Snuffing Out the Old World That is Dying to Hatch a New One Via Public Policy

Building on the last post’s explanation of the importance of targeting people’s internalized mental maps to effect external change, let me cite this recent article https://www.alliancemagazine.org/feature/systems-change-and-philanthropy/ on how crucial it is for foundations to support “reframing the narratives people hold” because of the necessity that people be “mirroring internally what is sought externally.” Did you also know that the National Science Foundation is pushing something it calls CHANS–Coupled Human and Natural Systems–research as part of its Social and Behavioral Science work currently? That research wants to model and control human decision-making, just like UNESCO as we saw in a 2018 post on creating desired Anticipatory Assumptions that the Rockefeller Foundation was funding. It turns out that “fuzzy concept maps (FCM) are potentially very useful in modeling human decisions and behavior in CHANS.”

So the NSF and UNESCO want to target what is internalized to control decision-making and say so. No one who looks at their work and funding would disagree that it aims at a transformative vision to a human well-being centric future. Let’s skip over to Classical Ed or religiously oriented schools, since they are often asserted as the alternative to the Godless and Progressive public schools. https://members.classicalconversations.com/article/book-review-norms-nobility makes it clear that education is all about the “person education should produce (norms) and the way this person should act (nobility)… education [is] preparation for virtuous thought and action,” but the instilled virtues that guide who the person is, what he values, how he perceives, and what motivates him to act are not up to the individual. The community supposedly decides what will be instilled and practiced until it is an unconscious habit.

My point is that there is a convergence in the vision for education in the 21st century between Left and Right that is rarely being shared accurately with the public. If something called Agile Governance globally is all about controlling each individual’s knowledge and beliefs in order to aid declared public policy goals and we have “State Capability, Policymaking and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Do Knowledge Systems Matter?” laying out the need to “change the nature and meaning of knowledge production and use in policy decisions” using think tanks across the globe, all of a sudden we have the best explanation yet of why there has been so much deceit and False Narrative coordination coming out of think tanks when it comes to what is really going on in education.

If we envision think tanks in the 21st century as both the executioners of the old vision via their White Papers or testimony that create a certain perception of what is currently wrong, and the midwives guiding the birth of a new vision, things start to make far more sense. Then aspirationally quoting Antonio Gramsci, without pointing out he wrote from prison in the 1920s for being an admitted Communist, and noting he “has described a situation like this as a ‘solstice’ and an ‘interregnum,’ where the ‘old world is dying, [but] the new one has not yet been born'” fits the Midwife role. It also turns out there is something else at U-Penn beyond AISP, Positive Neuroscience, prospective psychology, and the other transformative social systems research we keep encountering. It is called the Think Tank and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) and it publishes a Global Go To Think Tank Index Report on the “role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world.”

Sure enough, we find so many of the think tanks that pretend to be ‘conservative’ while misrepresenting competency-based education, social and emotional learning, data initiatives, or deceiving readers about what Marxism is being celebrated by the Index for their effectiveness as think tanks or having one of the Best Advocacy Campaigns of 2018. If the new purpose of education globally is to create a planned citizen with the characteristics of altruism and motivations governments and connected corporations desire, it makes sense to be targeting what they clearly are:

all aspects of what it means to be human: feelings, intuition, connection to others and the cosmos, as well as the more familiar ground of the mind and intellect. Whole Person Learning is intimately linked with how the individual sees themselves and, supremely, how they view others.

That is what has now become a matter of ‘public policy’ to change. That’s what it means to declare that in the 21st Century Knowledge and Education are “global public goods” and that think tanks are to act as the “intermediaries” between legislators and bureaucrats and ‘advocates’. Anyone motivated to act must be guided in what they believe and value. In this new paradigm for education grounded in public policy:

Instead of focusing on the improvement of students, Education must start focusing on the improvement of the world, enabling each individual to be an active part of that process…Indeed, learning is not the ultimate goal of Education, seeing that individuals learn in order to attain/create useful, desired goals. Specially in a time of relentless possibilities created by technology, which creates the scenario for people to learn, work, and exist in a close yet heterogeneous network, individuals may now be empowered to learn and attain great goals with local/national/world impact.

That would certainly explain the convergence of visions around controlling what a student’s Identity is and what they value, believe, and what principles motivate them to act. How many people appreciate that these skills of active participation in a project of transformation in the human and natural worlds is what it means to be a Critical Thinker in the 21st Century?

Sure enough, if students are being educated to become critical thinkers, it is aimed at serving a higher purpose still: that these individuals become equipped to devolve into active, participatory agents in the world–of work, surely, but also of their surrounding (and our global) community. This is possible since critical thinkers are prone to approaching common public challenges with a hands on conduct ignited by an ethical and committed attitude.

That vision of education creates the needed ‘citizens’ to fit with a global vision for the 21st Century that “with effective multi-stakeholder cooperation…the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to address–and possibly solve–the major challenges that the world currently faces.” What is necessary to this vision of the future? –“a population that can think critically and in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary ways.” Precisely what the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Cross-Cutting Concepts and Topics of those instilled Fuzzy Cognitive Maps are creating. No wonder US federal law requires Higher Order Thinking Skills to be assessed annually on at least 95% of each state’s students. It’s a necessary component of this global transformative vision of what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century where Knowledge Systems must evolve so that “Governments have the opportunity to design policies to prepare the knowledge systems of the future to make better decisions for the wellbeing of all.

I bolded that last part because it is what Uncle Karl called his Human Development Society vision where little ‘c’ communism would be enabled by a certain level of technology. It is also called Marxist Humanism, which I have documented is another area where certain colleges, publications, and think tanks have made a concerted effort to mislead. Few can recognize what no one has accurately explained to us, Plus, creating False Narratives to guide human decision-making apparently gets a think tank recognized as Effective. That State Capability paper tells us that “Both citizen and professional knowledge are important to successful implementation [of the 4IR/Human Development/Wellbeing of All vision]; ignoring them weakens the potential for success.”

Well, neither is being ignored, but the targeting of both is not being accurately explained either except here at ISC. Going back to all the misinformation out there now from think tanks makes it clear that the disinformation is being manufactured in what appears to be a coordinated manner in order to “influence or change the system’s purpose, which is the level of intervention capable of instituting the most profound change in the system.” Student-centered, personalized learning that is brain-based and evidence-centered sounds so much better than that long quote and works the same way, doesn’t it? No need to get parents all upset by referring to students as ‘systems’ that need a new form of Governance at an internalized level in order to get the desired transformation in the external, material world.

Do you remember my research on the Global Education Futures Forum and GEFF’s ties to the World Economic Forum? GEFF’s true focus makes more sense when we are familiar with the January 2018 White Paper “Agile Governance: Reimagining Policymaking in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” The need to transform education globally goes hand in hand with a need for “positioning values that promote societal benefit and well-being as priorities for governance.” And what precisely does governance now mean if that’s the new vision of education in the 4IR?

In its simplest form, governance refers to making decisions and exercising authority to guide the behavior of individuals and organizations…The concept of agile governance aims to shift the manner in which policies are generated, deliberated, enacted and enforced in the [4IR]…to enable policy-making that is more inclusive and ‘human-centred’ by involving more stakeholders in the process and allowing for rapid iteration to meet the needs of the governed.

References to the Governed are straight out of a 1971 Soviet book called The Scientific Management of Society that I covered back in 2016 when I introduced my readers to the term they used for such comprehensive management at the level of the mind and personality–Upravleniye. Hello again old friend with a new name and sales pitch.

No wonder that WEF White Paper pitches what looks like what governments in the West are now calling evidence-based policymaking (while certain think tanks mislead about its true nature) where:

The combination of systems and design thinking provides an iterative and cumulative learning process by exploring a complex and fast-moving ecosystem, sensemaking [using FCMs?] of observed variables, and shaping of possible outcomes, while analysing the influence of those outcomes on the status quo…Adopting system and design-thinking approaches fosters a shift from planning and controlling to piloting and implementing policies to get rapid feedback and iteration…Feedback loops allow policies to be evaluated against the backdrop to determine if they are still meeting citizens’ values and needs.

Those would be the deliberately instilled values and needs created by a new singular vision of education in play under the Common Core in public schools in the US and in charter language or school mission statements for those parents opting for School Choice. The deceit makes more sense now, as well as the very term–School Choice–in a vision of education designed to get at the internalized basis for human decision-making as an invisible lever for social control.

All this to enable, without scrutiny or effective challenge, a vision of the 21st Century where think tanks and governments get to specify “the outcomes we should be striving for as a collective endeavour.”

No wonder all these visions push the community as the determining source of what the individual must now be.

Unified Human Sciences of the Mind: Learning Standards Prescribe Desired Neural Patterns

Nothing like being at a journey’s end, when all of a sudden fireworks explode that remind us why it’s a good thing we have made it here. We will talk about the fireworks shortly, but what I saw in that “Developing Resilient Agency in Learning” paper from the last post made me sit back down with my copy of Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind/Brain from 1986. I wanted to rethink the manipulative potential of prescribing student goals or ‘performance expectations’ (PE) that go to ‘standardizing’ the fact that we humans are the “lucky organisms fitted out with cells coordinating representations of the world with movement in the world” as Patricia Churchland put it in italics. Churchland went on to quote Dominick Purpura from 1975 in a Chapter Epigraph to her book’s Conclusion stating that: “What we require now are approaches that can unite basic neurobiology and behavioral sciences into a single operational framework.”

Learning standards tied to CEDS in the US, or UNESCO’s ISCED framework globally, are creating that long-sought operational framework. Key to those aspirations is prescribing those internalized representations of the world. Sense-making was one of the perimeter nodes of that Learner Profile spider web we met in the last post per the Mindful Agency paper. It used the term ‘sense-making’ to combine two factors: “(i) making meaning and (ii) making connections” and stated:

Sense-making is a core part of learning, and…learning takes place through making connections in several ways: neurological, social, cognitive and experiential. People understand the world through schemata–‘a cognitive structure that consists of facts, ideas and associations organised into a meaningful system of relationships.’ It is through constantly comparing existing schema with new information and understanding that we develop through our encounter with the world, that we  adapt or stretch our existing understanding to accumulate richer and deeper knowledge…our understanding of the world and relationships is not just through storing information as an ‘objective’ entity. We do not passively receive information from our environment–rather we translate information into internal representations whose value is significant.’ They [human beings] actively participate in the generation of meaning in what matters to them: they enact a world’. Sense-making is, for them, a relational and affect-laden process grounded in biological organisation.

That was a long quote so we could go back to what was simply as aspiration and a theory decades ago and then forward to real time classroom instructions now. Then we get the fireworks in the form of last week’s release of http://fabbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/BRAIN-Initiative-FABBS-presentation-FINAL.pdf called the “Opportunities for the BRAIN Initiative 2.0.” Phase II or 2.0 turns out to be “Transforming dynamic neural patterns into understanding cognition, emotion, perception and action.” How does that happen? Here’s one current example from http://learndbir.org/resources/A-Phenomenon-based-Assessment-System-for-Three-dimensional-Science-Standards.pdf  It explains that the desired student “Performance Expectations are endpoints. To successfully prepare students to meet these goals, instructional materials must provide learning materials at the nexus of these three dimensions” of Science and Engineering Practices [the outside action], Core Disciplinary Ideas, and Cross-Cutting Concepts.

Those latter two strands go to creating the desired internalized ‘schemata’ for students’ sensemaking. ALL students. Suddenly science becomes a sociocultural “enterprise organized around asking questions in the natural world and seeking to build theories and models to develop answers to those questions.” Engineering becomes a matter of design “beginning with problems, needs, or desires of human beings that need to be addressed.” We would recognize three-dimensional learning as cultural activity theory, even if it did not admit it openly in all these papers. Its focus is on “Learning what is not yet there” because its purpose is on transformative learning that will create a different future via reimagined human activities. Recognizing that Professor Churchland taught in the 80s hotbed of cultural-historical activity theory–San Diego–complete with translations from Soviet psychology works I checked to see what ISCAR was currently pushing and pulled up Roberta Patalano publishing “From the Cradle to Society: ‘As-If’ Thinking as a Matrix of Creativity.”

Remember all the ‘uncertainty’ pushing from the last post, and now the Performance Expectations, that somehow get at coordinating Professor Churchland’s inside and out dimensions? It’s all what Soviet research stipulated would be necessary to create new kinds of minds that would act in new ways in the world. Let’s look at one more current exercise http://stemteachingtools.org/brief/46 from March 2017 called “How to define meaningful daily learning objectives for science investigations.” Uncertainty creates affect-laden ‘understanding’ just as I bolded above in that block quote. It warns teachers that “displaying the target concept to be learned–the disciplinary core idea that is to be the focus of instruction–‘gives away’ what students should actually be figuring out as they make sense of phenomena by engaging in the science and engineering practices.”

In case anyone thinks I am exaggerating on wanting to affect future action, let me quote that “Investigations should help students construct understanding. The framework vision [remember that Purpura quote] is about students seeing that science and engineering practices are ways that can help them make sense of and change the world. Students should be deciding together what they need to investigate each day, based on what they’ve already figured out and what they need to learn to explain or design. They shouldn’t know the outcome of an investigation ahead of time.” Explicit instruction as in a lecture or textbook would “short-circuit deep learning.” PEs require that “Students should be able to say what they are trying to figure out in their own words–and come to use formal science terminology once they have gotten a feeling for it after multiple investigations.”

That would explain why those of us with solid factual knowledge in an area see misapplied concepts, or Inapt Metaphors, as students use terminology they “have a feeling for,” instead of a solid foundation grounded in facts. Such a body of knowledge might interfere with an aspiration to change the world. What these prescribed concepts and learning experiences are doing though is creating internalized schema in the student’s mind. Precisely where all these learning and cognitive scientists and education researchers are trying “to invent and perfect new concepts suitable to nervous system function, and they all have their sights set on explaining macro phenomena in terms of micro phenomena.” We get a new kind of education breaking out in earnest in the 1980s when Patricia Churchland wrote, and Lauren Resnick began pushing the now required Higher Order Thinking Skills, where the traditional logical, sequential representations that had traditionally been the purpose of instruction get replaced by a neural network combining ‘patterns of activity’ with provided categories of thought.

The three-dimensional learning required now and laid out as Mindful Agency are grounded in what psychologists theorized would be necessary to create New Kinds of Minds as Paul Ehrlich put it in a 1989 book I have warned about. Now to the fireworks as that BRAIN Initiative link had a header that said “NSF SBE Grand Challenge Ideas.” What’s that I ask? I remember the NSF funded all the controversial, ‘discovery’ math and science curricula? SBE turned out to be Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and the SBE 2020 vision was launched in August 2010 https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2010/08/challenges when a Paul Ehrlich colleague, John Holdren, (whom he mentioned in thanks in his book, New World, New Mind) headed the White House office that oversaw the NSF. That’s one way to fulfill that book’s goal of Conscious Evolution, isn’t it?

I started reading those SBE 2020 papers over the weekend and found the link to the Krasnow Institute and its Neuroeconomics we stumbled across pursuing Thinking and Reading like a Historian in a paper called “Understanding the Mechanisms of the Mind through an Integrated Science of the Mind Initiative.” Whereas, Professor Churchland simply hoped a neural network that functioned like Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) in computers could become the end result of a new kind of transformation education, another co-author of that paper, James McClelland turns out to be a PDP expert. https://fabbs.org/our_scientists/james-l-mcclelland-phd/ . Another co-author at MIT, Aude Oliva, is working “to understand how humans encode, process, retain, predict, and imagine.” No wonder we get ‘bottom-up’ New Foundations for Readiness as we saw in the last post.

Another paper “Twenty-First Century Challenges and Opportunities for the Human Sciences” wanted to “develop a scientific understanding of the social processes that now shape [the natural world].” This would require the United States to finance a “significant and targeted investment in an integrated science of social and behavioral dynamics, or ‘human sciences’.” And the next year, 2011, the federal Department of Education held its first competency-based education summit to do just that and implement the developed “theory for human social action” using student-centered learning to create the needed personalized neural networks in each student. Coordinating the inside categories of thought and motivation to act with the external activity in any given environment.

It’s a good plan if transformative change in the ‘macro phenomena’ of society, economies, and political structures in largely invisible ways is the goal of education in the 21st century globally. I stumbled across this more than ten years ago now trying to figure out why the NSF had paid the State of Georgia and its University System tens of millions of dollars in grants to implement constructivist Integrated Math. None of the offered explanations held up to scrutiny. Now I know it was about creating New Kinds of Minds. Let’s close our Trilogy of Bottom-Up, Inside-Out, Neural Change in each student by quoting an SBE 2020 abstract that had no linked document, just this aspiration:

One of the most critical challenges facing next-generation social, behavioral and economic research is to understand the dynamics and consequences of interactions between human systems [that’s US!] and the natural world. To accelerate scientific progress, significant and systematic efforts must be made to identify and collect data across time and space that enable evidence on perceptions, attitudes, social institutions, situation-behavior relationships, and decision-making to be linked comprehensively to measurements of the natural environment. These data will lay the foundation for a science of sustainability.

Rereading that quote would explain why the same think tank employees or their affiliates misrepresenting how learning standards like the Common Core really work also envisioned misrepresenting the purpose of all the data gathering from the beginning.

It appears that education researchers aren’t the only ones aspiring to control our internalized ‘schemata’ that guide how we interpret the world around us.