Incarcerated By Their Minds: False Narratives, Compulsion Via the Law, and Believing in Unicorns

When I looked into Tim O’Reilly, whose company was touting the Haunted by Data video from the last post, he turned out to be a great admirer of a professor Alfred Korzybski. Now that was a new name on my horizon, but his point that the brain’s neural networks, coupled to available language, constrain how each of us interprets our experiences, was not new at all. It fits with Classic systems thinking as well as the reason for Whole Language reading instruction under its various names. There is a story told about Korzybski that fits right into why transformationalists want to Frame Orientation via a “Well-Organized Mind.” Here goes:

“One day, Korzybski was giving a lecture to a group of students, and he interrupted the lesson suddenly in order to retrieve a packet of biscuits, wrapped in white paper, from his briefcase. He muttered that he just had to eat something, and he asked the students on the seats in the front row if they would also like a biscuit. A few students took a biscuit. ‘Nice biscuit, don’t you think,’ said Korzybski, while he took a second one. The students were chewing vigorously. Then he tore the white paper from the biscuits, in order to reveal the original packaging. On it was a big picture of a dog’s head and the words ‘Dog Cookies.’ The students looked at the package, and were shocked. Two of them wanted to vomit, put their hands in front of their mouths, and ran out of the lecture hall to the toilet. ‘You see,’ Korzybski remarked, ‘I have just demonstrated that people don’t just eat food, but also words, and that the taste of the former is often outdone by the taste of the latter.’”

False narratives can make Dog Biscuits seem palatable and turn actual healthy practices into something we avoid at all costs. Just the tool if transformational economic, social, and economic change are sought, but being open and overt would likely result in effective opposition. In 1968 the US Office of Education awarded SRI International at Stanford an Educational Policy Research Center grant to “investigate alternative future possibilities for the society and their implications for education policy.” The resulting scenarios were later written up with this 1973 quote from a Fred Polak being a lead epigraph to frame the plans:

“Awareness of ideal values is the first step in the conscious creation of images of the future and therefore the creation of culture, for a value is by definition that which guides toward a valued future…”

If that seems a bit scifi and premeditated, the actual study stated that its specific purpose was “to chart, insofar as possible, what changes in the conceptual premises underlying Western society would lead to a desirable future.” Well, that purpose certainly puts a new spin on what the acronym NAEP–National Assessment of Educational Progress–was really planning to monitor when it was created in the same time frame. Perhaps we should just start assuming that when it comes to K-12 education, in the US and globally, false narratives are the norm and have been for decades. Last Friday I was at a False Narrative Extravaganza being billed as the Fulton/Atlanta School Justice Partnership Summit “Pipelines to Pathways: The Problem, the Solutions, the Actions.”

Transformation Ready to Proceed, in other words, and it was full of influential people from lots of Atlanta police officers, Georgia Supreme Court justices, juvenile justice judges and administrators and school district officials. The ‘incarcerated by their minds’ comment was actually from the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice about needing to shift the focus from punishment to “reform, reshape, and rehabilitate those individuals [juvenile offenders] to become productive citizens.” It was a prelude to a presentation by a Georgia DoED Deputy Super and a former school psychologist, Dr. Garry McGiboney, called “Changing the Conversation About Student Discipline” to promote PBIS  and Positive School Climate [see tags for previous posts on point] as “what it takes to heal these broken kids.”

‘Broken’ because they are growing up in “unsafe environments and unstable homes.” After all “people and their environment are NOT separate things,” according to Dr McGiboney. “Behavior is a function of the person and their environment,” and to reiterate the point, McGiboney cited notorious Frankfurt School social psychologist Kurt Lewin [tag] as having created a formula for change. To make things even more interesting, False Attribution Theory then came in (by name) as Dr McGiboney complained that too many administrators looked to “understand the behavior of others by attributing causation to feelings, beliefs, intentions, and personality” instead of the “situational contexts” kids have grown up under. “Attribution of cause” affects the “doled out consequences”.

So if someone who grew up in bad circumstances misbehaves at school, their poor behavior gets excused as due to “environment.” Children who grew up in better circumstances and behave well in the classroom nevertheless need PBIS in every classroom and a Positive School Climate in every school so their values, feelings, beliefs, intentions, personality, attitudes, etc. can all be targeted and rearranged by the school. I guess if a student is not Incarcerated by their Mind when they come to school, they certainly will be by the end of a preschool and K-12 grounded in these psychological and mental health practices. Dr McGiboney actually sold this as “school climate matters to student outcomes.” Well, of course it does since SEL is now a crucial component of how ‘learning,’ Growth, and ‘student outcomes’ are measured.

The audience would not know that though and simply listening to the presentation they would believe that PBIS and Positive School Climate were nifty Georgia ideas and not federal mandates and requirements under Georgia’s NCLB federal waiver. Not to pick on Dr McGiboney, but I was down at the State DoED the day after they got that federal waiver. State officials that day did not seem too happy I knew that the School Climate Center guidelines required schools to have a social justice emphasis. What can I say? I read a lot. That is also how I know that all the hype about how PBIS and Positive School Climates will help reading achievement contradicts Georgia’s NCLB waiver. As I noted in my book, it explicitly made sure that an inability to read would no longer be a basis for holding a student back from promotion.

That’s one way to increase graduation rates, huh? Dr McGiboney closed with a truly poignant story about a potential suicide incident at a high school that was physically in terrible shape–dirty, broken windows–, in other words, a terrible physical environment. He related that the girl asked him if “he believed in unicorns” and he said yes, because he believed she needed to hear that. Years later, she reached out to him and talked about how she had pulled it together and lived a successful adult life. Her turnaround and the importance of environment then once again became the pitch for PBIS and Positive School Climate.

PBIS, Restorative Justice, Positive School Climate, and social and emotional learning generally are all targeting the personality and values. Tragic story and lots of false narratives used to sell something as a good idea that is actually another way of pushing the UNESCO vision we met in the last post without admitting that. Few in the audience understood that these measures are not in addition to an academic focus. They are actually a substitution for it as the new purpose of school and education. , supported by multiple federal agencies and grants, confesses the intention to blur the distinction between student learning and mental health outcomes. All are deemed part of student success.

In 1987, then Princeton Professor and now President of the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann, published a book–Democratic Education. It laid out a new vision for K-12 and higher education and worried about the still prevalent and “well-intentioned misperception that [teachers'] obligation is to impart knowledge, not to develop the moral character of their students.” It is my belief that all these various rationales we keep encountering on why all schools must use PBIS as a core component in each classroom and Positive School Climate practices in every school attempt to stealthily use the law as an enforcer. The required agenda is actually the UNESCO vision as well as what Gutmann laid out as the necessary right of the State “to shape the political values, attitudes, and modes of behavior of future citizens.”

Hide it under the alluring title of “Character development” as well.  Everyone knows too many kids now have deficits in this area. Selling this political agenda honestly would create objections. So we get all these false narratives and problems where the offered solutions are always headed in the same direction. Change the student at the level of their mind and personality. Call it conscious social reproduction and insist that it is about altering the future, just like SRI also had in mind. If the phrase Incarcerated by their Minds still seems a bit strong, how should we describe this intent: “To cultivate in children the character that feels the force of right reason is an essential purpose of education in any society.”

This is Guttmann’s vision of conscious social reproduction and its ties to education. Every child must be educated “to be capable of participating in collectively shaping their society.” She does believe in the ability of the majority to bind everyone as long as each person gets to participate in policy deliberations. Public policy directs society and the economy. People have a human right to have their needs met. In Dr. McGiboney’s vision where environment is all, there should then be no more ‘disruptive behaviors.’ Back to Gutmann, we have all schools, public and private, with an obligation to create “a set of secular beliefs, habits, and ways of thinking that support democratic deliberation …compatible with a wide variety of religious commitments.” Parents have no right to object either.

I am closing this post with the disclaimer I do not know who at that Summit was aware of the broader agenda I have covered in this post. Because the vision though fits precisely with where the UN has said we are all going by 2030, my guess is a few are aware this is all a sales pitch backward mapping from desired transformations to get to a new vision of the future. It is also Atlanta, home of the new Civil and Human Rights museum, so it is probably not a coincidence Gutmann’s vision ties so tightly to what Martin Luther King called the “Beloved Community” [tag] vision for the future.

Pipelines to Prison and School Discipline Problems in 2015 have been worsened by these previous educational reforms that had no interest in teaching reading or math properly. Now tragic bad individual behaviors are selling a vision where school and education are not really about knowledge in the traditional sense at all.

I simply want all of us to be able to recognize a Dog Biscuit, whatever it is being called, before we take that first bite.





Social Cohesion Can Commence Once Reality is Born Largely from Beliefs and Boundaries Co-Created with Others

“Around Us” was the last part of the quote the title comes from. The next line is “Although we need these boundaries and beliefs to function, we should not take them too seriously.” I suppose that flexibility may be the most succinct definition of the hoped-for Growth Mindset we have encountered yet, but this post is not actually about Carol Dweck. Remember Robert Theobald from our last post? In 1997, still awaiting the long sought revolution, he published yet another book reworking success: new communities at the millenium that laid out in its conclusion the “new belief structure” that would be necessary for a “radically more positive world” where each of us has a “core future commitment to the maintenance and development of social cohesion.”

Since my unusual, but terribly reliable method, of tracking the Common Core via its required actual implementation in schools and classrooms has turned up in just the last week repeated attempts to impose Theobald’s vision, the Baha’i values and compliance vision, and the cybernetic theory of doling out information in a controlled manner to create predictable future behavior we had best move on to the invisible how.  Since the last two have been covered in previous posts, let’s see what Theobald thought would be the New Belief Structure in place by 2011. I can assure you in education, radical intentions and methods do not go away. They don’t even always get new names. First though I want to use the guiding belief that we have now seen recurring consistently as the marching banner since the 60s taken this time from Theobald (quoting Pope John Paul II from 1994):

“If in his providence God had given the earth to humanity, that meant that he had given it to everyone. Therefore the riches of creation were to be considered as a common good of the whole of humanity. Those who possessed these goods as personal property were really only stewards,…since it was God’s will that created goods which serve everyone in a just way.”

Inspirational man, but somehow his sense of where wealth actually comes from was clearly warped. Anyway, this sentiment provides the perfect rationale for massive redistribution both within affluent countries and from rich to poor countries with no thought that anything vital might vanish in the process. Theobald turned this into a fundamental global governing “idea that great wealth and deep poverty were unacceptable in a just society.” He sold the idea that this New Belief Structure should become “one of the  great rallying points for a changed vision adopted by a growing segment of the population.” Yes and continued intentional mind arson and perspective shifting as the mission of K-12 and higher ed combined with weak job growth and explosive student debt only drives the allure of that same rallying cry now.

Central to this New Belief Structure and New Images of Citizenship in what Theobald called “common ground work” was:

a)controlling our ego needs and growth beyond them;

b) learning to screen reality through our own senses and the stories and myths we have learned;

c) emphasizing our collective intelligence and using our diversity to support the emergence of new systems;

d) acknowledging the importance of spirituality; and

e) “Recognizing the importance of using values–honesty, responsibility, humility, love, faith, cooperation, and a respect for mystery–as a compass that guides our choices.”

Values again. That common core we keep encountering globally. Guess where I found it just this week as an agenda item on a recent School Board Working Agenda in the Metro Atlanta School District with the duplicitous Conversion Charter we have looked at? In the new Student Code of Conduct. When parents sign off at the beginning of the year that they have seen the Student Handbook and agree to abide by it, they will now actually be signing off on listed “Character Traits” with language about desired values and morals and ethics without likely appreciating the wholesale transformation from the inside-out they have just sanctioned in their children.

At least Hong Kong citizens got somewhat of a head’s up when Kohlberg’s  Theory of Moral Development and Universal Love became a controversial component of the new definition of citizenship mandated via education, all we Americans get are vague references to Student Behavior or Positive School Climates.

This post was always going to be about values since I have had UNESCO’s instructional modules to make that a central focus of ed globally for about a month now. I was just laying the groundwork with our Baha’i discussion since UNESCO itself said religion must change back in 2007 and that spirituality was a necessary component of Global Citizenship.  I wanted to make this post about why the Southern Poverty Law Center would recently issue 2 different reports within weeks of each other trying to taint opponents of the Common Core and Agenda 21/Regional Land/Equity Planning.

SPLC is clearly engaged in a coordinated effort to prevent people from accurately perceiving admitted facts and declared intentions. We can think of Common Core as the Means to a Quiet Revolution and a Tool to Alter People’s Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs. Agenda 21 and Catastrophic Manmade Global Warming are the Excuses for Why the Transformations are Necessary and Tools to Control Physical Space and People’s Behavior. I can wish more of the critics SPLC cites were paying attention to the objections I am carefully laying out, but anyone’s accurate reporting of openly declared intentions or coursework is not theorizing about conspiracies. So what is SPLC really up to?

Remember how I call Common Core an explanation ‘bucket’ that obscures all the real intended changes like Positive School Climates, making social and emotional learning the primary focus, or making education about using a digital device instead of academic knowledge? Classic Bait and Switch has been my drumbeat in my book and now on this blog. I knew SPLC had created a racially oriented and economic justice focused curriculum. What I did not know until I started looking into their incentives to issue such misleading reports was that SPLC had partnered with the NEA to create TDSI–Teaching Diverse Students Initiative or that SPLC was partnering with the accreditors of teacher ed institutions to ensure its adoption in all teaching credential programs. Lots of incentive, in other words, for the SPLC to malign critics of effective tools for wholesale radical transformations.

Basically what SPLC is obscuring is the heart of the actual planned implementation in classrooms across the US under the mischievous banner of the Common Core and what now counts as Student Achievement and Growth. How about working with Glenn Singleton to create ‘dispositions’ in students pursuant to “Beginning Courageous Conversations about Race”? That can be one of the Character Traits district administrators now get to require from students under those new mischievous codes of conduct.

Recognizing the intended mischief from Fulton’s proposed new Code of Student Conduct and having asked detailed questions of administrators to make sure I understood precisely what was to be imposed, I came home to think about the potential for that Character Trait Code given what I knew of Fulton’s Charter, accreditation, and the intentions of TDSI.  file:///D:/Downloads/PRRAC%20-%20Race%20_%20Racism.htm Not to pat myself on the back, but it really is no exaggeration to say I speak ed fluently and usually understand the underlying theories now better than all the edudoctorates in the room. After all, most of them now are credentialed because of what they are willing to do to us and our children and this great nation, not for what they actually know.

The phrase–”Student’s Quantity of time on task engaged in desired behavior” may earn a doctorate these days when repeated constantly, but it probably should not be spoken out loud to parents. It does sound like social engineering. Nor should “Nothing as valuable as a good theory for social change” Kurt Lewin be quoted by name publicly as an example of the useful Freeze, Unfreeze, Refreeze behavioral manipulation strategy to deal with current teachers not on board with the technology shift.

If administrators think it’s OK to coercively brainwash adults, just imagine the plight of the children entrusted to their care in a world where changing the child is now the whole point of what is student achievement. Anyway, nobody can say I do not put my angst about where education is going and what the inevitable consequences will be to fruitful use. Yes indeed. Within an hour after leaving that meeting, I had the CARE Guide the NEA created with SPLC to “move beyond the restructuring of schools to the ‘re-culturing of education.”

That would be the real  focus of K-12 that SPLC needed to protect. It explains the importance of Core Values to the Vision. That would of course be the vision “Creating Change through Social Justice” and dramatically redefining the purpose of schools and negating academics as traditionally understood. Unless it is useful for new purposes like preparing students for everyday life, or perceiving ‘power relationships,’ or learning to exalt the ‘collectivist perspective’ and reject the ‘individualist perspective.’

We have a lot to talk about that is to be done under the cover of what counts as Excellence or a legally required closure of the Achievement Gap. It’s not what we are expecting and it certainly is something we need to fear as long as we remain unaware.

I have run too long again. Next time we will walk through that 174 page core document together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not like access to the classroom would give a means to do something about Moral Disengagement on this issue in the future. That’s Bandura’s Self Efficacy Theory by the way creating a new theory for equity and student success in the Classroom that I described in this post. Based on that 2010 Framework created by California Tomorrow to become a national template. That’s also his theories involved when I wondered why the Facing History theory taught students that “history is largely manmade” even though that is clearly not true. Described in this important previous post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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