The Hell of Rigor and Critical Thinking in the Age of College and Career Readiness

This article was published on the Contemporary Insurgent website on September 29, 2016 and is reposted here with the permission of the author.

The Hell of Rigor and Critical Thinking in the Age of College and Career Readiness: Administrators of Abuse and Teachers of Despair: One Father’s Experiences
By Michael Bohr, Contemporary Insurgent

girl in hall

I have been deeply immersed in the analysis and resistance to the Common Core Agenda for many years now.

My involvement began when my children, both of significant intellect and eagerness to learn, with a love of school, began to display a fear of, and a loathing for, public schooling.

Their behavior and attitudes changed. My once endlessly positive, relaxed and happy children became negative, stressed and saddened.

I set about working with the teachers and administrators to find solutions but I also began researching the new terminology and teaching methods I was hearing from them. I also began noticing that the homework given to my children was increasingly nonsensical as each one in turn began having meltdowns while attempting to do their work.

Something was terribly wrong and the constant barrage of “something is wrong with your child”, often spoken behind a used car salesman smile that was also preaching on about how they will make my kids “critical thinkers” and “college and career ready” for “21st century jobs” set off alarms within me.

I trusted these people… And they exploited that trust. For whatever reason, be it foul intent, ignorance or a gag order from higher ups in the education hierarchy, I and every single parent of a child in a public school, along with our children, were betrayed!

I gave many of them a pass because as I researched such documents as the “Race to the Top” grant applications and the US Dept of Educations “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance Report”, along with the personal, professional and financial ties between leading politicians, bureaucrats, charitable foundations, teacher (and non-teacher) unions and corporate enterprises, I discovered many of them had also been deceived as well.

Over the last several years, those who I spoke with and began to see the truth of the Common Core Agenda, administrator and teacher alike, were forced out of their jobs and replaced or forced to cower in silent repose, abandoning their virtue in exchange for their own survival… Or hop on the bandwagon in exchange for promotions and financial advancements.

And that leads me to today…

Among the things I began to learn through my research were such subjects as “Multiple Intelligence Theory”, educational Pedagogies, brain development, child psychology and much, much more.

Being informed on these topics now leads me to ask questions of my child’s educators and administrators that I have discovered they either don’t know a damned thing about… Or are playing stupid to avoid having to answer for their malfeasance!

Just this past week, during “Parent Night” in our New Jersey Intermediate School, the Vice Principal (once an elementary level teacher, now administrator) came and sat in during a class orientation I was attending. I was also the only parent to make it there.

He began spouting the usual lingo… Critical thinking, rigor, 21st century skills, etc,… That the Principal had cheerfully proclaimed in the auditorium an hour earlier, when all of us, the parents, were told that we must join them, joyfully, to prepare our kids for “21st Century Jobs that we (the educators) don’t know what will be”. That’s a quote.

And so I asked him if he was aware that “critical thinking” takes place in the prefrontal cortex which the children in his school (grades 5-8) will not even start to develop until their mid-teens and won’t be fully developed until their mid 20’s. Additionally, I asked (and apparently informed him) that requiring children who were not old enough to have biologically developed this part of the brain, creates extreme stress, which then activates, and negatively effects, the “primitive” substructure of the brain called the “Limbic System”. That the limbic system is where the “fight or flight” response is biologically hardwired into every human, child and adult.

I was quite positive that I had just triggered his limbic system as his eyes widened and jaw dropped ever so slightly, as his body involuntarily shifted in his seat.

His response: “I’ll have to look into that.”

As a side note, the young but veteran teacher also sitting at the table involuntarily nodded in the affirmative and seemed to barely contain a smile. That teacher was educated and knew that the words I spoke were truth and that I was not just some “helicopter parent” who could be easily snowed.

It has been a week now, since that meeting and I can only assume that one of two things are happening:

The VP is still doing his research


He knew full well that he and the school were going to continue administering this psychologically abusive pedagogy and there are meetings being held to figure out a way to avoid being exposed for what they are doing.

Perhaps it’s the former and, if so, there may be some hope.

But I doubt that… Highly!

I am convinced that, even if they despise what they are doing (perhaps being forced to do), they will continue unabated with its implementation.

That they know full well the hell and abuse of this “rigor” and “critical thinking” they are demanding, under threat of failure and peer-based humiliation for my children, will harm them whether they survive it or not.

I also believe that they will continue to blame the parents, teachers and the children, me, mine and others, for any shortcomings.

And I don’t think they care.

They will continue to administer that abuse.

They will force that teacher to teach despair, even as I know she is trying to protect her students from it… I saw that within her and in that I do retain a modicum of hope, even as I must acknowledge that she will fail, if not with my child, with many others.

In the meantime, I am left with the task of trying to save my children from these horrors and finding a way to get them through it all intact and psychologically whole.

As a single father with full custody and no support, living in the very poverty that others, specifically educators, can only talk about as an abject concept taught in the very universities my children will be denied entrance to, this is no easy task.

I am terrified by the very real, and likely prospect, that I will fail at least in part or, and God save them, fully.

I, like many of you reading this, see my children suffering every damned day… Even while they don’t always realize it themselves.

Hell is no longer just an abstract concept of Dante or religious doctrine… Hell is a place called Public Education and the Devil and his Demons are running the damned place, torturing children, parents and teachers clear down to the Ninth Circle.

May God have Mercy on us all.

-Michael Bohr, Daddy





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