True Norths, Steerable Rudders, Heuristics Control, and Circumscribed Minds

Now that we have finished that Trilogy, let’s put the parts together since I happen to have https://democracylab.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Democracy-Lab_Anthology-on-Democratic-Innovation_final-1.pdf explaining that this vision of ‘education and action learning’ can generate ‘shared understandings’ that will become the “building blocks for a new DNA of thriving democracy” and the “conscious evolution of our social systems.” That’s why Learn Liberty from the last post and its “Heuristics” video call for “Intellectual Humility” euphemized the same type of sought change. Instead, we are instructed to  begin “recognizing the flawed nature of [our] thinking [as] a bold first step to challenging it” and “be humble about our views.” Yet those of us paying attention will recognize this aim as functioning just like Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset as something all 21st century students globally should now have.

The part the admitted transformationalists via ed, and the purported “How to Think” School Choice ‘conservatives’, leave out is that they are both interested in creating what that Democratic Innovation blueprint called “Inner Work, self and meta-reflection as core competencies for a new OS.” If OS is not yet a recognized acronym in your busy life, it stands for Operating System just like your computer. That’s right. In the name of social and political change, your child’s very hardware and operating software, also known as their mind and personality, along with the biological brain and the central nervous system that embody both, are being targeted. Why? Because “we need to grow as human beings” and “develop a vision and an understanding of who we are and how we can internally host the rapid changes and become self-aware participants in the current transformation process.”

Hard not to visualize some of those marching Parkland or other high school students reading that passage, isn’t it? That blueprint included a quote from a name, Roberto Unger, who I recognized as a Harvard law prof [see tag] and it turned out he had written his vision of education in a book called The Religion of the Future. I think he is interested in a new Operating System as well, see what you think:

“In a free society, the individual has the educational equipment, as well as the economic and political occasion, to cross the frontier between the activities that take the framework for granted and those that bring it into question. He has been educated in a way that enables the mind as imagination to become ascendent over the mind as machine. He has learned to philosophize by acting [Parkland again and ‘action learning’ generally], in the sense that he recognizes in every project the seed of some great or small reformation. The practices of society and of culture multiply opportunities for the affirmation of this preeminence of the mind as imagination over the mind as a formulaic device.”

The “mind as imagination” is likely humble in its views and that ‘formulaic device’ slur sounds much like the Fixed Mindset insult or the supposedly discredited Axemaker Mind, doesn’t it? There turns out to be quite the consistence between the admitted Left and the supposed Right in the new kind of thinking and internalized OS each is pushing in the name of K-12 education. The better to get to a dialectical Convergence apparently. It all aligns with the Idea-centric vision we saw with History Matters, Thinking Like a Historian, and the News Literacy Project. All these curricula create internalized “shared understandings” that can be used to “design impactful projects and policies” so that “the political system can be transformed in such a way that we can adequately deal with our current environmental, social and ethical challenges and create the kind of world we want to live in.”

That willingness to transform needs new values and Ideas. Unger called it–“our vision of who we are and what we can hope for.” It also requires a willingness to be malleable in our dealings with other people–Intellectual Humility. All of these can be accomplished stealthily by what gets euphemistically hyped as “personalized learning,” or High Quality Project-Based Learning, to use just two current examples of what gets billed as “educational innovation”. Underneath though is what Unger confessed was a needed “reorientation of personal experience…and reconstruction of institutional arrangements, as well as with the radical changes of conception, attitude, and practice that such a combination requires.”

Values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors need to be targeted for change to create the sought new OS for each individual, not because they are the basis for an existing OS’s database of PII. Ideas are a useful vehicle to be the new definition of 21st century knowledge because, as Unger admitted, what is really being sought is a “revolution in human affairs”. That, in turn, requires “both change in consciousness and change in institutions…[where] no simple division exists between the religious and the political spheres of life.”

That quote certainly explains why every type of K-12 education now pushes a Tranzi OBE vision, doesn’t it? At stake are “attempts to influence our ideas about the possible and desirable forms of human association in each domain of social life.” Action learning instead of lectures makes sense for a change in classroom practice in this transformative vision when it is “the ideas we act out in our relations to one another [that] must, more than the ones we profess, be the object of concern.” Weigel was calling for much the same change when he emphasized that religion and education should create a properly cathected individual obedient to instilled values and Ideals. We have also seen this same aim pitched by creativity advocate John Raven as creating a ‘steerable rudder’ at the level of the mind and heart.

Without using the “M” word as I did in the last post, when Unger wrote of the need to “rely on institutional arrangements, established in law [good thing he is at Harvard Law, huh?], that restrain governmental or private oppression even as they secure a universal minimum of endowments to everyone,” it is still Uncle Karl’s ultimate vision he is describing. In the 21st century, preschool to higher ed are all being restructured to target the values and Ideas that guide an individual’s decisions and motivate his actions. This is all hidden for the most part and lied about by so many in the employ of think tanks and the media on all sides because we are no longer free NOT to “change our enacted beliefs about the possible and desirable forms of human association.” Education targets that internalized OS, as a government mandate from all levels enacted as a matter of law, precisely because this “effort to envisage and to establish a greater life for the common man” requires a new purpose for education.

That purpose necessitates new Ideas, practices, and arrangements that will, at a neural level, “bridge the gap between the personal and the political.” Hard to see though under euphemisms like Intellectual Humility, Excellence, or Quality Learning. All of these ultimately target what Unger said would be needed to get what he called Deep Freedom, a much more alluring phrase than that M word.

Having a Growth Mindset or Intellectual Humility as a prescribed goal makes sense if a vision of the future needs “many minds and many wills.” A focus on Ideas and Reading and Thinking like a Historian make sense if a desired transformation “evolves in historical, not in biographical, time.” Criticizing the “imperious, autonomous self” or insisting that students become “Hardwired to Connect” makes sense if one has a vision that “it is not within the purview of the individual, no matter how powerful, to direct.” Making the internalized changes to the student the goal of K-12 education makes sense, as so many of the Portrait of a Graduate or Positive School Climate visions now do, if the political and religious vision of the future relies on:

“a change in the conduct of life: a change of heart, a change of consciousness, a change in the orientation of existence.”

In other words, a new internalized OS. a/k/a student-centered learning.

 

Stripping Away the Veneer of the Imperious Autonomous Self to Create Cathected Identities Instead

Years ago, back when I was a college student, I spent a summer studying at Oxford University in England. I got to pull books and work in the reading room of the Radcliffe Camera and cut through worn stone paths in medieval colleges. For me, historical people and ideas are not something anyone supplied as a useful perspective on how to see the world. These are frequently people I almost feel like I could carry on a conversation with. I certainly have been known to carry on conversations about them. I suppose that is what makes it far easier for me to see when Ideas or people are being misportrayed. If someone has transformational plans for society, our economy, and our political systems and does not want opposition, what better tool than K-12 education? And if you want history to be at the core of a drastically revised curriculum so that “we can leave it to our students to apply their knowledge, values, and experiences to the world they must create,” what better reason can there be to manipulate those values and experiences and the Ideas that are now to substitute for knowledge?

The latter quote was taken from the 1987 “Education for Democracy: A Statement of Principles: Guidelines for Strengthening the Teaching of American Values” that those new Massachusetts standards we met in the last post said was the impetus for all the standards-based education pushes since, including the Common Core. The Ideas come from domain-specific literacy, which Reading Like a Historian said in italics just like that had been created by the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices. As I discovered yesterday when I was at an Emory Law program that sought to interpret the Parkland mass murders through the ‘lenses’ of Domestic Violence and the Legacy of the Lost Cause, the offered Ideas and concepts to guide perception and the interpretation of people and events may have little connection to actual facts on the ground.

Likewise, at a legal program last fall that turned out to be very Idea-centric in what I was supposed to accept with ‘facts’ used merely to illustrate the point, it was very clear to me that the presenter hoped that his audience knew nothing about Henry VIII other than his much-hyped six wives. Likewise, when I read Larry Arnn’s book The Founders’ Key because of Hillsdale’s heavy involvement now in K-12 reform I discovered erroneous examples to illustrate his Ideas from first, Thomas More, and then poor Queen Anne, the last of the Stuart monarchs. My point is that in all these instances it was extensive, preexisting knowledge of the type that is now disallowed unless someone is a voracious, independent reader that led me to recognize that the offered Ideas or illustrating points were inapt.

The Ideas are generally offered up to appeal to emotions and to create motivation to push for transformative change. If, like me, cathected is a new word for you, I found it in the vision of this author  https://nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/democracy-and-its-discontents which had common financing via the Bradley Foundation with the same new history standards called for in 1987 and the communitarian-oriented Council on Civil Society funded in the late 90s and then the 2003 Hardwired to Connect. Weigel’s call for ‘cathected individuals’ who would reject the ‘imperious autonomous Self’ reminded me a great deal of the Tranzi OBE remake of the students pushed in the 90s until it became notorious after Columbine and the Portraits of a Graduate or Learner profiles we are seeing now. It was all originally called for back in 1987 with clear ties to the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEH, and even Martin Luther King’s actual vision via his close friend, Bayard Rustin, who signed.

My dictionary defined cathexis as the “concentration of emotional energy on an object or idea,” which certainly sounds like this new Idea/Conceptual Framework: “we aim at nothing less than helping the student to comprehend what is important, not merely to memorize fact and formula.” “Notions and sentiments” was how the 1987 Education for Democracy also put it. At its core is always the Marxist Humanist vision where “we recommend that a central theme in the study of history be the dramatic struggles of people around the globe and across the centuries to win, preserve, and extend their freedom.” Cathected also fits with this MLK vision released just before his murder, which was cited this week because of its 50th anniversary. https://poorpeoplescampaign.org/index.php/poor-peoples-campaign-1968/  laid out the Bayard Rustin-inspired shift from civil rights to ‘human rights’ with its essential ingredient of economic justice for all. Dr King:

“knew that for the load of poverty to be lifted, the thinking and behavior of a critical mass of the American people would have to be changed.To accomplish this change of consciousness…the poor would have to organize to take action together around our immediate and basic needs. In doing, we could become a powerful social and political force capable of changing the terms of how poverty is understood and dispelling the myths and stereotypes that uphold the mass complacency and leave the root causes of poverty intact.”

That was MLK and ultimately number 1 of those Fundamental Principles is that “We are rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all. Moral revival is necessary to save the heart and soul of our democracy.” Those new Ideas and values need to be embedded neurally as practiced Habits of Mind. It may only be Catholic educators referring to the ‘cathected’ student, but the concept of cathexis, even if stated through euphemisms, is at the core of all these curriculum reforms throughout every type of education alternative I have reviewed. Having poked around on the Left and recognizing names like Diana Ravitch, Chester Finn, and Bill Bennett on the 1987 document lets look likewise to the supposed Right and what the Charles Koch Institute and other members of the State Policy Network are pushing that gets to the same place.

Back in March I saw an article from the Independence Institute with a title “How to Restore the Founder’s Vision of Liberty for America?”, which sounded rather Idea-centric and contrary to where my personal store of facts would take me. I did notice though that the broad Ideas would fit with the Marxist Humanist vision I keep encountering in my education research (without looking). At its core, it is where both that 1968 MLK position and the 1987 Education for Democracy, and thus the 2018 Massachusetts standards, all intend to go. The article was by a William Watkins so I looked up his background and saw he had been a fellow at the Center for Humane Studies at George Mason. That got my attention with their push of History Matters (covered in last post) and ties to Neuroeconomics. Looking into IHS further pulled up more ties to the insights and individuals we have covered at ISC and in my book Credentialed to Destroy.

Too extensive to lay out here, but every reason to look at their Learn Liberty initiative launched in 2011 to “Explore the ideas of a free society.” Me, I just want to go back to Oxford and get away from that now ubiquitous ‘I’ word, but my knee is still not ready for that much walking. So I settled in with a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea to watch the videos where “we tackle big questions about what makes society free or prosperous and how we can improve the world we live in.” http://www.learnliberty.org/blog/learn-liberty-turns-7/ gets you to what I watched. In case the word ‘Heuristics’ is missing from your vocabulary as it once was in mine, you can substitute other words–Ideas, Concepts, Lenses, or Guiding Principles. If there is a desire to get a ‘change in consciousness’ and a broad segment of the public is to have ‘shared meanings’, few things work better than common learning standards that get at How to Think and Ideas we should use in our decision-making.

I took notes on all three provided videos there and then saw one by economist Deirdre McCloskey (whose book Bourgeois Equality we quoted in the last post) offering up “Marxism in Two Minutes”. She omitted the part about Marx’s Idea of the Human Development Society where a remake of prevailing Ideas and values would be so crucial and just covered that Marx was wrong about the class struggle creating the desired consciousness. McCloskey believes Ideas create consciousness and I think her book title, like the euphemistic Learn Liberty phrase, is really an excellent way to hide the Marxist Humanist template. But like one of those old-fashioned holiday commercials from Ronco I can say “Wait! There’s more!”

Learn Liberty posted a January 8, 2018 video from a professor Howard Baetjer called “What is Communism?” that appears designed to mislead away from the Marxist Humanist visions that are so in play in 2018. The vision MLK wanted, what Education for Democracy sought to create, and what learning standards and competency frameworks also impose, no matter what level of government is pushing them. For anyone without Wolfgang Leonhard’s Three Faces of Marxism: The Political Concepts of Soviet Ideology, Maoism, and Humanist Marxism or Leszek Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism: The Breakdown not just on hand, but read and marked up, I am not calling names or making allegations here. There is a template for little ‘c’ communism and when everyone is using euphemisms and Idea-centric K-12 education to impose that vision without scrutiny, we have every right to notice if we still can.

I think all these videos, but especially that Baetjer one want us to see communism only as “common ownership of the means of production” and never “private ownership”. Meanwhile, the K-12 programs being offered online, in public schools, in parochial schools, in independent schools, and frequently now what gets pushed on homeschoolers via what is eligible for Educational Savings Account reimbursement are ALL Idea-centric and value-oriented.

Have you noticed that all these pushes about Ideas do not seem to want us to strip away from the Idea As Supplied that veneer that it still means what we all traditionally associate with any of these terms? I thought we better start talking about all this while the Internet still remains somewhat free.

I really don’t want my generation to be among the last to have had the liberty to have a genuinely free mind.

Intertwining Architects & Advocates Makes Planned Mind Manipulation Both Tight and Nearly Invisible

Why someone might ask does it really matter that the architects of the News Literacy Project are also the creators of the curriculum for History and Social Studies? Does it really matter that Google is spending $300 million to create a Disinfo Lab to combat Fake News and that $3 million of that will go to creating school curriculum that just happens to also be with the group creating all the above learning standards? All of these actions have an effect of controlling the prevailing Ideas that most students will likely have access to. If you aspire to social or political change, controlling prevailing Ideas is the most effective way in. As economist Deirdre McCloskey put it in her 2016 book “Nothing happens voluntarily in an economy, or a society, unless someone changes her mind. Behavior can be changed by compulsion, but minds cannot.”

That’s not, strictly speaking, true, but the point remains on why changing minds has to be covert. A misunderstanding of education reforms, especially if deliberately created, such as the nature of competency frameworks, social and emotional learning, Classical Education charters, or the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks, just to use a few examples, means that the mind, right down to its very neurons, can be compelled to a desired consciousness. Misled parents and young manipulated students have no True North (to use the last post’s metaphor) to be a tip off to the presence or level of coercion. We cannot resist what we are unaware of, can we? McCloskey also quoted how the “great Marxian historian Gordon Childe declared in 1943 “that “In practice ideas form as effective an element in the environment of any human society as do mountains, trees, animals, the weather and the rest of external nature. Societies, that is, behave as if they were reacting to a spiritual environment as well as a material environment.”

If learning standards and curriculum are being created to control that “spiritual environment” so that the Ideas change the student who then acts differently in, and on, their daily physical environment and that changed environment in turn changes the student further at the very level of the consciousness and physiological brain,  we have an excellent reason for all the deceit. Likewise, we can appreciate why the UN and other international organizations have stated repeatedly that changes in education alone can force the implementation of the Equity for All Agenda globally by 2030. No need for any gulags, in other words, to be a visual tip-off of coercion when Ideas and school curriculum become the tools of choice.

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/final-report-high-level-expert-group-fake-news-and-online-disinformation came out in March and lays out the New Media Ecosystem and its ability to control prevailing information that both Facebook and Google and other social media companies will be involved in. That “multi-dimensional approach to disinformation” also lays out the Media and Information Literacy efforts to be introduced in the schools and international assessments like PISA to ensure a “reassessment and adjustment of educational policies.” The compulsion suddenly that can both drive and control prevailing ideas that students use to think about their experiences and the world around them is largely hidden from sight at the very time it is asserted as the very remedy for the supposed ubiquity of Fake News and Disinformation.

That does sound so much better than Invisible Censorship before the Fact, doesn’t it? In case, no one reading this has a handy copy of the 1991  MindScience: An East-West Dialogue with the Dalai Lama to use the Inner Sciences perfected by Buddhism over the centuries to create a new vision for education and thus society, let me quote from mine. Thanks to the reader who suggested this after discovering the Mindfulness push in charter schools from the last post. The Ideas that get pushed into classrooms as “the foundation of the Common Core” in the Stanford SHEG-created Reading like a Historian tied to the News Literacy Project or the even more forthcoming Thinking Like a Historian fit with what Harvard Ed Prof Howard Gardner called the “representational level.” Since he was nice enough to “try to simplify,” let’s quote his explanation down to his italics:

“Between the neuronal level–the wetwear that you can touch or at least look at under microscopes–and the cultural level–the notion that there are different cultures with histories and practices and so on–there is a third level of analysis. We call this intermediate level the representational level. This level cannot be touched or seen but it is believed to exist in the head. It entails the notion that we have and use schemata, scripts, ideas, symbol systems and other cognate kinds of mental entities.”

Coerce that representational level then and you control the drivers of perception and future behavior with hardly anyone being much the wiser. How do we know, for sure, that is the area being manipulated if you don’t have a handy copy of the two books I just referred to? Take a look then at http://www.doe.mass.edu/bese/docs/FY2018/2018-01/item2-public-comment-draft.pdf and its vision on page 10 that the purpose of the History and Social Studies Curriculum is “All students in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must be educated to evaluate competing ideas, to understand the past, and to promote the ideals of equality, justice, liberty, and the common good for all peoples in the world.” Methinks, the Dalai Lama would approve.

That link, from January 2018, also links to Recommended History and Social Science Websites that includes News and Media Literacy, the SHEG Reading like a Historian, the UCLA Center for History in the Schools, UNESCO, the World Bank, the OECD, and that National Constitution Center with its communitarian definitions of Freedom and Liberty (the advantages of their being Ideas and not facts is no one is likely to notice the crucial shift).  Other listed websites though tie directly to the deceit around learning standards and also the push for charter schools and school choice via other experimental economic theories like vouchers or Education Savings Accounts. It turns out that a partner of SHEG in transforming “best practices in history teaching and learning” is George Mason University with its History Matters, World History Matters, and Center for History and New Media.

Controlling Ideas is so useful, isn’t it? We can appreciate that factual knowledge really gets in the way of a deliberately controlled narrative when I noticed that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) created the original endowment for the New Media History Center. Before Bill Bennett was Education Secretary he headed NEH so that was his background when he and NGA head Lamar Alexander launched the state/federal learning standards movement via “Project Education Reform: Time for Results” in the mid-1980s. No wonder that push wanted to emphasize Higher Order Thinking Skills (supplied Ideas that act at a representational level) as a key reform. The Rockefeller Foundation had likewise begun funding such disciplinary curriculum reforms in the humanities back in 1980.

Fascinating, since GMU’s History Matters shows it was originally created through funding by NEH and the Rockefeller and Kellogg Foundations. Remember too that the official manual of what constitutes “evidence-based policymaking” in education or any other social sciences was created with Kellogg funding. Suddenly, history thinking and reading becomes a means “for making sense of the present…It allows us to undertake sensible inquiry into the political, social, or moral issues that trouble us…[and] achieve the informed, discriminating citizenship essential to democratic government.” https://www.macmillanlearning.com/Catalog/uploadedFiles/Content/BSM/Discipline/History/Preview_LearntoThinkReadLikeHistorian.pdf is the source of that quote.

Lest there be any question that students are being trained to be historical change makers in just the very way that Marxist Humanism envisioned when it rolled out officially and globally back in 1962, let’s use a further quote from above. “As the past creates the present, it also shapes everything that is still to come. By teaching us that societies and institutions can change, that people have not always been as they are now, and that long-standing conflicts can sometimes be resolved, history can provide guidance for the future. Historical inquiry and understanding cannot tell us precisely what we should do to make constructive change in the world…” Only that students must act to make such change. The curriculum provides the Ideas that it calls historical categories of inquiry. These supplied categories are supposed to “create the mental framework to hang the details that follow” in the form of classroom activities, projects, and online work via those websites cited above.

These categories of thought are supposed to be about history or “the past”, but in reality they become Habits of Mind used daily to confront whatever experiences come a student’s way. If you want to invisibly instill those prevailing Ideas, just embed them in these learning experiences.” I am going to close then with a quote where the … is where I took out the phrase “about the past”. These Ideas or categories of thought then actually manipulate the mind at a level that can only be detected if someone like me writes about it and somebody like you reads this post or my book. Lots of reason then to control the Internet, what will be regarded as valid sources of information, and the learning standards that control what the growing, malleable mind internalizes at a neural level.

“Continuous use of these categories… builds a common language that students can use to direct their curiosity and exploration of any topic…As students learn to think…according to these disciplinary patterns they are freed from notions of history as a collection of facts. History becomes a way of thinking…, rather than details to be recalled as history teachers and tests demand.”