And a “new sense of reality and of value.” And our “primary allegiance” needs to be to the “larger community, ” not just of people but all life forms. And the Earth itself. No more using “human cunning” to dominate natural resources. And, Oh yeah, we also need “planetary socialism” as an explicit goal and the Christian religion needs to lose its dominant emphasis on redemption. Those are just a few morsels from one of the primary books cited and used by many of the systems theorists and Sustainability advocates.
Published in 1988, Thomas Berry’s The Dream of the Earth is the blueprint for the Green Movement and Bioregionalism and Sustainability. It literally sees human intelligence and reason as a problem because it allows people to use and change nature. It really does sound just like Paul Ehrlich’s desire for Newmindedness (Berry cites him a lot) or James Burke’s disdain for the Axemakers Mind that we have discussed. As far as Berry and Ehrlich and Burke are concerned, we humans are entering an emerging Ecological Age and we need to fit our thinking and our actions within this desired shift from the “human-centered norm of reality and value to a nature-centered norm.”
Now I am going to stop this troubling but highly influential vision for a minute. In my role as the Miss Marple of education and economic detecting I encounter lots of different visions for a radically altered future. It is my informed belief after reading so many of these cited works and blueprints that the various end games like Bioregionalism or Future Earth Alliance are primarily designed to build electoral coalitions among various interests and grievances to get control over economies and human behavior through the ballot box and regulation. And to get local and state officials to hand over power to the federal level and federal officials to push it to a global level. That’s the consistency throughout. The statists are not going to give up fossil fuels but pursuing that unrealistic goal accretes power to government officials because they must intervene in what should be private decisions. And it creates tremendous opportunities for Cronyism. Be a political player or be no more is the way Crony economies work and there is no widespread prosperity there.
The other consistency throughout is dramatically changing the nature of education away from the transmission of knowledge and the cultivation of reason and logic. And it is a front-end tool so the education vision gets implemented first as a means to gain the desired economic control and redesign. Education then becomes about changing values, attitudes, and beliefs to affect human behavior without being open about such personal control over citizens. That is the essence of Transformational OBE and Systems Thinking and why attempts to push it under various names never go away in middle and suburban high schools despite all the blood shed at Columbine.
Human Consciousness is still the desired target and grounding decisions in unconscious emotions is still the most successful way to control behaviors permanently and from afar. And the Gypsy Principals and Supers will not stop pushing these toxic ideas with a bloody history they may not even know because that’s the path to the lucrative promotions. So it is up to us parents and taxpayers to understand this template and stop the educators and the politicians and bureaucrats. All of whom live at our expense.
Every totalitarian dictator in history wanted control over Consciousness. It remains tyranny when it comes in through the schools and classrooms through an administrator who insists on being called “Doctor.” Because I am on so many internal distribution lists I know that educators all over the world–US, Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe in particular–have recently been recirculating a 1990 speech called “What is Education For?”. Oberlin Professor David Orr was and still is a well-known member of the ecological movement although that is not in the speech or article. And the vision for education in the article replicates much of Thomas Berry’s vision for education from The Dream of the Earth. Like Berry, Orr believes that modern education and contemporary culture has created a “monster” in the form of the “modern drive to dominate nature.” He goes on to assert that:
“It is a matter of no small consequence that the only people who have lived sustainably on the planet for any length of time could not read or, like the Amish, do not make a fetish of reading.”
How’s that for explaining the reluctance to use effective reading techniques? Reading phonetically allows access to soon-to-be impermissable knowledge. It has the undesirable side effect of honing analytical skills and the ability to internally weigh alternative mental scenarios and possibilities. That’s not acceptable in a community comes first world since all those capabilities enhance a sense of individuality. Orr even goes on to complain that “Galileo’s separation of the intellect foreshadows the dominance of the analytical mind over that part given to creativity, humor, and wholeness.” I’d really like to object to that last point because I think an analytical mind is capable of great humor and more than a little snarkiness. After all who else sees irony everywhere they turn? I must admit though I do find the Three Stooges annoying. And I am very fond of building up my Wholes from lots of different parts as long-time readers know.
Now when the analytical mind itself is so regularly disparaged as an undesirable goal of education is it any surprise that we spend so much for such poor results? What we taxpayers and parents and tuition paying students think we are getting and what the educators intend to sell are two radically different products. Both of which call themselves education. Which is why we are in such an expensive mess. When educators are pursuing a vision for their product that the Earth itself cannot be managed but:
“What might be managed is us: human desires, economies, politics, and communities.”
Like trying to control any of those things, especially by stealth, does not have a tragic track record. And then goes on to say:
“the planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.”
Now remember this is getting circulated all over the world as an inspirational vision to start the new school year with. It goes on to quote Holistic Review which is important since my Gypsy Principal is openly proclaiming that high school education is now to be holistic. My bet is you should ask yours. Here’s that holistic vision citing Ron Miller:
“Our culture does not nourish that which is best or noblest in the human spirit. It does not cultivate vision, imagination, or aesthetic or spiritual sensitivity. It does not encourage gentleness, generosity, caring, or compassion. Increasingly in the late 20th Century, the economic-technocratic-statist worldview has become a monstrous destroyer of what is loving and life-affirming in the human soul.”
Needless to say, those educators now feel primed to make SEL and a Positive School Climate the focus of school. And the new economy push that surrounds all these ed initiatives? Well, Orr opines that “Communism failed because it produced too little at too high a cost” which is a ludicrous way to describe an ideology that killed 100 million. But how many educators know that? And then Orr claims that “Capitalism failed because it destroys morality altogether.”
I could write a whole blog post on the ignorance in that statement but most educators will believe it and implement curriculum, assessments, and instruction changes accordingly. Blissfully unaware of the seeds they are actually sowing. It is thus up to us. All of us. To take education back. To get the product we are paying for, not the one we are being sold.
It sounds hyperbolic to say human freedom is at stake at its most basic level. But that’s the result of tyrannical overreaches. Describing the actual effects does sound sensational. But it remains an accurate description of why we must speak up and fight. It really is our essence, our souls, being targeted. Pity the children under this vision.