cares. Can you show me evidence of this.’
So clearly those who toe the party line get the softball questions and need not provide evidence, for which there is none anyway which has not been fraudulently concocted by the University of East Anglia following the exposure of the Climate-Gate emails. However, the wacky, off-the wall, dissenters, should be badgered to provide evidence.
An just to cement our understanding that certain topics be given ‘special treatment’ within the framework of this so called ‘critical thinking’, he added a hypothetical situation with a student declaiming that ‘sea levels were rising all over the world’. Now the next question a normal person would ask should be, are you sure, where is the evidence? But here of course, investigation and critical thinking is suspended, and the example critical searching question which he provided as an example ‘How does this affect our daily lives?’ was designed to strengthen the statement not to question it.
So I wrote this joker off as another shill for war and carbon credits and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation charitable genocide of the world and decided to publish what they are up to out there, at large in the world.
Students were to be encouraged in what are termed ‘good habits of thought’, does this not sound dangerously close to ‘thinking the right thoughts’ ie, what the government want them to think? I think it does. We as teachers were encouraged to ‘change the students that we teach’. Really? Is it really our job to change people? Shouldn’t they figure things out for themselves and evolve at their own rate? And finally we were told baldly, that ‘their thinking is wrong’.
I wonder if this is an attempt to counteract the pernicious internet and the wealth of truthful information out there which anyone with a bit of time to spare can discover the truth about the international conspiracy, the rights and wrongs of our politicians and perhaps the question of Israel and Palestine.
Is this an attempt to inoculate students so they cannot be infected by the truth. To tell them that there is no truth and their ideas that they hold are wrong and the teacher, a teacher trained and paid for by the government, will guide you to discover what is real and what is not.
This attempt to export thought control abroad under the cosy misnomer ‘critical-thinking’, along with reference to unscrupulous methods as exhibited on the ‘changing-minds’ website, coupled with the institutionalised intimidation, bullying and mind control methods reportedly in use at the lauded KIPP schools, then we see a worrying picture of what might happen if this system of education is allowed to infiltrate within the indigenous systems of the various nations of the world, but for the moment, let us hope that it is merely contained within the bottle-neck of the international teaching conference circuit, and sensibly ignored by wise teachers.
Black, Edwin. 2003. War against the weak: Eugenics and America’s campaign to create a master race. New York: Dialog Press.
Burrell,Clay. 2009. Framing teachers: Bill Gates’ Disturbing TED rhetoric.
http://education.change.org/blog/view/framing_teachers_bill_gates_disturbing_ted_rhetoric (accessed June 1, 2009).
Grannan, Caroline. 2009. Excerpts from report on Fresno KIPP school: Abuse, cheating alleged. Examiner.com, February 21. n
Kozol, Jonathan. 2005. The shame of the nation: The restoration of apartheid schooling in America. New York: Crown Publishers.