The following article was originally posted at Truth in American Education and is re-posted here with the permission of the author, Jane Robbins.
Schools Implementing Government-Sponsored Personality Manipulation
Shane Vander Hart has performed a service by spotlighting new ways for schools to put K-12 students on the couch, so to speak, and examine their personalities. These new assessment tools are necessary because the progressives who control public education have decreed that education is no longer about teaching academic content but rather about instilling government-approved attitudes and personality traits such as resilience and empathy. “Social-emotional learning,” or SEL, is now the focus of K-12 education, and the institutional guru is the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
To resolve the problem of how to psychologically screen and assess millions of children, without parental consent and via staffers who overwhelming aren’t qualified to do it, CASEL is exploring ways to measure if the little tykes’ personalities are undergoing the necessary transformation.
Even SEL proponents warn that assessment is a problem. For one thing, medical professionals can’t agree on the criteria for assessing children’s mental health. For another, most assessment instruments are unreliable. The most common tool – student surveys – is of questionable validity. Even students who treat the surveys seriously (which excludes all adolescent boys) may, as Dr. Angela Duckworth and David Yeager observe, misinterpret questions and otherwise provide misleading information. Because other instruments such as teacher reports present their own problems, these experts conclude that “perfectly unbiased, unfakeable, and error-free [SEL] measures are an ideal, not a reality.”
CASEL has thus initiated a “collaborative effort” to spur development of “practical and appropriate” SEL assessment designs. CASEL’s Measuring SEL Design Challenge has already prompted some ideas that should boost homeschooling numbers.
The first-place design in the competition uses computer-based testing to “assess self-regulation and self-management based on how long students spend on each test question, effectively combining a measure of social-emotional learning with existing standardized tests.” It’s unclear if this program could differentiate between the student who’s experiencing inner turmoil over a particular question, and one with the sniffles who just spends a couple of seconds blowing his nose.
Anyway, this concept of examining students’ psyches by analyzing keystrokes is central to “personalized learning” through digital platforms. The federal government and its data-mongering cronies aim to map students’ brains and determine how they think (and to change how they think) – see here, here, and here. The first-place SEL-measurement scheme fits nicely with this mindset.
The red ribbon in the competition went to Panorama Education for its “Social Detective” tool. Using Social Detective, children spend valuable class time watching videos of people answering such questions as, “What makes a good friend?” Then, the children answer questions about each person in the videos, such as, “What is more important to this person, loyalty or honesty?” The point of this is to “assess how well students can engage in social perspective-taking” – a skill that “is both malleable and teachable.” The assessed children will get feedback on how well their answers matched those of the video subjects, and then they have to repeat the whole process at least three times.
The Panorama experts apparently expect children to passively endure all this repeated silliness, remaining focused while continuing to watch anonymous people on screens talking about boring subjects. Boys, especially, will lose interest quickly (probably resulting in a negative assessment of their social skills).
Panorama is hazy about who will be assessing responses and offering feedback. Will teachers be expected to do this? And what sort of training and licensing, if any, would teachers have to undergo? Psychologist Dr. Gary Thompson has warned about the dangers to children of allowing what are essentially psychological assessments to be administered by untrained and unlicensed, even if well-meaning, people.
And will this sketchy assessment data end up in the state longitudinal data system, so that reports of children’s perceived difficulties with social interactions – think of the bored little boys mentioned earlier — will follow them forever? Panorama hopes its Social Detective tool “evolves over time as we collect more data” – data from children, used as guinea pigs, that may haunt them in the future.
A noteworthy omission in all the puff pieces about SEL and the innovative ways to assess it is any mention of getting permission from parents. Educrats and their ed-tech cronies seem to assume that because they think it’s a good idea, they have the right to decide that each child should undergo it – without even telling parents what’s happening.
Parents investigate whether your schools are implementing government-sponsored personality manipulation. If so, reassert your right to protect your children from such dangerous experimentation. Schools must treat students as students, not patients.