Openly Admitting Global Coordination to Impose Behavioral Programming Using Education and the Law

I thought about using the word Conspiracy in the title but I was afraid readers might be confused and think we are merely theorizing. Oh no, turns out that in 2012 there was another of those Movers and Shakers meetings we were not invited to. GELP–Global Education Leaders Program–chose to have that particular meeting in Helsinki, Finland with sponsorship from the Gates Foundation, Promethean Boards (in case you have always wondered why they get bought and then remain in boxes), and Cisco. Apparently they all wanted to look up close at the Finnish education system we met in the last post. The US-based CCSSO, the formal sponsors of the Common Core State Standards in the US, was also there, except the focus was on its Innovation Learning Network–ILN–and what CCSS is really bridging the US towards.

Yes, I did go through and systematically download all those presentations. Hope you had a more congenial Saturday than me, but it was all in a good cause. The GELP Co-Director, Tony MacKay from Australia (also heads ATC21S for those who have read the book. The rest of you are missing the foundation of this story) kindly announced in a related paper on Future-Oriented Education he placed on a New Zealand Server  http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/109317/994_Future-oriented-07062012.pdf that GELP has been “designed to accelerate and sustain transformation within GELP members ‘local’ systems and nations–and to advocate and continually refine the vision of 21st century teaching and learning.”

When we first encountered the Consortium vision http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/Consortium%20-%20%20Recommendations%20for%20a%20New%20Federal%20Accountability%20Framework%20February%202014.pdf I warned in that March 3, 2014 post that the Gypsy Supers were lobbying DC for supposed ‘local’ power to impose what was actually a global vision. But I did not at that time know about GELP or that Helsinki Conference or Tony MacKay’s useful admission of a global effort that can be deceitfully sold as ‘homemade’. The law firm (whose education practice we have tied to the creation of that Consortium, the Fulton County Conversion Charter that contractually guts academics whatever the School Board believes, and the affirmative Student Code of Conduct) is cited by CCSSO, through its Education Counsel affiliate, to be working with ILN and the CCSSO to shift states and districts towards the Competency-oriented Next Generation Learning. (Chapter 4 of my book as I did accurately perceive where CCSSI was really going).

Now that we better appreciate how people can become bound via laws and documents with legal effect to Transformative Social Change whatever the personal intentions of the drafting lawyers or the authorizing institutions are, I want to call your attention to a group in the past who advocated for a similar strategy of how to quietly get such change in place. The Fabian Socialists (who still exist and were involved in Anthony Giddens’ The Global Third Way conference I wrote about) were willing to be gradual and employ stealth. But as the motto of this stained glass window shows http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsandmedia/news/archives/2006/fabianwindow.aspx with its image of a molten world being hammered on an anvil into the desired shape–”Remould It Nearer to the Hearts Desire,” the end vision is fundamental transformation, like it or not. Whether we are even aware or not.

The law and education globally are both being used to drive wholesale, nonconsensual change at the level of the human mind and personality for purposes of behavioral programming to go along with the same type of vision the Fabian Socialists have always sought. I speak Educationese fluently now and the consistency is stunning. One more point, another of the profs advocating this vision, Princeton’s Philip Pettit, keeps mentioning this same phrasing in his 2014 book Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World:

“How should a government organize the shared legal and economic lives of its citizens?”

The answer is that it should not, but Pettit like Nussbaum with her Human Rights work, intends to use the law as a tool to organize nonconsensual submission anyway. We may not have ever thought of the law or education as affirmative weapons for wholesale social change, but they are very good at that purpose. Plus the advocates get to live off the bounty of the taxes we must all pay.

Now we can shift back to Nussbaum and Jeremy Rifkin and Finland once again to fully appreciate the why of what is to be changed. As the GELP conference admitted, the Fabian-adored ‘welfare state’ is crucial to the success of this vision of education transformation globally in so many ways. In talking about the need for classwork and literature assigned to build a compassionate imagination, Martha Nussbaum wrote:

“they are led to notice the sufferings of other living creatures with a new keenness. At this point stories can then begin to confront children more plainly with the uneven fortunes of life, convincing them emotionally of their urgency and importance. ‘Let him see, let him feel the human calamities,’ Rousseau writes of his imaginary pupil. ‘Unsettle and frighten his imagination with the perils by which every human being is constantly surrounded. Let him see around him all these abysses, and, hearing you describe them, hold onto you for fear of falling into them.’”

Now how much more powerful is that intended behavioral manipulation when married to Video Gaming in the classroom? No wonder Amplify hypes its Zombie Apocalypse for Middle Schoolers. Now Jeremy Rifkin, in order to nurture and ‘grow’ (as in Student Growth as the new definition of achievement) this ‘empathic impulse’ happens to cite a Professor Kenneth Gergen and his idea that we move from a “self-centered system of beliefs [as in mine and thine] to a consciousness of an inseparable relatedness with others.” Now in case you are tempted to consider this all tenured mumbo-jumbo cultivated in the shade of all that ivy, remember Gergen was on the Gordon Commission in charge of the future of US student assessment and his Appreciative Inquiry Model [see tags] is commonly now used by urban school systems and community organizers.

So when education critics carelessly assume that the word ‘assessment’ is interchangeable with ‘test’ they lose much of the intended psychological transformation via the classroom experience. They miss that Gergen, the Gordon Commission, Rifkin, Nussbaum, and influential others ALL want to stress a shift to activity and experience precisely because they want to replace the historic concept of the individual with the ‘relational self.’ Having the classroom nurture the belief that a student’s Identity is changeable and simply “a unique constellation of relational experiences with one another.” And why would these people want such a thing? For the Fabian Socialist change of course, but they cannot phrase it that way as we parents and taxpayers would almost certainly rebel.

Instead, as Rifkin states, students get told over years “the idea that those same embedded relationships and experiences make one a unique being, different from all others. It is only by keeping the distinction in mind that empathic consciousness can continue to grow and become the psychic and social glue for a global consciousness.”

That’s why requiring students to have and demonstrate empathy towards one another in the classroom in a new type of legally coercive Student Code of Conduct is such a big deal. As Rifkin admits, the desired transformational glue vanishes once students once again see themselves as individuals instead of “a unique ensemble of relationships.”  Remember in the last post when the Finnish Curriculum for Global Education wanted to require students to “promote the common good” and aspire for a “common understanding” via the classroom? This is verbatim how the Finns break that requirement down into subgoals with the student age range in brackets. Since other countries like the US intend the same approach (as the Rockefeller Foundation funded Communication for Social Change confirmed as well), but without this blueprint for our eyes, here it is anyway:

[5-6]:  To practice bringing up important topics of discussion that are interesting to oneself and others.

To practice a polite and dignified manner of speaking. (To be continued in all age groups.)

[7-8]: To learn to weigh one’s views in the light of facts.

To learn to listen to and ponder carefully the viewpoints presented by others. (To be continued in age group 9-10).

To practice a polite and dignified manner of speaking. ( To be continued in all age groups).

[9-10]: To learn to listen to and ponder carefully the viewpoints presented by others. (Continued from age group 7-8).

To practice striving for a shared view in conversation.

To practice a polite and dignified manner of speaking. (To be continued in all age groups.)

[11-12]: To learn to make joint decisions on the basis of views arrived at mutually (To be continued in age group 13-14.)

To learn to keep one’s emotions under control and one’s thoughts as objective as possible during consultation. (To be continued in age group 13-14.)

To practice a polite and dignified manner of speaking. (To be continued in all age groups.)

[13-14]: To learn to make joint decisions on the basis of views arrived at mutually. (Continued from age group 11-12).

That’s the end of the Finnish vision for Global Education. It’s how education to fulfill the vision of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights gets met. It’s the embodiment in how to educate to create a Mindset to see oneself as a “citizen of humanity” ready to fulfill now imposed obligations to serve the “well-being of all” occurs.

The phrase “behavioral programming’ in the title now seems like an understatement, doesn’t it?

Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory on Students While Pretending the Impetus is Equity for All

The term cybernetics to me was always just a vague concept that had something to do with computers. I was following up on the Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin and his behavior-orienting systemic-theoretical instruction by reading a 1975 book (translated into English in 1980, except curiously the footnotes) by one of his students, Nina Talyzina. Called The Psychology of Learning it kept referring to cybernetics, but there were no computers. Instead, cybernetics is described as a theory of control over processes. One of the processes that the Soviets and certain American educators wanted to control was human behavior.

Before anyone thinks this is just a haunting history lesson with me pouncing on disturbing intentions from the past, let me remind everyone that the US Common Core are designed as performance standards. They are about what students are to be doing. Competency is the same globally as is 21st Century Skills. Performance assessments are about action.  The shift from a mental focus to an activity focus (because that is what Marxist-Leninist theory required as Talyzina laid out) has already taken place. The significance of that deliberate shift is simply not well enough appreciated. Cybernetics, as applied to education, seeks to optimize “control of the learning process.”

That learning process is no longer to be “through the development of capacities that already exist at birth,” like mental ability, but is rather “a process of assimilation of various types of human activities by students and hence of the set of actions that bring this about.” What is going on with the learning tasks created for Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of the book), as well as the digital curricula being unveiled by Pearson (with Microsoft as partner) and Amplify (rolled out for middle school this week) among others, and the Connected Learning agenda being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf , are all examples of designing the teaching-learning [obuchenie] process in accordance with the requirements of a general theory of control.

When I recognized the full implications of what the Consortium of school districts from the last post sought (hence the hunger for Student data and continuous mentions of feedback in personalized instruction) and the gaming in classrooms (with its ability to control the visual images associated with any chosen concept and force the virtual world to conform to desired models of either reality or the future) to the cybernetic theory of how to control human behavior without that being apparent, I did some searches to see what was happening now.  One of those pulled up an essay that had been in the 2002 UNESCO Encyclopedia by the radical constructivist Ernst von Glasersfeld who I had talked about in Chapter 3 of the book. I gulped since I had not been looking for UNESCO or Glasersfeld. The essay is called “Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge” http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/255 and it lays out how crucial the theory of constructivism in education is to the goal of behavioral control via cybernetic principles.

More gulps. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word “Kybernetes” which referred to a steersman of  ship. It is the etymological root of the English word “governor” as in the lead elected state officials who seem so determined these days to combine economic development with education as workforce development. The word also retains its same control function in its use as a governor on an engine, regulating possible uses. Maybe we didn’t really appreciate the significance of the term cybernetics or its applicability to education, but radicals interested in political and social transformation at the level of individual consciousness certainly do. Everything to be required, or condemned, in a Common Core classroom is now driven by turning to Vygotsky and especially Galperin (image, associations, concepts) as the necessary psychological theories (instead of Skinner’s behaviorism). Galperin’s theory especially, backed up by decades of research, laid out a means and rationale for specifying the desired activity in the real world that would then produce the hoped for mental concepts.

Those mental conceptions, because they are created by actual activity in either the real world or a virtual immersion world (of the sort pushed by MIT’s Media Lab or Amplify’s Zombie Apocalypse game), are thus controllable in a way conceptions built up by facts delivered from lectures and textbooks are not. Then we have the new assessments and now to be a new SAT to monitor the extent to which the desired concepts (in the hermeneutic-dialogical sense we met in the previous post) are connected to associated  relational qualities (also supplied) and then tied to real world problems or phenomena. Understanding here is like a web and assessments are looking to see what strategies the student’s web of understanding reaches to apply when there is no fixed or correct answer. That tells a great deal about how the student will behave as an adult when they are on their own.

Now the Cold War implications of this psychology of learning and Galperin and cybernetics as a feature of education in a supposedly free country, especially since Talyzina mentioned a UNESCO symposium in 1976 on the psychological bases of programmed instruction, are obvious. Despite what is going on now in the Ukraine and the Crimea and the current Russian role in the UN’s digital learning and Information Society initiatives I have written about, our problem in 2014 are not the big C threat of decades ago. Subjugation of the individual and control over consciousness though clearly remain a primary government goal though. That Connected Learning report above makes it painfully clear that the digital and media agenda now in education is tied to a social and economic transformation to a shareable, collaborative consumption economy.   The new motto is to be “sharing reinvented through technology.”

If you go to the writings of the professors cited to show the economy is changing, we find the sociologist Juliet Schor (see her tag) who wrote Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. That pulls in her commonwealth vision of the future and the agenda of Gar Alperowitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Another cite turns out to be Harvard Labor Economist Richard Freeman. Finally, there is a cite to a 2008 paper by Bowles and Gintis. Uncited is their book from 1976 Schooling in Capitalist America that predicted a socialist transformation of the US that might need to become violent. I mentioned that book in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ . Its central point that education is so crucial to social change because “socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself” is even more relevant when cybernetics is in use.

Making the cognitive activities, such as learning tasks or computer games, and the internal mental states created, the focus of instruction is certainly a fine way to develop and manipulate such a consciousness. It’s not like we are not drowning in evidence at this point of such broader transformative intentions from every direction. Foundations, local districts, states, federal DoEd (they openly work with MacArthur on Reimagining Education), and internationally via the UN and the OECD. Page 91 of that Connected Learning report even links to ITU’s 2011 Measuring the Information Society report. It is what led me to the UNESCO Sakhalin Declaration I wrote about already.

I can find the M-L roots of what is being pushed now. Talyzina was quite graphic about them. The public sales pitch now though for the same theories and practices is that the shift to digital and networked media (that makes cybernetics so much easier via adaptive software and the visual emphasis) is necessary to protect the life opportunities of “non-dominant youth.” To force “an environment in which opportunity and outcomes are widely shared across the citizenry” as if productive wealth is not in the minds of talented people, but in some pot ready to be rearranged. The constant drumbeat that these shifts are necessary “begins with questions of equity” and “centers on an equity agenda.” If you got a quarter for every time that report mentioned “privileged” youth or families or the “elite”, you could go out for a fine lunch.

That report once again quotes John Dewey making me very glad I laid out in the book why his vision remains so relevant to what is sought today. If we go down this road of cybernetic control over the development of a student’s adult personality (what college and career ready actually tracks back to) and adopt the vision “as progressives have argued for generations, the functions of schooling should be to prepare young people for contributing and participating in social life, which includes economic activity but also civil society, family, and community” where will we be as a nation or world in five or ten years?

Will it make the world a peaceful place? No, we will simply not see the aggression coming until it is too late. Will the public sector workers lying to us now on their intentions and lining their pockets with tax money decide to suddenly act altruistically in the name of the common good and genuine social justice? No again.

Equity and equal opportunity for all strike me as a means to federalize issues of education practice so that change can be required without consent or notice. Through civil rights law edicts. Secondly, it forces a surrender of individual primacy and sovereignty. It takes a citizen as subject to be molded at will approach.

No wonder we just keep running into all these Soviet techniques and theories. They were free to do the preliminary research on cybernetics in education. Guess where it will be continuing now?

Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills as the Long-Sought Rapid Change of Minds for the Future

When I was looking for a way to explain what the effects would be from seeking new kinds of minds and personalities through ICT and tracking affective responses, I remembered the 1989 book New World New Mind: Moving Towards Conscious Evolution. Now I do occasionally pull books off the shelf to help illustrate a point vividly but the link of that book to the Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills initiatives is actually quite direct.

http://www.digitalpromise.org/how-practitioners-and-policymakers-can-work-together-to-innovate/ is a July 31, 2013 story on the meeting of League of Innovative Schools Supers and Admins with reps from the federal DoEd, the White House Domestic Policy Council (this push is a high priority for this Administration), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. John Holdren heads OSTP and his long-time mentor and associate Paul Ehrlich of hyping various global catastrophes fame (with his own tag) co-wrote the New World New Mind book. Ehrlich mentioned and thanked Holdren for his help on the Acknowledgments page.

Chapter 8, “The Beginnings of Real Change,” makes it clear this is a global program to use education to change “the nature of our minds and the training we give them.” According to Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein: “although the problems that humanity now faces are immense, at least they are of our own making. The mismatch of our brains with our environments has been produced by millenia of effort, by the skill, ingenuity, and drive of our species–by the very minds that are now out of step with the world they live in.”

Ornstein and Ehrlich wanted to extinguish that independent ingenuity and drive some people have through “a revolution in the way we bring up children and in the way we teach and what we teach.” They recognized, as all of us now need to, that traditional “schooling also changes the structures of children’s minds significantly [they mean at a physiological level]. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, so commonly taught, are not [emphasis in original] natural acts of the mind, but are radical transformations of the way the nervous system operates. The mind’s default positions are for talking and listening…”

Which is precisely why talking and listening as the purpose of the Discourse classroom, and required projects and group collaboration and communities of learners, is such a huge focus of the actual Common Core implementation. It is why print literacy is minimized and media and digital literacy are held to be just as important. It’s not a better way to learn. It’s an active pursuit using ICT of these New Kinds of Minds. After all Joel Klein, head of Rupert Murdoch’s tech-focused ed subsidiary, Amplify, actually said that was the goal to my face at a luncheon last fall. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/ridiculing-the-1860s-mind-as-unsuitable-for-the-21st-century-cui-bono/

So New Kinds of Minds remains the pursuit almost 25 years later and the other Ehrlich/Ornstein goal then becomes changing prevailing attitudes on politically useful topics. Cultural-historical activity theory or CHAT is a learning theory imported from the USSR created to change  the course of the future by changing the dominant culture itself. Through school specifically but also education generally. I’ll put it this way CHAT theorists also care about what stories get pitched on the nightly news and what the headlines read. What themes will the typical person come to believe are an issue as they go through busy lives? One of the CHAT theorists, a Finnish prof who also works in the US. Yrgo Engestrom (also tagged), kindly put his Learning by Expansion’s theory’s purpose into explicit published words in 2010. http://www.helsinki.fi/cradle/documents/Engestrom%20Publ/Studies%20on%20expansive%20learning.pdf

The article acknowledges a reality that the Supers and ed profs and principals do not bother to tell parents, politicians, and taxpayers so I will: “there are two basic metaphors competing for dominance today: the acquisition metaphor and the participation metaphor.” Now I will stop quoting Yrjo for a minute to point out that the entire actual Common Core classroom implementation this blog has been describing is dedicated to requiring the participation vision. Using misleading terms like equity and excellence and Quality Learning to get there. As I have been explaining, every entity that has a legal ability to regulate or mandate what goes on in the classroom is insisting that participation now win this competition. And it gets hidden in the insistence on group projects and collaboration. But Yrjo was even more graphic about what his and other CHAT learning theories are designed to do and change.

The key dimension underlying the acquisition vs participation “dichotomy is derived from the question: Is the learner to be understood primarily as an individual or as a community?” The participation purpose comes down on the community side of that question in direct contradiction to the West’s historic belief in the primacy of the individual. That is the question at stake in all these ed reforms. Pushing for this new answer behind our backs and without our consent is precisely what Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills are really about.

Yrgo again kindly says there are three more dimensions at stake with all these learning theories like his that are designed to push participation as the new radical vision of education to create “new activity structures for society.” Think workplace, neighborhoods, political processes. These ed profs and administrators have great ambitions while they are living at taxpayer expense. In each of these questions, it is the part I bolded after the “or” that is what is stealthily coming at us like a high-speed freight train whatever our state says it is doing on the Common Core. And in other countries too. Oh, and the ICT focus is a huge tool for gaining this shift.

*Is learning primarily a process that transmits and preserves culture or a process that transforms and creates culture?

*Is learning primarily a process of vertical improvement along some uniform scales of competence or horizontal movement, exchange and hybridization between different cultural contexts and standards of competence? [Think of this as hip hop being as valid a means of communication as a well-written insightful factual paper]

*Is learning primarily a process for acquiring and creating empirical knowledge and concepts [reflects reality in other words] or a process that leads to the formation of theoretical knowledge and concepts?

Now theoretical knowledge and concepts is of course another term for ideology but what do you expect from a theory designed to achieve massive social change as a direct successor to Uncle Karl’s now infamous theorizing? Yrjo leaves no doubt where we are all going with this quote: “While traditional schooling is essentially a subject-producing activity and traditional science is essentially an instrument-producing activity, [expansive] learning is an activity producing activity.” [his italics]

Now that kind of graphic lay out of intent to create transformative action in students is what is coming to our classrooms but the graphic warning is nowhere in sight. Instead we get far more innocuous sounding initiatives being paid for by the National Science Foundation such as Janet Kolodner’s “Learning by Design’s Framework for Promoting Learning of 21st Century Skills.” Janet is also the listed PI for the troubling and related NSF Cyberlearning push that I described here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/ Now Janet’s CV is simply too solid for me to believe that she really thinks that a case-based method that is suitable for adult med students, who have a well-stocked brain of knowledge and analytical skills to be where they are, is somehow suitable for middle schoolers who generally have neither.

The truth is the whole Next Generation Science and Learning By Design and Case-Based Learning is just a rejection of science as an “instrument-producing activity” as in sharp ingenious minds or new unapproved technology without saying so. What Ehrlich and Ornstein sought in their book so long ago. It’s the excuse for a classroom centered around social interaction and designed to limit the cultural transmission of knowledge built up over generations that makes humans a very special species and some people downright extraordinary in their impact on all of us and the direction of civilization.

Kolodner sees people as “goal processors who make our way through the world trying to achieve our goals” which strikes me as a horrifically hobbling vision for the future. Like so many other reformers she wants to shift our daily perceptions going forward and limit us to our previous experiences coupled to theoretical framing school will provide. Yrjo would approve. The end result of these classroom activities are students who are adaptable to uncertain, new, and rapidly changing conditions. Which of course the ed reforms intend to drive. Students who are capable of complex communication and social interaction. The world trembles at the thought of a superpower preparing ALL students to be in the habit of listening and asking questions of each other and making presentations. We also get students capable of non-routine problem solving and self-management which is starting to sound a great deal like David Conley’s definition of College and Career Ready  created for the Gates Foundation.

Finally, students learn to be good systems thinkers and to see themselves as embedded in systems. Even if it is not true in reality, it is such a useful metaphor to get students to see themselves as part of a community instead of an independent individual.

No wonder Paul Ehrlich is running around giving UN presentations that humanity is more than 5 years into a global program to radically change human behavior.

Yes indeed, driven by education reforms that are poorly understood and collectivist political theories masquerading as learning theories.

 

New Mindsets and Changed Values Tied to ICT as the Long Sought Marxian New Mode of Production

Computers and ICT generally just keeps getting cited as the magic technology that Marx and Engels speculated could allow a world where everyone’s needs get met. Advances in technology was a hugely important concept in all their political theorizing of how in the future society would be organized in radically different ways. That the age of the individual and capitalism would be over. It’s the era I have explained as small c communism in previous posts because that is what they called it. Well, they also called it the age of association and community. Princeton prof Robert Tucker said it was to be a time of positive humanism. Since that term is less off-putting than either communism or Marxist Humanism, that strikes me as a better term for us to use so we don’t bring in visions of Kremlin Walls or Mao’s Black Book uninvited. But the future social and economic vision is the same as what we have encountered under varying names in numerous posts now.

And the prosperous West remains the target. With education as the preferred vehicle to gain the desired changes in consciousness and values and attitudes and especially feelings. We in the West assumed the PH vision was about who had what. But it turns out Uncle Karl’s theory had what might be called a magic trigger. Let me explain with a quote:

“every historical mode of production has been conditioned by the nature of the available means of production or state of technology. As [Marx] puts it in a vivid passage, ‘The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.’ According to this view, the rise of a new technology, a new set of material productive powers…”

necessarily triggers a social revolution. Computers, the Internet, cellphone communication etc–what I and others abbreviate as ICT–are being held up as that triggering technology. And to put it bluntly we have political idealogues, ready to administer public sector and NGO bureaucrats, and tech and media companies ready to stop future competition, who are quite happy to use education to commence the needed changes in mindsets and values. All while being well-paid of course. All over the globe but especially in the US. That’s really a big part of what Common Core is about when you peel back the layers and delve into the ever present, consistent, feature–must use ICT as an integral part of classroom. The focus.

Being honest that this tracks back to Uncle Karl would of course be a bad PR selling point so instead we get university students being told that “unjust ecological and social conditions” require “transformation of existing power relations and even worldviews.” Radical change needs minds that have been primed to accept “a society based upon distribution according to need” and primed for activism. Students who believe in the “possibility of realizing it, of moving from the world as it is to the world as it ought to be.”

Gaming and role-playing and little factual knowledge are really useful to such aspirations of transformative change. Luckily for the Change-the-World Crowd the visual, concrete, nature of making school about the use of the computer and making films and power points ditches the abstract mind bolstering aspects of reading print that is designed around symbols for sounds. Remember that when you find out that Pearson and the MacArthur Foundation underwrote a 2011 PBS special called “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” hyping the new types of literacy. How digital media is “changing the ecology of reading and writing” so it is no longer “doing the type of reading where you sit in your bedroom by yourself reading a novel.”

What about under an umbrella on the beach while working on a tan I ask in alarm?

No, “kids need to get a deep passion” for what they are doing and school needs to be about what will make them feel passionate. We shouldn’t be rewarding the “kid who stays up late reading a book” while “a kid who spends that same time working with his guild in ‘World of Warcraft’ is thought to have a problem.” Yes, these quotes are coming straight from the program’s transcript.   http://www.pbs.org/parents/digital-media/pdf/digital-media-transcript.pdf Have a read if you can stand it. The vision of “where learning and assessment are the same thing.” Which is precisely what Robert Torres said is a big part of the Gates Foundation’s current focus. So that computer, role-playing, games become the means of measuring whether learning is occurring.

No I am not kidding. Torres spoke at the G Summit in April 2013 on “Transforming Education with Gamification” and saw it as a means of determining if the Common Core Standards and the new science standards are being met. And I noticed that very time the interviewer, Gabe Zicherman, brought up knowledge, Torres switched back to his preferred term–learning. Behavioral changes then will do while the head remains quite empty.

In case you are stunned by this whole idea, here’s the June 28, 2012 News Release creating GlassLab–The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab–under the premise that “video games can revolutionize American education and students’ testing and learning. We can harness students’ passion and energy for video games and utilize that to reach and educate a 21st century workforce with skills critical for college and career readiness.” One can just imagine this idea of work or college but at least all the students will get plenty of daily practice with the designated new mode of production. http://www.instituteofplay.org/2012/06/2498glass-lab-press-release/ Torres is quoted as saying “we need projects that will work with students and speak to them in their native language: digital media. Through game-based learning, students will be challenged, and teachers and parents can get real-time feedback on student progress.”

Will the parents really understand that the Growth and Achievement are from being online and immersed in role-playing video games? Will they understand that the games will count as Literacy under the Common Core? This presentation is about 7 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahYeJ5LmnXI . You can decide if this is your idea of desirable Learning or Literacy. And with Pearson and NewsCorp’s Amplify and many of our Gordon Commission members involved with GlassLab, this really does look like the intended future. Have a look if you’d like  http://glasslabgames.org/

One of the people interviewed as part of that PBS program was Dr Nichole Pinkard, founder of Chicago’s Digital Youth Network. Which Gates is supporting but not quite as generously as the $50 million the MacArthur Foundation has plowed in. Here’s the vision of a different design for classroom learning  http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/pinkard-videogames-inspire-classroom-design/ Dr Pinkard made a very interesting statement in her interview with PBS. She said that “literacy has always been defined by technology.” Under this theory of history grounded in you know who’s writings, the technology changes the type of consciousness. So the printing press and moveable type are what made print the new designated form of literacy. And this line of thinking goes, since we now have tablets and films and videos on demand and computers learning to respond to sound, we should change the nature of what constitutes literacy.

Now John Dewey and the Soviet psychologists, among others, all understood that learning to decode and use symbols for sound or math that did not look visually like the concept they actually stood for is what turbocharged the potentials of the individual mind. (As compared with drawing a fish to symbolize a fish). And in the name of Equity and Mastery Learning and Gamification and Engagement and the new Era of ICT, we are trashing that herd-defying, capable of logic, abstract mind. Trying to put the Genie Back in the Bottle and deliberately regress in the average person’s working knowledge.

I simply cannot imagine a scenario where this will turn out well. It’s just a matter of how far down this Expensive Road to Ignorance we travel before recognizing what is going on.

I believe Marxism in essence is a Public Sector Subjugation Theory over the Individual and his or her Precious Mind. I get why people who currently have power, or who want more like the UN, would want to keep bringing it back. It levels the most capable and turns everyone else into reliable clients in search of “Bread and Circuses” delivered by the public sector and their privileged cronies.

And we may not be able to stop this but it is certainly time we understood what infamous theories we are really dealing with here. And thus why digital literacy and the use of the computer in some form is front and center now in education.

Hyping Personalized Digital Instead of Closed-Loop Learning Sounds Better. Omits all that Troubling Data Gathering Too

I really am not opposed to the 21st Century. I simply notice when I am dealing with a slogan for self-interested change instead of the real rationale. For a long time that has been my suspicion about the Digital Learning push. It would enrich the sellers of all that computer equipment and software. But it’s a lot more than that. I have come a long way since a speech by former West Virginia Governor, Bob Wise, hyping Digital Learning by pulling at the heart strings. He had the audience visualizing the children in isolated Appalachian hamlets hungry for knowledge. Suddenly gaining access to the top science lecturers via ICT and having the chance to move beyond their current circumstances.

I remember thinking that I had just read repeated insistences that under the Common Core teaching template lecturing and explaining concepts systematically were out. As in better not do it if you want to keep your job. So the poignant story just came across as a desire to sell Digital Learning where the facts did not fit the sales job. But we have education doctorates now credentialing based on an agreement to make technology the focus of school. It’s central to the accreditation vision of schools and districts going forward. It is central to the UN’s vision of the 21st century “bureaucrats manage us and we don’t complain about it” Knowledge Society.

The one I explained here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ where knowledge as we know it is mostly missing and intuitions and hunches substitute just fine. I have ed tech conferences going back more than two decades giddily acknowledging that digital learning is a Trojan Horse, weakening academics but doing wonders for social inclusion. We have Basareb Nicolescu, President of UNESCO’s CIRET, writing about “The Transdisciplinary Evolution of Learning” where “mentalities evolve” because “courses at all levels” must now “sensitize students and awaken them to the harmony between beings and things.” Remember that when we get to Learning Maps below. And that this consistency of coursework is best accomplished by extending “networks, such as the Internet, and ‘invent’ the education of the future by insuring planet-wide activity in continuous feedback, thereby establishing interactions on the universal level for the first time.”

Which certainly sounds like what is going on with the MOOCs like EdX and their now global partnership of higher ed institutions. The problem no one is focusing on was laid out in a November 2012 UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE for short) report on Learner Analytics. If you are not familiar with IITE, perhaps it is because it is located in Moscow. Yes, the one that likes onion-domed architecture and seriously regrets the loss of its former Superpower status. In case “Learner Analytics” is a new term for you too, I will include IITE’s definition. Since the US Department of Ed has also quietly put out a report advocating LA and education data mining, let’s all listen up now:

Learning Analytics appropriates [captured digital data to help inform decision-making] for education. With the growth of huge data sets and computational power, this extends to designing infrastructures that exploit rapid feedback, to inform more timely interventions, whose impact can then be monitored. Organizations have increasingly sensitive ‘digital nervous systems’ providing real time feedback on the external environment and the effect of actions.”

So in K-12 Digital Learning the computer system is capturing a great deal of info on each student’s interests, capabilities, responses to questions, attitudes, perseverence, actions, etc. As to MOOCs and free online gaming, well that LA report said point blank:

“The free hosting of learning platforms and courses by initiatives such as Harvard+MIT’s edX are quite openly motivated by the opportunities that come with the ownership of unprecedented data sets from millions of learners’ interactions.”

Which is apparently so useful that MIT now has a Human Dynamics Lab looking at a society enabled by Big Data. http://hd.media.mit.edu/ . Something to think about with Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer and reorganizing 21st century society around systems thinking. And the push at Harvard and MIT for Action Science and a new economy based on needs and distributed capitalism. Not to be paranoid but the National Academy of Sciences really did advocate that the US economy be reorganized around Sustainability and planned with Big Data with the aid of the tech companies like Microsoft and IBM. And at the precise same time K-12 and higher ed are being reorganized to limit knowledge and just rain personal behavioral data on companies like Coursera and EdX and NewsCorp’s Amplify and Carnegie and Gates-funded inBloom. What are the odds?

I read the new book Big Data this weekend and it states that if another company came up with “an e-commerce site, social network, or search engine that was much better than today’s leaders like Amazon, Google, or Facebook, it would have trouble competing…because so much of the leading firms’ performance is due to the data exhaust they collect from customer interactions and incorporate back into the service.” Now if that is true now, imagine combining that inferential data with all the personal behavioral data scheduled to become available from the new gaming focus of K-12 and the expansion of the MOOCs and the online delivery of basic math and literacy skills.

When I had the epiphany that perhaps the real purpose of the Common Core State Standards was to get Digital Learning in place and all the behavioral data that would then start to flow, I searched for a connection to Big Data. Up popped this recent article http://online.stanford.edu/news/2013/02/19/learning-goes-digital-big-data-can-guide-us on Stanford Prof Roy Pea, a big fan of Soviet Lev Vygotsky, who we already met in this troubling Cyberlearning post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/

I actually listened to the hourlong EduCause keynote speech by Professor Pea and took good notes, Beyond all the data flowing out of MOOCs, both Professor Pea and the OSCon July 2012 speech of Danny Hillis from Applied Minds he referenced (and I also listened to) made it clear that online courses require Learning Maps. Closed Loop Learning Maps of a Domain that the student moves through with a visual interaction via computer. Hillis and Pea said the Common Core takes K-12 in this direction and then each put up a slide of skills with the title: “Example of Competencies That the Map Needs to Show.”

MOOCs then would do the same for higher ed. In fact, Pea lamented that “learning maps are conspicuously absent” in higher ed and that their “development is an ‘urgent priority.” Doesn’t that sound lovely? These are the skills step-by-step we want you to have and we are designing backward from the end view. The skills needed for the UN’s Knowledge Society.  The one of just experiential knowledge and hunches and basic skills as described above and in this deeply troubling recent report   http://www.un.org/sg/management/pdf/HLP_P2015_Report.pdf

Hillis and Pea both talked about the InBloom K-12 database that will make “open access, flexible, useful learning maps and recommended learning resources for every student’s specific interests and needs–a reality throughout US schools.” Which is of course only possible because of all the personal behavioral data to be captured by the computers and software and Amplify tablets etc. Hillis also mentioned that the Gates Foundation funded the buildout of inBloom’s “personalized learning” infrastructure as part of its much broader interests in education that go far beyond the Common Core.

Now the Big Data book says it is now impossible for an individual to limit the flows of Big Data everyday and that we just need to make the companies accountable for what they do with it. But accountable to who? The US federal government wants the tech companies to help governments at all levels rework the nature of the economy. The UN wants the Knowledge Society with a global Mutual Benefit economy that looks like a modern version of that little c communism vision that Uncle Karl came up with so long ago. They claim that will result in a peaceful world by 2030. Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability and MOOCs and Competencies and 21st Century Learning are ALL premised on this revised UN-developed vision of the future.

I know because IITE issued an April 2012 Policy Brief that says precisely that called “ICTs for Curriculum Change.” Where is our recourse if that’s the vision the Gates Foundation is actually funding our transformation to? or Carnegie? or the National Science Foundation?

And through inBloom and Digital Learning and expanding MOOCs we are about to put Big Data on steroids with info on thoughts and desires and feelings for virtually every student in K-12. Professor Pea pointed out that MOOCs will not be about working with a professor. They will be about students working with each other. An online social learning community throwing off personal data.

Community. Community. The omnipresent vision of the 21st century.

Will there be any place for the independent individual in this vision?

Students Must See Themselves as Active Participants in Social Change and Designers of Social Futures

Before I tell you where that quote came from and what the connection is to the Gordon Commission, I want to go back in time first. I did what I frequently do when presented with troubling declarations of plans that I know will come to a poor end. I went back to someone who dealt with comparable aspirations and ideologies for insights into what is really going on and how this might end. History is much more reliable than a crystal ball. And, unlike the Marxist historians active in Europe before World War I and the 1920s, I do not use historical research as a “means of political agitation.” I will confess though it can be more useful than espresso as a jolting wakeup call.

No, I am not that ancient except to my kids but I did go back to someone who lived through what happened in Europe in the early 20th century and presciently recognized the gravity of what he was looking at. Economist Ludwig Von Mises saw that history and political theories were being used all around him “to provide weapons against the hated bourgeois order of society.” Remember that quote when we get to the end of this post. Von Mises was infatuated with socialism when he was younger, like most German and Austrian intellectuals of that time. But he wrote the book Socialism to explain why he believed it would not work. Long before Communism had crashed and burned in the USSR or the Germans tried out a more Corporatist and Nationalist version of socialism that launched 2 world wars. I wanted his insights into why planning societies does not work from what he saw in real time. The book was originally published in German in 1932 so Von Mises is speaking from quite a unique vantage point.

What I hit upon instead was so on point with using education to shut down the abstract mind and push action instead. Plus the desire we keep encountering to supply the interpretive concepts and metaphors, instead of accurate facts, to filter student’s daily reality. I decided we could use Von Mises’s observations from so long ago.

“Abstract thought is independent of the wishes which move the thinker and of the aims for which he strives. Only this independence qualifies it as thought. Wishes and purposes regulate action (his italics).”

Von Mises goes on in a footnote to clarify that “the wish is the father of faith.“  Faith is thus what all these education reforms are really trying to create. Do you remember this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/  where influential Harvard psychology prof Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi  laid out his vision of the Flow experience? As Von Mises ably observed in dealing with earlier “Let’s Remake the World Schemers,” there is no abstract thought when wish for and feeling are joined to thought. It is the sort of cultivated personality ready to attend and celebrate at rallies without a second thought. Csik’s Flow and the idea of physical activity in a digital environment instead of mental is mentioned throughout this new view of curriculum and assessment we started to look at in the last post. A primary solution for engaging students at school and keeping them in school is Gaming. As in video games.

That really caught my interest for several reasons. I know the Gates Foundation has been funding it for the Common Core implementation. I know that Professor James Paul Gee, who we discovered in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/ does not believe in the concept of discrete individuals, has pivoted in the last 10 years in his education research to focusing on gaming. And I know that Amplify has been hyping Zombie-Based Apocalypse simulations as learning on its website. To get to what Joel Klein has called “new kinds of minds” I suppose.

So Pearson and the Gordon Commission and everyone else is pushing Gaming. And Gee who wants education to help create people to be “better modules in a distributed non-authoritarian system” is both a member of the Commission and pushing Gaming instead of linguistic mischief making. His previous research mission. Although if you look up his report “Good Video Games and Good Learning” you will see he is quite excited that Gaming helps move education beyond its fetish with print and words. Important to the schemers as we now know.

What do they mean by Gaming? As we saw with the Zombie Apocalypse simulation story that cited sources acknowledging that this type of digital learning is known to weaken the mind http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/creating-new-minds-different-values-equity-in-credentials-can-this-really-lead-us-to-prosperity/ , the point of the simulations described is to practice planning and redesigning societies. You can see why I went back to Von Mises. So the same report that starts off maligning knowledge of facts as “banking education” wants students to practice reimagining other ways for societies to exist and to come to believe that societies can be planned. And the games cited are multi-user to get both social interaction and collaboration practice. Cited are the game River City where the students learn to solve a simulated 19th century city’s problems. At least in the virtual world with the provided, controlled variables. A difference from the real world that is not likely to be pointed out to the students or the teachers.

Then there is the “epistemic game called Urban Science that mimics the professional practicum experiences of urban planners.” Yes, because they are noted for doing a bang-up job with planning in the real world. Let’s ignore that and go with Professor Don Schon’s aspirations for cities and people to be systems that can be treated as problems to be solved. The virtual world awaits and the students immersed in such Gaming are likely to soon accept social and economic planning and fiats as a norm.

Perhaps the most graphic example of where all this is going in the Pearson/ Gordon Commission report is the game Quest Atlantis. There the aim is explicitly described like this:

“the focus of critical design work is to develop sociotechnical structures that facilitate individuals in critiquing and improving themselves and the societies in which they function.”

In fact the creators of the game noted that:

“although they could have focused the Quest Atlantis virtual environment solely on particular science standards about erosion, they became concerned with highlighting attitudes toward environmental awareness and social responsibility.”

And just in case you are wondering where are values, feelings, and beliefs that usually go along with these outcome-based maneuvers to change future behavior, the authors did not forget. They go on to describe how they:

“decided to make a structure connected to social commitments, creating a story [because all political schemers seem to know children learn better with a narrative!] about collecting pieces of crystal, with each representing a social commitment the designers wanted to enforce, like political awareness. They instilled in the community around the game a value of these commitments through the design of the ecosystem.”

The title of this post is quoted from the Introduction to Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures and it was too consistent with the aspirations of the Gaming emphasis not to use. Plus Gee and Courtney Cazden of the Discourse Classroom that we met in the Community of Learners post were both contributors. In fact Gee acknowledged that all these education reforms are to “change the game, that is, to change our society” to what he called a distributed economic system.

You may have noticed all the focus on cities and urban education above and in Edmund Gordon’s mission as a professor. Likewise there are increasingly stories about students being told to learn about White Privilege or their “economic class.” This week’s version involved Americorps workers in Wisconsin but the reports are increasing around the US. So I want to close this post and set up the next one with another quote from Gee’s “New People in New Worlds” essay from the book.

“We, then, really have two school problems. [to get to the sought new economic order]. The first concerns how to ensure that poor and minority children, really for the first time, get well educated enough to participate in building and transforming our societies. The second concerns how to ensure that advantaged children can get out of school able to think ‘critiquely’ about issues of power and social justice in the new global capitalist order.”

How succinct was that admission of the essence of what we are dealing with?

Values and Vocational: Creating Citizen Drones Via Education Worldwide

Citizen Drones may seem harsh. Honestly though there are a limited number of times you can insist that the desired education reforms are in “preparation for responsible citizenship” while describing a political and economic coup as part of the program and not trigger an image of Student as a Drone. Future Adult as a Drone. Waiting to be told via communication software where it is to go and what it is to do and what it should care about. And what it should be concerned about.

Especially when the Responsible Citizenship as a Comrade, I mean Citizen, with the Right to Vote in its Desired Representative Government, is in the context of shifting to a Government Led Reorganized Economy. A No Growth Economy in a Post-GDP world. Where the Citizenship and Education Plan writers also mention that they do not intend to Fully Prescribe Individual Behavior. That they See a Government Public Sector that Nudges but does not Shove.

How Enlightened of the Government Apparatus. I am quite sure that Government Officials and Employees all over the world who have been told that the State is rightfully in charge of “human agency and social exchange” will undoubtably show that the 21st Century is in fact a time of miraculous change in Human Nature. That with THAT mandate it is perfectly reasonable to expect an “equal partnership between the public and the public sector.” Unicorns will prance in Fields of Gold and official decrees will go out “putting an end to ‘them and us’.” Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows will be available to all at no cost and with a minimum of work so that this “Equal Partnership” can “co-produce well-being for all.”

Now if you sometimes find my posts painful to read, remember I just provide illustrating anecdotes to make my point. I actually read these documents and books. ALL of them. Those quotes above in a recent new economics foundation (nef) report called The Great Transition came from rereading that report while mulling this Laptops for All, Tablets for All Push, that I first described here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mind-thieves-everyday-examples-that-add-up-to-a-cultural-and-political-tsunami/ . That post has really been on my mind since I discovered that Mooresville, NC super has been featured on the Amplify website and asked to speak on a panel at the Foundation for Excellence in Education conference in DC. So what we might see as a Problem and a Bug, others view as a Change to be Openly Touted.

Which has really been bothering me since last Thursday when I went to hear a Deputy Super speak in the Large Suburban Atlanta School District with the Duplicitous Charter. I went because I wanted to ask about the Tablets to Gain New Minds Presentation that I wrote about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/ridiculing-the-1860s-mind-as-unsuitable-for-the-21st-century-cui-bono/ . And I did, flustering the Deputy Super who kept insisting that the Amplify/ AT&T contract was not yet in the RFP stage. What a relief! Then he went on to say that Fulton’s Plan was to top what Forsyth County was doing with technology. Well, fully digitized seems hard to top. Anyway, my whole point was supposed to be concern that we would emulate Forsyth.

Making school about using a Tool is making school Vocational. And a computer is a Tool. Even Steve Jobs would recognize that. And nonintellectual if it holds the knowledge to be tapped. That is my concern with the mandated integration of the computer. Apart from the repeated declaration that it hobbles the mind. And intentionally so.

In preparation for writing up my concerns I went back and reread the pertinent UNESCO and  nef reports to doublecheck my recollection that they were mandating technology for All precisely because they desired a vocational direction as the primary education experience to be mandated for all. No more Gifted. No more Special Ed. No more English as a Second Language Classroom. Immersive for All with a Vocational Orientation using the Tool of the Computer. Which is precisely what I found but in the Exact Same Documents is this Altered Economy and Society and Political Structure with No Use for the Independent Individual.

That’s a problemmatic Vision to be implementing via education. Especially in the US which still does technically have a Constitution that makes the Individual the Primary Rights holder instead of a Subject looking for the Government’s Permission on what she can do and be. The Thursday meeting actually became more troubling as parents noted that the ESPLOST vote the previous year had been premised on school improvements and rebuilding on a certain schedule because of overcrowding. All of a sudden the plans involving a suburban, affluent,  just outside the city limits line of Atlanta Public Schools, elementary and high school were being postponed despite serious overcrowding. All of the desired technology though was still coming. No changes. Despite a decline in estimated taxes to be received.

No, I have not had the heart to tell anyone else at that meeting that all the School Integration and Resegregation Theories have a big Bullseye painted on that Suburb as a Prime Candidate for Interdistrict Transfers. What Idealogues have been craving in Atlanta and other metro areas for decades. Facts aligning so well with Theories are rarely Coincidental. The point was that there was no give on the Tablets and Technology. Verifying what I had long suspected. The Computer Technology and the resulting shift to a vocational orientation was the whole point of the ESPLOST. Hard to get a property tax increase for such a fungible good.  Visual and Vocational and new Values was always the Primary Goal.

UNESCO’s vision for fully integrating technology into the classroom, which would be the step beyond Forsyth, would be technology as a tool to foster “student engagement and participation.” Which is certainly not what the taxpayers in that high achieving county had in mind when they were sold on the benefits of becoming a charter system. Unfortunately, the language of that Charter dovetails perfectly with the UNESCO Global Education For All vision that decrees:

“an integral part of everyone’s basic education is the form of initiation to technology, the world of work, and human values and standards for responsible citizenship.” Ugh, that phrase again. By the way, this Vocational/Technical Education for All as both the Floor and the Ceiling for All Students expressly includes the

“harmonious development of personality and character, and foster spiritual and human values, the capacity for understanding, judgement, critical thinking and self-expression.”

But that UNESCO vision of Education for All is also tied to a planned “national and, if possible, regional social and economic requirements of the present and future.” That presumed Citizen as Subject Vision again. Finally, I found a rather succinct version of this education to change “human culture, politics, and values” as part of a New Economics based on moving away from fossil fuels and a No Growth Future based on a new Sense of Well-being. Just what we have outlined in previous posts. Not a shock, the description can be found on the website of nef’s US affliate,  New Economics Institute. http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/content/new-economics-21st-century

Written by a Board member, Neva Goodwin, there are already textbooks ready for college students to learn this Economics in Context. A big clue to the hole this fills that was left by Uncle Karl’s bad press and poor results is hinted at by the language translations already-Russian, Vietnamese, and Italian. They don’t call it Red Bologna for nothing.

So if this technology push and Education for All with a vocational orientation and new Values, Communitarian Values, is based on a centrally planned economy with the premise that “we must accept the end of economic growth as we know it,” shouldn’t that be part of the conversation with the future Citizens/Comrades/ Taxpayers?

If we need New Minds to be willing to tolerate a future of Subjugation by the Political Class, can’t we talk about it in advance? Or do we just pay our property taxes and shut up? Deferring to every Edudoctor turned out by a College of Education.

Right now we seem to have a Revolution going on Globally in the Name of Education that will Compromise Tomorrow’s Possibilities for All of us Forever. And all we are getting is Deceit on what is Really Going On. From people whose salaries we pay.

Can we please discuss all this before these Huge Technology Expenditures? In school districts all over the World?

 

 

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.

 

 

Ridiculing the 1860s Mind as Unsuitable for the 21st Century: Cui Bono?

Sometimes these days my life feels a bit like that Broadway farce A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Yet another official power grabbing, crony rewarding, and individual subjugating report will come out that I catch and know I need to tell you about.  Then as I continue my snooping into what is going on out in the real world, I get the perfect illustration of why this all matters. Even if you don’t currently have a child in K-12 or in higher ed.

I was going to explain this week’s release of the troubling “Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy” from our politicized National Academy of Sciences (again! John Holdren is VERY busy) where the “Science” is the Social Sciences, not Chemistry or Physics. Shades of what we detailed here.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/ And Evidence is Needed because of the official belief and desire that our economy and society, an Ecosystem according to the Planners, needs to be managed by decisionmakers with the proper credentials instead of people themselves.

So I attended an “Innovation in Education Conference” on October 24 put on by the State Chamber of Commerce with official support from businesses likely to benefit from the new emphasis on digital literacy and technology and  Sustainability and Soft Skills and a new Culture as the focus of the classroom. In the sought Mercantile post-Consumer 21st Century Communitarian world we have discussed numerous times http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-adam-smith-write-a-book-explaining-why-this-is-a-bad-idea-back-in-1776/ this is not a shocking concept anymore. I do wish though these vendors seeking government contracts and political protection from competition for their current products would quit pretending their education advocacy efforts were all “for the children.” Philanthropic endeavors where they just wanted to give a heads up for future workforce hiring purposes.

But I am a tough, old, experienced corporate negotiator who has seen a great deal of what makes a business work and recommended walking away from deals that do not. When your audience is politicians and public and private sector bureaucrats, they can be fine, well-intentioned people. But you get a bobbing heads agreement to social policy talking points where the individual with his or her own money on the line in a free market would say ” Wait a minute. What are you really urging?”

The dangers of the herd and trying to manage and rearrange an economy at the political level are even more acute when the policies sought go to changing personality traits of children and limiting their ability to think rationally at all. While locking in the policies as a taxpayer paid contract with a district Super or School Principal or even the state. As a Student of History, let me just say that Benito in the 20s and 30s had a name for that kind of Corporatism trying to squelch the individual in favor of the collective while profiting from the lucrative connections. And no it was not a movement of the Right. It was collectivist socialism with the revenues of the economy being split among political favorites in addition to government officials. Jonah Goldberg wrote an excellent book about it.

Back to the Luncheon. The talking point was the supposed need for a new kind of education for the 21st century centered around the student (let’s all chime in snarkily “to actually change their values, attitudes, and beliefs”) through making school about using computers and digital technology. Missing was the fact that Soviet Psychologist Lev Vygotsky recognized that these external cognitive tools would change  people mentally once you made use of the device the focus. The known and desired hobbling effects on the human mind were conveniently left out of the presentation.

So whatever the convenience of the computer as a tool,  Totalitarian governments have also rejoiced that it can become an Individualism Extraction Device. The repeated rhetoric about lecturing by the best prof or teacher you ever met is mostly an illusion to sell the devices and broadband and get it to the classroom. And education conferences in the US were giddily calling this digital tech initiative a Trojan Horse and a subversion technique to finally get John Dewey’s vision of democracy by 1990. Yes, I do have a copy of the book. And rereading it yesterday did delay this post.

So politically connected Joel Klein who is now heading up the company Amplify  http://www.newscorp.com/news/news_536.html was the Keynote Luncheon Speaker. A state politician did the introduction and emphasized the constantly pitched need to change education for the 21st century economy. The intro made a reference to not needing the kind of education suitable for the 1960s. That was an odd decade to use since that is when the onslaught via federal government money coercing changes via behavioral and social sciences really began in earnest. It was also when SAT scores stopped advancing. Plus economists have noted it is when real per capita growth in the economy began to slow down dramatically.

So I am thinking a 1960s mind would probably be darn useful for a genuinely innovative 21st Century economy that really was about mass prosperity. And here is where I believe Joel Klein went off his prepared normal presentation based on quotes I recognized and reports I have actually read celebrating education that is visual and Tablet-based instead of intellectual. He got up and said, probably to emphasize the need for dramatic change, that traditional education was actually promoting an 1860s mind. Horrors was the desired reaction Joel wanted from his audience and nodding and bobbing heads in agreement is what he got. Not surprising as every experienced trial lawyer I know can play an audience.

But let’s think about this for a minute as I think this is an important herd lesson on precisely why you do not want the government using education to monitor and plan people’s personalities so they develop a communitarian mindset. Selling contracts with taxpayer funds to put devices in place that consciously seek to shut down the ability to think abstractly and independently. Manipulating emotions of 5 Year Olds via chosen vendors in the name of Soft Skills and Positive School Culture.

The 1860s mind being belittled and scorned was the Age of the Individual with almost universal genuine literacy. Did you know coal mining camps in the 1870s put on Shakespeare plays with widespread participation from the miners? The 1860s Mind fought the bloodiest war in US history because it so valued the individual that slavery became unacceptable. The 1860s Mind hatched the Industrial Revolution and the great inventions of the 20th century. And the greatest mass prosperity the world has ever known. And if bad things happened in the 20th century, they were never launched in a society or a culture that cherished the individual. They were always launched in societies that pushed the collective.

There is a mention in that Amplify press release above about Digital Learning leading to an “equitable society” which sounds like John Dewey’s little “d” democracy to me.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-quality-learning-may-be-the-last-thing-you-want-for-your-child/ . I think taxpayers have a right to know that is what is being sought and what the likely costs are even if they have already stupidly approved the revenues to be delivered up in an ESPLOST referendum. Taxpayers and parents should know that the real assault is on Axemaker Minds  in suburban schools created at home by attentive parents. Now to be under organized assault at school. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/blending-sustainability-and-education-to-gain-arational-nonlinear-minds-and-new-behaviors/

I am going to close with a point from the Computers as Cognitive Tools book  I mentioned above coupled with a point from a book on Ecological Literacy to get to a new Postmodern World that came out about the same time. The 1990 conference focused on the ability of the computer to be a pedagogical tool that would reshape the student’s mental processing. The computer can also be used to instruct and transmit knowledge but that is expressly not the function educators want. Recognizing that reality lurking behind the lovely videos or Powerpoint speeches, lets go back to  Professor David Orr who we have met before.

As always the whole point of Ecology Policy Making has to do with “changing the way we think and what we think about” to shift away from the Modern World’s emphasis on the “I’, the interiorized ego” capable of rational thought.

“I think it is time to ask about the software of sustainability as well, and thus about the qualities people will need to build and maintain a durable civilization. . . [One with] people motivated by a sense that their wellbeing is linked to that of others and to other life forms.”

We have nodding heads about matters with unappreciated actual stakes and likely tragic consequences. We have a current federal desire for Policy Making via Social Sciences being sought in the name of implementing Peter Senge’s Systems Thinking and destroying lingering Climate Skepticism. Once again we see why the schemers do not want Axemaker Minds with knowledge of history coming out of classrooms or sitting in the audience.

Ooops.