Saturday, June 20, 2015

Indiana High School Graduation Requirements: Recipe For Radical Behaviorism

Carl Sagan once said, "We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology in which hardly nobody knows anything about science and technology."

Is it any coincidence Indiana policymakers offer no conception of the human mind for which they prescribe educational experience?

The Indiana Career Council's new high school diploma requirements are top heavy in mathematics and language arts. These subject areas constitute the bulk of curricular experience across Indiana schools and are assessed through deified standardized hi-stakes testing assessments. Powerful influencers of education policy with no experience in classrooms who place numerical values on student's educational growth see no problem coercing children into narrowed curricula experiences that are essentially rehearsals for more standardized tests.

Standardized testing is not a benign process. Testing shapes curriculum. Curriculum affects development of a child's formative mind.

There is no definitive research on the level's of toxic stress children experience in schools, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest stress levels are significant.

It is quite evident the new diploma requirements, influenced by business entities desirous of supplying corporations with compliant workers, have fashioned a diploma structure that supports the needs of a capitalist-state and reaffirms a command and control structure of “doing to” children instead of providing pathways for individuals to control their own educational destiny with democratic learning opportunities utilizing their own curricula designs.

The new requirements represent a continuation of “banking education” where children are viewed as passive recipients of knowledge. In Indiana, policymakers don’t care if the cold hard spike of inappropriate pressure is driven into the malleable minds of children utilizing high stakes standardized tests and test driven curricula. Sound far-fetched?

When there are winners and losers in an A-F system that weighs educational growth like meat on a butcher’s scale nor takes into account variables outside the child's daily schooling experience, there is a price to pay.

Radical behaviorism as an instructional psychology is a common psychological experience that children experience during their formative years in Indiana schools. How does the state account for SERIOUS mental illness rates exceeding 4% of Indiana’s population?

Consider that Indiana has the second highest rate of juvenile suicide attempts in the US:

From 2006-’11, 1,137 children aged 10-14 took their own lives and from 2006-’11, 21,598 teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 took their own lives:

There is no provision for individual learning pathways in the new high school diploma requirements. Subject areas that provide humanistic learning experiences, the fine arts in particular, “may” be provided by an institution offering diploma accreditation status.

What concerned Hoosier citizens have witnessed over the past decade and a half in their schools is a narrowing of children’s curricula offerings and intensification of experience centered on lifeless multiple-’choice’ questions designed to confuse learners with distractor answers. Dyslexic readers, sufferers of other physiological conditions, mental illness or attention deficits that might lead to confused thinking while participating in timed, high stakes standardized tests, may be regarded as collateral damage while the state determines who the winners and losers are in the next graduation cohort.

Is the purpose of education to provide opportunities for the development of the self or the development of the corporate-state? It is my analysis, the new Indiana high school diploma requirements do not provide alternative pathways for children to integrate creativity or self-determined educational experience into their consciousness, but are road maps to more testing, more radical behaviorism, more de-professionalization of teachers and more privatization of public education.

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Clyde Gaw