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?

Hyping Personalized Digital Instead of Closed-Loop Learning Sounds Better. Omits all that Troubling Data Gathering Too

I really am not opposed to the 21st Century. I simply notice when I am dealing with a slogan for self-interested change instead of the real rationale. For a long time that has been my suspicion about the Digital Learning push. It would enrich the sellers of all that computer equipment and software. But it’s a lot more than that. I have come a long way since a speech by former West Virginia Governor, Bob Wise, hyping Digital Learning by pulling at the heart strings. He had the audience visualizing the children in isolated Appalachian hamlets hungry for knowledge. Suddenly gaining access to the top science lecturers via ICT and having the chance to move beyond their current circumstances.

I remember thinking that I had just read repeated insistences that under the Common Core teaching template lecturing and explaining concepts systematically were out. As in better not do it if you want to keep your job. So the poignant story just came across as a desire to sell Digital Learning where the facts did not fit the sales job. But we have education doctorates now credentialing based on an agreement to make technology the focus of school. It’s central to the accreditation vision of schools and districts going forward. It is central to the UN’s vision of the 21st century “bureaucrats manage us and we don’t complain about it” Knowledge Society.

The one I explained here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ where knowledge as we know it is mostly missing and intuitions and hunches substitute just fine. I have ed tech conferences going back more than two decades giddily acknowledging that digital learning is a Trojan Horse, weakening academics but doing wonders for social inclusion. We have Basareb Nicolescu, President of UNESCO’s CIRET, writing about “The Transdisciplinary Evolution of Learning” where “mentalities evolve” because “courses at all levels” must now “sensitize students and awaken them to the harmony between beings and things.” Remember that when we get to Learning Maps below. And that this consistency of coursework is best accomplished by extending “networks, such as the Internet, and ‘invent’ the education of the future by insuring planet-wide activity in continuous feedback, thereby establishing interactions on the universal level for the first time.”

Which certainly sounds like what is going on with the MOOCs like EdX and their now global partnership of higher ed institutions. The problem no one is focusing on was laid out in a November 2012 UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE for short) report on Learner Analytics. If you are not familiar with IITE, perhaps it is because it is located in Moscow. Yes, the one that likes onion-domed architecture and seriously regrets the loss of its former Superpower status. In case “Learner Analytics” is a new term for you too, I will include IITE’s definition. Since the US Department of Ed has also quietly put out a report advocating LA and education data mining, let’s all listen up now:

Learning Analytics appropriates [captured digital data to help inform decision-making] for education. With the growth of huge data sets and computational power, this extends to designing infrastructures that exploit rapid feedback, to inform more timely interventions, whose impact can then be monitored. Organizations have increasingly sensitive ‘digital nervous systems’ providing real time feedback on the external environment and the effect of actions.”

So in K-12 Digital Learning the computer system is capturing a great deal of info on each student’s interests, capabilities, responses to questions, attitudes, perseverence, actions, etc. As to MOOCs and free online gaming, well that LA report said point blank:

“The free hosting of learning platforms and courses by initiatives such as Harvard+MIT’s edX are quite openly motivated by the opportunities that come with the ownership of unprecedented data sets from millions of learners’ interactions.”

Which is apparently so useful that MIT now has a Human Dynamics Lab looking at a society enabled by Big Data. http://hd.media.mit.edu/ . Something to think about with Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer and reorganizing 21st century society around systems thinking. And the push at Harvard and MIT for Action Science and a new economy based on needs and distributed capitalism. Not to be paranoid but the National Academy of Sciences really did advocate that the US economy be reorganized around Sustainability and planned with Big Data with the aid of the tech companies like Microsoft and IBM. And at the precise same time K-12 and higher ed are being reorganized to limit knowledge and just rain personal behavioral data on companies like Coursera and EdX and NewsCorp’s Amplify and Carnegie and Gates-funded inBloom. What are the odds?

I read the new book Big Data this weekend and it states that if another company came up with “an e-commerce site, social network, or search engine that was much better than today’s leaders like Amazon, Google, or Facebook, it would have trouble competing…because so much of the leading firms’ performance is due to the data exhaust they collect from customer interactions and incorporate back into the service.” Now if that is true now, imagine combining that inferential data with all the personal behavioral data scheduled to become available from the new gaming focus of K-12 and the expansion of the MOOCs and the online delivery of basic math and literacy skills.

When I had the epiphany that perhaps the real purpose of the Common Core State Standards was to get Digital Learning in place and all the behavioral data that would then start to flow, I searched for a connection to Big Data. Up popped this recent article http://online.stanford.edu/news/2013/02/19/learning-goes-digital-big-data-can-guide-us on Stanford Prof Roy Pea, a big fan of Soviet Lev Vygotsky, who we already met in this troubling Cyberlearning post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/

I actually listened to the hourlong EduCause keynote speech by Professor Pea and took good notes, Beyond all the data flowing out of MOOCs, both Professor Pea and the OSCon July 2012 speech of Danny Hillis from Applied Minds he referenced (and I also listened to) made it clear that online courses require Learning Maps. Closed Loop Learning Maps of a Domain that the student moves through with a visual interaction via computer. Hillis and Pea said the Common Core takes K-12 in this direction and then each put up a slide of skills with the title: “Example of Competencies That the Map Needs to Show.”

MOOCs then would do the same for higher ed. In fact, Pea lamented that “learning maps are conspicuously absent” in higher ed and that their “development is an ‘urgent priority.” Doesn’t that sound lovely? These are the skills step-by-step we want you to have and we are designing backward from the end view. The skills needed for the UN’s Knowledge Society.  The one of just experiential knowledge and hunches and basic skills as described above and in this deeply troubling recent report   http://www.un.org/sg/management/pdf/HLP_P2015_Report.pdf

Hillis and Pea both talked about the InBloom K-12 database that will make “open access, flexible, useful learning maps and recommended learning resources for every student’s specific interests and needs–a reality throughout US schools.” Which is of course only possible because of all the personal behavioral data to be captured by the computers and software and Amplify tablets etc. Hillis also mentioned that the Gates Foundation funded the buildout of inBloom’s “personalized learning” infrastructure as part of its much broader interests in education that go far beyond the Common Core.

Now the Big Data book says it is now impossible for an individual to limit the flows of Big Data everyday and that we just need to make the companies accountable for what they do with it. But accountable to who? The US federal government wants the tech companies to help governments at all levels rework the nature of the economy. The UN wants the Knowledge Society with a global Mutual Benefit economy that looks like a modern version of that little c communism vision that Uncle Karl came up with so long ago. They claim that will result in a peaceful world by 2030. Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability and MOOCs and Competencies and 21st Century Learning are ALL premised on this revised UN-developed vision of the future.

I know because IITE issued an April 2012 Policy Brief that says precisely that called “ICTs for Curriculum Change.” Where is our recourse if that’s the vision the Gates Foundation is actually funding our transformation to? or Carnegie? or the National Science Foundation?

And through inBloom and Digital Learning and expanding MOOCs we are about to put Big Data on steroids with info on thoughts and desires and feelings for virtually every student in K-12. Professor Pea pointed out that MOOCs will not be about working with a professor. They will be about students working with each other. An online social learning community throwing off personal data.

Community. Community. The omnipresent vision of the 21st century.

Will there be any place for the independent individual in this vision?

We are at the Historical Stage for the Emergence of One Particular New Kind of Person

The ‘portfolio person.’ Before I enrage most of you by quoting that definition in a stomach-churning way, I want to continue on the theme from the title of the last post. It is what caused me to pick out a phrase from one of Uncle Karl’s most famous quotes to illustrate the point. But I think we then turn around and forget it too easily. We are not dealing with Science or Politics or Education here that sees itself as defined by the traditional rules of play. CAGW is not grounded in the natural science of the Enlightenment. Education under the Common Core is actually not about the transmission of knowledge. Even the federal government in July acknowledged that Common Core was not a Product as in knowledge American students should know but a Process of interacting in “culturally relevant contexts.” Monday President Obama turned what had started as his campaign organization with a huge supply of emails into a permanent apparatus to be called Organizing for Action. Legislative, regulatory, whatever is achievable.

What we are dealing with in each of these cases is Rule-redefining Science. Rule and Role-altering Politics. Rule and Institution-altering Education. And if we ignore the underlying political and social and economic theories they are grounded in after going to so much time and trouble to track them down, we are in deep peril. Fundamental Transformation is not just an exciting phrase to stir up supporters and get money. When the lights are off these terms revert to ambiguous language or worse, Orwellian duplicitous language. And we must still remember. Because no one is just playing rhetorical games here.

Today’s title comes from yet another one of those books we were not supposed to see. Much less read in full. It is called Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. That’s why I quoted the title in full.  Designed Social Futures and not by each of us. Media learning, Cyberlearning, and Digital Learning are all means to an end most of us likely do not want to go to. We have to quit divorcing these methods from the stated intent of the creators of the theories.

Professor James Paul Gee, then of Wisconsin now at Arizona State, actually uses the mobot, designed in the lab at MIT, to be his metaphor of the type of people he would like to see emerging for a new economic system he has in mind. There would be no effective central brain and that would supposedly be a good thing since it would make people more adaptive and flexible in a fast-changing world. And if you found the pursuit of a Non-Axemaker Mind or the destruction of the sense of a Unitary Self disturbing in previous posts, hold on to your coffee cup. If you are reading this at night perhaps an adult beverage break right now would be bolstering. Here goes (page 47):

“There is no centre. There are no discrete individuals. Only ensembles of skills stored in a person, assembled for a specific project, to be reassembled for other projects, and shared with others within ‘communities of practice.’ Individuals are not defined by fixed ‘essential qualities’, such as ‘intelligence’, ‘a culture’, or ‘a skill’. Rather they are [note he is talking about you and me and our children here], and must come to see themselves as, an ever-changing ‘portfolio’ of rearrangeable skills acquired in their trajectory through ‘project space’–that is, all the projects they have been in. You are, in this way, your projects.”

And he trains teachers. You know the only people who can be licensed to teach? And trains professors of teachers and administrators. And perhaps more importantly, he has spent the last 10 years since that book was published analysing video games. He views them  as embodying a “more cogent and powerful understanding of the nature of learning than is in evidence in most classrooms.” So remember that desired goal and the ‘portfolio person’ image of the individual when you hear about the video gaming push that is part of the actual Common Core implementation (with funding from the Gates Foundation!). And also the Digital Learning mandate and the push to for the all-ICT classroom. It is influenced by the same goals for altered consciousness that Gee laid out above or Roy Pea put into that powerpoint from a previous post. You can bet your District administrators will be leaving this part out of their presentations. But it is still there and the social and economic rule redesign actual purposes remain intact. Even when left unsaid.

Likewise, in 1994 English sociology prof Anthony Giddens wrote that “even should the thesis of global warming prove mistaken,” the “overall consequence” would still be “the creation of new types of feedback effects and system influences.” CAGW is a political theory that accretes economic and social power to government officials and their designated cronies. It offers a reason to exert control over private transactions and property and human activities and those system effects and influences are just too useful to pass up. Giddens went on to mention the UN’s IPCC and pointed out it will be setting up four possible emissions (carbon dioxide) scenarios. He was then brutally honest in what is clearly not designed to be read by us that these scenarios “could reflexively influence what it is they are about.” Just positing the theory and scenario, especially if it gains voluntary or formal adoption, changes behaviors in desired (if you are a statist schemer) ways.

So if you are a scientist or just an interested citizen reading Paul Ehrlich’s latest hype of catastrophe or that US National Climate Assessment draft, please don’t forget Giddens’ quote above when the science quoted or the models used make no objective sense. Just the theorizing coupled with government power and financial resources changes human behavior. Gives an excuse for economic reorganization. A reason for more regulation. Think of it as a full-employment at taxpayer expense for political favorites theory. Because that is what it really is.

But it is also more. German sociology prof Ulrich Beck wrote in the same book Reflexive Modernization that global warming and climate change give a reason for a switching of the rule system governments have lived by.  He apparently thought in a post-Berlin Wall world governments in the West needed an excuse for a Metamorphosis of the State, which is precisely how he described it. A full reconstruction using what he called the sub-politics of the government system and you and I today would recognize as an early description of the potential of community organizing. I do believe ACORN’s creators knew their Beck. In fact Beck called it the sub-politicization of society. We would call it every dimension within the reach of the state. To plan a different future and then impose it and reconceptualize the role of the state in what “tasks” it should be managing.

Ecology and presuming some type of pending environmental global catastrophe (warming or cooling) were apparently needed by the early 90s after the Cold War precisely because it gives a reason for totalizing political action:

“the microcosm of political life conduct is interconnected with the macocosm of terribly insoluble global problems. In order to take a breath without second thoughts, one ultimately has to–or ought to–turn the ordering of the world upside down.”

Hence the CAGW hype and the urgency in education and the need for an action politics that Beck also outlines. It is powerful and lucrative for the politically connected to be able to turn the world upside down.

But it certainly does not follow that the world needs to be turned upside down or it will be good for any of the rest of us. In fact, in the end, this Political, scientific, economic, and educational vision could be ruinous if not tragic for virtually everyone.

So let’s talk about the sought Transformations. And quit allowing the schemers in any of these areas to simply pretend we are not dealing with rule-altering intentions.

It is not just politics as usual or a different way to teach or a difference over the relevant scientific facts.

Let’s hold everyone to the declared intentions of the Creators of all these theories and scenarios.

 

 

The Need to Know as We Understand It Today May be a Lethal Cultural Sport

That needs to be radically restricted if not abolished root and branch. So said anthropologist Bernard James in his 1973 book The Death of Progress in a passage so reminiscent of Paul Ehrlich’s long-expressed desire to use education to create  Newmindedness and James Burke’s to create Non-Axemaker Minds that I just HAD to borrow it. And for similar reasons too. See what I mean?

“There is a sense of desperation in the air, a sense that . . . man has been pitchforked by science and technology into a new and precarious age. [In this age] the final period of decay of our Western world, the predicament is clear. We live on an overcrowded and pillaged planet, and we must stop the pillage or perish.”

And like the Bioregionalists and the Ecology educators like David Orr, it’s always the rational mind that is the central target for change. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-need-a-radical-change-in-our-mode-of-consciousness-even-a-new-sense-of-being-human/ . There was one modern scientific discovery and technological innovation though that didn’t send Professor James into a social engineering frenzy–the computer and communications technology. What today usually gets abbreviated as ICT or as the National Science Foundation likes to call it–Cyberlearning. As in let’s throw tens of millions of taxpayer dollars or new debt into making ICT the focus of all education. K-12 and higher ed. No Cronyism there.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/01/03/15cyber.h32.html?tkn=TLLFZjQZBrz3EptDVf4qQPg2Wz33qWsMGN2A&cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1 is the January 3, 2013 story called “Federal Effort Aims to Transform Learning Technologies.” Since I have written several posts where education professors and administrators and UNESCO reports explicitly acknowledged that such Digital Literacy efforts actually are designed to gain Equity in Achievement by limiting the ability to think, I decided to look into this expensive program further.

The National Science Foundation’s Cyberlearning Initiative is very much in the Limit the Capacity to Think,Make Tool Use and Social Interaction the Purpose of School, Tradition. You know the one that has everything to do with taking down the basis for Individualism and free markets and disruptive technology innovation and nothing to do with the transmission of useful cultural knowledge from the past? Since that would bolster the rational mind and each person’s ability to conceptualize the future for themselves? Or be ingenious? Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself again.

This 2008 NSF report that must have the tech companies salivating is called “Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge: A 21st Century Agenda for the National Science Foundation.” That mouthful, which I quoted in full for a reason, goes a long way towards explaining the NSF’s agenda in creating all the poor math and science curricula in the 90s that became notorious in the Math and Science Wars. Which is important now as NSF also goes after higher ed courses to gain equity in credentialling. Moreover, it explains the education vision in both that USGCRP 2012-2021 report http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/ as well as that troubling Research Goal 6 described in the previous post. And also NSF’s work on the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance. Busy folks. In fact, “Altering Minds and Behaviors without Telling You” might be a good 21st Century motto for certain parts of the NSF. So convenient isn’t it that  NSF now reports to a close Ehrlich colleague, John Holdren.  He is not telling us either although if you read his past books and articles, he already has.

Consistent with that remake the world and control human behavior aspirations is cyberlearning as a means of “steering” humanity and signalling

“the intertwined tapestry of concepts relating the goal-directed actions, predictions, feedback, and responses in the systems (physical, social, engineering) for which cybernetics was to be an explanatory framework.”

Yes, long before Peter Senge took up the mantle of Systems Thinking to make a lucrative living foisting it on schoolchildren and naive business executives, we had Norbert Wiener who helped develop Cybernetics to try to make human systems more predictable and controllable. And, no, nobody EVER asks us “Pretty Please” or May I?”. So Cyberlearning is based on Cybernetics theories and involves Learning in a networked world. And the NSF report wants to make it quite clear that cyberlearning involves “learning with” the tablets, Smartphones, and laptops that are currently being pushed at great expense. Absolutely does not mean “learning about” the ICT infrastructure. Mercy no, that might bolster the abstract, logical mind and we need to prevent those as much as possible in the 21st century. No matter what the cost in dollars or forgone future prosperity or destroyed individual promise.

In fact on page 11 of that report you can find a chart called “Advances in Communication and Information Resources for Human Interaction” that puts working with symbol systems like reading and math and academic content very low on the totem pole of 21st century aspirations for students. And what makes it to the top you ask reluctantly? Why, that would be “Virtual Observations [aka videos], Collaborations, Social Networking, and Web 2.0.” I kid you not. That’s the Marxist/Deweyan ultimate wish list of Social Interaction, Participation, and Engagement as the purpose of education. It also dovetails to the 1989 UNESCO agenda described here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/ . The report still guiding education “reform” globally.

One of the creators of that chart is heavily involved with Cyberlearning and Informal Learning generally. Stanford Professor Roy Pea is not only in a position to “Do Lunch” with the Ehrlichs and Linda Darling-Hammond and so many other of our Transform Education Schemers but he was kind enough to do a Cyberlearning slideshow in 2011. That got uploaded on August 15, 2012 just in time for the new school year.  http://www.slideshare.net/roypea/berkeley-cyberlearning-030811final . Have fun with the whole show but it is Slides 17-19 that really caught my eye. They make it quite clear Professor Pea considers ICT and Cyberlearning to be a Lev Vygotsky mediated tool.  Complete with pictures.

Vygotsky, for newcomers, was a Soviet psychologist determined to use pedagogy and education to create the perfect Soviet man (and woman I am sure). He understood that cognitive tools can either strengthen the abstract mind (like reading phonetically) or weaken it (like ICT substituting for personal knowledge). Slide 19 leaves no doubt in my mind Professor Pea very much understands what Vygotsky aspired to do in his research. Disrupt previous cultural-historical processes [also known as knowledge of the past] in favor of something new. A different future and culture. As in Designing New Minds, Values, and Overall Personalities I suppose. And Pea also leaves no doubt (Slide 49) that the expensive National Education Technology Plan is part of all this mind-weakening, Transformative, Design a New Future through the introduction of new Cognitive Tools, assault.

Designing the Future. Now how hubristic, as in Will Lightning Strike at the Nerve?, does that sound? But sure enough, on January 18, 2012, there was a Cyberlearning 2012 Summit in DC we were not invited to. So we will have to rely on this helpful graphic of what went on. http://cyberlearning.sri.com/w/images/b/b9/Illustration_Banner.jpg . And there on the far left we see “People and Technology Working Together Designing the Future.” Apparently all it takes according to the graphic is the NSF using multimillion dollar grants to bribe educators and institutions who will in turn Transform Education. Making ICT and the Internet and the Visual instead of mental the Whole Point of Education.

Well, that will affect the future as we shut down much of the human capacity to think rationally that brought, quite literally, Civilization. Print and the mental manipulation of it played a big part. Especially after the invention of the printing press and the Reformation made literacy widespread in the 16th century. Leading to the explosion of knowledge and technology Bernard James wanted to stop in our title.

But can we really design the future? I don’t think so. But let’s talk about that latest bit of public sector hubris in the next post. We will look at what Ehrlich and UNESCO and the European Union and NSF all have in mind when they talk about Foresight Knowledge.

Because I am a firm believer that forewarned is forearmed. Especially about Foresight.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist that.