Using Education To Create the Behavior Government Officials Want in Future Citizens

Until we begin to better appreciate the Newspeak straight out of George Orwell futurist satire, we will remain subject to having words like Excellence and Quality Learning and Growth and School Improvement masking terrible things. Tragic behavioral and psychological practices being pushed in schools and classrooms right now despite a tragic history. I wrote this post back in early August recognizing where the announced facts were leading, and horrified that ambitious Principals and Supers and naive politicians and greedy professional development vendors are forcing this all again on an unsuspecting American public. The saddest post I ever wrote. Maybe until this one.

Back in November 1992 in the last go-around of national radical ed reform to try to create Transformational political, social, and economic change via education, an essay “How Systems Thinking Applies to Education” described what makes a systems approach to ed reform so different than previous piecemeal attempts at reform.  It announced that the World had moved to a new evolutionary paradigm Stage 4 while schools erroneously acting as “pattern maintenance institutions” were stuck at Stage 3. That schools needed a new paradigm. The essay then goes on to describe what we now recognize as Transformational Outcomes Based Education as that new paradigm. Now, not to pat myself on the back but I have a real love for both history and economics. Passionate lifelong interests and if I were a professor I would give the essay author at best a D+.

The education schemers like to talk about designing backwards from the actual goals for behavior and desired values and beliefs and emotions to what should be taking place now in the classroom to get there. That’s what was going on in 1992 to sell a new paradigm. The real aim was to create Paul Ehrlich’s Newmindedness and remove the Axemaker Mind as we have discussed before. That November 1992 date meant that article would have gone to press about the time of the original Earth Summit in Rio in June 1992. The one that created Agenda 21 and laid out the blueprint for reorganizing the global societies politically and economically around the Environment and Sustainability. Education was explicitly to be a recognized tool  in this Transformation.

That’s the end goal driving the so-called new paradigm for education then and now. It’s aspirational. It’s to justify an attack on the noetic system in the name of history. Evoking a myth of existing transformation as a means of actually gaining a real transformation by attacking values, attitudes, and beliefs and limiting factual knowledge and opportunities for abstract, logical analysis. That’s what was going on in the 1990s and all the public knew was that there were “reading wars” and “math wars” and “science wars.” The myth was that it was a dispute about instruction. No, we had a political coup being attempted surreptitiously via student minds. They are young adults now and likely have no idea how much their minds have been subject to attack all of their lives.

The 1992 article cites a book Systems Design of Education: A Journey to Create the Future by Bela H Banathy as its support for this new paradigm and a systems approach to education. Guess who happens to have a copy of this 1991 book? So the book acknowledges that it aspires to design schools in order to change people from the inside-out so it can then change society. Officially a Scheme with a capital “S.” The book was trying to design a complete education system to do that which would perform as predictably as your body’s circulatory system or gravity. To perform that predictably, humans need to be deprived of much of what has historically bolstered rational, conscious thought.

The always busy ed lab in Aurora, Colorado, McREL, that is still pushing these ideas as Second-order Change to be part of the Common Core implementation, used Banathy’s book and a systems approach to design (Checkland’s 1981 Systems Thinking Systems Practice) to create A*chieving Excellence. Because a well-stocked, capable of reasoning mind is an obstacle to the sought manipulation, McREL developed a list of what it wanted from each student in this new paradigm. What each student should be able to do, not know. See if these described attributes look familiar–

Access information.

Interpret or decode that information so as to produce understanding.

Process that information so as to reason and solve problems.

Produce a broad range of outcomes and use technology.

Develop his/her own “executive” or “self-regulating” function to: make decisions about himself/herself, set goals, create a positive self-image, monitor and learn from his/her past performance, experience enjoyment, pleasure, excitement, accomplishment, etc.

Work well with other people and things in his/her environment.

Feeling like an officially programmed robot yet? Does this seem like an appropriate role for the federal government? Banathy was the Senior Research Director at the Far West Ed Lab in Portland, Oregon and McREL was another federally funded ed lab. Those were and are your tax dollars funding these Mental Transformation Schemes that amount to deliberate psychological abuse for political or financial gain. For lucrative grants. For a government directed economy.

A*chieving Excellence was still being field tested and pilot tested by McREL when the book was published in1991. We unfortunately though know a lot about which districts and schools in Colorado were piloting Transformational OBE because it came out during the Columbine tragedy. That should have closed the door on such a psychological manipulation of students but it didn’t. In fact, all that seems to really have happened is William Spady went to Australia and South Africa where he was not infamous to push OBE there. And Spence Rogers took over the Vail Summer programs and lucrative professional development franchise and renamed it–Performance Excellence for All Kids or PEAK.

So now I am at a high school open house last night where the Principal sent some teachers for summer PEAK training and now wants to bring PEAK trainers to the high school. The official address to the school excitedly announced that the Teachers are to be trained in the Teaching for Excellence Program. That the IB high school operating in a “charter school system” (that duplicitous charter I have written about too) aspires to lead the way in reforming high school education in the US. That the high school will be based on the new 3 R’s: Relevance, Rigor, and Relationships that we have become so familiar with as key to the collectivist, anti-individual political coup.

Columbine is back. In more places than in just my backyard. How many other schools and districts have similar aspirations this fall but no parent trained to recognize the symptoms and rhetoric?

I have to go gather more information and I have struck solid goal on how key these charter agreements are to the systems Transformational Coup. You can just imagine how chilled to the bone I felt when I heard the words “Dedicated to Excellence in All We Do” from a Principal who obtained his education degree from a school affiliated with John Goodlad’s National Network for Educational Renewal. Goodlad created the term Excellence in the 1960s to mask the largely affective focus he had in mind to move the US to what he and John Dewey and now apparently, the current US President, called small “c” democracy.

Boy we have a lot to talk about. Any advice on how I should handle the high school machinations? See, this is not speculative. It is very real for me too.


Targeting Student Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs to Control Future Behavior

I have long known that the function of Transformational Outcomes Based Education and its close sibling, Systems Thinking, is to be able to predict and control the behavior of future adults. Future voters. To change the prevailing culture in a society by attacking its noetic system. Prevailing feelings, beliefs, and values all get targeted by educational institutions for change to get a lasting change in behavior. Such goals (especially when enforced now via a Data Quality Campaign collecting and monitoring such info) may meet the very definition of Totalitarianism, but honestly, who will know in time? How many people will know that a cognitive goal means your belief system is the target? Or that it became fair game for manipulation by administrators and professors who either aggressively deplore capitalism and individuality, or do not understand the importance of either, and just want their paycheck and promotions.

As I mentioned in the previous post while investigating the current intentions of Systems Thinking, the name Milton Rokeach came up several times with work going back to the 1960s. That’s a crucial time period for me because it means a pedagogy or curriculum originally developed to be a weapon against the US during the Cold War has survived to the present. Something designed originally to destroy the rational capacity to think and free decision-making as an individual based on your own set of facts and concerns (assuming as many did that the Soviet Union would prevail over the US) remains in place under a new name. Still with the same purpose but different beneficiaries. Ready to compel behavior from instinct and emotion. Literally without a second thought.

It is very alarming that late in the book Presence the authors are discussing the Dark Side of Acting from the Heart. It is not something being pointed out to Principals and Supers and teachers being asked to promote the practices in the classroom. For someone like me who is deeply interested in history, it is too much a reminder of the unconscious impulse to act as a collective instilled in the German people via education in the 19th century. They thought it was the answer for the humiliation of being defeated by Napoleon. Talk about poisonous seeds.

It is Values most of all that Rokeach targeted because they are the fewest in number and have the actual ability to compel behavior. Can you see why Sustainability is to be the focus of so much of the Common Core implementation? Values also influence attitudes and emotions and the belief system. Values influence perceptions from daily experience. Think about how often you have watched or heard someone reject what should have been definitive proof with an “I just can’t believe it.” So they didn’t. That’s what values do and why manipulating them is so important if you wish to push a political ideology like collectivism or government intervention and direction of an economy.

I must say I always thought the regular use of the term “Competency” now was just to mislead people from recognizing that we are back implementing Outcomes Based Education again. I had even noticed how a Digital Learning advocate had used Objectives (Ralph Tyler’s term from the 8 Year Study) synonymously with Outcomes (Ben Bloom and Spady/Rogers’ term) and Competency. Turns out though as Milton Rokeach makes clear in his 1968 book Beliefs Attitudes and Values Competency combines both skills and values into a single term. The public then assumes a Competency focus of course includes academic knowledge. It is school or college after all. And the educators get to change and influence student behaviors through unappreciated value changes. The emphasis will be on what the student can do and if the actions are largely driven by emotion so much the better. There’s a reason Rokeach’s book has an Appendix laying out the potentials for Advertising of such an education emphasis.

How many parents will recognize the emotional and psychological manipulation being planned and documented under PBIS or Positive School Climate or recognize that Continuous Improvement is affective in emphasis? I may have joked about Purple America and Project Love but this values curriculum by the hugely influential NEA is meant to both make money and change American student values.

And let me tell you how Rokeach planned to fundamentally shift both Individual and Societal Values to increase the emphasis on Equality in each student’s psyche at the expense of Freedom. It’s not the sort of thing a child comes home and tells you about. He used Student Surveys (don’t worry it’s not like Student Surveys are being included as explicit component of the Effective Teacher Measure that gives the school a reason for asking Anything Wished) and asked students to rank different values. Those students who ranked Freedom higher than Equality were then told how they rated their own interests as more important than the needs of others.  The exact quote used to needle the students was: “they generally care more for their own freedom than the freedom of others.” Practically like telling them they need an S tattoed on forehead and a Red T-shirt that says Selfish to wear around campus.

And all the self-awareness being pushed? Sometimes with the hugely pretentious name of Metacognitive? That just makes it easier to get the sought value changes, either by specifically targeting self-conception as we saw in this post  proposing to teach what a racist society we remain.
Or by targeting alleged hypocrisies, incongruities, inconsistencies, or contradictions between self-conceptions or self-ideals. Just as no one wants to think of themselves as being against freedom even though forced equality requires an all-intrusive government, Rokeach learned just how effective it was to point out variances in an individual’s values from the group norm. (Aren’t those Common Core student surveys going to come in so handy?) To use his nerdy phrase verbatim this disclosure usually “aroused a negative affective state of self-dissatisfaction.” People do not like to be self-dissatisfied for long so the survey information becomes the impetus for lasting “cognitive and behavioral change.”

And with those types of effects, no schemer since has been willing to leave Values alone whatever the outcry. Values and moral reeducation, I mean education, morphed into Outcomes Based Education and now Soft Skills and Social and Emotional Learning. It is still about targeting Values for change. As we discussed in this post in July, the Canadians adopting many of the same initiatives as the US on a similar timeframe have at least been honest enough to admit the real Common Core is desired values to be instilled in each citizen that have nothing to do with cherishing the Maple Leaf or Stars and Stripes. And when you get that kind of international consistency in education you always know UNESCO is lurking around nearby.

And UNESCO really does now seem to serve as the repository for schemes in the West against capitalism, individualism, and rational, logical, academic knowledge. But during the Cold War, much of that same aim came from the NEA, especially its ASCD subsidiary. In March 1978, Educational Leadership published a special issue called “Education of Judgment and Action: Personal and Civic.” It appears to be the launch of the formal push to make Values Education an integral part of US education going forward. The listed rationale was:

“the cultivation of decision making particularly as it relates to political virtues that are appropriate to constitutional self-government and that are required to achieve a society that stands for justice, equality, and freedom in the modern world.”

And that’s how the War commenced to permanently change the behavior of future voters via the schools by changing the underlying Values. To cultivate that herd instinct that can cause any nation so much grief. And if you actually read the 1978 essay “The Status of Education of Judgment” by one of Rokeach’s favorite values educators, John R Meyer, you would learn that the value of freedom to be fostered is not the traditional American belief that it is a natural right existing prior to any compact with government. No, the essay rejects that definition of Freedom in favor of the John Dewey definition then being pushed hard again (1977) by Columbia Teachers College.

“Freedom is a social benefit conferred by the collective intelligence of society.”

Aha, I believe we have found the long-lingering root of the problem of national Values education. And now it is international with UNESCO and OECD running what are to be instilled as Values. Yikes!!


Are Educators Free to Plot Mental Insurrections in Students with Impunity?

Does being an educator–Teacher, Principal, Super, Professor–come with a magic “Get Out of Jail Free” card along with the degree? Especially those doctorates. Can educators push emotional and psychological practices in the classroom or Systems Thinking or Values Clarification or Soft Skills or Character Education or Inquiry Learning or the Student Centered Classroom or a myriad other terms that the Creators acknowledge are means to alter a Student’s Consciousness? To try to get to the Blind Spot that impels behaviors in an effort to obtain Communitarian Social Change?

A mentality that ceases to think of itself as a legitimate individual and finds its Sense of Self in doing for others. Where that altruism is not a free choice but was carefully cultivated in the classroom when the mind and personality remained malleable. If I can locate the originators of the theory or policy or practice saying what its real purpose is, and that purpose seeks to use the school to obtain social and political and economic transformation, does an education degree or title make it a permissable practice anyway? Are we Americans or Canadians or Brits or Australians or anyone else under political attack via education really without recourse?

John Dewey first developed the term “Social Reconstruction” to define the use of the school and classroom to change the student from the inside-out. It needs a mind that is not dominated by the abstract or the logical and is not full of facts that allow its own analysis. For Dewey the rational needed to be heavily infused with emotion so the mind would not be constrained from imagining the world as it might be. He recognized that a fact-filled brain will want to see possibilities from preexisting alternatives. John Dewey wanted a world as it had never been. His modern-day acolytes want that now. For all of them freedom gets redefined not as a matter of individual liberty and personal choices. No to be free in Dewey world:

“we need to imagine the possible beyond the actual, and to be moral we must distinguish those possibilities that ought to be (i.e., that are truly desirable) from those that are not.”

Most of the classroom practices track back to Dewey or someone who models their aspirations around Dewey. He is not the point of the post so let’s shorthand the essence of his vision by saying that the real website has numerous postings about Dewey. His biographers and his friend Sidney Hook and the Bolsheviks themselves all believed he took Karl Marx’s unfinished vision for using education as a cultural tool and made it into an effective weapon. We should take them then at their word and discuss whether it has any place in a country with aspirations of continued freedom for the individual. Otherwise the Colleges of Education and accreditation bodies and UNESCO etc have a license for insurrection. To simply use Dewey’s theories and practices but give them appealing names like Excellence or Quality Learning. Insurrection with Impunity at are Expense. Pension and Generous Health Benefits too.

In his Pedagogic Creed John Dewey said:

“Education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.”

That attack on individual consciousness these days comes in through an IB Learner Profile or a Positive School Climate/PBIS  requirement or the 3 R’s. It comes in through the letter home to parents describing an Honors Lit class that mentions interpreting books through personal experiences and cultural backgrounds and written reflections. That class may say lit and they may still “read” books but the focus of the class has shifted to the students. Who They Are, Where They Come From, What They Value, and What Needs to Be Changed to Have Growth. You the parent will simply assume the Growth is academic and relates to knowledge. That’s a social interaction classroom and you will likely only know it if your child already has an Axemaker Mind and feels bored and manipulated.

Remember the post when I told you the US Government had announced its intention to use education and the social sciences to shape mindsets for Sustainability and anti-fossil fuels regardless of the actual temperatures or whether there is fraud involved in the so-called science? This week the head of Australia’s Green Party, Christine Milne, who is a vital part of that country’s governing coalition, displayed her anger over anyone still disputing Manmade Global Warming even though, as I hope you are aware, there is a lot to dispute and the 4th IPCC Report has been shown to be full of unfounded assertions or propaganda.  Here’s her response with my bolding:

“Denialism has much more to do about values and world view than it has to do with actually understanding the science. So we should have been using the social sciences a lot sooner than we have been to work out ways to talking to people’s values systems rather than to their intellectual capacity.”

Young people with still malleable minds who have been entrusted to educators in the belief that school is about the transmission of knowledge and marketable skills. Not a means for fostering an insurrection with captive minds as a permanently available vehicle widely distributed among future voters.

Speaking of worldview, what worldview is it to assert that a belief that people have intrinsic abilities and talents is Social Darwinism that must be combated and rejected as a basis for education? What worldview argues that math and science are merely social constructs and gloats that the Common Core implementation will finally allow educators to target those teachers still trying to teach it as a body of knowledge and procedures? What sort of country will we be if genuine math and science can no longer be taught to any student because it is not accessible to all students? Instead all students get applications and open-ended problem-solving and human activities like projects that are a means of interaction.  What kind of worldview equates oil drilling and coal mining as unacceptable forms of oppression and domination of Gaia’s resources and then equates the mindset that would do that to owning slaves?

Different educators seem to have different grievances that make them susceptible to these schemes of Social Reconstruction via education. Some may be Inadvertent Insurrectionists genuinely unaware of the background of what they are pushing. Others, quite frankly are simply not very bright, and love any theory of learning that makes them feel better about how the students with Axemakers Minds made them feel. No more Axemakers Minds though is economic suicide but how would the Less Talented with a Career on the Public Payroll at Taxpayer Expense know that crucial fact?

To close this very legitimate inquiry on “What are we going to do?”, I can tell some of what is going on in professional development for teachers in preparation to implement the Common Core  by searches that end up on my blog doorstep. One of the searches that I have been getting daily for more than a week now is “education misrepresent reality: Discuss.” Clearly trying to convince teachers to move away from the transmission of knowledge. So I did a little Reverse Engineering searching myself and found a 1979 book deliberately seeking Dewey’s vision of using education to alter consciousness to eventually obtain social and political change. Stealthily.

I also though found Paulo Freire and his theory that the transmission of knowledge, what he calls Banking Education, is an “instrument of social control” because it “controls by manipulating the content of the imagination.” Instead he wants a “problem-posing education.” The lecture-based curriculum, says Freire, “is compatible with the aim of promoting the oppressive cultural forces of the dominant authority in society and with the disempowerment of students.”

When educators believe all this nonsense and it guides their policies and practices, why can’t the Hispanics and Blacks and Rich and Poor and Male and Female and Gay and whatever other groups that are being played as Victims or Targets but who know better simply say no? Could there be anything in the US or any country right now that is more unifying than a rejection of the Dewey vision of education as Social Reconstruction? The vision that disparages facts and fluent reading and sequential math because they all foster individuality and are barriers to political manipulation.

Don’t we have a winning, very diverse, coalition here that Just Says No to Social Reconstruction and using education to try to alter perceptions of reality? Some things are simply too important not to be willing to be confrontational over. Respectfully of course. At least at first.


Second-Order Change, Why Reform is a Misnomer for the Real Common Core

This is the definition of Second-Order Change used at a January 2012 presentation by Peter Senge and the Waters Foundation to the Nevada Department of Education. Second-order change:

“is doing something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing things before.”

Irreversible Change. That sure does remind me of a 2000 book by Vicki Phillips and Michael Barber that was the bible of the UNESCO ed vision all over the world in the last attempt at radical ed “reform” in the US.   Fusion: How to Unleash Irreversible Change-Lessons for the Future of System-Wide School Reform would be a worrisome title if its authors were influential people. Let’s see. Barber was Tony Blair’s Ed Advisor when he was UK Prime Minister, then on to McKinsey where he pushed ed reform globally by telling governments what the world’s “Top” Systems were changing. Now the Pearson Conglomerate’s Chief Education Advisor as of May 2011. Don’t worry. It’s not like Pearson is involved with the curriculum or assessments coming to a classroom and school near you. And not just in the US.

I will let you search out Vicki Phillips’ busy history as an Education Change Agent before she got to her current position at the Gates Foundation which is funding so much of the Common Core curriculum in preparation for those singular Learning Progressions that are mostly missing from the PR campaigns. And that funded what will become formative assessments in the classroom. What makes me feel even more reassured that Common Core is not in fact a noble effort to make content comparable state to state is knowing the main business actors in the global 21st Century Skills push, ATC21S, thank Vicki Phillips by name for her help. Doesn’t it make you feel like we lost an invite to some spectacular parties in scenic global locations pursuing how to use education to profitably remake the world around the meme of Sustainability while the ignorant masses don’t even know what changed, when, or why?

Since we are paying attention, let’s get back to where the influential Professor Senge said was the vision for 21st Century Learning. And if your instinct is to say “I don’t live in Nevada,” remember that the regional ed lab in Aurora, Colorado pushed Second-Order Change as part of its 2007 vision for School Improvement in the recreated OBE template we have already talked about . And Nevada administrators have now moved on to places like Charlotte-Meck to spread this systems vision and 2nd Order Change. And districts like Winston-Salem, NC; Portland, Oregon; Tahoma, Wash; and Carlisle are all mentioned in Senge’s Systems Thinking work as being part of his coalition of implementers.

“An Exploration-Vision of 21st Century Learning-Systems Citizenship Made Real Through Innovation, Systems Thinking & Education for Sustainability” does not sound like something I will be pledging allegiance to via a national flag. I suppose that’s what all the references to a new way of thinking and high leverage mental models for students are all about. It is portable and travels unseen and perhaps undetected within each student influencing behavior and guiding perceptions of daily experiences. It seems quite intrusive and rather psychologically precarious to me but then I am not an MIT Lecturer. I am sure their computer models are much more revealing about real kids in real classrooms across America getting ready for a real future as an independent adult.

Oh, not to be independent? Not a future based on the past? That may explain the disconnect. Let’s take a look at what Peter’s colleague, Otto Scharmer, has written about this Systems Thinking vision for the future. When Peter mentions Blind Spots or Social Evolution as he speaks, that is where we need to look for the definitions that will impact the school vision or the state or district implementation. And if any of you are breathing a sigh of relief that your teachers and administrators are doing Daggett Model Schools Training or Spence Rogers PEAK training instead, William Spady himself saw his OBE work in the 80s as comparable to what Senge was doing at the time. Except Spady was annoyed because Senge was paid so much more and Spady thought he gave a better speech. Lots of well-paid egos have been cashing in for a long time on using education to create a different kind of future and changing the students mental mindset.

Let’s look further for more insights. And take a deep breath and put down your beverage. You might create a sticky keyboard otherwise. First, as I have said repeatedly, this is about creating a new post-capitalism, non-fossil fuel based economy. Even the Scandinavian social welfare state is not sufficient. Systems thinking is literally about reimagining a future with little connection to the past. A future where emotions are the paramount drivers in people and anything that fosters abstract thinking, like phonetic reading, sequential math or sciences, and actual factual knowledge, are rejected because they stand in the way of action thinking (Scharmer calls it analysis paralysis).

The mental models of students have to be changed, Senge and Scharmer maintain, to save Mother Earth and to transform the “relationship between business, government and civil society from manipulation and confrontation to dialogue and co-creation.” In case the extent of the US and global social transformation being sought is not yet clear, this systems thinking initiative involved so closely with Common Core is intended “to facilitate profound innovation at the scale of the whole ecosystem.” Boy, that does sound like the Belmont  Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance again. And to think Scharmer was explaining that Blind Spot at a 2010 Economic Forum in China.

Th Blind Spot is the hidden source of human behaviors. What OBE advocates always refer to as values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings and target expressly through SEL. Systems Thinkers get to the same point of trying to dictate human responses and behaviors but their theory and rhetoric are slightly different. Both will have most of us with invisible mental serfs collars guiding our “free” choices.  Systems thinkers are concerned that “most people relate to the future by reflecting on the trends of the past.” Systems thinkers reject the past as inapt.

“They see the emerging future as an advent, a coming-into-being of something profoundly new. To connect with such a field of emerging future opportunity we have to open up, let go of the past, and tune in to what we feel is a field of future possibility, something that might be possible, something we could bring into reality, a future that would be very different from the past. . . I call this deeper learning from the emerging future presencing. . . Presencing means to sense an emerging future possibility and then to act from that state of awareness in the now.”

To get to a Presencing state requires a rejection of individualistic thinking that the systems thinkers call the egosystem and an embrace of the collective. “Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Will” is the motto. This systems theory that is to be the basis for children’s classroom experiences under Common Core, not just some Fortune 500 execs on a pastoral retreat, is based on the “assumption” that each human being and each human community is not one but two:

“one is the current self, the person who exists as the result of a past journey; the other is the Self, the self that we could become as the result of our future journey. Presencing is the process of the (current) self and the (emerging) Self listening to each other.”

Not in the school classroom. If the so-called Blind Spot is an aspiration for US educators pushing Systems Thinking, then nothing in the US is sacrosanct anymore. There is effectively no impediment to tyrannical intrusions and the US Constitution is just a historical document, not a living source of protection against statist predations.

And these predations are expensive to boot. Our money. Our debt.

Do You Live in a District Piloting Deep and Continual Personal Change in the Individual Student?

In case the term systems thinking always seemed too abstract to get too worked up about. Or the fact that Peter Senge has sold 2 million copies of his book The Fifth Discipline and now holds a Systems Thinking and Dynamic Modeling Conference for K-12 Education was not on your radar screen as Another Thing to Worry About. Now I do not get to do that because I have seen “must teach the children systems thinking” as part of an essential aspect of every radical plan to remake US and global education for decades. It did not take me long to track down its history or see it as a sledgehammer to destroy a student’s belief that he or she is, and is entitled to be, an autonomous individual. It was honestly a relief to read the recent infed story called “peter senge and the learning organization” where they recognized the common visions and social interests between communitarian thinkers like Amitai Etzioni and Senge. You begin to imagine a chant at these conferences along the lines of “Heh, Heh, Ho, Ho, The Unitary Self has Got to Go.” Worked with Western Civ at Stanford.

Since we have already figured out that the definition of Career Ready in Common Core is based on Etzioni, Peter Senge’s views on implementing Common Core promise to be a hugely important component of what it will actually look like in classrooms.  First of all, we are supposed to recognize that Common Core is a “unifying approach to transforming American education.” Here we are as parents, taxpayers, and business people looking for capable, knowledgeable minds and we are being told that Common Core means there will no longer be variations in the content required of students moving from state to state. A worthy sounding, probably PR-tested slogan to soothe away any concerns about federal intrusions into local issues. Truly that intrusion is the least of these scheming aspirations.

Instead “Lessons from Systemic Change for Utilizing the New Common Core Standards for Transforming Education” gives us Maxine Greene’s vision for education for political transformation by altering each student’s consciousness. The authors are terribly well-connected (including Harvard’s Robert Kegan) as you will see. And there are no side essays or speeches mentioning wanting to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War to clue the enterprising reader into the actual political orientation being advocated. Like Maxine Greene and Bill Ayers but without the taint of their open proclamations, these systems thinkers want learners to be the center of the curriculum, not a body of knowledge. As Maxine Greene wrote, that’s the first step in imagining a different world,  toward acting on the belief that things can be changed. Learning as becoming Different than you were at the beginning of the day according to Greene.

For all these Professors and Supers and Principals seeking Transformation with a Capital T, education is merely a tool of alteration that guarantees funding, obscures the political theories being imposed without consent, and grants access to innermost thoughts, values, and emotions. Everything a Mao ever wanted and no one is up in arms. Yet. And if they are, they are focused on side issues about how to teach math and whether to allow ability-grouped classes.  Instead it gets reexpressed without any taint or royalties to Maxine as a “learning community” where the school creates “a culture where people continually learn with and from one another.” Community is no mere slogan either. Rather it becomes the whole point of education. To get this sought environment and Transformation (we are back to the collection of systems thinkers here including Senge):

“the most important point is the basic point: the naive fantasy that there exists such a thing as systemic change independent of deep and continual personal change fails to prepare people for the real work. The “system” in terms of habits of thoughts and actions that shape practices, processes, structures and even metrics lives inside each of us. It (their emphasis, bolding is mine) works the way it works because of how we work. What is most systemic is most personal. Consequently, all processes of real systemic change inevitably arise from developmental processes that are deeply personal.”

Probably the sort of deeply personal interactions fostered through teacher OBE training renamed as “Performance Excellence for All Kids” we met in the last post set in the pastoral settings of Vail to reenforce that this is the Way Things Ought to Be. Or Peter Senge’s Camp Snowball that includes students ready to engage in action learning to promote a Transformation around Sustainability. Since Peter had David Coleman, one of the primary architects of Common Core as a speaker this summer, all of this transforming may seem radical to us but the so-called Transformative Players do all seem to be interacting around this systems thinking vision and Common Core.

I guess David got his Second Wind at Camp Snowball getting ready to go transform AP courses and the SAT as the new, very well-paid, President of the College Board. And if anyone finds this systems thinking/College Board alliance strange you should read all the College Board publications from the 90s on finally achieving Dewey’s vision for American education including transforming the nature of college. Or just read me. I have read all those books and some of them had not absorbed fresh air in over 15 years. Musty smell to go with the toxic ideas is one way to put it.

Now I found the above quote on all that deep and continual personal change in students who are allegedly in an Algebra or World History class to be quite graphic and very troubling. In case we are slow, however, our systems thinkers point out again on the next page:

“When we use the term ‘capacity building,’ it can often mask the depth of the emotional and psychological challenges, as we implied above in emphasizing the personal character of systemic change.”

That earlier quote is not my idea of implication but this 2nd reference leaves no doubt at the depths of the intrusive aspirations. In case you are wondering how I could have written such a graphic title for my previous post, I believe these political aspirations for education have already had real victims.

Today’s title comes from the systems thinking aspirations and their desire to put together school districts to participate as “systems-based CCSS learning communities.” There is a reference to systems “we currently know and are working with.” The “we” seems to be either Senge, the Waters Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation or Harvard. I am going to focus on the Harvard connection since it appears to involve two districts in the metro Atlanta area, Fulton that we discussed from the last post and Gwinnett.

Gwinnett, the largest district in Georgia,  won the Broad Award a few years ago. Parents there say the system went to a PBIS/SEL focus last school year (2011-12) just as soon as the ink was dry on the atrocious soft skills statute giving official permission for these psychological and emotional intrusions in Georgia. Others involved in the Harvard Strategic Data Project are listed as Boston Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (which won the Broad last year), and Fort Worth Independent School District.

All this systems thinking emphasis would of course explain why Massachusetts had to give up its well-functioning standards and move to the Common Core. It’s the new assessments and a means to get at consciousness. We talked about Transformational OBE and Dallas and Charlotte along with Cobb County, Georgia, and Fulton here. In addition to Fulton’s duplicitous charter enshrining Transformational OBE that I wrote about here, it turns out Fulton’s new Super of less than a year, Robert Avossa, was asked by Education Week to join as a speaker for its “Scaling Up Student Success” Leadership Forums in April. Ah, the leadership circuit!

Apart from that charter and Transformational OBE in new forms that are less likely to be discovered in time,  let’s look back at that systems document again. The one looking for school systems with “sufficient numbers of leaders who share such a commitment.”

What commitment you warily ask at this point in the post? The one for “using the new CCSS for transformative change.”

Gulp says every taxpayer and parent in any one of these implicated districts.

Such planned intrusions negate the very essence of individual freedom in the US. But my understanding of that and what is coming is not enough.

And so I write.


How Much Innocent Blood Will It Take to Stop SEL Manipulation for Political Gain?

That rather graphic title should probably include “or financial gain” to cover all the motives. But that would have made for too long a title. Honestly it is difficult to fathom how after the horrors of the Columbine High murders in 1999, which actually started as a desired bomb plot to blow up the school, anyone involved with Transformational Outcomes Based Education would not have begged for forgiveness. OK, that’s not realistic in our litigious day and age. No one would want to acknowledge their pushed SEL practices might have had a role in initiating the tragedy.

But at least we could have hoped for a Cease and Desist from continuing to actively cultivate the emotions and trying to alter the student’s consciousness. Why continue the practices Columbine was already notorious for before that tragic April day? In an effort to profitably create a Consciousness for Revolution as we discussed in the previous post, some of these manipulated students, usually bright boys, seem to be getting stuck in the cultivated horror and fracturing into the evil school officials and education professors unwisely pushed on students. We will never know the actual causes but we have too much correlation with SEL not to be careful in continuing these deliberate pushes for psychological and emotional transformation in students.

I do not want to linger on such tragedies. But the memories of these SEL connections seem to be fading enough that the manipulative practices are coming back into classrooms and common practice. As part of the implementation of Common Core just like they were part of the 1990s push for comparable radical transformation. And in a substantial percentage of cases with these horrific school shootings where the place seems to be part of the rage, we  find an active policy of pushing SEL and an affective orientation and changing fundamental values, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs as a core function of the targeted school.

Since the typical reader of this post will not be in a position to recognize the names associated with the creation of the Transformational OBE political and social change theory, know the various euphemisms associated with OBE core practices, or be able to put back together the Transformational OBE template even when all has been renamed and broken into parts, I am going to have to share a personal story. I am not doing it to try to get anyone in trouble or point fingers of deliberate intent or malevolent neglect or even negligent disregard of crucial facts from the past. I honestly believe people never knew or have forgotten the links. And we still need that Cease and Desist.

That all these tragic practices are now being pushed again all over the world may be because it is what the accreditation agencies want or because it is now the road to a lucrative next promotion or because it seems superficially like a noble, utopian refocus for the schools to help all students. It is certainly what UNESCO wants as part of its Education for All transformation of the West. Perhaps there is a naive sense that this time there will be no further tragedies because the motives for good results are deemed pure. Whether it is called Student Wellbeing as in Australia now or the Positive Behavior and School Climate now in Canada and the US, it has the same common genesis in the pre-Columbine Transformational OBE when motives were openly discussed and the emotional elements at the core were the feature to be touted. Euphemisms were not yet necessary. That’s where we need to go back to.

My story was generated by an IB High School in Fulton County Georgia informing the parents that some of the faculty had been sent for summer training in Colorado called “Performance Excellence for All Kids (PEAK).” The Principal who had come from Charlotte-Mecklenberg the previous year had brought PEAK with him. He sent out a letter wanting to raise $120,000 for the training this year for all the school’s teachers. On the first day of orientation this past week, he eagerly announced the redirection of everyone in the high school towards the IB Learner (Change the Student) Profile, is a link to the 10 Attributes if you have never seen it, and the Relationships, Rigor, and Relevance push I have already written.

Oh, and instead of PBIS as in Positive Behavior Intervention System, the high school will now have a Positive Behavior Incentive Program with an everyday emphasis on whether students are demonstrating the 5 Desired “P’s.” Polite and Punctual were two mentioned before I dazed into Oh. No. Not  Again shock. First no content and now this?

Fellow Parents at the high school presentation would have heard the word “success” almost as often as the word “engage” but are unlikely to know that in the 90s William Spady and Spence Rogers called their Transformational OBE push for schools the High Success Network. Here’s a 1994 discussion from the insider industry publication Educational Leadership explaining the different Levels of OBE and the goals of the High Success Network.

Careful readers will notice the 10 Life Performance Roles described for Transformational OBE basically dovetail with the 10 from the IB Learner Profile. That’s how breaking up, renaming, and finding a new more palatable vehicle works. I think that is the UNESCO influence showing. I can also look at an Australian middle school that adopted the Coalition for Essential Schools template and the ATLAS-Authentic Learning for All Students-template that came out of US reforms in the 90s and their rhetoric and programs also dovetail with that IB Learner Profile. Probably the Benjamin Bloom influence on the models UNESCO has pushed all over the world since the early 70s from the Summer Institutes he did for them.

PEAK’s “Teaching for Excellence” model says explicitly it is grounded in what was previously called OBE. It also proclaims its incorporation of Mastery Learning, Bloom’s baby. For those of you keeping track, Bloom was a student and close friend of Ralph Tyler who created OBE in the 30s to obscure the real transformative, anti-academic aims of the Progressive Education Association’s Eight Year Study. I explained that here and here

The links are necessary to fully appreciate just how closely tied in all these ideas and people are and why they keep recurring. Plus the teachers have enjoyed their summer and are now back to deal with the troubling implications of the real Common Core paradigm. They need this information and so do the parents, like me, who are being forced to put children into schools using practices with such a tragic past and a political aim to gut this country’s current economic system. Plus a deliberate targeting of our political system grounded in the importance and primacy of the individual.

Both aims are being sought  by using the schools to remake the child’s personality and filtering mindset. I have little doubt this template is being replicated elsewhere in the Fulton County district and in Charlotte where PEAK came from and in school districts all over the US. Since you are unlikely to know where to look to figure out what is going on, here’s Spence Rogers’ published definition of the SEL dynamic behind “Relationship-Driven Teaching”:

“Fostering positive feelings as a motivational strategy in the classroom requires creating a learning context that enables students to value the activities enough to want to learn and to achieve. Learning occurs only when what is being presented is meaningful enough to the student that he or she decides to actively engage in the learning experience. People often judge an activity as meaningful when it satisfies deep-rooted human emotional needs. When those needs are met in the classroom, students want to learn and to achieve to the highest standards.”

The very idea that the teacher who cannot teach a Chemistry course grounded in knowledge is now going to engage students at a deep emotional level is both atrocious and absurd. This is also manifestly the Marxist theory of the Mind where only physical activity and social interaction count or are wanted. No private, personal thinking allowed.  Especially the logical, abstract, Axemaker Mind kind. Now there is hopefully no way either this pushing principal or his boss, Robert Avossa, who also came from Charlotte, have any idea of the tragic history of Transformational OBE or its nefarious purposes. Although I am greatly concerned with what Avossa meant when he told the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2011 that he wanted  a “level playing field in American education.” That is not the spiel he gives parents and taxpayers back home.

This was long with links because this matters. This is a totalitarian template that is to go into operation to attack students’ minds and unconscious emotions to try to change behaviors starting this Monday, August 13. If all these facts are not sufficient to get the super, his central office staff, and the just-following-orders principal to change their minds and back off, well at least the now well-informed parents and taxpayers will know how to treat them. Like you would any adult wanting to live off your tax money while risking bloody outcomes in order to foment a political transformation of this magnificent country that they apparently do not appreciate.

Let’s teach them better values and attitudes and beliefs. We have Gypsy Principals and Supers everywhere now in the US. These two are just the symbols of a very full ship of Change Agents. Perhaps the ship could take a field trip to Cuba to have a hands-on learning experience with the full template being pushed for profit.