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Education Reporter

Book of the Month

The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, Conscience Press, 1999, 458 pps., $29.95

Sam Blumenfelds foreword to this monumental work succinctly sums up its substance: "[Charlotte Iserbyt has] put together the most formidable and practical compilation of documentation describing the deliberate dumbing down of American children by their education system."

While the sheer size of the book appears daunting -- it resembles a telephone book -- it was designed this way and is quite user-friendly. Author Iserbyt makes it easy for readers to take pages out and copy them for use at hearings or for sharing with others, including the media. "These are verbatim quotes from the change agents themselves," she says. "This book documents what the education establishment has really been doing to our children, not what theyve proclaimed publicly that they are doing."

The documentation is presented chronologically, beginning with "the sowing of the seeds" of change in the late 17th and 18th centuries, and ending with what Iserbyt terms the "Noxious Nineties." The book also contains a list of resources, a 49page glossary, and 176 pages of appendices.

For 25 years, Mrs. Iserbyt has collected information from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Education, international and state agencies, educators, the media, parents, legislators, and fellow education researchers. She refers to many of her sources as "resisters" -- those "talented and respected activists" who over the years have opposed and documented the "weird" activities and curricula of the "change agents."

Iserbyt traces "the deliberate dumbing down" to the redefining of the word "education" from its original meaning -- the imparting of knowledge by drawing out a persons innate talents and abilities -- to "the new, dehumanizing definition used by the experimental psychologists" found in "An Outline of Educational Psychology," by Rudolph Pintener, et al., 1934. It reads: "[L]earning is the result of modifiability in the paths of neural conduction. Explanations of even such forms of learning as abstraction and generalization demand of the neurones only growth, excitability, conductivity, and modifiability." Enter Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, and "operant conditioning."

Write 3D Research Co., 1062 Washington St., Bath, ME 04530, phone (207) 442-0543. Add $6 for shipping.

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