We are going to shift away from the previous post’s concentration on the active refusal to teach reading properly that has been going on for decades. First though we will look at what Marshall McLuhan openly confessed to in his 1962 global bestseller The Gutenberg Galaxy. The entire book bemoaned the analytical habits of mind and sense of individualism created by phonetic literacy and the advent of print as an obstacle to “total human interdependence” and “corporate responsibility and awareness”. In order for the “highly literate and individualist mind…to become more collectively oriented,” a widespread ability to read print fluently and phonetically had to be jettisoned.
We can all agree that that particular scheme has gone quite well for the Collectively-oriented Statist Schemers. Limiting the ability to read well and independently is a necessary condition for a shift to Collectivism because (to quote mcLuhan again):
“Print is the extreme phase of alphabet culture that detribalizes or decollectivizes man in the first instance…Print is the technology of individualism. If men decided to modify this visual technology by an electric technology [Hint: Like Digital Learning as a required 21st Century Skill?], individualism will also be modified. To raise a moral complaint about this is like cussing a buzz-saw for lopping off fingers.”
Since neither education or buzz-saws operate independently, we do reserve every right to complain about the politicians, principals, and other administrators who are lying to us taxpayers and parents about what they are actually up to. At least a lopped off finger leaves a bloody stub so we can immediately take notice of the damage done. It is so much harder when other elements of the collectivization plans are even less visible than a limited ability or inclination to read. Today we will talk about the global push to use Character Education to “define the core ethical and performance values they most wish to instill in their students.” I bolded the ‘they’ because other people now get to decide what your child is to value and believe at an unconscious level so it will predictably guide behavior going forward.
In my book Credentialed to Destroy in the chapter on the real Common Core implementation, I described how everything I had documented pointed to personal values, attitudes, and beliefs being the true new aim of the curriculum. This post is about more than that and it ties into both the Curriculum Redesign Project we looked at here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/drawing-back-the-standards-curtain-to-discover-the-global-coordination-to-redesign-the-very-nature-of-curriculum/ as well as the Global Education Leaders Programme [see tag]. This also fits closely with the disturbing Education Commission of the States and State Farm Civics Education report we examined in December 1, 2014.
http://www.character.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ElevenPrinciples_new2010.pdf was distributed last week to make sure all schools and officials now understand that a “comprehensive approach uses all aspects of school as opportunities for character development” and that all “academic content and instruction” is integrated with character development and moral reasoning through discussions of ethical issues. The core values to be developed “affirm human dignity, promote the development and welfare of the individual, serve the common good, define our rights and responsibilities in a democratic society, and meet the classical tests of universality (i.e., Would you want all persons to act this way in a similar situation?) and reversibility (i.e., Would you want to be treated this way?)”
Now those are not the requirements written into the US Constitution which is simply being ignored. They are, however, very similar to Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory (developed by a Harvard prof) that the Chinese imposed on Hong Kong students as soon as that lease was up. We know then it is a theory that fits in well with collectivist aspirations and desires for “guiding the behavior of all those in the school community.” Those core values are to be “integrated into all aspects of school life” including the hiring of teachers and “non-teaching staff.”
Principle 2 “defines ‘character’ comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.” Yes, that’s why we keep hearing about Whole Child Initiatives as part of the Common Core. How many parents understand that the Growth and Continuous Improvement the schools are hyping as showing improvement in student achievement are actually a shift of definitions to “a holistic approach to character development therefore seeks to develop the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dispositions required to do the right thing and do one’s best work”? Whose definition of the right thing we reasonably ask? Why the definition used by those seeking Social Justice is the real answer.
How do I know that? Beyond the insistence in Principle 4 that a “school committed to character strives to become a microcosm of a civil, caring, and just society,” I happen to know, as the tenacious lawyer that I am, that the federal government under the civil rights laws and most of the major civil rights groups are all insisting on a commitment from schools to Excellence and Equity. I happen to know that in K-12 education, Excellence has a specific meaning http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/ that quietly dovetails with that redefinition of ‘character’ from Principle 2.
Schools that make academic coursework about helping “students form caring attachments to each other” and “a feeling of responsibility for one another” are laying the foundation for a communitarian society in the near future. A school that leads students to believe that they have a human right to have others satisfy their basic needs and that each student, in turn, has the obligation to meet those basic needs is laying the groundwork for what Uncle Karl and his followers called the Human Development Model http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ That’s not name-calling or a criticism although I do believe it is an unworkable vision. I am simply recognizing as a factual matter the description of what is being advocated for in phrases like
“the school sets aside time for students to assess community needs, create ideas for meeting those needs, plan and coordinate service learning projects, and reflect on the positive consequences of community service.”
The entire vision of what its advocates refer to as Marxist Humanism as a goal for the West’s society and economy is grounded in meeting human ‘needs’. Interestingly, the requirement that all schools must now have “an academic program that helps all students succeed,” even those with what can only charitably be described as inert minds even on a good day, gets expressed in terms of an obligation to meet all students’ needs. Since inert minds are an unfortunate reality, we get the call for “a variety of active teaching and learning strategies” so that participation and projects become the way to deal with inert minds. Quietly and without alerting the parents, social interaction around topics of interest from the real world and ethical issues for the new hoped-for society become the entire point of the classroom and coursework.
We talked about the reasons for wanting to limit reading fluency, but treating words as a whole and doling them out to guide thought ties right into the plan for how the “core values are woven into the literacy curriculum, where students use their reading selections to reflect on the values and on issues of character, such as discrimination, patriotism, and moral courage. In social studies classes, students are expected to act upon the core values as they select and research national or international causes and then work with community members to carry out related service projects.” I do not think it is a stretch to imagine that the reading selections available in the Cloud or put aside as an ELA Task Set will have a deliberate slant to it.
Here, for example, is how elementary school gets reimagined. “Grade-level curriculum guides show how essential questions [from Grant Wiggins' Understanding By Design, See tags] can be tied to ethical issues and specific service learning projects. Students at every level now engage in service as an integral outgrowth of topics they learn in class. In a fifth-grade unit entitled “Let Freedom Ring,” the essential question Why do we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? leads to assignments researching the background of specific amendments and concluding with an advocacy letter written to members of Congress. [We can all just imagine what was advocated for]. In a second-grade class, students respond to a reading assignment about Haiti by raising enough funds to donate 400 pounds of beans to the people in need there. Leary students learn that service is a vital part of good character and meaningful academics.”
I bolded that aspect about “leary students” since we are talking about 7-year-olds who might know a thing or two about what really makes Haiti so dysfunctional and be pondering the chances that any or how much of the 400 pounds will make to those in need there. Well-informed students don’t get to be leary anymore even when they reasonably ought to be. Given this statement: “the school’s approach to student conduct uses all aspects of behavior management–including rule-setting and rule-enforcement–as opportunities to foster students’ character development, especially their understanding of and commitment to core values,” life in K-12 education is about to become very uncomfortable to any students or adults not aboard the collectivist bandwagon.
Previously I mentioned that there is a term for this type of community focused approach–Productive Learning. It’s not particularly productive to the individual student, but it is very productive to the political class laying out what must be done and what may not happen anymore. If we think of this Character Education vision as using K-12 to prepare students to now be members of a Human Development Society, the other crucial aspect of Productive Learning involves preparation for the new Workforce.
We will deal with that aspect next time as we keep tracking the necessary conditions for a transformation away from Individualism as a legitimate 21st Century focus.