I am going to interrupt our troubling tour into the psychological theories and practices being pushed on our students at our expense. Using euphemistic names like soft skills or student growth or metacognition or ‘innovative practices’ for suburban schools. Including lovely confessions that if it works in achieving desired behavioral changes in students it can be rolled out nationally. Some innovation. Certain school districts really need to stop calling parents anytime there is a school shooting tragedy or potential tragedy claiming that “student safety is our first priority.” Horse manure and lots of it. If that is true then we have a widespread epidemic of administrators and consultants pushing ideas on schoolchildren and parents at great expense and calling themselves “Doctor” without having the foggiest notion of what they are doing.
Which is entirely possible so that leaves it up to we the parents and taxpayers to get to the bottom of the tsunami of fundamental social, political, and economic transformation coming at us in time. We will need to point out to the current Living Large on the Public Payroll recipients that a vast expansion will simply lead to greater dysfunction and a complete loss of overall prosperity.
Now when I hear and read a coordinated push all of a sudden around a topic, I get to fall back on a specialist horde of knowledge that in fact remains quite useful whatever the OECD bureaucrats like Andreas Schleicher have to say. We have discussed what the OECD’s push to monitor subjective well-being globally will mean for education. What I know and may have forgotten to pass along is that everything the OECD pushes in education, and it is a primary driver globally, comes out of its desire for a public-sector dominant social welfare state and planned economy globally. Especially in the US.
And Schleicher basically says so in this hugely troubling article from 2010. http://www.oecd.org/general/thecasefor21st-centurylearning.htm “Shifts in ways of doing business, of managing the workplace or linking producers and consumers” are just the kind of wholesale reimagining of our economy that we just keep encountering as attached to education reform. Like the changed Mindsets and New Worldviews created by humanist psychology theories and practices in the classroom, this is all a means to an end.
If you get a chance to read that 2 page paper you will see that Schleicher is describing 21st Century Learning in language that others have come outright and called dialectical thinking. It is to prepare students for a belief quite useful to proponents of wholesale fundamental transformation into Governors and Governed.
“Promote students dialectical thinking–the understanding that what is ‘true’ now may not be true in the future and may not have been true in the past.” [Professor Robert Steinberg, 2009, ASCD, ‘How to Teach the Other 3 Rs’]
Andreas is quite busy and it was the sudden promotion of his July 2012 TED talk hyping PISA but not mentioning the planned roll-out in many American school districts this fall that is part of what caught my interest. It was called “Use Data to Build Better Schools” and the kind of schools to be remade will of course depend on what data is being collected. Schleicher was kind enough to mention in the 20 minute talk that it was international assessments like PISA that have globalized education. I knew that and it’s time everyone else did too. PISA is measuring student values, attitudes, and beliefs and how they apply knowledge (as in Big Ideas or Concepts like Social Justice) to novel situations. Non-linear, no clear cut solution problems that the students have never encountered before. Can you say Messing with the Mind or Dialectical again or the more common Higher Order Thinking Skills?
There is another very troubling slideshow on “Learning in the 21st Century-Lessons from Around the World” http://prezi.com/fuvde8bjh6qg/learning-in-the-21st-century-policy-lessons-from-around-the-world/ that was Schleicher speaking last fall at WISE in Qatar, the World Innovation Summit in Education. So good to know that the Muslim world has such an interest in limiting the intellectual and economic capacity of the West. It’s especially interesting given that Schleicher mentions that 21st Century Learning is a way to “avert the risks” of new technology. Is that why Big Blue sponsored his TED talk? No more unapproved competition? If that kind of collusion strikes you as unlikely you might want to read the OECD’s “Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives” detailing the extent of the sought collaboration among government and existing employers around a global skills agenda. With the foundation of the largest education company in the world http://www.pearsonfoundation.org/pr/20120523-Pearson-Foundation-and-OECD-Launch-skills-oecd-org.html signing on as a partner.
I could be here all day explaining the elements but it is clear that 21st Century Learning is tied to the OECD vision of the future global society and PISA functions as the means of measuring how schools and teachers are doing in creating the new desired mindsets amenable to such wholesale political change. Hopefully even clamoring for it as expectations for middle class employment are dashed as the combo of government interventionism in the economy and divorcing actual knowledge from credentials creates its foreseeable dire effects.
That’s why the other component of the full-court propaganda press suddenly surrounding PISA caught my attention. It turns out on August 13, 2013 Simon & Schuster (owned by CBS. Think media education and UNESCO) published a book The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way about who does well on PISA and how combining excellence with equity is necessary for being globally competitive. Now we know what PISA measures and that’s not my definition of smart. Is it yours? If you watch Schleicher’s presentation on prezi, you will hear the Ontario Premier touting Ontario’s success. It also has Ben Levin speaking but his authority on education reform has been compromised since his July 2013 arrest on child porn charges.
The Ontario Premier says that 4 in 10 Canadian students are now immigrants and it is important to change education to deal with that diversity. He points out Ontario is now considered high achieving because immigrant children and Canadian born children do equally well on PISA. If that is so, then they are practicing dialectical type, open-ended thinking in the classroom instead of academics and knowledge transmission and that is what PISA is picking up on. It’s Ontario’s business but we in the US and elsewhere need to not blindly jump aboard the PISA bandwagon like we are being led to do. Just look at the endorsements and reviews on Ripley’s book. Talk about the Appeal to Authority fallacy.
Ooops. I had forgotten her name. Amanda Ripley. She does human behavior and public policy stories for Time Magazine and The Atlantic. Since I assumed she knew the book title was deceitful to put it kindly, I looked into her background and discovered she was a fellow at the New America Foundation. When I took a look at what they were pushing with that troubling name, it turned out that shortly after the President’s reelection and through his inauguration, numerous public policy papers were created on the New America vision. That miraculously dovetails with precisely the sorts of things the OECD wants pushed globally. What. Are. The. Odds. The capstone, culmination paper was released in June and is called the Next Social Contract. http://nsc.newamerica.net/sites/newamerica.net/files/policydocs/Lind_Michael_NextSocialContract_2013.pdf
The New Social Contract completely remakes the America we have known and turns it into a public-sector dominated economic sewer. Complete with VAT, the federal takeover of Medicaid, turning health insurance into social insurance, eliminating “tax-privileged” retirement accounts, and best of all, federal revenue sharing to ensure regional equity of fiscal resources based on population. How exciting for California, NY, Illinois, and poor mismanaged Detroit. It’s a future that sees education and healthcare and state and local governments as the biggest employers and all at taxpayer expense.
“Privileged Americans should not be allowed to use sub-national jurisdictions as excuses for shirking their responsibility to contribute to minimum levels of public services throughout the United States as a whole.”
Welcome to the planned 21st Century America. I can see why that quote did not come out before Florida’s electoral votes were successfully grabbed for reelection.
That’s what we are dealing with behind all the rhetoric. No wonder OECD has taken up password protecting the pdfs surrounding its global Well-being conferences.
I am going to close with something federal Ed Secretary Arne Duncan said in connection with the 50th Anniversary of King’s March on Washington. He “called on educators and students to advance a civil rights agenda that presses for equal opportunities-and not just equal rights.”
He seems to be referring to the vision of that New Social Contract. But a knowledge of history and economics would reveal that the attempt is likely to destroy what does work. We are questing after a unicorn ride and pretending it is possible and jettisoning our current vehicle as we go a-dreaming. Some dreams are impossible.
How far down this road of creating new Mindsets and a new vision of the future will we go before we recognize we have expensively destroyed knowledge and expertise and social institutions we cannot easily remake?
Where will we be when the epiphany finally hits of all we have deliberately trashed? Ridiculously enough, in the name of education for all.
Some common core.