Let’s go back and forth between the aims that nerdy writers and scholars say they want to do in the name of a new kind of authentic, holistic education and why, and the everyday how. The means and tools can be seen through learning standards and yesterday’s push under the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to shift to “phenomenon-based learning”. Let start with a means quote from Carter Phipps (who does executive coaching and leadership training in addition to his cultural evolution) in his book Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea:
“In his latest book, Evolution’s Purpose, Steve McIntosh describes developmental psychology as ‘the branch of social science that deals most directly with the evolution of consciousness. Indeed, this rich tradition…is critical for understanding the kinds of research, thinking, and perspectives that have given birth to our new appreciation of how the internal universe evolves’.”
Developmental psychologists create legally mandated learning standards whether imposed locally, by a state, nationally, or globally, so they get to specify how they want that so-called internal universe to evolve both for individual students and collectively for an entire generation of the population. Cool tool, huh? Likewise, they create curriculum such as what The Lawrence Hall of Science has created for Amplify Science that “motivates students by providing them with a sense of purpose and agency, and by engaging their curiosity.” In other words, it is a curriculum that is about targeting and changing the student’s internal universe and not conveying knowledge in the historic sense of education. Those same developmental psychologists get to decide what is to be “culturally relevant phenomenon,” which is awfully useful as we once again quote Phipps that “cultural evolution happens right here, in the collective interior life of humanity.”
How nice then to use learning standards like the Common Core or competency frameworks that no one but me seems to be explaining accurately to target that very “collective interior life.” As I was reading Evolutionaries I kept thinking that they were not planning for its audience to include someone who understood K-12 education reforms and its underlying legal mandates to enforce compliance so well. I think the Amplify Science paper also never expected someone to look at its supporting references and then track down the Symeonidis & Schwarz 2016 paper “Phenomenon-Based Teaching and Learning through the Pedagogical Lenses of Phenomenology: The Recent Curriculum Reform in Finland,” much less recognize the significance of grounding these reforms in the work of an M. Heidegger from 2006 with a cite in German.
Being a serious nerd who covered the nexus to Deconstructionism in my book Credentialed to Destroy, I recognized Martin the German (and Nazi) existentialist and his 1927 Time and Being with a little help from a translator search engine. Much like Phipps, phenomenology wants to “use complexity as a starting point” and for comparable reasons I suspect. A 2012 paper by a James Magrini on the promise of phenomenology and the philosophy of existentialism to create ‘authentic education’ though it:
“might be related with great success to social reconstruction and critical pedagogy for social justice in education. For the values we are ‘creating’ and endorsing are never restricted to the classroom, they have an impact on the greater society and, most importantly, the potential that exists for for its change…in addition ‘to assisting our students in their preparation to fit into existing social, political, and economic structures’, as so much of our educational system is currently geared toward doing, we, perhaps especially those of us who teach philosophy, need to encourage our students to think about how these structures might be significantly changed for the better.”
Brought to us by students trained to act from emotion using provided concepts and categories of thought deliberately introduced to drive a belief in the need for cultural change and new social, economic, and political structures. Trained using so-called ‘Power Standards’ that most parents will not even know exist. Let’s face it, phenomenon-based learning in 21st century science has little to do with science as a historically developed and useful body of undisputed knowledge and everything to do with changing each student’s interior universe. In fact, that 2016 paper stated that this phenomenological perspective will allow students to “become mindful of their own learning and acquire strategies of how to learn, a joyful, creative and reflective activity to ensure a good life. Competence, the buzzword of the 21st century, lies at the heart of this conceptualization of learning, which is essentially constructivist and psychological.”
Sounds like that internal, supposedly personal, universe to me, but serendipitously, I had seen a 1972 book cited in the Esalen book from the previous post by W. Warren Wagar, our old friend from the gravely concerning and therefore tagged on this blog–World Order Models Project–that commenced the next year. So I tracked down that book Good Tidings: The Belief in Progress from Darwin to Marcuse to see if I could walk through his cited philosophy to discern just how far back this desire to use education to drive cultural evolution at the level of consciousness actually went. I read that over the weekend and, serendipitously again, Wagar too was influenced by Heidegger and existentialism.
Come to think of it, a founder of Esalen, had his Stanford life turned around by a colleague and friend of Heidegger’s, a refugee, Frederic Spiegelberg, who introduced him to the vision of the perennial philosophy contained in Eastern religion. You know, the one UNESCO does forums on with the Dalai Llama in conjunction with Harvard and the same one Pavel Luksha sees as creating a universal psycho-spiritual wisdom tradition globally using education that we covered in the last post? Now, if that seems like a lot of commonality, it’s the tip of the iceberg to the books and papers I have accumulated, but we need to move on. Plus, I hope, everyone gets the point now. Good Tidings says ‘Discard’ instead of ‘Withdrawn,’ but its aims remain explicitly current. That’s probably why it was pulled from circulation, huh? Let’s see why.
Wagar was quite graphic about what he called the “telic process of the mind, in which man took control of his own evolution and moved forward deliberately.” Telic is just a fancy word from the Greek telos that goes to people’s purpose, motivations, and aims, which is exactly what UNESCO, with previous Rockefeller Foundation funding, has recently announced they are targeting in the name of Futures Literacy and the Discipline of Anticipation. Somebodies (plural) are quite determinedly pushing cultural evolution by using education to control consciousness and have been, per Wagar, for a long time. Contrary to the above rhetoric, or Phipps pretending that Evolution is just an idea whose time has suddenly come in our 21st century, we get Wagar describing a Korzybski as calling for “the perfection of a ‘science’ and art of human engineering,” which is, of course, how learning standards are now to work.
Has anyone asked any of us if we are OK with “the welfare of the race would be managed efficiently”? To listen to much of the False Narrative surrounding the Common Core and data privacy, such psychological human engineering is A-OK as long as it’s imposed somehow at the school or state level, even if the blueprints are global and decades in preparation. If the financiers of the False Narrative also believe, or want to make use of a widespread, instilled belief, that “the key to future progress, therefore, was ‘integrative thinking and behavior,’ ‘democratic planning for freedom,’ the engineering from an improved social psychology of democratic human cooperation [Remember ‘Soulcraft’?]…also came to feel that social and behavioral scientists would have to work hand in hand with churchmen to help provide the ethico-spiritual integration indispensable to social harmony.”
More interdisciplinary forums most of us will not get invited to. We all need to understand though that Wagar laid out, as so many others have, a desire to “make the supreme task of the behavioral and social sciences to make mankind conscious of itself, and therefore put the future of the race under the control of reason.” Education IS a behavioral and social science and it is the one most of us will encounter most often. It is mind and personality that is aimed at and a belief that our collective culture, human intentions, and aims are all malleable because “the possibility of progress is open to man because he was educable, and because he had learned to control his environment through the sciences…Human beings today were born with the same emotions and powers as savages…Since the variable factor, the factor that may be altered indefinitely, is the social conditions which call out and direct the impulses and sentiments, the positive means of progress lie in the application of intelligence to the construction of proper social devices.”
That’s what learning standards are, as well as phenomenon-based learning curricula, or formative assessments. They are just three real-life examples of “proper social devices” for human engineering of the psychological internal universe of the student in order to implement normative philosophies of the future such as social reconstruction and social justice.
I could go on, but the rest of these quotes simply reenforce the recognition that the rest of us need to grasp as well. If political authority, at any level, and cultural institutions like schools, universities, and churches are all being led to believe that “In man, evolution has entered a new phase, no longer biological, but moral and spiritual” and that “‘psychosocial’ progress” can be made by compelling what those moral and spiritual practices are to be until they become instilled Habits of Mind, we need to recognize those aims.
Because those aims have NOT been discarded or withdrawn, unlike so many of the books that laid them out.