In March 1984 a remarkable real-life drama took place in seven American cities as hundreds of parents from all over the U.S. attended Hearings on the proposed 'Protection of Pupils' Rights Amendment'. Thirteen hundred pages of testimony were recorded from parents, public school teachers and citizens, giving eyewitness account of the psychological abuse of children in public schools.
They related how classroom courses had confused children about:
There was no good way to express the anger and disappointment expressed by the grieving parents over what was being done in the name of education.
The Hearings explained how schools had alienated children:
leaving the children emotionally and morally confused.
The Hearings show how children learned to:
The Hearings spoke with a thunderous voice of how children had been emotionally, morally and intellectually abused by psychological and behavioural experiments in the classroom, while the parents thought they were being taught basic knowledge and skills. The teachers had become "agents of change" and were using the children for fads and experiments that had been substituted for real learning.
Back in 1978 the American Senate had been warned that schools were becoming vehicles for a new heresy that rejects the idea of education as the 'acquisition of knowledge and skills', but instead regards the fundamental task in education as 'therapy'. In other words the replacement of cognitive education (addressing the intellect) by affective education (addressing feelings and attitudes), spending time on psychological games and probing personal questionnaires.
In practice this 'therapy' education is a system of changing a child's values using techniques which dig into the privacy of the child and his family, forcing the child to have adult thoughts and responses on such matters as suicide, murder, marriage, divorce, abortion etc.
The Hearings showed that the promoters of such programmes of therapy education spoke in a jargon designed to prevent parents from understanding either the purpose of the programmes or the methodologies. It's a language that seems to mean one thing to the health professionals but another to parents, [rather like the publicity booklets for parent on RSE given out in Irish schools.]
The jargon included:
These phrases identify "therapy techniques" which were generally to be integrated throughout the curriculum, but were especially evident in:
This type of education by therapy was first peddled in the 1930's, but it was in 1965 that it really caught on when the Federal Government began to fund nationally CURRICULUM AND TEACHER TRAINING.
So serious were the complaints that in 1978 an amendment, which became known as The Hatch Amendment, was passed. It required that no student be required, without written parental consent, to submit to psychiatric or psychological examination, testing or treatment in which the primary purpose is to reveal information about:
The amendment passed easily because politicians thought that nobody could object to providing children with this protection. It was ignored by the Department of Education and proved unenforceable. It was widely violated. Finally, under the pressure from pro-family groups, the Department agreed to Seven Days of Hearings.
The above material taken from the introduction to
Child Abuse in the Classroom Edited by Phyllis Schlafly (3rd Ed. 1985)
from Official Transcript of Proceedings
In the Irish context today, July 2002, it is worth observing that virtually all the factors mentioned in the above account from the U.S. are now present within the Irish educational system:
It is in the public interest that this state of affairs is known about and debated, sooner rather than later. At some time in the future Irish parents will require answers from their public representatives, from civil servants within the Dept. of Education (and Health!), from school principals, teachers, educational psychologists and programme developers. The precedent, evidence and public record of the failed nature of such programmes, available from America, may ultimately render their position less tenable than that of their counterparts in the U.S.!