Translating the Off-Putting Term Dialectical Materialism and Discovering the Intended Process in ALL Classrooms

And if ALL classrooms, preschool through graduate school, is not sufficiently alarming, how about in ALL students and teachers and professors and administrators? Plus with a little luck, and using active coordination of themes and cultivated beliefs between education and the media, those interested in transformative change in the 21st century hope to spread the mental and emotional contagion to parents and enough voters generally to ignite the change via the ballot box and ALL institutions.

So how does the mouthful phrase ‘dialectical materialism’ fit into this vision? That is something I have struggled with for a couple of years now. I basically got it, but not well enough to translate into a pithy analogy for mass consumption. I suspect much of that is deliberate to prevent alarms from going off recognizing its use to prompt revolutionary cultural change. I knew it was about consciousness and had been coined not by Marx or Engels, but by Joseph Dietzgen. Like them, his revolutionary intentions forced him into exile in the Anglosphere, countries much more accommodating of dissent than Germany or other parts of 19th-century Europe. Instead of London or Manchester, England though, Dietzgen relocated to the Chicago area. But what precisely merited exile by authorities wishing to retain existing political power?

The recent recovery of some lost Nelson Mandela transcripts that quoted him as saying: “to a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the logic of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.” I read that and immediately wished someone would concisely explain that logic as I was quite sure it was still lurking in our midst, ready to mount an invisible attack against existing institutions, values, beliefs, and other cultural norms. Last week, my personal project, supposedly unrelated to the blog or book or speaking engagements, was to investigate when the law shifted to being seen as a cultural weapon. Just a matter of personal curiosity so I ordered a book I had seen mentioned, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. It was published in 1983 by a then Harvard Law Prof, Harold J. Berman.

I was expecting a more straightforward history than what I encountered. I certainly was not expecting to read on the first page of the Preface that “A world ends when its metaphor has died.” Well, that got my attention as nothing is more prevalent now in education ‘reforms’ than the determination to excise factual knowledge of the past or science or human nature and substitute some type of metaphorical belief, usually called a ‘lens,’ as in the new C3 Social Studies Framework or a Generative Metaphor from Donald Schon and Chris Argyris’ Action Science work.

Continuing on in the Introduction, I found a determination to jettison the reverence for the Anglo tradition of the common law, and language about the law being not “a body of rules,” but a “process.” That statement sounded eerily similar to what radical education reformers like Linda Darling-Hammond, or sponsors like CCSSO, are using to describe what the REAL Common Core implementation is about. Not transmitting a body of knowledge anymore, but cultivating desired ‘habits of mind’ and hoped for ‘dispositions’ amenable and primed to act for wholesale social change.

Perhaps because it is a book designed to change the nature of a particular institution-the nature of law, law schools, and the role of the judiciary, Berman’s book is quite graphic about using the word ‘dialectics’ to describe the process of changing values and beliefs in people so it will have an impact on how and whether they act. Those actions in turn can affect the material world and the physical environment, which in turn acts upon those who inhabit it. A dialectical process back and forth involving the material world, but it all starts in consciousness. Mental and emotional beliefs. Dialectical materialism. Change the consciousness of enough people and the world itself and the future can supposedly be changed in predictable ways.

That’s the theory of how to “transform the social and political and economic realities” and it was revolutionary enough in the 19th century to merit exile and, perhaps, prison in certain times and places in the 20th. Now a willingness to push it can get you a lucrative ed doctorate credential intended to secure a six-figure taxpayer paid salary and then pension for life. That is if you cooperate with the right people and force the right theories on unsuspecting schools and students. What a transition that is for an infamous theory!

Dialectical materialism then is the actual theory that underlay outcomes based education and what was really being sought from it. Because it is an off-putting term with a clear history and proponents calling it the equivalent of a cultural “rifle, bomb or missile,” the real name for the theory gets left out. Instead, we get language about Growth Mindsets and not Fixed and Grit, Perseverance and Tenacity to euphemize the actual dialectical mental and emotional change to arrive at the desired synthesis in a person who will act.

This vision of education as dialectical materialism to change the student’s values, beliefs, and dispositions so they will likely act as desired upon the world can be seen as recently as last Friday as Michael Barber and Pearson released a Michael Fullan authored document called A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. That report also helpfully ties together the actual intended Common Core implementation in the US to what is going on in Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. A global vision of the kind of perspectives and Worldviews that education is to inculcate for the future.

Everything is designed around experiential learning and getting students ready to act in desired ways. To see the past through so-called present and future needs. It’s not just the students being primed to act in desired ways. I keep hearing reports of teachers being told to stand and chant as a necessary component of new required professional development, while I notice how the leaders of the training just happened to be active in outcomes based education in the 90s. Or a recent story of videos being shown of enthusiastic cheering at various emotional public events like sports. Then the teachers are told that they must stand and cheer exuberantly at every mention of the phrase “Common Core” during the presentation. Does it remind anyone else of Michael Barber’s work with rebellious UK teachers years ago where the mantra was “First, act, then belief comes?”

To me, it is reminiscent of another of William Henry Chamberlin’s observations from his 30s experiences of collectivism that we encountered in the previous post. He noted that “human personality, for instance, may sometimes be dwarfed and standardized under the influence of democracy. But in the totalitarian states it tends to disappear altogether; the individual is simply sunk in the collectivist mass that votes, marches, salutes, cheers with the regularity and precision of an automatic machine.” That term ‘totalitarian’ may seem a bit misplaced when talking of the US or UK or Canada or Australia, but every one of the political and economic and social philosophies Chamberlin was writing about from personal experience was grounded in dialectical materialism. It is the foundational theory behind changing values and beliefs. What varied, then and now, are the particular beliefs that can be deliberately cultivated as useful for transformative change.

It is easy then to see the belief in Catastrophic Manmade Climate Change as one of today’s useful cultivated beliefs as well as the hyping of Inequality and the push for Communitarianism (misleadingly hiding in the definition of Career Ready as well as what will constitute a Positive School Climate). The intense focus on continued racism and sexism in reading selections and classroom discussions provides the same function. Useful beliefs that will likely compel a belief to act to transform the world in predictable ways. Others are more subtle, like the regular complaints over the religion of Islam being portrayed as inherently innocuous in ways that disregard known, provable, potentially dangerous facts. Or the economic misconceptions being deliberately cultivated and then tied to revered figures like Martin Luther King as Democracy Collaborative/Good Society’s Gar Alperovitz did recently. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/01/beyond-dreamer

We are going to talk next time about how this dialectical vision has become incorporated into the teacher evals for licensure and promotion to ensure compliance. Another dialectical process to ensure actual change in the material world.

Unfortunately all these intentions just cannot shake off the effects of unintended consequences and perverse incentives in that same material world.

The one where we all live and pay taxes to finance these millenarian visions of unrealistic, and nonconsensual, transformations.

 

 

Relying on Mass Emotional Stimulation to Coerce Transition to a Society Organized by the Public Sector

Because I still have a large body of facts from history located quietly and portably within the privacy of my own mind, I have a nice cushion to fall back on when I encounter troubling open declarations about reorganizing the nature of business and the economy and society. Especially when these plans originate among parasitic taxpayer funded international bureaucrats, higher ed administrators, and Big Business wanting to protect its current turf and revenue by simply hiring more lobbyists. In case you did not think about what the acronym UNPRME stood for in the last post’s linked report, it means United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education. Think of the United Nations realistically as a place dominated by dictatorships wanting to snuff out liberty in any part of the world or areas of society where it still currently exists.

The reason I brought up that body of knowledge is it lets me respond to that report and the Great Transition pursuits generally and everything I have compiled and written about what is called the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance by walking over to my bookshelves (plural at this point in my research) to reread something on point. This time I pulled a book first published in 1936 called Collectivism: A False Utopia. Written by a Christian Science Monitor reporter, William Henry Chamberlain, who was stationed primarily in Moscow in the 30s, he also spent a great of time in Berlin, Germany. Given what he had seen, Chamberlain opens the book with the point that even more crucial than the question of where the line should be “between public and private enterprise in economic life” was “whether the people are to own the state or whether the state is to own the people.”

Those are still the crucial issues today in 2014. When I listen to a state legislator boast that the schools have never been very good at academics so now we only want them to ensure that all students are “competent,” he is treating students like subjects under his oversight. When the EU Economic and Social Committee pushes itself as the bridge between Europe and an “organised civil society,” it intends to do the organising so it can dictate what is allowed or impermissable. www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.press-releases.30595#_ftn1 When it announces that it is “unnatural” for hunger and obesity to coexist in the same society we can just imagine the extent of the meddling that will now be required in people’s personal lives.

When the Common Core pushes teachers to instruct students that certain groups are “right wing” with “extremist views” and thus should be called “Fascist” they are using the term ahistorically as an insult to slime ideological opponents about the proper role of governments. http://dailycaller.com/2014/01/18/teachers-instructed-to-teach-all-right-wing-extremist-groups-are-fascist-video/  They are also making Fascism a “metaphorical lens” for students to view certain types of political activity. When I use the term or allude to it, it is based on going back to someone like Chamberlain or Hayek or Von Mises who lived with people who openly proclaimed this as their organizing philosophy. I go back to these older resources written before World War II or even the annexation of the Rhineland or Kristallnacht because they are based on personal informed observation. They are untainted by knowing the tragic end of the story. That’s what makes the modern day parallels to declared intentions so troubling.

When we look at 21st century skills and see nothing but mind arson or at the manipulated perception of obuchenie and wonder why, consider this passage from Chamberlain:

“In the collectivist state, on the other hand, every influence within the control of an omnipotent government is mobilized for the purpose of creating a uniform type of personality, disciplined and regimented to the last degree, trained to regard anything ‘the leader’ advocates as right and to change its mind as quickly as the leader may change his. It is easy to imagine the kind of individual that is becoming a standardized product under the collectivist dictatorship; it is a sort of human gramophone which plays without a hitch whatever tune the official thought-controllers may call.”

Human gramophone was the metaphor in those radio, pre-TV days. Just imagine what the thought controllers intend to do with adaptive software, gaming, and embedded virtual reality. And before you dispute claims of collectivism, it’s all through all these cited documents from this blog. That’s also what all those references to the obligation to promote the common good are about. I am not claiming anyone is planning in 2014 in the West to be a dictator. I am asserting though that all these documents assume that majority will may now impose terms on all citizens down to the nitty-gritty details of life. Dictatorships don’t have to be about a singular individual in charge of all.

Chamberlain made an important point about the nature of envy and when it becomes explosive to a society. Tell me if you don’t believe that politicians and NGOs and international figures and the media and college professors and think-tanks are currently, and deliberately, using rhetoric about inequality to ignite an explosion of just the type Chamberlain worried about:

“Envy is as inescapable a condition of human life as the inequality that provokes it. It becomes a formidable form of social nitroglycerine under two conditions: when the masses are conscious of a worsening in their condition, and when a considerable number of individuals endowed with genuine force and ability feel themselves excluded from normal opportunities of advancement, from a fair chance of enjoying a satisfactory livelihood.”

“Liberty” on the other hand, as long as it is properly nurtured and respected for the mass prosperity machine it has historically proven to be, is a “constant agency of self-renovation.” But that of course is a danger to politicians and bureaucrats wanting to direct society and the economy and being well-paid for life for just showing up and pushing as told. Hence we get the mind arson and no Axemaker Minds all while asserting these education initiatives promote “critical thinking” and innovation. The small print about the innovation being a reenvisioning of society and the economy gets left unread and unremarked on in public.

It is interesting that Chamberlain believed that “if American democracy should ever be overthrown, it would yield place to fascism, not to communism.” I will interject here that he was not using democracy in the John Dewey transformative sense so common today. To Chamberlain, communism was the Stalinist variety where if there were 15 collaborators in a scheme, another 185 would be selected at random to be executed to dissuade future participation and encourage squealing over any overheard plans. It’s not the little ‘c’ communism variety various professors in the US and the West generally still think we should try in the 21st century that now seems deeply embodied in the current UN and OECD initiatives. Now I continue with the rest of the quote because it remains a relevant, prescient point:

“Both communism and fascism are forms of despair politics. But communism is calculated to appeal to people who never had anything, while fascism is the preferred expression of despair for people who once had something, but have lost it.”

But what if the public sector is the primary driver behind the conditions of despair? What if what has been lost and is being taken away is due to an ever-expansive, self-justifying, public-sector, and a non-profit sector that benefits from its alliance and its grants from the public sector without having to pay its dues in taxes, and a cronyistic Big Business sector that wants to operate with impunity due to its political connections?

Out of the frustration of what has been lost and with misleading pitches and propaganda from politicians, the media, and education, are we now shaking the social nitroglycerine described above?

Are we increasing the programs that created much of the dysfunction in the first place?

Next time we will return to Chamberlain’s concern over what he called “straitjacketing of the mind” in both collectivist ideologies and compare it to known current pushes in the schools and classrooms.

Finale of the Dangerous Mindset Trilogy: Spreading the Contagion to Fundamentally Alter How We Think and Live

How many of you read the comment this past week by Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s Framework on Climate Change, on how much easier it is for a dictatorship like China to do what the UN insists is necessary to deal with climate change? Many people wondered where the mental governor was that would have prevented such a politically inept statement, but immersion in the taxpayer-funded institutions seeking wholesale transformation globally seems to make the people involved tone-deaf about the ramifications and validity of what they are advocating for. The same directness about intentions and acceptable methods can be found in the related 50+20 Agenda of Management Education for the World. Let’s take a look at the future being envisioned by the current K-12 and college “reforms” so that we can become the “content, unified” people who are “ultimately cooperative” in a “well-organized civilization working towards the singular goal of sustainability.” http://www.unprme.org/resource-docs/5020ManagementEducationfortheWorld.pdf

We can see where the jet-setting bureaucrats could begin to believe they are entitled to strong arm people into new sets of values and morals and beliefs. After all they have decided they are working toward a “world worth living in.” One that of course benefits them instead of us, but then we are not supposed to read the small print. With 12 years or so of obuchenie ‘teaching and learning’ and ‘guided reflection’, even if future graduates do read the small print, few will appreciate what is wrong with such intentions.

“Everything within the State” as a motto of a very dark period in World History simply won’t be part of the syllabus of coursework or approved, pre-supplied Enduring Understandings. This time there will be the collaboratory of leaders working together with all stakeholders to ‘solve’ the world’s complex problems as they arise and plan the future. If things do not turn out as envisioned, adjustments can be made. It’s not like such a history-blind approach would be squandering national resources or committing permanent Mind Arson or anything.

In case you don’t recognize the significance of same of the names quoted in that report, they include Peter Senge’s Society for Organizational Learning-SOL-and his long-time collaborator Otto Scharmer (who has his own tag plus his Capitalism 3.0 tag). We also have Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligences and Harvard’s Project Zero and Joseph Stiglitz who took part in Anthony Gidden’s Global Third Way Debate book and panel that we have looked at as well as heading the Subjective Well-Being (also tagged) panel that commenced in 2009 at French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s request. So please don’t tell me that this vision is unrelated to the so-called Great Transition or that the transformative learning described is not related to the US Common Core or the Australian Core Skills or the Canadian Learning for a Sustainable Future. It’s all the same interconnected ‘transdisciplinary’ vision and we will remain imperiled until we begin to realize this better.

There’s a Goethe expression that keeps being quoted as part of this transformative vision. It goes “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” We also need to take it to heart before deliberately kept ignorant credentialed Change Agents, and business professors who don’t understand how economies work, and self-interested politicians and their cronies and consultants blow up what currently works.  We saw numerous well-compensated false statements in out last post, and PRME quoting, with pictures, George Bernard Shaw’s statement that “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future” suggests we need to keep our Ignoramus alert gauges firmly in our hands at all times in 2014.

If K-12 education reforms like the Common Core or blended learning or the college tour at that expensive Ivy League school confessed that the “time has come to initiate a fundamental change in the way we think and live,” the alarm bells that need to be going off now would start to peal in more people’s minds. And they would properly keep their wallets shut. Which is precisely why no one in school or higher ed administration or the public sector is being that honest. We have to rely on sleuthing like those Great Transition documents or unwise declarations like Giddens conceding that actual temperature changes do not really matter, it’s just all an excuse for desired social, political, and economic changes in the West. The “Management Education for the World: An Agenda” report is much the same way. Because it is linked but tangential to the area of most people’s focus, its authors are brutally honest about the entire picture.

Making the purpose of K-12 being ‘Career-Ready’ takes on new meaning if management education globally has been simultaneously tasked with the “transformation of business and the economy” so that it serves what the politicians and planners in academia and think-tanks determine to be “serving the common good.” No more relying on consumers and individual choices. It rather puts a new light on selling K-12 education reforms as “What Business Wants” when those businesses have been told they get to be established players “in a new kind of society” with “a revised economic framework where business is celebrated for its contribution to society and the world.”

I will take a break in this quote as we think about how dangerous it is to have management students trying to earn degrees and get jobs in business or governments being told they are to “become custodians of society.” [italics here and elsewhere are in original report] It will be quite flattering to a twenty-something ego, but oh-so-dangerous to the rest of us for them to be trained and believe that is their acceptable 21st century role.

Especially when we realize how few will have enough knowledge of history to know what Fascism looks like, what its dangers are, and why people wrote about ‘vampire economies’ in the 30s. This is the rest of the quote that I broke from (top of page 6). Please pay attention because we have to be the ones who recognize all this for the self-interested, rent-seeking, parasitic justifying nonsense that it is. This is not a minor report.

“The starting point for reframing business is to reassign economics to its appropriate status as a subset of a larger system, not its center. We must develop a global society that is supported by the economy, based on a new environmental, societal and economic framework that serves the global common good. Businesses need to become intimately involved in this transformation by accepting challenges and responsibilities that lie beyond short-term economic performance. The purpose of business should be measured through its positive contribution to the transformation of society towards a better world.”

So the envisioned purpose of business in the future is to no longer satisfy customers making voluntary decisions on how to spend their own money. It will be about satisfying the politicians and bureaucrats like Ms Figueres who get to decide what they believe would be a better world based on a misguided fallacy that economies are a finite collection of goods and resources that can simply be rearranged. It is hardly a shock to those of us who have been tracking all the machinations in education over the decades, and the layers of deceit to hide the actual objectives, that the key to all these sought changes is transformative learning. This requires an awareness of the viewpoints of others and how to change our own beliefs, values, and ethics and proceed with action even in the face of uncertainty. “Achieving such awareness” says the report “requires a fundamentally different approach to teaching and learning.”

There’s that obuchenie reference again where we began our trilogy. Essential to what is sought is always “the process of perspective transformation, enabling individuals to revise their beliefs and modify their behavior. We understand transformative learning not only as a rational or intellectual exercise but fundamentally consider personal experience as a critical enabler to trigger a transformation in the participant. Such learning is embedded in the philosophy of whole person learning: respecting a person in their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions, and recognizing the need to develop all these aspects of the individual in order to progress towards an increasingly integrated and therefore ‘whole’ person.”

Now let’s end this with some of the names in K-12 education for just that very aim that we have covered on this blog. Assagioli called it psychosynthesis. Carol Dweck is doing CCSSI professional development webinars calling it Growth Mindsets. ASCD has a Whole Child Initiative that it wishes to be an essential component of the Common Core implementation. Personal experience is also the project-based learning being pushed now or hands-on science. References to head, heart, hands, and soul are rampant in the rhetoric being used by Superintendents. We called it Triune Consciousness in our League of Innovative Schools research.

Transformative learning and perspective transformation are the real purpose of the K-12 reforms as well as college. It attaches to the same planned alteration of business and the economy as what the 50+20 report describes.

No wonder we have legislators travelling around states bragging about the collusion going on between politicians and education administrators to promote this vision. They would have probably been more careful if they knew we had the rest of the story.

 

Supposedly Creating a Generation of Solutionaries by Using Education to Create Futures Oriented Change Agents

There is something fundamentally suicidal about intentionally  limiting students’ knowledge of actual facts of what has worked well in the past, or been catastrophic, while emphasizing that they should imagine alternate futures for themselves and the world. Does it strike anyone else as encouraging children to play with nitro while the advocates sit firmly protected in school district or university offices living off collected taxes and tuition? It gets even worse with professors determined to jettison the current political, social, and economic systems using education–K-12, college, and graduate–to create the desired perspectives for change and then planning to build on the “growing movement of discontented young people” to force the change. The motto might as well be “We broke it and intend to use the breakage to get an even bigger hammer to keep breaking while blaming others for the destruction.”

Once again our invitations were lost for yet another planning meeting. The so-called Next System Project did hold a workshop December 12 at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard with many recognizable players that this blog has already looked into. Led by Democracy Collaborative advocate Gar Alperowitz and environmental activist James Speth (author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy wanting to use a new view of education to build the requisite consciousness), the workshop talked about a project, thenextsystem.org, that would be launched in 2014. Here’s my problem: many of the participants like Tufts Professor Neva Goodwin and the Tellus Institute (The Great Transition post) have been laying out their radical transformative intentions for a number of years so what is really new? I think what is new is the national K-12 initiative known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSSI). It becomes the catch-all excuse to shift all classroom instructional practices and the curriculum towards creating the student beliefs and values and perspectives in the need for such a new system.

Moreover, I think CCSSI gives the perfect excuse to push the Agenda 21 vision percolating out of the UN and the Subjective Well-Being, Green Growth, and Great Transition global initiatives announced by the OECD in Paris. If we go north to Canada and look at a 2012 document from the accounting and consulting firm Deloitte & Touche (apparently having governments as clients and then writing advocacy papers for the dirigiste vision is the consulting and legal nirvana of the future) called “Ready or not? Preparing youth for 21st century responsible citizenship,” we can see what the UN’s Education for Sustainable Development looks like in practice. Once again the focus of education is on changing what the student values and believes and what theories or concepts they use to filter their daily experiences. In fact, the Final Report has the banner “Viewing education through a responsible citizenship lens.”

Obuchenie then is till sought and the Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete framing Mindset and conceptual lenses are still the new purpose of education globally but rarely will we find those particular terms used. Instead, the philosophy shows up in phrasing like this:

“The goal of responsible citizenship calls upon education to adopt a different set of learning tools and a different teacher-learner relationship that involves learning based upon inquiry and action. Paulo Freire [a major advocate of social justice education globally who viewed the transmission of knowledge as reproducing current privileges] terms this the ‘problem-posing’ method of education, where teachers and students learn together through combining theory with action [a/k/a experiential or hands on ed] and emphasizing the importance of inquiry.”

That inquiry of course occurs with the supplied Big Ideas or Lenses or Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequence as we went through in the previous post. They become how the world is seen whether they are true or not. When a student consistently applies them in how they see the world they are deemed to now be ‘autonomous.’ No sense of Orwellian irony that a person is now labeled autonomous only when she appears to be preprogrammed to respond in predictable ways. Another way these concepts come into this new vision of ed is by pushing the idea that K-12 students should “engage in praxis.” Once again this is defined as “combining theory and action–a goal that should be accomplished by taking students outside the classroom to learn from first-hand, real-world experiences.”

This “theory and action” aim seeks to have students come to see the world as in constant flux so they will believe they must be able to adapt to the changes. Supposedly, “learning this can help youth to see democracy as a work in progress, with room for more voices and views in its development and transformation. When the conventional student/teacher dichotomy is altered, learners are able to see that knowledge is not only delivered by those deemed as experts, but can come from personal investigation and interaction. Learning to be open to more forms of knowledge building can allow children to value their own discoveries and understandings.”

Now I hope Deloitte was well-paid to write such nonsense as part of the Learning for a Sustainable Future Initiative. Children and young adults may in fact come to believe that their own discoveries and understandings are just as important as what an expert knows, but they would be WRONG. It is our job as adults and the purpose of education to correct such misconceptions, not to foster ignorance and logical fallacies because such advocacy pays well. Governments at all levels in countries all over the world may have decided it would be nice if they can treat citizens as mere chattel and hide such intentions behind rhetoric about sustainability and responsible citizenship. The mask and obfuscatory language doesn’t change the abusive intent of the public sector and its collaborators within the private and ‘charitable’ sectors one bit.

Self-dealing by public officials, politicians, private sector lackeys, foundations, and higher ed wanting the gravy train to never end are simply hiding behind ostensibly noble language about “creating a generation of ‘solutionaries’… this begins with our young people. As such, we need to address these issues within our learning environments by creating authentic opportunities for young people to experience the power and possibilities democracy provides in loving and supporting community. We can transform our educational system to one based on respect for human rights and one that values freedom and responsibility, participation and collaboration, and equity and justice. To create a more just, sustainable and democratic world, we need democratic education.”

That sounds much more glorious than saying we need education to cripple our young people and future voters mentally and emotionally. When it turns out that they cannot in fact create the future they want despite what we insisted they be told during their K-12 years, few of these young people will have accurate facts to appreciate why there are not enough good jobs anymore. They will thus be the very change agent advocates that the UN and the OECD and all those participants in the next system workshop have said they desire.

Deliberately creating the discontent and then mining it for ever increasing political power and diminishing mass prosperity. That’s the true global vision of education in the 21st century that began in the 1990s and is now truly cranking into high gear.

And the longer we wait to accurately apprehend that this is the true nature of what is sought in K-12 and university classrooms, the more irreplaceable national treasure, both physical and noetic, will be lost.

With these intentions the likeliest next system is chaos as no one’s expectations can be met. The mind arson and destructive public sector spending will simply have consumed too much.

Unveiling the True Focus of the Common Core: Obuchenie within Students to Gain Desired Future Behaviors

Have you ever noticed we do some of our best thinking when we are not trying at all? This year I vowed to not think about education for at least a week and to immerse myself in some good historical fiction while relaxing at the beach. Right as we were leaving though I did print out a 2012 white paper from Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins called “From Common Core to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas.” Because McTighe & Wiggins do so much training of teachers all over the country in how to implement education reforms (even in states like Texas that did not formally adopt the Common Core), their vision of the classroom implementation is quite relevant to what is really going to happen within schools. That paper really hammers home the extent to which the desired focus is now on specifying desired behaviors in students and then setting up the opportunities to practice those behaviors until they become a habit.

Standards for College and Career or Workplace Readiness is then a euphemism not for certain levels of knowledge that prepare a student to be an independent adult, but for having practiced performances in authentic contexts enough that what a student will do when confronted with “messy, never-seen-before problems” or “new challenges” becomes predictable. That’s what McTighe & Wiggins want to emphasize as the ultimate aim of a curriculum: independent transfer. Unfortunately for them, I have encountered these aspirations of trying to program students so that their likely perceptions have already been gamed long before they encounter new experiences. My reaction has always been “So you want the student to apply this analogy even though it is not apt or follow beliefs that are not true?” And honestly, if transformational social, economic, and political change is the ultimate end game as all my sources repeatedly assert, cultivating a capacity to act in predictable ways, regardless of the current facts and without awareness of the likely circumstances, is an effective, if dangerous, means for facilitating mass change.

Now McTighe & Wiggins acknowledge the longevity of this behavioral pursuit of “desired performances by the learner” by tying it back more than 60 years to Ralph Tyler. They quote Tyler that the purpose of standards or outcomes, or his own term ‘objectives,’ is to indicate the “kinds of changes” to be “brought about” “in the student.” They do leave out the fact that Ralph (who had worked with John Dewey) was also coining the very phrase “behavioral sciences” at about the same time he conceived of making behavior the focus of curriculum and then using the ambiguous term ‘objectives’ to obscure such a radical shift. A proud tradition of obfuscation over actual intentions that continues in education to this very day.

Which is what kept teasing at the edge of my mind while I tried to relax. The recognition of just how often the phrase “teaching and learning” or “learning and teaching” keeps recurring not just in connection with the actual Common Core implementation, but also as a headlining description in English of UNESCO’s Agenda 21 education work and the primary phrase used to euphemistically describe radical ed reform in the 90s. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/ All that musing also reminded me that when I first started researching the so-called math and science wars in curriculum, the university based curriculum centers that pushed all these bad ideas in return for massive grants of federal money were consistently called “Centers for Learning and Teaching” or CLTs. Now I knew that the English phrase “learning and teaching” in whatever order was an unappreciated term of art translating a Russian word for guided psychological growth called obuchenie.

By the time of my return trip from the beach, the number 1 research item on my list was to resolve my curiosity about whether the term obuchenie accurately summarized what McTighe and Wiggins were describing as the actual classroom focus of the Common Core and what the new assessments should be measuring. Now the nice thing about correctly surmising how something is linked and that the same concept is hiding under multiple seemingly innocent names is that simple searches throw out lots of open declarations. Even so, I was floored to find both a 2012 Russian Journal of Cultural-Historical Psychology from Moscow State telling me I was correct http://psyjournals.ru/en/kip/2012/n3/57239_full.shtml along with a 2009 article from Professor Michael Cole, the US overseer of CHAT-Cultural Historical Activity Theory http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Journal/pdfs/16-4-cole.pdf  .If this were all a game, I would be able to yell out “BINGO!” now for the win and the pot of money.

Every single one of these sources is consumed with the stated problem of transfer. What can be done to guide future adult behavior in desired ways? Long-time readers know we have already encountered the nerdy expression Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete from Soviet psychology and its ties to Professor Cole’s work (see tags for him and CHAT). That Russian psych term is helpfully a part of the Mindset to be created now apparently in American students and students all over the globe. Instead of a focus on teaching factual knowledge, the Soviets saw the behavioral implications of teaching theoretical concepts instead. The theories then become the lens through which everyday experiences are perceived. Knowledge itself becomes construed as the perceived relationships among objects (i.e., the repeated insistence on thinking in terms of systems), instead of factual qualities of the objects themselves.

What the Russian journal calls theoretical concepts, the US Common Core tends to call  Big Ideas or Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequence. It’s the same idea as what the Journal described as:

“The importance of the interplay between the scientific concepts derived in theoretical learning and the spontaneous concepts formed in empirical learning is central to this account of development. If the two forms do not ‘connect’ then true concept development does not take place. Thus theoretically driven content based teaching which is not designed to connect with learners’ everyday empirical learning will remain inert and developmentally ineffective.”

‘Developmentally ineffective’ is another euphemism for saying it will not guide future behavior in predictable ways. The Common Core would decree that ‘Deep Learning’ (as championed and financed especially by the Hewlett Foundation) has not occurred. Now we can also see the reasons for hands-on science and math and project-based learning as a new focus. It provides the empirical experiences that the desired theoretical concepts like fairness or social justice can be pegged to so that the student believes over time what ever the curriculum developers want him to believe. As you can imagine this will be really handy for anyone intending to push climate change regardless of actual facts, as the RSA and the Garrison Institute have both announced underlies their ed work. It is also handy if you intend to push a new economic system and blame all the current problems attributable to too much previous government interventionism on the “continued adherence to free market capitalism.” See http://www.50plus20.org/film for a preview of the last installment of this trilogy.

At the end of the Russian psych journal, it concedes that obuchenie or making education about psychological development in predetermined ways is the means by which All Students Can Learn. It is the method of  “democratic solutions to mass education.” A phrase that should give us all pause as we have constant demands to close the achievement gap and ignore real differences among students.

Free societies do not cultivate ideological thinking as a matter of habit in their young people. Free societies do not try to program future behaviors to be prompted at an unconscious level in their young people. Free societies do not measure effective teaching by whether obuchenie is occurring within the student so that they can be relied upon in the future to act without regard to facts. Free societies do not assess students to see if an obuchenie Mindset and Worldview is taking hold in a student.

Since none of this is speculation about what is being put in place in the name of the Common Core, where are we really headed in 2014?

 

Obscuring the Reinvention of All Education Around Envisaging New Ways of Being in the World

I am afraid All really does mean all. No matter how hard that graduate school is to get into or how high the tuition is, there really are deliberate plans laid out to shift graduate business, law, and other professional degrees to align with the planned shifts in K-12 and college, plus the economy and political structures, as we have been discussing. In fact, as I laid out in my book that came out last October, education at all levels is seen as the primary driver to change the future. Without tenure, a bias-inducing grant, or a political career on the line, everything I am reading and hearing the outlines for is likely to be malevolent in actual practice and reality, whatever anyone’s actual intentions.

I had framed another trilogy to gradually lay out what is being attempted, how the new assessments fit in, why I won’t be able to ban the nauseating word ‘Soviet’ in 2014 either, and how all this manipulation gets masked. Now if you think that sometimes my posts can seem a bit hyperbolic, I always try to tone them down from the aspirations and declarations I am dealing with. But somehow I just could not come up with an easy way to tell everyone that the Russian word obuchenie was going to be the January 2014 first entry in the ISC Vocabulary Hall of Fame. It will be quite the revelatory post though.

First I think we need a Prequel to remind us all once again just how transformative at every level imaginable the hoped for vision of the future really is. Plus all the influential people and institutions involved with this comprehensive effort that remains off most people’s radar screen. Thankfully the Eager For Fundamental Change folks at the Garrison Institute sent me this pdf as part of their aspirations for what needs to be taking place in 2014. http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/about-us/the-garrison-institute-blog/1858-hope-for-the-future-of-climate-change . Like the Schemers for Change at the UK’s RSA that we went into in December, Garrison simply intends to take physical climatic, assumed likely to be catastrophic, change as a given that will no longer be debated.

Time to move straight to laying out the intended social and cultural changes for all of us. If you do read the report and you give yourself a dime every time you read the phrase “behavior change,” you should be able to treat yourself to a nice lunch somewhere. Seems like just compensation for the mental anguish of once again wading through plans of social engineering and discovering how many people these days earn lucrative livings laying out and enforcing awful things to do to us and our children at our own expense. I think we can all admit that the real classroom implementations we have been discussing will be highly useful for “working on climate change from the social and behavioral facet means we are working towards wellbeing for all in a brighter, healthier and more fulfilling future.”

Even more useful to getting at those personal behavioral and social ‘facets’ may be this “Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects  in the Behavioral Sciences” just announced. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18614 It looks to me like the feds want to amend the law to allow the education research that is already going on in places so it can be expanded as desired. No effective recourse once people start to notice. I guess there are truly to be no legal barriers to the planned transformation.

If it seems like we are dealing with an entirely different view of the law than what used to go on in law school or civics class, it’s not your imagination. The law really is now seen as a useful tool to require normative change in individuals from the inside-out. “Make them do it so they will come to believe it” sounds just like the approach to education change Vicki Phillips and Michael Barber advocated for in the UK in their “Irreversible Change” paper. It is now coming to the US through education, legislation none of us asked for, and regulations we are not getting any chance to read.

It is all part of a fundamental shift of viewing the law “as a means of changing the wind” according to Gerald Torres of Texas-Austin School of Law (page 18). What we are seeing elected officials at all levels enact makes much more sense given these admitted transformative aspirations once you read that:

“for those interested in social change, it is useful to view lawmaking from the perspective of popular mobilizations and other sustained forms of collective action that make formal institutions, including those that regulate legal culture, more democratic. One of the important functions of law resides in its power to tell persuasive stories about individual fairness and social justice.”

Now that really does strike me as encouraging a mentality that legalizes a majority going after whatever it covets or just generally wishes for. From the bully pulpit of an elite law school and the forum of an exclusive symposium. Torres really leaves no ambiguity at all when he goes on:

“social movements and organized constituencies of non-expert participants play an important role in the creation of authoritative interpretative communities. [Not sure precisely where the authority comes from then except tyranny of a voting majority and Might Makes Right]. Many believe that social movements are most effective when they translate their claims into law.”

Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci wrote back in the 20s that the way to effectively go after the West was to March Through the Institutions and those quotes above are what that march looks like. It’s what the Common Core is a part of as we will see better in the upcoming trilogy. When the blurb heading on page 7 announces “Culture is the Change Agent” and advocates “Shifting Culture through Community,” Gramsci may not be mentioned by name, but his blueprint could hardly be more intact.

One of the most revelatory series of posts in 2013 to me were the ones we did talking about Daniel Bell and his 60s and 70s vision of what he called the Post-Industrial Society. It appears to me that the 2013 Garrison Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium is simply renaming Bell’s vision as the post-consumption society. So if we had not done all that tracking of all these now familiar aspirations with a variety of names and advocates throughout 2013, these might seem like fresh ideas. Just created as an answer to the troubles of the Great Recession.

Instead it is new packaging and better PR sound bytes on an age old pursuit. Political power as usual wants to control economic power and the average person should simply do as they are told.

With neither complaint or effective remedy.

Now we are ready to start the Trilogy describing Tactics of Transformation designed to avoid detection.

Going to wear out the T and D keys at this alliterative rate.