Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory on Students While Pretending the Impetus is Equity for All

The term cybernetics to me was always just a vague concept that had something to do with computers. I was following up on the Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin and his behavior-orienting systemic-theoretical instruction by reading a 1975 book (translated into English in 1980, except curiously the footnotes) by one of his students, Nina Talyzina. Called The Psychology of Learning it kept referring to cybernetics, but there were no computers. Instead, cybernetics is described as a theory of control over processes. One of the processes that the Soviets and certain American educators wanted to control was human behavior.

Before anyone thinks this is just a haunting history lesson with me pouncing on disturbing intentions from the past, let me remind everyone that the US Common Core are designed as performance standards. They are about what students are to be doing. Competency is the same globally as is 21st Century Skills. Performance assessments are about action.  The shift from a mental focus to an activity focus (because that is what Marxist-Leninist theory required as Talyzina laid out) has already taken place. The significance of that deliberate shift is simply not well enough appreciated. Cybernetics, as applied to education, seeks to optimize “control of the learning process.”

That learning process is no longer to be “through the development of capacities that already exist at birth,” like mental ability, but is rather “a process of assimilation of various types of human activities by students and hence of the set of actions that bring this about.” What is going on with the learning tasks created for Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of the book), as well as the digital curricula being unveiled by Pearson (with Microsoft as partner) and Amplify (rolled out for middle school this week) among others, and the Connected Learning agenda being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf , are all examples of designing the teaching-learning [obuchenie] process in accordance with the requirements of a general theory of control.

When I recognized the full implications of what the Consortium of school districts from the last post sought (hence the hunger for Student data and continuous mentions of feedback in personalized instruction) and the gaming in classrooms (with its ability to control the visual images associated with any chosen concept and force the virtual world to conform to desired models of either reality or the future) to the cybernetic theory of how to control human behavior without that being apparent, I did some searches to see what was happening now.  One of those pulled up an essay that had been in the 2002 UNESCO Encyclopedia by the radical constructivist Ernst von Glasersfeld who I had talked about in Chapter 3 of the book. I gulped since I had not been looking for UNESCO or Glasersfeld. The essay is called “Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge” http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/255 and it lays out how crucial the theory of constructivism in education is to the goal of behavioral control via cybernetic principles.

More gulps. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word “Kybernetes” which referred to a steersman of  ship. It is the etymological root of the English word “governor” as in the lead elected state officials who seem so determined these days to combine economic development with education as workforce development. The word also retains its same control function in its use as a governor on an engine, regulating possible uses. Maybe we didn’t really appreciate the significance of the term cybernetics or its applicability to education, but radicals interested in political and social transformation at the level of individual consciousness certainly do. Everything to be required, or condemned, in a Common Core classroom is now driven by turning to Vygotsky and especially Galperin (image, associations, concepts) as the necessary psychological theories (instead of Skinner’s behaviorism). Galperin’s theory especially, backed up by decades of research, laid out a means and rationale for specifying the desired activity in the real world that would then produce the hoped for mental concepts.

Those mental conceptions, because they are created by actual activity in either the real world or a virtual immersion world (of the sort pushed by MIT’s Media Lab or Amplify’s Zombie Apocalypse game), are thus controllable in a way conceptions built up by facts delivered from lectures and textbooks are not. Then we have the new assessments and now to be a new SAT to monitor the extent to which the desired concepts (in the hermeneutic-dialogical sense we met in the previous post) are connected to associated  relational qualities (also supplied) and then tied to real world problems or phenomena. Understanding here is like a web and assessments are looking to see what strategies the student’s web of understanding reaches to apply when there is no fixed or correct answer. That tells a great deal about how the student will behave as an adult when they are on their own.

Now the Cold War implications of this psychology of learning and Galperin and cybernetics as a feature of education in a supposedly free country, especially since Talyzina mentioned a UNESCO symposium in 1976 on the psychological bases of programmed instruction, are obvious. Despite what is going on now in the Ukraine and the Crimea and the current Russian role in the UN’s digital learning and Information Society initiatives I have written about, our problem in 2014 are not the big C threat of decades ago. Subjugation of the individual and control over consciousness though clearly remain a primary government goal though. That Connected Learning report above makes it painfully clear that the digital and media agenda now in education is tied to a social and economic transformation to a shareable, collaborative consumption economy.   The new motto is to be “sharing reinvented through technology.”

If you go to the writings of the professors cited to show the economy is changing, we find the sociologist Juliet Schor (see her tag) who wrote Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. That pulls in her commonwealth vision of the future and the agenda of Gar Alperowitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Another cite turns out to be Harvard Labor Economist Richard Freeman. Finally, there is a cite to a 2008 paper by Bowles and Gintis. Uncited is their book from 1976 Schooling in Capitalist America that predicted a socialist transformation of the US that might need to become violent. I mentioned that book in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ . Its central point that education is so crucial to social change because “socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself” is even more relevant when cybernetics is in use.

Making the cognitive activities, such as learning tasks or computer games, and the internal mental states created, the focus of instruction is certainly a fine way to develop and manipulate such a consciousness. It’s not like we are not drowning in evidence at this point of such broader transformative intentions from every direction. Foundations, local districts, states, federal DoEd (they openly work with MacArthur on Reimagining Education), and internationally via the UN and the OECD. Page 91 of that Connected Learning report even links to ITU’s 2011 Measuring the Information Society report. It is what led me to the UNESCO Sakhalin Declaration I wrote about already.

I can find the M-L roots of what is being pushed now. Talyzina was quite graphic about them. The public sales pitch now though for the same theories and practices is that the shift to digital and networked media (that makes cybernetics so much easier via adaptive software and the visual emphasis) is necessary to protect the life opportunities of “non-dominant youth.” To force “an environment in which opportunity and outcomes are widely shared across the citizenry” as if productive wealth is not in the minds of talented people, but in some pot ready to be rearranged. The constant drumbeat that these shifts are necessary “begins with questions of equity” and “centers on an equity agenda.” If you got a quarter for every time that report mentioned “privileged” youth or families or the “elite”, you could go out for a fine lunch.

That report once again quotes John Dewey making me very glad I laid out in the book why his vision remains so relevant to what is sought today. If we go down this road of cybernetic control over the development of a student’s adult personality (what college and career ready actually tracks back to) and adopt the vision “as progressives have argued for generations, the functions of schooling should be to prepare young people for contributing and participating in social life, which includes economic activity but also civil society, family, and community” where will we be as a nation or world in five or ten years?

Will it make the world a peaceful place? No, we will simply not see the aggression coming until it is too late. Will the public sector workers lying to us now on their intentions and lining their pockets with tax money decide to suddenly act altruistically in the name of the common good and genuine social justice? No again.

Equity and equal opportunity for all strike me as a means to federalize issues of education practice so that change can be required without consent or notice. Through civil rights law edicts. Secondly, it forces a surrender of individual primacy and sovereignty. It takes a citizen as subject to be molded at will approach.

No wonder we just keep running into all these Soviet techniques and theories. They were free to do the preliminary research on cybernetics in education. Guess where it will be continuing now?

Drawing Back the Standards Curtain to Discover the Global Coordination to Redesign the Very Nature of Curriculum

We have discussed the fact that the phrases “Common Core” or “Competency” or “21st century skills” make wonderful excuses that obscure virtually all of what is really changing. Especially since we also have new ways of measuring the results and effects and turning it into data. When those of us who read the small print of reports, or attend PTA meetings, or actually look at what students are being asked to do, notice a complete paradigm shift away from factual knowledge as a primary purpose of schools and then try to raise our concerns these days, we usually get nowhere. We get to hear the typical supportive talking points about how “Standards are not curriculum,” and how the country “needs these standards to be internationally competitive,” and finally, how “Business wants these standards to create a skilled workforce.”

If we happen to be armed with some factual knowledge and point out that endorsements from tech companies who will benefit financially is not what will bring tomorrow’s jobs, parents quickly discover that disputing the talking points on the Common Core is like trying to have a discussion with a robocall or a parrot. Now I am going to say do svidanija!, the Russian phrase for goodbye, to any discussion today of Soviet psychology and the fact that the education model the Common Core reflects when we look at what is being asked of teachers, measured in students, and theories imposed on the classroom all comes from the old USSR. Decades of experimental research and now imported to the US and other countries as cultural-historical activity theory. I suspected it before but recently reading the 2002 book Learning for Life in the 21st Century removed all doubt.

But curriculum is our focus today. The developmental perspective that CHAT and learning theories grounded in Vygotsky represent needs a redesign of the very paradigm of the curriculum. And it turns out they have it because in 2011 Harvard set up a Center for Curriculum Redesign that has UNESCO, Pearson, the Gates and Hewlett Foundations, the Nellie Mae Foundation behind the Competency Works report from the last post, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Google, the OECD and World Bank, and the governments of Massachusetts; Finland; Alberta and Toronto, Canada; Korea; Singapore, and the Australian curriculum authority (acara) all involved. Global coordination indeed of precisely what students everywhere will be interacting with and experiencing on a daily basis.

CCR came to my attention a few days ago when the OECD began touting it http://oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.com/2014/02/mathematics-for-21st-century.html . Since my book has an entire chapter on what was really being sought in the so-called math and science wars, announcing that the “Center for Curriculum Redesign’s Stockholm Declaration has stated: We call for a far deeper and reconceptualized understanding of mathematics by the entire population as a critical right, requiring:

* a new vision of mathematics education that anticipates needs and reinforces the role of mathematics in society, economies, and individuals, and strengthens gender equity,

* changes to existing Mathematics standards as presently conceived, through a significant rethinking of what branches, topics, concepts and subjects should be taught in Mathematics for human, economic, social and career development…”

Well, THAT got my attention. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered Charles Fadel was a Visiting Practitioner at Harvard. Ooops, I see I have forgotten to mention the University of Pennsylvania and MIT are also involved. And not just Stanford but the very prof, Roy Pea, we met in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/ on the NSF funding of cyberlearning and informal learning.

Prof Pea is psyched to be an advisor to CCR since “In my studies of learning and development enhanced by technologies over the years, I’ve often emphasized the importance of meta-cognition, planning, leveraging distributed intelligence, and other aspects of human competencies (my bolding) that are often tacit or left out of curriculum studies and standards. Like many of my colleagues, I’m keen to see more integral support from educators for developing learner’s adaptive expertise–a framework I find preferable to 21st century skills. Once we separate ‘skills’ from expertise, which incorporates skills, knowledge, dispositions, interests, and identities–all essential aspects of competencies–we run the risk of having separate curriculum units on skills, divorced from content and other aspects of expertise.”

Now that is someone thoroughly immersed in the Vygotskyian education as humanizing the entire personality paradigm from that defunct country we are not discussing today. Pea clearly sees CCR as furthering that tradition of how curriculum is to be used. Another fascinating description from someone involved with the Common Core Next Generation Science Standards read like this:

“The vision you are building toward–to deeply redesign curricula so that we focus young people on experiencing content as purposeful, interdisciplinary and personalized–is key to the process of transforming education globally.”

That was Margaret Honey of New York Hall of Science. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is also on board and “applauds the vision of CCR to redesign curricula for the 21st Century that is both relevant and engaging, and goes beyond core content.” These letters are available on the CCR website under partners. I will give one more quote from ERB since it is speaking on behalf of its member schools and that includes many of the most prestigious private schools in the US. It says “We relish the opportunity to help redefine what it takes to be a knowledgeable, ethical, and wise citizen of an interconnected and interdependent global community of learners.” A very interesting end goal that is probably not what a parent has in mind when they ship off their high schooler to an expensive boarding school.

Now obviously the various UN entities pursuing their Sustainability and post-2015 vision and the OECD with its Green Growth and Great Transition visions of the future could hardly find a surer vehicle for reaching the most people during the period of their lives when they remain the most impressionable than being involved in such a planned curriculum redesign. One that, in the words of the Finns, “necessitates a corresponding, bold  reconsideration of the nature of knowledge and learning, contents and the pedagogical practices of the school. It is time to rethink what it is that we want students to know and be able to do in future societies and in a globalizing world.”

The curricula redesign then is an essential component of creating a means of enacting a fundamental transformation of systems (Making History is what the theorizers call it) plus a bridge to then transition to that supposedly more just, communitarian-oriented future. Fadel has a 33 page White paper on the curriculum redesign site that makes it quite clear that the idea is to Rethink what is Taught in order to transition to a better world. Page 18 shows a drawing straight out of Hard Times with the heading “So it is a grand time to act unless we want a Dickensian society.” Page 19 quotes the winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Medicine that “We have evolved traits [such as group selfishness] that will lead to humanity’s extinction–so we must learn how to overcome them.”

Eliminating human selfishness as the point of the curricula and education and then making the public sector the dominant planning force in society. That’s much more likely to create a Dickensian future than be a means for avoiding it, but then I am still a fact-based person, not a theorist looking to implement infamous or untried ideas on a global scale. It is also interesting Fadel envisions “Leveraging our entire selves–head, heart, and hand” in this effort of social, economic, and political transformation. He also sees curricula redesign as a means of fostering personal fulfillment. Right.

So Standards are not curriculum, but the Common Core Standards, whatever their new names in the various states, serve as a vehicle to obscure this intended global shift in what is to be going on in the classroom. Big Business wants this because they hope to benefit from the associated public-private partnerships planned. The international competitiveness is grounded in a vision of global transformation to public sector planned economies and pushing for social justice for disadvantaged groups in each country. So much for those talking points.

Now we better focus on where this new concept of curricula is taking us. Because it is to be conveniently hidden for the most part on inaccessible computer databases and networks. How convenient that so many interested in the ‘cloud’ and Big Data generally have signed up to help reconceive the curricula paradigm. Some entities are about to have quite a useful control over a great deal of pertinent information. While at the same time they are trying to minimize the actual knowledge any citizen is likely to have.

Does this curricula redesign feel like an effort to uninvent the printing press and its liberation of the individual’s access to information to anyone else? A future vision that combines economic and political power and seeks to limit unapproved knowledge.

Anyone else recognizing what time periods we seem to want to ape here?

Translating the Off-Putting Term Dialectical Materialism and Discovering the Intended Process in ALL Classrooms

And if ALL classrooms, preschool through graduate school, is not sufficiently alarming, how about in ALL students and teachers and professors and administrators? Plus with a little luck, and using active coordination of themes and cultivated beliefs between education and the media, those interested in transformative change in the 21st century hope to spread the mental and emotional contagion to parents and enough voters generally to ignite the change via the ballot box and ALL institutions.

So how does the mouthful phrase ‘dialectical materialism’ fit into this vision? That is something I have struggled with for a couple of years now. I basically got it, but not well enough to translate into a pithy analogy for mass consumption. I suspect much of that is deliberate to prevent alarms from going off recognizing its use to prompt revolutionary cultural change. I knew it was about consciousness and had been coined not by Marx or Engels, but by Joseph Dietzgen. Like them, his revolutionary intentions forced him into exile in the Anglosphere, countries much more accommodating of dissent than Germany or other parts of 19th-century Europe. Instead of London or Manchester, England though, Dietzgen relocated to the Chicago area. But what precisely merited exile by authorities wishing to retain existing political power?

The recent recovery of some lost Nelson Mandela transcripts that quoted him as saying: “to a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the logic of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.” I read that and immediately wished someone would concisely explain that logic as I was quite sure it was still lurking in our midst, ready to mount an invisible attack against existing institutions, values, beliefs, and other cultural norms. Last week, my personal project, supposedly unrelated to the blog or book or speaking engagements, was to investigate when the law shifted to being seen as a cultural weapon. Just a matter of personal curiosity so I ordered a book I had seen mentioned, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. It was published in 1983 by a then Harvard Law Prof, Harold J. Berman.

I was expecting a more straightforward history than what I encountered. I certainly was not expecting to read on the first page of the Preface that “A world ends when its metaphor has died.” Well, that got my attention as nothing is more prevalent now in education ‘reforms’ than the determination to excise factual knowledge of the past or science or human nature and substitute some type of metaphorical belief, usually called a ‘lens,’ as in the new C3 Social Studies Framework or a Generative Metaphor from Donald Schon and Chris Argyris’ Action Science work.

Continuing on in the Introduction, I found a determination to jettison the reverence for the Anglo tradition of the common law, and language about the law being not “a body of rules,” but a “process.” That statement sounded eerily similar to what radical education reformers like Linda Darling-Hammond, or sponsors like CCSSO, are using to describe what the REAL Common Core implementation is about. Not transmitting a body of knowledge anymore, but cultivating desired ‘habits of mind’ and hoped for ‘dispositions’ amenable and primed to act for wholesale social change.

Perhaps because it is a book designed to change the nature of a particular institution-the nature of law, law schools, and the role of the judiciary, Berman’s book is quite graphic about using the word ‘dialectics’ to describe the process of changing values and beliefs in people so it will have an impact on how and whether they act. Those actions in turn can affect the material world and the physical environment, which in turn acts upon those who inhabit it. A dialectical process back and forth involving the material world, but it all starts in consciousness. Mental and emotional beliefs. Dialectical materialism. Change the consciousness of enough people and the world itself and the future can supposedly be changed in predictable ways.

That’s the theory of how to “transform the social and political and economic realities” and it was revolutionary enough in the 19th century to merit exile and, perhaps, prison in certain times and places in the 20th. Now a willingness to push it can get you a lucrative ed doctorate credential intended to secure a six-figure taxpayer paid salary and then pension for life. That is if you cooperate with the right people and force the right theories on unsuspecting schools and students. What a transition that is for an infamous theory!

Dialectical materialism then is the actual theory that underlay outcomes based education and what was really being sought from it. Because it is an off-putting term with a clear history and proponents calling it the equivalent of a cultural “rifle, bomb or missile,” the real name for the theory gets left out. Instead, we get language about Growth Mindsets and not Fixed and Grit, Perseverance and Tenacity to euphemize the actual dialectical mental and emotional change to arrive at the desired synthesis in a person who will act.

This vision of education as dialectical materialism to change the student’s values, beliefs, and dispositions so they will likely act as desired upon the world can be seen as recently as last Friday as Michael Barber and Pearson released a Michael Fullan authored document called A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. That report also helpfully ties together the actual intended Common Core implementation in the US to what is going on in Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. A global vision of the kind of perspectives and Worldviews that education is to inculcate for the future.

Everything is designed around experiential learning and getting students ready to act in desired ways. To see the past through so-called present and future needs. It’s not just the students being primed to act in desired ways. I keep hearing reports of teachers being told to stand and chant as a necessary component of new required professional development, while I notice how the leaders of the training just happened to be active in outcomes based education in the 90s. Or a recent story of videos being shown of enthusiastic cheering at various emotional public events like sports. Then the teachers are told that they must stand and cheer exuberantly at every mention of the phrase “Common Core” during the presentation. Does it remind anyone else of Michael Barber’s work with rebellious UK teachers years ago where the mantra was “First, act, then belief comes?”

To me, it is reminiscent of another of William Henry Chamberlin’s observations from his 30s experiences of collectivism that we encountered in the previous post. He noted that “human personality, for instance, may sometimes be dwarfed and standardized under the influence of democracy. But in the totalitarian states it tends to disappear altogether; the individual is simply sunk in the collectivist mass that votes, marches, salutes, cheers with the regularity and precision of an automatic machine.” That term ‘totalitarian’ may seem a bit misplaced when talking of the US or UK or Canada or Australia, but every one of the political and economic and social philosophies Chamberlin was writing about from personal experience was grounded in dialectical materialism. It is the foundational theory behind changing values and beliefs. What varied, then and now, are the particular beliefs that can be deliberately cultivated as useful for transformative change.

It is easy then to see the belief in Catastrophic Manmade Climate Change as one of today’s useful cultivated beliefs as well as the hyping of Inequality and the push for Communitarianism (misleadingly hiding in the definition of Career Ready as well as what will constitute a Positive School Climate). The intense focus on continued racism and sexism in reading selections and classroom discussions provides the same function. Useful beliefs that will likely compel a belief to act to transform the world in predictable ways. Others are more subtle, like the regular complaints over the religion of Islam being portrayed as inherently innocuous in ways that disregard known, provable, potentially dangerous facts. Or the economic misconceptions being deliberately cultivated and then tied to revered figures like Martin Luther King as Democracy Collaborative/Good Society’s Gar Alperovitz did recently. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/01/beyond-dreamer

We are going to talk next time about how this dialectical vision has become incorporated into the teacher evals for licensure and promotion to ensure compliance. Another dialectical process to ensure actual change in the material world.

Unfortunately all these intentions just cannot shake off the effects of unintended consequences and perverse incentives in that same material world.

The one where we all live and pay taxes to finance these millenarian visions of unrealistic, and nonconsensual, transformations.

 

 

Willingness to Make Personal Sacrifice for the Good of the Whole to Become an Integral Component of Student Identity

After last year’s stealth release of the hugely troubling C3-College, Career and Civic Ready Framework over Thanksgiving week to avoid anyone noticing what was actually changing under the invisibility cloak of the Common Core, I was watching like a hawk this year. But I really was not expecting anything like what I saw. A new definition of US civic education and to be required and assessed values that literally would have transformed Mao’s cold dark totalitarian heart in the manner of the end of the cartoon The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Why such joy from a bloody tyrant? Because the only way to describe the Youth Civic Development & Education: A Conference Consensus Report released by the Stanford Center on Adolescence on November 27, 2013 (but oddly with a 2014 copyright) is suitable for schools in a country that aspires to authoritarianism over the individual. Any knowledge of history would clue that the actual result in practice is likely to be even worse.

Everything any dictator could ever want from his or her schools sounds hyperbolic and you may be wondering how many cups of espresso I have had this morning. Two cups of Lapsang Souchong tea so that’s not the reason I am writing in such dramatic terms. And I have done some additional reading in recent days to verify both the seriousness of what we are looking at and the price of what we are scheduled to lose. Invisibly and soundlessly. No notice means no protest in time and using technology as is planned means no offensive textbook coming home to alert parents or taxpayers to the wholesale transformation.

The paper’s primary author, William Damon, has already been quoted on this blog as seeking to use education “to direct the course of the future.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-if-higher-order-thinkingdeliberate-confusion/ . After reading this report one has to wonder if he or any of the other authors was tempted to jet to London and visit Highgate Cemetary to put a bound volume at Uncle Karl’s tomb to pay homage to his hoped for view of the future and human development. So much more meaningful than flowers at this point across the centuries of this bloody pursuit to finally gain full submission over even the idea of the legitimacy of the individual.

The first book I dove into to verify what I was reading a description for was a 1973 book by Ivan Illich called Tools for Conviviality. Illich made no pretense that he was calling for socialism globally and how to get there. The book came on my horizon because it is a part of a World Perspectives series that began in the 60s with Kenneth Boulding’s The Great Transition that we have already alarmingly discussed. Illich insisted that “society must be reconstructed to enlarge the contribution of autonomous individuals and primary groups to the total effectiveness of a new system of production designed to satisfy the human needs which it also determines.” Like Broadband for all?

We have encountered this human needs focus (instead of individual choices vision) before and it did start with Uncle Karl’s writings. Illich called it the convivial society and Gar Alperowitz calls it the Good Society or the pluralist commonwealth and Shoshona Zuboff called it a support economy and distributed capitalism. Apparently there’s a good reason why this same vision with a variety of names keeps lurking in the shadows of radical education reform. It is the Illich/Marxian vision of submission to “public controls over tools and institutions” and apparently people too.

Education is the invisible, no need to gain consent from the masses, means of finally shutting down what Daniel Hannan in his fine new book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking People Made the Modern World calls the Anglosphere Miracle. The uniquely English idea “that the law existed not to control the individual but to free him.” The highly unusual in most parts of the world and throughout much of history “idea that the government ought to be subject to the law, not the other way around.” As Hannan notes “oppression and power are far more usual” which is why “politically, a medieval European monarchy would not have been so very different to a modern African kleptocracy. Once people are in a position to set the rules, they tend to rig those rules in their own favor.”

So changing the definition of required civic values in the US so that “all citizens must be prepared to make sacrifices for the common good” as what will be mandated and assessed in K-12 public schools is quite simply an insistence from government that citizens now submit to the suzerainty of majority political will. Administered by politicians and bureaucrats who intend to plan and confiscate. In case you think I am taking damning quotes out of context to rally outrage against the Common Core, how about insisting that “Democracy requires that citizens be willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good”? Doesn’t that phrase bring home why Ayn Rand’s personal experiences with the Bolsheviks in Russia in the 1920′s led her to fret so about “mandated social altruism” imposed by state edict?

It is hard not to visualize all those white crosses and stars in the Arlington National Cemetary or the monuments to the fallen in the D-Day invasions in Normandy France and be appalled that US education and law professors and writers are now seeking to revise. The very definition of what is to constitute politically acceptable 21st century US patriotism.

“Patriotism requires an ethic of sacrifice and duty, and the capacity to act on that ethic. It requires sacrifice in the form of civic activity that involves giving back for the benefit of the whole society.

We have already encountered the mandate of a recognition of the “interdependence of all people across the world” also in that report. It is straight out of the Global Citizenship mandate the UK and Australia and Scotland all imposed under Michael Barber’s insistence before he left the Tony Blair Administration to push global ed reforms through McKinsey Consulting and now Pearson Education. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ The US is about to join the rest of the Anglosphere in closing down this ancient view of the individual and his rights before the government and no one was really supposed to notice. No statutes here. Just ambitious Principals and Supers and Consultants and accreditation agencies seeking to lead cultural change towards public control over all institutions.

How many of you have heard about all the founding primary source documents that are to be an essential component of the Common Core classroom implementation? Better read this consensus report then. Those documents are to be read through the lens of what constitutes “authentic liberty.” The report states that

“a nation cannot have authentic liberty, for example, if conditions of severe inequality render freedom an illusion for some members of the democratic community. Nor can we understand the areas in which equality is essential unless we link those elements of meaningful access and opportunity to the freedoms we ultimately must exercise in order to flourish throughout our lifetimes.” [That is unabashedly Marx's theory of human development or what Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen are pushing now via the UN and OECD as capability as a human right.] To continue with the quote after making that crucial observation:

“Similarly, some citizens feel a loss of liberty when the government increases regulations of their personal and economic activities in pursuit of particular visions of equality. [Yes we are familiar with those particular visions. See above brackets]. The values of liberty and equality, in turn, are connected to a core notion of human dignity.”

We are NOT being asked to surrender the great Anglosphere invention that enabled unprecedented mass prosperity because production became more lucrative than predation as the way to get financially ahead. We aren’t even being informed. Apparently that joyful message reverts to a snoop like me. Aren’t you enthused that students are to even focus on the proper levers for taking by majority fiat as they learn about “treating political power as a central theme of civic education involves helping young people see how they gain greater control and influence over the many issues that affect them and the people they care about.”

No need to worry about where the lessons of history predict this will all end up because students are to be taught a version of power “firmly grounded in ethical principle.” Yes because any knowledge of reality might foretell the likely tsunami of political oppression that inevitably occurs anytime any group gets this kind of power over individuals who have no effective recourse.

That’s enough. Read the whole thing if you can bear it. I am obviously having a hard time with the no-holds-barred language being used. I think we need to all know our students are to be assessed on whether they are willing to “sacrifice for the the common good or greater good.”

And that this is being defined as “must reflect a commitment to interdependence and improving things for the many and not just the self. Furthermore, students ought to reflect on this principle in terms of a shared humanity beyond the boundaries of the nation, and from the perspective of future generations, considering the worldwide and intergenerational implications of the choices they will make.”

In the name of Common Core and civic education we are about to get all destructive propaganda, all the time. And the specialness of the Anglosphere won’t be all that disappears.

Every radical’s dream coming in as civic education.

Motto of Living Well as an Individual is Not Functional Anymore; Must Find Ways to Live Well Together

The final Chapter of that 1989 New World New Mind book we have talked about in the last two posts moved on to where all the radical education reform visions go eventually if you know where to look. That new vision of the future with a transformed society and economy. We need to always understand that if the future vision is anathema or likely to lead to unappreciated consequences that may well be tragic, we need to know that up front while the education pathway for these transformations is being put in place. The chapter was called “Changing the World Around Us” and pointed out that “people’s ideas are not as fixed as commonly thought–that in fact much is known about how to change them systematically.”

Which is precisely what the education reforms in the 90s known as Outcomes Based-Education and Whole Language set out to do. Another fascinating point from more than 20 years ago is the statement that “Television, of course, is one of the most important tools for developing new minds that society possesses.” Now that certainly explains an awful lot of series plotlines, doesn’t it?

Ehrlich and Ornstein point out that “the media, with minimal effort, could do a great deal to promote new-mindedness.” Boy did they ever step up to that plate. Greatly enjoying their inclusion among the “people who have leverage in our society” who would be on the list where “We must expose leaders of society to notions that are not now current.” I would say they all bit since virtually every troubling figure I have written about in recent months seems to be doing keynote speech after conference headliner after traipsing to DC or up to Boston to meet with Project Zero. Busy times as we reach the end game of what was laid out in 1989 as:

“Obviously, we need to make new kinds of thinking and new ways of handling our problems immediately available to society’s decision makers. And while changing the form and content of education would be a major step toward conscious evolution, much has to be done outside the schools as well.”

Which did happen. Society’s decision makers from their positions at foundations and think tanks and the UN and OECD and Big Business and ambitious politicians at every level have excitedly answered that call and are busily planning that future in books most of us have not read, in commissions we were not asked to join, in initiatives we have never heard of, and at conferences we have not been invited to. But it is no theory that there is a massive coordinated effort going on at our expense with a common consistent vision that involves our future and it has been in motion for about 25 years now. Let’s take a look at it since it involves no longer permitting the “pursuit of material self-gain” and an insistence a global self-appointed elite will create new systems of governance on our behalf with new “rules, arrangements and institutions that enable us to live well together: minimising destructive conflict and division in society.”

When I read the language in the 2010 National Education Technology Plan about 21st Century Competencies being the real goal, it was not news to me but it reminded me that I had better take a look again at what else the OECD was pushing. I knew they had issued Guidelines in March 2013 declaring that everyone’s subjective well-being was now their concern. How’s that for an all encompassing intrusive edict to justify a hoped-for lifetime of a tax-free salary and then pension? Was there a relationship between this Competencies/ Digital Learning push and the Subjective Well-being Initiative? Well of course. “Everything within the State, Nothing Outside the State, Nothing Beyond the State” as the saying with an unfortunate history goes. The language I quoted in the title and last paragraph came from this April 2013 OECD report. http://www.oecd.org/site/oecdgfd/Session%203.1%20-%20GFD%20Background%20Paper.pdf

This intrusive juggernaut coming out of both the UN and the OECD really tracks back to the Human Development Review reports that started in 1991 just as Ehrlich would have hoped. Over time what was sought just got bigger until now we get NGOs insisting they get to monitor and respond to whether “everyone’s relational and subjective needs are being and will be met” and “what governance in the 21st Century must consist of.” All that personal ed data and visualization will really come in handy when targeting personal “perceptions and aspirations” in order to gain a “cohesive society” is what is sought.

You can read that troubling 19 page report. Please note that the same US National Academy of Sciences now pimping 21st Century Skills and that Soviet pedagogy-inspired Education for Life and Work report has already quietly assembled a panel on Subjective Well-being as well. Another thing we are paying for but we are not invited to. Let me now add the Meeting of the Minds in Toronto in September to the list. 350 invites and they forgot us.  http://cityminded.org/events/toronto/agenda But we all have minds as well. Are we insufficiently newminded to qualify for the event? This annual get together to plan all of our futures without our consent around the concept of sustainable cities and regions started in 2007. We would all love to hear the “Economic Development Case for Urban Social Equity” and how universities and hospitals can become “anchor institutions” controlling the economy of an entire area. Or listen to the EPA official announcing the US is “re-inventing commerce as we know it, pivoting from a consumption model to something more sustainable.” As both the taxpayers paying his salary and the consumers about to be shafted can’t we listen too?

I am also intrigued by the “Dumb Phones, Smart Kids: The Coming Revolution of Citizen Engagement” program since that does seem to put an unacknowledged real purpose on all the Bring a Mobile Device to School hype. Apparently “Present and future generations will have unprecedented leverage with youth ‘voice’ in such areas as mobilization of demand, improvement of services, participatory engagement and accountability in local government.” Will the youth be able to tweet when their relational and subjective needs are not being sufficiently met?

Two of the listed speakers at the conference though are involved with pluralist commonwealth visions for our futures that just happened to come my way last week. These planners all seem to love that commonwealth phrase every bit as much as Harry Boyte and now the White House Office of Public Engagement. Lots of commonality of what the future Good Society is supposed to be in places we would not be likely to look at so let me give this a boost. In July 2013 PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress released the book All-In Nation: An America that Works for All http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/AllInNation-1.pdf with a government-centered/redistribution on steroids vision that will likely imperil almost everyone’s prosperity if it goes forward.

In addition we have a special journal issue called The Good Society laying out the commonwealth vision for the future. It did recognize that education is how we get there and that the US Constitution would need to be jettisoned or amended heavily and reenvisioned. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.5325/goodsociety.22.1.0074.pdf?acceptTC=true lays out how we get to a “Property-Owning Democracy” just as soon as a majority of voters will it apparently.  The contribution from the Democracy Collaborative (which also got invited to speak in Toronto) http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.5325/goodsociety.22.1.0001.pdf  is called “The Possibility of the Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community-Sustaining Economy.”

All the papers are in a similar vein. Public ownership and a state-directed economy and a reimagined workplace can be made to work in the 21st Century if we simply build the right Mindsets and personal perceptions and values through our schools. There is one more book that is being repeatedly cited as the vision for the future that goes along with these educaion reforms. Written by a sociology prof admirer of both Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren and all their environmental economics work. Publishing her (by Pearson’s Penguin Group of course) basically gets their past and current visions but it appears to be a new voice. Called Plenitude: the new economics of true wealth it sees us all swapping used clothes in the future and work sharing and rebuilding a face-to-face, localized, self-sufficiency economy.

Now none of us can debate what we do not know about and apparently only “society’s leaders” are supposed to be the decision makers in this future. No wonder there is so little knowledge in this Competencies/ digital learning vision. No wonder information on emotions and perceptions and motivations is so vital to the vision of future education. These visions of the transformed future that are sitting on unlikely assumptions about changing human nature are literally joined at the hip to the actual planned education reforms galloping into classrooms and schools that start classes tomorrow or in a few weeks at the latest.

Now one of the expressions that gets used all the time to sell this new vision for learning and education is to quit thinking in terms of silos. Well that goes both ways. We parents and taxpayers and believers in individualism and knowers of what actually creates mass prosperity and what dooms it need to start peering into the silos of future plans.

I for one just do not have the disposition to merely be among the ‘governed’ in the 21st or any century.

Igniting an Entire Generation of Dedicated Social Change Agents via Education Compelled to Act Now

The great Political Theorist Kenneth Minogue’s tragic death yesterday gave me a good reason to go back and reread the highlights of his fine 2010 book The Servile Mind. Turns out to be just the kind of insights we need to grasp precisely what is being attempted globally in education. And why. I had been fuming since Friday that we have basically three tracks going on right now in education. Track 1, the vast majority, really have no idea that there are to be dramatic changes in the nature of K-12 and higher education. Track 2 is aware of the Common Core and is concerned that it is a usurpation by the feds of local control over the curriculum.

I observe and write about Track 3–the real implementation  intended to fundamentally change attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors in order to gain a desired political, social, and moral transformation. Track 3 is so anti-content that it calls for substituting emotional engagement instead (this past week’s Partnership for Global Learning annual conference in NYC). Or as this influential group advocates  http://p21.org/tools-and-resources/p21blog/1151-how-can-technology-empower-deeper-learning-in-a-21st-century-school “deriving the curriculum from the lived experience of the student” rather than “a collection of fixed texts.”

Minogue recognized in The Servile Mind that something fundamental was shifting all over the world “as governments take over the tasks individuals used to do for themselves.” That our very conception of society is changing and much of the attitudes driving those changes are being first nurtured, and then required, by education “reforms.” He rightfully worried about what happens in countries where a majority of voters come to see themselves as “an association of vulnerable people whose needs and sufferings must be remedied by the power of the state.”

Minogue recognized that the power and unprecedented prosperity achieved by countries in the West grew from a foundational vision of “self-conscious individuals guiding their destinies according to whatever moral sentiments they entertain.” Now, all over the world, a competing vision seeks stealth enactment and education is the preferred means of avoiding detection as the rulers sculpt the citizens to be malleable. And behaviorally predictable if only the right buttons are pushed. Yes, that would be another job for the compliant media if Minogue had only had a copy of all those UNESCO reports. Minogue does nail the new vision though. A future society “in which individuals find their identifying essence in supporting public policies that are both morally obligatory and politically imperative.”

That future vision now can quietly come in the front door of the school to coerce compliance from an early age. Via lots of psychological student data and a very poorly understood definition of Student Growth. Which will make it much more difficult for us to protect the next generation from being manipulated into a “gullible acquiescence to the projects of government.” Minogue wrote about the Romans and how they “had learned the moral practices needed for a sycophantic submission” during the long reign of Augustus. And when the atrocious Tiberius came along they had been mentally and emotionally disarmed from coping with overt tyranny. The usefulness of deliberately targeting “hearts and minds” has been clear from time immemorial and we should honor Professor Minogue’s admonition that “we should never forget that moral change takes place below, and often deeply below, the surface of a culture.”

Back to track 3 to discuss what is off most radars. It has explicit intentions to create those very moral changes we were just warned about. In an entire generation of learners. Hoping to, in the words of one speaker, create “habits of head, heart, and hand that together will hopefully cause students to take meaningful action. And engage in volunteerism and service. Standing up against injustices and improving conditions and making changes in the world around them.” I have warned about media education and the primacy of the 21st Century Skills push and also the Global Competence portion of the Common Core that guides the classroom vision even though it is usually unmentioned in the PR push. On June 4, 2013, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (which had deceitfully claimed to be shutting down a few years ago) put on a Congressionally Sponsored Global Awareness Event at the Capitol Hill Visitors Center. To push Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy. We had the Pearson Foundation as a sponsor and a Disney executive (as in Mickey Mouse and lots of Media pull) as the moderator.

If you have 40 minutes to spare, here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Us7qvshjhw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUK7RYYXF4XqP_mIDu28ZtuQ . I am going to assume you are busy though and give you the highlights. Or what I consider the troubling implications of a vision of education that regards the whole point now as getting students to “become passionate about global issues.” Issues selected and fostered because they will be useful to growing the tendency of the government to intervene, or at least guide, in all matters in the future. I was quoting Scott Hirschfield of the US Fund for UNICEF earlier so let’s continue with what knowledge and values and skills he wants to see K-12 schools cultivate. He said UNICEF defines global citizen as someone who “understands interconnectedness and appreciates global diversity. Someone who challenges inequities and takes meaningful action in their communities at the global level.”

Hirschfield went on the say that “head–heart–hand is how we shorthand this.” I am going to interrupt my quoting to point out that genuinely free market economies provide people with what they want to buy but they are drivers of economic inequality. It’s just that the least successful still are better off financially than has ever been the case in a state-directed economy. With Statism what gets equalized has generally been misery unless you are politically connected. Everyone else gets misery without much recourse apart from physical escape. On rafts. Over Berlin Walls. Tunneling. A human drive to be free.

So when content is pooh-poohed and emotions are pushed and equity becomes the driver we need to beware of knowledge as officially described as “economic and political literacy and an understanding of human rights.” Hand is the “skills we want” like “conflict resolution and a willingness to negotiate and compromise.” Then we get heart as “the values and dispositions we want young people to internalize” like “compassion and toleration of others.”

I will interrupt this troubling confession of the new purpose of education to once again borrow Professor Minogue’s insight that “the ideological frenzies of the twentieth century” like Nazism and Communism “have largely disappeared, except in universities, but the basic impulse in our civilization toward collective salvation has not.” And the way an elite go about obtaining that collective salvation and servitude is through a “change in the hearts and minds of human beings.” So we recognize the impulse but what happens to a society where the next generation knows little but feels the need to jettison what exists and try to design anew?

I will shift and end with Kathleen Welling’s vision since she too sees the new purpose of education as “changing lives.” She hyped the first Global Student Leaders Summit in March in Costa Rica with Al Gore as the keynoter. Next April the Summit is going to China and the emphasis is on “how do we change this world?”

I think the term “playing with fire” is too mild to describe the dangers of this new, to be mandated, view of education. Welling also mentioned that she believed that the Asia Society was doing fine work in promoting this new view of Global Education which is why I led off this post with a mention of its PGL13 conference last week. http://sites.asiasociety.org/pgl2013/about/ She also mentioned the work of Fernando Reimers at Harvard as guiding this new vision of global education for all in the future.

He’s probably not on your radar yet but he’s been on mine for a while. At the beginning of this week that celebrates genuine freedom, what type of meaning would freedom have in a country where K-12 education becomes devoted to “all children” must “develop their own understanding about how we all share responsibility for the well being of humanity?”

Not just that understanding mind you, but also “develop that compassion” so that students will learn to act as desired. And on the political issues desired.

 

Descending to a Connected Kleptocracy Via the Digital Learning and Climate Change Ruses

In the continued reality where the truth involves far more official coordination than anything Agatha Christie ever imagined, the UNESCO global aspiration for media/digital education as the be all and end all for Everyone really does say flat out–”we need to get the media involved.” That would mean newspapers, broadcast networks, film studios, all aspects of the entertainment industry plus the computer tech and software companies and broadband providers like AT&T. Not a presumed coordination but an explicit one. Just chock full of those generous public/private partnerships where the only risk is to the already put-upon taxpayer.

This is more quoted language from that 2010 “Media Literacy and New Humanism” that literally laid out how to use education globally to get to every dream of transformation Uncle Karl ever had. Literally dovetailing not only with the Marxist Humanism vision we have now tracked in the West from the early 60s on but also the rather horrific UN vision of the Knowledge Society where we all organize around central cultural themes. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ lays it out if you can bear the details.

Today is more about how and the fact that US Education Secretary Arne Duncan is clearly behaving as if the obligation to coordinate as a partner were already in place. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2013/06/arne_duncan_decries_imaginary_attacks_on_common_core.html is the story on yesterday’s speech to the Annual Convention of the American Society of News Editors. The one where he explicitly laid out the role he expected of the media in sending out the administration’s desired message on the Common Core. I will point out if you read the speech that he is describing the 21st Century Skills focus as the actual CC implementation. And he keeps referring to deep learning. And since I have UNESCO’s definition of curricula from its mischievous report and it does dovetail with what the federal government is financing or urging on, we will use that instead of his false gauntlet of textbooks (which by the way the feds have been financing for years through their math and science grants through NSF).

Because digital learning and cyberlearning are such a huge part of where the feds and their cronies are pushing education globally, they have redefined the word curricula as “an educational experience programmed for a learner.” Which apart from the assessments that Arne wisely stayed away from in his gauntlet tossing speech, the feds and the tech companies absolutely are getting involved in designing those types of experiences. And insisting that 21st century education must be about experiences and group activities and not be mental. If you are going to complain about imaginary assertions of federal overreach it is probably best not to give interviews to Pearson’s Michael Barber where you state that “our decentralised system has its pros and cons” and then show enough irritation that Barber described it in the report that:

“we’ve been too slow to move in the direction of hybrid learning. The question is …how do you make that standard practice?”

Hybrid learning is that blend of digital computerized, Benjamin Bloom Mastery Learning of skills and outcomes coupled to a physical school with interactions with real students and teachers. What is being called Blended Learning or the Flipped Classroom in most of the US hype. With lots of lucrative funding for the companies pushing this model. Courtesy of You Know Who.

So gag me on the ire and misinterpretations of the feds’ efforts. If anything the utter coordination globally and the economic, social, and political visions it is tied to remain way too unknown in the US and most countries. Which is possible if you “get media involved” and then go on to detail that “this emphasis took shape in two ways [as always UNESCO loves to italicize for emphasis]:

a) the development of relations with the media industry and cooperation platforms [like news editor annual conventions?] and

b) the proposal to develop quality standards applicable to the messages and the media, which would contribute to making communication professionals more aware of the effects of their work.

Honestly if you can get that kind of direct and explicit and intentional coordination of the “media, professionals, legislators, and civic and political institutions” aligned to what is allowed or not in the classrooms via the real Common Core implementation. Then you throw in all the affective Big Data on frustrations and motivations that hybrid learning and gaming throw off and no one will ever need to actively censor again. Talk about nipping in the bud. And Arne’s speech yesterday and Karen Cator’s to the New Media Consortium a few months ago make it quite clear the era of this active coordination of messages and knowledge itself and communication to the serfs, I mean citizens, is upon us.

What is really problemmatic apart from the mockery of personal liberty such clear and intentional and regular coordination creates from “womb to tomb”, as the new favored phrase goes, is where I got that peevish hybrid learning quote from Arne. It’s in a report Barber and Pearson Education did with the Institute for Public Policy Research, which bills  itself “leading progressive think tank”. That must be another way of saying where Fabianism remains alive and well and excited about the 21st century. It was prepared as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in September 2012 on Russky Island off the coast of Vladivostok, Russia. The report was named “Oceans of Innovation: The Atlantic, the Pacific, the Global Leadership and the Future of Education.”

The report lays out the global coordination using education (and climate change sustainability too but that’s not what I am stressing here) to get to the “collective future” desired globally. It also makes it clear that the age of the individual and the era of the UK and US is over. Which is in large part due to previous decades efforts to use K-12 education to “destroy the talent myth.” Which is much easier to do when internationally benchmarked has come to mean an emphasis on “equity and diversity” and “progressive immigration” to developed countries. AND “a standard of education that will enable [everyone] to adapt and change as they respond to the constant dramatic shifts in the global labour market. As American reformers put it, every student needs to be ready for college, work and citizenship.”

All that within the overview we had feared as we tracked the Global Cities Education Network and UNESCO’s Shanghai definition of the 21st century Learning City with its all-encompassing views of what is to be planned and what is coming in under the Global Competence Asia Society presentations in individual US states and cities. It is all part of a globally coordinated effort involving the UN and Pearson and foundations and the stated idea of political radicals with a real fondness still for Uncle Karl’s philosophy for the future that:

“As traditional institutions, such as the family or church, break down, increasingly schools are the only social institutions we can rely on to inculcate in young people the values or ethical underpinning on which our collective future depend…some values are universal and vital: respecting individuals equally regardless of their wealth, gender, sexual orientation or origin; recognising the diversity of life–not just human life–on Earth and understanding the threats to environmental sustainability…”

Well, the Canadians had tipped us off already that the real common core was about new values but the Vancouver brigade must be in the ascendancy instead of the Montreal area of Canada. They left off the part about the “eclipse of the Atlantic economy by the Pacific”  and a rejection of the individual ‘rights’ culture of the West. With a planned 21st century replacement from the rise of the Pacific and China in particular. And a new collective-oriented ‘responsibilities’ culture which asks what citizens “could offer the state.” According to the ASCD in the US, I believe the answer is the Whole Child with its “full personality.”

So the innovation you keep hearing so much about as a selling point for the Common Core and its equivalents in other countries turns out to be a desire

“to innovate as dramatically in our capacity to make peace as we are in our capacity to make war. Moreover, the next half century demands in other spheres too–in social and economic realms and indeed, fundamentally in human relations…unless there is also innovation in these more subtle and subjective domains, the future looks very bleak indeed.”

No wonder Arne was so peevish about delays in implementing hybrid learning everywhere. And increased opposition to the federal machinations, in support of the international coordination, hiding in the US as the poorly understood Common Core. It’s past time say the global key players: “society must furnish a culture that is progressive and open to the transmission of new ideas.”

Except those ideas are actually almost two centuries old. Uncle Karl really is back globally. And coming in through ed reforms and hype over Sustainability and Climate threats.

Any excuse for governmental planning. And lifelong deference from the planned for.

New Mindsets and Changed Values Tied to ICT as the Long Sought Marxian New Mode of Production

Computers and ICT generally just keeps getting cited as the magic technology that Marx and Engels speculated could allow a world where everyone’s needs get met. Advances in technology was a hugely important concept in all their political theorizing of how in the future society would be organized in radically different ways. That the age of the individual and capitalism would be over. It’s the era I have explained as small c communism in previous posts because that is what they called it. Well, they also called it the age of association and community. Princeton prof Robert Tucker said it was to be a time of positive humanism. Since that term is less off-putting than either communism or Marxist Humanism, that strikes me as a better term for us to use so we don’t bring in visions of Kremlin Walls or Mao’s Black Book uninvited. But the future social and economic vision is the same as what we have encountered under varying names in numerous posts now.

And the prosperous West remains the target. With education as the preferred vehicle to gain the desired changes in consciousness and values and attitudes and especially feelings. We in the West assumed the PH vision was about who had what. But it turns out Uncle Karl’s theory had what might be called a magic trigger. Let me explain with a quote:

“every historical mode of production has been conditioned by the nature of the available means of production or state of technology. As [Marx] puts it in a vivid passage, ‘The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.’ According to this view, the rise of a new technology, a new set of material productive powers…”

necessarily triggers a social revolution. Computers, the Internet, cellphone communication etc–what I and others abbreviate as ICT–are being held up as that triggering technology. And to put it bluntly we have political idealogues, ready to administer public sector and NGO bureaucrats, and tech and media companies ready to stop future competition, who are quite happy to use education to commence the needed changes in mindsets and values. All while being well-paid of course. All over the globe but especially in the US. That’s really a big part of what Common Core is about when you peel back the layers and delve into the ever present, consistent, feature–must use ICT as an integral part of classroom. The focus.

Being honest that this tracks back to Uncle Karl would of course be a bad PR selling point so instead we get university students being told that “unjust ecological and social conditions” require “transformation of existing power relations and even worldviews.” Radical change needs minds that have been primed to accept “a society based upon distribution according to need” and primed for activism. Students who believe in the “possibility of realizing it, of moving from the world as it is to the world as it ought to be.”

Gaming and role-playing and little factual knowledge are really useful to such aspirations of transformative change. Luckily for the Change-the-World Crowd the visual, concrete, nature of making school about the use of the computer and making films and power points ditches the abstract mind bolstering aspects of reading print that is designed around symbols for sounds. Remember that when you find out that Pearson and the MacArthur Foundation underwrote a 2011 PBS special called “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” hyping the new types of literacy. How digital media is “changing the ecology of reading and writing” so it is no longer “doing the type of reading where you sit in your bedroom by yourself reading a novel.”

What about under an umbrella on the beach while working on a tan I ask in alarm?

No, “kids need to get a deep passion” for what they are doing and school needs to be about what will make them feel passionate. We shouldn’t be rewarding the “kid who stays up late reading a book” while “a kid who spends that same time working with his guild in ‘World of Warcraft’ is thought to have a problem.” Yes, these quotes are coming straight from the program’s transcript.   http://www.pbs.org/parents/digital-media/pdf/digital-media-transcript.pdf Have a read if you can stand it. The vision of “where learning and assessment are the same thing.” Which is precisely what Robert Torres said is a big part of the Gates Foundation’s current focus. So that computer, role-playing, games become the means of measuring whether learning is occurring.

No I am not kidding. Torres spoke at the G Summit in April 2013 on “Transforming Education with Gamification” and saw it as a means of determining if the Common Core Standards and the new science standards are being met. And I noticed that very time the interviewer, Gabe Zicherman, brought up knowledge, Torres switched back to his preferred term–learning. Behavioral changes then will do while the head remains quite empty.

In case you are stunned by this whole idea, here’s the June 28, 2012 News Release creating GlassLab–The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab–under the premise that “video games can revolutionize American education and students’ testing and learning. We can harness students’ passion and energy for video games and utilize that to reach and educate a 21st century workforce with skills critical for college and career readiness.” One can just imagine this idea of work or college but at least all the students will get plenty of daily practice with the designated new mode of production. http://www.instituteofplay.org/2012/06/2498glass-lab-press-release/ Torres is quoted as saying “we need projects that will work with students and speak to them in their native language: digital media. Through game-based learning, students will be challenged, and teachers and parents can get real-time feedback on student progress.”

Will the parents really understand that the Growth and Achievement are from being online and immersed in role-playing video games? Will they understand that the games will count as Literacy under the Common Core? This presentation is about 7 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahYeJ5LmnXI . You can decide if this is your idea of desirable Learning or Literacy. And with Pearson and NewsCorp’s Amplify and many of our Gordon Commission members involved with GlassLab, this really does look like the intended future. Have a look if you’d like  http://glasslabgames.org/

One of the people interviewed as part of that PBS program was Dr Nichole Pinkard, founder of Chicago’s Digital Youth Network. Which Gates is supporting but not quite as generously as the $50 million the MacArthur Foundation has plowed in. Here’s the vision of a different design for classroom learning  http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/pinkard-videogames-inspire-classroom-design/ Dr Pinkard made a very interesting statement in her interview with PBS. She said that “literacy has always been defined by technology.” Under this theory of history grounded in you know who’s writings, the technology changes the type of consciousness. So the printing press and moveable type are what made print the new designated form of literacy. And this line of thinking goes, since we now have tablets and films and videos on demand and computers learning to respond to sound, we should change the nature of what constitutes literacy.

Now John Dewey and the Soviet psychologists, among others, all understood that learning to decode and use symbols for sound or math that did not look visually like the concept they actually stood for is what turbocharged the potentials of the individual mind. (As compared with drawing a fish to symbolize a fish). And in the name of Equity and Mastery Learning and Gamification and Engagement and the new Era of ICT, we are trashing that herd-defying, capable of logic, abstract mind. Trying to put the Genie Back in the Bottle and deliberately regress in the average person’s working knowledge.

I simply cannot imagine a scenario where this will turn out well. It’s just a matter of how far down this Expensive Road to Ignorance we travel before recognizing what is going on.

I believe Marxism in essence is a Public Sector Subjugation Theory over the Individual and his or her Precious Mind. I get why people who currently have power, or who want more like the UN, would want to keep bringing it back. It levels the most capable and turns everyone else into reliable clients in search of “Bread and Circuses” delivered by the public sector and their privileged cronies.

And we may not be able to stop this but it is certainly time we understood what infamous theories we are really dealing with here. And thus why digital literacy and the use of the computer in some form is front and center now in education.

Students Must See Themselves as Active Participants in Social Change and Designers of Social Futures

Before I tell you where that quote came from and what the connection is to the Gordon Commission, I want to go back in time first. I did what I frequently do when presented with troubling declarations of plans that I know will come to a poor end. I went back to someone who dealt with comparable aspirations and ideologies for insights into what is really going on and how this might end. History is much more reliable than a crystal ball. And, unlike the Marxist historians active in Europe before World War I and the 1920s, I do not use historical research as a “means of political agitation.” I will confess though it can be more useful than espresso as a jolting wakeup call.

No, I am not that ancient except to my kids but I did go back to someone who lived through what happened in Europe in the early 20th century and presciently recognized the gravity of what he was looking at. Economist Ludwig Von Mises saw that history and political theories were being used all around him “to provide weapons against the hated bourgeois order of society.” Remember that quote when we get to the end of this post. Von Mises was infatuated with socialism when he was younger, like most German and Austrian intellectuals of that time. But he wrote the book Socialism to explain why he believed it would not work. Long before Communism had crashed and burned in the USSR or the Germans tried out a more Corporatist and Nationalist version of socialism that launched 2 world wars. I wanted his insights into why planning societies does not work from what he saw in real time. The book was originally published in German in 1932 so Von Mises is speaking from quite a unique vantage point.

What I hit upon instead was so on point with using education to shut down the abstract mind and push action instead. Plus the desire we keep encountering to supply the interpretive concepts and metaphors, instead of accurate facts, to filter student’s daily reality. I decided we could use Von Mises’s observations from so long ago.

“Abstract thought is independent of the wishes which move the thinker and of the aims for which he strives. Only this independence qualifies it as thought. Wishes and purposes regulate action (his italics).”

Von Mises goes on in a footnote to clarify that “the wish is the father of faith.“  Faith is thus what all these education reforms are really trying to create. Do you remember this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/  where influential Harvard psychology prof Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi  laid out his vision of the Flow experience? As Von Mises ably observed in dealing with earlier “Let’s Remake the World Schemers,” there is no abstract thought when wish for and feeling are joined to thought. It is the sort of cultivated personality ready to attend and celebrate at rallies without a second thought. Csik’s Flow and the idea of physical activity in a digital environment instead of mental is mentioned throughout this new view of curriculum and assessment we started to look at in the last post. A primary solution for engaging students at school and keeping them in school is Gaming. As in video games.

That really caught my interest for several reasons. I know the Gates Foundation has been funding it for the Common Core implementation. I know that Professor James Paul Gee, who we discovered in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/ does not believe in the concept of discrete individuals, has pivoted in the last 10 years in his education research to focusing on gaming. And I know that Amplify has been hyping Zombie-Based Apocalypse simulations as learning on its website. To get to what Joel Klein has called “new kinds of minds” I suppose.

So Pearson and the Gordon Commission and everyone else is pushing Gaming. And Gee who wants education to help create people to be “better modules in a distributed non-authoritarian system” is both a member of the Commission and pushing Gaming instead of linguistic mischief making. His previous research mission. Although if you look up his report “Good Video Games and Good Learning” you will see he is quite excited that Gaming helps move education beyond its fetish with print and words. Important to the schemers as we now know.

What do they mean by Gaming? As we saw with the Zombie Apocalypse simulation story that cited sources acknowledging that this type of digital learning is known to weaken the mind http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/creating-new-minds-different-values-equity-in-credentials-can-this-really-lead-us-to-prosperity/ , the point of the simulations described is to practice planning and redesigning societies. You can see why I went back to Von Mises. So the same report that starts off maligning knowledge of facts as “banking education” wants students to practice reimagining other ways for societies to exist and to come to believe that societies can be planned. And the games cited are multi-user to get both social interaction and collaboration practice. Cited are the game River City where the students learn to solve a simulated 19th century city’s problems. At least in the virtual world with the provided, controlled variables. A difference from the real world that is not likely to be pointed out to the students or the teachers.

Then there is the “epistemic game called Urban Science that mimics the professional practicum experiences of urban planners.” Yes, because they are noted for doing a bang-up job with planning in the real world. Let’s ignore that and go with Professor Don Schon’s aspirations for cities and people to be systems that can be treated as problems to be solved. The virtual world awaits and the students immersed in such Gaming are likely to soon accept social and economic planning and fiats as a norm.

Perhaps the most graphic example of where all this is going in the Pearson/ Gordon Commission report is the game Quest Atlantis. There the aim is explicitly described like this:

“the focus of critical design work is to develop sociotechnical structures that facilitate individuals in critiquing and improving themselves and the societies in which they function.”

In fact the creators of the game noted that:

“although they could have focused the Quest Atlantis virtual environment solely on particular science standards about erosion, they became concerned with highlighting attitudes toward environmental awareness and social responsibility.”

And just in case you are wondering where are values, feelings, and beliefs that usually go along with these outcome-based maneuvers to change future behavior, the authors did not forget. They go on to describe how they:

“decided to make a structure connected to social commitments, creating a story [because all political schemers seem to know children learn better with a narrative!] about collecting pieces of crystal, with each representing a social commitment the designers wanted to enforce, like political awareness. They instilled in the community around the game a value of these commitments through the design of the ecosystem.”

The title of this post is quoted from the Introduction to Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures and it was too consistent with the aspirations of the Gaming emphasis not to use. Plus Gee and Courtney Cazden of the Discourse Classroom that we met in the Community of Learners post were both contributors. In fact Gee acknowledged that all these education reforms are to “change the game, that is, to change our society” to what he called a distributed economic system.

You may have noticed all the focus on cities and urban education above and in Edmund Gordon’s mission as a professor. Likewise there are increasingly stories about students being told to learn about White Privilege or their “economic class.” This week’s version involved Americorps workers in Wisconsin but the reports are increasing around the US. So I want to close this post and set up the next one with another quote from Gee’s “New People in New Worlds” essay from the book.

“We, then, really have two school problems. [to get to the sought new economic order]. The first concerns how to ensure that poor and minority children, really for the first time, get well educated enough to participate in building and transforming our societies. The second concerns how to ensure that advantaged children can get out of school able to think ‘critiquely’ about issues of power and social justice in the new global capitalist order.”

How succinct was that admission of the essence of what we are dealing with?

Nothing As Practical As a Good Theory For Gaining Access to Action Research

If a political theory gets you grant money or a job at a foundation, it “works” whether it is true or not. And puts its creator in a position to drive social change. The same is true with a learning theory. It does not have to be grounded in how kids actually gain knowledge if imposing it on a classroom will change future behaviors of soon-to-be voters in desired ways. Or might. That’s the great thing about action research theories. You impose them in real-life situations and see what happens. And you call them “research-based” to add an additional touch of legitimacy. Slyly leaving off the key point that the research is yet to come.

We already encountered Anthony Giddens saying it did not matter if global warming theory did not turn out to be factually true. That the theory itself would drive desired changes in individual behavior and social and economic changes. German sociology prof Ulrich Beck was even more forthright in declaring CAGW theory created a basis for a post-Berlin Wall Metamorphosis of the State all over the  traditionally capitalistic and individualistic West.

Social science researcher Kurt Lewin is the one who made the observation that there is “nothing as practical as a good theory.” He is considered the Godfather of all political theory action research and is intimately involved in what education pedagogy has become. Culmination of his life work you might say if you look him up.  The fact that he is quoted by name as a justification that:

“in order to learn how to sustain the development of the whole of humankind, individual human minds develop new mental models that can be used for representing worldviews in innovative ways. One way that knowledge of a global view of the world can be enhanced is through the use of systems thinking, from which merges the concept of global interdependence.”

Now the part in the next section about systems thinking being a useful metaphor and not literally true gets left out when systems thinking comes to a classroom. There it takes on its intended function of creating new mental models and worldviews. By the way that IB presentation I mentioned in an earlier post recently had multiple slides on creating new worldviews. It was the purpose of the Critical Thinking and Global Citizenship emphasis.

The disturbing fact that these new mental models and worldviews are intended to use education to drive a Biosocial Evolution should give us pause. So should the reality that I pulled the language from a UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Especially as the National Geographic Society is helping to draft the Chapter called “Global Interdependence and Biosocial Systems.” It’s not like NGS is involved also with the drafting of the new US Common Core Science Standards.

That’s us. A biosocial system. And the introduction of such systems thinking into the classroom likely will not have the intended effect but it will alter values, beliefs, emotions and perceptions. That highly useful foursome to change future behavior. Just like Paul Ehrlich says his MAHB is more than five years into doing. Now Paul Ehrlich has a history of outrageous predictions of future calamities that never turn out to be true. I have noticed a tendency recently to mock his predictions and ridiculous statements on Twitter and in books and publications. It can make it easy to forget that Ehrlich’s theories do not have to be right. They are not intended to be. What they are intended to be is Influential. To become the excuse for someone’s desired change. That Metamorphosis of government power over people and an economy and the political structure. And in those domains his theorizing seems to be working splendidly.

That’s also why the influence of his Stanford colleague psychology prof Albert Bandura on the classroom implementation of the Common Core in the US and education reforms globally matters to all of us. That would be Bandura who is now trumpeted as the most cited living psychology prof. It appears we have located MAHB’s how to fundamentally change human behavior via UNESCO’s sought global education reforms. It is Bandura who Ehrlich and Orenstein thank first in their Humanity on a Tightrope book. Bandura is intimately in the hyping of overpopulation with Ehrlich. He and Ehrlich were working together to get the Palo Alto schools to study how to motivate students to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oh and Stephen Schneider too for those who know his work. And if you wonder if he hypes quite as much as Paul I suggest locating Bandura’s 2007 “Impeding Ecological Sustainability through Selective Moral Disengagement.”

Not like access to the classroom would give a means to do something about Moral Disengagement on this issue in the future. That’s Bandura’s Self Efficacy Theory by the way creating a new theory for equity and student success in the Classroom that I described in this post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/self-efficacy-cultural-proficiency-training-critical-reflection-and-change-agency-development/ Based on that 2010 Framework created by California Tomorrow to become a national template. That’s also his theories involved when I wondered why the Facing History theory taught students that “history is largely manmade” even though that is clearly not true. Described in this important previous post  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/changing-the-filtering-perception-the-way-we-see-the-world-is-key/

Stressing the idea that each person can make a difference turns out to be based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory. He has discovered it encourages motivation to take action if students believe they can manage fortuity as he calls it. So he has developed theories of Social Agency to encourage students to take action, individually and collectively. So Kurt Lewin was right. Good theories are practical means of  trying to change the future in Transformative Ways. And it is important that we remember that and not get caught up in the falsity of the theory.

Now if Bandura’s influence was limited to what I cited above, it would still be important to write about. UNESCO and friends really are trying to use government mandates over education and what constitutes science and regulatory policy to drive a Biosocial Evolution. Why? Because it brings them power and money and justifies what they already have. A motivation about as old as Ancient Babylon and Eqypt if not just after the Garden of Eden exodus. No Bandura is much more influential than that. Which is how he came to my attention.

I have mentioned that Ed Week wanted to trumpet Fulton County, Georgia’s Conversion to a Charter System as of July 1, 2012. And that when I read that charter it clearly reflected the Hearts Desire of UNESCO for post-Berlin Wall education that I wrote about here.   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/ . One of the troubling terms used repeatedly in that Charter was Life Skills. Clearly a defined term left undefined in the actual document so I went looking for the origination of the term. And I found it in a 1993 document put out by the World Health Organization, Division of Mental Health with help from UNICEF, TACADE UK, and funding from the Carnegie Corporation in New York.

The idea was that teaching everyday life skills would promote mental well-being and positive health behavior. Something to keep in mind now as social and emotional learning are being trumpeted as necessary post-Sandy Hook “mental first-aid.” These Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence are listed as “Decision making, Problem solving, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Effective communication, Interpersonal relationship skills, Self-awareness, Ability to empathise, Coping with emotions, and Coping with stressors.” The actual document goes on to describe each of these in detail. Leaving no doubt that Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence is the less politically correct name for what are now being called 21st Century Skills. Which is not just a controversial US push under the name P21. As I mentioned in the previous post it is global under the name ATC21S and tied into what Pearson will actually be assessing students for. That will be the next post. I promise.

Today we are talking about Ehrlich and Bandura and the usefulness of theories in driving attempts at social change. Which is why the following paragraph from that WHO report is so important. Not just to education’s real intentions globally. Since its intended purpose is to change future voters from the inside out on what will motivate them to take action and how to behave in the future. That’s really how you get Transformative Change. Here goes:

“The methods used in the teaching of life skills builds upon what we know of how young people learn from the people around them, from observing how others behave and what consequences arise from behaviour. This is described in the Social Learning Theory developed by Bandura (1977).  In Social Learning Theory, learning is considered to be an active acquisition, processing and structuring of experiences. It is this emphasis on the individual as an active processor of reality that lies at the heart of the conceptual basis for teaching life skills using active, learner-centred teaching methods.”

So the actual classroom implementation of what is being called Common Core in the US and Quality Learning and what goes under a variety of names in other countries all ties back to what was laid out in this WHO document in 1993. That ties into what every UN agency wanted before and since. That ties into Ehrlich’s declarations. And the measurements to be used to determine if this is in fact what is going on in classrooms. And the Effective Teacher evaluations. Yes I do have all the relevant documents.

So never ridicule an influential theory or theorist until we successfully defuse those who plan to impose those theories on us anyway. At our expense. Short term financially and long term culturally.