Specifying New Education, Economic and Social Models as the Final Act of the Civil Rights Movement

Can you imagine what your teenage and early 20s would have been like if you got a Get Out of Jail Free card for your 15th birthday? And were then told it could be used 5 times or, better yet, unlimited usage. OK, stop dwelling on the mischief that would have ensued or already happened but without punishment this time. Bet you learned your lesson. With that card you wouldn’t have had to.

What I am about to point out is that the Common Core has become the all-purpose excuse that generates access to loads of taxpayer money to implement theories that may have never been tried before. Or tried with a tragic history. Or have been created by political theorists and professors and even Soviet psychologists as we keep seeing to create wholesale noetic personal changes to gain transformative system changes. Shifting away from an ethos grounded in the primacy of individuals and the choices they make to groups and collectivism and enforced responsibilities as the hallmark of citizenship. All at our expense. Created by people who do not have to pay a personal price if this is a disaster and have much to benefit from in terms of promotions, new jobs, or locked in revenue streams for the requisite 4G wireless contract that will go with all those tablets for every student after you hire a former urban school super to be your Head of Sales.

Nothing but cronyism where politically connected individuals meet public money but it’s the name of the game now in this Digital Literacy push. And at the end of all those dollar transfers will be muddled, weakened minds waiting for a visual prompt and life to be one big engaging game. What a disappointment being an adult will likely be. You get the picture. Anything and everything gets a pass if Transformation is the actual or potential goal. It’s a free-for-all of change and mostly under the radar for the average taxpayer or parent. If they do notice something is wrong, they simply get told “This is the new Common Core State Standards Initiative so ALL our students will be college and career ready for the 21st century. This will allow us to be internationally competitive.”

Now that’s not the real story as we know well but it buys time and your dollars while the real moral and ethical and affective orientation instead of knowledge continues apace in our schools and higher ed. Called student-centered learning or individualized learning. With potential wakeup calls like “Student Loan Write-offs hit $3 Billion in first two months of Year” being off most people’s radars. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-usa-studentloans-delinquencybre92o11k-20130325,0,6746534.story . Also likely off your radar screen is the related story of the National Science Foundation doing Neuroscience and Cognitive Science research to see how these new forms of instruction and assessment and classroom practices physically impact the brain. http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2013/nsf13067/nsf13067.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click .

Now that’s not quite the wording of that Dear Colleague letter although “how the brain regulates the individual’s biology…and allows organisms to behave in and adapt to changing environments” is awfully close. Especially when we add in NSF’s involvement in the globally transformative in every respect starting at the level of the human mind, Belmont Challenge, or its decision to use education to squelch climate skepticism as part of the USGCRP 2012-2021 initiative. Or the fact that NSF reports to John Holdren whose colleague of many years, Paul Ehrlich, is seeking new kinds of minds that do not fall back easily on rational thought.

I have not mentioned the Axemaker Mind metaphor recently but destroying it is very much part of this ed reform vision plus the accompanying systems transformation for Equity and Equality. Many of you may not know if you use dynamic MRI imaging of a brain that reads phonetically and fluently and compare it with the brain of a teenager or adult of limited literacy you visually see the firing throughout one but not the other. Let’s think about that picture of Korea from space at night with the North in black and the South all lit up. If you are a school or classroom producing brains that still light up like South Korea in five or 10 years, you have not been following the sociocultural model of collective emotional understanding. And it will be physically apparent. The effective classroom at producing new kinds of minds with cyberlearning (also a big NSF initiative) and collaboration and no more lectures may well produce brains that image like North Korea. Some Equity, huh?

Equity and Equality also come into play in the reforming the high school initiatives that are shifting everyone toward what the Soviets called the polytech model (although they did pull out their finest minds and send them to academic boarding schools to retain their abilities). That’s not going to be on your radar either probably even though President Obama did mention P Tech in his State of the Union. Just to point out though that this dramatic overhaul is not really about the Common Core I came up with some links that precede CCSSI. Remember Jeannie Oakes of the Participatory Social Inquiry post?  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/throwing-an-invisibility-cloak-over-the-classroom-to-get-to-deweys-participatory-social-inquiry/ She was involved in this transformation in California before leaving for the Ford Foundation and was kind enough to tie this high school initiative to its real source–John Dewey’s 1915 Democracy and Education and his idea of education by occupations. http://www.connectedcalifornia.org/downloads/LL_Expanding_Pathways.pdf . SREB has also been on this bandwagon for a long time as the high school vision for ALL students as are other groups.

The Common Core excuse and the College and Career-Ready slogan then mask a whole lot of huge philosophical, politically transformational changes that are mostly unknown. Being implemented without much discussion to avoid the previous controversies or pesky arguments about constitutionality. Especially when you think through a government with police and coercive power collecting and sharing data with vendors on all aspects of students’ developing personalities and interests and attitudes and values. A marketing and political consulting dream come true.

Now that I have pointed out how you get transformative change at the level of the individual student in place without really being seen and also revealed that there will be means of monitoring compliance other than data collection of Student “Growth” (another concept that tracks to Dewey) and those Effective Teacher evals. I want to take the accompanying social, economic, and political vision out of the 21st century or the 1990s. Back to the mid-80s while the Cold War was still simmering if not raging. Because when sociologist Robert Bellah and others wrote the 1985 book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (reissued usefully in 1996) they were describing the communitarian vision for the future we now associate with Amitai Etzioni and that Positive School Climate Executive Order (another off the radar screen initiative). He was describing the workplace vision we have tracked now to Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Otto Scharmer and Shoshana Zuboff’s similar visions of the future of capitalism.

And he too saw education as the key to getting there. Especially for getting there without a popular outcry that might prevent the stealth revolution. Here’s the vision from the 1996 edition (page 286):

“The transformation of our culture and our society would have to happen at a number of levels…Personal transformation among large numbers is essential, and it must not only be a transformation of consciousness but must also involve individual action…out of existing groups and organizations, there would also have to develop a social movement dedicated to the idea of such transformation… If the Civil Rights movement failed fundamentally to transform the position of black people in our society, it was because to do that would have required just the change in our social ecology that we are now discussing. [See now why urban schools had to remain dysfunctional whatever the resulting chaos?] So a movement to transform our social ecology would, among other things, be a successor and fulfillment of the Civil Rights movement.

Finally, such a social movement would lead to changes between our government and our economy. This would not necessarily mean more direct control of the economy, certainly not nationalization [which by the 80s was known to harm revenue to state coffers. The USSR was telling African dictators much the same]. It would mean changing the climate in which business operates so as to encourage new initiatives in economic democracy and social responsibility…”

Sound familiar? Do you have any idea how many publicly employed administrators and professors and degree holders insisting on being called “Doctor” have credentials designed primarily to get this vision into effect?

Lots. And now they have the perfect cover, in their mind, to finally finish the Civil Rights Movement.

Except to get there they are stripping away the veneers that brought modern civilization and the prosperity of the West like the division of labor and contract instead of status. And all we get are the bills and promises and utopian political theories that this time human nature will change.




Aspiring to Create New Habits of Mind and Mental Models Suitable for A New Culture, Society, and Economy

As far as I know no one from MIT or Harvard stood on the banks of the Charles River holding a rally to jettison what the Systems Thinkers on both campuses call the “dominant rational/experimental model” of Western thought traceable to the Enlightenment. No, that rejection might have drawn attention to the desired shift to an “existentially-oriented approach.” Better to commit such aspirations to print in books and in lectures that only the elected to be Social Change Agents are likely to read or hear. The rest of us are just supposed to be confused when so much emphasis on Learning keeps resulting in ever decreasing levels of knowledge. You’d almost think there was a commitment to wholesale social, political, cultural, and economic change starting at the level of the individual student.

A student whose school activities and assessments and interactions with ICT technology can be used to develop a new Sense of Self. The last post mentioned David W Shaffer and his proposed Pedagogical Praxis for the classroom. Shaffer embraced the theories on Reflective Practice created by an MIT Urban Studies and Education Professor by the name of Donald Schon. He’s the one who did his dissertation on Dewey that I mentioned in the last post. Schon was a proponent of action research in the classroom to gain new mental maps and what Schon called “generative metaphors” that would guide a student’s future behaviors and actions. Remember those Ill-structured tasks we discovered Pearson plans to use in the Common Core and ATC21S and Texas STAAR assessments? Schon gives the reason for the the reliance of ill-structure beyond the social interaction it forces. When a student encounters a problem he regards as unique, Schon recognized the student would see it through the concepts already in his repertoire.

Schon liked that word “repertoire.” You and I can already sense the reason that the 10Cs Model of Diversity Awareness and Social Change pushing race and class oppression is now so popular at Harvard Ed school. Those become Generative Metaphors that influence how unique real world problems will be interpreted by students. And their teachers and administrators. Remember the C3 Social Studies Framework that is now part of the Common Core push and our concern that it was pushing metaphors like Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Thinking that are not factually true? Another useful Schonian Generative Metaphor that will come to be believed as true the more often it is used. Which certainly explains the language in the Framework about wanting students to practice daily with the C3 conceptual lenses.  Supplied Concepts=Generative Metaphor guiding Future Behavior.

It’s all consistent with what Shaffer’s Pedagogical Praxis encourages citing Schon. A student engages in activities at school and acts in daily life and then reflects on the results with peers and mentors. This action followed by inquiry and reflection (my IB Parents will recognize the significance of those terms. Which is why I believe the IB program has essentially become the Advance Guard in gaining implementation of this Action Research model) then becomes the Means for students to gain New Ways of Thinking. The desired outcome from school and daily living with such an experientially-oriented education is that the student will over time Reframe her Identities and Interests in relation to the experiences and the perspectives of others in the community. That’s why the Aspiring Social Change Agents and Theorists are so fond of referring to the Learning Community. School becomes the place where the Group changes the person from the inside-out.

I have written quite a bit about Peter Senge and Systems Thinking and also how the Positive School Climate Executive Order is becoming a means to stealthily shift to a social and emotional learning focus that looks almost precisely like the developmental model to remake human nature Karl Marx described repeatedly. Still as I was tracking the PATHS to PAX  SEL curriculum to a school piloting a Positive School Culture in Arizona, I was surprised to see Senge’s The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook listed as the implementation guide. So schools implementing Positive School Cultures and Climates will be practicing Senge’s Systems Thinking and they may not be going to Camp Snowball to set off alarms of concern among parents. Ah-Oh. Better get a copy of that Fieldbook. Sounds like Systems Thinking is coming to schools everywhere.

So I did and it turns out to have a whole section on the desired new Mental Models for students to fit all the desired Transformative changes in virtually every social system we could list. That would include us if you remember what Senge’s Presencing and MIT lecturer partner Otto Scharmer wrote in his 2010 Seven Acupuncture Points for Shifting Capitalism to Create a Regenerative Ecosystem Economy that I have already written about and linked to. Of course that was before I located that UN IHDP document that said Senge and Scharmer were among the futurists helping to shift education and business practices globally towards the IHDP desired fundamental revision of human behavior. Anyway Scharmer said in that article that the purpose of these new mental models was to allow a “reconnect with the deeper sources of inspiration and Self in order to reinvent both onself and the system.” I think he means all the systems and we should take him at his word on the desired intentions of all these changes and new models of Learning and desires for Irreversible, Second-Order Change we keep hearing about.

Rereading Scharmer’s aspirations as I did yesterday reminded me so much of what Alice Bailey described that I am going to link to that old post if you have never seen it. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/producing-docile-instruments-and-captive-souls-putty-at-the-hands-of-the-predator-state/ . I am sure that the fact that the Ford Foundation also created the named chaired professorate Donald Schon held at MIT from 1972 onward is purely coincidental. Since that foundation seems to show up constantly from the 50s to the present to fund desired transformative changes to all our social systems. No wonder our friend Jeannie Oakes went there to head their ed efforts in November 2009 just like we were in the end game and it was time for the final assault.

Back to the Fieldbook and the desire for new mental models (page 237 in my copy). Senge says Mental Models refers to:

“both the semipermanent tacit “maps” of the world which people hold in their long-term memory, and the short-term perceptions people build up as part of their everyday reasoning processes. According to some cognitive theorists, changes in short-term everyday mental models, accumulating over time, will gradually be reflected in changes in long-term deep-seated beliefs.”

Which is of course just the thing desired if you want Transformative Change in future behaviors. So the Reading Wars and the Math Wars and frustrations over integrated math and no more lecturing and the Digital Learning/ICT focus and the Actual Common Core implementation I have been describing all these months and the global ed reforms are all driven by a desire for Action Research on children involving those cognitive theories. Got it? And  Senge then goes on to tell us that “two types of skills are central to this work” of gaining the desired new mental models.

“They are Reflection (slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of how we form our mental models) and Inquiry (holding conversations where we openly share views and develop knowledge about each other’s assumptions). The techniques we most favor for learning these skills emerged from ‘action science,’ a field of inquiry developed by theorists and educators  Chris Argyris [and he's the link to Harvard's Business and Ed Schools and is cited in Zuboff's book from the last post as a mentor to her]  and Donald Schon.”

I am giving you a break Senge does not give in the Fieldbook where his sentences are too long. He goes on after mentioning Argyris and Schon to say their work is “aimed at exploring the reasoning and attitudes which underlie human action, and producing more effective learning in organizations and other social systems.”

Now when I wrote this post back in August http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/do-you-live-in-a-district-piloting-deep-and-continual-personal-change-in-the-individual-student/, I speculated that it looked to me like the Harvard Strategic Data Project involved pushing Systems Thinking on participating districts like Fulton and Gwinnett Counties in Metro Atlanta and Charlotte-Meck in North Carolina and Boston Public Schools. Now that we know of Chris Argyris and Schon’s work and its aspirations as action science, there is no question. Students in those districts are being used as guinea pigs to collect data for what Argyris and Schon called Double-Loop learning.  What will it take before the student acquires “new capacity” for different types of behaviors?

Schon wanted people and institutions that were malleable and flexible enough to “become capable of transforming themselves without intolerable disruption.” I would argue that Aurora and Sandy Hook and Columbine may well be warning us that all this SEL/systems focus experimentation that has been going on in some schools and districts for almost 20 years  is in fact intolerable to some personalities. It sure is too coincidental to ignore as the number of districts and students undergoing action science research continues to grow. Common Core will be turning our schools into a giant petri dish of social science action research into what it will take to gain Systems Transformation.

Which is not something an education degree or a Harvard Masters in Public Policy or an Urban Studies degree or a Social Psychology degree should license anyone to do.

To our kids. With our money. To this Great Country. To the rest of the world looking to the US for guidance.

Throwing an Invisibility Cloak Over the Classroom to Get to Dewey’s Participatory Social Inquiry

The IHDP report from 2011 laying out the use of education “reforms” all over the world to shift all of us towards Societal Change talks about the need of a “positive vision for the future” to mobilize global society toward a perceived “common good.” And yes it is more along the lines of what Paul Ehrlich will pick than anything you or I would freely choose. Listed motivating possibilities for visions include:

“sustainability technologies (non-fossil fuel automobiles, LED light bulbs, geothermal power), policies (the wide scale introduction of policies to promote renewables, recycling and reuse), new strategies and methods for education that foster understanding and practice for sustainability and equity, or innovative approaches to creating synergy between environmental and economic concerns.”

Boy those do sound familiar, don’t they? Interestingly enough in order to deal with these contemplated “environmental and global change challenges,” schools get called in again– “more inclusive ways of knowing are required to bring together the partial and incomplete perspectives of different actors faced with uncertainty, diversity and change.” The more diverse the group of people who can be brought together to problem solve these “new, emerging and complex issues” the more knowledge, experiences, and values that can go into the consensus developed to impose on everyone.

That would Change the World based on theories first despite uncertain and potentially risky and speculative global or local problems. IHDP seems to grasp that tentativeness and recommends using “emotionally connective forms” of media to get ideas across. I guess that’s because spectacular graphics can trump any uncertainty. Now I have a good idea what is planned for getting to Equity because I have read Jeannie Oakes among others (and getting that diverse group into a classroom may be why most of the no tracking “scholarship” tracks back to her). Oakes laid out precisely how Participatory Social Inquiry in Urban Schools is to work. She points out that “equal terms” education conflicts “deeply with a long history of White supremacy and the fundamental norms and power distribution of democratic capitalism.”

I just want you to appreciate now how Open-Ended Performance Assessments calling for real-life scenarios will come in handy for this Equity agenda. The one that aims to move all of us toward a “democracy in which people of all races and social classes engage “on equal terms” to learn from one another as they make decisions about how to live and work together.”

So if you are in a high poverty school everything wrong gets blamed on capitalism and racism and nothing involves any poor personal behavior. Not a contributing factor at all. More upscale schools should be made to feel guilty about any privilege and there’s always Sustainability and lots of other scenarios to push the need for fundamental changes to everyday behaviors. And with online curricula and online assessments, it will be quite hard to see any of this going on. Perfect way to bring in IB’s Critical Thinking and Barber’s Global Citizenship too. You as parents and taxpayers will not be able to see these changes. Just ask anyone in Texas about the controversies over the C Scope curriculum where school kids were told to draw a flag for an imagined socialist country as a classroom activity. Concerned parents were told the curriculum was private and they had no right to learn what their children were being asked to do or believe in the classroom.

Now I have mentioned that Pearson is involved with the Texas and both Common Core assessments. So the fact  that in 2012 Pearson assessment said all of these assessments were actually assessing 21st Century Skills should interest all of us. They say that the US National Research Council says that’s what college and career readiness means. Which would explain why David Conley’s 2007 report reminded me of the 21st century skills push. It also means that our assessments are really just looking for those listed Life Skills from the last post. That’s a low bar and gives all sorts of flexibility for what can go on in the classroom. But wait, it gets even better. One of the skills that will need to be assessed is collaboration. Which implicates Albert Bandura’s Self-efficacy from the last post. I would snark what are the odds but it was checking for a link among Bandura, Pearson, and the Common Core explicitly that turned up this fascinating report.

Here’s what I found so fascinating especially in light of those IHDP aspirations. Pearson wants open-ended tasks to assess 21st century skills in authentic real-world problem contexts. And these tasks are to be done as a group in order to assess collaboration. And if the tasks were “obvious” or “unambiguous” there would be “few opportunities to observe student negotiation because there is nothing about which to disagree.” Tasks “relying on:

“stimulus materials designed to evoke cognitive conflict (ie, that reflected uncertainty, ambiguity, disorganization, and contradiction) better elicited critical thinking skills than tasks that used stimulus materials that were orderly, well-organized, and coherent.”

You know these quotes really are going to take the fun and comfort out of being told your child is doing well at school and has excellent “higher-order skills.” Instead, she may be stewing in frustration with “ill-structured” problems deliberately created because they:

“have no clearly defined parameters, no clear solution strategies, and either more than one correct solution, or multiple ways of arriving at an acceptable solution.”

Are you like me wondering why no one is being honest that these so-called tests are actually just a means of getting to a Social Interaction classroom centered around Social Justice without saying so? The tasks are deliberately laid out to require “knowledge, information, skills, and strategies that no single individual is likely to possess.” Then Norman Webb of the Depth of Knowledge template Florida and Texas and PARCC and SBAC all admit to using is cited as saying “when ill-structured tasks are used, all group members are more likely to participate actively, even in groups featuring a range of student ability.”

And that’s the whole point beyond using the assessment to drive classroom activities to create a perceived need for Global Transformation–politically, economically, and socially starting at the level of the individual student. “Groups featuring a range of student ability” will limit the top-performers from soaring as they were able to do in the transmission of knowledge classroom. They do not get to keep getting mentally stronger. And the able student’s strengths will mask a great deal of weaknesses. Leaving those students free to focus on the injustice and unfairness of it all.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s when these performance assessments were first proposed they were called alternative measures to boost graduation rates and show student “growth” even though there was very little knowledge and most of the changes were values, attitudes, and beliefs. And the university research center that has always pushed for some alternative to normed-standardized testing in the schools going back decades is CRESST at UCLA. The same UCLA where Jeannie Oakes was an education prof when she wrote the book I quoted from above. CRESST has been getting Gates Foundation funding to help prepare Common Core curricula and assessments. How convenient is that?

In January 2013 CRESST released a report “On the Road to Assessing Deeper Learning” on the status of both SBAC and PARCC. This report though was funded by the Hewlett Foundation. That would be the same Hewlett Foundation that has a Deeper Learning initiative to guide the classroom implementation of the Common Core. The one that says Common Core is not about content but new assessments and curricula and classroom interactions.   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-deep-learning-and-systems-thinking-radicalizes-the-student-factual-reality-ceases-to-matter/ The same Deeper Learning that is part of that Self-efficacy Equity Framework I mentioned in the last post.

Yet more proof that what is coming to our classrooms everywhere is not what we have been told. Toward the end of the book, Jeannie Oakes mentions:

“we step into utopian realms gingerly, knowing that social movements have the power for good and ill associated with all utopian projects. We are also well aware that some social movement scholars caution that such efforts rarely achieve the virtuous ends they seek. Nevertheless, we believe that, given the current threats to our democracy, these risks are all worth taking.”

Now, that’s mighty presumptuous of her and the other professors and foundations involved in all this. Nobody told us the Common Core was about a Journey to a possible Utopia.