To appreciate just how much our beliefs guide our perceptions and actions, let’s assume that we know something is coming at us in the sky, but we cannot know precisely what until we are at risk. At that point it may be too late to duck or put on armor and use a shield. Safety requires we make assumptions beforehand. If we are fully armed, we risk deflecting truly helpful rays of light. If we believe nothing bad can happen, the lethal arrows can slay us while we remained unawares until the last moment. Perception matters, especially when the expressed desire is for wholesale social, economic, and political change without any recognition in time. To avoid timely and effective resistance, the architect for the global transformation blueprints to what was described in 1968 as the Active Society, sociology prof Amitai Etzioni, insisted on a need to “rely less on direct coercive control.”
Control needed to be indirect and out of sight and especially embedded in situations where its presence would be binding but unappreciated. I wrote Positive School Climate in the margin of the book at that point and administrators insisting that all classrooms use Restorative Justice Practices as part of an obligation to practice positive behavior tenets. It’s coercive and intended to control future behavior. Desired attitudes, values, and beliefs get practiced until they become unconscious Habits of Mind, but what parent would be tracking at this level? What lawyer would follow the statutes, regulations, orders, and case law declarations to figure out the binding template if they did not have a school district for a client or work in the public sector? It was a good plan, but what is created to be binding has threads that can be followed authoritatively.
To anyone who has ever called me a conspiracy theorist, I do not theorize, except in my kitchen when I am winging a recipe. I am, however, a very able Tracker of Openly Declared efforts at Colluding to use Political Power to bind people and places against their will to a vision of the future. Here we go again describing events that have occurred within the last week that have kicked the creation of the Active Society into high gear. Professor Etzioni wrote that the Active Society, in order to sell the necessary collectivism, would need a guiding vision. He asked “which creeds have sufficient transcendental force to overcome tribalism?” Tribalism had nothing to do with the Apache nor is it an excuse for a casino in a non-gambling state. Tribalism was a belief that the pertinent community to which a moral obligation of care and meeting needs was one’s family or at most the nation-state.
That was unacceptable during the height of the Cold War, when Professor Etzioni sought to make the moral community the entire globe–all of humanity. Education needed to become about creating values that would extend to “all men” and creating an authentic consensus around the need to act to create the desired transformations–locally, sub-nationally, nation-states, and then globally. This is the so-called Third Way superseding both capitalism and socialism and last week the transition began in earnest. For once, let’s move chronologically. On Thursday, October 22, the OECD released “Schooling Redesigned: Towards Innovative Learning Systems.” It launched with this rather graphic admission of transformative intent:
“In the past, education was about teaching people something. Now it is about making sure that individuals develop a reliable compass and the navigation skills to find their own way through an increasingly uncertain, volatile, and ambiguous world…how well education systems develop knowledge, skills, and capacities and of what kinds, is increasingly centre stage in public debate.”
I am not sure using duplicitous terms like Rigor, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Student Growth, or College and Career Ready is what I would call a center stage debate. I would call it an attempt to declare something to be the subject of consensus when it would not be at all if the true goals were accurately described. Remember that the useful Authentic Consensus can be as false as can be if the point is for defenses to be down as the lethal arrows approach. I cannot cover the whole report but number 6 of the 7 Learning Principles laid out for this vision of coordination among “global and local players” was to use assessments that had formative feedback mechanisms to create the desired knowledge, skills, capacities, and values. Number 7, by the way, was “promote horizontal connectedness across learning activities and subjects, in and out of school.”
That is one way to describe guiding the student’s perception of the real world and how it works. Let’s move to Friday’s news dump with the White House and fed ED announcing a November summit to redesign American high schools. That is the day after the OECD Redesign Schools paper and several weeks after UNESCO released, on September 29 just after the official approval of the Post-2015 agenda at the UN’s opening, a vision to guide the redesign of secondary schools globally. Called “Unleashing the Potential: Transforming Technical and Vocational Education and Training,” TVET in all schools and for all students “must be the master key that can alleviate poverty, promote peace, conserve the environment, improve the environment, improve the quality of life for all and help achieve sustainable development.”
TVET will go wonderfully with the WIOA federal legislation on July 2014 that no one still wants to talk about, even as the State Plans come due within the next several months. The required local workforce boards, development around sector strategies, and which groups are in line for special treatment also dovetails with the TVET/UNESCO vision. Probably not coincidental that UNESCO calls for A Shift in the Development Paradigm and cites Amartya Sen who in 1989 helped Amitai Etzioni found the Society for Advancing Socio-Economics going forward. Sen’s approach is declared to be the UN’s approach to rejecting the “economic and material view of development that dominated the past century.”
This more “holistic and humanistic view of development…presented human development as a process of enlarging people’s choices and enhancing human capabilities and freedoms.” One is not free, in this view, if one’s needs are not being met and this TVET reimagining of high schools and call for planned economic development is all about economic justice and social equity for all. Now it is Saturday, October 24, and fed ED has embargoed its Testing Action Plan for release at noon that day. Since I am pretty sure that timing was not to provide reading material for bored football fans with long drives ahead, it appears to have been timed to make it to the Sunday edition of the New York Times. The Times hyped it as directing states to stop overtesting.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/Assessment%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf is the actual plan and as you can see, it calls for the very kind of formative assessment that the OECD laid out as the desired mandate for School Redesign two days earlier. The Plan, of course, also limits states from much testing of substantive knowledge anymore and thus prevents much chance of a well-stocked mind of the sort UNESCO began criticizing back in 1968 (two posts ago). How are these federal ‘guidelines’ for contextuating what must go on and doing it at the local level? Global mandates coming out of the UN and the OECD and being put into place by federal directives of what is desired, but unappreciated because of the slant of the news coverage even for those with some awareness.
I could say on Sunday the political authorities rested but apparently GEFF advisor Tom VanderArk was busy tweeting that a 2014 paper called “Accountability for college and career readiness: Developing a new paradigm” fit the fed’s Testing Action Plan perfectly. It, too, was all about formative assessment of meaningful learning (likely to guide perception and future behavior) and using activities that would help create the desired perceptions, knowledge, skills, values, and capacities that would create a likely motivation to act and act as desired. These get called ambiguously assessments for learning. Notice that the fed’s action plan gives no parent any right to see all the data flowing from all these to be required formative assessments. Also notice that the NYT story I saw admitted that the Common Core initiative was really about specifying desired ‘skills.’
We are up to Monday, aren’t we? I was planning to write about all this dovetailing and how it fits with the launch of the Active Society and the reengineering via education of people to be the malleable desired systems yesterday. Then I discovered that October 26 was the opening in Paris of UNESCO’s Youth Summit to follow through on the “UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development.” Another lost invite where we could have cruised the Seine. That Roadmap opened with this chilling confession of what is really intended:
“Political agreements, financial incentives, or technological solutions alone do not suffice to grapple with the challenges of sustainable development.. It will require a wholesale change in the way we think and we act–a rethink of how we relate to one another and how we interact with the ecosystems that support our lives.”
Now who needs to theorize about global conspiracies with these kind of explicit confessions?
I will cover the implications of what is going on this week in Paris in the next post.
In time hopefully for us to take precautions against what are clearly lethal arrows.