Facing the Fold to Overcome the Prisons of Our Minds and Thus Transform the Future

Let’s continue to pierce through the veils of deceit surrounding education globally, especially K-12, and not be distracted by the ‘Look, Squirrel!’ claims that would have us voluntarily drinking poison while we are being told it will invigorate us. UNESCO does have a means of controlling what goes on in education systems all over the world. They have created standards and ‘learning objectives’ and detailed summaries of how everything is to work to change students at the levels of their minds. Their motto is that’s where wars begin and thus it is the target for creating a different kind of future. Those standards were created in the 1970s, revised again in 1997, and redone finally in 2011. Those 2011 revisions went into effect in 2014 and the OECD, with its PISA assessment and others, is an explicit partner. So when someone tells us that the Common Core is not in fact ‘internationally benchmarked’ they are either mistaken or lying.

When UNESCO states that it will use education to make sure students learn to think collectively, not individually; instill a New Humanism as the goal of all political processes; implant new Media Literacy Standards globally to tell us what sources to trust and which to disregard or even censor; and finally, to “Transform the Future” by targeting “people’s fictions about the later-than-now and the frames they use to invent these imaginary futures,” we need to listen. The tools are in place to use education and prescribed learning experiences and mandated activities “that confronts the prisons of our minds, helping us to overturn the old frames and invent new ones.” If that seems graphic and rather totalitarian in the original meaning of the term, a few lines later UNESCO writes about the need for our “beginning to think in a new way” after education is used to alter old ways of thinking that will be “pulled out by the roots.”

In the last post I pointed out that the purpose of academic content had shifted even though lots of education writers are trying desperately to obfuscate that reality. This quote on the ‘Objective of Learning’ in a paper by Ilkka Tuomi that was cited in the recent UNESCO e-book Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century. It tells us explicitly what is meant by that now ubiquitous phrase about “Teaching Students How to Think, Not What to Think”:

“the fundamental question was not about acquiring knowledge; instead, the question was how we learn to think. In the Vygotskyian tradition [detailed in my book Credentialed to Destroy], for example, conceptual systems were understood to be important–not because they would accurately reflect the facts of the world–but  because theoretically advanced conceptual systems make advanced forms of thinking possible. In this tradition, the ultimate goal of learning mathematics, therefore, would not be viewed as learning to know mathematics. Instead, the capability of using mathematical concepts enables us to think abstract and complex thoughts. The goal of theoretical learning, therefore, is not to make the learner able to provide the answer to a given theoretical problem; instead, it is to develop the learner’s capacity to think.”

People should probably reread that paragraph several times. That definition of learning also means that plans for the future need not be bound by what exists in the present or what worked well or poorly in the past. Existing knowledge is inherently conservative and tradition bound. Theoretical conceptual knowledge, especially if prescribed in the first place to accelerate a revolutionary transformation or just innovation to the here and now, is not. In the last post we quoted Warren Ziegler who frequently worked with a peace educator named Elise Boulding. Her husband of many years, Kenneth Boulding, who we have encountered before as a father of ‘systems thinking’ in education, covered this same aim in 1985. Let’s listen in:

“valuational patterns that move us toward what is perceived as good [today he would probably add True and Beautiful and Capitalize All Three]…have a profound effect on their images of the world, especially, of course, the relation between their behavior and their images of the future and hence affect their decisions.”

Since UNESCO stated pointblank back in May it intended to target “human decision-making” by tracking and altering images of the future and the AA–anticipatory assumptions–people are using to create those images, let’s see what else Professor Boulding laid out: “the greatest human task is to realize the potential of the human species for bringing the unconscious processes of human life and history into consciousness and so be able to direct these processes with increasing skill toward human betterment.” There is indeed direction going on and all the references now to True Norths and moral compasses should be a clue, but learning standards like the Common Core take that direction away from the individuals involved.

“We have to ask ourselves, therefore, what kind of learning process will increase the probability of futures that are favorable to human betterment and diminish the probability of futures evaluated as involving human worsening, particularly those that are catastrophic?…the human mind has an extraordinary capacity for fantasy–that is, for the development of images that nobody has experienced. This starts with myth and fairy stories, science fiction, and so on. But it is the power of fantasy coupled with an ability to test our images of the world that has created the extraordinary capacity of the human race for learning. Science, indeed, has been defined as testable fantasy, Even untestable fantasies have a profound impact on human life and behavior.”

That’s the realm education is being used to enter now. As UNESCO Director-General put it in her Foreword dated November 24, 2017 :

“This is why being ‘future literate’ is so important. This is about understanding the nature of the future and the role it plays in what we see and do. Evidence shows people can change how and why they think about the future. Developing this capacity can be a powerful tool for catalysing change today. Becoming more skilled at designing the systems and processes used to imagine tomorrow is an essential part of empowering women and men with the ‘capacity to be free’, [sounds like soulcraft] as developed by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen, to craft new approaches to more inclusive and sustainable development.”

When we assess what students will do in a ‘wicked problem situation’ where there is no correct answer or the problem provided is untaught material, we are looking for the conceptual systems and categories of thought the students decide to use to examine the context. That’s another way of saying ‘what are their anticipatory assumptions?’, which is exactly what UNESCO wants to control. It’s also what the federal education law in the US–ESSA–now requires all states to examine at least annually in at least 95% of their students. No exceptions whatever the states wish. This Higher Order Thinking Skills mandate makes more sense when we are aware it is not factual knowledge being tested.

As UNESCO noted in italics “The future does not exist in the present but anticipation does. The form the future takes in the present is anticipation.” By limiting parents’ ability to opt out of HOTS assessments, the federal government is simply enforcing UNESCO’s desire that each student’s minds be manipulated and their anticipatory assumptions be poked, prodded, and then redesigned.” Because governments in a free society in the 21st century intend to control each citizen’s “ways of thinking” or at least 95% of them anyway. But apparently it’s for our own good since the “new paradigm for understanding why and how to ‘use-the-future’–[has] significant implications for reconceptualising the nature and exercise of human agency.”

Somehow this reconceptualization makes this agent feel more like a puppet on a string, but perhaps that’s why we are not supposed to accurately grasp these plans for us or even know they exist. We are unlikely to get an invite to the luxury hotels in international settings where meetings can take place to “develop new sources for the invention of hope, an essential ingredient for peace.” The history major in me shudders at bureaucrats with tax-free salaries and taxpayer funded pensions who plan to use education to force “an even more speculative scenario or imaginary future in which humanity adopts a different frame for understanding its role in the emergence of the collective conditions that provide part of the context for the resilience of our species.”

I boldfaced resilience there as it has become such a ubiquitous buzzword. Lest anyone think this is just flowery language with no ability to get to the classroom we have direct links to that MyWays Success Framework from two posts ago, CASEL of social and emotional learning fame, and the History Matters Frameworks. Buried in the collateral documents before the e-book is the fact that the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored this initiative starting in 2012 to push Futures Literacy and in 2014 held a Convening at their fabulous Bellagio retreat on Lake Como. About a year apart from when the UNESCO-Brookings Learning Metrics Task Force met at the same place to lay out desired competencies. It’s also where what would become the Club of Rome with its plans for media and education (covered in CtD) began in 1968.

Tony MacKay was there and he heads GELP–Global Education Leaders Programme that the Next Generation Learning Challenges here in the US is a part of. He also works for the International Benchmarking program of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) that created the New Standards Project that began the era of learning standards in the US. In other words, this UNESCO program has its way in when learner data and learning analytics are properly understood. Probably why there’s been another veil of deceit around that. Let’s close this missive with another paper cited in that e-book–“Facing the Fold or From the Eclipse of Utopia to the Restoration of Hope” by Jay Olgilvy.

It wants students and people generally to return to utopian thinking at the levels of their minds, if not brick and mortar yet. I guess that can wait for Evidence Based Policymaking. Facing the Fold becomes about practicing “the way to face our unpredictable future responsibly. This is the way to grapple with uncertainty and act nonetheless.”

I guess a logical, well-stocked mind that retains individual ways of thinking is less likely to adopt the desired new ways of thinking and begin behaving as this political process desires. No wonder we have so much deceit about what was and is going on in the name of learning standards and competencies.

Where ever you are this next week when we in the US celebrate our historic freedom from tyranny, enjoy yourself as we continue our piercing through these veils of deceit before the required implementation this fall.

Accurate information is always a necessary component of genuine human freedom.

Deciphering the Deceit to Discern Accelerants Dispensed By False Education Narratives

The point of being right about what is really going on in the name of education reforms is not a matter of pride of authorship or who figured out something accurately first. The point is how easy it is to create an even more psychologically intrusive version of the concerns parents are raising when it turns out that the remedies advocated for do not work as parents have been told. Before I give a current example I have noticed involving yet another acronym–GDPR–or General Data Privacy Regulation, and what actually benefits Microsoft, no matter how many times some commentator complains about Gates Foundation funding, lets go back to 1969 when one of the original Education Policy Research Centers (Syracuse, NY) was actually upfront about the intended switcheroo. Warren Ziegler wrote the report and he wanted to change the goals of education going forward in order to “shape policy not in order to accommodate ourselves to a future continuous with the past, but to bring about–to ‘invent’–a future different from and, in significant ways, discontinuous with the past…might we not think about inventing the future itself through policy implementation?”

Think about that quote as we go from false think tank narrative involving education to deliberately sponsored misinterpretations and spread deceit. Your goals as parents may well not be the goals of think tanks that are all about using planning, public policy, the law, and transformative education (unperceived as a radical shift) to change the future. Maybe the Delphi technique keeps coming up in public forums not just to control what we all think on an issue, but “to set some approximate limits within which reasonable alternative futures might be developed” as Ziegler put it. That was 1969 but reinventing the future by having education globally focus on the “values, attitudes, and behaviours that must be accepted and practiced in earnest by decision-makers as well as ordinary people…This principle of constant ‘attuning’ is central to the New Humanism. Peace and shared welfare are two sides of the same coin. And humanism is that coin” to quote from a 2014 UNESCO paper called “Envisioning a New Humanism for the 21st Century: New Avenues for Reflection and Action.”

Linking us functionally to that enhanced view of ‘self-government’ from the last post, UNESCO wants to “explore new or renewed ideas, values, attitudes, behaviours, and models, and through these to address the challenges faced by the international community.” That means UNESCO loves concentrating on local officials with political authority over just those very things. In fact, the local is probably the easiest domain for a philosophy that “seeks to create their own future…It is a resource for all individuals and all communities to pursue their own progress and development. This presupposes social inclusion of everyone and at all levels of society.” When Irina Bokova became UNESCO Director-General in 2009, her installation speech should give us all pause, especially when education is now collecting the very kind of learner analytic data in student-centered learning pilots that reveals whether her desired aims are being met.

Bokova had plans “for bringing people together and sharpening their conscience with regard to the potential of a world based on peace, democracy, justice, and human rights.” If conceptual frameworks and Disciplinary Core Ideas for math, science, and history, just to give 3 current examples, are no longer actually about the transmission of knowledge as this article https://townhall.com/columnists/janerobbins/2018/06/05/whats-wrong-with-common-core-math-n2487580 still asserts misleadingly, but rather topics that can be used to solve everyday current problems and image the future as UNESCO keeps asserting, then all of these intentions are already in play unbeknownst to most of us.

If Bokova stated that it is “through the nature of their intentions and the strength of their will” that UNESCO intends to work and ‘their’ refers to human beings generally and her desire to see “peace constructed in the minds of people” we better be paying attention to those goals when all the elements  are in place or are being put in place by advocates complaining in the US about SEL abuses or the need for stronger data privacy. Remember what I said about Beware of the Offered Remedy? https://pulse.microsoft.com/uploads/prod/2018/03/WorkProductivity_GDPRforEducation_KickStartGuide.pdf shows that Microsoft regards GDPR as beneficial to its business much like how Brer Rabbit felt about that Briar Patch. After all, it even boldfaced that it has the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings of any cloud service provider.

Want to make sure a school or other online education provider is in compliance with GDPR? Just load all that data gathered to Microsoft proprietary servers and they will see that you “meet your GDPR requirements.” In all my prowling across the Internet in the EU I could not find any provider who did a good job describing the nature of the data being gathered in the name of “learner analytics.” Just that the student or parent acknowledged it was being collected and was integral to the desired changes education hoped to achieve in the student. Not much of a remedy so far, is it? But wait, just like those Ronco holiday commercials when we were younger, there’s more! https://news.microsoft.com/en-au/features/microsoft-launches-transforming-education/ came out on June 5. Along with a greatly revised vision of education for the 21st century, it provides us with a new term to get us there–the Analytics Trinity.

That Trinity turns out to be data about the student “from all student learning activities and assessments” and it works just fine even if there is nothing Personally Identifiable about it, cloud processing, and machine learning. In other words, Microsoft’s model for transforming education globally is actually supercharged by GDPR as well as the Student Achievement Standards Network and the learner data it needs that the Gates Foundation has funded. The My Ways Framework from the last post feeds into that kind of data nicely and so do competency-based curriculum frameworks like the Common Core. Here we have a perfectly lovely Microsoft confession that ties to UNESCO’s goals above, the true nature of evidence-based policymaking in education, and new conceptions of accountability (my italics for emphasis):

“once you have accessible, usable data, you can report accurately, demonstrate that you are spending tax dollars effectively, measure the impact of new initiatives and comply with new sustainable development monitoring requirements in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda.”

GDPR is indeed an accelerant in the UN’s agenda of reimagining the future starting with the minds and personalities of people. Let’s look once again at what Microsoft sees that vision of education as being so we can focus on where we are really going and not where think tanks want us to believe we are going. https://www.hoover.org/research/californias-common-core-mistake is another recent example. This transformed vision gives us still more insights into why social and emotional learning is suddenly such a necessary component of 21st century education. Microsoft looks to Daniel Pink, who says the “role of school is to help students identify their purpose, learn how to pursue that purpose, and experience achieving self-defined goals.”

It’s both ironic and tragic that two of the people who for some reason are so actively pushing these false narratives of where GDPR takes us and what the data gathering is really about, Cheri Kiesecker and Michele Malkin, are both residents of a state, Colorado, that has a Student Centered Learning Pilot with clear ties to UNESCO. To illustrate its aims we have graphics of the desired changes in the brain synapses and dendritic connections. As I warned about in the beginning, this is a dangerous area to write about if you misinterpret what you are looking at or call for remedies like GDPR that only make the problem worse. I called attention to that Colorado pilot because of this next Microsoft quote:

“For learning transformation, student centricity should be the core of your ‘disruption’. This makes it possible to move successfully from a traditional model based on mastery of a curriculum, to a model of learning that is about giving students the practical experience to achieve their personal potential.”

The latter bolding is what the Gates Foundation regards as student achievement globally and what will be called in the US–Success for All Students–under the various state plans that become operative in the upcoming 2018-19 school year. In other words, this summer is actually a crucial time for parents to toss away the false narratives and start listening to what connected organizations are saying they intend to do in the name of education, data, student-centered learning, and the future.

I really am not picking on anyone in this post or other recent ones where we showed the difference between dispersed narratives and provable facts. To some extent I think this is a matter of money or employment being available if certain memes are pushed and the pusher may have no idea what is wrong with the vision they are pushing. Remember when I called attention to how David Horowitz and the Freedom Center were pushing the “Teaching Students How to Think, Not What to Think” vision and I accurately said that supplying the desired categories of thought and concepts WAS teaching students what to think? I will close this post trying to reset the discussion in actual reality, not pretend narratives, by pointing out that Microsoft gave an example of its desired Future Ready Skills that all students are to have. They want the “Focus on teaching students how to think, not what to think.”

Not to pick on Mr Horowitz since I also found that exact same quote as an education aim in in The Conservatarian Manifesto.

See why I am so worried about the remedies being put out now?

Missing That Invite for More Strenuous Forms of Soulcraft to Erect the Formative Project?

Me too, but as usual following up on coordinated deceitful narratives like I laid out in the previous post led to pay dirt. So today let’s try to avoid using the M word at all and focus on the related upfront transformational plans laid out once we know where to look. It even pops up in that long-winded Sermon of Love by Bishop Michael Curry at the Meghan Markle/Prince Harry wedding if we are familiar with Curry’s Beloved Community work that the Episcopal Church launched in May 2017. The so-called Formative Project is a belief that governments at every level (not just the federal that the False Narrative always wants to make the Bogeyman) have an obligation NOT to be “neutral towards the values and ends that its citizens espouse.” If your dictionary isn’t handy think of ‘espouse’ as a fancier term for what ‘motivates’ people to act and then remember that this aim is precisely what ‘learning standards’ like the Common Core or any competency frameworks also want to target for control.

Before I quote further from a seminal 1996 book by Harvard law prof and communitarian Michael Sandel called Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy, I want to pull this broader discussion of why K-12 education reforms matter to broader plans to a MYWays document that came out this week. https://s3.amazonaws.com/nglc/resource-files/MyWays_06CompetencyList.pdf sets out “Habits of Success–for learning, work, and well-being”; “Creative Know How–for a novel, complex world”; “Content knowledge–for the life students will lead”; and “Wayfinding Abilities–for destinations unknown” that get at what a student has internalized as beliefs, concepts, and values that motivate behavior and guide perception.

That internalized mindset is what learning standards always target and the euphemisms used to obscure this common aim vary from “self-discipline” per the Fordham Institute this week and also Grit advocate Angela Duckworth (who also heads up a Character lab). The OECD calls it ‘self-regulation’ and says it is the central purpose of education globally in the 21st century.  Sandel, Hillsdale College, and the Heritage Foundation all seem to prefer the term ‘self-government’. However these entities bill themselves on the political spectrum, these euphemisms function the same as what Sandel terms as a “republican conception of freedom” and liberty, which “requires a formative politics, a politics that cultivates in citizens the qualities of character self-government requires.”

That vision of changing the person, which I guess we could euphemise as “student-centered learning” like Jeb Bush and the Aspen Institute like to do, needs a new kind of education. K-12 students get the MyWays Competencies or some kind of formative pillars or Portrait of a Graduate laying out the person they are to become. Adults get something like the Antiracism Training Manual of the Episcopal Church Seeing the Face of God in Each Other https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/antiracism_book-revise3.pdf to lay out “a theology of inclusion and justice for our work in this time and place in our history” or the http://www.reclaimingjesus.org/sites/default/files/downloads/reclaiming_jesus_civil_discourse_curriculum_2018_1.pdf which lays the Curry Agenda beyond just the Episcopal Church that led him to a Candlelight Vigil at the White House the week after the wedding.

Everybody seems to want to use institutions like churches, the media, and schools to dictate what we are all to believe in the future and what we are to act to bring about in a collective, non-individualistic manner. Let’s get back to those plans in Sandel’s book (that I really did find following up on something odd the Hoover Institution wrote) as he wants us to move away from the procedural republic we have been for the last 50 or so years according to him (that would be 70 years now in 2018) and use our social institutions to instill in students and adults the “capacity to deliberate well about the common good.” In order to be able to engage in the (required for our own good so that we are no longer ‘discontent’) roles of “sharing in self-rule…then citizens must possess certain excellences–of character, judgment, and concern for the whole.” Also remember that since we live in the world of K-12 that mandates Success for All and churches now want Inclusion for All, both visions effectively mean:

“…given the demands of republican citizenship [we could substitute Beloved Community, depending on our audience, with no real loss of meaning], the more expansive the bounds of membership, the more demanding the task of cultivating virtue. In Aristotle’s polis, the formative task was to cultivate virtue among a small group of people who shared a common life and a natural bent for citizenship. When republican thought turns democratic, however, and when the natural bent of persons to be citizens can no longer be assumed, the formative project becomes more daunting. The task of forging a common citizenship among a vast and disparate people invites more strenuous forms of soulcraft.”

Not usually what a parent has in mind when they hear the euphemism “learning experiences”, but at least we know now why social and emotional learning is so ubiquitous and embedded in daily activities. Sandel, by the way, called the idea that “liberty can be detached from the exercise of self-government and conceived instead as the capacity of persons to choose their own ends…the voluntarist conception of freedom, [which]…no longer needs soulcraft, except in a limited domain.” No wonder we get euphemisms like parental or school choice or the classical theory of education so that political power anywhere in the 21st century is “accorded a stake in the character of its citizens”, whatever their wishes. We should be wary of the term ‘civil society’  too when we read Sandel concluding with:

“different forms of political association would govern different spheres of life and engage different aspects of our identities. Only a regime that disperses sovereignty both upward and downward can combine the power required to rival global market forces with the differentiation required of a public life that hopes to inspire the reflective allegiance of its citizens.”

Is it treasonous to say “No Thanks”? That a formative project of governments enabled through the human mind and deceitfully euphemised about by philanthropies and the think tanks, professors, media outlets, and others they pay is no way to successfully run the 21st century, no matter how much data is now available?

How many people now reflexively use the term “self-government” to mean I am my own person and should be able to select my own ends in life? In the last post, we noted that what now turn out to be some of the same actors pushing this coercive vision of self-government were not being accurate in describing King’s Agenda, at least by the end of his life. If you look at the Beloved Community materials through the links provided, have any Familiarity with the Marxist Humanist agenda from earlier posts, and look at what Sandel wants to solve Democracy’s Discontent, they are all headed to the same place. They also all need a new vision for education. As Sandel notes:

“To assimilate the civil rights movement to the liberalism of the procedural republic is to miss its most important lessons for our time. More than a means to equal rights, the movement itself was a movement of empowerment, an instance of the civic strand of freedom. The laws that desegregated public facilities and secured voting rights for blacks served freedom in the voluntarist sense–the freedom to choose and pursue one’s purposes and ends. But the struggle to win these rights displayed a higher, republican freedom–the freedom that consists in acting collectively to shape the public world.”

We, and especially our children caught up in these related education reforms, are involved with a Formative (re)Project hiding behind deceit and euphonious euphemisms like liberty, freedom, and high standards for all. At their core though, these are all psychological changes being sought in each of us “aimed at the moral and civic ‘transformation of a whole people’. Our minds and personalities targeted for political purposes to transform the neural levels that “tell the tales that order our lives.”

The only way out is to understand it and I seriously doubt it was any accident that the MyWays document was put out the week of so many Memorial Day vacations when few but the designated change makers would ever read it.

Levers and Logic Models: A Framework to Guide Research and Design of High-Quality Competency-Based Education Systems

came out the same day. Remember Logic Models turn out to be a euphemism used for Evidence-Based Policymaking that turned out to be another euphemism for scientific techniques employed in the name of that word we were not going to use today.

Methinks someone views summertime as a wonderful time to get significant changes in place without anyone paying alarming attention. If it’s pretty where you are, just read these summer posts on a rainy day.

Some times people tell me they are best read with a stiff drink anyway.