Deep Diving to Internal Mental Models to Increase Leverage for Accomplishing the Great Transition

No, deep diving is not a Grab Your Attention Play on the ubiquity of the ambiguous term ‘deeper learning’ as a fundamental goal of 21st century education globally. The last fundamental transformation confession that was lurking in that IPCC definition of Adaptation we have been discussing in this Spheres of Desired Transformation Quartet was from a 2011 Conference in London where once again our invitation went missing. Sponsored primarily by the World Wildlife Fund-UK and called the Smart CSOs Conference, the report was called Effective Change Strategies for the Great Transition: Five Leverage Points for Civil Society Organizations. Troublingly and in disregard of my recollection of civics in the US, the document seeks to achieve invisible global change because “similar to governments, CSOs have a mandate to serve society’s interests, but they do not face the same constraints as governments.”

Oh, goody. Especially since the report notes in discussing the leverage points for the wholesale transformations intended by the Great Transition that “increased leverage can be found by diving to the deeper levels of the iceberg depicted [in the report but taken from Peter Senge's 1990 book The Fifth Discipline Handbook] and draw our attention to and shift system structures and mental models.” When people tell me they wish my book or this blog would simply stick to education, I keep repeating that I cannot. The constantly recurring end goal is always that education is a means for obtaining a new kind of consciousness and revised societal values for desired fundamental transformations “across every realm” at both a “broad and deep systemic” level. The report states that this “includes technologies, legislation, economic and governance institutions, social relations, culture and values.”

Education is deemed to be the key means of leveraging the transition because it is the “internal models of the world” that will allow the needed changes in behaviors going forward. All the explanations of mandated Constructivism and Curriculum Redesign and Gaming and systems thinking and digital learning all become clear when we read the complaints of how existing political, social, and economic structures are resisting the desired transformational changes. The key the report says is to “go even deeper and explore how real structures are shaped by our thinking. We create internal models of the world–mental models, which we use for making sense of the world and taking action.” The fact that these internal mental representations are the target gets hidden behind euphemisms like deep learning, brain-based learning, teaching students ‘how to think,’ and rigor and higher order thinking skills that will allow Transfer.

Unless, like me, you read the underlying cited psychological research the true definitions and aims remain obscured. In my world though, the intentions could not be more clear. As the CSO report recommended, systems thinking and conceptual ‘lenses’ generally “allows us to open these black boxes.” Numerous papers I have seen in just the last week make it clear this is exactly what the new assessments delivered via adaptive software and the computer are designed to produce data both looking at and changing what’s inside the ‘black box’ within a student’s mind. It is the aim of this recent Nellie Mae report    http://www2.nmefoundation.org/l/30762/2014-03-20/sbd9/30762/14238/Ready_For_College_FullReport.pdf as well as “Measuring Learning Success: Rethinking Assessment to Improve Student Outcomes” from the Center for Digital Education (that is actually a sub of media company erepublic that works with state and local governments on innovations based on Big Data). Can you say “No one will see this coming until it is too late?”

All of these intentions are laid out, including specifically “simulations and role playing games” that let students explore in cyberspace with visual images the “dynamic consequences of our assumptions” in our existing mental models. No one will be tipping off teachers or students that those consequences are simply what has been programmed into the simulation to guide beliefs and values in desired directions. If you are wondering if I am perhaps too cynical on the intentions here, the CSO report wants a new narrative so badly they italicized it that will “speak to the hearts and minds of a very large number of people and tell a creative and emotional story of who we are and who we need to be and tap into the creative worlds of mythmaking.” The narrative will appeal to people’s intrinsic values, which will of course have been cultivated by ed using contemplative education or positive psychology methods and the Positive School Climate/ Fostering Communities of Learners requirements.

Whatever method gets used to embed new communitarian oriented values via school and higher education, CSOs are exhorted to use the laid-out “understanding of values, frames and narratives in their policy and their communication.” Remember the desire of cybernetic theory to create an internal keel that could be used to steer people’s future behavior with? CSOs, the media, governments at all levels with help from companies like erepublic, are all planning to steer as a means of finally achieving this Great Transition. Did you know the report defines narratives as “frameworks for people to understand their lives. They are a way to make sense of life”? Those narratives are being consciously created to get at emotions. They are designed to utilize research from cognitive science obtained from real people via formative assessments, adaptive software, or data from MOOCs (hence all the interest from the Artificial Intelligence community. It is also a research method).

That cognitive science research so far says that to change values in people and ultimately institutions, education needs to target the “mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality.” Accessing these “deep frames–the cognitive structures found in long-term memory–are closely linked with cultural values. Deep frames are relatively stable, but are not unchangeable.” Let’s stop again to remember and discuss why these deep mental structures are being deliberately targeted for change. Politicians, public sector bureaucrats, foundation employees, CSOs, and apparently the entire UN apparatus that guarantees lifetime salaries for all vision-compliant former politicians once voters tire of their shenanigans, have all decided to fundamentally redesign all our civic institutions and economic and political structures in ways that benefit them and screw us. Since we would be crazy to go along if we were asked, we are not being asked.

Education again is the way in. It is why it has become a Weapon to Destroy the world we currently take for granted. It goes to accessing the deepest structures of our minds and the fundamental drivers within our personalities. To dictate that it is now to be “the will of humanity to invent an economic system that is guided by different parameters and that would work for human wellbeing and the planet.” That’s doubtful, but it’s such a nice slogan for the reality of personal greed coerced via the public sector. Schools and higher ed are now to ensure graduates have a “bigger sense of interconnectedness with nature and with others and an empathy with humanity as a whole (global empathy).” And no matter how much a student knows, without hitting that Universal Love stage of Global Citizenship, there will be no badge or diploma. The student will be regarded as Not Ready to Move On.

I want to end on one of the same notes that I drew attention to in my book, especially now that the same vision featured prominently in the recent book Imagine Living in a Socialist USA. The intended redesign of the global economy, especially in developed countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe, is to “start with the question: What level and what type of consumption do people really need to live a good and fulfilling life?”

This is not a minor point. In fact the Ford Foundation funds Global Transformation research around this so-called Line of Plenty. The Thanksgiving 2077 conclusion to that Imagine book talks about how people probably would never have supported the Great Transition if they had realized it would mean meat consumption would be rare and that medical care would cease after a certain age. But those recognized realities are not in the Talking Points for the Great Transition being offered for public consumption. It’s not designed into the scenarios offered by virtual simulation either.

We have a great deal of intended aims and consequences laid out in the documents discussed in this IPCC Adaptation Quartet. Fundamental transformations in all areas without any intention of asking for consent from the so-called Governed. Only calling attention to these intentions and the fact that education is the way in can stop it.

I can and have tracked all this and more. Can you help me spread the word about these dangerous declared intentions?

Identifying Education Globally as the Crucial Lever for Nonconsensual Behavior and Societal Change

It is one thing to know that education is now a weapon, and another to discover there has been an expensive, calculated frenzy in the last few years to use social science theory, specifically cited as sociology, anthropology, psych, and even political science, to “drive individual processes of change, as well as changes in social practices.” What? Just because someone is a tenured professor or a one-time politician? That enables them to recommend “transformative actions toward equitable sustainability at the local, community level” so that others can examine “how to speed and scale those up into processes of transformative global thinking?” Whoa!!

Welcome to the May 2012 prescription for “Transformative Cornerstones of Social Science Research for Global Change” as our Adaptation Means Each of Us From the Inside-Out Trilogy continues. Any concerns we might have that all this clearly constitutes “processes of social engineering” in order to mandate nonconsensual shifts toward “achieving alternative visions of the future” are supposed to be calmed by uniting these visions with “participatory approaches” at reaching a consensus. Right. At some point after the participants have been manipulated via education and the media. After all, these are transformationalists who KNOW that it is “interpretation and subjective sense making” that actually “confronts the personal and collective values, beliefs, assumptions, interests, worldviews, hopes, needs and desires that underlie people’s experiences of and responses–or lack of responses–to processes of global change.”

A mouthful of aims, but we get what is targeted now. The transformational schemers do not necessarily have a T-shirt or banner and include the greedy, ambitious, or naive servants in the school district or principal’s or even the Governor’s office. Anyone who intends to get at people’s mental models and values, attitudes, and beliefs to drive political change–both at the individual and societal levels. When I wrote my book, I spent years researching what happened during the Cold War and immediately afterwards as I kept  encountering controversial US practices in education that had ties to Soviet psychology. The book explains the whys and recognizes that individual consciousness is always the ultimate target of anyone with aspirations of nonconsensual political control. After several days of wading through all the social science research surrounding Adaptation and how to use education to drive Global Change I have come to a definitive conclusion.

The desire for Planned Geoengineering survived the fall of the Berlin Wall and so did a  desire to control people, places, and things in even more ways than I had previously documented. New methods, new excuses, and more parts to hide the coordination among political levels and regions. Another example also tied into the Belmont Challenge and Future Earth Alliance I first wrote about in June 2012 is called the Global Environmental Change (GEC) Design Project. No, it’s not about what kind of drapes you want in the sunroom. It is, however, all about deliberate transformation using the perception of human-caused climate change as an excuse and asking the “social sciences to take the lead in developing a new integrated, transformative science of global change.” And applying itself through preschool, K-12, and higher ed, which all make good prolonged tools when the aim is:

“Transformation is understood as a process of altering the fundamental attributes of a system, including in this case structures and institutions, infrastructures, regulatory systems, financial regimes, as well as attitudes and practices, lifestyles, policies and power relations.”

Whew! Now you don’t really think that alarming confessional is all I have do you? I thought not. Looking at a few of the Stanford profs involved with the IPCC Report led me to a January 2011 document Called “Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change: Finding Paths to a Sustainable Future.” This was the Science Plan [notice bolding above] “for a cross-cutting core project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change” or IHDP. Don’t get too excited but the social science schemers involved with IHDP see knowledge, learning, and societal change as being in a dialectical relationship where change to one affects and drives changes in the others. KLSC has since ensconced itself in Switzerland with its own website and probably lovely chocolates and fabulous vistas for all its employees, but in discussing it I will stick to the January 2011 declarations for education as well as a 2013 paper kindly laying out the history of IHDP.

We have speculated before on why what Edmund Gordon called “intellective competence” and that’s it, or what is being trumpeted as “equity and excellence” by those seeking economic justice for all, would be useful if you wanted political control, but the KLSC document removes all need to speculate on eliminating Axemaker Minds. Quite simply, we might not behave as desired and we might fail to act when wanted. To put it bluntly, the so-called “science of global change” and the education reforms pushed to accomplish it are all about “how to motivate and empower action by sufficient numbers of people with very different political and economic perspectives, ecological and physical conditions, and cultures.”

The answer is that the inner mental models and new values, attitudes, and beliefs will be carefully sculpted via “personalized learning” until students have different types of “knowledge and different core competencies.” That would be a “broad notion of knowledge that goes beyond a narrow notion of cognitive, science-based forms of knowing.” In fact, “knowledge can be conceptualized as any form of mental representation of the world,” whether true or not, as long as it either changes the student from the “inside-out” or causes him or her to take action.

KLSC is quite aware that “how issues are framed and the way they are communicated appears to influence people’s receptivity to the issues and possible responses” so of course we are in the midst of Curriculum Redesign with ties to IHDP to make students receptive as desired and responsive as wished. All those references to Enduring Understandings or Understandings by Design can be evaluated through this KLSC doctrine: “Knowledge is what empowers its possessors with the capacity for intellectual or physical action.” The KLSC view of the purpose of “education and pedagogies”? The aim is “the formal or informal intervention in an individual’s development to steer learning processes towards socially acceptable behavior.” Not just an intentionally created internal noetic keel then, but consciously aimed at behavior desired to drive transformation.

How do we get that kind of transformation? KLSC points to the “subconscious change of perceptions and [mental] terms of reference over time.” That would mean that the changes are designed to be not just nonconsensual, but at a level past the point of awareness. All the references we keep hearing to Positive School Climate or fostering Communities of Learners? Why “they help link individuals with a shared sense of purpose, so that individual changes are undertaken in the context of a wider social movement.” The KLSC project wishes to “promote research into understanding how to identify a tipping point in attitude and behaviors.” And all of this provides KSLC “with core approaches to understand the positioning of individuals in collectives.”

Oh, a firm knowledge of history gives me such a core understanding, but then I just write books and a blog instead of conducting “action research” on children and young adults for personal profit and professional advancement. KLSC admits that “by societal change, we mean large-scale behavioral change” by “individuals, groups and formal institutions.” And all the while plenty of people continue to believe this is just a good-faith discussion about the natural sciences and climate or how to best teach children for the 21st century.

Well, it is the latter, but only because the nature of life in the 21st century is being radically revised with little notice. I think that all this documentation makes it very clear that “humans” became embedded in “complex systems” according to the social scientists so that human behavior could be controlled and become subject to the “sphere of conscious political calculation.” It allows a shift in the very nature and purpose of governments all over the West without, once again, getting anyone’s consent. These “contemporary efforts to devise strategies for Earth System governance” truly do aim to place the individual chains invisibly within the mind.

The 2013 paper acknowledges that such “geoengineering remains a controversial stewardship ideal also in Earth System science circles.” Well, a touch of sanity at least. Since I am pretty sure I know which side of the debate will get the promotions, lucrative grants, and exotic invites, does anyone think this will remain controversial?

Well, at least before we went to the trouble of documenting Adaptation meant education and personal transformation. Let’s see if we can make this as controversial as it deserves to be.

Tackling the Dilemmas of Collective Action Requires a Shared Cognitive Base: the IPCC Adaptation Trilogy Begins

You know if we were radical political schemers or simply bureaucrats or politicians addicted to Other People’s Money, and the ordinary people we wanted to have behave as we wished were resisting our rationales and explanations, we might decide to jettison the top-down, visible, policy-making approach. Instead, we might take our control over all levels of education and develop a “cognitive climate change strategy.” We might turn to systems thinking or social and emotional learning as curricular pushes to establish that “shared cognitive base” and published articles in international journals such as “The Art of the Cognitive War to Save the Planet” that urge a “bottom up ‘social learning’ experimental approach.”

We could simply decide not to actually focus on physical reality as much anymore since it is rather hard to control. Instead, we could turn to education with its invisible ability to focus “on the belief systems with which individuals make sense of their interactions with the social and biophysical environment.”  Recognizing this “need to change values, beliefs, and worldviews as a response to [assumed] climate change,” but also that “forced” transformations are generally visible, controversial, and subject to being blocked, we could use “transformative education” as a means of altering consciousness. We could even come up with a catchy phrase about a Common Core that allows physical movement among states and  lets a student be internationally competitive in the fast-changing 21st century.

Earlier in the week the IPCC, the UN-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released its Working Group II Summary For Policy-Makers, http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/IPCC_WG2AR5_SPM_Approved.pdf with its language on pages 22-23 about Effective Adaptation. Suddenly, the discussion was not about science in the physical sense. We were talking about education and new forms of governance and what is called systems science and no one was talking about waiting to see what happened in the physical world. I recognized the crucial importance of this language about adaptation and immediately put on my Deerstalker Hat and turned on my printer to collect more proof. That has turned the last few days into a whirlwind of in-motion plans, with cites to many of the same ed schemers we have been so horrified by–both in my book when I explained constructivism over the decades, or on this blog as we explored the cybernetic theory of control over human behavior.

Those of us that remember the Tyndall Centre in the UK for its participation in the email obfuscation of ClimateGate may see the need to obscure reality deviating from models when we look at how they are now pushing an Integrative Worldview Framework. Reminiscent of Ervin Laszlo’s Holos Consciousness that we have covered, it goes after the “Overarching systems of meaning and meaning-making that to a substantial extent inform how we interpret, enact, and co-create reality.” Can you say Intrusive? Authoritarian aspirations unsuitable for a free society? Me too.

Alarmed by the language in that Summary Report with Policymakers and how it fit with so much of what I had read as intentions in education or heard in terms of new forms of governance at that (co)lab summit last September, I went to the full report itself. Chapter 20 lays out the Climate-Resilient Pathways and no one is waiting for permission. Think of Common Core and 21st Century and Deep Learning globally as action research. Implement and see what happens to real students in real communities. The paper Chapter 20 actually cited was from a June 2013 conference in Oslo, Norway we were not invited to called “Proceedings of Transformation in a Changing Climate.” IPCC was one of the sponsors and it is clearly tired of waiting for the weather to coincide with its plans for “shared action to transform social structures and institutions,” while pretending it is necessary “in service of climate change adaptation.”

Climate-Resilient Pathways is all about  a priori, or in anticipation of, Transformational Change so supposedly the need to mitigate later will not be as catastrophic. Professors O’Brien and Sygna laid out “three interacting spheres or realms where transformational changes towards sustainability may be initiated.” The actual diagram had the Practical Sphere–Behaviors and Technical Responses–as the central core within a larger sphere of Political Systems and Structures. Are you still wondering why there is such a push to take decision-making power away from elected local officials while replacing with appointed regional bodies unaccountable to voters?

Finally we have the Outermost Sphere–the Personal Realm of “Beliefs, Values, Worldviews and Paradigms”. Let’s just say that altering that Personal Sphere is seen by O’Brien, Sygna, and the IPCC “can lead to different ‘action logics,’  or ways of understanding and interacting with the world.” We could call meddling in this area How to Create a Revolutionary Change Agent, or an army of them, with no one’s permission, but maybe I am being snarky from frustration at so much active and coordinated deceit. Think of all the parents who know something is fundamentally wrong at school, but have no idea there is such an active push for transformative education altering this personal sphere. Why? Because say O’Brien and Sygna:

“Discourses and paradigms emerge from the personal sphere, and influence the framing of issues, the questions that are asked or not asked, and the solutions that are prioritized in the political and practical spheres. Changes in the personal sphere often result in ‘seeing’ systems and structures in new ways…place attention on actions that benefit all humans and species…[and] influence the type of actions and strategies considered possible in the practical sphere.”

In part 2 of this Trilogy of Planned Adaptation and Unconsented to Change, I will lay out a new official definition of Knowledge. Mental representations that lead to predictable action. No need in the 21st century apparently to be true, only influential. Theories and models are fine as long as they can be used to alter behavior in the future. Returning now to that 2010 article by Miklos Antal and Janne I Hukkinen that was cited by O’Brien and Sygna, the IPCC’s current methods are “counterproductive” because of “equating the policy mode of operation with the science mode of operation.” That “in fact keeps opening up potential points of attack for the climate skeptics and gives new grounds for psychological defense strategies.” So reports can discuss science issues as if it really mattered as an obfuscation tactic, but the real battlefield will be at the level of the human mind and a student’s personality.

Instead of “individual safety” being “strongly linked to individual performance” as is presently common, people need to be convinced of the “vulnerabilities of the current economic system.” Then they can be convinced of the need to “restructure it by prioritizing system level stability over individual level gain.” Likewise, Antal/Hukkinen wanted to create ” a viable mental representation of the contradiction in people’s minds.” They suggested using “simple, unambiguous, and credible” language and visuals to establish a direct connection between individual safety and system survival” within each person’s belief and value system. They noted that many people will respond to such a simple “We have to save our civilization” statement. I would note that jettisoning textbooks, lectures, fluent reading, and all the other elements we have talked about keeps pesky facts from interfering with this desired worldview and belief system.

Just head straight to the “cognitive underpinnings” they recommend. This “opens up an inspiring perspective” as “the spirit of including individuals in collective efforts for the planet has the potential of enriching personal and collective social identities.”

Glad something is enriched at least in theory. The real world consequences of such transformative education are likely to be anything but for everyone not pushing these visions for hire.

Even they are consuming seed corn without knowing it or apparently caring much.

Surreptitious Vision: Ed Reforms as Designing an Internal Keel to Control People and Manage Society

No I am not a sailor although I did once have a very fun weekend on a sailboat in the Chesapeake as a hapless, but supportive, passenger. I am afraid this metaphor of a keel that allows steering regardless of the direction of the wind has been invoked as the official analogy of those who wish to use education in the 21st century globally to change human behavior and ” design a new, organic, socio-cybernetic system for the management of society.” Please do take a deep breath before we continue. At least now we know why the virtual reality science simulations planned under Common Core Next Generation Standards have been focusing on illustrating force and motion in addition to all the ‘supposed’ threats to the environment. These days any content allowed through virtually always has a purpose in creating a transformational mindset.

Today’s discussion is largely from a 2011 paper by Scotland’s John Raven called “Competence, Education, Professional Development, Psychology, and Socio-Cybernetics.” It has global aspirations and fits perfectly with UNESCO’s use of the term “Cybernetics of Global Change” as part of its MOST-Management of Social Transformations-official program. Apparently, we, the hoped-for victims and funders of these transformation plans, are the only ones NOT familiar with just how often the planners have begun to think in terms of how to invisibly gain control of human behavior to manage society.

That control lever can occur, according to Raven, through a socio-cybernetic, competence, focus in education plus new political rules. Since stating this out loud would create a popular outcry that might interfere with plans for subjugation, the same developmental push gets sold globally now under the blissful, but misleading, term–focus on Excellence. The other necessary component involves changing the political governance arrangements, which is of course exactly what the UN’s Agenda 21 seeks to do. Majority rule, judicial overreach or neglect, regulations, and power to appointed boards instead of elected ones all work quite nicely too.

Today’s focus though is on education since both UNESCO and Raven declare this is the Yellow Brick Road to Social Control. Just as adding a keel to a sailing boat is cited by Raven as “key to getting the boat to sail into the wind” so an education that rejects the primacy of individual “technico-rational competence” and content knowledge in favor of “helping people to develop and get recognition for, the diverse, often idiosyncratic, talents they possess” is key to the radical vision of social transformation. If that seems a bit odd, how about the admission that the key to “changing the way we run society,” (don’t you just want to ask “who is we, Kemosabe?” as if this were a Tonto-Lone Ranger skit), is rejecting the traditional focus of school since it “reinforces a social order which offers major benefits to ‘able’ people.”

Poor dear, all of civilization that these writers and planners take for granted is thankfully due to the herd-defying curiosity and mischief of just a few ‘able’ people. We will rue the day when their minds came to be molded into whatever was necessary to tolerate transformations.  Instead, we are to get education designed to change “people’s beliefs about society, how it works, and their place in it” even if none of those beliefs are grounded in reality. In fact in acknowledging and laying out the intent that project-based learning will no longer be a way to discover content, Raven begins to disclose the radically different goals of what is also euphemistically called ‘student-centered learning.’ As he states explicitly (and he is the one who loves italics), the purpose of the letters or pictures or slogans or poems “was not to depict what was seen accurately, but to represent it in such a way as to evoke emotions that would lead to action.”

Remember in the last post when I kept reminding that curriculum grounded in virtual reality likely would be whatever simulation created politically useful beliefs and values and that Holos Consciousness? That statement was based on having hung out with more than one software developer in my life and career. Turns out though the 1995 book Cybersociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community warned several times about the very same thing. The whole purpose of stressing computer simulations in the classroom is the computer’s “capacity to represent action in which humans could participate.” Perfect way to prime the pump for revolution we might say. In fact science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, then a Byte columnist, was quoted as fearing that “technology masks the constructedness of any simulation.” Here are his exact words and they remain hugely relevant to the mental keel being created within the student by digital learning and assessments of 21st century competencies:

“The simulation is pretty convincing–and that’s the problem because…it’s a simulation of the designer’s theories, not of reality…The fact is, though, the computer doesn’t say anything at all. It merely tells you what the programmers want it to tell you.”

And the programmers, such as ISTE keynoter Jane McGonnigal, have been quite graphic that these games are being designed to create a mindset that believes in the need for social transformation. Sim City creator, Will Wright, was quoted as saying his games are adapted from Jay Forester’s World Dynamics work, which once again takes us back to the Club of Rome, the 1970s, and the desire to push systems thinking in education, economic planning, and the now-proverbial means of managing society. Cybersociety recognized that “representing flux and change is exactly what a simulation can do”, making it a far more effective tool for altering the nature of human experience and illustrating the possible causes of social change.

A very powerful, highly visual, weapon we are mandating for classrooms and ‘assessments’ without giving a second thought to its use as a driver of how the student’s mind will perceive the need for social change. Computer games have become so ubiquitous that remembering that they were once recognized as “where we go to play with the future” gets overlooked. So does the fact that the future is not the least bit bound to follow the variables set up in a software virtual simulation. Just ask Putin. Fostering a belief in things that are not true, and collectivist values that leave you unprotected against either foreign invaders or domestic predator politicians, is no way to become an adult.

Making computer gaming the focus of the classroom because it is engaging and increases graduation rates still omits a crucial fact all the programming world still remembers. The gamer unconsciously and intuitively “internalizes the logic of the program.” Just the thing in other words for those who want social transformation and people who can be steered like the keel of a boat. Precisely the metaphor Raven chose to both use and illustrate with drawings of a boat. Marry those manipulative visuals to an express declaration for a “dramatic reorganisation of most peoples’ thoughtways” via schools and universities and we indeed have a problem. All being implemented into a classroom near you without a By Your Leave under banners like the Common Core or Positive School Climate or a 1:1 Laptop Initiative.

Left out will be the acknowledgment that now ‘intelligence’ is to be understood as an emergent property of a group rather than an individual characteristic. Furthermore, this intelligence depends on releasing and harnessing a huge variety of individual talents that are scarcely related to intelligence as conventionally understood. Thus conventional ways of thinking are unethical–destructive of both individuals and society.”

The attempts to manage society and achieve new forms of governance will not be successful. Only the extent of wealth lost and prosperity trashed is in dispute. The intended damage to be delivered via education to the psyche, false beliefs, and pernicious or naive values is unstoppable unless enough people realize there is no dispute at what is being sought or why.

Intentionally created financial conflicts of interest seem to be the norm to coerce adults into either complying with, or actively advocating for, this vision of education. In the US I see it being pushed under federal civil rights laws as necessary to have Equity and Excellence. The very title of the global ed summit that commenced today in New Zealand-”Excellence, Equity, and Inclusiveness: High Quality Teaching For All” tells me this developmental, obuchenie, new view of ‘intelligence’ grounded in group interactions is a deliberate global phenomena.

If only someone could create a computer simulation for politicians and school administrators showing the true social effects of such widespread mind arson.

 

 

 

Megachange & Macroshift: Daily School Experience to Fuel a Revolution in Consciousness

Megachange is a term used to celebrate how classroom computers can “‘break down the barriers that traditionally separate the preletterate from the letterate [yes, that is the spelling. Literate is reserved now to mean the hoped for change in ways of thinking], the concrete from the abstract, the bodily from the disembodied. ” It puts the focus on the visual and how things are used. It dislodges the “privileged position of text” and allows “dynamic media” to guide perception of the world. It no longer sees ‘learning as facts and skills to be acquired.” Instead, via the data captured by adaptive software, digital learning will allow room for what was supposedly rejected by traditional, instructional oriented education, which “had no explicit concern for feelings or for personality or for development of the individual on a level that was not reducible to such specific atoms of learning.”

That discussion of megachange was from an MIT Professor, Seymour Papert, in his 1993 book Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. Papert’s work is seen by the well-funded Edutopia site as relevant to how digital learning should be implemented under the Common Core. That means that Papert’s theories of Constructionism [seeming to update Piotr Galperin's theories via the computer] come in as do his desire to create a new view of knowledge grounded in experience. He wants to see a shift in organizations, communities, and in our view of knowledge–from hierarchy to hetarchy. Nothing is to be treated as inherently superior and hetarchy creates a “system in which each element is equally ruled by all others.”

Of course, element is used here not as a modular component of a computer program, but as a substitute for actual people. Hetarchy is a communitarian concept where the will of the majority binds all. Democratic, but tyranny for the minority. It fits right in with a cooperative commonwealth or King’s Beloved Community concept of the future, but is definitely not grounded in our current political structures and institutions. That of course is where the Holos Consciousness comes in. Papert thanks Nicholas Negroponte by name and mentions his founding of the MIT Media Lab in the book. Why did I start with megachange in education instead of going straight into the nature of the Macroshift? Because this is how the Ervin Laszlo defined the Breakthrough Scenario to get to a Holos Consciousness in a critical mass of people:

“A new vision of self, others, and nature surfaces on the Internet, on television, and in the communication networks of enterprises, communities, and ethnic groups…Global news and entertainment media explore fresh perspectives and emerging social and cultural innovations. The public’s goals and ambitions become reoriented–toward ‘the good life’ conceived not as amassing the greatest possible amount of money and material goods but as finding meaningful personal relationships and caring for others and for nature…”

Yes, I do get how much of that is going on now, including last Friday’s announcement the US is turning over control of the Internet to the same UN-affiliated entity, ITU, that is pushing the Information Society vision so hard now (including the recent Sakhalin Declaration on IML-Information and Media Literacy). Does this part sound familiar as well? “Funds and capital are channeled from military and defense applications and the demands of an affluent minority to the needs of the people who make up the bulk of the society. Measures are implemented to safeguard the environment, create an effective system of food and resource distribution, and develop and put to work sustainable energy, transport, and agricultural technologies…More and more people enter the Internet and other communication systems  as active dialogue partners. Their communication reinforces solidarity and uncovers further areas of mutual interest.”

That’s the vision of a World shifting towards a Holos Consciousness. It follows that quote with a blurb from Gandhi that “our world has enough to provide for people’s need, but not enough to provide for their greed.” Of course we have all noticed that the people pushing this so-called planetary ethic of altruism from school district offices to the universities to charitable foundations are exceptionally well-paid from taxpayer funds or tuition or untaxed endowments or trusts. Like Al Gore’s jetting about, the point is not how the creators intend to live, but how the rest of us should. My observation in my book and this blog on where education reform always ends up sure does make more sense when we understand that “a macroshift is a transformation of civilization in which the technology [ICT in case that is not obvious] is the driver and the values and consciousness of a critical mass of people the decider.”

And how do we guide consciousness to what is desired? By altering “values, worldviews, and ethics.” People need to change “their preferences, priorities, values and beliefs,” which is of course much easier if they are convinced that the planet is in environmental crisis from human behavior and the current nature of the economy. Let’s put last week’s Climate Depot story of junior high students unable to sleep because of concern over global warming catastrophes in light of this aim. The emphasis in the 90s on what was then called outcomes based education and what is pushed as social and emotional learning, Whole Child, and soft skills now makes so much more sense with the admission it is:

“the values, beliefs, and ethics that can bring our macroshift to a humane and sustainable conclusion. These ‘soft’ factors in the life of society are the new imperatives of our time–they are even more essential to success than the traditional ‘hard’ factors of economic, political, and business engineering and reengineering.” If the duration of this same intent and targeting of consciousness over decades surprises you and seems a bit conspiratorial, the Preface to the Macroshift book actually contains a shout-out to the creators of the 1970s World Order Models Project, by name, although WOMP itself is not mentioned. Many people have told me the WOMP post is the most alarming wake-up call they have ever read on this blog.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/reorienting-world-order-values-via-the-intervention-of-activist-education-and-progressive-politics/ The described organic reorientation of K-12 education fits perfectly with Papert’s goals for computer learning and the recently announced global curriculum redesign project with many of the same players involved with the Macroshift to a Holos Consciousness. It also ties the transition to the goals of “socialism with a human face’ described in that post. Yes, quoting Gandhi about needs is so much better from a PR standpoint than attributing the desired planetary ethic to Marx. However, the desired slogan of “Live in a way that enables others to live as well” is unquestionably a simple restatement of Uncle Karl’s small c vision–his human development theory. It was also tied to society getting to a certain stage of technological development that would supposedly allow everyone’s needs to be met without beggaring everyone.

In ancient times all roads led to Rome. In the 21st century all education and other radical reforms of institutions and political structures seem to always wind back to that chronically unemployed 19th century moocher with a toxic vision. Which is why we keep the vision without attributing it back to the notorious name where it really started. Marx WAS right that consciousness was the essential component of getting a desired revolution in the real world. He was wrong though to believe it would be a natural by-product of social class. Holos Consciousness or insisting that learning be about concrete experiences that are relevant to real world problems are both just the latest attempts to alter consciousness in ways advantageous to anyone with hopes for radical transformation. Computers again are just a tool that lets those experiences be programmed as desired.

It is in light of these transformational goals that the push for mindful, contemplative experiences should be seen. It is how students get the announced goal of a new kind of rationality. One that, as Papert noted above, does not privilege print. It is no accident that  Macroshift uses the Greek term for the written word-Logos-to describe the kind of rationality it wants schools and the media and entertainment to squelch. It claims “Logos-inspired evolution was materialistic and conquest-and-consumption-oriented. The alternative to it is evolution centered on human development and development of human communities.”

By admission this Holos Consciousness is rooted in deep spiritual practices. It is a “collective evolution” with nothing but disdain for the individual. It is all about “adjusting our values, aspirations, and behaviors.” The latter of course is accomplished via the collection of data on students using poorly understood definitions of Competency, Student Growth, and Student Achievement.

At no time are parents ever likely to hear the phrases–Marxist Humanism, Holos Consciousness, or the planetary ethic. Yet compliance with all these visions, which are in fact euphemisms for each other, will be actively guided, measured, and cultivated.

From the reading selections to learning tasks to classroom topics and vocabulary to the nature of the open-ended problems on assessments and projects and digital curricula and online games.

Evolution to a Holos Consciousness Is Certainly Not My Idea of Education Reform. Is It Yours?

Take a deep breath and hold on to your hat if you have one on. The amount of evidence I have on the story I am about to tell is overwhelming, but in a blog format I cannot really cite all of it. Those with my book will want to pull it out and reread the parts about Theodore Brameld’s intentions for education globally and Gorbachev, Harlan Cleveland, the noosphere, and the Club of Rome. The phrase Holos Consciousness is the desire of the related Club of Budapest and was laid out in Ervin Laszlo’s 2001 book, Macroshift: Navigating the Transformation to a Sustainable World.

I ordered it after his son, Christopher, was cited as the main force behind the October 2014 Global Forum on Business as an Agent of World Benefit, and when I recognized how many of the important pushers of a radical K-12 education vision had been involved with Ervin’s pursuit of conscious evolution during the Cold War–the General Evolution Research Group or GERG. Two names really jumped out from the list of Honorary Budapest Members, Professor Nicholas Negroponte, a founder of the MIT Media Lab that we just keep encountering, and Robert Muller (whose World Core Curriculum from the 90s is the nightmare many have worried is where the phrase Common Core was designed to quietly lead.)

Now I am going to pivot for a moment to the report RSA issued earlier in the week that I assumed would tie into the already announced communitarian agenda of the future using Big Data. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/science-fiction-made-real-were-we-ever-to-know-in-time/ I knew it was on character education and social and emotional learning as the new K-12 emphasis. The actual report though had this provocative title: Schools with Soul: A new approach to Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education. RSA promptly created the acronym SMSC education so we will too. SMSC “requires a robust, co-constructed and shared understanding of each of its components” in the literal sense of insisting we are now to have approved, and accepted by all, beliefs fostered via school (and media as well). Everything else I suppose is to be illicit. Foremost on the list of what must be jettisoned as SMSC comes to the forefront of the view of what education is to be in the 21st century are the “overt values of capitalism and individuality.”

That true aim of global education reform, which you may remember we just keep encountering in the small print describing definitions and planned practices, becomes even more apparent if you know anything about the two individuals chosen for intro quotes in that RSA report. Professor Unger’s is mild, almost fortune cookie material: “The commanding objective must be the achievement of a larger life for ordinary men and women.” Only a hint of his radical beliefs now told from his perch as a Harvard professor. We met Unger here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/multiple-recent-proclamations-laying-out-commitment-to-revolutionary-transformation-of-our-entire-society/ where I quoted his intentions laid out in a 2007 book. Here’s a sample from that post that fits in perfectly with the Helos Consciousness and the Education 3.0 we have been discussing in comments:

“Education, beginning in childhood and continuing throughout the working life, must nourish a core of generic conceptual and practical capacities to make the new out of the old. It must also equip the mind with the means with which to resist the present. For this very reason, the school should not remain under the control of the community of local families, who tell the child, become like us.”

Now Schools with Soul says that “more than any other dimension of SMSC, spiritual development needs a ‘stipulative’ definition that spells out how pupils’ spirituality will be developed at school…three categories…could usefully inform schools’ approaches: experiences, practices, and perspectives.” Long time readers will remember that many New Age practitioners attach all sorts of names to their pushes and then show up at schools or doing teacher development where it gets referred to as promoting Positive School Climate or anti-bullying or mental first-aid. Same practices and experiences being promoted. Same end-game transformed perspectives being sought.

In fact the second lead-in quote is far more overt than Unger’s. Stephen R. Covey is cited for stating that “We are not human beings are on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” OK, you say, Covey is entitled to his beliefs. But how many readers would recognize that Covey’s books such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or his book just for teens are cited by charter schools and in ed reform presentations as embodying what schools now push to promote success for all? What they take into consideration in calculating whether a student is ‘achieving’ or has ‘Growth.’ The presentation I heard of Covey’s work was sponsored by AT&T and the local Chamber of Commerce as what the essence of the legislatively mandated “soft skills” would mean.

My point is that these fundamental shifts in the essence of what is felt and valued and believed are taking place now. It’s in the digital curricula and  MIT Media Lab produced games to create empathy or social and emotional learning practices that are not even on a parent’s radar screen. RSA may be located in the UK, but that’s a report with global aspirations citing Michael Barber and his work for Pearson and many of the reports we have discussed on this blog. The shift is occurring now. It is about altering worldviews and mindsets, and we are not even being given a chance to consent, or a By Your Leave, or even a reference to the shift in an electoral platform. I am seeing conversion charters that use euphemisms to take away that very veto power from parents or local school boards that Unger aspired to obtain, and School Governance Councils created to do the same. It could be farce if children’s minds and personalities were not the actual target.

Oh, and Western civilization when we read the intended shifts involved with that Holos Consciousness sought by the Club of Budapest. And we get there by having schools that quietly implement a spirituality focus without calling it that in letters home or robocalls to parents interpreting the school’s new vision and mission. Instead, the classrooms simply “initiate important conversations about what life is for, instilling a better felt sense for the myriad of human experiences, and some practical know-how on meaning-making for ourselves and others through rituals and practices.” You can do a search and check out how often now Mindfulness exercises are being pushed in the classroom, even on preschoolers and elementary kids. None of this is accidental and all of it is precisely in line with what the Club of Budapest regards as necessary for its agenda of planetary change.

Here’s the RSA definition of spiritual experiences, practices, and perspectives. Before I give it I will remind all of us that this fits with Mihalyi Csiksentmihalyi’s definition of the flow experiences schools should create in order to foster what he defines as excellence. Also that Csik is involved with Ervin Laszlo’s work on conscious evolution. Yes, Houston, we do have a problem, and indeed, the worst we could contemplate is really already here.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/

“Spiritual experiences are moments of aliveness, rapture and homecoming that make the world feel viscerally meaningful. Spiritual practices are the disciplined and creative activities that support human development–things we do to strengthen our inner lives. Spiritual perspectives are the value-rich visions of what it means to be here, to be human, our worldviews that contextualize our experiences and practices.”

In other words, these look a great deal like a student-centered classroom having media rich activities and a rich, relevant dialogue that focuses on the 4Cs of 21st century skills: communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Parents will never notice the shift. If they do, Common Core is ever ready to be the excuse for the change in attitudes and dispositions in the student. I want to close this post about how such a fundamental desired shift can and is occurring almost invisibly with a point Zaid Hassan made in his book we discussed in the last post. He talks about the importance of a koan to obtaining personal transformation in Buddhism. As a serious nerd and scholar of what is really going on in education, I noticed the resemblance to John Dewey’s Indeterminate Situation and much of the planned assessment under the Common Core.

As I always say, same function, same purpose, whether admitted or not, so let’s look at what Hassan said was the purpose of a koan.

“In Zen practice, a koan is a particular kind of question that, on the face of it, seems not to make any sense. It’s used with students to provoke great doubt and gauge their progress in Zen. For example, ‘two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?’…the value of a koan is not in answering the question, for there is no answer. It’s that the Zen student, in struggling with the question, arrives at a new way of being, valuing, if you like, the very nature of the struggle. The struggle generates value, producing new insights and change.”

Such productive struggle, as educators call it of untaught or ambiguous problems, has a similar effect in non-Zen students. Some of them do not appreciate such deliberate social engineering while they are legally captives in a K-12 classroom in the least.

Now that we have seen how the Holos Consciousness can be grasped on a massive scale without anyone really noticing the shift while it is happening, we will go into the nature of the Macroshift next.

Adding Comrade Education and Psychological Predation to Our Descriptions of Envisioned Cybernetic Learning

Since honestly laying out intentions in public is so rare in education reforms these days, I thought I would use a recent book by the founder of the Reos Institute, Zaid Hassan. Reos aspires to dramatically change K-12 education globally.  http://reospartners.com/project-view/449?v=print Hassan works closely with Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, and the MIT Media Lab. The book is called The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach to Solving Our Most Complex Problems . These two quotes give a sample to the recommended approach for solving today’s challenges. The first is from a professor, Thomas Homer Dixon:

“The public not only needs to understand the importance of experimentation within the public services; it needs to engage in experimentation itself. To the extent that the public explores the solution landscape through its own innovations and safe-fail experiments, it will see constant experimentation as a legitimate and even essential part of living in our new world.”

Now I find this book to be asinine and factually wrong in numerous instances, but ridiculous can still be influential. This book is to be the source of numerous conferences all over the world over the next year. Quote number 2 is from a US President, Franklin Roosevelt, and it leads a chapter called “The New Ecologies of Capital.”

“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands, bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Now historians (see Amity Schlaes’ fine The Forgotten Man) credit that very experimentation with what extended and deepened the Great Depression in the 1930s, but it did grow the public sector at all levels as a source of employment. Maybe that’s why Hassan pushes all this experimentation as does the UN and the OECD and even US agencies. After all the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) described these as the capabilities needed for education and workforce development back in January 2013:

“Building human capacity to respond to the emerging challenges…requires the expansion of skills within the existing public and private sectors and developing a new workforce that excels at critical and interdisciplinary thinking. Useful capacities include facilitation and communication skills, integration of new technologies and data sources into existing programs and practices, management of collaborative processes to allow for imaginative solutions, development and use of sustainable technologies to reduce climate risks, and building frameworks for decision-making in an internationally interdependent world.”

Now alert readers will recognize that this quote on what the US government now seeks from its citizens is an example of “various types of human activities” that Soviet prof Nina Talyzina wanted to make the focus of education under a cybernetics theory of control. Adults with such an education will think nothing of all this desired experimentation by the public sector and its cronies. They will be unlikely to know much about FDR except that somehow the Great Depression ended and will be unlikely to notice that author Hassan thinks Jack Welch was the legendary CEO of General Motors. (Obviously not a GE shareholder during the 90s.) Accurate knowledge is an obstacle to all these transformation plans in other words. It must be disallowed in the future without the shift being readily apparent.

One of the terms we are hearing tossed about now in states that adopted the Common Core and others, like Texas, that did not, is open source. Superficially it appears to be about not having to worry about copyrights on desired curricular materials. As usual though, even a tiny scratch across the surface of this assumed definition pulls up the actual intentions–to shift away from the “current dominant paradigm of teacher-and subject-centred learning in formal education…to a learner-centred, competency-based paradigm.” Did you catch that the phrases “learner-centered” and “competency” are regarded as the antithesis, as in 180 degree-polar opposites, of a transmission of knowledge approach? So the terms being bandied about on the new approach to learning reject the transmission of knowledge.

Instead we are to get learners’ own explorative, constructive and communicative activities, hopefully via ICT, that work on personal competences and “cognitive and social skills such a conceptual thinking, creativity, planning and conduct of teamwork, etc.”Just like that USGCRP vision imagines. Material from Europe (the OLCOS road mapping work) make the intended goal explicit. Education in the 21st century should provide the “competences required to participate successfully in the emerging knowledge-based society.” Well, “knowledge-based” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Except that’s another defined phrase pushed by UN entities and the OECD going back to a 2005 UN Economic & Social Affairs document.” Once again it is all about this transformation to a human solidarity vision where knowledge is actually to be limited to “information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and judgment. It is acquired through one’s own experience or reflections on the experiences of others.” This Tacit Knowledge, as the UN calls it, expressly includes “subjective insights, intuitions and hunches.”

The better to tolerate persistent experimentation and treatment as a collective. I had a reader outraged by this January 2014 vision http://www.edutopia.org/blog/how-common-core-social-emotional-learning-connected-maurice%20elias which seemed authoritarian. I agree, but creating a tolerance for this type of Psychological Predation and surrender of personal autonomy to the will of the group is simply practice for the global vision of the knowledge-based society. After all it must be a place that “cannot accommodate social exclusion and marginalization. This would result in weakening its very foundations.” So we all get to participate. If we do not get to actually attend these social labs in the future, we should at least help pick those decision-makers who do. (Much like that post from Marina Gorbis, head of Institute for the Future, contemplated).

Remember in the last post I pointed out how crucial the models of virtual reality and gaming would come to be for how students and the adults they become see the world? An example of  tools to foster the desired competences and skills is listed as “games-based virtual worlds that foster the understanding of social and economic dynamics through interactively changing rules and constraints.” Now who thinks that those virtual worlds will accurately portray what creates prosperity or causes dysfunction? And that’s the useful aspect of this little accurate knowledge, change the student approach. Such students are highly unlikely to play Spot that Error or Find that Fallacy like I do when I read these intentions for the future.

By insisting education must be experiences [Talyzina's activity as well as CHAT's or Common Core's learning tasks] that are “rich, real and relevant,” the priming conditions for the cybernetic theory of control are firmly in place. The nature of the activity or experiences or projects or tasks gets prescribed by a teacher or a computer. Plus the supposed tie to the existing real world affects the student’s mindset on how the world works and what needs to be transformed. Notice how all the emphasis on virtual worlds gives the perfect place to begin the habit of social, political, and economic experimentation. In fact, the examples given of “real, rich and relevant” are “addressing real world problems, working collaboratively, using new tools and information services, and critically discussing content and study results.”

In fact, this recent update being pushed by the Edutopia site http://learni.st/users/127212/boards/74592-applying-blooms-to-the-21st-century-workshop shows that the Education 3.0/Redefinition of the Purpose of Ed fits in perfectly with the Open Source agenda of radically altering the nature of teaching-and-learning (in the hyphenated way that means the Russian word obuchenie). It also fits perfectly with letting students use “learning approaches that allow them to play to their strengths by using creative and social software tools for coursework and carrying out study projects.”

Now I am not being a smart aleck by using the term Comrade Education. Well maybe just a little, but there is unquestionably a collective transformation vision attached to the learner-centered, competency vision. There was and is one attached to the cybernetics vision and its theory of how to gain predictable control over human behavior. The rationale for the Whole Child, social and emotional learning emphasis and all the push around non-cognitive personality traits all have political purposes seeking individual and collective social change. Knowledge may be an ever declining individual commodity, but, fortunately for us, if uncomfortably for my peace of mind, it is still something I have in abundance. And every bit of it says we are basing all these sought educational changes around impossible goals.

I would argue they are also unfortunate, dangerous goals. They are certainly goals that merit public discussion, not deceitful definitions that obscure the true nature of what is being transformed.

And How. And Why.

Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory on Students While Pretending the Impetus is Equity for All

The term cybernetics to me was always just a vague concept that had something to do with computers. I was following up on the Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin and his behavior-orienting systemic-theoretical instruction by reading a 1975 book (translated into English in 1980, except curiously the footnotes) by one of his students, Nina Talyzina. Called The Psychology of Learning it kept referring to cybernetics, but there were no computers. Instead, cybernetics is described as a theory of control over processes. One of the processes that the Soviets and certain American educators wanted to control was human behavior.

Before anyone thinks this is just a haunting history lesson with me pouncing on disturbing intentions from the past, let me remind everyone that the US Common Core are designed as performance standards. They are about what students are to be doing. Competency is the same globally as is 21st Century Skills. Performance assessments are about action.  The shift from a mental focus to an activity focus (because that is what Marxist-Leninist theory required as Talyzina laid out) has already taken place. The significance of that deliberate shift is simply not well enough appreciated. Cybernetics, as applied to education, seeks to optimize “control of the learning process.”

That learning process is no longer to be “through the development of capacities that already exist at birth,” like mental ability, but is rather “a process of assimilation of various types of human activities by students and hence of the set of actions that bring this about.” What is going on with the learning tasks created for Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of the book), as well as the digital curricula being unveiled by Pearson (with Microsoft as partner) and Amplify (rolled out for middle school this week) among others, and the Connected Learning agenda being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf , are all examples of designing the teaching-learning [obuchenie] process in accordance with the requirements of a general theory of control.

When I recognized the full implications of what the Consortium of school districts from the last post sought (hence the hunger for Student data and continuous mentions of feedback in personalized instruction) and the gaming in classrooms (with its ability to control the visual images associated with any chosen concept and force the virtual world to conform to desired models of either reality or the future) to the cybernetic theory of how to control human behavior without that being apparent, I did some searches to see what was happening now.  One of those pulled up an essay that had been in the 2002 UNESCO Encyclopedia by the radical constructivist Ernst von Glasersfeld who I had talked about in Chapter 3 of the book. I gulped since I had not been looking for UNESCO or Glasersfeld. The essay is called “Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge” http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/255 and it lays out how crucial the theory of constructivism in education is to the goal of behavioral control via cybernetic principles.

More gulps. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word “Kybernetes” which referred to a steersman of  ship. It is the etymological root of the English word “governor” as in the lead elected state officials who seem so determined these days to combine economic development with education as workforce development. The word also retains its same control function in its use as a governor on an engine, regulating possible uses. Maybe we didn’t really appreciate the significance of the term cybernetics or its applicability to education, but radicals interested in political and social transformation at the level of individual consciousness certainly do. Everything to be required, or condemned, in a Common Core classroom is now driven by turning to Vygotsky and especially Galperin (image, associations, concepts) as the necessary psychological theories (instead of Skinner’s behaviorism). Galperin’s theory especially, backed up by decades of research, laid out a means and rationale for specifying the desired activity in the real world that would then produce the hoped for mental concepts.

Those mental conceptions, because they are created by actual activity in either the real world or a virtual immersion world (of the sort pushed by MIT’s Media Lab or Amplify’s Zombie Apocalypse game), are thus controllable in a way conceptions built up by facts delivered from lectures and textbooks are not. Then we have the new assessments and now to be a new SAT to monitor the extent to which the desired concepts (in the hermeneutic-dialogical sense we met in the previous post) are connected to associated  relational qualities (also supplied) and then tied to real world problems or phenomena. Understanding here is like a web and assessments are looking to see what strategies the student’s web of understanding reaches to apply when there is no fixed or correct answer. That tells a great deal about how the student will behave as an adult when they are on their own.

Now the Cold War implications of this psychology of learning and Galperin and cybernetics as a feature of education in a supposedly free country, especially since Talyzina mentioned a UNESCO symposium in 1976 on the psychological bases of programmed instruction, are obvious. Despite what is going on now in the Ukraine and the Crimea and the current Russian role in the UN’s digital learning and Information Society initiatives I have written about, our problem in 2014 are not the big C threat of decades ago. Subjugation of the individual and control over consciousness though clearly remain a primary government goal though. That Connected Learning report above makes it painfully clear that the digital and media agenda now in education is tied to a social and economic transformation to a shareable, collaborative consumption economy.   The new motto is to be “sharing reinvented through technology.”

If you go to the writings of the professors cited to show the economy is changing, we find the sociologist Juliet Schor (see her tag) who wrote Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. That pulls in her commonwealth vision of the future and the agenda of Gar Alperowitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Another cite turns out to be Harvard Labor Economist Richard Freeman. Finally, there is a cite to a 2008 paper by Bowles and Gintis. Uncited is their book from 1976 Schooling in Capitalist America that predicted a socialist transformation of the US that might need to become violent. I mentioned that book in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ . Its central point that education is so crucial to social change because “socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself” is even more relevant when cybernetics is in use.

Making the cognitive activities, such as learning tasks or computer games, and the internal mental states created, the focus of instruction is certainly a fine way to develop and manipulate such a consciousness. It’s not like we are not drowning in evidence at this point of such broader transformative intentions from every direction. Foundations, local districts, states, federal DoEd (they openly work with MacArthur on Reimagining Education), and internationally via the UN and the OECD. Page 91 of that Connected Learning report even links to ITU’s 2011 Measuring the Information Society report. It is what led me to the UNESCO Sakhalin Declaration I wrote about already.

I can find the M-L roots of what is being pushed now. Talyzina was quite graphic about them. The public sales pitch now though for the same theories and practices is that the shift to digital and networked media (that makes cybernetics so much easier via adaptive software and the visual emphasis) is necessary to protect the life opportunities of “non-dominant youth.” To force “an environment in which opportunity and outcomes are widely shared across the citizenry” as if productive wealth is not in the minds of talented people, but in some pot ready to be rearranged. The constant drumbeat that these shifts are necessary “begins with questions of equity” and “centers on an equity agenda.” If you got a quarter for every time that report mentioned “privileged” youth or families or the “elite”, you could go out for a fine lunch.

That report once again quotes John Dewey making me very glad I laid out in the book why his vision remains so relevant to what is sought today. If we go down this road of cybernetic control over the development of a student’s adult personality (what college and career ready actually tracks back to) and adopt the vision “as progressives have argued for generations, the functions of schooling should be to prepare young people for contributing and participating in social life, which includes economic activity but also civil society, family, and community” where will we be as a nation or world in five or ten years?

Will it make the world a peaceful place? No, we will simply not see the aggression coming until it is too late. Will the public sector workers lying to us now on their intentions and lining their pockets with tax money decide to suddenly act altruistically in the name of the common good and genuine social justice? No again.

Equity and equal opportunity for all strike me as a means to federalize issues of education practice so that change can be required without consent or notice. Through civil rights law edicts. Secondly, it forces a surrender of individual primacy and sovereignty. It takes a citizen as subject to be molded at will approach.

No wonder we just keep running into all these Soviet techniques and theories. They were free to do the preliminary research on cybernetics in education. Guess where it will be continuing now?

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.