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.