Would you support an expensive, all agencies and levels of government, education initiative if it were pitched on the following basis?
“Just as the human body is no longer the major tool for physical labor, and just as a carpenter need not use only hand tools, so will mental functioning no longer be the sole province of the human mind.”
That quote has actually been translated from Russian and came from a 1972 Moscow University paper on “The Psychological Consequences of Computerization.” Most of you have probably heard that over the weekend President Obama announced a more than $4 Billion with a B Coding for All, computer science instruction for all, initiative. To supposedly make all children ready for 21st Century jobs. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/us/politics/obamas-budget-urges-a-deeper-commitment-to-computer-education.html?_r=0 is an example of the glowing coverage, but my favorite story is this one http://www.governing.com/templates/gov_print_article?id=367034991 because it shows just how excited state and local government officials are with this push. That link was actually pushed by the Center for Digital Education that is a subsidiary of the e-Republic organization of state and local officials and politicians.
It hypes all the “federal agencies and technology industry leaders behind this initiative.” In other words, cronies and fans of public-private partnerships and public sector unions think education to create Manipulable Muppet Minds is a swell idea. I know what you are thinking. How do I know the nature of the initiative since it says computer science? Because it says it is to be Coding for All and facility with abstractions like Binary Code wouldn’t be accessible to all.
Plus I am quite familiar with what kind of Coding and ‘Computer Science’ is accessible to all. Raise your hand if you know what a VPL is? It’s an acronym standing for Visual Programming Language. No need for abstractions at all. In fact, VPLs are accessible even for those who cannot read or do not know English. Now that’s the kind of manipulable, concrete learning experiences John Dewey would certainly love, wouldn’t he?
The second I heard about the initiative I knew it had to be about using Logo and Scratch and letting children believe they could design imaginary worlds and come to believe that the natural world works similarly to pretend, manipulated virtual environments. After all I first wrote about Seymour Papert and his MIT Media Lab back here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/megachange-macroshift-daily-school-experience-to-fuel-a-revolution-in-consciousness/ What I discovered though when I correctly surmised that this Coding initiative involved Constructivism (covered in depth in chapters 2 and 3 of my book on the real purpose of the reading and math wars) and Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten work, was that there was now an 8 minute video available celebrating this vision for learning. https://vimeo.com/143620419
Produced with videos of Papert and his vision that children interacting with computers is the ultimate integrated–tactile, mental, aesthetic, physical–learning experience that produces “involvement and engagement” that “grabs the individual so that they fall in love with the material.” It provides the potential for a new kind of learning that can change how the students see themselves and the world. In other words, it’s the perfect means to manipulate the ‘interiority’ of the individual without that person having any idea just how much they are being manipulated. It’s Dewey’s concrete experiences, except the actual consequences of any student actions are determined not by scientific laws of physics, chemistry, or biology. The results are whatever the software coders design and those rules are not apparent in the least to the student.
We do know though that the keynote speaker at a global ed tech conference bragged about this ability to rig virtual worlds and the beliefs about how the real world works that would be created. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/ We know that the same Nicholas Negroponte featured at the 1:21 mark in that video is a member of the Club of Budapest working with Ervin Laszlo to pitch systems thinking and alter culture globally to create a Holos Consciousness. K-12 education is such a useful way to alter a culture and create a desired consciousness, isn’t it, especially if it can be sold as Coding for All?
http://hci.ucsd.edu/102a/readings/LearningAboutLifeAnnotated.pdf is a 1994 article Mitchel Resnick wrote about wanting to shift students away from the mechanistic “models and metaphors of Newtonian physics.” Isn’t control over virtual reality useful if you want to alter how students “make sense of the world around them” as Resnick and that video both proclaim openly? Logo and Scratch may allow students to control the behavior of creatures they design and “create, experiment, and play with decentralized systems” so that they come to believe that human systems in the real world will react much the same. Contrary to all the plans involving redesigning people and economies using data, we are now running the biggest experiment in the history of the world in a bid that, finally, this time, collectivism will work.
Everything I linked so far I knew about, but because I have a large number of books that openly admit a desire to use computers to redesign how the human mind works, I decided to go back and reread them yesterday before writing this post on Coding. The title of the post is a direct quote from a 1986 book Mind over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer. Its authors, Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus, are quite excited about education that bypasses the analytic mind. Is that what any of us would associate with an initiative being sold as computer science for all? That the computer can be used to create “skilled behavior based on holistic pairing of new situations with associated responses produced by successful experiences in similar situations?”
Is that how Success for All, Coding for All, and closing the achievement gaps between groups with widely varying abilities occurs? To train students to act Arationally as the Dreyfuses called it. To rely on “in principle, we may be able to close much of the gap between the information-processing capabilities of child and adult and ultimately of computers by integrating our information-processing systems.” That was my bolding or didn’t you know there has been a long-standing desire by the Soviets and those seeking Social Reconstruction starting at the level of the human mind all over the world for decades to achieve a “co-evolution of Human-Computer Intelligence”?
Humans get weaker and what they can do and how they perceive and what makes them motivated to act all dictated by political power intent on a shift to a planned society. In other words, Overreaching political power needs to control the individual without that control being apparent. Manipulated Muppet Minds and mind arson are the perfect solution. Computers also means there’s no pesky textbook to give away the nature of the shift. Education writers may misleadingly drone on about Common Core being a transition to a Type 2 Philosophy of Education, but the reality of the actual intended change in K-12 education is much graver.
I did appreciate, though, the concession from an Atlas member, the Heritage Foundation, that http://dailysignal.com/2016/01/31/progressivism-throws-money-at-problems-conservatism-solves-them/ conservatism seeks to “build a society where all Americans are afforded the same opportunities.” That would explain why the education policies pushed dovetail so closely with what John Dewey wanted. I didn’t know until that letter that the supposed difference between progressivism and ‘conservatism’ is that progs put the focus at the federal level and ‘conservative solutions’ target the local. Well, they both seem to be targeting the individual and the sanctity of the human mind via computerized education.
Where else did I look yesterday to get that lead-in quote and to confirm that Coding for All is actually designed to alter the neurological properties of American schoolchildrens’ minds in ways that level and manipulate? I have a tag for Stanford Professor Roy Pea because we have met him before in connection with the NSF Cyberlearning initiative. I have a 1987 book of his called Mirrors of Minds: Patterns of Experience in Educational Computing. It described precisely what was hoped for from Logo and Seymour Papert’s work and the possibilities for altering the human mind as a result of “marrying the problem-solving capabilities of child and computer.” Again, that’s the whole point of the Coding for All push in the President’s 2017 budget.
Finally, after all these years, those seeking to build a new society plan to get there using “the co-evolution of human and computer intelligence.” Admitted progressives, Marxists, and apparently declared ‘conservatives’ all seeking to use computerized education to get at the human mind. Since “formal operational thinking” is decidedly ‘nonuniversal’ and terribly unequal in who is good at it, K-12 education grounded in equality of opportunity has to be about “integrating the powerful information-processing systems of the computer and the frail information-processing system of the human mind.” These “integrations would serve as mental catalysts for engineering the development of high-level cognitive skills.”
Those would be the same as what ESSA now requires states and districts to annually assess with fed Ed proscribing Opt Out in a way it never threatened to do before the statute passed. Using the computer as a tool, “the child would not need to await the development of general logical structures in order to become a powerful thinker.” Without personally created logical structures, let’s make that an Arational Powerful Thinker using ideas and concepts supplied to him or her by those wanting to reconstruct society in the 21st Century. What is being called adaptive learning now and promoted all over the globe appears to me to be what the older literature called a cognitive trace system. Let’s end this post looking at the usefulness of the kinds of information provided (whether it is personally identifiable or not).
The “fundamental idea of a cognitive trace system is that the intermediate products of mind are externalized through the process of interacting with knowledge-based computer systems.” More known then to the computer than to the actual student. Ripe for manipulation by anyone wanting to control that ‘interiority’. Pea admitted that “cognitive trace systems can provide a major lever for cognitive development.” And whose hand is on that lever? It’s not the student as much as they may be excited about being allowed to follow their own interests. That simply allows content to be found that the student can be made to “fall in love with” as Papert put it in the video.
Students are being made to fall in love so that the manipulation is both lasting–Lifelong Learning–and not unpleasant. No need for gulags in the 21st Century. Virtual reality and Coding for All can create the needed shifts. “Cognitive trace systems could act as prime movers toward the child’s grasp of consciousness in different domains by contributing to the development of this metacognitive knowledge, so important for expertise.” Once again, that would be the supplied concepts, understandings, themes, and principles that Dewey wanted to use and so apparently do many pitching themselves as ‘Classical Educators.’
Be very wary of all education using the computer whether sold as Classical, about Great Ideas, or Coding for All. Ironically, as I was getting ready to write this post a weekly newsletter from admitted educational transformationalists was hyping Seymour Papert today and the vision he had for the “personal computing device.”
Papert called it an “instrument whose music is ideas.” Beware the human brain manipulated by that instrument to act on Ideas Arationally.
Bypassing the analytic mind. It’s just what every collectivist and Social Reconstructionist needs.