Personalized Learning as a Molding Mechanism and Prime Instrument for Social and Political Control

We have discussed some of the implications of the personalized learning language in the Every Child Achieves Act rewrite of the K-12 federal education legislation, but most of what will guide the classroom practices and data being accumulated (“a data warehouse for every student”) lies in documents other than ECAA. Scouring those, as I am prone to do in my research, in turn sent me scurrying back to a Carnegie-funded book from 1952 called The New Man in Soviet Psychology. Similar language, comparable visions, and the same recommended changes to education generally means the same real goals whether that is being acknowledged up front or not. I want to go back to something Stalin told Party members in 1933, since we are highly unlikely to get a comparable confession from members of Congress in 2015, on the need to solve the ‘human problems’ if the desired transformations were to truly take hold in the USSR. “Even though the industrial and social base of the old society had been largely destroyed, the ‘remnants of capitalism’ still lingered in the minds of men.” Quoting Uncle Joe himself:

“You as Marxists should know that in its development the mentality of man lags behind his actual condition. In status the members of collective farms are no longer individual farmers, but collectivists, but their mentality is still the old one–that of the owner of private property.”

Stalin and the Soviets made no bones about their intention to “bring all possible facilities of society to bear on the problem of training and controlling its individual citizens.” They were especially fond of using the law in such a binding manner. Methinks they would have liked the language of ECAA and its close sibling, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) from last summer, a great deal. What these measures share in common is a desire to create an organized society. Now obviously that was not news to any Soviet in the 1930s, but it is news to many Americans in the 21st Century, which is why so much of what is intended to bind and quietly alter the minds of men is hidden and not being discussed openly.

What is an organized society anyway? It’s the idea that a society can be consciously organized and directed. In the case of the US in the 21st century, the organization is around the concept of Equity and an obligation to meet people’s needs, whoever they are and however they came to the US. In pushing this vision of social justice, or as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls it–Dignity for All by 2030–the organized society shifts from a place where people make their own choices to a “society in which–insofar as possible–all the parts are coordinated to the service of the whole by the deliberate decisions of persons who are in a position to implement that decision.” Hard to get politicians or public sector employees at any level to back off that kind of decision-making power once they get a whiff of the possibilities.

And the number one “theoretical tool for the coordination of society” in the Soviet Union of the 30s or America in 2015 is education. What the Soviets decided in the 30s and what people pushing all these reforms now know is that if they can train and guide people’s purposeful action, they can control future behaviors reliably without that being apparent. I am pretty sure Carnegie did not fund that book above just because it just loves to spend old Andrew’s steel fortune. It found its vision compatible with where it hoped the US would go as well. That likelihood becomes even more apparent when we look at the Foreword of the book and find Harvard prof and cognitive scientist, Jerome Bruner, wrote it. Bruner, citing John Dewey as having a comparable vision, wrote about:

“the need for a psychology that may support democracy. For man’s image of the nature of man is not only a matter of objective inquiry, it is and has always been a prime instrument of social and political control. He who molds that image does so with enormous consequences for the society in which he lives.”

Words to remember as we delve into personalized learning and so many of the practices and theories we have imported from the Soviet Union. What Bruner knew and what Carnegie knows since it funded the research, we are dealing with a comparable vision of using psychology to mold a consciousness and personality that becomes an activist in remaking the world that exists. Would you like to hazard a guess at the number 1 aspect or trait the Soviets knew they needed to control and mold? Motivation. Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to what the number one feature of ‘personalizing learning’ is in 2015 in the US? That’s right. It’s determining and then accessing student’s at the level of their intrinsic motivation.

I have tracked the meaning of personalizing instruction and learning through a lot of reports, but the most graphic is probably in the January 2015 National Initiative from the School Mental Health Project at UCLA. Given all the references in ECAA to the needs of the students and the communities and ‘learning supports’ it appears to me that the entire 204 page document is intended to be implemented via ECAA without anyone in Congress giving a Heads Up. The report is called “Transforming Student and Learning Supports: Developing a Unified, Comprehensive, and Equitable System” and it tells us upfront it has been created as part of that theme I am asserting is being used to turn us quietly into an organized society. “Equity of opportunity is fundamental to securing civil rights; transforming student and learning supports is fundamental to enabling equity of opportunity.”

Law school was decades ago but there is a trigger threshold in con law once something is deemed a ‘fundamental right’ and that seems to be precisely what this plan wants to trigger. Awfully crucial not to be in the open, isn’t it? Well, it is now so let’s quote what it says about personalization in education:

“personalizing instruction means ensuring conditions for learning are perceived by the learner as good ways to attain goals s/he wants to reach. Thus, a basic intervention concern is eliciting learners’ perceptions of how well what is offered matches both their interests and abilities. This has fundamental implications for all efforts to assess students and manage behavior.”

Manage behavior? Goal-seeking, purposeful actor? Doesn’t this sound precisely like the 30s Soviet shift on how to get at the minds of men to mold a new mentality? Should we be concerned that this 2015 National Initiative says that “From our perspective, the aim of personalizing learning is to enhance stable, positive, intrinsic attitudes that mobilize and maintain engagement in learning.” So all the language about “(a) ensure motivational readiness, (b) enhance motivation during learning, and (c) increase intrinsic motivation as an outcome” seems a bit heavy-handed, but it’s only one document, right? Well, there’s also the ISTE 2014 “Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology” that will likely guide what the language of ECAA really means for our students and ultimately all of us.

It helpfully lets us know that “personalized learning is not the digitization of traditional learning” since after all, it is the student’s mind and personality that are the real focus of this digital menu. Showing that unfortunately subject content areas are merely the means to get the desired changes in the students we are told to set goals and then try to achieve those established goals. How purposive! A goal-seeking actor just like Stalin wanted the emphasis to be on. “Progress through subject area content is measured by the demonstration of proficiency in identified skills and understanding.” Those would be the skills and understanding needed not for the world we now have, but that desired future which needs a new kind of citizen and worker.

Now I can say repeatedly that this is not the model of coursework we are all used to and insist how much manipulation is going on, but a vision of “courses built around concepts and learning outcomes” just speaks volumes about how socially engineered this “self-directed learning” will actually be. Let’s look somewhere else since this 2014 Summit on Personalized Learning of the White House-sponsored Digital Promise and League of Innovative Schools was uploaded to the internet about the time this new version of ECAA–1177–became available. Let’s go to page 18 since it is describing a federal grant to “revolutionize instruction”.

Now how ‘personalized’ does learning in the ordinary dictionary meaning of the term seem if we specify what all students need to know and then want to assess “How will we know they’ve learned it? and “What will we do if they haven’t learned it?” How a student chooses to show their learning is flexible and the activities they engage in to practice the desired learning has lots of options, but what is to be learned does not. Whether the student gets it or not, there’s actually a great deal mandatory to this personalized vision. That’s just not supposed to be apparent to either the students or us, lest we object to the clear coercion at the levels of mind, values, attitudes, and feeling.

This was true in every recent personalized learning paper I found. Here’s another The quiet mandatory nature makes perfect sense if this is all intended to be a molding mechanism in pursuit of an organized society where Equity is the lode star for decision-making.

If we go back to that 1952 book it will tell us that “The Bolshevik controls man by training his motives and shaping his ideology.” As someone who has read all these reports and ECAA, I am now asserting that personalizing instruction and “personalized rigorous learning experiences” are intended to train student’s motives for future action as well.

And the requirements about annual assessing of “higher order thinking and understanding” are monitoring whether the minds are being suitably molded and trained in “ideological thinking.” Because at its core, that’s where there is no flexibility.

Is the student using the desired concepts? Is she demonstrating desired values and appropriate attitudes?

Will he be motivated to act when and in the way desired? At least Uncle Joe was transparent in his aims, unlike Congress and most legislatures, governors, and city councils.

Eager to benefit from such social and political control over us.



Illegitimate Extension: the Stealth Substitution of ECAA and the Dystopian Future Triggered by its Mandates and Lures

ECAA is the acronym for the new federal K-12 legislation–the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. Since Senator Lamar Alexander, assuming unknown to me powers never discussed in Civics in that “How a Bill Becomes a Law” brochure, has pulled what unanimously passed his Senate subcommittee and substituted this more than 200 page longer bill , we are going to interrupt our trilogy to take a look. Especially since the lack of any genuine public notice of the “Yoohoo, Heads Up” variety makes it appear none of us were supposed to have a chance to notice and object to the switch. I was not fond of the old bill’s language and wrote several posts explaining why back in April.

The new language though requires, as a matter of binding federal law, two revolutionary shifts in American schools. It imposes the UNESCO/OECD Seven Domains (and accompanying subdomains explicitly in numerous instances too often to be coincidental) of Universal Education. I intuited that after I finished the 792 page bill and then located the 3 reports created by the Brookings Institute Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) and published in February 2013, July 2013, and June 2014. All the reports start with “Toward Universal Learning”. Report 1 is then titled “What Every Child Should Learn” and lays out those 7 domains of Physical wellbeing, social and emotional, culture and the arts, literacy and communication, Learning approaches and cognition, Numeracy and mathematics, and science and technology. Report 2 is “A Global Framework for Measuring Learning” and Report 3 lays out “Implementing Assessment to Improve Learning.”

Report 2 gives the perfect rationale for why ECAA has had such a stealth approach and why the Opt Out movement seems to really be about shifting to formative assessments and a Whole Child approach. Let’s listen in on this useful confession:

“While measurement may have different purposes at different levels, the systems for measuring and improving learning at the classroom, national, and global levels should not be working in isolation. Globally tracked indicators should be aligned with what is measured nationally and in schools or classrooms, while measurement at the national level should be aligned with the competencies measured in classrooms or schools.”

That is why ECAA is so intent on ensuring that all states and local school districts are using “high-quality assessments” and measuring “higher order thinking and understanding.” Now I have written about the meanings of these terms before, most particularly here , but it is time to reveal that second revolutionary shift mandated as a MATTER OF LAW by ECAA. It forces a vision of theoretical learning and “mastering of the technique of theoretical concept formation” developed in the Soviet Union to create ideological thinkers who could be manipulated by state authorities (or anyone else who knew about the methods). This relates to what is described in Chapter 3 of my book and is also why it is so alarming that ECAA has the National Science Foundation providing recommendations on Best Practices in STEM coursework.

After I had finished reading both the new ECAA and those three Universal Education reports, I pulled a 1984 book Psychology in Utopia: Toward a Social History of Soviet Psychology for insights into what was being mandated via ECAA as “personalized, rigorous learning experiences that are supported through technology” and a repeated obligation to “personalize learning”. This is all under the Innovative Technology Expands Children’s Horizon’s (I-Tech) part that begins on page 551. In other words, after normal people have become too frustrated with ECAA to continue. I have known for a while that the phrase “personalized learning” is a quagmire of misunderstandings and psychologically intrusive practices to lock-in, at a neurological level, how the world will be interpreted going forward.

The book’s author did not think much of this theoretical learning and called the project an “outright utopia,” which should not be extended “illegitimately, to the whole of society.” Can’t imagine then why we should enshrine it in 2015 as an obligation under federal law. The book described all the programs that Vasily Davydov and his group created in the 70s that, from my knowledge of the actual Common Core implementation as detailed in my book, is the basis for all those planned learning tasks and literacy instruction now. Oh. Good. Kozulin noted though that by 1981 Davydov’s research showed that “object-oriented activity” alone had no effect on mental development. To have that effect, a “personalized form” of “educational activity” must be found. I am guessing that is what ECAA means with its constant references to “well-rounded educational experiences.”

To be ‘personalized’ according to the research of the Soviet psychologists, the focus “of the psychological program” must get at “problems of motivation and personal reflection and the construction of individualized programs of educational activity.” That would be what ECAA calls data to ‘personalize learning’ and ‘inform instruction’ and specifically calls for the “use of data, data analytics, and information to personalize learning and provide targeted supplementary instruction.” See what I meant by Windows on the Mind from the last post?

I have a lot to cover so here’s why Universal Design for Learning had to be in ECAA and why it is vital to personalizing learning . Here is the Gates Foundation-funded and tied to OECD work and the Achievement Standards Network we have also covered on the Next Generation Learning Environment and its ties to personalizing learning.

So why really must Learning be personalized and why is what now constitutes ‘content’ under ECAA really behavior or the kind of theoretical concept knowledge or principles we have now tracked to the USSR and its visions for utopia in the future? This is from the 2nd Universal Education LMTF report. I put up a link yesterday from 2013 of Arne Duncan hyping this very global agenda of the UN Secretary-General. It is worth quoting in full, but I am bolding the real stunners. Remember the UN Dignity for All by 2030 Agenda I have covered previously.

“The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings. It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write, and count. Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life. It must cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it. Education must be relevant in answering the big questions of the day. Technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone cannot achieve sustainable development. It requires transforming the way people think and act. Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies. It must give people the understanding, skills and values they need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.”

That is precisely what ECAA does when you go through its actual language as I have done. By the way, that quote was from a section of the report titled “An Adaptable, Flexible Skill Set to Meet the Demands of the 21st Century.” In the US and other countries all over the world this gets sold as students having a Growth Mindset. It’s no accident that before hyping that euphemistic term Carol Dweck was a well-known Vygotsky scholar. The 1970s Soviet work is an updating of Vygotsky’s work and what this blog has tagged CHAT-cultural historical activity theory. We have met it all before and now we know why. These global plans and using education as the vehicle are far more extensive even than what is already alarmingly detailed in my book.

ECAA though is the mother lode because it makes regulating our behavior and personality at a neurological level not just something schools may do, but something they MUST do. As a matter of federal law to further an admitted global agenda. LMTF Report 3 talks about how the countries are to get the global Learning agenda and the Seven Domain emphasis into schools and classrooms as a binding obligation. By the time we trace through the schoolwide PBIS, Positive School Climate, “supporting activities that promote physical and mental health and wellbeing for students and staff,” creating and maintaining “a school environment that is free of weapons and fosters individual responsibility and respect for the rights of others” and other ECAA mandates that the local schools and districts must now provide we can see how Ban Ki-Moon’s transformation through education vision quoted above makes it all the way into each classroom and each child.

I have mentioned the repeated use of “well-rounded educational experiences”. It appears to be an obligation to implement not just a Whole Child emphasis, but also to make up for whatever deficits poverty in the community, a dysfunctional family life, or any other problems like being a migrant that does not speak English may have created. All means all. Physical education language in ECAA turns quietly into a mandate to promote the “social or emotional development of every student” and “opportunities to develop positive social and cooperative skills through physical activity participation.” Again mirroring subdomains laid out in those 3 LMTF reports.

I am going to close with yet more proof that ECAA is all about fostering desired behaviors, emotions, and values as it contains repeated references to meeting students “academic needs”. Now I wouldn’t be much of a lawyer if I did not recognize defined terms left mischieviously undefined. Sure enough here’s a link to a February 2009 statement from the National Association of School Psychologists. No wonder there are so many references to school counseling programs and mental health providers in ECAA.

I have notes on everything I have described here. If I could draw a jigsaw puzzle to show how tight the actual fit is with everything I have described, I would. It’s impossible to get this level of fit accidentally or this level of correspondences coincidentally.

I joke about speaking ed. I understand intuitively and from years of practice how the law can be used to bind people and places against what they would wish. I have put both those skills together to bring everyone a heads up.

I only wish I was speculating on any of this. Hopefully this post will reach enough people in time.

Windows on the Mind to Confiscate and Control Our Very Essence

Building on the last post’s emphasis on the public sector’s plans for us that are rarely acknowledged to our face and which have always quietly persisted whatever the popular outcry, I want to cover quite a few specific acknowledgments of the End Game that have occurred in just the last week. We may get nothing but deceit from those we elected or whose salaries we pay, but in meetings we are not invited to and reports we are unlikely to see, the coordinated juggernaut is open, explicit, and being pushed at a frenzied pace. Well, that’s not quite true, Needs to Get a Real Life here at ISC did manage to get an invite and does pay attention to all the elements of the web my research has previously indicated I should monitor. Let’s take a look and start with this true confession from UNESCO:

“One of the biggest challenges is how the Framework for Action will link education with the broader sustainable development agenda. Here we believe that more can be done – we must go deeper in exploring the connections and must reposition education at the heart of the post-2015 agenda. We have yet to make a compelling enough case that education is not just one of 17 SDGs but rather a key facilitator for achievement of all the goals. We are pleased to see that this is an issue to be addressed in the Report out next year by the EFA GMR team. Fundamental changes are needed in the world and this requires a new generation of active global citizens with new knowledge, attitudes and behaviours – for which education is the essential catalyst.”

For those of us being asked to turn over our children for years at a time to education and whose taxes pay the costs, maybe we should recognize that statement as the Declaration of War against our culture and the political structures we take for granted that it actually is. Taken from here , these nonconsensual shifts that supposedly must occur are in preparation for the UN and the OECD’s Post-2015 plans for both people in the developed and developing countries of the world. Instead of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” Exhibition, perhaps we need an ISC equivalent exhibition of all the confessions called “Desired or Not, Consensual or Not.”

Here’s another from the well-connected Columbia prof Jeffrey Sachs, who also managed to jet to Rome recently to lobby for a papal encyclical on Climate Change, head up the UN’s World Happiness Reports (started in 2012) pushing measures of subjective well-being as the proper concerns of governments, and be on the Broadband Commission pushing the Internet as a human right. Here’s that confession on the need for ‘data’ to force the new global economic vision and if you go to page 23 of the underlying report he talks about, you will find the call for an essential component in every country called an emis. Education Management Information System that will track all students to ensure that all schools have “quality learning” in the UNESCO vision (see above for where it leads) and practices that create Equity for all.

Now for those of you who have already located that 2008 “Seeing the Future: A Planning Guide for High Schools” document or soon will, just remember this global call for an emis that will allow education to be the invisible catalyst for the UN’s post-2015 plans while being implemented at local levels to gain control and hopefully avoid detection. Ooops on that one. Sometimes sarcasm is the most potent relief, but seriously that document is just rife with calls for data as are digital learning initiatives generally and adaptive and personalized learning specifically. Carving out protections under Student Privacy Acts (as Georgia just did in legislation touted as a model) for those types of uses means that there really is no privacy from governmental officials and their cronies to manipulate that data that offers a Window on the Mind.

That was an italicized term used to describe what ‘understand’ is to mean under all these new visions for K-12 education we covered in this post. When I decided to crosscheck this week what one of the co-authors Joseph D. Novak was doing now, it led me troublingly to the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. He works there now and I had run into that entity before when I was tracking another troubling theorist who is also there. I remember noting at that time that the composition of its Board of Directors reminded me of a group of people whose personal livelihoods would certainly incline them to push a political power should control the economy, mercantilist view of how the future could be shaped. However fine and nice they are as individuals, there is a clear trend to that board membership.

Think of how handy connections like that are when WIOA is mandating State Plans and calling for the states (in the Playbook linked in last post) just to go ahead and describe all their plans for education and how it will be incorporated in every locality into economic development. Then we have the new vision of high schools (2008 report) insisting that all high schools “build and sustain relationships with local employers, community and government agencies, industry associations, labor unions, and post-secondary institutions.” Well, won’t that marry well with the WIOA obligations, especially given the call to “set defined goals and a clear vision for meeting the needs of community youth”?

That old meeting the needs vision of Uncle Karl’s that was also reenforced this week by Google’s (wave hi! to our Internet monitors) UK subsidiary which takes all the education, links to the workplace, digital learning, etc changes we are encountering and calls for explicit changes in public policy to redesign society “to develop and democratise the Power to Create.” Well, maybe that can be a category of Quality Learning and Equity those emis systems are gathering data to force and then monitor.

Anyone else think Google might have a business stake in this vision of the future? Just like a board composed of real estate developers, bankers, and Chamber of Commerce types might have a stake in a vision of learning as internalized psychological change at a neurological level that makes people highly unlikely as adults to forego the pathway that has been laid out for them. Even less likely to defy the herd. One more example from just this week was the first ever Gigabit Cities conference where everyone seemed to want to push broadband as a human right, especially this speaker . The hyping of the common good and communitarianism was so constant before I felt sickened and left that I felt tempted to stand up and affirm that historic American vision of people as something other than an instrument of government ambitions.

Seriously, how can people do slides showing the Berlin Wall coming down and mentioning the recognition that “centralized planning does not work” while less than a minute later call for an economy created by the coordination of “governments, universities, civil institutions, and tech companies.” At least no one will be making decisions on our behalf that has any kind of financial conflict for taking the positions they are taking on where K-12 education must go or why Broadband must be a human right or how a requirement of Equity in a naturally unequal world means that intrusive governments will be constantly necessary.

All those financial conflicts of interest in the public, non-profit, AND crony private sector are precisely the impetus for these ed reforms that seek to Confiscate and Control Our Very Essence without notice, or consent, or even knowledgeable consideration of the likely consequences. Is all this intended localized planning somehow going to work because it will be based on real-time data and not be centralized in DC or Brussels? I don’t think so, but these very real, widely-expressed intentions, once we know where to look, are precisely the impetus for these high school reforms and the Common Core.

We must shift to high schools everywhere designed around “rigorous project-based learning experiences in the school, workplace, and communities” (to quote the 1998 NUHS abstract) for the political and social transformation purposes Michael Cole and Yrjo Engestrom usefully described in the last post. Plus the economic cronyism and UN Power-Grabbing laid out in this one.

Clearly I am going to have to make this part 2 of a Trilogy because we still have not chronicled the essence of the manipulation. We should all have a superb handle on the whys behind this manipulation now. We now know that the ubiquitous references to “high standards for all students” designed to reassure us that all these changes are good and necessary actually means the abolition of any distinction between a “college prep” curriculum and a “vocational” one. Add that revelation to our ISC Glossary of Terms.

Let’s close this part of our wading through the muck by quoting something from the 1998 document from a header called “Stories of Change.” It’s a reminder of why everything must be changed and locked in as a mandate for the broader social, economic, and political transformations everyone keeps pointing to to have any chance of occurring.

“High schools are not closed systems: their work and their structure are influenced profoundly by post-secondary entrance requirements, teacher training practices, district policies [hence all the current hyping of charter systems] and assessment practices [why progs love to start Opt Out movements], and community pressures.”

Now of course we know many of the community pressures are deliberately created by the public sector and that the public is being systematically lied to at a level that meets the high thresholds associated with fraud.

We also understand why these calls for a new kind of citizen are rampant at all levels and from every direction.

Next we will close our trilogy with the cited specifics and then link it to the Turchenko vision laid out in my book Credentialed to Destroy as well as the Robert Beck polytech rationale we covered in it as well. That book remains the lens for seeing the rest of the story. This blog cannot do it alone.



Fraud of the Century Via Our Public Sector: the Real Common Core Purpose for Education

Is fraud too strong a word for organized deceit that seeks to override constitutional rights and evade public outcry every time School to Work has reared its unpopular head in the past? Do we have massive, actual, repeated deceit? Check. Are we giving up something of value? Yes, our children’s minds, our tax dollars, plus the foreseeable carnage of all this economic and social planning. Now how many of us upon hearing the now ubiquitous phrase “high standards for all students” understand that this phrase is intended to quietly prescribe project-based learning for all high school students? To marry vocational with academic for all students? To insist that schools be linked with the “adult world of work and learning” and that it is that mandated nexus that constitutes “high standards”?

Before I talk further about the federally-financed, 1998 New Urban High School Project that spun out the High Tech High that is now held up as the exemplar of world-class learning or its 2008 Update called “Seeing the Future: A Planning Guide for High Schools” that made it clear that this vision would be applicable to all high schools and every student in each and every community, I want to go back to explaining what is wrong with such a Project-based Learning mandate in the first place. Imagine that we were invited to visit the lovely island of Tortola in the BVI as part of the Social Science Research Council meeting held there in 1989 with so many of the education professors interested in using education for transformational change of the West and its institutions at what was known to be a pivotal time in the world.

Well, we weren’t invited, were we? We will simply have to rely on the book created by participants in that meeting (many of whom already had tags on this blog because of their promotion of Vygotsky and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory) called Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations. When I was preparing to write this post I discovered an article by an Alex Kozulin called “The Concept of Activity in Soviet Psychology: Vygotsky versus His Disciples” which revealed just how active the deceit has been about the real purpose for pushing these instructional changes. Kozulin tells us that when the first major work of Vygotsky, Thought and Language, was translated into English it eliminated virtually all of the references to Marx, Engels, or Hegel and the philosophical and methodological discussions.

In other words, we in the English speaking world were to get the practices without a heads-up on the purposes. That, of course, would be known to anyone who spoke Russian and many of the behavioral scientists pushing the work. American taxpayers and parents though, if they were even aware of Vygotsky, got referred to the cleansed and much-shrunken (318 pages in Russian to 153 in English with fewer words on each page). Since this blog does not do sound effects I cannot say “we wuz robbed” in an irksome, high-pitched voice, but we were being lied to systematically from the get-go about what was sought for education just like with the “critical thinking” and outcomes-based education we have been covering.

Two of our Tortola-invited profs well-known to ISC readers, Michael Cole and Yrjo Engestrom, were kind enough to tell us what cultural-historical activity theory and its better-known sibling in our curriculum now–project-based learning–was intended to disrupt. They quoted an anthropologist from 1942, Leslie White, describing the capacity that makes human special animals and it is the capacity that transformational education or what I call Radical Ed Reform in my book MUST disrupt, impede, erect an insuperable barrier in front of, etc.:

“man differs from the apes, and indeed all other living creatures so far as we know, in that he is capable of symbolic behavior. With words man creates a new world, a world of ideas and philosophies. In this world man lives just as truly as in the physical world of his senses…This world comes to have a continuity and a permanence that the external world of the senses can never have. It is not made up of the present only but of a past and future as well. Temporally, it is not a succession of disconnected episodes, but a continuum extending to infinity in both directions, from eternity to eternity.”

That capacity reenforces building up from the world as it currently exists in light of what has worked well or poorly in the past. In other words, that capacity is in the way of political power whenever and where ever it seeks to usurp decision-making power away from the individual and bestow it to public officials at the local, state, federal, or UN/OECD global level. As my book made clear those goals had begun in earnest by 1989 in the West, especially the United States. As this blog has repeatedly made clear with cite after cite, similar goals of social, economic, and political transformation are occurring now.

The public sector at every level wants to be in charge of us and what we can become. Rather than be honest with us that they now insist on Overlord Status with no ability to escape, they are using a reimagined type of K-12 education especially to invisibly create the desired barriers. At its core that is what Project-based learning, cooperative learning, required Critical Thinking, mandated assessment of Higher Order Thinking, mental health assessments, social and emotional learning apps for students , and constructivism generally are all about: creating minds and personalities amenable to subjugation by the public sector.

And no, subjugation is not too strong a word. I am not sure slavery is either, except this time the chains are to be imposed via formative assessments and classroom activities at a neurobiological level. Cole and Engestrom tell us that the unification of the social and physical sciences like that by changing culture and then locking those changes into place at a neural level was what both John Dewey and the Soviet psychologists always wanted. Why what a wonderful reason to lock those instructional practices into place for all students in every state and then hide those mandates. Cole and Engestrom admit one more time in their own words what must be disrupted if transformational schemes of a different sort of future are to be realized. (my bolding for emphasis)

“only a culture-using human being can ‘reach into’ the cultural past, project it into the future, and then ‘carry’ that (purely conceptual) future ‘back’ into the present in the shape of beliefs that then constrain and organize the present sociocultural environment  ..

The public sector, politicians of both parties at every level, think tanks of every label along the spectrum, foundations, business cronies, self-confessed radicals are all desirous now of using K-12 education to sever that “assumption that the cultural future will be more or less like the cultural past.” Rather than saying so to our faces and dealing with our ire, we get lied to repeatedly. I believe that is why the New Standards Project simply rolled forward in 1998 in many states and six urban districts. That’s why this New Urban High School Project began at the same time and then became updated in 2008 ready to have its covert influence on all US secondary schools without anyone bothering to confess what was up.

I think this is why no one wants to talk about WIOA and its clear determination to force a planned economy in every state.  This playbook released recently makes it quite clear that plans for the entire state’s economy and all the K-12 system should be rolled into  each state’s strategies going forward.

All the active deceit involving the NCLB Rewrite and misportraying its actual language and the clear purposes has the same ultimate goal. Public sector power without confessing as much. This post is running too long to cover all of the stated purposes of the New Urban High School Project. Let’s just call attention for now to the admission that “the great power of School-to-Work is that it situates students in the adult world of work and learning, confronting them with unpredictable situations, new perspectives that cut across subject matters, and invaluable lessons in dealing with people in the world.”

School-to-Work as it is envisioned as part of this Project-based learning remake of US secondary schools severs that historic constraint that linked the cultural future with the cultural past because that cultural past ceases to be the classroom focus. There goes the constraint and no one need be the wiser. Just lots of hype about engagement and the Whole Child and how “exemplary School-to-Work practice puts students—their observations, their actions, their reflections—at the center of learning.” The hype continues without anyone admitting how well the barrier to the cultural past is being created at the level of each student’s mind. Instead we get this salesmanship, “inclusive and democratic [STW] invites students to participate in the creation of new designs for learning.”

The fascinating part for me is that both the 1998 and 2008 reports talk about each student being able to meet their district or school’s “common core goals” such as listed Habits of Mind, Student Learning Objectives, or the skills laid out in the notorious SCANS report of 1991. All of these are examples of listed “common core goals.” That means that the list of desired generic personality traits and skills your school or district is mailing out or creating as a poster on school walls is the real ‘common core’, whatever your state decides to rename its poorly appreciated state ‘standards’.

Anyone else feeling lied to and the object of social engineering to create a new kind of citizen for the future?

See why what is going on in K-12 matters to everyone even if they have no children?

Asserting Political Will to Transform the Nature Of Education to Create a New Kind of Electorate

That title might describe the natural implications of the language in the Every Child Achieves Act or the Common Core sponsor CCSSO announcing in February 2014 that the purpose of the Common Core was to create desired ‘Dispositions’ in ‘Citizens,’ but unfortunately that quote comes from the purpose of the dialectical thinking we met in the last post. It’s also the purpose of what the Common Core calls Deeper Learning, ECCA calls ‘higher order thinking,’ and what 21st Century Skills calls Critical Thinking. Can we all say “thoroughly permeates the actual implementation” together in unison? Let’s go back to what Richard Paul wrote back in 1993 in the Introduction to his Critical Thinking book:

“Harnessing social and economic forces to serve the public good and the good of the biosphere…requires mass publics around the world skilled in cooperative, fairminded, critical discourse…it is essential that we foster a new conception of self-identity, both individually and collectively…[we must reconceptualize the nature of teaching and learning so that people learn] something quite new to us: to identify not with the content of our beliefs, but with the integrity of the process by which we arrived at them.”

All those references we keep encountering on having a Growth Mindset instead of a Fixed One make far more sense if education now insists that “we must come to define ourselves, and actually respond in everyday contexts, as people who reason their way into, and can be reasoned out of, beliefs.” Must be a malleable citizen in other words and not like those Bakers in Oregon who think they can decide who to bake a wedding cake for. Governments now get to decide what are unacceptable beliefs and practices. At least they are adults being told what they can and cannot do and believe and are being told openly. How much worse is it when the unacceptable beliefs involve our children and what they brought from our homes? How much more hidden is it when the unacceptable beliefs and values get taken out via formative assessment that a parent never sees or has anyone explain accurately?

Paul was quite honest (and fond of emphasizing with italics) that the required Critical Thinking involves an obligation for students to “have to empathize with and reason within points of view toward which we are hostile. To achieve this end, we must persevere [with Grit?] over an extended period of time, for it takes time and significant effort to learn how to empathically enter a point of view against which we are biased…We must recognize an intellectual responsibility to be fair to views we oppose. We must feel obliged to hear them in their strongest form to ensure that we do not condemn them out of ignorance or bias.”

In case anyone fails to appreciate why it is so revolutionary for the federal government to require all schools in every state to assess all students at least annually for (page 36 of ECAA) “higher-order thinking skills and understanding,” they are looking for whether the student has learned to think as Paul laid out. Is the student fixed in how they view or interpret the world or open to change? What concepts, strategies or ideas do they use in untaught situations where there is no single correct answer? Every group pushing for radical social change wants student assessments to be tied to HOTS because they, and with this post we do too, know that “the character of our mind is one with our moral character. How we think determines how we behave and how we behave determines who we are and who we will become.” [Paul again]

Who we are becoming is the whole point now of K-12 education as reenvisioned because as Paul explained (quoting in turn economist Robert Heilbroner):  “…the problems of capitalist disorder–too many to recite, too complex in their origins to take up one at a time…arise from the workings of the system….The problems must be addressed by the assertion of political will…the undesired dynamics of the economic sphere must be contained, redressed, or redirected by the only agency capable of asserting a counter-force to that of the economic sphere. It is the government.” Paul went on to describe “How are we to cultivate the new kind of electorate?” That cultivation became the focus of the Critical Thinking book.

Now the very same groups like The Leadership Conference head quoted here in describing the actual new purpose of a new kind of accountability in education are enthusiastic about the language of ECAA because it forces annual testing of HOTS. Wade Henderson also participated this week in the rollout of this plan calling for Government to massively intervene in the economy to ensure a reduction in inequality and Good, living wage jobs for all. Basically Heilbroner’s vision and Uncle Karl’s updated to 2015. The report also blames current wage stagnation and the weak economy on too little government intervention in the economy.

That kind of economy run by political will calls for a new kind of mind, values, and behaviors, which is precisely what the real implementation is designed to deliver. In my book I cover the first attempt to deliver this desired new mindset via K-12 education in the 60s. One of the things I have learned since the book came out is the widespread anger, especially among intellectuals, that existed in the 1950s and 60s over the American economy and society many of us grew up cherishing. Paul’s vision of Critical Thinking and a new philosophy of education that would deliver the new kind of needed citizen frequently cited a Professor Israel Scheffler. His essay on the New Activism presented in 1970 revealed that a didactic, traditional subject matter, transmission of knowledge approach to education was and still is viewed as immoral and amounted to “Fiddling while Rome burns.”

Transmission of subject-knowledge via lecture or textbook, for example, is held to reenforce the world as it currently exists. Perhaps the student feels no need to explore alternative viewpoints he knows he abhors because he is aware with facts of precisely why. No, K-12 education and ‘Critical’ or ‘Philosophical’ Thinking is designed to create mindsets ready to accept and adopt the “imperative task of altering an utterly evil status quo.” Education as traditionally envisioned and then practiced was “compliant with evil–an obstacle to the revolutionary transformation of society.” School “must transform itself into an agency of radical social change.” Moreover, education must develop people who are aware and feel responsibility for “the suffering of other human beings whose pain he might, through his efforts, alleviate.”

In a follow-up 1971 essay called “Philosophy and the Curriculum” Scheffler insisted that traditional subjects treat education as if it were about “fixed points.” Well, that obviously would be in the way of radical social change. In a passage that sure does presage all the transdisciplinary, Whole Child, conceptual lenses, and Charles Fadel’s Redesign of Curriculum work for the OECD and UNESCO, Scheffler noted:

“The educator needs to consider the possibility of new classifications and interrelations among the subjects not only for educational but also for general intellectual purposes. He must, further, devote his attention to aspects of human development that are too elusive or too central to be encompassed within the framework of subjects; for example, the growth of character [Fadel] and the refinement of the emotions [no wonder ECAA included PBIS, mental health and well-being and "non-academic skills essential for school readiness and academic success".] He ought, moreover, to reflect on schooling as an institution, its organization within society, and its consequences for the career of values.”

ECAA in the form being considered by Congress certainly fits in every respect the functions of K-12 education and Critical Thinking called for by both Richard Paul and Israel Scheffler. That means their expressed goals for these shifts away from didactic transmission of knowledge come with the mandated changes in practice and assessments.

Does Congress understand the nature of what it is actually about to mandate? Do politicians from the federal level to the state and local care?

Or is cultivation of a new kind of electorate the whole point with few willing to openly admit they know this is the entire purpose of these reforms?

Is 21st Century Learning really all about creating that electorate that will tolerate an economy and society premised on political will?

Is the onset of the wage stagnation and economic weakness bemoaned in that report above as the result of too little government intervention actually a result of this announced shift by 1970 to make education an instrument of radical social change?

If so, what will happen now that we are essentially doubling down on that strategy?

Congressionally Mandating Dialectical Thinking and then Forcing States to Annually Measure and Manipulate It

In the past week there has been a dust up on several blogs as to whether assertions about the purposes of language in the Bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act–ECAA, that has now unanimously passed out of Senate Committee, amounts to conspiracy theories. Now I cannot speak for others, but I too have read every page of ECAA. I recognize what certain terms mean and what other synonyms for the same phrases have been over the decades. We get to talk about those terms and that history without being accused of theorizing when we are having a fact-based discussion with sources. Moreover, the ECAA, whatever the intent of the Senators approving it or those who drafted it, has language that forces all states to abandon the “didactic purpose” of K-12 education because of how it defines “Challenging State Academic Standards” in the legislation.

Likewise, by mandating that states must use assessments that target ‘higher order thinking skills’ Congress adopts what that term has come to mean in education. Lauren Resnick laid it out in a 1987 National Academy of Sciences report explained here. Marc Tucker, her co-director of the New Standards Project and its performance standards, explained it here in 1988 while he was at the National Center for Education and the Economy. Tucker also linked it to the fulfillment of Peter Drucker’s social vision that I explained here The 1968 book The Age of Discontinuity book from Drucker I wrote about is the same one Tucker cited in 1988 as necessitating a new vision of K-12 and the shift from basic skills to “higher order thinking.’

Now I will admit that I have always thought HOTS, as I abbreviate it, functioned like dialectical thinking, but I am a precise person. I do not theorize as to what is going on except in the privacy of my own mind or in speculations with a cat sitting in my lap as I research. We get to tie HOTS in ECAA to the term ‘dialectical thinking’ like we are all back at U of Moscow in the 60s because Educational Leadership published a series of essays in the 80s by Richard Paul where he explained that HOTS, and his concept of critical thinking that was equivalent to it, were also known as dialectical thinking. He cited Resnick and Tucker as I linked to above. Paul also made it clear that all these terms are designed around participation in a new, different kind of ‘democracy’ going forward.This is from an essay called “McPeck’s Mistakes: Why Critical Thinking Applies Across Disciplines and Domains”.

“If you believe in democracy you must believe that citizens have the potential to judge. If you believe that one primary function is to prepare students for participation in democracy, you must agree that helping students refine their ability to judge social, political, and economic questions (and questions to which these subjects apply) as clearmindedly, fairly, and rationally as possible is among the most important and useful functions of education. Use of ‘common sense’ is not inborn, but developed.”

And monitoring that development, and manipulating it as needed, through learning tasks, student learning objectives, prescribed activities, formative assessments, etc is precisely what the ECAA calls for once we track the language in it through to its actual meaning. is an April 2015 report called “Using a Learning Progression Framework to Assess and Evaluate Student Growth.” It is from the Center of Assessment involved in the pilot greenlighted under ECAA except those materials and the Student Learning Objectives Toolkit are in use in districts and states far beyond New Hampshire. The Cognitive Rigor Matrix described also relates to dialectical thinking and HOTS. That is what creates the cognitive complexity being called for.

All the references to “careful study of student reasoning” or “understand student reasoning” or “based on student reasoning” are all trying to monitor the extent to which the student has moved beyond what Ralph Tyler called the ‘right answer’ syndrome into dialectical thinking. The desire to shift the Learning Progression (described in depth in my book) to “cultivating formative practices” comes from the desire to ensure that the student is using the supplied ideas, principles, and concepts desired in their everyday interpretations since that is what guides and prompts behavior. The same reason is also why there is a determination to get at motivation. Thinking and emotions must be integrated and that must control action. Again, thanks to Richard Paul for being explicit and all these intentions attach to these words and practices mandated or allowed by ECAA regardless of the intentions of any politician that votes for it.

Before I go back to the 1960s to show once again just how long this desire to use the bribery power of the federal purse and its regulatory power to change the nature of K-12 education, let’s remember that virtually everyone involved confessed their transformative reasons. That’s why my book has so many footnotes. No need to speculate or theorize. If people say they are coordinating around a particular purpose, they do not get excused from scrutiny because someone yells ‘conspiracy.’ Anyone here ever hear of Guy Fawkes and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot? People conspire around the desire to get or keep political and economic power and to impose their pet belief systems on others. Anyone ever hear of Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley? Who a 16th Century Monarch married mattered if the ruler was a she because it affected political and economic power. Who had it and who wanted it.

Only someone being disingenuous or acting as a historical simpleton can look at something like ECAA and not recognize its potential to have a transformative, permanent effect on what individual citizens believe, know, or can do. That’s a great deal of power and if my book and this blog do anything it is track down confessions of using education for transformative purposes, whether “We the People’ acting as individuals would consent or not. Certainly no parent would consent to formative assessment if it were accurately described and understood. To get at what makes assessment of thinking now different I want to go back to the description of Science: A Process Approach created to be an innovative curriculum in the 1960s that would be accessible to all “economic, ethnic, educational, social, geographical” groups without any “marked effects on student achievement.”

Does that sound like an obligation to close the achievement gap and have Equity in learning to anyone else? The Process Approach was not really about facts or concepts and that shift was controversial at the time. It too had a Learning Progression designed to practice specified behaviors. The whole point was to “develop in students the intellectual and investigative skills of the scientist, and hopefully these skills will provide a generalized method of defining and solving problems which can be applied in other subject areas as well.” So in the 1960s there was a desire to look for Transfer to New, Untaught situations and different contexts. A Process Approach called it ‘Generalizing Experience’ instead of Rigor, but it too had what it called ‘Competency Measures’ that employed “content and materials different from those used in the exercises so the student must apply what he has learned in a new situation.”

I bolded those terms because the Common Core has the same stated goals in what it is assessing for. That Learning Progression link and what Student Learning Outcomes means wants the same. Between the early 60s and the 1998 publication of the Assessing Science Understanding and now, the behavioral scientists discovered practicing behaviors was not enough. Students needed to be guided by principles and concepts they acted on arationally. That is what proficiency and competency actually now mean as this post made clear This federal manipulation apparently began with unappreciated language in the 2002 No Child Left Behind that ECAA would double down on.

Cognitive science does not just want to practice behaviors. It needs inside the black box and it needs the ‘thinking’ to be grounded in emotion and dialectical in the sense of HOTS and rigor. Quoting a definition of ‘learning science’ that dovetails with what I call cybernetics, let’s go back to 1998 in what must have been created as part of that New Standards Project that is now the renamed Common Core:

“in the constructivist view, learning science is a process of making connections: connections among experiences with the natural world and mental representations of those experiences; and connections among concepts that result in the generation of principles new to the learner. These concepts and principles, in turn, are connected to events and experiences in the natural world.”

Monitoring and manipulating those mental representations that guide perception of reality and everyday behavior and likely actions is precisely what SLOs, a high quality assessment, Competency-based education, and formative assessment are all about. It’s what led to the Math and Reading Wars as my book makes clear. It’s why Outcomes-based education never goes away. It just gets renamed.

It’s why this post’s title does not impugn anyone or allege a ‘conspiracy’. It simply understands ECAA in terms of the language used and the history of those terms. That statute and the educational activities and assessments to be carried out by states and school districts under its terms has a clear trajectory and purpose, whatever the personal intentions of anyone involved is.

All of these aims are simply too tied to facts with clear purposes of social engineering. We cannot allow the mind and personality to be manipulated into an invisible prison by using the C word to bar rational discussion.

Politicians wanting to expand their authority without either consent or publicity. That’s not a conspiracy. It’s just history properly understood. In a didactic, fact-based, soon to be forbidden, old-fashioned way.



Harnessing the Meaning Making Capacities of the Human Mind and then Assessing for the Tightness of the Fit

We talked about NAEP in the last post so we could begin to appreciate its real purpose as both a driver and a monitor of using education to mentally deconstruct any concept of learning as the transmission of factual knowledge. In fact, whenever we see the phrase “meaningful learning” from now on, let’s just be upfront that it means changes in a student’s mind or personality intended to reliably guide future behavior as desired. The quote at the beginning of that title comes from a 2000 book Assessing Science Understanding: A Human Constructivist View that asserted that science is no longer about a body of facts and information about how the world works transmitted from a textbook or a teacher. No, “science is best understood as a formalized and highly adaptive way of harnessing the meaning making capacities of the human mind.”

To ‘Understand’ then in math, science, history, or while reading a book is to interpret in the manner someone else has stipulated so that students will practice perceiving and behaving as desired until these behaviors become unconscious habits. Locked in at a physical level in the brain’s neural pathways. That is what is being assessed and why we keep coming back to an insistence that the ‘performances’ or ‘achievements’ be action-based. It’s why we are getting such a push for Project-based Learning. When I went through the activities in that book, they were not about learning a body of knowledge. They were training students to view the world in a certain way. Did you know back in the mid-80s as these reforms were being dreamed up there was even a term invented for what would be sought-observational competence? Is the student noticing the themes or aspects desired in a given situation and ignoring the elements we would rather not be the focus of attention?

When I called attention to the idea of that ‘proficiency’ under NAEP and state standards after the adoption of NCLB in 2002 was about Proficiency Standards for Reasoning, I found this document assuring me that the Common Core would meet these action-based concepts of the desired proficiency. The students may not know much, but they will have been trained and primed over years to act in certain ways based on stipulated prompts. And look, there are 3 levels of achievement just like what the Every Child Achieves Act requires each state to have as its “aligned academic achievement standards” that will constitute how the ‘content standards’ will be met. Prescribed behaviors. Harness the mind and then ‘assess’ to see if the harness fits properly and guides behavior as desired. If so, herald the student as performing ‘proficiently’ or ‘competently’ and thus being College and Career Ready. is not Math or ‘science’ but it is the vision for learning to read and write and then what will be the ELA activities using the Fountas & Pinnell curriculum so beloved by the Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of my book on the Learning Progression). Isn’t it good to know these prescribed literacy activities involve “very specific behaviors and understandings are written for each level and built into every individual lesson?” How very harness-like. Get each student used to the jerk of the tether while they are still young and their minds are oh-so-malleable to manipulation. That link also makes it clear that NAEP after 2000 was being used to quietly implement the performance and proficiency standards from the New Standards Project that grew out of that National Education Goals Panel we met in the last post.

No wonder the National Center for Education and the Economy reuploaded the entire NSP body of work back in December 2010. Just in time to pretend it is actually something new called the Common Core and in time for an ESEA reauthorization like ECAA. NSP’s Performance Standards simply get euphemised as ECAA’s “aligned achievement standards” that quickly gets defined away as just “challenging state academic standards” for the rest of the Act. As if we are still talking about the transmission of knowledge brought to us by the Greatest Minds Who Have Ever Lived. No, instead we get ‘sense-making’ from our prescribed activities using the supplied ideas, themes, principles, and concepts intended to function as a politically transformative mental and emotional harness.

I think it is hard for readers of this blog to fully appreciate how confining this manipulative vision of reading, math, and science will be since we all have Axemaker Minds of some type or another. Some minds may be better stocked than others with accurate facts and abilities to infer, but all of us still had some kind of a knowledge orientation to our K-12 and college experiences. That Heinemann language and the fact we are talking about 6 year olds being manipulated should give some idea of just how constraining and invisible this behavioral harness can become. ECAA though wants to push preschool for all as a basic right so we are actually going back even younger than 5 or 6. We also do not have to speculate about what the “early childhood care and education” vision that fits with this competency/proficiency approach looks like.

New Zealand–tied to the Innovation Lab Network and Competency through the GELP-Global Education Leaders Program that we have discussed on this blog (see tag) adopted Te Whariki–the National Early Childhood Curriculum in the 90s to go along with what was then called Transformational Outcomes Based Education (detailed in Chapter 4 of my book explaining Competency and its history). We know that in 1998 the US-based ERIC asked that the Te Whariki papers be submitted to its database. Te Whariki pushes a developmental approach that rejects the old “focus on the learner as an individual, and learning as furniture in the mind.” Instead, learning is the change brought about in the student as a result of “responsive and reciprocal relationships with people places and things.”

Someone obviously hates commas, but they like hyphens as they see the student as an “individual-in-action” interacting in social, cultural  and purposeful contexts. I mentioned Urie Bronfenbrenner and the Great Experiment in the last post. Te Whariki is explicitly grounded in his Ecological Systems Theory that is concisely explained here. So are competency and proficiency-based concepts of learning. They all intend to create ‘dispositions’ or “habits of mind, tendencies to respond to situations in certain ways.” And if those dispositions start being baked in and turned into a harness back in early childhood programs (the quote came from the Te Whariki paper) the adolescent and then young adult voter need not even know the harness and guiding bit are there at all.

Te Whariki gives a definition of assessment that fits with where formative assessments intend to go in the US and elsewhere: “the primary purpose of assessment should be to provide information which can be used to identify strengths and guide improvement.” All that is based on what people with political power decide they want to see in the citizens of tomorrow, not what parents or the children themselves want. This harness view of education also gets marketed as a thinking curriculum and it was laid out, before the 90s controversies, in a 1991 book by Edward Fiske called Smart Schools, Smart Kids: Why Do Some Schools Work? once again financed by the Carnegie Corporation that now sponsors Competency-based Education.

I keep hearing news reports wrongly describing what are now performance assessments or other means of checking for the presence and efficacy of the mental harness as ‘standardized tests’. Fiske’s book complained that “the most damaging aspect of standardized tests, though, is their impact  on the curriculum. Since states test reading and math, this is what schools emphasize. [Horrors!! Let's revise the NAEP.] But in doing so they focus on basic skills and factual knowledge that such tests measure and direct schools’ attention from the new agenda of teaching students to think.”  The book then quoted Lauren Resnick (who will go on to co-direct the New Standards Project and be on the Common Core validation committee. She also chaired the 1987 committee that produced the report on Higher Order Thinking Skills a/k/a Teaching Students to Think in a Way that Serves as a Harness) and her husband Daniel.

“Current tests are tuned to a curriculum of the past, one that is not suited to today’s social and economic conditions…[The Resnicks advocate transitioning all students to tests grounded in] Goals such as interpreting unfamiliar texts, constructing convincing arguments, understanding complex systems, developing approaches to problems, or negotiating problem resolutions in a group” that sounds just like the learning tasks and means for assessment being touted as part of the Common Core classroom or a competency/proficiency-based classroom. Fiske’s book also pointed out that powerful tests like the NAEP are a “high-stakes game in itself” and that “whoever controls those powerful tests will control a large measure of what is taught and learned in American schools.”

Once again, that’s why the mandate of ‘aligned achievement standards’ in ECAA that forces a behavioral or performance-based, consistent with Universal Design for Learning, approach in every school in every state matters so very much. It’s a way the federal government mandates the construction of a harness while pretending to return control to states and localities.  Specifying the hows of testing is controlling those tests and the curriculum itself. I want to close with what Linda Darling-Hammond said in Fiske’s book since she is the author of the New Paradigm being pushed for what will constitute meaningful learning. Standardized testing back when it was still fact-based and right-answer oriented was supposedly based on the “dubious assumption that there is a single right answer to any question worth asking.”

LDH viewed the old-fashioned standardized test as the “triumph of passive learning. It is testing for the TV generation. We don’t ask if students can synthesize information, solve problems, or think independently. We measure what they recognize.” So back in 1991, when she was still a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia, Hammond, like Lauren Resnick, was very involved in advocating for a thinking kind of curriculum that fits with a Harness Function.

No wonder both professors remain so involved now in guiding the actual classroom implementations both in the US and globally through the OECD.

Meaningful Learning or Internalized Hammer and Sickle Style Habits of Mind and Behaviors?

Let’s go back to that Herbert Marcuse book from the last post. In making a point about a desired new Soviet rationality Marcuse stressed that if certain ‘attitudes and behaviors’ can be successfully internalized, they will provide unconscious “pragmatic directives for action.” That effect has nothing to do with physical geography. Instilling desired habits of mind and practiced behaviors would have the same effect in the West as was recognized in this old post where Soviet psychologist Leontiev called it the Great Experiment. Funny how no one told us about the Great Experiment being conducted on us starting in the 60s with our tax money and education facilities, but filter everything I described in Chapter 6 of my book through that open admission.

I think the “Nation’s Report Card,”–the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP–was always intended to monitor the progress of the Great Experiment. I think that is why the Carnegie Corporation began to finance the development of NAEP back around 1964. Before we talk about the poorly understood, designed always to manipulate, NAEP, let’s get back to the why. Here’s what Marcuse and others believe: obviously false statements about the present do not matter because if people can be made to believe them anyway, they can still become those desired attitudes and habits of mind. People can then be counted on to reliably act in a way so that the “historical process in which the commanded political practice [in the West this gets hidden mostly invisibly in education objectives and little-disclosed mandates like the now omnipresent Positive School Climate] will bring about the desired facts.” (italics in original)

Now if someone actually wants to believe that current reality and the facts about what works is in the way of a desired transformation, it is no wonder we now have education where facts and right answers are to be minimized and concepts and ideas emphasized instead. Sure sounds to me like what Marcuse said was practicing with “the original content of Marxian theory as a truth that must be believed and enacted against all evidence to the contrary [exactly like President Obama and the UN now on Climate Change]: the people must do and feel and think as if their state were the reality of that reason, freedom, and justice which the ideology proclaims, and the ritual is to assure such behavior.” Until it becomes an internalized habit of mind practiced from preschool to high school in an active, engagement-oriented new kind of educational emphasis?

Let’s shift back to the Breakpoint and Beyond book from the last post because it made a similar point. A new kind of society was possible if people could learn the “art of changing one’s mind…After we have put together a new frame of mind, we then rebuild our society by reinventing our organizations.” Without a solid base of historical knowledge, how many people will be aware that we are trying to redesign social institutions around theories? That’s how we get lots of people willing and primed to act with an inability to comprehend the foreseeable consequences. It’s where we are now because none of these pursuits is new as we will see. We have been creating educational objectives around a desire to “devise the means to change our minds about what is real: from a belief in the limits of a rational, past-driven world to belief in the limitless potential of a creative world.”

No one asked us, did they, before embarking on this Bipartisan vision of Creativity, Connecting, and Future Pull? Do the politicians and their all too important staffers actually know why we are now pushing education where the “processes shift from logical and straightforward to innovative and discontinuous. The basic human strategy moves from ‘solving problems,’ by attacking them piecemeal and getting back to normal, to formulating broad and original opportunities. [Maybe by using that appointed regional planning commission so that its edicts are binding and there is no one essentially to complain to]. Attitudes shift from finding and applying the ‘right,’ tried-and-true, traditional answers to energizing the production of unique advances: major breaks with the past. The system moves to creating the impossible [or at least trying while the architects of all this are well-paid with taxpayer funds or foundation grants]; not just doing things differently, but doing different things.”

When NAEP was first being created from 1964 to 1968, Ralph Tyler chaired its development committee. reminds us of why that matters so much. The 1970 “What is National Assessment?” report made it clear that NAEP’s ultimate goal “is the measurement of change (progress) in knowledges, skills, understandings, and attitudes as they relate to meaningful education objectives.” The emphasis is on “objectives rather than content.” In a 1972 paper “National Assessment: Measuring American Education” Ralph Tyler was interviewed and he made it crystal clear that NAEP was about “helping schools get rid of the right-answer syndrome and replace it with learning how to learn.”

I am the one pointing out that this statement fits with what Marcuse laid out as well as the creative mindset amenable to change that the Breakpoint book had in mind. Tyler stated that the NAEP is not a test. “They are exercises that children, youth and young people are given” that show the “public both what children are learning and how many are learning each thing.” The exercises sought to remove any middle class bias and “attempt to measure the youngsters’ thought processes or their ability to perform [behave] in some way.” Making my point that standards are ‘goals’ and are not about content as traditionally understood, Tyler revealed forthrightly back in 1972 that “the objectives or goals represent a kind of standard which is considered desirable to achieve. The exercises, if they are good measures, tell to what extent the goals are being achieved. This approach tells very specifically what a person knows or can do.”

For anyone unfamiliar with Tyler, he was every bit as much an advocate of transformational collectivism as John Dewey or anyone else we have looked at. From looking at the NAEP reports from that 1970 one coming forward, I do believe that the Washington Sunday Star warning that “What the Kinsey Report was to American sex, the National Assessment may be to American education” is an understatement. I could say something more here, but best not in case my mother or children ever read this post. NAEP was intended to radicalize American education and then monitor which groups were changing, by how much, and where. It was chilling then when this NAEP research pulled up a National Education Goals (NEG) Panel report from the March 3, 1993 meeting where then Education Secretary Lamar Alexander was presiding. Apparently Richard Riley had not yet been confirmed.

To bring us up to the present context, that would be the same Lamar Alexander who has now created the Bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act that we looked at in the last post and especially in the comments. It would also be the same Richard Riley who is now Vice Chair of the Carnegie Corporation that is also working with CCSSO in pushing Next Generation Learning and Competency-based education in addition to the Common Core. Back to 1993 though, the notes show now-Senator Alexander as wanting to get the accreditation agencies “engaged in the dialogue about standards.” He wanted a meeting set up between them and the NEG panel. He also reportedly waxed nostalgic about heading the National Governors Association and getting all the nation’s governors to work with him for the entire one year period from 1985-1986 on just the one subject of education.

He was proud of creating a way for Democratic and Republican governors to work together and was pleased that the NEG Panel was continuing the same tradition. The Senate’s Education Committee apparently continued the Bipartisan selling out of America by approving ECAA last week without dissent. Probably best then for those Senators to now remove the American flag from their lapels. They may not be aware of the Hammer and Sickle ancestry of what they are mandating, but that does not change the lineage of these ideas, practices, and objectives in the least. is another good primer for a Congress that is forcing collectivist traditions whether they know it yet or not. We certainly do.

Back to that 1993 meeting because it still affects what is being sought now. It sought to “Establish a National Education Standards and Assessment Council (NESAC) to provide leadership and oversight to the development of national content and performance standards and an assessment system.” The Panel also wanted to “support the continued expansion of NAEP.” Think of NAEP as the enforcer for moving beyond “right-answer syndrome” to assessments that could get at how students think and what behaviors they are ready to perform. Now think of the language in ECAA about “aligned achievement standards” each state must develop to go with their mandated ‘content’ standards as being about what in 1993 was still being called ‘performance standards.’ Behavioral in orientation now and then. Two different terms for the same concept.

I forgot to tell you what sent me down this particular pathway, didn’t I? It was my conclusion that there was some type of connection among the New Standards Project that fits all that the 1993 panel wanted and commenced in 1996, performance standards, and what the NAEP is actually assessing for. Guess what? I was right. Guess what else? All of this ties to what was considered ‘meaningful learning’ in the 90s and in the New Paradigm for College and Career Readiness now.

Oh, and Every Child Achieves Act also ties to what used to be called Proficiency Standards for Reasoning. Because specifying that and then practicing until it’s a habit of mind would get us back to Marcuse’s vision wouldn’t it?

Next Time then we will continue.

Behind the Backs of Individuals: Creating the Well-Trained Consciousness

Fasten those seatbelts because here we go again. In turns out that back in the 1950s, in Rockefeller Foundation financed research carried out at the Russian Institute at Columbia University, Professor Herbert Marcuse laid out the vision of what kind of changed individual consciousness would be necessary for a “society where the realm of necessity is brought under rational control.” I shorthand that vision using Uncle Karl’s term–the Human Development Society–and this blog has been systematically covering all the various announcements of it recently from the Next System Project from the last post or the Larry Summers-led Commission on Inclusive Prosperity from January 2015. Since this power grab is clearly a current quest, even if it is not being widely covered away from this blog, let’s go back to see what Marcuse laid out, especially as it fits well with the announced goals of the new federal education legislation in hearings this week.

This post should have everyone looking at the announced title of the ECAA–Every Child Achieves Act–and wanting to call Congress to protest calling psychological manipulation–student achievement. First let’s go back in time to look at where that title came from. Marcuse was pointing out that in the USSR “individual behavior and values” are “automatically directed by the political agencies” so that there is no such thing as the distinct individual making his own way apart from what is determined to be in the needs of the remainder of society. Marcuse really hated the Western tradition that views the individual as a ‘private person’ instead of merely a ‘member of society’. He called for “the passing of the bourgeois individual…as the autonomous ‘subject’ which, as ego cogitans and agent, was to be the beginning and the end of Western culture.”

All of the emphasis on the Whole Child and social and emotional learning and as I will show today–the “integration of education and mental health” into a single vision of what effective schooling is now to be–makes far more sense if we are aware of Marcuse laying out the preconditions for achieving the kind of social and economic visions we keep encountering. Think of the 21st Century required skill of collaboration as we read the call for “the shrinking of the ego.” Won’t all the data being gathered come in handy in the next Marcuse call for “the administrative regulation of his material and intellectual needs”? What could be done openly in the USSR in the 50s and 60s (my copy of the 1958 Soviet Marxism book is the 4th printing from 1969) was described by Marcuse as “the coordination between public and private existence, which, at the postliberal stage of Western society, takes place largely unconsciously and behind the backs of the individuals.”

Can we just all join together in unison and yell “No More”? Just because all these visions of transformations need the ‘passing of the individual’ as a ‘private person’ to make it so, and even though, the education reforms are quietly trying to arrange the necessary “internalization” that will otherwise “impair the social cohesion and depth of morality,” does not mean any of us have to accede to this vision, for either ourselves or our children. The political theory involved, being implemented quietly, then and even more so now as federally mandated and financed education policy, insists on redefining freedom. Marcuse even italicized redefine to emphasize this crucial point: “it no longer means being the self-responsible architect of one’s life, of one’s own potentialities and their realization…the standards of freedom are shifted from the autonomous individual to the laws governing the society which governs the individual.” (my bolding)

Well, that quote certainly explains why my tracking Radical Ed Reform via its accompanying legal mandates has always proven so prophetic of actual long term intent. Since the needed shifts must occur, per Marcuse, at the level of ‘inner being’ and we know that is precisely the area that the new kinds of Common Core assessments emphasize, let’s come back to the present. First though a wave to Marcuse for being so usefully graphic. It certainly puts the Common Core’s emphasis on creating and measuring desired Habits of Mind into perspective or “normed measures of social and emotional well-being.” A parent concerned about the increasingly widespread use of the PAX Good Behavior Game can add Marcuse’s confessed purposes to PAX’s admission that it:

“is teaching students to self-regulate, reduce impulsive or emotional reactions, delay gratification, and work together for a higher purpose. This is not achieved by lessons on the brain or behavior or some formal curriculum on social-emotional learning. [All of those would be, of course, somewhat visible rather than behind our backs]. Rather, this is achieved in the context of ordinary life at school that mimics the conditions of human evolution.”

Huh? That fascinating remark makes no sense in any biological sense, but it does begin to make sense for anyone who has read my coverage of using education to drive cultural evolution as laid out in my book Credentialed To Destroy. Marcuse also clearly had something similar in mind with his descriptions of targeting ‘internalization’ and an individual’s ‘inner being’. All of these things also become much clearer once we are aware of a desire to Integrate Education and Mental Health in Schools. is from the 2009 conference and shows the actual 2010 publication and Health and Human Services’ interest.

In fact, it is not just a federal agency’s interest in “examining models to better integrate learning and behavioral health” or support at the federal level for a “closer alignment between education and mental health.” It’s not just the citing of the P-20 education agenda “embraced by the National Governors Association and the Gates Foundation” or “other reform efforts (e.g. Next Generation Learners)” sponsored by certain states and the CCSSO or ‘personalized learning’ as good vehicles for this desired integration. All that is bad enough and ties directly to what we have been covering on this blog. No, what ties all this directly to ECAA and this week’s Senate hearings is the call-out for making such integrated education about identifying and cultivating “functional competencies.”

Competency-based education. Where have we heard that phrase before in addition to chapter 4 of my book?   If the new ECAA is about anything it about fostering the shift to competency-based education. As the 2009 paper noted a goal of schools focusing on improved student functioning and “this focus on competency could also create a better alignment between educational and mental health policy.” In fact, the paper concluded with “education and mental health will be advanced when the goal of mental health is effective schooling and the goal of effective schools is the healthy functioning of students.” I believe that would be the healthy functioning of students as ‘members of society’, not so much as private persons anymore. Sure does explain the anti-academic emphasis (there goes that pesky ego) and all the hyping of workforce needs.

I want to close with a quote William James, America’s original psychologist and John Dewey’s instructor, laid out a very long time ago, when so many radicals hoped to change the 20th Century towards collectivism. I wish I could say I pulled this from a long dormant book on him or Dewey. Instead, it is the epigraph at the beginning of a concluding chapter called “A Solid Bridge to the Future” from a 1992 book Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future-Today.”

“Of all the creatures of earth, only human beings can change their patterns. Man alone is the architect of his destiny….Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

Perhaps, given what is laid out in this post, we should rephrase that as having those ‘inner attitudes’ changed for them.

Behind their backs. In the name of Competency or Positive School Climate or Effective Schooling.

At least none of this is behind our backs.


Stealth Prescriptive Reframing Installs the Progressive Collectivist Vision Masked as Deferring to ‘Experts’

In the same way I could look at the vision laid out in the 1991 Learning Society paper from the last post and see the fundamental corners of what Marx and his followers called the Human Development Society, even before the writers mentioned that term without Uncle Karl’s name attached, this week there has been a series of connected reports taking us in the US and globally in the same direction. Education reform and the aims of social, economic, and political transformations always attached to it through the decades, turn out to be an awful lot like learning another language. Once we can speak it, no one needs to translate for us when we are looking at models or aims that seek to get to the same place. Different words or phrases for the same fundamental ideas simply get added to our glossary of understanding.

How many times have we heard that the schools must change in this or that manner because the ‘experts’ say so or in order to make our country ‘internationally competitive’. Going back to the 1991 paper, policymakers needed to address and redo the “evolving relationship between individual and collective needs” in order for us to be that Learning Society. In turn becoming a Learning Society was sold as necessary “in order to attain (or retain) their ability to participate successfully in the global economy.” That’s lots of fundamental shifting towards collectivism coming in and being sold surreptitiously as necessary steps to be competitive in a global economy. At least if the commands from the policymakers were to strip naked and parade in the public square as a group or stand on our head on the baseball field when our number is called, we could better notice where this is going and the utter loss of individual control.

See the Frameworks Institute is not the only one who can come up with a compelling metaphor and at least mine are more apt than blatantly manipulative. is the link of where we are going but we need to pick up more confirmations first. A 1967 John Dewey lecture kindly laid out the definition of desired ‘learning’ to be malleable to the desired transformations. (This was before the 60s efforts described in Chapter 6 of my book ran aground). It remained the relevant definition of learning for the 1991 vision as well and it is still pertinent today. Now it tends to be sold as students having a Growth Mindset with Carol Dweck being cited as the ‘expert’ to defer to. Learning will “enable an adult to change his thought and action in response to the changes occurring around him.”

I hate to frame that desired mindset as being as spineless as a jellyfish and as flexible as an Olympic gymnast, but basically those are good metaphors for the kind of attitudes, values, and dispositions amenable to all these planned ‘progressive’ transformations. No need to inflame the public by mentioning Uncle Karl, the Deweyans call themselves progressive in their intentions and so does the Frameworks Institute. Repeatedly. Same for this recent global call to arms on making sharing and meeting human needs the new basis for the global economy. Must be focus groups somewhere saying ‘progressive’ is almost as cool as having a sleek sports car.

I want to go back to the dangers of this belief that we can simply use education and the ever compliant media to reframe how people perceive the world in order to make wholesale transformations palatable. Reframing allows radical changes to be invisibly put in place without most people being the wiser in time. This is from another famous progressivist education professor and psychologist, Jerome Bruner, who is famous enough to be the ‘expert’ to be deferred to as the reason changes in instruction, curriculum, and assessment must be made. This came from a 1962 book (my bolding so I can duly express appropriate outrage):

“Knowledge is a model we construct to give meaning and structure to regularities in experience. The organizing ideas of any body of knowledge are inventions for rendering experience economical and connected. We invent concepts such as force in physics, the bond in chemistry, motives in psychology, and style in literature as means to the end of comprehension.”

Professor Bruner, we did not invent the concepts of force in physics or bond in chemistry. We simply came up with an agreed upon term in English to describe an observed phenomenon. That phenomenon, and its cause and effect relationships, existed before we knew about them and regardless of what we named it. There is something objective going on that is not in fact ‘socially constructed’. It is a bit Lysenkoesque (see Chapter 3 of my book) and consistent with a desire for ideological thinking to pretend otherwise. Aptly illustrated and adequately explained all these terms do aid in comprehension, but where Professor Bruner wanted to go, and where the Frameworks Institute does go, is a push into using metaphors to enable false perceptions, incorrect interpretations, and inapt analogies. All without a body of facts to correct what is wrong with what is being provided.

“Reframing Education Using a Core Story Approach” with its tremendous support from cited well-known charitable foundations is worthy of Pravda in its declared intent to manipulate adult “internalized narratives” to create support for the type of education reforms that fit Dewey’s template or those laid out in the Learning Society report. “The goal is to produce a powerful story of education with built-in strategic subplots that can reorient and restructure how Americans think” certainly meets my personal definition of an explicit confession. Who gets to determine what Americans are to think beyond the personnel of all those foundations that pay no taxes while they advocate for collectivism for the rest of us? The report says it is “progressive educators and experts.” Like those educated by Professor Bruner or those seeking the next public or foundation grant, promotion, or consulting contract, and shilling as needed?

It’s not just education, climate change is another area where there is a conflict-ridden insistence that the public accept blindly the ‘framing’ that the ‘experts’ put forward. In both areas we find well-funded think tanks trying to determine how to alter “the dominant patterns of reasoning employed by the public” as if the US were now the Soviet Union and the think tanks had the role of Pravda. There is nothing quite like reading about a bolded “Gaps in Understanding between experts and ordinary Americans [those without Ed.D's or degrees in public policy, sociology or anthropology, for example]–features that bring into relief the specific locations where translation is needed if expert knowledge is to become accessible to the public in understanding and reasoning about assessment, learning spaces and times, disparities, and the goal of education.”

Now I have mentioned the omission of cites to Uncle Karl in these particular reports even though the Learning Society report does admit to using the concepts of sociology, anthropology, and work with primates as metaphors for what it seeks to experiment with. Theory in Practice and let’s see what happens. My point is that the social science concepts there and the repeated mentions of deferring to experts in these other reports bring in all the tenets of these notorious collectivist political theories and the psychological and cultural research that was carried on in the Soviet Union into our children’s classrooms.Without openly admitting that crucial fact.

What’s the real support? Deferring to expert ‘knowledge’ that is actually nothing but desired theories created to enable social, political, and economic transformations in the future. If our degreed experts do not know that, the creators of the theories trying to gain implementation as ‘expert knowledge to be deferred to’ were more than explicit about what they had in mind. How does that Deferral work beyond school boards being trained to lay down to the whims of the ‘professionals’ in charge of the school districts as schools? We get Frameworks providing “Redirections, research-based recommendations that comprise the Core Story of Education, and represent promising routes for improving public understanding of learning, education and education reform.”

Prevailing cultural models and patterns really are explicitly laid out as the “challenges that the prescriptive reframing research must address.” At least when you put on glasses or put in contacts, you know they are there and how and why your vision is being prescriptively reframed. That kind of open reframing is not what is being ‘prescribed.’ Hence my hauling out the terms stealth, surreptitious, and, honestly, outright deceit, as so many connected insiders (just read the list of who support the Frameworks Institute) seek to alter how “most American make sense of new information.” They could use the motto that Reframing is not just for students or the new AP History courses anymore. It’s apparently been deemed to be a matter of 21st Century citizenship.

I want to close with a couple of the ideological doozies sold as Gaps in Understanding that are non-compliant with what experts know. “Experts understand disparities [among individuals] as a collective concern–because equal opportunity is a moral imperative.” That’s not a matter of ‘knowledge’. It’s a matter of political preference pretending to be knowledge and ignoring the realities that created those disparities. Likewise, “for experts, learning is a process of interaction” is a euphemistic way to describe education under Uncle Karl’s political and social theories and the cultural models they have inspired. Being accurate would require admitting that under the theory of dialectical materialism, education needs to be a process of personal interaction with other people and the environment. That interaction, in turn, creates the desired changes, both internally within the mind and externally within the surrounding physical world, that may enable the desired broader transformations.

Being honest as usual would impede any chance of experimenting with the future on a massive scale involving most of our collective existence. So instead we are told deceitfully we must defer to the ‘experts’.

Who frequently know far less about what is actually meaningful than we ordinary Americans.