Who Knew Karl Marx had a Human Development Model? Or that It Fit Our Facts So Well?

Or that it could be put in place in the US by executive fiat at the federal level? All you have to do is misinterpret the nature and language and case law of the federal civil rights laws. And then repeat. Early, often, and adamantly. It’s not like someone with a working knowledge of con law also reads education declarations and documents. It’s also not like changing the nature of education in the classroom could have any impact on a society or economy. Or political beliefs. Or future behaviors.

About a week ago the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent school districts a letter announcing that “We Must Provide Equal Opportunity in Sports to Students With Disabilities.” It included a 12 page Dear Colleague letter from the DoEd’s Office of Civil Rights. A number of commentaries (Rick Hess and Mike Petrilli among them) have wondered where such a pronouncement came from and noted how impractical it is. Equal opportunity in sports at whatever cost. What no one seems to be paying attention to is what both letters declared. To  quote Arne directly:

“Federal civil rights laws require schools to provide equal opportunity.”

No actually federal civil rights laws do no such thing. Congress can rewrite them or the courts can change their interpretation of them. But Arne and his employees, even the ones with law degrees, may not. Especially on a Friday afternoon in the first week of a Second Term in office. If you read  http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/01/we-must-provide-equal-opportunity-in-sports-to-students-with-disabilities/ the OCR letter you will see that sports is just an illustration of a much broader right Arne and his Department want to create. And they explicitly want to include learning disabilities, not just physical ones.

Think about that. If federal law did mandate that those with learning disabilities have an equal opportunity to students without disabilities or who are just plain brilliant, then school and high ed could not really be about intellectual pursuits anymore. That’s a playing field where inequalities in capabilities exist. Must change playing fields then. How about social and emotional learning since everyone has feelings? That would be an equal opportunity arena. All students can also interact at some level. Especially with computers. We also have a push now to promote life skills. Everyone can do that too. Except they usually leave off the full name: Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to ditch such a graphic tipoff as to what is really going on.

There’s another possibility for our Equal Opportunity classroom. A developmental progression that focuses on personality development in a social context. That would be the education theories of Erik H Erikson. He practiced in Chicago and it’s hard to imagine Arne is not familiar with his views of child development or the sociocultural approach to education. Especially since the University of Illinois in 2007 published a paper in Educational Theory announcing all of this as the new approach to education. http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/vita/Articles/Matusov,%20DePalma,%20Drye,%20Whose%20development,%20ET,%202007.pdf . And also because numerous government agencies including the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation embraced sociocultural theories instead of cognitive theories grounded in individual thinking as the basis of their future work.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/ is the post from July 2012 describing that official report and its troubling implications.

What I had not read in July was a 1982 book by CCNY/CUNY professor Marshall Berman called All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity.  That book laid out Marx’s developmental ideal and “how crucial” it was to all his political beliefs. Also that it was grounded in the German humanist and Romanticist culture of Marx’s youth. Berman did leave out the part about how that ideal facilitated the national collective mindset that led Germany to launch two world wars in the 20th century. But then Berman is an admirer of Marx and that’s such a picky little detail for me to mention. Berman does mention though that this Marxian/Romantic German developmental ideal was “still very much alive in our own day” and that Erik Erikson is its “most distinguished living exponent.” Erikson actually passed away in 1994 but his work does clearly seem to be gaining momentum. Probably because without Berman’s book it would be harder to link it directly to Marx.

With that book though we don’t even have to infer. We can quote directly from Berman and Marx (pages 96-98 if you want to locate a copy).  Marx has a vision of education that does not transmit the values and knowledge of the current culture which he of course wanted to disappear. Hence the Melt into Air metaphor he used. Educators pushing Marx’s personal development theories today through later adopters, like Dewey or Erikson or Vygotsky, are pushing the same goals. Change the foundations that support the current economy, society, and political structures.

That’s in fact why this type of education is not just called Progressivism. It’s also known as Social Reconstruction and that is precisely where that Equal Opportunity declaration takes us. Very similarly to the goal Goodwin Liu also laid out for the Common Core here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/ . Same basic desired Transformation goals coming from a variety of directions. With the same vehicle–education, K-12 and higher ed and creating false beliefs and new values to get different future behaviors. At least from a voting majority. What Paul Ehrlich and his MAHB seek as well

Berman first quotes this passage from Marx’s Communist Manifesto:

“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we will have an association in which the free development of each will be the condition of the free development of all.”

A desire that 21st century educators will relabel as the Universal Love Principle or Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory and impose in the classroom in the name of Character Education or a Positive School Climate. Let’s continue on with how crucial this developmental ideal was to Marx. Berman cites several examples but this one rings consistent with the actual current definition of  College Ready: “the goal of communism is ‘the development of a totality of capacities in the individuals themselves.’ Berman goes on with this passage from The German Ideology that is consistent with the Communitarianism we are have found in Career Ready Practices and the Positive School Climate (again!):

“only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions; only in the community, therefore, is personal freedom possible.”

Bill Ayers just loves that definition of freedom. I do believe it’s what sent him into education in the first place. I mean who would know? Who reads Marxist professors to locate such a quote back to Marx himself? Me when the footnotes cite someone.

This final quote from Marx is reflected in the actual definitions of Student Growth and Student Achievement being used in the States as part of Common Core. It’s why feelings and social and emotional learning and changes in values, attitudes, and beliefs measured through collected data about each student and classroom are so much a part of the actual Common Core implementation. This is from Volume One of Capital:

“it is essential to communism that it transcend the capitalist division of labor [that would be differences in knowledge and skills among students in less stilted language]… the partially developed individual, who is merely the bearer of one specialized social function, must be replaced by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of labors, ready to face any change in production, for whom the different social functions he performs are only so many modes of giving free scope to his own natural and acquired powers.”

That’s a fairly concise summary of what is now being called College and Career Ready if you go back to the original documents as I have. It also fits perfectly with the OECD’s definition of Competency driving international education reforms through PISA.

Now I am not saying everything going on in education globally is about resurrecting Communism. For one thing it now has a terrible reputation. But education globally is trying to displace any right of individuals to make their own decisions about how to live their lives. Right now the 21st century being shaped for us through education is the Age of Statism where politicians and government employees and Business and Nonprofit cronies make decisions for us. It’s not to be the Age of the Individual or the Consumer or widespread prosperity.

And the educational theories being used to mold New Kinds of Minds and Different Personalities really do track back to Marx. Which then makes 20th Century history hugely relevant to where we are headed in the 21st.

I wish this was not true but it is. And the only way to get us off this current planned pathway is to stare this Marxian foundation square in the face.

 

 

 

Are Educators Free to Plot Mental Insurrections in Students with Impunity?

Does being an educator–Teacher, Principal, Super, Professor–come with a magic “Get Out of Jail Free” card along with the degree? Especially those doctorates. Can educators push emotional and psychological practices in the classroom or Systems Thinking or Values Clarification or Soft Skills or Character Education or Inquiry Learning or the Student Centered Classroom or a myriad other terms that the Creators acknowledge are means to alter a Student’s Consciousness? To try to get to the Blind Spot that impels behaviors in an effort to obtain Communitarian Social Change?

A mentality that ceases to think of itself as a legitimate individual and finds its Sense of Self in doing for others. Where that altruism is not a free choice but was carefully cultivated in the classroom when the mind and personality remained malleable. If I can locate the originators of the theory or policy or practice saying what its real purpose is, and that purpose seeks to use the school to obtain social and political and economic transformation, does an education degree or title make it a permissable practice anyway? Are we Americans or Canadians or Brits or Australians or anyone else under political attack via education really without recourse?

John Dewey first developed the term “Social Reconstruction” to define the use of the school and classroom to change the student from the inside-out. It needs a mind that is not dominated by the abstract or the logical and is not full of facts that allow its own analysis. For Dewey the rational needed to be heavily infused with emotion so the mind would not be constrained from imagining the world as it might be. He recognized that a fact-filled brain will want to see possibilities from preexisting alternatives. John Dewey wanted a world as it had never been. His modern-day acolytes want that now. For all of them freedom gets redefined not as a matter of individual liberty and personal choices. No to be free in Dewey world:

“we need to imagine the possible beyond the actual, and to be moral we must distinguish those possibilities that ought to be (i.e., that are truly desirable) from those that are not.”

Most of the classroom practices track back to Dewey or someone who models their aspirations around Dewey. He is not the point of the post so let’s shorthand the essence of his vision by saying that the real website Marxists.org has numerous postings about Dewey. His biographers and his friend Sidney Hook and the Bolsheviks themselves all believed he took Karl Marx’s unfinished vision for using education as a cultural tool and made it into an effective weapon. We should take them then at their word and discuss whether it has any place in a country with aspirations of continued freedom for the individual. Otherwise the Colleges of Education and accreditation bodies and UNESCO etc have a license for insurrection. To simply use Dewey’s theories and practices but give them appealing names like Excellence or Quality Learning. Insurrection with Impunity at are Expense. Pension and Generous Health Benefits too.

In his Pedagogic Creed John Dewey said:

“Education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.”

That attack on individual consciousness these days comes in through an IB Learner Profile or a Positive School Climate/PBIS  requirement or the 3 R’s. It comes in through the letter home to parents describing an Honors Lit class that mentions interpreting books through personal experiences and cultural backgrounds and written reflections. That class may say lit and they may still “read” books but the focus of the class has shifted to the students. Who They Are, Where They Come From, What They Value, and What Needs to Be Changed to Have Growth. You the parent will simply assume the Growth is academic and relates to knowledge. That’s a social interaction classroom and you will likely only know it if your child already has an Axemaker Mind and feels bored and manipulated.

Remember the post when I told you the US Government had announced its intention to use education and the social sciences to shape mindsets for Sustainability and anti-fossil fuels regardless of the actual temperatures or whether there is fraud involved in the so-called science? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/ This week the head of Australia’s Green Party, Christine Milne, who is a vital part of that country’s governing coalition, displayed her anger over anyone still disputing Manmade Global Warming even though, as I hope you are aware, there is a lot to dispute and the 4th IPCC Report has been shown to be full of unfounded assertions or propaganda.  Here’s her response with my bolding:

“Denialism has much more to do about values and world view than it has to do with actually understanding the science. So we should have been using the social sciences a lot sooner than we have been to work out ways to talking to people’s values systems rather than to their intellectual capacity.”

Young people with still malleable minds who have been entrusted to educators in the belief that school is about the transmission of knowledge and marketable skills. Not a means for fostering an insurrection with captive minds as a permanently available vehicle widely distributed among future voters.

Speaking of worldview, what worldview is it to assert that a belief that people have intrinsic abilities and talents is Social Darwinism that must be combated and rejected as a basis for education? What worldview argues that math and science are merely social constructs and gloats that the Common Core implementation will finally allow educators to target those teachers still trying to teach it as a body of knowledge and procedures? What sort of country will we be if genuine math and science can no longer be taught to any student because it is not accessible to all students? Instead all students get applications and open-ended problem-solving and human activities like projects that are a means of interaction.  What kind of worldview equates oil drilling and coal mining as unacceptable forms of oppression and domination of Gaia’s resources and then equates the mindset that would do that to owning slaves?

Different educators seem to have different grievances that make them susceptible to these schemes of Social Reconstruction via education. Some may be Inadvertent Insurrectionists genuinely unaware of the background of what they are pushing. Others, quite frankly are simply not very bright, and love any theory of learning that makes them feel better about how the students with Axemakers Minds made them feel. No more Axemakers Minds though is economic suicide but how would the Less Talented with a Career on the Public Payroll at Taxpayer Expense know that crucial fact?

To close this very legitimate inquiry on “What are we going to do?”, I can tell some of what is going on in professional development for teachers in preparation to implement the Common Core  by searches that end up on my blog doorstep. One of the searches that I have been getting daily for more than a week now is “education misrepresent reality: Discuss.” Clearly trying to convince teachers to move away from the transmission of knowledge. So I did a little Reverse Engineering searching myself and found a 1979 book deliberately seeking Dewey’s vision of using education to alter consciousness to eventually obtain social and political change. Stealthily.

I also though found Paulo Freire and his theory that the transmission of knowledge, what he calls Banking Education, is an “instrument of social control” because it “controls by manipulating the content of the imagination.” Instead he wants a “problem-posing education.” The lecture-based curriculum, says Freire, “is compatible with the aim of promoting the oppressive cultural forces of the dominant authority in society and with the disempowerment of students.”

When educators believe all this nonsense and it guides their policies and practices, why can’t the Hispanics and Blacks and Rich and Poor and Male and Female and Gay and whatever other groups that are being played as Victims or Targets but who know better simply say no? Could there be anything in the US or any country right now that is more unifying than a rejection of the Dewey vision of education as Social Reconstruction? The vision that disparages facts and fluent reading and sequential math because they all foster individuality and are barriers to political manipulation.

Don’t we have a winning, very diverse, coalition here that Just Says No to Social Reconstruction and using education to try to alter perceptions of reality? Some things are simply too important not to be willing to be confrontational over. Respectfully of course. At least at first.