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When teachers become psychotherapists

By Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld

Most parents of public school children are unaware that teachers all across America are now practicing psychotherapy in the classroom without a license. Not only do they not have a license, but they haven't even had adequate training. In fact, many teachers don't even know that they are practicing psychotherapy. They think that what they are doing has something to do with education. For example, sex education, death education, drug education, decision making, transcendental meditation, sensitivity training, values clarification and other such programs are now considered a legitimate and important part of education. But they are not. They are forms of psychotherapy intended to affect the emotions, beliefs, values, and behavior of the students.

All of this is very well explained in a booklet of 49 pages, which I recently received from the Commonwealth Education Organization. The booklet, written by Dr. Ann Landell, clinical psychologist, is entitled, "Shifting Roles." It deals with the heavy-handed intrusion of psychotherapy into education, which has turned students, who supposedly go to school to acquire certain academic skills, into patients whose emotions and values become the school's major concerns.

Dr. Landell asks three basic questions, which she answers in the booklet: 1) How do the professions of psychology and education differ? 2) Do all children need therapy in the same way that all children need reading, writing, science and math? 3) Does the practice of classroom psychology always help children, or can it harm them?

There is no doubt that there is a big difference between education and psychology. When I went to school back in the 1930s and '40s, teachers taught academic subject matter exclusively. My teachers were not in the least interested in my feelings, or beliefs, or values. They only wanted to know if I was learning what they were teaching. I was a student, not a patient. As a result, those of us who attended school in those years came out of the system pretty well educated. We fought in World War II and won, and many of my colleagues went on to build the foundations of what is today our high-tech economy. Tom Brokaw has called us the best generation in American history, all because we knew how to read and write, defended the U.S. Constitution, and adhered to biblical moral principles.

Psychologists deal with mental and behavioral disorders. They deal with deviants from the norm, and therefore require highly specialized training. Teachers are supposedly trained to teach children academic skills and a body of significant knowledge. The children they teach are generally considered normal. But behavioral scientists have targeted normal children as those requiring radical change. All you have to do is read Prof. Benjamin Bloom's definition of education in his "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives" -- the bible of progressive curriculum developers published in 1956 -- to understand where this intrusive concept of psychology comes from.

Bloom wrote,

    By educational objectives, we mean explicit formulations of the ways in which students are expected to be changed by the educative process. That is, the ways in which they will change in their thinking, their feelings, and their actions. ...

    (Psychologist Gordon) Allport (1954) emphasizes the basic reorganization that must take place in the individual if really new values and character traits are to be formed.

    The evidence points out convincingly to the fact that age is a factor operating against attempts to effect a complete or thorough-going reorganization of attitudes and values.

    The evidence collected thus far suggests that a single hour of classroom activity under certain conditions may bring about a major reorganization in cognitive as well as affective behaviors.

The behavioral psychologists divided education into two domains: cognitive and effective. The cognitive domain supposedly dealt with academic instruction, while the affective domain was the cover under which psychotherapy was to be introduced into the classroom. Note that the aim of effecting a "complete or thorough-going reorganization of attitudes and values" implied that the attitudes and values of the normal child had to be changed. These were values, often religious, that the child had acquired at home from his parents.

Charlotte Iserbyt, author of "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America," writes in her Preface,

    I have always found it interesting that the controversial school programs are the only ones that have the word "education" attached to them! I don't recall -- until recently -- "math ed.," "reading ed.," "history ed.," or "science ed." A good rule of thumb ... is to question any subject that has the word "education" attached to it.

To prove her point, Iserbyt quotes from The School Counselor of May 1977, which dealt with the subject of death education:

    An underlying, but seldom spoken, assumption of much of the death education movement is that Americans handle death and dying poorly and that we ought to be doing better at it. As in the case of many other problems, many Americans believe that education can initiate change. Change is evident, and death education will play as important a part in changing attitudes toward death as sex education played in changing attitudes toward sex information and wider acceptance of various sexual practices.

Which means that when they teach "sex education," they are really just teaching sex. When they teach "drug education," they are really teaching drugs. But even the so-called cognitive domain has been contaminated with psychotherapy through the use of bibliotherapy. Dr. Landell writes,

    Bibliotherapy, as the word implies, is a method of doing therapy through books. ... (For example): Third graders studying slavery spend one day as master and one day as slave in the classroom. What did the children learn from this intense lesson? After "feeling the pain" of being a slave to classmates relishing their master role as only third graders can, one child said, "It's really important to be top dog!" Creating committed overlords was not the intent of the lesson, but it was the result. If you spent a day as slave and a day as overlord, which would you choose? And choose with gusto, because of the emotionally manipulative teaching method.

Emotional manipulation is used throughout the curriculum to produce politically correct young adults who may not know how to read, but will know how to respond correctly to an assortment of stimuli. If the young adult does not have the intellectual, psychological, philosophical, or theological maturity to deal with the stimuli thrown at him, he will respond emotionally, like any primitive, superstitious individual.

On the matter of decision making, Dr. Landell writes,

    Decision making models used in sex education, drug and suicide prevention programs often lead children to list the pros and cons of these actions. Each pro listed whets the appetite for the action, stirs interest and creates motivation for the action. As one sixth grader said to her father, "Daddy, you better get me out of that DARE program. It makes drugs look interesting." ... Weighing the pros and cons of such behaviors changes them in students' minds from "weirdness out there" to "things I could do."

Dr. Landell also discusses the psychotherapeutic issues of Self-Esteem Education, Higher-Order Thinking, Dual Roles, and Confidentiality. If you have a child in a public school, you owe it to yourself to get hold of this booklet. You can do so by writing: Commonwealth Education Organization, 1330 Old Freeport Road, Suite 1A, Pittsburgh, PA 15238-3112, or phone: 412-967-9691, fax: 412-967-9694.

2001-2010 National Alliance against Mandated Mental Health Screening & Psychiatric Drugging of Children. All rights reserved.

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