Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most. Because they, bless them, are asleep. They think anyone who wakes up, and realizes that what is taken to be real is a ‘dream’ is going crazy.
(Laing, Politics of the Family, p. 82).
It will be argued in this paper that educational psychology and school psychology, the way it is used in most of our schools, has led to psych educational deception. Educational psychologists have been attempting to make their fingers touch their own tips, and in the process of performing their “Role Dance” have generated contractor symbolic map knowledge which has been very harmful to Scholl going children. It has resulted in the ideology of blaming the victims, mystification of teachers, and colonization of the powerless children.
Let us first of all look into the usefulness and legitimacy of LQ. tests the so called quantitative ‘measures of intelligence, which are systematically being used to collect information on school going children. I,Q. ideology has generated various myths such
- The poor are poor because they have low 1Q.’s. Those with high 1.Q’s end up in well-paid jobs
2.1Q. scores are 80% hereditary.
3, The main reason poor white and black children have low I.Q, scores is that they have “bad” genes.
4, A child with an LQ. of 125 or above is gifted and hence should be streamed into an elite enrichment class.
It is a known fact that the Child Advocacy group have brought the following information to the knowledge of authorities in the hope the LQ. testing, the last relic of feudalism in our schools will disappear.
- Intelligence tests do not test pure intelligence. Any appearance to the contrary is due to “a subtle Statistical illusion.”
- The psychologist’s assumption that his questions and his puzzles can in fifty minuses isolate abstract intelligence is vanity. It is an attempt to restore the “doctrine of predestination in favor of an “instinctual caste system.”
3.1.0, tests in most cases have been used as a method of stamping a permanent sense of inferiority upon the souls of the children of poverty.
- It is an empirical fact that LO, tests are valid for predicting who will get ahead in a number of prestige jobs where credentials are important, but so is the color of the skin, it 100 to a valid predictor of job success in prestige jobs. But no one would argue that color of the skin parse is an ability predictor.
- Research has established that majority of gifted children in recent generations have come from the working class, not middleclass families. How many more disadvantaged children would have been bright if they had middleclass rearing conditions?
The other unfortunate decision making process which is commonly practiced in our schools is labeling and grouping. Dr. YsseIdyke and Algozzine writing for their famous book Critical Issues in Special and Remedial Education (1982) have the following ‘comments to make against using labels and grouping in the class rooms.
- is a means of tranquilizing professionals who feel they have brought a “closure” to a difficult case by applying a label say the “Learning Disabled Child.”
- It is a means of preserving a social hierarchy by labeling poor white and poor minority group children and hence forcing them 10 remain at the bottom of the social ladder.
- Labels are used to delay the needed reforms in our schools. by focusing the problem on the individual, rather than on complex social and ecological conditions needing specific change and repair.
- Labeling process does cause changes in the relationship between labeled, no labeled child and labeling professional
- Labels serve as convenient reference points (Adjusted Children, Educational Mentally Retarded etc.)
Let us tum to the group testing industry that has taken hold of our schools. It is estimated that every year, about 275 million standardized tests are administered to about $0 million children who attend schools in U.S.A. and Canada, Use of group intelligence tests, achievement tests have been the subject to considerable controversy in professional literature and the popular press. In court cases such as (Hobson vs., Hansen, 1969) courts have ruled that ability group, or the assignment of students to different educational tracks on the basis of their performance on standardized tests, is unconstitutional.
In another case, (Mill vs. Board of Education, 1972) school administrators were charged with excluding students from educational programs because of their performances on standardized tests. Yet in another case (Larrry P. vs. Riles, 1978) the Judge restrained educators and psychologists in California from using intelligence tests to place black students in classes for the educable mentally retarded
Radical psychologists have examined the relevant data pertaining 10 the use of tests in our society, They feel that the school as a trainer of producers and consumers have accepted a business or ‘factory model. In a schooled world, his road to happiness is paved with a consumer’s index. The teachers are asked to prepare learning pro. Files of students for streaming by ‘using various outdated instrument. nus, It is a carryover from the pat when chronological examination was given to all children entering schools to evaluate the various faculties of their brains.
Another label which has crested more ‘heat and no light is that of Learning Disability and the psych educational deception that goes with it, It is a well-documented fact that the field of learning disabilities has accepted indiscriminately some ill-founded etiological themes which have only a remote relationship to the learning process, It has led to the production of ‘snake oil and other assorted cures’, seductively peddled by panacea mongers in the psych educational field.
In the recent past some educators have started. stressing the importance of checking our ‘roadmaps,’ For example, in a guest editorial in the Journal of Laming Disabilities (1977), Dr. Ames ‘comments: “Too many of us have been quick to jump on the LD. bandwagon. Now it is time to slow down and figure out where we are going,”
Dr. Vellutino, Professor of ChiId Psychology, State University of New York, Albany, thinks that perceptual deficit hypothesis has led the Learning Disabilities expettsastray. He thinks that there is no foundation for many assumptions and treatment practices which pervade the field of learning disabilities,
Dr. Larson, Professor of Special Education, University of Texas, conducted a study to investigate the diagnositic usefulness of some ‘commonly used tests of Learning Disabilities. He concluded that the seems to be little empirical support for the continued use of these measures as a means of labeling or diagnosing children.
Peter Schrage and Diane Divoky writing for their famous book, Myth of the Hyperactive Child, feel that labeling a child “learning disabled” is a subtle and seductive Process. New ideology of ‘child help’ gradually develops techniques, ‘smart pills’ L.D, Conferences to legitimize and enlarge the Power of professionals over child Ten.
‘What has led to the widespread interest in the Learnine Disabled ld? According to Dr. Coles of Rutger Medical School, the educational system requires drastic Structural changes to remedy its Present state of instability. Unable to make such changes it falls back on biological explanations for the Problems that require radical social solutions,
In other words by positing bio logical bases for learning problems, the responsibility for failure is shifted from the schools to the child. By ‘blaming the victims’ the ‘anxiety caused by guilt feeling can be reduced,
Other forces have entered that field. For example, the drug industry has brought Ritalin to reduce hyperactivity and increase the attention span of children.
Dr. Gerald Cole, writing for the Harvard Educational Review (August, 1978) feels that the me coeducational model used by the teachers to identify learning disabled children serves two purposes:
It meets the sociopolitical needs of the middleclass parents and their children,
It gives teachers a chance to enhance their profession by seeking affiliation with the prestigious medical world.
In summary, it can be said that the theoretical formulations that support psych education assessment field have bear unproductive in enhancing the research dimensions in this area.
Also, given the vagueness of the definitions and the ambiguity of the research in the identification and remediation of the learning disabled children, the following may prove useful for the open-minded educators.
- Learning disabled children might be learning disinterested chiUren. They definitely are not suffering from process disorders as has been suggested by the medico educational model
- The term learning disability should be used as a concept rather than a category.
- The motives of drug and psychological test industries should be carefully watched so as 10 protect children from their ‘corporate humanism.
- Research on early identification of ‘high risk” learning disability preschoolers shows little consensus as to its feasibility and effectiveness.
The learning disability pyramid incorporated so many aspects of other fields that it has crumbled under its own Weight. The psych diagnostician, psychologists and other professionals are puzzled who changing criteria of a concept can change the population that can be declared learning disabled, Furthermore, the criteria change is not triggered by new scientific ndings nor by new theories, it is triggered by social, political and economic facts of life.
The intention of this article is not to question everything that goes on under the term psych educational assessment. Schools have the right to collect information about children. Parents have the right to know if there is any scientific basis of collecting such information,
It is the belief of the present author that teachers refer only those students for testing and placement who bother them. Different teachers are bothered by different behaviors, and different behaviors bother teachers differently. Most of the referred students get placed in special classes. So some existential psychologists think that psych diagnosis is a “suspicion confirming exercise.”
Furthermore, based upon the data collected on children and using team meeting process, children are declared eligible for special services, It must be mentioned that some empirical data is indicative of the fact that there are few differences between students declared eligible for special education services and those not declared. eligible because they are not referred.
Educational Psychologists have been interfering with the rights of school going children by introducing behavior modifications, precision teaching, teaching machines, cognitive behavior modifications, LQ. testing, streaming, labeling, etc. for the last thirty years. Unfortunately schools do not have Food and Drug Administrative which could control the introduction of new interventions. Any. intervention can be used by any ‘one, Interventions are to be peddled by panacea mongers because of a bandwagon effect, bind faith, or very seldom by research findings.
Take the case of New Math which was introduced throughout North America in 1962. No intensive research was done to find out the effect it will have on children who operate at various levels of cognition. The truth of the matter is that now we are stuck with it and it has generated serious math related learning problems in our schools,
Bandwagon effect and its implication have been beautifully summarized by Dr. Trackman in his famous book The Evils of Educational (1981) Change. He comments:
The bandwagon effect, wherein an idea or a cause suddenly becomes ‘popular and gains momentum rapidly, may not have been invented in this country, but we have surely perfected it. Our propensity for Saddism extends from diets, fashions, and games to major political, educational, or sociological movements, We also tend frequently to be more concerned with the appearance of things than with the Substance of things.
This is: the issue of form versus content. Thus, T wrote elsewhere, ‘we live in a society which tends to evaluate its devoutness by counting the number of people who go to church rather than the number of people who believe in God. We promote university professors on the basis of the number of publications they shave authored, with litle consideration for the quality of the contents. We evaluate the progressivism of a public school system by the number of new things it is doing, rather than concerning ourselves with whether it is doing any of them well” The form verses content issue interacts with the bandwagon effect to produce hastily conceived, poorly implemented innovations or programs, the failure to achieve ‘anticipated goals, and consequent disillusionment with the original idea, or backlash. In turn, backlash may lead to equally precautious abandonment of meritorious programs and ideas which have not been adequately conducted or sufficiently tried. This situation establishes a state of readiness for the next bandwagon and places us constantly at the mercy of the panacea mongers.
Parents, conditioned by faddism in diet and fashions, have nearly forced the school system to get on with a variety of band: wagons, Computer “innovation” in schools is the recent fad. To strengthen the bandwagons, parents form clubs as L.D. Club of Nova Scotia and apply political pressure to implement an untried, hastily put together theoretical concept. Hence an educational fad is usually adopted with no regard for the empirical evidence of its effectiveness.
Some educational interventions are adopted by schools because they “sell well” among powerful clients, Enrichment programs of various school systems is a case in point. It has “Cash Validity”!
The abovementioned long drawn discussion leads us to formulate some suggestions regarding the use of psych educational instruments and educational intervention.
1, Educational interventions should not be designed and introduced on the basis of the “bandwagon effect.” They should be designed for the individual child and monitored frequently 10 ensure their effectiveness.
2, Teaching methods do make a difference in pupit learning pro8s, but the most important variables how committed the teachers ‘and administration are to a program.
3, Teachers who bring “tructuredflexibility” in their teaching style produce the maximum learning in the children,
4, Tests used to “search for pathology” should be banned from the schools. There is little evidence that specific processes and abilities
of the children can be accurately tested by psychological instruments, Also, there is no evidence that once these abilities and processes are identified then, they can be improved with specific interventions. Moreover, it appears that there is no relevance between the specific processes and instructional success.
5, Direct instruction by a parent, teacher, or any significant person ‘can produce the same results as the psycho diagnostic prescriptive teaching. The suggestion is that we should not wait for the psych diagnostic work up before helping the child to read using “mother’s method.”
Special Education, to stay special has to keep pace with the ‘emerging research which unfortunately is exposing the ‘back stage’ behavior of most of the professional in the helping profession, Child has been called the father of man. “Mother’s method” is one of the best evolved teaching strategy which should not be ignored by professionals looking for crutches. Some of us have already been doing it, but did not put a label to it, as a Chinese poet wrote a few thousand years back: Misty rain on Mount Lu And Waves surging on the river Che When you have not yet been there Many a regret surely you have; But once there and homeward wend, How matter of fact things look Misty rain on Mount Lu, And waves surging on the river.