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?

Deliberate Cultural Evolution Via Developmental Psychology to Force Social Change, Or, Gypsy Supers Lobby DC

Gypsy Supers and Gypsy Principals are terms I came up with to describe how certain people regularly shift schools and districts for promotions and pay raises. Each shift pushes the new location further towards the ultimate goal of Transformational Outcomes Based Education (OBE). I am still using the 90s terminology from its creation and I explain how it still fits in now in the book (Chapter 4). Since OBE became infamous, we have new terms for these old pursuits. In particular, Competency as used in that RSA report (check Milton Rokeach tag) and “21st Century Outcomes” and “College-and-Career-Readiness Outcomes” as used in this  recent lobbying effort by suburban districts on how federal law should be rewritten.  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/Consortium%20-%20%20Recommendations%20for%20a%20New%20Federal%20Accountability%20Framework%20February%202014.pdf

I wonder if the taxpayers in the metro Atlanta or Greenville or Charlotte or Virginia Beach or DC areas understand what their employees are lobbying for? You see, I know what all those words mean and I know precisely what the implications of invoking the Effective Schools Research is (in the book I describe it in relation to the 1966 Coleman Report, which is how the Consortium uses it too). The “Members of Congress who have invited the Consortium to propose a new framework for our nation’s education policy” should seek retirement before angry voters exile them by ballot box.

Why turn to people with such a record of demonstrable deceit about what they are really doing to our schools, our children, and many fine teachers? Because of current high test scores in suburbs? With tests disappearing and the intentional gutting of academics there already proceeding in earnest? Did any of these people looking “forward to working collaboratively with Congress to bring about positive change in federal law” bother to explain what enshrining Developmental Psychology as a Human Enterprise as entitled to deference under federal law would mean?

Those RSA and FuturICT visions in the last post reveal hubristic social engineering nightmares. It is easy to take comfort from wrongfully assuming it cannot actually happen. Then read that Consortium Framework. Perhaps with the ISC and Credentialed to Destroy explanations of the terms used somewhere handy, but that Framework is the way in. With our money and no recourse and no real likelihood anyone being deferred to truly has any idea of the true genesis of what they are pushing. But then they do not have to. Their paychecks, courtesy of us, show up because of what they are willing to do, not what they know. In my hope springs eternal world, let’s assume that knowing would make a difference. Let’s talk some about the history and intentions of making developmental psychology the focus of schools.

Into the largely unknown history of the events in education globally that I documented in the 80s and the entire concept of cultural evolution via education that is in the book, let’s add two more conferences that affect us still. The first was a supposedly “secret meeting in Budapest of scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain.”  http://www.thedarwinproject.com/gerg/gerg.html The sales pitch for the General Evolution Research Group is that “spurred by the mounting threat to our species of rapid nuclear proliferation and overkill, the purpose was to see if it might be possible to use the chaos theory then coming into vogue to develop a new general theory of evolution that might serve as a road map for our species out of the mounting chaos of our times to the reassuring order of a better world.”

Using education to change mindsets and personalities to try and get to a different future. Tied to GERG though are a number of the people who have been actively involved in what I call Radical Ed Reform with a developmental focus from the late 80s until now. They all have tags and multiple posts so I will just give you some idea where to look if you wish to reread those posts now. Riane Eisler (new 3 Rs and Partnership education, a UN NGO), Bela Banathy (systems view of education), Nel Noddings (now at Stanford. Now we know why she wrote preface to Eisler’s book), and Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, whose definition of Excellence and positive psychology practices are so crucial to the professional development and to be required classroom practices of many of those Consortium districts. Yes, there are reasons beyond word meanings I am so sure.

Do you remember the post about “transforming perspectives” as the new purpose of business education globally? The UN-affiliated Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) recently published its Towards 2024 vision pushing a Global Forum on Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Well, that would certainly explain the Chamber of Commerce’s support for all these bad ed ideas, wouldn’t it? Again it fit the vision in FuturICT and cited a book by a Chris Laszlo with a foreword by Peter Senge and an afterword by David Cooperrider. One of the major proponents of systems over the decades as a means of global social change was Hungarian Ervin Laszlo and sure enough, Professor Chris is his son. So GERG came out of looking at Ervin’s work since he was the founder and following his son pulls in the associated GRLI Business/Flourishing Cities/Everything Planned agenda and we also have the Appreciative Inquiry Model again (Cooperrider and Kenneth Gergen, see tags).

All that is to say we have lots of different names of similar concepts from people who actually do, and have for a long time, work and coordinate together around the idea of deliberate social evolution via education and government planning. That’s what developmental psychology is intended to do by the way. Its purpose according to a 2005 book celebrating the career and vision of Sheldon White at Harvard is to be a “Science of Personal and Societal Design.” Now wouldn’t that be an ironic overreach to enshrine into federal law via the Consortium? In comes what CHAT creator Michael Cole called a “second psychology” grounded in Vygotsky’s and Luria’s Soviet research where it would be possible to pursue the “unity of individualism and collectivism in any society or person.” Yes, especially with all the data being collected.

To really understand this second or developmental psychology and the implications of it, event number two took place in November 1987 in Paris. Again we had researchers from both sides of the Iron Curtain meeting on the issue of Artificial Intelligence and basically pushing ideas that would make the potentially unpredictable human mind weaker.  I am looking at a paper from a Swedish prof, Ragnar Rommerveld, that Cole cited. It has a title that’s a mouthful. I will let you guess which approach is to be jettisoned–as bolstering the rational individual mind–and which is actually another term for the philosophy behind developmental psychology. “On human beings, computers, and representational-computational versus hermeneutic-dialogical approaches to human cognition and communication.”

Let’s lobby Congress citing the actual ancestry of the hoped-for federal framework. Let me add in one more definition–the one for cognitive science. As a “critical-emancipatory social science,” it seeks to use education to get at what it calls in quotations– a person’s “cognitively penetrable functions.”  If it’s not a changeable personal process then, it’s not the domain of cognitive science. No wonder the radicals keep referring to themselves as taking a “cognitive approach.” Examples listed as penetrable are “goals, beliefs, tacit knowledge [experiential] and so on.” In other words the area OBE targeted and what college and career-ready and ‘learning’ do now. And here comes what gets redefined as metacognitive to become part of the definition of College-ready from the Swedish prof’s paper: “though they [skills] need not be consciously performed, they can be described and identified by the agent…and in many cases actually brought to consciousness while they are being performed.”

That consciousness if needed is what allows the penetration. The change. All in all the perfect ed theory if deliberate cultural evolution is what is sought, which of course both RSA and FuturICT already acknowledged. Both need a view of education that shifts from knowledge to a theory that each student “harbors an indeterminate capacity or propensity for change.” That the new purpose of assessment is to “provide an ongoing evaluation of the qualitative and quantitative discrepancy between the child’s manifest functioning and his or her modifiability and to suggest appropriate intervention.” That gap is why data is so important to FuturICT and the Consortium Supers.

It all goes back to their declared, but publicly unacknowledged, embrace of developmental psychology to try to change society and the future in deliberate ways. Let’s end with GRLI’s open embrace of what it calls Whole Person Learning, “based in humanistic psychology” [Maslow/Rogers]. WPL is not just about business schools. The perspectives transformation goes along with the wider plans we have been discussing. When the Consortium is pushing its vision of education on Congress, this is what they are actually pushing:

“Integral to the notion of Whole Person Learning is understanding of self, of how this self relates to others and how this sits within the wider global context–how I am influenced by and can influence myself, my immediate relationships and the whole. This is reflected in GRLI’s very logo– three interlocking ellipses representing I, We and All of Us.”

Imposed invisibly as a matter of federal law. Reconciling the unity of individualism and collectivism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drawing Back the Standards Curtain to Discover the Global Coordination to Redesign the Very Nature of Curriculum

We have discussed the fact that the phrases “Common Core” or “Competency” or “21st century skills” make wonderful excuses that obscure virtually all of what is really changing. Especially since we also have new ways of measuring the results and effects and turning it into data. When those of us who read the small print of reports, or attend PTA meetings, or actually look at what students are being asked to do, notice a complete paradigm shift away from factual knowledge as a primary purpose of schools and then try to raise our concerns these days, we usually get nowhere. We get to hear the typical supportive talking points about how “Standards are not curriculum,” and how the country “needs these standards to be internationally competitive,” and finally, how “Business wants these standards to create a skilled workforce.”

If we happen to be armed with some factual knowledge and point out that endorsements from tech companies who will benefit financially is not what will bring tomorrow’s jobs, parents quickly discover that disputing the talking points on the Common Core is like trying to have a discussion with a robocall or a parrot. Now I am going to say do svidanija!, the Russian phrase for goodbye, to any discussion today of Soviet psychology and the fact that the education model the Common Core reflects when we look at what is being asked of teachers, measured in students, and theories imposed on the classroom all comes from the old USSR. Decades of experimental research and now imported to the US and other countries as cultural-historical activity theory. I suspected it before but recently reading the 2002 book Learning for Life in the 21st Century removed all doubt.

But curriculum is our focus today. The developmental perspective that CHAT and learning theories grounded in Vygotsky represent needs a redesign of the very paradigm of the curriculum. And it turns out they have it because in 2011 Harvard set up a Center for Curriculum Redesign that has UNESCO, Pearson, the Gates and Hewlett Foundations, the Nellie Mae Foundation behind the Competency Works report from the last post, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Google, the OECD and World Bank, and the governments of Massachusetts; Finland; Alberta and Toronto, Canada; Korea; Singapore, and the Australian curriculum authority (acara) all involved. Global coordination indeed of precisely what students everywhere will be interacting with and experiencing on a daily basis.

CCR came to my attention a few days ago when the OECD began touting it http://oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.com/2014/02/mathematics-for-21st-century.html . Since my book has an entire chapter on what was really being sought in the so-called math and science wars, announcing that the “Center for Curriculum Redesign’s Stockholm Declaration has stated: We call for a far deeper and reconceptualized understanding of mathematics by the entire population as a critical right, requiring:

* a new vision of mathematics education that anticipates needs and reinforces the role of mathematics in society, economies, and individuals, and strengthens gender equity,

* changes to existing Mathematics standards as presently conceived, through a significant rethinking of what branches, topics, concepts and subjects should be taught in Mathematics for human, economic, social and career development…”

Well, THAT got my attention. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered Charles Fadel was a Visiting Practitioner at Harvard. Ooops, I see I have forgotten to mention the University of Pennsylvania and MIT are also involved. And not just Stanford but the very prof, Roy Pea, we met in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/ on the NSF funding of cyberlearning and informal learning.

Prof Pea is psyched to be an advisor to CCR since “In my studies of learning and development enhanced by technologies over the years, I’ve often emphasized the importance of meta-cognition, planning, leveraging distributed intelligence, and other aspects of human competencies (my bolding) that are often tacit or left out of curriculum studies and standards. Like many of my colleagues, I’m keen to see more integral support from educators for developing learner’s adaptive expertise–a framework I find preferable to 21st century skills. Once we separate ‘skills’ from expertise, which incorporates skills, knowledge, dispositions, interests, and identities–all essential aspects of competencies–we run the risk of having separate curriculum units on skills, divorced from content and other aspects of expertise.”

Now that is someone thoroughly immersed in the Vygotskyian education as humanizing the entire personality paradigm from that defunct country we are not discussing today. Pea clearly sees CCR as furthering that tradition of how curriculum is to be used. Another fascinating description from someone involved with the Common Core Next Generation Science Standards read like this:

“The vision you are building toward–to deeply redesign curricula so that we focus young people on experiencing content as purposeful, interdisciplinary and personalized–is key to the process of transforming education globally.”

That was Margaret Honey of New York Hall of Science. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is also on board and “applauds the vision of CCR to redesign curricula for the 21st Century that is both relevant and engaging, and goes beyond core content.” These letters are available on the CCR website under partners. I will give one more quote from ERB since it is speaking on behalf of its member schools and that includes many of the most prestigious private schools in the US. It says “We relish the opportunity to help redefine what it takes to be a knowledgeable, ethical, and wise citizen of an interconnected and interdependent global community of learners.” A very interesting end goal that is probably not what a parent has in mind when they ship off their high schooler to an expensive boarding school.

Now obviously the various UN entities pursuing their Sustainability and post-2015 vision and the OECD with its Green Growth and Great Transition visions of the future could hardly find a surer vehicle for reaching the most people during the period of their lives when they remain the most impressionable than being involved in such a planned curriculum redesign. One that, in the words of the Finns, “necessitates a corresponding, bold  reconsideration of the nature of knowledge and learning, contents and the pedagogical practices of the school. It is time to rethink what it is that we want students to know and be able to do in future societies and in a globalizing world.”

The curricula redesign then is an essential component of creating a means of enacting a fundamental transformation of systems (Making History is what the theorizers call it) plus a bridge to then transition to that supposedly more just, communitarian-oriented future. Fadel has a 33 page White paper on the curriculum redesign site that makes it quite clear that the idea is to Rethink what is Taught in order to transition to a better world. Page 18 shows a drawing straight out of Hard Times with the heading “So it is a grand time to act unless we want a Dickensian society.” Page 19 quotes the winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Medicine that “We have evolved traits [such as group selfishness] that will lead to humanity’s extinction–so we must learn how to overcome them.”

Eliminating human selfishness as the point of the curricula and education and then making the public sector the dominant planning force in society. That’s much more likely to create a Dickensian future than be a means for avoiding it, but then I am still a fact-based person, not a theorist looking to implement infamous or untried ideas on a global scale. It is also interesting Fadel envisions “Leveraging our entire selves–head, heart, and hand” in this effort of social, economic, and political transformation. He also sees curricula redesign as a means of fostering personal fulfillment. Right.

So Standards are not curriculum, but the Common Core Standards, whatever their new names in the various states, serve as a vehicle to obscure this intended global shift in what is to be going on in the classroom. Big Business wants this because they hope to benefit from the associated public-private partnerships planned. The international competitiveness is grounded in a vision of global transformation to public sector planned economies and pushing for social justice for disadvantaged groups in each country. So much for those talking points.

Now we better focus on where this new concept of curricula is taking us. Because it is to be conveniently hidden for the most part on inaccessible computer databases and networks. How convenient that so many interested in the ‘cloud’ and Big Data generally have signed up to help reconceive the curricula paradigm. Some entities are about to have quite a useful control over a great deal of pertinent information. While at the same time they are trying to minimize the actual knowledge any citizen is likely to have.

Does this curricula redesign feel like an effort to uninvent the printing press and its liberation of the individual’s access to information to anyone else? A future vision that combines economic and political power and seeks to limit unapproved knowledge.

Anyone else recognizing what time periods we seem to want to ape here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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