Tethering the Logical Rational Mind Via K-12 Education to Emotionally Grounded Experience

The language from the ESEA Rewrite on closing the achievement gaps between groups that objectively have had very different life experiences basically limits what can now go on in a K-12 classroom in any state or locality. Some local control, huh? Interestingly the only kind of education that will now suffice is precisely the same as what political and social transformationalists intent on social justice also want. It’s the same kind of K-12 education that members of the Chamber of Commerce also endorse since it makes genuine, shift the paradigm invention and technology far less likely.

To illustrate how once again all roads lead to the same place and how it does not benefit ordinary, non-politically connected, people at all, let me turn to an essay “Educating the Rainbow: Authentic Assessment and Authentic Practice for Diverse Classrooms” from a 1997 UK book Assessment for Equity and Inclusion: Embracing All Our Children. What that paper calls authentic assessment that is activity-based, group-oriented, real world problem-based, and designed to get at the motivating emotions, values, and attitudes that get hidden now in the phrase “high-quality” are called formative assessment or assessment for learning most often in 2015. Whatever the name, what’s the real purpose? That would be to create shared beliefs among all the participants in the classroom and eventually the school so that the students can also embrace shared meanings from interpreting their experiences and ultimately develop shared language to describe them.

Now won’t those things come in handy if the goal of K-12 education globally has shifted to “Introducing a new way to think, talk, and act”? http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1550609/The-Seven-Dimensions-of-Climate-Change.pdf came out last week on basically the same day that the President of the Rockefeller Foundation went to the RSA to speak about building Better, More Resilient Cities. Hmm, wouldn’t authentic or formative assessment then be helpful to the Rockefeller-funded Communication for Social Change they are pushing all charities to guide their funding by? Talk about tethering. That paper seeks to skip over the entire debate over whether 2014 was the hottest year on record and whether we are warming, cooling, or the physical climate is simply behaving like a ‘climate’. “Changing climate” must become what “social scientists call ‘a social fact’.”

The great thing about ‘social facts’ in sociology theory (which is after all a huge component of education theory and pedagogy in degree programs) is that they are designed to ultimately change us, from the inside-out. Hmm, just like authentic or formative assessments? Why yes and won’t those be so useful if people now need to have a “new sense of collective purpose that embraces the diverse elements of human experience–without new vocabulary and cultural currency that allows us to overcome climate fatigue, a social silence, and stealth denial.” Not to mention actual documentable facts about the reality of scientific principles that must now be excluded because such abstractions are not equally accessible to all people. Equity excludes what builds up the analytical and intellectually-oriented Left Hemisphere of the brain from acceptable classroom practices. Equity does, however, provide education with a means for developing shared beliefs, meanings, and language.

How convenient, huh? Especially with the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) that is part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University (where so many of the authors listed in the above book are profs at the Teacher’s College) creating reports on how to frame climate communication so that it can “Speak to the Two Parts of the Brain.”  http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/pdfs/CREDguide_full-res.pdf   That’s, first of all, the Analytic Processing System that concerns about Equity, social justice, and civil rights now insists must be starved of everything but pre-approved,  politically useful ‘concepts’, Enduring Understandings [see tag], or disciplinary core ideas and cross-cutting issues. The second side, what Marshall McLuhan called the visual-aural, holistic Right Hemisphere, is referred to as the “Experiential Processing System.” Fascinating, huh, since “learning experiences” are now to be the focus of K-12 classrooms since only they meet the Equity Gateway that allows Success for All.

That “Psychology of Climate Change Communication” paper helpfully tells us what a Mental Model is. Since that’s precisely what Rigor and authentic or formative assessment is designed to shape and alter and what concerns over Equity and Opting Out of ‘tests’ are forcing on all students, lets quote the report:

“A mental model represents a person’s thought process for how something works (i.e., a person’s understanding of the surrounding world). Mental models, which are based on often-incomplete facts [especially in a K-12 world where lectures and textbooks are treated as inequitable], past experiences [which will now include experiences of virtual reality created as gaming for the very purpose of manipulating mental models. See Jane McGonigal tag], and even intuitive perceptions, help shape actions and behavior, influence what people pay attention to in complicated situations, and define how people approach and solve problems. Perhaps most important to climate change communicators, mental models serve as the framework into which people fit new information.”

That very mental model is precisely what so much of the K-12 classroom implementation described in my book Credentialed to Destroy is designed to influence and control. It’s also the focus of so much of the required emphasis on digital learning. Everything being pushed in K-12 education now tethers that Analytic Processing System and forces and then manipulates the Experiential Processing part of the student’s physical brain. Gives new meaning to “brain-based curriculum”, doesn’t it? To be effective on any issue targeted for transformational change or political control, communication (one of the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning) needs to “make use of the following experiential tools”:

“Vivid imagery, in the form of film footage, metaphors, personal accounts, real-world analogies, and concrete comparisons;

Messages designed to create, recall, and highlight relevant personal experience and to elicit an emotional response.”

We see the latter tool in the omnipresent journaling that seems to be a part of every class now, including math. The former tool is not just brought in through computer gaming and the Common Core’s media literacy and relevancy requirements, but also group-based Problem-Based Learning and the Maker Movement. After all that CRED paper explains “How to Tap into Group Identity to Create a Sense of Affiliation and Increase Cooperation.” Very useful if a New Way to Think, Talk, and Act has become the entire point of education and much of the focus of media outlets of all kinds.

In the last post I mentioned Antonio Gramsci’s famous March Through the Institutions as a way to describe the actual effect of what Congress seems prepared to mandate, but RSA actually came right out and called for new societal institutions. All the more reason then to have the law mandate the Orwellian “high-quality education” we covered in the last post. After all, RSA (like the Club of Rome and ValuesQuest in the January 11 post) views “democracy” as a “mechanism for making collective decisions” and the “web of legislation” and the the “comprehensive system of law” as methods for “meaningfully constraining …the global economic engine.” Boy, that was not on the Bar Exam back when I took it.

These new societal institutions created then by a web of legislation like that ESEA Rewrite or your local city council’s edicts will “not be designed to make an economic case, communicate scientific facts or win an argument.” I guess that explains why the Analytical Processing part of the human brain that can do those things well is being tethered and starved of the kind of facts K-12 education traditionally provided. Instead, the experiential, social and emotional learning focus fits with the desire for new societal institutions that “allow people to express and discuss their concerns, fears, dreams, and hopes for the future. They would embed scientific inquiry into the nature of the problem and how it could be solved, in more complex debates about how we should live in a climate-changed world. And in that way, they would likely offer fertile place to explore the links between Science and the other six dimensions of climate change.”

That’s the vision of the future the authentic assessment, student engagement, digital learning shifts in K-12 education are all preparing students for, without anyone trying to tether students to the actually existing physical reality or what works or never has. Students who have a craving for unicorn rides in this socially just future will have nothing to prompt them this is not a realistic goal. Those seven dimensions, by the way, that plan to alter the present reality, like it or not, are:

1. Science: Forging a new social contract

2. Law: Constraining extraction

3. Economy: Investing in the Future

4. Technology: Scaling up deep decarbonisation

5. Democracy: Escaping the governance trap

6. Culture: Breaking stealth denial

7. Behaviour: Overcoming stealth denial

How binding in every way that matters would be one way to describe that list. Now, as a well-read adult in my 50s I can tell that paper is a fantasy. Nothing, however, in the planned K-12 implementation would create that kind of “Danger, Will Robinson!!” prompt. In fact, K-12 education is deliberately priming the mind and personality to prompt just such an urge to plan and act as the Seven Dimensions paper laid out. CRED even came up with an additional paper called “Connecting to Climate” in December that appears both tied to the planned transformations of mental models from K-12 education as well as a cronyistic politically planned economy being sold as ecoAmerica.

Once again this post is a heads up about what social, economic, and political visions are tied to the K-12 transformations everyone with any power is forcing on our children. This is not just about education, but education as a means for broader transformations. It is intended to affect all of us, whether we have children or not, and whatever our ages.

It needs to be on everyone’s radar screen where ever we live. Because no one in education administration is being honest in my experience and we are not likely to be among the cronies invited to an RSA program or an ecoAmerica annual invitation-only summit.

Thank goodness we can still read and our Analytic Processing Systems remain tethered to facts and likely actual consequences.

Peeking into the Behavioral Programming Blueprints for Collectivist Subjugation via K-12 Education Deceit

We are going to shift away from the previous post’s concentration on the active refusal to teach reading properly that has been going on for decades. First though we will look at what Marshall McLuhan openly confessed to in his 1962 global bestseller The Gutenberg Galaxy. The entire book bemoaned the analytical habits of mind and sense of individualism created by phonetic literacy and the advent of print as an obstacle to “total human interdependence” and “corporate responsibility and awareness”. In order for the “highly literate and individualist mind…to become more collectively oriented,” a widespread ability to read print fluently and phonetically had to be jettisoned.

We can all agree that that particular scheme has gone quite well for the Collectively-oriented Statist Schemers. Limiting the ability to read well and independently is a necessary condition for a shift to Collectivism because (to quote mcLuhan again):

“Print is the extreme phase of alphabet culture that detribalizes or decollectivizes man in the first instance…Print is the technology of individualism. If men decided to modify this visual technology by an electric technology [Hint: Like Digital Learning as a required 21st Century Skill?], individualism will also be modified. To raise a moral complaint about this is like cussing a buzz-saw for lopping off fingers.”

Since neither education or buzz-saws operate independently, we do reserve every right to complain about the politicians, principals, and other administrators who are lying to us taxpayers and parents about what they are actually up to. At least a lopped off finger leaves a bloody stub so we can immediately take notice of the damage done. It is so much harder when other elements of the collectivization plans are even less visible than a limited ability or inclination to read. Today we will talk about the global push to use Character Education to “define the core ethical and performance values they most wish to instill in their students.” I bolded the ‘they’ because other people now get to decide what your child is to value and believe at an unconscious level so it will predictably guide behavior going forward.

In my book Credentialed to Destroy in the chapter on the real Common Core implementation, I described how everything I had documented pointed to personal values, attitudes, and beliefs being the true new aim of the curriculum. This post is about more than that and it ties into both the Curriculum Redesign Project we looked at here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/drawing-back-the-standards-curtain-to-discover-the-global-coordination-to-redesign-the-very-nature-of-curriculum/ as well as the Global Education Leaders Programme [see tag]. This also fits closely with the disturbing Education Commission of the States and State Farm Civics Education report we examined in December 1, 2014.

http://www.character.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ElevenPrinciples_new2010.pdf was distributed last week to make sure all schools and officials now understand that a “comprehensive approach uses all aspects of school as opportunities for character development” and that all “academic content and instruction” is integrated with character development and moral reasoning through discussions of ethical issues.  The core values to be developed “affirm human dignity, promote the development and welfare of the individual, serve the common good, define our rights and responsibilities in a democratic society, and meet the classical tests of universality (i.e., Would you want all persons  to act this way in a similar situation?) and reversibility (i.e., Would you want to be treated this way?)”

Now those are not the requirements written into the US Constitution which is simply being ignored. They are, however, very similar to Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory (developed by a Harvard prof) that the Chinese imposed on Hong Kong students as soon as that lease was up. We know then it is a theory that fits in well with collectivist aspirations and desires for “guiding the behavior of all those in the school community.” Those core values are to be “integrated into all aspects of school life” including the hiring of teachers and “non-teaching staff.”

Principle 2 “defines ‘character’ comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.” Yes, that’s why we keep hearing about Whole Child Initiatives as part of the Common Core. How many parents understand that the Growth and Continuous Improvement the schools are hyping as showing improvement in student achievement are actually a shift of definitions to “a holistic approach to character development therefore seeks to develop the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dispositions required to do the right thing and do one’s best work”? Whose definition of the right thing we reasonably ask? Why the definition used by those seeking Social Justice is the real answer.

How do I know that? Beyond the insistence in Principle 4 that a “school committed to character strives to become a microcosm of a civil, caring, and just society,” I happen to know, as the tenacious lawyer that I am, that the federal government under the civil rights laws and most of the major civil rights groups are all insisting on a commitment from schools to Excellence and Equity. I happen to know that in K-12 education, Excellence has a specific meaning http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/ that quietly dovetails with that redefinition of ‘character’ from Principle 2.

Schools that make academic coursework about helping “students form caring attachments to each other” and “a feeling of responsibility for one another” are laying the foundation for a communitarian society in the near future. A school that leads students to believe that they have a human right to have others satisfy their basic needs and that each student, in turn, has the obligation to meet those basic needs is laying the groundwork for what Uncle Karl and his followers called the Human Development Model http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ That’s not name-calling or a criticism although I do believe it is an unworkable vision. I am simply recognizing as a factual matter the description of what is being advocated for in phrases like

“the school sets aside time for students to assess community needs, create ideas for meeting those needs, plan and coordinate service learning projects, and reflect on the positive consequences of community service.”

The entire vision of what its advocates refer to as Marxist Humanism as a goal for the West’s society and economy is grounded in meeting human ‘needs’. Interestingly, the requirement that all schools must now have “an academic program that helps all students succeed,” even those with what can only charitably be described as inert minds even on a good day, gets expressed in terms of an obligation to meet all students’ needs. Since inert minds are an unfortunate reality, we get the call for “a variety of active teaching and learning strategies” so that participation and projects become the way to deal with inert minds. Quietly and without alerting the parents, social interaction around topics of interest from the real world and ethical issues for the new hoped-for society become the entire point of the classroom and coursework.

We talked about the reasons for wanting to limit reading fluency, but treating words as a whole and doling them out to guide thought ties right into the plan for how the “core values are woven into the literacy curriculum, where students use their reading selections to reflect on the values and on issues of character, such as discrimination, patriotism, and moral courage. In social studies classes, students are expected to act upon the core values as they select and research national or international causes and then work with community members to carry out related service projects.” I do not think it is a stretch to imagine that the reading selections available in the Cloud or put aside as an ELA Task Set will have a deliberate slant to it.

Here, for example, is how elementary school gets reimagined. “Grade-level curriculum guides show how essential questions [from Grant Wiggins' Understanding By Design, See tags] can be tied to ethical issues and specific service learning projects. Students at every level now engage in service as an integral outgrowth of topics they learn in class. In a fifth-grade unit entitled “Let Freedom Ring,” the essential question Why do we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? leads to assignments researching the background of specific amendments and concluding with an advocacy letter written to members of Congress. [We can all just imagine what was advocated for]. In a second-grade class, students respond to a reading assignment about Haiti by raising enough funds to donate 400 pounds of beans to the people in need there. Leary students learn that service is a vital part of good character and meaningful academics.”

I bolded that aspect about “leary students” since we are talking about 7-year-olds who might know a thing or two about what really makes Haiti so dysfunctional and be pondering the chances that any or how much of the 400 pounds will make to those in need there. Well-informed students don’t get to be leary anymore even when they reasonably ought to be. Given this statement: “the school’s approach to student conduct uses all aspects of behavior management–including rule-setting and rule-enforcement–as opportunities to foster students’ character development, especially their understanding of and commitment to core values,” life in K-12 education is about to become very uncomfortable to any students or adults not aboard the collectivist bandwagon.

Previously I mentioned that there is a term for this type of community focused approach–Productive Learning. It’s not particularly productive to the individual student, but it is very productive to the political class laying out what must be done and what may not happen anymore. If we think of this Character Education vision as using K-12 to prepare students to now be members of a Human Development Society, the other crucial aspect of Productive Learning involves preparation for the new Workforce.

We will deal with that aspect next time as we keep tracking the necessary conditions for a transformation away from Individualism as a legitimate 21st Century focus.

Isn’t It Political Sabotage to Use Education to Eliminate the Assumption that Students are Individuals?

Yes I am in a feisty mood today. I am angry at the level of deception and duplicity surrounding the actual Common Core implementation and where this is all going. Or was until some of these revelations. Those of you past a certain age may remember the 80s TV show “The A-Team” when George Peppard would put a cigar in his mouth, lean back, and with a grin say “I love it when a plan comes together.” Well today we really are taking a huge step towards unravelling a well-laid but nefarious scheme that involves Common Core but more importantly it involves education globally. And UNESCO. And the IB, International Baccalaureate Program, and its IB Learner Profile and concept of Global Citizenship as where Common Core is actually going.

I had intuited this from personal experience over the past several years but never thought I could prove it. Then Ed Week did a story right before Christmas on how Common Core was now emulating IB except that the Common Core was missing the IB’s focus on the affective or social and emotional learning. Well I was intrigued and annoyed. Fascinated that Ed Week would admit the link given the IB focus is on changing the individual to listed Personality Characteristics rather than knowledge. For the student to develop a desired Worldview that frames their perceptions of reality for a lifetime. But the typical person does not know that. And annoyed because I knew Common Core was just drowning in social and emotional learning. And Ed Week likely knows that too. I think they are angling for SEL to get an invitation to come in through the front door instead of the windows or through Executive Orders.

I tucked that annoyance away until I was reading David Conley’s 2007 report to the Gates Foundation on College Readiness and recognized just how much the listed characteristics mirrored the IB Learner Profile. And also the 21st Century Skills Movement. Doublechecking to see if I was right pulled up a September 2010 IB document called “Meeting the needs of 21st century learners: New Developments in IB Programmes.” Which sure did look like it fit the actual Common Core implementation I have been charting. Moreover, Harvard’s Project Zero is advising IB. That meant Howard Gardner and Csik’s Flow. And we have been chronicling what they say they are up to. Altering the future. Lots of that aspiration. In fact the new IB motto is “Imagine Education for a Better World.”

IB’s updated Learner Profile language too is quite reminiscent of what Paul Ehrlich and IHDP and Peter Senge all claim to be seeking via education. See what I mean?

“The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.”

IB just loves to push that “I am because we are” theme, claiming it is an old South African expression. And its elementary program, PYP, has an educator in 2012 proudly proclaiming that “our students no longer see themselves as the centre but as part of the whole. The change is inspiring!” Yes and Peter Senge, who IHDP views as one of their favorite futurists and a useful Statist aider and abettor calls that Systems Citizenship. I wrote a post about it in horror. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/develop-learners-who-think-and-behave-and-view-themselves-as-systems-citizens/

When I went online to check to see if IB was touting a connection to the US Common Core up came the Hunt Institute in NC which is putting out so many of the Common Core training videos for teachers. They had put up the Ed Week story on IB as proof that the Common Core reflected “World-Class Standards.” So IB=World Class Standards. Time to track IB some more. Which is what I did. Arne Duncan in his Equity/Civil Rights drive would be pleased to know that IB is changing its programmes to make them more accessible to all students. Called “Valuing All Learners” it is intended to allow for the inclusion of special needs students in everyday classrooms for all kids. Just change what counts as learning!

Then it turned out that Professor Martha Nussbaum is an advisor to IB talking about Critical Thinking and the problems of our current economic model. More links to Chicago! She wanted IB attendees to know she did not hate business. She merely believed “a human face needs to be attached to our economic system by the teaching of critical thinking and global citizenship.” I think Riane Eisler called that a Caring Economics in our new 3 R’s post. Nussbaum wants education and society to produce more “people who are prepared to live with others on terms of mutual respect and reciprocity” and fewer of the people “who seek the comfort of domination.” Well, honestly, the solution for that is not to make sure nobody knows much and is driven by feelings and intuition instead of facts. But, hey, I am not tenured. What do I know about how the world has always worked. That doesn’t really matter I suppose now that we have IB to recreate our Worldview for the future. More than one slide laid that out.

Now I could talk about IB over several posts but all the papers and slideshows I was downloading over the past several years certainly looked like the planned Common Core implementation if you take good notes. Then things got ever so much more interesting. IB put up its partners in research. They included the University of Chicago and Columbia University Teachers College. Plus the American Institutes for Research. Which might well explain why so many of the slides were from the US. Guess who else? EPIC–Education Policy Improvement Center, David Conley’s group. No wonder the definition of College Readiness reminded me of the IB Learner Profile.

And representatives from the UK and Canada and Australia and Hong Kong. Which would explain why there is so much commonality worldwide. It’s not just UNESCO although UNESCO helped create and fund IB initially. And IB in the last few years has again openly embraced the UNESCO vision of using education to obtain cultural evolution. Downloaded that pdf before writing this post. And IB and Martha are quite graphic in seeing IB education as a vehicle to “promote a humane, people-sensitive democracy dedicated to promoting opportunities for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for all. Which sounds strikingly like the Second Bill of Rights push her old friend Cass Sunstein is touting for Obama’s Second Term.

I am going to close with two statements David Conley made in his 1993 book Roadmap to Restructuring that graphically laid out every aspect of what will be sought via education for transformation. His involvement in both IB and College Ready and laundering non-cognitive in 2012 is no surprise. Various Means to Still Sought Transformations that go far beyond education. What he said in 1993 as a statement that underlay all his visions and intentions for education that explicitly included OBE and systems thinking and communities of learners was that this was all an education for “a democratic society that rejects the social class system.” And the alternative would be a leveled society except for political insiders? That’s a caste system like the Middle Ages with no movement or mass prosperity.

The other complained of continuing “learning experiences predicated on assumptions of students as individuals.” There is nothing accidental about the communitarian emphasis to the definition of Career Ready or in the interdependence to be fostered by mandated systems thinking  or john a powell’s determination to destroy the concept of the unitary self.

I have said before that globally there is a recognition that the sought common core is changed values. A Global Consciousness. Values with a Common Good/Universal Love orientation. Now that it appears that the IB Learner Profile=Common Core in US and global classrooms we have to decide whether educators and politicians have the power to jettison the concepts of Individualism without our permission.

It turns out there was a very good reason for all that Mind Arson. Power. Getting it and keeping it. The real 21st century vision.