Pulling Up the Moorings Once Again to Transform Reality into the History of Desired Desires

If you want to “create a world where individuals will work even when they know that much of the fruit of their labor will go to those who are less fortunate,” you are going to need to use education to target prevailing social norms. If you believe that Marx’s famous quote “From each according to his ability and to each according to his need” has “morally resonant appeal” and wish to see a future society that does not dismiss that appeal “out of hand as mere sloganeering,” a perch as a World Bank economist is a tremendous platform to try to go about making it so. 21st Century Learning, perhaps?

It especially helps if you have a good working relationship with a Nobel Prize winning economist who wants to reframe economics in terms of Individual and especially Group Identity. And that economist, George Akerlof, in a 2010 book Identity Economics, recognized the value of his theories on education as the premier social institution with influence on almost everyone. An enduring influence on “what people care about, and how much they care about it.” A good working definition of Identity is values, beliefs and emotional commitments. Probably not coincidentally, precisely what the actual Common Core implementation targets for change. Which is interesting as Identity Economics defines “good schools” as those that “transform students’ identities and norms.”

Almost precisely like Transformational Outcomes Based Education sought to do in the 90s version of these education reforms. Names change but never really the goals. One of the aspects of Common Core that is consistent throughout but in the small print is its stated desire to create ‘habits of mind.” Think of those as unconscious reflexes. Now compare with Akerlof’s recognition that people “act as they do, naturally and without question, mostly out of habit. They are products of their social environment and unaware they might have behaved differently.” Remember also schools are a social environment of long duration.

So if you can use education, preschool, K-12, or higher ed (all of the above is even nicer to a future Transformationist) to create the desired feelings and values and influential conceptual understandings that filter daily life you can go a long way toward changing the future. Especially if you also rely on another insight from social psychology Akerlof points out: “individuals’ behavior depends on who people think they are.” So effective schools should get at Identity and define it in politically useful ways. Early and often. Like Chicago voting.

Now to do all that a theory of psychology based on a philosophy built on changing the nature of things in the real world would be very useful. And a factual theory of knowledge devoted to understanding the nature of things would be an obstacle because it would accept the world as it is. And maybe even keep a fondness for the past. Which would be in the way of someone who wanted to create a Worldview around his belief that:

“life is activity and to live means to satisfy one’s desires. Life is experienced as Desire: it is through desires that the subject realizes the discrepancy between the world as it is and the world he would like to have.”

Now I would assert that all of the mentions today that education must be Relevant and Engaging and about Real-World problems are merely a more subtle means of achieving that driving emphasis built on Desire. To change the world to something new. And if UK Professor Ivan Markova  wrote in 1982 that the twin Hegelian themes of activity and creativity in the acquisition of knowledge “have been emerging in various forms in social, clinical, and developmental psychology for some time and, quite probably without the knowledge of the authors concerned, that they have been reflecting Hegel’s philosophy.”

If those pros were unaware, what about now? Hegel’s philosophy is obviously a touchy subject to have as a foundation. A Soviet heritage is bad enough but tracking even further back to a common ancestry with what launched two World Wars and the Holocaust is undeniably even worse. And if the psychologists in 1982 were unlikely to know this history, how much less likely is it that a teacher or principal or administrator or politician know about this background to student-centered learning? To launder a notorious heritage you simply make it a basis for the amorphous terms “pedagogy” and “Best Practices” and “Constructivism” and then pronounce it as a better way to learn. Grounded in emotion is an easier way to remember and you simply leave out Hegel’s desire to bring values and human experience into how all science is done.

And since few know of the linkage back to Hegel, modern 21st century educators cannot rely on Scottish novelist and statesman Robert Buchan’s excellent advice from more than 100 years ago.  “A man who has been nourished on German metaphysics should make a point of expressing his thoughts in plain workaday English, for the technical terms of German philosophy have a kind of hypnotic power; they create a world remote from common reality where reconciliations and synthesis flow as smoothly and with as little meaning as in an opiate dream.” And you are wondering what does metaphysics have to to with Identity Economics and the Common Core?

Oh, you know the changing conceptualizations students are to be taught as they ignore obvious characteristics and look for new “cause-effect relationships”? Even something like RECAST, Revealing Causal Structures, that we have talked about is ultimately grounded in Hegel’s Conceptual Frameworks. Or CORE-Cognitive Reorganization. With his name left off and no warning that these are aspirational theories designed to alter current reality. When we talk of providing the Enduring Understandings that will frame everyday experiences, that’s Hegel’s insight on the usefulness to a change philosophy if education were to now be built around the recognition that “implicit presuppositions and conceptual frameworks do determine what is observed.”

Hegel so wanted to shake human consciousness that he talked about the importance of wars in human history. And pointed out that a “person has to go through disturbing experiences personally in order to grow as a person.” Which reminded me of precisely the curricula Bill Ayers and Maxine Greene and Nel Noddings were all describing in this post as necessary for “real moral growth.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/priming-delicate-minds-for-a-desired-disruptive-revolution-what-is-the-real-damage/

The idea of using activity and interactions with others to achieve personal growth is also Hegel. Which means the criteria of Student Growth that the US federal DoEd is requiring that teacher evals be based on ultimately tracks back to Hegel and his theories on how to change consciousness. Moreover, a change in values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings or a willingness to apply new concepts constitutes Student Growth. And usefully for the economists that started this post that would also be a useful change in Identity and over time prevailing norms.

I could walk you through how an Indeterminate Situation with no fixed linear answer as those Pearson assessments I have described fits within the kind of higher-order thinking that changed consciousness that Hegel described as Synthesis. What the Hewlett Foundation calls Deep Learning. But I believe you get my point that the overlap is high. The book is called Paradigms, Thought, and Language if you too want to immerse yourself in all the Hegelian foundations of what we are calling the Common Core. Or try to dispute all these troubling implications. Remember in the last post when the advocates for Vygotsky sought to assert that these theories need not result in totalitarianism? Showing the history was very much on their minds even if no one is giving us the heads up on the dangers of what we are mandating in our K-12 classrooms. This is how Markova ended her book:

“In all other areas of psychology the Hegelian framework will undoubtedly be the one with the future, and Hegel’s philosophy will prove a deep source of inspiration. Finally a word of caution…action can be sinister if based on non-recognition of the other person as a human being. The future of mankind depends on taking actions in which human beings mutually recognize each other as human beings.”

So are people basically good as so many of these philosophers and economists want to believe? Will we remember the lessons of history before we once again light this Hegelian powder keg for achieving social change?

I suggest we remember another turn of the 20th century insight when these German ideas were first exploding onto the world stage. It’s from a novel by the same Robert Buchan where his character wisely notes:

” You think a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Satan.”

The actual Common Core implementation and the intent of its assessments and the accompanying economic, social, and political transformations go far beyond a touch or a push.

Shoving into the abyss is more like it regardless of anyone’s good intentions. And without much accurate actual knowledge and a deliberate cultivation of a desire for change, there does not even seem to be a parachute or a tool to catch a ledge.

Treating Western Society and its Economy as a Train in Need of Rebuilding and Central Direction

When you get down deep into the aspirations on using education to shift the West away from its historic focus on individuals and economic freedom to considering new, untried forms of organizing societies and economies, you quickly come upon the desire that “learning” NOT reenforce currently existing “systems.” The fact that what is being called systems are actually people, like me and you, who are supposed to have legally protected rights to autonomy and private decision-making gets conveniently left out. That the countries to be reorganized have a history of success in the unprecedented opportunities available to their people gets left out. That free markets where they exist have delivered unprecedented prosperity to even the poorest among us also gets left out as inconvenient facts. Systems. Just systems that can be rebuilt with enough Big Data and supercomputers into a smarter planet. No one stops to ask whose vision of “smart” is being imposed.

Our friend, psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner of Ecological Systems Theory and transforming the West as an experiment fame  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ understood well that the theories he and others were creating were not based on some type of hypothesis about factual reality. They were and are aspirational. If implemented, these psychological and political theories become a means to “transcend the contexts given to you to produce societal change and personal developmental change.” That would be personal change in Uncle Karl’s sense of the word.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ . Or now hiding so well under the real definition of Student Growth. With lots of personal affective data being collected and shared to see how the developmental Learning is progressing.

We have a new global Change Agent to talk about. A professor who split his time between Finland and the University of California at San Diego, Yrjo Engestrom. His writing is important to our global story because of his Theory of Expansion and the influence of his book Learning by Expanding. Exciting for him and concerning to us, his Activity Theory is clearly the influence behind what are now being called euphemistically the Learning Sciences. As in the April 2012 Rand Corporation report for that Global Cities Education Network discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/misportraying-the-conspiracy-covers-up-the-broader-plans-of-political-and-economic-transformation/ . The report is called Teaching and Learning 21st Century Skills: Lessons from the Learning Sciences and it again shows why making poorly understood and defined goals like 21st Century Skills the new purpose of education has so much potential for anyone with aspirations for stealth cultural transformation.

Hidden at least in the West except at conferences of the like-minded. We know Urie was downright confessional on his aspirations in print. So quite frankly is Engestrom in his books and articles if you take the time to read them. What a fun weekend I had! The train metaphor in our title comes from Engestrom but he is quoting a frustration that Urie had with education in the US and the West generally. That human development in the West “takes place like in a moving train. One can walk forward and backward through the cars, but what really matters is where the train is going.”

I personally am hoping if I am being likened to a train car that I get to be a sleek luxury bullet train car and not something Amtrak has operating. But I digress. Engestrom then went on to say that Urie’s train metaphor “exemplifies the central problem embedded in most of the available societally and ecologically oriented analysis of development” [those originally Marxian or Soviet theories get to hide now by just being referred to authoritatively as the Learning Sciences. See above].

Here is the money quote that could have come from a myriad of social and behavioral scientists and education professors. Think of Engestrom as their voice too.

“The environments or societal contexts are seen as historically changing, but not as being constructed and reconstructed by the people living in these contexts. Contexts are imposed upon, not produced by humans. Nobody seems to be driving the train.”

Luckily as my regular readers now know the videogaming vision attached to the actual Common Core implementation will give students plenty of practice in constructing and reconstructing worlds. Even embedding them in strategies of what to do after a Zombie Apocalypse. How exciting and engaging! Engestrom’s sentiments on wanting a driver of a collective train are not the least bit unusual for someone who grew up with Uncle Karl’s theories of historical progression. In fact author Arthur Koestler who was so disillusioned by the turn Stalinism took that he wrote one of the great novels of the 20th Century, Darkness at Noon, could never quite shake his dislike of spontaneous, undirected processes where ever they occur naturally. Like in biology or chemistry. He still wanted direction. Central direction.

The kind that comes from cultural evolution if you can make education about transforming personal and prevailing values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. What became notorious as Outcomes Based Education but now hides quietly as unappreciated definitions of Student Growth and Learning. Still there but unlikely to be detected except maybe by hyperactive due diligence attorneys who read too much. Now Engestrom’s globally influential work made no attempt to hide just how much it was grounded in Soviet theories of dialectical materialism and how to try to push “a historically new form of activity into emergence.”

He certainly did not write in 1987 or again in 1999, when his book was translated into German and Japanese and he wrote a new Introduction, like someone who saw Uncle Karl’s or Soviet theories generally as assigned to the ash heap of history. For supposedly comatose or dead theories they appear in his pen to be full of vim and vigor and still existing hopes for transformation. I suppose it helps that our guard was down because “We won!”

In 1991 Engestrom wrote an article, published in Great Britain, that is clearly the blueprint for the reimagining of high school we are seeing globally and in the US as a component of Common Core. The article was called “Non Scolae Sed Vitae Discimus: Toward Overcoming the Encapsulation of School Learning.”  Now if that title was not pompous enough sounding, the actual article goes on to lay out “The Formation of Theoretical Concepts by Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete in Instruction.” Developed by V V Davydov based on Uncle Karl’s theory of finding defining relationships that can then filter everyone’s everyday analysis of reality, that theory was the subject of a great deal of research for decades in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. And it does not seem to have gone gently into that dark night either.

And neither ‘abstract’ or ‘concrete’ in Davydov’s theory have the meaning we commonly associate with them. ‘Concrete’ is NOT seen as “something sensually palpable.” Abstract does NOT mean “something conceptual or mentally constructed.” No, in this Davydov/Engestrom theory ‘concrete’ means the “holistic quality of systemic interconnectedness.” Which means that all of our encounters with Systems Thinking and Peter Senge and Appreciative Inquiry that push to teach students to see the world as interconnected and interdependent and full of relationships are back to Davydov’s theories.

Which in turn are explicitly supposed to be an updated, supercharged version of Dialectics. That’s not me alleging that. It’s me quoting those statements and then recognizing where else they are now being used. It also means that dialectical view of ‘concrete’ absolutely saturates that C3 CCSSO Social Studies framework I wrote alarmingly about here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/tearing-up-the-fabric-of-a-free-society-the-new-college-career-and-civic-life-c3-framework/

It is behind the 21st Century definition of ‘transferable learning’ in that Rand Global Cities Education Network report mentioned above. It is why we should be alarmed by that report asking “students to make analogies between a topic and something different, such as between ecosystems and financial markets.” Which are actually not analogous but neither the teacher nor the students are likely to recognize that. And if they all believe there is a connection and they act on those beliefs, we are back to our consequential false beliefs problem. Donald Schon’s Generative Metaphor who is absolutely cited by Engestrom by name.

The same guiding but false belief problem comes in when that Rand report “asks students to generalize broad principles from a specific piece of information.” Oh yes, that’s a good thing to practice. Practice creating and relying on dogma without anyone pointing out that is what is being practiced. No wonder students are being asked to computer model the discredited Limits to Growth scenarios from the 70s as part of Common Core science. It may not be factually true but it can now still be influential on future behavior. Plus bolstering that perceived need for transformation.

Some of you may have noticed that Common Core makes lots of references to student conceptual understanding for an approach that is so hostile to factual information. That is entirely possible if we are back to dialectical view of what concrete means as the real operating definition of conceptual understanding. Davydov’s ‘kernel’ becomes Common Core’s ‘lens’.

Which means that all of Davydov’s or Engestom’s or Uncle Karl’s aspirations for these theories come in too. Unannounced and so unopposed. No wonder the Chinese government thinks the Learning Sciences views in that Rand report are suitable in Shanghai and Hong Kong as well as the West.

They were subjugation theories against individuals and economies when they were written and they remain so now. Even if only a few of us appreciate those facts now.

Or should I say yet? And be more optimistic?

Well No Wonder No One Listens to Common Core Complaints if It is Tied to Federal Revenue Sharing

A New Vision for Federal Revenue Sharing with state and local governments to drive future economic and workforce development being cleverly marketed as “Race to the Shop.” That’s a play on the accompanying education vision that bribed or threatened the states to adopt the Common Core in the first place under the education Race to the Top set up in the 2009  Stimulus Act. Turns out that’s not all it set up, apparently it also set up a new Regional Race to the Top for all America’s regions (bold and Italics in original to show the excitement for this vision of shared prosperity based on a clean energy economy). In fact it’s to “be a truly ‘New’ New Deal, [but] government cannot go it alone, it can only serve as a key partner and catalyst.” With your redistributed tax dollars or public debt I would add.

Now before I get further into this political and cronyism dream at all levels of American government that is explicitly tied into the 21st Century Skills agenda (it’s actually on the cover of the September 2010 working paper from the Tides Foundation project–the New Policy Institute), I want to quote a particularly juicy passage that highlights how these initiatives stifle complaints and encourage cooperation about any related aspect like the Common Core:

“Deeply engage the private sector as a critical solutions partner in addressing these systemic changes, or risk a continuing and negative narrative that these efforts are simply wasteful public sector programs.”

That’s your money going to make sure no one aware of these tie-ins has any incentive to complain. Because this Acceleration Agenda “does not simply call for more federal revenue-sharing with the states. The changes we need to accelerate private-led innovation in regions and communities do not begin, or end, there.”

Truer words were never spoken as the Acceleration Agenda lays out Multi-State regions (10 in all), Clean Economic Development Visions, and Economic Acceleration Zones. Like High Speed Rail and making the SW the Saudi Arabia of Solar. What a boondoggle. Those of you with a background in economics may recognize all this for what it is–the explicit adoption of an Industrial Policy vision by the US with its known Cronyism and benefits to political favorites or necessary adversaries. And the report acknowledges just that with the following chilling quote:

“So is the Acceleration Agenda a new “industrial policy”? Do such labels really matter? We hope not–there is too much on the line for our economy to be bogged down in over-simplified debates from the past.”

Now the historian in me would point out that’s not the subject of debates so much as lessons from the past about the sheer waste of public money that comes with an Industrial Policy. But I actually correctly pegged the education vision last May as related to Industrial Policy and a Dirigiste vision for the economy. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-adam-smith-write-a-book-explaining-why-this-is-a-bad-idea-back-in-1776/ and http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-the-world-makes-far-more-sense-if-you-add-dirigisiste-to-the-things-you-understand/ . What I never in a million years suspected was that I would come across a report openly declaring it while stating “Obamism at its core is largely about bottom-up change rather than top-down change.” Wow, Harry Boyte must be pleased.

Now I know this vision has been around since the 60s. It’s not an invention of this Administration but wanting to name it after the President tells us just how much potential for successful political coalitions using your money is seen here. In fact, looking at the full vision and the Go-Fast Model, it’s hard not to remember the high urban turnout in the last Presidential election. No wonder. A vision of federal money, private sector, and community foundations together using, and again I quote, the “transformational, low carbon project…serves a key project screen.”

Doesn’t that word “screen” sound like “excuse?” The reason for remaking the nature of the American economy and political structure all while engaging in Mind Arson in preschool, K-12, and higher ed? Whatever is necessary to make sure the designated providers in this 21st Century system get the workers they want while never again having to worry about a better product or invention upsetting their revenue dreams?

You know how for sports contests we see the label “Designated Provider of X. Event? You know what I mean. This utterly reeks of being the designated cellphone provider or operating system provider or Smart Grid provider. Protecting and preserving current business. But it actually gets worse believe it or not because all of this is also tied to the renewal of our urban areas as part of creating start-ups to be the component “middleware” to “connect government and business in the 21st Century economy.” Which brings me to what pulled up this Revenue Sharing 2.0 to get to the Next Economy vision. It is called “Inclusive Competitiveness” and it was announced a few weeks ago at the SXSWedu Summit in Austin.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-green/sxswedu-launches-next-big_b_2765038.html?view=print&comm_ref=false is the story laying out the vision of how all this will Save America’s Black Boys, be part of a permanent “Black Innovation Group,” and create a Pipeline2Productivity and Urban Innovation.”

And I genuinely wish urban areas and America’s Black Boys the best possible future they can have but tying it to economic redistribution while simultaneously trying to spread the bad education policies and practices that have destroyed urban systems to the suburbs just means OPM, Other Peoples Money, will run out sooner than this plan accounts for. It would be so much better to teach those Black Boys and everyone else’s children how to read properly and provide a solid curriculum like the Core Knowledge. You just cannot get me excited about what this Project 21 vision is going to do for Cleveland which is where the affiliated Nortech is based when I know the Cleveland Schools are pushing social and emotional learning in their classrooms as the vision of how all children can learn. You cannot push PATHS–Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies–for all kids in all classrooms and then pretend that these urban kids are being left behind despite an academic focus.

But that’s the poignant cry for what is wrong with our urban areas. And Project 21, which used to be known as the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative, is the supposed answer to linking Urban America to the 21st Century Economy. Does this look like reparations to anyone else? Using the “low carbon project as the screen” as the Acceleration Agenda report put it. Whatever the rationale this gushing of federal dollars to launch public-private partnerships resulted in “Five Private-Sector Initiatives Launched at First White House Tech Inclusion Summit” held on January 31, 2013.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/04/five-private-sector-initiatives-launched-first-white-house-tech-inclusion-summit .

One of those, the Activate Local Communities Across America Initiative, picked Portland, Oregon to be its pilot city. That would be the same Portland that has been committed to cutting edge education pushes for decades. Discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/now-more-than-five-years-into-an-attempt-to-help-organize-a-near-total-revision-of-human-behavior/ But Portland is also considered to be the shining star of the Urban Planning, Agenda 21, Regional Equity, and what is now called Metropolitanism movements. All based on a Low-Carbon Economy of the Future centered on Producers, not Consumers, the Brookings Institute’s Bruce Katz said at a breakfast I attended and also wrote about. Curiously Katz is also the coiner of that catchy expression Race to the Shop above to fit the manufacturing and workforce development component of all this planning and redistributing.

Now ALC is also known as Accelerate Local Communities ( I guess it depends on how stagnant a region is right now as this is all ramping up). ALC is also listed as being a collaboration with Microsoft. Which is concerning since they are among the primary partners in the students only need generic 21st Century Skills like Collaboration and Creativity international movement (ATC21S). And that Tech Inclusion Summit is being sold in the inner cities as bringing STEM jobs to urban communities. http://atlantadailyworld.com/201302083703/Business/white-house-tech-inclusion-summit-unveils-private-sector-initiatives-to-bridge-gap-in-stem

Now I did not write this story because I wanted to rain on the race to the Green Gold Rush as a report called it. Although that does seem like a worthy venture. But this vision of new revenue sharing and dictates of where jobs must be, and everyone assuming that with credentials jobs will come, are all simultaneously destroying the actual knowledge and skills and freedoms and certainties that ignite real widespread prosperity. Given the percentage of the federal budget that represents borrowing, this redistributed money to build and pay off political coalitions does not really exist except as an obligation for future taxpayers. But in the meantime it really is going in someone’s pocket. Many of them campaign contributors at every level of government. Just like Solyndra.

The money WILL run out and sooner than expected. And then where will we be? After all, mind arson is not just a provocative expression I came up with to stir up antipathy for the Common Core. It really does describe what has been deliberately going on in urban schools for decades. But with the actual Common Core I keep describing, and those new, poorly understood, assessments (also financed by that 2009 Stimulus Act), mind arson is coming to the suburbs to take down every school where minds are still being nourished regularly with solid content.

Then where will we be? I keep mentioning consuming seed corn for a reason. What happens to a country when the cultivated famine is mental and widespread? Especially when the most able students were the particular targets for levelling.

We appear to be about to find out.

Can an Education Degree Authorize Bait and Switch Political Insurrections With No Recourse?

No I am not talking about a car loan. And I am also not picking on teachers. Truthfully we could substitute a psychology, sociology, anthropology, or even a legal degree in the place of the education degree. The very important point to recognize is this: can education credentials empower people to disregard the language of the US Constitution or comparable legal protections in other countries? Because right now all over the world we have colleges and universities creating degree programs that are designed to use educational institutions to change mindsets and values and beliefs and attitudes and feelings of the students passing through. Higher ed and K-12. Soon to be preschool. A long time to be under organized assault with data being gathered on your current personal attributes. All while getting paid with taxpayer funds.

And the reports they are issuing if you know where to look state or cite to quotes like this: “we support the development of a revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.” As taxpayers are we bound to support that agenda as long as the person pursuing it has the right kind of education credentials? Is there really nothing we can do? You can say vote them out of office but many with this desire are tenured profs or appointed bureaucrats. That inflammatory quote came from Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis’ Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life that I have already mentioned in a previous post. So when one of the reports this week from the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education cited that book, I knew exactly what economic vision went with their vision of fairness and a just society for all in the 21st century.

The Gordon Commission is largely out of sight since it was set up by Educators Testing Service in Princeton using grants made to them. But out of sight does not mean not influential. Not with the movers and shakers selected for that Commission and their connections to the actual Common Core implementation and education globally. And these reports have an explicit economic and political vision attached to them. And cites to people with notorious philosophies like Michel Foucault. Are we all just screwed because these people are education professors or evaluators or vendors and that means a free pass?

How about if the report on “Technological Implications for Assessment Ecosystems” starts off with a quote from Paulo Freire and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Here goes:

“The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the doxa is superseded by the true knowledge at the level of the logos. [Freire is interested in shifting away from academic knowledge to everyday practical knowledge like what David Orr called Slow Knowledge]. Whereas banking education [Freire's term for the transmission of subject-matter knowledge] anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. [or at least how radical political reformers wish reality to be seen. Think Don Schon's Generative Metaphor altering daily perceptions] The former [banking education] attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness; the latter [problem-posing] strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality.”

Now isn’t that just the mentality you want in people developing the tasks and problems used to assess students? Oh, I forgot. The 2 authors, John T Behrens and Kristen E DiCerbo, now work for Pearson. You know the global publishing giant so involved in developing the Common Core curricula and the assessment administrator for Texas’ STAAR as well as both CCSSI consortia, SBAC and PARCC? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ talks about how Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Michael Barber, once advised UK citizens that Global Citizenship could replace God and Marx as a guiding value. Is it a conflict yet to be involved with all these assessments and having employees writing alarming reports for the Gordon Commission?

What if the employees also write that assessments are “complex performances parallel to those learners would complete in the real world?” Sure sounds vocational to me. Especially with that report stating we are shifting from the Item Paradigm, which had questions with correct or wrong answers and sought particular information, to the Activity Paradigm. In the Activity Paradigm the assessment is not for particular information but rather an interest in “assessing specific attributes of an individual.” I feel so much better.

Especially after a search of the authors’ names brought me to the website of the Journal of Educational Data Mining. No more need to stress over hypotheticals involving education’s collection of Big Data on students. We appear to be there. How lucrative for Pearson. Is it publicly traded? Can we all cash in on this connected boondoggle? Precisely what data will come from assessments involving “activities” that “request action,” “have features.” “provide attributes, ” and “provide multi-dimensional information”? In other words, it’s not what a student knows but the essence of who they are being assessed while the student is a captive in a K-12 institution.

Seriously no need to worry about the fact that “digital devices of all kinds are typically enabled to collect data in ubliquitous and unobtrusive ways.” After all it was a different Gordon Commission report that pointed out that “Practices of assessment do not so much reflect the nature of the individual as they construct the individual in their terms.” Gulp. Did you understand that aspect of the Common Core? Is that what educational institutions in a free country are empowered to do while lying to the public about the nature of the changes? You may want to take another look at the nature of these performance assessments and Pearson’s confession that they are really assessing 21st century skills. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/throwing-an-invisibility-cloak-over-the-classroom-to-get-to-deweys-participatory-social-inquiry/ . Behrens and DiCerbo also mention they are assessing 21st century skills.

Which is also a problem. A 2004 book, The Education Gospel: The Economic Power of Schooling, is also popular among the insiders planning the 21st century on our behalf while profiting greatly. The book explains that all educational institutions now are engaged in what it calls the “Occupational Purpose of Schooling.” The College for All, increasing high school graduation rates through gaming or whatever it takes to keep everyone in place to get their diploma, and Equity of Credentials drives we have talked about are creating dangerous expectations in students. A belief that there is a promise that if they stay in school and get the degree, they will find “well-paid jobs with prospects for the future, careers or vocations rather than mere work.”

That implied promise so many are relying is the Education Gospel. It in turn requires what the authors call the Foundational State–the kind of reinvented workplace we have already seen Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Zuboff’s Support Economy pitch as an intrinsic component of all these ed reforms. The prerogatives of employers and students and parents supposedly just have to be subordinated to the needs of the Foundational State. Which, 1, 2, 3 “requires a very different approach to politics and democracy than we have now. It provides a clear vision of the common good: a society in which human capacities are consistently and equitably developed.” Which is a good summary of Marx’s human development theory. Back for its 21st century run on the Industrialized West via stealth and education and apparently poorly understood assessments.

I will close with a quote from the end of the book where the authors note:

“Perhaps we as a nation cannot develop the politics necessary for the Foundational State. But then we should stop prattling on about “skills of the twenty-first century,” the “common sense” of college for all, and the imperatives of the knowledge society including lifelong learning, because we cannot achieve any positive version of vocationalism without the policies of the Foundational State.”

And I say, amen to that. The Swedes said basically the same thing when they piloted these ed reforms as part of their move to the Welfare State in the 1950s and 60s.  You cannot unlink the actual Common Core implementation from the radical political, social, and economic changes that are essential components. Everyone consistently says so if you know where to look.

I know where to look and have. Already downloaded and hard copied. Can we get enough parents and taxpayers and politicians to listen in time?

Aspiring to Create New Habits of Mind and Mental Models Suitable for A New Culture, Society, and Economy

As far as I know no one from MIT or Harvard stood on the banks of the Charles River holding a rally to jettison what the Systems Thinkers on both campuses call the “dominant rational/experimental model” of Western thought traceable to the Enlightenment. No, that rejection might have drawn attention to the desired shift to an “existentially-oriented approach.” Better to commit such aspirations to print in books and in lectures that only the elected to be Social Change Agents are likely to read or hear. The rest of us are just supposed to be confused when so much emphasis on Learning keeps resulting in ever decreasing levels of knowledge. You’d almost think there was a commitment to wholesale social, political, cultural, and economic change starting at the level of the individual student.

A student whose school activities and assessments and interactions with ICT technology can be used to develop a new Sense of Self. The last post mentioned David W Shaffer and his proposed Pedagogical Praxis for the classroom. Shaffer embraced the theories on Reflective Practice created by an MIT Urban Studies and Education Professor by the name of Donald Schon. He’s the one who did his dissertation on Dewey that I mentioned in the last post. Schon was a proponent of action research in the classroom to gain new mental maps and what Schon called “generative metaphors” that would guide a student’s future behaviors and actions. Remember those Ill-structured tasks we discovered Pearson plans to use in the Common Core and ATC21S and Texas STAAR assessments? Schon gives the reason for the the reliance of ill-structure beyond the social interaction it forces. When a student encounters a problem he regards as unique, Schon recognized the student would see it through the concepts already in his repertoire.

Schon liked that word “repertoire.” You and I can already sense the reason that the 10Cs Model of Diversity Awareness and Social Change pushing race and class oppression is now so popular at Harvard Ed school. Those become Generative Metaphors that influence how unique real world problems will be interpreted by students. And their teachers and administrators. Remember the C3 Social Studies Framework that is now part of the Common Core push and our concern that it was pushing metaphors like Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Thinking that are not factually true? Another useful Schonian Generative Metaphor that will come to be believed as true the more often it is used. Which certainly explains the language in the Framework about wanting students to practice daily with the C3 conceptual lenses.  Supplied Concepts=Generative Metaphor guiding Future Behavior.

It’s all consistent with what Shaffer’s Pedagogical Praxis encourages citing Schon. A student engages in activities at school and acts in daily life and then reflects on the results with peers and mentors. This action followed by inquiry and reflection (my IB Parents will recognize the significance of those terms. Which is why I believe the IB program has essentially become the Advance Guard in gaining implementation of this Action Research model) then becomes the Means for students to gain New Ways of Thinking. The desired outcome from school and daily living with such an experientially-oriented education is that the student will over time Reframe her Identities and Interests in relation to the experiences and the perspectives of others in the community. That’s why the Aspiring Social Change Agents and Theorists are so fond of referring to the Learning Community. School becomes the place where the Group changes the person from the inside-out.

I have written quite a bit about Peter Senge and Systems Thinking and also how the Positive School Climate Executive Order is becoming a means to stealthily shift to a social and emotional learning focus that looks almost precisely like the developmental model to remake human nature Karl Marx described repeatedly. Still as I was tracking the PATHS to PAX  SEL curriculum to a school piloting a Positive School Culture in Arizona, I was surprised to see Senge’s The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook listed as the implementation guide. So schools implementing Positive School Cultures and Climates will be practicing Senge’s Systems Thinking and they may not be going to Camp Snowball to set off alarms of concern among parents. Ah-Oh. Better get a copy of that Fieldbook. Sounds like Systems Thinking is coming to schools everywhere.

So I did and it turns out to have a whole section on the desired new Mental Models for students to fit all the desired Transformative changes in virtually every social system we could list. That would include us if you remember what Senge’s Presencing and MIT lecturer partner Otto Scharmer wrote in his 2010 Seven Acupuncture Points for Shifting Capitalism to Create a Regenerative Ecosystem Economy that I have already written about and linked to. Of course that was before I located that UN IHDP document that said Senge and Scharmer were among the futurists helping to shift education and business practices globally towards the IHDP desired fundamental revision of human behavior. Anyway Scharmer said in that article that the purpose of these new mental models was to allow a “reconnect with the deeper sources of inspiration and Self in order to reinvent both onself and the system.” I think he means all the systems and we should take him at his word on the desired intentions of all these changes and new models of Learning and desires for Irreversible, Second-Order Change we keep hearing about.

Rereading Scharmer’s aspirations as I did yesterday reminded me so much of what Alice Bailey described that I am going to link to that old post if you have never seen it. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/producing-docile-instruments-and-captive-souls-putty-at-the-hands-of-the-predator-state/ . I am sure that the fact that the Ford Foundation also created the named chaired professorate Donald Schon held at MIT from 1972 onward is purely coincidental. Since that foundation seems to show up constantly from the 50s to the present to fund desired transformative changes to all our social systems. No wonder our friend Jeannie Oakes went there to head their ed efforts in November 2009 just like we were in the end game and it was time for the final assault.

Back to the Fieldbook and the desire for new mental models (page 237 in my copy). Senge says Mental Models refers to:

“both the semipermanent tacit “maps” of the world which people hold in their long-term memory, and the short-term perceptions people build up as part of their everyday reasoning processes. According to some cognitive theorists, changes in short-term everyday mental models, accumulating over time, will gradually be reflected in changes in long-term deep-seated beliefs.”

Which is of course just the thing desired if you want Transformative Change in future behaviors. So the Reading Wars and the Math Wars and frustrations over integrated math and no more lecturing and the Digital Learning/ICT focus and the Actual Common Core implementation I have been describing all these months and the global ed reforms are all driven by a desire for Action Research on children involving those cognitive theories. Got it? And  Senge then goes on to tell us that “two types of skills are central to this work” of gaining the desired new mental models.

“They are Reflection (slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of how we form our mental models) and Inquiry (holding conversations where we openly share views and develop knowledge about each other’s assumptions). The techniques we most favor for learning these skills emerged from ‘action science,’ a field of inquiry developed by theorists and educators  Chris Argyris [and he's the link to Harvard's Business and Ed Schools and is cited in Zuboff's book from the last post as a mentor to her]  and Donald Schon.”

I am giving you a break Senge does not give in the Fieldbook where his sentences are too long. He goes on after mentioning Argyris and Schon to say their work is “aimed at exploring the reasoning and attitudes which underlie human action, and producing more effective learning in organizations and other social systems.”

Now when I wrote this post back in August http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/do-you-live-in-a-district-piloting-deep-and-continual-personal-change-in-the-individual-student/, I speculated that it looked to me like the Harvard Strategic Data Project involved pushing Systems Thinking on participating districts like Fulton and Gwinnett Counties in Metro Atlanta and Charlotte-Meck in North Carolina and Boston Public Schools. Now that we know of Chris Argyris and Schon’s work and its aspirations as action science, there is no question. Students in those districts are being used as guinea pigs to collect data for what Argyris and Schon called Double-Loop learning.  What will it take before the student acquires “new capacity” for different types of behaviors?

Schon wanted people and institutions that were malleable and flexible enough to “become capable of transforming themselves without intolerable disruption.” I would argue that Aurora and Sandy Hook and Columbine may well be warning us that all this SEL/systems focus experimentation that has been going on in some schools and districts for almost 20 years  is in fact intolerable to some personalities. It sure is too coincidental to ignore as the number of districts and students undergoing action science research continues to grow. Common Core will be turning our schools into a giant petri dish of social science action research into what it will take to gain Systems Transformation.

Which is not something an education degree or a Harvard Masters in Public Policy or an Urban Studies degree or a Social Psychology degree should license anyone to do.

To our kids. With our money. To this Great Country. To the rest of the world looking to the US for guidance.

Nothing As Practical As a Good Theory For Gaining Access to Action Research

If a political theory gets you grant money or a job at a foundation, it “works” whether it is true or not. And puts its creator in a position to drive social change. The same is true with a learning theory. It does not have to be grounded in how kids actually gain knowledge if imposing it on a classroom will change future behaviors of soon-to-be voters in desired ways. Or might. That’s the great thing about action research theories. You impose them in real-life situations and see what happens. And you call them “research-based” to add an additional touch of legitimacy. Slyly leaving off the key point that the research is yet to come.

We already encountered Anthony Giddens saying it did not matter if global warming theory did not turn out to be factually true. That the theory itself would drive desired changes in individual behavior and social and economic changes. German sociology prof Ulrich Beck was even more forthright in declaring CAGW theory created a basis for a post-Berlin Wall Metamorphosis of the State all over the  traditionally capitalistic and individualistic West.

Social science researcher Kurt Lewin is the one who made the observation that there is “nothing as practical as a good theory.” He is considered the Godfather of all political theory action research and is intimately involved in what education pedagogy has become. Culmination of his life work you might say if you look him up.  The fact that he is quoted by name as a justification that:

“in order to learn how to sustain the development of the whole of humankind, individual human minds develop new mental models that can be used for representing worldviews in innovative ways. One way that knowledge of a global view of the world can be enhanced is through the use of systems thinking, from which merges the concept of global interdependence.”

Now the part in the next section about systems thinking being a useful metaphor and not literally true gets left out when systems thinking comes to a classroom. There it takes on its intended function of creating new mental models and worldviews. By the way that IB presentation I mentioned in an earlier post recently had multiple slides on creating new worldviews. It was the purpose of the Critical Thinking and Global Citizenship emphasis.

The disturbing fact that these new mental models and worldviews are intended to use education to drive a Biosocial Evolution should give us pause. So should the reality that I pulled the language from a UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Especially as the National Geographic Society is helping to draft the Chapter called “Global Interdependence and Biosocial Systems.” It’s not like NGS is involved also with the drafting of the new US Common Core Science Standards.

That’s us. A biosocial system. And the introduction of such systems thinking into the classroom likely will not have the intended effect but it will alter values, beliefs, emotions and perceptions. That highly useful foursome to change future behavior. Just like Paul Ehrlich says his MAHB is more than five years into doing. Now Paul Ehrlich has a history of outrageous predictions of future calamities that never turn out to be true. I have noticed a tendency recently to mock his predictions and ridiculous statements on Twitter and in books and publications. It can make it easy to forget that Ehrlich’s theories do not have to be right. They are not intended to be. What they are intended to be is Influential. To become the excuse for someone’s desired change. That Metamorphosis of government power over people and an economy and the political structure. And in those domains his theorizing seems to be working splendidly.

That’s also why the influence of his Stanford colleague psychology prof Albert Bandura on the classroom implementation of the Common Core in the US and education reforms globally matters to all of us. That would be Bandura who is now trumpeted as the most cited living psychology prof. It appears we have located MAHB’s how to fundamentally change human behavior via UNESCO’s sought global education reforms. It is Bandura who Ehrlich and Orenstein thank first in their Humanity on a Tightrope book. Bandura is intimately in the hyping of overpopulation with Ehrlich. He and Ehrlich were working together to get the Palo Alto schools to study how to motivate students to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oh and Stephen Schneider too for those who know his work. And if you wonder if he hypes quite as much as Paul I suggest locating Bandura’s 2007 “Impeding Ecological Sustainability through Selective Moral Disengagement.”

Not like access to the classroom would give a means to do something about Moral Disengagement on this issue in the future. That’s Bandura’s Self Efficacy Theory by the way creating a new theory for equity and student success in the Classroom that I described in this post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/self-efficacy-cultural-proficiency-training-critical-reflection-and-change-agency-development/ Based on that 2010 Framework created by California Tomorrow to become a national template. That’s also his theories involved when I wondered why the Facing History theory taught students that “history is largely manmade” even though that is clearly not true. Described in this important previous post  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/changing-the-filtering-perception-the-way-we-see-the-world-is-key/

Stressing the idea that each person can make a difference turns out to be based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory. He has discovered it encourages motivation to take action if students believe they can manage fortuity as he calls it. So he has developed theories of Social Agency to encourage students to take action, individually and collectively. So Kurt Lewin was right. Good theories are practical means of  trying to change the future in Transformative Ways. And it is important that we remember that and not get caught up in the falsity of the theory.

Now if Bandura’s influence was limited to what I cited above, it would still be important to write about. UNESCO and friends really are trying to use government mandates over education and what constitutes science and regulatory policy to drive a Biosocial Evolution. Why? Because it brings them power and money and justifies what they already have. A motivation about as old as Ancient Babylon and Eqypt if not just after the Garden of Eden exodus. No Bandura is much more influential than that. Which is how he came to my attention.

I have mentioned that Ed Week wanted to trumpet Fulton County, Georgia’s Conversion to a Charter System as of July 1, 2012. And that when I read that charter it clearly reflected the Hearts Desire of UNESCO for post-Berlin Wall education that I wrote about here.   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/ . One of the troubling terms used repeatedly in that Charter was Life Skills. Clearly a defined term left undefined in the actual document so I went looking for the origination of the term. And I found it in a 1993 document put out by the World Health Organization, Division of Mental Health with help from UNICEF, TACADE UK, and funding from the Carnegie Corporation in New York.

The idea was that teaching everyday life skills would promote mental well-being and positive health behavior. Something to keep in mind now as social and emotional learning are being trumpeted as necessary post-Sandy Hook “mental first-aid.” These Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence are listed as “Decision making, Problem solving, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Effective communication, Interpersonal relationship skills, Self-awareness, Ability to empathise, Coping with emotions, and Coping with stressors.” The actual document goes on to describe each of these in detail. Leaving no doubt that Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence is the less politically correct name for what are now being called 21st Century Skills. Which is not just a controversial US push under the name P21. As I mentioned in the previous post it is global under the name ATC21S and tied into what Pearson will actually be assessing students for. That will be the next post. I promise.

Today we are talking about Ehrlich and Bandura and the usefulness of theories in driving attempts at social change. Which is why the following paragraph from that WHO report is so important. Not just to education’s real intentions globally. Since its intended purpose is to change future voters from the inside out on what will motivate them to take action and how to behave in the future. That’s really how you get Transformative Change. Here goes:

“The methods used in the teaching of life skills builds upon what we know of how young people learn from the people around them, from observing how others behave and what consequences arise from behaviour. This is described in the Social Learning Theory developed by Bandura (1977).  In Social Learning Theory, learning is considered to be an active acquisition, processing and structuring of experiences. It is this emphasis on the individual as an active processor of reality that lies at the heart of the conceptual basis for teaching life skills using active, learner-centred teaching methods.”

So the actual classroom implementation of what is being called Common Core in the US and Quality Learning and what goes under a variety of names in other countries all ties back to what was laid out in this WHO document in 1993. That ties into what every UN agency wanted before and since. That ties into Ehrlich’s declarations. And the measurements to be used to determine if this is in fact what is going on in classrooms. And the Effective Teacher evaluations. Yes I do have all the relevant documents.

So never ridicule an influential theory or theorist until we successfully defuse those who plan to impose those theories on us anyway. At our expense. Short term financially and long term culturally.

 

Mandating Global Citizenship Mindsets by Assessing Whether Students Adopt Social Altruism

The out in the open version of education reform in the US never got over that 99-0 Senate vote on the National History Standards in the 90s. Much of the reason today’s Common Core implementation looks so different from what is being publicized tracks back to the memory of that political rejection. And an insistence that this time no one gets to object. I have described more than once that what is going on in the US is linked to comparable education reforms all over the world. Driven primarily by UN agencies insisting we must evolve into a “just and sustainable world in which all may fulfill their potential.” Under the eager administration of UN or OECD or other bureaucratic employees of course. With their generous tax free salaries courtesy of you. But I digress.

Well let’s face it if that were the sales pitch for the Common Core standards or any education reform voters and parents would revolt. So we get vague euphemisms like College and Career Ready for the end goal or words like Excellence or Quality Learning that actually have a unique meaning in Ed World we are not likely to appreciate. But in the UK and Australia the Citizenship Education agenda including its Global Dimension was explicitly laid out. Even if few people in any of these countries appreciated what they were relinquishing at the time.

We have talked numerous times about Sir  “Irreversible Change” Michael Barber who now heads up Pearson Education, the world’s leading education company. You know Pearson. They have the contracts for the SBAC and PARCC and Texas STAAR assessments measuring the results of what goes on in Texas and soon to be most US classrooms. They are global. So the fact that Barber wants to “shape new ways of thinking and forge new, sustainable behavior” as the January 2011 UNESCO meeting in London he helped chair put it probably has something to do with the kind of open ended, no fixed solution real world problems likely to make it on any of these assessments globally.  Especially since the assessments are supposed to be at Levels 3 and 4 of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. You know the one that mirrors the Dewey Indeterminate Situation I have written about. To foster a recognition of the need for social change? Won’t the nickname “Mad Professor” come in handy imagining potential scenarios for change to use? http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/14/michael-barber-education-guru

As will this attitude of Barber’s from 1997 when he set off a firestorm in the UK by suggesting that UK students should learn the ethics of ‘global citizenship’ to replace crumbling religious values. Barber was speaking at a Secondary Schools Heads conference and mentioned that Christianity, although “still hugely influential historically and culturally”, was “no longer able to claim unquestioning obedience.” I bolded that last part because it suggests that unconscious impulse we have seen cultivated before.  He is looking for beliefs or values or feelings that will compel action so student performance assessments grounded in emotional imagining or frustration hold great potential for Learning. In the sense of changing the student from the inside-out.

Barber goes on to say that:

“For a while in the mid-20th century it seemed as if communism might establish new ethics, but by the 1970s all that remained in Western countries was rampant consumerism and ‘the quicksand of cultural relativism’–an abandonment of the morality of right and wrong.”

And “In the absence of God and Marx what are we to do?” Well Barber got his Global Citizenship Standards. I am looking at the Secondary school curriculum that went into effect in 2002.  It explicitly proclaims that its concept of Global Citizenship is grounded in Agenda 21. Which is actually not the urban legend some people seem to believe. If Agenda 21 is a conspiracy, it’s an on-the-record open one. Here it is described as “a universal initiative that recognizes the right of everyone to be consulted about the sort of community in which they want to live. Agenda 21 is about improving the quality of life both locally and globally.”

Well Kumbayah. As one of my law profs used to say if someone has a right, someone else has an obligation. Precisely who bears that Agenda 21 obligation and at what cost? Or is Global Citizenship trying to create a willing acceptance of that obligation throughout the West? No further questions asked.

We have discussed before how the real common core seems to be new values and attitudes and beliefs and feelings. All to create new behaviors. How’s this for graphic? The Global Dimension of Citizenship will target the student’s “sense of identity” and “secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, local, national, and global levels.” Well that will make the UN bureaucrats very happy. If we could get something like this in place in the US it sure would go a long way towards getting Paul Ehrlich his long time Heart’s Desire. Let’s see what else Global Citizenship seeks:

Global dimension emphasizes the moral imperative to understand and empathise with fellow human beings. [Boy doesn't that sound like Kohlberg's Moral Development Theory that is in US classrooms? And Hong Kong too!] It provides young people with a solid foundation on which to base and build their value system. [Convenient for getting back to unquestioned obedience. No wonder Milton Rokeach's name kept coming up as I was researching the real common core implementation]. It helps them make decisions and take action–based on knowledge [opinions and false beliefs is more likely] of the world–which respect the nature of the world we live in and the rights and dignity of others in an interdependent world.”

No wonder Systems Thinking and Peter Senge and Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory keep coming up as part of the classroom or district implementation of the Common Core. It along with the some of the other theories I snarkily added because I couldn’t help myself at this point in the deception get us where the UK schools are without nearly the controversy. I keep hearing that Senge’s Systems Thinking is OK for US elementary students because “the teachers love it so.” So maybe we should be more honest and just rename it Systems Thinking to Create Permanent Habits of Mind for Global Citizenship?

To link up with the last post on what will be a 3 parter before I am done, the September 2012 IB presentations in Madrid talked repeatedly about Global Citizenship. But IB was citing this 2005 Oxfam document based on the 2001 UK Citizenship Standards I have been describing.  http://www.oxfam.org.uk/~/media/Files/Education/Global%20Citizenship/education_for_global_citizenship_a_guide_for_schools.ashx It sure does fit with all the US Common Core curriculum I have been seeing and the Texas CSCOPE curriculum currently attracting so much controversy. It also calls for “active and participatory learning methods.” Sound familiar? As in Michael Barber recommending Cambridge Education in 2007 to NYC to launch their lucrative US operation of telling schools and teachers they may not teach the content directly anymore. Yes that same Michael Barber. I wrote about it last May.

Oxfam recognizes that “Education is a powerful tool for changing the world” which I would be the last to dispute. I just do not think all this Social Change Education is going to create a bright future for hardly anyone. One more point as we talk about how this GC template seems to be coming into the US surreptitiously through online curriculum and the assessments. When I tracked the other definition of Global Citizenship cited by the IB, I found the AERA’s winning paper for 2003 and a Canadian and a US prof openly changing Dewey’s Social Reconstructionism vision to a new name.  Justice-Oriented Citizens.

I have a lot more evidence that the US is getting this same vision of Global Citizenship and not just in IB schools. All schools is the plan. All students. Yikes!

I am going to close with a link to a July 4, 2012 letter by Pearson to PARCC detailing all the assessment and testing work they do. But insisting there will be no conflicts or breach of confidentiality. http://www.edweek.org/media/37act-pearsonreply.pdf It’s rather startling to have that much power and they leave off the ATC21S work in Australia with Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco. Oh and the US National Academy of Sciences. And others. http://atc21s.org/index.php/about/team/ That’s a great deal of global reach for one company. Especially one led by a visionary for Irreversible Change that compels personal action.

That Pearson letter says Pearson’s services are to “improve student achievement and college-and-career readiness in the United States.” Given the real definitions of those terms there’s a great deal of room to insert this Global Citizenship/Justice-oriented Citizens/ New Ways of Thinking into assessments and curriculum and still be within that mandate.

Second is to “improve access to quality education for all students.”  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-quality-learning-may-be-the-last-thing-you-want-for-your-child/ Quality learning and education is a term that tracks back to John Dewey with unappreciated,  emotional and intuition meanings. Again quite convenient if you want students to “use their imagination to consider other people’s experiences.”

It is quite unnerving how much commonality I am finding globally with what is coming to the US and is already in place elsewhere. Looks like a widespread desire to gain  “unquestioning obedience” among the 21st century masses.

The Need to Know as We Understand It Today May be a Lethal Cultural Sport

That needs to be radically restricted if not abolished root and branch. So said anthropologist Bernard James in his 1973 book The Death of Progress in a passage so reminiscent of Paul Ehrlich’s long-expressed desire to use education to create  Newmindedness and James Burke’s to create Non-Axemaker Minds that I just HAD to borrow it. And for similar reasons too. See what I mean?

“There is a sense of desperation in the air, a sense that . . . man has been pitchforked by science and technology into a new and precarious age. [In this age] the final period of decay of our Western world, the predicament is clear. We live on an overcrowded and pillaged planet, and we must stop the pillage or perish.”

And like the Bioregionalists and the Ecology educators like David Orr, it’s always the rational mind that is the central target for change. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-need-a-radical-change-in-our-mode-of-consciousness-even-a-new-sense-of-being-human/ . There was one modern scientific discovery and technological innovation though that didn’t send Professor James into a social engineering frenzy–the computer and communications technology. What today usually gets abbreviated as ICT or as the National Science Foundation likes to call it–Cyberlearning. As in let’s throw tens of millions of taxpayer dollars or new debt into making ICT the focus of all education. K-12 and higher ed. No Cronyism there.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/03/15cyber.h32.html?tkn=TLLFZjQZBrz3EptDVf4qQPg2Wz33qWsMGN2A&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1 is the January 3, 2013 story called “Federal Effort Aims to Transform Learning Technologies.” Since I have written several posts where education professors and administrators and UNESCO reports explicitly acknowledged that such Digital Literacy efforts actually are designed to gain Equity in Achievement by limiting the ability to think, I decided to look into this expensive program further.

The National Science Foundation’s Cyberlearning Initiative is very much in the Limit the Capacity to Think,Make Tool Use and Social Interaction the Purpose of School, Tradition. You know the one that has everything to do with taking down the basis for Individualism and free markets and disruptive technology innovation and nothing to do with the transmission of useful cultural knowledge from the past? Since that would bolster the rational mind and each person’s ability to conceptualize the future for themselves? Or be ingenious? Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself again.

This 2008 NSF report that must have the tech companies salivating is called “Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge: A 21st Century Agenda for the National Science Foundation.” That mouthful, which I quoted in full for a reason, goes a long way towards explaining the NSF’s agenda in creating all the poor math and science curricula in the 90s that became notorious in the Math and Science Wars. Which is important now as NSF also goes after higher ed courses to gain equity in credentialling. Moreover, it explains the education vision in both that USGCRP 2012-2021 report http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/ as well as that troubling Research Goal 6 described in the previous post. And also NSF’s work on the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance. Busy folks. In fact, “Altering Minds and Behaviors without Telling You” might be a good 21st Century motto for certain parts of the NSF. So convenient isn’t it that  NSF now reports to a close Ehrlich colleague, John Holdren.  He is not telling us either although if you read his past books and articles, he already has.

Consistent with that remake the world and control human behavior aspirations is cyberlearning as a means of “steering” humanity and signalling

“the intertwined tapestry of concepts relating the goal-directed actions, predictions, feedback, and responses in the systems (physical, social, engineering) for which cybernetics was to be an explanatory framework.”

Yes, long before Peter Senge took up the mantle of Systems Thinking to make a lucrative living foisting it on schoolchildren and naive business executives, we had Norbert Wiener who helped develop Cybernetics to try to make human systems more predictable and controllable. And, no, nobody EVER asks us “Pretty Please” or May I?”. So Cyberlearning is based on Cybernetics theories and involves Learning in a networked world. And the NSF report wants to make it quite clear that cyberlearning involves “learning with” the tablets, Smartphones, and laptops that are currently being pushed at great expense. Absolutely does not mean “learning about” the ICT infrastructure. Mercy no, that might bolster the abstract, logical mind and we need to prevent those as much as possible in the 21st century. No matter what the cost in dollars or forgone future prosperity or destroyed individual promise.

In fact on page 11 of that report you can find a chart called “Advances in Communication and Information Resources for Human Interaction” that puts working with symbol systems like reading and math and academic content very low on the totem pole of 21st century aspirations for students. And what makes it to the top you ask reluctantly? Why, that would be “Virtual Observations [aka videos], Collaborations, Social Networking, and Web 2.0.” I kid you not. That’s the Marxist/Deweyan ultimate wish list of Social Interaction, Participation, and Engagement as the purpose of education. It also dovetails to the 1989 UNESCO agenda described here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/ . The report still guiding education “reform” globally.

One of the creators of that chart is heavily involved with Cyberlearning and Informal Learning generally. Stanford Professor Roy Pea is not only in a position to “Do Lunch” with the Ehrlichs and Linda Darling-Hammond and so many other of our Transform Education Schemers but he was kind enough to do a Cyberlearning slideshow in 2011. That got uploaded on August 15, 2012 just in time for the new school year.  http://www.slideshare.net/roypea/berkeley-cyberlearning-030811final . Have fun with the whole show but it is Slides 17-19 that really caught my eye. They make it quite clear Professor Pea considers ICT and Cyberlearning to be a Lev Vygotsky mediated tool.  Complete with pictures.

Vygotsky, for newcomers, was a Soviet psychologist determined to use pedagogy and education to create the perfect Soviet man (and woman I am sure). He understood that cognitive tools can either strengthen the abstract mind (like reading phonetically) or weaken it (like ICT substituting for personal knowledge). Slide 19 leaves no doubt in my mind Professor Pea very much understands what Vygotsky aspired to do in his research. Disrupt previous cultural-historical processes [also known as knowledge of the past] in favor of something new. A different future and culture. As in Designing New Minds, Values, and Overall Personalities I suppose. And Pea also leaves no doubt (Slide 49) that the expensive National Education Technology Plan is part of all this mind-weakening, Transformative, Design a New Future through the introduction of new Cognitive Tools, assault.

Designing the Future. Now how hubristic, as in Will Lightning Strike at the Nerve?, does that sound? But sure enough, on January 18, 2012, there was a Cyberlearning 2012 Summit in DC we were not invited to. So we will have to rely on this helpful graphic of what went on. http://cyberlearning.sri.com/w/images/b/b9/Illustration_Banner.jpg . And there on the far left we see “People and Technology Working Together Designing the Future.” Apparently all it takes according to the graphic is the NSF using multimillion dollar grants to bribe educators and institutions who will in turn Transform Education. Making ICT and the Internet and the Visual instead of mental the Whole Point of Education.

Well, that will affect the future as we shut down much of the human capacity to think rationally that brought, quite literally, Civilization. Print and the mental manipulation of it played a big part. Especially after the invention of the printing press and the Reformation made literacy widespread in the 16th century. Leading to the explosion of knowledge and technology Bernard James wanted to stop in our title.

But can we really design the future? I don’t think so. But let’s talk about that latest bit of public sector hubris in the next post. We will look at what Ehrlich and UNESCO and the European Union and NSF all have in mind when they talk about Foresight Knowledge.

Because I am a firm believer that forewarned is forearmed. Especially about Foresight.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist that.

 

 

 

Self-efficacy, Cultural Proficiency Training, Critical Reflection, and Change Agency Development

That’s what Success for All under the Common Core actually embodies. Tucked away in a 2010 Framework for Equity and Transformative Improvement in Education we have a statement on why “deeper learning” strategies had to be added as a primary goal as we discussed in the last post. And why we needed the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the first place. And why it is really about a limited number of essential skills. You see, school is now to really be about “a broadened definition of what we mean by ‘success.” All students are to build precisely just those skill sets I listed in the title. Why? Well, they will:

“equip citizens with the capacity to engage more fully in educational settings, in our ability to more fully understand life, and to create more effective public institutions. The ‘critical reflection and change agency’ skill area in particular is vital for building deepened understanding around the complex relationship between our economic, environmental, and social well-being, and participating in helping to improve these arenas and ensure that practices within each are just.”

Let’s mull that over for a minute. That would explain how all students, whatever their background, can learn. It would also increase graduation rates as everyone can become an active change agent in the society they feel is unfair. To simply redesign society to be more just. Except society was never designed in the first place. Our Western institutions evolved out of need and survived because they worked. If not perfectly, well enough not to be toppled in a wholesale search for something that might be better. This idea that school is now to be about priming students to help build better government institutions is nonsensical. Who will staff these better institutions? Better trained public employees to be of better service to the citizens seeking justice? With those sets of Skills?

The Framework calls the skills in the title a pivotal choice and italicizes the sentence. I will too.

“Hence, to make a collective decision to narrow the overall goals of skill-building in educational systems is to limit how well we prepare current and future generations to participate in and transform our institutions and social structures.

I wish we would quit talking about skill-building altogether and get back to actual knowledge. But those skills? Participating in and transforming public institutions and social structures is not the purpose that springs to mind when you put your 6 year old on the school bus or when you proudly sit there waiting for the diploma names to be announced. “Capable of organizing a march for equity without supervision” is not my idea of a 21st century skill that makes you diploma worthy. But those are in fact the listed deeper skill sets and reasons for broader notions of student success. Why? The stated reason is It will allow credentials to go to “those from low-income backgrounds, who are students of color, who may live in extremely challenging home and community environments, and who may have been struggling severely in their academics for many years.”

But they will not know anymore and the only economy that can take care of young people without genuine knowledge and skills is a stagnant state-run one with no actual growth. Which means no revenue to pay the costs of the government and its aid to the miseducated Change Agent Generation it is creating. Even in the popular delusion that we are going to retreat to some type of equitable post-carbon economy with a Land worship agrarian existence like the Native People had before Westerners showed up with the oppression of private property, there is no prosperity anymore. Not to mention a terrible set of misguided beliefs about what tribal life was like. Self-sufficiency means no surplus and no reserve against famine when natural disasters strike. I have been reading the Bioregional Plans all this week and none of them indicate they were written by anyone with a modicum of sense.

This education goal is delusional at so many levels. Which is why we need to be talking about it now. As this nonsense is going into place. As the high school Honors Lit teachers are jettisoning real book discussions in favor of Mind Mapping ideas with drawings. The 2010 Hewlett Education Program Strategic Plan we quoted from in the last post even acknowledges that the Common Core State Standards Initiative was just an excuse to get “states and schools to revisit assessment, curriculum, and instruction.”

Because this kind of a Perceive Need to Change Society and then Plan How to Do It Curriculum just does not score well on tests of actual knowledge and skills. So the 2009 ARRA Stimulus Act funded those new ways of measuring students first. One impediment down. The curriculum is what goes on in the classroom which is part of the reason to push digital tablets and computers and I-Phones and Kahn Academy tapes at home. It leaves the classroom for social interaction. The students themselves essentially become the curriculum.

Examples of Cultural Responsiveness listed for each student go beyond “appreciation for and tolerance of diversity” although that is listed as the first level. The second involves “uncovering individual conscious and unconscious bias, how these play out at classroom, school, and district levels, and beginning to draw on the backgrounds and knowledge of students and their communities as strengths and assets.” I guess the Second Level could be called the Getting to Know and Appreciate You, All of You, Curriculum.  No wonder there has been a move to get rid of Honors and Gifted classes. They interfere with this new “overall educational environment” of personal interaction as the primary point.

Finally, the Third Level of Cultural Responsiveness is to “focus on structural inequality and how power differentials among demographic groups, conscious and unconscious bias, and decisions about how to structure public institutions and deliver services have created predictable barriers and stratified outcomes for people of color, low-income people, and other specific groups.” As the Framework bluntly puts it:

“Without knowledge of structural inequity and how to remedy it, we will not have the capacity to become true agents of change for a more just society.”

The assessments then are designed to be formative–changing the student and measuring the extent of the changes in these skill sets and values, attitudes, and beliefs. That’s the purpose of the learner-centered classroom instead of the teacher-centered one we traditionally associate with education. It still had content as the focus. And content would not be equitable. As the Framework said at another point: “if we do not develop deep knowledge of the past and how we created our present social conditions, we will be doomed to continue them.” So instruction also had to be targeted and was.

There are apparently to be lots of tales of racism and oppression and exploitation to create the spirit of Transformation desired. To instill it deep within each student’s core beyond the range of conscious thought.

Is it too late to stop this vision for American education? I hope not because this National Equity Plan is a prescription for widespread disaster. And the resulting death of the America we know and most of us love and the loss of the freedom to make our own decisions and  widespread prosperity like the world has never seen before will not be an accident. And it won’t be manslaughter.

This is intentional. The only possible excuse for what too many adults living at taxpayer expense are pushing is that they do not know the likely consequences of what they are deliberately pushing.

And that’s not much of an excuse. And I for one am taking names.

So our question for most of these Principals and Supers and Professors and some of the Teachers needs to become: “Are you an Inadvertent Insurrectionist of this fine country with a few warts that can be fixed? Or an Intentional One?

We taxpayers and parents have every right to know. And we need to know soon. Like last week in some districts.