Locusts of the Mind–Boring Gaping Holes, Altering Wiring, and Living on Our Dime

You know Mind Arson is one of my favorite terms for describing just what a genuine knowledge desert Transformational OBE (under its various names) or systems thinking are in a K-12 classroom. And how emotionally intrusive. But it misses the whole angle of these educators being deliberately brought in by the accredition agencies to push the John Dewey political vision on unsuspecting and uncooperative school districts wanting to return to neighborhood schools after years of busing. Or on suburban districts with a history of solid academics for those students wanting to soak up the knowledge and skills created and cultivated by the Best Minds of the Past. Gypsy Principals and Gypsy Supers caught some of that will push anything and ask no questions if there is a lucrative promotion in it. But the phrase Locusts of the Mind really captures both and it’s a reminder of how these educators move profitably (for them. It’s gradually bankrupting us, morally AND financially) across states in deliberate pushes of ever more intense Mind Arson and bring in the same expensive vendors over and over again.

Would it surprise you to know that many of the most toxic ideas we have discussed somehow miraculously all come together for an SEL campaign called Responsive Classroom for elementary students? I mean what are the odds of it being a coincidence? What are the odds of everyone reconnecting because they are each functioning as different components of our old nemesis, Transformational OBE? In addition to the stealth capabilities of such a break-up, think of all the greater possibilities for many retired educators to supplement their taxpayer paid pensions by joining one of these vendors as a consultant. And you can bet these lucrative employment after retirement opportunities to capture even more taxpayer dollars are simply not available for anyone who showed a refusal to play along with this internal mental insurrection ploy while still on the official government payroll. See how it works? Being a talented, lecturing, purveyor of knowledge and real skills in the classroom vs an Insurrectionist Administrator is the employment decision that keeps on haunting everyone. Even after retirement.

Responsive Classroom came to my attention when a Toledo, Ohio newspaper mentioned that teachers, administrators and “even a member of the school board studied … a philosophy called social emotional learning, which focuses on school climate and student behavior.” Now longtime readers know I have stood on my tippie-toes and hollered via the Internet all summer that SEL and altering fundamental student values and attitudes are in fact the real focus of what is coming to schools and classrooms via the now openly-acknowledged CCSSI ruse. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/how-social-and-emotional-learning-as-the-primary-focus-is-coming-in-all-the-windows/ is the first of many posts detailing the extent of the intentional holistic redesign of each student’s personality in lieu of non-relevant knowledge like what led to the US Civil War or World War 2.

So for us SEL is more than a “philosophy” and we are not the least bit surprised to hear the dreaded words “positive behavior intervention programs.” Probably the NEA’s Purple America will be along too as it is Ohio. But what was so telling is who shows up when you actually look into Responsive Classroom, a Massachusetts-based company.  There is the vice president of Academic Affairs at Bank Street College of Ed in NYC where Bill Ayers got his ed degree http://billayers.wordpress.com/biographyhistory/ . And the managing director of Peter Senge’s Society for Organizational Learning to make sure systems theory and sustainability get their due emphasis in the SEL Responsive Classroom. Probably will make sure the SEL finds that Blind Spot that unconsciously guides human behavior. Oh, and a consultant from Cambridge Education to make sure the UNESCO Quality Assurance vision of just basic skills for all and no transmission of any knowledge likely to build up an Axemakers abstract logical mind.

There are others but the most intriguing to me was the executive director of Educators for Social Responsibility. Which unfortunately for us is not an altruistic group that works at soup kitchens and builds houses for the homeless. http://esrnational.org/ Nor does it go by its full name when it is brought into a school as part of a turnaround effort. You will just think it is some company called esr that does academic turnarounds, not a company with a preemptive positive behavioral program for middle and high schoolers. Just imagine your child can now have preemptive PBIS monitoring him or her for continuous improvement all through K-12 with all that data flowing to districts and the state and the national Data Quality Campaign. And people used to fret over Social Security Numbers as intrusive.

Back to the Responsive Classroom and the miracle of getting so many advocates of Dewey’s change the child political curriculum conveniently in one place. I wonder where they go for Board retreats? Let’s see how many of the RC fundamental principles you agree with:

1. The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum.

2. How children learn is as important as what they learn: Process and content go hand in hand. (Note: If you adhere to the Marxist theory of the mind you want all learning to be physical activity or vocational in nature. Marxists deplore and deny rational thought as too reminiscent in a belief in a human soul.)

3. The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction. (This is essentially the Marxist BEST theory that denies that individuals have an innate mental disposition and aptitudes and holds that all knowledge comes from the physical environment and interacting with others. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/real-change-will-require-new-values-and-new-ways-of-thinking-or-social-engineering-is-hard/ is one place that describes BEST. This is also the view that permeates the Communitarian philosophy that is so embedded in Common Core’s definition of Career Ready).

4. To be successful academically and socially, children need a set of social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. (You can ponder the manipulation possibilities of those aims in a classroom led by a teacher who has been trained or coerced into believing education is no longer to be about transmitting facts).

5. Knowing the children we teach–individually, culturally, and developmentally–is as important as knowing the content we teach. (In a movement pushing for Critical Race Theory in the classroom, you can just imagine the utter nonsense the teacher will have had foisted on her to then push on to the students).

6. Knowing the families of the children we teach and working with them as partners is essential to children’s education. ( Now you and I know that few parents want this SEL focus. This outreach simply makes the school the home based for political organizing of the parents to stroke their sense of grievance and willingness to act as a group. Alinsky’s IAF organizes schools to get at parents.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/keep-urban-schools-weak-to-force-economic-and-social-justice-then-make-the-suburbs-close-the-gap/ )

7. How the adults at school work together is as important as their individual competence: Lasting change begins with the adult community. (I’d rather have a knowledgeable teacher over one who isn’t but “plays nice with others” any day. This is just a reminder of how much the entire concept of the individual and especially its legitimacy is under assault via education. ALL individuals. Child, adolescent, or adult.

So that is the sort of program that is coming to your neighborhood school and classroom at great expense in the name of CCSSI, student achievement, soft skills, an anti-bullying campaign, or a federally-funded school turnaround. Changing the student becomes the whole point of education. I will close this post with a deeply troubling story from this weekend that illustrates why recognizing what is going on and stopping it matter so much.

In my other life as a chauffeuring parent to teenage activities I overheard the 9th Graders speculating on why their Honors Lit class had to write a paper on why a Growth Mindset was better than a Fixed Mindset based on an article they had been given called Brainiology. Now I recognized the concepts and knew the other without being told. Already on my Radar of Trouble. They are quite literally based on the Soviet psychological theories designed to create the perfect socialist mindset. They are also the political theories the Marxists.org site deifies Dewey for originally promulgating.

I had been disturbed that was what teachers were to be taught to use on students. But making students directly imbibe and then write about in a graded paper with no one knowing or acknowledging their true nature?

That’s the sort of classroom practices and policies that get imposed by Locusts of the Mind Principals and Supers and Vendors seeking their next promotion or lucrative contract in the Impose Dewey’s Vision No Matter What onslaught. In a suburban 9th Grade Honors Lit class in the first few weeks of school. What will they be pushing by Christmas?

 

Hobbling Minds and Misrepresenting Reality, Mounting a Political Coup From Within

Raise your hand if you think the purpose of education, P-12 or higher ed, is to change a person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs from within so that we can create a new sustainable or harmonious culture?  Where we reject our current economic, political, and social systems and “learn to live in harmony with one another and Mother Earth at the level of the whole?” My reaction to Peter Senge and his Standards of Learning (SoL) and SoL Sustainability Consortium work that pushes comparable mindsets of an altered future and a need to change individual consciousness has always been to wonder if he spent enough time observing the dynamics of the playground when a bully comes along. Plus I am getting very tired of reading all these professors disparaging the “focus on the individual [that] is so deeply embedded in our culture.”

Damn straight and Proud of it is the proper retort for anyone with a love of history. I disagree with the idea that schools need to create “new ways we will need to think and interact in the 21st century” where we learn to collaborate as a collective first and foremost. There are times when it is useful to develop a shared vision but we do not need teachers and Principals and Supers and accreditors insisting it is mandatory and collecting data on students to monitor continuous improvement and Growth in what are quite frankly attitudes of submission. We want this country’s children, this globe’s children, exposed to all the knowledge of our existing cultures that they can take in. If some take in more than others, we need that diversity of knowledge and skills among individuals. Anyone who necessarily assumes that book learning translates into financial success has not known very many valedictorians as adults. Useful but no be all and end all.

Instead we get systems thinkers like Peter Senge enjoying a lucrative lecture circuit and workshop living seeking to make learning about changing “people’s beliefs, ways of seeing the world, and ultimately their skills and capabilities.” I do not want professors who are hostile to the concept of individuals and free market economic systems dictating beliefs in workshops for superintendents, principals, and teachers to bring home and apply in a classroom.

We talked about systems theory some in the previous post. Let’s look at it some more and appreciate just how many high powered corporations have signed onto Senge’s SOL Sustainability Consortium. It certainly puts new meaning into how Bad Ideas get pushed at us via our schools with the explanation “Business wants this.” Maybe so but not necessarily because it is good for students or any country’s long term economic health.

Just after Senge created the Sustainability Consortium he held a conference in Bergen, Norway in July 2000 where the dominant theme was the need to get rid of “non-systemic ways of thinking and acting.” I take that to mean jettisoning individual independent thought with its own arsenal of facts and an ability to apply them logically and without interference from a meddling bureaucrat. But you can see what you think of the need to “invoke a type of learning that moves us away from a conceptual analysis focused on details about ever smaller parts of the world to a holistic model that promotes competent understanding and action based on a grasp of ‘the whole.’”

I bolded the holistic because I kept hearing that the other night in conjunction with promoting the joys of the IB learner Profile. I have learned to see the mention of holistic as a shorthand for telling students what they are to accept or believe at an emotional level. Holistic education integrates the desired concepts or values or beliefs into the very essence of a student’s being without the student having any logical, rational idea why. I think the troubling aspects of Holistic become apparent with Peter’s next probing question that reveals the need to limit facts and personal rationality:

“how do large diverse groups of people come to shared understanding of complex subjects so they can effectively coordinate their actions?”

Well, Peter, that mandated shared understanding is a real problem. Who picks? Who enforces? And aren’t we back to a centrally planned economy and state control over private behaviors? Just in case that statement above was not clear and the extent to which supposedly free people are now to behave consistent with the computer models is not apparent, let’s go to the following quote in the next paragraph. Senge does a brilliant job of explaining why neither OBE or its sibling, systems thinking, wants us to have much knowledge. Nor are we supposed to retain our own beliefs and values and attitudes from home.

“Behavioral complexity arises when diverse agents (I believe he means you and me) have decision making power (that kind of personal liberty will not do apparently in a Sustainable 21st Century), people with different and often conflicting values, mental models, and goals (Oh. No!!). In such situations, seeking common strategies (which is quite beneficial for those seeking wealth and power by government fiat) is typically undermined by behavioral defensiveness and games playing and people ‘conferring immutability (i.e.-not flexible enough with statist collective goals) on value assumptions and ideological considerations.”

If Senge identifies such individualistic recalcitrance as “wicked” problems, which he does, what will he do as parents, taxpayers, school board members, and politicians begin to recognize the collectivist vision of a restructured future he is pushing on our school children via Common Core and the UN. Yes, it turns out Peter has quite an affinity for the UN’s Millenium Development Goals even if we do not. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/you-mean-i-cant-teach-because-the-economy-should-not-grow/ is where we first talked about those MDGs.

And Peter is very well-connected. Lots of big name corporations are part of his Consortium although I have a feeling they are in for the Big Idea part that seems to benefit their bottom line and have not been reading the small print like us. What really worries me most was seeing the open embrace of Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs and his ideas on how to end global poverty. I don’t think he has a good track record in the countries he has advised. But I am really worried by how often we keep running into him in our global ed story. First the UN’s Broadband Commission that wants to make that a basic human right that has the tech companies jubilant. Then he is a lead author on the UN’s first ever World Happiness Report as we discussed here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/is-the-global-happiness-and-wellbeing-push-a-means-for-mental-and-emotional-burglary/. Now this. What an ambitious busy man with a global vision for all of us apparently.

Now that’s enough about Senge and systems thinking, let’s close with an illustration of why this is a spectacularly bad idea being pushed if we are to have any hope of keeping our individual liberty and autonomy and quite frankly our minds intact. At the 2012 Summer ST Conference in July for K-12 educators one of the workshops was called “Five Important Feedback Loops from Limits to Growth.” Now Limits to Growth was a hugely influential and hyped 1972 book put out by the Club of Rome. Its assertions were so over the top that the Club of Rome itself has acknowledged it is not good science, never was, and these are not really valid risks for the Earth.

But systems thinking and dynamic modeling advocates still want this in your child’s classroom because it helps create a politically useful mindset in a malleable mind. And how many teachers or parents would be in a position to know the child was being taught to reimagine the future via repudiated facts and bad science? And you thought NOAA not caring about the actual temperatures was bad.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/

Told you we have a real problem now with what appears to be an official desire by our government on misrepresenting reality to us. And our children’s ability to ever perceive it accurately. Do you think it has anything to do with that Future Earth Alliance we profiled?

 

 

What if Higher Order Thinking=Deliberate Confusion?

Raise your hand if you were surprised by that definition of rigor in the previous post. No the challenge does not come from applying previously taught content in difficult ways. And higher order thinking is not synonymous with deep understanding in the fact-based, solid rational analysis, way we traditionally associate with school or university sanctioned understanding. The “deep understanding” being pursued by Common Core’s developers lives “beyond the realm of control and rationality.” It is based in psychological research of “how learners can be moved by things beyond their own intentions and goals.” I think this is a very troubling area for a government or an untaxed “charitable” foundation to be pushing and financing on behalf of citizens and future voters. But then I created the metaphor Invisible Serfs Collar for a multitude of reasons just like this.

ASCD, which used to be the NEA’s curriculum development arm, has an entire approach centered around making Common Core applicable to the Whole Child. If you have not yet had a principal or other administrator use the term “holistic” to describe what makes the Common Core initiative so different you will (or would have before I wrote this post). If you have missed the ‘Must be Engaging to the Child” aspect to Common Core, you probably should have a quiet little chat with your child’s teacher about how she will be evaluated as an Effective Teacher to keep her job.

Western civilization may have been built on the rise and valuing of  human reason as a driving and organizing force, but educators going back to John Dewey have sought to marry reason back into the passionate, instinctive, intuitive aspect that it also an element of the human personality. This is the same goal we discussed back on June 3   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-quality-learning-may-be-the-last-thing-you-want-for-your-child/

And you thought that was what education was supposed to be all about? Moving beyond the caveman approach to interacting with his environment? I am afraid you, dear reader, would never make it through many of these education or sociology or psychology programs credentialing today’s educators, especially at the administrator levels. It can be hard to read this stuff and not wonder if ignorance or greed or a genuine desire for social revolution is the driving force behind these profs and some of the principals, supers, and other administrators they are now credentialing. Whatever guides them, they have our money, our children, and a completely reenvisioned future economy in their hands. At least for the moment.

Higher order thinking and rigor in education in 2012 are trying  to access that beyond reason realm of human consciousness. Actually so is the current emphasis on creativity and critical thinking. That’s why the pushed “problems, uncertainties, questions, or dilemmas” must be “unfamiliar” or “novel.” They are designed to “elicit answers that have not been learned already.” These are the “life skills” that misleading district or school charter authorizes.

The teachers will be encouraged to teach strategies for coping with this type of open-ended problem solving, but not provide either answers or the kind of factual information from history or great literature that allowed earlier generations to successfully plot around life’s uncertainties. We may know that history repeats itself in terms of the broad themes that drive human action. The Outcomes Based Education/ Common Core generation apparently is to get to revisit everything anew without much knowledge from the past for guidance. Hard to imagine how this can possibly work out well.

Why? Well one of the profs most involved with pushing these “flow” marriages of affect and cognition, was a co-author of a book, Good Work:When Excellence and Ethics Meet (2001). His co-authors are Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligences fame and William Damon who is on the Stanford faculty with Nel Noddings from our previous 2 posts. Like her, he is involved with Moral Education and Character Education. Damon is also mentioned in a recent Psychology Today piece pushing for new Civics Values for American students.  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201205/no-joking-our-kids-are-failing-democracy-101

That book states unabashedly (pages 51-52 if you want to locate a copy) that all this education reform is “trying to direct the course of the future.”  The alternative, they believe, would unwisely be:

To trust in the benevolent gods or a ubiquitous Gaia, or in an economic system that will miraculously turn waste into well-being.”

Well at least we are getting towards the driving impetus behind all those explanations for Outcomes Based Education that never made much sense given our own everyday reality. That was to be rejected. In fact, in these gentlemen’s view of how the future will unfold, the three critical elements are genes (outside their domain for the moment), the “informational codes of our culture”, and the “code of consciousness” made up by “ideas and ideals invented by individuals and then shared by communities.”

I think we have finally come up with a working definition of radical education reform of the type sought in the 90s and being implemented now in the US as the Common Core. It is targeting the non-genetic means of influencing the future  and modifying, rejecting, or “improving” them.

I think the Ancient Greeks called this kind of undisclosed world altering aspiration: hubris. And it never went well.

 

 

Who Is Really Standing in the School House Doorway?

My previous post on why the Transcontinental Railroad made a fact free lousy comparison to try to support the so-called Common Core national standards should be sufficient to alert the need to Send Better Metaphors and Get the relevant Facts Straight. But today’s justifying combo of insulting the critic and then throwing in one of the most tragic episodes in American history should really tell us something else beyond consistent high levels of content in every state is really going on here. Last week the Center for American Progress published this story with a rather incendiary title “Critical Education Standards Opposed by Conservative Group: Opposing the ‘Common Core’ Steals an Ugly Page from Our History”. Here’s a link if you want to confirm how well my summaries and quotes are to this smear campaign : http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/05/alec_common_core.html .

Now before I go any further in this tale of scorn I want to point out I had never heard of the group being attacked ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, until recently. No one is so much as buying me a cup of coffee, or my favorite tea, for writing this post. In our tale though of the Common Core Deception, such an angry, inaccurate appeal to emotion merits a scrutiny of the actual facts. I grew up in the South.  Legal segregation came before my childhood and always seemed silly to me as a naive child. In fact I loved the story of the college professor’s wife who had seen the signs stating “Colored” and “Whites” in the town’s laundromat upon moving to North Carolina in the 1950s. As the story goes, she separated her prints and colored clothes out and used both washers. That’s the kind of spunk I admired as a child. Let’s be very careful then of throwing out the accusation that someone’s opposition to Common Core is like George Wallace blocking the entrance to University of Alabama buildings to black students trying to attend there. That was Evil with a capital “E”. Opposing Common Core in ALEC’s case seems to come from a belief it is inconsistent with the US federal system. In my case, opposition comes from my ability to read the English language and appreciate the consequences of the words chosen. Neither is personal or ideological. Discussion should be rational and fact-filled, not emotional.

The phrase “what most clear-thinking folks see as a key to America’s future success in a highly competitive economy” is a clear tip-off as to what we are dealing with. Are you not clear-thinking? In case you haven’t yet noticed I am logical to a fault so that dig merely provoked an “Oh. Good. Grief.” After all my postings on how the facts surrounding Common Core’s desired implementation do not fit with the “innovation” rationale, you can see insult coupled with inapt slogan just did not work for me. I will leave ALEC to defend itself against the “hyperaggressive and hyperregressive” charge. They are in the best position to know what they do and do not promote. And what it stands for. What I do not appreciate is the repeated references to “meaningful school reform” and especially the repeated references to blocking “high-quality education” for all America’s public school students. And “low- income students in particular”.

It is my position that the schoolhouse door is being blocked by the effort to use terms that have an unadvertised special meaning, like “high-quality education”, without announcing those unappreciated use of the terms. I am going to talk about “quality” in general this week. For now it is a more holistic approach than the historic transmission of knowledge. It wants to get at values, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings. Sound familiar? Likewise there is an organized attempt to make noncognitive skills the primary focus of the Common Core classroom implementation. Is anyone being forthright about that decisive change in emphasis? Even when it is mentioned the gentler sounding new name-”soft skills” is substituted. Insider teaching professional groups have complained about the “fetish about print and reading each word precisely” among themselves at conventions. They have enacted and mandated reading practices accordingly. When the inevitable student reading problems develop because accurate, phonetic reading was expressly Not The Point, the response is insufficient funding for literacy coaches. Oh, and the need for school-based clinics to eliminate the likely cause of the reading difficulty-insufficient access to healthcare.

I mentioned in a previous post that ed insiders refer to Common Core as “second-order change” among themselves. What exactly does that mean? According to a Fall 2007 newsletter from one of the ed labs, McREL near Denver, second-order change is policy change that is (those are my responses in parentheses):

–A break with the past (history is boring anyway. Not like there are any relevant lessons to be learned from it)

–Outside of existing paradigms (in other words, an entirely untried and theoretical way of doing things. Just what we want to pilot at the cost of billions on a national basis)

Conflicted with prevailing values and norms (because who in our society is better equipped to decide on new values and norms instead of the tried and true ones that generated unprecedented levels of mass prosperity than someone with a series of education degrees. The entire course of study is often tragically free of accurate, provable facts these days. There is thus simply nothing in the way of a decisive political theory hoping for a better result this time)

–Requiring new knowledge and skills (that certainly explains all those new expenses for professional development. Plus the insistence that only the properly certified may teach)

You can now see why throwing out an inflammatory accusation about George Wallace was preferable to scrutinizing the real facts about Common Core opposition.