Using Systems Thinking to Retie the Psychological Umbilical Cord to Our Environment

You know, I am pretty good at language, but I would never think to complain that:

“By substituting visual marks for spoken utterances [that miracle of human ingenuity and the Axemaker Mind reverenced by ordinary folks without systems training as reading], man removed himself even further from directly experiencing his habitat, further severing the psychological umbilical cord tying him to that habitat.”

A different way of making the same point in this early 80s blueprint describing the need for the mental assaults we would come to know under names such as as Transformational Outcomes Based Education and systems thinking and the new 3 R’s, is that the human “psychological separation is made possible  because of the interposing of symbols as a buffer.”

Now for those of you who read “symbols” and are hoping for a secret code that will need to be deciphered with a spray of lemon juice or a special light, we are not talking about a secret code. Although with the way reading is officially reverting back to a whole word or syllable sight approach the fundamental phonetic code is being treated as a secret code. Why? The math wars are grounded in similar reasons. Well I touched on this here where I first introduced everyone’s new favorite metaphor for what is officially under attack–the Axemaker’s Mind.

You see symbol manipulation, where the mark is an artificial representation such as the word “fish” instead of a drawing for a fish promotes the ability to think abstractly. Linearly. Rationally. To begin to link cause and effect. And how probable something is. Symbol use promotes a sense of self-awareness and individuality. When coupled with the printing press that made widespread literacy among the masses possible, it let the magic genie out of the bottle in a way that had never happened before in human history. And those with aspirations of power and control have never forgotten that link and its importance even if most of us have never really thought about it.

Believe me the statist schemers have as this post explains yet again. With new detail. After recognizing that it is the power of symbolic representation and manipulation that is what makes people genuinely unique in the universe and the roughly 3 pounds of the human brain the most fascinating creation in the universe, the plans get laid out to shut down or constrain those capacities. Why?

“Every new source from which man has increased his power on the earth has been used to diminish the prospects of his successors. [So not true but it is the common refrain from those pushing the ecological worldview and its desire for Newmindedness]. All his progress has been made at the expense of damage to his environment which he cannot repair and could not foresee.”

The author goes on to say that the “task of the futurist is to sharpen our focus on just those consequences.”

That basically is what is going on now in school districts all over the world. In the US as Common Core and Canada as the Alberta Wheel of Competency. In Australia it may be called the Core Skills Framework and the Wellbeing initiative and in the UK Quality Assurance and Qualifications Frameworks. So many of the digital learning initiatives. They are all based on a futurist perspective. They are all based on a desire to shut down the Axemaker Mind to prevent future creation of technology and innovation without official permission. They all are based on the idea that factual knowledge and your own private ability to conceptualize and carry on private conversations with the finest minds of the Ages, humanities, math, or science, is the Genie that must go back in the bottle. Only for authorized use by the politically connected.

They may want a sense of community but it must be based on emotion and new values. We cannot have a return to the power of the printed word [and no one on this planet revers it more than those who are trying to shut down its influence] as demonstrated by Thomas Paine and his pamphlet Common Sense. This illustration is actually in the book on using systems thinking and limiting the power of artificial symbols that so builds up the human intellect.

Common Sense found a disparate collection of mostly English settlers who thought of themselves as Englishmen now living in New Jersey or South Carolina without much in common except their former home country. And in fairly short order it created a sense of common grievance and possibility and gave birth to the emotions that would build a great nation on the Idea of a common, possibly magnificent, destiny. In minds that were physically separated and had never met each other or Thomas Paine.  Nurturing through print the Idea that being an American was about a common belief system that cherished the individual and not a matter of nationality or ethnicity. Another genie that needs to go back in the bottle if the future shift is to be Local and Global only.

To reiterate that these education initiatives and the Regional Equity Movement  are less a claim of CONSPIRACY!!! than a good old-fashioned coordinated power grab using the coercion powers of government, I want to describe a 2006 document from the Club of Rome. No, it’s not a great place for pasta with a lovely view overlooking the Forum and the Colosseum. Look it up if you are not familiar with it. It’s not an urban legend. We have talked about UNESCO more but the Club of Rome matters as well for these power grabs and political and economic power preservations. This is especially important since the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth assumptions, though infamous, have been expressly incorporated into the Systems Thinking/Systems Dynamics training Peter Senge is doing with classroom teachers preparing to implement the Common Core. The authors of Limits to Growth, the Meadows, were members of CoR who now attend some of these teacher systems training workshops.

Isn’t control over K-12 and higher ed such a great way to alter the future? Same is true  of many of the loudest Digital Learning advocates. Many proudly bill themselves as Futurists as well. If you shut down most of the symbol manipulation capacity and train kids to see words as concrete wholes and tell parents that access to a search engine minimizes the need to actually know anything but Skills, you can alter the future. If you add on Social and Emotional Learning and a new Values system grounded in Communitarianism and the evils of profit, you can really alter the future.

The Club of Rome official document touts these Turning Points in the transformation of the Global Scene and the major importance of systems thinking to gaining control over an individual’s and a culture’s noetic system. And the value of such control in Steering [their word] desired human and economic behaviors. “It is so useful Igor and no one ever has to know until it’s too late to stop. Bring more cognac so we can celebrate properly.” It takes great pride in its economic misstatements and scientific nonsense that serve as the rationales on why the global information infrastructure merits a new kind of mind and economic structure. Here’s a little taste to reenforce that we do have an organized international problem on our hands:

“Binary logic contributed of course also to tremendous civilization achievements, the construction of computers and computer networks, but it still biases our way of understanding the world.”

CoR of course recommends feelings and intuition as the proper 21st Century substitute. I will close with how this comes into the classroom without your ever knowing. I was told this week that the Fulton County Georgia school district with the duplicitous charter was gutting those recently purchased expensive Promethean Whiteboards in favor of LCD projectors in every classroom. Aren’t Special Purpose Sales Taxes nifty? The value is the data and info can go straight to the student’s laptop. No need for the student’s brain to intervene. All visual all the time.

I have related that the district is using Spence Rogers’ PEAK training for teachers, Teaching for Excellence, even though as the co-creator of Transformational OBE, Spence Rogers’ work was implicated as a factor in the Columbine tragedy. Some minds do appear to snap and become Evil from such overt psychological manipulation. We have been told that the teachers undergoing the PEAK training will be kept secret so “they will not be afraid to try new techniques.” When I asked a Principal if he was referring to Spence Rogers’ work, the face became transfixed with an unmistakeable reverence and radiance.  The answer was “Yes. Do you know his Work?” You could say that was my response.

We are not dealing with rational interaction here. We are dealing with emotional cultivation to create zealotry in adult educators who likely have no idea what is at stake. They just know a feelings classroom suits them better than what they grew up with.

So please listen up all of us that still have Axemaker Minds and are paying the tab for all these schemes. What the Avengers had to save the earth from was a comic book fantasy. Apparently though we are about to need to fight hard to save the Republic, the legitimacy and primacy of individualism, and economic freedom. And all over the Globe there are citizens who must do the same. Because they really do have plans for all of us. Going into effect Right Now.

Credential Inflation-How Reforming Higher Ed With Learner Outcomes Can Damage All Degrees

A few days ago I got linked in a conversation on Rampant Credentialism. Readers frustrated that the degree they had paid good money to obtain didn’t really provide the knowledge or skills anyone seemed to want to pay for. Another reader complained that he had been a craftsman for many years and was now being told he had to get a certificate proving his Competency. He had paid for the program and finished it so he could keep making a living with his experience and skills. But that the coursework of the program itself added nothing. If that certificate was all someone without experience had, it would barely be worth the paper it was written on. Yet it was now required to open the door to future employment. Ensuring a nice stream of income for some credentialing institution.  And what if the next degree is just more of the same?

Remember the cliche about the thousand mile journey still requiring that first step? Well the first step in using education as a means for trying to obtain a different utopian tomorrow redesigned around Sustainability and planned and managed through the advances in computer technology needed that first step somewhere. The somewhere has been higher ed. Going on for more than twenty years now. But nobody told the students or parents or taxpayers.

College used to be where you could go and encounter greatness. Great Minds. Great Books. Great Ideas to Build On. And if you weren’t terribly good at negotiating those encounters and felt more shocked than invigorated, you changed your major or muddled along or learned to cultivate different important character traits besides the intellect. The world truly does need all kinds of knowledge and skills. The science nerd capable of invention needs the people person to help her sell it.

We have talked about Outcomes Based Education in the K-12 classroom. Did you know the Regional Accreditors have pushed Learning Outcomes in higher ed? Major by Major? How about new means of measuring progress and activities so that students from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities and genders and races can all obtain degrees and credentials at rates reflecting their percentage of the population? Did you realize that colleges and universities not willing to go along with the Regional Accreditors vision for transforming American education can lose the right to participate in the federal student loan program? Did you realize the vision of education credentials for all is tied to a political vision for a different kind of society and economy that’s not in place yet? And if it ever does occur, we are looking at drastic reductions in economic prosperity for everyone but the politically connected? Does anyone think the typical employee or exec with a Regional Accreditor has any idea what makes an economy grow? Or a recognition from history that degreed, socially reengineered Human Capital without useful knowledge or skills is a path to disaster?

Did you know that other countries pushing Outcomes Based Education in K-12 and higher ed also adopt Qualifications Frameworks to try to force private businesses to accept these credentials? Which means even more regulation and expensive compliance measures from would-be employers? Money that could have gone towards hiring more employees or developing new desired products and services? That Qualifications Frameworks are expensive, controversial, and a quick trip to a dirigiste economy?

This already revised nature of higher ed is integral to the Common Core’s definition of College Ready. Many changes are already in place and more are coming. All assume preparation for a reimagined future. A dangerous act of widespread social engineering largely going on outside the public eye or awareness. Even many insiders know something is changing but not precisely what it is or what is driving it.

With the current use of the term P-20 meaning Preschool through College, Masters, and Doctorate programs based on generic Competency, Common Core is not just about the attitudes, values, emotions, and interpersonal skill shifts we have  been talking about now in post after post. No the student’s job is also to keep showing up year after year to obtain needed credentials that enrich everyone tied into what is the 2nd largest industry in the world after retail.

Students exist so that administrators can have well-paying jobs.  It’s true in K-12 and it’s especially true on campus. When you reorganize undergraduate education around “Improving Student Engagement, Experience, And Learning Outcomes” or “Learning within a Campus Culture of Diversity,” it takes a great deal of administrative monitoring and meddling to ensure professors do not revert to testing on facts and a body of knowledge. That’s not equally accessible to all students. DING goes the not-to-be permitted gong.

Assessment (one of the listed Big A’s in changing higher ed) for all is to be “multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time.” That should get more students to the finish line of getting a degree. It may also be propelling us towards a world where that credential leaves its holder unprepared for anything but waiting tables. Even worse, some of those with the paper credentials had the creativity and imagination and skills with abstract ideas and sequential logic that were never cultivated. The policies and practices of Education for All in too much of their K-12 and then higher ed means that potential is lost. We are all poorer when we restrict our best minds to basic nutrition needed by anyone.

I mentioned in the July 16 post that if the Earth was not moving toward critical environmental tipping points, the proposed Common Core education theories and practices were a fast train to economic catastrophe. Transforming P-20 to Learner Outcomes accessible for all is an expensive fast train to economic catastrophe. And this train has already left the station and is picking up speed. The accreditors seem to want to keep an ongoing relationship now instead of periodic ten-year reviews.

So the push for transformative change is now virtually constant. Just what you did not want to hear before you wrote that tuition check or took out that loan. But we need better recognition of what is wrong if there’s to be any chance that next year’s tuition is not to be purchasing an even more manipulated degree program. I don’t think we can rely on Accreditation (the 2nd Big A) to recognize what is wrong with the map they are using to direct the higher ed train. You see, there is no one forcing Accountability (the 3rd Big A to Transformation) on the Accreditors. Nice gig if you qualify.