Hiding Education’s Theft of Individual Freedom Behind the Positive School Climate Mandate

Sometimes, like today, I am so stunned by the gap between the provided story of what is going on in education and the actual unknown, likely to be tragic, reality that I have to stop after gathering together the facts and take a history detour. “Who can I turn to with experience in such official folly?” “What can I use to illustrate the enormous likely consequences?” I found this quote Nobel Prize-winning Economist Friedrich Hayek used to explain The Value of Freedom in his book The Constitution of Liberty to be a great start in our quest to avert tyranny via education.

“In an advancing society, any restriction on liberty reduces the number of things tried and so reduces the rate of progress. In such a society freedom of action is granted to the individual, not because it gives him greater satisfaction but because if allowed to go his own way he will on average serve the rest of us better than any orders we know how to give.”

Or any Collective Vision we force others to adhere to would be a good update to the practical importance of individual liberty. That seems to be the 21st Century Means of Giving such Orders.

The Positive School Climate Mandate the feds are now forcing on all schools in all states is being interpreted as requiring “graduates who are other oriented and see their lives as having a larger purpose than advancing their own self-interest.” Students are no longer to see their education as being “all about me.” Instead, they need to learn to moderate their performance goals to “honor the interests of others” and reflect “a shared commitment to bringing out the best in each other.”

I guess that encountering what could best be described as the Collective Communitarian Classroom should not be a big shock given our careful deconstruction of what College and Career Ready actually means. But is a long way from the stated goals of consistent criteria of knowledge that will no longer vary from state to state to run so consistently into no knowledge, New Kinds of Minds, Manipulated Personalities, Revised Values, and now Mandated Altruism as some sort of First Directive. All enforceable via the Data Being Collected and Archived to monitor all this about each student. Collected under poorly understood definitions of “Growth” and “Achievement.” And accompanied by repeated snide remarks about “even students who do strive for excellence and achieve it honestly may be doing so in a very individualistic way.

Now hardly anyone seems to know about the Positive School Climate Mandate, much less the related social and emotional learning focus we have been chronicling. Add to that ignorance a counterintuitive definition that insists that the students and faculty must create and then adhere to  “shared expectations, values, and patterns of behavior that define who we are” and we have a vehicle for enforced personality coercion via our schools. All being promoted as Moral Education. Character Education. Performance Values. Supers are now bringing in Cambridge Education to tell teachers that they can no longer lecture or systematically teach content from a textbook. Then the Supers and Principals plan to turn around and tell that same teacher that she and her students “must work hard in order to create and sustain a caring school environment” and “build caring relationships.” Riane Eisler must be so pleased.

Hayek defined coercion as being when a person is “forced to act not according to a coherent plan of his own but to serve the ends of another.” I could go on for pages describing what is planned as part of that Positive School Climate Mandate but at its essence it is an initiative sponsored by our federal government to force American citizens, our young students, to be led to believe from an early age that such coercion is not only justified but actually a positive, laudable, permissable role of government. To mold students who will selflessly

“contribute to the lives of others, . . . make a positive difference in the world, take initiative to right a wrong or be of service to others; we persevere to overcome problems and mend relationships; we work selflessly on behalf of others or for a noble cause, often without recognition or reward.”

Government officials and employees have decided that it is to their benefit to use K-12 education to squelch out anything that fosters reason or individuality. They believe no one can stop them. I think Ayn Rand had it precisely right when she said “collectivist slogans serve as a rationalization for those who intend, not to follow the people, but to rule it.” The mediocre or naive or greedy insist that no one may be exceptional and would also like good benefits and an inflation adjusted retirement while they enforce such an education for servitude. Despite having lied to us repeatedly about what they are up to. Education to create citizens who are willing and need to be ruled is precisely the Bag of Goods we have been sold under such names as the Common Core and UNESCO’s Education for All.

Perhaps the best way to dramatize just how intrusive this political vision intends to be can be illustrated by describing the Flock of Geese classroom activity to teach Collective Responsibility to every person in the classroom. Excerpts from Page 55 of the Pathway to Excellence & Ethics Resource Manual. The idea is for children to start seeing the classroom as one flock. Is this what a free society teaches its children when not selling them on the joys of cooperative learning via group projects? (Bold face is from story)

“It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an up-lift for others behind it.

Quite similar to people who are part of a team and share a common direction get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the trust of one another and lift each other along the way.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation and share information with those who are headed the same way we are going.

When one of us is down, it’s up to the others to stand by us in our time of trouble.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other when things get rough.

We will stay in formation with those headed where we want to go.

The next time you see a formation of geese, remember their message that “IT IS INDEED A REWARD, A CHALLENGE, AND A PRIVILEGE TO BE A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF A TEAM.”

Words almost fail me. That’s what the cultivation of an emotional herd instinct looks like. The Germans did that in the 19th Century and there were too few to stop a widely held Bad Idea. We had Two World Wars as a result. Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian, saw both of them and never forgot the dangers of state power that systematically sought to squelch and devalue human freedom. Once again, let’s listen to his wisdom born of tragic experience.

Coercion is a person “unable to use his own intelligence or knowledge or to follow his own aims and beliefs. . . coercion is evil precisely because it thus eliminates the individual as a thinking and valuing person and makes him a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of another.”

I reject the idea that in the United States that politicians can authorize supers and principals and accreditors to enact what is clearly intended to be an unprecedented level of personal coercion. And via our taxpayer funded schools no less. This is ultimately the core of the so-called Common Core. And it was designed to be undetectable.

We had components of this already but it was actually laid out in the November ASCD Whole Child Newsletter. Then I followed up on the references. There is no question this is intended to be a key component of the Fundamental Transformation of the United States promised just before our current President won office the first time. The November timing makes it clear this is to be carried into effect largely out of sight whoever wins the Presidential Election on Tuesday.

The fundamental Transformation is apparently on Autopilot at this point. Let’s think about what Ayn Rand learned from her experience with the Bolsheviks.

“In real life, there is no such thing as a gradual descent from civilization to savagery. There is a crash. There is no such thing as retrogressing ‘a little.’ There is no such thing as a ‘restrained progress.’”

We are looking at a certain crash in the US unless we turn away soon. Can one indeed be elected or credentialed to abrogate human freedom now with impunity?

 

 

 

Rigor, Relevance and Relationships, The New 3R’s to Get to a Caring Economics

That precise phrase first came up when I watched a tape from October 2011 of a National Network for Educational Renewal Conference explaining how “this time” we would finally get meaningful educational reform with the prevailing US culture and the whole child to be the focus of the school and curriculum. John Goodlad was quite passionate on the subject of the Good Society and its necessary conditions finally being in reach.

Then there was a controversy when a large metro Atlanta school district that had hired the former Dallas, Texas super was suddenly spending hundreds of thousands from a budget already in deficit for administrators to attend a William Daggett  Model Schools Conference. I recognized Daggett as being one of the primary pushers of Outcomes Based Education (OBE) in the 90s. When I looked at his current work for the International Center for Leadership in Education, there was that phrase again about the New 3 R’s. So all that money was really being spent to make the school district’s Common Core implementation align with OBE. Great. I guess that is what a Gypsy Super does as I first described in a May 25 post.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/gypsy-principals-gypsy-supers-and-engrenage-3-more-superb-things-to-know/

I have written about Outcomes Based Education before and how its real focus is to change the child  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-standardsoutcomesobjectives-what-is-the-real-common-core/. I stand by that today and would now like to point out that Professor John Goodlad was Ralph Tyler’s student and close friend and colleague. So there are numerous direct connections between that 8 Year Study and desired ed reform today. To really get a handle on what OBE looks like in a classroom and the kinds of explicit intentions I read all the time as I plow through official documents, let’s go Down Under to Australia which actually implemented the education reforms designed in the US and for the US in the 1990s. That’s what makes it a perfect place to see what full implementation of Transformational OBE looks like and what the actual aspirations for culturally transformative change look like. Take a deep breath or pour yourself a drink, whatever has a calming influence. Here goes.

The Australian Council of Deans of Education (2001) argued “old learning, which focused on fixed content knowledge, is now redundant as it fosters a rigid way of thinking which will be counterproductive for the workers, citizens and persons of the new future.”

Instead the Council in Oz insisted in language that fits perfectly with what I am seeing in official but not widely shared documents surrounding the US Common Core now:

“The new learning is less about imparting defined knowledge and skills and more about shaping a kind of person: somebody who knows what they don’t know; knows how to learn what they need to know; knows how to create knowledge through problem solving; knows how to create knowledge by drawing on informational and human resources around them; knows how to make knowledge collaboratively; knows how to nurture, mentor, and teach others; and knows how to document and pass on personal knowledge. In sum, this kind of person is open to autonomous, assisted and collaborative learning.”

Open there does seem to be a synonym for persuadable. Malleable. Ready for transformational, doesn’t it? Now the Rigor in our 3 R’s actually tracks back to the definition for Higher Order Thinking. Both Rigor and Higher Order are synonyms for deliberately confronting students with unfamiliar problems, uncertainties, questions, or dilemmas  that have no fixed or linear solution.

Relevant means not abstract. Tied to real world problems in need of solutions. It allows an emotional response instead of a fact based analysis to be a perfectly valid student perspective. Relevance can also be satisfied by a vocational emphasis such as career pathways for all. A service learning mandate that gets students working in the community to try to solve real problems that they can then reflect upon at school is also a commonly cited means of obtaining relevant and authentic learning.

That gets us to relationships which brings in the Caring Economics of the previous post. That professor and Australian Student Wellbeing advisor, Nel Noddings, who wants to use school to instill competences of care in each student, wrote the Prologue for Riane Eisler’s  2000 book Tomorrow’s Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century. Partnership education seeks a radically new integrated approach to learning that changes student values and their filtering mindset for encountering experiences in the future.

Eisler’s point is to live on our Mother Earth in less destructive, more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable ways. It is a hard book for me to read because I think her recommendations will gut everything that does work now  Even if it is not perfect. I think Eisler is guided less by reality than the utopian future she wants to use education to try to create. But factually wrong does not mean a book or concept is not still influential. And most of her readers will not have a working knowledge of history, economics, and political theory to rebut the assertions.

2007 brought The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics which has Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, and Gloria Steinem doing the back cover recommendations to read and embrace its tenets.  Eisler again has many influential educators as endorsers of this alternative approach to restructuring society by fundamentally changing relationships.  Relationships are the essential focus because Eisler says they “define our lives. They are the foundation for all social institutions, from the family and education to politics and economics.”

Partnership education wants to change all those social institutions and not just at the edges. As Eisler says in her advocacy for cultural transformation for the 21st century: “we can’t just focus on economics to change economic systems.”  Either no one has ever told her or she has refused to listen. The economic systems that have worked and brought widespread prosperity were not designed intentionally. They arose spontaneously under certain conditions. Designed economic systems are what brought so much grief to the 20th century. She is misguided but this is the foundation for the new caring economics that is the background goal of so much of this global OBE/SEL ed reform:

“Economic systems are about a form of human relations. It isn’t the goods that relate, it’s the people. Therefore, people and the activities that support and enhance human life and human relationships, need to be the focus of economic analyses.”

She’s not kidding either. She wants to transform “the psychological and social dynamics of relations in all spheres of life.” No wonder we see so much focus on social and emotional learning and affirmative measures to redefine School Climate. And Purple America.

Common Core then is not about content to be taught. It is about the kind of values and attitudes and beliefs a person will need for this reimagined society. If this is a false, potentially tragic pathway, and I think it is, we really are careening towards an abyss if we blindly keep implementing Common Core as it is actually configured for schools and classrooms near you. This fall. 2012.