Constructing an Alternative Vision of Either the Natural or Human World As the Basis for a College Degree

Somehow the Beatles song “Say You Want a Revolution” just popped into my head as I was typing that title and preparing to give you the full quote from “The Degree Qualifications Profile” published by the Lumina Foundation in January 2011.  http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/The_Degree_Qualifications_Profile.pdf is the link if you want to give this egregiously bad idea a good look. The quote I am about to give you is on page 13 under “Intellectual Skills, Engaging diverse perspectives, bachelor’s level”:

” Constructs a cultural, political, or technological alternative vision of either the natural or human world, embodied in a written project, language, political order, or technological context, and explains how the alternative perspective contributes to results that depart from current norms, dominant cultural assumptions, or technologies–all demonstrated through a project, paper, or performance.”

Perhaps performing a Dance of Despair of what will happen if fossil fuels remain in use and we remain a consumer-oriented society that values economic freedom. Art students could show the lovely Green World that would exist if we returned to an agricultural economy that used windmills and water wheels for power. Oh, that’s right, no artificial damming. Make that just windmills and solar cells and lots of back breaking labor as we return to washing our clothes in streams and drying them on rocks.

I wish I could say I am being facetious but that is close to the vision in these books and speeches (they do leave out the details about laundry but I remember those Little House books well) that underlie this supposedly new economy for the 21st Century that needs a new way of thinking. One that is not very keen on thinking as it has been traditionally understood in the West from the Enlightenment on.

In fact to read Peter Senge and the systems thinkers he represents who aspire to shape K-12 via Common Core or the Lumina DQP I am talking about today or Deep Ecologists like David Orr and Thomas Berry from this post   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-need-a-radical-change-in-our-mode-of-consciousness-even-a-new-sense-of-being-human/ is to constantly be assaulted with an insistence that the 21st Century must embrace radical new minds, mainstream Eastern spiritual practices in everyday life starting in K-12, develop a communitarian economic system that would destroy prosperity, constantly teach and monitor whether students, K-12 and college, are regularly demonstrating that they put others and the common good before their interests, etc.

I have written about the consequences of these initiatives before but the Lumina DQP really is an assault on how little of the past any student is to be allowed to know. And if you think the colleges and universities can escape this noxious mandate, the accreditors got on board almost immediately to “test” Lumina’s framework.  And the accreditors control who gets to participate in the federal student loan program. That’s a lot of leverage for the entities behind the 8 Year Study and developing “objectives” and “outcomes” and alternative assessments to distract the typical taxpayer or parent paying the bill that the focus of first K-12 and now college is shifting away from the transmission of knowledge.

Truly if someone in the Soviet KGB had hatched a scheme during the Cold War and afterwards on how to take down the US specifically and the West generally via its noetic system it would be hard to top the very policies and practices the accreditation agencies have imposed. Whatever their actual intentions or rationales accreditation has been and continues to be a highly effective and lucrative means of national and international cultural destruction.

Finishing up Peter Senge’s 2005 book Presence and its description of an integrated science I found horrifying but that I also recognized from recent carpool comments as I drove, it hit me how much Senge’s systems thinking reminded me of Marx’s famous quote:

“It is not thinking that determines being, but being that determines thinking.”

I think that is just as wrong as can be and I imagine you do too. After all we are essentially having a mental conversation through this blog to discuss some very troubling and potentially tragic ideas. My thoughts and all those private conversations I have had with amazing minds, some long dead, are a large part of the adult I have become. And that’s precisely the problem. That’s not a factual quote or something Marx and Engels and their admirers believe to be true so much as something they want to be true. It is aspirational.

Add in the reality of the K-12 monopoly and who may teach and what and how.  And now all of higher ed, public and private, is subject through the accreditation agencies and their powers to penalize noncompliance via the student loan program. Greedy schemers or political idealogues or just naive ignoramuses making a living as Professors or Principals or Supers and pushing whatever is required are now in a position to realize that Marxian aspiration from so long ago.

To make sure that nothing in education, K-12 or higher ed, public or private, occurs that bolsters the independent, abstract thinking capacity of the individual that would disprove that doctrinal statement. To try to undo the belief system and any Axemaker Mind attributes that came in from home or via religious practices. Instead, if you look at the math wars and reading wars and values clarification and SEL and implementing Dewey’s vision and systems thinking and 21st Century Learning, it is all about the Being side of Marx’s political aspiration.

In fact that is also one of UNESCO’s primary visions for education and Education for All–Learning to Be. Coincidence? I rather doubt it given what historians who have tracked UNESCO practices and preferences have written about which side they empathized with in the Cold War. Do you think celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s birth is a good reason for an official celebration?

Back to the DQP now that we have put all of these previous posts in a firmer context of where this is all going and why it matters so much. To each of us. Anywhere. It is clear that the DQP builds on the “standards for teaching and learning” ruse version of the Common Core we described here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/ . Every description either mentions “learning” or “outcomes” as the goal. The DQP even says explicitly that (their italics, not mine):

“beyond what graduates know, what they can do with what they know is the ultimate benchmark of learning. They emphasize a commitment to analytic inquiry, active learning, real-world problem solving, and innovation–all of which are vital in today’s evolving workplace and in society.”

It’s that 2nd sentence that is the real killer because that assumed evolution is based on a rejection of capitalism and free markets and individuality and fossil fuels and personal liberty. That’s the Ecosystem redesigned and planned economy with the tech companies gathering data and running models so that government agencies can tell citizens what behaviors are deemed  Sustainable and permitted or unSustainable and forbidden. Every bit of college coursework envisioned by that DQP pertains to physical activity and experiences and projects examining and solving “a contemporary or recurring challenge or problem.” The student even “justifies the importance of the challenge in a social or global context.” No refusing to get on board with the need for a Transformation with a capital “T.”

It is hard to imagine the Soviet or Chinese thought police or the administrators of Moscow or Beijing Universities in the 1970s having more interest in limiting what their citizens were allowed to know or do than what the “standards for teaching and learning” prescribe for Common Core in K-12 or the DQP pushes in higher ed.  And then we have initiatives like AACU’s “Character Traits Associated with the Five Dimensions of Personal and Social Responsibility.” When did personality attributes become a matter for the federal government to intervene on? Or state or local?

Can someone please tell me where freedom is hiding in this vision of education? In the fact that there are no gulags yet?

Trust me, between systems thinking, SEL, and deep learning the mind will become its own permanent prison. And then what? What happens when you have expectations of a future without the knowledge or skills to back it up? What happens when the schemers finally begin to recognize central planning fails for reasons other than inadequate computing power or insufficient personal data?

See Mom. Told you I would make good use of that history major. No wonder it is being officially disallowed.

 

College Ready as a Goal of K-12 is not Helpful if First You Gut the Historic Purpose of College

That would be the Transmission of Knowledge about what the Greatest Minds in History Understood and Wrote About and Lived Through and Experimented Over until they had figured out many of the mysteries of Nature. But then that knowledge supposedly allowed man to subordinate nature and our systems theorists like Senge and Scharmer and Deep Ecologists like Orr and Berry from the previous post think we need to stop exploiting nature. Assume our new position as just another species without the magical gift of abstract reason. Rely on feelings and instinct and working on relationships with others and surely Peace will finally come. And the species will all get along just like everyone did in their natural environment before that intrusive stranger Christopher Columbus showed up in the Americas and ruined it all.

As I am reading these high on hopes and short on facts utopian schemes related to Ecology and New Minds, I keep wanting to scream at the book- “You are celebrating cultures that engaged in human sacrifice.” Often. But then my history major and Axemaker Mind are proving to be an obstacle with climbing aboard the Sustainability nirvana train.

We talked about how the President used the term “standards for teaching and learning” and “first time in a generation” and Ed Week insisted he meant CCSSI. We said not so fast http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/ . Well he said the same thing in his nomination acceptance speech last week. Moreover, the Democratic platform itself does not mention CCSSI by name or make any commitment to content or the transmission of knowledge. Its goal is to have ALL students “College and Career Ready.” Sounds good except we have already determined Career Ready is just generic skills of getting along coupled with a communitarian emphasis on daily demonstrating that you put others first. The primacy of the Common Good. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/birth-to-career-finally-and-quietly-creating-the-soviet-mindset-but-here-in-the-usa/ Now with that title we can be sure the platform drafters have not been reading my posts. Otherwise they would have recognized they were tipping off their real goals for American education and local schools and classrooms.

Today we take on the second half of that express K-12 Goal for All Students. What does College Ready actually mean when we put all the pieces together? Well back in January, the White House put out its vision for American higher education complete with festivities. Called A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future http://www.aacu.org/civic_learning/crucible/documents/crucible_508F.pdf it contains an extremely troubling political vision where your campus activities and what you are willing to actively advocate for determine who gets a diploma in the future. Others, notably Peter Wood at the National Association of Scholars, have mentioned this report. I am going to focus on aspects that have not been covered.

The first involves picking a new company formed in 2008, Global Perspectives, to essentially shepherd the Crucible Moment vision on behalf of the federal government. Paid of course. That seems a surprising and lucky break for a newcomer until we look into Global Perspectives and discover the Dean of the College of Ed where Bill Ayers was deemed a suitable prof and where CASEL is located. Social and Emotional Learning for a Political Purpose Grand Central Station is apparently an accurate name for certain departments at U-Illinois at Chicago. When we pull up the Global Perspective Inventory to be used on college students, ages 18-24, on their “journey of life.” GPI wants these young adults to

“grow, change, and develop along several dimensions–intellectual, social, civic, physical, moral, spiritual, and religious. And we develop holistically and not departmentally, i.e., we simultaneously develop our mind, sense of self, and relationships [remember our new 3 R's?] with others. . . We live in a global world, in which multiple perspectives about knowing, sense of identity, and relationships with others are distinct and serve as powerful influences in our society.”

College as a real time, experiential Cultural Anthropology dialogue. How enlightening. Now GPI’s college vision for what it calls “holistic human development” is based on two theoretical perspectives [have you noticed no one implements based on theory when they are paying, only when the taxpayer is?]: intercultural maturity and intercultural communication. GPI then cites our old friend Robert Kegan as the source of its views of intercultural maturity. You know, the Harvard prof working with Peter Senge to get K-12 school districts pushing systems thinking as part of their Common Core implementation? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/do-you-live-in-a-district-piloting-deep-and-continual-personal-change-in-the-individual-student/ How exciting for students to have the opportunity for Deep and Continual Personal Change for years at a time extending into college. Except that kind of psychological and emotional manipulation using data and feedback and grading and credentials is not typically associated with a Free Society. At least not one that will remain free for long except on paper that few will really understand anymore.

Since students are going to be swimming in systems thinking throughout their formative years, let’s look at the college version to go along with all the posts we have done on K-12. Intercultural maturity is the theory that:

“as people grow [bolded because Growth is now the measure a number of states are using to measure what happens in the classroom] they are engaged [my Gypsy Principal's favorite word] in meaning making, i.e., trying to make sense of their journey in life. In doing so they not only rely on their thinking, but also on their feelings [there it is again, to be dominant over reason and logic and facts] and relating with others [a synonym for relationships again] in forming and reforming their journey in life. He [Kegan] has identified and labeled three major domains of human development: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal.”

Now before you get too excited at the mention of the word Cognitive remember this is all holistic human development which is based on the silly notion of using education to promote the idea that thinking, feeling, and relating are all equally important. Two come naturally and one only kicks in with instruction and practice. Treating them equally in school and college means thinking will actually be little more than instinct and emotion itself. Sure enough Cognitive becomes about “How do I know?” and acknowledging multiple perspectives and no Universal Truths. A point that is itself I must say Not True. If you do not believe me try going out a 5th story window asserting that Gravity is a Social Construct.

So despite all the knowledge of the Ages this is a view of college that celebrates ignorance and reinventing the wheel, maybe if you are lucky which the American Native Tribes never did. The Intrapersonal domain is “Who am I?” and becoming aware of your values, strengths, and personal characteristics and sense of self. Seems like a waste of tuition to me. I can remember having those insights from studying the Great Works and having the Great Conversation. Now it is just a dialogue among representatives of various interest groups to discuss grievances. How sad.

The Interpersonal domain “How do I relate to others?” tracks how willing the student is to “interact with persons with different social norms and cultural backgrounds, acceptance of others, and being comfortable when relating to others.” Now does it strike anyone else with these definitions of what should be occurring in college, the Critical Reflection and Change Agency push we discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/self-efficacy-cultural-proficiency-training-critical-reflection-and-change-agency-development/ will be the best K-12 prep for this view of college? Far more than studying Great Literature or knowing Chemistry or what led to World War 1. See the benefits of College Ready as the Goal when you change the nature of College?

Now once again I have run out of space to start another angle to College Ready. Next will be the Diploma Qualification Profile. Accessible to everyone willing to recognize and then campaign for Transformative Political, Social, and Economic Change. In the US and globally. And once again the accreditors are the enforcers for the poisonous vision.

Stay tuned.

Credential Inflation-How Reforming Higher Ed With Learner Outcomes Can Damage All Degrees

A few days ago I got linked in a conversation on Rampant Credentialism. Readers frustrated that the degree they had paid good money to obtain didn’t really provide the knowledge or skills anyone seemed to want to pay for. Another reader complained that he had been a craftsman for many years and was now being told he had to get a certificate proving his Competency. He had paid for the program and finished it so he could keep making a living with his experience and skills. But that the coursework of the program itself added nothing. If that certificate was all someone without experience had, it would barely be worth the paper it was written on. Yet it was now required to open the door to future employment. Ensuring a nice stream of income for some credentialing institution.  And what if the next degree is just more of the same?

Remember the cliche about the thousand mile journey still requiring that first step? Well the first step in using education as a means for trying to obtain a different utopian tomorrow redesigned around Sustainability and planned and managed through the advances in computer technology needed that first step somewhere. The somewhere has been higher ed. Going on for more than twenty years now. But nobody told the students or parents or taxpayers.

College used to be where you could go and encounter greatness. Great Minds. Great Books. Great Ideas to Build On. And if you weren’t terribly good at negotiating those encounters and felt more shocked than invigorated, you changed your major or muddled along or learned to cultivate different important character traits besides the intellect. The world truly does need all kinds of knowledge and skills. The science nerd capable of invention needs the people person to help her sell it.

We have talked about Outcomes Based Education in the K-12 classroom. Did you know the Regional Accreditors have pushed Learning Outcomes in higher ed? Major by Major? How about new means of measuring progress and activities so that students from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities and genders and races can all obtain degrees and credentials at rates reflecting their percentage of the population? Did you realize that colleges and universities not willing to go along with the Regional Accreditors vision for transforming American education can lose the right to participate in the federal student loan program? Did you realize the vision of education credentials for all is tied to a political vision for a different kind of society and economy that’s not in place yet? And if it ever does occur, we are looking at drastic reductions in economic prosperity for everyone but the politically connected? Does anyone think the typical employee or exec with a Regional Accreditor has any idea what makes an economy grow? Or a recognition from history that degreed, socially reengineered Human Capital without useful knowledge or skills is a path to disaster?

Did you know that other countries pushing Outcomes Based Education in K-12 and higher ed also adopt Qualifications Frameworks to try to force private businesses to accept these credentials? Which means even more regulation and expensive compliance measures from would-be employers? Money that could have gone towards hiring more employees or developing new desired products and services? That Qualifications Frameworks are expensive, controversial, and a quick trip to a dirigiste economy?

This already revised nature of higher ed is integral to the Common Core’s definition of College Ready. Many changes are already in place and more are coming. All assume preparation for a reimagined future. A dangerous act of widespread social engineering largely going on outside the public eye or awareness. Even many insiders know something is changing but not precisely what it is or what is driving it.

With the current use of the term P-20 meaning Preschool through College, Masters, and Doctorate programs based on generic Competency, Common Core is not just about the attitudes, values, emotions, and interpersonal skill shifts we have  been talking about now in post after post. No the student’s job is also to keep showing up year after year to obtain needed credentials that enrich everyone tied into what is the 2nd largest industry in the world after retail.

Students exist so that administrators can have well-paying jobs.  It’s true in K-12 and it’s especially true on campus. When you reorganize undergraduate education around “Improving Student Engagement, Experience, And Learning Outcomes” or “Learning within a Campus Culture of Diversity,” it takes a great deal of administrative monitoring and meddling to ensure professors do not revert to testing on facts and a body of knowledge. That’s not equally accessible to all students. DING goes the not-to-be permitted gong.

Assessment (one of the listed Big A’s in changing higher ed) for all is to be “multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.” That should get more students to the finish line of getting a degree. It may also be propelling us towards a world where that credential leaves its holder unprepared for anything but waiting tables. Even worse, some of those with the paper credentials had the creativity and imagination and skills with abstract ideas and sequential logic that were never cultivated. The policies and practices of Education for All in too much of their K-12 and then higher ed means that potential is lost. We are all poorer when we restrict our best minds to basic nutrition needed by anyone.

I mentioned in the July 16 post that if the Earth was not moving toward critical environmental tipping points, the proposed Common Core education theories and practices were a fast train to economic catastrophe. Transforming P-20 to Learner Outcomes accessible for all is an expensive fast train to economic catastrophe. And this train has already left the station and is picking up speed. The accreditors seem to want to keep an ongoing relationship now instead of periodic ten-year reviews.

So the push for transformative change is now virtually constant. Just what you did not want to hear before you wrote that tuition check or took out that loan. But we need better recognition of what is wrong if there’s to be any chance that next year’s tuition is not to be purchasing an even more manipulated degree program. I don’t think we can rely on Accreditation (the 2nd Big A) to recognize what is wrong with the map they are using to direct the higher ed train. You see, there is no one forcing Accountability (the 3rd Big A to Transformation) on the Accreditors. Nice gig if you qualify.