Hotwiring the Second Wing of the Eagle: Utilize the Human Brain as the Sustainability Trigger in the 21st

I suppose I am giving away both my age (autos before too many electronics) and geography (southern) with that metaphor, but it struck me on a walk yesterday that the old technique for surreptitiously taking a vehicle you didn’t have a key for also fits with how global learning standards and digital curriculum immersions actually are designed to work. Instead of being forthcoming that a Portrait of a Graduate is not about knowledge in the traditional Periodic Table in Chemistry sense. Rather it goes to what physicist David Bohm meant when he wrote that:

Science consists not in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the creation of fresh modes of perception.

That quote was the Epigraph to a 1998 essay called “The second wing of the eagle: the human dimension in learning our way to more sustainable futures,” that was in turn footnoted in an 2019 article pushed last week called “Community science: A typology and its implications for governance of social-ecological systems.” That’s us, people, once we parse through that mouthful of verbiage because the keystone for the desired control over and coupling of human and ecological systems is so-called ‘social learning’. Learning and a transformed nature of education need to create a “shared understanding of the social-ecological system” for the purpose of  “complex social-ecological problems.” Those problems get highlighted via provided experiences and conceptual frameworks, images and emotions, that create common ‘shared beliefs’ of the type we covered in the Trilogy finished in the last post.

The Blue Dot July 2018 issue on “Digital Pedagogies” from the last post mentioned its use of something called the LIBRE process so I of course went a-searching and quickly located a September 2019 article called “Libre–Nourish the Brain So the Future Can Flourish” that insists that the UN’s global goals for sustainability can only be met if:

Education needs to shift from a utilitarian perspective to one that focuses on the greater social good. Recent brain research supports the multiple digital pedagogies of Libre.

Before we cover those,  let’s clarify what is meant by the Second Wing of the Eagle metaphor since as we will see the Right Emotional Brain Dominance of the Logical Mind, Prospection, and deliberately crafted virtual reality experiences from the Trilogy all fit with liberating that Second Wing. It fits with what both Community Science, at a collective level, and Citizen Science, at an individual level, want to transform via a new kind of education. It is clearly what LIBRE means by enabling the critical consciousness needed for ‘active citizenship’. This is from a review of the article in June 1999 in BioScience:

Environmental management has traditionally been regarded primarily as a technical task, whereas the causal agents of environmental damage are people. Until human behavior is brought into the equation, solutions will not be forthcoming. [The Second Wing essay] introduces the concept of social learning and discusses the need for integration of the scientific and social disciplines to achieve social action. The authors want to get the eagle that is environmental management flying again. The figurative eagle is currently skirting the issues, madly beating the one wing it knows how to use. The coupling between ‘human systems’ and ‘ecosystems’ can only constructively be addressed using the social learning approach.

Puts a new perspective on the hype over the supposed Anthropocene Age and man-made global warming that doesn’t care about actual temperatures and uses every graphic weather image to try to reenforce the theory, doesn’t it? It’s about the coupling and control–the need to resculpt human perceptions and link that to the motivation for future action. As the second wing essay puts it, the resolution to getting at both wings working in a manner that does seem like totalitarianism from within must get at “the self-understanding and self-definition of individuals [which are] in a state of flux.” This so-called “environmental crisis within” has two aspects that must be targeted by education.

The first has to do with values and beliefs…The second aspect has to do with knowledge itself…This is not a disguised attack on science…It is an attack on ways of thinking, approaches to problem solving, and political institutions founded on the ideological view that empirical science is the epitome of human reason and the primary route to truth and human understanding [Truth? Beauty? Goodness?]…The engagement of individuals in understanding the environmental crisis and in developing a willingness to promote or at least accept substantial change is essential…Social learning is an approach and philosophy which focuses on participatory processes of social change… It encompasses a positive belief in the potential for social transformation based on:

  •  critical self-reflection;
  • the development of participatory multi-layered democratic processes;
  • the reflexive capabilities of human individuals and societies;
  • and the capacity for social movements to change political and economic frameworks for the better.

Social learning, then, fits precisely with Libre as we are about to see. It regards knowledge from an “actor-orientated perspective…as a potentially powerful force for change. Such change emerges as actors ‘change their minds’ through interaction and dialogue with others.” Since I alluded to a link to Classical Education above, minus any link to Paulo Freire, let me do a quick link to a 1987 Virtue Ethics Essay I found when following up on the IEEE Standards for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (which includes people) and then recognized the Humanity 2.0/ Jubilee Center link that popped out.   https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/ethics-and-virtue/ also wants us to know that education and the “moral life is also a matter of trying to determine the kind of people we should be and attending to the development of character within our communities and ourselves.” Sounds like the IEEE is not the only entity desiring a common core so be wary about so-called ports in this storm.

According to Libre, “education needs to be restructured to respond constructively and progressively to both social change and technological advancement.” Its purpose must also change so that education will now “empower learners to question inequality, unsustainability, loss of common identity, and violence.” Libre intends to utilize the “neurobiological process called ‘neuroplasticity,’ which is the capacity of the brain to change, at the levels of both structure and function, in response to change in the cognitive environment.” Libre also makes it clear that ‘personalized learning’ is not about different trajectories for learning since shared understandings, beliefs, values, and motivations for future action are needed for the desired socio-ecological transformation. No, personalized is a reference that in the beginning, say preschool, “no two human brains are identical” and “each brain is unique.”

Remember that when you read now of required student assessments and inventorying of attributes in kindergarten. Beyond the EMCC we met in the last post, Libre proposes:

a problem-based approach to education that enables learners to build a critical consciousness to drive ‘active citizenship,’ develops their abilities to frame their identities; and empowers them to critically question any systemic, cultural, and physical manifestations of exclusions and marginalization…The ‘Libre’ process was developed to achieve such [full potential] learning by creating environments that ‘liberate’ learners and provide them with competencies to build knowledge using their lived reality…It adopts Freire’s ‘problem-posing’ approach in the classroom, which allows learning to be driven by the learner’s inquiry and guided through everyday words that have a direct connection to students’ lives.

The pedagogies of Libre and the learning experiences they create use 5 methods that all fit with both the Trilogy and the Second Wing essay. They are (1) Storytelling (“helps build a caring and cooperative attitude”); (2) Gamification (“failures become challenges, which encourages learners to revise their actions until they arrive at the ‘correct’ way of doing things”); (3) Inquiry (Mindfulness practices); (4) Reflection (OECD’s A-A-R Cycle in 2030 Learning); and (5) Dialogue (“seeks to adopt a collective learning approach”).

Putting the above back into the goal of bringing the human dimensions to learning so that dormant wing begins to flap we are told we are told requires a willingness to act despite:

unacknowledged conditions and unintended consequences of action. Hence, human judgement and political activity became things not to be simply made ‘scientific’; but rather are more encompassing dimensions of the human condition fundamental to our ability to ‘go on in the face of uncertainty and our potential understanding of the worlds we inhabit…Social learning, while not outright rejecting the utility of positivist methodologies, is predicated on a constructivist position…not with some external reality out there…but rather human experience (human life).

I need to finish up but think about the real reasons for constructivism in the reading, math, and science wars in light of the following quote that also fits with that Freire mention in the Libre aspirations for digital pedagogies now.

The constructivist alternative to positivism is based on recognizing the primary importance of language. Humans are reflexive knowledgable beings because of language. Consciousness and ‘reality’ arise from language and not vice versa. This shift places the emphasis for understanding knowledge not on the subject-knowledge relationship but on the relationship between human subjects. What we experience as ‘reality’ and hence knowledge is to a very large extent constructed by social processes.

If that was an aspiration back in 1998, we are now twenty years later with such uses of language and creation of experiences and social processes locked in by learning standards tied to digital technologies and required school practices. Then we add in where Libre intends to go globally under the euphemism Sustainability as it calls now for a “revolution in education–one that is restructured to promote global citizenship and allows humans to flourish rather than one that only caters to narrow political or economic agendas” and we once again find ourselves beginning to flap that second wing allowing total planning and control over the biophysical dimensions as well as the human and social. What Libre sees as “education as the life-long process of learning and un-learning [that] involves an intense churning of beliefs, values, and worldviews,” the second wing metaphor graphically told us that:

A process of ‘structural change’ in a person’s thinking can be triggered but not directed. The nature of the change will be determined by the pre-existing structure of the person’s ideas and theories of the world which have been learnt during life and their cultural heritage…the reality we perceive is determined not by what is external to us but rather by our own physical and cognitive structures. Because we are informationally closed systems we can only ever talk of our experience.

Neither you, dear reader, or I, the ultimate autodiadact, are ‘informationally closed systems’ although I guess reading this or my book qualifies as an experience. That’s the aspiration anyway and what is needed for the planned transformation in the name of Sustainability.

It’s all about getting access to our brains and minds. That’s the focal point for the planned revolution in thinking. I would argue, in fact, that the planned thinking is more emotion and visual images than what created the West, its economic prosperity and technological inventions, and regard for the individual. All on the chopping block now in the 21st century assault on the individual and genuine autonomy from political overreach.

 

 

 

Driving Behavioral Change by Building a Different Kind of Brain Circuit in Students: Unity for Our Strife-Driven World?

Let’s finally get to the end of the Trilogy on Enactive Cognitive Science which is not really about how human minds work. It is about how the human mind can be made to work when immersed repeatedly in the ‘right-kind’ of experiences. As we will see, virtual reality and digital technologies are seen as a Godsend to aspirations that go back to 1932 Congress of the International League for a New Education in Nice, France stating:

The current crisis calls for a worldwide concentration of all the efforts made towards a renovated education. In 20 years, education could transform the social order and establish a spirit of cooperation susceptible of finding solutions to our present problems. Only an education that completely redefines the relationships with the children can start a new era, freed from the ruinous competitions, the biases, the concerns and miseries so characteristic of our civilization.

That aspirational quote from the past was in an insert from UNESCO’s MGIEP publication Blue Dot, Issue 8 (July 2018), article called “Learnification: Encouraging Learning Through Video Games” that also informed us that:

Education can no longer mainly be focused on reproducing content knowledge; it evolves too fast, and has never been so broadly shared and so easily accessible. Educational success is now more about what people are able to do with what they know, how they adapt and how they behave. It is more about being versatile, about constantly adapting and constantly learning and growing in a fast-changing, hyper-connected world.

A renovated education needs to balance content knowledge and understanding with skills that help students extrapolate what they know, and with curiosity, motivation, and socio-emotional intelligence that will teach them to consider the wider implications of their actions, and to act mindfully.

I found that issue because to a cited author in this India Today story from a few days ago https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/featurephilia/story/how-a-global-citizenship-curriculum-could-create-the-empathetic-citizens-we-need-in-future-to-save-the-world-1642944-2020-02-03, Professor Duraiappah, also wrote the lead-in called “Technology: A Game Changer in Education”. Today’s title came from the article’s aspiration to use  a new curriculum to “to incorporate MGIEP’s socio-emotional learning framework titled EMCC or EMC2 and aims to build empathy, mindfulness, compassion and critical inquiry in students.” Sounds complementary to the Right Brain planned dominance covered in Part 1 of this Trilogy, doesn’t it?

With proper socio-emotional training, children understand how to deal with their emotions better. Apart from building emotional resilience, they effectively learn how to control their behaviour and relationships with others.

SEL training focuses on the core personality traits of students and develops them into wholesome human beings rather than specifically targeting subject-knowledge.

Moreover, SEL can serve as a proactive measure to prevent mental health illness, reduce stress, anxiety, depression and impulsive behaviour.

Why do we need a Global Citizenship Curriculum?

“Global citizens can be described as lifelong learners, who possess the critical consciousness to drive ‘active citizenship’, to recognize the inherent interconnectedness and dignity of all life, and instill the values of acceptance, equality, respect for diversity, empathy and compassion,” explains Prof. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP.

Now, it is not possible for students to suddenly transform their behaviours. Thus, the curriculum needs to be created in a way that can train the students and drive behavioural change by building a different kind of brain circuit.

Building a different kind of brain circuit. Hard to get more explicit about the real purpose of learning standards and global competency frameworks than that, is it? Here’s a bit more and think Axemaker Mind as a metaphor for what must be changed by the planned curriculum delivered in a virtual environment by digital technologies.

This means that the usual way their brains worked in certain situations would need to be changed via extensive training to build both intellectual and emotional intelligence. This is the kind of transformation that the Global Citizenship Curriculum aims to bring.

“MGIEP’s Global Citizenship (GC) curriculum is designed to inculcate such behavioural change. It advocates that it is not enough just informing students about why one must be a global citizen but to also inculcate the competencies of understanding the ‘other’ and doing concrete action to foster global citizenship,” Prof Duraiappah adds.

Going back to that earlier article from the Blue Dot, it ended with the aspiration that:

Education needs to change in order to prepare the future generations not only to thrive as individuals, but also to take up the incredibly complex challenges humanity as a whole will face in the near future. We need a renovated education system to save the world. And, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, we might need video games to save education.

Before we cover all these plans for manipulative virtual reality environments some more because of the planned experiences to create new neural Habits of Mind they can provide, let’s look at two more books that also cover the crucial effect of experience: The Biology of Belief and The Embodied Mind. As the first book cited put it:

I call it the belief effect to stress that our perceptions, whether they are accurate or inaccurate, equally impact our behavior and our bodies…[a] whole new field of research called behavioral epigenetics [whose] mission… is nothing less than to figure out how nurture shapes nature…Here, nature refers to gene-controlled characteristics, and nurture refers to the influence of a wide range of life experiences, from social interactions to nutrition to positive mental attitudes.

So when another Blue Dot article on Virtual Reality in Education tells us that “Pedagogically, these types of interactive VR display systems can offer major advantages over other visualisation media, because of the engaging, immersive and interactive (active rather than passive) nature of the learning experience they create,” we need to recognize this as the manipulation of experience that it is. In fact, MGIEP notes that it “collaborated with Google to develop several 360-degree expeditions,” which again matters because Google is also the Vatican’s partner in using education to achieve Humanity 2.0 and was the developer behind Search Inside Yourself from Post 1. All of these see VR and embedding SEL within its experiences as a means for “transforming education for building peaceful and sustainable societies. It [MGIEP] sees immersive experiences such as VR as an integral part of SEL for our younger generations as they face 21st century challenges to build a peaceful and sustainable planet.”

The Biology of Belief provided this succinct explanation of the role of experience without regard to how the concept can be turbocharged for manipulation via VR and immersive digital environments that include what parents have been told are simply ‘digital textbooks’. Look for the Immersive Experience could be the warning label!

The same epigenetic influences also continue after the child is born because parents [and then educators] continue to influence their child’s environment. In particular, fascinating new research is emphasizing the importance of good parenting in the development of the brain. ‘For the growing brain of a young child, the social world supplies the most important experiences influencing the expression of genes, which determines how neurons connect to one another in creating the neuronal pathways which give rise to mental activities.’

The bookwent on to urge parents to act as ‘genetic engineers’ to provide the right kind of environment to “activate the genes to develop healthy brains,” but as the Blue Dot cover story “A New ‘Digital Ecosystem’ for Whole Brain Learning” made clear, parents are no longer to be the primary ‘genetic engineers’. From the article with the same co-author as cited by India Today above:

To summarise, new digital learning environments engage students in ‘real world-like’ interactions forcing them to use multi-sensory ways to learn. Resources from technology can provide access to multiple simulated environments and virtual reality experiences in novel situations, enabling students to experience the real-world relevance of their learning. For instance, learning platforms facilitate building skills of collaboration and communication. Similarly, digital games have emerged as a novel methodology to teach and assess both prosocial behavior and socio-emotional skills. The digital gaming scenario lends itself rather appropriately for SEL since it allows stealth assessments in real-world scenarios and opportunities to intervene and remediate them when necessary.

Who do you think evaluates such a necessity and whose vision lies behind the Learning Trajectories for remediation? As usual I am running long, but imagine the uses of this recognition that “genes are shaped, guided, and tailored by environmental learning experiences” when tied to digital VR student environments and remediation tied to global learning standards and frameworks. The Biology of Belief illustrates the role of environment and experience by pondering the effect on Liza Minnelli of being raised not in Hollywood by her “superstar mother Judy Garland and her father filmmaker Vincent Minnelli,” with its highs and lows of stardom and abuse, but:

If Liza had the same genes but was raised by a nurturing Pennsylvania Dutch farming family, that environment would have epigenetically triggered a different selection of genes. The genes that enabled her to pursue a successful entertainment career would likely have been masked or inhibited by the cultural demands of her agrarian community.

Masked or inhibited. Now imagine the effect of all this planned role playing in virtual reality with the provided student experiences grounded in how “the actual connections among ensembles of neurons change as the result of experience. In brief, these ensembles present us with a self-organizing capacity that is nowhere to be found in the paradigm for symbol manipulation.” That latter is a quote from The Embodied Mind, which recognized that:

it makes no sense to speak of brains as though they manufacture thoughts the way factories manufacture cars. The difference is that brains use processes that change themselves–and this means we cannot separate such processes from the products they produce. In particular, brains make memories, which change the way we’ll subsequently think. The principal activities of brains are making changes in themselves.

I am going to close today’s post on how neuroscience can create the very needed experiences using digital technologies to alter how most students brains will be wired. Many such changes have already taken place and such neural transformations go to the very essence of what learning standards tied to data standards seek to alter.

Such neural transformations that go to the dialectical nature of brain activity in conjunction with its environment, whether natural or artificial, are the essence of what stakeholders all over the world mean when they proclaim the upcoming Sustainable Future. It is why “it will be necessary to use performance-based assessments as manifested in behavior” that cross-check what students do in ‘novel situations’ instead of what they know from the past or how the world works in external reality now.

As usual, I am glad we know what is planned for us and our children, even if it is not particularly pleasant. If experience alters neural wiring in meaningful ways, knowledge of these plans helps us retain the ability to still act as ‘genetic engineers’.

 

Prospection: Training the Mind to Reject the Pre-Given World In Favor of What Might Be

Most of us, at least of a certain age, see the word ‘Understand’ and then it has something to do with how the world actually works or events that transpired in the past and what likely caused them and their ultimate consequences. This is from the Science Direct article called “Understanding is a Design Problem” written by Michael Lissack of the American Society for Cybernetics. It supplies the use of Understanding being pushed by Positive Psychology and its PERMA Model for education globally as well as other initiatives.

**  When the act of understanding becomes a design problem, we can more readily recognize the role played by individual agency/construction in shaping these understandings, and also our next moves.

**  Understanding is not about cognizing a pre-given world, it is about becoming aware of and consciously choosing the aspects of the world that we decide to cope with.

Those were from the bullet points of the abstract, but the following quote is from the paper itself under a heading of “The Role of As-Ifs,” which will fit nicely in a minute with what Positive Neuroscience and Psychology co-creator Martin Seligman calls Prospection and what the Templeton Foundation funded found here https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/readings-and-videos/selected-scholarly-articles called “Navigating the Future or Driven By the Past.” First, here is Lissack and think again of the Reading, Math, and Science Wars as we do:

Understanding requires agency. We do not nakedly receive meaning, nor do we just perceive the world as it is. Our cognitive equipment demands that we intervene to filter, prime, and frame some portion of the world, attend to that, develop an understanding and move on…The notion of as-ifs is critical to the argument that follows. Because of our limited cognitive resources, we cannot deal with the world as it is. We are stuck dealing with what our minds can process and treat that as if it were the world itself. The implications are vast. There may be fixed facts and absolute truths that apply in the real world, but we have no way of knowing such things…

We are stuck having to deal with as-ifs and not the real world. Where we do have choice is in the composition of those as-ifs. This is the context in which design [especially when mandated via learning standards like competency frameworks] can make a difference. ‘The object of the world of ideas as a whole is not the portrayal of reality–this would be an utterly impossible task–but rather to provide us with an instrument for finding our way about more easily in this world.’ [and] ‘Knowledge is not a matter of getting reality right…but rather a feature of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality.’

Gives new meaning, doesn’t it, to the emphasis now on Concepts first and whether the student applies the concepts in real world simulations and new situations that get required via Equity mandates like this one from yesterday? https://www.inacol.org/resource/how-systems-of-assessments-aligned-with-competency-based-education-can-support-equity/ Success for All suddenly means all students must have their mental models reengineered. Equity does sound better.  All students need the so-called higher performance (as in action, not grades) measures of achievement because as Lissack explained it:

Attention and ascription–giving a label to something, and thus providing a means of reference for it–entail a continuous circular reflexivity which drives our decision making and actions at any given instant…Only attended-to possibilities can afford an option for action. Unattended-to affordances, while theoretically available, simply do not afford. Action is dependent upon recognizing an affordance, which is dependent upon attention, which in turn is dependent on priming (preparedness to be attended to), which is itself dependent upon prior ascriptions, prior attention, and prior actions.

It is this context that I would put this mandate https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/13/new-zealand-schools-to-teach-students-about-climate-crisis-activism-and-eco-anxiety as the desired attended-to concepts are instilled in students’ minds to necessitate future action. Now to Seligman’s 2013 article which claimed that “Prospection, the representation of possible futures, is a ubiquitous feature of the human mind…Prospection involves no backward causation; rather, it is guidance not be the future itself but by present, evaluative representations of future possible states.” Sounds like Lissack’s desire to design the as-if conditionals that will become students habits of mind and motivators to act to me. Suddenly the need for Character Education and Virtue Training makes perfect sense if the emphasis is to be on decision making in light of ‘needs and goals’ as in this passage from the first paragraph laying out the new model of human psychology.

We suggest an alternative framework in which people and intelligent animals draw on experience to update a branching array of evaluative prospects that fan out before them. Action is then selected in light of their needs and goals. The past is not a force that drives them but a resource from which they selectively extract information about the prospects they face.

One point of contention between this blog and my book Credentialed to Destroy and other education writers has been a tendency for others to hype Behaviorism as the inspiration reforms, while I have seen cybernetics and the desire to control perception and the internalized mental models as the aspiration. Seligman shed meaningful light on this point where “the failure of behaviorism lay in its overreach, trying to use a theory that worked for rats and pigeons in the experimental setting to explain human psychology in unconstrained situations…we believe that the crucial failure was in eschewing teleological explanation, which followed directly from the exclusion of mental events in favor of drives and habits.” He then goes on to detail how the rat experiments actually “pointed clearly away from the idea that behavior was under the control of past motor ‘habits,’ suggesting instead that an acquired ‘cognitive map’ governed navigation flexibly, permitting goal-directed behaviors of unprecedented kinds.”

Seligman then made the fascinating point that the oft-cited Russian psychologist Pavlov’s research had been mistranslated into English “in such a way as to underscore the lack of teleology. His ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional’ were rendered ‘conditioned’ and ‘unconditioned’ and this shift to the past participle brought with it the connotation of a fixed relation, whereas ‘conditional,’ Pavlov’s term, allows the ‘if-then’ representation of possibilities.” Remember our ‘pragmatic inquiry’ from Part 1 of what I am ultimately going to call this Enactive Cognitive Science Trilogy? Seligman goes into more detail about the actual rat experiments and then concludes that:

Rats, it seems, are more predictable when we postulate that they act through complex expectation-based representations of possible actions and outcomes, behaving more like inquirers actively seeking to anticipate the future than creatures of habit-channeled drives? Perhaps humans should be given as much credit…A conceptual error seems to have animated behaviorism, in which something genuinely suspect–a metaphysical teleology of causation backward in time, of the present by the future–was conflated with something not at all mysterious, namely, guidance by a system bearing causal and evaluative information about possible futures.

The quotes above from Lissack about ascriptions and attended-to affordances fit with what Seligman calls the Logic and Benefits of Expectation. Try not to compare 21st century students to Lashley’s rats in this quote:

Choice now makes sense. Lasley’s rats, even when confined to the narrow channels of the maze, appear to have been building up ab evaluative map of the possibilities their environment afforded, stretching well beyond actual experience and enabling them to improvise opportunistically on the spot. Such behavior draws attention to another core aspect of cognition that is oriented toward prospection: the active, selective seeking of information (‘exploration’), which, if we are right about prospection, should be as vital as the active, selective processing of information…Expectation is pivotal in schema (1) [adaptive feed-forward/feedback models of learning and control] because it transforms experience into experimentation–continuously generating a ‘test probe’ so that the next experience always involves an implicit question and supplies an answer, which can then function as an error-reducing ‘learning signal’.

Doesn’t that sound just like what the Formative Assessment hype brought in above in the name of Equity calls Continuous Improvement? It is what Seligman called “such active, ongoing prospection nicely illustrates teleological control–navigating into the future by considering future possibilities and electing action [student performance] in light of the benefits and risks they promise.” All the emphasis on Virtues in the Portrait of a Graduate or in Classical Education https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/four-pillars-educating-america/ , for example, make far more sense if there is a perceived need to educate Desire: “because desire provides an intelligible teleology for human action, a narrative arc stretching from discovery of a transfixing but distant prospect, across the drama of longing, seeking, and overcoming obstacles, to arrive at a denouement in union with the object of desire.”

What a student likes and values then affects their action in light of perceived possibilities and the “motivation for such action is not determined by fixed drives or past conditioning but is elicited by the evaluative process itself through the normal working of desire…Our title emphasizes navigating the future because, like a navigator, the organism must not only act but also mentally explore options and keep track of progress.” Let’s close not with the theory, but with the OECD’s Future of Education and Skills 2030 aspiration. In the ironically called Conceptual learning framework for Student Agency for 2030, where the children are already in our schools:

The concept of student agency, as understood in the context of the OECD Learning Compass 2030, is rooted in the principle that students have the ability and the will to positively influence their own lives and the world around them. Student agency is thus defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others…While a well-developed sense of agency can help individuals achieve long-term goals and overcome adversity, students need foundational cognitive, social, and emotional skills so they can apply agency to their own–and society’s–benefit.

The illusion of choice using a contrived cognitive map created by mostly mandated learning experiences that over time have turned into habits. Predictable actions in the future engineered by all those as-if scenarios practiced in digital learning environments and role-playing online and in group activities.

Part 3 whenever I get a chance. Bon Chance!

 

 

 

Eradicating the Axemaker Mind via Schools to Supposedly Promote Global Flourishing

Welcome to the 2020s! This is the Decade where Governments all over the world intend “to act as an instrument of the common good” and use the schools to rewire students’ brains so that they are more amenable to the plans political leaders have for us in the 21st century. I wish this was fiction or just a theory of mine, but it is not. I certainly was not going to write about this during the holidays, but there were quite a lot of white papers put out in December on this point, and being the careful researcher I am, I then followed up on the books and papers cited in the footnote and here we are. This is not a one shot post, but the beginning of what has become a well-documented armada of coordinated initiatives to use schools to cultivate “positive attitudes and activities” so that students can “develop the inner means to handle distress themselves when it arises. In other words, we should aim at a society in which people have the inner resources to flourish.”

About the same time those words were published in the inaugural 2018 World Happiness Policy Report presented at the World Government Summit in Dubai, a retired MIT professor, John Ehrenfeld, submitted his vision of “Flourishing: Designing a Brave New World” to she ji, a journal of design and innovation, asserting that “Flourishing is possible only when the right brain hemisphere is the master, but balanced with the left. The ultimate goal of every designer should be to foster flourishing…For humans, flourishing requires (1) restoring the supremacy of the right brain through direct practices, for example, mindfulness training, and (2) re-designing institutions and artifacts to enhance presencing: the perception of being connected to the contextually rich surrounding world.”

Well, that got my attention since the actual classroom practices now tied to learning standards all over the world fit with what Ehrenfeld wrote would be needed to make the right-brain dominant. I have school mandates under Positive School Climate prescribed materials that turn out to be renamed cognitive behavioral therapy practices. I poke familiar names and find books like Super Better: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient that plan to use digital learning virtual reality and videogames to Hardwire the Brain via “repeated activation of specific neurological circuits that train the brain to be motivated by challenge, rewarded by feedback, and more resilient in the face of temporary failure.” Use the fact that “neurons that fire together, wire together” to create digital learning experiences to hardwire “cognitive habits that lead to lifelong success and psychological well-being.”

If “Schools are the primary place where the values of a culture get instilled in young people” and the materials quoted above and conferences like Learning and the Brain repeatedly declare that the ‘instilling’ is to be neural, we need to think about the implications of poems like the following created as part of the Search Inside Yourself e-book “Practice Kindness” created for students in honor of World Kindness Day.

Kind hearts are the gardens,

Kind thoughts are the roots,

Kind words are the blossoms,

Kind deeds are the fruits.

The new way for governments, political leaders, and their cronies to control behavior in the 21st century is not overt coercion, but by controlling the inner psychology and the practices and experiences known to instill desired neural and cognitive structures. Let’s get back to how Ehrenfeld laid out the how and why, but never believe his is a voice in the wilderness. Instead, it is entirely an accident that I came across his article while following up on something else and, using my experience from writing what is detailed in my book Credentialed to Destroy, recognized how his prescriptions for right-brain dominance were already enshrined in what has been misleadingly labelled as the Reading and Math Wars. Right Brain Dominance “can create a pull towards a different kind of future.” A future where the focus is no longer on the individual as those of us located in the West have always believed, but on the collective and its supposed needs. That shift needs to get at “the way we hold reality” itself and shift it to focus more on empathy or caring.

Think about all the changes in the nature of education and the new purposes of schools and higher education as you read this Ehrenfeld quote:

With new understanding of how the brain functions, the root causes can be traced to an imbalance between the two cerebral hemispheres. Modern culture is the product of the left-brain dominance, but flourishing can arise only from the opposite: the mastery of the right over the left. The challenge ahead is to reverse this through design and practice…Only the right connects to the [world as it is, with its rich context] , and can produce empathy and enable authentic caring…A key to increasing authenticity is the ability to delay or stop the left brain from taking over–that is, to remain in the present moment…Mindfulness offers a possible way to maintain the attentional stance of the right.

Now all the hype about bullying, where mindfulness practices are held out as the remedy and we happen to also notice that the trainer for the teachers does New Age Buddhist retreats on other days of the week, make far more sense. In fact, in Super Better, McGonnigal notes that “mindfulness meditation, for example, has been measured to have quite similar physiological benefits as casual game play…game play is a way to learn to control our attention–which is one of the primary aims of Buddhist practice!” Neuroscientists have shown that attention is a necessary component for neural rewiring and certain kinds of practices make the emotional side of the brain dominant. Here’s the sought practice beyond mindfulness training under “Reflective Practice”:

Reflective practice is a general label for the interruptive process by which experience can be embedded to the brain as part of learning. Reflective practice in design is driven by direct experience (right-brain) [virtual reality counts as direct!], rather than the mere application of abstract, general rules (left-brain). In terms of the divided brain model, reflection is the process that new experiences, under the control of the right brain, are passed over to the left hemisphere.

How often now are we hearing hype about students needing Whole Child instruction in controlling emotions to “develop five skills: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. All correspond to right brain activities.” Those of us who have ever had a child in an IB Program who were paying attention know we got almost as tired from hearing hype about “Inquiry Learning” as we did from the “Are you an IB Learner?” question. Now we discover that Inquiry is a right brain activity and Lecture is a Left:

Science is the paradigm of the left brain at work. Conversely, pragmatism is based on paying persistent, broad attention to the whole system and creating new understanding; it depends on holding the left at bay. Meaningfulness, or pragmatic truth, is not to be found in the abstract, left-brain, self-consistent, world of science. It is to be found in the real, right brain, phenomenal world…Pragmatic inquiry is a method that keeps the right brain engaged over extended periods in order to capture the dynamic, context-dependent character of complex systems…Presencing is a form of attention, which exploits the right brain’s attributes of breadth, persistence, and exploration/creativity. Presencing restores context to the external world that has been lost while the left-brain was dominant. Such context is necessary for flourishing.

Presencing looks at the world as a domain for acting and transforming. The focus becomes on what could be, instead of what is. Now that we have covered this desired rewiring, in the next post we will cover how this new right-brain vision of what it is to Understand in the 21st century is “not about cognizing a pre-given world, it is about becoming aware of and consciously choosing the aspects of the world we decide to cope with.” That quote was from a paper featured last week in a newsletter I receive and was written by a member of the American Society of Cybernetics. It fits with what the Father of Positive Psychology and Positive Neuroscience who presented at that World Government Summit says should be the new focus of Models of the Human Mind.

Are we going to be Driven by the Past and the dominance of the left brain or shall we make the focus of education “Navigating into the Future”? No, we are actually not the ones who get to design that future. It gets selected for us and then hardwired into our brains neurologically so we can “draw on experience to update” our choices and then act accordingly based on our “needs and goals” that have also been the aim of Right-Brain focused education.

It truly is a Brave New World once we read certain influential journals and look at the programs being put on at the certain well-attended conferences. No need to theorize about this coordinated effort at all. Just review the documentation. At least that is still possible for those of us for whom the left brain remains dominant.

Here’s to the Axemaker Minds who are not yet left to accepting an offered narrative of where education is really going and why it must be changed.

 

 

Destination Identity: Scaffolding the Collective Images of the Desired Futures to Habituate Needed Action

Let’s go back in time to the 1960s for social plans before comparing them to plans from last month in the UK clearly following the same long desired blueprint. The back cover of The Art of Conjecture book from the last post mentioned a related book called Social Technology that helpfully explains to us that:

the gap between the social and the physical sciences will not persist…[as long as people come to recognize that] the comparison with the social with the physical sciences is a spurious one, based on an epistemological misconception regarding the nature and purpose of scientific activity…this is the crucial point–there is every reason to believe that, by effecting specific changes in attitudes and procedures, we can substantially narrow the gap between physical technology and sociopolitical progress…The time has come to emulate, not physical science, but physical technology.

Translating that into more graspable English, it is the role of the physical sciences to describe what is or, at least, what seems to exist. The role of physical technology is to be put into operation in the existing world to see what gets changed as a result. For this vision of Social Technology to work, it needs means for “devising appropriate educational innovations” that can “construct a common frame of reference in order to promote a unified collaborative effort.” We might call such an aspiration as the creation of an internalized common core of prevailing attitudes, beliefs, conceptual Ideas, values, and motivations to act. It was all laid out many years before what we today would call THE Common Core or Competency-Based Education. Think though of the potential of learning standards globally tied to UNESCO criteria if the sought sociopolitical transformations need a specified contextual map grounded at the physical, neural level, establishing:

a common vocabulary, an agreed-upon ideology, a set of reasonable goals, a common context for symbols, and ways of translating ideas into actions… [These would lead] above all, to acquiring an integrated overview of the problem area…forcing the analyst to make specific which elements of a situation he is taking into consideration and in imposing on him the discipline of clarifying the concepts he is using. The model thus serves the important purpose of establishing unambiguous intersubjective communication about the subject at hand. Whatever intrinsic uncertainties may becloud the area of investigation, they are thus less likely to be further compounded by uncertainties owing to disparate subjective interpretations.

Put the Reading Wars in a whole new light. doesn’t it? It also explains why phonetic reading and how to teach it had to be constrained until after learning standards could be mandated that would specify the desired conceptual frameworks that would provide the required new categories of thought. Let’s go back to The Art of Conjecture one more time since it accurately recognized that “Our perception of the facts depends on our ideas: it is through our ideas that we know reality.” Therefore through education that uses learning standards and required annual assessments of Higher-Order Thinking Skills to monitor and control which Ideas a Mind uses to guide perception and the interpretation of experiences, political authority and its think tank allies across the political spectrum have stealthily managed to control what every censor and authoritarian government in history craved control over: “our awareness of reality and our expression of this reality.”

That is because as a practical matter “our mind ‘sees’ by means of ideas” and education and the media have formally joined hands to control those ideas. The role of prescribed lenses, frames, narratives, or scenarios to imagine what might be different has the effect of prescribing the ideas we use in reading the facts. Now, the author of the Social Technology book, Olaf Helmer, was a co-founder of the Institute for the Future in 1968 to bring about the vision from both his book as well as The Art of Conjecture to create an institution to create a “constructive approach which will ensure to us some measure of control over the future of our society.”

IftF works closely today with Knowledge Works to create Forecasts involving to future of K-12 education and push Competency-Based Education. Its employees are also closely involved with pushing the potential of digital technology to reimagine what the world could become and why it is needed. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/ is from 2013. IftF also repeatedly shows up working with the GEFF 2030 visions surrounding the SDGs and all of the OECD’s work called Education 2030. Now let’s come back to last month’s https://media.nesta.org.uk/documents/Our_futures_by_the_people_for_the_people_HrqsGPo.pdf on how mass involvement in shaping the future can solve complex problems. It is where the term ‘Destination Identity’ and the aspiration for “scaffolding public imagination” come from.

Crucially,  before the social planners writing that paper get to specifying the desired changes at the levels of the community and institutions, they first target a desire to control each individual’s ‘Mapping horizons,’ ‘Creating purpose’ for individuals, ‘Charting pathways’ for each individual, specifying the criteria to habituate ‘Acting together’, and, tied to the discussion from the beginning of this post, framing ‘Testing ideas’. The Framework for Evaluating Participatory Futures, in other words, just happens to coincide with what 21st century skills hypes, as well as Project-Based Frameworks to implement Competency-based Education. It gets at what learning standards specify and it says the real reason all this must be standardized through a reenvisioning of education globally is to

build collective intelligence about the future by helping people to diagnose change over the long-term, draw out knowledge and ideas about how the future could be, and develop collective mental images of the futures people want.

Well, at least the futures people will want when digital simulations, required learning experiences, formative assessments for HOTS, and High Quality Project-Based Learning get done with their ‘imaginations’. After all, that report disdains “only engaging people to think about the future in an analytical and rational way.” Mustn’t greet the future, in other words, with an Axemaker Mind full of actual factual information and your own developed categories of thought. Might lead to disparate subjective interpretations of what is important or even a wise idea to be transforming at all. Instead, we get the admission:

Art, embodied and experiential processes have a much greater influence on citizens, their sense of meaning, motivation and subsequent actions.

Can you repeat after me: “Inside Out and Just as Specified for Habitualizing Future Actions”? Nothing sounds more effective for creating a desired Social Technology than helping participants, whether they be K-12 or higher ed students or adults on a Learning Together retreat, “feel the future” so they will come to believe “how malleable these futures are.” Activities and learning experiences can be used to “scaffold public imagination; drawing out knowledge and ideas about how the future could be, and developing collective mental images of the futures people want.” Then those deliberately instilled common collective images of the future can be used to create “new collective actions and behavior in the present”.

Remember how Catalyzing Change from the last post hyped student agency and critiquing the present as the excuse for reimagining high school math? It turns out to be essential for a requisite “need to help people and communities deal with uncertainty, build resilience to change and act collectively.” Now, math, science, or history learning experiences become a means for “helping people to feel a sense of agency over their own futures is critical for maintaining social cohesion and preventing a fracturing along ethnic, racial, cultural, historical or other identity lines. Participatory futures can also facilitate collective action that is necessary to tackle systemic challenges like climate change.”

The Social Technology book set out a vision for dynamic social planning that works a great deal like what NESTA is now laying out and it also relies greatly on the control of ideas. So much more effective at evading any perception of censorship or control and less rigid than any Five Year Plan. Think of required Literacy Activities through the following aspiration from the NESTA report:

Collective images of the future help orient and organize in times of disruption. Throughout history, humans, organisations and societies have used mental images in the forms of myths, legends and religion to organise themselves. Images of the future play a particularly significant role in our lives, since our ability to make plans, decisions or set goals rests on them. Brain research shows that collective images offer orientation in times of uncertainty or when the necessity of reshaping our living environments becomes apparent. Participatory futures approaches use and create shared public images of the future that can provide a ‘destination identity’–acting as a motivating force to turn the ‘imagined’ into the real…positive images help pull us toward the future helping to catalyze social change and overcome cultural obstacles to it.

I think that is enough to take in right now as we contemplate the use of the ubiquitous Greta Thunberg or why common weather events now have to be the lead story on the national news. If you desired that social science, including its education and pedagogy components, have a role to play in shifting from what is to what could be, social planners know they need to create a “shared diagnosis of the key facts, trends, and problems,” even if that shared diagnosis is factually untrue in the world that currently exists.

The whole point is the effect of the shared mental images on actions that can remake what currently exists. I wonder if anyone else will grasp all these aspirations as Uncle Karl’s Man as a Maker of History, usefully brought into place at a neural level by achievement standards that hype student ‘performance’ and actions.

It turns out to be a plan for social reengineering with a long pedigree if we know where to look.

 

 

Discerning and then Retraining the ‘In-Order-To’ Image that Will Guide Future Action

From the Ford Foundation’s Realizing Democracy template that lays out how “Fixing Democracy demands the building and aligning of people’s motivation and authority to acthttps://ssir.org/pdf/Winter2020-Supplement-Han-Problems-Power.pdf to the recent WISE Summit in Qatar with its “Unlearn, Relearn: What it means to be Human” theme, which even had our Blueprint author, Nicholas Christakis, as a keynote panelist, to the new Catalyzing Change plans for remaking high school mathematics around goals of Equity so that math can become a tool to “challenge injustices and contribute to societal improvement,” we have lots of openly declared education missions that reminded me of the goals of the Lame Demon from the 1967 book The Art of Conjecture, which the Ford Foundation also funded. It’s clearly part of the behavioral science file cabinet still in play so let’s take a look back at it to better appreciate all these similarly aligned goals.

After all if you are a social scientist intent on transformation and believe that “any power, whether social or political, is maintained by people’s attitudes; any project, short or long, shallow or profound, is founded on their attitudes and behavior” then you might make use of:

a Lame Demon who unroofed houses to reveal what was going on inside. Let us suppose that this diable boiteux could reveal people’s minds in the same way, enabling us to surprise the projects each member of a society forms in his inner self. We could then apprehend, at their origin, those shoots which as they grow will deform the familiar social surface and produce swellings, fractures, and cracks.

Those ‘swellings, fractures, and cracks’ are to an imaginary world that could supposedly exist if people simply had a different set of beliefs, attitudes, values, and motivations to act. Precisely what all those links above to recent publications aim to do.  Precisely what was laid out here as the new role of social science and the research university https://issues.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Prewitt-Retrofitting-Social-Science-Fall-2019.pdf , which once again seems to be hyping Aristotle and his action-oriented phronesis as a less infamous substitute for what Uncle Karl laid out as Man as a Maker of History once the needed moral revolution could be made to occur.  Let’s go back then to the 1960s and the first time the global Marxist Humanist vision was launched to see the domain to be targeted and those blueprints for change.

I have formed a representation that does not correspond to observable reality and placed it in a domain suited to receive it; now my activity tends toward the validation of what my imagination has constructed. For the event to comply with my design, the moral force of my intention must hold and push me on the road to the goal [AKA ‘meeting the standard’ or ‘achieving the learning objective’]. ..The image that I have formed and placed somewhere in ‘time to come’ is like a beacon beckoning me…Hobbes put it like this: ‘For the thoughts are to the desires as scouts, and spies to range abroad, and find the way to the things desired.’

The book called that the ‘motive power of the image’ and we also saw it as a focus in the last post as to how to create a new ‘ontological reality’. Control a student or adult’s mental images and you control future behavior and motivations to act, as well as how current experiences are interpreted, and what gets perceived and what gets ignored. Behavior becomes a science via a certain vision of education for reasons that have nothing to do with Skinner or his pigeons as learning analytics and digital learning environments act as the Lame Demon getting inside the roof of the mind’s house in the brain. Again to Jouvenel:

Images are formed in our mind and inspire us; we know this from daily experience. It is absurd to look for explanations of human conduct that disregard this essential phenomenon. Our actions properly so called seek to validate appealing images and invalidate repugnant ones…Time future is the domain able to receive as ‘possibles’ those representations which elsewhere would be ‘false’. And from the future in which we now place them, these possibles ‘beckon’ to us to make them real…

the sufficient reason of human action is…[that] man acts, not ‘because…,’ but ‘in order to…’ Action is explained by its final cause, its goal: ‘In this sense we may say that in volition the practical motive lies in the future. We are to understand by this that the future is the domain into which a man has projected, and in which he now contemplates, the possible he wishes to make real, the image that is and will be, as long as it subsists in the mind, the determining reason for his actions.’

That change in the focus of education can be masked under terms like Standards-Based Reforms, High Quality Project-Based Learning, the AAR Inquiry of Anticipation, Action, and Reflection (part of the OECD’s Compass for Education 2030), or action learning as Doers of Mathematics laid out here  https://www.quantamagazine.org/math-and-the-best-life-an-interview-with-francis-su-20170202 .Ultimately, all these visions seek to control the nature of the Images in the mind because the imagination can be used as a place:

where I can place images that do not correspond to any historical reality. An image of this kind is not a mere fantasy if I have the will and feel I have the capacity [hence all the hype about student agency!] to bring about at some later time a state of affairs that corresponds to the image. The image represents a possibility because of my power to validate it in this way, and represents a project because of my will to do so…

For man as this role as an active agent the future is a field of liberty and power, but for man as a cognizant being the future is a field of uncertainty. It is a field of liberty because I am free to conceive that something that does not now exist will exist in the future; it is a field of power because I have some power to validate my conception (though, naturally, not all conceptions indiscriminately!). And indeed the future is our only field of power, for we can act only on the future. Our awareness of this capacity to act suggests the notion of ‘a domain in which we can act.

That Erhard/ Jensen Framework coaching adults from the last post called that domain the ontological.  K-12 learning standards simply get there by insisting that Equity mandates that student achievement be recast away from the mental to the domain of action–disarmingly called ‘performance standards’ to mask the shift to the realm of action. What about the Lame Demon’s goals to get at the contents of the mind we might reasonably ask? Let’s go back to a paper Michael Barber co-wrote in the 90s with Vicki Phillips before he moved on to working for Prime Minister Tony Blair on learning standards and then Pearson and before she moved on to Oregon and then the Gates Foundation. It was called “Fusion: How to Unleash Irreversible Change–Lessons for System-Wide School Reform” and I picked up my copy from a Hong Kong server where the protests of recent months might indicate that the mind might not be quite as malleable to change as the Chinese authorities and the paper’s co-authors laid out.

The popular conception is wrong. Winning hearts and minds is not the best first step in the process of urgent change. Beliefs do not necessarily drive behaviour. More usually, it is the other way round–behaviours shape beliefs. Only when people have experienced a change do they revise their beliefs accordingly. [Imagine the uses of digital virtual reality environments in the context of this quote!] And often they must experience change over a period of time for such beliefs to change permanently. Denial is a powerful force and it is not possible to overcome resistance simply by attempting to win hearts and minds, Sometimes it is necessary to mandate the change, implement it well, consciously challenge the prevailing culture, and have the courage to sustain it until beliefs shift. In other words, sometimes it is more effective to show people something or let them experience it than to tell them about it.

That quote would certainly explain why the law became such a useful tool for transformationalists seeking to force a change in the nature of education without the nature of the change or the reasons for it being apparent. It’s basically why I write and what brought me to the story that became Credentialed to Destroy in the first place. Because unlike those Hong Kong protesters who clearly always intuited the future impact of the collectivist vision the Chinese authorities had in mind with their Citizenship curriculum hyping Universal Love, most parents and students in the Western democracies have no idea the true nature of the transformation or how long these same plans have been in play.

The contemplated Futuribles has not yet been realized, but all the links in this post show that there is a clear and coordinated global march to realize this vision via experiential education grounded in specified guiding concepts. Controlling the Images of the Mind and the Actions that will create those desired Images.

Or as the French social theorist from the 60s put it above, controlling Attitudes and Behavior surreptitiously controls future Projects. Ultimate power then comes from making K-12 education about those bullseyes as the domains targeted for Continuous Improvement.

How to close the gap between what is desired under the roof of the Mind and what currently exists?

Gives a whole new meaning, doesn’t it, to what Standards-Based Reforms are really about?

Ubiquitous Coincidence or Deliberate Targeting? The New Science of Mind, Brain, and Education

Let’s start with a quote from November 2018 and an international adult leadership seminar tied to one of the creators of the K-12 MBE model referred to in the title and then tie it to the use of learning standards from the last post as ‘self-regulation’ and exactly what is being targeted as the missing elements in the Iceberg Problem. Sorry for the delay in writing, but I needed to be sure of how everything fit and one of my sources was a more than 700 page book. This is from a man called Werner Erhard who came up quite often when I was researching Esalen and Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and its ties to the K-12 actual template.

We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world to be what are lives are really about.

Each of us now has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity, and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution–it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet. What we create together is a relationship in which our work can show up as making a difference in people’s lives. I welcome the unprecedented opportunity for us to work globally on that which concerns us as human beings.

Those aspirations fit well with that Blueprint from the last post, don’t they? The quote came from the materials found here https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1263835&download=yes and it is a co-author, Michael Jensen, whose personal bio ties him to the creation of the MBE program at Harvard in the 1990s. By Autumn 2011, we can find an article by Michael Ferrari and Hazel McBride called “Mind, Brain, and Education: The Birth of a New Science” on “the benefits as well as the difficulties involved in integrating neuroscience into education policy and practice.” We parents and taxpayers have every right to be properly informed as to what is meant by the following terms and also the real links between this vision and Mr Erhard’s quote above. After all, as the article’s conclusion stated:

Educators and school boards are increasingly coming under media scrutiny and increased pressure to improve educational outcomes at a time when educators, policy makers, and the public have become fascinated with ‘brain research’. At the same time, governments and policymakers are promoting and supporting Evidence-Based Decision Making and Knowledge Transformation. These are ideal conditions for the Growth of Mind, Brain, and Education.

Do Tell. Notice the reference in that quote to Knowledge Transformation because it goes to the mouthful distinction between what those course materials call “An Ontological/Phenomenological Model.” Before I quote what that transformation means, let me remind everyone that Mihaly Csiksentmihaly [see tag] describes himself as a phenomenologist and it is his model of Excellence being mandated now in the US under civil rights calls for Equity and Excellence. It matters greatly that his model was pushed globally at the 2017 World Government Summit in Dubai as I covered here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/radio-silence-and-the-dog-that-did-not-bark-positioning-positive-education-globally/ . According to those course materials, an “ontological exercise…is about a transformation in who you ‘wound up being'”.

Since the course materials were created for adults, a comparable ontological/phenomenological exercise in children and teenagers through deliberately created learning experiences also goes to who they are at a neural level. Let me go to that 700 page book, Humans as Self-Constructing Living Systems, and what it referred to as ‘person-based self-regulation.’ That New Science article hypes the role of the OECD in pushing the MBE model and, like Professor Clabough from the last post, the OECD has said ‘self-regulation’ is the purpose of K-12 education in the 21st century. Let’s quote what that really means:

Humans have developed two interrelated social-regulatory methods: (a) to impose and enforce regulatory rules on social components through power and physical arrangements external to the organization’s components, whether social groups or individuals (e.g., through laws and punishment, police action, imprisonment); (b) to make the regulatory rules and processes properties of the components themselves so they become self-regulating in relationship to the social organizations of which they are a part.

I bolded that particular phrase because it is actually what George Will called Soulcraft and the rightful domain of governments, what Erin Clabough pushed as neural and second nature, and what we keep encountering as personalized, student-centered, competency-based learning. In the Karoly paper on the “Mechanisms of Self-Regulation: A Systems View” from the last post under “The Activation and Use of Standards” think of it as why the Iceberg Problem created an Appendix III on the role of learning standards to change the nature of K-12 education.

Having a goal (or a specific performance level to which one aspires) and being able systematically to surveil goal-relevant activities do not alone provide the impetus to self-regulated modulation of thought, affect, or behavior. Before the all-important comparison of the feedforward and the feedback signals can occur in human control systems, the goal or standard must be triggered, activated, or called up from long-term memory.

The adult leadership course materials spend a great deal of time undoing what is in long-term memory that is judged to be an impediment to the desired way of being. The materials lament that the neural wiring of the adult brain is too tied to the “realization of that past-derived predicted future“. The slideshare bolded that phrase as neural wiring is viewed as in the way of the Creating a Desired Future and “What Happens in the Brain with Such a ‘Created Future'”. K-12 grounded in phenomenology can go directly to shaping who a student will “wound up being” by pushing transformational learning that goes directly to controlling “who you are as a product of the beliefs you assimilated concerning yourself and the world, and the socialization and roles you learned.”

The MBE/ontological/phenomenological emphasis with adults has to “explore our worldview and frames of reference themselves–their genealogy, internal logic, uses–as well as assess the costs and benefits, and advantages and disadvantages…[in order to provide] the opportunity to discover and eliminate the constraints and shaping imposed by your worldview.” K-12, with the same emphasis, gets to head directly to ‘Go’ in most students and simply impose the desired worldview and frames of reference and then have the federal government (in the US) mandate all students have those assessed at least annually as Higher Order Thinking Skills. HOTS then has always been more about what will guide students ways’ of being, goal setting, and decision-making in the world than about what used to be known as epistemological or information learning.

No wonder lectures are passe and textbooks must be electronic and experiential. I want to end with an abstract from a May 2019 essay from World Futures that ties to the Global Education Futures Forum 2030 that uses language that also ties to that 1968 Bellagio conference at the Rockefeller Foundation villa. The Erhard/Jensen materials used similar language seeking to make the present about the future to be created, not the past. Alexander Laszlo stated his intention “to bring into being a world and future where all of us can thrive has been shared by numerous people. Yet despite these intentions, we have not yet been able to effectuate the deeper transformational change required for bringing this forth at the pace and scale now required.”

If that gain sounds remarkably like the Blueprint, both authors have fathers who have been at this Social Sciences Altering Consciousness to Change Social Systems vision for decades. Let’s finish with what Alexander (the son) described in January 2008 about how this transformation could occur in “The Making of a New Culture Learning Conversations and Design Conversations in Social Evolution.” You would need to target the “confluence of values, beliefs, ideas, and forms of expression characteristic of interpersonally aligned individual cognitive maps.” Alexander Laszlo said those arose “from a community,” but we have met them recently as Collective Cognition and it is what learning standards tied to competency-based frameworks and the Common Core create. They target the needed “psycho-personal and socio-cultural to bio-physical and process-structural” all at once.

If all the authors cited in this and recent posts are writing and speaking about the “importance of learning for the purposeful design of the future,” don’t we have the right to know about this hijacking of purpose? That suddenly classes labelled as reading, math, history, or science are more about a physiological change at the level of the mind and brain than they are about information transmission? When schools or even higher ed regard themselves as “learning communities to foment doing the right things” at a neural level in their students in order to effectuate a transformation to act to create “changes that will approximate their visions of the future,” we need to understand this deliberate targeting.

Especially since it turns out that actual factual knowledge and an Axemaker Mind in the student are the ultimate bulwarks against this neural and psychological manipulation.

Titanic Alert! The Iceberg Problem and the Blueprints for Proximal Volitional Regulators

“When we do indeed decide to pushback against our evolved nature” would have been the rest of the title, but that would have been too long. Moreover, when a book linked to here https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-10-07-what-we-need-to-unlearn-and-relearn-to-thrive-in-the-future contrasts its intentions for social reengineering at a biological level with what Stalin and Mao tried to do, I think we should pay attention on whether the distinctions are valid. First, though, let me quote from a 2019 book being talked about all over the world Second Nature: How Parents can use Neuroscience to Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity, and Self-Control, even though for some reason my copy of the book said it had already been discarded by the Phoenix Public Library. Perhaps before any parent could make the connection between language in Arizona’s ubiquitous charter schools and what Erin Clabough lays out to get the desired neural rewiring in place?

This is from the concluding chapter called “Parents Shape Future Free Will,” which sounds lovely, except if learning standards, school charters, mission statements, or Portrait of a Graduate require those same practices, then the effect is the same. Suddenly, math, science, or history are not about the transmission of knowledge. It is instead:

…this is why the way experience crafts our neurons is so important…If a person’s actions are governed by neural pathways that aren’t accessible by consciousness, then that person’s choices and actions may not be governed by true free will. And the most compelling part of this for parents is that as neuroscience research pushes toward mapping the way neurons are connected, we’re learning that if we can trace brain circuits, we can also predict behavior with nearly 100% accuracy…

kids are born with a vast network of synaptic connections–a wealth of possible connections that are then eliminated one by one as they lie unused. And in exchange, the pathways that have been activated–one to learn the letter g, another to recognize the smell of an oatmeal cookie, and yet another to understand it’s not okay to hit a playmate–are strengthened and remain, since neuronal pathways get stronger when used…Freedom of decision is possible, though it’s governed by neuroanatomy that can’t change instantaneously. We are defined by our neural circuits, and those circuits are defined by use…

if what we call free will is a natural biological process, then not only can neuroscientists track it, but parents are placed in a unique position to craft it. As parents, we have this miraculous opportunity to lay down those critical brain pathways for our children simply by deciding what they practice. When repeated practice makes something a habit, neurophysiology changes, and future behavior choices narrow.

That was a longer than usual quote because the self-regulation that comes from the brain’s planned neuroanatomy in this vision of what learning experiences can do showed up in several recent papers for our schools. Professor Clabough footnoted to a January 1993 paper called “Mechanisms of Self-Regulation: A Systems View” by Paul Karoly that made it crystal clear that references to ‘standards-based education’ in the 1990s, or now, are simply goal-based education where the desired results are neural structures that become Habits of Mind to guide perception, the interpretation of daily experiences, and the motivation to act. So reports like this https://www.inacol.org/resource/aligning-education-policy-with-the-science-of-learning-and-development/ or this https://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/05-SAL-What-Educators-Need-to-Know-About-Adolescent-Development_FINAL.pdf , both pushed last week, need to be read in light of the planned neuroanatomical changes.

Also last week, we had this paper that I found to be rather curious https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/overcoming-the-challenges-facing-innovative-learning-models-in-k-12-education-lessons-from-teach-to-one/ , especially since the author had never written for AEI before. He also had the same last name as the Harvard prof who created the Mind, Brain, Education template. Joel Rose turned out to be tied to something called the New Classroom Innovation Partners, which had Tom VanderArk as an Advisory Board member and his Getting Smart was pushing those two reports above. Also on the Board was the former district superintendent of the school system where I live that my children attended. Many of the insights that would ultimately become Credentialed to Destroy came from listening to his deliberate misrepresentations to parents and school board members as to what terms meant and what the curriculum changes actually intended to accomplish.

Neuroanatomical changes to students’ brains are not an effect, in other words, but the entire purpose of these education reforms. When the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Joel Roses’s group is tied to the global evidence-based policymaking template and last week’s winners of the Nobel Economics Prize, we have our ties to the ‘evidence-base’ in education being changes to the neuroanatomy of the brain in planned, hoped-for ways. The group had recently put out this report https://www.icebergproblem.org/ that was supposedly about math deficits in certain students. Anyone who has read Karoly’s paper though (and it has been translated into other languages), would recognize that what is really missing are “deficits in memory, attention, or knowledge [that] compromise the effectiveness of the proximal volitional regulators.” Translating that quote into slightly less stilted language would mean that a student is missing a neural pathway needed for him or her to perceive and act as desired.

When New Classroom Innovation Partners writes that “Our hope is for a new perspective on accountability that preserves rigor, transparency, and equity, while also creating the space for new approaches to learning that have the potential to achieve better results for all students,” that lofty language actually pushes practices that have as their purpose neuroanatomical changes to the brain. The opening quote came from Nicholas Christakis’ 2019 book Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (which had also been discarded by the Jefferson County, Colorado system that has also been home to so many education reforms). Among the funders was the Gates Foundation that underwrote so much of the curriculum created for the Common Core learning standards and the related progressions (detailed in CtD) and the Templeton Foundation whose Conscious Cultural Evolution, Positive Neoroscience, and Jubilee Center work we have covered recently on this blog. It had blurbs from Angela Duckworth of Grit, the Character Lab, and National Growth Mindset Network fame, as well as from Jonathan Haidt who will be the keynoter at Jeb Bush’s annual ed conference this year (in San Diego).

Nicholas Christakis’ father, Alexander, was involved in the 1968 Rockefeller Foundation conference at Bellagio that would give rise to the Club of Rome and later became tied to the 1980s GERG-Global Evolution Research Group that created the Achieving Excellence template that became so controversial in Colorado schools. When Nicholas writes of ‘learning’ as a tool in planned cultural change as a medical doctor and sociologist, he knows precisely what the plans involving this term have been through the decades. To pull together the last several posts, it strikes me that George Will in his Soulcraft book, Candace Vogler with Self-Transcendence and her work with the Vatican’s Humanity 2.0 Initiative, and the Lightbearers curriculum are all trying to get at the same kind of neural change via education as Nicholas Christakis.

Each of these writers is pushing a vision of education tied to What kind of society is good for us?, except none of us are part of the group planning ‘thoughtfully’ the desired neuroanatomical changes. This is the contrast with Mao according to Christakis:

A notable aspect of Mao’s philosophy was an analogous confidence in the malleability of human behavior, on both individual and collective levels. Mao felt that the state must directly intervene to shape the belief and actions of human beings because the transformation of society ‘depends entirely on the consciousness, the wills, and the activities of men.’ Mao did not think highly of notions of an innate, shared human nature.

Mao’s views sound remarkably like Soulcraft, agency-based education, and Tranzi OBE, don’t they? Those are just a few of the euphemisms used over time to mask this transformational template. Are we really comfortable with a distinction as to whether it is okay to rewire brains for political purposes if one argues that the ‘learning’ being created is simply uncovering our preexisting ‘good’ human nature? All of these pushes want to get at the realm of moral judgments precisely because the writers want to place the emphasis away from “the state the world is in” to “the state we would want it to be in”. What Clabough pushed above to be neurally practiced until the pathways created a habit as Creativity and Empathy gets to the same place as what Christakis stated as “moral judgments implicitly contain commands. Ought invites us to do something in a way that is does not.” Templeton and Professor Vogler push the same vision as a Science of Virtues.

Is it really a valid distinction to push visions of education that get at the neurobiological realm in order to control future behavior in a difficult to perceive way because the future vision will “be good for us”?

How can anything be good for us when it has been shrouded in so much deceit? Is this why no amount of school shootings has ever been able to alter this template for neurobiological change?

Is global governance in the 21st century not about any kind of world parliament or binding judiciary, but rather the neural structures global learning standards and prescribed learning experiences, especially via technology and virtual reality, can deliver?

Just because we are not invited to these meetings does not mean that the purpose of the meetings and the sought changes cannot be tracked. Next time though a book is too direct in its laid out blueprints for change, it should probably be truly discarded in a trash bin and not resold to someone who recognizes either the name of the author or the book’s connections to plans for schools and students.

 

Collective Cognition: Stipulating Right Thinking and Prescribing Prevailing Ideas to Defeat Polarization

Never heard the phrase ‘collective cognition’ before? Wouldn’t creating required learning standards and then assessing for their presence in guiding a student’s thoughts and actions amount to learning How to Think as a Community? After I wrote last week’s post, but knowing we were about to pivot next to something called the Hidden Tribes Project, I was fascinated to read the bio of the co-author of this recent article https://behavioralscientist.org/the-cognitive-science-of-political-thought-practical-takeaways-for-political-discourse/ where Professor Sloman admits that the cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences can be used to create Collective Cognition. If only some ultra-rich person would bequeath mega-millions to his employer, Brown University, to set up a Center to create models for K-12 education reforms.

Think of the Hidden Tribes Project as what to do about the adults whose minds and values got away when earlier versions of K-12 education reforms, like outcomes-based education, failed to shift as desired away from subject-content to changing:

the ideas that give your life direction. And the answers fit together into a larger picture–what we call a ‘worldview,’ a way of understanding and making sense of our world. Your worldview determines (consciously or unconsciously) how you interpret and respond to everything in life. This is why it is so important to begin thinking about your worldview and the ideas you believe to be true…develop a worldview that influences everything you do.

That is a really useful definition of worldview and why, I believe, we have found it as the aim of what my book laid out as Tranzi OBE from the 90s, and what we are seeing as Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profiles now. It’s why learning standards globally carefully lay out the desired elements and seek to prescribe the ‘learning experiences’ that will create the characteristics at an internalized, physiological level. The Hidden Tribes Project, clearly related to the same aim but geared to adults and located at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, stated that its “focus is to better understand the forces that drive political polarization and tribalism in the United States today, and to galvanize efforts to address them.” I found the Project after it was hyped here in July https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_are_the_solutions_to_political_polarization and I recognized the links to both Seedbed of Virtues and the 1997 “A Call to Civil Society”.

George Will, in his Soulcraft book, kept using the same term “Better Angels of Our Nature” so let’s look and see how ‘our nature’ can be reengineered with education reforms and other social science projects. After all, one of the co-authors of the June 2019 More in Common report “The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart” is tied to the Templeton-funded Positive Neuroscience initiative at U-Penn that is also tied to the World Happiness Reports the UN has taken to publishing. If he states that “in coming years I plan on continuing to use the tools of social science to improve human interaction and society. Through teaching, speaking, researching, and writing, I hope to do my part to help humanity realize the best possible version of itself,” we would be wise to listen.

Humanity is so grateful, I reply with my usual sarcasm. Hopefully such aspirations and scholarship in “studying how social context in various populations can impact people’s moral judgment and behavior…” will get Mr Yudkin tenure somewhere. According to the 2018 “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape” the “work of rebuilding our fractured society needs to start now” and it needs to occur at the level of each person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs. This will allow “re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to building a renewed sense of national identity: A bigger story of us.” More in Common believes that “a healthy democracy…requires a sense of shared values and commitments, and a willingness to find common ground”. That desired answer to polarization and tribalism, a desired standardization at the level of “mind, heart, and soul” for all citizens, young and old, requires deliberately targeting:

At the root of America’s polarization are divergent sets of values and worldviews, or ‘core beliefs’. These core beliefs shape the ways that individuals interpret the world around them at the most fundamental level. Our study shows how political opinions stem from these deeply held core beliefs. This study examines five dimensions of individuals’ core beliefs:

  •  Tribalism and group identification
  •   Fear and perception of threat
  •   Parenting style and authoritarian disposition
  •   Moral foundations
  •   Personal agency and responsibility

This study finds that the hidden architecture of beliefs, worldview and group attachments can predict an individual’s views on social and political issues with greater accuracy than demographic factors like race, gender, or income.

So education at every level and the media, whether broadcast, print, or websites of various supposed spectrums, need to get at and change that hidden architecture. To uncover and understand core beliefs, and “explore how this understanding can be used, not to deepen polarization but to bring people together.” Does the coordinated effort to pretend that the Common Core was about workforce preparation or a database of personally identifiable information about students instead of an effort to change those prevailing values, attitudes, and beliefs suddenly make more sense? What if I told you that the initial indented quote on worldview came from something called the Lightbearers Curriculum from Summit Ministries that I found after a Daily Caller article this summer made a reference to something called a Blue Sky Worldview and a camp to create it? What if the same article simultaneously misrepresented socialism and asserted that Marxism is only what was found in the past in Communist countries or is what Bernie Sanders pushes?

Let’s just say our False Narrative purveyors were well-represented among the advocates for this curriculum that also seeks to control “what ideas will rule the world” and provide “guidelines for shaping society for everyone’s benefit”. It is a curriculum intended for “endowing [the student] with the responsibility for shaping the future of the world.” Theoretical Marxism, the non-historical kind that is a theory of Man as a Maker of History seeking to drive a transformational process in the real world, would recognize that aspiration as bringing about what Uncle Karl called the Human Development Society. It is still the same theory even when the M word is not used and the sales pitch is the need to “redeem culture as part of God’s creation.” Worthy aspirations and a theological emphasis do not change the nature of this theory or who created the idea of how to get such a theory into practice (Praxis?).

Calling it “faith in action” instead of praxis, or opining that “without action, students may relegate what they are hearing to dry academic philosophies and not realize that these ideas should become part of their lives on a daily basis,” doesn’t distinguish aims that function the same with comparable purposes. So religious based or classical schools want ideas embodied into action as an integral part of the curriculum to create Desired Habits and Behaviors and so do public schools now as part of learning standards and what is called High Quality Project-Based Learning. See what I mean about going to the same place and targeting the same normative realm in each student?

Tranzi OBE, in function even if now euphemized into a myriad of new names, still is in play if the curriculum actively seeks to tell students they should be change agents and

stop being conformed by the ‘water’ around them, the culture they were in. Rather, they should be transformed by renewing their minds. The idea behind the word ‘transformed’ is that of metamorphosis–changing into something different. While conformity to the world is something that happens passively, being transformed is something that happens actively. Conformity just happens, but transformation requires effort. Transformation only happens through mind renewal, changing the way you think.

I bolded that last part from the Lightbearers Curriculum to call attention to a discussion in the comments from the last post when I said that the predecessor to the Common Core was something in the 90s called the New Standards Project. Before Professor Lauren Resnick helped create that initiative, she called her curriculum a Thinking Curriculum to be grounded in HOTS–Higher Order Thinking Skills. Stipulated Ideas would dominate so that the real world perceptions would be controlled by Desired Ideas and Theories of What Could Be. The Soviets in 1962 called this a new kind of Dialectic Materialism that would allow a transformation of the existing world via a theory they called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete.

Its ideals still work the same today whether pushed on adults to supposedly bridge a Perception Gap and create a Convergence to defeat Polarization, or on children via mischaracterized learning standards and Thinking Curricula.

All of these advocates recognize that changing how we think leads to “transforming our behavior” in predictable ways. If anyone wants to prescribe “the basis of our decisions and actions,” as these various NGOs like UNESCO or the OECD, faith-based institutions, think tanks, or any other institution have explicitly said they wish to do if we know where to look, we should all be aware that has become the new purpose of education and the goal of much of what is broadcast or published by the media.

I suppose I should be grateful my book and then this blog set off such an orchestration of False Narratives. The deceit left the crumbs that enable us to see the common vision. Everyone seems to want to get at what we believe and feel in order to control how we will behave.

And it has nothing to do with training pigeons except that once installed in our neural circuits via cognitive psychology, we will be programmed indeed.

 

 

Standardizing Self-Transcendence & Psychological Attributes to Deliberately Converge Prevailing Consciousness

Since none of us were probably invited to NYC for the United Nations General Assembly last month, they just announced the roll out of a Futures of Education initiative with a ‘Learning to Become’ theme. It “invokes the need to develop the capacity to imagine a good and fulfilling life.” Sounds like Statecraft as Soulcraft, doesn’t it, taken to a current, global level? If anyone is still wondering too why there is so much hype about how all weather disasters must be due to Human-Caused Climate Change, we have this next quote as part of the Learning to Become agenda:

As we come to terms with human-caused changes to the planet and face the possibilities of fundamental transformations in social organization, human consciousness, and human identity, humanity needs to devote attention to the question: What do we want to become? Knowledge and learning are at the core of transformations in human minds and societies. Learning to Become invites us to become something we have not yet become.

As usual, I think that ‘we’ is rhetorical and ‘we’ are not supposed to really have a choice. I have warned repeatedly going back to Credentialed to Destroy how learning standards really work, but this NSF-funded paper “Understanding Standards” from Michigan State’s Center for the Study of Standards and Society really does an explicit job of laying it out. The paper is from 2011 and is part of this Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences 2020 Agenda.  https://www.nsf.gov/sbe/sbe_2020/Abstracts.pdf Yes, that would be next year.

We live in a world in which we are surrounded by standards for people, processes, practices, and products. These standards structure the sociotechnical world as well as the behavior of people in a variety of ways…Standards may best be understood as a means of governance that fall (largely) between laws and social norms…Standards are exemplars against which people and things are judged…[They can also be used to mandate] ethical codes of various sorts…Since standards are all about what and whose values shall be incorporated in products, processes, and practices, they are as much ethical as technical phenomena.

That is especially true when the ‘standards’ are prescribed to organize how the human mind and personality are to work, with that mandate carried out through poorly understood educational processes, locking in the desired changes at a physiological, neural level. When I was reading about both the Vatican’s Humanity 2.0 Initiative and the Jubilee Centre’s new curriculum on Virtue, as well as the Templeton Foundation’s mega-million funding of planned social evolution, a name kept cropping up, Professor Candace Vogler, a philosophy professor at the University of Chicago. I located this interview with her on a Templeton supported research project https://news.uchicago.edu/story/qa-philosopher-candace-vogler-virtue-happiness-and-meaning-life where the repeated use of the term ‘self-transcendence’ struck me as the newest euphemism for what George Will called ‘soulcraft’, Amitai Etzioni calls ‘communitarianism,’ and the Marxist Humanist vision called little ‘c’ communism to be enabled by a high level of technological prowess and inventions.

Professor Voglin also came up as involved with numerous Lumen Christi Institute presentations including those pushing something called ‘Right Reason,’ which I am probably not exhibiting in writing this blog post. Templeton has now launched this initiative https://www.lumenchristi.org/news/2019/03/lumen-christi-receives-john-templeton-foundation-grant-for-science-religion-project to fund research at the so-called “intersection between science and religion”. Just imagine how useful learning standards are to THAT agenda, and why it would provide multiple incentives for think tanks with common funding to Professor Voglin and George Will to misrepresent how those Catholic Curriculum Standards REALLY work. Professor Voglin said the Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning of Life Project had its ‘genesis’ in her “thinking about what the difference was between the people whose daily lives could be a source of happiness and purpose, and the people whose daily lives were a giant to-do list that was mostly a slog.”

I will let everyone guess which expletive I wrote in the margin after that quote rationalizing this push towards collectivism, but the next quote did strike me as far more truthful:

We are mostly investigating the possibility that a fundamental attachment and orientation to a good can make your daily life into a source of happiness that can sustain you through struggle and trial and give you resilience and a sense of purpose.

That rang true because Hillsdale Barney Charter Initiative has used similar language, as do the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks, and the concept of a moral compass and guiding North Star also shows up in charters being funded by the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative. Tell me this next passage does not sound like Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s definition of Excellence as aligning what is thought, wished for, and felt as the goals of Education. Remember too that various civil rights mandates now require Excellence and Equity as an education requirement as a matter of law.

What does virtue mean to you in the context of this project? Virtue is a kind of strength of character that helps you organize the things you take in from the world and the way you respond to them in the service of the actual good. And virtue helps to do that by harmonizing your thoughts, feelings, actions, and aspirations in good ways.

There is a new Personal Growth Framework out that calls precisely that-‘self-authorship’- and we now know UNESCO calls it Learning to Become. A 2011 book I just finished called From Brain to Mind: Using Neuroscience to Guide Change in Education says  educational practices designed to create such harmony intend to get at, and rewire, something called the Anterior Cingulate part of the human brain. That’s one way to turn Mind, Brain, and Education into a true science, isn’t it? Let’s see what the two-day capstone project held in October 2017 had to say about this so-called virtue of ‘self-transcendence’ so we can appreciate what it means to enshrine it in learning standards, a school charter, a Portrait of a Graduate, or Curriculum Frameworks:

Our conviction that virtue is essentially related to self-transcendence has grown out of engagement with research throughout the humanities and the social sciences that has continued to suggest that individuals who understand themselves to be practically oriented to something greater than the self–a family with a long history and the prospect of future generations, a spiritual practice oriented towards due reverence for the sacred and the need to live right by and be consciously united with others, work on behalf of social justice and the improvement of one’s community–often feel happier, have a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, and have overall better life outcomes than those who do not. Some psychologists have labeled this necessity for locating one’s self within a broader context ‘self-transcendence’.

That phrase has more universal appeal, doesn’t it, than when George Will defined those same aims as ‘Conservatism’? We have a global convergence going on now to use education, governments, regulations, think tanks, and faith-based organizations, among others, to push a vision that seeks to instill, via each person’s central nervous system, “a deep attachment to an overall good (happiness or living well) that individuals cannot attain through dispositions of thought, action, and feelings that are ordered to securing individual benefit…One commonality explored in this volume [from capstone conference] is the way that virtue is intimately connected to a social or communal vision of happiness, and how virtue can play an instrumental role in securing this goal for us.”

All this manipulation via education and, quite frankly, also the media is because we apparently don’t know what is best for ourselves or our children so we need a reimagining of education to lock in the desired visions of transformation. Plus lots of deceit about what is really going on so not enough of us can balk at the requisite neural nets of ‘new citizenship’ in time.

As usual, I have too much going on to continue today, but I want to get back next to what is planned for us to force the so-called Better Angels of Our Nature to bloom. George Will used that Better Angels phrase a great deal and it showed up tied to yet another Kennedy School of Government Initiative from this summer.

I said I had to take a break from writing. I did not take any break from my reading.