Excellence Means Education Putting What We Feel, Wish For, and Think In Harmony

Is that what you think of when you hear a Super or Principal or Politician say they want excellence in education?  Can you appreciate how useful it would then be to create a false belief system about reality through curricula like Facing History or a UN report about catastrophic manmade global warming regardless of actual temperatures? Check on the feelings component. How about the utility of a rather limited store of facts coupled with a new value system driven by a perceived need for fairness and social justice? That sure would affect what was wished for. Top it all off with a mind that was never taught to read phonetically and uses context strategies to guess at unknown words. Couple that to a brain that was never taught logic through grammar or systemmatic, sequential coverage of math topics (abstractions are taboo, remember?), and you have precisely the classroom recipe we have been dealing with in some schools, districts, and states for about twenty years.

If our Colleges of Education aspire to create mushbrains and then have their graduates meddle in the students’ inner subjective emotions to create a new sense of self and personal identity, professors pushing such a dialogic vision for the engaged classroom should not turn around and write Editorial letters that school tragedies must be the result of guns. The Second Amendment.  Lots more has changed in education. Targeting that inner self is a big part of what changed in the last 25 years or so.

The economist Thomas Sowell writes presciently that:

“Civilization has been aptly called a ‘thin crust over a volcano.’ The annointed are constantly picking at that crust.”

Well, in our case the annointed are largely education professors or those with sociology or psych degrees who have decided they get to decide what kind of future there is going to be and they plan to use their monopolies over K-12 and higher education to get there. Even though they clearly do not understand economics or history. I am going to stop what is not a funny topic to tell a funny, telling, story I read this week on the Cafe Hayek blog about Amitai Etzioni.

As you may recall, he’s the Communitarian professor whose vision of the future is so much a part of the Positive School Climate mandate, the real definitions of College and Career Ready, and the C 3 civics push for a Common Good emphasis. Apparently he suggested that until we can get national gun control legislation, people should voluntarily get rid of their guns and then put a sign in front of their home announcing that fact to strangers as they go by. Now should someone who finds that to be an inspirational idea really be who we are listening to on their vision of the future?

I had a similar thought this week as I looked through Spence Rogers’ Teaching for Excellence Materials. The co-creator of Transformational Outcomes Based Education with Bill Spady recommended pushing psychology prof Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow for all teachers using his classroom template. Since I have children in a school and district using Rogers’ work and had already written about Csik  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-if-higher-order-thinkingdeliberate-confusion/  it was time to get his other books. I already had Csik and his co-authors saying their education reform work was about “trying to direct the course of the future” and maligning capitalism.

I am actually using Csik’s 1997 book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life for this post and the title. If you believe excellence is about using the classroom to train students to “curb the goals” arising from “their genetic or cultural inheritance” (Ripping the whole cover right off Sowell’s volcano) and your psychological theories are being widely implemented, tragic results simply cannot be treated as unexpected. Or inexplicable. Just because tragic results were not Csik’s or Rogers or Spady’s or the principal or super’s intentions.  We are explicitly targeting feelings via the classroom to supposedly “restore an inner subjective order” and develop new attitudes not shaped by “our peculiar capitalist heritage.” Csik’s vision is to use school to push the idea that as the Hindus believe “persons were not considered to be separate individuals as we think of them, but rather nodes in an extended social network.”

This excellence via flow vision of Csik’s that is now part of teacher professional development rejects the transmission of knowledge purpose of the school. The emphasis on student performance outcomes and goals are all reflected in IB and the Common Core and the Standards for Learning and Teaching. All insist that education must be about experiences. Not abstract ruminating. By golly, if you are thinking and comparing on an assignment you need to be able to cite the passage behind your thoughts. Gee, I remember when A work was making a point even the professor had not thought of. Students today supposedly need a consciousness “full of experiences” where “what we feel, what we wish, and what we think are in harmony.”

That’s a flow experience to Csik and that aspiration by the government into the full spectrum of a student’s personality to be monitored via data and feedback to measure “personal growth” should not really be considered intrusive. It’s in pursuit of a different future after all. And if you wonder why teachers or principals sometimes get a glazed zealot look in their eyes when describing their PEAK teacher training or Peter Senge’s systems thinking seminars or Camp Snowball, this is Csik’s description of a flow experience.

“The metaphor of “flow” is one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives. Athletes refer to it as “being in the zone,” religious mystics as being in “ecstasy,” artists and musicians as aesthetic rapture.”

If you need more proof that education and pedagogy no longer accept any boundaries– personal, spiritual, social, or political– in the determination to transform the student from the inside-out. Changing where students find meaning itself, here’s an interview with Professor Kazanjian who headed up the 1998 Wellesley Education as Transformation project that expressly also mentions K-12.   http://www.ikedacenter.org/thinkers/kazanjian_int.htm

If you have never read this post on Bela Banthy’s totalizing vision of education he called Achieving Excellence to take us to a different future, I suggest reading it. Now. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-granted-permission-to-spearhead-societal-evolution-to-a-global-cooperative-consciousness/ Then ask yourself why Bill Spady, who had directed Banathy at the Far West ed lab in Oregon later misdescribes the 1991 creation of Transformational OBE in Aurora, Colorado after it became controversial. And never mentions Banathy’s more comprehensive version of the OBE vision at all.

I think it is because Banathy gives the rest of the story. The economic and political transformation that all these education reforms and psychologizing of the classroom are actually leading us to. The planned society. The planned economy.

The highly emotional, manipulated to be servile and give in to the herd mind. Led by too many adults who are now always seeking a continuation of what felt like a mystic experience. Who don’t see anything wrong with trying to create a new world via the classroom. Who lack the knowledge to put the pieces together and then recognize why this cannot end well.

I wish everyone reading this post and blog a very Merry holiday season. Please do not be sad about the gravity of what I have been writing about. I don’t know why I was put in the precise places I needed to be over the last few years to get this story. But I was and I have it.

And I genuinely believe that telling it will make all the difference in really altering the future. But in a good way. Certainly better than what is currently intended for most of us.

Continuing Our Conversation on the Planned Psychologizing of Each Student via the Classroom

Friday was a heartbreaking day. I obviously wrote the previous post before we got the tragic news of those lost precious young children and the Principal, School Psychologist, and Teachers who lost their lives trying to protect them. It is certainly a reminder that in all my writing about what has really been going on in education and what the actual intended goals are, well-intentioned, brave adults are being manipulated in all this to be Inadvertent Agents of Change. Many are unaware of what the actual goals are and any past history. Or they are Intentional Agents of Change but nothing in their background could possibly alert them to the gravity of what is being attempted via education.

I cannot let the topic of what is planned go. After all, for a history geek  the phrase “general objectives of a spiritual, philosophic and cultural nature reflecting a certain idea of mankind” coupled with taxpayer money and an unaccountable bureaucrat in charge of obtaining the sought transformation is akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull. He wants to charge and gore. I want to find a helpful anecdote to illustrate the consequences and write. But being graphic so soon after Friday’s tragedy about what I know about Connecticut education and how long Outcomes Based Education has been ramping up the transformational summit there and then comparing what I know from my other examinations of similar tragic events will wait for another day.

I have a strong insights and lots of hard evidence that we must consider in time. Before these schemes and policies and procedures are fully nationalized. But not today. I have gone back though and pulled two older posts that many of you may never have seen.  I would like for you just to contemplate the kind of mental and emotional manipulation that has been going on with political aims in mind.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/real-change-will-require-new-values-and-new-ways-of-thinking-or-social-engineering-is-hard/ is based on a March 2012 aspirational article in Scientific American. I also would like you to appreciate that the five basic shifts in human thinking proposed and quoted in that post left the planning stages quite a long time ago in many school districts. Let that reality sink in.

Then I would like you to read http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/priming-delicate-minds-for-a-desired-disruptive-revolution-what-is-the-real-damage/ from early August and begin to appreciate just how Orwellian and manipulative the term “Best Practice” actually is. One of the solutions already being raised for shooting rampages apart from gun control is better Moral and Character Education. Both those terms have been hijacked by political radicals to mean changing values, attitudes, and beliefs through the classroom to again gain a collectively-oriented political and economic Transformation. That post will help you have the proper skepticism that the proposed solution will likely create more of the problem. And appreciate how subtle and mostly out of sight Bill Ayers’ activities really are.

As I so often do, I sought this past weekend’s solace and insights in history and decided to tackle John V Fleming’s The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books that Shaped the Cold War. I thought I was taking a break but it turned into a real lesson on the importance of the “psychological mechanism of belief” as a prominent topic in all the autobiographies of the former Communists. In choosing freedom they had to examine all of their prevailing beliefs. Instilled from an early age. They each recognized and wrote about how it is beliefs that drove their actions and beliefs are not opinions. That really caught my eye.

All those former Communists recognize that beliefs must be confronted if they are to live in freedom. And the schemers who want to use education to gain a more collectivist 21st century society not grounded in Individualism or Capitalism keep referring to “changing values, attitudes, and beliefs” as the Outcomes Based Education mantra phrased it.

(Brief aside to reiterate, that OBE goal is now safely tucked out of sight for the most part in the 2012 poorly understood definition of what constitutes Learning and Student Growth and Achievement. Seriously if I did not know this already, it would be almost impossible to find. That was the idea.)

So like Values but less limited in number, Beliefs drive behavior. Frequently at an unconscious level. Very useful to control of you want to change society. False beliefs and tragic values can still be highly influential. Here are a few of the false beliefs these Communists had been taught to passionately believe. It’s not too much different from what many K-12 and higher ed students are today being led to believe.

“They believed that capitalism was immoral, indeed criminal, in its ‘exploitation of man by man.’ From its very nature capitalism was the cause of conflict, slavery, oppression, and human misery of every kind. The remedy was for them as certain as was the nature of the pathology and its diagnosis. The remedy was ‘socialism’. Just as in the seventeenth century Isaac Newton had for the first time in human history understood and explained the laws of the physical world, so also for the first time in human history had Karl Marx understood and explained the laws of the social world. . . The believed the USSR was a shining beacon, and the harbinger of socialism in the world. They believed the Western democracies were rotten to the core. They believed that the Sovietization of Eastern Europe was the historical equivalent of proletarian revolution, and that it was bringing the blessings of socialism to millions. Imperialist forces, headed by the United States, were actively preparing to initiate a war against the Soviet Union.”

All that strikes us in the West, especially from the vantage point of the 21st century and not the late 1940s, as stunningly false. Unbelievable. And the part I left out about the US and Britain being Sluggish and unreliable World War 2 allies? hits us as ungrateful and ignorant. But beliefs filter reality and each event in the real world was perceived through these set of beliefs as well as the fostered values of Community first. Submission to the wisdom of the Leader. It took quite a long time to reassess such a belief system.

Still does. Which is why creating a useful belief system was the goal of the Catholic Church in the MIddle Ages and the Communists in the 20th. It is also apparently why Ralph Tyler originally created Learning Objectives, which his student and good friend turned into Outcomes Based Education. Which is now called Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge and has been incorporated into both the SBAC and PARCC Common Core assessments. Scheming ideas never go away. They simply get new masking names like Higher Order Thinking Skills.

My other weekend diversion of research did not go as planned either. The Teacher’s Workbook for the Facing History curriculum I wrote about in concern here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/changing-the-filtering-perception-the-way-we-see-the-world-is-key/ came. And I was right to be concerned. If ever a curriculum was designed to foster hate (by fostering false equivalence between 19th century blacks in the US and what happened to the Jews in Germany) and drive future political action and create a false and dangerous belief system it is Facing History.

But what is easy for me to see as a history devotee would be difficult for the typical student or teacher to accurately perceive. They will become, as intended, passionately aggrieved. Under the delusion that Fascism has to be about race and involves a dictator. Taught to believe that Propaganda was what the Germans did to the Hitler Youth, not false attribution of historical causes in order to incite their passions.

As I said in that previous post Totalitarianism is a dangerous thing to misapprehend. I did appreciate the quote though of Hannah Arendt, right before introducing the great evil of Adolph Hitler to the students for the first time. Arendt is quoted as saying:

“Of all the forms of political organization that do not permit freedom, only totalitarianism consciously seeks to crowd out the ability to think. Man cannot be silenced, he can only be crowded into not speaking. Under all other conditions, even within the racing noise of our time, thinking is possible.”

Well, everything about OBE under whatever name it goes by and the Facing History curriculum and what we have been chronicling on this blog seeks to “crowd out the ability to think” in the sense Arendt meant as Totalitarian. Yet by including that quote and constantly using the term “thinking” to mean merely expressing an opinion or emotional beliefs and all that reflecting in journals, we are priming students to believe they are free.

When they are not in the least. And that false Belief System and reworked values designed to prompt political action at an unconscious level is the Whole Idea of these Reforms.

We live in interesting times. We will have to continue to look at where this created false belief system and SEL student-centered classroom have been and are going.

We need to stop using the classroom to create an obedient mind to make gulags unnecessary and stealth control possible.



Changing the Filtering Perception, the Way We See the World, is Key

Key to shifting the dominant Social World-view away from the fruits of the Enlightenment. Apparently modern-day Schemers who prefer to do our planning for us in the name of a theoretical Ecological Cultural Worldview they have been writing about, and speaking at conferences about, now want to jettison the:

“dominant techno-scientific worldview which influences us all, is essentially positivist, objectivist and reductionist, and based upon the root metaphor of mechanism.”

In plain English, mechanism means Cause and Effect which seems to be a dangerous thing to try to jettison. Bet it really won’t leave. Reality is always out there whatever our manufactured, perhaps false, perceptions or ignorance of it.

My scheming prof from the UK whose Systems Thinking dissertation was widely cited in the run-up to last March’s Planet under Pressure confab in London says we need a new way of thinking. Sounds much like Paul Ehrlich, doesn’t he? Or “reperception.” Whatever is necessary to “allow us to transcend the limits of thinking that appear to have led to the current global predicament.” I am tempted to ask what global predicament and what really caused it.  I can also smell Hayek’s “the fatal conceit” coming where professors or bureaucrats are redesigning complex social systems that were never intentionally designed in the first place.

First note to Social Engineers–”Remember, Piecemeal is Your Friend!!” But no one invited me to participate in the Caviar and Champagne confab so I will have to tell you my thoughts instead. Then track this through to the All Important How. We deviated to discuss Spirituality as a Target and a desire to manipulate the human desire for inspiring motivational beliefs for a reason.

My scheming Ecology Prof says Perception is “informed by the inspirational, the affective, the imaginal, and the experiential domains.” I think we can now agree that radicals with plans for fundamental transformation via education are targeting all those areas. That’s what the last 3 posts especially have been about plus everything all summer on social and emotional learning. Check Box 1.  Moreover, the perceptual filter each of us has, whether we are aware of it or not, is “colored by:

1)Our spiritual grounding and awareness;

2) Our Belief System;

3) Our creative imagination; and

4) Our experiential histories.

So education targeting any of those goes after Perception. This is especially critical to reforms like Outcomes Based Education and Systems Thinking that are really targeting all of the above. Why? Want a refresher?

Before murderer Che Guevara became venerated as a pop art icon suitable for mass apparel, he wrote a book called Man and Socialism in Cuba. In it he wrote that (my bold):

“The vanguard group is ideologically more advanced than the mass; the latter is   acquainted with the new values but insufficiently.”

If you want a revolution or a paradigm change or a rejection of the dominant world-view, especially one that did bring unprecedented levels of global prosperity to the masses, you need New Values. It’s apparently part of the Overthrow 101 Syllabus. And that is consistent with what we are seeing throughout the real Common Core implementation and what we are seeing all over the world.

Now for the how. On November 30 Ed Week had a small story called “Multiple Perspectives in an International Classroom.” This paragraph jumped out at me. The Multiple Perspectives Instructional Design:

“compels students to analyze the past not through a textbook, but through various primary-source documents. The aim is to integrate the stories of conquered groups with the opinions of the conquerors, thereby enriching the classroom discussion. By incorporating these new perspectives, students develop a clearer understanding of how historical events have shaped society today.”

Misunderstandings building on emotion and ignorance and perhaps valid frustrations is far more likely. Then there is the alarming passage that “teaching with student perspectives refines students’ identities and beliefs.” Well, how fragile those must be then. I wasn’t quite hyperventilating yet but this is a painful strategy to read about. Especially when something called a four-corners discussion got thrown into the Bubbling Cauldron of Emotion. This technique pushed by the cited group “Facing History” is meant to “illustrate how political statements draw upon personal experience to articulate a viewpoint.”

The question asked was–”Those who make more money should be taxed more money.” Students go to corners based on Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Then they try to persuade each other to switch corners. Two points come to Mind. First, this is not History whatever the name of the class and it is only Social Studies in the Deweyan sense of Social Engagement and Interaction as the purpose of the classroom. Secondly, what a tremendous exercise in priming students to yield to the herd instinct. To the primacy of the Group. All alone in your corner? What do you think you know that we don’t? Or what selfish interest are you trying to protect?

I am also tempted to tell you what I think of seeing former colonies as about having been conquered when it was the only time some ever had a rule of law and some protection against predation by the Ruler over the Ruled. And yes there should be a special ring in Hell for what the Belgian King did to the Congo. This is a curriculum that builds on Ignorance and plays to Stereotypes and then lards on Grievances and then Builds up Personal Identities from that Bubbling Brew? I had enough false lenses in that new C3–College, Career, and Civic Life Framework.

To make sure I was fair though I went to the “Facing History” website to take a further look at what was being pushed. I knew it had famous patrons now living in DC but I had never systematically looked at it. My analysis so far from looking at the website and reading both “Margot’s Journey” about founder Margot Stern Strom and her “A Work in Progress” is this is not a history course in any traditional sense of the term. In fact, it appears to be a fair amount of Bad History. Why? It is a combo of creating New Moral Values and a Sense of Identity from the “lessons” and a Personal Behavior Intervention program. All to create a Mindset for Social Justice.

And not to be elitist about History but Totalitarianism and its causes is a dangerous thing to misapprehend. Pushing emotional false beliefs for political gain is playing with fire. Especially when using the Holocaust and talking about a regime that itself rejected reason in favor of cultivated emotional beliefs. What gave rise to the Nazis was not individual hate so much as using education in the 19th century to create a widespread unconscious motivating belief that the Group and the Race and the Country had Primacy. There was no room for the individual in that Belief System. It was not a place where individuals and their personal choices were the prevailing drivers.

So I am worried that horrific events are being used to create false Beliefs and erroneous but Useful (to a Political Schemer intent on Transformation) Values. We seem to be back to a curriculum similar to the one Robert Hutchins laid out in 1968 without being honest that is what is being pushed.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/using-education-to-shut-down-free-choices-and-then-redefining-as-personal-autonomy-orwell-lives/ I picked that post for a reason. Carol Gilligan and Kohlberg a la Stages of Moral Development are both involved with “Facing History.” So is esr, Educators for Social Responsibility, with its PBIS/ Social and Emotional Curriculum for Middle and High Schoolers, that we saw in our Responsive Classroom post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/locusts-of-the-mind-boring-gaping-holes-altering-wiring-and-living-on-our-dime/ And honestly too many other people we have encountered in this blog. All pushing changing values and mindsets and morals to change society. Selling the Vision that 21st Century Utopias could be a Reality.

I think it is dangerous to teach students, especially those whose misperceptions are unlikely to be corrected at home that “history is largely manmade.” History is a lot of accidents and unintended consequences. Intentions are not the viable reality. Going on to tell students that “what civilization is and what it may become is directly related to each one of us” is misguided and downright dangerous. It’s woefully not true and leaves students unguided by accurate lessons from the past. It leaves them prone to jettisoning what is flawed but fixable in favor of a Dream that is unworkable.

So how do you get to a new Paradigm or Prevailing World-view? In the name of history you teach false but Transformative Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs utilizing the power of the Group and encourage each student to use them “in our lives, take it in, and make it a part of our identity, individually or as a community” as the recommended way of “dealing with ourselves.”

Then you make the definitions of Growth or Student Achievement measuring each Student’s developing Competencies about what a curriculum like “Facing History” is pushing. How is it changing the student? With that Change being defined as Learning.

Orwellian redefinition being another part of the Overthrow 101 Syllabus.