Using the Common Core’s Performance Assessments to Create a New Kind of Person

Now if the US Common Core Initiative or any other country’s similar UNESCO inspired shift to skills and attitudes and desired personal dispositions were to be accurately described as being about “shaping a kind or person” or:

“about creating a kind of person, with kinds of dispositions and orientations to the world, rather than simply commanding a body of knowledge. These persons will be able to navigate change and diversity, learn-as-they-go, solve problems, collaborate, and be flexible and creative.”

Such a future capacity general focus for all students instead of fixed content knowledge would not be politically popular. Parents and taxpayers and non-politically connected future employers would likely rebel from such Mind Arson via taxation and tuition.

So of course the Parasitical Class of too many professors and education administrators and vendors who want both their inflated salaries and pensions AND political, social, and economic Transformation simply lie to us about what is really going on. Once a controversy develops, we get new names and severed parts but usually not real changes in practices. So when the Future Empowerment Paradigm associated with Transformational Outcomes Based Education and William Spady in the 90s (described here )  became controversial, the critical End Game of Life Role Performances got severed. Keep the function. Change the Name. Hire someone other than Spady.

Now it is very difficult for the public to get their arms around just how much scheming and looting and psychological manipulation is going on in this Change the Student Future Capacity Template. When they hear terms like “Performance Standards” they automatically think solid academics at a high level of expected expertise. When they hear Performance Assessment, they think testing that expects solid academic achievement. They certainly do not think of an education model doing everything it can to take mental activity out of the classroom. They would be horrified to know performance standards are all about creating desired behaviors and attitudes in each student at a reflexive level. No conscious thought required.

When the school talks about ability to access information or interpret or produce or communicate, parents and taxpayers assume these are desired abilities within the context of a body of knowledge. Not generic abilities with real world value that are ALL that is desired in the student. Just “life-functioning performance” abilities. That assessments are actually all about:

“Great care should be taken to identify the exact action that will be taught and assessed.”

Action, not knowledge. Project or activity, not tests. When we read references to problem solving most of us assume a math or science word problem. Not necessarily easy but useful. Very bolstering to both a verbal ability to conceptualize mentally and a logical ability to reach a step-by-step, methodical solution. No. No. No. In performance assessment world:

“the problem needs to be ill-structured. [By the way that is also what rigorous means in Ed World]. The problem should not have a single approach or response–in fact, the route taken and the determined solution should be almost unpredictable.”

John Dewey called that type of problem the Indeterminate Situation and valued it greatly because it required emotion and frustration instead of intellectual skill and knowledge. He believed such problems were conducive to striving for a different kind of society instead of accepting the capitalist, individualistic society he abhored. Today’s assessment developers still have a similar intent even if the Principals or teachers themselves are unaware of the history of this peculiar notion of rigor to drive revolution via mental and emotional transformation over time.

So Transformational OBE and Spady became too controversial in most places to acknowledge when that was what was going on in a school or district. So those Life Role Performances got renamed as Performance Assessments and less well-known OBE players like Spence Rogers or Willard Daggett pursued the OBE implementation via their focus on actual classroom activities. All of the activities quoted came from the Third Edition of Spence Rogers’ book The High Performance Toolbox:Succeeding with Performance Tasks, Projects, & Assessments.

Those tasks, projects, and performance assessments are what drives the actual classroom implementation of every Common Core curriculum I have seen. The Schemers know that what is measured is what gets taught. So the Future Capacity/Empowerment/New Kind of Focus comes in under the poorly understood Performance assessments. Where the task or project is the evaluation. And the task or project is not checking content knowledge but looking for action and generic abilities like the ones described above. This would all be hard to spot unless you were monitoring curricula all over the world and over decades. Which I have. The future capacity orientation gets hidden also in the US under the lovely euphemism College and Career Ready. Sounds like knowledge but avoids the “entrenched subject matter” orientation of traditional education that bolsters those undesirable (if you want state control of society and the economy) Axemaker Minds.

Why you say? You know if ten years from now we continue on our present trajectory I will likely be forced to write a book explaining that the US and the West lost prosperity because too many of the beneficiaries of capitalism never understood how much individual and cultural attitudes and values mattered to economic prosperity. And ALL the anti-capitalism schemers knew precisely how much these mattered. And they used education, K-12 and higher ed, to get at and change the attitudes and values of independence and self-reliance.

And they used education to force out every aspect of the curriculum known to nurture the rational, logical, conceptual mind. Which is the real reason for the math and reading wars. It’s not about how to teach. It’s about limiting the oxygen that ignites the fires of individual mental cognition. That useful ability to spin your own mental scenarios within the privacy of your own mind. Scenarios that can sometimes turn into innovative inventions that alter the known world. Like the Axe did or the computer.

Throughout history and even today in most countries in the world the political sovereign–whether king, dictator, or legislative body and state-employed bureaucrats–controls the economy. That’s the historic norm. What is going on in education in the US now and globally is simply a stealth reversion to that norm. Ironically the changes are frequently being done under the banner of becoming or remaining Internationally Competitive. Yes in the sought Dirigiste, Mercantilist economies of the 21st Century where Education is the Method of Personal Subjugation. And Catastrophic Manmade Global Warming and the spectre of other planet-wide environmental disasters is the Excuse for such planning and control over economies and people’s personal behaviors. And politically connected businesses hope to benefit as well.

If the Statist Schemers living at our expense were honest about what is going on most of us would say No. Freedom may be a burden but it is a burden most of us desire if given the choice.

So we are not being given the choice. And education seeks to become a walled-off profession where no one but the Properly Credentialled may have a say. And the Credentials are grounded in the Marxist political theories that caused so much destruction in the 20th century. And yes I am quite sure about that as well.

It’s also why CAGW, like Marxism in its heyday, must be treated as the unexamined Theory never to be contradicted with reality. Like Marxism or Dewey’s Social Reconstruction, it’s an aspirational theory for changing the future not a scientific theory based on facts. None of these political theories for social control can bear the scrutiny of reality because that is not what they are grounded in.

But reality is still the world every one of us inhabit. And it thus has to govern how we respond to all these sought changes. It’s the reality behind the current “Grab the Guns, Gut the Mind, and Ignore the Temps” that too many are still treating as unrelated.