Eupsychia and Humanist Education-Shouldn’t the Links to 21st Century Skills and Common Core Be Emphasized?

Those of us who play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit tend to remember that the word “Utopia” literally translates as “Nowhere.” And Nowhere is an unacceptable expression for philosophers and dreamers and self-interested planners who do want to reorganize society going forward towards new values and new beliefs and a hoped-for vision of the future. One of those people was the creator of Humanist Psychology and the Eupsychia vision of the Good Society, Abraham Maslow, who laid out theories for education and a new type of school in a book published after his death in 1971. It builds on the New Focus of Education/NEA financed vision from 1962 that I wrote about here.

Ever since I wrote that post as I have sat in Mindfulness seminars that curiously enough now count as continuing legal education and all our encounters with Robert Kegan and the competences vision being pushed by the UN and the OECD, I keep coming back to that 1962 vision as the foundation for so much that has been called “transformational” ever since. I think it is the grounds for the increasing acknowledgment that long-term behavioral change is a major purpose of the Common Core classroom. . So when I saw a recent reference to the later book, I thought we might gain some important insights into what is coming at us.

Because I now live in a world where a Professor Emeritus at the New School for Social Research, Hans Jonas, laid out in the early 80s his understanding of the then planned shift from each of us being “responsible subjects” to “programmed behavior systems.” And that was before the rise of adaptive software, blended learning, Big Data, and Gaming to constantly crosscheck how the new psychological emphasis in the classroom was doing. When we talk about education reform and assessments that are not measuring knowledge that parents are not allowed to see, keep this long-term aspiration in mind:

“Here I merely point to this most ambitious dream of homo faber, summed up in the phrase that man will take his own evolution in hand, with the aim of not just preserving the integrity of the species but of modifying it by improvements of his own design.”

Well, neither you or I have been invited to participate in such designing but Maslow was and Jonas was aware of it. Jonas presciently asked the question that should be on posters at Dalian, China and Davos, Switzerland and plenty of ed labs globally:

“Who will be the image-makers, by what standards, and on the basis of what knowledge? Also, the question of the moral right to experiment on future human beings must be asked.”

That’s still a critical question to ask now as consultants and district administrators and principals are all being paid to push just such experimentation of untried psychological theories. Or if not untried, ignoring the indisputable linkage to prior tragedies from such probing of the “deeper self. (Maslow’s italics)” Maslow notes that primary creativeness (one of the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills) “comes out of the unconscious, which is the source of new discovery-of real novelty-of ideas that depart from what exists at the moment.”  You see, the psychological emphasis in education that has been trying to come in the front door of being the new focus of education globally since the 60s in earnest is based on Maslow’s belief that “We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who …[can] handle the problem well in an improvising way, without previous preparation, if need be.”

Now the latter is called the 4C of critical thinking & problem solving and gets measured via new planned Common Core assessments of Higher Order Thinking Skills where there is no fixed, linear answer and ambiguity is preferred. By the way, in 1970 Maslow wanted a “new kind of human being that we would need even if there were no cold war, and even if we were all united in a brotherly species, is needed simply to confront the new kind of world in which we live.” Now that’s a sentiment that fits right into what a conference of ed professors or administrators is still hearing in 2013. They simply may not know it comes from Maslow saying:

“What I am really interested in is the new kind of education which we must develop which moves towards fostering the new kind of human being that we need, the process person, the creative person, the improvising person, the self-trusting, courageous person, the autonomous person.”

That latter reference to autonomy frequently came with a cite to Erich Fromm of the Frankfurt School so please do not get excited that there was a glimmer of legitimate individualism being allowed through. No, in fact real education should impel the student on an “Ought-Is-Quest” that does NOT distinguish anymore between facts and values. Maslow called those Species-Brotherhood new values Being Values like Justice and Equality that are to “guide human action” in the future. They should be instilled and monitored via education. In fact, humanistic education had a “new conception of learning, of teaching, of education. Stated simply, such a concept holds that the function of education, the goal of education–the human goal, the humanistic goal, the goal as far as human beings are concerned–is ultimately the ‘self-actualization’ of a person, the becoming fully human, the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand up to or that the particular individual can come to.”

And of course, Maslow noted that such a shift in vision would require a substantial shift in the psychology of teaching. Which as my new book details is precisely what has happened. I am going to leave you to mull over another part of this new vision of education and school which you may well also discover to be embodied in charter language that was designed to both bind and not be well understood by outsiders. Or as Maslow noted tactlessly: “even morons can learn emotionally and spiritually” so beware of mandates that instructional methods used MUST close the achievement gaps. Just think of the enhancement of power in a desired public-centric economy of the future based on officially designated needs rather individual consumer choices this goal of future education will be:

“this is a way of discovering what the self is like. There are signals from inside, there are voices that yell out. ‘By gosh this is good, don’t ever doubt it!’ This is a path, one of the ways we try to teach self-actualization and the discovery of self. The discovery of identity comes via the impulse voices, via the ability to listen to your own guts, and to their reactions and to what is going on inside of you.

This is also an experimental kind of education that, if we had the time to talk about it, would lead us into another parallel education establishment, another kind of school.”

Like a student-centered school that must be engaging and provide success for all students?

That sees all students as “assets” and refuses to accept any “deficit” visions for 21st century education?

Those last two are quotes from the education vision I heard being pushed at the September (co)lab summit in Atlanta.

Spearheading Human Evolution towards a New Vision of the Future Via Instilled Core Values and Ideas

I really think life would be better for all of us if aspiring philosophers and current ed professors and everyone else planning on creating a new society and a different kind of human behavior used a word processing system that came with a Hubris warning. Beeping to alert that kind of presumption and conceit has always brought grief in the past. Maybe a squeaky voice could pipe up with a “Would you like to reconsider?” The overt goals laid out in the last several posts sent me back to rereading Bela Banathy’s Systems Design of Education: A Journey to Create the Future as well as what Donella and friends wrote in 1992: Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future. I wanted to see how closely these visions from the 90s aligned with what we saw being sought in those World System Models in the 70s and those recent Great Transition documents.

Sure enough there is Bela talking about the need to “attain global consciousness and forge a global system of the human community.” Insisting that education has a new role of “spearheading societal evolution by design” and making me wonder if he ever took a history course.  See what I mean about a hubris key coming in handy? I also discovered that soon after publishing that book Groping in the Dark in 1982, Donella and Dennis Meadows formed the Balaton Group named for the lovely lake in Hungary where meetings on Sustainability could be held that would allow members from the Soviet bloc to easily attend. Those of you about my age may remember those Alka-Seltzer commercials that went Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz. Oh What a Relief This Is. Easy access of schemers from East and West throughout the 80s to make plans for all of us under the banner of Sustainability. This just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

I wonder if Bela was ever invited? He was after all not just a Senior Research Director at the federally-funded  Far West Ed Lab, he was also Chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Society of the Systems Sciences.  I wrote about his deeply troubling vision here . Banathy’s sought global consciousness is certainly consistent with what Beyond the Limits was pushing hard in 1992:

“So what if the world’s people decide to moderate not only their demand for children, but also their economic demands? What if they set themselves a goal of a simple but adequate material standard of living and, when they reach that goal, they turn their attention to other nonmaterial, nonconsuming pursuits? [Doesn’t that sound just like Quality of Life from the Bariloche model in the last post?] This, too, is a hypothetical information change, a change not in the physical world, but in people’s heads (an enormous one, we realize). It means that people define their purposes, establish their status, challenge themselves with goals other than ever-increasing production and ever-accumulating material wealth.”

So for people who insist there are no universal Truths we have close to unanimous agreement that the key to getting to a political, social, and economic transformation for the 21st century lies in getting inside people’s heads and hearts and really into the essence of their souls. What drives them from a deep unconscious level? So now we know why we started hearing about the need for transformative education in the 90s. After all, Beyond the Limits goes on to quote visionary Lewis Mumford about the “re-establishment of the person as the ultimate term of all human effort. Cultivation, humanization, co-operation, symbiosis: these are the watchwords of the new world-enveloping culture. Every department of life will record the change: it will affect the task of education and the procedures of science no less than the organization of industrial enterprises, the planning of cities, the development of regions, the interchange of world resources.”

Fascinating, huh, that Mumford’s description of what was sought from 1944 could still be cited as current in 1992 and still sounds like the vision of the Great Transition and these city planning summits in 2013. The vision never really seems to change nor the vehicles. Only the descriptive language when the necessity for such transformation is pitched to the people. Like me and you and our children. Which is also why I can go back to economists writing in the 60s and 70s to find what’s wrong with these visions of justice and equality and central planning. One, Henry Hazlitt, in his 1964 The Foundations of Morality, even goes back to the Victorian Age for this jingle:

What is a Communist?

A man who has yearnings,

For equal division

Of unequal earnings.

To make his point that “a system under which the talented and the skilled and industrious received no more than the incompetent and shiftless and lazy, and which equalized material rewards irrespective of effort, would certainly be unproductive; and to most of us, I think, it would also be unjust.” Hazlitt nailed precisely what concerns me so. We are risking “splendidly realized destitution” precisely because the planners and professors take continued production at the same overall global levels for granted. And by drastically affecting both knowledge and incentives all of these transformational plans and models create a great likelihood, that foreseeably to us if not to these decision-makers, the output or product to be divided is likely to be substantially diminished. Maybe they have learned. Is that why we are supposed to learn to make do with the quality of our relationships with each other? Just the price of oligarchical power?

That leads us straight to the points of the other economist we are going to consult–PT Bauer from his 1981 Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion.  Bauer reminds us that the term ‘differences’ is a more appropriate descriptive term in most instances than ‘inequality’ and he mentions the “accepted practice of referring to people’s physical characteristics, such as height, weight and strength, as differences rather than inequalities, and never as inequities.” Financial differences among people and countries “result from people’s widely differing aptitudes and motivations”, and to some extent luck. Bauer astutely looks at Africa and development policies in the third world generally and declares that “once the moral and political case for egalitarian policies is taken for granted, the movement for egalitarianism feeds on itself.” Something to remember as formulating social justice values becomes the Raison D’etre of both K-12 and higher ed.

When people begin to take for granted that people’s economic positions “are properly the concern of official policy,” a feeding frenzy develops for sterner and more drastic measures. Especially if results are not what was expected because diminished knowledge and poor incentives are decreasing the size of that ‘pie’ now being deliberately carved up. Hard to read any of the documents we have been examining in recent posts and not see that is precisely what is coming. Political power can adjust inequalities but it does so first by treating all of us as if we were subjects and then restricting the choices that will be open to us in the future. We can be Competent and that’s enough. To try to gain equality and justice we are turbocharging political power over us and our society and our economy in a way that “implies a relationship of command between rulers and subjects.”

Which means equality and justice can be the slogan justifying what is being done but only genuinely entrenched inequality between the ruled and the rulers can result.

Sustainability in action may seem more blissful than my references to Uncle Karl and that little c theory but the beggaring and self-perpetration of a malevolent process are likely to be the same in the end.

Who knew studying the Middle Ages and serfdom and feudalism would prove to be so relevant to combating the fallacies in 21st century political schemes and toxic social visions?

Foisted on us in the name of education.

Forging New Categories of Consciousness Globally to Make Political Power the Key Determinant of 21st Century Life

If you are like me when I initially encountered the true story behind education reform, you wish political change was not a crucial aspect to the story. Let’s face it, it’s quite off-putting and can seem to be quite kooky at first. It’s an unbelievable story except it’s a factually provable one even if it’s hard to believe. So like it or not I had to go there in my new book. And I have to go there now on the blog to give additional information about what is coming at us from our politicians and agencies but also from international groups like UNESCO and the OECD that can bind us without being on our radar.

When I raise the concept of the little c theory of future human development from a certain notorious historical figure I mischievously refer to as Uncle Karl, or I simply keep reiterating the political purpose behind all these education reforms and the OECD’s PISA or the UN’s sustainability pushes and climate hyping, it is natural to want me to stop it. Keep it simple. Only tell the story from the angle someone is prepared to hear it from. That is really difficult to do though if we are to have any chance for avoiding this fiasco. Tracking all this over decades really does lead us to statements like “restructuring social, economic, and political systems was much more effective” in order to “bring about a desirable future.” So said one of the Club of Rome’s favorite world system modellers, Donella Meadows, in her 1982 book Groping in the Dark: The First Decade of Global Modelling.

Donella conceded something that is crucial for understanding what the UN is really up to with its IPCC Climate reports since plenty of observers have noticed there seems to be little effort to reflect reality. That’s not the purpose of these models. Their purpose is to model social systems. There was a great deal of frustration at the 1978 6th Annual Meeting of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) that the book came from that the world’s environment and its social, behavioral, and political systems were so hard to model. Who else thinks that between the education reforms that began in earnest in the 80s and the Sustainability push that commenced via Our Common Future in 1987, the policy makers hit upon strategies to try to make people conform better to the desired model of the future? And a single world system that everyone in 1978 seemed to assume was coming into being over the next several decades.

Who knew? Now we know why I found what I describe in the book or the World Order Models Project I previously described on this blog that began in 1973. Did you know Moscow had an “All-Union Institute for Systems Studies” or that it participated in IIASA’s work? No wonder the emphasis of all this is towards collective planning and decision-making and “managing human affairs during the transition.” The kind of transition I laid out in the last post was being assumed by East and West in the 70s. At least if tied to the UN or OECD or the Club of Rome and now it is hurtling at us. Before I shift back to the current vision, let me quote Donella since I believe it explains why we cannot ignore the little c pursuit:

“There is no known physical or technical reason why basic needs cannot be supplied for all the world’s people into the foreseeable future. These needs are not being met now because of social and political structures, values, norms, and world views, not because of absolute physical scarcities.”

That’s the dangerous wealth as a fixed sum view of the world. And it guides international entities, systems thinkers, national and local politicians, and too many public employees. They see the environment as the justifying issue and education as the favored method for changing all those things Donella just listed to make such redistribution towards the poor in the North and South generally the point of public policy globally in the 21st century. Because those are goals that require the dominance of political power in all decision-making and the ability to bind the individual. There was actually a particular world model that was created in South America and financed by the Canadians that fits with the scenario laid out as the Great Transition. It was called the Bariloche model and was all about “fundamentally” changing global “values and institutions” and “sketching a way of arriving at the final goals of a world liberated from backwardness and misery.”

The Bariloche model from 1976 envisioned a world “in which human needs and human rights, rather than the desires to consume and to accumulate wealth, would become the basis for resource allocation.” And of course create the need for both a dominant public sector globally and docile masses capable of doing little more than Groping in the Dark. Except now with spiffier names like Competency and 21st Century Skills and Capability as a Human Right. Always essential to this vision though is a new way of thinking grounded in emotion that will see the world and its inevitable problems in ways that are beneficial to those who currently hold political power or would like to. Think of it as Mindsets suitable for an Oligarchy in power pretending it is really all about human needs, Gaia, and Successful Learning for All Kids.

Let’s come forward in time to the culminating 2006 document outlining the Great Transition. Called “World Lines: Pathways, Pivots and the Global Future” it gives further insights into all the social and emotional learning and Whole Child pushes as a means of “cultural innovation and social adaptation” that call for “emergent social forms [that] were also realms of the heart that broadened the affective sphere of community and reciprocity.” And such realms are necessary now you ask? Well, yes, we are supposedly in a “pivotal” historical moment to achieve a “peaceful, just, and sustainable world.” Don’t you just want to start a list of all the troubling regions of the world that haven’t gotten the memo about the Great Transition we have embarked on?

Do you think everyone will start behaving well if we just give them more of the world’s physical resources and learn to live with less ourselves? Lots less. How about if we use education to create in each student a “sense of planetary affiliation, kinship, and citizenship”?  Is that the ticket to social justice or just more power and resources to an increasingly parasitic public sector that gets to pursue its self-interest at everyone else’s expense while acting as the administrators of the Great Transition society? Making education policy globally and the 21st century visions of governments at all levels about adjusting to “a global future based on human solidarity, human fulfillment, and ecological sustainability–a vision we refer to as a Great Transition” will be a not-so-great transition to devastation of everything that has ever worked. Transitioning based on incentives that have never worked for the benefit of anyone not connected to political power.

Trying to use education reforms like the poorly understood actual intentions of the US Common Core or Quality Learning and Global Competency and 21st Century Skills everywhere as an effort to create “thought and action [that] must rise to the level of this emergent totality, as well as its separate manifestations” is utter madness. Especially when the supposed emergent reality is a factually false statement like:

“History has entered the planetary phase of civilization in which humanity and the biosphere are entwined in a common fate.” Repeat after me, none of us deserve to be classified as comparable to inanimate objects or as just another animal. Well, maybe  certain notorious fraternities on certain college campuses. Here’s more of the attempt to diminish every single one of us as an individual and to try to make us mere parts of a greater whole with no fundamental right to our own decisions.

“rather than independent, these phenomena are separate expressions of a larger process, the formation of a unitary global system.”

Now if you thought the communitarian aspects of all these sought social reforms were intrusive, who exactly will any of us be in a “unitary global system” apart from a source of tax revenue and needed labor in a world where all of the incentives have been perverted to chase after a possible future?

I did not lay out all this info to scare anyone so much as to force us to see the vision that people with considerable power and access to the coffers of public money really are pushing on us. Now.

The actual common core to be cultivated in everyone is a “new suite of values-human solidarity, quality-of-life, and respect for nature” that will be the foundation for a public sector administered “egalitarian social contract, poverty eradication, and democratic political engagement at all levels.” Right. Plus unicorn rides every Wednesday.

We apparently really are at a historical moment.

Will the independent individual really cease to have political legitimacy in the 21st Century?

Utopian Education: Creating Mindsets that Push Future Fighters for Something Beyond the Current Real World

I am beginning to think I should get new business cards that say “Reads troubling plans for revolutionary change in the world we take for granted so you don’t have to.” It has been one of those weekends after I read a report from our Competency-pushing OECD in Paris that American taxpayers fund so generously. It was talking about New Economics to be imposed on the West via our institutions and using digital learning and technology and education and social reforms generally (my bolding):

“To turn connectivity into connectedness dedicated policies have to be designed with a twofold goal: first, to guarantee that all the emerging opportunities brought about by technology and its outcomes can be seized in favour of economic and societal development and second, that the resulting benefits of these opportunities are equally accessible to all. Education has to play a major role in the achievement of these two goals.”

Now unlucky me has spent enough time immersed in all these political theories to recognize when I am looking at a description of Uncle Karl’s little c vision of the future. is where I first addressed why changing values and beliefs is so crucial to achieving this little c vision. And it’s not about Lenin or Mao but it remains toxic to the individual and freedom in the sense of what created the West. Today I want to focus on all the current official publications that verify just how right I am as to what is really being targeted and why.

It’s also why parents are getting no relief when they want to opt out of Statewide Longitudinal Databases. It’s because tracking the changes in attitudes, values, dispositions, and beliefs via efforts at schools, and what curricula force changes more quickly and thoroughly, is an important part of the social engineering research being carried on via the schools. Especially with adaptive software and digital learning that allows immersion in virtual worlds.

All through the 70s Arne Naess’s books were bestsellers in Norway for their ecological visions of a new type of society. To prime the West towards a comparable vision of the future in time for the 90s efforts at wholesale transformation, his book Ecology, community and lifestyle was helpfully translated into English in the late 80s. He pointed out that ecology is where the socialist crowd was migrating because it created a belief in the necessity of political change. Central to these efforts is always a “change in consciousness.” As Naess graphically put it, the change “consists of a transition to a more egalitarian attitude to life and the unfolding of life on Earth.” Remember it is the Axemaker Mind that builds on existing cultural knowledge to invent technology and tools that can manipulate nature for man’s benefit. The “unfolding” vision wants people to merely be another creature. Very useful vision for political leaders, bureaucrats, and business leaders wanting to play future overlords and preserve current power. Not so good for the rest of us peons to be administered.

Before I detail more of the current efforts to create such a these New Mindsets, let’s read another Naess explanation on the intentions:

“The necessity of efforts to change mentality is closely associated with the necessity of organised efforts for profound changes in society. These two kinds of effort must be coordinated, not polarised against one another.”

And coordinated they are. It’s why education leaders are such a crucial component of the visions set out at a (co)lab in Atlanta or the cityLab  in NYC recently. It’s also why education is so crucial to the UN and the OECD’s plans. Following up on the OECD’s expressed intentions for change at its most recent forums led me straight to this transformational vision . It’s the kind of wholesale redistribution vision that would have made Uncle Karl weep with joy over his continued influence. Typical people should note though that this vision plans to take the world’s existing wealth and redistribute for the benefit of the poor in countries in the North and to raise living standards all through the Southern Hemisphere. It also involves shifting globally from a profit economy to a ‘needs’ economy in the 21st century.

Essential to that vision which we have already encountered in Shoshana Zuboff’s support economy book and the Aspen Institute pushing a Fourth Sector “for benefit” economy (see tags) it will “also be necessary to develop non-consumerist ways of understanding and being in the world.” Now won’t all the current reforms in K-12 and higher ed and the expansion into preschool be useful to such goals? How about an article published last month in the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment by Burns H. Weston and David Bollier which seeks to use Martha Nussbaum’s work we have talked about “as the theoretical means to restore ‘the obligation of result’. This would thereby move the discussion from the abstract to the concrete…” Why, yes, it would. It means we are trying to use education at all levels to create mindsets that will come to use the law and capability theory to impose Uncle Karl’s little c vision on societies without saying so.

Using the term “share-and-share-alike Golden Rule” sounds so much better than “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” that was the hallmark of Uncle Karl’s vision of what would be possible in a society that had used capitalism to get to a certain advanced stage of technology. As the OECD said above, now it can be seized for the benefit of all others who have “needs.” Again this vision “must include a large-scale and sustained commitment to human rights education–as imaginatively pursued, for example, by the People’s Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE), a New York-based NGO ‘dedicated to human rights learning for social and economic transformation.’ It is, after all, life on Planet Earth that hangs in the balance.”

Probably not but it makes a good sales pitch for power to the public sector in the 21st century. Clearly this vision of ‘a just society’ laid out by Weston “that honors a public order of human dignity–the essence of human rights–marked by the widest possible shaping and sharing of all basic values among all human beings.”

Since the idea of the Great Transition is central to all these visions of the 21st century and what quality learning really means globally, the planners see a need for a GCM-a Global Citizens Movement demanding this vision of the future as a matter of rights. Legal rights. Useful then is the largely unheralded fact that CCSSO, the sponsors of the Common Core State Standards, has used its subsidiary Ed Steps, to partner with World Savvy  to get students to examine the “historical forces that have shaped the current world system” and push the “knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes [that] are all aspects of Global Competency.” CCSSO’s real aim. Here’s the vision brochure created in August by World Savvy. WS “celebrates innovation, art, and the limitless power of youth to make positive change” and is at the “cutting edge of education for the 21st century.”

To guarantee that the classroom work is “relevant and current” WS picks 3 year themes and the 2013-2016 theme is Population and Progress. It “helps students explore how a growing population defines progress, analyze the evolving nature of our collective challenges, and develop innovations that address these issues.” In fact students can pretend to be Uncle Karl’s Makers of History as WS has them create and submit “a Knowledge to Action Plan.” You will be so glad to know current WS students are quoted as saying they have “abandoned the notion of Us and Them in favor of We.”

Finally, CCSSO has quietly conceded that it is the Dispositions of the students themselves being targeted by these education “reforms.”

It adds a new C though. Our children are to be “college, career, and citizenship ready.” And if you are wondering what kind of citizenship CCSSO has in mind they go on to cite their sources and usefully mention every controversial report I have ever written about on this blog down to rejecting the individual mind and mandating communitarianism through the Career Tech guidelines. Thank you CCSSO for your hubris in that document.

People trying to criticize the idea of national education standards have begun to use the phrase “Commie Core” to attack the Common Core State Standards. The irony is if you track CCSSO’s actual planned implementation and the agendas of its named partners in developing classroom curricula and assessments and you compare it to Uncle Karl’s actual vision of little c communism, you get a match to the values, behaviors, dispositions, and mindsets to be fostered.

Perhaps a more apt phrase then would be the Commie Core designed to aid the Great Transition whether we consent or not? Designed to be implemented while we are still unaware of such wholesale changes or wrongfully believe this is about the transmission of academic content in the 21st century.

As Naess wrote, these values need to be internalized so direct regulation of the individual in the future will be unnecessary. “I envisage a change of revolutionary depth and size by means of many smaller steps in a radically new direction.”

That was the plan in the late 80s. In 2013 it feels as a parent like all those smaller steps are being pushed in a frenzy at the same time.

Some people have become very impatient for transformative change that benefits them but not us. And hardly anyone recognizes what is happening.

Empathic Solidarity to Undergird Economic Citizenship: Creating Common Core Beliefs in New Social Obligations

At some point in the last several years someone put up on old interview of President Obama when he was an Illinois state senator where he complained about the US Constitution having a premise of “negative liberties” instead of obligations of when governments must act. Now I have been a bit too busy to spend my time fretting over shifting views on the nature of the law but that video came roaring back to my mind as I explored Martha Nussbaum’s “capability as a human right,” Harvard’s decision to push CRT–Critical Race Theory–in K-12 to eliminate structural differences in society thought to affect Blacks and Latin@s (not a typo this is how book shows gender correctness with Latin nouns now I suppose), and the American Political Sciences Association’s April 2012 report pushing Economic Citizenship.

In all of the political theory reading I have been forced to do I kept coming across references to “Marx said this” and “social justice demands” along with the phrase “materialist conception of the world.” And honestly I never knew quite what that meant beyond disdain for people with Judeo-Christian beliefs in a transcendental God. Until I read the law review articles trying to justify these changes, those reports and the Contesting the Myth of a ‘Post Racial’ Era book from the previous post, and a September 18, 2013 EU report exploring the adoption of the “shareable/collaborative consumption” economic model. The latter reflected the now to be common global vision of creating a “roadmap featuring a world in which every human being can enjoy their human rights, live equitably and free from the injustice of poverty, on a planet that has the natural resources to sustain them.”

All this social justice theorizing that is committed to education that levels the best and brightest and deplores any Constitutional or other legal interpretations that would focus on “negative rights [that] disempower the state from intervening into the private sphere for the democratically progressive purpose of redistributing power or resources within it” are all grounded in the erroneous belief that economies and wealth are about a fixed, finite, tangible, sum of goods and property. In other words, that’s the “materialist conception” the political theorists are referring too.

Once I realized that key fallacy lying under all these planned changes in social policy and political structures for the 21st century, I went back to a book economist George Gilder wrote in 1981 called Wealth and Poverty. He wrote it to describe what he saw as the basis of the economic stagnation prevalent all over the West in the 1970s. He pointed out that “Economies do not grow of their own accord or by dint of government influence. They grow in response to the enterprise of men willing to take risks, to transform ideas into monopolies, and monopolies into industries, and to give before they know what they will get in return.”

All of this theorizing being launched at us now through the spending and regulatory powers of federal, state, and local governments and the education policies I have laid out on this blog and in my new book forget that the prosperity creating capitalism (not the Crony Corporatist variety that is usually parasitic) that we take for granted is mostly psychological. It is about “qualities of thought and spirit” in relatively few people who have the requisite “imagination and purpose, which make wealth” that in turn make all of us better off. Because those unique ideas and effort created goods and services we voluntarily wished to buy. With our own money.

In pushing mind arson in K-12 and our colleges and universities to supposedly gain equity in a finite world and the psychologically manipulative “engaged” learning for the Whole Child to create “empathic solidarity” that will support political power massively redistributing this supposedly finite bowl of goods, we forget that mass prosperity has always grown from the “metaphysical capital of human freedom and creativity” as well as law that applies equally and predictably. Not law that applies unequally to various groups to try to shift opportunity and outcomes in politically chosen directions.

The rule of law matters so much because morale and inspiration, coupled to deep knowledge that takes precious time to build up, are critical to the genuine “conscience of capitalism : the awareness that one must give in order to get, supply in order to demand.” We are instead looking at a 21st century political, social, and economic vision grounded unabashedly in communitarianism that says ” I exist, gimme” and “governments, you step in and make it so and we will reward you with our votes.” But prosperity-creating wealth isn’t physical, it’s psychological. This redistributive zeal based on mistaken assumptions ultimately destroys the very essence that drives all economies that have ever worked for the benefit of broad masses of people.

In other words, in this zeal to get to a Good Society/cooperative commonwealth /economic citizenship/capability vision for the future we are extinguishing the very basis for the wealth planners and politicians and naive educators believe everyone can live on as a matter of “right” in the 21st century. Let’s take a look at what is being demanded as a matter of “right.” The APSA report called “Democratic Imperatives: Innovations in Rights, Participation, and Economic Citizenship” certainly supports our speculation in the recent Bruno Latour post that all these current mentions of innovation mean sociological inventions that consume existing wealth. Not the wealth-creating, Free Lunch for Others, kind that created the unprecedented economic prosperity and living standards of the modern world in the West.

No, APSA simply declared its determination to push “human-rights based approaches to democratization, welfare, and development” that will be based on “participatory governance.” Notice that “-ance.” An ability to bind all of us with no recourse for an individual because I am seeing that term in OECD documents tied to their education and subjective well-being/welfare state agendas all over the globe. APSA kindly lets us know the reason as “participatory governance is a process through which [created now via law reviews or federal agency overspending] rights are exercised and citizenship and political agency enacted. [in a majority will takes what it wishes sense of we take the benefits of ownership and you pay the taxes]. It can help bring traditionally marginalized groups into politics and can enhance accountability [to the will of those groups], responsiveness [ditto], and social justice. Participation is a vital element of rights-based approaches, [I have little doubt of that or why a community organizer would disdain ‘negative liberties’] and rights facilitate political participation. [As the place where give me demands are made].

Let me include the definition of economic citizenship after I first point out that APSA is insisting that this program with its “inclusive, pro-poor” emphasis is premised on the factually untrue “key finding” that the “more egalitarian and democratic the state, the better its overall economic performance.” So once again, as happens so often in education, we are enacting policies and theories based on factually untrue premises. And we wonder why we spend so much with such poor consequences for all those dollars.

“Economic citizenship refers to the substantive aim of making economic security and social justice entitlements of democratic citizenship. It is, in a sense, the objective of human-rights based approaches, and it, in turn, enables meaningful political agency.” Well, of course, it does in a collective and groups matter but the individual does not vision.  As Georgetown Law Prof, Robin West, put it in her 2001 aspirational Law Review article “Rights, Capabilities, and the Good Society” where we also took that negative rights ‘disempower’ quote above, the state is obligated to provide that “threshold level of material well-being” that is necessary for ALL citizens to “be able to be free and equal participants in the collective project of self-rule.” Those individuals not wishing to be bound will discover why those 5 little letters in ‘governance’ are to prove so binding. And “equity” and poverty and race become the excuses for a public sector-centric vision globally for the 21st century.

Professor Wright’s sense of the law strikes me as indicative of someone who has lived their life safely ensconced in an Ivory Tower but deluded does not mean not influential. Unfortunately. She finds it reasonable that citizens should be able to “demand, that the law both can and should structure a decent social world” as if ‘the law’ were a magic wand that does not first take whatever resources it plans to spend as politicians see fit. In fact, she believes “states and state actors” should “focus on the utopian aspirations we might universally hold, and then to bring that vision to earth.” How magnanimous of her!

Respect for Individualism might be the crucial ingredient in the economic prosperity professors like Robin Wright or Martha Nussbaum or those Harvard CRTers plan to try to redistribute using legal theories and political power and new education visions. Only later will we all understand these huge fallacies in what is now being pursued in earnest. From so many different directions and levels of government.

But what can we expect from tenured profs who can look at the world that exists and desire “a relational and communitarian world substantially different from the overly atomized [current] individualistic hell.”

With these plans and theories we all may be about to learn a huge lesson in what really creates living hells. Generally they come from the misuse of political power.

I guess they don’t teach that these days in law schools or education graduate schools. Certainly not in the psych or sociology or political science departments. Too bad.


Propitious Timing: A Book, Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became A Weapon, is Born

I have now discovered that when Amazon says it will take 5-7 business days for a book to be listed for sale not to take them literally. More like two hours actually but then the journey to bringing a book to print is an odyssey of twists and turns. In my case the book was written and then put aside as I started this blog in response to alarming developments as the actual Common Core implementation took on an increasingly psychological and communitarian focus. I took on the role of Paul Revere and have been writing away, instead of riding, to spread my concerns over what I was seeing in current documents as I monitored all the announcements and reports that continue to come out weekly. When concerned people would ask me why I was giving away the book, I would always say that I wasn’t. The blog was and is a separate creation.

In many ways it turned into a second book told in a serial fashion as I reacted in horror to whatever I saw coming at us. But early this summer I picked the manuscript back up knowing the story needed to be out this fall. Although I did use the knowledge developed from the blog’s research to reframe slightly how I presented the story weaving through the book, by and large, the book had simply become even more relevant while it sat quietly on my hard drive. Here is the link to Amazon where anyone can now find it . Those hoping for a Kindle option, that will be available in a couple of weeks. Lots of citations require specialized professional conversion.

I named this announcing post “Propitious Timing” because I have had numerous reasons in just the last week to recognize how many nefarious things that relate to what I explain in the book would still be going invisibly forward otherwise. Now at least we have some chance of putting it all into proper context. Giving us an opportunity to fight off the kind of visions I have laid out in recent posts. Education Week was on a roll on October 9th alone. It posted “Racial Equity 50 Years After King’s Speech” and then “Transforming Our Schools Requires Building Our Democracy” which stated rather preposterously that “only public institutions have the capacity to be rigorously accountable to the interests of communities.” That may make a nice pitch to increase power in the public sector but it is nonsense to anyone who has visited the DMV or a tag office.

But the real shocker to me, consistent with what was clearly building up as the drumbeat for social change, was this article “Our Nation’s Schools Remain Contaminated with Inequity.” It was a reminder on why it has mattered so much that someone telling this story is also a lawyer. We tend to recognize when someone arguing that the “law requires” is actually just hoping everyone will take that assertion as a given. And not recognize that current laws do no such thing and the writers are arguing aspirationally. What they wish the law said. I have seen that more and more as the law is seen not as a set of agreed-upon rules common to everyone but a tool for advocating social change. That is especially the vision of the book Contesting the Myth of a ‘Post Racial Era: The Continued Significance of Race in US Education written in 2013 by that article’s co-authors.

Race and ethnicity and inequity then get used as the excuse to push the idea that “the purpose of P-20 education is active social change.” And not in just any direction mind you but towards Relational Pluralism which:

“runs counter to the American Dream meritocracy by locating the individual as a member of a community, an individual who will succeed or fail as the community succeeds or fails. I believe that a commitment to relational pluralism is important for teachers who want to disrupt notions of meritocracy based on individualism and self-reliance, and thereby engage in the struggle against racism.”

That essay’s author, Judson Laughter, says this is “the social vision espoused by President Obama” and that it is time for it to spread. The mere fact that Education Week is now promoting the book and its point of view and Harvard developed it as part of its Black Studies & critical thinking series tells me we are about to have a real problem on our hands in terms of policies designed to ensure:

“Ending racism through education is not about every person having an equal chance. Ending racism through education is about letting go of the desire to be individually successful, and taking up the call to be the keepers of my sisters and brothers.”

Our political transformationists with their visions of a communal future have real plans for all of us and they see education as their premier weapon. But we are right up there with them and ready to follow in real time what is being sought. As I said: propitious timing. And yesterday Ron Radosh and David Horowitz issued a story and and old letter about one of England’s dedicated radicals, Ralph Miliband. I had never heard of him but apparently his son Ed Miliband is the current head of the British Labour Party and a possible future Prime Minister there. Apparently on October 1, a British writer said that Ed wanted to bring about his father’s vision of 21st century socialism. Up arose a dispute as to how radical the father was with Ed disputing what had been written and Horowitz responding with the old letter he had written. Asking why Ralph Miliband continued to push socialism in the early 90s after so many tragedies.

Again propitious timing. Ed Miliband’s response reminded me of a quote I use in the book that if what is being pushed is accurately perceived too soon “we will have to pull back.” Plus Horowitz’s long Open Letter reminded me again of the dangers of so many of the aspirations we are now seeing everywhere. Laid out in the book over decades of influential scheming and it is clearly still coming at us in the Relational Pluralism vision above. It’s also apparent in the ideas now pushed by UNESCO and the OECD via subjective well-being and capability as a human right and a return to Scientific Humanism as Irina Bokova is now advocating.

I wish this was not all going on but I am very glad that between the book and the blog we are going to be in a position to see what is coming at us. We will need to perceive all of this accurately in order to fight for the continued legitimacy of the individual in this vision of a transformed future.

All this sent me back to a troubling book from 1993. Harlan Cleveland wrote this as part of his vision on Birth of a New World:

“Perhaps most important of all, there is a role for educators in making sure that children in all cultures grow up with, and their parents develop, a feel for the new global/behavioral issues and relate them constructively in their own cultural identities and traditions. Education about the global commons from preschool through adult learning should be aimed at patterns of behavior and value systems consistent with a sharing environment. Not only the schools but the media, political leaders, and nongovernments of many kinds will have to be teachers about human conduct compatible with life in a shared commons.”

Harlan’s vision remains current in the US and UK and many other countries. Led via poorly understood education reforms. Designed to take us all towards a vision of collectivism none of us have consented to.

I wish these stories from the blog and the book were not true. But they are and it is all well documented. I am glad that because of propitious timing we can hopefully make enough people in enough places aware in time to turn away.


Adjusting Our Conception of Who We Are to Fit the New Global Context of Being Systems to Be Managed

Do you ever read one of my posts and think “surely she’s exaggerating. That cannot be the actual intention. This is America and we are a free society.” Well, maybe less after this past week of barricades blocking open-air monuments keeping veterans from honoring those they served with. Or the elderly tourists being herded and guarded at the Old Faithful Inn lest they actually see and take a picture of an active geyser. Or those orange cones trying to block anyone gaining a view of Mt Rushmore. Plus the mentality that would add to the pain of already grieving families while they are still in shock by essentially telling them politicians and executive appointees did not value the ultimate sacrifice in the least. We have indeed crossed the Rubicon because of the importance of using the federal spending, taxing, and regulatory powers to enforce a different sort of country and society. Without we consent or not.

We think this past week is all a bridge too far when the reality is the transformation is just heating up. Let’s take a hard look then on where we are being led and why and what makes education such a vital weapon for intentional, nonconsensual cultural change. If you are a new reader, I usually refer to Karl Marx as Uncle Karl when I have to go back and pull up his theories and philosophies. Because people are writing that their current plans trace back to him. Still. In 2013. And simply saying that “Karl Marx said” makes me sound a bit hyper instead of ably tracking real declarations and then telling the story with a bit of humor. So if the MIT Press in 2012 decided to publish Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future with regular mentions of that notorious Uncle as if he were a respectable theorist with good, untried ideas for us all, we get to take a hard look at what is in store for us.

I see that the Aspen Institute and Bloomberg Philanthropies sponsored CityLab this week in NYC building on this idea that the Inner Cities are to be new totally managed systems that all federal policies revolve around benefiting. This confab, like the (co)lab summit 2 weeks ago in Atlanta, TED City 2.0, the Brookings Metropolitanism push, and the new Promise Zones initiative announced in August with 11 federal agencies coordinating “prenatal to career nurturing of pathways” are all the second term pushing of what I first described here .

Since that book was kind enough to lay out the ties of all this to Uncle Karl, let’s see precisely what is intended for all of us. Like it or not. Pretending this is the fulfillment of MLK’s “beloved community” vision and therefore a dream that is entitled to be seen as a human right. Wouldn’t all these machinations make so much more sense if you believed or wanted to use a philosophy that argued that people will remain ‘alienated’ as long as they act as private individuals? Moreover, and highly useful to the current political class and the beneficiaries of their largesse with our taxpayer money, you insisted (my bolding):

“Overcoming this alienation would take the form of a recognition and reappropriation of these processes as social, which to Marx means putting them under the control of democratically organized planning processes.”

We might not be familiar with that intention since it is contrary to how the US Constitution works but I am pretty sure it is common knowledge in Community Organizing 101 seminars. Also common Marxian knowledge would be that the current world need not be accepted as it is but treated as something that humans produced so it can be redesigned through action and will. In fact, we just need to teach children from an early age that “to be human is to transform the world” and that “our economic and social institutions, our sprawling suburbs, our rapidly warming atmosphere” are all supposedly “something that results from human practices, and is not a ‘fact of nature.”

What is going on now in education, and what our 3 theorists from the last post wanted, and all these redesign the world through concentrating on the cities advocates desire, all make much more sense if you realize lots of people believe that the “problem with capitalism and the market economy” is the “private character of decisions.” Immediately telling me the writer has no clue as to what is involved in becoming successful in the non-cronyistic economy where you can only do well if you give people something they volunteer to buy. The point is the public-sector centric theorists have a desire for a future where the public sector can force people “to decide together what they are going to do” so that they will “act in concert to produce the result they all desire.” And you are thinking why would everyone desire the same thing?

Well, that’s to be the beauty of the Common Core in the US and Quality Learning all over the globe. To get people to have the same beliefs and mental models of reality and cultivate feelings to prompt collective action and new values. What we are dealing with is too many politicians and bureaucrats and university professors who believe that in the 21st Century the “social consequences of our actions [are] themselves [to] be the object of a social, and public, decision and not just the result of a series of private decisions…This cannot happen in the market itself, but rather is a matter of politics. In politics, and more precisely in democratic politics, the community makes a decision to act as a community and no longer as an aggregate of private individuals.”

Like it or not, that is the official mantra of the 21st Century vision all over the globe. Man-made climate change is being constantly touted whatever the reality because its solution requires a shift from individuals and markets making decisions to collective, majority binds all, decision-making. And education becomes about reenforcing a human responsibility to change and to engage in a ‘common politics’. Each person must now always consider “what actions would be discursively justifiable to others before acting.” Now that is clearly just a motto to gain power or we would never have seen the events of the past week, but it is the official view of citizenship in the future that our K-12 schools and higher ed are to actively cultivate. Mental transformations in individuals, new cultural models, and new institutions are absolutely precisely what this 2012 book lays out as the intention.

By cultural models, we are to have comparable perceptual conceptions (‘lenses’ and ‘metaphors’ are the two most common euphemisms) for how each of us is to perceive the world in the future and “our relationship to it.” And if you wonder why the name John Dewey just keeps being brought up as the visionary still for both the kind of education and society desired, this passage should relieve all questions:

“To serve as the basis of learning and action in political contexts, new cultural models must be closely associated with the development of new institutions, in particular institutions that function to manage the boundaries of the system to be managed. In their most basic sense, institutions are ‘the external (to the mind) mechanisms individuals create to structure and order the environment’. Through institutions, our ideas about how the world works and what is necessary to act within it, are articulated in language, instantiated into rules and structures, and to a greater or lesser extent empowered (or resisted) by the instruments of the state, business, or civil society. Institutions are essential to create a ‘public’, in John Dewey’s sense (1927): an organic society capable of experimenting, observing and learning in the face of threats and problems.”

Like it or not, this is the genesis of the vision of the future being pushed now all over the globe. It is the vision behind the ambiguous term ‘Sustainable Development’.

I may not be able to make this all go away by myself, being a mere individual and all. But what makes individual minds such a target in all these 21st century calculations is precisely the concern that someone will piece together the story in time. Before the mental and cultural changes are ‘irreversible’. And the new institutions become entrenched.

Now you know. Hope there is still time for the sleeping giant to awake to this danger we are in from our political class and their eager cronies.


New Assessments Drive New Minds Primed for the Progressive Composition of the Good Common World

To the extent education reforms going on globally in K-12 and higher ed are even on people’s radar, most observers still believe the dispute is over how to best transmit knowledge. And who gets to decide the type of knowledge that is needed. It is hugely convenient for the advocates of wholesale social, economic, and political transformation in the 21st century that we all continue to misapprehend the nature of the actual debate and the tools being used to drive the desired individual and cultural changes. To help us all bridge the gap between what we expect from schools and higher ed and what these reforms intend to actually do to our children and us, I am going to use quotes from 3 people whose work is at the center of the current transformation globally.

Quoting what they say the political purpose of their work is because it still attaches even if neither we nor the Principal or the legislators or the Governor are aware of those actual purposes. Or what PISA is really measuring. Farthest back in time is from a book by the chief architect of the communitarianism component, Amitai Etzioni. Back in 1983 he wrote:

“schools must first and foremost graduate individuals who can function on their own while relating constructively to one another (mutuality) and to their community (civility). Such individuals, properly ‘put together’ from a psychosocial viewpoint, will have the most important characteristics workplaces require. Moreover, I recognize that schools need to educate for other values than work, such as culture and citizenship.”

That would be the purpose that now gets hidden under the euphemism “College and Career Ready.” And the ‘culture’ and ‘citizenship’ students are being groomed for is grounded in the transformative vision of the future to prime the students to take action to help bring the new world into being. The great advantage of deemphasizing textbooks and lectures and mandating virtual reality gaming as assessment or using group collaboration around the ambiguous real-world grounded “wicked decision problems” from the last post is we are creating young people who will have the right to vote with virtually no capacity to anticipate even the likely consequences of the transformative actions being taken. The insider phrase for this new emphasis of “skilled in the fundamental pragmatics of life” gets omitted from the public sales pitch as too accurate to be acceptable.

Let there be no impediment to future action and let the actions be grounded in the cultivated feelings and values and attitudes that live in the unconscious regions of the self could easily be the new motto of global ed reforms. Let’s move on to Chicago Professor Martha Nussbaum who we first met here. Her work on capability as a human right has increasingly caught the OECD’s and the UN’s attention as the appropriate theoretical vehicle to push for a public sector dominant society and a new kind of welfare state for the 21st century. Apparently we are not supposed to notice the marked resemblance of capability theory to Uncle Karl’s human development theory of the future.

Proponents of stealth transformation via education better hope then that no one reads this passage in Nussbaum’s 2011 book:

“ponder what is implicit in human dignity and a life in accordance with it…Marx’s vivid descriptions of forms of labor that allow continued life, but not a fully human life, resonate the world over. The notion of life in accordance with human dignity is one of the most fertile ideas used in worldwide constitutional jurisprudence.” Ahh, tenured academia–where the term Marx is actually not a pejorative insult but a still revered architect of future ways of organizing life and a society. Later, Nussbaum kindly tells us why it is so important now to have a Whole Child, social focus that grounds all thought in emotion and then uses new assessments to both drive and measure how schools are doing in driving such “growth.” It is “how we might cultivate the helpful sentiments in a socially propitious way.” Those would be the sentiments that will hopefully ground the actions for transformative change with again little ability to recognize likely disasters that would be apparent to anyone with a solid knowledge of history.

Nussbaum goes on in a passage that also primes the vision of Bruno Latour, who we meet next. In the future, political power is deemed to drive all. This is a little long but too revealing not to use:

“politicians can build a public culture that puts altruism and the relief of misery at it core. …An account of the emotions of citizens in a decent society is urgently needed.

This task involves thinking about the family, about social norms, about schools, and about the ways in which political institutions create incentives. It also requires conceptual thought about the emotions, how they arise and unfold, what their structure is, and how they interact with one another.”

In other words, the survey Nussbaum says is needed is precisely what the White House-pushed League of Innovative Schools and the EdLeader21 suburban US school districts have now agreed to research and gather data on. Not to mention all the data being thrown off by the Executive Order mandating Positive School Climates or requiring Positive Behavioral programs for all students under an indefensible reading of federal disabilities law or via adaptive software programs used in the digital learning juggernaut. You’d almost think Professor Nussbaum knew people in DC who could help drive her theories along.

Now Bruno Latour is a name familiar to me because of his role in the ‘science wars’ of the 90s. Plus he is a hugely popular choice as a campus speaker now. A French sociologist. So when I saw a 2004 book of his cited–Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy–that Harvard published, I thought we could gain more insights. Confirmation that what is being billed now as ‘innovation’ is really a push for sociological experimentation. A truly shocking book for Harvard to have embraced and for the French government to have originally funded. Reading that the “social sciences would finally become scientific if they agreed ‘to treat humans as things” made me feel like I had slipped into a Hollywood script for a science fiction mini-series. No such luck though. These are real and current aspirations we are dealing with.

The constant references I have located now to new kinds of minds and Growth Mindsets to be psychologically healthy and verbatim references to encouraging ‘dialectical thinking” (shouldn’t computer programs come with a search function that pipes up “do you REALLY want to use that word?”) should be seen through Latour’s blueprint of how we are to now be moving towards the “progressive composition of the good common world.” Not to freak you out, although I did spend the better part of yesterday with my mind racing and hands trembling, but Latour really does talk in terms of “once the collective has been assembled.” He writes of no more distinction between “interests’ and ‘politics’ or ‘nature’ and ‘politics.’ Instead, there is just political power that engages in a ‘groping process’ to ‘deal with matters of human concern.’ These new associations will unabashedly experiment with new ways of living and organizing society using 3 powers: “the power to take into account,” the “power to put in order,” and the “power to follow up.”

Roughly translated that seems to be public officials deciding what to do, then how to do it, and then examining how they did and considering what to do next. All as if public dollars will always be there for the asking to pay for such social transformations even though everything that has ever produced economic wealth is being squelched to get the mindsets that will go along. Justifying statism in the name of equality and justice is another way of looking at this genuine aspiration. That gets linked to the Common Core and other global ed reforms because they are all seeking precisely the same kinds of minds and values that Latour believes are needed and the OECD now counts as Competencies and government officials are calling “higher order thinking skills’ created by “rigor” in the classroom.

Latour actually believes like John Dewey that such a concentration of political power and binding all citizens to the results of majority will (that is in turn cultivated by what is to go on in schools and universities) need not lead to totalitarinism. He really says that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union simply had the wrong kind of politics and vision injected into their collective decision-making. I am thinking that tenure and being able to live at public expense or courtesy of untaxed endowments held by universities and charitable foundations has seriously left way too many influential people who already have utterly no conception of likely consequences.

Too much theory and not enough reality apparently is possible now on many a campus, think-tank, foundation, or government agency and it shows thoroughly in what is being pushed on all of us.

Who pay the bills and who are to have nowhere to turn if these visions continue to advance via education and cultural transformation.

Reality and Consequences do not care. If the likely consequences appear to be a nightmare, remember the unforeseeable ones we will also encounter.

Instead of cultivating new conceptual lenses and minds for students, we need to impose reality checks on a whole lot of adult professors and bureaucrats and politicians.

In time.



Motivationally Misleading Situations and Wicked Decision Problems: Imposing Psychological Experiments on Students

What would you think if you read the Dear Colleague Letter put out yesterday by the  CCSSO trade group that is funded by tech companies and the accreditors and other beneficiaries of taxpayer education dollars and that supposedly represents state Departments of Ed and you ended up finding this sentence. “There is no experimental evidence to back up this dialectical/constructivist view of self being created by the required assessments being pushed under the Common Core. Or by the OECD to be considered internationally competitive in the future. In fact, we have to look instead to existential philosophy, meditation, spiritual, and history-of religion literatures to locate proof that the kind of personality we want to use education to create is actually possible.” Would you say “that sounds like a wonderful mandate for all schools and all students. Here’s my tax dollars to fund the transformation?”

Well, of course, we wouldn’t. That’s the beauty of the misrepresentations surrounding the Common Core and charters with duplicitous language actually mandating Maslow’s psychological model of growth or the lack of genuine appreciation for what the OECD’s PISA ‘test’ is measuring. It makes the end goal of a revolutionary new purpose for education on automatic pilot towards fruition even though no one would agree to it voluntarily with their own money. Despite the fact that warning after warning is out there in the small print that this is all a massive psychological experiment designed to gain a nonconsensual political and social transformation. Starting at the level of the student’s personality.

Now the letter   did not actually say that but when you track back what it did say about what constitutes “high quality assessments” and “deep knowledge” and the ancestry of the term “higher order thinking skills” instead of surface knowledge back about 25 years that descriptive quote I wrote up is precisely what you find. Especially if you go further and click-on the “Criteria for High-Quality Assessment” issued in June 2013 .

It lays out precisely the international push to gain personalities amenable to the rise of China and public-sector directed state capitalism as the global model. Citing the Singapore Ed Minister we all need “engaged learning, discovery through experiences, differentiated teaching, the learning of life-long skills, and the building of character, so that students…can develop the attributes, mindsets, character and values for future success.”

Everyone remembering that Dalian New Champions Conference held out Singapore as the model for the desired 21st century state capitalism? Good because that vision is hugely important to such statements as “new assessments must advance competencies that are matched to the era in which we live.” Now if I run through all the rest of the reasons this letter and that report tipped me off as to what was going on we will never get where I need to go. Regular readers should see it and I can answer questions from new readers in the comments but both sent me looking at “An essay on wisdom: toward organismic processes that make it possible” by Professor Juan Pascual-Leone. Why? It’s a combo of what was sought along with what was said at the (co)lab conference as being part of the desired education transformation for this sought future. Especially Sir Ken Robinson’s statement that the revolution he sought was to view education now as “an organic process.”

The easiest way to explain what is being sought is a desire to have all thought grounded in emotions. It is the constant refrain that the problems to be used for assessment have no fixed answer and it is why lecturing and textbooks are becoming abhorrent. They build up the logical, independent, mind and are not necessarily grounded in feelings. Which means they may not produce the behavior desired to fit with all these plans for transformation. To get that requires a personality that has been shaped by “qualitative metamorphoses in affective-cognitive experiencing and thinking.” Which is precisely what the new curricula and gaming and online learning and these new assessments are designed to create. It’s also why you keep hearing so many mentions now globally to ‘quality learning.’

That’s what these ill-defined “motivationally misleading situations” and “wicked decision problems” assessments force. Discomfort in the student so they change values and strategies and how they view the world. Such “reexaminations are actual executive-learning situations, where the subject, little by little, can acquire suitable metaexecutives” that will guide the desired “mental revolution” of when and how student’s choose to act going forward in dealing “with the hard, misleading reality of everyday experience.”

That’s why the problems have to be authentic and grounded in the real world and relevant. It brings in emotions and changes how the world will be viewed going forward. It’s also why this type of education is something all students can do without regard to family income levels or cultural backgrounds. And if this seems like BF Skinner’s operant conditioning or a science fiction novel, Pascual-Leone actually says this will synthesis (he likes italics a lot) is the answer to Skinner’s belief that “the human mind is so strongly conditioned by its learning history that it cannot be free, and thus the will is an illusion.”

These cognitive psychologists and education profs are saying no, human will exists but we can use pedagogy and theories of education to both shut it down and guide it in desired ways. Since we would all rebel if that was the way these reforms were presented, they are not being phrased that way. To us. In the materials we are supposed to use to frame our beliefs and attitudes toward education reforms. But I track down to the insider-only material that gets withdrawn from library shelves for a reason and it is quite clear. In fact, the commonly used term  “college and career ready” is clearly a play on gaining over time a progression of how students “create our conscious structuring of the intersubjective world of everyday experience” so that each student structures their vision of reality in the way desired.

Over time these motivationally misleading situations and wicked-decision problems are supposed to create empathy in the student towards others and the world. To be “developmentally sophisticated and advanced” in this vision of education, what is desired in future students is to be “humanistically oriented or psychologically ‘spiritual.” Now you know why we just kept encountering such a psychological emphasis as we explored the real Common Core implementation and why there is so much deceit and  misleading definitions to so many terms. Being upfront and declaring you are seeking a personality suitable for the illicit political revolution may be true but it would make for a bad PR campaign.

Now I have explained this psychological model before.Yesterday’s letter simply clarified how important a particular kind of assessment is to the vision. It’s how the psych model gets mandated in the US and globally without admitting it. This psych model by the way has long been pushed in urban school districts. It’s just that now it is being foisted on the suburbs in a way that is not supposed to be visible. I am very concerned though by the widespread belief among many minorities that the only way for them to succeed is to push this psych model on all schools.

It’s the economy as a fixed pie belief and they want government to intervene to give them a larger share. And the economy is not a fixed pie and the way governments are intervening to push this Competency model as the goal for all students will ultimately be the death knell of mass prosperity. It’s just not appreciated yet. There has been an awful lot of racial hatred that has been nourished over the years to get this psych model and the overall political transformation in place. Breaks my heart to watch and hear.

Commenting on a similar push in Brazil a WSJ letter to the editor pointed out how hard it is to contain “the populist forces of fairness and change once unleashed for political gain…[E]conomic success overseen by leftist populists intensifies the hard-left passion for absolute social justice and equality.” Yes, and that is precisely the blood lust these ed reforms and the Inner Cities vision and all the movies being pushed now on inequality are building up. Not bothering to point out that the public sector dominant remedy being pushed ultimately brings less prosperity for most of us.

I am going to close with a quote from Sir Henry Sumner Maine from 1885 that we need to all keep in mind to confront what most assuredly is coming all of our way (h/t Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek blog):

“Yet nothing is more certain, than that the mental picture which enchains the enthusiasts for benevolent democratic government is altogether false, and that, if the mass of mankind were to make an attempt at redividing the common stock of good things, they would resemble, not a number of claimants insisting on the fair division of a fund, but a mutinous crew, feasting on a ship’s provisions, gorging themselves on the meat and intoxicating themselves with the liquors, but refusing to navigate the vessel to port.”

I would add that now the enthusiasts are blindly or greedily insisting no one may have navigational skills in the future either. Then where will we all be?