Dynamic Digital Dialectical Classrooms=Deliberate Transformational Change in Students and Society

Do you remember the decal from the Ghostbusters movies with the Ghost within the circle with a line struck through it? In the 90s excited high school students participating in an Educational Testing Service (the famous and lucrative ETS based in Princeton) Systems Thinking and Curriculum Innovation–STACI–Project (with ties to Harvard, MIT, and Stanford just like today’s Curriculum Redesign) using computers and simulation software came up with a graphically similar “No More Funnels” decal. These Tucson students in the same Sunnyside School District where the League of Innovative Schools had their annual conference last week celebrated the rejection of the “system of education that uses teachers as the dispensers of knowledge, dumping information into students’ heads for the purpose of regurgitating those facts onto tests, after which they promptly forget what they have learned.”

Now I have heard virtually the same verbatim sales pitch before from principals and administrators selling a school or district’s shift to constructivism many times before. Every time I hear it I know the speaker was a poor student who wants everyone to reject the importance of what they were lousy at. Honestly though there is tremendous irony in celebrating “no more funnels” in a school district that has been longitudinally tracking all students, including motivation, in order to reliably create a designed mental keel. Instead of a funnel effect that leaves each student free to build up their own understandings of how the world works and a teacher or professor to monitor whether those concepts are brilliant, confused, or just parroting others, the students get their internal mental images, associations, and concepts examined. Precisely in the manner envisioned and hoped for by Piotr Galperin in his Soviet research over decades and sought under that cybernetic theory of control we keep running into.

This is from a 1994 book on the STACI Project and its use of Jay Forester’s modelling World Dynamics software modified for the K-12 classroom as STELLA–Structural Thinking Experiential Learning Laboratory with Animation. Just the thing in other words to successfully join in reliable, replicable ways the inner representations of physical image, associated relationships, and conceptual understandings. The book’s title was Classroom Dynamics: Implementing a Technology-Based Learning Environment and it was very much a learning environment of the sort envisioned under obuchenie psychological theories. As far as I know no one is calling this STACI Project How to Get Inside Each Student’s Mental Black Box for Lasting Results, but that’s the intention.

No wonder so many radical ed reforms around 21st century skills and systems thinking are tied to the Tucson area–25 years of longitudinal data being thrown off by computers and crunched and analyzed by ETS in its quest for equity in education.   Here’s what the book says is targeted in the “No funnels” classroom:

“In the learner-centered environment the focus of instruction is on procedural knowledge and general problem solving skills, rather than on declarative knowledge and rote learning. Furthermore, environments such as those created by the systems thinking approach shift the focus of instruction to real-world applications and problems. In doing so, learning is concretized, rather than dealing with abstractions that have little apparent relevance to anything. Finally, a computer-based curriculum innovation project can diminish ‘teacher talk’ and provide students with opportunities for individual and group intellectual exploration.”

Concrete then means those mental representations remain tied to real world events and applications, increasing the likelihood that the inner beliefs will produce the desired future behavior to take transformational action. That internal keel from the last post is also influenced by the constant desire to take the way physical systems operate and apply the concepts to human or social systems or real world phenomena like war, conflict, or the economy. Perception of reality gets predictably influenced by the conceptual ‘lenses’ being supplied by teachers or virtual reality or gaming software, even if a well-informed expert in the area of transfer would immediately recognize the comparison is inapt. Without funneling, few students will. Remember to a social schemer with intentions for radical transformation there is “nothing as valuable as a good theory.” Or simulation of supposed systems to amend the slogan to 21st century intentions.

So now we know why the White House sponsored League of Innovative Schools chose Tucson. It was NOT the Titan Missile Museum or the chance to see saguaro cactus. What is so fascinating to me though is that ETS began actively looking for a curriculum innovation to push “higher order thinking skills” back in the mid-80s, soon after Galperin’s research became available in English. The 1994 book was quite graphic that students were being taught to visualize systems so it will change how they view the world. Since I knew that ETS also funded the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education from 2011 to 2013, I wondered if the Commission’s work dovetailed with what I am calling this shift to an obuchenie mindset being cultivated in the student.

First of all, it turns out that one of Edmund Gordon’s mentors, the psychologist Bob Glaser, is the same person whose phrase for the new purpose of education–“developmental theory of performance change”–led me to James Raven and the socio-cybernetics aspirations we encountered in the last post. The Gordon Commission in its February 2012 newsletter stated it was looking for “a bifocal and bi-directional” teaching and learning process (aka dialectical). The vision is “less focused on what we want learners to know and do, and are more sharply focused on what it is that we want learners to become, to be disposed toward, and to be (i.e., thinking and compassionate human beings).”

No funnels, just that invisible mental and psychological keel again. Rejecting the traditional emphasis on “scholastic abilities,” students are to have “intellective competence.” If that sounds vague, it is supposedly the necessary focus for education “with equity and justice at its core.” Once again, we are requiring a shift in emphasis to cultivating non-Axemaker Minds while arguing it’s a fulfillment of social justice obligations and civil rights law requirements to provide opportunity for all. Gordon defined this intellective competence back in 2001 as a “way of adapting, appreciating, knowing, and understanding the phenomena of human experience through the domains of cognitive, affective, and situative competence.” Sounds like consciously cultivated stupidity to me, but I suppose that works better given the kind of social transformation plans we keep encountering. If you are in Vienna in late April, you may want to go to this conference and join in the planning.http://emcsr.net/general-information/

Just how very low this “intellective competence” goal actually is gets hidden by asserting the now acquired ability to “engage and solve quotidian, as well as novel, problems adaptively.” Quotidian sounds most impressive until we look it up in the dictionary and see it translates into everyday problems. Somewhat akin to putting the basketball goal at 5 feet and celebrating everyone’s ability to suddenly dunk. We could call it Basketball for Excellence or Success for All. Gordon did admit though that what is driving him, and one can assume ETS as well since it bankrolled the Commission, is his desire for “developmental democratization” and measures of student achievement not tied to “hegemonic indicators of developed ability.” Those are the intentions behind Gordon and ETS’s beliefs about what should be measured in students.

So when you hear the words Growth or Achievement it may reflect computer gaming or group project participation with a change in values and beliefs as the focus. It may mean that the student’s internal representations brought from home and the interactions within a family have now been successfully altered in a student urged to show Grit and Perseverence in novel and ambiguous real world scenarios where there is no right answer and Cognitive Dissonance may be the intention of the scenario. The student may be showing they view all the world including other people as systems that can be gutted and redesigned to see if a better world is possible. As if all things smashed can be reglued after impact.

Or that cited higher achievement or Growth may reflect Edmund Gordon’s hope for an intellective competence focus. Then the assessment might be measuring “the effective orchestration of affective, cognition, and situative processes in the interest of intentional human agency. I place affect first for reasons other than respect for alphabetical order. Human activity appears to begin with affect, and I have come to believe that while cognition ultimately informs affect, it is affect that gives rise to cognitive functions.”

That’s the developmental obuchenie focus that the banner of the Common Core is obscuring. It’s coming in at various rates depending on the venality of consultants and administrators or their naivete. Peter Senge’s version may be more famous, but Spence Rogers’ Teaching for Excellence is another example of the Change the Student focus. That’s why teacher development is so crucial. It’s also the real reason teacher tenure rules are being targeted. Compliance with the developmental vision is required.

Only the time schedule and extent of the frenzy to implement varies now.

No more funnels. Just internal keels to steer with. With no need for consent.

Should we call this all totalitarian education?

Surreptitious Vision: Ed Reforms as Designing an Internal Keel to Control People and Manage Society

No I am not a sailor although I did once have a very fun weekend on a sailboat in the Chesapeake as a hapless, but supportive, passenger. I am afraid this metaphor of a keel that allows steering regardless of the direction of the wind has been invoked as the official analogy of those who wish to use education in the 21st century globally to change human behavior and ” design a new, organic, socio-cybernetic system for the management of society.” Please do take a deep breath before we continue. At least now we know why the virtual reality science simulations planned under Common Core Next Generation Standards have been focusing on illustrating force and motion in addition to all the ‘supposed’ threats to the environment. These days any content allowed through virtually always has a purpose in creating a transformational mindset.

Today’s discussion is largely from a 2011 paper by Scotland’s John Raven called “Competence, Education, Professional Development, Psychology, and Socio-Cybernetics.” It has global aspirations and fits perfectly with UNESCO’s use of the term “Cybernetics of Global Change” as part of its MOST-Management of Social Transformations-official program. Apparently, we, the hoped-for victims and funders of these transformation plans, are the only ones NOT familiar with just how often the planners have begun to think in terms of how to invisibly gain control of human behavior to manage society.

That control lever can occur, according to Raven, through a socio-cybernetic, competence, focus in education plus new political rules. Since stating this out loud would create a popular outcry that might interfere with plans for subjugation, the same developmental push gets sold globally now under the blissful, but misleading, term–focus on Excellence. The other necessary component involves changing the political governance arrangements, which is of course exactly what the UN’s Agenda 21 seeks to do. Majority rule, judicial overreach or neglect, regulations, and power to appointed boards instead of elected ones all work quite nicely too.

Today’s focus though is on education since both UNESCO and Raven declare this is the Yellow Brick Road to Social Control. Just as adding a keel to a sailing boat is cited by Raven as “key to getting the boat to sail into the wind” so an education that rejects the primacy of individual “technico-rational competence” and content knowledge in favor of “helping people to develop and get recognition for, the diverse, often idiosyncratic, talents they possess” is key to the radical vision of social transformation. If that seems a bit odd, how about the admission that the key to “changing the way we run society,” (don’t you just want to ask “who is we, Kemosabe?” as if this were a Tonto-Lone Ranger skit), is rejecting the traditional focus of school since it “reinforces a social order which offers major benefits to ‘able’ people.”

Poor dear, all of civilization that these writers and planners take for granted is thankfully due to the herd-defying curiosity and mischief of just a few ‘able’ people. We will rue the day when their minds came to be molded into whatever was necessary to tolerate transformations.  Instead, we are to get education designed to change “people’s beliefs about society, how it works, and their place in it” even if none of those beliefs are grounded in reality. In fact in acknowledging and laying out the intent that project-based learning will no longer be a way to discover content, Raven begins to disclose the radically different goals of what is also euphemistically called ‘student-centered learning.’ As he states explicitly (and he is the one who loves italics), the purpose of the letters or pictures or slogans or poems “was not to depict what was seen accurately, but to represent it in such a way as to evoke emotions that would lead to action.”

Remember in the last post when I kept reminding that curriculum grounded in virtual reality likely would be whatever simulation created politically useful beliefs and values and that Holos Consciousness? That statement was based on having hung out with more than one software developer in my life and career. Turns out though the 1995 book Cybersociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community warned several times about the very same thing. The whole purpose of stressing computer simulations in the classroom is the computer’s “capacity to represent action in which humans could participate.” Perfect way to prime the pump for revolution we might say. In fact science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, then a Byte columnist, was quoted as fearing that “technology masks the constructedness of any simulation.” Here are his exact words and they remain hugely relevant to the mental keel being created within the student by digital learning and assessments of 21st century competencies:

“The simulation is pretty convincing–and that’s the problem because…it’s a simulation of the designer’s theories, not of reality…The fact is, though, the computer doesn’t say anything at all. It merely tells you what the programmers want it to tell you.”

And the programmers, such as ISTE keynoter Jane McGonnigal, have been quite graphic that these games are being designed to create a mindset that believes in the need for social transformation. Sim City creator, Will Wright, was quoted as saying his games are adapted from Jay Forester’s World Dynamics work, which once again takes us back to the Club of Rome, the 1970s, and the desire to push systems thinking in education, economic planning, and the now-proverbial means of managing society. Cybersociety recognized that “representing flux and change is exactly what a simulation can do”, making it a far more effective tool for altering the nature of human experience and illustrating the possible causes of social change.

A very powerful, highly visual, weapon we are mandating for classrooms and ‘assessments’ without giving a second thought to its use as a driver of how the student’s mind will perceive the need for social change. Computer games have become so ubiquitous that remembering that they were once recognized as “where we go to play with the future” gets overlooked. So does the fact that the future is not the least bit bound to follow the variables set up in a software virtual simulation. Just ask Putin. Fostering a belief in things that are not true, and collectivist values that leave you unprotected against either foreign invaders or domestic predator politicians, is no way to become an adult.

Making computer gaming the focus of the classroom because it is engaging and increases graduation rates still omits a crucial fact all the programming world still remembers. The gamer unconsciously and intuitively “internalizes the logic of the program.” Just the thing in other words for those who want social transformation and people who can be steered like the keel of a boat. Precisely the metaphor Raven chose to both use and illustrate with drawings of a boat. Marry those manipulative visuals to an express declaration for a “dramatic reorganisation of most peoples’ thoughtways” via schools and universities and we indeed have a problem. All being implemented into a classroom near you without a By Your Leave under banners like the Common Core or Positive School Climate or a 1:1 Laptop Initiative.

Left out will be the acknowledgment that now ‘intelligence’ is to be understood as an emergent property of a group rather than an individual characteristic. Furthermore, this intelligence depends on releasing and harnessing a huge variety of individual talents that are scarcely related to intelligence as conventionally understood. Thus conventional ways of thinking are unethical–destructive of both individuals and society.”

The attempts to manage society and achieve new forms of governance will not be successful. Only the extent of wealth lost and prosperity trashed is in dispute. The intended damage to be delivered via education to the psyche, false beliefs, and pernicious or naive values is unstoppable unless enough people realize there is no dispute at what is being sought or why.

Intentionally created financial conflicts of interest seem to be the norm to coerce adults into either complying with, or actively advocating for, this vision of education. In the US I see it being pushed under federal civil rights laws as necessary to have Equity and Excellence. The very title of the global ed summit that commenced today in New Zealand-“Excellence, Equity, and Inclusiveness: High Quality Teaching For All” tells me this developmental, obuchenie, new view of ‘intelligence’ grounded in group interactions is a deliberate global phenomena.

If only someone could create a computer simulation for politicians and school administrators showing the true social effects of such widespread mind arson.

 

 

 

Facing the Implications of Education that Rejects Reality and Truth as Political Impediments

As we continue to ponder the reality that education has embarked globally on an enormous social experiment designed to change what students believe, value, and care about, without regard to likely consequences or the world as it actually exists, two more publications came my way this week. Each really hammered hard that it is change in personal development and a hoped for transformation in political, social, and economic institutions that is the point of education reform.

Misportraying reality is just an acceptable means to political goals. This can be quite hard for us to read or even contemplate. I always feel like the English fighting what they saw as overreach by the Stuart kings or how the American colonists saw King George and Parliament’s actions. I am not asserting a desire to finally be free. Will future students and the adults they will become though ever have that same sense that “service before self” is not a good slogan to live life by? Will they grasp that schools and universities forcing acceptance of such a belief are dramatically changing what it will now mean to be educated?

The first paper came from the National Education Policy Center and it touted the ability of the Common Core framework to promote a “race-conscious and progressive agenda” focused on equity. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/seeing-past-the-colorblind-myth Yep, we can only wish I was exaggerating a smidgen, but no–“We see the Common Core as a powerful opportunity to build diversity into instruction and encourage powerful dialogue.” Not the least bit of interest in looking at the created dysfunction in urban schools from earlier piloting of Vygotsky’s sociocultural psychology in those classrooms or the deliberate destruction of Inner Cities by political machines. Those would not be politically useful facts on our way to forcing enactment of King’s Beloved Community vision to properly commemorate the man.

The 2nd paper dated November 2013 from the Asia Society and the Rand Corporation once again confirmed that the word Competencies is the global euphemism obscuring the actual developmental focus of these required shifts in education. Common Core is merely the means to get the US on board and to eliminate tests that focus on content and facts. In the 21st century content can be used to practice essential skills. The rest of its use though is to change what the student believes, how she behaves, when she feels compelled to act and how, and what she cares for and how she will show it. The paper “Measuring 21st Century Competencies: Guidance for Educators” gave examples of the kind of Assessments that would be used in the 21st Century. One, a Mission Skills Assessment, developed by ETS for use in private independent schools, gets incorporated into classwork to affirmatively shift student’s values and beliefs.

Another, the PISA Collaborative Problem Solving assessment intends to use a computer generated avatar to interact with the student in virtual reality simulations. In the give-and-take with the computer, it will be the actual student who will be changing as a result of the programmed interaction. The SimScientists are cited as another curriculum with embedded assessments that rely on a designed virtual reality to replace the old textbook focus on facts and proven theories. Most people though will believe what they have experienced even if the experiences were carefully created to instill influential false beliefs. In fact, by breaking the competencies into the categories of cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal, that report replicated the very same explicitly proclaimed developmental focus that the Obama Administration http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/college-ready-as-a-goal-of-k-12-is-not-helpful-if-first-you-gut-the-historic-purpose-of-college/   wants to require from colleges and universities now. The one grounded in Robert Kegan’s work that the OECD is also stressing.

The report revealed that the Asia Society has joined with SCALE at Stanford to create a Graduation Performance System (GPS) Framework to look for whether a student has developed the desired values and beliefs, including empathy for others, to be deemed globally competent. Perhaps if I had not been simultaneously focusing on Vygotsky and what a developmental focus for the classroom would really mean I might not have read the report and recognized that all these assessments were designed to change the student’s values, attitudes, and beliefs and then monitor that they remained altered until adulthood. But I was and when I got to the Jaan Valsiner’s discussion of the Double Stimulation experimental method created by Vygotsky where [replace subject with student and think adaptive software on a computer while you read]:

“The experimenter sets up the situation of the task, together with other possible means that can result in a solution if the subject uses them… The structure of the task constitutes the subject’s experimental setting. The subject, put into such a situation, is expected to act constructively in devising a way to reach a solution to the problem… The original aspect of double stimulation is introduced when the emphasis of the observations becomes the child’s construction of new means that can help solve the problem and then restructure the whole task situation once invented.”

Remember how many times we have confronted the command that tasks or assessments be “untaught material” or “ambiguous situations with no fixed solution”? Valsineer went on to say expressly that this emphasis on the active role of the student who changes himself through his use of cultural tools and collaboration with others was grounded in the “dialectical philosophy (that was widely propagated in the Soviet Union in the 1920s.)” Well, at least they had a formal bloody revolution and a new flag and the Bolshevik creed to tip the average person that there was a political transformation going on at the level of the psychological characteristics of the individual. How about us?

I read that description of the experimental method and immediately recognized it fit with many of the computer scenarios I was reading about and gaming and the learning tasks funded by the Gates Foundation and especially what are being called formative assessments. A fairly simple search pulled up articles all over the world that had made that very same connection between Vygotsky’s experimental double stimulation method to change the person, and what is being planned for the classroom under the banner of the Common Core or Competencies or becoming a High Performing country on internationally benchmarked ‘tests.’

Valsineer tells us that “In cultural-historical thinking, historical implies the connection between past, present, and future.” By limiting access to what has been created by humans in the past, especially fluent use of symbol systems like reading and math that promote abstract thought, in today’s classrooms, CHAT seeks to change the nature of the future in predictable ways. It was created for a totalitarian regime. Transported to a free society like the US or Canada or Australia, this developmental focus is intended to change those cultures in collectivist directions. Remember the intentions of the creators travel with education and psychological theories even if they are left unstated in the present implementation. As we have discovered though the communitarian focus is actually stated in the real definition of career ready as well as in Character Education and Positive School Climate materials.

As I so often do when I am presented with an unpleasant but inescapable conclusion of what the actual education reforms are intended to do, I once again dug into some history. I went back to political scientist Kenneth Minogue’s 1963 book The Liberal Mind. He recognized the importance of subverting facts and the truth every time there is an aspiration to utopian thinking. Anytime we are looking at visions that “aim at nothing less than the transformation of human life,” we will find that “so ambitious a project necessarily takes a great interest in education, for like all movements, it is eager to recruit the young.” Amen to that. Minogue also foresaw that once change in the student is viewed as “a means to something else” that “outside manipulation is not far away.” Amen again and hiding as a Whole Child emphasis or in mindfulness practices tucked into definitions of physical fitness or Positive School Climate practices to supposedly combat bullying.

Truth is always such a target when transformation is the aim because “the moral character of truth-seeking is one which did not always play a prominent part in the world’s affairs, and could return to obscurity. Whenever men have, in recent history, attempted to snatch at political salvation, it is truth that has always been the first casualty, since, of all the causes of human turmoil, facts are the most obvious, and therefore the first to be suppressed. The more we dream of utopia, the less we can bear to face our imperfections.”

History also tells us that these utopian ends are never achieved and that horrible damage comes from this official instrumental focus on people as simply a means to desired  political ends. Especially when, as now, the desired ends are being duplicitously withheld as the true justification for the education reforms.

Or fraudulently sold as 21st century personalized learning that requires that tablets replace textbooks and group projects need to substitute for lectures.

Is the typical Principal or District Super these days to be an intentional social revolutionary or just an inadvertent one?

 

 

Explaining the Sudden Ubiquity of Psycho-Development Theory: Changing Students Now to Alter the Future

Macroshift and Megachange. Holos Consciousness. Ambitious changes to society, political structures, or targeting human behavior itself need theories and models. Not to reflect reality as it currently exists, but to alter reality in the future. It is that vision of the future that then refers back to what kinds of activities and experiences students are now to have. It’s not that lectures and textbooks are not a good way for students to obtain useful and correct information. That method of transmission though leaves the nature of the current culture as a given and the nature of the future not just unpredictable, but grounded on the foundations currently in place. As Professor Jaan Valsiner stated in his 1989 metatheoretical textbook, Human Development and Culture: The Social Nature of Personality and Its Study:

“the collective culture undergoes change and development as a result of the economic and educational changes in society, political events, and the collectively coordinated effects of individuals’ personal cultures.”

Radical Ed Reform (defined in my book as well as the history of previous attempts) is always about collective coordination to obtain a radically altered future. Actual proclaimed collusion. It is also always accomplished by altering students’ personal cultures–their perspectives, beliefs, feelings, visual mental images, associations, attitudes. That has always been the goal whenever education reforms are tied to political purposes. Even if that vision is left unstated, or is tucked away in poorly unknown documents that clearly show the collusion and collective coordination going on. Computers, adaptive software, a gaming emphasis, formative assessments (also explained in book), and all the data being thrown off simply make it easier to know what an individual’s inner mental representations are like. These also reveal what it will take to change them and thus the student.

The February 2014 Pearson report Impacts of the Digital Ocean on Education (ht/ Mercedes Schneider’s Edublog yesterday) makes that quite clear and just in time for the rollout of Pearson’s All Digital Common Core Curriculum. That report admits that “Teaching and learning is a specific social process designed to change behaviour within the learning setting.” Something to remember as you wave good-bye to that school bus in the morning. Later, in describing the kind of data being generated by the game Nephrotex, as students role play engineering firm interns assigned the design task of creating a dialysis machine filter (science? biology?), Pearson reveals:

“Researchers have developed methods of analyzing chat logs not only to measure knowledge, skills, values and identity, but also to illuminate the connections between these factors. These very interactions, which are not captured in the digital desert, allow us to make more detailed inferences about learners. [Computer can actually know us better than we know ourselves and is in a position to change that Identity and those values]. In addition, playing the game appears to increase not just learning [Remember that behavior change is the above definition], but also motivation in groups underrepresented among engineering majors.”

Some way to gain equity. Continuing on, let’s shift to another psychologist who also pushed the developmental approach in education, while he too is being honest about its purpose as a means to “shape a new reality.” In his 1986 book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds published by Harvard, Professor Jerome Bruner ended with this acknowledgment of purpose:

“When and if we pass through the unbroken despair in which we are now living, when we feel we are again able to control the race to destruction, a new breed of development theory is likely to arise. It will be motivated by the question of how to create a new generation that can prevent the world from dissolving into chaos and destroying itself. I think its central technical concern will be how to create in the young an appreciation of the fact that many worlds are possible, that meaning and reality are created and not discovered, that negotiation is the art of constructing new meanings by which individuals can regulate their relations with each other.”

I am going to pause in the middle of this quote to point out this kind of misunderstanding of reality and power and relations may be precisely why current UN ambassador, and former Harvard prof Samantha Powers, ended up being literally laughed at by the Russians this week at the UN. It is even caught by photograph. Was she taught such nonsense when she was young? I get wanting the world to be different, but we are intentionally creating dangerous misconceptions and beliefs. Let’s continue, Bruner is still spinning:

“It will not, I think, be an image of human development that locates all of the sources of change inside the individual, the solo child. For if we have learned anything from the dark passage of history through which we are now moving it is that man, surely, is not ‘an island, entire of itself,’ but a part of the culture that he inherits and then recreates. The power to recreate reality, to reinvent culture, we will come to recognize, is where a theory of development must begin its discussion of mind.”

That supposed recreation of reality and reinvention of culture is hidden today behind the ubiquitous explanations for 21st century education reform about the need for ‘creativity’ and ‘problem solving skills.’ I learned this week that in 2009 the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association began colluding (and not disclosing it, at least in the training session I attended in 2012) to transform public education in Georgia around development theory. The 2010 document, A Vision for Public Education in Georgia: Equity and Excellence, went so far as to hire the ed lab known for advocating Second Order Change via Education, McREL in Aurora, Colorado. See  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/second-order-change-why-reform-is-a-misnomer-for-the-real-common-core/ These two trade groups who both live off taxpayers even openly proclaimed that this troubling 2008 Texas Coup by Certain Supers was their inspiration. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-intentional-insurrection-in-texas-supers-override-governor-legislature-and-taxpayers/

There’s a great deal to be horrified by in that 2010 document, as the supposed watchdogs join hands with the supposedly overseen, but for the moment I want to use its acknowledgment that this planned transformation was based on the idea that these two trade groups could “develop a theory [to predict the future and] to make sense of the real world and test it against that real world over time.” Practicing on children’s minds and personalities at taxpayer expense. The hubris and arrogance continues:

“We believe that the leadership of public education [those anointed trade groups again] has an obligation to develop a theory–a vision–for the future of public education in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world. We can then work diligently to ensure that the future we envision is realized.”

Only the genuinely uneducated, no matter how many degrees they have, or someone addicted to munching from the public trough of taxpayer funds could write or embrace such  a ridiculous statement. Yet this “single, shared vision” of experiential education using technology and emphasizing collaboration and projects is now supposed to be binding across the state. I wonder how many more states have comparable documents? I know every state I look at now is using comparable developmental language, usually starting with what is meant by ‘student-centered learning.’ All experimental. All social engineering with a tsunami of expected personal behavioral and motivational data.

I am going to come back to these theoretical models of using education to try to alter human development and thereby the future in the next post. I wanted to end by reminding everyone that knowledge is not going away completely in this vision, even if it is being reimagined and given a new ‘constructed meaning.’ No, the Georgia document reminds us that the new curriculum should be relevant to real-life, real world problems that need to be solved. The activities should also be centered around ‘overarching concepts’ and ‘themes.’ The report suggests ‘conflict’ or ‘transition’ or ‘revolution’ as useful concepts and the ‘environment’ as a theme.

Somebody, certainly the McREL ed lab, seems to appreciate that there is a Great Transition planned around trying to prevent supposed global environmental crises; that the changes sought will be radical; and that conflicts involving race and ethnicity and gender and wealth and income inequality will be nurtured to fuel the desired political change.

Now do you see how the Macroshift and Megachange and the creation of a Holos Consciousness and research involving a cybernetic theory of human behavior control can be found hiding behind the Common Core banner? With no one the wiser unless tracking the real implementation is a full-time research effort?

Megachange & Macroshift: Daily School Experience to Fuel a Revolution in Consciousness

Megachange is a term used to celebrate how classroom computers can “‘break down the barriers that traditionally separate the preletterate from the letterate [yes, that is the spelling. Literate is reserved now to mean the hoped for change in ways of thinking], the concrete from the abstract, the bodily from the disembodied. ” It puts the focus on the visual and how things are used. It dislodges the “privileged position of text” and allows “dynamic media” to guide perception of the world. It no longer sees ‘learning as facts and skills to be acquired.” Instead, via the data captured by adaptive software, digital learning will allow room for what was supposedly rejected by traditional, instructional oriented education, which “had no explicit concern for feelings or for personality or for development of the individual on a level that was not reducible to such specific atoms of learning.”

That discussion of megachange was from an MIT Professor, Seymour Papert, in his 1993 book Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. Papert’s work is seen by the well-funded Edutopia site as relevant to how digital learning should be implemented under the Common Core. That means that Papert’s theories of Constructionism [seeming to update Piotr Galperin’s theories via the computer] come in as do his desire to create a new view of knowledge grounded in experience. He wants to see a shift in organizations, communities, and in our view of knowledge–from hierarchy to hetarchy. Nothing is to be treated as inherently superior and hetarchy creates a “system in which each element is equally ruled by all others.”

Of course, element is used here not as a modular component of a computer program, but as a substitute for actual people. Hetarchy is a communitarian concept where the will of the majority binds all. Democratic, but tyranny for the minority. It fits right in with a cooperative commonwealth or King’s Beloved Community concept of the future, but is definitely not grounded in our current political structures and institutions. That of course is where the Holos Consciousness comes in. Papert thanks Nicholas Negroponte by name and mentions his founding of the MIT Media Lab in the book. Why did I start with megachange in education instead of going straight into the nature of the Macroshift? Because this is how the Ervin Laszlo defined the Breakthrough Scenario to get to a Holos Consciousness in a critical mass of people:

“A new vision of self, others, and nature surfaces on the Internet, on television, and in the communication networks of enterprises, communities, and ethnic groups…Global news and entertainment media explore fresh perspectives and emerging social and cultural innovations. The public’s goals and ambitions become reoriented–toward ‘the good life’ conceived not as amassing the greatest possible amount of money and material goods but as finding meaningful personal relationships and caring for others and for nature…”

Yes, I do get how much of that is going on now, including last Friday’s announcement the US is turning over control of the Internet to the same UN-affiliated entity, ITU, that is pushing the Information Society vision so hard now (including the recent Sakhalin Declaration on IML-Information and Media Literacy). Does this part sound familiar as well? “Funds and capital are channeled from military and defense applications and the demands of an affluent minority to the needs of the people who make up the bulk of the society. Measures are implemented to safeguard the environment, create an effective system of food and resource distribution, and develop and put to work sustainable energy, transport, and agricultural technologies…More and more people enter the Internet and other communication systems  as active dialogue partners. Their communication reinforces solidarity and uncovers further areas of mutual interest.”

That’s the vision of a World shifting towards a Holos Consciousness. It follows that quote with a blurb from Gandhi that “our world has enough to provide for people’s need, but not enough to provide for their greed.” Of course we have all noticed that the people pushing this so-called planetary ethic of altruism from school district offices to the universities to charitable foundations are exceptionally well-paid from taxpayer funds or tuition or untaxed endowments or trusts. Like Al Gore’s jetting about, the point is not how the creators intend to live, but how the rest of us should. My observation in my book and this blog on where education reform always ends up sure does make more sense when we understand that “a macroshift is a transformation of civilization in which the technology [ICT in case that is not obvious] is the driver and the values and consciousness of a critical mass of people the decider.”

And how do we guide consciousness to what is desired? By altering “values, worldviews, and ethics.” People need to change “their preferences, priorities, values and beliefs,” which is of course much easier if they are convinced that the planet is in environmental crisis from human behavior and the current nature of the economy. Let’s put last week’s Climate Depot story of junior high students unable to sleep because of concern over global warming catastrophes in light of this aim. The emphasis in the 90s on what was then called outcomes based education and what is pushed as social and emotional learning, Whole Child, and soft skills now makes so much more sense with the admission it is:

“the values, beliefs, and ethics that can bring our macroshift to a humane and sustainable conclusion. These ‘soft’ factors in the life of society are the new imperatives of our time–they are even more essential to success than the traditional ‘hard’ factors of economic, political, and business engineering and reengineering.” If the duration of this same intent and targeting of consciousness over decades surprises you and seems a bit conspiratorial, the Preface to the Macroshift book actually contains a shout-out to the creators of the 1970s World Order Models Project, by name, although WOMP itself is not mentioned. Many people have told me the WOMP post is the most alarming wake-up call they have ever read on this blog.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/reorienting-world-order-values-via-the-intervention-of-activist-education-and-progressive-politics/ The described organic reorientation of K-12 education fits perfectly with Papert’s goals for computer learning and the recently announced global curriculum redesign project with many of the same players involved with the Macroshift to a Holos Consciousness. It also ties the transition to the goals of “socialism with a human face’ described in that post. Yes, quoting Gandhi about needs is so much better from a PR standpoint than attributing the desired planetary ethic to Marx. However, the desired slogan of “Live in a way that enables others to live as well” is unquestionably a simple restatement of Uncle Karl’s small c vision–his human development theory. It was also tied to society getting to a certain stage of technological development that would supposedly allow everyone’s needs to be met without beggaring everyone.

In ancient times all roads led to Rome. In the 21st century all education and other radical reforms of institutions and political structures seem to always wind back to that chronically unemployed 19th century moocher with a toxic vision. Which is why we keep the vision without attributing it back to the notorious name where it really started. Marx WAS right that consciousness was the essential component of getting a desired revolution in the real world. He was wrong though to believe it would be a natural by-product of social class. Holos Consciousness or insisting that learning be about concrete experiences that are relevant to real world problems are both just the latest attempts to alter consciousness in ways advantageous to anyone with hopes for radical transformation. Computers again are just a tool that lets those experiences be programmed as desired.

It is in light of these transformational goals that the push for mindful, contemplative experiences should be seen. It is how students get the announced goal of a new kind of rationality. One that, as Papert noted above, does not privilege print. It is no accident that  Macroshift uses the Greek term for the written word-Logos-to describe the kind of rationality it wants schools and the media and entertainment to squelch. It claims “Logos-inspired evolution was materialistic and conquest-and-consumption-oriented. The alternative to it is evolution centered on human development and development of human communities.”

By admission this Holos Consciousness is rooted in deep spiritual practices. It is a “collective evolution” with nothing but disdain for the individual. It is all about “adjusting our values, aspirations, and behaviors.” The latter of course is accomplished via the collection of data on students using poorly understood definitions of Competency, Student Growth, and Student Achievement.

At no time are parents ever likely to hear the phrases–Marxist Humanism, Holos Consciousness, or the planetary ethic. Yet compliance with all these visions, which are in fact euphemisms for each other, will be actively guided, measured, and cultivated.

From the reading selections to learning tasks to classroom topics and vocabulary to the nature of the open-ended problems on assessments and projects and digital curricula and online games.

Evolution to a Holos Consciousness Is Certainly Not My Idea of Education Reform. Is It Yours?

Take a deep breath and hold on to your hat if you have one on. The amount of evidence I have on the story I am about to tell is overwhelming, but in a blog format I cannot really cite all of it. Those with my book will want to pull it out and reread the parts about Theodore Brameld’s intentions for education globally and Gorbachev, Harlan Cleveland, the noosphere, and the Club of Rome. The phrase Holos Consciousness is the desire of the related Club of Budapest and was laid out in Ervin Laszlo’s 2001 book, Macroshift: Navigating the Transformation to a Sustainable World.

I ordered it after his son, Christopher, was cited as the main force behind the October 2014 Global Forum on Business as an Agent of World Benefit, and when I recognized how many of the important pushers of a radical K-12 education vision had been involved with Ervin’s pursuit of conscious evolution during the Cold War–the General Evolution Research Group or GERG. Two names really jumped out from the list of Honorary Budapest Members, Professor Nicholas Negroponte, a founder of the MIT Media Lab that we just keep encountering, and Robert Muller (whose World Core Curriculum from the 90s is the nightmare many have worried is where the phrase Common Core was designed to quietly lead.)

Now I am going to pivot for a moment to the report RSA issued earlier in the week that I assumed would tie into the already announced communitarian agenda of the future using Big Data. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/science-fiction-made-real-were-we-ever-to-know-in-time/ I knew it was on character education and social and emotional learning as the new K-12 emphasis. The actual report though had this provocative title: Schools with Soul: A new approach to Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education. RSA promptly created the acronym SMSC education so we will too. SMSC “requires a robust, co-constructed and shared understanding of each of its components” in the literal sense of insisting we are now to have approved, and accepted by all, beliefs fostered via school (and media as well). Everything else I suppose is to be illicit. Foremost on the list of what must be jettisoned as SMSC comes to the forefront of the view of what education is to be in the 21st century are the “overt values of capitalism and individuality.”

That true aim of global education reform, which you may remember we just keep encountering in the small print describing definitions and planned practices, becomes even more apparent if you know anything about the two individuals chosen for intro quotes in that RSA report. Professor Unger’s is mild, almost fortune cookie material: “The commanding objective must be the achievement of a larger life for ordinary men and women.” Only a hint of his radical beliefs now told from his perch as a Harvard professor. We met Unger here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/multiple-recent-proclamations-laying-out-commitment-to-revolutionary-transformation-of-our-entire-society/ where I quoted his intentions laid out in a 2007 book. Here’s a sample from that post that fits in perfectly with the Helos Consciousness and the Education 3.0 we have been discussing in comments:

“Education, beginning in childhood and continuing throughout the working life, must nourish a core of generic conceptual and practical capacities to make the new out of the old. It must also equip the mind with the means with which to resist the present. For this very reason, the school should not remain under the control of the community of local families, who tell the child, become like us.”

Now Schools with Soul says that “more than any other dimension of SMSC, spiritual development needs a ‘stipulative’ definition that spells out how pupils’ spirituality will be developed at school…three categories…could usefully inform schools’ approaches: experiences, practices, and perspectives.” Long time readers will remember that many New Age practitioners attach all sorts of names to their pushes and then show up at schools or doing teacher development where it gets referred to as promoting Positive School Climate or anti-bullying or mental first-aid. Same practices and experiences being promoted. Same end-game transformed perspectives being sought.

In fact the second lead-in quote is far more overt than Unger’s. Stephen R. Covey is cited for stating that “We are not human beings are on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” OK, you say, Covey is entitled to his beliefs. But how many readers would recognize that Covey’s books such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or his book just for teens are cited by charter schools and in ed reform presentations as embodying what schools now push to promote success for all? What they take into consideration in calculating whether a student is ‘achieving’ or has ‘Growth.’ The presentation I heard of Covey’s work was sponsored by AT&T and the local Chamber of Commerce as what the essence of the legislatively mandated “soft skills” would mean.

My point is that these fundamental shifts in the essence of what is felt and valued and believed are taking place now. It’s in the digital curricula and  MIT Media Lab produced games to create empathy or social and emotional learning practices that are not even on a parent’s radar screen. RSA may be located in the UK, but that’s a report with global aspirations citing Michael Barber and his work for Pearson and many of the reports we have discussed on this blog. The shift is occurring now. It is about altering worldviews and mindsets, and we are not even being given a chance to consent, or a By Your Leave, or even a reference to the shift in an electoral platform. I am seeing conversion charters that use euphemisms to take away that very veto power from parents or local school boards that Unger aspired to obtain, and School Governance Councils created to do the same. It could be farce if children’s minds and personalities were not the actual target.

Oh, and Western civilization when we read the intended shifts involved with that Holos Consciousness sought by the Club of Budapest. And we get there by having schools that quietly implement a spirituality focus without calling it that in letters home or robocalls to parents interpreting the school’s new vision and mission. Instead, the classrooms simply “initiate important conversations about what life is for, instilling a better felt sense for the myriad of human experiences, and some practical know-how on meaning-making for ourselves and others through rituals and practices.” You can do a search and check out how often now Mindfulness exercises are being pushed in the classroom, even on preschoolers and elementary kids. None of this is accidental and all of it is precisely in line with what the Club of Budapest regards as necessary for its agenda of planetary change.

Here’s the RSA definition of spiritual experiences, practices, and perspectives. Before I give it I will remind all of us that this fits with Mihalyi Csiksentmihalyi’s definition of the flow experiences schools should create in order to foster what he defines as excellence. Also that Csik is involved with Ervin Laszlo’s work on conscious evolution. Yes, Houston, we do have a problem, and indeed, the worst we could contemplate is really already here.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/

“Spiritual experiences are moments of aliveness, rapture and homecoming that make the world feel viscerally meaningful. Spiritual practices are the disciplined and creative activities that support human development–things we do to strengthen our inner lives. Spiritual perspectives are the value-rich visions of what it means to be here, to be human, our worldviews that contextualize our experiences and practices.”

In other words, these look a great deal like a student-centered classroom having media rich activities and a rich, relevant dialogue that focuses on the 4Cs of 21st century skills: communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Parents will never notice the shift. If they do, Common Core is ever ready to be the excuse for the change in attitudes and dispositions in the student. I want to close this post about how such a fundamental desired shift can and is occurring almost invisibly with a point Zaid Hassan made in his book we discussed in the last post. He talks about the importance of a koan to obtaining personal transformation in Buddhism. As a serious nerd and scholar of what is really going on in education, I noticed the resemblance to John Dewey’s Indeterminate Situation and much of the planned assessment under the Common Core.

As I always say, same function, same purpose, whether admitted or not, so let’s look at what Hassan said was the purpose of a koan.

“In Zen practice, a koan is a particular kind of question that, on the face of it, seems not to make any sense. It’s used with students to provoke great doubt and gauge their progress in Zen. For example, ‘two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?’…the value of a koan is not in answering the question, for there is no answer. It’s that the Zen student, in struggling with the question, arrives at a new way of being, valuing, if you like, the very nature of the struggle. The struggle generates value, producing new insights and change.”

Such productive struggle, as educators call it of untaught or ambiguous problems, has a similar effect in non-Zen students. Some of them do not appreciate such deliberate social engineering while they are legally captives in a K-12 classroom in the least.

Now that we have seen how the Holos Consciousness can be grasped on a massive scale without anyone really noticing the shift while it is happening, we will go into the nature of the Macroshift next.

Adding Comrade Education and Psychological Predation to Our Descriptions of Envisioned Cybernetic Learning

Since honestly laying out intentions in public is so rare in education reforms these days, I thought I would use a recent book by the founder of the Reos Institute, Zaid Hassan. Reos aspires to dramatically change K-12 education globally.  http://reospartners.com/project-view/449?v=print Hassan works closely with Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, and the MIT Media Lab. The book is called The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach to Solving Our Most Complex Problems . These two quotes give a sample to the recommended approach for solving today’s challenges. The first is from a professor, Thomas Homer Dixon:

“The public not only needs to understand the importance of experimentation within the public services; it needs to engage in experimentation itself. To the extent that the public explores the solution landscape through its own innovations and safe-fail experiments, it will see constant experimentation as a legitimate and even essential part of living in our new world.”

Now I find this book to be asinine and factually wrong in numerous instances, but ridiculous can still be influential. This book is to be the source of numerous conferences all over the world over the next year. Quote number 2 is from a US President, Franklin Roosevelt, and it leads a chapter called “The New Ecologies of Capital.”

“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands, bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Now historians (see Amity Schlaes’ fine The Forgotten Man) credit that very experimentation with what extended and deepened the Great Depression in the 1930s, but it did grow the public sector at all levels as a source of employment. Maybe that’s why Hassan pushes all this experimentation as does the UN and the OECD and even US agencies. After all the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) described these as the capabilities needed for education and workforce development back in January 2013:

“Building human capacity to respond to the emerging challenges…requires the expansion of skills within the existing public and private sectors and developing a new workforce that excels at critical and interdisciplinary thinking. Useful capacities include facilitation and communication skills, integration of new technologies and data sources into existing programs and practices, management of collaborative processes to allow for imaginative solutions, development and use of sustainable technologies to reduce climate risks, and building frameworks for decision-making in an internationally interdependent world.”

Now alert readers will recognize that this quote on what the US government now seeks from its citizens is an example of “various types of human activities” that Soviet prof Nina Talyzina wanted to make the focus of education under a cybernetics theory of control. Adults with such an education will think nothing of all this desired experimentation by the public sector and its cronies. They will be unlikely to know much about FDR except that somehow the Great Depression ended and will be unlikely to notice that author Hassan thinks Jack Welch was the legendary CEO of General Motors. (Obviously not a GE shareholder during the 90s.) Accurate knowledge is an obstacle to all these transformation plans in other words. It must be disallowed in the future without the shift being readily apparent.

One of the terms we are hearing tossed about now in states that adopted the Common Core and others, like Texas, that did not, is open source. Superficially it appears to be about not having to worry about copyrights on desired curricular materials. As usual though, even a tiny scratch across the surface of this assumed definition pulls up the actual intentions–to shift away from the “current dominant paradigm of teacher-and subject-centred learning in formal education…to a learner-centred, competency-based paradigm.” Did you catch that the phrases “learner-centered” and “competency” are regarded as the antithesis, as in 180 degree-polar opposites, of a transmission of knowledge approach? So the terms being bandied about on the new approach to learning reject the transmission of knowledge.

Instead we are to get learners’ own explorative, constructive and communicative activities, hopefully via ICT, that work on personal competences and “cognitive and social skills such a conceptual thinking, creativity, planning and conduct of teamwork, etc.”Just like that USGCRP vision imagines. Material from Europe (the OLCOS road mapping work) make the intended goal explicit. Education in the 21st century should provide the “competences required to participate successfully in the emerging knowledge-based society.” Well, “knowledge-based” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Except that’s another defined phrase pushed by UN entities and the OECD going back to a 2005 UN Economic & Social Affairs document.” Once again it is all about this transformation to a human solidarity vision where knowledge is actually to be limited to “information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and judgment. It is acquired through one’s own experience or reflections on the experiences of others.” This Tacit Knowledge, as the UN calls it, expressly includes “subjective insights, intuitions and hunches.”

The better to tolerate persistent experimentation and treatment as a collective. I had a reader outraged by this January 2014 vision http://www.edutopia.org/blog/how-common-core-social-emotional-learning-connected-maurice%20elias which seemed authoritarian. I agree, but creating a tolerance for this type of Psychological Predation and surrender of personal autonomy to the will of the group is simply practice for the global vision of the knowledge-based society. After all it must be a place that “cannot accommodate social exclusion and marginalization. This would result in weakening its very foundations.” So we all get to participate. If we do not get to actually attend these social labs in the future, we should at least help pick those decision-makers who do. (Much like that post from Marina Gorbis, head of Institute for the Future, contemplated).

Remember in the last post I pointed out how crucial the models of virtual reality and gaming would come to be for how students and the adults they become see the world? An example of  tools to foster the desired competences and skills is listed as “games-based virtual worlds that foster the understanding of social and economic dynamics through interactively changing rules and constraints.” Now who thinks that those virtual worlds will accurately portray what creates prosperity or causes dysfunction? And that’s the useful aspect of this little accurate knowledge, change the student approach. Such students are highly unlikely to play Spot that Error or Find that Fallacy like I do when I read these intentions for the future.

By insisting education must be experiences [Talyzina’s activity as well as CHAT’s or Common Core’s learning tasks] that are “rich, real and relevant,” the priming conditions for the cybernetic theory of control are firmly in place. The nature of the activity or experiences or projects or tasks gets prescribed by a teacher or a computer. Plus the supposed tie to the existing real world affects the student’s mindset on how the world works and what needs to be transformed. Notice how all the emphasis on virtual worlds gives the perfect place to begin the habit of social, political, and economic experimentation. In fact, the examples given of “real, rich and relevant” are “addressing real world problems, working collaboratively, using new tools and information services, and critically discussing content and study results.”

In fact, this recent update being pushed by the Edutopia site http://learni.st/users/127212/boards/74592-applying-blooms-to-the-21st-century-workshop shows that the Education 3.0/Redefinition of the Purpose of Ed fits in perfectly with the Open Source agenda of radically altering the nature of teaching-and-learning (in the hyphenated way that means the Russian word obuchenie). It also fits perfectly with letting students use “learning approaches that allow them to play to their strengths by using creative and social software tools for coursework and carrying out study projects.”

Now I am not being a smart aleck by using the term Comrade Education. Well maybe just a little, but there is unquestionably a collective transformation vision attached to the learner-centered, competency vision. There was and is one attached to the cybernetics vision and its theory of how to gain predictable control over human behavior. The rationale for the Whole Child, social and emotional learning emphasis and all the push around non-cognitive personality traits all have political purposes seeking individual and collective social change. Knowledge may be an ever declining individual commodity, but, fortunately for us, if uncomfortably for my peace of mind, it is still something I have in abundance. And every bit of it says we are basing all these sought educational changes around impossible goals.

I would argue they are also unfortunate, dangerous goals. They are certainly goals that merit public discussion, not deceitful definitions that obscure the true nature of what is being transformed.

And How. And Why.

Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory on Students While Pretending the Impetus is Equity for All

The term cybernetics to me was always just a vague concept that had something to do with computers. I was following up on the Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin and his behavior-orienting systemic-theoretical instruction by reading a 1975 book (translated into English in 1980, except curiously the footnotes) by one of his students, Nina Talyzina. Called The Psychology of Learning it kept referring to cybernetics, but there were no computers. Instead, cybernetics is described as a theory of control over processes. One of the processes that the Soviets and certain American educators wanted to control was human behavior.

Before anyone thinks this is just a haunting history lesson with me pouncing on disturbing intentions from the past, let me remind everyone that the US Common Core are designed as performance standards. They are about what students are to be doing. Competency is the same globally as is 21st Century Skills. Performance assessments are about action.  The shift from a mental focus to an activity focus (because that is what Marxist-Leninist theory required as Talyzina laid out) has already taken place. The significance of that deliberate shift is simply not well enough appreciated. Cybernetics, as applied to education, seeks to optimize “control of the learning process.”

That learning process is no longer to be “through the development of capacities that already exist at birth,” like mental ability, but is rather “a process of assimilation of various types of human activities by students and hence of the set of actions that bring this about.” What is going on with the learning tasks created for Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of the book), as well as the digital curricula being unveiled by Pearson (with Microsoft as partner) and Amplify (rolled out for middle school this week) among others, and the Connected Learning agenda being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf , are all examples of designing the teaching-learning [obuchenie] process in accordance with the requirements of a general theory of control.

When I recognized the full implications of what the Consortium of school districts from the last post sought (hence the hunger for Student data and continuous mentions of feedback in personalized instruction) and the gaming in classrooms (with its ability to control the visual images associated with any chosen concept and force the virtual world to conform to desired models of either reality or the future) to the cybernetic theory of how to control human behavior without that being apparent, I did some searches to see what was happening now.  One of those pulled up an essay that had been in the 2002 UNESCO Encyclopedia by the radical constructivist Ernst von Glasersfeld who I had talked about in Chapter 3 of the book. I gulped since I had not been looking for UNESCO or Glasersfeld. The essay is called “Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge” http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/255 and it lays out how crucial the theory of constructivism in education is to the goal of behavioral control via cybernetic principles.

More gulps. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word “Kybernetes” which referred to a steersman of  ship. It is the etymological root of the English word “governor” as in the lead elected state officials who seem so determined these days to combine economic development with education as workforce development. The word also retains its same control function in its use as a governor on an engine, regulating possible uses. Maybe we didn’t really appreciate the significance of the term cybernetics or its applicability to education, but radicals interested in political and social transformation at the level of individual consciousness certainly do. Everything to be required, or condemned, in a Common Core classroom is now driven by turning to Vygotsky and especially Galperin (image, associations, concepts) as the necessary psychological theories (instead of Skinner’s behaviorism). Galperin’s theory especially, backed up by decades of research, laid out a means and rationale for specifying the desired activity in the real world that would then produce the hoped for mental concepts.

Those mental conceptions, because they are created by actual activity in either the real world or a virtual immersion world (of the sort pushed by MIT’s Media Lab or Amplify’s Zombie Apocalypse game), are thus controllable in a way conceptions built up by facts delivered from lectures and textbooks are not. Then we have the new assessments and now to be a new SAT to monitor the extent to which the desired concepts (in the hermeneutic-dialogical sense we met in the previous post) are connected to associated  relational qualities (also supplied) and then tied to real world problems or phenomena. Understanding here is like a web and assessments are looking to see what strategies the student’s web of understanding reaches to apply when there is no fixed or correct answer. That tells a great deal about how the student will behave as an adult when they are on their own.

Now the Cold War implications of this psychology of learning and Galperin and cybernetics as a feature of education in a supposedly free country, especially since Talyzina mentioned a UNESCO symposium in 1976 on the psychological bases of programmed instruction, are obvious. Despite what is going on now in the Ukraine and the Crimea and the current Russian role in the UN’s digital learning and Information Society initiatives I have written about, our problem in 2014 are not the big C threat of decades ago. Subjugation of the individual and control over consciousness though clearly remain a primary government goal though. That Connected Learning report above makes it painfully clear that the digital and media agenda now in education is tied to a social and economic transformation to a shareable, collaborative consumption economy.   The new motto is to be “sharing reinvented through technology.”

If you go to the writings of the professors cited to show the economy is changing, we find the sociologist Juliet Schor (see her tag) who wrote Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. That pulls in her commonwealth vision of the future and the agenda of Gar Alperowitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Another cite turns out to be Harvard Labor Economist Richard Freeman. Finally, there is a cite to a 2008 paper by Bowles and Gintis. Uncited is their book from 1976 Schooling in Capitalist America that predicted a socialist transformation of the US that might need to become violent. I mentioned that book in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ . Its central point that education is so crucial to social change because “socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself” is even more relevant when cybernetics is in use.

Making the cognitive activities, such as learning tasks or computer games, and the internal mental states created, the focus of instruction is certainly a fine way to develop and manipulate such a consciousness. It’s not like we are not drowning in evidence at this point of such broader transformative intentions from every direction. Foundations, local districts, states, federal DoEd (they openly work with MacArthur on Reimagining Education), and internationally via the UN and the OECD. Page 91 of that Connected Learning report even links to ITU’s 2011 Measuring the Information Society report. It is what led me to the UNESCO Sakhalin Declaration I wrote about already.

I can find the M-L roots of what is being pushed now. Talyzina was quite graphic about them. The public sales pitch now though for the same theories and practices is that the shift to digital and networked media (that makes cybernetics so much easier via adaptive software and the visual emphasis) is necessary to protect the life opportunities of “non-dominant youth.” To force “an environment in which opportunity and outcomes are widely shared across the citizenry” as if productive wealth is not in the minds of talented people, but in some pot ready to be rearranged. The constant drumbeat that these shifts are necessary “begins with questions of equity” and “centers on an equity agenda.” If you got a quarter for every time that report mentioned “privileged” youth or families or the “elite”, you could go out for a fine lunch.

That report once again quotes John Dewey making me very glad I laid out in the book why his vision remains so relevant to what is sought today. If we go down this road of cybernetic control over the development of a student’s adult personality (what college and career ready actually tracks back to) and adopt the vision “as progressives have argued for generations, the functions of schooling should be to prepare young people for contributing and participating in social life, which includes economic activity but also civil society, family, and community” where will we be as a nation or world in five or ten years?

Will it make the world a peaceful place? No, we will simply not see the aggression coming until it is too late. Will the public sector workers lying to us now on their intentions and lining their pockets with tax money decide to suddenly act altruistically in the name of the common good and genuine social justice? No again.

Equity and equal opportunity for all strike me as a means to federalize issues of education practice so that change can be required without consent or notice. Through civil rights law edicts. Secondly, it forces a surrender of individual primacy and sovereignty. It takes a citizen as subject to be molded at will approach.

No wonder we just keep running into all these Soviet techniques and theories. They were free to do the preliminary research on cybernetics in education. Guess where it will be continuing now?

Deliberate Cultural Evolution Via Developmental Psychology to Force Social Change, Or, Gypsy Supers Lobby DC

Gypsy Supers and Gypsy Principals are terms I came up with to describe how certain people regularly shift schools and districts for promotions and pay raises. Each shift pushes the new location further towards the ultimate goal of Transformational Outcomes Based Education (OBE). I am still using the 90s terminology from its creation and I explain how it still fits in now in the book (Chapter 4). Since OBE became infamous, we have new terms for these old pursuits. In particular, Competency as used in that RSA report (check Milton Rokeach tag) and “21st Century Outcomes” and “College-and-Career-Readiness Outcomes” as used in this  recent lobbying effort by suburban districts on how federal law should be rewritten.  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/Consortium%20-%20%20Recommendations%20for%20a%20New%20Federal%20Accountability%20Framework%20February%202014.pdf

I wonder if the taxpayers in the metro Atlanta or Greenville or Charlotte or Virginia Beach or DC areas understand what their employees are lobbying for? You see, I know what all those words mean and I know precisely what the implications of invoking the Effective Schools Research is (in the book I describe it in relation to the 1966 Coleman Report, which is how the Consortium uses it too). The “Members of Congress who have invited the Consortium to propose a new framework for our nation’s education policy” should seek retirement before angry voters exile them by ballot box.

Why turn to people with such a record of demonstrable deceit about what they are really doing to our schools, our children, and many fine teachers? Because of current high test scores in suburbs? With tests disappearing and the intentional gutting of academics there already proceeding in earnest? Did any of these people looking “forward to working collaboratively with Congress to bring about positive change in federal law” bother to explain what enshrining Developmental Psychology as a Human Enterprise as entitled to deference under federal law would mean?

Those RSA and FuturICT visions in the last post reveal hubristic social engineering nightmares. It is easy to take comfort from wrongfully assuming it cannot actually happen. Then read that Consortium Framework. Perhaps with the ISC and Credentialed to Destroy explanations of the terms used somewhere handy, but that Framework is the way in. With our money and no recourse and no real likelihood anyone being deferred to truly has any idea of the true genesis of what they are pushing. But then they do not have to. Their paychecks, courtesy of us, show up because of what they are willing to do, not what they know. In my hope springs eternal world, let’s assume that knowing would make a difference. Let’s talk some about the history and intentions of making developmental psychology the focus of schools.

Into the largely unknown history of the events in education globally that I documented in the 80s and the entire concept of cultural evolution via education that is in the book, let’s add two more conferences that affect us still. The first was a supposedly “secret meeting in Budapest of scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain.”  http://www.thedarwinproject.com/gerg/gerg.html The sales pitch for the General Evolution Research Group is that “spurred by the mounting threat to our species of rapid nuclear proliferation and overkill, the purpose was to see if it might be possible to use the chaos theory then coming into vogue to develop a new general theory of evolution that might serve as a road map for our species out of the mounting chaos of our times to the reassuring order of a better world.”

Using education to change mindsets and personalities to try and get to a different future. Tied to GERG though are a number of the people who have been actively involved in what I call Radical Ed Reform with a developmental focus from the late 80s until now. They all have tags and multiple posts so I will just give you some idea where to look if you wish to reread those posts now. Riane Eisler (new 3 Rs and Partnership education, a UN NGO), Bela Banathy (systems view of education), Nel Noddings (now at Stanford. Now we know why she wrote preface to Eisler’s book), and Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, whose definition of Excellence and positive psychology practices are so crucial to the professional development and to be required classroom practices of many of those Consortium districts. Yes, there are reasons beyond word meanings I am so sure.

Do you remember the post about “transforming perspectives” as the new purpose of business education globally? The UN-affiliated Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) recently published its Towards 2024 vision pushing a Global Forum on Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Well, that would certainly explain the Chamber of Commerce’s support for all these bad ed ideas, wouldn’t it? Again it fit the vision in FuturICT and cited a book by a Chris Laszlo with a foreword by Peter Senge and an afterword by David Cooperrider. One of the major proponents of systems over the decades as a means of global social change was Hungarian Ervin Laszlo and sure enough, Professor Chris is his son. So GERG came out of looking at Ervin’s work since he was the founder and following his son pulls in the associated GRLI Business/Flourishing Cities/Everything Planned agenda and we also have the Appreciative Inquiry Model again (Cooperrider and Kenneth Gergen, see tags).

All that is to say we have lots of different names of similar concepts from people who actually do, and have for a long time, work and coordinate together around the idea of deliberate social evolution via education and government planning. That’s what developmental psychology is intended to do by the way. Its purpose according to a 2005 book celebrating the career and vision of Sheldon White at Harvard is to be a “Science of Personal and Societal Design.” Now wouldn’t that be an ironic overreach to enshrine into federal law via the Consortium? In comes what CHAT creator Michael Cole called a “second psychology” grounded in Vygotsky’s and Luria’s Soviet research where it would be possible to pursue the “unity of individualism and collectivism in any society or person.” Yes, especially with all the data being collected.

To really understand this second or developmental psychology and the implications of it, event number two took place in November 1987 in Paris. Again we had researchers from both sides of the Iron Curtain meeting on the issue of Artificial Intelligence and basically pushing ideas that would make the potentially unpredictable human mind weaker.  I am looking at a paper from a Swedish prof, Ragnar Rommerveld, that Cole cited. It has a title that’s a mouthful. I will let you guess which approach is to be jettisoned–as bolstering the rational individual mind–and which is actually another term for the philosophy behind developmental psychology. “On human beings, computers, and representational-computational versus hermeneutic-dialogical approaches to human cognition and communication.”

Let’s lobby Congress citing the actual ancestry of the hoped-for federal framework. Let me add in one more definition–the one for cognitive science. As a “critical-emancipatory social science,” it seeks to use education to get at what it calls in quotations– a person’s “cognitively penetrable functions.”  If it’s not a changeable personal process then, it’s not the domain of cognitive science. No wonder the radicals keep referring to themselves as taking a “cognitive approach.” Examples listed as penetrable are “goals, beliefs, tacit knowledge [experiential] and so on.” In other words the area OBE targeted and what college and career-ready and ‘learning’ do now. And here comes what gets redefined as metacognitive to become part of the definition of College-ready from the Swedish prof’s paper: “though they [skills] need not be consciously performed, they can be described and identified by the agent…and in many cases actually brought to consciousness while they are being performed.”

That consciousness if needed is what allows the penetration. The change. All in all the perfect ed theory if deliberate cultural evolution is what is sought, which of course both RSA and FuturICT already acknowledged. Both need a view of education that shifts from knowledge to a theory that each student “harbors an indeterminate capacity or propensity for change.” That the new purpose of assessment is to “provide an ongoing evaluation of the qualitative and quantitative discrepancy between the child’s manifest functioning and his or her modifiability and to suggest appropriate intervention.” That gap is why data is so important to FuturICT and the Consortium Supers.

It all goes back to their declared, but publicly unacknowledged, embrace of developmental psychology to try to change society and the future in deliberate ways. Let’s end with GRLI’s open embrace of what it calls Whole Person Learning, “based in humanistic psychology” [Maslow/Rogers]. WPL is not just about business schools. The perspectives transformation goes along with the wider plans we have been discussing. When the Consortium is pushing its vision of education on Congress, this is what they are actually pushing:

“Integral to the notion of Whole Person Learning is understanding of self, of how this self relates to others and how this sits within the wider global context–how I am influenced by and can influence myself, my immediate relationships and the whole. This is reflected in GRLI’s very logo– three interlocking ellipses representing I, We and All of Us.”

Imposed invisibly as a matter of federal law. Reconciling the unity of individualism and collectivism.