In the same way I could look at the vision laid out in the 1991 Learning Society paper from the last post and see the fundamental corners of what Marx and his followers called the Human Development Society, even before the writers mentioned that term without Uncle Karl’s name attached, this week there has been a series of connected reports taking us in the US and globally in the same direction. Education reform and the aims of social, economic, and political transformations always attached to it through the decades, turn out to be an awful lot like learning another language. Once we can speak it, no one needs to translate for us when we are looking at models or aims that seek to get to the same place. Different words or phrases for the same fundamental ideas simply get added to our glossary of understanding.
How many times have we heard that the schools must change in this or that manner because the ‘experts’ say so or in order to make our country ‘internationally competitive’. Going back to the 1991 paper, policymakers needed to address and redo the “evolving relationship between individual and collective needs” in order for us to be that Learning Society. In turn becoming a Learning Society was sold as necessary “in order to attain (or retain) their ability to participate successfully in the global economy.” That’s lots of fundamental shifting towards collectivism coming in and being sold surreptitiously as necessary steps to be competitive in a global economy. At least if the commands from the policymakers were to strip naked and parade in the public square as a group or stand on our head on the baseball field when our number is called, we could better notice where this is going and the utter loss of individual control.
See the Frameworks Institute is not the only one who can come up with a compelling metaphor and at least mine are more apt than blatantly manipulative. http://frameworksinstitute.org/pubs/mm/ecs/toc.html is the link of where we are going but we need to pick up more confirmations first. A 1967 John Dewey lecture kindly laid out the definition of desired ‘learning’ to be malleable to the desired transformations. (This was before the 60s efforts described in Chapter 6 of my book ran aground). It remained the relevant definition of learning for the 1991 vision as well and it is still pertinent today. Now it tends to be sold as students having a Growth Mindset with Carol Dweck being cited as the ‘expert’ to defer to. Learning will “enable an adult to change his thought and action in response to the changes occurring around him.”
I hate to frame that desired mindset as being as spineless as a jellyfish and as flexible as an Olympic gymnast, but basically those are good metaphors for the kind of attitudes, values, and dispositions amenable to all these planned ‘progressive’ transformations. No need to inflame the public by mentioning Uncle Karl, the Deweyans call themselves progressive in their intentions and so does the Frameworks Institute. Repeatedly. Same for this recent global call to arms on making sharing and meeting human needs the new basis for the global economy. http://www.sharing.org/sites/default/files/images/Common_Cause_WEB.pdf Must be focus groups somewhere saying ‘progressive’ is almost as cool as having a sleek sports car.
I want to go back to the dangers of this belief that we can simply use education and the ever compliant media to reframe how people perceive the world in order to make wholesale transformations palatable. Reframing allows radical changes to be invisibly put in place without most people being the wiser in time. This is from another famous progressivist education professor and psychologist, Jerome Bruner, who is famous enough to be the ‘expert’ to be deferred to as the reason changes in instruction, curriculum, and assessment must be made. This came from a 1962 book (my bolding so I can duly express appropriate outrage):
“Knowledge is a model we construct to give meaning and structure to regularities in experience. The organizing ideas of any body of knowledge are inventions for rendering experience economical and connected. We invent concepts such as force in physics, the bond in chemistry, motives in psychology, and style in literature as means to the end of comprehension.”
Professor Bruner, we did not invent the concepts of force in physics or bond in chemistry. We simply came up with an agreed upon term in English to describe an observed phenomenon. That phenomenon, and its cause and effect relationships, existed before we knew about them and regardless of what we named it. There is something objective going on that is not in fact ‘socially constructed’. It is a bit Lysenkoesque (see Chapter 3 of my book) and consistent with a desire for ideological thinking to pretend otherwise. Aptly illustrated and adequately explained all these terms do aid in comprehension, but where Professor Bruner wanted to go, and where the Frameworks Institute does go, is a push into using metaphors to enable false perceptions, incorrect interpretations, and inapt analogies. All without a body of facts to correct what is wrong with what is being provided.
“Reframing Education Using a Core Story Approach” with its tremendous support from cited well-known charitable foundations is worthy of Pravda in its declared intent to manipulate adult “internalized narratives” to create support for the type of education reforms that fit Dewey’s template or those laid out in the Learning Society report. “The goal is to produce a powerful story of education with built-in strategic subplots that can reorient and restructure how Americans think” certainly meets my personal definition of an explicit confession. Who gets to determine what Americans are to think beyond the personnel of all those foundations that pay no taxes while they advocate for collectivism for the rest of us? The report says it is “progressive educators and experts.” Like those educated by Professor Bruner or those seeking the next public or foundation grant, promotion, or consulting contract, and shilling as needed?
It’s not just education, climate change is another area where there is a conflict-ridden insistence that the public accept blindly the ‘framing’ that the ‘experts’ put forward. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/tethering-the-logical-rational-mind-via-k-12-education-to-emotionally-grounded-experience/ In both areas we find well-funded think tanks trying to determine how to alter “the dominant patterns of reasoning employed by the public” as if the US were now the Soviet Union and the think tanks had the role of Pravda. There is nothing quite like reading about a bolded “Gaps in Understanding between experts and ordinary Americans [those without Ed.D's or degrees in public policy, sociology or anthropology, for example]–features that bring into relief the specific locations where translation is needed if expert knowledge is to become accessible to the public in understanding and reasoning about assessment, learning spaces and times, disparities, and the goal of education.”
Now I have mentioned the omission of cites to Uncle Karl in these particular reports even though the Learning Society report does admit to using the concepts of sociology, anthropology, and work with primates as metaphors for what it seeks to experiment with. Theory in Practice and let’s see what happens. My point is that the social science concepts there and the repeated mentions of deferring to experts in these other reports bring in all the tenets of these notorious collectivist political theories and the psychological and cultural research that was carried on in the Soviet Union into our children’s classrooms.Without openly admitting that crucial fact.
What’s the real support? Deferring to expert ‘knowledge’ that is actually nothing but desired theories created to enable social, political, and economic transformations in the future. If our degreed experts do not know that, the creators of the theories trying to gain implementation as ‘expert knowledge to be deferred to’ were more than explicit about what they had in mind. How does that Deferral work beyond school boards being trained to lay down to the whims of the ‘professionals’ in charge of the school districts as schools? We get Frameworks providing “Redirections, research-based recommendations that comprise the Core Story of Education, and represent promising routes for improving public understanding of learning, education and education reform.”
Prevailing cultural models and patterns really are explicitly laid out as the “challenges that the prescriptive reframing research must address.” At least when you put on glasses or put in contacts, you know they are there and how and why your vision is being prescriptively reframed. That kind of open reframing is not what is being ‘prescribed.’ Hence my hauling out the terms stealth, surreptitious, and, honestly, outright deceit, as so many connected insiders (just read the list of who support the Frameworks Institute) seek to alter how “most American make sense of new information.” They could use the motto that Reframing is not just for students or the new AP History courses anymore. It’s apparently been deemed to be a matter of 21st Century citizenship.
I want to close with a couple of the ideological doozies sold as Gaps in Understanding that are non-compliant with what experts know. “Experts understand disparities [among individuals] as a collective concern–because equal opportunity is a moral imperative.” That’s not a matter of ‘knowledge’. It’s a matter of political preference pretending to be knowledge and ignoring the realities that created those disparities. Likewise, “for experts, learning is a process of interaction” is a euphemistic way to describe education under Uncle Karl’s political and social theories and the cultural models they have inspired. Being accurate would require admitting that under the theory of dialectical materialism, education needs to be a process of personal interaction with other people and the environment. That interaction, in turn, creates the desired changes, both internally within the mind and externally within the surrounding physical world, that may enable the desired broader transformations.
Being honest as usual would impede any chance of experimenting with the future on a massive scale involving most of our collective existence. So instead we are told deceitfully we must defer to the ‘experts’.
Who frequently know far less about what is actually meaningful than we ordinary Americans.