In case the term systems thinking always seemed too abstract to get too worked up about. Or the fact that Peter Senge has sold 2 million copies of his book The Fifth Discipline and now holds a Systems Thinking and Dynamic Modeling Conference for K-12 Education was not on your radar screen as Another Thing to Worry About. Now I do not get to do that because I have seen “must teach the children systems thinking” as part of an essential aspect of every radical plan to remake US and global education for decades. It did not take me long to track down its history or see it as a sledgehammer to destroy a student’s belief that he or she is, and is entitled to be, an autonomous individual. It was honestly a relief to read the recent infed story called “peter senge and the learning organization” where they recognized the common visions and social interests between communitarian thinkers like Amitai Etzioni and Senge. You begin to imagine a chant at these conferences along the lines of “Heh, Heh, Ho, Ho, The Unitary Self has Got to Go.” Worked with Western Civ at Stanford.
Since we have already figured out that the definition of Career Ready in Common Core is based on Etzioni http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/birth-to-career-finally-and-quietly-creating-the-soviet-mindset-but-here-in-the-usa/, Peter Senge’s views on implementing Common Core promise to be a hugely important component of what it will actually look like in classrooms. First of all, we are supposed to recognize that Common Core is a “unifying approach to transforming American education.” Here we are as parents, taxpayers, and business people looking for capable, knowledgeable minds and we are being told that Common Core means there will no longer be variations in the content required of students moving from state to state. A worthy sounding, probably PR-tested slogan to soothe away any concerns about federal intrusions into local issues. Truly that intrusion is the least of these scheming aspirations.
Instead “Lessons from Systemic Change for Utilizing the New Common Core Standards for Transforming Education” gives us Maxine Greene’s vision for education for political transformation by altering each student’s consciousness. The authors are terribly well-connected (including Harvard’s Robert Kegan) as you will see. And there are no side essays or speeches mentioning wanting to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War to clue the enterprising reader into the actual political orientation being advocated. Like Maxine Greene and Bill Ayers but without the taint of their open proclamations, these systems thinkers want learners to be the center of the curriculum, not a body of knowledge. As Maxine Greene wrote, that’s the first step in imagining a different world, toward acting on the belief that things can be changed. Learning as becoming Different than you were at the beginning of the day according to Greene.
For all these Professors and Supers and Principals seeking Transformation with a Capital T, education is merely a tool of alteration that guarantees funding, obscures the political theories being imposed without consent, and grants access to innermost thoughts, values, and emotions. Everything a Mao ever wanted and no one is up in arms. Yet. And if they are, they are focused on side issues about how to teach math and whether to allow ability-grouped classes. Instead it gets reexpressed without any taint or royalties to Maxine as a “learning community” where the school creates “a culture where people continually learn with and from one another.” Community is no mere slogan either. Rather it becomes the whole point of education. To get this sought environment and Transformation (we are back to the collection of systems thinkers here including Senge):
“the most important point is the basic point: the naive fantasy that there exists such a thing as systemic change independent of deep and continual personal change fails to prepare people for the real work. The “system” in terms of habits of thoughts and actions that shape practices, processes, structures and even metrics lives inside each of us. It (their emphasis, bolding is mine) works the way it works because of how we work. What is most systemic is most personal. Consequently, all processes of real systemic change inevitably arise from developmental processes that are deeply personal.”
Probably the sort of deeply personal interactions fostered through teacher OBE training renamed as “Performance Excellence for All Kids” we met in the last post set in the pastoral settings of Vail to reenforce that this is the Way Things Ought to Be. Or Peter Senge’s Camp Snowball that includes students ready to engage in action learning to promote a Transformation around Sustainability. Since Peter had David Coleman, one of the primary architects of Common Core as a speaker this summer, all of this transforming may seem radical to us but the so-called Transformative Players do all seem to be interacting around this systems thinking vision and Common Core.
I guess David got his Second Wind at Camp Snowball getting ready to go transform AP courses and the SAT as the new, very well-paid, President of the College Board. And if anyone finds this systems thinking/College Board alliance strange you should read all the College Board publications from the 90s on finally achieving Dewey’s vision for American education including transforming the nature of college. Or just read me. I have read all those books and some of them had not absorbed fresh air in over 15 years. Musty smell to go with the toxic ideas is one way to put it.
Now I found the above quote on all that deep and continual personal change in students who are allegedly in an Algebra or World History class to be quite graphic and very troubling. In case we are slow, however, our systems thinkers point out again on the next page:
“When we use the term ‘capacity building,’ it can often mask the depth of the emotional and psychological challenges, as we implied above in emphasizing the personal character of systemic change.”
That earlier quote is not my idea of implication but this 2nd reference leaves no doubt at the depths of the intrusive aspirations. In case you are wondering how I could have written such a graphic title for my previous post, I believe these political aspirations for education have already had real victims.
Today’s title comes from the systems thinking aspirations and their desire to put together school districts to participate as “systems-based CCSS learning communities.” There is a reference to systems “we currently know and are working with.” The “we” seems to be either Senge, the Waters Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation or Harvard. I am going to focus on the Harvard connection since it appears to involve two districts in the metro Atlanta area, Fulton that we discussed from the last post and Gwinnett.
Gwinnett, the largest district in Georgia, won the Broad Award a few years ago. Parents there say the system went to a PBIS/SEL focus last school year (2011-12) just as soon as the ink was dry on the atrocious soft skills statute giving official permission for these psychological and emotional intrusions in Georgia. Others involved in the Harvard Strategic Data Project are listed as Boston Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (which won the Broad last year), and Fort Worth Independent School District.
All this systems thinking emphasis would of course explain why Massachusetts had to give up its well-functioning standards and move to the Common Core. It’s the new assessments and a means to get at consciousness. We talked about Transformational OBE and Dallas and Charlotte along with Cobb County, Georgia, and Fulton here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/gypsy-principals-gypsy-supers-and-engrenage-3-more-superb-things-to-know/ In addition to Fulton’s duplicitous charter enshrining Transformational OBE that I wrote about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-happens-when-a-charter-pillages-minds-and-wallets/, it turns out Fulton’s new Super of less than a year, Robert Avossa, was asked by Education Week to join as a speaker for its “Scaling Up Student Success” Leadership Forums in April. Ah, the leadership circuit!
Apart from that charter and Transformational OBE in new forms that are less likely to be discovered in time, let’s look back at that systems document again. The one looking for school systems with “sufficient numbers of leaders who share such a commitment.”
What commitment you warily ask at this point in the post? The one for “using the new CCSS for transformative change.”
Gulp says every taxpayer and parent in any one of these implicated districts.
Such planned intrusions negate the very essence of individual freedom in the US. But my understanding of that and what is coming is not enough.
And so I write.