Tapping the Assumed to Be Real and the Logic of What Might Be to Control Purpose Here and Now

Once again, let’s go back in time to the 50s, to another episode detailed in Dark Hero of the Information Age, because it illustrates the very organic processes of the human brain that learning standards and competency frameworks want to manipulate covertly. It’s my job as a writer to make that documentable manipulation explicit. In the early stages of computers:

another breakthrough in brain science defied the digital computer models that were becoming the rage in cognitive science. artificial intelligence, and many other fields. The discovery, based on a whole new approach to neuroscience theory and laboratory research, confirmed that the human brain did not process information in the mode and manner of a digital machine… [From the neurophysiology lab at MIT, Jerry] Lettvin and his crew made their finding that turned a half century of neuroscience on its head. Their study of vision in frogs revealed that the brain’s most basic information-processing operations were carried out by analog means to an extent never before considered possible. They discovered that the neurons in the lowly frog’s eye were capable of sophisticated activities of image detection and analysis, and routinely performed complex tasks, such as determining the size, shape, and motion of objects in the frog’s field of view, through analog processes innate in the structure and communication operations of each individual neural cell…Published in November 1959 with the tantalizing title “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” [it] forced a sudden rethinking of everything that was known and assumed about sensory perception and the brain’s cognitive operations…It strengthened the biological foundations of cybernetics and unveiled a new order of living processes in the brain.

It is those living processes that are being manipulated by Constructivism, Whole Language, DJEM ,or by Exemplary History Education Programs seeking to control the categories of thought that guide consciousness. That control of consciousness can, in turn, guide purpose and the behavior it motivates. To quote briefly from a 1943 paper called “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology” Wiener co-authored: “The term purposeful is meant to denote that the act or behavior must be interpreted as directed to the attainment of a goal.” The goal (or standard or objective) provides “a continuous feedback that modifies and guides the behaving object.” The student in K-12 becomes that behaving object able to compare the difference between where they are “at any time and the final state interpreted as the purpose.” Now, to bridge that gap, cybernetic education hypes “sensemaking as a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively…Sense-Making reconceptualizes factizing (the making of facts which tap the assumed-to-be-real) …as an action oriented process that people automatically go through in order to integrate experiences into their understanding of the world.”

So students are encouraged to use the “logic of what might be” and act using inference or ‘best guess’ leaps. See what happens, collect that evidence, and adjust accordingly as needed to move closer to the laid out goals. Now, back in 1978, with a 2nd Edition in 1995, the co-authors of Dark Hero published a book called Snapping that explained the process of communication [a 21st century skill, remember?] in a way that is useful for recognizing what is being manipulated by K-12 learning standards all over the globe. It gets at why it is so crucial for learning standards to include social and emotional learning as well as controlling the categories of thought and concepts that are the representational level that exists in the space between the neurons of living biological systems and the prevailing collective culture.

The process of communication reaches far beyond the mere exchange of spoken and written messages among individuals. This complex and sophisticated process controls both our bodies and our minds. Communication, in fact, governs everything we experience as human beings. It is the basic organic process that regulates the everyday operations of the human brain and nervous system, and it is the main channel through which the new cult methods of change and control turn inward and take root in the mind. The principles of communication that underlie…rhetoric,…propaganda and …group dynamics are one with the natural laws that direct and control the flow of experience throughout the body, brain and mind. By this common process, acts of speech, from sermons to hypnosis to casual conversations and every other form of communication [which is what any curricula is], may affect biological functions at their most rudimentary levels and human awareness in its highest states of consciousness and spirituality.

Controlling sense-making then is a powerful tool indeed. It seeks to target the means by which “human beings exchange thought, feeling and experience with one another.” Suddenly, we find education methods being prescribed on the basis of “a new view of human beings based on dynamic, organic processes of human awareness and experience.” We saw that in the Reimagining American History Education exemplars and goals from the last post and I saw it in a May 2019 letter from Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, laying out Ohio’s vision for 2019-2024. It has Four Domains of Learning and wants to prescribe what must be experienced. It demands “clear standards that define social-emotional learning” because:

Human beings are social creatures. That means in society, successfully interacting with other people is essential to the effective functioning of a community, workplace, or even a family. People need to know how to successfully interact with each other, establish and maintain positive relationships, feel and show empathy, understand and manage their emotions and set and achieve positive goals. Social-emotional learning improves children’s mental health and helps them avoid risky decisions, make healthy choices and stay drug free.

Nice sales pitch, but “Each Child Our Future” is really about controlling those organic processes of inner communication, isn’t it? When Snapping reminds us that:

Experience, in our perspective, was not just another name for information. It was the living embodiment of the stuff in human terms, the active form in which people come to know and feel the flood of information they take in and process daily…[so that] each piece adds some small measure to the greater whole of the mind, and each becomes an ongoing part of that individual’s awareness and personality…the human brain physically metabolizes experience through its natural capacity for transformation…Like the other organs of the body, the heart which runs on blood, the lungs which run on air, the human brain–the seat of the mind and main stage of awareness–runs on experience.

See why it became so crucial to reform education so it became about goals and prescribing desired student learning experiences? Like blood to the heart, except that:

this life-giving information does not merely fuel the brain as gasoline fuels a precast auto engine. In human terms, experience plays a much more vital role in fundamental processes of brain growth and development…the intricate synaptic connections between and among those neurons, the living information processing pathways that determine how an individual’s experience will, in fact, become ordered and interpreted, are only minimally organized at birth. The fundamental workings of the mind–the labyrinthine networks of synaptic connections that create the brain’s higher communication capacities–are determined by experience…Experience literally creates the everyday workings of the mind, transforming the raw material of billions of loosely connected brain cells into a living triumph of communication. Experience also shapes the distinctive patterns of thought, feeling and self-expression that underlie that larger human form–personality.

Now look at the Four Domains of Learning set forth here http://education.ohio.gov/About/EachChildOurFuture or in other comparable state or district plans and see a means of prescribing that living triumph of communication in ways that lock in governance of each person at a biological level at the point of their minds and personalities.

Something to reflect on as our summers begin.

Aspirations of Controlling Consciousness, A New Kind of ‘Thinking Beast,’ & Another School Shooting

In the last post, we talked about the planned evolution of human cognition using curricula for K-12 and higher ed, as well as through learning standards that are consistently misexplained to obscure their actual intended effects. Then we had the tragedy last week at Highland Ranch STEM, which turned out to be about ten miles as the crow flies from the McREL ed lab, which has long hyped cybernetic ‘Second Order’ Change at the level of students’ minds. When I pulled up Highland Ranch in a map location search looking for McREL, in my left hand corner (representing to the west) was the now rebuilt Columbine High School. I am familiar with the interest of what was called the General Evolution Research Group in the 80s in education reforms and their piloting in these school districts of a template called ‘Achieving Excellence’. Excellence had to do with reimagining Consciousness so that what is thought, felt, and desired are united as motivation to act.

Now before I shift to what I found at Highland Ranch where “Our goal is not only to prepare students to thrive in the constant world of re-invention, but to lead it,” while hyperlinking to the UN Sustainable Summit page https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/summit/ as well as the also relevant https://woodrow.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/WW-Reimagining-American-History-Education.pdf released last week, I want to go back to a 1968 international conference on the Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation. What the STEM ‘About Us’ page says it desires, and what the Remagining History Education declares as its intended effects on how students “make sense of a chaotic present and inchoate future”, fit with:

we ought to look toward our willingness to enter our individual consciousness into the system comprised by this new kind of organism. We have to ask ourselves whether in some way we can understand the world and act on it better, with passion and commitment, through becoming an organ in such an organism…[sensing] the need for a new kind of ‘thinking beast’ in order to cope with the crisis the world is in.

Just after that quote, cyberneticist Gordon Pask, whom we met in the last post as relevant now to all sorts of 21st century plans for us and our children, spoke up about the need to “redefine an individual” as “one named class of programs,” which fits perfectly with what I have been warning about the way learning standards are actually intended to work. He went on in an explanation that makes Whole Language in reading and constructivism in math and science make far more sense, than the repeated bogus explanations that they are simply “another way of teaching.” It’s about controlling and evolving consciousness in predetermined, politically useful ways.

…Because of this interpretation of the individual, one can perceive a separate sort of evolution that I refer to as ‘symbolic evolution,’ which is perhaps exemplified by this conference. To avoid overpopulating the world with general-purpose machines, what we have to do is control the symbolic evolution process. To do so, I believe that the first thing we must do is redefine what we mean by an individual, get away from this idea of individuals as heads.

Before I get back to that conference, let me excerpt from the About Us page found here https://www.stemk12.org/ under the “Never Stop Innovating” link in case accurate perception of the intended changes in consciousness results in a subsequent takedown.

“Welcome to STEM School Highlands Ranch. We are an innovative, free, public, charter learning community that exists to innovate K-12 education in order to prepare every student to lead change, solve problems and succeed in an exponentially changing world.

We are more than a school. We are a think tank, a learning lab and a catalyst for creativity. We are a haven for continual innovation, creative exploration, and rigorous discovery. We defy definition and break with convention. Because that’s what innovators do.

We see school differently.  Although our curriculum has a college preparatory focus with emphasis on developing core liberal arts skills in reading, writing, mathematics and science, we use creativity, problem-solving and innovation to inspire and challenge our students.

We are more than just STEM. We infuse STEM into all classrooms. We challenge students with STEM-based, real-world problem solving fueled by constant exploration, inquiry and discovery.

We foster innovation. We equip every student, every day in every classroom with the knowledge, skills, confidence and character to thrive in a constantly changing world. By using continuous inquiry, constant discovery and trial and error as critical pathways to new discoveries, we create a culture of safe failure and fearless innovation.

We empower students. We put students in the driver’s seat of their learning, engaging and empowering them to push their own unique boundaries of innovative learning, thinking and doing.

We see teachers as catalysts. Here, teachers are role models and innovation coaches who provide the framework for learning. Our teachers are experts in teaching appropriate use of technology, collaboration, and teamwork that sparks interest in STEM and learning at an early age.

We innovate and learn together. Here, we leverage the power of collaboration, teamwork and group think to build, design and create solutions to real world problems.

We’re fostering tomorrow’s innovators, creators and change agents. We work tirelessly to nurture and develop integrity, respect, responsibility and honesty within our students and take pride in encouraging well-rounded student development. Link here for some of our notable student accomplishments over the last school year.”

That’s a school grounded in manipulating and practicing with the created neural change in its students. It wants to control their purpose in the same way that the cyberneticists envisioned. So now let’s go back to that conference again and see what they wanted to do to the mind “to act, again to use the Marxist terminology, as midwives to a humanistic change…where we might have to change man radically, give him a new morality or something, otherwise we might fail.” That reference to Uncle Karl was not gratuitous or inflammatory as a personality theory psychologist with a 1949 PhD from Harvard explained to the conference that “the notion of transforming thought, taking actuality and changing it through work, was the crucial concept in Marx.” Euphemizing that same aim as a 2011 chartered STEM School and then hyping yourself as a global template makes it much harder to see for anyone who doesn’t already possess all these detailed plans for change where the mind and its instilled ideas can be a “cause of history” defined as “movement that gets someplace.”

That’s precisely how that link above wants to Reimagine American History, while pretending it is a matter of Equity and Reaching ALL Students. Yes, because of the needed changes to all those conceptual systems to reestablish “the common bonds that all Americans [should] share in a time of deep national political, economic, and social divisions in which Americans’ differences overshadow our commonalities.” Pask would call that a new set of programs because our cyberneticists believe:

that it’s impossible to get at this supposedly real world independent of some sort of conceptual system, so that if the real world in real time is filtered through successive conceptual systems, then the history of these conceptual systems is the ‘history of consciousness,’ I think, [and] highly relevant to anything you’s like to say about the ‘real world.’

The Highland Ranch vision, the new history education vision, and that conference are all about change in the material world of reality created by controlling the conceptual systems of students. For “establishing the engaged and informed citizenry needed to preserve a democratic society” is how the Woodrow Wilson history vision pitches it. The 1968 conference said the purpose was to create people “whose point is not homeostasis, but change.” Today, that gets euphemized as Change Agents, Lifelong Learning, and Growth Mindsets as a STEM vision. All are grounded in treating people, and the mind especially, as not independent in the actual historic sense where the King could not cross the private threshold of a citizen’s home without permission. Now we stealthily get governments, at all levels, using prescribed learning standards to form:

a system which is self-corrective, maintaining constants about relations between the parts and relations to the environment: a steam engine with a governor. Mind is immanent where energy is stored so that the system can be responsive to abstract cues. [Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequences?] Mind is related to purpose, especially the kind of goals which Gordon [Pask] called evolutionary goals, and any material system with an evolutionary goal deserves to be called historical in a sense going beyond the simple fact of change.

Do you think it is accidental students are being bombarded with terms like “chaotic present and inchoate future” or have the word ‘innovate’ thrown at them constantly as Highland Ranch does? Even that link to the UN and its Sustainable Development Goals using students and education fits with the idea that creating a “system of ideas and ideals” can allow the systematic control of prevailing consciousness using “internalized, conceptualized goals.” Remember too that the word ‘standards’ is just another word for goals. Let me close this disturbing, but illuminating, post with another quote from “A Human Family on a Ledge” from the last day of our 1968 conference.

We need to become, uniquely in the history of life on our planet, a species that does not compete with every skill and weapon to monopolize resources and guarantee the survival of as many of our immediate offspring as possible. Instead, we must begin not only to include ourselves within our understanding of nature, but include our understanding of nature within our understanding of ourselves, consciously fostering natural balances because we have a vision of the whole, rather than simply moving within it. We need to see ourselves as parts of the system, and we need to develop an internalization of that system, like an actor turned director who must discipline his wish to steal the show.

STEM is no longer actually about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as bodies of knowledge and History must be reimagined to create a new kind of conceptualization of what the world ought to become. Consciousness itself has become the point for creating change, while parents and taxpayers get misled to believe that these shifts are about better Engagement and Achievement.

And once again I find school shootings occurring in schools adamantly announcing their innovative changes to the human psyche. At least we no longer need to wonder why no amount of shed blood will cause a deviation from this transformational template with such a troubling history in its documented implementation.

Evolutionary Epistemology: A Mouthful Term that Euphemizes a Wholesale Education Shift

In the last post we looked at Professor Cabrera’s DSRP template. I laid out its connections to current curriculum practices that get euphemized as ‘rigor’ or ‘high-quality instructional materials’, but left out a curious quote about targeting the human conceptual system via learning standards so that DSRP “provides a mechanism for the memetic behavior that must exist in order for evolutionary epistemology to be a viable proposal. For these reasons, DSRP should be considered a more robust alternative to logic where complex cognitive systems are concerned.” I am rather fond of logic myself, but apparently that’s no way to get a theory of how things might be different in the future into practice. Recognizing that the mouthful term obscures the reality that seeks to change prevailing culture by systematically prescribing new values and beliefs via poorly understood ‘standards’ in K-12 and higher ed, I looked up the term.

It turned up this 2018 Abstract https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29199093 from the same US government agency funding Science of Virtues and the BRAIN Initiative to create a Research Programme for Distributed Biological Intelligence. No wonder logic needs to be jettisoned. Suddenly the reading, math, and science wars and the focus on ‘close reading’  and ‘conceptual frameworks’ click into the appropriate context when we read:

The concept of ‘information’ acquires a new meaning because information processing is at the heart of biological intelligence. All biological systems, from bacteria to Gaia, are intelligent, open thermodynamic systems that exchange information, matter and energy with the environment. (v) The organism-environment interaction is cybernetic. As much as the organism changes due to the influence of the environment, the organism’s responses to induced changes affect the environment and subsequent organism-environment interactions. Based on the above principles a new research agenda can be formulated to explore different forms of biological intelligence.

I bolded those references to changes because they too get euphemized as student learning, even though the desired changes are not really about passing on a body of knowledge as in the historic conception of education. EE, as I am going to abbreviate it, “aims at understanding the complex relations between biological evolution, especially the biological evolution of human cognition, and the cultural evolution of scientific knowledge.” Because federal laws, mandated learning standards, accreditation criteria, and curricular materials and online activities are all aiming to change the nature of that cognition and then prescribe it for the masses, this is not a matter of speculation. Let me read a passage from a Norbert Wiener biography called Dark Hero of the Information Age that should make what is being stealthily targeted and why more clear:

As he made clear from the outset, the universal processes and principles of cybernetics–information, communication, feedback, ‘circular causality’ or reciprocal influence, and ‘teleology’ or purposeful, goal-directed action–apply equally to technology, biology, and all the complex systems of society. The biological and social dimensions of cybernetics were widely overlooked in Wiener’s day and in the decades since his death, as technology loomed ever larger. Yet those neglected aspects of Wiener’s science hold some of the most powerful insights cybernetics has to offer, and they are as important as any technical tool for understanding the complex forces that shape and influence all our lives.

The conceptual tools of cybernetics can help people think in more effective and productive ways, to create, innovate, and perhaps even begin to envision at the levels to which Wiener raised his most talented disciples to ‘see over the fence,‘ as he did, and down the road to the end result of any effort. Cybernetics, its sister sciences of information theory and systems theory, and their descendants in the new sciences of complexity and human communication offer scientists and nonscientists alike new ways to think systematically and strategically, to solve problems, paint scenarios, and identify potential trouble spots before disaster strikes…[It is] the next step on the learning curve of the global society.

Wiener and his colleagues could ‘see over the fence’ because they had huge stores of factual knowledge that allowed their brilliant minds to make connections that could then be proved in experiments. Prescribing the methods of seeing over the fence to evaluate the future for all without any ‘vast stores of knowledge,’ or even much in the pantry beyond the prescribed conceptual frameworks, means there is no safety catch between what is factual and what is a politically useful fiction. Now before I get to the curriculum I mentioned from Developing Minds in the Digital Age, I want to mention one more book, from 2015, called The Cybernetics Moment or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age that was funded by the National Science Foundation. That matters because that Developing Minds comes from the NSF Science of Learning Centers, as have so many of the curricula involved with the reading, math, and science wars (covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy).

The book’s author, Ronald R. Kline, who is a Professor of History and Ethics of Engineering at Cornell, where Derek Cabrera and his DSRP work is also based, has the Cybernetics Moment as ending in the 1970s despite its promise. I maintain that is not true since it migrated to education ‘reforms’. It thoroughly saturates the actual Common Core implementation and now what is known as competency-based education, correctly construed (which so few do these days). See if this sounds familiar from the discussion above.The NSF/OECD conception of a “Science of Learning for 21st Century Education…encompasses complex changes in the learner from his/her dynamic engagement with an equally ever-changing environment.”

Now I promised last time we could recognize the DiaMat/cybernetic intentions in the OECD/NSF DJEM–Designed Joint Engagement with Media. Since I initially read that report I also learned that some of the cited researchers are involved with the now 20-year old Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition that is a joint project of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. That matters because Carnegie Mellon gets NSF funding to create a great deal of immersive online learning curricula. U-Pittsburgh was involved with the New Standards Project, which is the forebear of the Common Core from back in the 90s. Both are in a position then to implement DJEM as:

purposefully created, shared experiences where individuals interact with one another while simultaneously attending to a media. DJEM can take many forms, including viewing a video, playing a game on a mobile device or reading a digital book together. DJEM grows out of the idea that joint attention or the coordinated focus of all interacting individuals on the same phenomena, is a necessary condition for joint engagement and is fundamental to human learning from an early age.

Now, if you have a goal of fundamental transformation in social, economic, and political systems, which the OECD and its affiliates in the UN make no bones about as in Leave No One Behind by 2030 and Equity for All, the Number One prerequisite is to get people to “common forms of sensemaking”. Precisely, what DJEM is designed to do so that:

Both the speaker and the listener play an important role in establishing, monitoring and sustaining joint attention during interactions, drawing both on non-verbal communication (e.g.-pointing, moving to share visual perspective, etc) and on meta-communicative verbal comments. The use of such strategies helps create a ‘between-person state of engagement‘ that draws on both the cognitive and the social dimensions of communication and helps partners develop a shared conceptual structure in which they collaborate and learn as they engage in media together…These shared conversations-joint social engagements–serve as sites for knowledge construction and meaning making.

So the purpose of these  prescribed learning experiences is not to learn math, science, history, or to become a better reader. It is to instill a common internalized conceptual structure about some real-life phenomena in each of the interacting students. And the NSF is simultaneously financing books saying the Cybernetic Moment is over, while funding online curricula and activities that use cyberneticist Gordon Pask’s conversation theory. No, they didn’t cite him in their Science of Learning push, but they did describe and use his Conversation Theory. We do get to recognize by function, not assigned labels, since I am still driven by logic and a vast storehouse of facts instead of an assigned conceptual framework. Anyway, the Center for Curriculum Reform’s recent book on Artificial Intelligence in Education happened to mention that the desired AI platforms to be used with students were based on Pask’s theories.

Cybernetics is not dead as all these links show. The new Science of Learning wants us to accept that “Expertise lies not so much in the number of facts an individual can state but in the way in which that knowledge is organized and the ability to apply it flexibly and appropriately in new situations.” My book and this blog exist because I have a highly organized understanding of where education is going, how it intends to get there, what the likely impacts are, and how the theories of cybernetics matter to all these efforts. It does not represent an Approved Conceptual Framework though, which sometimes makes me a persona non grata to discussions. Imagine instead that your child is in this Sid the Science Kid animated programme for preschool children from the Jim Henson Company that “explores everyday phenomena and provides models of science practices and science talks…to deepen and reenforce target concepts.” Tell me this doesn’t sound to you like Code the Kid at the Level of the Mind and Start Early to create Binding Habits of Mind.

To test the feasibility and promise of the DJEM theory, we developed and refined a curriculum supplement…[that] comprised an eight-week experience on change and transformation, foundational concepts across science content areas. Modules were two weeks long and included two to three days of instruction each week that integrated video episodes, classroom discussions, teacher guided book readings, and hands-on investigations. The curriculum supplements four modules targeted types of change that children likely observed in their daily lives: decay, growth, reversible change, and irreversible change.

Learning as creating common conceptual frameworks tied into emotion and the visual to guide perception and the interpretation of experiences in predictable ways at the level of a preschoolers mind. That is a vastly different realm to be standardizing than measuring weight or distance. Cybernetics requires common goals and learning standards are a means of dictating goals without that shift being readily apparent to the typical parent or student. It is up to those of us with Unapproved Conceptual Frameworks to grasp where these learning standards really seek to go. This is not a discussion on the metric system vs miles. There the chosen standard has no impact on the distance being described. Here, the purpose of the learning standard is to reimagine the mind and then turn it from the open system it can be to the closed system that will behave predictably. Which will change the environment, which will impact the mind and personality, which will then change the now altered Environment. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We need to wake up to how many of our young people are to be in this EE Research Programme. Anyone think it is coincidental preschoolers are being instructed on transformation and change? Me neither.