Don’t we just love it when we can locate the real rationales for what we have indisputedly uncovered? All of this deliberate Mind Arson via our K-12 schools and repeated disdain for a logical Axemaker Mind is too pervasive not to be an essential component of the plans, but an explicit, fully integrated confession of intentions can be hard to find. Pieced together works, but it’s neither as satisfying or as damning. Luckily for us, my footnote mining recently pulled up a reference to a 1993 book published in the UK by Michael Fullan, still one of the world’s premier drivers of Radical Ed Reform. We covered his cutting-edge transdisciplinary global education vision here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/opting-out-as-the-remedy-may-mean-accidentally-accelerating-nonconsensual-transformations/
The equity and excellence that are the shorthand phrase to describe the goals of the Quality Education for Minorities Project we met in the last post are essential for all students Fullan asserted, but the “ultimate aim of education is to produce a learning society.” That requires students and teachers with a “combination of moral purpose and change agentry–caring and competence.” If that sounds like Fullan was already pushing for wholesale social change in a collective direction with education as the driver more than 20 years ago, he was. Quoting what he wanted: “Put another way, the ability to cope with change, learning as much as possible with each encounter is the generic capacity needed for the twenty-first century.”
Luckily for us, Fullan confessed that (with italics) that we “are talking about a learning society not just a learning school system. The commitment and practice of learning must find itself in all kinds of organizations and institutions if it is to achieve any kind of force in society as a whole.” (Remember two posts ago, Peter Drucker also saw organizations as key to his government-steered, planned economy and society with education as the transition vehicle). The 1992 program for the “human development project” for Canada and the United States is cited by name and is laid out in a document euphemistically called The Learning Society (because citing to Uncle Karl at that time was considered unwise and his blueprint needed name laundering) and published by CIAR–the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Before we cover those aims, we have another global radical (with a blog tag and a perch at Harvard Law), Roberto Mangabeira Unger, who has also laid out the global transformation vision, including the necessary role of education. He also wants to limit education to “the development of generic capacities by contrast to both training in specialized skills and the passive transmittal of information.” Those latter two traditional purposes of education were thought to impede “wholehearted engagement and action” towards the kind of democratic experimentalism Unger laid out in his 1998 book Democracy Realized: the progressive alternative. I bought that book after a mention of it because I recognized Unger’s influence (he was a professor at Harvard when both the Obamas were in law school there) and all the references we have encountered in the education reforms to democracy as the goal and progressive, polyphonic federalism (Jan 28, 2015 post) as the means to get around the US Constitution.
Reading the book I can recognize how closely what Unger wants ties with the actual pushes I am seeing now at the state and local levels in the US. At one point Unger stated specifically that US states were already pursuing his vision of democratic experimentalism by transforming institutions. Unger made it crystal clear he wanted the obstructions of the US political system’s “checks and balances” that impede social transformations aimed at restructuring property and social relations to be disregarded and overriden. That is something we should all keep in mind as the federal government sends money to states and cities and governors, legislators, mayors, and city councils all pursue comparable reforms to what Unger laid out at the necessary, “decentralized”, local level.
With the formal sponsors of the Common Core and several federal agencies all now pushing Competency as the goal of both K-12 and higher ed for all students, let’s keep in mind Unger’s desire for and definition of generic capacities for all. “Such capacities may be practical as well as conceptual [think of Enduring Understandings, Understanding by Design, and core disciplinary ideas in the current implementation], and they include the core substantive tools of learning. The heart of this education in capacities is the transfiguration of the actual by the imagination of the possible. In natural science and social and historical study we come to understand how and why things work by discovering the conditions under which each thing can become something else.” Adapt. Evolve. That certainly puts the C3 Social Studies Framework, Next Generation Science Standards http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/03/teaching_the_next_generation_s.html , and the APUSH controversy over its new, divisive conceptual framework in the light of their true transformative mindset purposes, doesn’t it?
Actual, factual knowledge and a logical, Axemaker Mind are apparently as much an impediment to all these plans as that pesky US Constitution. By the way, the abstract for The Learning Society specifically mentioned “educating the population for new competencies” so I am not just interpreting Unger or Fullan’s “generic capacities” as fitting the definition of Competency. The basic developmental needs that are not just a floor for everyone, but also the desired ceiling so that herd-defying individuals cannot be transformation barriers in the way of social experimentation, are listed as the following outcomes: “the ability to make effective social connections with others, competence in the tools and skills of the culture and the opportunity to make productive use of them, good coping skills, healthy response patterns in the face of stress [grit? perseverence?], perceived control over one’s life, a sense of psychological well-being, and good self-esteem.”
I have previously pointed out that the Inclusive Prosperity vision (Feb 22, 2015 post) fits Marx’s Human Development Model perfectly and that it is alarming that in December 2013 the UK and US made achieving “subjective well-being” the new purpose of governments (Dec 23, 2013 post). The year after the dissolution of the USSR and 3 years after the Berlin Wall fell, we got a vision of wholesale social and economic, nonconsensual transformation, that stated that “reconceptualizing the nature of learning and the relationship between collective and individual development” provides the “knowledge base for moving our own society forward.” It just so happens that that reconceptualized “learning” fits with the parameters laid out by the QEM Project from the last post so that Uncle Karl’s vision can be shrouded and compelled by interpretations of federal civil rights laws.
The Learning Society foresaw this convenient cover and mentioned the “overdue recognition that as a society, we need to include previously excluded groups on an equitable basis, particularly indigenous peoples and those from minority cultures.” The previous paragraph had discussed the need for a Learning Society to deal with “the problems associated with large scale immigration, with poverty, and with unemployment are increasing.” Collectivism is thus the answer for the very problems governments created in the first place with previous bad policies. Since the Learning Society has little use for what an individual wants, why do governments want prosperity and economic growth? “To ensure that they create sufficient wealth to support a broad range of social, medical, and human services.” No mention of the added bonus of funding lots of public sector pensions for the dispensers of those services.
The return of a surreptitious School to Work emphasis now at the state level after the controversies when it was pushed at the federal level in the 90s makes perfect sense when we read this vision from the 1992 blueprint. “The creation of new ideas and applications is in turn dependent on the availability of a highly skilled and motivated workforce and its orchestrated deployment across a broad array of scientific and industrial tasks.” No wonder those generic capacities are all about “tasks and executions” in Unger’s vision of the needed progressive education and the emancipatory school. Serfs had to stay where they were commanded and we Americans now get to be deployed as “orchestrated” to meet everyone’s “needs.”
So add to the reams of source materials I lay out in my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon on how the Cold War did not end quite as advertised, this Learning Society vision. Who precisely did win if the “main objectives of a CIAR program in human development” to be implemented starting in 1992 in Canada and the US is to “reconceptualize the dynamics of collective and individual human development”?
If governments at all levels, and the organizations they are creating and funding, are dedicated to creating an “ability to motivate and organize all members of a society, in an innovative fashion,” did we escape from the Cold War still, factually, a free people?
Especially if taxpayer-funded education and a new definition of Learning binding all of us at the level of our minds and personalities is the declared, intended vehicle.
Perhaps “Not Serfs Yet” as our motto was a premature boast?