Are Public Schools Teaching Our Children New Age Religious Views? – Program 4

By: Johanna Michaelson, Craig Branch; ©1992
The New Age Movement is not harmless. Under the surface are some very dangerous experiences that can unknowingly open a person to spiritual oppression.

Why Are We Concerned about the New Age Movement?


Announcer: Many parents used to ask their children without fear: What did you do at school today? But now, many, many parents are experiencing shock when they find out what their child is being taught in their local public school.


Eric Buehrer: We need to warn parents today that education has taken a dangerous turn. There are those in the public schools who want to turn the child against the values of the parent; turn the child against the values of the church; even turn them against the values that we have as an American government. Our system of democracy and freedom – those things are being destroyed by some in education and we need to be aware that occultism, Eastern mysticism, even socialism are being taught in the public schools today. Parents need to know what’s going on.
Announcer: So, are the public schools teaching our children New Age occult and religious views?
Johanna Michaelsen: Picture if you will, a scene where little children are stretched out on the floor, told to take deep breaths, and are taken in their minds to a special place – a temple where they meet a holy, wise person, a guide, their own wise person, who will give them the meaning of life. Picture a place where little children are introduced to those spirit guides, where they’re taught the basics of astrology, chanting “Om,” the basics of yoga. Your local ashram? No! These things, under the guise of the latest educational psychology, are being taught to your children in the local schools.
Announcer: If you are concerned about your children and what they are learning at your local public school, then I invite you to join us for today’s program.

Ankerberg: Welcome. In doing our research for this program, we were quite skeptical when we heard that some public school curriculums were using hypnosis, psychotherapy and other mind-altering techniques on students. So we decided to ask leading psychiatrists and educators to evaluate these programs. We were somewhat shocked to learn that they thought some of the public school curriculums do use hypnosis and other psychotherapeutic techniques, and they do pose a threat to our children in their development. Craig Branch is the Southeastern Director of Watchman Fellowship and describes some of these new courses. Listen:
Branch: There’s an ominous and clear trend in the public school system and sometimes private school systems that really poses a threat to not only the child’s own development, but also the family, the child’s belief system, whether or not he’s going to be using drugs or alcohol or engaging in premarital sex. There is an ominous trend of curricula that is being introduced and commercially packaged and being used widespread throughout the country that is very harmful and destructive to our children.
The materials are coming through various channels – through gifted children’s curricula, the programs for gifted children; through self esteem programs, guidance counselors. Many schools are now implementing mandatory guidance counseling programs and curricula. It’s coming through health courses, some literature courses, home economics. It’s widespread throughout the entire spectrum of courses in the public schools.
There are two aspects to the curricula that are objectionable. One is the use of meditation techniques or hypnosis techniques with the children, purportedly to enhance their performance, their productivity, to reduce stress, to solve their problems, to raise their self esteem. And the other aspect of the objection is the use of what they call the affective, which means feeling-oriented, non-directive decision-making processes when it comes to drug and sex education and death education. Basically they’re teaching the children they have to be empowered, they can be empowered.
Ankerberg: Now, what are the specific names of the curriculums and programs being used in the schools that contain hypnotherapy or other psychotherapeutic, mind-altering techniques? Well, two of the most popular and widespread programs in the country are Pumsy the Dragon in a course entitled “In Pursuit of Excellence,” and DUSO the Dolphin in a course entitled, “Developing Understanding of Self and Others.” Craig Branch talks about these and other programs. Listen:
Branch: Well, one of the main offenders is a program called “Pumsy” which is, according to their own company, it’s being used in 40% of the elementary schools in the country. They have several different phases of the program starting at kindergarten called “Bright Beginnings.” Then it goes to “Pumsy: The Pursuit of Excellence” and then the third is “Thinking, Changing, Rearranging.” They do teach what they would call self esteem training or modules. When it gets into the first and second and third grades, it gets into progressive relaxation or meditation/hypnosis techniques that’s supposed to be one of the vehicles for driving home or cementing their teaching for that day. So you find this very prominent in programs like Pumsy.
Another very popular program that is used, again, all over the country in many school districts is something called DUSO – Developing Understanding of Self and Others. DUSO 1 and DUSO 2. It’s been around a long time, but there’s been a revised version. This revised version has what they call fantasy trips or fantasy journeys with it. Again, utilizing the same theory of using these progressive relaxation techniques and guided imagery techniques of somehow going to really teach and cement these concepts home with the child. DUSO is objectionable in many different areas: one, it uses these meditation techniques; two, again it teaches the way you make decisions about drugs and alcohol and other situations is entirely within yourself. You don’t seek counsel from your parents or any standards outside of yourself, or even the group consensus. So DUSO would be another well used program.
There’s another called TAD, Toward Affective Development; quieting reflex, success imagery, bridges, flexing your test muscles, peace, harmony and awareness, which is part of the Apple program – that’s not to be confused with the computer. It’s A Positive Program for Life Experiences.
THTM, which is used all over the country and partially developed by our government agencies. That’s Teenage Health Teaching Modules. Self, Inc.; Mind Sight; some of the Waldorf School Systems; Tai Chi Chuan which is used a lot of times in schools just as an exercise but it’s far from that. And many others. But those are some of the abusers of it.
Ankerberg: Now, all of the programs Craig just mentioned claim that their goal is to either increase the self-esteem of the students, to help them relax, or to increase their imagination or other creative abilities. But then, why do parents who have examined these programs still object to them? Craig Branch gives the reasons:
Branch: Now, keep in mind the kind of objection you hear is, “Are you against relaxing? Are you against using your imagination?” We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about a sequential methodology – not taking a deep breath before you shoot a foul shot. Not taking a deep breath when you’re nervous or uptight about something. We’re talking about a very sequential methodology of inducing hypnosis or an altered state of consciousness.
Also, we’re not talking about using your imagination. We’re talking about something called “guided imagery” or “guided visualization” that’s done at the tail-end of this deeply relaxed state. And you can ask any psychologist or psychiatrist who knows about hypnosis and they’ll tell you, without hesitating, that guided imagery is a very powerful form of hypnosis. It takes you deeper into your hypnotic trance state.
Ankerberg: Now, Craig just told us that any psychiatrist wouldn’t hesitate to condemn guided imagery as a very powerful technique used in hypnosis. Well, to find out if this was true or not, I contacted the very psychiatrist that had evaluated these courses before a number of school boards in different states. His name is Dr. George Twente. Dr. Twente graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1967; then the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1971; and finished his residency in psychiatry at the University of Florida in 1974. Since that time he has been in private practice in psychiatry and his primary focus has been with adolescents and their families. Dr. Twente is currently the director of the Decatur General Hospital adolescent unit and Chief of Psychiatry at Decatur General Hospital in Alabama. Now, I asked him if he thought that the courses “DUSO the Dolphin” and “Pumsy the Dragon” contain powerful psychotherapeutic techniques such as hypnosis and this is what he said:
Dr. George Twente: John, as a psychiatrist, with also two children in the public school system and I’ve been active in that system, I was asked by the leaders in our school system to evaluate two programs that controversy had come out with from citizens. Number one was Pumsy and the other was DUSO. I studied these programs. I was given the curriculum to look over from the school and I was appalled to see techniques being used that are powerful psychotherapeutic techniques that can be mind altering, can be confusing, can cause identifiable psychiatric illness.
The technique that bothers me the most that I’ve seen in Pumsy, DUSO and quite a few other affective education programs are techniques that basically use basic hypnosis. And I need to define as a psychiatrist what hypnosis is.
If you would like an overview of hypnosis, from the 1981 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica the section on hypnosis is excellent. But basically hypnosis is, number one, you have an established relationship with an authority figure. So when a child comes to class, that person is accepted as an authority figure. Number two, you have to put the person in a relaxed state of mind, so the next thing you do is you’ll use a technique of helping them relax, such as a breathing technique to slow them down, muscle tensing and relaxing, and so the next stage is relaxation. And most commonly you’ll see in these programs where they’ll close their eyes and they’ll start to breathe deep and slow and concentrate on different parts of the body. The next thing you have to do is to distract the conscious mind and the classic way that you see in the movies is someone will have a watch or something that goes before your eyes and your conscious mind is distracted and the authority figure begins to talk to you in your subconscious mind.
Well, if you study in the Encyclopedia Britannica you’ll see the most common technique that’s used to distract the conscious mind is the use of visual images, where you are told to imagine a certain image to the point that you are absorbed in that image and then a person starts to suggest to you things that are beyond your normal comprehension or experience and you are in a suggestible, very suggestible state of mind without discernment of what’s healthy and what’s not healthy. And basically you’re at the mercy of whatever that person’s intentions are at the time, whether they be positive or negative or manipulative or helpful.
Ankerberg: Next, I asked Dr. Twente to choose a specific excerpt from Pumsy the Dragon to show you how teachers who follow this curriculum are unknowingly hypnotizing their students. Listen:
Twente: As a psychiatrist who is very aware of the use of hypnosis, as I studied the Pumsy program, there is a section in each one of these two called “Painting Mind Pictures.” And in the letter I wrote for the Clay County School Board in Clay County, Florida, I specifically excerpted one specific exercise to illustrate this point and I will go through the steps that are classical hypnosis with you. This is called “Session Six.” We’re talking to a child that may be six, seven, eight, or nine years old. “Painting Mind Pictures – To be read aloud slowly.” This is from the teachers’ manual.
Let’s take a moment to paint a mind picture. Relax and get comfortable with both feet on the floor. Let your shoulders relax and let your arms and hands rest in a comfortable way. Let your head relax. You can let it fall forward a little if that helps you relax. Let your whole body work like it was in slow motion. Close your eyes but not tight. Take slow, deep breaths. When you let your breath out, you might feel like you could sink into your chair.
And then there’s a little section that says, “When children relax, continue with the mind picture as follows.”
So we have the second step. We have a relationship with an authority figure; and now we have a relaxation technique. Now we’re going to distract the conscious mind and then give hypnotic suggestion.
Imagine for a moment that you are outdoors sitting next to a stream with water slowly going by you. It is a beautiful day with the sun dancing and sparkling on the stream in front of you. It is quiet here except for some of the nice outdoor sounds that you enjoy so much. Maybe the sound of water as it trickles over rocks and into little pools. This is a good place where you may come when you want to feel good.
So what we’ve done is that we’ve created a mind picture, a hypnotic suggestion that does not exist. This is not something that someone else has known. You have the person start to use a visual image and then you add to it auditory sounds. So they go into a deeper concentration, blocking out other realities except for your voice and your suggestions, if you were the teacher.
And then we continue.
Imagine that a picnic basket is next to you on the ground. Can you see the basket? What color is it? How big is it? This is your picnic basket and you will always bring it with you when you come to visit this special place.
So what we’ve done, they’ll say, “Well, I’m teaching a child to use their imagination.” Well, this is not the child’s imagination. You’re creating a mind picture. This is “guided imagery” hypnosis.
Also next to you on the ground is a little pile of rocks just the size that you can pick up very easily and wrap your hand around. These rocks have words written on them that say how you might feel. Some of the rocks have words for a good feeling; others have words for a bad feeling.
Now you’re getting a suggestion that you can have control over your feelings because your hand, you’re able to encompass this object that’s coming to give you power. So it’s like fully within your grasp and you can take control because your hand is big enough to grasp it.
You can pick up the rocks one at a time. The first rock you pick up has the word “happy” on it.
Is that the child’s imagination or are you suggesting a reality?
Do you want to feel that way?
What is the child thinking in their mind as you give them this possibility?
If you want to feel happy, keep the rock and put it in your picnic basket. If you do not want to feel happy, throw the rock into the stream.
Here’s another rock. This one has the word “safe” on it. If you want to feel safe, keep the rock and put it in your basket. If you don’t want to feel safe, you can throw the rock in the stream.
It says “Pause.”
The next one you pick up is the word “awful.” Decide what you want to do with that rock. If you want to feel awful, keep that rock. If you don’t want to feel awful, throw it away.
There’s one more rock left. But it doesn’t have anything on it. You decide what feeling this rock will say. When you have decided what you want the feeling to be, decide if you will keep that feeling or not. You can choose any feeling you like and either keep it or throw it away. You may take a moment to think of that feeling for this last rock and what you will do with it.
As you do whatever you’re going to do with the last feeling, get ready to go because now is the time to leave your special place by the stream. If you like you may take your picnic basket with you or you may leave it here. It is your picnic basket and the feelings in it are your feelings. So you can do whatever you wish with them. When you’re ready you may start wiggling your fingers and then when you’re ready you may begin to move your arms around a little bit.
Next you may be able to begin to open your eyes and repeat aloud with me in a clear, strong voice. Repeat with me in a clear, strong voice: “I can choose how I feel. I can choose how I feel. I can choose how I feel.”
If this was only imagination, you would not need sensory input to take you out of it. This is a classical technique to bring a person out of hypnosis. And here we have a post hypnotic suggestion to reinforce what you were doing in this hypnotic state. It says, “Repeat with me in a clear, strong voice: ‘I can choose how I feel. I can choose how I feel. I can choose how I feel.’” So, I think if you’ll just look at this program, step back, if it works, what have you done? If it is successful, the child can feel however they want no matter what’s going on in their life.

Read Part 5

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