Creating New Minds, Different Values, Equity in Credentials: Can this Really Lead Us to Prosperity?

Contrary to the slogans Prosperity really is not available by government fiat but it sure can torpedo it. Beyond regulation, poor choices by politicians and other officials with the power to distribute other people’s money (like School Supers or the accreditors or even “private” businesses like Amplify or IBM or AT&T or other tech companies) who push harmful education ideas while capturing taxpayer money can destroy value. Poof! Take those dollar bills and light them afire! No you say. It was paid in salary or revenue to a connected company, it did not go poof.

But what happens when the resources confiscated from the taxpayer through property taxes or an ESPLOST or their federal or state income taxes buys less than the value that would have been created in the private sector? Where it would have been spent by a purchaser who cared about whether he was getting actual value for what he was spending. We are all poorer because that money was taxed away from private hands to a less efficient spender. So it needs to be spent for a good purpose.

That’s problem No 1 anytime the government decides to take money. That is true of all government but it is especially acute with school districts. Especially now. Why? Education reform now is heavily “influenced by the writings of Vico, Spinoza, and Hegel, Marx, and Engels [who] developed a theory of society now described as historical or dialectical materialism.” I mentioned that here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/ but the book I mentioned in the last post, Computers as Cognitive Tools, and an article cited there “Beyond Amplification: Using the Computer to Reorganize Mental Functioning” make it crystal clear that the Skill Dominant Initiative and the Digital Learning Mandates and the No Transmission of Knowledge are ALL driven by political ideology. That really is taxpayer money spent poorly. A bonfire in fact, not just a Poof.

Collectivist, Remake Minds and Values Ideology. No ifs, ands, or buts about it even if a particular pushing administrator or Principal is unaware of the tainted past and Horrific Intentions of what they are implementing. That’s the beauty of Government Coercive Power. Do it or find another job. There are always people wanting to do business via political favors rather than crafting a superior product or service and taking real risk of capital.

This is the new view of education sought in the reforms in the 90s and now through the CCSSI ruse we have talked about http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/. This is not a dispute then about what to teach or how. Stripped of the rhetoric designed to obscure the reality of sought Political Transformation, we are in the midst of a dispute about what kind of country we will be in the future. Will the individual be free and have real personal autonomy? Or do politicians get to use operant conditioning techniques in K-12 education to change values and make curriculum choices to limit permissable knowledge? Is a student merely a lump of clay to be molded by the state to fit its needs and especially the needs of those employed by or seeking revenue from the government? That’s what the real CCSSI implementation assumes. That’s what Digital Literacy and Mandated Sight Reading Methods are all about.

Symbolic cultural tools identified by Soviet psychologists Vygotsky and Luria as strengthening individual mental capacity like written language must be weakened. Tools with the innate capacity, like the computer, to weaken mental function by becoming a substitute for it, must be pushed. It is desired cultural evolution where we are under attack to STOP “our nature-transcendent innovation as a species.” Just like Paul Ehrlich wanted when he pushed his Newmindedness and James Burke wrote about as the Axemakers Gift that must be stopped. Here’s the political vision being pushed by our ed schools and the accreditation agencies all over the world. It is the essence of what CCSSI is seeking and why Arne Duncan wants all curriculum to be digitized by 2017 at the latest.

“Human nature, on this view [reference to Marx and others listed above], rather than being a product of environmental forces, is of our own making and continually ‘becoming.’ Humankind is reshaped through a dialectic of reciprocal influences: Our productive activities change the world, thereby changing the ways in which the world can change us. By shaping nature and how our interactions with it are mediated, we change ourselves.”

So the computer and digitizing content and making the visual dominant instead of relying on symbolic transformation and haranguing any teacher pushing factual content each become a means of “cultural redefinition”. The dialectic just outlined of “shaping who we are by changing, not just amplifying, what we do.” Together these initiatives being imposed all at once are designed to actually pummel the individual student mentally and psychologically. No wonder there is a tragic history to these mandated social and emotional learning coupled with limits to knowledge shifts.

Over this past weekend, a Canadian education site pushed this Open Letter to Educators. Not complaining mind you but wanting these thoughts to gain widespread attention. Without the paying public even knowing.

“Education isn’t about teaching facts. It is about stoking creativity and new ideas. It is not about teaching students to conform to the world as it is. It is about empowering students to change the world for the better.”

Now how can someone without knowledge of history and what has gone tragically wrong and why, or economics with its built-in appreciation for unintended consequences, actually be in a position to change the world for the better? Changing the world for the better has always grown from the ascendancy of the individual and freedom of choices. Now realistically how can education reform designed to gut all that change the world for the better? This is education reform that destroys value instead of enabling its future production. There is no future prosperity here no matter what Amplify’s press releases say. Just prosperity for connected businesses that hire former School District Supers that can rely on doing business with taxpayer money with their former associates.

Now is wholesale social change an appropriate decision for educators or computer or broadband vendors or accreditors to be making? Especially in a country like the US with the US Constitution protecting the mind as property and the primacy of the individual instead of government? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-the-system-seeks-to-destroy-the-ability-to-think-can-james-madison-save-us/

Instead of knowledge the computer becomes a means of collaboration and testing hypotheses against the computer’s prepackaged scenarios (where the Earth will be frying itself whatever the actual temps or facts) and solving complex problems that may actually be insoluble (at least by a central planner but the computer will not tell you that. And the teacher may now be forbidden to) and making plans and setting goals. That’s knowledge in our new Digital world. I may have been horrified by the educational vision of Mooresville, NC http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mind-thieves-everyday-examples-that-add-up-to-a-cultural-and-political-tsunami/ but Amplify’s website saw it as the August 10 featured story.

Likewise, I find the vision of graphic novels centered around a pretend Zombie Apocalypse for middle schoolers to be horrid. See for yourself and decide http://www.zombiebased.com/blog/2012/09/30/zbl-featured-on-amplify-com/. Amplify sees it as an innovation to be touted on its website and celebrates that ZBL “appeals to kids the same way a videogame does.” Yes, at an emotional, visual, non-rational level.

Let’s end with what its creator says he intends the students to be learning from ZBL: It is supposed to be a framework for teaching middle school geography (in a way most of us would associate with Cultural Anthropology and Sociology).

“The story has several parts: Students prepare for the impending outbreak, then they have to survive the chaos, find a new settlement, build a new community, and plan for the future of their new home. Instead of just studying existing maps, for example, they have to design their own to track the spread of the zombies. In the end, students have to use higher-order thinking to solve real-world problems, or almost real world that is.”

So students are being taught virtually nothing about the world where they actually dwell and must ultimately get by in. They are immersed in imaginary scenarios that encourage them to trash the world as it exists and aspire to a different future.

Only in a sector of the economy used to living off OPM, Other People’s Money, could such ludicrous ideas as remaking education to fit Marxian political theory gain widespread currency. And I am afraid it will be up to those of us without the magical Education Indoctrination degrees to put a stop to it.

What would we do if medical schools reverted back to bleeding as the remedy for all ailments? This is not dissimilar.

 

 

Is Accreditation the Enforcer for UNESCO’s Vision of Solidarity?

From its beginning UNESCO and other UN affiliates refused to see education, science or culture (the “E, S, and C” in the name) as most of us would. And do as we pay those property taxes and income taxes and tuition and student loans. Things to be cherished and nurtured and transmitted and built up. To the best of each of our abilities. Instead each of these treasures of the ages is viewed as a tool to create social change. In order to build up a new vision for what people could be like in the future.

Now a knowledge of history tells us that this has never worked well. It was behind many of the tragedies of the 20th century and before. UNESCO’s designers though believed they could create new norms of moral responsibility and human conduct and then find allies to enforce them. Leaving all of us unsuspecting of course since none of us like to feel we are being managed by others. Especially at our own expense. But since the late 1940s UNESCO has dreamed of using education to promote the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind. All of us.

And not as individuals either. The dream has been to foster human values, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes that promote collective norms, collective behaviors, and collective patterns for action. Apparently UNESCO and the other UN agencies in its orbit weren’t listening when Karl Popper said in 1957 that:

“Even the emotionally satisfying appeal for a common purpose, however excellent, is an appeal to abandon all rival moral opinions and the cross-criticisms and arguments to which they give rise. It is an appeal to abandon rational thought.”

Well we know from the previous post on what Quality in education really means that individuals abandoning logic and reason and any real ability to think abstractly is precisely what certain utopian or just greedy schemers have been targeting for 100 years. Since John Dewey and then Ralph Tyler and Professor Bode and their 8 Year Study we discussed on May 15 and May 16 in previous posts.

So in all the UN activities involving education we have talked about in the last several posts–Educations for All, MDGs, and Education for Development, the vision for the basic education that everyone is to get does not really vary in its purpose. It:

“should equip all people, women and men, to be fully participating members of their own communities and also citizens of the world.”

That’s in the fundamentally reoriented and restructured world where UN agencies and their employees will take the lead in integrating “social, economic and environmental policy” at the local, national, and global levels.  And that aspiration is from the March 2012 State of the Planet Declaration getting ready for the Rio Conference in mid-June so the ink is barely dry.

Does that aspiration seem silly to you? Impossible? Something that should earn a ticket to a Mad Hatters Tea Party? Me too. Here’s the thing though with these aspirations that involve using our money and political power to Try to control us and our behavior. It doesn’t have to be possible for it to be tried. And great, expensive, difficult to fix harm can still flow from simply attempting bad ideas and impossible feats. That’s why we are talking about this now. Before Rio. Before Common Core’s full implementation. While the accreditors like AdvancED or New England are moving their devoted Gypsy Principals and Gypsy Supers and others into place to enforce this vision.

Whether anyone involved truly appreciates or is even aware of the full vision behind what they are promoting and requiring. As I have mentioned before, we have an autopsy to perform as to what happened and why with education. Right now we need to slow and stop any more damage from these misguided but official policies and practices. Coming to a school and district near you right now.

So the UN agencies like UNESCO and others use the so-called Quality Assurance process to systematically review education programs around the world for compliance with its vision. In fact in 2002 UNESCO created the Global Forum  on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education to act as the coordinator of that vision. We in the US and my readers in other countries thus have a real problem. The regional accreditors we think are local and checking to ensure academic excellence are using accreditation and their almost dictatorial power over the schools, including many private, and higher ed to pursue a much different vision for education.

Some of it we have already talked about. More will come out. None of it is good. Some of it may feel treasonous. All of it though is part of a group of people we are largely unaware of actively coordinating to implement a common global purpose. And no one told us or asked our permission and it absolutely cannot work as envisioned. And the attempts may wreck us all. It really is past time for school officials and the accreditors themselves to be forthcoming with the public that pays all the bills.

 

 

 

Why Quality Learning May be the Last Thing You Want for Your Child

Pulitzer Prize winning historians, Will & Ariel Durant, have written extensively about what makes civilizations prosper and what has destroyed them. They make the point that “morals are the rules by which a society exhorts its members and associations to behavior consistent with its order, security, and growth.” Oftentimes though those morals are not explicit. Most of us are not even aware of many of the Things that Work. They are embedded in the traditions and knowledge of the past transmitted through schools and social interactions. As our educators shift American schools and schools globally away from the transmission of knowledge model, I think their lack of much familiarity with the lessons of history and economics is showing.

Starting anew and pushing theories and practices that are untried. Making “research-based” about noting the effects on actual students of these new theories. Or even worse reintroducing political theories that have been tried with a tragic result.  Renaming them as learning theories to “give remaking human nature another try” means rejecting much hidden knowledge that most of us are unaware of. The practices and knowledge that generate prosperity and stable societies even if we do not quite understand why. That’s why change should be piece by piece to allow examination of consequences.

Not to wholesale change the entire System of education completely and the purpose to boot. Especially since no one is being honest with the parents and taxpayers about what is really going on. No rational being would reject the transmission of knowledge and replace it with a primitive “sense-making” if they were using their own money. Why on earth are we supporting people who want to do that while living on our tab? While we pay their bills? Who want to be called “Doctor” because they agreed to push this vision.

Most of us hear the word “quality” attached to education and immediately think of excellence or a superior product. Have you ever noticed it has become the descriptive adjective of choice in education? Magically all over the world? With similar timing? We have AdvancED’s Quality Standards for accreditation. Cambridge Education’s Quality Review (remember the “teachers are teaching and that’s not allowed” push?). Georgia has just enacted a statute connected to its NCLB waiver from the feds that makes Quality Learning the measure of student achievement (Do you remember that learning means changing attitudes, feelings, values, or behavior, not knowledge?). Finally, the monitoring internationally of the level of fulfillment of the UN’s Education for All initiative lives under the reassuring banner of Quality Assurance.

Perhaps “Quality” in ed world has an unappreciated meaning? Why yes, it’s pretty apparent something is up when we line up our paid political vision enforcers like that, isn’t it? Those of you who have lived through the integrated math fiasco in Georgia or any other state or PBIS introduction to foster a better school climate and nurturing culture will find this fundamental point to be a revelation. John Dewey, that utopian philosopher extraordinaire, hated the idea of schools doing anything to cultivate rational, logical thought. He believed it made the students who were good at it too full of themselves and got in the way of what he saw as the socializing purposes of school. What Dewey wanted and what his modern-day disciples are pushing all over the world is his vision of basic skills coupled with promoting emotional, instinctive, unconscious responses. And they do it in the name of “Quality.” Or as one of Dewey’s most influential current disciples put it: “Character is higher than intellect.” Perhaps but we should get to talk about such a radical meaning of understanding.

I think history shows us how dangerous education to promote malleable, emotional citizens can be. The quote at the top of the blog is from a French intellectual, Julian Benda, in 1927 predicting that a similar push in Europe in the 1920s would end in a catastrophic world war. Why? Using the schools to cultivate an emotional herd instinct that responds without reason or even conscious will always means that there is nothing to block bad ideas.

Have you heard yet how the Common Core seeks to cultivate a “deep understanding?” That’s straight out of Dewey’s push that Quality means feeling. It’s explicitly not a result of conceptual or intellectual processing and that was the deliberate goal then and it is now. To quote a 2007 Teachers College Record essay on Dewey called “Beyond Control and Rationality” that certainly seems to be anticipating Common Core’s classroom implementation:

“Qualitative meaning is that which is intuited rather than deduced, felt rather than described, and is immediate to the situation rather than removed from it.”

To reenforce this critical distinction between qualitative sense and conscious reflection, the essay goes on to tell us:

“What Dewey is saying is that we sense or feel the situation we are in without thinking of it per se, without it becoming an object of reflection.”

Ah! Sense Making! A return then to the international standards of the caveman and a rejection of all we have discovered and our best minds have developed in the interim.

Now I understand why a group of people wishing to force others to go along with their wishes would try to push such a modern version of Mind Arson. It’s politically powerful. Just ask the serfs who could not leave the land or the slaves who must not be taught how to read. The question for us now though is why are we going along with such a use of our schools to destroy everything that works, creates prosperity and individuality, and a realistic chance for a better tomorrow for most of us?