Science Fiction Made Real: Were We Ever To Know In Time?

This is not the kind of science fiction we read in Frankenstein where the experimentation is physical change. Well, it might be physical, but it will be at the mostly invisible neural level. MRIs would do it though. What lights up and where is a very good indication on whether classroom practices are having the intended effect of putting certain capacities like reason and logic to sleep, while building up the habit of channeling all thought through emotions. Hard not to think of that functional MRI study I went over in the book isn’t it? Political purposes for educational manipulation via the schools. Now see this October 2013 paper on using values analysis and psychology to shift and manipulate a “new electorate.” http://www.cultdyn.co.uk/ART067736u/new-electorate-voter-values_Oct2013_11359.pdf

The new central role of the behavioral and social sciences in trying to create and manage an entirely new and theoretical vision of the world turns out to be openly announced, repeatedly, if we know where to look. I was not particularly looking. In fact, my intention was to make this post about Connected digital Learning and how that initiative is openly grounding itself in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, our beloved CHAT, and proclaiming the plan to remake the American economy and society in the name of equity for all. I have been writing for a while about the kind of personal, unconscious level, data adaptive software and gaming and virtual reality exercises will be accumulating. I have also been researching the new federally established Learning Registry (linked via its ADL partner to comparable global initiatives in other countries) and recognize it is about accumulating practices shown to create desired change at the level of a student’s mindset–what they believe and value.

So when the federal DoED this week put on a well-attended Dog and Pony Show around ensuring student data privacy blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/Student Privacy and Online Educational Services (February 2014).pdf , my reaction could be succinctly described as “What a sham!” and “So not the point.” I actually have been doing my homework around the aspirations for Big Data. My musings though pulled up intentions I never would have guessed about where all these pushes around systems thinking and ICT were going. And what’s more it even announces its links to IBM (Smarter Planet from Conclusion of book), Microsoft (Models of the World, who knew?), Alex Pentland and his MIT Media group (that new Social Physics book I wrote about recently), and George Soros, among others. Oh, and working with Oxford University. Remember that 2013 book Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think I wrote about?

Imagine forgetting to mention the FuturICT Project and its plans to remake the world and “manage the future,” that would be our future, you and me, around Big Data and social science theories? To shift to an interaction-oriented view and to seek to change human behavior and values and how we govern ourselves. How COULD you forget to mention those essential facts in a book on Big Data? In all these pushes about the need to shift to digital learning? I cannot quote the entire over grasping and very real agenda so here’s the link http://www.futurict.eu/sites/default/files/docs/files/FuturICT_32p_Project%20Outline%20WITH%20LHS.pdf . I do want to quote a particular passage though that captures the massive, experimental plan of social engineering we are dealing with here (Page 6, my bolding and my voice in the brackets):

“In order to understand systemic risks resulting from the new interdependencies and develop the ability of integrated risks management [telling each of us what we can or may not do or know or value], we need to overcome the classical silo thinking and even more than that: We need a new way of thinking, a paradigm shift from focusing on the components of a system [that would be us] to focusing on their non-linear interactions [what we are to be allowed to do or required to do], as studied by complexity science [a theory not necessarily factual]. This paradigm shift will be of similar importance as the one from a geocentric to a heliocentric worldview (without which modern physics and launching satellites would have been hardly imaginable). It will promote a new understanding of our techno-socio-economic-environmental system and facilitate new solutions to long-standing problems.”

Not so fast on the likelihood of solutions. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike lousy metaphors? They are generally the mark of either a weak mind or a deceitful one. When the prevailing perception of how our solar system was structured shifted to the heliocentric view, it was simply shifting to reflect demonstrable reality. The solar system as it existed. That is a far cry from analogizing to a paradigm shift grounded in theory of how reality and human behavior and human institutions might be restructured around ICT and Big Data. Especially hoping for new forms of governance with an emphasis on collective behavior and deferring to the democratically adopted consensus. These are theories designed to alter reality, not reflect it, and that is all the difference in the world in whether a paradigm shift is desirable. Especially one that is essentially taking place under cover of darkness.

All the intended modelling via the behavioral and social sciences, by the way, is openly acknowledged by FuturICT to not be an actual forecast. Its admitted purpose is to alter and constrain human behavior. The project intends to “develop a visionary information framework, considering insights from social sciences, complexity theory, and ethics.” It just keeps getting better and better. “The framework would analyze data on a massive scale and leverage them with scientific knowledge [behavioral, not physics!], thereby giving politicians and decision-makers a better understanding to base their decisions on.” And you wonder why the typical legislator or City Council member or Governor is gung-ho on the Common Core. What a king-maker vision.

It gets worse when you tie FuturICT with another recent report that seeks to base “long-term public service reform strategies on themes of reciprocity, responsibility, trust and partnership, and the need for a much closer understanding of how people behave, and what they want, need, and aspire to.” http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/1540126/RSA_Managing-Demand-FINAL.pdf Information that Big Data, especially Big Data coming in through education and connected learning initiatives, has in abundance. Plus in preschool and elementary school it likely reflects what was absorbed from home too.

That RSA report envisions a cultural shift towards what can only be described as the kind of communitarian agenda Amitai Etzioni has always hoped for. No wonder RSA had Harvard’s Robert Kegan (also the OECD’s Key Competences) and his stages vision over to speak. No wonder the Positive Behavior Mandates in the US and the actual definition of Career Ready track back to Etzioni by both function and a cited reference source. No wonder the architect of RSA’s UK ed vision, Guy Claxton, can also be found as the co-author of that 2002 book Learning for Life in the 21st Century that coughed up the importance of Piotr Galperin’s Soviet psychological research to creating desired predictable future behavior.

The hardest thing about writing this blog is synthesizing so many books, reports, and videos that I read all the way through. Condensing is never easy, especially with complicated material, but these aims are quite clear. The use of education as the means is THE essential component of the sought transformations. These reports keep saying this is untried theory, but that does not seem to be stopping a massive social experiment on us, our children, our society, and our economy. Everything I have (too much to cite on a blog) aligns with this vision and the urgency with which it is being pushed from every direction. This idea that the public sector and universities and NGOs and foundations and Big Business are entitled to remake citizens in order to entrench their own power. It’s not an unprecedented aim, but, with Big Data and ICT, the tools of manipulation have gotten so much better.

The theories remain revolting. The way out is to understand this for precisely what it is and to recognize this grasping in real time. It’s why I write. This is not fun, but I believe it is necessary for there to be a way out in time. Perhaps the hardest part of that RSA report on Demand Management is its recommendations to politicians on how to sell this vision without really admitting what is being sought and transformed.

Guess what? We figured it out anyway. No chance of the trust of the public sector and governments that these theories all mention as essential happening now. Let’s see what we can do about the rest of this juggernaut going on at our expense.

We also need to strike the term ‘public servant’ from the way anyone is allowed to describe themselves from now on.

 

Transcending the Individual Mind as the Analytical Unit of Learning While Still Guiding How We Will Act

In 2003, Peter Senge, also tied to MIT’s Sloan School of Management just like Alex Pentland from the last post, wrote an article “Creating Desired Futures in a Global Economy” based on remarks he delivered at his Society of Organizational Learning’s first Global Forum. It was held in Helsinki, Finland. Like John Dewey’s purposes for education, Peter Senge’s purposes or Alex Pentland’s or those who push practices unaware of their background, the purposes still attach to the desired education practices. No matter what or where. No matter how pure the heart may be or how noble the personal intentions. The purposes need to be a part of every discussion of education reform, and no degree from any institution should enable anyone to impose these practices with their undisputed collectivist intention in a country that intends to remain free.

Otherwise we have precisely what seems to be occurring. Education being used to mount a nonconsensual political coup at the level of the human mind. In that article Senge quoted a physicist David Bohm, who in 1980 expressed the sentiment that “the most important thing going forward is to break the boundaries between people so we can operate as a single intelligence. [J.S., another physicist] Bell’s theorem implies that this is the natural state of the human world, separation without separateness. The task is to find ways to break these boundaries, so we can be in our natural state.” Senge apparently agrees with Bohm and gave a similar quote from Einstein.

He also waxes on about the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton (interestingly, that’s the same noosphere project I drew attention to in the book). If this were simply a matter of personal beliefs that would be one thing, but when these beliefs drive education policy no one should lose the right to avoid declared manipulations of minds and feelings, values or complete personality, just because the person pushing these ideas got a certain kind of degree or works at a school or district or university or government agency or has a lucrative consulting contract.

If the nature of the education policy or practice is to foster that Marxist change in the student and the world to make history that we encountered in the last post, then the people pushing these policies are Marxists. Whether they admit it or not and whether they are aware or not of the ancestry of what they are pushing. I don’t know about what you feel when reading the word Marxist, but when I have to type it feels like I am insulting someone. Like telling them they have bad breath or must turn sideways to make it through a door. For many of the people developing and pushing these education ideas though, it’s a term of pride. And when it comes to pushing Vygotsky’s theories or those of Piotr Galperin, who we are going to talk about today, it is not merely that they personally had Marxist sentiments or lived in a country under its sway.

Using education to create “forward-looking transformative practices that are needed to enact history in the present” is the entire purpose of their theories and instructional practices. If the actual implementation of the Common Core in the US and comparable education reforms elsewhere are grounded in Vygotsky (usually admittedly if you know where to look) and Galperin (by the function of the required practices and how closely they align with his theories), then the purpose of the education reforms is every bit as much of a Marxist transformation as anything that happened in Russia in 1917 or Cuba in 1959. Nobody is goose stepping or shooting or fleeing abroad this time, but that does not change the aim. Nor does it change admissions that these theories and practices are “ideology-driven” to foster a different kind of future world.

What Galperin set out to do, and what his decades of research on students in the USSR showed, according to Igor Arievitch and Jacques Haenen, was how to use the “active construction of actions in the external form [what the Common Core calls learning tasks]” to guide “transformation of those actions into mental processes.” That’s what ‘teaching students how to think’ and a ‘thinking curriculum’ actually mean. To put it in the language used in a different essay by Arievitch and Anna Stetsenko, Galperin’s systemic-theoretical instruction laid out “how to arrange teaching-and-learning processes [what he and we now call by its Russian name obuchenie] in such a way that they indeed lead to a profound developmental change in children’s minds.”

How you ask? You provide a conceptual understanding from the beginning that encompasses the point of instruction (maybe true, but what a student is to believe regardless) and what types of physical phenomena it applies to (supposedly) and the (mostly invisible) relationships among those phenomena that physically exist in the real world. So real physical things encountered in daily life by a student or adult evoke “a chain of images, associations, and concepts”  in the mind that is designed to pop up like a reflex response. Let’s tap that knee says the doctor.

Now if whoever created the textbook or software or video wants actual knowledge, you could actually use Galperin’s “technology of instruction” to accurately build up a fairly accurate understanding of reality. Such programmed instruction is not inherently bad, but there’s no real safety valve to protect against manipulative creators of virtual reality gaming or software or any other means of instruction from pushing concepts that are not true or do not apply. Nor is there any means of ensuring that the taught relationships among things accurately reflects real, verifiable, connections. Like Senge’s systems thinking, the instruction may be about hoped for connections transformation advocates want students to believe exist.

Because the manipulative potential of Galperin’s ‘technology of instruction,’ as his research demonstrated, stems from the fact that it orients future behavior in predictable ways. In other words, systemic-theoretical instruction has tremendous potential to anyone wanting to change reality and guide perception and govern individual behavior. All without saying so. Well, at least not at the typical PTA meeting. Now how is this different from that theory you learned in science class or as an interpretation in history? Glad you asked. In traditional education, those theories come from known facts. Remember though we are in the age when facts are being rejected as boring, or too print intensive, or unnecessary in a world of search engines.

Theory in the Galperin instructional practice and to Alex Pentland in the last post, and as used throughout the actual ed reform mandates, comes first. It comes from the philosophy that there is nothing as practical as a good theory for fostering social transformation. It shapes and alters how people perceive reality. It interferes with the absorption of facts when they do manage to come along. Remember all the classroom visions we are seeing pushed are experiential. Usually in a group. Physical activity. Visual encounters. Projects. All the references we have been encountering about providing students with ‘lenses’ or ‘Understandings of Consequence’ or ‘Enduring Understandings’ or ‘Generative Metaphors,’ to cite a few examples we have encountered, all seem to be used precisely as Galperin outlined. That means this is the attached vision (Arevitch & Haenen 2005):

“In fact, Galperin’s teaching strategies can be used to reduce if not virtually eliminate the gap between declarative and procedural knowledge. Namely, in his stepwise teaching model, each action that students master can be comprehended conceptually because it is introduced, from the beginning, in its functional relation to a broader, meaningful task to be learned.

At the same time, each concept students are learning is represented as a sequence of procedures (actions) that serve as a basis for solving problems. Therefore, declarative [facts traditionally] and procedural [how to do it] knowledge are essentially merged into an integrated whole. This can be achieved when teaching and learning are organized into meaningful activities, thus putting the acquisition of new knowledge to the service of orienting and guiding new actions.”

Highly useful theory of education, instruction, and knowledge to anyone with a transformation agenda, isn’t it? We started with Peter Senge, let’s close with a statement from the same paper since it applies to so much of the stated rationales for needing these so-called 21st century education reforms.

“The fundamental difference between creating and problem solving is simple. In problem solving we seek to make something we do not like go away. In creating, we seek to make what we truly care about exist. Few distinctions are more basic.”

Few education theories then would be more useful than one that orients future behavior in predictable ways.

Redesigning Education Globally to Humanize Personalities and Make Each of Us More Susceptible To Peer Pressure

I have kept a constant drumbeat going now that what we are dealing with in education, Preschool–higher ed, and the hoped for changes elsewhere in all social institutions and practices are related to hoped-for transformations toward government-led collectivism. That seems so shocking and painful that it is easy to dismiss. It is perfectly understandable to feel that way, but the incessant drumbeat now has cymbals joining in and we are building toward a crescendo. Time spent ignoring these planned transformations simply increases the damage they are doing and the extent of the future clean-up. We really are dealing with educators, politicians, professors, and social planners who are determined to enact “forward-looking transformative practices that are needed to enact history in the present.”

That’s what Quality Education and Redesigning Curricula are all about. It is thus hugely alarming that a video surfaced this week of the director of the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program giddily bragging about the extent of the planned transformation.  http://www.edge.org/conversation/reinventing-society-in-the-wake-of-big-data I don’t share his optimism that the acknowledged potential for evil to be the engineered result is unlikely because there is no central place for a dictator to get at individuals. Of course there is. That’s the new purpose of all these transformational practices in education that MIT is deeply immersed in. It is also the purpose of all the interest coming out of the UN in media cooperating on how it portrays, or ignores, daily events. UNESCO now uses the term Media Education as a means of advancing to what it euphemistically calls Scientific Humanism for a reason.

Alex Pentland, the talkative star of that troubling video where he says George Orwell was simply not imaginative enough of the possibilities, is also involved with the United Nations Global Pulse Initiative. GP began in 2009 and “serves as a laboratory through which the UN System and its partners are discovering how to harness the power of Big Data to meet the challenges of global development in a Post-2015 world.” http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/GP%20Backgrounder-General2013_Sept2013.pdf So again I am not theorizing about what is going on here. I just have more sources and an intensive understanding of what is involved and how it is interconnected. I have already written about that post-2015 troubling agenda and how much it looks like what Uncle Karl envisioned as the human development society.

If the phrase little c communism still strikes us as off-putting, imagine my horror at reading Pentland’s new visionary book Social Physics which openly proclaims the intention to “reinvent our current economic, government and work systems” and having “Reflections on Primitive Communism” being a cited article supporting his vision. Say What? indeed. Likewise, the Sakhalin Declaration we looked at in the last post is just an update conference to the vision of the global common future laid out at the World Summit in Geneva in 2003 for “Building the Information Society: a global challenge in the new Millenium.”

It is to be “people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented” and the place to start for realizing this “common vision” is to “focus especially on young people” and the “opportunities provided by ICTs.” Yes, that is acknowledged as mind arson in the last post, but then Pentland is pushing social learning precisely because it makes people more susceptible to peer pressure that will change future behaviors. Brave New World should perhaps be retitled as Education to Promote Bullying by Governments, Cronies & Communities: the 21st Century Great Transition, Like It or Not.

Those are some of the background facts and declared intentions undergirding all this talk of changed instructional practices and curricula and measuring assessments to look for a poorly-understood Student Growth or Achievement. Orwell may not have been imaginative enough, but he was spot on about the use of unappreciated definitions of words to obscure intentions from the general public. This quote is taken from a 2006 article in Theory & Psychology called “Embracing History Through Transforming It.” It provides the rationale for Quality Education and Deep Learning and Social Learning and all these other transformative practices we have uncovered. It is the essence of the DiaMat process being pushed in education and the article says so.

“what is placed at the center is not the child alone and not even the classroom practice existing here and now, but rather the dialectical co-authoring of development and history by each and every individual child (and teacher) with the rest of humanity (including its past and present generations), through collaborative activities that continue and simultaneously transform history. [Now we can appreciate all the group projects or the emphasis on real world, authentic problems]

In this case, the students and teachers, instead of being de-individualized by seeing them as part of humanity, are in fact empowered to a larger degree than in any other, more individualistically based visions of education because taking the dialectical view of history means the ineluctable agency and responsibility of people, including each and very individual, as actors who together create society and history itself and are created by them.”

Boy, that’s a long sentence, but the sentiment could not be more clear. It also fits perfectly with the visions described above, in recent posts, and where I am going. That’s why there is a global need for a new vision of education and why its nature is obscured with Orwellian terms like Quality Education or Excellence. Remember I said I would talk about why subject-matter and content remain important to radicals who have no use for the transmission of knowledge? Because real knowledge empowers the individual mind (explained in detail in my book) and reenforces the existing social institutions and practices? Instead, according to Professor Seth Chaiklin, “subject-matter instruction should contribute to humanization, through personality development” and teachers and curricula designers should “consider how it could be used to work for those ends.”

“Teaching should aim to develop understandings of the central topics in a problem area” according to these CHAT and Marxist theory of development theories of education being imposed on us. Those understandings then act as conceptual lenses to interpret daily experiences in ways likely to fuel a personal belief in the need to take action to transform present reality. A/k/a act on history to change its course. It’s why facts are not important, but relationships among topics are. So the emphasis in a 1st Grade Math Lesson is on “More and Less” and “Some and Few.” Words that can come to correspond to a physical reality that should be changed in a world where economic justice is to be sought. The calculator can add or multiply, but it cannot become a Change Agent of History. Hence the need to change.

One of the most common terms now used to illustrate the need for classroom changes is the oft-proclaimed need for students to be ‘engaged.’ Now I always interpreted that term as social and emotional learning through experiential activities, but Pentland’s book helpfully tells us it is more alarming as a goal. Here is his quick definition of ‘engagement’ from the book’s Glossary. “Engagement is social learning, usually within a peer group, that typically leads to the development of behavioral norms and social pressure to enforce those norms.”

See where the title comes from now? Now “social learning consists of either: (1) learning new strategies (e.g. context, action, outcome) by observation of other people’s behavior, including learning from memorable stories [which of course need not be true, only emotionally impacting]; or (2) learning new beliefs through experience or observation.”

Well, no wonder lectures, sequential worked-out illustrations of math or science problems, and textbooks generally are now deplored. No wonder the great works of literature are treated merely as a means for making a transformative point. Making beliefs the focus and wanting them to be malleable to change, plus peer pressure to follow the always excitable herd, are so much more transformative in their potential as instruments for change.

Next time we will zero in on how Soviet psychology developed the use of instruction and curricula to create a Systematic Development of Orientation Towards Future Action. From the last psychologist (died in 1988) to have regularly worked with Lev Vygotsky.

No I am not going to sign off with Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel. That phrase would really date me wouldn’t it?

Quality Education Shapes What Will Be Valued and Provides Unifying Concepts to Guide Political Consciousness

Now that we know that there is a deliberate global coordination to redesign the very nature of school curricula, I thought it would be helpful to understand what these various entities and institutions believe constitutes ‘knowledge’ in the 21st century. After all creating a ‘Knowledge Society’ has been the UN’s euphemism for their intended economic, social, and political transformation since at least 2005. (Explained in the conclusion of the book so I am merely adding now to what is there.) In 2013 UNESCO created a report called Renewing the Knowledge Societies Vision for Peace and Sustainable Development by Professors Robin Mansell and Gaetan Tremblay. We will be using the definitions usefully laid out in that report.

We might be tempted to equate knowledge with facts, but that would be an erroneous translation of what is to be meant by the word now. “Information and knowledge are not the same because knowledge requires interpretation by human beings.” Now if there was a Cliff Notes Guide to all these plans of transformation, it would now say in bold print that phrases like “quality education,” “teaching and learning” that we have now retranslated into the original obuchenie from the psych theories, and “competency” among others are ALL about deliberately guiding that likely interpretation. Why? This editorial from a UK paper a few days ago provides the answer. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/behavioural-insights/2014/feb/14/seven-dimensions-action-climate-change . It wants not a set of disparate facts, but a “more energising set of associations” that create a “political consciousness” that will then act predictably in response to raised issues. How? Because each person will “connect with the deep roots of the problem.” Deep Learning in other words.

So with education and the media working in tandem planners and politicians hoping for radical change can create, and then manipulate, that deliberately cultivated mindset. That worldview. Those perceptual lenses. Why? Because the knowledge societies intend to push for “new forms of political deliberation, representation and decision making” and to make that seem like a matter of individual choice in a democracy when it actually could not be more planned. As the report mentions “what is valued in tomorrow’s knowledge societies will be shaped by the strategies and actions towards information, communication and education that are taken in the near term.”

Given that recognition by people pushing for radical transformation it really should bother us that in September 2013 there was a first ever international conference in Sakhalin, Russia organized by UNESCO on “Internet and Socio-Cultural Transformations in Information Society.” Most of the discussed documents remain in Russian, but an English translation of what the participants agreed upon said that ICT should be “embraced” by the knowledge societies “as an essential but not sufficient component of converging the nano, biological, information and cognitive sciences and technologies.” It even assigned an acronym for that merger–NBIC. The participants agreed that “the Internet creates a basic environment for the socialization of future generations, changing their values and ways of thinking.”

Now if that reminds anyone else of Paul Ehrlich’s decades old push for New Minds or what I have described as the official Statist desire to eliminate Axemaker Minds, let me continue to quote from what these advocates of ICT use in education readily acknowledge:

* Logocentric, narrative ways of thinking is losing its dominance, getting supplemented and partly replaced by ‘clip’ mentality characterized by a lower degree of logical connectivity, criticality and consistency.

*Consciousness immersed in cyberspace largely loses the ability for supra-situational activities and long-term planning. As a result traditional models of intellect-enabled basic processes of social control are defied.”

Instead, of Run as Fast as We Can away from such pernicious personal consequences, we get open embrace and advocacy. Apparently the loss of reason and an ability to think well is useful to the planners and funders (like the foundations financing so much of this) of these knowledge societies. Maybe it’s because such Manipulated Minds are thought to be useful for the hoped for sustainable development. After all one of the Earth Charter International Recommendations Outcome Documents from 2012 openly declared that the Just Transition hoped for would require “a shared vision of ethical and spiritual values that inspires and guides cooperative action for change. Shared values awaken a sense of common purpose and build community spirit.” Reading manipulative language like that from people who are lying to us about what they are really up to always makes me want to chuckle with the irony of it all.

Won’t work, never has. The only question is how much destruction of individual minds and personalities will continue to occur before enough people begin to grasp the true causes. With this kind of deliberate mind arson I suppose the hope is to keep an electoral majority mindless and manipulated with these politically useful values. Well, values is not all we get along with the taxpayer bill for all these machinations.  We are also to get Competencies says the 2013 report to “empower people to make changes in their lives.” How thrilling. And you wonder why I developed the metaphor of the Invisible Serf’s Collar to describe what education is being used to do.

The UN hoped-to-be Overlords and their agents like politicians and profs and accreditors and school district supers all believe we also need “information and media literacies.” These “need to encompass conceptual competencies such as critical thinking, innovative approaches to problem solving; practical competencies for navigating in media and information environments; and competencies such as social networking, digital citizenship and cross-cultural interaction skills.” No wonder one of the leading advocates for this global ed vision, Marc Tucker, used the metaphor “On the Shoulders of Giants” to obscure that there will be no such further building on or transmitting the great cultural knowledge developed over centuries.

Again the Sakhalin participants also mentioned that it was “against this background [the deficits ICT and the Internet are actually promoting quoted above] that the promotion of competencies (skills, knowledge, and attitudes), united by the term ‘media and information literacy’ (MIL) gains importance. MIL ensures responsible safe and critical use of networks for free access, production and exchange of information necessary for living and receiving quality education, as well as for scientific progress.” Now since the next sentence talks about “contemporary socio-cultural processes,” the scientific progress is in Marx’s view of societies inexorably evolving towards communism based on levels of technology. It’s not a Newton dropping his apple to discover gravity view of what is science.

I want to end with another extended quote from the 2013 report because it is so telling about how important to the planners of transformation it is to create predictably guided perceptions at the level of each individual. It is why the nature of the curricula, the classroom, the teaching practices, and what the student is to be doing ALL had to change. My bolding.

“Knowledge is a more complex concept than information. It cannot be reduced to the mere addition of unrelated information elements. Knowledge is a concept that implies meaning, organization and structure. It refers to articulated sets of meaningful observations, analyses, and interpretations that are developed over time (a/k/a a learning progression for those who have read my book) and available for each generation to be discussed and criticized. Access to knowledge implies not only access to technical devices and to stocks of information, but also involvement in learning processes. There is no knowledge without learning.”

So we are to get deliberately created Mindlessness because of the digital learning push as Quality Education globally. What mind is left gets deliberately organized and structured to perceive relationships wherever planners believe it will be politically useful. And why again?

For purposes of the need to drive action for transformative change or not to rise up in time and combat those who are acting.

Oh. My. Word. No wonder the nature of knowledge had to be redefined for such a vision.

Collecting Student Data to Practice PsychoPolitics on a Massive but Invisible Scale without Consent

Consent from legislatures, state boards of education, local school boards, misunderstood charters, or NCLB waivers should not count in countries founded on the principle that governments must respect a zone of privacy around individuals. If that zone exists at all anymore, it should certainly protect against governments collecting student data to ensure compliance with the appropriate psychological development to share visions of political and social transformation. Through all of our discussions of the constant social and emotional learning components to the actual implementation either on this blog, or as my book details, being required by the accreditation agencies overseeing virtually all schools and districts, someone will invariably write to me and say “but that sounds like brainwashing.”

That is the reality but it’s such an off-putting term, conjuring images of adult prisoners in totalitarian countries  being put through physical and mental torture, that it is not a term I have ever wanted to use. An Australian reader though asked me if I had read Eric D. Butler’s work written during the Cold War. I had not, but looking at it was a reminder that the Russians and Chinese had another word for brainwashing activities that actually does fit with the real function of the phrase “continuous improvement of student learning” and all the intended data gathering that goes with the required emphasis on the Whole Child-physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. That phrase is “psychopolitics”–changing political demands and beliefs and the prevailing culture through psychological monitoring, techniques, and practices.

We are not speculating about this either. Remember, for example,  Urie Bronfenbrenner’s work with Leontiev as a graduate exchange student in the early 60s and now the critical importance of the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory to the real Common Core classroom implementation? Or to provide yet another timely and global example http://efareport.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/a-celebration-of-the-efa-global-monitoring-reports-impact-and-role/#more-4149 on January 29, 2014 UNESCO released its vision of what education globally will look like post-2015.

Before you think that will not bind your country remember the accreditation agencies view UNESCO as who they take their marching orders from. So in a country like the US where policy makers want central political power to decide what goes on in every school, public or private, and what every student will come to believe and value (usefully hidden in vague terms like outcomes and standards and competency) without that centralizing being apparent, the accreditation agencies are being increasingly empowered by the states and the federal government to play that central role. Completely unappreciated by the typical parent or taxpayer.

When I rattle off the phrase about “changing values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors” are you ever tempted to start muttering the phrase in a sing songy way because it just keeps recurring? Let’s put it into a particular current context and expressed intention then. Speaking of other constantly recurring phrases, this is from page 177 of that UNESCO report fascinatingly called Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality For All under the heading “Education needs to be part of the solution to global environmental problems.” Please remember that the UN does not use the term environmental problems to mean Do Not Litter. It sees the solution as jettisoning individual choices in favor of state planning using computers and data around the principle of equity within countries and between countries. My bolding for emphasis and personal observations in brackets.

“Education’s vital role in preventing environmental degradation and limiting the causes and effects of climate change has not been sufficiently acknowledged or exploited. By improving knowledge [this is where systems thinking, interdependence, and the constant push on human agency and Albert Bandura's psychological work all come in. It's not about facts],  instilling values, fostering beliefs and shifting attitudes, education has considerable power to change lifestyles and behaviours that are harmful for the environment.”

Issued less than two weeks ago, these very real aims for transformation using data and education are so not a theory about some kind of conspiracy over the use of education globally. It’s an open proclamation of intent. And remember the ultimate threat to the environment if you are a central planner is the independent individual making their own choices and some of them doing it with well-stocked creative minds and the able use of logic and reason. Butler, in writing about how much the Fabian Socialists had aided in creating popular perceptions that favored what Communism hoped to achieve, pointed out that:

“All central planners fear individual freedom because no one can predict how the individual will use his freedom. Central planning requires that planners have effective control of all aspects of human activity. The exercising of freedom by the individual is essentially a creative and spiritual activity.”

You get that control invisibly through misunderstood but quite intentional actual definitions of student ‘growth’ and ‘success’ and ‘learning’ and data being collected around students who “demonstrate mastery of competencies aligned to standards.” Uniform standards, where how to get there can vary but the necessity of getting there cannot. That’s what “tight-loose” fidelity of implementation means by the way. What is loose is how a teacher or computer gets the student to change, not the type of change that must occur.

Psychopolitics was defined in the past as the “art and science of asserting and maintaining dominion over the thoughts and loyalties of individuals, officers, bureaus, and masses.” That is precisely what UNESCO has said it intends to use education to do. That is precisely what all the stories of outrage over troubling Common Core curricula seek to do. There’s no real dispute over what is being sought via education or what types of transformation it relates to.

That’s why we have to face it sooner rather than later and appreciate that this is not, in fact, unimaginable. It’s a norm associated with a desire to centralize political power and deprive individuals of their own decision-making power, lest they do or create something unexpected and genuinely innovative. Like critical thinking, the words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ get used disingenuously. They are used to describe what is being sought by these K-12 education reforms precisely to obscure the reality that the real goal is to shut down that very threatening capacity of some individuals.

I am going to end this post with two more examples from history that remind us of how vital standardizing and limiting the mind is in any society seeking to vest final decision-making authority in government officials instead of the people themselves. Eric Butler also points out that Lenin made it very clear that he was most interested in the attack upon the mind. He cites a book, The White Nights, that detailed intimate conversations  between Lenin and Pavlov (of dog experiment fame) in trying to standardize (Butler’s term in something he wrote decades ago) human thought and behavior. Butler also points to a Canadian Royal Commission Report on Communism which discussed The Development of Ideological Motivation and conceded that “There is no doubt that the Communists have studied exhaustively every possible method of attacking the mind.”

Butler also cites the concerns of a Dr Sargent in 1953 addressing the BBC that the Communists were largely concerned with “changing men’s thoughts and beliefs on a mass scale.” Sargent went on to express his belief that “ultimately the fate of the world will depend on the conversion of the masses to one idea of life or another.” Well, we know from the above quote what idea of life UNESCO and other UN entities will be pushing. It ought to concern us too that the part of UNESCO devoted to digital learning remains headquartered in Moscow and that most of that UNESCO work remains untranslated from the Russian language. Free to tap into all that psychology research on changing thoughts and beliefs.

In my book I lay out all the controversial aspects of K-12 education reforms that indisputably track back originally to the Soviet Union. It even includes the very definition of what pedagogy actually is and what the colleges of education have been pushing for at least the last 20 years and in some places far longer than that. It matters that we have been using all that psychological research on how to interfere with how an individual mind perceives reality.

It especially matters that every aspect of education now is aimed at that very level with no means of complaining if anyone does accurately recognize what is really being sought and why. Which is why it is so vital that as many people as possible, as soon as possible, begin to recognize the true aims and deliberately obscuring definitions of all these relevant terms being used.

This need not be the No Way Out situation being deliberately imposed on all of us.

It will, however, take genuine knowledge about the evils people in power will do if there are no effective constraints anymore. And this world of Competency and that’s to be it is all about limiting such genuine knowledge or ability.

Not if I can help it. Just call me the Queen of Unauthorized Knowledge.

 

 

Center of the Storm: Requiring Data Collection on Continuous Improvement to a Student’s Full Personality

I started Chapter 3 of my book with a quote that has been haunting me ever since we first confronted the DiaMat theory dead on two posts ago. Professor Jeremy Kilpatrick was speaking at a 1987 Psychology of Mathematics Education international conference. In the book, I was illustrating that there were other intentions involved with what became known as the math, science, and reading wars. What Jeremy said then was:

“We need to determine the moral, social, and political order we believe to be desirable, then set out our educational purposes, and in light of those purposes choose curriculum content and objectives.”

It haunts me because I now realize that quote is a fairly concise definition of DiaMat and how its advocates see education as a means of deliberately changing the culture and altering prevailing perspectives. All this manipulation is to create Mindsets that perceive the world in politically useful ways. Well, useful if you belong to the class that plans to be among the manipulators. For individuals, such mind arson cannot work out well. In the last post, the book I mentioned Imagine Living in a Socialist USA ends with a scifi type essay called “Thanksgiving 2077: A Short Story.” In it, the character Les comments that he doubts that “many folks would have gone for socialism if they had known it meant downsizing.” Ahh, the pertinent parts of the story being left out of the sales pitch.

If conscious evolution along a designed pathway seems a bit scifi to us, it is nevertheless behind the designed to be influential ecosystem STEM metaphor of where all these education reforms are actually going. http://www.noycefdn.org/documents/STEM_ECOSYSTEMS_REPORT_140128.pdf is another report from a few days ago. That’s education to create a new reality, not education to appreciate the world as it currently exists or what great minds have pieced together about how it works. That STEM Ecosystem vision is driven by the DiaMat vision, but it gets to hide under language about Equity and Success for All.

Both the UN and the OECD have detailed their Future Earth and Great Transition and post-2015 plans and I have covered them in various posts. I have also detailed Gar Alperowitz’s vision of the Good Society and Harry Boyte’s for the cooperative commonwealth as other examples of future visions of transformation. So the moral, social, and political order desired by the public sector and their cronies globally or its links to what is called the Common Core now in the US are clear and no longer in doubt. Now Jeremy’s quote is the truth, but not a good PR strategy for a politician or School Super to sell to a community. Well, at least not one who has not had education, K-12 or higher ed, already nurturing for years at a time both a sense of grievance and an attitude of ignorance despite adequate coursework and degrees.

What’s the way in then? How do we get to what the book describes as the goal of accessing a student’s full personality so it can be monitored and manipulated to fit the believed needs of the people with political power? You do it obviously with euphemisms like making “continuous improvement in student learning for all students” the new federal goal. Then you take the work of a Professor like John Bransford and write books and hold conferences where the term “learning” encompasses what became the notorious aim of outcomes based education in the 90s: changing values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.

That’s what ‘learning’ actually means in 2014 to an education ‘professional’ who is on the lucrative insider track and that’s the information to be gathered by the schools through assessments. Most people hear ‘assessments’ and think examinations of knowledge and hear ‘learning’ and think of the acquisition of knowledge and useful skills. Most people would be wrong, but sticking to duplicitous terms means most people will never know what is going so wrong in education. I have been around school board members who have been led to believe that the phrase ‘continuous improvement’ is also about ever increasing knowledge. Instead, it comes out of the PBIS, Positive Behavior psychology work, and also seeks to cause and then monitor changes in the now-proverbial values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.

That’s what makes Monday’s release by the well connected iNACOL and CompetencyWorks of “A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change” so fascinating. If you are troubled by revelations about the level of personal monitoring being conducted by the NAS according the Edward Snowden’s leaks, how should we feel about schools and school districts becoming primarily personal data collection devices that go to our innermost thoughts and feelings and motivations? About schools using that information and providing it to states and the federal government to chart whether the desired changes in values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings are occurring? That the idea of protecting privacy becomes a matter of not detailing who is being changed, but requiring and monitoring and guiding wholesale, full personality change nevertheless. And determining what practices and curriculum best foster such change and what type of students they work particularly well on? That’s customized leaning. That’s what personalized education actually means.

The phrase the document keeps using is student-centered accountability, not compliance accountability. Here’s the big idea that all K-12 is now to evolve around. Highly useful remember with DiaMat as the goal, teacher classroom behavior being seriously circumscribed (last post), and that obuchenie mindset being the goal of ‘teaching and learning.’

BIG IDEA: Student-centered data systems should collect, report, and provide transparent information on where every student is along a learning trajectory based on demonstrating high levels of competency [http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/targeting-student-values-attitudes-and-beliefs-to-control-future-behavior/  explains what competency really means and how Milton Rokeach created it as an obscuring term for its actual purpose], to help educators customize learning experiences to ensure that every student can master standards and aligned competencies. Data should provide useful information for improving teaching and learning, as well as for accountability and quality purposes.”

Quality as we know does not mean academics. It means desired personal qualities and an outlook on the world and ties back to John Dewey’s vision. Notice though that competencies and standards are NOT being used here as synonyms. In the paper standards refers to standards for college and career readiness. Since we have tracked the standards for college readiness first to a David Conley 2007 paper for the Gates Foundation and discovered generic adult non-cognitive skills and then on back to Maslow and Rogers humanist psychology work that benchmark doesn’t exactly merit peals of joy. We can see though why ALL students can get there with time though and how much time this standard leaves for all that personality manipulation.

Career ready we actually have tracked back to attitudes and values embracing communitarianism. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/birth-to-career-finally-and-quietly-creating-the-soviet-mindset-but-here-in-the-usa/ Again highly useful if transforming the moral, social, and political order has become the actual point of K-12 and higher ed. Especially if information on precisely where all students are at any given point in the process of desired consciousness transformation is being monitored constantly through data collection.

Ready to reach for something to relieve heart burn and nausea at this point in the post? Here’s the problem with avoidance of these troubling intentions. Then nothing can stop them except perhaps an investigation after all this personality manipulation leads to a tragedy. I think that has already happened and this expansion will only make it even more likely in the future.

We have to focus on what is really being monitored and changed. Next time we will talk about how all the previous safety valves in the education system are being turned off so that there is no one really to complain to about what is intended. I also want to talk about that report’s determination to put some type of deceitful zone of privacy over Georgia’s actions in this area of pushing competency as the new focus of education. The report has it classified as having “No Policies in Competency education.” That’s not true as I know from repeated personal experiences in plenty of meetings with public officials or their advisors. I made Chapter 4 of the book about Competencies as the ultimate end game and the ugly history. I used a troubling Georgia statute nobody seemed to want to acknowledge passing.

Why the deceit and cover up? It’s not because there are no connections between Knowledge Works and what has been going on in Georgia. How many other states have similar deceit going on with so many people in the know having unexplored conflicts of interest that guide their behavior? Talking to people elsewhere it does not seem unique, but the obfuscation here does appear deliberate. Knowing why I believe it is deliberate should be helpful to all of us looking at inexplicable actions in our states and communities.

Maybe I should call the next post Tracking Techniques 102 or “How to tell when someone is lying to you about public policy.”

 

 

Change Perception, Change Behavior, Change Rules, Change Systems–the Real Common Core/Teacher Coercion Story

Today’s post reenforces my consistent point that what is going on in education ‘reforms’ at all levels is not about the how and what of getting as many students as possible as knowledgeable and able as possible. What most of us view as the historic role of schools. Even something as fundamental as the new teacher evaluations and measures of what constitutes student ‘achievement’ or ‘growth’ are actually bound up in the broader social, economic, and political transformation agenda. And once again the aim is not limited to the US or Canada or the UK or Australia. It truly is global in aim as this short video called ‘Purpose’ show us. http://www.purpose.com/

Now the first part of the title comes from that circle chart at the 1:21 mark that the way to achieve this comprehensive vision of global transformation is to Change Perception which causes Individual Behaviors to Change, hopefully along the preselected pathways. That in turn allows Changes in the governing Rules (either explicitly or as we saw with Harold Berman through the concept of evolving law that shifts with needs and new contexts). Finally, all of these shifts over a majority of voters results in a Change in the economic, social, and political Systems.

We could also call that chart a Graphic Organizer illustrating how to accomplish Dialectical Materialism in the real world. Now I still find that to be an off-putting phrase and just using the initials might not alert my readers to what I mean. I am also darn sure we are going to keep needing to refer to this Theory with an Infamous Past so I hereby rechristen it DiaMat for short. Why am I so sure this theory will need a nickname to allow for easy use?

Because I believe that the new teacher evaluations and professional development standards, and even the new definition of professional learning that is coming out of Kentucky, are all about getting DiaMat into everyday practice in our schools and classrooms. DiaMat in the teachers’ daily instructional practices of course allows that Obuchenie mindset to be developed in the students. Then the new alternative assessments being administered by Pearson, even in states like Texas that are not adopters of the Common Core, get to measure whether the desired changes in perception are occurring.

If we look at the inner core of that circle chart, we see Perception changes through new Story Telling, which of course is most vividly accomplished by ditching textbooks and making virtual reality Gaming and Cyberlearning the new focus of the classroom (under the motto that it keeps students engaged and thus keeps them from dropping out). Next, at the inner core under Change Behavior we find ‘Motivator,’ which is precisely what the League of Innovative Schools and the federally promoted Digital Promise hope to use technology in the classroom to determine. Under Change Rules, we find ‘Mobilizer,’ which I believe is a euphemism for the better known–’community organizer.’ Finally, under Change Systems, we find ‘Platform Builder.’ Like Peter Senge promoting systems thinking or Mark Greenberg pushing positive psychology on schools or Angela Duckworth on Grit and Tenacity as examples in education? Or to take it up a notch, we have Harry Boyte and his concept of the cooperative commonwealth or Gar Alperowitz and his Democracy Collaborative or King’s Beloved Community as only being satisfied via economic democracy.

The point of just those few examples is that the world itself and all the individuals in it may not be interdependent, but the idea behind radical ed reform and the transformation visions that accompany it certainly are. My book and this blog are dedicated to trying to sound the alarm of these connections in time. You may not have read Imagine Living in a Socialist USA that came out about two weeks ago from HarperCollins Publishing, but I have. It is a historically and economically illiterate vision with a devastating conclusion of what a Thanksgiving 2077 could be like in the transformed US. In the middle is an essay from Bill Ayers of Weathermen and “Just another guy in the neighborhood” fame laying out the associated ed vision. Ayers calls it “Teach Freedom!” but the Common Core calls it student-centered deep learning of the desired concepts with application to real world problems. DiaMat again.

Remember how we discovered that the omnipresent around the classroom implementation dual phrase “teaching and learning” was an inexact stealth attempt to bring in the Russian psychology and political theory of obuchenie to alter the student’s perception? Well, we did not dwell on it then but it is the teacher’s perception that is also  under active attack. The students are not the only ones to be asked to Ascend from the Abstract to the Concrete based on preassigned concepts to be understood as desired and acted upon. Teachers must shift too. Think of it as forcing everyone to become a change agent or to find a new job or career.

That’s what the new classroom observations and teacher evaluations are all about according to the developers of the Common Core standards themselves, Student Achievement Partners. Well, they did not mention obuchenie or Ilyenkov’s Ascending theory but they are intimately tied to the new definition of student achievement and how to end educational inequality. You see? This is why radical schemers are so hostile to us having our own personal store of accurate facts about the past. We go beyond the assigned story and interject our own conceptual understandings based on a pertinent solid foundation. Naughty me! Seriously in November 2013 TNTP (yes it is the entity Michelle Rhee started) released an Issue Analysis Report co-developed with Student Achievement Partners called “Fixing Classroom Observations: How Common Core Will Change the Way We Look at Teaching.”

That report itself says that “the implementation of improved teacher evaluation systems in a growing number of states and school districts, and the introduction of Common Core State Standards across the country” are “inextricably linked by their shared goal: better instruction for students.” Once again so much for the talking point about Common Core NOT being about how to teach the content. It is ALL about how to teach the content and in fact greatly limits what the content may be. Common Core and TNTP together ( they are distinct only to minimize the previous public outcries that supposedly derailed outcomes based education) are all about obuchenie instruction. On the circle graph we talked about above it is a certain type of instruction that changes perception so that behavior itself changes. Then the DiaMat process that should result in transformed systems can begin in earnest.

DiaMat is why the TNTP report stresses the need to teach the “right content.” Interpolating again, I believe that means content that will shift perception in politically powerful ways so that “students are learning what they should be learning.” Learning remember has been redefined as a change in values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, or behaviors. That redefinition then fits well within the Purpose Chart for Change. If you really believe that outcomes-based education went away instead of morphing into new names and a different PR strategy, look at page 6 of that TNTP report under “student outcomes” (the italics are in original) about “Rubrics should draw a clear distinction between the  outcomes teachers are responsible for producing in a successful lesson and the strategies that can help them achieve those outcomes.”

Because I really am trying my best to alert teachers and students and parents in time about what is really going on and where it is all designed to lead, here is one more heads up addressed especially to teachers. It also goes to my certainty that what we are dealing with is in fact obuchenie and DiaMat and that they are integrally interrelated to the actual Common Core implementation and the Competency ultimate fallback. “State Lessons for Transforming Professional Learning” http://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/commoncore/seizing-the-moment.pdf Launched in 2011 from the official CCSSI sponsors and coming from Kentucky, the remainder of the 6 pilot states are Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah, and Washington. It will be going national though and it is tied to what TNTP is developing as well. It also ties into the history of what it means to be an effective teacher that I laid out in my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon.

It is DiaMat that ultimately weaponizes students and teachers and administrators caught up in this tragic vision. They are being credentialed and coerced to be change agents to transform the world. Meanwhile their educations at the K-12, collegiate, and graduate levels are being systematically stripped of anything accurate that might be an obstacle to a willingness to seek transformation–first at the level of perception, then behavior, then reality itself.

While people like me who have studied history and economics and classical lit and science are jumping up and down and screaming like that silly robot in Lost in Space with his “Danger! Danger!”

This has been a week in Atlanta where the dangers perceptible to anyone paying attention were unrecognized, or disregarded, by too many education decision-makers. Expanding the authority of this sector nationally and globally so that it can ignite transformational systems change will create comparable results to what happened Tuesday.

Nowhere to Go. No Way to Get There. Except this time there will be no innate southern kindnesses to keep us and our loved ones and our resources safe.

Translating the Off-Putting Term Dialectical Materialism and Discovering the Intended Process in ALL Classrooms

And if ALL classrooms, preschool through graduate school, is not sufficiently alarming, how about in ALL students and teachers and professors and administrators? Plus with a little luck, and using active coordination of themes and cultivated beliefs between education and the media, those interested in transformative change in the 21st century hope to spread the mental and emotional contagion to parents and enough voters generally to ignite the change via the ballot box and ALL institutions.

So how does the mouthful phrase ‘dialectical materialism’ fit into this vision? That is something I have struggled with for a couple of years now. I basically got it, but not well enough to translate into a pithy analogy for mass consumption. I suspect much of that is deliberate to prevent alarms from going off recognizing its use to prompt revolutionary cultural change. I knew it was about consciousness and had been coined not by Marx or Engels, but by Joseph Dietzgen. Like them, his revolutionary intentions forced him into exile in the Anglosphere, countries much more accommodating of dissent than Germany or other parts of 19th-century Europe. Instead of London or Manchester, England though, Dietzgen relocated to the Chicago area. But what precisely merited exile by authorities wishing to retain existing political power?

The recent recovery of some lost Nelson Mandela transcripts that quoted him as saying: “to a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the logic of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.” I read that and immediately wished someone would concisely explain that logic as I was quite sure it was still lurking in our midst, ready to mount an invisible attack against existing institutions, values, beliefs, and other cultural norms. Last week, my personal project, supposedly unrelated to the blog or book or speaking engagements, was to investigate when the law shifted to being seen as a cultural weapon. Just a matter of personal curiosity so I ordered a book I had seen mentioned, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. It was published in 1983 by a then Harvard Law Prof, Harold J. Berman.

I was expecting a more straightforward history than what I encountered. I certainly was not expecting to read on the first page of the Preface that “A world ends when its metaphor has died.” Well, that got my attention as nothing is more prevalent now in education ‘reforms’ than the determination to excise factual knowledge of the past or science or human nature and substitute some type of metaphorical belief, usually called a ‘lens,’ as in the new C3 Social Studies Framework or a Generative Metaphor from Donald Schon and Chris Argyris’ Action Science work.

Continuing on in the Introduction, I found a determination to jettison the reverence for the Anglo tradition of the common law, and language about the law being not “a body of rules,” but a “process.” That statement sounded eerily similar to what radical education reformers like Linda Darling-Hammond, or sponsors like CCSSO, are using to describe what the REAL Common Core implementation is about. Not transmitting a body of knowledge anymore, but cultivating desired ‘habits of mind’ and hoped for ‘dispositions’ amenable and primed to act for wholesale social change.

Perhaps because it is a book designed to change the nature of a particular institution-the nature of law, law schools, and the role of the judiciary, Berman’s book is quite graphic about using the word ‘dialectics’ to describe the process of changing values and beliefs in people so it will have an impact on how and whether they act. Those actions in turn can affect the material world and the physical environment, which in turn acts upon those who inhabit it. A dialectical process back and forth involving the material world, but it all starts in consciousness. Mental and emotional beliefs. Dialectical materialism. Change the consciousness of enough people and the world itself and the future can supposedly be changed in predictable ways.

That’s the theory of how to “transform the social and political and economic realities” and it was revolutionary enough in the 19th century to merit exile and, perhaps, prison in certain times and places in the 20th. Now a willingness to push it can get you a lucrative ed doctorate credential intended to secure a six-figure taxpayer paid salary and then pension for life. That is if you cooperate with the right people and force the right theories on unsuspecting schools and students. What a transition that is for an infamous theory!

Dialectical materialism then is the actual theory that underlay outcomes based education and what was really being sought from it. Because it is an off-putting term with a clear history and proponents calling it the equivalent of a cultural “rifle, bomb or missile,” the real name for the theory gets left out. Instead, we get language about Growth Mindsets and not Fixed and Grit, Perseverance and Tenacity to euphemize the actual dialectical mental and emotional change to arrive at the desired synthesis in a person who will act.

This vision of education as dialectical materialism to change the student’s values, beliefs, and dispositions so they will likely act as desired upon the world can be seen as recently as last Friday as Michael Barber and Pearson released a Michael Fullan authored document called A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. That report also helpfully ties together the actual intended Common Core implementation in the US to what is going on in Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. A global vision of the kind of perspectives and Worldviews that education is to inculcate for the future.

Everything is designed around experiential learning and getting students ready to act in desired ways. To see the past through so-called present and future needs. It’s not just the students being primed to act in desired ways. I keep hearing reports of teachers being told to stand and chant as a necessary component of new required professional development, while I notice how the leaders of the training just happened to be active in outcomes based education in the 90s. Or a recent story of videos being shown of enthusiastic cheering at various emotional public events like sports. Then the teachers are told that they must stand and cheer exuberantly at every mention of the phrase “Common Core” during the presentation. Does it remind anyone else of Michael Barber’s work with rebellious UK teachers years ago where the mantra was “First, act, then belief comes?”

To me, it is reminiscent of another of William Henry Chamberlin’s observations from his 30s experiences of collectivism that we encountered in the previous post. He noted that “human personality, for instance, may sometimes be dwarfed and standardized under the influence of democracy. But in the totalitarian states it tends to disappear altogether; the individual is simply sunk in the collectivist mass that votes, marches, salutes, cheers with the regularity and precision of an automatic machine.” That term ‘totalitarian’ may seem a bit misplaced when talking of the US or UK or Canada or Australia, but every one of the political and economic and social philosophies Chamberlin was writing about from personal experience was grounded in dialectical materialism. It is the foundational theory behind changing values and beliefs. What varied, then and now, are the particular beliefs that can be deliberately cultivated as useful for transformative change.

It is easy then to see the belief in Catastrophic Manmade Climate Change as one of today’s useful cultivated beliefs as well as the hyping of Inequality and the push for Communitarianism (misleadingly hiding in the definition of Career Ready as well as what will constitute a Positive School Climate). The intense focus on continued racism and sexism in reading selections and classroom discussions provides the same function. Useful beliefs that will likely compel a belief to act to transform the world in predictable ways. Others are more subtle, like the regular complaints over the religion of Islam being portrayed as inherently innocuous in ways that disregard known, provable, potentially dangerous facts. Or the economic misconceptions being deliberately cultivated and then tied to revered figures like Martin Luther King as Democracy Collaborative/Good Society’s Gar Alperovitz did recently. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/01/beyond-dreamer

We are going to talk next time about how this dialectical vision has become incorporated into the teacher evals for licensure and promotion to ensure compliance. Another dialectical process to ensure actual change in the material world.

Unfortunately all these intentions just cannot shake off the effects of unintended consequences and perverse incentives in that same material world.

The one where we all live and pay taxes to finance these millenarian visions of unrealistic, and nonconsensual, transformations.

 

 

Finale of the Dangerous Mindset Trilogy: Spreading the Contagion to Fundamentally Alter How We Think and Live

How many of you read the comment this past week by Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s Framework on Climate Change, on how much easier it is for a dictatorship like China to do what the UN insists is necessary to deal with climate change? Many people wondered where the mental governor was that would have prevented such a politically inept statement, but immersion in the taxpayer-funded institutions seeking wholesale transformation globally seems to make the people involved tone-deaf about the ramifications and validity of what they are advocating for. The same directness about intentions and acceptable methods can be found in the related 50+20 Agenda of Management Education for the World. Let’s take a look at the future being envisioned by the current K-12 and college “reforms” so that we can become the “content, unified” people who are “ultimately cooperative” in a “well-organized civilization working towards the singular goal of sustainability.” http://www.unprme.org/resource-docs/5020ManagementEducationfortheWorld.pdf

We can see where the jet-setting bureaucrats could begin to believe they are entitled to strong arm people into new sets of values and morals and beliefs. After all they have decided they are working toward a “world worth living in.” One that of course benefits them instead of us, but then we are not supposed to read the small print. With 12 years or so of obuchenie ‘teaching and learning’ and ‘guided reflection’, even if future graduates do read the small print, few will appreciate what is wrong with such intentions.

“Everything within the State” as a motto of a very dark period in World History simply won’t be part of the syllabus of coursework or approved, pre-supplied Enduring Understandings. This time there will be the collaboratory of leaders working together with all stakeholders to ‘solve’ the world’s complex problems as they arise and plan the future. If things do not turn out as envisioned, adjustments can be made. It’s not like such a history-blind approach would be squandering national resources or committing permanent Mind Arson or anything.

In case you don’t recognize the significance of same of the names quoted in that report, they include Peter Senge’s Society for Organizational Learning-SOL-and his long-time collaborator Otto Scharmer (who has his own tag plus his Capitalism 3.0 tag). We also have Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligences and Harvard’s Project Zero and Joseph Stiglitz who took part in Anthony Gidden’s Global Third Way Debate book and panel that we have looked at as well as heading the Subjective Well-Being (also tagged) panel that commenced in 2009 at French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s request. So please don’t tell me that this vision is unrelated to the so-called Great Transition or that the transformative learning described is not related to the US Common Core or the Australian Core Skills or the Canadian Learning for a Sustainable Future. It’s all the same interconnected ‘transdisciplinary’ vision and we will remain imperiled until we begin to realize this better.

There’s a Goethe expression that keeps being quoted as part of this transformative vision. It goes “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” We also need to take it to heart before deliberately kept ignorant credentialed Change Agents, and business professors who don’t understand how economies work, and self-interested politicians and their cronies and consultants blow up what currently works.  We saw numerous well-compensated false statements in out last post, and PRME quoting, with pictures, George Bernard Shaw’s statement that “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future” suggests we need to keep our Ignoramus alert gauges firmly in our hands at all times in 2014.

If K-12 education reforms like the Common Core or blended learning or the college tour at that expensive Ivy League school confessed that the “time has come to initiate a fundamental change in the way we think and live,” the alarm bells that need to be going off now would start to peal in more people’s minds. And they would properly keep their wallets shut. Which is precisely why no one in school or higher ed administration or the public sector is being that honest. We have to rely on sleuthing like those Great Transition documents or unwise declarations like Giddens conceding that actual temperature changes do not really matter, it’s just all an excuse for desired social, political, and economic changes in the West. The “Management Education for the World: An Agenda” report is much the same way. Because it is linked but tangential to the area of most people’s focus, its authors are brutally honest about the entire picture.

Making the purpose of K-12 being ‘Career-Ready’ takes on new meaning if management education globally has been simultaneously tasked with the “transformation of business and the economy” so that it serves what the politicians and planners in academia and think-tanks determine to be “serving the common good.” No more relying on consumers and individual choices. It rather puts a new light on selling K-12 education reforms as “What Business Wants” when those businesses have been told they get to be established players “in a new kind of society” with “a revised economic framework where business is celebrated for its contribution to society and the world.”

I will take a break in this quote as we think about how dangerous it is to have management students trying to earn degrees and get jobs in business or governments being told they are to “become custodians of society.” [italics here and elsewhere are in original report] It will be quite flattering to a twenty-something ego, but oh-so-dangerous to the rest of us for them to be trained and believe that is their acceptable 21st century role.

Especially when we realize how few will have enough knowledge of history to know what Fascism looks like, what its dangers are, and why people wrote about ‘vampire economies’ in the 30s. This is the rest of the quote that I broke from (top of page 6). Please pay attention because we have to be the ones who recognize all this for the self-interested, rent-seeking, parasitic justifying nonsense that it is. This is not a minor report.

“The starting point for reframing business is to reassign economics to its appropriate status as a subset of a larger system, not its center. We must develop a global society that is supported by the economy, based on a new environmental, societal and economic framework that serves the global common good. Businesses need to become intimately involved in this transformation by accepting challenges and responsibilities that lie beyond short-term economic performance. The purpose of business should be measured through its positive contribution to the transformation of society towards a better world.”

So the envisioned purpose of business in the future is to no longer satisfy customers making voluntary decisions on how to spend their own money. It will be about satisfying the politicians and bureaucrats like Ms Figueres who get to decide what they believe would be a better world based on a misguided fallacy that economies are a finite collection of goods and resources that can simply be rearranged. It is hardly a shock to those of us who have been tracking all the machinations in education over the decades, and the layers of deceit to hide the actual objectives, that the key to all these sought changes is transformative learning. This requires an awareness of the viewpoints of others and how to change our own beliefs, values, and ethics and proceed with action even in the face of uncertainty. “Achieving such awareness” says the report “requires a fundamentally different approach to teaching and learning.”

There’s that obuchenie reference again where we began our trilogy. Essential to what is sought is always “the process of perspective transformation, enabling individuals to revise their beliefs and modify their behavior. We understand transformative learning not only as a rational or intellectual exercise but fundamentally consider personal experience as a critical enabler to trigger a transformation in the participant. Such learning is embedded in the philosophy of whole person learning: respecting a person in their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions, and recognizing the need to develop all these aspects of the individual in order to progress towards an increasingly integrated and therefore ‘whole’ person.”

Now let’s end this with some of the names in K-12 education for just that very aim that we have covered on this blog. Assagioli called it psychosynthesis. Carol Dweck is doing CCSSI professional development webinars calling it Growth Mindsets. ASCD has a Whole Child Initiative that it wishes to be an essential component of the Common Core implementation. Personal experience is also the project-based learning being pushed now or hands-on science. References to head, heart, hands, and soul are rampant in the rhetoric being used by Superintendents. We called it Triune Consciousness in our League of Innovative Schools research.

Transformative learning and perspective transformation are the real purpose of the K-12 reforms as well as college. It attaches to the same planned alteration of business and the economy as what the 50+20 report describes.

No wonder we have legislators travelling around states bragging about the collusion going on between politicians and education administrators to promote this vision. They would have probably been more careful if they knew we had the rest of the story.

 

Supposedly Creating a Generation of Solutionaries by Using Education to Create Futures Oriented Change Agents

There is something fundamentally suicidal about intentionally  limiting students’ knowledge of actual facts of what has worked well in the past, or been catastrophic, while emphasizing that they should imagine alternate futures for themselves and the world. Does it strike anyone else as encouraging children to play with nitro while the advocates sit firmly protected in school district or university offices living off collected taxes and tuition? It gets even worse with professors determined to jettison the current political, social, and economic systems using education–K-12, college, and graduate–to create the desired perspectives for change and then planning to build on the “growing movement of discontented young people” to force the change. The motto might as well be “We broke it and intend to use the breakage to get an even bigger hammer to keep breaking while blaming others for the destruction.”

Once again our invitations were lost for yet another planning meeting. The so-called Next System Project did hold a workshop December 12 at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard with many recognizable players that this blog has already looked into. Led by Democracy Collaborative advocate Gar Alperowitz and environmental activist James Speth (author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy wanting to use a new view of education to build the requisite consciousness), the workshop talked about a project, thenextsystem.org, that would be launched in 2014. Here’s my problem: many of the participants like Tufts Professor Neva Goodwin and the Tellus Institute (The Great Transition post) have been laying out their radical transformative intentions for a number of years so what is really new? I think what is new is the national K-12 initiative known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSSI). It becomes the catch-all excuse to shift all classroom instructional practices and the curriculum towards creating the student beliefs and values and perspectives in the need for such a new system.

Moreover, I think CCSSI gives the perfect excuse to push the Agenda 21 vision percolating out of the UN and the Subjective Well-Being, Green Growth, and Great Transition global initiatives announced by the OECD in Paris. If we go north to Canada and look at a 2012 document from the accounting and consulting firm Deloitte & Touche (apparently having governments as clients and then writing advocacy papers for the dirigiste vision is the consulting and legal nirvana of the future) called “Ready or not? Preparing youth for 21st century responsible citizenship,” we can see what the UN’s Education for Sustainable Development looks like in practice. Once again the focus of education is on changing what the student values and believes and what theories or concepts they use to filter their daily experiences. In fact, the Final Report has the banner “Viewing education through a responsible citizenship lens.”

Obuchenie then is till sought and the Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete framing Mindset and conceptual lenses are still the new purpose of education globally but rarely will we find those particular terms used. Instead, the philosophy shows up in phrasing like this:

“The goal of responsible citizenship calls upon education to adopt a different set of learning tools and a different teacher-learner relationship that involves learning based upon inquiry and action. Paulo Freire [a major advocate of social justice education globally who viewed the transmission of knowledge as reproducing current privileges] terms this the ‘problem-posing’ method of education, where teachers and students learn together through combining theory with action [a/k/a experiential or hands on ed] and emphasizing the importance of inquiry.”

That inquiry of course occurs with the supplied Big Ideas or Lenses or Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequence as we went through in the previous post. They become how the world is seen whether they are true or not. When a student consistently applies them in how they see the world they are deemed to now be ‘autonomous.’ No sense of Orwellian irony that a person is now labeled autonomous only when she appears to be preprogrammed to respond in predictable ways. Another way these concepts come into this new vision of ed is by pushing the idea that K-12 students should “engage in praxis.” Once again this is defined as “combining theory and action–a goal that should be accomplished by taking students outside the classroom to learn from first-hand, real-world experiences.”

This “theory and action” aim seeks to have students come to see the world as in constant flux so they will believe they must be able to adapt to the changes. Supposedly, “learning this can help youth to see democracy as a work in progress, with room for more voices and views in its development and transformation. When the conventional student/teacher dichotomy is altered, learners are able to see that knowledge is not only delivered by those deemed as experts, but can come from personal investigation and interaction. Learning to be open to more forms of knowledge building can allow children to value their own discoveries and understandings.”

Now I hope Deloitte was well-paid to write such nonsense as part of the Learning for a Sustainable Future Initiative. Children and young adults may in fact come to believe that their own discoveries and understandings are just as important as what an expert knows, but they would be WRONG. It is our job as adults and the purpose of education to correct such misconceptions, not to foster ignorance and logical fallacies because such advocacy pays well. Governments at all levels in countries all over the world may have decided it would be nice if they can treat citizens as mere chattel and hide such intentions behind rhetoric about sustainability and responsible citizenship. The mask and obfuscatory language doesn’t change the abusive intent of the public sector and its collaborators within the private and ‘charitable’ sectors one bit.

Self-dealing by public officials, politicians, private sector lackeys, foundations, and higher ed wanting the gravy train to never end are simply hiding behind ostensibly noble language about “creating a generation of ‘solutionaries’… this begins with our young people. As such, we need to address these issues within our learning environments by creating authentic opportunities for young people to experience the power and possibilities democracy provides in loving and supporting community. We can transform our educational system to one based on respect for human rights and one that values freedom and responsibility, participation and collaboration, and equity and justice. To create a more just, sustainable and democratic world, we need democratic education.”

That sounds much more glorious than saying we need education to cripple our young people and future voters mentally and emotionally. When it turns out that they cannot in fact create the future they want despite what we insisted they be told during their K-12 years, few of these young people will have accurate facts to appreciate why there are not enough good jobs anymore. They will thus be the very change agent advocates that the UN and the OECD and all those participants in the next system workshop have said they desire.

Deliberately creating the discontent and then mining it for ever increasing political power and diminishing mass prosperity. That’s the true global vision of education in the 21st century that began in the 1990s and is now truly cranking into high gear.

And the longer we wait to accurately apprehend that this is the true nature of what is sought in K-12 and university classrooms, the more irreplaceable national treasure, both physical and noetic, will be lost.

With these intentions the likeliest next system is chaos as no one’s expectations can be met. The mind arson and destructive public sector spending will simply have consumed too much.