INTRODUCTION In the fall of l972 a small group of students in an introduction to educational psychology
class at a midwestern university saved every single soul in the lifeboat. The professor became agitated. “No! Go back and do the exercise again. Follow
the instructions.” The students, products of the radical 1960s culture, expected this to be a small group
assignment in creativity and ingenuity. They had worked out an intricate plan whereby everyone in the lifeboat could survive. When the professor persisted, the students resisted—and ultimately refused to do the exercise. Chalk up a victory to the human spirit.
However, it was a short-lived victory. This overloaded “lifeboat in crisis” represented
a dramatic shift in education. The exercise—in which students were compelled to choose which humans were expendable and, therefore, should be cast off into the water—became a mainstay in classrooms across the country. Creative solutions? Not allowed. Instructions? Strictly adhered to. In truth, there is to be only one correct answer to the lifeboat drama: death. The narrowing (dumbing down) of intellectual freedom had begun. Lifeboat exercises
epitomize the shift in education from academic education (1880–1960) to values education (1960–1980). In the deliberate dumbing down of america writer Charlotte Iserbyt chronicles this shift and the later shift to workforce training “education” (1980–2000). The case is made that the values education period was critical to the transformation of education. It succeeded in persuading (brainwashing? duping?) Americans into accepting the belief that values were transient, flexible and situational—subject to the evolution of human society. Brave new values were integrated into curricula and instruction. The mind of the average American became “trained” (conditioned) to accept the idea that education exists solely for the purpose of getting a good paying job in the global workforce economy.