Strange Bedfellows but All Seeking to Build Unmarked Bridges Between Matter and Spirit

Since the last post I have really dug in to figure out why Classical Education as described by the books I have quoted in the previous two posts functioned so similarly to the educational vision I shorthand as cybernetic. I have those answers now, but before we get to that discussion I want to quote something from another book in the same series called Freedom, Justice, and Hope: Toward a Strategy for the Poor and Oppressed:

“Pulling a utopian vision into practice does little harm if the people involved participate voluntarily in the experiment and always have the right to opt out.”

I bolded that because I am not picking on Classical Education, Christian education, or those with a worldview that “Biblical categories of thought” should provide the framework for understanding all of Life and transforming culture. My problem is when this change in emphasis in education is not accurately explained and parents or taxpayers remain unaware. That’s why we are talking about this. To borrow one more quote from that book: “Ignorance is not harmless; in the real world our illusions can have awful consequences.” Consider me to be the Illusion Disperser. I am not disparaging anyone wishing that “Christians should use their God-given intellects to structure society along Biblical lines.” I am insisting though that if that’s the aim, say so when you are pitching your new view of school, education, and the learning philosophy.

Do not hide an aim to circumscribe mental activity and create action guided by religious faith so that a person’s thoughts are bound by the “use of reason within revelation” by pitching such actual goals as some kind of Classical education, the Trivium, or a return to the Medieval Mind. I cover both John Dewey’s real goals via education as well as what were called the Social Reconstructionists in depth in my book Credentialed to Destroy. Recognizing the essential template made perfect sense then when I get to the last chapter of Herbert Schlossberg’s Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture and it laid out a “strategy for action” whereby “we must consider further how to move toward bringing political, economic, and social life into conformity with the gospel.”

I bolded the latter because the basis for the vision varies from the Social Reconstructionists laid out in my book or any of the Marxist Humanists or humanist psychologists we have covered on this blog, but the institutional aims are the same. So is the belief that the place to start with societal transformation in reality is by targeting what the individual has internalized as his or her values and belief system. Again, the visions vary but every time I track these new philosophies of education that are currently hyped as Common Core or competency-based education, invariably I find someone wanting to provide a normative vision that will guide and motivate future behavior.

That vision again is to serve as the source from which each targeted student will “draw the understanding of the nature of humanity, the meaning of history, the legitimate values of society, and the place of biological creatures in the creation.” That was not the only Schlossberg book I read. I also read Turning Point: A Christian Worldview Declaration that he wrote with Marvin Olasky so there is a consistency as to what is being asserted that has nothing to do with me inferring anything or taking quotes out of context. What is so fascinating to me is the consistent misstatements of what has actually been going on in educational psychology. In both books education is stuck on Behaviorism and Marxism on materialism, even though factually that was absolutely no longer true when any of these books was written.

It is simply not true that Marxism still failed to emphasize that “what people desire and purpose will have any bearing on the future.” Neither was it true that “We are part of an intellectual world that has judged there to be an unbridgeable gulf between matter and spirit.” Fusing those without consent so that “faith and action” become combined and targeting mental models has absolutely been a major occupation of researchers in educational psychology from the 70s forward as Schlossberg could have easily found out instead of erecting these False Narratives. My concerns over what the goals of Classical Education actually were when it hypes Ideas first, instead of facts, makes far more sense as an alluring sales pitch for School Choice dollars instead of confessing:

“anyone wanting to systematize knowledge on the basis of revelation will have to do it within a framework completely different from the common ones that have come to dominate Western philosophy…We must not accept any formulation that erects an impermeable barrier between the sensible and rational, object and subject, matter and mind.”

Dewey could have said that, except pithy expression was never his forte. Sounds precisely like all our so-called systems thinkers as well. Norbert Weiner, who created the term cybernetics back in the 40s, thought so highly of its potential to neurologically unite mind and matter that he equated it to breathing life into a clay Golem in a 1964 book. He also wanted to expand cybernetic controls using data and control via communication in remaking those very same economic and social institutions Schlossberg intended to target for transformation. First though Weiner wanted to start applying the theories in engineering and biology. Biologically–that’s us folks.

Same aim but with a different description might sound like this if you were writing a book you only expected fellow acolytes to read. “For the disciple of Christ is to bring every thought and every action in obedience to Christ.” Substitute Marx for Christ and you will see why we have a problem. If that sounds blasphemous, it is simply the reverse of a point made regularly in these books. Systems thinking exists though because even mentioning Uncle Karl is risky to any PR or sales campaign. Much better to describe such aims to control thought and action in terms about ‘interdependence and systems and mutuality” as both Schlossberg and the Marxist Humanists who call themselves systems thinkers do. “Brain-based learning” sounds better as well.

Here is how another proponent of Classical Education describes its ‘philosophy of education’ to “enable us to make progress in the life-long endeavor of self-rule.” The euphemism the OECD uses now for cybernetic control over what a student has internalized to guide thought and motivate action is “self-regulation.” Awfully close to self-rule, isn’t it? How about curricula that “is conducive to liberating the mind and heart” so that the student can make the ‘vital connection’ between “acknowledging the truth with one’s mind and choosing the good through the exercise of one’s will. Knowing the truth, willing the good, and apprehending the beautiful lead to true human happiness.”

I am not saying parents or adult students may not choose such neurological, normative, and emotional emphases in education as helpful to living one’s life. My problem is when anyone buys into this programming vision without understanding they or their children are being programmed. Too often now ‘classical education’ is simply a euphemism for cybernetic programming. People need to appreciate what is in that breath and that their child is being treated as a Golem. Best to fully understand what ‘spirit’ is being biologically fused. If the goal of these Christian Worldview Reconstructionists is to create a worldview that will guide all of life and change culture then that’s the same goal again of Dewey and the Social Reconstructionists.

What does differ is how it will work, not what is targeted or how via education. Here is the Turning Point again: “There is nothing really secular, out of reach of God’s dominion. Therefore, everything is of legitimate interest to God’s people. Biblically, we are charged with making disciples of all nations and with working toward bringing all things into conformity with God’s revealed will.” I bolded that again because I have been reading Alexander Christakis’ plans for Structured Design Dialogue and the new concept of ‘planning’ hatched in Bellagio in 1968 and the belief that a normative vision of What Ought to Be can be laid out and then willed into being. How? By changing prevailing values, attitudes, and beliefs at an internalized level. Let’s substitute the ‘Vision of Society and the Economy as It Ought to Be’ for what I bolded. See the reason for the interchangeability of aims and reasons?

In all these cases it’s not a matter of individual control anymore. Idols for Destruction tells us why. “Calls for the reformation of society that do not insist upon both orthodoxy and orthopraxy, therefore, are futile.” Must target both what is thought, believed, and valued as well as action in other words. Something all reconstructionists apparently recognize. It also fits with the definition of the kind of standards states must adopt under the Every Student Succeeds Act, what they must assess for, and why everyone must adhere to Universal Design for Learning.

We have noted the rampant Communitarianism required as part of the actual Common Core/Positive School Climate edicts. Schlossberg too was officially hostile to the ‘outdated’ Enlightenment ideal of individual autonomy. It is a vision he believed provides an “amazing answer in the sphere of human relations to the ancient conundrum of the One and the Many. It shows why we are not required to be either the isolated atoms of individualism, nor links in the great collectivist chain that is enslaving the world.” I will interrupt this quote to ask that it also be read as consistent with being a part of a system and a member of an interdependent society. Here we go again where I stopped:

“If each of us is related to the whole of the community as, say, the eyes to the body, then the reason we cannot exist alone is clear; our needs, purposes, and functions must be related to those of the other members of the body. At the same time, the eye performs a vital function for the body and cannot be written off as unimportant or peripheral.”

This autonomous individual with non-circumscribed reason says yuck to that vision whether it is put out in the name of Christianity, Buddhism, or by an acknowledged systems thinker. I have no patience for any of these desires to insist we individuals can only find our meaning “within the context of a larger society.”

Anyone else getting the idea that a whole lot of people want to be the Oligarchs in charge of us? If all these people want to apply for that job they can be forthright about it and quit hiding behind euphemistic terms of education and definitions too few understand.

 

Foiling False Narratives Amidst Unsupported Cries of Balderdash!

The last post was not designed to ruffle feathers so much as continue to warn that words like Classical or Christian when applied to education, much like what we have already seen with Critical Thinking and Rigor, may not have the actual meaning assumed. I am genuinely worried about the extent to which Classical Education is modeling a psychological template that came out of the Soviet Union to bind the mind and personality. A reader in the comments put up this slideshow http://slideplayer.com/slide/695610/ that reveals a troubling and intentional use of cybernetic techniques via education to mentally and emotionally bind a person for religious purposes. Please scrutinize what on-line vendors or actual charters or privates have in mind when they use these terms.

Today we will continue to explore the broader template of what is being pushed under the Classical label and its very troubling bedfellows that were turbocharged in December with the language in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A reader contacted a well-known education writer known for being anti-Common Core and pro-Classical Education asking for a rebuttal of what I wrote in the last post. We are going to go through the various responses because they illustrate so well what a muddle these Great Ideas centric educations can actually create. Response 1 was that the post was “Balderdash.” Since that descriptive word would mean writing that is contrary to facts and nonsensical, the natural question became “what is not true?” That provoked a link http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431182/donald-trump-bernie-sanders-gnostic-campaigns  that the frustrated reader forwarded to me.

I pointed out I never theorize in writing about conspiracies, but that I do get to quote people who declare they are involved in a coordinated effort to use education to achieve some declared transformation of society. Secondly, that article basically insults certain political supporters as acting like people who use a Gnostic simplistic analysis to view the world around them. Well, that was a new criticism and not particularly consistent with the facts. Maybe I was supposed to be horrified, but I did wonder whether someone needed my Inapt Metaphor lesson on lousy analogizing. A few days later I got the final response from the reader who really wanted there not to be some kind of misuse of the phrase ‘Classical Christian education’ for purposes unappreciated by parents. Here is the final criticism of that post and apparently the reason for trying to protect people from either my book Credentialed to Destroy or this blog. I have a few responses in brackets.

“My point is addressing it does nothing because verifying people’s intentions is impossible. [What's to verify if I am quoting what they write as to intentions?] And there is no high volume of readers. [Of course that has nothing to do with any coordination to hijack what can be said or written about the Common Core by certain well-funded think tanks] Because global warming crazies say the earth is round I need to wonder if the earth is flat. Absurd. And Robin’s assertion that we need to prioritize facts but not their connections is a non-starter to thinking people. [Someone skipped the class day devoted to the Strawman Fallacy] She does that herself. There are not demons under every doily that she has not herself made.”

That last part about “demons under every doily” was too alliterative to have been original. You too may want to put it in quotes and see the results of the search. The real question though is what makes me write about something on this blog at any given time? Usually I  am responding to something that appears to be hidden by a wall of deceit. That type of factual investigation may be annoying and inconvenient, but it’s not nonsensical.  Let’s get back to why I am so concerned and right to be so. Another book, Classical Education: Towards the Revival of American Schooling by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Andrew Kern, came and only heightened my concern. They do a chapter on Douglas Wilson’s model, then Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Proposal as an example of Democratic Classicism, and then David Hicks’ Moral Classism and its emphasis on the “importance of character development and the full flowering of the human personality.”

No, I don’t want the human personality to be allowed to wilt and I also want to develop character. There is an alignment here though of what everyone from Charles Fadel and his well-connected Center for Curriculum Redesign is now pushing as Four-Dimensional Education, what the Dewey acolytes want, and what is being pushed as Classical Education. Every single one is targeting the same areas of what the student is to have internalized and how they are to work together to guide the vision of the future and motivate likely behavior. Common Core talks about its purpose as being College and Career Ready and the Classicist aim is said to be “to form the adult-to-be”? Does that sound like a similar destination to anyone else?

I have written before about Carol Dweck, what is called the Growth Mindset, and even that the White House Behavioral and Social Sciences Team has now commenced a national Growth Mindset study. Tell me if that aim fits with the following passage from the Moral Classicism template (my bolding). Notice this is not about the transmission of factual knowledge.

“…classical learning is neither doctrinaire religious instruction nor analytical scientific positivism. Even though the classical student begins by accepting dogma (i.e, ‘that which seems good’,) he personalizes it by questioning it –that is, by employing dialectic. As the student refines his understanding, his insight grows, ‘ascending a dialectical staircase to an upper room of fragile truths and intangible beliefs.’ Challenges and contradictions arise to dogma and within it by the process of dialectic, and this leads to dogma’s reformulation. Using his conscience and the process of dialectic, and guided by the universal vision of the ideal type, the student grows toward the Ideal. Commitment to dialectic is thus the first principle in Hicks’ version of classical education: the conscious development of the internal dialogue guides us to the fulfillment of our natures.”

Well, someone is specifying those Ideals and creating an education intended to internalize them. I am not sure the student gets much say. Neither will the parents unless they scrutinize what comes in now under the banner of ‘classical’ education. Now I honestly do not know how much those pushing this template as ‘classical education’ appreciate why Evald Ilyenkov created the New Dialectics in the USSR to advance the Human Development Society vision of Marxism that commenced in earnest globally around 1962. I do, however, know an institution that has had a very good handle on this integration of East and West using education. If Harvard’s Project Zero classifies Hicks’ Interdisciplinary  Humanities Program as a Pre-Collegiate Program conducive to bringing about “an all-encompassing framework of meaning,” we need to take them at their word on the links to the IB Theory of Knowledge coursework and the notorious constructivist Math and Science programs.

http://www.interdisciplinarystudiespz.org/pdf/Nikitina_Strategies_2002.pdf If all of these are cited as means to teach contextualizing or context-building, conceptualization, and problem-solving so that inquiry-oriented coursework becomes a means of teaching social responsibility, the need for social change, and the “primary goal of finding causes and cures for human calamities,” we can assume that the Change Agent Licensors understand where Classical Education is actually going, even if its proponents do not. At this point, I was thoroughly concerned that we once again have Inadvertent Change Agents pushing a remedy to the Common Core they have repeatedly deplored that amounts to jumping from the frying pan into the fire, I went back to who Douglas Wilson cited as his source for his Trivium.

He put Dorothy Sayers’ 1947 essay The Lost Tools of Learning as an Appendix to the book covered in the last post. I found her emphasis on the “medieval scheme of education” to be a little odd as that was a preliterate society. To quote historian William Manchester in his fine A World Lit Only By Fire, the Middle Ages was a time when “literacy was scorned” and Holy Roman Emperors themselves would respond to a correction of their Latin as being ‘above grammar.’ It was a time when the “devout scorned reason…Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), the most influential Christian of his time, bore a deep distrust of the intellect and declared that the pursuit of knowledge, unless sanctified by a holy mission, was a pagan act and therefore vile.”

Anyone else beginning to question whether the whole Trivium and Quadrivium hype is just a narrative manufactured by someone wanting to hide the clear connections to cybernetic psychological theory and systems thinking? Then the narrative gets repeated until it seems true. Back to Manchester, who pointed out that “there was no room in the medieval mind for doubt, the possibility of skepticism simply did not exist.” He also pointed out “medieval man’s total lack of ego. Even those with creative powers had no sense of self” and “an almost total indifference to privacy. In summertime peasants went about naked.” Aren’t we glad this post is written and not a multimedia presentation? See why I am so suspicious we have yet another false narrative.

The “rediscovery of Aristotelian learning–in dialectic, logic, natural science, and metaphysics” did happen during the 1198-1216 pontificate of Innocent III. It was “synthesized with traditional Church doctrine,” beginning a shattering process known in Italy as the Rinascimento. I bet we are all more familiar with the French term. There is no question that Dorothy Sayers hyped the medieval mind and going back to her essay I think she was making ahistorical assertions looking for a remedy via education against the just lived through horrors of World War II. Under the heading “Unarmed and Unequipped,” she wrote this:

“For we let our young men and women go out unarmed in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight mass propaganda with a smattering of ‘subjects’; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spellbinder, we have the impudence to be astonished.

We dole out lip-service to the importance of education–lip-service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school leaving-age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours, till responsibility becomes a burden and a nightmare; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal effort of it.”

Can’t you still hear the anguish decades later? Sayers thought she had a very good reason for using education to mandate a worldview.

Maybe she did. Our problem is that so many now have the same intentions, but obscure the real new purpose and focus of education behind terms we believe still have their dictionary meanings.

Dragging this documented reality into the sunlight should not result in cries of Balderdash.

Bringing Every Thought Captive So that Panglossian Visions Appear Real or Achievable

In the early days of this blog we covered psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenners’ Ecological Systems Theory (BEST) and the fact that he acknowledged that all those nesting ‘systems’ starting with the individual was simply a metaphor. Unfortunately when BEST is taught now to teachers or K-12 students it is treated as a description of the world as it is and more importantly, should be. Maybe it was that admission that started my worrying about the implications of students unable to recognize the Inapt Metaphor or False Guiding Principles or Core Concepts. When I read though that Christian Classical Education intended to be Ideas-First instead of fact-based, I was alarmed and decided to investigate further. Not because I am against that kind of education, but because I believe all parents and students have a right to know when their mental models at a neurological level are being manipulated via the classroom or digital learning.

Dr Pangloss, for anyone who skipped over reading Candide in college, had a naively optimistic view of the world and what might be. My fact-based knowledge of history and the enduring consistency of human nature under an amazing variety of situations through the ages tells me that deliberately cultivating Panglossian visions “through which to understand the world and imagine how one could be” is a dangerous thing. That latter quote was from a then Yale Law Prof who has now moved on to Harvard and is connected to their Berkman Center for Society and the Internet. A wonderful position in other words to use digital learning to target students’ mental models of how the world works. That’s precisely what Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom does and it is the source Coding for All and Connected Coding were relying on when they wrote: “In this book, we have viewed teaching and learning computer coding as being wrapped in theories of mind, community, and culture.”

The fact that these to-be-required ‘computer science’ or digital learning initiatives we have covered in the last two posts are grounded in theories and not fact (and Marxist political theories at that) is generally not disclosed. The fact that these theories are very useful for anyone desiring Social Reconstruction of the Real World is also not generally mentioned. The fact that the World Bank in its Annual Meeting in October 2015 in Lima, Peru stated its determination to target Mental Models as its new global emphasis on development and cited the Mind, Society, and Behavior program at Harvard’s Ed School and Cass Sunstein’s Nudging and Behavioral Insights work at that same law school that Benkler is now at should be remembered as well. Cambridge along the Charles, in other words, is a very good place to be to plan theories and a means to gain implementation for:

“This new practical individual freedom, made feasible by the digital environment, is at the root of the improvements I describe here for political participation, for justice and human development, for the creation of a more critical culture, and for the emergence of the networked individual as a more fluid member of the community.”

Gives a whole new meaning, doesn’t it, to where ‘computational participation,’ as Coding for All turned out to entail, is actually going? Beckler wanted to “enable us to look at the world as potential participants in discourse, rather than potential viewers only.” Since I have the book and recognized an Amartya Sen Development as Freedom/ Capability Theory influence in Beckler insisting that “what matters is the extent to which a particular configuration of material, social, and institutional conditions allows the individual to be the author of his own life,” Beckler does in fact cite Sen as the source of his inspiration later in the book. Where, oh where, is the K-12, college, law, or public policy student supposed to understand all these pushed practices are simply grounded in theories hoping to change the perception of the world as it is? Will they even have heard of Pangloss if Making Caring Common becomes the basis for their very admission ticket?

Also going on in Cambridge (covered in a previous post) with the involvement of both MIT and Harvard, the State of Massachusetts, UNESCO, the OECD, the World Bank, and others is the Center for Curriculum Redesign under Charles Fadel. CCR recently published the “overarching purpose for education in society” and it is straight out of Sen’s global work again. Does this sound Panglossian to anyone else?

“In the ideal case, all the individuals within each society (and the global society) have their physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence needs met, and the society itself is thriving and meeting all of its needs, with each level enhancing the others.”

Oh, dear. That sounds like CCR is building its Theory of the Competencies Learners Need to Succeed around Urie’s BEST theory being true. Behavioral Science 101 I suppose: false beliefs that are created to drive future behavior in desired ways are theoretically true, even though they are factually false. Speaking of Panglossian and theoretically true but factually false, we had the announcement of the New Citizenship Project this past week to shift the dominant idea of the role of the individual in society. https://issuu.com/newcitizenshipproject/docs/ncp_report/1 It too fits in fully with everything this reenvisioning of education is pushing to implement in reality, with deceitful and false explanations for why. Does a push for ‘computational participation’ as the new focus for the classroom make more sense if one wishes to shift “the idea of the citizen can be understood almost entirely as the societal manifestation of digital technology”?

Does the invisible targeting of Mental Models, both unconscious and deliberative, make far more sense if there is also to be an organized attempt to sell “a deep shift in our conception of human nature”? Won’t an Ideas-First curriculum and Activities focus come in handy? If a student fails to recognize just how thoroughly what he or she has internalized as values, beliefs, attitudes, motivating ideas, guiding principles and themes has been thoroughly manipulated by political power and educators, then they are primed to believe:

“at its core, the promise of the internet is something much greater: a many-to-many, not just a one-to-many society, in which we can all play a part not just in choosing between the options offered to us, but in shaping them.”

Perfect priming for anyone with the Marxist goals of transforming the world as it currently exists. Without a body of facts, how is a student to reject being told:

“As Citizens, we are not entirely separate from one another as completely independent individuals, but as fundamentally rooted in and interdependent with one another. But this is not a moral statement of what ought to be; it is simply a new understanding of what is, now available to us to act on.”

I bolded that last because that’s how these theories get implemented even though factually untrue or just a statement of desired morality for future conduct. Now we are going to come back to the admissions in the title that were made in the book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning: An Approach to Distinctively Christian Education. Anyone who ever saw the old detective show Dragnet can think of the music and the episode ending with this admission as “these aspirations are all true. Only the ‘lenses’ change. Those remain consistent with how particular groups of Transformationalists wish the actual world to be perceived.” Here is author Douglas Wilson: “teaching students to think in terms of a fixed reference point is not the same thing as indoctrination…We cannot bring every thought captive by allowing some thoughts to aspire to autonomy.”

Again, Classical Christian Education as conceived and explained by Douglas Wilson simply gave me a wonderfully succinct quote on the goals of Ideas-Driven, neurologically embedded, education, which seeks to specify what a student internalizes as their guiding and motivating models of the world, how it works, and how it might change. The fixed reference point could be Amy Gutman’s Democracy, John Dewey’s Democratic Humanism, Ervin Laszlo’s Systems Thinking, or Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society. Here it is explicitly religious in doctrine. I think we can always make a case though that prescribing the internalized neural web is ALWAYS intended to be religious in how it guides and motivates likely future behavior.

Substitute then other reference points or lenses into what I am quoting:

“God is the Light in which we see and understand everything else…Christian education must therefore present all subjects as an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center.”

Fascinatingly quoting the Marxist “French existentialist philosopher Sartre understood this when he said that without an infinite reference point, all finite points are absurd.” That’s ironic as I have read plenty of political theories that would put their desired Ideology, internalized via education, as functioning precisely in the way Wilson wants Christ or Scriptures to function. Since I have never encountered a more explicit and quotable explanation of what I shorthand as Cybernetics, here we go.

“We are not to limit the light of Christ to our understanding of Christ. We must understand the world in the light of Christ…every fact, every truth, must be understood in that light…The Bible…does provide a framework for understanding these so-called ‘secular’ subjects…If religion is excluded from our study, every process of thought will be arrested before it reaches its proper goal. The structure of thought must remain a truncated cone, with its proper apex lacking. The Christian educator’s job is not to require the students to spend all their time gazing at the sun. Rather, we want them to examine everything else in the light the sun provides.”

I bolded proper apex because again the nature of the desired guiding and motivating concepts and principles varies between Christian Reconstructionists, which is where Wilson places himself, and the political Reconstructionists with a Marxist Humanist secular orientation, which is who I cited elsewhere in this post. The desire to structure thought does not vary though, unfortunately. Neither does the desire to be the provider of the lenses through which experiences get interpreted. I have written about educator Michael Fullan and how his Transdisciplinary vision is now CCR’s and UNESCO’s push globally. Yet it fits fully with how Wilson wanted subjects to be seen and used as well. Only the lenses change.

“Without God, particulars have no relationship to other particulars. Each subject has no relationship to any other subject. Christian educators must reject this understanding of the universe as a multiverse; the world is more than an infinite array of absurd ‘facts’. The fragmentation of knowledge must therefore be avoided.”

Now does anyone fail to appreciate how this vision would adore K-12 education that is suddenly mandated by federal law to be about cultivating and assessing annually for all students’ Higher Order Thinking Skills and Understanding?

Suddenly it’s not just Lauren Resnick and other education profs wanting to check to see if the interpretive lenses ‘Transfer’ to new untaught subjects or wicked scenarios where there is no single correct answer.

Next-Generation Shop Class: the Undisclosed Merger of Mind and Hand Touted as Coding for All

For anyone with a marketing or PR background who is quite aware it is all about the sales pitch, it still may come as a surprise that the much vaunted, recent, $4 billion computer science for all initiative, could be tied to the phrase–’Next-Generation Shop Class’. The nice thing about accurately recognizing in the last post that this initiative, also hyped as Coding for All, was actually about Visual Programming Languages is that we can now track admissions like it’s to be a “shift from learning code as an individualistic endeavor to learning it as a social enterprise.” Another useful quote for gaining an insight into why this educational shift is such a high priority now is that “learning to code” is actually to be a means of “computational participation” and thus a “model for students who wish to create a more collaborative and open society.”

Connected Code: Why Children Need to Learn Programming was published in 2014 with Mitchel Resnick from the last post writing the Foreword. It is such a blueprint document for the whys of this expensive initiative that it is also part of the MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Officially sanctioned by the Powers-that-Be in other words although I do not think there will be any lucrative Genius Award for recognizing the meaning of Coding for All even though I am showing Grit and Perseverence in my research. That’s a sarcastic allusion to Angela Duckworth’s Vygotskyian inspired research that won their Genius Grant last year and is now being built into a National Growth Mindset study the White House and her Character Lab are involved with. Coding for All is also directly tied into the Maker Movement (mold the digital with the tangible),  the White House Behavioral Sciences Team, and these new models for high school reform like High Tech High or what Laurene Powell Jobs is pushing as Project XQ.

Not trotting down any of those other pathways today, but once again we have multiple gears pulling in a common direction and it is always a mistake not to point out those adjacent interlocking and necessary gears. I have also talked in recent posts about why an Ideas first curriculum can be problemmatic, especially at a foundational level. Try to control your shock that ultimately Coding for All also has aspirations to institute a ‘communal practice’ in the classroom where students Learn by Doing (literally in the John Dewey sense we met before, especially in Chapter 2 of my book) “about the cultural and social nature of human behavior through the concepts, practices, and perspectives of computer science.” That’s my bolding. Alert readers with science or AI backgrounds will easily grasp that those ‘concepts, practices, and perspectives’ may not actually be pertinent to accurately understanding human behavior.

That’s the beauty though of training students to ‘act like a expert’ by providing the desired Guiding Ideas, Concepts, Principles, Techniques, and then asking students to apply them in a provided task. They won’t know it’s an Inapt Metaphor for a given situation. They will not get the danger of analogizing via regular practice physical bodily systems like hearts and lungs or designed systems like computer code and software with people and human systems generally like an economy or a city. That’s a real danger in training students to be comfortable again with “the concrete as a mode of thinking and a form of digital production.” They will have zero ability to realize that it is now they who are being neurologically programmed to meet the demands of Big Business and Want-to-Be Social and Political Planners. In one of those quotes that can only happen if you read the entire book and the authors have gotten comfortable in the non-repulsiveness of what they are pushing we find the Maker Movement and Coding for All:

“supporting a culture where members ask for permission before they move forward with new ideas.”

No wonder Big Business is enthused. I really did write ‘No, Thanks’ in the margin, but parents who still assume Coding for All is about algorithmic-based individualist mental acts will get no such chance. Nor will they be told that Coding for All “acts as a community of practice, bringing in new members who grow to understand the prevailing rules of the group.” Comrade Practice to go Along with the Herd Effect seems so much more accurate now than Computing for All. How about “facilitates a better baseline understanding of the nature of systems”? See above critique, but again No. No. No. Connected Code wants to get beyond “code being understood as a proprietary commodity” so that “remix” of existing code and images can become “the essential lens by which individuals participate socially and economically within an increasingly global society.”

Well if it’s not proprietary and we now are to ask permission before we move forward with new ideas, all those existing computer patents owned by the same megacompanies pushing much of this in education just got lots more valuable and secure. Not as cynical as me? It should bother us a great deal that on the same page where John Dewey is quoted at length celebrating the widespread return of his desired Learning by Doing and his desire to make school a “more practical experience for children.” Why is that so important beyond the tendency to never notice the Total Immersion in Inapt Analogy Training? Here’s Dewey:

“the social and educational theories and conceptions must be developed with definite reference to the needs and issues which mark and divide our domestic, economic, and political life in the generation of which we are a part.”

Ackwardly worded, but we can see how much easier that will be if school has taught students that all those areas of human coordination are actually ‘systems’ that were ‘designed’ and can now be reengineered. Usefully that same quote is on a page talking about Seymour Papert and his dream of the reconstruction tool the computer might come to be–”For Papert, the computer provided the materials, situations, and experiences that allow learners to connect to the real world.” Maybe we should rephrase that as “the real world it would be useful to have students imagine” so that they will be keen to act to change it. Just like they practiced successfully in virtual reality. What could go wrong?

The hyped idea in this Next Generation Shop Class that really is a phrase touted in the book is to shift computers from ‘Objects-to-Think-With’ to ‘Objects-to-Share-With that Connect to Others’. This is of course a different way of organizing planning and problem-solving than the previous text-driven individualist acts of logic. Only quoting will pull together the flavor of what will in fact be hidden behind initiatives like Coding for All or integrating CTE into academics for all students. There is a footnote in the middle of what is being quoted. I looked for the cited book and discovered it was $250 used now so then I located the cited supporting article here. https://ccl.northwestern.edu/papers/concrete/

Remember how nerdy that theory we kept encountering of Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete sounded and how we traced it back to the USSR and a philosophy called the New Dialectics (Evald Ilyenkov tag)? Think of this quote as concretizing that theory at last.

“Learning by connecting knowledge [Core Ideas, UbD, Cross-Cutting Concepts and Themes, etc.] and relationships [new 3 Rs tag] also highlights other distinctions that society has drawn between critical thinking (traditionally understood as conceptually and linguistic based) and physical making (goal-based material work). In providing opportunities to concretize knowledge by creating material objects that embody ideas, we highlight ways that two modes of engagement with the world (that are usually held separate) can be reconnected. By encouraging the externalization of knowledge [journals, show your work, count wrong if solved correctly without explanation], we promote seeing the knowledge object as a distinct ‘other’ with which we can enter a relationship that consists of questions that makers ask themselves about how the external object connects to other bodies of knowledge.

Understanding the boundaries and values that have been associated with such forms of engagement is critical to understanding who and how learners can connect with them.”

No incentive there to manipulate virtual reality or which ideas are deemed to be Core or Essential in having that as the priority for the 21st Century Classroom. I am going to switch myself to something far more tangible and financial to help us grasp precisely how these educational shifts matter. People monitoring the federal Department of Education or even local school boards would simply never think to monitor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for research into the neuroscience implications of these initiatives. Yet that is precisely where this White House has tucked “several applied research programs that use multidisciplinary approaches to advance our understanding of cognition and computation in the brain.”

I am not sure we are supposed to be participants in that ‘our,’ but I have gotten rather good at accurately tracking into places where known outsiders are unlikely to be welcome. Since we are already interlopers into this initiative, we might as well appreciate precisely how it relates to Coding for All, Big Ideas, and the Maker Movement generally.

“programs to be executed in FY15 include: the Knowledge Representation in Neural Systems (KRNS) program, which seeks insights into the brain’s representation of conceptual knowledge; the Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem-solving (SHARP) program, which will develop non-invasive neural interventions for optimizing reasoning and problem-solving; and the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program, which will reverse-engineer the algorithms of the brain to revolutionize machine learning.”

No wonder we keep having Continuing Resolution Budget Deals no one gets a chance to read. So what seems like Robin’s nerdiness and petulance in worrying about any Ideas First education no matter how glorious the descriptive title, actually turns out to be the current subject of federally-funded research to see what effect such social reengineering can have on the student’s physical brain.

Just be glad this blog has no visual images and still relies on text-based explanations and Apt Metaphors. I am never going to be able to extinguish the images of the scalp-attached electrodes being used in that research.

What happens when innocuous seeming phrases like the Common Core, Coding for All, and Competency obscure a real agenda where governments seek “to map the circuits of the brain, measure the fluctuating patterns of electrical and chemical activity flowing within these circuits, and understand how their interplay creates our unique cognitive and behavioral capabilities”?

Could we get even a pinky promise from politicians that none of that research will be used to diminish those very capabilities?

After all, as my book Credentialed to Destroy explained in detail, that was the real reason for the federal initiatives to change reading, math, and science instruction.

Did I mention that Connected Code concludes by saying that “K-12 educational computing can take the road that K-12 language arts, mathematics, and science education took long ago.”

It’s not about how to teach reading, math, science, or coding. It’s about the threat of the logical, fact-filled individual mind.

What a superb reason to be seen as threatening. Let’s keep it up for us and our children.


 

Bypass the Analytic System and Pass Directly to Proficient Performance: the Coding for All Initiative

Would you support an expensive, all agencies and levels of government, education initiative if it were pitched on the following basis?

“Just as the human body is no longer the major tool for physical labor, and just as a carpenter need not use only hand tools, so will mental functioning no longer be the sole province of the human mind.”

That quote has actually been translated from Russian and came from a 1972 Moscow University paper on “The Psychological Consequences of Computerization.” Most of you have probably heard that over the weekend President Obama announced a more than $4 Billion with a B Coding for All, computer science instruction for all, initiative. To supposedly make all children ready for 21st Century jobs. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/us/politics/obamas-budget-urges-a-deeper-commitment-to-computer-education.html?_r=0 is an example of the glowing coverage, but my favorite story is this one http://www.governing.com/templates/gov_print_article?id=367034991 because it shows just how excited state and local government officials are with this push. That link was actually pushed by the Center for Digital Education that is a subsidiary of the e-Republic organization of state and local officials and politicians.

It hypes all the “federal agencies and technology industry leaders behind this initiative.” In other words, cronies and fans of public-private partnerships and public sector unions think education to create Manipulable Muppet Minds is a swell idea. I know what you are thinking. How do I know the nature of the initiative since it says computer science? Because it says it is to be Coding for All and facility with abstractions like Binary Code wouldn’t be accessible to all.

Plus I am quite familiar with what kind of Coding and ‘Computer Science’ is accessible to all. Raise your hand if you know what a VPL is? It’s an acronym standing for Visual Programming Language. No need for abstractions at all. In fact, VPLs are accessible even for those who cannot read or do not know English. Now that’s the kind of manipulable, concrete learning experiences John Dewey would certainly love, wouldn’t he?

The second I heard about the initiative I knew it had to be about using Logo and Scratch and letting children believe they could design imaginary worlds and come to believe that the natural world works similarly to pretend, manipulated virtual environments. After all I first wrote about Seymour Papert and his MIT Media Lab back here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/megachange-macroshift-daily-school-experience-to-fuel-a-revolution-in-consciousness/ What I discovered though when I correctly surmised that this Coding initiative involved Constructivism (covered in depth in chapters 2 and 3 of my book on the real purpose of the reading and math wars) and Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten work, was that there was now an 8 minute video available celebrating this vision for learning.  https://vimeo.com/143620419

Produced with videos of Papert and his vision that children interacting with computers is the ultimate integrated–tactile, mental, aesthetic, physical–learning experience that produces “involvement and engagement” that “grabs the individual so that they fall in love with the material.” It provides the potential for a new kind of learning that can change how the students see themselves and the world. In other words, it’s the perfect means to manipulate the ‘interiority’ of the individual without that person having any idea just how much they are being manipulated. It’s Dewey’s concrete experiences, except the actual consequences of any student actions are determined not by scientific laws of physics, chemistry, or biology. The results are whatever the software coders design and those rules are not apparent in the least to the student.

We do know though that the keynote speaker at a global ed tech conference bragged about this ability to rig virtual worlds and the beliefs about how the real world works that would be created.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/ We know that the same Nicholas Negroponte featured at the 1:21 mark in that video is a member of the Club of Budapest working with Ervin Laszlo to pitch systems thinking and alter culture globally to create a Holos Consciousness. K-12 education is such a useful way to alter a culture and create a desired consciousness, isn’t it, especially if it can be sold as Coding for All?

http://hci.ucsd.edu/102a/readings/LearningAboutLifeAnnotated.pdf is a 1994 article Mitchel Resnick wrote about wanting to shift students away from the mechanistic “models and metaphors of Newtonian physics.” Isn’t control over virtual reality useful if you want to alter how students “make sense of the world around them” as Resnick and that video both proclaim openly? Logo and Scratch may allow students to control the behavior of creatures they design and “create, experiment, and play with decentralized systems” so that they come to believe that human systems in the real world will react much the same. Contrary to all the plans involving redesigning people and economies using data, we are now running the biggest experiment in the history of the world in a bid that, finally, this time, collectivism will work.

Everything I linked so far I knew about, but because I have a large number of books that openly admit a desire to use computers to redesign how the human mind works, I decided to go back and reread them yesterday before writing this post on Coding. The title of the post is a direct quote from a 1986 book Mind over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer. Its authors, Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus, are quite excited about education that bypasses the analytic mind. Is that what any of us would associate with an initiative being sold as computer science for all? That the computer can be used to create “skilled behavior based on holistic pairing of new situations with associated responses produced by successful experiences in similar situations?”

Is that how Success for All, Coding for All, and closing the achievement gaps between groups with widely varying abilities occurs? To train students to act Arationally as the Dreyfuses called it. To rely on “in principle, we may be able to close much of the gap between the information-processing capabilities of child and adult and ultimately of computers by integrating our information-processing systems.” That was my bolding or didn’t you know there has been a long-standing desire by the Soviets and those seeking Social Reconstruction starting at the level of the human mind all over the world for decades to achieve a “co-evolution of Human-Computer Intelligence”?

Humans get weaker and what they can do and how they perceive and what makes them motivated to act all dictated by political power intent on a shift to a planned society. In other words, Overreaching political power needs to control the individual without that control being apparent. Manipulated Muppet Minds and mind arson are the perfect solution. Computers also means there’s no pesky textbook to give away the nature of the shift. Education writers may misleadingly drone on about Common Core being a transition to a Type 2 Philosophy of Education, but the reality of the actual intended change in K-12 education is much graver.

I did appreciate, though, the concession from an Atlas member, the Heritage Foundation, that http://dailysignal.com/2016/01/31/progressivism-throws-money-at-problems-conservatism-solves-them/ conservatism seeks to “build a society where all Americans are afforded the same opportunities.” That would explain why the education policies pushed dovetail so closely with what John Dewey wanted. I didn’t know until that letter that the supposed difference between progressivism and ‘conservatism’ is that progs put the focus at the federal level and ‘conservative solutions’ target the local. Well, they both seem to be targeting the individual and the sanctity of the human mind via computerized education.

Where else did I look yesterday to get that lead-in quote and to confirm that Coding for All is actually designed to alter the neurological properties of American schoolchildrens’ minds in ways that level and manipulate? I have a tag for Stanford Professor Roy Pea because we have met him before in connection with the NSF Cyberlearning initiative. I have a 1987 book of his called Mirrors of Minds: Patterns of Experience in Educational Computing. It described precisely what was hoped for from Logo and Seymour Papert’s work and the possibilities for altering the human mind as a result of “marrying the problem-solving capabilities of child and computer.” Again, that’s the whole point of the Coding for All push in the President’s 2017 budget.

Finally, after all these years, those seeking to build a new society plan to get there using “the co-evolution of human and computer intelligence.” Admitted progressives, Marxists, and apparently declared ‘conservatives’ all seeking to use computerized education to get at the human mind. Since “formal operational thinking” is decidedly ‘nonuniversal’ and terribly unequal in who is good at it, K-12 education grounded in equality of opportunity has to be about “integrating the powerful information-processing systems of the computer and the frail information-processing system of the human mind.” These “integrations would serve as mental catalysts for engineering the development of high-level cognitive skills.”

Those would be the same as what ESSA now requires states and districts to annually assess with fed Ed proscribing Opt Out in a way it never threatened to do before the statute passed. Using the computer as a tool, “the child would not need to await the development of general logical structures in order to become a powerful thinker.” Without personally created logical structures, let’s make that an Arational Powerful Thinker using ideas and concepts supplied to him or her by those wanting to reconstruct society in the 21st Century. What is being called adaptive learning now and promoted all over the globe appears to me to be what the older literature called a cognitive trace system. Let’s end this post looking at the usefulness of the kinds of information provided (whether it is personally identifiable or not).

The “fundamental idea of a cognitive trace system is that the intermediate products of mind are externalized through the process of interacting with knowledge-based computer systems.” More known then to the computer than to the actual student. Ripe for manipulation by anyone wanting to control that ‘interiority’. Pea admitted that “cognitive trace systems can provide a major lever for cognitive development.” And whose hand is on that lever? It’s not the student as much as they may be excited about being allowed to follow their own interests. That simply allows content to be found that the student can be made to “fall in love with” as Papert put it in the video.

Students are being made to fall in love so that the manipulation is both lasting–Lifelong Learning–and not unpleasant. No need for gulags in the 21st Century. Virtual reality and Coding for All can create the needed shifts. “Cognitive trace systems could act as prime movers toward the child’s grasp of consciousness in different domains by contributing to the development of this metacognitive knowledge, so important for expertise.” Once again, that would be the supplied concepts, understandings, themes, and principles that Dewey wanted to use and so apparently do many pitching themselves as ‘Classical Educators.’

Be very wary of all education using the computer whether sold as Classical, about Great Ideas, or Coding for All. Ironically, as I was getting ready to write this post a weekly newsletter from admitted educational transformationalists was hyping Seymour Papert today and the vision he had for the “personal computing device.”

Papert called it an “instrument whose music is ideas.” Beware the human brain manipulated by that instrument to act on Ideas Arationally.

Bypassing the analytic mind. It’s just what every collectivist and Social Reconstructionist needs.

 

Pitching Personality Predation But Redefining It as Student Success, Achievement, and Learning

Nothing like a little mental break to help clear out the cobwebs and blow away the fog impeding clarity of thought. As is typical for me when I recognize the connectedness of initiatives that have been announced since my last post, I went back to my bookshelf for a little perspective. In this case it was to a short story Ayn Rand published in 1970 called “The Comprachicos,” where she wrote about the effects of the progressive education in the 60s grounded in John Dewey’s philosophies. This was education designed to cripple the mind and undermine its ability to accurately deal with reality. Sound familiar? Rand created a superb metaphor for what this type of Competency/Ideas first, instead of facts, education could do to the mind of a high school graduate by comparing it to the faculty of sight.

“Try to project what you would feel if your eyesight were damaged in such a way that you were left with nothing but peripheral vision. You would sense vague, unidentifiable shapes floating around you, which would vanish when you tried to focus on them, then would reappear on the periphery and swim and switch and multiply.”

Now that is a good example except this type of manipulation of Ideas, beliefs, values, and emotions starts in preschool now so there would be no memory of any other way to see. Peripheral vision would become each student’s idea of what it meant to “see”. Likewise, a mind taught to use ideas first to filter experiences is being trained “to use concepts, but he uses concepts by a child’s perceptual method. He uses them as concretes, as the immediately given.” [Italics in original]

It is a bit unnerving, isn’t it, to know that Rand was worried about where the behavioral sciences wanted to go with the mind even back in 1970? She even had a term for it–the student’s “psycho-epistemology.” So our student would be trained to use words and concepts like a parrot and believe they had ‘understanding’. To be willing to transfer those ideas and concepts to new situations where an expert would know their use was inappropriate–the Inapt Analogy we can call it. Without facts though, the student will not.

In the Trilogy I just finished I argued that it appears to me to be a consensus about what education should be in the future and that politicians and think tanks from the so-called Right and Left, admittedly Progressive or declaratively conservative or “for limited government and markets,” seem to be describing a common vision. That vision again takes us back to John Dewey as Steven Rockefeller described his vision of Democratic Humanism. It would act as a religious faith best implemented through the schools and other social institutions. So when someone pitches education grounded in Conceptual Understandings, Guiding Ideas, Cross-Cutting Themes and Concepts, or other ways to describe the same general instructional practice, remember why John Dewey wanted this technique to become the core of education. This is true even if the pitch person insists this technique is actually a form of classical education or intended to mold character in desirable ways.

Dewey “proposes that ideas are guides to action in concrete problemmatic situations, that is, ‘plans of operations to be performed or already performed.’” The antipathy we have found towards lectures and textbooks makes far more sense as we switch to education where “ideas are not correctly conceived as reproductions of what already exists, but as plans of something to be done and anticipations of some result to follow. They are tools, instrumentalities.” Fits with the Maker Movement and Project-Based Learning now, doesn’t it? Especially when we add on this quote: “The validity or truth of an idea can only be determined empirically by putting the idea to use and observing the consequences of the actions to which the idea leads.”

Remember all the current emphasis on relevance and real world problems? Evidence-based policy making using data? In Dewey’s vision for an education that can lead to a reconstruction of society, emphasizing moral issues plays a crucial role. Students are expected to regularly identify “the causes of moral and social problems in concrete situations and on framing ideals with reference to the available means for overcoming such problems.” So ideals need to be connected to real world action. Otherwise, “ideals that are framed apart from the study of problems and possibilities in concrete situations are dreams, wish-fantasies, and useless as instrumentalities in directing practical affairs.” Anyone unclear as to why the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires not tests per se, but that states use performance assessments that involve activities and tasks to see if the stipulated learning is occurring can simply reread those two sentences.

If it’s not action-oriented it may not guide or motivate future behavior. Likewise, if school is merely intellectual, the desired future behaviors may not occur. Social and emotional learning, whatever the given rationale, a Whole Child emphasis, Head, Heart, and Hand, as well as soft skills, are all consistent with what Dewey also recognized–the Role of the Heart in Moral Life. That way “prizing and appraising unite in the direction of action.” Dewey and every other progressive since culminating now in where Deeper Learning (pushed by the Hewlett Foundation as part of 21st Century Learning) is going recognizes that “Reason divorced from emotional involvement has no moving power.” Can you say student engagement as a necessary 21st century classroom practice to be an effective teacher?

Dewey’s conception of education and learning fits perfectly with what ESSA now requires and Competency education generally. It fits with the kind of effectiveness that will get a school charter renewed and allow a CMO (Charter Management Company) to expand. It fits with what will make online learning an example of Best Practices for Student Growth. In none of these instances though is the Learning about the transmission of knowledge in a traditional sense. No, it’s about what kind of person the classroom activities are helping to create. “Growth means reinforcing those habits that contribute to human well-being and reconstructing those habits that do not.” Since none of us can even get an honest answer from most of the advocates for the Common Core as well as against it as to what they really envision for 21st century education, do not expect to be the arbiter of what constitutes your own or your child’s well-being.

For Dewey then and for any school or other education provider wanting access to taxpayer money now (federal, state, or local), “learning means an increased perception of the meaning of things that leads to a modification of character (i.e., of basic dispositions and attitudes). In short, growing and learning involve the reconstruction and transformation of the self leading to an improved capacity of the self to adjust to its environment and to control and direct subsequent experience.

The concept of habit is the fundamental idea in Dewey’s psychology of the development of the self or character. Dewey insists that the self is essentially identical with its active interests, purposes, and choices. There is no self apart from these activities. The core of the self is formed and defined by the concrete things about which it cares and by the choices it makes in pursuit of these things.”

Guess what? If, like me, you are an expert on the actual implementation it is easy to read that biography of Dewey and recognize the actual current significance. For those of you with more of a life than I have managed since I started researching and writing on all this, first of all I congratulate you. Secondly, let me call everyone’s attention to two examples in just the past week quietly putting Dewey’s vision into widespread effect without even using his name.

First, many of the elite institutions of higher education have joined together to redefine what they intend to look for in an admitted student. The initiative is called Making Caring Common and it looks for non-minority students for whom acting on behalf of others and for the common good and to transform existing institutions and local environments has been shown to be a way of life. http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/16/01/turning-tide-inspiring-concern-others-and-common-good-through-college-admissions

How’s that for an effective means to change the behaviors and practices at every high school with aspirations of of Ivy League admissions? Anyone reading that report can recognize it will result in a change in emphasis to what Dewey wanted for the schools. The creation of a “free person who is able to form his or her purposes intelligently, evaluating desires and goals by the consequences which will result from acting on them, and one who is able to select and order the means necessary to realize chosen ends.”

A similar end result comes from this paper http://asiasociety.org/files/A_Rosetta_Stone_for_Noncognitive_Skills.pdf except it admits it wants to restructure the emphasis in primary and secondary schools. The omnipresent rationale, as usual, is that this personality and psychological emphasis is necessary for future success in college, career, and life. The real reason, as is true of anything emanating from a Rockefeller-funded philanthropy like the Asia Society, is to advance the vision of the future Dewey called Democratic Humanism and others call Marxist Humanism. As Dewey, Ayn Rand, and Uncle Karl all knew and we need to recognize to protect ourselves and our children, collectivists need to target the emotions and personality to realize their plans for us.

Why? Dewey insisted that “unrest, impatience, irritation, and hurry that are so marked in life are inevitable accompaniments of a situation in which individuals do not find support and contentment in the fact that they are sustaining and sustained members of a social whole.” That’s what education that targets the personality and forces regular practices of altruism and actions grounded in provided ideas can all be manipulated to do. That’s why we have such a coordinated push now.

We have a sustained push from the Left and the Right, from the religious and atheists, from the global bureaucrat or ex-politician to the local mayor or city council member. All pushing practices that, whatever their personal beliefs and expectations in advocating for them, were nevertheless developed to “generate the sense of shared values and organic interconnection needed to harmonize society and to integrate and set free the personalities of contemporary men and women.”

If terms like Marxist Humanism seem off-putting, let’s just translate it as Dewey and his biographer Steven Rockefeller did and ask “Can a material, industrial civilization be converted into a distinctive agency for liberating the minds and refining the emotions of all who take part in it?” If a politician claims to want Quality Education for All Students, you might want to inform him or her as to what that actually entails.

When I get upset about the 2014 Bipartisan and Bicameral piece of federal legislation known as WIOA that all the candidates running for President who are US Senators voted for, it is because it fits perfectly with Dewey’s insistence that a planned economy would be needed for democratic socialism to be achieved and it was best implemented at the local level. After all, what is WIOA but legislation with the effect of controlling the ends of education as well as allowing for “social control of industry and the use of government agencies for constructive social ends” just as Dewey sought.

Let me close by pointing out that those of us not employed by the public sector or businesses getting taxpayer dollars are unlikely to find any of these desired ends particularly constructive.

 

 

 

 

Stimulating the Inner Springs Fundamental to Real Personality Change and Harmonious Social Progress

Did anyone guess that we had embarked on another Trilogy, except this time it was in Reverse Order as my personal experiences starting with a phone call to my home on December 17 sent me looking for answers? For a while now, the false narrative being constructed by various employees or allies of the Atlas Network members has both interested and angered me. Angered because it is frequently built on parroting some of my insights and research conclusions. Read Robin’s book, pretend to be an expert, get people to trust you, and take them somewhere I would never go.

For example I would never describe Bill Ayers and Linda Darling-Hammond as “Marxist Humanists” because they are admitted Marxists and rather proud of it. Hint: this is why Ayers was willing to promote violence. Marxist Humanism (see tag) is a belief that because capitalism has reached a certain stage of technological feats, namely computers and the Internet and communications technology generally (abbreviated ICT), there is now enough prosperity in the world that there need be no poverty anymore within countries or anywhere around the world. It’s why the UN’s Post-2015 plans for us are called “Dignity for All” by 2030. As one of my UN news blurbs put it after New Years, we are now Post-2015 and this agenda has begun. Understanding it accurately is very important.

That gets me back to that phone call. After hanging up in anger at what was said and pouring myself a glass of wine while I made dinner, I began to think about what had changed that day. Well, I had made a comment on the blog that I had ordered William Easterly’s book The Tyranny of Experts that had been an Atlas Network supported Hayek Lecture in London. So I decided dinner could be late, went down and wrote up notes on what was said in the phone call, started looking for financial connections among the known players, and examining commonalities as they popped up. In other words, I started behaving like the Due Diligence experienced lawyer I actually am analyzing a set of facts. I also got up early the next morning and proceeded to see what was in the Easterly book that people might not want me to grasp.

That’s what I meant about a Reverse Trilogy as we started with explaining what a Nyaya concept of justice was and how I knew that Easterly’s book did not accurately portray Hayek’s thoughts on the subject of economic and social rights. I have more than a provided talking points knowledge of Hayek as that post laid out. I also know what Marxism Humanism looks like and Easterly’s book and the Atlas Network’s support for it does give good reason to start to whitewash what the term actually means. For parents, Linda Darling-Hammond’s (LDH) pushes in education and Bill Ayer’s past make them known nightmares to be avoided. We have talked about Amartya Sen and his Justice concept and Development as Freedom in the first two posts. He is laying out a Marxist Humanist vision as nyaya and really so is Easterly in his book. If no one has ever actually explained MH correctly though and you now connect it with Ayers and LDH, that actual reality will be missed.

Sen coordinates a great deal with Professor Martha Nussbaum (also tag) on what they call Human Capability Theory, which also describes where P-12 education globally is going. If anyone is thinking I cannot actually tie all this to Uncle Karl, they do not have a copy of Democracy in a Global World covered in the last post. I went into that described alliance for good reason. Nussbaum also wrote a chapter and she tied the vision repeatedly to Uncle Karl by name. It’s also another reason why I found the open-ended Con Con advocacy from the Texas Governor so pernicious. The Chapter was called “Constitutions and Capabilities” and here’s a sample of the kind of direct ties I mean.

“When liberal democracies make constitutions, they typically base their work on a small core of intuitive ideas to which specific constitutional entitlements are referred…The basic idea of my version of the capabilities approach…is that we begin with a conception of the dignity of the human being, and of a life that is worthy of that dignity–a life that has available in it ‘truly human functioning’ in the sense described by Marx in his 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts.”

That’s what Easterly called for too without tying it to Marx. It’s what the Atlas Network’s members are actually promoting when they push his work or Sen’s. Back to my story of why I spent so much time researching over the holidays. I know John Dewey backwards and forwards from researching my book, but until I saw this post http://www.greattransition.org/publication/the-earth-charter-at-15 I did not know that Steven Rockefeller of the famous family had also written a bio on him published in 1991 called John Dewey: Religious Faith and Democratic Humanism. I ordered it in part because so many of the people who appear determined to control the narrative about what is really going on with the Common Core also aggressively wear their religious faith front and center. In fact, it seems to be a selling point on why their analysis can be trusted.

An example that had flowed out of my research was the Stand in the Gap Tour in fall of 2014 that David Barton had participated in. I had listened to a video of his speaking at a church in Dothan, Alabama and his description of what was desired reminded me of the cybernetic prearranged structuring of the Mind the behavioral scientists and admitted Leftists also want. That made Rockefeller’s book even more pertinent. As I read the chapter on “Democracy, Education, and Religious Experience” in particular I could see that this same Deweyan vision would create a desired worldview and amenable personality that would also work for a Muslim theocrat wanting to reconstruct the world starting at the level of the human mind (Tarbiyah) or a Christian fundamentalist also wanting to push social justice in the here and now.

I pulled the post title from the book and Stimulating the Inner Springs also fits with what the Hewlett Foundation and the CCSSO today push as the requisite Deep Learning. Isn’t this the real reason for wanting to control the narrative on education? Common means and common ends among interest groups and think tanks that are supposed to abhor each other? When I also mentioned the other day that Charter Schools that use cybernetic methods and adaptive personalized online learning are in a position to reap huge sums under the new Every Student Succeeds Act since those methods of manipulating the Inner Springs are effective and thus “evidence-based,” suddenly a drumbeat began online. That ended in that Project Veritas video that the Common Core was about textbooks companies wanting to make money. Well, they do but that is disinformation in an education environment where textbooks are going away.

In other words, like the phone call at home, do not write about the CMOs or online curriculums that also stand to benefit financially from insisting they are “100% Common Core Free” or who the financial backers are. No one may notice that the methods used are cybernetic and target those inner springs while telling parents this is a form of Classical Education. John Dewey understood that education “is a means of creating individuals” and David Coleman, Bill Ayers, LDH, and UNESCO are not the only parties at the education table interested in creating a certain kind of personality to fit with a desired vision of society and the future.

Last year I went to the Educational Policy Conference in St Louis and yesterday I noticed in a flyer trying to get me to attend that someone was parroting my Chapter 7 title language again, but also promoting the idea that the feds want to create a database of those values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors on students. Not really, educators want to know this so all those things can be changed. That actual cybernetic purpose keeps being ignored. The fact that Charters target these same areas and have to to expand and get their contracts renewed gets left out. Making Classical Education about ideas and not facts is another way to say it is also cybernetic. Looking into the Barney Charter Initiative Hillsdale has put together and its mention of the Circe Institute and its description of what is Classical Education, I thought “That’s cybernetic too and a good reason to control the narrative about the Common Core and shut down anyone who knows what ESSA actually says and who would actually benefit.”

I have long wondered in all the discussions of the College Board’s shift in its AP courses to Conceptual Frameworks and the use of core ideas as ‘lenses’ why people with Social Anthropology PhDs never accurately explain what a cultural lens is. APUSH’s restructuring was never about what facts to teach and yet people who by specialty are thoroughly trained in using cultural lenses never explain what they are. Now I know. If something reeks of the cybernetic means so many of the Atlas members are also pushing, it must not be part of the approved narrative. The truth is it is not only the admitted Left wanting to use education to force a “thoroughgoing democratic reconstruction of society” that “must be child-centered in the sense that it begins with the impulses, interests, and initiative.”

In other words, what ESSA calls “personalized learning with adaptive data” that entitles its pushers to funding as 21st Century Schools. It’s not just the admitted Left wanting to target, like Dewey, “the whole feeling, thinking, and willing person.” That’s why the parroting of values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors functions to inoculate the listener from recognizing that the person they are listening to may also have a comparable agenda. It’s not just the admitted Left and Dewey who want to frame what ideas are salient to the listener and what is likely to get ignored. Politics by Think Tank is all about controlling the Narrative.

It’s not just John Dewey or David Coleman who understand that “emotions are the reflex of actions” and that “if we can only secure right habits of action and thought, with reference to the good, the true and the beautiful [see what I mean about a Classical Education as the cited Circe Institute described it]“, then education will have created “a means of social control that does not violate the freedom of the individual child.”

Well, yes it does because all the false and controlled narratives keep the nature or existence of that control invisible. They make it seem like only a David Coleman, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Ayers, or other admitted Leftists have this goal for education in the 21st century.

I have run long again, but let me close with another quote from that chapter and a reminder that there are a whole lot of people pushing a vision of restructured American education using digital learning that they intend to financially benefit from. They also want a fundamental social and economic transformation where:

“To work and think in a community governed by this kind of democratic moral life is for Dewey the only sound approach to moral education in a democracy, which must rely to a large extent on a voluntary spirit of cooperation growing out of a multitude of common interests to maintain social order.”

Again, it’s not just the admitted Left that wants to enshrine collectivism invisibly and without outcry via education creating a “free play of instinctive sympathy and understanding.”

Lots of good reasons to control the Common Core narrative and guide and frame popular perceptions. Call me the mom who refused to play along and notices too much.

 

Leapfrogging Via Deceit that Crucial Last Obstacle to the Long Sought Convergence to Collectivism

Collectivism is one of those loaded words that sounds like I am trying to create a furor. Unfortunately, in this case, whatever the personal intentions of Texas Governor Abbott when he called Friday, January 8, for a Constitutional Convention, the actual release http://gov.texas.gov/files/press-office /Restoring_The_Rule_Of_Law_01082016.pdf may be one of the more deceitful documents I have ever read. It is deeply irritating to continue to be referred to as one of ‘the governed.’ Although since I live in Georgia, perhaps it is only Texans that are to be quietly subjugated at this point. Perhaps the author of the paper, a Texas Public Policy Foundation (another Atlas Network member) employee, Thomas Lindsay, who was previously with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is unaware that the phrase ‘We the People’ is now being used by radicals all over the world to promote the concept of a binding, collectivist, normative view of ‘democracy’.

Maybe the call of UT-Texas prof Sanford Levinson in his 2006 book Our Democratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It) for just such a Con Con that is tied to the Soros-financed American Constitution Society’s desire to have a new Constitutional vision by 2020 (began in 2005 as explained here) http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/progressive-polyphonic-federalism-invisibly-binds-people-and-places-to-the-just-society-vision/ was somehow news to TPPF and Dr Lindsay. It certainly looks like a Convergence, however, especially given all the insistence in the paper that the Rule of Law is the core value America was founded on. Excuse me?

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that ‘We the People’ just happens to be the name of an initiative Community-Organizer Extraordinaire Harry Boyte, who inspired President Obama and has worked on White House education initiatives, has created to be the so-called Third Way, neither Left or Right, to use education to get his ‘cooperative commonwealth’ vision in place. https://www.kettering.org/sites/default/files/product-downloads/We_The-People_Politics.pdf Maybe it’s a coincidence that Boyte created that paper originally for a Dewey lecture in 2007 and it just happens to fit John Dewey’s vision for how to create the right kind of consciousness via education to fit a normative democracy where the law would bind everyone to the common good vision. The one laid out in the 2008 Democracy in a Global World book that I tracked from looking at Amartya Sen’s work covered in the last post.

Let’s start pushing on all these ‘coincidences’ headed in a common direction. The quote that “Our nation was built on one principle above all others–the Rule of Law” is not simply false, it is false in a way that is useful in jettisoning the principles our Nation and its existing Constitution were founded on–the primacy of the individual. Lindsay is correct that at the federal level, politics is broken. That dysfunction, however, is no reason to reverence the Law so state and local governments can turn each individual into merely the Governed. It is facetious to argue, as that Con Con advocacy paper does, that “The whole point of the rule of law is that we comply with it even when we do not want to; otherwise, it is the will of man and not the rule of law that reigns supreme.” Huh? That’s the kind of sophistry a wannabe tyrant would assert.

As Daniel Hannan quoted Baron de Montesquieu as saying in his 2013 book Inventing Freedom: “I am in a country which scarcely resembles the rest of Europe. England is passionately fond of liberty, and every individual is independent.” When the phrase ‘We the People’ is used in various American 18th century documents it is referring to independent, sovereign individuals who believe in a “unique legal system that made the state subject to the people rather than the reverse.” That TPPF framing of the Rule of Law is the Continental View of the Law that Hannan contrasted with the very different “philosophy…from the common-law conception of a free society as an aggregation of free individuals.” It is a view of law grounded in collectivism, as Hannan noted, and “in particular, from Rousseau’s belief in the ‘general will’ of the people in place of the private rights of citizens.”

A conception of the Law grounded in the visionary who gave rise to both Fascism and Communism as the basis for a call to jettison the current Constitution is apparently what the admitted Left as well as quite a few Atlas members want as well. A reverence for individuality is an obstacle to the Convergence apparently. The US Constitution is in the way.  I am going to use a particular essay “The Global Public and Its Problems” to illustrate what was meant by John Dewey by the term ‘Creating a Public’ through educational practices. In 1927 Dewey wrote a book The Public and Its Problems which called for a communitarian form of citizen loyalty as being necessary to create the public will and values to make democracy sustainable. This is not democracy as some kind of representative government with periodic elections, but democracy in the sense that Boyte calls the cooperative commonwealth, Marx called the Human Development Society, and the UN now calls Dignity for All by 2030.

In other words, there are reasons that the concepts from a 1927 book remain relevant in the 21st Century as the first chapter of my book Credentialed to Destroy made clear. Dewey defined the Public as a community where “its members recognize a common interest in confronting problems they all face and see resolving these problems by means of collective action as a common good.” Regular readers will recognize the current concept of Fostering Communities of Learners as the measure of what constitutes being an Effective Principal as using the school to now prepare students for a future where they get to be a mere member of Dewey’s concept of a Public. Needless to say, Dewey’s Public needs a strong, anti-individual view of the law to bind individuals to this broader vision.

Here is where the story laid out in the essay gets really interesting and directly relevant to our Convergence today. “Problem-solving is used as a self-building process” where “education figures prominently.” In fact Dewey called on it, like Boyte,  for “bringing a certain integrity, cohesion, feeling of sympathy and unity among the elements of our population.” This, of course, can only happen in socioeconomically integrated schools with no tracking. The kind of deliberative democracy envisioned then and now can really only go on at the local level. In the late 1960s, that essay announced that (my bolding):

“the Eurocommunists (misleadingly so described because they included Communist party theorists and leaders from Japan and parts of South America as well as from Italy, France, Spain, and Great Britain) rejected this standpoint [the bourgeois/proletarian distinction] in favor of one that posited general democratic and political norms, potentially shared by them and by champions of capitalism within their respective nations.”

Couldn’t we describe that as the model for today’s Convergence we are seeing by the so-called Left and Right think tanks? Doesn’t that fit with the video in the comments of the previous post of Pastor Rick Warren this year moderating a forum with Professor Cornel West and Professor Robert George, the founder of Atlas member–American Principles Project? Have we once again returned to Dewey’s view of education, political life, and social policy that the Eurocommunists also used that “resisted both sides of this orientation by seeking common democracy building social projects.” I was at a forum last week where Policy Link founder Angela Glover Blackwell was the Keynote Speaker and the admitted radicals seem just as hesitant to admit they are now working with Big Business and Chambers of Commerce to advance their vision of a Just Future.

Yet we know that is already going on in the required local and state WIOA boards. It sounds just like the Eurocommunists who were “prepared to respect those with procapitalist attitudes, including capitalists themselves, insofar as they were sincerely prepared to engage in joint democracy-enhancing projects.” Isn’t that arresting to read as we continue to stumble across these clear collaborations and common visions among public policy think tanks and politicians that supposedly have nothing in common. Governments at all levels are in charge of us with the law as the enforcer of the vision in a world where suddenly “a Deweyan public comprising adherents of both egalitarian and neoliberal philosophies is possible, provided that neither camp is hypocritical in its professed commitment to solving common macro problems.”

No wonder Atlas member employees suddenly seem so fond of citing Justice Brandeis that “it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” If the citizens consent. That must be why the University of Texas-Austin is working with Stanford on the national Growth Mindset study and doing such a loud and explicit declaration of experimenting on students to change their conscious and unconscious mental models. All consensual. Not.

Reverence for the Rule of Law and Education for Democracy are just the thing in a nation where a Republican Governor calls for a Constitutional Convention with a paper that tells us again that “It is wise, therefore, in every government, and especially in a republic, to provide means for altering, and improving the fabric of government, as time and experience, or the new phases of human affairs, may render proper, to promote the happiness and safety of the people.” That’s the view of Law from the Continent where as Aldous Huxley noted, rights are taken, but never given.

That’s the world of the Governed, the serf, and the subject, which is indisputedly where both WIOA and ESSA and a world where the White House has a Behavioral and Social Sciences Team working to change the nature of citizens at the levels of their minds and personalities. I just was not expecting the State of Texas to play such a prominent role in launching this new view of education and what it will now mean to be an American in the future.

Remember with Dewey’s methods comes the totality of his underlying vision. Suddenly the title’s reference to Collectivism is perfectly on point.

Can Bicameralism and Proper Presentment now bind individuals to everything 21st Century state and local governments choose to impose?

No wonder there is such a consistent push to teach through ideas, concepts, and themes now instead of a body of facts. Facts are a useful tool of the individual, but inappropriate without permission for the ‘Governed.’

 

Niti, Nyaya, Government by Think Tanks, and Every Student Succeeds

Hope everyone had a great holiday season. I took an unplanned break from writing, but not researching, since the last post. With the statutory language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now in place, the plans for the future I recognized when I read my state’s (Georgia) WIOA Plan, and other shenanigans offline surrounding false narratives, I decided to get to the bottom of all the interrelated parts. Let’s just say if my understanding was 20/20 on the real agenda behind all these education ‘reforms’ by the time I finished my first book Credentialed to Destroy, the acuity now can best be described as X-ray vision with the capacity to cut through metal when called for.

Since the fundamental transformation of each of us, our society, and the economy has been decreed federally via Bicameral and Bipartisan fiats like ESSA and WIOA to be imposed locally by elected officials, let’s keep following the trail in 2016. After all, some of you may get the chance to quiz the candidates about why they supported these measures or simply offered ineffective opposition. “Why did you vote to bring Fascism to America?” is such a conversation grabber. To be ready for such an exploration let’s add a few more words and phrases to our arsenal of explanations.

In December I saw this announcement  https://www.atlasnetwork.org/news/article/entrepreneurship-center-of-easterlys-hayek-lecture-on-poverty-alleviation and decided to get Easterly’s book. After all, I had spent much of 2015 arriving at the conclusion that many of the members of the Atlas Network like Heritage, Cato, and AEI seemed fully on board with a planned economy and education that focused on changing the student at a social and emotional level. I found the promotion of both Easterly’s work and that of Human Capability theorist Amartya Sen to be both troubling in its implications of a true agenda and fascinating at the same time. After all, if the so-called Left and Right have arrived at a synthesis and are not planning to tell us lest it interfere with fundraising, then our answers are located in who gets promoted.

First of all, when the Acknowledgments page thanks Larry Summers and Joseph Stiglitz we have just tied Easterly’s vision to the Inclusive Prosperity Commission   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/dwelling-in-a-void-of-unknowing-within-a-sculpted-narrative-designed-to-manipulate/ and the UN’s Post-2015 Road to Dignity for All Plans. Easterly argued that the “cause of poverty is the absence of political and economic rights, the absence of a free political and economic system that would find the technical solutions to the poor’s problems.” If anyone else is having a Say What? moment, let’s skip to the conclusion of The Tyranny of Experts, where our tenured NYU prof decreed that “It is time at last for the silence on unequal rights for rich and poor to end. It is time at last for all men and women to be equally free.”

Now before any of us also request unicorn rides with that declaration and perhaps the waistline we had at eighteen, I want to transition to a paper released back in November that shows how such economic and social rights get created via education. http://static.politico.com/bf/c2/26608bc644989d5f5225e2eae861/educating-for-democracy-a-concept-paper-on-youth-civic-engagement.pdf We are not really having a philosophical discussion here. I am citing the relevant philosophers to explain what is to be happening in those train cars we call schools. This train has left the station and it appears to be an Express Bullet fit for Japan. When we declare substantive rights for all, someone else has the duty to provide and that paper and its well-funded vision for education teaches that “the best way to make positive changes in society is…by being active in or through engagement with government.”

If you do not want to confront this wholesale shift, let’s go back a page to where “this paper argues that young people must learn how to use the political system, and existing governmental institutions, to effect the change they wish to see in their communities.” This is the world of ESSA, WIOA, and the Left/Right synthesis of the future unfortunately where:

“it is not just economic inequality that affects the American experience. We have also seen increasing political inequality, as measured by the clout and power of different groups, often along lines of wealth, income, gender, and/or race. Educational inequality, measured by variance in the quality and access to educational opportunities, has also increased in recent years, leaving behind the country’s most vulnerable populations, and weakening America’s overall democracy. In turn, it has become our collective responsibility to work towards a system in which these inequalities do not exist.”

If these so-called rights and responsibilities are taught as factual entitlements in our schools with a vision of governments as the enforcer as a matter of law, these expectations fundamentally change our society. It’s 2016 and an election year, if this is the vision our schools and think tanks across the spectrum are pushing, we need to be aware. Back to our philosophers again, in this case Nobel-Prize winning economist Amartya Sen. He uses the Indian words niti and nyaya to describe the nature of the desired shift and even italicizes them for emphasis. Niti is identified as a theory of justice that is about having the right institutions and rules. That is not good enough anymore. A nyaya vision of what is to be required focuses on “actual realizations and accomplishments.”

If this discussion seems esoteric and a bit like an odd vocabulary lesson, all the language in ESSA about ‘evidence-based’ is simply another way to describe a nyaya vision of entitled intrusion and tracking of what the student has internalized to guide and motivate their behavior. ESSA didn’t make that a permissible activity for the schools. It created a mandate. When the Georgia WIOA Plan called for “immigrants and other individuals who are English language learners” to acquire “an understanding of the American system of government, individual freedom, and the responsibilities of citizenship,” it is that concept paper above’s vision, not what James Madison had in mind. The individual freedom is again straight out of Sen’s famous book Development as Freedom.

In fact, it is as if the Hewlett and Ford Foundations and Generation Citizen all knew Sen’s work where “different sections of society (and not just the socially privileged) should be able to be active in the decisions of what to preserve and what to let go.” If governments and think tanks have declared that we are transitioning to “an accomplishment-based understanding of justice” because in the 21st Century “justice cannot be indifferent to the lives that people can actually lead” and this nyaya view of an entitled justice is to be sculpted in the “minds of men” [and boys and girls] via formative assessments and the real meaning of assessing annually for Higher Order Thinking and Understanding, we need to recognize this reality and the nature of the shift. When Bloomberg expands the metro areas participating in What Works Cities, this is the nyaya theory of justice in play as well.

It is ironic that the Atlas Network seems to regard all these affirmative initiatives as what Hayek would have supported as part of his spontaneous order vision. As my book pointed out, Hayek took a dim view of trying to achieve conscious direction invisibly via internalizing the desired values, attitudes, and beliefs to guide wanted behaviors. I was pretty sure I had something directly on point to refute this odious vision of the future as Hayekian. Since I have a depth of knowledge that is anything other than just sound bytes and a very large library of resources, I found what I was looking for in Volume 2 of Law Legislation and Liberty. That volume has the subtitle The Mirage of Social Justice.

Hayek didn’t just write a chapter on ‘Social’ or Distributive Justice where he presciently recognized that such social goals and governmental initiatives “means a progressive displacement of private by public law” whereby the law “subordinates the citizens to authority.” A pithier description of either WIOA or ESSA may never be found. Nothing like an escapee from Fascism to recognize its characteristics and dangers. Hayek then wrote an Appendix to that Chapter called “Justice and Individual Rights” of what he believed would happen in a society that tried to enact the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in practice as UNESCO has declared it is now doing. It was also about what would happen in a society which engenders “a feeling that they have a claim on ‘society’ for the provision of particular things which it is the duty of society to provide.”

Anyone else get the feeling that which books or even chapters of Hayek’s get assigned or quoted is now greatly circumscribed? Censorship by omission we can call it. Hayek knew what we all need to know as well now that the plans for conscious direction are to be developed in students,’ and apparently immigrants,’ personalities.

“It is meaningless to speak of a right to a condition that nobody has the duty, or perhaps even the power, to bring about. It is equally meaningless to speak of right in the sense of a claim on a spontaneous order, such as society, unless this is meant to imply that somebody has the duty of transforming that cosmos into an organization and thereby to assume the power to control its results.”

Organization is a more anachronistic term for what today just gets called a system. It starts with student-centered learning and systems thinking is a requirement for every student to be Workforce Ready under WIOA. Not a coincidence. Hayek knew what we all must know recognize so I am calling on this unassigned Appendix:

“If such claims are to be met, the spontaneous order which we call society must be replaced by a deliberately directed organization…[members] could not be allowed to use their knowledge for their own purposes but would have to carry out the plan which their rulers have designed to meet the needs to be satisfied.”

Have I explained yet that in countries like Scotland that are further along this road of social transformation via education ‘reforms,’ the very Experiences and Outcomes for each student are specified? The “Es” and “Os” they are called in what is the best example of the intended deliberate reorganization.

Welcome to 2016 as the Year of Epiphanies.

Scientizing Public Policy: Implementing Orwellian Tyranny by Statute Via the Mind and Personality

I have spent the last several days since President Obama signed the “bicameral and bipartisan” Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on December 9 reading the false and misleading statements from various think tanks and reporters, supposedly representing a wide spectrum of political visions. Probably the most intrusive and impactful federal legislation ever and hardly anyone writing about it seems to feel compelled to actually read the legislation before explaining what it will do. In school a false Cliff Notes explanation of a book is likely to get a failing grade and an inquiry into cheating. In public policy and journalism now, creating false beliefs about transformative legislation seems to be all the rage. I guess it is to be expected that legislation seeking to physically reengineer the human psyche using behavioral science research would also use a bit of that research to create these false, or simply incomplete, talking points being used to describe the legislation.

If that other “bicameral and bipartisan,” fundamentally transformative legislation from summer 2014-WIOA-was the federal legislation that no one who enacted it wanted to even speak of, its partner-ESSA-is the transformative statute that no one intends to describe accurately. Unfortunately though, the actual statutory language and its real purpose control what must now occur in P-12 classrooms. It lays out what has really been authorized for meaningful change at the level of our children’s minds and personalities. Remember that. Talking points and articles may influence how ESSA is regarded by parents and the voting public, but it has nothing to do with the actual required implementation. Because the points raised and language ignored have so much commonality article to article, I shifted the actual quote I pilfered for the title from ‘scientizing politics’, which is what I believe ESSA was designed to do, to ‘scientizing public policy.’

The reference to Orwell is not me being a clever wordsmith and trying to hype attention. There really was a conference in August 1984 (like his book title) in Cambridge, UK on George Orwell and the “potential for tyranny if the enterprise of politics is interpreted as being analogous to that of science.” I believe that is precisely what ESSA is designed to do. A huge number of reports I have read from the US as well as from all over the globe back that up. Recognizing that makes me want to at call attention to what is at risk and why it matters. This, I believe, is the true reason politicians of both parties and public policy types across the spectrum refuse to accurately describe ESSA. No one seems to want anyone to have much of a chance to recognize the purpose of all those euphemisms used in its language or the Red Herrings designed to be a cited focus.

What does it mean if politics is being falsely analogized to science? Instead of politics being about competing interests within a set of rules that values the individual, scientizing politics uses education and the law as its primary tools. These allow coercive implementation without consent from those actually bound and treat politics as a truth-discovery process. What’s the truth to be compelled for belief? I have warned before that there really is such a thing in political science as the Human Development Society. Karl Marx wrote about it and all its tenets are being put into place now legislatively via all those unread, except by me, provisions of WIOA and ESSA. That is not an ideological smear, but a factual recognition of the background of these ideas.

Whether widely known or not http://buildinitiative.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Four_Ovals_paper.pdf   lays out the federal/states framework of using federal money to intervene in meeting ‘needs’ from birth on. The two think tanks, AEI and Brookings, have recently published definitive plans called “Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream” that would also please Uncle Karl immensely. Notice that as much as certain groups have capitalized on criticizing that video of Congressman Tim Ryan saying social and emotional learning is to be the primary focus now of education, that cited paper calls for the same focus. Since I have already read that paper, I know that it makes it clear that the primary reason to have funding follow the student and vary in amounts based on categories of ‘needs’ at federal and state levels is a desire to force socioeconomic integration on all public schools.

I mentioned that goal last week at a program on Student-Based Budgeting and having it be portable like a backpack that was being put on by two Atlas Network members–the Reason Foundation and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Both acknowledged that was the goal, but it was a long way away. I pointed out that parents and taxpayers were not being told that was even the long-term goal in all the public programs around changing the nature of student funding. Following up on that discussion, I discovered that both Reason and the Cato Institute had published papers urging a shift in welfare policy to Universal Basic Income. In other words, the so-called Left and Right public policy makers seem to have agreed on implementing Uncle Karl’s vision with the only question marks being how much should be publicly provided vs merely publicly funded and provided under stipulated standards.

Since that apparent reality would probably not be politically popular in a world where a majority of Americans do want to close the borders and not work as a beast of burden for everyone who can physically make it here and then start having children, we get the very lies and misstatements about WIOA and ESSA and what they are really intended to accomplish that I have been noticing. As always when confronted with any attempt to politically install a false picture of reality in the minds of boys and girls and the adults around them, I turned  to a 1988 French book by Jean-Francois Revel that was translated into English in 1991 as The Flight from Truth.

Revel noted just how unusual it is to find people “who possess a taste for facts and an interest in truth.” He called it the “anomaly of intellectual curiosity” and since I have definitely been driven by that curiosity all my life, his descriptions seemed like a good way to describe what ESSA, its required Higher Order Thinking Skills and Understandings (HOTS), the embedded Competency-based education, the required behaviorally-oriented performance standards and assessments, etc. are all hoping to foster in the minds and personalities of the students who will be tomorrow’s voters.

“The power of ideology is rooted in a human lack of curiosity about facts. When a new piece of information reaches us, we react first by wondering if it is going to reinforce or weaken our habitual mode of thought…The ideas that interest us the most are not new ideas, they are ideas we are accustomed to. [or which preschool through higher ed intends to make us used to as Relevant, Engaging, and Culturally Responsive]. The prodigious progress of science since the seventeenth century prompts us to invest human nature with a congenital appetite for knowledge and an insatiable appetite for facts.

But what history teaches us is that if Man does indeed display an intense intellectual activity, it is above all to construct vast explanatory systems as verbose as they are ingenious-systems that induce mental calm by providing an illusion of global comprehension, rather than by encouraging us humbly to explore reality and to expose ourselves to unknown information. To grow and develop, science has always had to struggle against this primordial human tendency which surrounds it and combats it from within: indifference to knowledge.”

The refusal to describe WIOA and the deliberate inaccuracies surrounding ESSA build on that recognized general indifference to knowledge most people possess. As Revel recognized and so does every behavioral scientist and educator seeking to ‘scientize politics’ in the 21st Century: “Man’s major foe is deep within him. But the enemy is no longer the same. Formerly it was ignorance; today it is falsehood.” Those mental systems that can induce calm or motivate action from a deep, emotional level must be created by education under ESSA in each and every student.

Looking for that presence, and manipulating what is found as needed to create the desired dispositions and generalized knowledge and skills to be the future citizen a Human Development Society needs, is precisely what ESSA prescribes. It is what assessing for HOTS, personalized learning based on data, and ‘well-rounded learning experiences’ are all about. The entire concept of 21st Century Schools required to receive all that funding under ESSA goes back to another reason why education and the law are being used now to Scientize Politics without permission and with organized, active deceit from the public sector and its public policy advocates. We are being forcibly shifted from our historic emphasis in the West of a community organized around moral order to a moral community organized around shared common purposes.

ESSA, WIOA, and those reports I provided as examples above, all assume a shift to an “overriding community interest” where everyone’s designated needs must be met. Individual rights to pursue our own interests and, apparently, our own knowledge of actual facts, get trumped by the desire to plan people, places, the economy, and supposedly ensure economic justice for all, regardless of background or personal productivity. Again, since being honest about this shift and a widespread recognition of what the consequences are likely to be is simply not good for a political career or even fundraising prospects for the typical think tank, we get lies and descriptions of legislation based on talking points with no actual curiosity for the facts.

Education necessarily has to be altered at all levels to support this clear, but unheralded shift, because a society that locates its sources of social cohesion in moral community is “necessarily more vulnerable to shifts in attitudes and behavior patterns that might reflect individual departures from the shared purposes of the community.” At least we know now why a communitarian ethos and shared understandings just keep popping up in the required implementation of a Positive and Safe School Climate.

Everything from the Career Pathways requirements to the new descriptions of K-12 as Workforce Development to the mandate that all educational practices promote Equity and meet needs actually trace back to this shift to a moral community where:

“Persons are tied, one to another, by their common identification to the collective, with their shared sense of nationhood, race, class, or ideology.”

As an anomalous seeker of facts with an insatiable curiosity about the likely effects in the reality where we all dwell, let me be the first to point out that this has historically been a tragic path for any society to actively cultivate.

Just because our elected public officials have arrogantly voted to impose this vision on us using education and the law, with an assist on the falsehoods part from the media, doesn’t mean we have to acquiesce.

The way out, as usual, is the recognition of what is really going on.

Even is it is not a politically approved pathway anymore under federal law.