That quote involving the democratic purposes of schools that emphasized how the “democratic approach creates opportunities for local communities to publicly deliberate and self-govern” that we talked about sarcastically in the last post just kept gnawing at my subconscious from the time I published the post. It was no accident that Equity Pushers put such a place-based participatory democracy and create consensus and majority rules position in an October 2012 Position Paper to guide the CCSSI implementation. It is a shout out to the Bela Banathy and Texas Super position of making education about a New Desired Collective Future. That Future that needs a New Kind of Mind and Heart. Which is precisely what all these reforms we have chronicled seek to create.
That quote not only implies resuscitating John Dewey’s ideal of Participatory Democracy (which would explain all the push around Quality Learning and the Arts inclusion) but also its previous modern incarnation in the 1962 Port Huron Statement that created the Students for a Democratic Society. No wonder so many former SDSers like Bill Ayers or Mike Klonsky were drawn into education. Perfect cultural weapon for mass political, social, and economic Transformation. Go after the noetic system and change beliefs, attitudes, values, and feelings (sound like a familiar goal by various names?) and predictable future behavior will soon follow. People in fact may be easier to program via education than computers are for a developer. One need not be specific and logical to achieve the desired outcome in people.
That quote also reminded me especially of the Regional Equity Movement we have talked about several times that is to be a primary goal of an Obama Second Term. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/distributive-justice-is-not-enough-we-must-break-the-illusion-of-the-unitary-self/ is the discussion of the Building One America conference and how I see this as relating to education and the Future Earth Alliance.
But the Regional Equity Movement is a political means. The broader movement is called Bioregionalism and it unites systems thinking, new 3 R’s, education with ICLEI and Agenda 21. I have had all the Bioregional implementation books from the early 90s for a while. But when I read the plans they always struck me as so ludicrous to be proposing as 21st Century aspirations that I would get frustrated and put the books away. But the ludicrous aspirations just kept coming up over and over as real goals. Actual intentions. Where Banathy and Peter Senge and Paul Ehrlich and the No More Axemaker Minds and Democratic Purpose of Education were going. So I gathered the books together and took them to my favorite place for systematically taking on a really troubling book or concept–the Beach. I firmly believe lovely vistas help bolster the soul whenever life’s ugliness must be dealt with.
We could describe the last few days research on Bioregionalism as Revelations from the Sand and Surf. Vacationers who did not know me probably wondered why the lady sat scribbling furiously in the margins while sitting under the beach umbrella. The very picture of the Quintessential Nerd in Paradise. Well, in my defense it is not every day that you get so many open declarations and admissions against interest describing a Long Term Political Scheme in detail. With memorable details like “the murderous sociopathology of capitalism” or how:
“Cancer stalks the Earth. Its name is profit, its nature poison. In the name of profit our lakes and rivers die. Our oceans are dying. . .For the sake of profit our food, water and air are poisoned.” It goes on but you get the idea. No wonder so many new college grads think they must work in the nonprofit sector. They have been inundated with a very false view of the world and how it works and they lack enough historical knowledge to reject such foolish propaganda. After all they grew up in an education system that is preaching that process and theory are more important than facts. Guided already by this several decades old Transform the Future vision without bothering to tell the students, parents, or taxpayers.
The Bioregional vision goes on to make the municipality (after being broken up into authentic communities “scaled to human dimensions”) the place (and they do seem to mean this in the sense of physical space and physical activity) where:
“the individual can be transformed from a mere person into an active citizen, from a private being into a public being. Given this crucial arena that literally renders the citizen a functional being who can participate directly in the future of society, we are dealing with a level of human interaction that is more basic (apart from the family itself) than any level that is expressed in representative forms of governance, where collective power is literally transmuted into power embodied by one or a few individuals. The municipality is thus the most authentic arena of public life, however much it may have been distorted over the course of history.”
Now I did warn you civics education and the Civic Mission of Schools can be a dangerous thing to advocate blindly for these days. It is a different view of citizenship and government than what the US Constitution laid out. The mayors, however, are delighted and this explains their enthusiasm for Sustainability and Green Initiatives apart from federal dollars. They think they get to be where the long term action is in a world that really is envisioned to work like a commune with transportation by “collective vehicles.” A world where there ceases to be “independence or dependence.” In its place we are supposed to have “a more richly articulated form of interdependence” after each person has engaged in “a conscious reconstruction of our relationship to each other and the natural world.”
Now, you must be wishing you had a lovely vista to stand up and walk around in and then glance away to the horizon before reading more such nonsense. But when you have monopoly power through government, access to taxpayer money, and little real knowledge of history nonsensical visions can still be very real. Literally be the impetus behind actual education reforms and political policies and regulations and sought economic transformations. Which is precisely what is going on right now in so many areas. It tracks back in the US and globally (yes, the UN is behind this. 1973 was the initiation date days my books) to this Bioregionalist vision. That hits us as nonsensical.
And do you know where this no more Division of Labor or market exchange economy and society starts? The one to be a sharing society “based on the pleasure that is felt in distributing among communities according to their needs”? Why it starts in a new vision for education for the Full Personality. Education to “reflect on what it means to think–yes, to reason–and to live ecologically in the full meaning of the term.” That sure does sound like Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer’s Systems Thinking and the UN’s Education for Sustainable Development.
Education that makes “for more rounded personalities with a rich sense of selfhood and competence” which was a goal “long cherished by the anarchists and socialists of the last century.”
Really? Are we really going to keep implementing K-12 and college education designed to unite us all “in an ecological continuum to feed the spirit as well as the body, sharpening one’s sensitivity to the nonhuman and human world around us.” No wonder it is to be about hands-on science instead of the science in textbooks. No wonder school is now to be about Relationships.
Can we stand up now and look at the full future vision of society that this Equitable Education and democratic purpose of schooling and systems thinking and Competence is taking us to?