If Education Transforms Values and Feelings and Beliefs to Control Behaviors, Are We Free?

Let’s pretend for a moment that someone, maybe they have just retired or won the lottery, was willing to be honest with us about how transformative the Common Core was really going to be. They suggest an undisclosed location. Looking downwards in a trenchcoat, fake moustache, and very large sunglasses, they whisper to you that Common Core was intended to actually “reexamine and redefine what we mean by education.”

Now who should be making such a decision? Who really has the knowledge and experience to impose Cultural Transformation Theory at our expense to see if we can create a better world in the future? I think some knowledge of history and economics would be nice. Life experience being responsible for others and making a payroll. Even more ideal would be to leave such changes up to individuals. Because after all the government is composed of individuals too. Government employees just have less information. They are further from the problems and the solutions. And they are not spending their own money. Or living with the consequences of poor decisions.

Our volunteer whistleblower then hands us a memo with the following statement from someone intimately involved with what Common Core would look like in the classroom:

“All children must learn to care for other human beings, and all must find an ultimate concern in some center of care: care for self, for intimate others, for associates and acquaintances, for distant others, for animals, and the physical environment, for objects and instruments, and for ideas.”

And this care mandate would be cultivated in each child and used to create a new caring economics that would be more equitable and meet everyone’s needs. So education would be about new ways of thinking, talking, and interacting to reimagine and explore different ways of looking at the world.

Now Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek did an excellent job of explaining why such a caring approach that mandates treating strangers as if you know them cannot work and destroys what drives economic freedom and the resulting prosperity. That can be a different post if you like at some point. You know where to find me.

So radically different actual purpose. Can’t work. Tragic history behind earlier attempts. What do we do? We need to be thinking of that reality because that’s where we are going to be once Common Core is fully in place. We have a little time though because that quote is from an influential American professor and it is a true explanation of our reality. But she came to my attention as a consultant to Australia’s National Student Wellbeing Framework. Another consultant was the the President of CASEL from the June 28 post. Finally we have a sociology professor tied into the Positive Psychology Movement. Positive Psychology is involved with PBIS, recently mandated for all US students under Response to Intervention mandates, and the Positive School Climate initiatives. They also get cited as the solution for the possibility of bullying. All that is discussed in the June 11 SEL post.

In fact it was an Aussie anti-bullying campaign that led me to those Wellbeing Pathways. It was called Friendly Schools and Families. Like the US programs we are seeing it decided to change those values and feelings and attitudes in advance for all students to preempt any problem from ever developing. Now I am quite sure it is merely coincidental that changing values, attitudes, and emotions to control future behaviors is the express desire of everyone wanting to fundamentally transform a society or economy or culture. Bullying must really be the dominant global problem of our time. Necessitating a fundamental restructuring of the human psyche. It’s not like anyone has ever tried that before or there were any problems. Well maybe a few.

So obtaining student wellbeing is officially deemed to be necessary for student learning. Of course it must come first. Of course to be equitable everyone gets targeted. So the new focus of Australian schools beyond its Core Skills Framework that looks so much like the US 21st Century Learning initiative and that Global Competence we talked about on June 30 would look like this:

1. A supportive, caring and inclusive school community

2. Pro-social values (ie values such as respect, honesty, compassion, acceptance of difference, fairness are directly taught and indirectly encouraged)

3. Physical & emotional safety (via anti-bullying and anti-violence strategies, policies, procedures and programs

4. Social & emotional learning (eg coping skills, self-awareness, emotional regulation skills, empathy, goal achievement skills, relationship skills)

5. A strengths-based approach (ie schools focusing on identifying and developing students’ intellectual strengths (eg using a multiple intelligences model) and character strengths)

6. A sense of meaning & purpose ( eg through one or more of spirituality, community service, participation in school clubs and teams, peer support, collaborative and authentic group projects etc)

7. A healthy lifestyle (eg good nutrition, exercise, avoidance of illegal drugs and alcohol)

So are the Wellbeing pathways coming to the US? Well every one of these is a part of some aspect of Common Core’s planned implementation. Like the Happy Planet Index, it would probably get a more palatable name. The new Quality Standards the accreditors are using also requires that info on each student’s physical, emotional, and social needs be obtained and kept.

But this is what Common Core’s mandate of equity looks like.  Only generic skills like an ability to communicate or collaborate are accessible to all. Genuine algebra never will be which means it’s not fair for anyone. All people though have values and emotions. So making those the focus is Equitable. Only someone looking for sinister possibilities would notice this also creates a new filtering mindset that skews each person’s perceptions from then on. How useful if you have transformative intentions you would prefer not to discuss with voters and taxpayers. And especially parents.

5 thoughts on “If Education Transforms Values and Feelings and Beliefs to Control Behaviors, Are We Free?

  1. This psychological intrusion into the human mind has been underway for some time as I am sure you are aware.
    No doubt this is in large part the reason that the electorate make such uniformed choices at the ballot box that we end up with a totalitarian mindset in parliament.
    Entertained by the bread and circuses of television, video games, I-pods and the like the ignorant elector arrives at the ballot box and makes a fateful decision on the ballot based on no more than emotional attraction of a candidate as though that individual were a rock star. In taht way we end up with a made-for-TV useful idiot like Rudd, or worse, as the the situation has turned out to be.

  2. What I find kind of interesting (as a 2nd generation Catholic school parent) is how the SEL stuff is exactly the sort of stuff we do in Catholic schools — except, of course, we use these methods to deliver Catholicism rather than the vague mushy new-agey tree-huggy PETA crap. On the one hand it shows pretty clearly that this is people using the public schools to inculcate religion (their weird religion) in public school students. On the other hand it points up that Catholic schools are going to be uniquely vulnerable to this crap because it is couched in a language which is very familiar to us and uses concepts that we are very open to. (Shorter version — these SEL folks sound a lot like nuns…) I am on the staff at our local Catholic school, and my husband is on the school board, and I can tell you that we see some of this stuff.

    In particular I find the whole concept of record-keeping on physical, emotional, and social needs to be the most obvious red flag. If you go to Catholic school and are Catholic, you are going to be going to Confession with your class about every 1-2 months. But that is a Catholic sacramental confession, so whatever is said is absolutely secret. So on the one hand you have Catholic schools mucking around in their students’ spiritual, emotional and moral development — that’s an explicit part of their mission — but on the other hand that is strictly within very very strong protections for the integrity of personhood which have been developed over 2000 years of the Church being in this biz.

    When the public schools do it, what you have is Scientology.

    • Cathy-those are excellent points. Because the accreditation agencies drive a great deal of how all these gets forced on schools and into classrooms, there is a tendency to require it of private schools as well. I have actually seen the document the accreditors (all of them so apparently it’s to be a national template) required of catholic schools in California. And it was everything John Dewey ever wanted. A real push to go to projects and other activities where just participating becomes the learning.

      In other countries, the private schools are expressly targeted to adhere to the exact same criteria. India and Australia in particular.

      I have not gotten into it but there is a great deal of theorizing in this Harvard Project Zero work on 3rd stage altering of consciousness. There are also numerous mentions of adopting the buddhist concept of the mind in the Happiness push that ties into Student Well Being, proactive mental health measures, and the Positive School Climate cites.

      I worry when people believe none of this applies to them because there child is in private school. Even the private school teachers are telling me they are being pushed to implement a great deal of this as an aid to mental health for the students.

  3. It all sounds so wonderful. Who among us would want to raise a child who did not care about those things?

    There are three very real problems:

    1. Human nature is never going to cooperate and the best way to counter that is by daily example and instruction from the child’s parents. And even then, success isn’t assured.

    2. It will all come at the expense of what the schools should be doing in the first place — teaching the child how to become a successful adult in a very competitive world that can be extremely cruel to the ill prepared.

    3. It will end up being brutal and totalitarian. You will conform or suffer.

    Let the schools stick to what their mandate has always been since public education was first implemented, education, not indoctrination.

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