Once again what may seem like just a graphic means for me to try to grab attention to the level of sought intrusion turns out to actually be a quote of declared intentions from someone who matters. In this case we are back to the Remake Learning Playbook, where the Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, Mark Surman, described how to reach “everyone’s hands and minds. And this means everyone.” Now Hands and Minds may seem like a clever phrase, and I have heard State Ed Commissioners gush about it so we know it gets hyped in the meetings we are not invited to, but what it is really getting at is Action (Hands) and what will compel someone to act in the future (Mind; Emotions). Surman in hyping the potential for innovative learning experiences to force Equity and “tackle systems change”, pointed out that “networks have the potential to slowly transform potential by sneaking through the cracks.”
Hands and Minds and Sneaking through the Cracks–this may be an effective way to use the schools for transformation, but it’s an invisible to most one. When Surman wrote about “young people have the skills and mindsets they need to thrive in today’s world,” his writing could be taken from the English language and 2015 and the American continent and taken back to the 30s and Eurasia and translated into Russian. Stalin too was anxious to turn his young people into purposeful change agents ready to act on and to bring change to their surroundings. To shift the emphasis from the world as it had been and what currently existed to what might be with enough collaborative effort and the right set of guiding ideas.
As usual I am not speculating, in 1950 the Russian Research Center funded by Carnegie at Harvard under an initial 5 year grant that began in 1948 published a book by Barrington Moore on the Role of Ideas in Social Change. He wrote about the role of planning to the Soviets and their use of it as a “technique of deliberately controlled social change…Socialist planners, he [Trotsky] said, should not have the attitudes toward their figures that an astronomer has toward the movement of the stars, which he can predict but cannot control. Socialist plans [should not be] products of passive prediction, but rather [conceived] as tools for action.”
Now if anyone has any doubts that today it is people, especially children, who have been selected to be both the targets of such intrusive change and the means for achieving it in broader realms like the workplace, society, and the economy, take a look at the All-Inclusive Criteria for Becoming A Brilliant Star: Striving for Excellence. http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/brilstar/brlstr10.pdf is just the latest in the determination to make Learning about combining thinking, feeling, and action. There’s also a new Taxonomy by Robert Marzano schools and districts are being urged to use to turn students into Self-Systems, where their the “attitudes, beliefs and feelings that determine an individual’s motivation to complete a task” are being tracked and manipulated. ftp://download.intel.com/education/common/in/resources/dep/skills/marzano.pdf
Now just ponder the significance of those aims being on a tech company-sponsored site and their participation in the 21st Century Skills global push, ATC21S and Charles Fadel’s Center for Curriculum Redesign. http://educacaosec21.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Character-Education-Sao-Paulo-Charles-Fadel.pdf In the last post I mentioned Israel Scheffler, let’s see what he wrote back in 1960 in The Language of Education in proposing a “novel [hard to detect] use of the term ‘curriculum’” where the definition would be
“programmatic, that its point is precisely to apply the familiar term in a strange way, in order to rechannel the practice associated with it. In particular, the programmatic point is to extend the school’s responsibility, hitherto limited to a so-called formal course of study, in such a way as to embrace the individual social and psychological development of its pupils.”
Sounds like Whole Child to me or what ECAA called meeting the non-cognitive needs. No wonder the Rockefeller Foundation wanted Scheffler at Harvard in 1952 if in 1950 Moore wrote in the Section called “Today’s Dilemma” in the Chapter “Theory of Equality” that:
“In contrast with Western ideas, which begin with the individual and extend to the group and society as an instrument serving the needs of the individual, the Soviet concept of freedom stresses the role of society and the group. The Russians are fond of asserting that the full development of the individual’s capabilities and personality is possible only under the socialist organization of society.”
So what happens now when district administrators, statutes, and politicians at every level of both parties abbreviate that push as the “full development of the individual’s capabilities and personality” as the goal? Is that possible in a society where individuals still are empowered vs political institutions hyping Equity and necessary ‘governance’? What if those goals are set out in a Beta Credentials Framework created by Mozilla frequent Partner–the Lumina Foundation–http://connectingcredentials.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ConnectingCredentials-4-29-30.pdf that is intended to bind while remaining unseen.
What if that Framework discloses not just desired ways of Thinking and Personal and Social Skills, but that in the US and internationally there is a Tuning Process to standardize and circumscribe knowledge in each of the disciplines. Also notice the admission of what I warned about in Chapter 4 of my book-the US is adopting Qualifications Frameworks that will bind employers into hiring quotas. There is a recurring theme through the Playbook, the Agency by Design “Maker-Centered Learning and the Determination of Self” mentioned in the last post, and that Lumina Credentials Framework. Young people are to be trained, primed, and credentialed to act with no body of knowledge available to be a barrier to a willingness to act.
When the purpose of all education becomes about how can “students come to see themselves as capable of effecting positive change in their own lives and in the community” and “muster the wherewithal to change things through making,” we are back in the aspirations Nobel-Prize economist Friedrich Hayek called The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism in his last book. When the declared aspirations are to turn these fostered dispositions and beliefs into “habits of mind” guiding from an unconscious level, we cannot afford to be waved off from a discussion of the likely consequences because we may not have ed degrees and those with them think this is all A-OK. After all, I have listened to Ed Doctorate admins brag about using notorious brainwashing techniques on reluctant teachers without any idea there is any notoriety attached to what they are suggesting.
We parents, in other words, and just average concerned citizens who know what made this country great and what has always doomed civilizations in the past have to be the Cavalry. Even the rare politician with an excellent mind seems to get bad advice from their staff or the ‘conservative’ think tanks on the issue of education and that’s apart from not bothering to read the binding language they are willing to enact or appreciating the presence of a Scheffler Programmatic Novel Definition. This parent read all the references to designing and making new ways of being in the world and remembered something Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner wrote in 1951 in the Foreword of the other Russian Research Center book we have covered.
“speak of the need for a psychology that may support democracy. For man’s image of the nature of man is not only a matter of objective inquiry; it is and has always been a prime instrument of social and political control. He who molds that image does so with enormous consequences for the society in which he lives.”
Now we have this exact aspiration of molding going on, but hiding behind terms like Whole Child, learning needs, student-centered or personalized learning, Maker Movement and others that obscure the nature and purpose of the true K-12 and higher ed shift. I can at least track all these shifts and recognize the fallacies involved and go looking for someone far more authoritative and experienced with the tragedies of these idea to cite. What did Hayek mean as the Fatal Conceit? He described it as the socialist or Planning belief that “man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.” Sound familiar from even a typical city council meeting these days or a faculty luncheon?
I cover this somewhat in my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon, but with the Maker Movement and Agency by Design and engineered Competencies and Habits of Mind bringing all these aspirations once again to the forefront, let’s go back in history to recognize the likely consequences. Historically, economic prosperity arose in “those communities [where] individuals were allowed to make free use of their individual knowledge.” Now in the name of Equity we are limiting and prescribing what is to be known. That would be the Antithesis of what works and is entirely consistent with the norm noted by Hayek where “common local knowledge or that of a ruler determined the activities of all.” Make that rulers plural now between the mayors, legislators, governors, Congress, and the OECD and UN entities.
Talking about the fall of the Roman empire, Hayek noted that the decline and final collapse “came only after the central administration in Rome increasingly displaced free endeavour. This sequence has been repeated again and again: civilisation might spread, but is not likely to advance much further, under a government that takes over the direction of daily affairs from its citizens.”
That is precisely what is being attempted in the US and elsewhere all over the West in 2015 and education is the most formidable arrow in the Planning and Future Alteration Quiver. I do not bring back expressions like the New Soviet Man to hype, but as a reminder that the techniques are the same and so are the goals. The West, and especially the US, is supposedly the place with the technology and wealth to meet everyone’s needs globally. What Uncle Karl called little c communism and the Soviets never thought they were ready for.
The global entities and too many foundations and grievance interest groups think now is the time and we are the place to push for this peaceful shift via education, the ballot box, federal spending, and raw political power. It won’t work for the reasons Hayek cited, but we all have to be able to call a Spade a Spade and recognize what is being attempted, how, and why.
Stopped by powerful governments, parasitic officials, and obtuse politicians is not the epitaph any of us want with an upcoming 239th Anniversary of the Greatest Country in History looming.