Part 1 of How to Mount an Invisible Political Coup: Contemplative Education

What do I mean by contemplative education? Exactly what you fear I mean. And this is not a matter of personal religious preferences. This is a matter of the same individuals pushing social and emotional learning in the classroom as a legally mandated component of education reform and the Whole Child initiative of the Common Core. Then turning around and pushing the same programs and practices as core components of incorporating Buddhist and Eastern spirituality practices directly into the classroom.

Somehow it is deemed “secular” though because although the teachers may get lessons on “Educating the Whole Person in the 21st Century: An Evening with Sraddhalu Ranade” or Shamatha techniques to enhance meditation, you just ditch that B word at the classroom door. But you deliberately keep the practices. Which means the intentions come right along with it. Whatever the parents and students and teachers targeted through professional development are told.

And this is not an aberration either. As the 2012 article “Contemplative Practices and Mental Training: Prospects for American Education” makes clear, this is where 21st Century Skills is actually going. This is where CASEL’s work (see tag to right) is going and the article was written by founders and affiliates of CASEL. Also the creator of PATHS that I wrote about here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ goes back and forth pushing the practices as creating New Agey Mindfulness for entities like the Garrison Institute (where Systems Thinking Advocate Peter Senge serves on the Board) and then calling it SEL, depending on the audience. Same with Inner Resilience’s Linda Lantieri. Just look at the back and forth on her schedule in recent years. Contemplative Education also cites Tools of the Mind as one of its amenable programs. Being introduced like PATHS in Kindergartens and elementary schools.

These articles I will mention today make it clear that the metacognitive skills that David Conley also calls College and Career Ready   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/now-more-than-five-years-into-an-attempt-to-help-organize-a-near-total-revision-of-human-behavior/ are also to be grounded in these contemplative practices. So this is not a lurid detail designed to get you alarmed about what’s really taking place in K-12 education. Instead as this 2010 Mind and Life Summer Conference brochure makes clear, creating these “mental skills and socio-emotional dispositions that we believe are central to the aims of education in the 21st century” becomes the whole point of preschool and the K-12 years.

And it’s not just students being targeted, educators will also be expected to use these contemplative practices.http://www.mindandlife.org/pdfs/sri_conference_brochure_2010.pdf That’s you teachers, like it or not. Apparently such practices foster those to be mandated “communities of practice” that determine who is an effective principal. No coercion there. Just look at the pictures and speakers and topics and tell me how you would ever turn this into “secular” practices.

All of this is to be introduced first and then investigated to “explore the development of mind and the effect of contemplative practices on mind, behavior, brain, learning, and health of young people and those who care for and educate them.” And if that sounds like students are to be made into guinea pigs of the State, all these articles I have mentioned so far want and expect that these regular practices and experiences in the classroom will produce physical changes to the brain. Specifically the Prefrontal Cortex that we already knew CASEL wanted to target. We were just missing where these practices originated.

There is no ambiguity here that “Many people believe that the kind of education needed in the 21st century includes developmental outcomes well beyond academic learning, including young people’s social, emotional, and ethical development.” The cite after the quote is to Nel Noddings (who also has her own tag), thus making it quite clear that this Contemplative Education push aligns to what is called the Student Wellbeing Initiative in Australia. Explained here about a year ago.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-education-transforms-values-and-feelings-and-beliefs-to-control-behaviors-are-we-free/

The articles make it clear that these physical neural changes to the brain are hoped for as a means of fostering compassion and empathy for others and other politically manipulable “prosocial behaviors.” It does rather feel like something that belongs in a book or short story of science fiction, doesn’t it? And not coming to a classroom or school (including privates. I saw the list) with the intention of “bringing together the converging disciplines of developmental neuroscience, contemplative traditions, education, and social and emotional learning our goal is to create a synergy to inspire and support rigorous research and action to support the development of the whole person (including both students and educators) within more caring and effective families and school communities.”

And yes the word “Growth” which is to be how students are now measured, and what the feds have decreed teacher effectiveness be tied to, is used over and over again in all these Contemplative Education papers. Virtually synonymous with what constitutes “positive habits of the mind and heart.” Or “more adaptive brain functioning and prosocial behavior.”  Here’s one more link since what is sought really does have to be seen to be fully appreciated  http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/component/docman/doc_view/62-developmental-issues-in-contemplative-education-april-2008?Itemid=66

To link this even further to our earlier discussions of global awareness and global competency, the 2010 MLSRI brochure even mentions that at this point ” the use of contemplative practices in educational settings is hypothesized to promote resilience, decrease at-risk behavior, and cultivate positive qualities.” Just a theory in other words and thus ripe for research in American classrooms determined to squelch individualism and the rational mind. The brochure then goes on to mention that this desire for research was the topic of a 2009 “agenda-setting meeting in Washington, DC that brought together world renowned developmentalists, educators, neuroscientists, and contemplatives including HH Dalai Lama.” then it cites to the website created to commemorate that meeting. How’s this for a name that gives up Intentions? educatingworldcitizens.org .

Since popping over to that site might be inconvenient at the moment, let me tell you what you would find. A conference with the title “Educators, Scientists and Contemplatives Dialogue on Cultivating a Healthy Mind, Brain and Heart.” And if you still do not believe this will permeate the actual implementation of the Common Core and related global ed reforms, how about sponsorship by the Ed Schools at Harvard, Stanford, UVa, Penn State, and U-Wisc/Madison? How about the college at George Washington where Communitarian Amitai Etzioni teaches (also has his own tag). Rounding up the list of sponsors are CASEL and the American Psychological Association.

Finally, since we just had a poignant July 4 holiday in the US where many of us saw symbols but not enough celebration of the integrity of what the Declaration of Independence really means, there is the overall title of the conference.

Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century

Who apparently are no longer to know what freedom from government oversight and direction actually means.

At least that’s the current intention. Getting on to being time for a Civil Insurrection. Because clearly without one we are about to get invisible mental and psychological ones.

 

Placing a Global Bet that Psychology Infused Via Education Can Change Human Beings and their Institutions

Supposedly for the better which is why the initiative is called Positive Psychology to sound inspirational. But citing back to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers’ work as foundational makes this push about more than instilling good work habits and hope. This Organizational Development (OD) push, that Appreciative Inquiry from the last post and systems thinking a la the higher profile Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer are an intrinsic part of, plans to act on the theory that human beings can be changed for the better. Globally but especially the US.

And it fully intends to try using the Global Quest for Educational Excellence and all those poorly understood international tests like PISA and TIMSS as the drivers of change. While you are thinking it’s about finally getting more knowledgeable students who are better at reading or math, these taxpayer funded visionaries have figured out how to also use Positive Behavior Interventions and Positive School Climate Executive Orders and data collection around Student Growth to drive continuous improvement toward “inspiring and shared moral purposes.” How very communitarian.

Apparently all the hyping about closing the Achievement Gap is just a ruse. Instead, the US CCSSI is part of a global attempt at “establishing the new and eclipsing the old in human systems.” So exciting that it really was italicized just like that in the 2010 Framework document I am describing today.  Coupled to a 2012 book by two Boston College professors called The Global Fourth Way laying out what really makes for a high performing school system. Hint: it’s not what you know but what you feel and are willing to do about it. Supposedly equitable outcomes for ALL students and Deweyan Quality Learning that changes the Whole Personality are just the thing that will “produce the economic and social outcomes that are essential for economic dynamism, social cohesion, and democratic ways of life.”

And before you get excited about the economic dynamism aspect during this Great Recession you should know it is premised on the idea that “going green might well become the biggest business opportunity of the twenty-first century.” Or not as all those bankruptcies from ventures like Fisker and Solyndra that got tax dollars in the 2009 Stimulus Act should show.

So once again the education component that is the real Common Core implementation is tied into a political and social upheaval that is not being advertised and an economic vision that shows no likelihood of working. No matter how many AI Summits like “Green City on a Blue Lake” cities like Cleveland hold envisioning a new green future and an extension of relatedness that will somehow save the Inner Cities and economic blight. The vision, that has Positive Psychology architect, Marty Seligman of UPenn (save Philly somehow please!) and David Cooperrider (a Taos Institute founder and Case Western, in Cleveland, prof), reportedly giving speeches to lots of famous companies, the US Army and Navy and the US Environmental Agency (no wonder it now plans with systems thinking), and the UN Global Compact among others around 2010, is called Innovation-inspired Positive Organization Development. Or IPOD as they call it to create an “economy and ecology of strengths.”

I wonder if they put their IPOD speeches on an IPad? Sorry. That IPOD Framework even mentioned that there was a “recent business leaders meeting at the UN to collaboratively design the future.” I guess it’s not collusion when it is for a good cause like Sustainability and preserving current markets. Which we should all keep in mind every time you hear “Business needs the Common Core or 21st Century Skills or Career Pathways.” This is SO not about what is best for our individual futures. In fact that’s why you keep hearing all these references to organizations. According to IPOD’s vision, organizations like schools and businesses are to become:

“institutions that serve to bring our highest human strengths into the world in a magnified way…They exist to serve a life-enriching purpose, and accomplish things no individual set of strengths can accomplish alone.”

Oh, I don’t know about that. An individual mind can be quite intrepid which is truthfully the whole problem with the old transmission of knowledge curriculum. It’s the real reason it must be jettisoned in the 21st century. None of these people want herd-defying individuals figuring things out without authorization or creating world-altering technology breakthroughs without permission. So they take Uncle Karl’s human development theory and give it a new disguise that sounds inspiring. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ .

The IPOD approach to change then is to be “collaborative [like group projects and Communities of Learners], educational based on experiential learning [hands on projects! service learning for credit!], dialogical [Courtney Cazden's discourse classroom community], and contextually conditioned upon inquiry [just like a good IB Learner!] into the relevant content and process of a human system.”

No wonder we keep hearing a requirement for relevance and a link to real world problems. You get the IPOD, Fourth Way, vision implemented without having to mention it or get approval. Thus the IPOD framework says the “DNA pulsating through” it can be described by three essential features:

1. That special spirit of inquiry [they do love italics for emphasis] that seeks “to learn, experiment, seek feedback and build shared understanding through dialogue and open exploration of things that may never have been collectively explored.” How expensive and unproductive if simply based on the feelings of deliberately created Know-Nothings. Next.

2. The collaborative design of the future. Now this impossibility is based on the very accurate observation that “people build their commitment to change in direct proportion to the degree that they are actively engaged in designing the change.” Which is why you are unlikely to get the PTA President or members of your local School Council to listen to you when you point out, for example, that Spence Rogers’ own books cite Mao as a good example of leadership and that makes him a poor choice for teacher professional development.

The collaboration also primes all participants for the “assumed centrality of interdependence in organizational life” to force recognition that it is “the quality of the relationships, the processes–how the relationships give or deplete life” that make a human system work. No wonder relationships are one of the new 3 R’s along with Relevance and the imaginative Rigor [think of that Spirit of Inquiry above as what Rigor is really about].

3. A positive view of the human being. Now this is the age old question that has kept philosophers speculating for centuries. You will be glad to know that IPOD comes down on the side not supported by history. IPOD has not only “proclaimed a belief in people” from its “infancy.” It goes on to [this is a little long but it is a vision worth quoting in full. Maslow to Marx with the behavioral sciences thrown in to boot]

“Insofar as we might discover the conditions that help bring out the best in life–for example, Abraham Maslow’s studies into peak experiences–then we might well be able to apply this knowledge in our institutions. Drawing from the entire mosaic of the social sciences–from anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and biology and more–OD would be unique in not only propagating a collaborative, inquiry-driven approach to change but would be centered on advancing the developmental potentials of the human being. [And you thought I was being sarcastic about Uncle Karl or his 20th century leading advocate Erik Erikson and why they matter to CCSSI] Instead of being woven at random, like an afterthought design into our economic and organizational fabric, human development would be at the center. Lines would radiate out from the human dimension to all the others–the economic, technological, strategic, structural, political, etc.”

That would be truly all-encompassing and people focusing on who owns the means of production are not keying in on what parts of Marx’s vision are back for a 21st Century run.  The framework also mentions the good prof Csik as a key component of this positive psychology vision http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/ . Why look, excellence just like the Fourth Way. What a coincidence. Not.  But it also notes that for a new OD as described here to “truly emerge, it would need a new human science knowledge base.”

Well, guess what? All that data being thrown off –measuring Student Growth or soft skills or attitudes, values, and beliefs and continuous improvement in PBIS or PATHS and other “mental health first aid” or social and emotional learning curricula as we see from CASEL– is just what OD needs to be its “human science knowledge base.” No wonder ICT vendors are so excited. No wonder the accreditors now require its collection. And the US federal government by requiring teacher evals based on “multiple measures of Student Growth.”

Should it trouble us that the World Economic Forum just put out a report on creating the 21st century economy around ICT and Big Data? Coincidences surely abound these days.

Well No Wonder No One Listens to Common Core Complaints if It is Tied to Federal Revenue Sharing

A New Vision for Federal Revenue Sharing with state and local governments to drive future economic and workforce development being cleverly marketed as “Race to the Shop.” That’s a play on the accompanying education vision that bribed or threatened the states to adopt the Common Core in the first place under the education Race to the Top set up in the 2009  Stimulus Act. Turns out that’s not all it set up, apparently it also set up a new Regional Race to the Top for all America’s regions (bold and Italics in original to show the excitement for this vision of shared prosperity based on a clean energy economy). In fact it’s to “be a truly ‘New’ New Deal, [but] government cannot go it alone, it can only serve as a key partner and catalyst.” With your redistributed tax dollars or public debt I would add.

Now before I get further into this political and cronyism dream at all levels of American government that is explicitly tied into the 21st Century Skills agenda (it’s actually on the cover of the September 2010 working paper from the Tides Foundation project–the New Policy Institute), I want to quote a particularly juicy passage that highlights how these initiatives stifle complaints and encourage cooperation about any related aspect like the Common Core:

“Deeply engage the private sector as a critical solutions partner in addressing these systemic changes, or risk a continuing and negative narrative that these efforts are simply wasteful public sector programs.”

That’s your money going to make sure no one aware of these tie-ins has any incentive to complain. Because this Acceleration Agenda “does not simply call for more federal revenue-sharing with the states. The changes we need to accelerate private-led innovation in regions and communities do not begin, or end, there.”

Truer words were never spoken as the Acceleration Agenda lays out Multi-State regions (10 in all), Clean Economic Development Visions, and Economic Acceleration Zones. Like High Speed Rail and making the SW the Saudi Arabia of Solar. What a boondoggle. Those of you with a background in economics may recognize all this for what it is–the explicit adoption of an Industrial Policy vision by the US with its known Cronyism and benefits to political favorites or necessary adversaries. And the report acknowledges just that with the following chilling quote:

“So is the Acceleration Agenda a new “industrial policy”? Do such labels really matter? We hope not–there is too much on the line for our economy to be bogged down in over-simplified debates from the past.”

Now the historian in me would point out that’s not the subject of debates so much as lessons from the past about the sheer waste of public money that comes with an Industrial Policy. But I actually correctly pegged the education vision last May as related to Industrial Policy and a Dirigiste vision for the economy. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-adam-smith-write-a-book-explaining-why-this-is-a-bad-idea-back-in-1776/ and http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-the-world-makes-far-more-sense-if-you-add-dirigisiste-to-the-things-you-understand/ . What I never in a million years suspected was that I would come across a report openly declaring it while stating “Obamism at its core is largely about bottom-up change rather than top-down change.” Wow, Harry Boyte must be pleased.

Now I know this vision has been around since the 60s. It’s not an invention of this Administration but wanting to name it after the President tells us just how much potential for successful political coalitions using your money is seen here. In fact, looking at the full vision and the Go-Fast Model, it’s hard not to remember the high urban turnout in the last Presidential election. No wonder. A vision of federal money, private sector, and community foundations together using, and again I quote, the “transformational, low carbon project…serves a key project screen.”

Doesn’t that word “screen” sound like “excuse?” The reason for remaking the nature of the American economy and political structure all while engaging in Mind Arson in preschool, K-12, and higher ed? Whatever is necessary to make sure the designated providers in this 21st Century system get the workers they want while never again having to worry about a better product or invention upsetting their revenue dreams?

You know how for sports contests we see the label “Designated Provider of X. Event? You know what I mean. This utterly reeks of being the designated cellphone provider or operating system provider or Smart Grid provider. Protecting and preserving current business. But it actually gets worse believe it or not because all of this is also tied to the renewal of our urban areas as part of creating start-ups to be the component “middleware” to “connect government and business in the 21st Century economy.” Which brings me to what pulled up this Revenue Sharing 2.0 to get to the Next Economy vision. It is called “Inclusive Competitiveness” and it was announced a few weeks ago at the SXSWedu Summit in Austin.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-green/sxswedu-launches-next-big_b_2765038.html?view=print&comm_ref=false is the story laying out the vision of how all this will Save America’s Black Boys, be part of a permanent “Black Innovation Group,” and create a Pipeline2Productivity and Urban Innovation.”

And I genuinely wish urban areas and America’s Black Boys the best possible future they can have but tying it to economic redistribution while simultaneously trying to spread the bad education policies and practices that have destroyed urban systems to the suburbs just means OPM, Other Peoples Money, will run out sooner than this plan accounts for. It would be so much better to teach those Black Boys and everyone else’s children how to read properly and provide a solid curriculum like the Core Knowledge. You just cannot get me excited about what this Project 21 vision is going to do for Cleveland which is where the affiliated Nortech is based when I know the Cleveland Schools are pushing social and emotional learning in their classrooms as the vision of how all children can learn. You cannot push PATHS–Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies–for all kids in all classrooms and then pretend that these urban kids are being left behind despite an academic focus.

But that’s the poignant cry for what is wrong with our urban areas. And Project 21, which used to be known as the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative, is the supposed answer to linking Urban America to the 21st Century Economy. Does this look like reparations to anyone else? Using the “low carbon project as the screen” as the Acceleration Agenda report put it. Whatever the rationale this gushing of federal dollars to launch public-private partnerships resulted in “Five Private-Sector Initiatives Launched at First White House Tech Inclusion Summit” held on January 31, 2013.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/04/five-private-sector-initiatives-launched-first-white-house-tech-inclusion-summit .

One of those, the Activate Local Communities Across America Initiative, picked Portland, Oregon to be its pilot city. That would be the same Portland that has been committed to cutting edge education pushes for decades. Discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/now-more-than-five-years-into-an-attempt-to-help-organize-a-near-total-revision-of-human-behavior/ But Portland is also considered to be the shining star of the Urban Planning, Agenda 21, Regional Equity, and what is now called Metropolitanism movements. All based on a Low-Carbon Economy of the Future centered on Producers, not Consumers, the Brookings Institute’s Bruce Katz said at a breakfast I attended and also wrote about. Curiously Katz is also the coiner of that catchy expression Race to the Shop above to fit the manufacturing and workforce development component of all this planning and redistributing.

Now ALC is also known as Accelerate Local Communities ( I guess it depends on how stagnant a region is right now as this is all ramping up). ALC is also listed as being a collaboration with Microsoft. Which is concerning since they are among the primary partners in the students only need generic 21st Century Skills like Collaboration and Creativity international movement (ATC21S). And that Tech Inclusion Summit is being sold in the inner cities as bringing STEM jobs to urban communities. http://atlantadailyworld.com/201302083703/Business/white-house-tech-inclusion-summit-unveils-private-sector-initiatives-to-bridge-gap-in-stem

Now I did not write this story because I wanted to rain on the race to the Green Gold Rush as a report called it. Although that does seem like a worthy venture. But this vision of new revenue sharing and dictates of where jobs must be, and everyone assuming that with credentials jobs will come, are all simultaneously destroying the actual knowledge and skills and freedoms and certainties that ignite real widespread prosperity. Given the percentage of the federal budget that represents borrowing, this redistributed money to build and pay off political coalitions does not really exist except as an obligation for future taxpayers. But in the meantime it really is going in someone’s pocket. Many of them campaign contributors at every level of government. Just like Solyndra.

The money WILL run out and sooner than expected. And then where will we be? After all, mind arson is not just a provocative expression I came up with to stir up antipathy for the Common Core. It really does describe what has been deliberately going on in urban schools for decades. But with the actual Common Core I keep describing, and those new, poorly understood, assessments (also financed by that 2009 Stimulus Act), mind arson is coming to the suburbs to take down every school where minds are still being nourished regularly with solid content.

Then where will we be? I keep mentioning consuming seed corn for a reason. What happens to a country when the cultivated famine is mental and widespread? Especially when the most able students were the particular targets for levelling.

We appear to be about to find out.

Will Your Schools Be Used as an Information Age Experiment for Economic Democracy?

That title comes out of a 2004 essay published in Columbia’s Teachers College Record laying out the desired “Pedagogical Praxis” to use computers and other ICT technology in the classroom to reinvigorate John Dewey’s 1915 idea of linking school with society. The idea is that we are living in a technological Postindustrial society that calls for different habits of mind and understandings than in the past.  And let there be no doubt, the author, an AI prof by the name of David W Shaffer, said explicitly that “the approach is psychological” and involves the social and moral development of students. Which really does sound like what the Canadians have acknowledged is the real common core being imposed on global education–new values, attitudes, and beliefs. Another prof we will get to today added changed “mores” to that list as well.

Apparently we all need changed beliefs for the 21st century as Goodwin Liu alluded to when he called for something like CCSSI-the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/ Which is certainly convenient as yesterday a US federal government commission released a report called “For Each and Every Child” that talked about using CCSSI to get the US K-12 “system” to “distribute opportunity equitably” so there would cease to be “disparities in student outcomes.” http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/eec/equity-excellence-commission-report.pdf Now people are different and long-time readers know I have talked a good bit about what Excellence in education really means. See Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi in tags. No you do not have to pronounce his name. Everyone just calls the prof Csik as it is easier. All joking aside Csik’s view of Excellence aligns perfectly with Shaffer’s view of a psychological moral and social development focus in the classroom to change students from the inside out.

Now conveniently this highly intrusive report that reenvisions the Government-Citizen and federal/state/local roles in so many areas that the ground at Montpelier, Va may have shaken yesterday sees technology and its use in the classroom as the key to gaining Equity and Excellence. You probably should check which tech stocks were up yesterday as vendors rejoiced at such an access to taxpayer coffers. OK. Less sarcasm as we hear the call for “technology systems that support learning.” There will be absolutely no references to BF Skinner and his call for using computers to be Teaching Machines delivering Operant Conditioning to the students to benefit the politically connected’s vision for the future. Ooops. Sorry. I guess it was an unconscious response to seeing that word Learning in that federal report since we know it means changes in values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s almost like there is a theme going here.

Now many of the reports and books pushing ICT in the classroom as the primary emphasis cite back to a 1988 book by a Harvard business prof called In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power. Such cited support is intended to pave the way for a no questions school ICT implementation mere mortals without a Cambridge pedigree may not question. Unfortunately the systems thinkers at MIT had already, through footnotes, pointed me in Zuboff’s direction. I had her book and knew it aspired to use the new ICT technology and its ability to “informate” as she calls it and not just automate to change the nature of employee-employer work relations. She wants it to move away from hierarchical, managerial relationships in the workplace to collaboration as a “learning community.” So to her ICT is the hoped for avenue to the Democratic Vision in the Workplace and Industrial Democracy and she cites her own work as well as openly socialist labor leaders like Robert Schrank among others.

Which is her privilege but that aspiration for a new society and a new economy rather goes along with her vision for the role of ICT. It goes with the visions of the Equity Commission too given the number of times that report mentioned “levelling the playing field.” It fits with Goodwin Liu’s vision for a social citizenship obligation he wants to see accepted in a new interpretation of the 14th Amendment. So once again the cite to Zuboff merely reenforces our developing sense that the ICT push is not about getting everyone ready for the 21st century. Maybe it’s to get enough people primed to envision a nonhierarchical workplace but that may also not function very well in practice. But how would the typical student know that?

Zuboff tells the stories of numerous plants and companies transitioning away from the world of physical activity to produce products to a computerized production. Now the workers watch a computer screen and many, over time, especially those without a background in the physical production processes, lose touch with the reality those screen images represent. She writes about the disorientation. When I read that passage I immediately reverse engineered the effect on students of the schools pushing virtual reality and gaming and so much use of a computer. Wouldn’t those students likewise come to believe that reality acted much like the simulations they were creating? That the world could be made to behave like the designed models and programs they had been immersed in? Some almost from birth given the ubiquity of screens among the toddler set in the grocery store now.

Isn’t the insistence on using devices and tablets and reflecting popular culture at school just going to prime these students further? Won’t many student have trouble separating real social systems that consist of independent individuals and millions of consumer transactions that are not programs and were never designed from the online models about Society and the Economy and the Ecosystem? Especially since the reformers now want students to spend so much of their school day in virtual worlds too?

That was my concern and then the next step in my pursuit of what is really going on led to a 2009 book–Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. Now that book is being pushed by some of the biggest names in American education over the last 20 years. It makes no bones about pushing for the fulfillment of Dewey’s dream to use school to change the nature of American society toward economic democracy. It’s as if the entire 20th century nightmare of governments trying to remake human nature and shift the emphasis to the collective that occurred after Dewey wrote his theories never happened. Let’s try again. This time with the magic ICT technology and already industrialized societies instead of agricultural ones.

Do you think that will really make all the difference in likely outcomes? Even if I am alone out on this limb frantically trying to call attention to where the Common Core in the US and education globally is really going? Now Professor James Paul Gee who we met before with his insistence that there really is no such thing as discrete individuals, http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/ , is cited in Rethinking Education. The writers are explaining the envisioned push in the classroom for computer gaming that has now become such an unappreciated part of the actual planned Common Core implementation. The idea is that computer “simulation is the key to letting learners explore new situations.” So the computer gets used to let students explore various possibilities for the world of the future. Unfortunately reenforcing beliefs that reality can likewise be redesigned to reflect desired assumptions.

Mentioned among the useful possibilities for video gaming in the classroom is “draw players into roles that may conflict with everyday values and encourage players to notice the gap with their own beliefs.” There are listed war games that will allow the player to “switch sides to take on the perspective of the enemy.” I would assert the enemy is probably not created to reflect reality by people who also push PATHS to PAX SEL programs from our previous post or the Peaceable Classroom. Especially since the purpose of switching sides is to see the “conflict from multiple perspectives.”

Other programs are to involve “local environmental and social issues” where students will be urged to “co-create the world they inhabit.” Market economies and self-policing communities are also mentioned for the virtual world. I will let you guess how realistic the assumptions written into the programs are likely to be. And how many students will really recognize the assumptions factored into what is truly a Designed and Created Social System. That is likely a far cry from the real world the students do have to live in.

Now all this designing and reimagining is about to take us to an MIT prof who seems to function much like the Rosetta Stone for figuring out where all this is going. And we are going back to both Cambridge Cousins and more than one of the graduate programs at both places. And the continued dominance of Systems Thinking. In business and education and apparently, the planners hope, in society itself.

I hate to stop here but our Planning Prof who actually wrote his PhD dissertation in the 50s on John Dewey and his inquiry method is just too important. He came up in too many places we talked about today and deserves his own post.

I feel like humming that tune about being able to see clearly now after rain has come.

 

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies: Is This Really Mental Health First-Aid?

Let’s say the political transformation truth came out instead of talking about the Common Core as a means of creating common content expectations from state to state using common tests (neither of which happens to be true as I have shown). That is unless you count content as those Life Skills of Psychosocial Competence that now go by 21st Century Skills to sound better and move us towards our planned future. And I actually do mean Planning with all the fervor of a PhD candidate in Urban Studies at an Ivy League school. Maybe one of the Cambridge Cousins where too many profs have been enthralled with Systems Thinking and Theorizing and trying to get people’s behavior to fit the computer models for decades.

But no we can’t make it about 21st century skills up front as the reason because that P21 Partnership was going over like a lead balloon as attendees at conferences kept wondering “Where’s the content knowledge?” So P21 said it was folding up shop and leaving its Tucson home where it was in such close proximity to Peter Senge’s version of Systems Thinking. That it would just move into the CCSSO’s offices in DC. And thanks so much for offering the room.

Now some people were relieved and others alarmed since the conflict-laden CCSSO (look at who sponsors it to see what I mean. Hello tech companies and accreditors!) was a co-sponsor of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. And CCSSI is what the states have adopted supposedly to make content consistent. Might P21 influence the implementation? Yes. See previous post. Now we know this CCSSO interest group of the top ed officials from each state have also sponsored several other troubling initiatives that are clearly warping what the classroom implementation will look like. There’s that C3 Social Studies Framework to impact curricula and assessments and give students false beliefs to practice filtering reality through during their school years. There’s CCSSO’s work with the Asia Society on Global Competence and with Harvard’s Project Zero. PZ is also doing Global Citizenship work for IB as you may remember. And saying both its IB and CCSSO work can just go by the name Global Consciousness. Just call me “Robin Reads A Lot.”

We are going to talk about Consciousness in this post. Cultivating it with the desired concepts and filtering metaphors and desired values, attitudes, and beliefs. For a collective, common-good primary orientation. And actively manipulating it when the Mind that Came from Home has undesired beliefs and is too independent. Maybe they deny an Obligation to All Humanity or maybe their dad is a Physics prof wondering how it is Science to have no interest in actual data that is inconsistent with the hypothesis that increasing carbon dioxide because of man’s activities must lead to catastrophic consequences.

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/01/09/0956797612452864.full.pdf+html is an article published recently  in Psychological Science by some Stanford profs (do you think they know Paul Ehrlich or Bandera or Roy Pea or Linda Darling-Hammond?) discovering that interdependent action and awareness is not such a good motivator in Western countries, especially the US. This research was funded by our ubiquitous and increasingly interested in our personal behavior and changing it federal agency–the National Science Foundation. The article closes like this:

“For interdependent action to become chronically motivating, it needs to be valued and promoted in American worlds and by American selves to the same extent as independence is. Until interdependence is more consistently and effectively represented in the ideas, practices, products, and institutions–that is, the culture of the American mainstream, successfully encouraging the perspective that our destiny is “stitched together” may require invoking independent behavior to achieve interdependent ends.”

Like those the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior or the Belmont Challenge or the International Human Dimensions Programme are all pursuing now with our tax money as I have described? All eyeing education as the answer to the mindsets they need? What are the odds of all this being coincidental? Especially when I add in that the UK in 2001 got a much more up front standard to prompt all the social and emotional change and interdependent emphasis. No slipping through the windows and chimney and unpublicized Executive Orders as in the US. No, the “Standards in Scotland’s School Bill (2001) indicates that education should be directed at the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person encouraging the development of their fullest potential.”

Now any similarities to Uncle Karl’s Human Development Theory we have discussed are wholly coincidental. It’s not like anyone with influence over British education at that time missed Marxism and the influence it had wielded. So this passage brings in intrapersonal and interpersonal skills and Educating the Whole Child and Emotional Intelligence. So the Brits and the Scots and the Aussies and the Canadians all looked at the veterans in developing such curriculums. The Americans. We have CASEL and the recommended Responsive Classroom program. Oh but back in 2001 it would have been known by its earlier name, Peaceable Classroom based on esr’s decades of Conflict Resolution and Social Responsibility work. Or there is PBIS or also Positive Behavior Support Systems. Especially popular in Colorado where the McREL ed lab pushes it as a useful tool of Second-Order Change in education.

Then there is PATHS which those Scots had turned to. PATHS is more than 2 decades old and is considered an ABCD model for the classroom–the affective/behavioural/cognitive/dynamic model of development–”placing primary importance on the developmental integration of affect, the vocabulary of emotion and cognitive understanding as they relate to social and emotional competence.” PATHS is not just for deficit urban areas although that is where it was researched on children and still gets used. See Cleveland last week.  http://www.air.org/files/Avoid_Simple_Solutions_and_Quick_Fixes_Osher_January_2013.pdf . PATHS also gets promoted now by the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention. And we know from an Ed Week article from a few weeks ago “Making Mental Health Part of the School Safety Solution” that all these SEL curricula are to be used as Mental Health First-Aid, supposedly to make the chances of another Sandy Hook or Columbine less likely.  Long-time readers know Colorado and CT are awash in SEL and other change the student’s personality and have been for a long time.

Why does it always come back to personality development? Beyond the clear connection to Uncle Karl’s aspirations for “creating something that has never yet existed”? I found 3 different passages from 3 sources to be stunningly illuminating on what is really going on. The first came from an essay on “The Changing Vision of Education”:

“We want the concepts, values, and skills of global education to be learned in a deep and genuine way that becomes part of each learner’s repertoire for acting in the world. As David Elkind says, once growth by integration has been accomplished, it is difficult–if not impossible–to break it down.”

Remember that mention of what Growth means because that is the new measure of the effectiveness of what happens in classrooms. Is student growth occurring? And there is nothing coincidental about the use of that term. I know because the 1976 book Schooling in Capitalist America spent a great deal of time describing the vision for “balanced human development for fostering general human fulfillment and growth.”  It’s a vision they said was consistent with the “development of a revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.” They were hoping to use education institutions, “social theory, and concrete political practice” to get most of their vision in place without violence. In their “Strategies for Social Change” passage the authors remind us of why educational institutions are so important.

“socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the very same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself.”

And they want that consciousness to become widespread among citizens. Now won’t those ill-structured performance assessments grounded in real-life problems be an excellent means of creating that consciousness? Since socialism is seen by its advocates as a State of Mind. One grounded in emotion. Certainly makes all the deliberate cultivation of false beliefs and mentions of filtering lenses to be practiced with in activities at school make far more sense. It is also consistent with a speech Linda Darling-Hammond gave  about 2009 where she giddily and unwisely mentioned that the Common Core was really about social and emotional learning. That content was just something to practice those behaviors on. The latter point can be clearly seen in documents I have where the continuous improvement is to be in desired behaviors, not knowledge.

We really are being scammed here on the difference between rhetoric and reality. And the sought goals behind closed doors could not be more Transformational. Luckily for us behaving as Miss Marple Who Reads A Lot has been a tremendous source of relevant info.

Now my third point is sort of fun. Remember I have mentioned the UN came out with a World Happiness Report in 2012 trying to get us all primed for transitioning to Quality of Life Societies where our happiness consists in the Wellbeing of All? Yes Kumbayah. Well its co-author, Richard Layard, gave a speech in March 2012 called “Mental health: the new frontier for the Welfare State.” It’s on pdf and youtube.

Which I would suggest puts the idea of Mental Health First-Aid as a daily part of every classroom in a whole new, and apt, light. 21st Century Political power for a desired welfare state. Everywhere.