THE SPIRITUALITY OF SYSTEMS THINKING
Lynn M. Stuter
February 1, 2003
Attend any course on leadership building, team building, or motivational training and you will undoubtedly hear the words "human potential ... empowerment ... inner being ... inner self ... looking within ... getting in touch with self." What is this? Where did it come from? Where is it going?
In "Systems Thinking: What It Is, What It Hopes to Accomplish", the New Age premise, the Gaia Hypothesis, was mentioned. To repeat, this premise says the world is a living, breathing organism, irreducible to its parts; what affects one part affects all parts; in the interests of saving spaceship Earth, we must change our society.
Whether we call it change or transformation, the two are the same. Our society is being transformed; we are in the midst of a "paradigm shift." How many times have we heard that term used? Paradigm means the way one perceives the world and the purpose of it. Again, we are talking about one's world view or religious beliefs.
If we are in a paradigm shift, and our traditional paradigm was Christian, to what world view, then, are we shifting?
This new paradigm is actually based on two religions: humanism is the world view of the system itself, New Age is the world view of the process used by the system to achieve the sustainable global environment. Both religions, basically, are built on the same tenets with New Age holding a belief that God dwells within man while humanism does not hold belief in a God at all. Both religions hold to system theory-the idea that no one system, interdependent and interconnected to all other systems, having the same infrastructure, is superior to any other system. This places man on an equal status with animals, trees, flowers, rocks ... Ever wonder why the environmentalists don't get all bent out of shape when a human falls prey to the jaws and claws of a mountain lion? Or why they get upset at the killing of animals but have no problem with abortion?
New Age thought and practice, as the world view of the process to achieve the sustainable global environment, is making its appearance in the classroom as an integral part of education reform, and in many different ways.
For many parents, it is the worksheet that comes home from school that was never supposed to leave the classroom [the worksheet that has a decidedly radical environmental slant: man is destroying the planet, making the planet uninhabitable for all other systems, that parents and older people are the cause of all the ills that befall "Mother Earth"], that causes parents to start asking questions and demanding answers.
In the words of Chester Pierce, Professor of Psychiatry and Education at Harvard, "Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our Founding Fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It's up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well - by creating the international child of the future." How do we get children, "indoctrinated by their parents" with certain beliefs at an early age, beliefs that most likely contradict those of the sustainable global environment, to change those beliefs?
Children are very susceptible to what is known as the "Brown Earth" or "Scorched Earth" syndrome; the idea that if we don't change our society, we will experience total environmental devastation leading to the death of Mother Earth-doomsday environmentalism. It strikes fear in the hearts of impressionable young adults and children who haven't yet the reasoning skills or years of experience to figure out that the claims don't withstand the scrutiny of scientific proof and discovery. Given the choice of changing their beliefs and living, which will a child choose? Go on any school website and you will likely find links to several websites promoting the doomsday environmental outlook. Rabid, radical, doomsday environmentalism gives children the impetus to change. It also has the affect of turning children into rabid environmental activists, not based on knowledge or fact, but based on what they've been led to believe.
But there are others purposes for New Age in the classroom. Joseph Fields, in his book, "Total Quality for Schools," writes, "Parents supply a resource to which educators apply a variety of processes. These processes include a thirteen-year sequence of assessments to match quality standards to develop a graduate who meets customer requirements." So, who is the "customer?" Fields makes that very plain, too. It's business. Education for the purpose of producing a workforce with parents accountable to the school.
In state and federal documents, the process to be used by business to achieve the sustainable global environment is made very clear. It's called by several names: Total Quality Management (TQM), Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), the High Performance Work Organization (HPWO). TQM/CQI/HPWO is to the work environment what Outcome-Based Education (OBE, aka, systems education) is to education.
Too many children are being handed over to the public schools by parents who don't know, don't care, or actually approve of what is going on there. What better time (when children are young and impressionable) and what better place (out of the presence of parents) to inculcate in children those world views that form the basis and process of the work environment those children will encounter when they leave schooling behind? Many Christian parents believe placing their child in a public school allows the child to witness to other children. Most adults could not withstand six to eight hours of humanist/New Age indoctrination. What makes these parents think their child can?
Parents are also seeing children taken on guided fantasy/guided visualization trips in the classroom, placing children in altered states of consciousness. This is a New Age technique, used in meditation, for attaining personal mastery-one of the five disciplines of TQM. Jack Canfield, New Age author and promoter of confluent education, wrote in "New Age" magazine, "If you're teaching in a public school, don't call it meditation, call it 'centering.' Every school wants children to be relaxed, attentive, and creative, and that's what they will get." Canfield has made millions from his "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series and most people have no idea who this man is or what he espouses.
Parents have learned, often after the fact, of their children lying on the floor in a darkened classroom, in a circle around a lit candle, chanting. All of this under the direction of the teacher.
Parents are seeing classes become involved in Native-American spiritualism with spirits and shamans, spirit dances ... under the guise of studying other cultures.
All of this is New Age, exposing the child to New Age mysticism without calling it that ... the world view of the total quality environment envisioned in the workplace of tomorrow.
Is this the fault of teachers? Not necessarily. Many teachers have no idea what they are teaching; they are just doing their job. After all, they like food on their table, a roof over their head, and clothes on their backs, too. Many are taught this at universities and colleges, as they prepare to become teachers. But some do know what they are doing. In the words of Marilyn Ferguson, in the "Aquarian Conspiracy," "You can only have a new society, the visionaries have said, if you change the education of the younger generation. ... Of the Aquarian Conspirators surveyed, more were involved in education than in any other single category of work. ... The psychology of becoming has to be smuggled into the schools."
Which brings us to another aspect of New Age thought and practice. What is the "psychology of becoming? In this, we are speaking of such men as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and William Glasser.
Maslow is considered the father of Third Force Psychology based on the premise that all people are inherently good, that through a conscience evolution of attitudes, values and beliefs, one becomes self-actualized with the inner wisdom and confidence to guide their own life in a manner that is personally satisfying and socially constructive (the inner wisdom, inner self, self-divination, empowerment, human potential). Maslow's theories incorporated existentialism, and were intended for use with people who were mentally unstable in a clinical setting, not on healthy children in a classroom setting. But in the classroom is where they have ended up.
Carl Rogers, a disciple of self-proclaimed socialist, John Dewey, building on Maslow's concepts and theories, developed non-directive education based on the same premise as values clarification: no right, no wrong, everything in flux-what we are seeing in the classroom today; the human potential movement (of which Jack Canfield is a promoter)-every child empowered, achieving his or her potential; and sensitivity training/cognitive dissonance-bringing a child in conflict with his existing belief system-used in the classroom to change children's beliefsystems.
Before his death, Maslow rejected Third Force Psychology, saying it was based on a false premise. Before his death, Rogers would speak of the havoc that twelve years of experimentation with Third Force Psychology had played on his mental stability. But that has not stopped those who see the benefit of using these theories in the classroom setting to "prepare children for the planned global workforce of the future"-to create the future.
What of the recalcitrant child, the one who refuses to give up his Christian world view for the humanist/New Age world view? That child will not achieve proficiency of the state mandated exit outcomes, will not pass the state assessment which looks to see if the child is demonstrating mastery of the new basics defined by the exit outcomes and benchmarks thereto-teamwork, critical thinking, making decisions, communication, adapting to change and understanding whole systems. If the child does not demonstrate mastery, the child will be remediated. If the child remains recalcitrant, the child will be denied a diploma, entrance to higher education, the ability to get a job, the ability to drive. The child MUST voluntarily conform!
What about adult Christians, who recoil at the idea of self-divination, that we must save ourselves, whose religious beliefs are protected in the workplace by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?
The Church Growth Movement (CGM) is to the churches what TQM is to the workplace and OBE is to the schools. The goal of the CGM being the world unification of churches under one world view: New Age. The purpose is to move people to the world view of the created future. Many devout Christians are leaving the organized churches as the pastors move away from the Christian world view and embrace ecumenicalism. Many devout Christians no longer affiliate with an organized church but gather with other devout Christians to worship in homes or other places.
And if the Christian remains recalcitrant? Well, that's been addressed, too. Peter Senge, in his book, "The Fifth Discipline; the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization," states, "The power of the truth was no less central to early Christian thinking, although it has lost its place in Christian practice over the last two hundred years." Note here that "The Fifth Discipline" was written roughly two hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution of this nation. Further on, in his book, Senge states, "There is nothing more important to an individual committed to his or her own growth than a supportive environment. An organization committed to personal mastery can provide that environment by continually encouraging personal vision, commitment to truth, and a willingness to face honestly the gaps between the two." In other words, if the individual is committed to the organization and to truth, he or she will put aside his or her Christian beliefs and conform. And if he or she doesn't? Quite obviously, that individual is a detriment to the smooth operation of the organization resulting in poor performance reports and eventual termination.
Senge begins his book by saying "The Fifth Discipline" was born one morning in the fall of 1987 during his meditation session. In this same book Senge also states that Jay W Forrester of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was, for 20 years, his mentor. Forrester was very involved in building World 3, a computer simulation model for projecting future trends based on data input. He worked with such doomsday environmentalists as Donnella Meadows who wrote "Limits to Growth" based on the 17 different scenarios projected by World 3. None of the scenarios came true but that's irrelevant; the idea that these doomsday scenarios might come true plays on people's emotions, usurping common sense and scientific proof and discovery.
The goal of all this ... people must embrace the world views of the created future, as early as possible, in the interests of producing the global citizen of tomorrow, ready, willing and able to exist in the sustainable global environment.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nation-wide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: http://www.icehouse.net/lmstuter E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org