Hiding Education’s Theft of Individual Freedom Behind the Positive School Climate Mandate

Sometimes, like today, I am so stunned by the gap between the provided story of what is going on in education and the actual unknown, likely to be tragic, reality that I have to stop after gathering together the facts and take a history detour. “Who can I turn to with experience in such official folly?” “What can I use to illustrate the enormous likely consequences?” I found this quote Nobel Prize-winning Economist Friedrich Hayek used to explain The Value of Freedom in his book The Constitution of Liberty to be a great start in our quest to avert tyranny via education.

“In an advancing society, any restriction on liberty reduces the number of things tried and so reduces the rate of progress. In such a society freedom of action is granted to the individual, not because it gives him greater satisfaction but because if allowed to go his own way he will on average serve the rest of us better than any orders we know how to give.”

Or any Collective Vision we force others to adhere to would be a good update to the practical importance of individual liberty. That seems to be the 21st Century Means of Giving such Orders.

The Positive School Climate Mandate the feds are now forcing on all schools in all states is being interpreted as requiring “graduates who are other oriented and see their lives as having a larger purpose than advancing their own self-interest.” Students are no longer to see their education as being “all about me.” Instead, they need to learn to moderate their performance goals to “honor the interests of others” and reflect “a shared commitment to bringing out the best in each other.”

I guess that encountering what could best be described as the Collective Communitarian Classroom should not be a big shock given our careful deconstruction of what College and Career Ready actually means. But is a long way from the stated goals of consistent criteria of knowledge that will no longer vary from state to state to run so consistently into no knowledge, New Kinds of Minds, Manipulated Personalities, Revised Values, and now Mandated Altruism as some sort of First Directive. All enforceable via the Data Being Collected and Archived to monitor all this about each student. Collected under poorly understood definitions of “Growth” and “Achievement.” And accompanied by repeated snide remarks about “even students who do strive for excellence and achieve it honestly may be doing so in a very individualistic way.

Now hardly anyone seems to know about the Positive School Climate Mandate, much less the related social and emotional learning focus we have been chronicling. Add to that ignorance a counterintuitive definition that insists that the students and faculty must create and then adhere to  “shared expectations, values, and patterns of behavior that define who we are” and we have a vehicle for enforced personality coercion via our schools. All being promoted as Moral Education. Character Education. Performance Values. Supers are now bringing in Cambridge Education to tell teachers that they can no longer lecture or systematically teach content from a textbook. Then the Supers and Principals plan to turn around and tell that same teacher that she and her students “must work hard in order to create and sustain a caring school environment” and “build caring relationships.” Riane Eisler must be so pleased.

Hayek defined coercion as being when a person is “forced to act not according to a coherent plan of his own but to serve the ends of another.” I could go on for pages describing what is planned as part of that Positive School Climate Mandate but at its essence it is an initiative sponsored by our federal government to force American citizens, our young students, to be led to believe from an early age that such coercion is not only justified but actually a positive, laudable, permissable role of government. To mold students who will selflessly

“contribute to the lives of others, . . . make a positive difference in the world, take initiative to right a wrong or be of service to others; we persevere to overcome problems and mend relationships; we work selflessly on behalf of others or for a noble cause, often without recognition or reward.”

Government officials and employees have decided that it is to their benefit to use K-12 education to squelch out anything that fosters reason or individuality. They believe no one can stop them. I think Ayn Rand had it precisely right when she said “collectivist slogans serve as a rationalization for those who intend, not to follow the people, but to rule it.” The mediocre or naive or greedy insist that no one may be exceptional and would also like good benefits and an inflation adjusted retirement while they enforce such an education for servitude. Despite having lied to us repeatedly about what they are up to. Education to create citizens who are willing and need to be ruled is precisely the Bag of Goods we have been sold under such names as the Common Core and UNESCO’s Education for All.

Perhaps the best way to dramatize just how intrusive this political vision intends to be can be illustrated by describing the Flock of Geese classroom activity to teach Collective Responsibility to every person in the classroom. Excerpts from Page 55 of the Pathway to Excellence & Ethics Resource Manual. The idea is for children to start seeing the classroom as one flock. Is this what a free society teaches its children when not selling them on the joys of cooperative learning via group projects? (Bold face is from story)

“It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an up-lift for others behind it.

Quite similar to people who are part of a team and share a common direction get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the trust of one another and lift each other along the way.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation and share information with those who are headed the same way we are going.

When one of us is down, it’s up to the others to stand by us in our time of trouble.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other when things get rough.

We will stay in formation with those headed where we want to go.

The next time you see a formation of geese, remember their message that “IT IS INDEED A REWARD, A CHALLENGE, AND A PRIVILEGE TO BE A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF A TEAM.”

Words almost fail me. That’s what the cultivation of an emotional herd instinct looks like. The Germans did that in the 19th Century and there were too few to stop a widely held Bad Idea. We had Two World Wars as a result. Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian, saw both of them and never forgot the dangers of state power that systematically sought to squelch and devalue human freedom. Once again, let’s listen to his wisdom born of tragic experience.

Coercion is a person “unable to use his own intelligence or knowledge or to follow his own aims and beliefs. . . coercion is evil precisely because it thus eliminates the individual as a thinking and valuing person and makes him a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of another.”

I reject the idea that in the United States that politicians can authorize supers and principals and accreditors to enact what is clearly intended to be an unprecedented level of personal coercion. And via our taxpayer funded schools no less. This is ultimately the core of the so-called Common Core. And it was designed to be undetectable.

We had components of this already but it was actually laid out in the November ASCD Whole Child Newsletter. Then I followed up on the references. There is no question this is intended to be a key component of the Fundamental Transformation of the United States promised just before our current President won office the first time. The November timing makes it clear this is to be carried into effect largely out of sight whoever wins the Presidential Election on Tuesday.

The fundamental Transformation is apparently on Autopilot at this point. Let’s think about what Ayn Rand learned from her experience with the Bolsheviks.

“In real life, there is no such thing as a gradual descent from civilization to savagery. There is a crash. There is no such thing as retrogressing ‘a little.’ There is no such thing as a ‘restrained progress.’”

We are looking at a certain crash in the US unless we turn away soon. Can one indeed be elected or credentialed to abrogate human freedom now with impunity?




Targeting Student Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs to Control Future Behavior

I have long known that the function of Transformational Outcomes Based Education and its close sibling, Systems Thinking, is to be able to predict and control the behavior of future adults. Future voters. To change the prevailing culture in a society by attacking its noetic system. Prevailing feelings, beliefs, and values all get targeted by educational institutions for change to get a lasting change in behavior. Such goals (especially when enforced now via a Data Quality Campaign collecting and monitoring such info) may meet the very definition of Totalitarianism, but honestly, who will know in time? How many people will know that a cognitive goal means your belief system is the target? Or that it became fair game for manipulation by administrators and professors who either aggressively deplore capitalism and individuality, or do not understand the importance of either, and just want their paycheck and promotions.

As I mentioned in the previous post while investigating the current intentions of Systems Thinking, the name Milton Rokeach came up several times with work going back to the 1960s. That’s a crucial time period for me because it means a pedagogy or curriculum originally developed to be a weapon against the US during the Cold War has survived to the present. Something designed originally to destroy the rational capacity to think and free decision-making as an individual based on your own set of facts and concerns (assuming as many did that the Soviet Union would prevail over the US) remains in place under a new name. Still with the same purpose but different beneficiaries. Ready to compel behavior from instinct and emotion. Literally without a second thought.

It is very alarming that late in the book Presence the authors are discussing the Dark Side of Acting from the Heart. It is not something being pointed out to Principals and Supers and teachers being asked to promote the practices in the classroom. For someone like me who is deeply interested in history, it is too much a reminder of the unconscious impulse to act as a collective instilled in the German people via education in the 19th century. They thought it was the answer for the humiliation of being defeated by Napoleon. Talk about poisonous seeds.

It is Values most of all that Rokeach targeted because they are the fewest in number and have the actual ability to compel behavior. Can you see why Sustainability is to be the focus of so much of the Common Core implementation? Values also influence attitudes and emotions and the belief system. Values influence perceptions from daily experience. Think about how often you have watched or heard someone reject what should have been definitive proof with an “I just can’t believe it.” So they didn’t. That’s what values do and why manipulating them is so important if you wish to push a political ideology like collectivism or government intervention and direction of an economy.

I must say I always thought the regular use of the term “Competency” now was just to mislead people from recognizing that we are back implementing Outcomes Based Education again. I had even noticed how a Digital Learning advocate had used Objectives (Ralph Tyler’s term from the 8 Year Study) synonymously with Outcomes (Ben Bloom and Spady/Rogers’ term) and Competency. Turns out though as Milton Rokeach makes clear in his 1968 book Beliefs Attitudes and Values Competency combines both skills and values into a single term. The public then assumes a Competency focus of course includes academic knowledge. It is school or college after all. And the educators get to change and influence student behaviors through unappreciated value changes. The emphasis will be on what the student can do and if the actions are largely driven by emotion so much the better. There’s a reason Rokeach’s book has an Appendix laying out the potentials for Advertising of such an education emphasis.

How many parents will recognize the emotional and psychological manipulation being planned and documented under PBIS or Positive School Climate or recognize that Continuous Improvement is affective in emphasis? I may have joked about Purple America and Project Love but this values curriculum by the hugely influential NEA is meant to both make money and change American student values. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/does-purple-america-come-with-a-toy-dinosaur-or-is-it-just-more-sel/

And let me tell you how Rokeach planned to fundamentally shift both Individual and Societal Values to increase the emphasis on Equality in each student’s psyche at the expense of Freedom. It’s not the sort of thing a child comes home and tells you about. He used Student Surveys (don’t worry it’s not like Student Surveys are being included as explicit component of the Effective Teacher Measure that gives the school a reason for asking Anything Wished) and asked students to rank different values. Those students who ranked Freedom higher than Equality were then told how they rated their own interests as more important than the needs of others.  The exact quote used to needle the students was: “they generally care more for their own freedom than the freedom of others.” Practically like telling them they need an S tattoed on forehead and a Red T-shirt that says Selfish to wear around campus.

And all the self-awareness being pushed? Sometimes with the hugely pretentious name of Metacognitive? That just makes it easier to get the sought value changes, either by specifically targeting self-conception as we saw in this post  proposing to teach what a racist society we remain. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/self-efficacy-cultural-proficiency-training-critical-reflection-and-change-agency-development/
Or by targeting alleged hypocrisies, incongruities, inconsistencies, or contradictions between self-conceptions or self-ideals. Just as no one wants to think of themselves as being against freedom even though forced equality requires an all-intrusive government, Rokeach learned just how effective it was to point out variances in an individual’s values from the group norm. (Aren’t those Common Core student surveys going to come in so handy?) To use his nerdy phrase verbatim this disclosure usually “aroused a negative affective state of self-dissatisfaction.” People do not like to be self-dissatisfied for long so the survey information becomes the impetus for lasting “cognitive and behavioral change.”

And with those types of effects, no schemer since has been willing to leave Values alone whatever the outcry. Values and moral reeducation, I mean education, morphed into Outcomes Based Education and now Soft Skills and Social and Emotional Learning. It is still about targeting Values for change. As we discussed in this post in July, the Canadians adopting many of the same initiatives as the US on a similar timeframe have at least been honest enough to admit the real Common Core is desired values to be instilled in each citizen that have nothing to do with cherishing the Maple Leaf or Stars and Stripes. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/how-disabilities-law-is-already-being-used-to-gain-ehrlichs-new-mind-and-the-future-earth-economy/ And when you get that kind of international consistency in education you always know UNESCO is lurking around nearby.

And UNESCO really does now seem to serve as the repository for schemes in the West against capitalism, individualism, and rational, logical, academic knowledge. But during the Cold War, much of that same aim came from the NEA, especially its ASCD subsidiary. In March 1978, Educational Leadership published a special issue called “Education of Judgment and Action: Personal and Civic.” It appears to be the launch of the formal push to make Values Education an integral part of US education going forward. The listed rationale was:

“the cultivation of decision making particularly as it relates to political virtues that are appropriate to constitutional self-government and that are required to achieve a society that stands for justice, equality, and freedom in the modern world.”

And that’s how the War commenced to permanently change the behavior of future voters via the schools by changing the underlying Values. To cultivate that herd instinct that can cause any nation so much grief. And if you actually read the 1978 essay “The Status of Education of Judgment” by one of Rokeach’s favorite values educators, John R Meyer, you would learn that the value of freedom to be fostered is not the traditional American belief that it is a natural right existing prior to any compact with government. No, the essay rejects that definition of Freedom in favor of the John Dewey definition then being pushed hard again (1977) by Columbia Teachers College.

“Freedom is a social benefit conferred by the collective intelligence of society.”

Aha, I believe we have found the long-lingering root of the problem of national Values education. And now it is international with UNESCO and OECD running what are to be instilled as Values. Yikes!!


What if Higher Order Thinking=Deliberate Confusion?

Raise your hand if you were surprised by that definition of rigor in the previous post. No the challenge does not come from applying previously taught content in difficult ways. And higher order thinking is not synonymous with deep understanding in the fact-based, solid rational analysis, way we traditionally associate with school or university sanctioned understanding. The “deep understanding” being pursued by Common Core’s developers lives “beyond the realm of control and rationality.” It is based in psychological research of “how learners can be moved by things beyond their own intentions and goals.” I think this is a very troubling area for a government or an untaxed “charitable” foundation to be pushing and financing on behalf of citizens and future voters. But then I created the metaphor Invisible Serfs Collar for a multitude of reasons just like this.

ASCD, which used to be the NEA’s curriculum development arm, has an entire approach centered around making Common Core applicable to the Whole Child. If you have not yet had a principal or other administrator use the term “holistic” to describe what makes the Common Core initiative so different you will (or would have before I wrote this post). If you have missed the ‘Must be Engaging to the Child” aspect to Common Core, you probably should have a quiet little chat with your child’s teacher about how she will be evaluated as an Effective Teacher to keep her job.

Western civilization may have been built on the rise and valuing of  human reason as a driving and organizing force, but educators going back to John Dewey have sought to marry reason back into the passionate, instinctive, intuitive aspect that it also an element of the human personality. This is the same goal we discussed back on June 3   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-quality-learning-may-be-the-last-thing-you-want-for-your-child/

And you thought that was what education was supposed to be all about? Moving beyond the caveman approach to interacting with his environment? I am afraid you, dear reader, would never make it through many of these education or sociology or psychology programs credentialing today’s educators, especially at the administrator levels. It can be hard to read this stuff and not wonder if ignorance or greed or a genuine desire for social revolution is the driving force behind these profs and some of the principals, supers, and other administrators they are now credentialing. Whatever guides them, they have our money, our children, and a completely reenvisioned future economy in their hands. At least for the moment.

Higher order thinking and rigor in education in 2012 are trying  to access that beyond reason realm of human consciousness. Actually so is the current emphasis on creativity and critical thinking. That’s why the pushed “problems, uncertainties, questions, or dilemmas” must be “unfamiliar” or “novel.” They are designed to “elicit answers that have not been learned already.” These are the “life skills” that misleading district or school charter authorizes.

The teachers will be encouraged to teach strategies for coping with this type of open-ended problem solving, but not provide either answers or the kind of factual information from history or great literature that allowed earlier generations to successfully plot around life’s uncertainties. We may know that history repeats itself in terms of the broad themes that drive human action. The Outcomes Based Education/ Common Core generation apparently is to get to revisit everything anew without much knowledge from the past for guidance. Hard to imagine how this can possibly work out well.

Why? Well one of the profs most involved with pushing these “flow” marriages of affect and cognition, was a co-author of a book, Good Work:When Excellence and Ethics Meet (2001). His co-authors are Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligences fame and William Damon who is on the Stanford faculty with Nel Noddings from our previous 2 posts. Like her, he is involved with Moral Education and Character Education. Damon is also mentioned in a recent Psychology Today piece pushing for new Civics Values for American students.  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201205/no-joking-our-kids-are-failing-democracy-101

That book states unabashedly (pages 51-52 if you want to locate a copy) that all this education reform is “trying to direct the course of the future.”  The alternative, they believe, would unwisely be:

To trust in the benevolent gods or a ubiquitous Gaia, or in an economic system that will miraculously turn waste into well-being.”

Well at least we are getting towards the driving impetus behind all those explanations for Outcomes Based Education that never made much sense given our own everyday reality. That was to be rejected. In fact, in these gentlemen’s view of how the future will unfold, the three critical elements are genes (outside their domain for the moment), the “informational codes of our culture”, and the “code of consciousness” made up by “ideas and ideals invented by individuals and then shared by communities.”

I think we have finally come up with a working definition of radical education reform of the type sought in the 90s and being implemented now in the US as the Common Core. It is targeting the non-genetic means of influencing the future  and modifying, rejecting, or “improving” them.

I think the Ancient Greeks called this kind of undisclosed world altering aspiration: hubris. And it never went well.