Specifying New Education, Economic and Social Models as the Final Act of the Civil Rights Movement

Can you imagine what your teenage and early 20s would have been like if you got a Get Out of Jail Free card for your 15th birthday? And were then told it could be used 5 times or, better yet, unlimited usage. OK, stop dwelling on the mischief that would have ensued or already happened but without punishment this time. Bet you learned your lesson. With that card you wouldn’t have had to.

What I am about to point out is that the Common Core has become the all-purpose excuse that generates access to loads of taxpayer money to implement theories that may have never been tried before. Or tried with a tragic history. Or have been created by political theorists and professors and even Soviet psychologists as we keep seeing to create wholesale noetic personal changes to gain transformative system changes. Shifting away from an ethos grounded in the primacy of individuals and the choices they make to groups and collectivism and enforced responsibilities as the hallmark of citizenship. All at our expense. Created by people who do not have to pay a personal price if this is a disaster and have much to benefit from in terms of promotions, new jobs, or locked in revenue streams for the requisite 4G wireless contract that will go with all those tablets for every student after you hire a former urban school super to be your Head of Sales.

Nothing but cronyism where politically connected individuals meet public money but it’s the name of the game now in this Digital Literacy push. And at the end of all those dollar transfers will be muddled, weakened minds waiting for a visual prompt and life to be one big engaging game. What a disappointment being an adult will likely be. You get the picture. Anything and everything gets a pass if Transformation is the actual or potential goal. It’s a free-for-all of change and mostly under the radar for the average taxpayer or parent. If they do notice something is wrong, they simply get told “This is the new Common Core State Standards Initiative so ALL our students will be college and career ready for the 21st century. This will allow us to be internationally competitive.”

Now that’s not the real story as we know well but it buys time and your dollars while the real moral and ethical and affective orientation instead of knowledge continues apace in our schools and higher ed. Called student-centered learning or individualized learning. With potential wakeup calls like “Student Loan Write-offs hit $3 Billion in first two months of Year” being off most people’s radars. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-usa-studentloans-delinquencybre92o11k-20130325,0,6746534.story . Also likely off your radar screen is the related story of the National Science Foundation doing Neuroscience and Cognitive Science research to see how these new forms of instruction and assessment and classroom practices physically impact the brain. http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/nsf13067/nsf13067.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click .

Now that’s not quite the wording of that Dear Colleague letter although “how the brain regulates the individual’s biology…and allows organisms to behave in and adapt to changing environments” is awfully close. Especially when we add in NSF’s involvement in the globally transformative in every respect starting at the level of the human mind, Belmont Challenge, or its decision to use education to squelch climate skepticism as part of the USGCRP 2012-2021 initiative. Or the fact that NSF reports to John Holdren whose colleague of many years, Paul Ehrlich, is seeking new kinds of minds that do not fall back easily on rational thought.

I have not mentioned the Axemaker Mind metaphor recently but destroying it is very much part of this ed reform vision plus the accompanying systems transformation for Equity and Equality. Many of you may not know if you use dynamic MRI imaging of a brain that reads phonetically and fluently and compare it with the brain of a teenager or adult of limited literacy you visually see the firing throughout one but not the other. Let’s think about that picture of Korea from space at night with the North in black and the South all lit up. If you are a school or classroom producing brains that still light up like South Korea in five or 10 years, you have not been following the sociocultural model of collective emotional understanding. And it will be physically apparent. The effective classroom at producing new kinds of minds with cyberlearning (also a big NSF initiative) and collaboration and no more lectures may well produce brains that image like North Korea. Some Equity, huh?

Equity and Equality also come into play in the reforming the high school initiatives that are shifting everyone toward what the Soviets called the polytech model (although they did pull out their finest minds and send them to academic boarding schools to retain their abilities). That’s not going to be on your radar either probably even though President Obama did mention P Tech in his State of the Union. Just to point out though that this dramatic overhaul is not really about the Common Core I came up with some links that precede CCSSI. Remember Jeannie Oakes of the Participatory Social Inquiry post?  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/throwing-an-invisibility-cloak-over-the-classroom-to-get-to-deweys-participatory-social-inquiry/ She was involved in this transformation in California before leaving for the Ford Foundation and was kind enough to tie this high school initiative to its real source–John Dewey’s 1915 Democracy and Education and his idea of education by occupations. http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/downloads/LL_Expanding_Pathways.pdf . SREB has also been on this bandwagon for a long time as the high school vision for ALL students as are other groups.

The Common Core excuse and the College and Career-Ready slogan then mask a whole lot of huge philosophical, politically transformational changes that are mostly unknown. Being implemented without much discussion to avoid the previous controversies or pesky arguments about constitutionality. Especially when you think through a government with police and coercive power collecting and sharing data with vendors on all aspects of students’ developing personalities and interests and attitudes and values. A marketing and political consulting dream come true.

Now that I have pointed out how you get transformative change at the level of the individual student in place without really being seen and also revealed that there will be means of monitoring compliance other than data collection of Student “Growth” (another concept that tracks to Dewey) and those Effective Teacher evals. I want to take the accompanying social, economic, and political vision out of the 21st century or the 1990s. Back to the mid-80s while the Cold War was still simmering if not raging. Because when sociologist Robert Bellah and others wrote the 1985 book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (reissued usefully in 1996) they were describing the communitarian vision for the future we now associate with Amitai Etzioni and that Positive School Climate Executive Order (another off the radar screen initiative). He was describing the workplace vision we have tracked now to Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Otto Scharmer and Shoshana Zuboff’s similar visions of the future of capitalism.

And he too saw education as the key to getting there. Especially for getting there without a popular outcry that might prevent the stealth revolution. Here’s the vision from the 1996 edition (page 286):

“The transformation of our culture and our society would have to happen at a number of levels…Personal transformation among large numbers is essential, and it must not only be a transformation of consciousness but must also involve individual action…out of existing groups and organizations, there would also have to develop a social movement dedicated to the idea of such transformation… If the Civil Rights movement failed fundamentally to transform the position of black people in our society, it was because to do that would have required just the change in our social ecology that we are now discussing. [See now why urban schools had to remain dysfunctional whatever the resulting chaos?] So a movement to transform our social ecology would, among other things, be a successor and fulfillment of the Civil Rights movement.

Finally, such a social movement would lead to changes between our government and our economy. This would not necessarily mean more direct control of the economy, certainly not nationalization [which by the 80s was known to harm revenue to state coffers. The USSR was telling African dictators much the same]. It would mean changing the climate in which business operates so as to encourage new initiatives in economic democracy and social responsibility…”

Sound familiar? Do you have any idea how many publicly employed administrators and professors and degree holders insisting on being called “Doctor” have credentials designed primarily to get this vision into effect?

Lots. And now they have the perfect cover, in their mind, to finally finish the Civil Rights Movement.

Except to get there they are stripping away the veneers that brought modern civilization and the prosperity of the West like the division of labor and contract instead of status. And all we get are the bills and promises and utopian political theories that this time human nature will change.

 

 

 

What Happens When the Hidden Goal of Education Is Interrupting Pre-existing Social Stratifications?

What if you were a hungry pioneer in a new town in the middle of nowhere in the 19th century and it was a long, cruel winter? Inexperienced you did not appreciate the danger of eating the seed corn that would be needed if there were to be plants for the following years. So you and your family and maybe other starving townspeople consumed it all to get through the winter. Unaware just how precious it might turn out to be in hindsight. But by then it is gone.

That failure to appreciate the precariousness of how we stay where we are culturally and economically, and the preciousness of what it actually took to get to this point in history, is exactly what I worry about when I read statements about “suspending the contributions of inborn capacities” or the “extent to which people expend great effort.” Jettisoning those important things is supposedly necessary to “adequately interrupt the reproduction of pre-existing social stratification.” And I am once again NOT playing Fish Around for Horrific Quotes to Get People Riled Up About the Common Core. Or C-Scope. Or even those preparing for a new type of capitalism 21st Century Skills.

Initially the quotes I am using are from another one of those Gordon Commission reports I have been writing about in recent posts. This one called “Democracy, Meritocracy and the Uses of Education” is by Aundra Saa Meroe. It helps frame the very dangerous mindsets being created in graduate higher ed programs to credential adults to impose what are actually political or sociology theories on students in K-12 institutions. And soon to be preschool.

I am going to detour for a second to reiterate a point Nobel Economist Friedrich Hayek made in his classic 1944 bestseller The Road to Serfdom. It is something to keep in mind as we explore today and generally in this blog the determination to use educational institutions to transform the prevailing worldviews. In the US and all over the world especially anywhere that ever cherished individual liberty and freedom to create and trade and set rules by private contract. Schools and colleges and universities really are being used to alter individual feelings, values, attitudes, and beliefs to embrace, or at least tolerate or not notice, a radically different political, economic, and social structure than what has ever brought mass prosperity. Hayek with his background in prewar Europe and then among the Fabian social planners in London knew what was, and still is being sought.

“The important point is that the political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much an effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives. This means, among other things, that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that the new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.”   (HT to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek for that timely Quote)

That destruction is absolutely the hidden intent of the Common Core’s actual planned implementation and its new assessments and the Lumina Diploma Qualifications Profile in higher ed and all the social and emotional emphasis coming to the classrooms. To understand why anyone would contemplate such a wholesale attack I want to quote from a part of this report that sets up the anger and actual hatred for what currently exists:

“The history of nascent democracy and nation-building in the United States among voluntary immigrant populations obscures how the broadening horizons for some were in part realized through the brutal eclipses of basic human freedoms, for many others through land seizure, warfare, the persecution and containment of indigenous populations, the enslavement of African people and the subordination of women. These forms of oppression and subjugated labor underlie the advances made in the nation’s formative forays into farming, commerce and industry.”

In this view everything that exists in our 21st Century America is seen as irrevocably tainted by the past and illegitimate. The remedy? “Absent the larger society’s commitment to an equal distribution of resources, academic institutions are held to be central sites for the distribution of resources.” Hence the Equity in Credentials even if they no longer designate meaningful knowledge or skills. Those unfulfillable expectations merely become more fuel for the desired radical transformation. That’s why all these education reforms are always coupled to a Social Citizenship vision in a Welfare State vision. We first saw it here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/.

Meroe then follows up her vision of tainted America with a description of Robert Dahl’s vision for democracy to become “an evolving, progressive social enterprise.” This time “all people must have equal opportunities to realize” their “mutual interests and valued goods.” Of course history has shown that that kind of equality can only exist with an overarching government constantly administering “fairness and justice.” And government involved to that extent will ALWAYS be captured by politically connected rent-seekers wanting favors at our expense. And thus be even less fair or just in the long run. But, hey, let’s not let reality intrude quite yet on all these pie-in-the-sky decrees.

One more pivot to the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard that philanthropist Eli Broad set up in 2008 with a $6 million contribution. Best known in education for his creation of the Broad Prize for Urban School Districts and training administrators in a Superintendents Academy, I am going to use the description of the purpose of the Ed Labs found on the website of the WEB Du Bois Institute at Harvard. It says the project is “devoted to understanding the causes and consequences of inequality in American society. .. The broader objective of the lab is to employ scientific methods–rather than anecdotal or ideological reasoning–to improve public decision making and policy around issues related to inequality in the US.”

Fair enough although with all the behaviorist economists, psychologists, and sociologists involved in the effort you do have to wonder if the “scientific methods” are not BF Skinner’s vision for a science of education using operant conditioning. It sure would fit our known facts and is something to keep an eye on.

Meroe’s report goes on to announce that the “ubiquity of substandard public education among students of lower-SES ethnic minority groups . . . also reveals the malevolence of meritocratic rationalization.” She is on her way to lay the ground work for “mass-scale capacity for cooperative productivity in the workplace” that we have seen before. She advocates for what she calls “these collectivist goals of ‘democratic equality’ and ‘social efficiency’ [that] can conflict with a view of education as a private good for the purposes of education.”

Meroe is not unique in her angst about the urban areas and seeing the solution as Social Citizenship. We saw it with the Building One America conference and the Regional Equity and Metropolitanism movement I have written about. I read Professor Michael Katz’s The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State this week and got treated to yet more of the Social Citizenship as necessary to give our inner cities a remedy for their devastation argument. Likewise, the involvement of a number of the listed Ed Lab contributors with the Russell Sage Foundation led me to the future vision laid out in 1995 in their Poverty, Inequality and the Future of Social Policy: Western States in the New World Order.

So I actually do see where all this is going and it is an unworkable remedy. But I want to go back to the rationales. In particular that the low achievement in the urban districts is a result of “malevolence.” Whose? After all it is the urban districts that readily embraced the Vygotskyian “sociocultural” approaches first. Why? Because as we saw in the goals of the last post and as Leontiev and Bronfenbrenner apparently discussed in the 60s in talking about the Western countries and economies, many decision-makers do not want education theories or practices that preserve or reenforce the prevailing capitalist/individualist systems. They want urban students primed for transformation. This was also why Saul Alinsky’s IAF saw urban schools as great places for community organizing. The Alliance Network in Texas and other states now show it still is viewed that way.

I have written about Professor Michael Cole before. In a chapter to a 1985 book called Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskyian perspectives, Cole writes “In circumstances where we do not want to take the cultural context as given. . . [sociocultural theory] offers a very fruitful framework because of its militant insistence on linking individual and social activity.” So what was a militant linkage in 1985 is now to be the required classroom practices under the definitions of Effective Teaching under the Common Core. Moreover, that physical and social activity approach had toxic effects in urban areas. Especially when normed or even criterion tests are used against suburban schools which still had an academic focus and parents who could remediate at the proverbial kitchen table or hire a tutor.

That’s not malevolence and the resulting gaps in performance are certainly no reason to wreck everything as we are doing. And it’s not like the sociocultural/Soviet emphasis in the Urban schools was a secret. Professor Cole goes on to thank the Carnegie Corporation for the funding to import the psychology theories from “our Soviet colleagues.”

This went longer than I wanted so I will stop. The dysfunction of the inner cities and the achievement gaps have causes that are not being discussed. They have become excuses for wholesale transformation of all our institutions and even us. From the inside-out.

And when we trace backwards we find either false beliefs or political theories with a tragic past. All being pushed by tax free foundations intent on social change and without any willingness to do the cleanup work from the effects of previous theories.

Equality-the chimera that threatens to ruin the futures of anyone without political connections.

 

Students Must See Themselves as Active Participants in Social Change and Designers of Social Futures

Before I tell you where that quote came from and what the connection is to the Gordon Commission, I want to go back in time first. I did what I frequently do when presented with troubling declarations of plans that I know will come to a poor end. I went back to someone who dealt with comparable aspirations and ideologies for insights into what is really going on and how this might end. History is much more reliable than a crystal ball. And, unlike the Marxist historians active in Europe before World War I and the 1920s, I do not use historical research as a “means of political agitation.” I will confess though it can be more useful than espresso as a jolting wakeup call.

No, I am not that ancient except to my kids but I did go back to someone who lived through what happened in Europe in the early 20th century and presciently recognized the gravity of what he was looking at. Economist Ludwig Von Mises saw that history and political theories were being used all around him “to provide weapons against the hated bourgeois order of society.” Remember that quote when we get to the end of this post. Von Mises was infatuated with socialism when he was younger, like most German and Austrian intellectuals of that time. But he wrote the book Socialism to explain why he believed it would not work. Long before Communism had crashed and burned in the USSR or the Germans tried out a more Corporatist and Nationalist version of socialism that launched 2 world wars. I wanted his insights into why planning societies does not work from what he saw in real time. The book was originally published in German in 1932 so Von Mises is speaking from quite a unique vantage point.

What I hit upon instead was so on point with using education to shut down the abstract mind and push action instead. Plus the desire we keep encountering to supply the interpretive concepts and metaphors, instead of accurate facts, to filter student’s daily reality. I decided we could use Von Mises’s observations from so long ago.

“Abstract thought is independent of the wishes which move the thinker and of the aims for which he strives. Only this independence qualifies it as thought. Wishes and purposes regulate action (his italics).”

Von Mises goes on in a footnote to clarify that “the wish is the father of faith.“  Faith is thus what all these education reforms are really trying to create. Do you remember this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/  where influential Harvard psychology prof Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi  laid out his vision of the Flow experience? As Von Mises ably observed in dealing with earlier “Let’s Remake the World Schemers,” there is no abstract thought when wish for and feeling are joined to thought. It is the sort of cultivated personality ready to attend and celebrate at rallies without a second thought. Csik’s Flow and the idea of physical activity in a digital environment instead of mental is mentioned throughout this new view of curriculum and assessment we started to look at in the last post. A primary solution for engaging students at school and keeping them in school is Gaming. As in video games.

That really caught my interest for several reasons. I know the Gates Foundation has been funding it for the Common Core implementation. I know that Professor James Paul Gee, who we discovered in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/ does not believe in the concept of discrete individuals, has pivoted in the last 10 years in his education research to focusing on gaming. And I know that Amplify has been hyping Zombie-Based Apocalypse simulations as learning on its website. To get to what Joel Klein has called “new kinds of minds” I suppose.

So Pearson and the Gordon Commission and everyone else is pushing Gaming. And Gee who wants education to help create people to be “better modules in a distributed non-authoritarian system” is both a member of the Commission and pushing Gaming instead of linguistic mischief making. His previous research mission. Although if you look up his report “Good Video Games and Good Learning” you will see he is quite excited that Gaming helps move education beyond its fetish with print and words. Important to the schemers as we now know.

What do they mean by Gaming? As we saw with the Zombie Apocalypse simulation story that cited sources acknowledging that this type of digital learning is known to weaken the mind http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/creating-new-minds-different-values-equity-in-credentials-can-this-really-lead-us-to-prosperity/ , the point of the simulations described is to practice planning and redesigning societies. You can see why I went back to Von Mises. So the same report that starts off maligning knowledge of facts as “banking education” wants students to practice reimagining other ways for societies to exist and to come to believe that societies can be planned. And the games cited are multi-user to get both social interaction and collaboration practice. Cited are the game River City where the students learn to solve a simulated 19th century city’s problems. At least in the virtual world with the provided, controlled variables. A difference from the real world that is not likely to be pointed out to the students or the teachers.

Then there is the “epistemic game called Urban Science that mimics the professional practicum experiences of urban planners.” Yes, because they are noted for doing a bang-up job with planning in the real world. Let’s ignore that and go with Professor Don Schon’s aspirations for cities and people to be systems that can be treated as problems to be solved. The virtual world awaits and the students immersed in such Gaming are likely to soon accept social and economic planning and fiats as a norm.

Perhaps the most graphic example of where all this is going in the Pearson/ Gordon Commission report is the game Quest Atlantis. There the aim is explicitly described like this:

“the focus of critical design work is to develop sociotechnical structures that facilitate individuals in critiquing and improving themselves and the societies in which they function.”

In fact the creators of the game noted that:

“although they could have focused the Quest Atlantis virtual environment solely on particular science standards about erosion, they became concerned with highlighting attitudes toward environmental awareness and social responsibility.”

And just in case you are wondering where are values, feelings, and beliefs that usually go along with these outcome-based maneuvers to change future behavior, the authors did not forget. They go on to describe how they:

“decided to make a structure connected to social commitments, creating a story [because all political schemers seem to know children learn better with a narrative!] about collecting pieces of crystal, with each representing a social commitment the designers wanted to enforce, like political awareness. They instilled in the community around the game a value of these commitments through the design of the ecosystem.”

The title of this post is quoted from the Introduction to Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures and it was too consistent with the aspirations of the Gaming emphasis not to use. Plus Gee and Courtney Cazden of the Discourse Classroom that we met in the Community of Learners post were both contributors. In fact Gee acknowledged that all these education reforms are to “change the game, that is, to change our society” to what he called a distributed economic system.

You may have noticed all the focus on cities and urban education above and in Edmund Gordon’s mission as a professor. Likewise there are increasingly stories about students being told to learn about White Privilege or their “economic class.” This week’s version involved Americorps workers in Wisconsin but the reports are increasing around the US. So I want to close this post and set up the next one with another quote from Gee’s “New People in New Worlds” essay from the book.

“We, then, really have two school problems. [to get to the sought new economic order]. The first concerns how to ensure that poor and minority children, really for the first time, get well educated enough to participate in building and transforming our societies. The second concerns how to ensure that advantaged children can get out of school able to think ‘critiquely’ about issues of power and social justice in the new global capitalist order.”

How succinct was that admission of the essence of what we are dealing with?

Can an Education Degree Authorize Bait and Switch Political Insurrections With No Recourse?

No I am not talking about a car loan. And I am also not picking on teachers. Truthfully we could substitute a psychology, sociology, anthropology, or even a legal degree in the place of the education degree. The very important point to recognize is this: can education credentials empower people to disregard the language of the US Constitution or comparable legal protections in other countries? Because right now all over the world we have colleges and universities creating degree programs that are designed to use educational institutions to change mindsets and values and beliefs and attitudes and feelings of the students passing through. Higher ed and K-12. Soon to be preschool. A long time to be under organized assault with data being gathered on your current personal attributes. All while getting paid with taxpayer funds.

And the reports they are issuing if you know where to look state or cite to quotes like this: “we support the development of a revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.” As taxpayers are we bound to support that agenda as long as the person pursuing it has the right kind of education credentials? Is there really nothing we can do? You can say vote them out of office but many with this desire are tenured profs or appointed bureaucrats. That inflammatory quote came from Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis’ Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life that I have already mentioned in a previous post. So when one of the reports this week from the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education cited that book, I knew exactly what economic vision went with their vision of fairness and a just society for all in the 21st century.

The Gordon Commission is largely out of sight since it was set up by Educators Testing Service in Princeton using grants made to them. But out of sight does not mean not influential. Not with the movers and shakers selected for that Commission and their connections to the actual Common Core implementation and education globally. And these reports have an explicit economic and political vision attached to them. And cites to people with notorious philosophies like Michel Foucault. Are we all just screwed because these people are education professors or evaluators or vendors and that means a free pass?

How about if the report on “Technological Implications for Assessment Ecosystems” starts off with a quote from Paulo Freire and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Here goes:

“The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the doxa is superseded by the true knowledge at the level of the logos. [Freire is interested in shifting away from academic knowledge to everyday practical knowledge like what David Orr called Slow Knowledge]. Whereas banking education [Freire's term for the transmission of subject-matter knowledge] anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. [or at least how radical political reformers wish reality to be seen. Think Don Schon's Generative Metaphor altering daily perceptions] The former [banking education] attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness; the latter [problem-posing] strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality.”

Now isn’t that just the mentality you want in people developing the tasks and problems used to assess students? Oh, I forgot. The 2 authors, John T Behrens and Kristen E DiCerbo, now work for Pearson. You know the global publishing giant so involved in developing the Common Core curricula and the assessment administrator for Texas’ STAAR as well as both CCSSI consortia, SBAC and PARCC? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ talks about how Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Michael Barber, once advised UK citizens that Global Citizenship could replace God and Marx as a guiding value. Is it a conflict yet to be involved with all these assessments and having employees writing alarming reports for the Gordon Commission?

What if the employees also write that assessments are “complex performances parallel to those learners would complete in the real world?” Sure sounds vocational to me. Especially with that report stating we are shifting from the Item Paradigm, which had questions with correct or wrong answers and sought particular information, to the Activity Paradigm. In the Activity Paradigm the assessment is not for particular information but rather an interest in “assessing specific attributes of an individual.” I feel so much better.

Especially after a search of the authors’ names brought me to the website of the Journal of Educational Data Mining. No more need to stress over hypotheticals involving education’s collection of Big Data on students. We appear to be there. How lucrative for Pearson. Is it publicly traded? Can we all cash in on this connected boondoggle? Precisely what data will come from assessments involving “activities” that “request action,” “have features.” “provide attributes, ” and “provide multi-dimensional information”? In other words, it’s not what a student knows but the essence of who they are being assessed while the student is a captive in a K-12 institution.

Seriously no need to worry about the fact that “digital devices of all kinds are typically enabled to collect data in ubliquitous and unobtrusive ways.” After all it was a different Gordon Commission report that pointed out that “Practices of assessment do not so much reflect the nature of the individual as they construct the individual in their terms.” Gulp. Did you understand that aspect of the Common Core? Is that what educational institutions in a free country are empowered to do while lying to the public about the nature of the changes? You may want to take another look at the nature of these performance assessments and Pearson’s confession that they are really assessing 21st century skills. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/throwing-an-invisibility-cloak-over-the-classroom-to-get-to-deweys-participatory-social-inquiry/ . Behrens and DiCerbo also mention they are assessing 21st century skills.

Which is also a problem. A 2004 book, The Education Gospel: The Economic Power of Schooling, is also popular among the insiders planning the 21st century on our behalf while profiting greatly. The book explains that all educational institutions now are engaged in what it calls the “Occupational Purpose of Schooling.” The College for All, increasing high school graduation rates through gaming or whatever it takes to keep everyone in place to get their diploma, and Equity of Credentials drives we have talked about are creating dangerous expectations in students. A belief that there is a promise that if they stay in school and get the degree, they will find “well-paid jobs with prospects for the future, careers or vocations rather than mere work.”

That implied promise so many are relying is the Education Gospel. It in turn requires what the authors call the Foundational State–the kind of reinvented workplace we have already seen Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Zuboff’s Support Economy pitch as an intrinsic component of all these ed reforms. The prerogatives of employers and students and parents supposedly just have to be subordinated to the needs of the Foundational State. Which, 1, 2, 3 “requires a very different approach to politics and democracy than we have now. It provides a clear vision of the common good: a society in which human capacities are consistently and equitably developed.” Which is a good summary of Marx’s human development theory. Back for its 21st century run on the Industrialized West via stealth and education and apparently poorly understood assessments.

I will close with a quote from the end of the book where the authors note:

“Perhaps we as a nation cannot develop the politics necessary for the Foundational State. But then we should stop prattling on about “skills of the twenty-first century,” the “common sense” of college for all, and the imperatives of the knowledge society including lifelong learning, because we cannot achieve any positive version of vocationalism without the policies of the Foundational State.”

And I say, amen to that. The Swedes said basically the same thing when they piloted these ed reforms as part of their move to the Welfare State in the 1950s and 60s.  You cannot unlink the actual Common Core implementation from the radical political, social, and economic changes that are essential components. Everyone consistently says so if you know where to look.

I know where to look and have. Already downloaded and hard copied. Can we get enough parents and taxpayers and politicians to listen in time?

Targeting How Students See the World So They Will Feel An Irresistible Compulsion For Change

As I have charted through the economic or political or ecological visions of the future that underlie all these ed reforms,  I keep mentioning the lack of knowledge. The insistence that being able to search for information with a search engine is enough. That it no longer needs to be either in a student’s brain or a conceptual remnant, developed by the student from facts that passed through of how the world worked. What had led to tragedies in the past. What character traits worked well. What acceleration towards a personal abyss always felt like and what tends to provoke it.

The fact that education at all levels, K-12 and higher ed, plans to largely take that away under accreditation mandates or visions of equity that require only curricula ALL can engage in (even if it’s as a member of the group with project or problem-based learning) is so counter-intuitive to each of our experiences of what works. And what will not. So I wanted to spend some time today quoting these no knowledge aspirations. I am really not kidding. Or exaggerating. Or going to great trouble to locate a juicy nugget to get you outraged to take action. Every once in a while only a nerdy, 10 dollar word will do and here comes one—omnipresent. This essential component of the vision of the future is everywhere in these sources. It goes back decades. And it is integral to the vision.

As my readers who read the Climate Skeptics sites like Jo Nova or Watts Up With That or Bishop Hill  all know, yesterday the remainder of the ClimateGate emails as well as the password were released,. As we await those revelations of additional coordination to prevent reality from intruding on lucrative grants and false models intended to guide public policy, let’s think about the determination to shut down unapproved knowledge itself. This post was already outlined when that wonderful news came out yesterday. But the facts in this post just became more important.

Because paradigm shifts away from anything other than experiential education are being sold as supposedly necessary to prevent ecological calamity. This quote is from a Pew financed book published in the US by two Australian professors ready to accept a global authoritarian government to force compliance with this Climate catastrophe vision of the future. The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, published in 2007, put it this way in describing universities in the future:

“The freedom to pursue knowledge as the individual sees fit is a mistake, for freedom must be considered in the context of the needs of society as a whole. . . The Real University will have an agenda, which includes priorities for those tasks to be pursued that are essential to the future well-being of humanity.”

And you can bet it will be Paul Ehrlich’s and UN or OECD bureaucrats, with their tax-free salaries, deciding what will be in humanity’s interests and what will constitute well-being. I will get to that in a minute. Once again reminding you that Agenda 21 is no legend. It’s the mandate for action repeatedly cited in everything from the definition of Global Citizenship to Education for Sustainability degree programs. In fact, here’s a cite to a 2008 publication in case I run out of room in this post  http://www.developmenteducationreview.com/print/issue6-focus3?page=show . You can read about how education for knowledge is akin to “colonization of the mind” and thus unacceptable or how Education for Sustainability needs a systems or relational approach to be taught in the schools and universities. That way students will be trained to always look for “contexts and connections in order to build up whole pictures of phenomena rather than breaking things into individual parts. It is a way of seeing which focuses on processes, patterns and dynamics…”

And it will likely create ways of seeing that are factually untrue but they will be politically powerful and likely to compel action to create change. Why? Because as Oberlin Professor David Orr describes it as Biophilia and the Next Generation Science Standards just call “hands-on science,” the new preferred method based on experience:

“links sensory knowledge with the emotions that make us love and sometimes fight.”

In fact, Orr wants students to redefine what is patriotic and unpatriotic in terms of the environment and also fair shares of natural resources. Patriotism “should in the future also come to mean the use made of land, forests, air, water, and wildlife. To abuse natural resources, to erode soils, to destroy natural diversity, to waste, to take more than one’s fair share, or to fail to replenish what has been used, must someday come to be regarded as unpatriotic. And ‘politics’ once again must come to mean, in Vaclav Havel’s words, ‘serving the community and serving those who will come after us.”

http://exacteditions.theecologist.org/read/resurgence/vol-29-no-3-may-june-1999-6536/85/3?dps= is a link to the full 1999 Orr essay on “Rethinking Education.” As you will see it is a paradigm shift and it looks just like the implementation we now have coming to classrooms near us soon. Or already there. All actually based on the disputable premise that “the skills, aptitudes, and attitudes that were necessary to industrialize the Earth are not the same as those that are needed now to heal the Earth, or to build durable economies and good communities.”

And if that durable economy sounds like a needs economy as Scharmer and Zuboff envision in that earlier post or Harry Boyte’s concept of community, they do seem to have read each other’s work even if they do not actually talk. Who knows? They all, including that Pew book above, keep talking about wisdom and usually italicizing it just like that. Before we talk about that “approved deep understanding that compels approved action, ” I want to mention a crucial point on all this Harry Boyte lays out in his Chapter on “Spreading Everyday Politics.” He recognizes that in the information age, “those who do the conceptual organizing are in a particularly powerful position.”

That’s true of Hollywood and the nightly news but it is especially true in an education world both trying to deemphasize factual knowledge AND come up with the filtering metaphors that students will come to see the world through without appreciating they are metaphors and not reality itself. We know Don Schon saw this and loved its possibilities for social change with just the right Generative Metaphors. We have seen it with Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory now being taught as fact to both teachers and students. Harvard Professor AN Whitehead even came up with a name for it–”the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” Now instead of a warning, that fallacy is being deliberately cultivated as a key, politically useful component of desired 21st century thinking.

Wisdom in the vision ( I am using the Pew book again) being pushed for education in the future is all about “a desire and an active striving for values.” New ones. And just like Milton Rokeach figured out so long ago, it’s because values drive future behavior. This philosophy of wisdom treats the purpose of education as being to “help us develop wiser ways of living, institutions, customs and social relations-a wiser world.” But one not based on book learning from the past. One based on feelings and hopes and what David Orr (cited by name in the book) calls “slow knowledge.” It involves how to do practical things in the belief that book knowledge “may allow people to become greater and greater destroyers of ecological services.”

But which is more likely to lead to actual destruction in the 21st century? Jettisoning the accumulated knowledge of the past for political theories of what might work? Psychological theories of how human nature might change if education becomes more visual and group-oriented and grounded in social and emotional learning of new values daily in the classroom?

And virtually none of these underlying assumptions driving ed reforms globally are on anyone’s radar. Except mine and now yours.

I feel a bit like Mr FOIA of ClimateGate. This is too grave to be allowed to stand without at least trying to stop it by bringing it to your attention.

Done. Time for breakfast and the carpool line.

Does Community of Learners Sound Warm, Fuzzy and Harmless? It’s Not

Community of Learners (CoL) is a phrase that first came on my radar when a new high school principal who prided himself on being a Change Agent kept mentioning it. Sandwiched in between troubling references to the teachers “may no longer teach or lecture” and “students should construct their own learning.” So the term was on my radar screen as probable trouble in a way that most parents or community leaders or politicians are unlikely to pick up on. My guess is the first time any of you or the political decision makers hear of  a CoL or its earlier name, Collaborative Classroom, will be something along the lines of the way Lee S Shulman, the President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and another Stanford prof, described it. He called it a “pedagogic reform”–”Fostering a Community of Learners.” My comments are in brackets.

“The essence of FCL is the creation of learning experiences in which students who are working on big ideas [now frequently called essential questions as in McTighe/Wiggins Understanding by Design] become interdependent in their investigations and their collaborations around new tasks. [remember CCSSI is student-centered and all the mentions are to activities, tasks, and projects. Virtually all group]… FCL rests heavily on the deep understanding [emotional; affective; grounded in feelings and beliefs based on experiences]. [FCL] is primarily concerned with achieving changes in the social relations among students [paging John Dewey to the 21st Century classroom!!]. Moreover, we argue that this form of task division and distribution is not merely a pedagogical tactic; it mirrors the ways in which complex problems are addressed in both academic and entrepreneurial contexts in the modern world.”

Now, minus my snarkiness or inserted explanations prompting a recall of earlier points in previous posts, this explanation of a reform might sound pretty convincing. Especially if sold as a means to decrease the drop-out rate by increasing student engagement. You can bet this would come with all the university presidents and business people who think it is a wonderful idea. Left out of course would be the fact that the higher ed accreditation agencies required the change in the classroom and probably pushed the “independent” endorsement of FCL to boot. Or that virtually all the businesses being cited for support have some undisclosed conflict or are looking forward to being a designated vendor of a NEED in a hoped-for new kind of Capitalism as we have talked about.

So I see things differently because I understand more pertinent facts than what is typically supplied by the sales campaign for these education or economic reforms. And those of you who are hearing horror stories (finally!!) about the new Common Core Science Standards and its emphasis on consensus science, remember Carnegie financed those standards. So the real point of FCL is pertinent to the real point of those Science Standards. Which is to replace objective, experimental Science as a body of disprovable  knowledge. Instead we are to get experience knowledge grounded in personal perspectives. As you can appreciate Experience Science is much more susceptible to influence from political power. Very convenient in a hoped for government-led economy of the future.

Now what Shulman and others advocating CoLs as a key component now of Effective Teaching and Classrooms and Positive School Climates and Cultures are likely to leave out is that this is yet another export from the Soviet Union from the time of the Cold War. Professor Bronfenbrenner was not the only American prof dropping in on Soviet psychologist Leon’tiev for some advice on how to teach American students in the future. Then Harvard Ed Prof Courtney Cazden just happens to mention in her book Classroom Discourse: The Language of Art and Teaching that FCL came from observations of a mid-70s trip to the USSR she and Professor Ann Brown and Professor Michael Cole took.

The late Ann Brown is considered to be the creator of the US version of FCL along with her husband Joe Campione. She grounded it explicitly in the theories of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky who we have talked about before. He was trying to come up with a way to create the perfect Soviet personality for the future. The FCL Project is described as a “system of interactive activities designed to create a self-consciously active and reflective learning environment.”  Which sounds ever so much like the actual intentions for the Common Core classroom all over the globe now when you read the documents the insiders send to each other on what they wish to achieve.

If you are wondering why now after the USSR went poof, let’s remember all the cited political theorists and business professors and systems thinkers I have described as seeking economic democracy globally in the 21st century. Scharmer, Zuboff, Harry Boyte, Benjamin Barber, and John Dewey himself. Cazden herself said that these types of social interactions in the classroom are “essential for students’ development toward active citizenship in a pluralistic democratic society.”  Professor Michael Cole cited John Dewey for this reason:

“the social environment … is truly educative in the degree to which an individual shares or participates in some conjoint activity. [a nerdy way to say group learning]. By doing his share in the associated activity, the individual appropriates the purpose that actuates it [don't be surprised if it's about global warming or overpopulation], becomes familiar with its methods and subject matters, acquires needed skill, and is saturated with emotional spirit.”

That last part really got my attention as another one of the books being cited to push for a different kind of economic system to go with these ed reforms is called The Spirit Society imported from the UK. Plus Zuboff described her distributed capitalism in terms of using education to infuse the desired spirit. We seem to have a consistent theme and desire going here.

Cazden described the importance of FCL and its emphasis on social relationships like this: “Now each student becomes a significant part of the official learning environment for all the others, and teachers depend on students’ contributions to other students’ learning, both in discussions and for the diffusion of individual expertise through the class.”

Yes that is the real reason Gifted programs and tracking are being discontinued. Those fine minds and excellent vocabularies and outside school experiences become common property of the classroom. To be accessible to everyone instead of the talented students moving on in the subject-based, abstract world they are capable of and may prefer. That would be selfish in our hoped for economic democracy where everyone’s needs come first and individualism is no longer a concept to be cherished or even accepted. See Cazden’s colleague James Paul Gee’s rejection of even the concept in an earlier post.

Professor Cole likewise said the Community of Learners concept is grounded in Vygotskyian “cultural-historical activity theory” or CHAT for short. His acronym, not mine.  Like Dewey, Professor Cole sees these learning theories where “humans are [supposedly I add] created in joint mediated activity” as about changing the prevailing society and its customs, feelings, values, attitudes, and beliefs. In fact, Cole said the “acid test of CHAT” would be its “success in guiding the construction of new, more humane forms of activity.”

Like Boyte’s Cooperative Commonwealth or Zuboff’s distributed capitalism or Otto Scharmer’s Capitalism 3.0? Every time we peel away the cover of the rhetoric intended to be the sales campaign about the US Common Core and its related education reforms globally, we find these radical Transformative intentions. Cole says “Culture is exteriorized mind; mind is interiorized culture.” So if you make the classroom about social interaction and the use of a visually-oriented external thinking devices like Smartphone or tablets like an IPad, the hoped-for change is the student’s mind from the inside out. Hopefully largely empty of accurate facts. Do that to enough students, especially making the activities about emotionally provocative or insoluble complex world problems, and you can change the prevailing culture.

Implementing these ed theories may also though destroy everything that works without gaining viable substitutes in its place. Except the strong arm of government coercion. I have not made too heavy of an emphasis on how the Communitarian aspects of all these reforms harkens back to what was going on in 19th century German education reforms. I will simply add that the Germanic term Gemeinschaft keeps being cited in these related reports for internal consumption. One such report from December 2000 went on with the definition of a desired school community “where the value of individuals working together for the common good is upheld and respected.” It also referred reverentially to Amitai Etzioni by name as well as his anti-individualism “social movement.”

Can you see why I see the reality of the Common Core so much differently? It is all there once you treat education reform like an onion and peel away the rhetoric. And track back to the actual creators of these implementation practices.

 

Viewing Education as the Prime Lever for International Social Change: Community Organizing Everywhere

No I did not add that reference to community organizing as a provocative means of grabbing your attention. Yes I do know that it was the past profession of the current US President and it’s not an area I knew much about. Until about a week ago when a book from the political theorist I kept seeing cited in the footnotes of so many of the books and reports I was reading came. If his was the political vision that went with these education, social, and economic “reforms,” I thought I’d better check out precisely what that vision was. His name is Harry Boyte and the 2004 book was called Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life. Boyte lays out his vision for the future direction of society in terms of a “cooperative commonwealth” where citizen groups organize and work together with governments at all levels to identify and solve society’s problems.

I do not find Boyte’s vision to be especially workable but it is the vision of the future that is attached to the real Common Core once you tiptoe through those all important implementing footnotes. Boyte sees a reenvisioned education, K-12 and higher ed, as central to his goal of creating a partnership among citizens and government. He quotes Jane Addams in terms of how to best spread his vision of an Everyday Politics:

“We are gradually requiring of the educator that he free the powers of each man and connect him with the rest of life. We are impatient to use the dynamic power residing in the mass of humankind, and demand that the educator free that power.”

If that sounds like John Dewey, yes we do seem to refighting the issues of the 20th century again in the 21st century. Again, there’s a reason Addams sounds like Dewey. They were both colleagues and friends back in the 1890s Chicago. Old theories do not die in politics or education. They just get renamed for another try regardless of tragic histories.

Boyte wants to use education in the 21st to “reinvent the role of productive citizen and the politics to express it.” Otherwise, “public life is unlikely to improve.” And what precisely does he intend to do? Here’s his precise plan:

“If we are to renew democracy through everyday politics, five things are needed. This first is conceptual: we need an understanding of the commons as something created and sustained by human beings, not simply given. The other four are practical. We need to develop public policy frameworks for productive citizen-government partnerships in problem solving. We need sustained culture-changing organizing in mediating institutions [bolded to make sure everyone recognizes he is referring to preschools, K-12 and colleges and universities], including the addition of everyday politics to political parties, issue groups, and other structures now dominated by experts. We need to understand popular culture itself as a crucial site of democratic organizing [somehow I think Hollywood got this memo long before us and maybe some network execs and newspaper editors]. And we need to develop learning partnerships that spread everyday politics on a global scale.

Boyte mentions Peter Senge and his idea of the learning organization for both schools and businesses admiringly in his book. He also advocates a systems approach. Which is really fortuitous because on July 4, 2012, Senge,  Robert Kegan of Harvard, Michael Fullan (Canada’s premier Driver of Education as Social Change) and others delivered a report to the Hewlett Foundation–that well-funded driver of Deep Learning as the real purpose of the Common Core that we have discussed several times. The report was called “Lessons of Systemic Change for Success in Implementing the New Common Core Standards” and it fits right perfectly with getting to Boyte’s vision of everyday politics with new guiding values and concepts for each student and adult.

The report envisions teachers and students developing and growing initially through classroom experiences that will take them through new stages of awareness and behaviors. Going from the initial Internalized Stage to the Socialized stage is to cause the students and faculty to develop deeper connections with each other. This transition is considered to be critical to “effective education” under the Common Core, which has a definition the parents and taxpayers are not being told about–”social interactions between adults and students and among adults.” Those of you compiling a glossary of unappreciated definitions will also want to add Community of Learners and Professional Learning Communities to the list of terms use to describe this interactive web of relationship learning.

Next stage (3) according to the report is called Self-Authoring or Empathetic but that’s not where they want students or adults to stop. As an Education for Sustainability report noted, empathy is not enough because it may not provoke action to change conditions and structures. It is thus important that education in the future “provoke outrage” about real-world problems. Those same problems that are to be the focus of the assessments of student performance under the Common Core. How convenient.

The last Stage is called Self-Transcending. Schools now will be looking to students and adults to commit to “personal transformation” and a willingness to confront and then “cultivate one’s mind-body system and strive to move on to the higher stages.” No I suspect that the public descriptions of what is going on will not be that graphic which is why it is so important to read the underlying blueprints and theories behind the sought school changes. The Hewlett report itself has a chart that describes the “self-transcending stage” as the level that sees school “as a vehicle for societal transformation.” Which is once again left off of the monthly newsletters from the school and district. Also left off from public discussion of the planned vision are a classroom that wants students to “maximize mutual learning and co-creating desired futures.” Based on feelings and wishes and maybe some fairy dust to boot but virtually no accurate knowledge of the past or how the world really works or how we came to be where we are in the 21st century. Apparently knowledge impedes imagination to co-create the future.

Our Self-Authoring striving towards Transcendence student is to seek “deeper awareness.” Just what you want when you put them on the school bus in the morning or drop off a loved one–”the capacity to interact and respond adequately with sensitivity and pertinence to the circumstances, situations or events that arise moment after moment.” And if this systemic/developmental vision of the Common Core does not sound creepy enough, non-progressing students and adults will have the reasons for the “blockage” examined so a remedy plan can be implemented. Individualized learning indeed.

This is the sought and planned reality behind the “student-centered” classroom mantra. The report goes on to inform all the adults, from teachers to principals to Supers, that it is the “fundamental task of leadership at all levels”–that means preschool and college too–to make sure all students “see the larger system of which they are a part and seek higher leverage strategies that address forces in these systems.” Not based on knowledge which is to be little and far between but grounded in feelings and affective beliefs about how the world works.

This is where all the references to hands-on learning and experiences become important and all the references to service learning and civic engagement come in. The best way to move students and keep them at these described higher levels of consciousness is to move them into community activities outside the classroom where they can work to solve real problems. And get primed to both practice Boyte’s everyday politics and to demand as Zuboff and Scharmer envision a different kind of economy to meet everyone’s needs instead of personal choices.

I wish I could tell you I am stretching here to try to provoke you into action on opposing the Common Core but honestly, if anything, this post still underplays just how radically transformational the attached visions of the future really are. I did not go looking for a reason to oppose the Common Core. I went looking for a reason for all the discrepancies between the rhetoric about the Common Core and the reality laid out in regulations and reports and waivers and books by the theorists being cited for support.

I am going to close this reality based thunderbolt revealing the real aspirations for change with a quote Professor David Orr used to describe his reasons for pushing the ecological education and Slow Knowledge that are attached to the actual implementation coming to a school near you. If it is not there already. Damaging and unknown to the public funding it. The words come from EF Schumacher:

“Education which fails to clarify our central convictions is mere training or indulgence. For it is our central convictions that are in disorder, and as long as the present anti-metaphysical temper persists, the disorder will grow worse. Education, far from ranking as [our] greatest resource, will then be an agent of destruction…”

The real Common Core is about new values and mental models and those central, motivating, convictions. And they will not be based on what the student brought from home or what has EVER created mass prosperity in the past. And even the relatively few who are aware, much less concerned about the Common Core, are unaware that the actual common core involves an internal redo of everything we hold dear.

Out of sight. Remaking those minds and Personalities.

Imitating the USSR in Striving to Discover How the Child can Become What He Not Yet Is

Well of course that lurid title is based on an actual quote. And one that goes to the heart not only of the actual Common Core implementation but also the broader social, economic, and political transformations being sought. And it is from the 70s so this has been the driver of what has gone on in the decades ever since. All over the world but especially in the US as education and cultural and social transformation were always poorly understood components of the Cold War era struggles. It is time to do some fundamental explanations of those misunderstandings and woeful ignorance of where the battlegrounds really have been.

Now I have talked about American psychology prof Urie Bronfenbrenner numerous times because his Ecological Systems Theory has been so influential in what future teachers are now taught in ed schools all over the world. And the BEST metaphor of systems thinking is a key component of global ed reform. Except the fact that it is an interpretive theory and non-factual metaphor to influence future thought and action tends to get left out of both the teachers and the students’ classroom exposure to systems thinking. For them, especially when you add in lots of graphically visual computer modelling of the supposed “interdependencies” and possible impacts, this Systems Thinking metaphor quickly becomes reality. Which is of course the goal. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/ is where I first address BEST and cite the US embrace of it and the sociocultural understanding of the mind last summer.

And that aspiration of false beliefs to influence future behavior calls to mind what Urie (that name is too long to keep typing. Anyone with aspirations of changing the future to a world that has never been should be on a first-name basis with us–his funders and victims) described as “perhaps the only proposition in social science that approaches the status of an immutable law–WI Thomas’s inexorable dictum: ‘If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.’”

False beliefs and supplied manipulative mental concepts can be, and in fact are being designed to be, hugely influential on future behavior. Real in their consequences. And we may all think of education as being about the transmission of knowledge from the past, but the social scientists think education is all about changing future behaviors. Changing moral and spiritual values and feelings and all the components of the personality that will turn into the adult’s character. And the behavioral scientists, especially in the US at the premier ed schools, have controlled the agenda for decades.

The US, especially Columbia, Harvard, Chicago, and Stanford, is where the world came for their Graduate Training in the behavioral sciences. Before going back to Sweden or Germany or the Netherlands or Australia to then drive ed reforms there. Ed reforms that were always designed to go hand in hand with an inexorable drive towards a Government-Directed Welfare State. Here’s the order according to an influential Swede (who cites to Urie and Margaret Mead) speaking in 1980 who was heavily involved with UNESCO, OECD, and those poorly understood but influential international “assessments.”

“legislation and implementation of the Welfare State to a large extent has to precede commitments to educational change: first full employment and decent standards of living, and then education.”

And what does the last stage of ed reform that is an integral component of that Welfare State look like? Described in a book on Quality Education from the 60s based on everyone globally adopting the Swedish ed reforms, see if this vision does not sound familiar. Think of the “student-centered,” activity and task and project oriented, and social and emotional learning focus we have been chronicling as the real Common Core implementation.

“The fourth [stage], finally, is characterized by emphasis on meaning [as in a meaning-making approach to literacy?] and understanding [as in deep and grounded in emotion?], problem-solving [real world and thus authentic?] and pupil activity. Discipline is more relaxed and positive [introduce PATHS or PBIS as in Cleveland instead of expulsions]. More stress is put on the emotional life of the children.”

So when Urie developed BEST he was looking to, in his own words, restructure established institutions and their values and what he called their ideologies. To Urie capitalism and individualism were just as much an ideology as Communism. We apparently get no bonus points for success or mass prosperity or the absence of gulags. Even mass murders but maybe Urie just did not want to believe bad consequences of his preferred systems. And we are not talking about his personal political beliefs here. Beyond his influence over teacher ed and the Systems Thinking permeating the classroom and psychology in general, not a single day goes by that I do not get multiple searches looking into Bronfenbrenner or BEST. It is clearly dominant in the teacher professional training for Common Core and many teachers are alarmed at what they are hearing. And seeing.

Well these next revelations will be like throwing kerosene on a fire then. But unlike the false beliefs dominating the Common Core and the sought transformations in all the rest of our systems, including us since we are designated as socio-technical systems, this is all factual. Socio-technical may sound nerdy but it was in a federal Ecosystem rebuilt around Sustainability report from this summer that the major tech companies helped on. Thanks so much.

Apparently Urie was an exchange scientist at the Soviet Institute of Psychology in the mid-60s. He wrote that Soviet psychologist A N Leontiev personally pointed out to him the fact that American research on human development was limited to social and economic systems that presently exist or occurred in the past. He quotes Leontiev as saying:

“It seems to me that American researchers are constantly seeking to explain how the child came to be what he is; we in the USSR are striving to discover not how the child came to be what he is, but how he can become what he not yet is.”

So when I write about changing American education to the Soviet model or using Vygotsky’s research or sociocultural theory or the troubling implications of BEST or even Marx’s human development theory, I am not trying to be provocative. Well, maybe just a little to get attention as this is gravely important. This is education to try to gain a different type of mind and motivating personality. That’s not just my opinion. I am like a court reporter here with all these quotes that date back to mid-70s speeches before publication in the July 1977 issue of American Psychologist. Urie developed BEST to move educational research outside of the lab to try to no longer “perpetuate the status quo.” He wanted to see if what he called “evolving social systems” in the West were “susceptible to significant and novel transformation.”

And to give you some idea just how serious and all-encompassing Urie’s aspirations for BEST were he complained that:

“We are loath to experiment with new social forms as contexts for realizing human potential. ‘After all,’ we say, ‘you can’t change human nature.’ This precept underlies our national stance on social policy and much of our science in human development as well.”

Urie also described what the Soviets called the “transforming experiment.” According to him:

“By this term they mean an experiment that radically restructures the environment, producing a new configuration that activates previously unrealized behavioral potentials of the subject.”

But the Soviets had a problem. When they left the lab, the ‘transforming experiment’ “degenerates into dutiful demonstration of ideologically prescribed processes and outcomes.” Ahh, poor things. By the 60s and 70s the indoctrination had been too penetrating for too long and the Soviet Union has ceased to be a reliable place to employ a useful “transforming experiment.” Where to go? What to do? Go West young man was apparently the answer and that is what has happened.

It is hard not to see the ed lab pushes of the 80s and all the curriculum and instructional transformation centers on campuses as not being Leontiev-Urie transforming experiments on the unsuspecting West. Especially the US. Or the 90s Outcomes Based Education or Achieving Excellence push that swept the globe, especially anywhere with a tie to English-speaking people.

Or the actual Common Core implementation today. Transform every aspect fundamentally all at once. Include the economic system to gain a radically new form of capitalism as we discussed in the last post.

Urie complained that in the 60s USSR “systematic data yield to anecdotal accounts.” No worry. Now we have a national Data Quality Campaign and the Harvard Strategic Data Project and the longitudinal ability to track each student’s Growth.

Too bad Leontiev and Urie passed away before all their dreams came to fruition.

What will the “significant and novel transformations” be? All the way down the unconscious level of each student.

I guess we are now revisiting the always tragic issue of can you change human nature.