Translating the Off-Putting Term Dialectical Materialism and Discovering the Intended Process in ALL Classrooms

And if ALL classrooms, preschool through graduate school, is not sufficiently alarming, how about in ALL students and teachers and professors and administrators? Plus with a little luck, and using active coordination of themes and cultivated beliefs between education and the media, those interested in transformative change in the 21st century hope to spread the mental and emotional contagion to parents and enough voters generally to ignite the change via the ballot box and ALL institutions.

So how does the mouthful phrase ‘dialectical materialism’ fit into this vision? That is something I have struggled with for a couple of years now. I basically got it, but not well enough to translate into a pithy analogy for mass consumption. I suspect much of that is deliberate to prevent alarms from going off recognizing its use to prompt revolutionary cultural change. I knew it was about consciousness and had been coined not by Marx or Engels, but by Joseph Dietzgen. Like them, his revolutionary intentions forced him into exile in the Anglosphere, countries much more accommodating of dissent than Germany or other parts of 19th-century Europe. Instead of London or Manchester, England though, Dietzgen relocated to the Chicago area. But what precisely merited exile by authorities wishing to retain existing political power?

The recent recovery of some lost Nelson Mandela transcripts that quoted him as saying: “to a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the logic of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.” I read that and immediately wished someone would concisely explain that logic as I was quite sure it was still lurking in our midst, ready to mount an invisible attack against existing institutions, values, beliefs, and other cultural norms. Last week, my personal project, supposedly unrelated to the blog or book or speaking engagements, was to investigate when the law shifted to being seen as a cultural weapon. Just a matter of personal curiosity so I ordered a book I had seen mentioned, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. It was published in 1983 by a then Harvard Law Prof, Harold J. Berman.

I was expecting a more straightforward history than what I encountered. I certainly was not expecting to read on the first page of the Preface that “A world ends when its metaphor has died.” Well, that got my attention as nothing is more prevalent now in education ‘reforms’ than the determination to excise factual knowledge of the past or science or human nature and substitute some type of metaphorical belief, usually called a ‘lens,’ as in the new C3 Social Studies Framework or a Generative Metaphor from Donald Schon and Chris Argyris’ Action Science work.

Continuing on in the Introduction, I found a determination to jettison the reverence for the Anglo tradition of the common law, and language about the law being not “a body of rules,” but a “process.” That statement sounded eerily similar to what radical education reformers like Linda Darling-Hammond, or sponsors like CCSSO, are using to describe what the REAL Common Core implementation is about. Not transmitting a body of knowledge anymore, but cultivating desired ‘habits of mind’ and hoped for ‘dispositions’ amenable and primed to act for wholesale social change.

Perhaps because it is a book designed to change the nature of a particular institution-the nature of law, law schools, and the role of the judiciary, Berman’s book is quite graphic about using the word ‘dialectics’ to describe the process of changing values and beliefs in people so it will have an impact on how and whether they act. Those actions in turn can affect the material world and the physical environment, which in turn acts upon those who inhabit it. A dialectical process back and forth involving the material world, but it all starts in consciousness. Mental and emotional beliefs. Dialectical materialism. Change the consciousness of enough people and the world itself and the future can supposedly be changed in predictable ways.

That’s the theory of how to “transform the social and political and economic realities” and it was revolutionary enough in the 19th century to merit exile and, perhaps, prison in certain times and places in the 20th. Now a willingness to push it can get you a lucrative ed doctorate credential intended to secure a six-figure taxpayer paid salary and then pension for life. That is if you cooperate with the right people and force the right theories on unsuspecting schools and students. What a transition that is for an infamous theory!

Dialectical materialism then is the actual theory that underlay outcomes based education and what was really being sought from it. Because it is an off-putting term with a clear history and proponents calling it the equivalent of a cultural “rifle, bomb or missile,” the real name for the theory gets left out. Instead, we get language about Growth Mindsets and not Fixed and Grit, Perseverance and Tenacity to euphemize the actual dialectical mental and emotional change to arrive at the desired synthesis in a person who will act.

This vision of education as dialectical materialism to change the student’s values, beliefs, and dispositions so they will likely act as desired upon the world can be seen as recently as last Friday as Michael Barber and Pearson released a Michael Fullan authored document called A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. That report also helpfully ties together the actual intended Common Core implementation in the US to what is going on in Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. A global vision of the kind of perspectives and Worldviews that education is to inculcate for the future.

Everything is designed around experiential learning and getting students ready to act in desired ways. To see the past through so-called present and future needs. It’s not just the students being primed to act in desired ways. I keep hearing reports of teachers being told to stand and chant as a necessary component of new required professional development, while I notice how the leaders of the training just happened to be active in outcomes based education in the 90s. Or a recent story of videos being shown of enthusiastic cheering at various emotional public events like sports. Then the teachers are told that they must stand and cheer exuberantly at every mention of the phrase “Common Core” during the presentation. Does it remind anyone else of Michael Barber’s work with rebellious UK teachers years ago where the mantra was “First, act, then belief comes?”

To me, it is reminiscent of another of William Henry Chamberlin’s observations from his 30s experiences of collectivism that we encountered in the previous post. He noted that “human personality, for instance, may sometimes be dwarfed and standardized under the influence of democracy. But in the totalitarian states it tends to disappear altogether; the individual is simply sunk in the collectivist mass that votes, marches, salutes, cheers with the regularity and precision of an automatic machine.” That term ‘totalitarian’ may seem a bit misplaced when talking of the US or UK or Canada or Australia, but every one of the political and economic and social philosophies Chamberlin was writing about from personal experience was grounded in dialectical materialism. It is the foundational theory behind changing values and beliefs. What varied, then and now, are the particular beliefs that can be deliberately cultivated as useful for transformative change.

It is easy then to see the belief in Catastrophic Manmade Climate Change as one of today’s useful cultivated beliefs as well as the hyping of Inequality and the push for Communitarianism (misleadingly hiding in the definition of Career Ready as well as what will constitute a Positive School Climate). The intense focus on continued racism and sexism in reading selections and classroom discussions provides the same function. Useful beliefs that will likely compel a belief to act to transform the world in predictable ways. Others are more subtle, like the regular complaints over the religion of Islam being portrayed as inherently innocuous in ways that disregard known, provable, potentially dangerous facts. Or the economic misconceptions being deliberately cultivated and then tied to revered figures like Martin Luther King as Democracy Collaborative/Good Society’s Gar Alperovitz did recently. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/01/beyond-dreamer

We are going to talk next time about how this dialectical vision has become incorporated into the teacher evals for licensure and promotion to ensure compliance. Another dialectical process to ensure actual change in the material world.

Unfortunately all these intentions just cannot shake off the effects of unintended consequences and perverse incentives in that same material world.

The one where we all live and pay taxes to finance these millenarian visions of unrealistic, and nonconsensual, transformations.

 

 

The Need to Know as We Understand It Today May be a Lethal Cultural Sport

That needs to be radically restricted if not abolished root and branch. So said anthropologist Bernard James in his 1973 book The Death of Progress in a passage so reminiscent of Paul Ehrlich’s long-expressed desire to use education to create  Newmindedness and James Burke’s to create Non-Axemaker Minds that I just HAD to borrow it. And for similar reasons too. See what I mean?

“There is a sense of desperation in the air, a sense that . . . man has been pitchforked by science and technology into a new and precarious age. [In this age] the final period of decay of our Western world, the predicament is clear. We live on an overcrowded and pillaged planet, and we must stop the pillage or perish.”

And like the Bioregionalists and the Ecology educators like David Orr, it’s always the rational mind that is the central target for change. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-need-a-radical-change-in-our-mode-of-consciousness-even-a-new-sense-of-being-human/ . There was one modern scientific discovery and technological innovation though that didn’t send Professor James into a social engineering frenzy–the computer and communications technology. What today usually gets abbreviated as ICT or as the National Science Foundation likes to call it–Cyberlearning. As in let’s throw tens of millions of taxpayer dollars or new debt into making ICT the focus of all education. K-12 and higher ed. No Cronyism there.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/03/15cyber.h32.html?tkn=TLLFZjQZBrz3EptDVf4qQPg2Wz33qWsMGN2A&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1 is the January 3, 2013 story called “Federal Effort Aims to Transform Learning Technologies.” Since I have written several posts where education professors and administrators and UNESCO reports explicitly acknowledged that such Digital Literacy efforts actually are designed to gain Equity in Achievement by limiting the ability to think, I decided to look into this expensive program further.

The National Science Foundation’s Cyberlearning Initiative is very much in the Limit the Capacity to Think,Make Tool Use and Social Interaction the Purpose of School, Tradition. You know the one that has everything to do with taking down the basis for Individualism and free markets and disruptive technology innovation and nothing to do with the transmission of useful cultural knowledge from the past? Since that would bolster the rational mind and each person’s ability to conceptualize the future for themselves? Or be ingenious? Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself again.

This 2008 NSF report that must have the tech companies salivating is called “Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge: A 21st Century Agenda for the National Science Foundation.” That mouthful, which I quoted in full for a reason, goes a long way towards explaining the NSF’s agenda in creating all the poor math and science curricula in the 90s that became notorious in the Math and Science Wars. Which is important now as NSF also goes after higher ed courses to gain equity in credentialling. Moreover, it explains the education vision in both that USGCRP 2012-2021 report http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/ as well as that troubling Research Goal 6 described in the previous post. And also NSF’s work on the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance. Busy folks. In fact, “Altering Minds and Behaviors without Telling You” might be a good 21st Century motto for certain parts of the NSF. So convenient isn’t it that  NSF now reports to a close Ehrlich colleague, John Holdren.  He is not telling us either although if you read his past books and articles, he already has.

Consistent with that remake the world and control human behavior aspirations is cyberlearning as a means of “steering” humanity and signalling

“the intertwined tapestry of concepts relating the goal-directed actions, predictions, feedback, and responses in the systems (physical, social, engineering) for which cybernetics was to be an explanatory framework.”

Yes, long before Peter Senge took up the mantle of Systems Thinking to make a lucrative living foisting it on schoolchildren and naive business executives, we had Norbert Wiener who helped develop Cybernetics to try to make human systems more predictable and controllable. And, no, nobody EVER asks us “Pretty Please” or May I?”. So Cyberlearning is based on Cybernetics theories and involves Learning in a networked world. And the NSF report wants to make it quite clear that cyberlearning involves “learning with” the tablets, Smartphones, and laptops that are currently being pushed at great expense. Absolutely does not mean “learning about” the ICT infrastructure. Mercy no, that might bolster the abstract, logical mind and we need to prevent those as much as possible in the 21st century. No matter what the cost in dollars or forgone future prosperity or destroyed individual promise.

In fact on page 11 of that report you can find a chart called “Advances in Communication and Information Resources for Human Interaction” that puts working with symbol systems like reading and math and academic content very low on the totem pole of 21st century aspirations for students. And what makes it to the top you ask reluctantly? Why, that would be “Virtual Observations [aka videos], Collaborations, Social Networking, and Web 2.0.” I kid you not. That’s the Marxist/Deweyan ultimate wish list of Social Interaction, Participation, and Engagement as the purpose of education. It also dovetails to the 1989 UNESCO agenda described here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/ . The report still guiding education “reform” globally.

One of the creators of that chart is heavily involved with Cyberlearning and Informal Learning generally. Stanford Professor Roy Pea is not only in a position to “Do Lunch” with the Ehrlichs and Linda Darling-Hammond and so many other of our Transform Education Schemers but he was kind enough to do a Cyberlearning slideshow in 2011. That got uploaded on August 15, 2012 just in time for the new school year.  http://www.slideshare.net/roypea/berkeley-cyberlearning-030811final . Have fun with the whole show but it is Slides 17-19 that really caught my eye. They make it quite clear Professor Pea considers ICT and Cyberlearning to be a Lev Vygotsky mediated tool.  Complete with pictures.

Vygotsky, for newcomers, was a Soviet psychologist determined to use pedagogy and education to create the perfect Soviet man (and woman I am sure). He understood that cognitive tools can either strengthen the abstract mind (like reading phonetically) or weaken it (like ICT substituting for personal knowledge). Slide 19 leaves no doubt in my mind Professor Pea very much understands what Vygotsky aspired to do in his research. Disrupt previous cultural-historical processes [also known as knowledge of the past] in favor of something new. A different future and culture. As in Designing New Minds, Values, and Overall Personalities I suppose. And Pea also leaves no doubt (Slide 49) that the expensive National Education Technology Plan is part of all this mind-weakening, Transformative, Design a New Future through the introduction of new Cognitive Tools, assault.

Designing the Future. Now how hubristic, as in Will Lightning Strike at the Nerve?, does that sound? But sure enough, on January 18, 2012, there was a Cyberlearning 2012 Summit in DC we were not invited to. So we will have to rely on this helpful graphic of what went on. http://cyberlearning.sri.com/w/images/b/b9/Illustration_Banner.jpg . And there on the far left we see “People and Technology Working Together Designing the Future.” Apparently all it takes according to the graphic is the NSF using multimillion dollar grants to bribe educators and institutions who will in turn Transform Education. Making ICT and the Internet and the Visual instead of mental the Whole Point of Education.

Well, that will affect the future as we shut down much of the human capacity to think rationally that brought, quite literally, Civilization. Print and the mental manipulation of it played a big part. Especially after the invention of the printing press and the Reformation made literacy widespread in the 16th century. Leading to the explosion of knowledge and technology Bernard James wanted to stop in our title.

But can we really design the future? I don’t think so. But let’s talk about that latest bit of public sector hubris in the next post. We will look at what Ehrlich and UNESCO and the European Union and NSF all have in mind when they talk about Foresight Knowledge.

Because I am a firm believer that forewarned is forearmed. Especially about Foresight.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist that.

 

 

 

Coercing Teachers to be Social and Political Saboteurs–What Can Be Done?

One of the greatest falsehoods, OK I’ll say it, Outright Lie, about the Common Core has been the repeated insistence that no one would be telling the teachers How. To. Teach. It seems like virtually everyone is. That’s the Whole Purpose of these New Teacher Evals and weakening Tenure. That’s why the NEA goes along. Well, at least its leadership who know the real long-term game. The delegates and members? Not so much.

There’s a reason that the teacher evals to be used now track back to people like Charlotte Danielson, Ray Pecheone, and Robert Pianta who were involved in forcing the related Outcomes Based Education (OBE) on classrooms in previous decades. Same goals of changing the student at the values and attitudes level. Just different language and different enforcement mechanisms so this national and international effort at student and teacher subjugation can be touted as “state-led.” Or the New Super’s Idea of Excellence and Quality Learning which seem to be Benign terms, right? Long time readers know better.

CCSSO (the political interest group that represents the chief state ed officers in each state and is financially sponsored by all sorts of businesses with a vested interest in its policies in a first rate example of Cronyism to the core) came out with Model Teaching Standards in 2011 after most states were on board. http://www.ccsso.org/documents/2011/intasc_model_core_teaching_standards_2011.pdf is a copy if you have never seen it that mandates student-led and new assessment driven (funded in that 2009 Stimulus Act to the tune of hundreds of millions).

By the way, both the SBAC and PARCC assessments to change classroom practice and what gets measured as the results of all that expensive K-12 schooling use the OBE-influenced Norman Webb Depth of Knowledge template we have already talked about. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-intentional-insurrection-in-texas-supers-override-governor-legislature-and-taxpayers/ explains why Texas classrooms look like the actual Common Core implementation in other states. All mandating student-led, Depth of Knowledge, and the also OBE-tied Understanding by Design as the means to measure the results of the classroom.

Two more housekeeping matters teachers and parents and then I can get to the juicy part of this story. What is being mandated for the Common Core classroom also is called Standards for Teaching and Learning. It was developed in Chicago and has ties to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Bill Ayers, and someone even more famous from back when he was less well-known. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/ Finally, President Obama’s 2008 Education Adviser, Linda Darling-Hammond, just came out with a report (with Ford and Sandler Foundations funding) classifying Effective Teaching and what evals should be measuring in light of the behaviors required by those Model Teaching Standards linked above.  http://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/creating-comprehensive-system-evaluating-and-supporting-effective-teaching.pdf

Now that’s a lot of legwork to change classroom practices without it being apparent. Why? Would you believe it goes back to the height of the Cold War and the early 70s and the Soviet Union and China and a very tense world? Yep. And the UN and trying to get everyone in the world during that tense time to change their education practices. Knowing perfectly well that changing education practices would only matter in free societies. In dictatorships, not so much. Which is why this report and its recommendations are so troubling. Not only does it tie to everything going on and being recommended for K-12 and higher ed all over the world right now. But it is clearly education to make one fit to be a subject. Tolerant of being told what to do.

This so-called “right type of education” for the global future was to be a revolution in man’s “inner space also; a new union of science and spirituality.” Yes I was laying a path in those last several posts where we started with Alice Bailey’s From Intellect to Intuition and there is even a listed Ford Foundation adviser who was officially a member of the panel issuing this early 70s UNESCO report. Again, what are the odds?

But to get this “interior revolution” that will lead to a “subsequent social revolution” requires a rejection of traditional instruction and pedagogy to one focused “above all” on developing “personality and attitudes.” Doesn’t that sound just like OBE?

See if this quote sounds like what is being mandated in the classroom and imposed on teachers and students by the accreditation agencies and eval criteria and Cambridge Education’s Quality Reviews and models like Spence Rogers’ Teaching for Excellence?

“Democratizing education will only be possible if we succeed in shaking off the dogmas of conventional pedagogy, if free and permanent dialogue is set up within the educational process, if this enhances individual awareness of life, if learners are guided towards self-education [sounds like the learner-centred classroom to me] and, in short, change from objects to subjects. Education is all the more democratic when it takes the form of a free search, a conquest, a creative act; instead of being, as it so often is, something given or inculcated.”

That’s the type of education the Communists wanted the West to adopt at the height of the Cold War. There was even a Soviet delegate on the panel and he admitted the new desired pedagogy was based on what the Soviets called psychopedaegogy. Which would explain its bloody history upon transferral to free societies like the US. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/how-much-innocent-blood-will-it-take-to-stop-sel-manipulation-for-political-gain/

Sorry but Toxic Social Goals call for Graphic Language if we are to have any chance of halting a Massive Social Engineering Project to remake the national psyche through education. In other places this “non-directive pedagogy” is also referred to as providing “psychotherapeutic data ‘centred on the client.” Given how much of Common Core is about using gathering, and responding to, data on actual student learning. Which is (elsewhere) defined as Changing Student Values, Attitudes, Beliefs, Values, and Behaviors, the acknowledgment that this is psychological data and based on Carl Rogers’ and Kurt Lewin’s work should give everyone involved in education pause.

Teachers being told they can no longer be the “Sage on the Stage” can relate to this passage decreeing that (italics in original):

“the teacher’s duty is less and less to inculcate knowledge and more and more to encourage thinking; his formal functions apart, he will have to become more of an adviser, a partner to talk to; someone who helps seek out conflicting arguments rather than handing out ready-made truths. He will have to devote more time and energy to productive and creative activities: interaction, discussion, stimulation, understanding, encouragement.

Unless relations between teachers and learners evolve accordingly, there can be no authentic democracy in education.”

And authentic democracy in education in the West would help the early 70s Advocates of Evil prevail in the Cold War. Such a psychologizing of education amounts to unilateral intellectual disarmament. Why? To prevent people who can accurately piece together a plan even though no one ever told them what was going on and how it related. There was and is supposed to be no whistle blowing in time.

So the Cold War is officially over despite Putin’s recent sabre rattling and war gaming, why is this still being pushed in 2012? Well, I believe UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres gave the answer at the end of this recent interview with Yale’s Environment 360. My italics this time.

“It is the most inspiring job in the world because what we are doing here is we are inspiring government, private sector, and civil society to [make] the <i>biggest transformation</i> that they have ever undertaken. The Industrial Revolution was also a transformation, but it wasn’t a <i>guided transformation from a centralized policy perspective</i>. This is a <i>centralized transformation that is taking place</i> because governments have decided that they need to listen to science. So it’s a very, very different transformation and one that is going to make the life of everyone on the planet very different.”

The Cold War may be over. Aspirations of politicians and bureaucrats from the international to the local level to plan society and dictate what individuals are to do (or not) and how economies will work while living at taxpayer expense. Not Over in the Least.

Now that greedy reality appears to be perpetual. It survived the Cold War and is alive and well in 2012. And trying to force teachers to be Agents of Change in a social revolution that will not turn out well or as planned.

This is a good time to talk about this. On the front-end.