Triune Consciousness-A $100 Phrase We Need to Grasp Why Every Wrong Leads to the Same Remedy

For those of you excited to hear your State may be reconsidering the Common Core, my research has always shown that CCSSI is a Bait and Switch tactic. So I am going to continue my focus on the real change coming to a classroom near you soon. US or elsewhere. Public or private. The consistency across decades and geography is amazing. So we are going to keep our focus on the wealth of confessional riches that looking into that odd word–conative–turned up. Because the vision everywhere seems to be a 21st Century “form of education that provides universal principles from which inner-awakening, self-transformation and self awareness can be enhanced.”

Why is that necessary? Because “without inner transformation, it is not possible to bring about true change as true change in the thinking, must occur at the spiritual level.” (“Towards Self-Sustainability in Education”, 2007, New Zealand) Spiritual as in “the convergence of religions into a universal form of ethics.” That’s supposedly how we get to a cooperative commonwealth or all the other visions of a reorganized collectivist, sustainable economy and society we have looked at that is always attached to these ed reform visions. If the vision of the society or economy of the future makes no sense for most of us, we need to reconsider where the League of Innovative Schools and 21st Century Skills and a Competency focus and social and emotional learning are really taking us. But today we are focusing on how changes this dramatic can manage to make it all the way into a local classroom despite the wishes of parents, taxpayers, a Governor, or a local school board.

Apart from money to bribe compliance at the local level and accreditation (which is so poorly understood), this time the Executive branch through both White House edicts and very busy agencies is really working the interpretations of both the federal civil rights laws and the federal disabilities laws into pretzels only a contortionist or a stealth Social Change Agent could love. We already noted a similar previous attempt here.

Well, the feds were at it again this week using the Civil Rights Division of DoEd’s Special Ed Division to issue a Dear Colleague letter on the Bullying of Students with Disabilities. But the remedy as we have seen before involves a Positive School Climate (PSC) and required policies and psychological practices and curricula for ALL students. Everybody bound and coming from somewhere few are likely to see. Likewise, the Alliance for Excellent Education just released a paper called Climate Change: Creating an Integrated Framework for Improving School Climate. It’s in the name of the poor and minorities and the tragedy of too many schools being drop-out factories. Since much of that is deliberately created, basically we have a case of problems being created so a desired solution can be offered. And framed in terms of Civil Rights since most people never aced Con Law in order to be able to be skeptical about the words “the law requires.”

Beyond the ever present PSC pursuit that gives a reason to require that ALL students in ALL schools “receive the same academic, social, and emotional experience.” PSC gets defined as “an environment that reflects a commitment to meeting and developing the academic, social, and emotional needs of every student.” And collecting Civil Rights Data (CRDC) to make sure that is happening for ALL students. Which will certainly go a long way toward the OECD’s interest in overseeing everyone’s Subjective Well-being.

It also goes a long way towards achieving Education for Sustainability towards this end of the UN’s decade since the data gets at “the driver of intentional change in one’s behaviour, emotions, perceptions and attitudes.” Those changes achieved via federal collection of personal data as a matter of supposed law then is supposed to lead to a greater ability to fuse the needed “shared vision at collective levels.” And all mostly out of sight.

I want to borrow an insight Ludwig Von Mises had on the page before the quote I used in the previous post. If politicians and connected insiders want to call the shots in the 21st century, genuine innovation is an obstacle since it can and has literally changed the world and the course of civilization before. All this PSC emphasis beyond the usefulness of knowing people’s Personal Motivational Profile obtained without their knowledge via digital learning and assessments we cannot see has another important goal. Here is the insight:

“Most people are common men. They do not have thoughts of their own; they are only receptive. They do not create new ideas; they repeat what they have heard and imitate what they have seen. If the world were peopled only by such as these, there would not be any change and any history. What produces change is new ideas and actions guided by them…It is always an individual who starts a new method of doing things, and then other people imitate his example.”

PSC and the resistance to lectures and textbooks and systems thinking now are all fundamentally rationales to prevent uncommon individuals who might create new ideas and fully appreciate and explain the value and necessity  of old ones. But politicians and tech companies wanting to preserve future revenue against competition or media companies aghast at what happened to the profitability of newspapers can’t be honest with us. Money, power, and control may be the real reason but it cannot be the public explanation so we get all these bogus talking points. But in the footnotes that go with the PSC research or holistic learning or Whole Child Initiative or what is wanted from a Conative emphasis is the real story. It will take me several posts as we continue through it but there is tremendous consistency now at the deep level I am. Through place and time and names you might say but never a variance in the function.

Today I want to lay the foundation of why we have encountered so many reasons to switch school to activity and social and emotional learning and the PSC mandate. The 1997 book Head and Heart: Affection, Cognition, Volition as Triune Consciousness by Andrew Tallon laid out the sought vision of a “spontaneous nonconceptual knowing and loving” that will be manifested in “performances.” Yes, indeed, won’t that fit well with ‘performance standards’ and ‘learning tasks’ and projects as the classroom emphasis. That way students can physically practice: “feeling is the way our being resonates with our doing” until it becomes a matter of habit. No wonder ‘engagement’ has become the order of the day. Good thing 21st Century Skills are not interested in fostering habits of mind or deep learning which would start to sound precisely like what Triune Consciousness is getting at.

Think of how useful the PSC mandate and that CRDC data will be if a student’s “capacity to learn means acquiring habits as (re)structuring malleable; it is essential becoming.” Sounds a lot like Peter Senge’s Presencing. And “[t]he goal of learning, at its most personal and interpersonal peak, is to develop triune consciousness. The Developed structures of adult personality and character form the unique constellation of dispositions to act spontaneously and with a directness and immediacy that needs neither thought nor will, primarily in face-to-face relations.” And that Dear Readers fits almost precisely with the vision of the intrapersonal and interpersonal laid out in the Crucible Moment report that launched the American Commonwealth Partnership at a White House ceremony in January 2012.

Triune consciousness is a fancy phrase for a deliberate official pursuit via education to create behaviors and a desire to act that does NOT flow from “discursive reasoning or deliberative will.” Take your pick of reflex or habit or spontaneous or unconscious response. They will all work  as education seeks to join affection, cognition, and volition so that the response comes from internal values, beliefs, and attitudes. School consciously seeks “to sublate [think of anesthesia or other sedation] either or both ‘normal’ discursive reasoning and the deliberations of the will.”

What do we call governments and officials who want to do that?

Who gather personal data to ensure ‘continuous progress’ towards such a goal?

Who frame such a pursuit in terms of disabilities rights or civil rights?

Who call such intentions “innovative school practices”?


Will Your Schools Be Used as an Information Age Experiment for Economic Democracy?

That title comes out of a 2004 essay published in Columbia’s Teachers College Record laying out the desired “Pedagogical Praxis” to use computers and other ICT technology in the classroom to reinvigorate John Dewey’s 1915 idea of linking school with society. The idea is that we are living in a technological Postindustrial society that calls for different habits of mind and understandings than in the past.  And let there be no doubt, the author, an AI prof by the name of David W Shaffer, said explicitly that “the approach is psychological” and involves the social and moral development of students. Which really does sound like what the Canadians have acknowledged is the real common core being imposed on global education–new values, attitudes, and beliefs. Another prof we will get to today added changed “mores” to that list as well.

Apparently we all need changed beliefs for the 21st century as Goodwin Liu alluded to when he called for something like CCSSI-the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Which is certainly convenient as yesterday a US federal government commission released a report called “For Each and Every Child” that talked about using CCSSI to get the US K-12 “system” to “distribute opportunity equitably” so there would cease to be “disparities in student outcomes.” Now people are different and long-time readers know I have talked a good bit about what Excellence in education really means. See Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi in tags. No you do not have to pronounce his name. Everyone just calls the prof Csik as it is easier. All joking aside Csik’s view of Excellence aligns perfectly with Shaffer’s view of a psychological moral and social development focus in the classroom to change students from the inside out.

Now conveniently this highly intrusive report that reenvisions the Government-Citizen and federal/state/local roles in so many areas that the ground at Montpelier, Va may have shaken yesterday sees technology and its use in the classroom as the key to gaining Equity and Excellence. You probably should check which tech stocks were up yesterday as vendors rejoiced at such an access to taxpayer coffers. OK. Less sarcasm as we hear the call for “technology systems that support learning.” There will be absolutely no references to BF Skinner and his call for using computers to be Teaching Machines delivering Operant Conditioning to the students to benefit the politically connected’s vision for the future. Ooops. Sorry. I guess it was an unconscious response to seeing that word Learning in that federal report since we know it means changes in values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s almost like there is a theme going here.

Now many of the reports and books pushing ICT in the classroom as the primary emphasis cite back to a 1988 book by a Harvard business prof called In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power. Such cited support is intended to pave the way for a no questions school ICT implementation mere mortals without a Cambridge pedigree may not question. Unfortunately the systems thinkers at MIT had already, through footnotes, pointed me in Zuboff’s direction. I had her book and knew it aspired to use the new ICT technology and its ability to “informate” as she calls it and not just automate to change the nature of employee-employer work relations. She wants it to move away from hierarchical, managerial relationships in the workplace to collaboration as a “learning community.” So to her ICT is the hoped for avenue to the Democratic Vision in the Workplace and Industrial Democracy and she cites her own work as well as openly socialist labor leaders like Robert Schrank among others.

Which is her privilege but that aspiration for a new society and a new economy rather goes along with her vision for the role of ICT. It goes with the visions of the Equity Commission too given the number of times that report mentioned “levelling the playing field.” It fits with Goodwin Liu’s vision for a social citizenship obligation he wants to see accepted in a new interpretation of the 14th Amendment. So once again the cite to Zuboff merely reenforces our developing sense that the ICT push is not about getting everyone ready for the 21st century. Maybe it’s to get enough people primed to envision a nonhierarchical workplace but that may also not function very well in practice. But how would the typical student know that?

Zuboff tells the stories of numerous plants and companies transitioning away from the world of physical activity to produce products to a computerized production. Now the workers watch a computer screen and many, over time, especially those without a background in the physical production processes, lose touch with the reality those screen images represent. She writes about the disorientation. When I read that passage I immediately reverse engineered the effect on students of the schools pushing virtual reality and gaming and so much use of a computer. Wouldn’t those students likewise come to believe that reality acted much like the simulations they were creating? That the world could be made to behave like the designed models and programs they had been immersed in? Some almost from birth given the ubiquity of screens among the toddler set in the grocery store now.

Isn’t the insistence on using devices and tablets and reflecting popular culture at school just going to prime these students further? Won’t many student have trouble separating real social systems that consist of independent individuals and millions of consumer transactions that are not programs and were never designed from the online models about Society and the Economy and the Ecosystem? Especially since the reformers now want students to spend so much of their school day in virtual worlds too?

That was my concern and then the next step in my pursuit of what is really going on led to a 2009 book–Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. Now that book is being pushed by some of the biggest names in American education over the last 20 years. It makes no bones about pushing for the fulfillment of Dewey’s dream to use school to change the nature of American society toward economic democracy. It’s as if the entire 20th century nightmare of governments trying to remake human nature and shift the emphasis to the collective that occurred after Dewey wrote his theories never happened. Let’s try again. This time with the magic ICT technology and already industrialized societies instead of agricultural ones.

Do you think that will really make all the difference in likely outcomes? Even if I am alone out on this limb frantically trying to call attention to where the Common Core in the US and education globally is really going? Now Professor James Paul Gee who we met before with his insistence that there really is no such thing as discrete individuals, , is cited in Rethinking Education. The writers are explaining the envisioned push in the classroom for computer gaming that has now become such an unappreciated part of the actual planned Common Core implementation. The idea is that computer “simulation is the key to letting learners explore new situations.” So the computer gets used to let students explore various possibilities for the world of the future. Unfortunately reenforcing beliefs that reality can likewise be redesigned to reflect desired assumptions.

Mentioned among the useful possibilities for video gaming in the classroom is “draw players into roles that may conflict with everyday values and encourage players to notice the gap with their own beliefs.” There are listed war games that will allow the player to “switch sides to take on the perspective of the enemy.” I would assert the enemy is probably not created to reflect reality by people who also push PATHS to PAX SEL programs from our previous post or the Peaceable Classroom. Especially since the purpose of switching sides is to see the “conflict from multiple perspectives.”

Other programs are to involve “local environmental and social issues” where students will be urged to “co-create the world they inhabit.” Market economies and self-policing communities are also mentioned for the virtual world. I will let you guess how realistic the assumptions written into the programs are likely to be. And how many students will really recognize the assumptions factored into what is truly a Designed and Created Social System. That is likely a far cry from the real world the students do have to live in.

Now all this designing and reimagining is about to take us to an MIT prof who seems to function much like the Rosetta Stone for figuring out where all this is going. And we are going back to both Cambridge Cousins and more than one of the graduate programs at both places. And the continued dominance of Systems Thinking. In business and education and apparently, the planners hope, in society itself.

I hate to stop here but our Planning Prof who actually wrote his PhD dissertation in the 50s on John Dewey and his inquiry method is just too important. He came up in too many places we talked about today and deserves his own post.

I feel like humming that tune about being able to see clearly now after rain has come.


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.