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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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