Igniting an Entire Generation of Dedicated Social Change Agents via Education Compelled to Act Now

The great Political Theorist Kenneth Minogue’s tragic death yesterday gave me a good reason to go back and reread the highlights of his fine 2010 book The Servile Mind. Turns out to be just the kind of insights we need to grasp precisely what is being attempted globally in education. And why. I had been fuming since Friday that we have basically three tracks going on right now in education. Track 1, the vast majority, really have no idea that there are to be dramatic changes in the nature of K-12 and higher education. Track 2 is aware of the Common Core and is concerned that it is a usurpation by the feds of local control over the curriculum.

I observe and write about Track 3–the real implementation  intended to fundamentally change attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors in order to gain a desired political, social, and moral transformation. Track 3 is so anti-content that it calls for substituting emotional engagement instead (this past week’s Partnership for Global Learning annual conference in NYC). Or as this influential group advocates  http://p21.org/tools-and-resources/p21blog/1151-how-can-technology-empower-deeper-learning-in-a-21st-century-school “deriving the curriculum from the lived experience of the student” rather than “a collection of fixed texts.”

Minogue recognized in The Servile Mind that something fundamental was shifting all over the world “as governments take over the tasks individuals used to do for themselves.” That our very conception of society is changing and much of the attitudes driving those changes are being first nurtured, and then required, by education “reforms.” He rightfully worried about what happens in countries where a majority of voters come to see themselves as “an association of vulnerable people whose needs and sufferings must be remedied by the power of the state.”

Minogue recognized that the power and unprecedented prosperity achieved by countries in the West grew from a foundational vision of “self-conscious individuals guiding their destinies according to whatever moral sentiments they entertain.” Now, all over the world, a competing vision seeks stealth enactment and education is the preferred means of avoiding detection as the rulers sculpt the citizens to be malleable. And behaviorally predictable if only the right buttons are pushed. Yes, that would be another job for the compliant media if Minogue had only had a copy of all those UNESCO reports. Minogue does nail the new vision though. A future society “in which individuals find their identifying essence in supporting public policies that are both morally obligatory and politically imperative.”

That future vision now can quietly come in the front door of the school to coerce compliance from an early age. Via lots of psychological student data and a very poorly understood definition of Student Growth. Which will make it much more difficult for us to protect the next generation from being manipulated into a “gullible acquiescence to the projects of government.” Minogue wrote about the Romans and how they “had learned the moral practices needed for a sycophantic submission” during the long reign of Augustus. And when the atrocious Tiberius came along they had been mentally and emotionally disarmed from coping with overt tyranny. The usefulness of deliberately targeting “hearts and minds” has been clear from time immemorial and we should honor Professor Minogue’s admonition that “we should never forget that moral change takes place below, and often deeply below, the surface of a culture.”

Back to track 3 to discuss what is off most radars. It has explicit intentions to create those very moral changes we were just warned about. In an entire generation of learners. Hoping to, in the words of one speaker, create “habits of head, heart, and hand that together will hopefully cause students to take meaningful action. And engage in volunteerism and service. Standing up against injustices and improving conditions and making changes in the world around them.” I have warned about media education and the primacy of the 21st Century Skills push and also the Global Competence portion of the Common Core that guides the classroom vision even though it is usually unmentioned in the PR push. On June 4, 2013, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (which had deceitfully claimed to be shutting down a few years ago) put on a Congressionally Sponsored Global Awareness Event at the Capitol Hill Visitors Center. To push Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy. We had the Pearson Foundation as a sponsor and a Disney executive (as in Mickey Mouse and lots of Media pull) as the moderator.

If you have 40 minutes to spare, here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Us7qvshjhw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUK7RYYXF4XqP_mIDu28ZtuQ . I am going to assume you are busy though and give you the highlights. Or what I consider the troubling implications of a vision of education that regards the whole point now as getting students to “become passionate about global issues.” Issues selected and fostered because they will be useful to growing the tendency of the government to intervene, or at least guide, in all matters in the future. I was quoting Scott Hirschfield of the US Fund for UNICEF earlier so let’s continue with what knowledge and values and skills he wants to see K-12 schools cultivate. He said UNICEF defines global citizen as someone who “understands interconnectedness and appreciates global diversity. Someone who challenges inequities and takes meaningful action in their communities at the global level.”

Hirschfield went on the say that “head–heart–hand is how we shorthand this.” I am going to interrupt my quoting to point out that genuinely free market economies provide people with what they want to buy but they are drivers of economic inequality. It’s just that the least successful still are better off financially than has ever been the case in a state-directed economy. With Statism what gets equalized has generally been misery unless you are politically connected. Everyone else gets misery without much recourse apart from physical escape. On rafts. Over Berlin Walls. Tunneling. A human drive to be free.

So when content is pooh-poohed and emotions are pushed and equity becomes the driver we need to beware of knowledge as officially described as “economic and political literacy and an understanding of human rights.” Hand is the “skills we want” like “conflict resolution and a willingness to negotiate and compromise.” Then we get heart as “the values and dispositions we want young people to internalize” like “compassion and toleration of others.”

I will interrupt this troubling confession of the new purpose of education to once again borrow Professor Minogue’s insight that “the ideological frenzies of the twentieth century” like Nazism and Communism “have largely disappeared, except in universities, but the basic impulse in our civilization toward collective salvation has not.” And the way an elite go about obtaining that collective salvation and servitude is through a “change in the hearts and minds of human beings.” So we recognize the impulse but what happens to a society where the next generation knows little but feels the need to jettison what exists and try to design anew?

I will shift and end with Kathleen Welling’s vision since she too sees the new purpose of education as “changing lives.” She hyped the first Global Student Leaders Summit in March in Costa Rica with Al Gore as the keynoter. Next April the Summit is going to China and the emphasis is on “how do we change this world?”

I think the term “playing with fire” is too mild to describe the dangers of this new, to be mandated, view of education. Welling also mentioned that she believed that the Asia Society was doing fine work in promoting this new view of Global Education which is why I led off this post with a mention of its PGL13 conference last week. http://sites.asiasociety.org/pgl2013/about/ She also mentioned the work of Fernando Reimers at Harvard as guiding this new vision of global education for all in the future.

He’s probably not on your radar yet but he’s been on mine for a while. At the beginning of this week that celebrates genuine freedom, what type of meaning would freedom have in a country where K-12 education becomes devoted to “all children” must “develop their own understanding about how we all share responsibility for the well being of humanity?”

Not just that understanding mind you, but also “develop that compassion” so that students will learn to act as desired. And on the political issues desired.


Descending to a Connected Kleptocracy Via the Digital Learning and Climate Change Ruses

In the continued reality where the truth involves far more official coordination than anything Agatha Christie ever imagined, the UNESCO global aspiration for media/digital education as the be all and end all for Everyone really does say flat out–“we need to get the media involved.” That would mean newspapers, broadcast networks, film studios, all aspects of the entertainment industry plus the computer tech and software companies and broadband providers like AT&T. Not a presumed coordination but an explicit one. Just chock full of those generous public/private partnerships where the only risk is to the already put-upon taxpayer.

This is more quoted language from that 2010 “Media Literacy and New Humanism” that literally laid out how to use education globally to get to every dream of transformation Uncle Karl ever had. Literally dovetailing not only with the Marxist Humanism vision we have now tracked in the West from the early 60s on but also the rather horrific UN vision of the Knowledge Society where we all organize around central cultural themes. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ lays it out if you can bear the details.

Today is more about how and the fact that US Education Secretary Arne Duncan is clearly behaving as if the obligation to coordinate as a partner were already in place. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2013/06/arne_duncan_decries_imaginary_attacks_on_common_core.html is the story on yesterday’s speech to the Annual Convention of the American Society of News Editors. The one where he explicitly laid out the role he expected of the media in sending out the administration’s desired message on the Common Core. I will point out if you read the speech that he is describing the 21st Century Skills focus as the actual CC implementation. And he keeps referring to deep learning. And since I have UNESCO’s definition of curricula from its mischievous report and it does dovetail with what the federal government is financing or urging on, we will use that instead of his false gauntlet of textbooks (which by the way the feds have been financing for years through their math and science grants through NSF).

Because digital learning and cyberlearning are such a huge part of where the feds and their cronies are pushing education globally, they have redefined the word curricula as “an educational experience programmed for a learner.” Which apart from the assessments that Arne wisely stayed away from in his gauntlet tossing speech, the feds and the tech companies absolutely are getting involved in designing those types of experiences. And insisting that 21st century education must be about experiences and group activities and not be mental. If you are going to complain about imaginary assertions of federal overreach it is probably best not to give interviews to Pearson’s Michael Barber where you state that “our decentralised system has its pros and cons” and then show enough irritation that Barber described it in the report that:

“we’ve been too slow to move in the direction of hybrid learning. The question is …how do you make that standard practice?”

Hybrid learning is that blend of digital computerized, Benjamin Bloom Mastery Learning of skills and outcomes coupled to a physical school with interactions with real students and teachers. What is being called Blended Learning or the Flipped Classroom in most of the US hype. With lots of lucrative funding for the companies pushing this model. Courtesy of You Know Who.

So gag me on the ire and misinterpretations of the feds’ efforts. If anything the utter coordination globally and the economic, social, and political visions it is tied to remain way too unknown in the US and most countries. Which is possible if you “get media involved” and then go on to detail that “this emphasis took shape in two ways [as always UNESCO loves to italicize for emphasis]:

a) the development of relations with the media industry and cooperation platforms [like news editor annual conventions?] and

b) the proposal to develop quality standards applicable to the messages and the media, which would contribute to making communication professionals more aware of the effects of their work.

Honestly if you can get that kind of direct and explicit and intentional coordination of the “media, professionals, legislators, and civic and political institutions” aligned to what is allowed or not in the classrooms via the real Common Core implementation. Then you throw in all the affective Big Data on frustrations and motivations that hybrid learning and gaming throw off and no one will ever need to actively censor again. Talk about nipping in the bud. And Arne’s speech yesterday and Karen Cator’s to the New Media Consortium a few months ago make it quite clear the era of this active coordination of messages and knowledge itself and communication to the serfs, I mean citizens, is upon us.

What is really problemmatic apart from the mockery of personal liberty such clear and intentional and regular coordination creates from “womb to tomb”, as the new favored phrase goes, is where I got that peevish hybrid learning quote from Arne. It’s in a report Barber and Pearson Education did with the Institute for Public Policy Research, which bills  itself “leading progressive think tank”. That must be another way of saying where Fabianism remains alive and well and excited about the 21st century. It was prepared as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in September 2012 on Russky Island off the coast of Vladivostok, Russia. The report was named “Oceans of Innovation: The Atlantic, the Pacific, the Global Leadership and the Future of Education.”

The report lays out the global coordination using education (and climate change sustainability too but that’s not what I am stressing here) to get to the “collective future” desired globally. It also makes it clear that the age of the individual and the era of the UK and US is over. Which is in large part due to previous decades efforts to use K-12 education to “destroy the talent myth.” Which is much easier to do when internationally benchmarked has come to mean an emphasis on “equity and diversity” and “progressive immigration” to developed countries. AND “a standard of education that will enable [everyone] to adapt and change as they respond to the constant dramatic shifts in the global labour market. As American reformers put it, every student needs to be ready for college, work and citizenship.”

All that within the overview we had feared as we tracked the Global Cities Education Network and UNESCO’s Shanghai definition of the 21st century Learning City with its all-encompassing views of what is to be planned and what is coming in under the Global Competence Asia Society presentations in individual US states and cities. It is all part of a globally coordinated effort involving the UN and Pearson and foundations and the stated idea of political radicals with a real fondness still for Uncle Karl’s philosophy for the future that:

“As traditional institutions, such as the family or church, break down, increasingly schools are the only social institutions we can rely on to inculcate in young people the values or ethical underpinning on which our collective future depend…some values are universal and vital: respecting individuals equally regardless of their wealth, gender, sexual orientation or origin; recognising the diversity of life–not just human life–on Earth and understanding the threats to environmental sustainability…”

Well, the Canadians had tipped us off already that the real common core was about new values but the Vancouver brigade must be in the ascendancy instead of the Montreal area of Canada. They left off the part about the “eclipse of the Atlantic economy by the Pacific”  and a rejection of the individual ‘rights’ culture of the West. With a planned 21st century replacement from the rise of the Pacific and China in particular. And a new collective-oriented ‘responsibilities’ culture which asks what citizens “could offer the state.” According to the ASCD in the US, I believe the answer is the Whole Child with its “full personality.”

So the innovation you keep hearing so much about as a selling point for the Common Core and its equivalents in other countries turns out to be a desire

“to innovate as dramatically in our capacity to make peace as we are in our capacity to make war. Moreover, the next half century demands in other spheres too–in social and economic realms and indeed, fundamentally in human relations…unless there is also innovation in these more subtle and subjective domains, the future looks very bleak indeed.”

No wonder Arne was so peevish about delays in implementing hybrid learning everywhere. And increased opposition to the federal machinations, in support of the international coordination, hiding in the US as the poorly understood Common Core. It’s past time say the global key players: “society must furnish a culture that is progressive and open to the transmission of new ideas.”

Except those ideas are actually almost two centuries old. Uncle Karl really is back globally. And coming in through ed reforms and hype over Sustainability and Climate threats.

Any excuse for governmental planning. And lifelong deference from the planned for.

Time for the Collective Will of Many Visible Hands to Challenge the Allegedly Destructive Invisible Hand?

Right now the favored attack being used to discredit people who point out  the inconsistencies in the stories being put out about the Common Core US education reforms, or the poor history of global climate models in predicting reality, to use two current examples, is to retort that someone is “part of the black helicopter crowd.” Now, given the incredible schemes I have uncovered and described with detail on this blog, telling you I am the last person who believes in black helicopters might strike you as untrue. But I really did not go looking for these stories. They rather found me. I just recognized what I had to be looking at and then wanted to know and document how and why.

So please understand if I write about the equivalent of a black helicopter event that strikes you as too incredible to believe, remember all of the following

–I have personally seen the black helicopters;

–I have obtained proof before I even mentioned it; and

–I have doublechecked the color of the helicopters to make sure they can be accurately described as black and not navy.

At that point I will write about an incredible story but only because I want all of us to have time to take the appropriate action. The equivalent of running or ducking if we really had helicopters coming. I have friends who ask how I can stay so calm while describing such machinations in the public sector. But honestly, as a history major, this is all rather fascinating to me. Plus it is quite clear this was all never meant to be uncovered or linked together in time. So pulling this all together before it all takes effect does give me some solace.

But despite everything I read, I was still startled to hear this morning that President Obama would be announcing his climate plan this Tuesday afternoon at Georgetown University. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcL3_zzgWeU&feature=youtu.be is the White House announcement video released yesterday. For a likely nonexistent problem just like all my documents and reports and numerous blog posts always indicated would be sought. The reason that social, economic, and political transformation would supposedly be necessary.

And I should be the last to be numbed. After all I really have read all those Club of Rome books and reports and the Belmont Challenge document itself.  Maybe that is part of what caused the feeling of being stunned. Let me give you an example from Jared Duval’s 2010 book Next Generation Democracy: What the Open-Source Revolution Means for Power, Politics, and Change. Duval is a member of that UN-affiliated World Future Council and the book laid out his vision for an economy centered around “real, participatory democracy.” As far as he is concerned, the Millennial Generation and others “will reconceive fundamental aspects of how our state and local governments are set up” and then impose that new vision on everyone. Consenting, appalled, or unaware.

But Duval also gave examples like the devastation of Hurricane Katrina being due to “the failure of conservative, limited-government ideology.” Which is not true. If anything, Katrina and the cited levee boards were a reminder that government powers and tax money frequently get turned to fulfilling private, selfish personal interests. Likewise, it was not “unchecked private whims that gave us the subprime loan crisis and the recession that officially began in December of 2007.” Both of those were ignited by government interventionism and cronyistic taxpayer subsidy of the risk without any chance for the profit if things turned out well. And for such ignorance of the real reasons for these debacles we are going to impose more cronyism a la a directed Industrial Policy/Green Economy with more public/private partnerships? Find a reader who is more naive for that sales job.

I actually now have a copy of the World Future Council’s plans for all of us. Called A Renewable World: Energy. Ecology. Equality, Duval wrote the last chapter envisioning all those planned changes to values, institutions, and ways of living. It is where today’s title comes from.  FWC pushes the “concept of open or living democracy–democracy not as simply a structure of government but as a way of life, manifesting shared values of inclusion, fairness and mutual accountability.” So convenient then to also have a formal global Media Education movement coming out of UNESCO right now and supported quietly by ed reforms all over the world under various names like the already described CCSSO-supported Global Competence in the US or Global Education in Australia.  http://www.globaleducation.edu.au/verve/_resources/GPS_web.pdf

Whatever it is called locally the UNESCO push to use education to impose a New Humanism as we discussed in the previous post is based on the utopian idea of “equal access and the egalitarian distribution of competences and capacities.” Which makes social interaction and feelings and new values among the few acceptable areas that can provide such equity. It is certainly NOT quadratic equations. Instead we get “communication” aided by computer as equitable.  Or “real equality in the possibilities for participating and sharing of opinions.” Shared ignorance is what this would have been called in the past. But this is the era of media literacy movements to build:

“bridges in order to construct a universal dialogue among [cultures] that fosters the spirit of understanding and the gradual, painstaking construction of shared values. In this way, the media literacy movement is against stereotypes and prejudices and in favour of the potential of the media and ICTs to build a universal culture of peace.”

Now I snarked Kumbayah in the last post but let me point out that some stereotypes are accurate and some prejudices are grounded in fact and leave it at that. The universal culture of peace aspiration is nice but not if you are disarmed– mentally, physically, and emotionally–to defend yourself when someone else is the aggressor. Unlike Jared, history does does not strike me as showing people are basically cooperative by nature. Given his poor sense of causation that I described above, I am not anxious to try out his and WFC’s theory of human nature. Or the kind of shared values acceptable to him, WFC, or UNESCO.

Like Anthony Giddens, WFC declared that “even if climate change were not happening, we would still need to change our energy systems, restore the health of ecosystems, create more livable cities, vibrant communities and resilient localities, use less resources, spread wealth, increase international peace…” No wonder no one seems to care about actual temperature records in all this climate modelling. Both Giddens and WFC are basically saying we want to impose Uncle Karl’s little c Positive Humanist vision in the 21st century and we won’t take no for an answer. And Tuesday we are likely going to find out someone else who will not take no or voter disapproval for an answer.

I first wrote about the World Order Model Project and its insistence on creating shared humanistic values here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/reorienting-world-order-values-via-the-intervention-of-activist-education-and-progressive-politics/ . I think all these books I have mentioned indicate WOMP and the Club of Rome and various UN entities have done a bang-up job in their expressed goal to “take hold of public and elite imagination” of the “need for world order.” And now it is time for the rest of us to get with the program because we truly do have an international elite who want to rule. What Falk called the “power-wielders.” And they want the rest of us to adopt the needed values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and dispositions to go along and finance all these transformative plans.

And they are impatient. After all, Richard Falk first wrote these WOMP plans in a book published in 1975:

“The prospects for smooth transition, by which we mean a process that is largely nonviolent and cumulative, will depend on the extent to which a positive learning experience is widely shared throughout the world in relation to early efforts to pursue the new agenda of world order values.”

Now such an aim means it has long made perfect sense for there to be a stealth coordinated global effort being led through the UN around global ed reform. After all, Falk even included a footnote to the above quote that “‘widely shared’ does not imply identical, the important ingredient of ‘learning’ in this sense is commitment to a continuous process of global reform more or less in accordance with the WOMP priority schedule, but allowing for important variations in emphasis.”

That certainly would account for all this coordination over decades and countries. And the consistency of aims under a variety of names.

And quite frankly why the overall description does sound like a black helicopter event. After all, the reality of climate change turns out to be quite optional to the planned transformations.



Decreeing the Interdependence of Environment, Economy, Society and Cultural Diversity in the 21st

Can you imagine what your workday would be like if your boss or the owner of the company actually  had their own secret boss? Who was giving marching orders on what you should do or not do? You think you know what you are expected to do but there’s this whole other agenda going on in your workplace beyond your sight. It would be confusing and unsettling to say the least. Likely nothing you were being told as feedback would quite make sense.

That is essentially the role that UNESCO now plays in education globally. At both K-12 and higher ed and increasingly professional schools. Hugely influential about the nature of the degree programs that credential the teachers and administrators. Through the poorly understood accreditation process, UNESCO can influence what local school boards themselves can now get involved in or risk property value destroying revocation or just watch status. Then there is the dynamic that promotions from teaching into the much more lucrative administrative positions or from principal to the six-figure world of the Central Office all go to those implementing UNESCO positions with fidelity. Even if only a few recognize that UNESCO and its declared drive for a new Scientific Humanism globally for the 21st century is where so many contentious pushes originate. At the Central Office any chance for your own school district or lucrative post-retirement (or even while also still on the district payroll) consulting jobs go to those who implement with fidelity. Whatever the parent or student outcry.

So failing to understand the role of UNESCO or the accreditation process is literally a failure to grasp what drives what can go on in a school or classroom. Whatever the intentions of parents, school boards, legislators, Congress, or Governors. And that’s apart from currently having a federal DoED that expressly seeks to work in tandem now with UNESCO. If Romney had won the Presidency in the US in 2012 or if you elected a Republican governor, UNESCO remains a primary driver of policies and practices. It would just be less overt.

So when Bulgarian Irina Bokova campaigned to head UNESCO and return it formally to Julian Huxley’s pathway to an evolving Scientific Humanism that has nothing to do with the Renaissance and everything to do with Uncle Karl, it was going to affect local education virtually everywhere. Formal initiatives like the CCSSI in the US or Core Skills and Wellbeing in Australia just give the UNESCO agenda a vehicle to hide in. A vehicle that gets Bokova’s Agenda, or as she called it, her Mission Statement, into the classroom or online software program, where it can begin to alter Worldviews and Values and Beliefs. Just as she has openly declared. http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/BPI/EPA/images/media_services/Director-General/mission-statement-bokova.pdf

You may not believe in global governance or that education should be about shifting away from the Western concept of the primacy of the individual to the Eastern concept of the responsibility of the individual to the group but Irina and UNESCO do. And they have huge, poorly understood powers to bring about change. And the fact that Russian speakers at a UNESCO meeting in Paris are saying that this New Humanism and communism (little c, see earlier posts) are the same should really give us pause.

Except we were not supposed to know. And honestly too many Principals and Central Office Admins are too busy blindly pushing whatever will get them the next promotion to care or even pay attention to the real implications of these policies and practices.   http://instituteforscienceandhumanvalues.com/articles/philosophical%20reflection.htm
from February 2012 is a Dutch prof who attended the symposium and was alarmed by what he heard.

So when UNESCO and its Moscow-based Institute for Information Technologies in Education (ISTE) published “Media Literacy and New Humanism” in 2010, it was intended to change education globally to get the Mindsets and values and beliefs UNESCO seeks for a radically altered global future. Behind our backs. Without our consent. But still coming to a classroom or university campus near you soon because of the way education really works. And the relationship between the real drivers like the accreditors or charitable foundations or even multinational corporations (who simply prefer to do business with a government Ministry that can also regulate potential competition) impacts the actual implementation. Not any “standards” or outcomes that contradict the new transformative purposes of education.

So it is not kooky to talk about UNESCO. Instead, it borders on negligence to do work in education and not be aware of its role. And when UNESCO seeks to turn education and the role of the media globally into a partnership designed to limit what we can know or do and what we are to believe, we need to take them at their nefarious word that they are quite serious. This was italicized in the foreword to the original report:

“Considering media literacy from intercultural perspective, the authors describe its role in the world where the notion of the uniqueness of each civilization as an isolated, self-sufficient entity is no longer valid: Humanity must force the media system as a whole to shoulder the obligation to stimulate this intense intercultural relation that the global world demands of us. We must force it to act as an interpreter and translator–cultural translation–among all of humanity’s diverse codes: between our codes and the codes of the Other. In other words, the goal is to align the entire media system with the obligation to make a systematic effort at mutual understanding among all the collectives, peoples. societies and communities in this global world.

And if a certain group’s designs or expressed intentions are incompatible with a sought just, equitable, and peaceful world, do you make the presentation or curriculum about the actual reality or the sought one? See our problem? This alliance may be news to us but probably not to anyone heading up a global media or advertising or even a tech company. It’s simply what passes for the Way Things Now Are at the conferences we do not get invited to. Its assumptions basically pass into the water of influence that filters down from there.

I will say that I did not see a single reference to Uncle Karl in that report. But a restatement of his theories and metaphors so thoroughly runs through it that the book/report would qualify for plagiarism under any campus honor code I have seen. Basically it could be satire of how to get to the same end result without using the M word. Marx talked about the mode of production, the report makes the mode of communication the trigger. In either case though ICT is that trigger and it is time for education and the media to concentrate “on the processes of constructing personal identities” ready for the socially networked world and an era of “universal relationships.” Not too far from the language used in President Obama’s recent high-speed broadband and digital learning edict.

Marx may have come up with the metaphor that “All that is Solid Melts into Air” to describe the time of tremendous change http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ but that quote might have triggered the real link. So the report cites NYU Prof Bauman and a Spainard instead for the insight that “our (everyday) life has abandoned the solidity of the past and become liquid.” Likewise, Marx’s outrage over what he called the alienation of man gets turned into statements about “a kind of personality dominated by being alone together.”

In case you are wondering what UNESCO seeks to do about all this, oh, nothing much. They just want to use education and the media to “decisively influence our psyche and our character.” Later, they get even more explicit on the goals: “transforming both the manmade environment around human beings and their interior,  that is their intellectual capacities and mental skills.” Two points for every reader who recognizes an intent to gain an EcoMind and prevent Axemaker Minds.

We would be here all day if I quoted every horrifically troubling intention. The next post will have to be the how. Here are some of the highlights. This New Humanism really benefits holders of existing technology since it wants veto power over technological development in the future. So there will be a high degree of cronyism as “the new 21st century humanism must foster a critical sense that is alert to the hypertechnologized environment and capable of discerning between what should be retained and revamped.”

Also the “new humanism in the global communication society must prioritise a new sense of respect for multiplicity and cultural diversity and must support media development with the goal of consolidating the new culture of peace.” Well, kumbayah, at last. A brief look around the world  tells us not to hold our breath but that knowledge is just not going to affect the classroom or newsroom. No, because “now is the time for us to be capable of reviving the classical idea of the cosmopolitan, universal citizen, with very clear rights and responsibilities, that entail a planet-wide commitment.”

And in the Brave New World connection that you just could not make up, here comes Aldous’ brother Julian as the inspiration for this 21st century vision. A vision that explicitly targets “our value system” as UNESCO and ISTE inform us that “We are calling for a global, evolving humanism, in the words of Julian Huxley.”

Do tell. And I will. More in the next post.


Once Again the Official Target is Scrambling Rational Thinking, Do Pro-Social Purposes Make It OK?

What should horrify us more–the intention? Or the fact that numerous editors at Ed Week must have read the language and merely nodded. Because after all the idea that now “Teachers design spaces and experiences that rearrange the neurons in young people’s brains for pro-social purposes” is not news to readers of this blog. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2013/06 /change_the_frame_two_ways_to_rethink_education_for_reform.html?cmp=ENL-EU-VIEWS2 is the link from last week. It is the lead-in to paragraph 4. And the author is the educator who first led me to focus on gaming after a conference he hosted at MIT.

Ramping up for the 90s version of these same “reshape the personality and values” reforms, which became infamous as Outcomes Based Education, there was a flurry of books on creating new kinds of minds. Willis Harman’s Global Mind Change from the previous post was one. Paul Ehrlich wrote New World New Mind and we also had The Axemaker’s Gift that gave us the useful Axemaker’s Mind metaphor to explain what is being targeted. Well, the sought goal has never gone away. Apparently the era of Positive Humanism (aka little c you-know-what) can only commence if the rational “ego-mind” that promotes individuality has been anesthetized. Put into deep sleep via K-12 education. To be reenforced periodically through lifelong learning and today’s new term–media education.

This time around we again have more illuminating books to guide us toward the future others want for us. First we have Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want published in 2011. Ecologist Frances Moore Lappe, who also serves on a new global entity http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/ (with Riane Eisler if you have ever read the Caring Economics post)  wants to reframe the “largely unconscious mental map made up of big ideas orienting our lives.” She points out a very useful phrase to keep in mind as we keep reading about Enduring Understandings and systems theory “lenses” and Understandings of Consequence that are to be provided in the Common Core classroom to help organize every student’s beliefs about the world and the past. “Can we remake our mental map?” Lappe asks. Because she points out that “while we often hear that ‘seeing is believing,’ actually believing is seeing.

Which will of course come in quite handy in an education now to be focused on the visual and modeling future scenarios on the computer.  Because the tech companies and their broadcasting allies globally have been quietly sponsoring (as in literally funding the conferences) the idea that “society has evolved from a literacy culture to a media culture. To be able to function in this new culture, people need to develop sufficient proficiency in media literacy in much the same way as people in a literacy culture need to be able to read and write.”

And if this is news to you the Common Core literacy standards do mention media literacy but no one seems to be focusing on the implications yet. Probably because they have not been reading the programs of the Media & Learning Conferences that started in Brussels in 2010 and noted the significance of the statement that “different media provide access to different parts of the brain.” And, yes, games are an important component of this new view of K-12 education as digital and media-based.

As the 2011 “Harnessing the power of Media to support Learning” Conference put it so succinctly, games are “tools to support training in soft skills and understanding of complex situations.” Of course this is all in the context of an assumption that globally we are moving toward a “more participatory,” equitable society. And to get there as a speaker noted, the role of education needs to be seen as the “physiological and psychological growth of the child.”

Why that sounds just like Student Growth in the US! What the feds are now requiring as the measure of an effective teacher. Just coincidental I am sure. Actually you have probably already noticed the shift to integrating media creation into the classroom. You just did not know it was part of an organized, ideological shift. Or that a conference would be organized to push “the underlying principle was that video production includes a whole process of skills which, once acquired, can be transferred to solve other complex tasks.” Oh good. What IB and UNESCO call homo faber–man the maker.

By the 2012 Conference called “Media as an Agent for Change in Education and Training,” a keynote speaker, Andrew Keen, was warning the audience that digital learning was a “form of ideology that is shifting us to a flatter global societal structure” with a “disappearing middle class.” We could heed his points that “such widespread democratisation in education is already leading to the radicalisation of education” if only anyone in the US or anywhere outside of Europe were being honest with the general public on what is really going on with these ed reforms.

If you think this is just a European problem, then you are unaware that the New Media Consortium and this new view of education actually originated in the US. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it just had its 15th anniversary conference. http://www.nmc.org/ And I listened to Karen Cator’s Keynote speech on “Participatory Learning-Powered by Technology”. And then I found the federal reports she mentioned. Which told me precisely how important ICT is to the new assessments. It allows a move away from “covering subject matter” to a “concern with cognitive skills, including those that have been identified as 21st-century skills.” The “subject matter content emphasis” of traditional schooling led schools to “neglect the higher order or complex cognitive components such as inquiry, problem solving, and explanation.”

The new assessments via ICT are “designed to handle the interdependencies among a learner’s actions in dealing with complex, multistep problems or inquiries.” Now remember from our previous posts that these complex problems are deliberately “ill-structured” or “Indeterminate Situations” for which there is no fixed answer. And the computer is obtaining a tremendous amount of data generated by students at an unconscious level as they try to come up with an answer. And we also know that part of the intended aim of this confusing structure is to force the students to rely on creative, deep intuition to apply existing concepts or big ideas to new situations. Then the computer can adapt to give students immediate feedback to get the students back on whatever the pathway the game or software designers programmed into the instructions.

Don’t worry. It’s not like game designers have said they intended to use these programs to target student’s belief systems. It’s not like the designers are using positive psychology principles to make the visual as compelling as possible. Book Number 2 this time around came out in 2010. Marina Gorbis from the last post mentioned The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction by Rebecca Costa. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyYrSw26jNQ is her as the keynoter at last October’s Bioneers Conference. Costa is a well-connected sociobiologist who considers Capitalism to be an example of “Extreme Economics.” She views widespread public skepticism over Global Warming and whether climate changes are manmade to be an example of the kind of irrational beliefs that have led to catastrophic civilizational collapse in the past.

She says the answer lies in turning to Insight and the unconscious mind as the solution to the increasing complexity of the modern world. The insight she describes sounds much like Harman’s deep intuition or Alice Bailey’s creativity if you want to go even further back to the same pursuit in the 30s and the 50s. It’s once again the nonrational mind that is to be given free rein except for one big difference this time. Rebecca admits she wants to abandon the norm of analytical problem-solving or right-brain synthesis of facts. Rebecca also points out the part of the brain that thinks inspirationally is now known. It can be found in a fold in the brain called the anterior Superior Temporal Gyrus (aSTG).

Functional brain imaging can now show that when someone is using insight or intuition or creativity to solve a problem, this “little-known fold ‘lights up like a Christmas tree.” So radicals have targeted this nonrational, unconscious capacity as part of their Transformation to Utopia plans for decades. All of a sudden numerous commentators are talking about reorganizing the brain’s neurons. Literally. And in early March President Obama announced a brain-imaging initiative.

Costa wants people to make “novel connections rather than continue to rely on reductionist thinking.” The actual implementations in the K-12 classroom globally appear designed to give the aSTG a workout. That’s what all those references to Higher Order Thinking Skills are about. The part of the brain that thinks logically and sequentially is under concentrated, coordinated attack.

And all this desired New Minds for a New Future can be physically measured now.

And we could address the implications of all this for personal freedom and the legitimacy of the individual in the future. If only these reports and conferences and expressed intentions were better known.


Weak Humans+Computers+Expert Modelling of Captured Data, Is this Your Approved Vision of the 21st?

Sometimes it turns out that what feels like a coordinated effort to mount a political transformation without permission–an invisible coup for the most part–feels that way for a reason. We have already encountered Goodwin Liu writing in the Yale Law Journal back in 2006 that the illusion of a state-led common curriculum reform was essential to transition the US to a radically revised concept of citizenship. But at least he did not write about jettisoning the US Constitution and the current US governance structures altogether as “increasingly out of sync with today’s reality” and “products of a Newtonian view of the universe.”

Somehow “quantum physics” (italicized in the original for some reason. I suppose to be ominous in the implications)–“and the new technologies of the electronic information and communications revolution” (see why we stopped for a short political theory brief on why the prevailing mode of production mattered to Uncle Karl and his power-lustful descendents?)–are now held to be (published April 2013) “out of sync with many social institutions and practices, specifically with government systems, which are still very much locked into technologies of 200 years ago.” So says a “reknowned futurist” and the boss of Gaming as Education Advocate Jane McGonigal from the previous post. I suppose we can think of this as a tag team effort. One says Reality is Broken and the other lays out the complete vision for the future with insights from her childhood in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.

Marina Gorbis says she emigrated to the US at 18 after her mother died and first voted in the 1984 Presidential election. Perhaps that accounts for her willingness in The Nature of the Future: Dispatches From the Socialstructed World to cavalierly announce that:

“Political realities are shaped by the social realities of their time and reflect the prevailing technological infrastructure, levels of knowledge, and citizen values.”

Marina says “written constitutions” generally and our current “political institutions are simply not up to the task of governance today.” She cites “global climate change, chaotic economic fluctuations, and a host of other emerging disruptions” as among the reasons that hey, hey, ho ho, Madison’s vision now has to go. So a manufactured by the lure of government grants supposed  climate “crisis” is coupled to the financial crises being stoked by too much government intervention in the economy already.

And the solution is “socialstructed governance” where assemblies of average citizens chosen because they are representatives of a state or region’s demographics work together with “experts in various fields”. The experts in turn will create models based on all the Big Data now available (thanks especially Marina notes to President Obama’s January 2009 Open Government Directive that opened the data in the government’s coffers to the “public”) and “simulations to review and analyze various options”. And the citizen representatives can then deliberate and discuss and then vote on public policy affecting everyone.

Now I wish I could joke that this is just Marina’s opinion but her Institute for the Future has high powered support apart from the fact that its education vision to get this all in place is precisely what we laid out in the previous post. It’s Chapter 4 in her book. But I have seen these visions she laid out before. It was also in last summer’s troubling National Research Council report “Computing Research for Sustainability” that I wrote about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/blending-sustainability-and-education-to-gain-arational-nonlinear-minds-and-new-behaviors/ . No wonder that report referred to people as “socio-technical systems.”

Marina goes on in her vision for the future to say machines are just much better at rational thinking than people are. People she says are “emotional” and “situationally driven.” She wants to bring together the “best of humans and smart machines.” Supercomputers can do the “rational analysis…and we can rely on our human selves to formulate moral precepts, generate insight, [and] respond spontaneously to the unique circumstances of the moment .” The actual Common Core implementation in the US and related education reforms elsewhere make so much more sense when you read:

“Amateurs armed with good strategies (thinking skills) and access to the computational power of machines turns out to be a winning combination.”

With the purpose of that “new kind of machine-human partnership” being to “maximize not only our individual well-being but also the well-being of the community.” And I would think that the fact that all this is clearly being officially contemplated should give us pause before creating in 2013 a  pathway to citizenship for any groups that will shift the demographics substantially. We voters seem to be assuming a pathway to citizenship under our current political structures and documents and our politicians and their consultants are ramping up to jettison Madison’s magnificent document.

And I know Marina’s vision is not hers alone because beyond the gaming and digital learning components we have been examining in recent posts, the assumptions on when it is OK and even desirable to change political institutions and governance rules showed up in a 2009 Georgia Social Studies Presentation on Getting Ready for the Common Core. The presentation by Ben Crenshaw at the state DOE was on using Lynn Erickson’s Enduring Understandings. But Slide 13 listed definitions of Culture, Distribution of Power, Governance, Beliefs and Ideals, and Conflict and Change that I wrote down verbatim because they seemed to be incorrect and envision, in my mind, priming the students for change. Just the kind Marina Gorbis has now laid out in her book.

I want to get back to the gaming element of the story. First, this presentation makes it clear that gaming throws off so much useful personal data on “traits, abilities, aptitudes, personality traits ranging across very different domains of your personal makeup” that it constitutes a unique signature–a behavioral DNA.”  http://techonomy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/21st-Century-Skills.pdf Which will obviously be highly useful to gathering Big Data for decision-making by committee.

Secondly Marina’s Superstructed Economy, which fits by the way with all the other economic and social visions I have laid out in previous posts, relies a great deal on values and feelings and beliefs. Which by now we know to be under deliberate assault in the classroom and in the intelligent tutoring and games being created both for education and just recreational gaming generally. Everybody seems to be using Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s Flow and they say so in their books and papers.

I want to go back to something else Willis Harman wrote in 1988 in Global Mind Change. He wanted to move beyond the rational mind as the decision-making gatekeeper and rely on emotional creativity and intuition instead. Which dovetails quite well with what Marina sees people bringing to the partnership with smart machines. Harman wrote that the “emerging vision emphasizes community in the small view, and global cooperation in the large.” Once again in sync. Must be that California sunshine and vistas. In a quote that is quite relevant to the real common core, Harman noted that “by deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world.” And Gaming and Visual Models of Systems and Enduring Understandings are all excellent ways to get at a person’s internal image of reality.

Here is the key part that makes intense visualization so important to the sought social, political, and economic transformation and Harman laid it out in 1988 (italics in original):

“Reprogramming the unconscious beliefs that block fuller awareness of our creative/intuitive capabilities depends upon a key characteristic of the unconscious mind, namely that it responds to what is vividly imagined essentially as though it were real experience. Thus, to revise the unconscious beliefs we need only vividly imagine new beliefs, as they tend to become true.”

I will take a brief break in the quote to point out this is where time and the relaxation that Csik has noted from Flow and the positive psychology and neuroscience insights the designers say are all being used to create these computer programs. Here goes:

“Because the unconscious beliefs have been reexperienced or reaffirmed repeatedly over a long period of time, the substitute beliefs and/or images must also be presented repetitiously over a period of time, preferably in a state of deep relaxation when the portals of unconscious are most open.”

It is that Mind Change and new Worldviews that are so essential to the real common core. They are necessary for the desired Transformations to be peaceable. Marina may say it will take decades for her to get the new kinds of consciousness changes by ICT tools that she wants. But the process via education has literally already commenced.

We didn’t get an invite but the Miss Marple of Education snuck in anyway for a peek.

Good thing too. Audacious plan. Invisible no more.

When Gaming Intends to Shape and Distort Our Perceptions of Everything Around Us. Viva La Revolution!

A title that provocative really should be based on at least some speculation. Maybe with me looking bug-eyed and highly excitable. Nope. Everywhere I looked to try to make the K-12 gamification focus we encountered in the last post a fringe ambition–on the periphery–I just ran into more graphic, open declarations. From people with the money and power to make their visions a reality. A 2011 book laying out these aspirations approvingly pointed out that the “Microsoft game-testing lab ‘looks more like a psychological research institute than a game studio.”

That author, Jane McGonigal, of the Institute for the Future, is a keynote speaker of this month’s annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in San Antonio, Texas. She explicitly mentions Robert Torres’ Quest To Learn charter school vision in NYC as a means of reinventing public education as we know it. That Gates and MacArthur and Pearson Foundations vision of Reimagining Education. http://reimaginingeducation.org/ shows it is now the feds vision too.

Before I talk about the book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and its prescriptions for using immersion role-playing games and alternate reality games to encourage students to want to reinvent reality, let’s talk about how we get to this point in K-12. Last week President Obama issued a directive to the FCC “to take the steps necessary to build high-speed digital connections to all of America’s schools and libraries.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/connected_fact_sheet.pdf . The directive on Jumpstarting Learning Technology says our schools “do not prepare our student’s for a collaborative and networked economy” . Which really does sound like the kind of reenvisioned needs economy I have been telling you is integrally linked to these ed reforms. Anyway, here’s a full extended quote:

“We must make our schools an integral part of the broadband and technology transformation–particularly when that same technology can be harnessed to drive empowered, more personalized learning. From digital textbooks that help students visualize and interact with complex concepts to apps and platforms that adapt to the level of individual student knowledge and help teachers know precisely which lessons or activities are working. This technology is real, it is available, and its capacity to improve education is profound.”

That’s the real fundamental shift. All that wonderful personal data plus there’s no longer any need to use print to mentally envision what an author is describing or how things work. The video in the digital textbook or videogame will show the student.  Not influenced in the least by the fact that the creator of the game or textbook publisher openly acknowledged that as “we’re making these games, we dream of the other revolutionary things swarm intelligence might make possible. Low-carbon futures, mass creativity, living happily with less.”

Swarm intelligence by the way is part of what massive online player games can create.  The idea is that “experiencing communitas in an everyday game can spark a taste for the kinds of community action that makes the world a better place. Learning to improvise with strangers toward a shared goal” teaches that “swarm intelligence”–which game designers hope “makes people better able and more likely to band together toward positive ends.” I am really tempted here to bring in a comment about cultivating the little c era of association and community using the the benefits of a profoundly different new technology but I will refrain. Maybe. But even the White House says it is a new age–the Digital Age–and certain notorious political philosophies do believe that new ages grounded in new technology call for a new kind of consciousness. Do you agree?

At the 2008 meeting of the professional group for education professors, the AERA (yes that is the group that elected Bill Ayers to an executive position), Eva Baker of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing–CRESST–presented a paper called “What Do We Know About Assessment in Games?” She pointed out that Games work well when the point is measuring, as in the now federally-required measures of Student Growth. Rather than evaluating, as in traditional testing of the now-defunct knowledge unsuitable for the Digital Age. Her work seems to be the foundation for what GlassLab  is now doing. You “embed the assessment in the transactions of the game and build it into a game’s underlying engine.” The game then becomes the “types of learning to be experienced.”

But that would require coordination with game developers. Good thing then Eva (who you may remember also evaluated SBAC and PARCC for the Hewlett Foundation to ensure these would be measurements of Deep Learning) was a speaker at the 2012 Serious Games Summit. And CRESST is listed as a sponsor of the 2013 Summit. Also conveniently Jane McGonigal started writing her book soon after Eva’s AERA speech. Laying  out a vision on the Rise of the Happiness Engineers. The game designers who use the elements of Positive Psychology so that gaming can set off “the orgasm of positive emotions” such as awe. McGonigal quoted Dacher Kalter as saying that:

“The experience of awe is about finding your place in the larger scheme of things. It is about quieting the press of self-interest. It is about folding into social collectives. It is about feeling reverential toward participating in some expansive process that unites us all and ennobles our life’s endeavors.”

I am not trying to spook you. But if these are the intentions of the designers of the games that are now to constitute what is learning in the 21st century, it matters. The Institute of the Future does a great deal of consulting to famous companies and foundations. Apart from Jane’s high venue speeches.  Jane believes that games “have an important role to play in how we achieve our democratic, scientific, and humanitarian goals over the next decade and beyond.” Now her goals (or Eva’s or these foundations) may not be yours but they are the goals being designed into the objectives of these games.

And whether the student exhibits the desired beliefs, values, and attitudes (suitable for Transformation) is what is being assessed and measured as Student Growth. Jane by the way described her vision of a Sustainable Engagement Economy in the book. It reminded me of Shoshana Zuboff’s Needs Support Economy with its distributed capitalism. She also envisioned reinventing the workplace except she sees the new attitudes coming out of the gaming experiences as driving the desire for change. Making reality more like games is how she put it.

Reading Reality is Broken really is alarming since there really is no intermediary between the vision of the future designed into these games, the psychological and emotional methods incorporated into the games, and the student. And it’s not like I am inferring the vision here. There are many more troubling, to me, examples in the book. But the book reminded me of another troubling book I had read from 1988 called Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution In the Way We Think. So I went back and reread the marked passages. It was a reminder that if you want social transformation, which that author Willis Harman certainly did as well, you need to target the unconscious belief system. Harman even mentioned our old friend Milton Rokeach (see tags if not familiar). Here’s the vision:

“This concept of unconscious beliefs and the extent to which they are capable of shaping and distorting our perceptions of everything around us–and within us–is so central to understanding the global mind change that we shall make a temporary digression to look into it more deeply.

Each of us holds some set of beliefs with which we conceptualize our experience–beliefs about history, beliefs about things, beliefs about the future, about what is to be valued, or about what one ought to do.”

That’s precisely the real Common Core implementation targets. That’s what Digital Learning is designed to assess and reshape if needed. The assessments have to be performances and activities because as Harman said in 1988: “persons may not realize they have these unconscious beliefs, but the beliefs can be inferred from behavior–from slips of the tongue, compulsive acts, ‘body language’, and so on.”

Now think about this next quote and whether the phrase common core may be a metaphor and not just a factual statement about skills and knowledge and consistency among students.

“In the innermost core of the belief system are basic unconscious assumptions about the nature of the self and its relationship to others, and about the nature of the universe.”

The Game Designers say that is what is being targeted. Ed professors and ed labs and implementation theories openly call these reforms “second-order thinking” and “Irreversible Change” because it is the unconscious being targeted.

We are priming the emotions and using virtual reality to practice how to change reality. While simultaneously leaving the mind empty of knowledge of likely consequences.

Which might foresee a Revolution more likely to deteriorate as the French one did than build something wondrous. As the American one did.




New Mindsets and Changed Values Tied to ICT as the Long Sought Marxian New Mode of Production

Computers and ICT generally just keeps getting cited as the magic technology that Marx and Engels speculated could allow a world where everyone’s needs get met. Advances in technology was a hugely important concept in all their political theorizing of how in the future society would be organized in radically different ways. That the age of the individual and capitalism would be over. It’s the era I have explained as small c communism in previous posts because that is what they called it. Well, they also called it the age of association and community. Princeton prof Robert Tucker said it was to be a time of positive humanism. Since that term is less off-putting than either communism or Marxist Humanism, that strikes me as a better term for us to use so we don’t bring in visions of Kremlin Walls or Mao’s Black Book uninvited. But the future social and economic vision is the same as what we have encountered under varying names in numerous posts now.

And the prosperous West remains the target. With education as the preferred vehicle to gain the desired changes in consciousness and values and attitudes and especially feelings. We in the West assumed the PH vision was about who had what. But it turns out Uncle Karl’s theory had what might be called a magic trigger. Let me explain with a quote:

“every historical mode of production has been conditioned by the nature of the available means of production or state of technology. As [Marx] puts it in a vivid passage, ‘The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.’ According to this view, the rise of a new technology, a new set of material productive powers…”

necessarily triggers a social revolution. Computers, the Internet, cellphone communication etc–what I and others abbreviate as ICT–are being held up as that triggering technology. And to put it bluntly we have political idealogues, ready to administer public sector and NGO bureaucrats, and tech and media companies ready to stop future competition, who are quite happy to use education to commence the needed changes in mindsets and values. All while being well-paid of course. All over the globe but especially in the US. That’s really a big part of what Common Core is about when you peel back the layers and delve into the ever present, consistent, feature–must use ICT as an integral part of classroom. The focus.

Being honest that this tracks back to Uncle Karl would of course be a bad PR selling point so instead we get university students being told that “unjust ecological and social conditions” require “transformation of existing power relations and even worldviews.” Radical change needs minds that have been primed to accept “a society based upon distribution according to need” and primed for activism. Students who believe in the “possibility of realizing it, of moving from the world as it is to the world as it ought to be.”

Gaming and role-playing and little factual knowledge are really useful to such aspirations of transformative change. Luckily for the Change-the-World Crowd the visual, concrete, nature of making school about the use of the computer and making films and power points ditches the abstract mind bolstering aspects of reading print that is designed around symbols for sounds. Remember that when you find out that Pearson and the MacArthur Foundation underwrote a 2011 PBS special called “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” hyping the new types of literacy. How digital media is “changing the ecology of reading and writing” so it is no longer “doing the type of reading where you sit in your bedroom by yourself reading a novel.”

What about under an umbrella on the beach while working on a tan I ask in alarm?

No, “kids need to get a deep passion” for what they are doing and school needs to be about what will make them feel passionate. We shouldn’t be rewarding the “kid who stays up late reading a book” while “a kid who spends that same time working with his guild in ‘World of Warcraft’ is thought to have a problem.” Yes, these quotes are coming straight from the program’s transcript.   http://www.pbs.org/parents/digital-media/pdf/digital-media-transcript.pdf Have a read if you can stand it. The vision of “where learning and assessment are the same thing.” Which is precisely what Robert Torres said is a big part of the Gates Foundation’s current focus. So that computer, role-playing, games become the means of measuring whether learning is occurring.

No I am not kidding. Torres spoke at the G Summit in April 2013 on “Transforming Education with Gamification” and saw it as a means of determining if the Common Core Standards and the new science standards are being met. And I noticed that very time the interviewer, Gabe Zicherman, brought up knowledge, Torres switched back to his preferred term–learning. Behavioral changes then will do while the head remains quite empty.

In case you are stunned by this whole idea, here’s the June 28, 2012 News Release creating GlassLab–The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab–under the premise that “video games can revolutionize American education and students’ testing and learning. We can harness students’ passion and energy for video games and utilize that to reach and educate a 21st century workforce with skills critical for college and career readiness.” One can just imagine this idea of work or college but at least all the students will get plenty of daily practice with the designated new mode of production. http://www.instituteofplay.org/2012/06/2498glass-lab-press-release/ Torres is quoted as saying “we need projects that will work with students and speak to them in their native language: digital media. Through game-based learning, students will be challenged, and teachers and parents can get real-time feedback on student progress.”

Will the parents really understand that the Growth and Achievement are from being online and immersed in role-playing video games? Will they understand that the games will count as Literacy under the Common Core? This presentation is about 7 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahYeJ5LmnXI . You can decide if this is your idea of desirable Learning or Literacy. And with Pearson and NewsCorp’s Amplify and many of our Gordon Commission members involved with GlassLab, this really does look like the intended future. Have a look if you’d like  http://glasslabgames.org/

One of the people interviewed as part of that PBS program was Dr Nichole Pinkard, founder of Chicago’s Digital Youth Network. Which Gates is supporting but not quite as generously as the $50 million the MacArthur Foundation has plowed in. Here’s the vision of a different design for classroom learning  http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/pinkard-videogames-inspire-classroom-design/ Dr Pinkard made a very interesting statement in her interview with PBS. She said that “literacy has always been defined by technology.” Under this theory of history grounded in you know who’s writings, the technology changes the type of consciousness. So the printing press and moveable type are what made print the new designated form of literacy. And this line of thinking goes, since we now have tablets and films and videos on demand and computers learning to respond to sound, we should change the nature of what constitutes literacy.

Now John Dewey and the Soviet psychologists, among others, all understood that learning to decode and use symbols for sound or math that did not look visually like the concept they actually stood for is what turbocharged the potentials of the individual mind. (As compared with drawing a fish to symbolize a fish). And in the name of Equity and Mastery Learning and Gamification and Engagement and the new Era of ICT, we are trashing that herd-defying, capable of logic, abstract mind. Trying to put the Genie Back in the Bottle and deliberately regress in the average person’s working knowledge.

I simply cannot imagine a scenario where this will turn out well. It’s just a matter of how far down this Expensive Road to Ignorance we travel before recognizing what is going on.

I believe Marxism in essence is a Public Sector Subjugation Theory over the Individual and his or her Precious Mind. I get why people who currently have power, or who want more like the UN, would want to keep bringing it back. It levels the most capable and turns everyone else into reliable clients in search of “Bread and Circuses” delivered by the public sector and their privileged cronies.

And we may not be able to stop this but it is certainly time we understood what infamous theories we are really dealing with here. And thus why digital literacy and the use of the computer in some form is front and center now in education.

Hyping Personalized Digital Instead of Closed-Loop Learning Sounds Better. Omits all that Troubling Data Gathering Too

I really am not opposed to the 21st Century. I simply notice when I am dealing with a slogan for self-interested change instead of the real rationale. For a long time that has been my suspicion about the Digital Learning push. It would enrich the sellers of all that computer equipment and software. But it’s a lot more than that. I have come a long way since a speech by former West Virginia Governor, Bob Wise, hyping Digital Learning by pulling at the heart strings. He had the audience visualizing the children in isolated Appalachian hamlets hungry for knowledge. Suddenly gaining access to the top science lecturers via ICT and having the chance to move beyond their current circumstances.

I remember thinking that I had just read repeated insistences that under the Common Core teaching template lecturing and explaining concepts systematically were out. As in better not do it if you want to keep your job. So the poignant story just came across as a desire to sell Digital Learning where the facts did not fit the sales job. But we have education doctorates now credentialing based on an agreement to make technology the focus of school. It’s central to the accreditation vision of schools and districts going forward. It is central to the UN’s vision of the 21st century “bureaucrats manage us and we don’t complain about it” Knowledge Society.

The one I explained here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ where knowledge as we know it is mostly missing and intuitions and hunches substitute just fine. I have ed tech conferences going back more than two decades giddily acknowledging that digital learning is a Trojan Horse, weakening academics but doing wonders for social inclusion. We have Basareb Nicolescu, President of UNESCO’s CIRET, writing about “The Transdisciplinary Evolution of Learning” where “mentalities evolve” because “courses at all levels” must now “sensitize students and awaken them to the harmony between beings and things.” Remember that when we get to Learning Maps below. And that this consistency of coursework is best accomplished by extending “networks, such as the Internet, and ‘invent’ the education of the future by insuring planet-wide activity in continuous feedback, thereby establishing interactions on the universal level for the first time.”

Which certainly sounds like what is going on with the MOOCs like EdX and their now global partnership of higher ed institutions. The problem no one is focusing on was laid out in a November 2012 UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE for short) report on Learner Analytics. If you are not familiar with IITE, perhaps it is because it is located in Moscow. Yes, the one that likes onion-domed architecture and seriously regrets the loss of its former Superpower status. In case “Learner Analytics” is a new term for you too, I will include IITE’s definition. Since the US Department of Ed has also quietly put out a report advocating LA and education data mining, let’s all listen up now:

Learning Analytics appropriates [captured digital data to help inform decision-making] for education. With the growth of huge data sets and computational power, this extends to designing infrastructures that exploit rapid feedback, to inform more timely interventions, whose impact can then be monitored. Organizations have increasingly sensitive ‘digital nervous systems’ providing real time feedback on the external environment and the effect of actions.”

So in K-12 Digital Learning the computer system is capturing a great deal of info on each student’s interests, capabilities, responses to questions, attitudes, perseverence, actions, etc. As to MOOCs and free online gaming, well that LA report said point blank:

“The free hosting of learning platforms and courses by initiatives such as Harvard+MIT’s edX are quite openly motivated by the opportunities that come with the ownership of unprecedented data sets from millions of learners’ interactions.”

Which is apparently so useful that MIT now has a Human Dynamics Lab looking at a society enabled by Big Data. http://hd.media.mit.edu/ . Something to think about with Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer and reorganizing 21st century society around systems thinking. And the push at Harvard and MIT for Action Science and a new economy based on needs and distributed capitalism. Not to be paranoid but the National Academy of Sciences really did advocate that the US economy be reorganized around Sustainability and planned with Big Data with the aid of the tech companies like Microsoft and IBM. And at the precise same time K-12 and higher ed are being reorganized to limit knowledge and just rain personal behavioral data on companies like Coursera and EdX and NewsCorp’s Amplify and Carnegie and Gates-funded inBloom. What are the odds?

I read the new book Big Data this weekend and it states that if another company came up with “an e-commerce site, social network, or search engine that was much better than today’s leaders like Amazon, Google, or Facebook, it would have trouble competing…because so much of the leading firms’ performance is due to the data exhaust they collect from customer interactions and incorporate back into the service.” Now if that is true now, imagine combining that inferential data with all the personal behavioral data scheduled to become available from the new gaming focus of K-12 and the expansion of the MOOCs and the online delivery of basic math and literacy skills.

When I had the epiphany that perhaps the real purpose of the Common Core State Standards was to get Digital Learning in place and all the behavioral data that would then start to flow, I searched for a connection to Big Data. Up popped this recent article http://online.stanford.edu/news/2013/02/19/learning-goes-digital-big-data-can-guide-us on Stanford Prof Roy Pea, a big fan of Soviet Lev Vygotsky, who we already met in this troubling Cyberlearning post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/

I actually listened to the hourlong EduCause keynote speech by Professor Pea and took good notes, Beyond all the data flowing out of MOOCs, both Professor Pea and the OSCon July 2012 speech of Danny Hillis from Applied Minds he referenced (and I also listened to) made it clear that online courses require Learning Maps. Closed Loop Learning Maps of a Domain that the student moves through with a visual interaction via computer. Hillis and Pea said the Common Core takes K-12 in this direction and then each put up a slide of skills with the title: “Example of Competencies That the Map Needs to Show.”

MOOCs then would do the same for higher ed. In fact, Pea lamented that “learning maps are conspicuously absent” in higher ed and that their “development is an ‘urgent priority.” Doesn’t that sound lovely? These are the skills step-by-step we want you to have and we are designing backward from the end view. The skills needed for the UN’s Knowledge Society.  The one of just experiential knowledge and hunches and basic skills as described above and in this deeply troubling recent report   http://www.un.org/sg/management/pdf/HLP_P2015_Report.pdf

Hillis and Pea both talked about the InBloom K-12 database that will make “open access, flexible, useful learning maps and recommended learning resources for every student’s specific interests and needs–a reality throughout US schools.” Which is of course only possible because of all the personal behavioral data to be captured by the computers and software and Amplify tablets etc. Hillis also mentioned that the Gates Foundation funded the buildout of inBloom’s “personalized learning” infrastructure as part of its much broader interests in education that go far beyond the Common Core.

Now the Big Data book says it is now impossible for an individual to limit the flows of Big Data everyday and that we just need to make the companies accountable for what they do with it. But accountable to who? The US federal government wants the tech companies to help governments at all levels rework the nature of the economy. The UN wants the Knowledge Society with a global Mutual Benefit economy that looks like a modern version of that little c communism vision that Uncle Karl came up with so long ago. They claim that will result in a peaceful world by 2030. Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability and MOOCs and Competencies and 21st Century Learning are ALL premised on this revised UN-developed vision of the future.

I know because IITE issued an April 2012 Policy Brief that says precisely that called “ICTs for Curriculum Change.” Where is our recourse if that’s the vision the Gates Foundation is actually funding our transformation to? or Carnegie? or the National Science Foundation?

And through inBloom and Digital Learning and expanding MOOCs we are about to put Big Data on steroids with info on thoughts and desires and feelings for virtually every student in K-12. Professor Pea pointed out that MOOCs will not be about working with a professor. They will be about students working with each other. An online social learning community throwing off personal data.

Community. Community. The omnipresent vision of the 21st century.

Will there be any place for the independent individual in this vision?