Remember the old strategy of accusing someone else of the precise wrong you are actually up to in order to obscure your own mischief? This recent story in Foreign Policy magazine called “Beyond Propaganda” https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/23/beyond-propaganda-legatum-transitions-forum-russia-china-venezuela-syria/ would have us believe only authoritarian countries like those listed are intent in the 21st century in what the article describes as “what the Chinese call ‘thought work’–and the Soviets called the ‘engineering of human souls.’” Since my book Credentialed to Destroy and recently this blog have been full of techniques, practices, and theories that unabashedly track back to the USSR and even Stalin’s druthers, I thought that declaration of intent deserved a place in one of my titles. Especially if I can trace it all the way into the current draft of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, scheduled to come up for debate in the US Senate next week on July 7.
I can now do even more tracing than that though, all the way back to what Frankfurt School member (look it up if unfamiliar) and social psychologist Kurt Lewin called the Principles of Re-Education. I found this recently in a 1951 book on using Curriculum Change in K-12 schools to engineer social change and new kinds of Human Relations. See if this quote doesn’t bear a striking resemblance to what came to be called Outcomes-Based Education (covered in my book) in the 90s and what now gets covered as Conceptual Understandings and Core Disciplinary Ideas or “Lenses”, a Whole Child/SEL focus that is written into ECAA as well as most state waivers I have seen, and the reason ‘tests’ are being eliminated in favor of performance assessments like tasks and Project-Based Learning. Italics in original.
“…The re-educative process affects the individual in three ways. It changes his cognitive structure, the way he sees the physical and social worlds, including all his facts, concepts, beliefs, and expectations. It modifies his valences and values, and these embrace both his attractions and aversions to groups and group standards, his feelings in regard to status differences, and his reactions to sources of approval or disapproval. And it affects motoric action, involving the degree of the individual’s control over his physical and social movements.”
If that’s too long, Lewin also put it more succinctly in writing that the “basic task of re-education can thus be viewed as one of changing the individual’s social perception.” To the degree that the actual language in ECAA or in Competency-based education local initiatives mirrors Lewin’s focus for re-education then, the real purposes of these classroom shifts and mandates are the same as his. Even though that goes unstated and even unknown by the local teachers or administrators and politicians pushing the change. Even Project-Based Learning and the Maker Movement hype should be filtered through another Lewin confession that “a factor of great importance in bringing about a change in sentiment is the degree to which the individual becomes actively involved in the problem…Lacking this involvement, no objective fact is likely to reach the status of a fact for the individual concerned and therefore influence his social conduct.”
That quote would also account for all that role-playing we are seeing pushed as the new way to do history and social studies. Anyway, I will come back to the present but not quite yet. We do get to officially tie these sought K-12 changes though to the WIOA required systems thinking and Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society that also goes by the name of little c communism. We also get to tie it officially to the Carnegie Corporation and Rockefeller Foundation’s World Order Models Project from the 70s I have written about before. It turns out Ervin Laszlo (who has a tag) may be pushing a Holos Consciousness now with the Dalai Llama and Club of Budapest http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/evolution-to-a-holos-consciousness-is-certainly-not-my-idea-of-education-reform-is-it-yours/ , but in 1974 he wrote about the need for a new “conceptual synthesis” as being necessary along with new values to get the needed behavioral change.
“if the coming world order will be a viable one, its conceptual synthesis will be explicit, far-ranging, scientifically-based, and pregnant with normative guidelines for practical behaviors.”
And monitoring for the presence of that conceptual synthesis, or what Lewin called the change in cognitive structure to guide perception and thus future behavior, is precisely why the Civil Rights groups want ECAA to mandate that all states and districts must assess for Higher-Order Thinking Skills and Understanding. Laszlo makes it clear that the phrase “scientifically-based” means “guidelines for concrete action” that will be necessary to bring about the “needed societal-cultural transformations” toward the necessity of meeting the ‘needs’ of all the world’s peoples. I have covered the Human Development/Little c vision before but this is officially what collectivism looks like as described by Laszlo:
“The rights of individuals, organizations, nation-states, multinational, national, and regional actors are defined in relation to the equitable distribution of goods, services, and institutional patterns required to meet the demands of human need fulfillment on all principal levels, with especial attention to the basic needs for survival, safety, and group belongingness.”
Laszlo recognized that perceived coercion a la the authoritarian states we started this post with creates hostility to changing values and behaviors as needed. He suggested that communication (one of the 4 Cs of 21st century learning) could be used to change the value and belief structures subtly. These planned “systematic communication techniques provide a much more suited and humanly dignified method of producing adequate responses in people than any coercive technique bypassing the individual’s will and self-determination.” Laszlo called this approach psychocivilization and both Competency-based education generally and the language used in ECAA just reeks of transitioning the US to it. It also fits with UNESCO’s push starting in 2010 to Media Education to cover all aspects of the desired tools of communication to shift the globe towards Marxist Humanism. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/decreeing-the-interdependence-of-environment-economy-society-and-cultural-diversity-in-the-21st/ Yes, it was that explicit and fits with what Laszlo envisioned too.
Laszlo concluded with a mention of John Dewey as in: “As Dewey emphasized and humanistic psychologists constantly reaffirm, people require objective goals toward which they can strive and toward which they can progressively approach, rather than states of saturation where the goals are achieved and there is nothing more left to do. The goal is in the seeking, not in final possession.” Now that is a horrifyingly dictatorial view of people as pawns of the powerful, but let’s face it. That IS the intention for the 21st century where political power wants to dictate our goals to us and how we are to behave and even perceive the world and our experiences. What we have is a desire for authoritarian power over the individual in the US and elsewhere without the adverse consequences on compliance of that being accurately perceived and perhaps fought.
Now I am ready to come to the present and what the Consortium on Chicago School Research called “Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Approach”. http://ccsr.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Wallace%20Report.pdf That June 2015 report that begins with “Every society in every age needs to grapple with the question of what outcomes it hopes to produce in raising its young.” Now if that seems to be a case of sloppy pronouns, it’s not. The report asks that we all take on a “collective responsibility for all young people.” Gee, didn’t Uncle Karl have a name for that and isn’t that what Laszlo also envisioned as the reason we needed a psychocivilization? The latter part of this post’s title comes from the report’s complaining that:
“there is an fundamental tension between preparing children to live in a world that is often cast as a tacit acceptance of a profoundly unjust status quo and equipping them to face, navigate, and challenge the inequitable distribution of resources and access that so often limit their opportunities and constrain their potential.”
The July Newsletter from the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools calls for “Equity of opportunity at school as a civil right”, which plays right in with that CCSR Report. As someone who has read ECAA as well as all these books and reports I am hereby asserting two crucial points. First, that the language in ECAA about meeting students’ ‘learning needs’ is intended to incorporate the ‘developmental needs’ criteria laid out in that are laid out in that CCSR framework for Young Adult Success. Further, the identified key factors of young adult success (agency, an integrated identity, and competencies) and the listed four foundational components that underlie them (self-regulation, knowledge and skills, mindsets, and values) are intended to use federal law to force Kurt Lewin’s Principles of Re-Education into every classroom and upon every student.
It also reflects the necessary components for Laszlo’s vision of using General Systems Theory and a conceptual synthesis to force an internalization of the needed change in consciousness for the desired future. When the CCSR Framework touts success as “young people can fulfill individual goals and have the agency and competencies to influence the world around them,” that is language straight out of the USSR and the 1930s when Stalin sought to change the purpose of K-12 education so that Soviet students would come to see themselves as purposeful actors capable of acting on and changing their physical and social world.
I am not really alleging that. I have Luria’s autobiography and the books published in the early 50s by the Carnegie-financed Russian Studies Center at Harvard. It is what it is and we get to recognize the similarities in language and purposes across the decades and continents. I have already written that in my opinion ECAA fits with what UNESCO and Brookings are pushing countries to quietly adopt as the Learning Metrics Task Force that will fit the UN and the OECD’s Post-2015 Agenda. Now I am saying the language also encompasses what Lewin called the Principles for Re-Education and Laszlo called a psychocivilization.
And I always say, “with the methods and theories come the proclaimed purposes.” And the US Senators pushing this and who vote for ECAA can take their place as the most Effective Marxist Change Agents of the 21st Century, whatever their personal intentions.
Because John Dewey, Ervin Laszlo, UNESCO, the OECD, and Kurt Lewin could hardly be more forthcoming about their intentions for these changes.