Instilling Desired Dreams to Cultivate Personal Identities and Purpose to Achieve New Future Directions

Let’s go back in time again to a 1955 book cited in some footnotes on social and emotional learning. Called Utopia 1976, it alerts us why values, virtues, and imagining a different tomorrow are suddenly the focus of all forms of education. “…we must recognize the most dangerous–those who do not dream at all. Even if the pessimistic dream is defeated, the nondreamers may prevent any Utopia. Dreams are a form of ideas and hence are powerful makers of history. Nineteen seventy-six is of course not ineluctably determined in 1955, but here I write the story as I see it and as it will be–if enough men and women so want it.” From now on, when we hear or read a discussion about learning standards like the Common Core in the US or competency frameworks or learning objectives, I want us to recognize that the actual purpose is to get enough people signed on to a common vision so they are motivated to make it happen.

Math or science class, a book from literature, or a social science project then become vehicles to create a recognition of what the social problems are. They create a means to instill common desired dreams so that people begin to have common mental models of what is wrong and what they must do. Let’s come forward to 2008 to a philosopher and religion professor, John Haldane, I found following up on the False Narrative. The book Seeking Meaning and Making Sense reminds us that “human experience is structured by meanings and values” and whoever controls the prevailing “standards of value and virtue” controls an intermediate layer of our world that most of us rarely pose to think about. That’s the layer that guides our purpose in life and everyday actions and it’s also the bullseye of what many members of that NCSEAD Council of Distinguished Scientists focus on in their remaining academic research. Here’s Haldane again:

“…we are imaginative and creative animals that construct an intermediate surface between ourselves and the purely material world, an intermediate lining on which we draw and colour our compositions.”

Anyone controlling the construction of that intermediate layer, in other words, can drive cultural evolution. Getting at that intermediate layer can be called an SEL focus to prevent bullying and create a Positive School Climate. It can be called creating the attributes or dispositions for good citizenship. It can sold as instilling self-esteem and a sense of agency by creating a Learner Profile of personal characteristics that together amount to a student’s Identity. It’s all the same bullseye, with varying rationales that obscure that reality. One of the members of the NCSEAD Council, David Yeager, turned out to be involved with the New Paths to Purpose Project, funded by the same Templeton Foundation behind so many of the Character-building curricula, the Science of Virtues, the UK Jubilee Center, the US Constitution Center, and the Positive Education push of another member (see tag), Martin Seligman.

Let’s use their definition of purpose and their italicized “central question: How might individuals actively shape–rather than merely inhabit–their environments, and thus become more purposeful, powerful creators of their destiny?” That would actually be ‘our’ destiny given the nature of these plans and the constant use of the community and culture-shaping institutions, so let’s quote that purpose definition–“Purpose is a stable or generalized intention to accomplish something that is meaningful to the self, and often is of consequence to the world beyond the self. Purpose provides a guiding light as we forge a path through the frenzy and chaos of modern life.”

All those constant references in education reform to ‘grit’ and ‘perseverence’ are about practicing to achieve purpose and closing the gap between what is sought and what currently exists. That’s probably why Angela Duckworth was also a member of the NCSEAD Council. That also means we, our children, and our psyches are to be the sources of the experimental research and putting political theories into practice. One more note, Richard Thaler, the U-Chicago prof who won the Nobel Prize in Economics last week, led this NPP Project. Another example of the level of proof and the ubiquity of Templeton funding in this area is the Youth Purpose Project at Stanford with an explicit paper that “Exploring Empathy, Discovering Roles, Shifting Priorities, and Creating Pathways” is the way to shift this guiding light of Purpose.

NPP then turns out to generate the very useful to anyone desiring transformational change-“‘mindsight, dedication, and grit” . Purpose can quietly and invisibly “reflect and propel everyday patterns of human thought and behavior.” Very influential and not what anyone thinks is lurking behind rhetoric about “higher standards and local control” or the constant offering of Classical Education as the panacea to the created controversy over the Common Core and Child Abuse in the Classroom. In case anyone thinks I am picking on Classical Education, remember how its mantra is the True, Good, and Beautiful? This is from the Institute for Cultural Evolution and was a speech given this past July. https://www.culturalevolution.org/political-campaigns/growing-americas-divided-culture/ . It informs us that the “art of intentionally fostering cultural development is still in its infancy.”

The recommended means to foster that development though is by “framing culture in terms of worldviews.” For once that was not my bolding and the definition of worldview fits with what Templeton is funding in the name of Character or Positive Education and how learning standards like Competencies really work as “a worldview is a coherent set of values and ideals that persist across multiple generations. Worldviews are large-scale social agreements about what is good, true, and beautiful [see my concern?]. They give meaning to reality and help us understand the world.” So where Stanford and the Aspen Institute want to lead us in the name of purpose is also where the False Narrative surrounding the Common Core and SEL Standards takes us as well. Let’ s go back to a longer definition again from that same July 2017 paper on cultural evolution.

“In fact, worldviews are arguably the basic units of culture . And while we can certainly identify thousands of different worldviews in American culture, for purposes of understanding cultural development the worldviews that matter most are the historically significant ones that organize society, frame values, provide personal identity, and play a recognizable role in world history.”

In fact, that ubiquitous aim now at controlling internalized worldviews via education and the media is precisely why Larry Arnn’s vision of The Founders’ Key struck me as very similar in effect to where admitted communitarian and transformationalist, Amitai Etzioni, wanted to take us in the name of the New Golden Rule. With Hillsdale’s sponsorship of the Barney Charter School Initiative with its openly-declared Classical Education template we really do have all education leads to Worldview Cultivation in 2017, much as all roads used to lead to Ancient Rome. It’s where the desired action is to get the future influential people hope to achieve. After all, no recognition equals no effective opposition. Other papers in that series on cultural evolution admit that evolving human morality and controlling conceptual cognition are the keys to these plans.

I want to close with a passage from the admittedly progressive and tied to our Search Engine Overlord, New America, called “Building Civic Capacity in an Era of Democratic Crisis” that just came out. It wants to reject what it refers to as ‘exclusionary populism’ by consciously striving to “build constituencies and identities that are more inclusive and accommodating.” So everything laid out in this post, whatever the offered rationale, plays right into using education to do just that. Probably not a coincidence.

Remember how I warned that we cannot fight against what we are unaware of or have been misled about? The transformationalists all want cultural evolution via values and ideas at the level of the mind and personality and they no longer regard democracy as being about elections. No, now “at its core, democracy is fundamentally about a type of relationship between citizen and state–one where constituencies can mobilize and make binding claims on policymaking institutions.”

Those constituencies are built up from students who have Instilled the Desired Dreams and are ready to join together to “play a recognizable role” in history. All that comes quite effectively and invisibly from making education about Worldview cultivation instead of the transmission of knowledge.

All education unless we catch on to the Bait and Switch and how the internalization works.

I am trying my best to warn. Instead of “the British are coming” though, it seems like the 2017 version is that the Deceivers are already Here. They are consciously targeting the ears of any parent or politician worried about these education visions.

Let’s start to pierce these False Narratives so we can really protect our children and this great country.

Prerequisite for Social Justice and Equity: the Evidence Base for Transforming Hearts and Minds

I found a good example of why social and emotional learning, under its various euphemistic names, just keeps being inserted as a critical, mandatory component of what Preschool through College education must now be, whatever the parental outcry through the decades. The Aspen NCSEAD covered in the last post is merely the most recent, but its assembly of a so-called Council of Distinguished Scientists to create a Consensus Statement of the Evidence Base for Learning and Student Success is an attempt to leap over previous outcries and local obstacles to quietly impose the controversial model as a requirement under federal law. Let’s go back then and be sure of the precise political and economic theory being brought in through the classrooms, using childrens’ minds and personalities as the invisible conduit.

One of the cited sources for the statement that all reason must be grounded in emotion and that the two cannot be separated in instruction anymore was a 1992 book Reason and Emotion written by a John Macmurray. He regarded “intellectual awareness” as “egocentric” since it “uses the senses as its instrument.” Instead, Macmurray called for the “wider use of the senses for the joy of living in them.” Methinks, Macmurray would have adored the Maker Movement and Project-based Learning and a STEAM focus since that is clearly what he desired. Thankfully he gave a wonderful metaphor for the kind of outcome from school curriculum he wanted so let’s borrow it for the insights.

“…the direct sensual awareness has its centre in the world outside, in the thing that is sensed and loved for its own sake. There is a drawing of George Morrow’s which illustrates the difference humorously, It shows a couple standing on a hilltop watching a sunset. The sky is aglow with bars of bright clouds. ‘What a lovely sunset,’ the woman says to her husband. ‘That reminds me,’ he answers. ‘Do remember to tell our landlady that I like my bacon streaky.'”

So EVERY student must now have “training in this capacity to live in the senses.” Why? we can ask, but only if we are aware of this shift in focus. We cannot ask if we are lost inĀ  deliberately deceitful narratives insisting that social and emotional learning is somehow about a federal database of personally identifiable information. Education now is supposed to become “training in sensitiveness.” Then our future behaviors and “modes of action” and awareness should not be determined by the individualistic, logical, dreaded Axemaker Mind–“if we limit awareness so that it merely feeds the intellect with the material for thought, our actions will be intellectually determined.”

Horrors! then to anyone with transformation on the mind, which would include Macmurray. It turns out his book was not written in 1992, merely republished by his estate. Nor was it originally written in 1962. That was the Second Edition somehow magically timed to coincide with what we now know was the first launch of the Marxist Humanist (MH) vision of education by the NEA and humanist psychologists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/psychological-approach-to-a-humane-politics-restructuring-the-west-quietly-and-effectively-via-ed/ is that old post. No, the First Edition of that book came out in 1935, a decade when plenty of people were interested in political and economic transformation. Insisting that education must be about the cultivation of emotion and social development matters more than ever now if the basis for the assertion is:

“Emotion is not the Cinderella of our inner life, to be kept in her place among the cinders in the kitchen. Our emotional life is us in a way our intellectual life cannot be; in that it alone contains the motives from which our conduct springs.”

I will let you in on a little secret. I recognized the MH vision throughout Macmurray’s book, but that was very confusing as Professor Daniel Bell writing in the late 50s while a fellow at the always troublesome Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences stated that Marx’s work laying out his Human Development Society vision and its need to control morals and consciousness was unavailable in English until 1956. My first thought was that maybe Macmurray read German and thus had earlier access to the long-unknown early Marx work. Good reasoning, but Macmurray himself in the 60s wrote that his interest and access came from being invited to a “conference held in October 1932 which brought together a number of leading religious and lay thinkers to ponder the question of the rejuvenation of Christianity in the modern world…”

That would explain the false narratives we keep running into surrounding the Common Core by people who go out of their way to wear their religious beliefs and their role in their daily lives on their sleeves, wouldn’t it? So if influential people have from the get-go seen religious faith and education as the two main conduits for the MH vision and its desire to transform the world through individual hearts and minds, let’s look at Macmurray’s vision since he did not mince his words. If the vision of education as activity to thread together the cognitive, social, and emotional is to guide modern education, let’s see what Macmurray told us was the purpose of that vision. Macmurray did not see religion as a matter of personal faith; rather, it was a

“demand for a new step in the creation of human society…universal in its extent, based upon the communion of persons…We have to address ourselves to the task of creating the life of truly personal relationship between men, and of destroying those elements in modern society which frustrate and deny it.”

Suddenly, we have a merger of what religion is supposed to be about with what education is now supposed to create. Eliminating a curriculum grounded in the intellect is the essential first step. Macmurray’s statements from the 30s sound a great deal like the rationale for why 21st century education must be relevant to the real world and authentic to everyday life:

“unless you deal with these external conditions you cannot develop a true moral attitude to anything. Indeed, the effort to construct a true and just order of society is the main part of the effort to create a true moral outlook. The two things are intimately bound up. Those people who try strenuously to develop moral and religious ideals in the community without altering the conditions of life are trying to make bricks without straw.”

So emotion has to be actively cultivated in every classroom as a new definition of what enables student success because, in reality, it is a necessary component of the “task of creating conscious community among all men everywhere–nothing less, and it necessarily included all the conditions, economic, political, and personal, which are involved in this…a new and universally human social order.”

Now if the NCSEAD was using that rationale as its sales pitch for what it asserts as ‘evidence-based’ under ESSA, we could protest such a wholesale transformation, especially since it is unquestionably grounded in a notorious political philosophy with much blood in its history. So we aren’t supposed to know and simply defer to the eminence of the Appeal to Authority of the Council of Distinguished Scientists statement released September 13, 2017. All hail! No one notice that we are dealing with lots of the very same people tied to lots of the controversies in education including the Dalai Lama’s desire to cultivate a global Holos Consciousness (a very long way from an Axemaker Mind). I am going to pick a member that may be less familiar to you, Gloria Ladson-Billings, an ed prof who wants a culturally relevant pedagogy “committed to social justice and equity.’

How nice to be able to mandate that controversial agenda under the Evidence Base Consensus Statement for Learning. If what you have desired since at least 1995 is to “help students to recognize, understand, and critique social inequities” of course you are going to adore education grounded in emotion instead of the intellect for the very reasons Macmurray laid out. His desired focus on material conditions–economic, political, and personal–is a perfect fit for Ladson-Billings’ desire that teachers no longer be “reluctant to identify political underpinnings of the students’ community and social world.” She wants to implement the vision of acknowledged radical Paulo Freire (who was also an advisor to the World Council of Churches which is probably not an accident) that teaching should be ‘mining’ or pulling knowledge out of the life experiences of the students.

So suddenly Student Success and a supposed prerequisite to academic success turns out to be about forcing classroom practices “through which people are incited to acquire a particular ‘moral character’. As both a political and practical activity, it attempts to influence the occurrence and qualities of experiences.” Those experiences again that allow for the direct training of the student’s senses until the desired behaviors become Habits of Mind.

I am pretty sure we are never supposed to actually look up the cited sources in all these footnotes. I think we are merely supposed to blindly accept what is asserted as the Consensus Statement of the Council of Distinguished Scientists. We are most assuredly not supposed to track the mandated practices back to its actual goal:

“This dictates its goal, which can be nothing short of the complete integration of all human beings in community and of humanity with the world in which it lives.”

Someone really should have omitted the reference to the philosopher who was among the first to write about Marx’s Human Development Society in English.

No wonder there is such a determination to quash any outbreak of Axemaker Minds in this current generation of students. They are to be emotionally charged to be the desired Marxian Makers of History asked to finally bring about the “material sharing of our material substance. Until our material possessions are at the disposal of all those with whom we are in communion for their need, it is idle to talk of sharing our lives, or of having the reality of our lives in common.”

If that’s the prerequisite for this emotional, collaborative vision of education, by all means let’s talk about it instead of simply being asked to embrace it via a Consensus Statement of Distinguished Scientists.