Adding Comrade Education and Psychological Predation to Our Descriptions of Envisioned Cybernetic Learning

Since honestly laying out intentions in public is so rare in education reforms these days, I thought I would use a recent book by the founder of the Reos Institute, Zaid Hassan. Reos aspires to dramatically change K-12 education globally. Hassan works closely with Peter Senge, Otto Scharmer, and the MIT Media Lab. The book is called The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach to Solving Our Most Complex Problems . These two quotes give a sample to the recommended approach for solving today’s challenges. The first is from a professor, Thomas Homer Dixon:

“The public not only needs to understand the importance of experimentation within the public services; it needs to engage in experimentation itself. To the extent that the public explores the solution landscape through its own innovations and safe-fail experiments, it will see constant experimentation as a legitimate and even essential part of living in our new world.”

Now I find this book to be asinine and factually wrong in numerous instances, but ridiculous can still be influential. This book is to be the source of numerous conferences all over the world over the next year. Quote number 2 is from a US President, Franklin Roosevelt, and it leads a chapter called “The New Ecologies of Capital.”

“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands, bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Now historians (see Amity Schlaes’ fine The Forgotten Man) credit that very experimentation with what extended and deepened the Great Depression in the 1930s, but it did grow the public sector at all levels as a source of employment. Maybe that’s why Hassan pushes all this experimentation as does the UN and the OECD and even US agencies. After all the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) described these as the capabilities needed for education and workforce development back in January 2013:

“Building human capacity to respond to the emerging challenges…requires the expansion of skills within the existing public and private sectors and developing a new workforce that excels at critical and interdisciplinary thinking. Useful capacities include facilitation and communication skills, integration of new technologies and data sources into existing programs and practices, management of collaborative processes to allow for imaginative solutions, development and use of sustainable technologies to reduce climate risks, and building frameworks for decision-making in an internationally interdependent world.”

Now alert readers will recognize that this quote on what the US government now seeks from its citizens is an example of “various types of human activities” that Soviet prof Nina Talyzina wanted to make the focus of education under a cybernetics theory of control. Adults with such an education will think nothing of all this desired experimentation by the public sector and its cronies. They will be unlikely to know much about FDR except that somehow the Great Depression ended and will be unlikely to notice that author Hassan thinks Jack Welch was the legendary CEO of General Motors. (Obviously not a GE shareholder during the 90s.) Accurate knowledge is an obstacle to all these transformation plans in other words. It must be disallowed in the future without the shift being readily apparent.

One of the terms we are hearing tossed about now in states that adopted the Common Core and others, like Texas, that did not, is open source. Superficially it appears to be about not having to worry about copyrights on desired curricular materials. As usual though, even a tiny scratch across the surface of this assumed definition pulls up the actual intentions–to shift away from the “current dominant paradigm of teacher-and subject-centred learning in formal education…to a learner-centred, competency-based paradigm.” Did you catch that the phrases “learner-centered” and “competency” are regarded as the antithesis, as in 180 degree-polar opposites, of a transmission of knowledge approach? So the terms being bandied about on the new approach to learning reject the transmission of knowledge.

Instead we are to get learners’ own explorative, constructive and communicative activities, hopefully via ICT, that work on personal competences and “cognitive and social skills such a conceptual thinking, creativity, planning and conduct of teamwork, etc.”Just like that USGCRP vision imagines. Material from Europe (the OLCOS road mapping work) make the intended goal explicit. Education in the 21st century should provide the “competences required to participate successfully in the emerging knowledge-based society.” Well, “knowledge-based” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Except that’s another defined phrase pushed by UN entities and the OECD going back to a 2005 UN Economic & Social Affairs document.” Once again it is all about this transformation to a human solidarity vision where knowledge is actually to be limited to “information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and judgment. It is acquired through one’s own experience or reflections on the experiences of others.” This Tacit Knowledge, as the UN calls it, expressly includes “subjective insights, intuitions and hunches.”

The better to tolerate persistent experimentation and treatment as a collective. I had a reader outraged by this January 2014 vision which seemed authoritarian. I agree, but creating a tolerance for this type of Psychological Predation and surrender of personal autonomy to the will of the group is simply practice for the global vision of the knowledge-based society. After all it must be a place that “cannot accommodate social exclusion and marginalization. This would result in weakening its very foundations.” So we all get to participate. If we do not get to actually attend these social labs in the future, we should at least help pick those decision-makers who do. (Much like that post from Marina Gorbis, head of Institute for the Future, contemplated).

Remember in the last post I pointed out how crucial the models of virtual reality and gaming would come to be for how students and the adults they become see the world? An example of  tools to foster the desired competences and skills is listed as “games-based virtual worlds that foster the understanding of social and economic dynamics through interactively changing rules and constraints.” Now who thinks that those virtual worlds will accurately portray what creates prosperity or causes dysfunction? And that’s the useful aspect of this little accurate knowledge, change the student approach. Such students are highly unlikely to play Spot that Error or Find that Fallacy like I do when I read these intentions for the future.

By insisting education must be experiences [Talyzina’s activity as well as CHAT’s or Common Core’s learning tasks] that are “rich, real and relevant,” the priming conditions for the cybernetic theory of control are firmly in place. The nature of the activity or experiences or projects or tasks gets prescribed by a teacher or a computer. Plus the supposed tie to the existing real world affects the student’s mindset on how the world works and what needs to be transformed. Notice how all the emphasis on virtual worlds gives the perfect place to begin the habit of social, political, and economic experimentation. In fact, the examples given of “real, rich and relevant” are “addressing real world problems, working collaboratively, using new tools and information services, and critically discussing content and study results.”

In fact, this recent update being pushed by the Edutopia site shows that the Education 3.0/Redefinition of the Purpose of Ed fits in perfectly with the Open Source agenda of radically altering the nature of teaching-and-learning (in the hyphenated way that means the Russian word obuchenie). It also fits perfectly with letting students use “learning approaches that allow them to play to their strengths by using creative and social software tools for coursework and carrying out study projects.”

Now I am not being a smart aleck by using the term Comrade Education. Well maybe just a little, but there is unquestionably a collective transformation vision attached to the learner-centered, competency vision. There was and is one attached to the cybernetics vision and its theory of how to gain predictable control over human behavior. The rationale for the Whole Child, social and emotional learning emphasis and all the push around non-cognitive personality traits all have political purposes seeking individual and collective social change. Knowledge may be an ever declining individual commodity, but, fortunately for us, if uncomfortably for my peace of mind, it is still something I have in abundance. And every bit of it says we are basing all these sought educational changes around impossible goals.

I would argue they are also unfortunate, dangerous goals. They are certainly goals that merit public discussion, not deceitful definitions that obscure the true nature of what is being transformed.

And How. And Why.

24 thoughts on “Adding Comrade Education and Psychological Predation to Our Descriptions of Envisioned Cybernetic Learning

    • I wrote about that powerpoint when I wrote about CCR in the Drawing Back the Standards Curtain post on February 14. Some Valentines, huh?

      The slide on Rebalancing between the Practical and Theoretical goes right to Tunya’s point. It gets at cybernetic control theory, very popular at Harvard, MIT and Stanford after all, without that being obvious. Since when should mass education be theoretical?

      Practical used to be called vocational. And now those two are the main considerations?

      How manipulative is the Dickensian Society slide?

      Now align that with an experiment experiment drumbeat because no one gets where the jobs went to.

      • Went back to post, now I recall it. The personal fulfillment , better world. Only relevant to society is worth learning.

        • Like so much else tied to the OECD Great Transition and UNESCO’s Post-2015 plans and Agenda 21 now.

          So glad I started the book with the political intentions for education going back into time. Those intentions sure are in overdrive now and from every direction.

          • From OVERDUE To Overdrive

            It’s probably the dismal results of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals that are causing this “acceleration” or overdrive. 1.81 years remaining to 2015.

            From ambitious goals ranging from eradicating extreme poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability expectations were way overblown. Now the emphasis seems to be on developing the 8th main goal — global partnership.

            All these international transformation meetings seem to be identifying who will be the “leaders” or overseers of the next big push. Strategically, it’s still the locals who are to be seen as involved in their own “self help”, but that is lip service when the organizers and voucher distributors are outsiders sent in.

            Where did I see this forecast before? This is what Robin said just last month (Feb 28): She said there is

            “ . . . the urgency with which it is being pushed from every direction. This idea that the public sector and universities and NGOs and foundations and Big Business are entitled to remake citizens in order to entrench their own power. It’s not an unprecedented aim, but, with Big Data and ICT, the tools of manipulation have gotten so much better.”

            Thar was Robin’s post about science fiction! This is no science fiction. Just today on my radio a local educator said we should not focus on reading and numeracy but on — problem-solving, critical thinking, social & individual responsibility, resilience, culture, art, history, and vocational readiness.

            Of course, my cynical view kicks in to ask: Aren’t reading and numeracy essential to learning and what parents expect and which are measurable? Is this an evasion of teaching and testing so as to avoid accountability?

            Or is there really an international “transformation” to competencies taking place?

            I think it’s a combination of the two — avoidance of accountability and a social agenda to transform mankind into compliant global “citizens”. Of course this is happening because we still seem to accept the notion that “public education” is what happens in compulsory government schools. Alternatives need greater attention.

          • A big factor in mind control is making children>adults illiterate. Mind control is established in schools. Read R. Eubanks’ “Credentialed to destroy: how and why education became a weapon” 2913. For 40 years the British Dyslexia Assn has limited its work to helping strugglers. It would be far kinder to get it right first time – teach the one way that is safe for all! That is a If anybody is attending the £400 conference in UK this month, let them look out for any hint, interest in PREVENTINV dyslexics from reading failure! Many jobs depend on keeping the failure going.

          • After DEwey etc., schools were moved off education, and onto control, mind control. And now if you can.t read, TV is a powerful tool of mind control.
            I hope you are all reading Robin Eubanks. book, “Credentialed to destroy: how and why education became a weapon”,2013.
            Mona McNee

          • And why push this 2008 report suddenly now as if it was new insights except for the urgency of all these initiatives now.

            I kept thinking pf the MIL-Media and Information Literacy goals of UNESCO discussed at Sakhalin, Russia last September and Fadel’s post for OECD a few weeks ago on the new purposes of math instruction. Notice Stanford Prof Roy Pea is heavily involved with all of this and not just the troubling Cyberlearning NSF intiative.

            And the Down Under elementary IB teacher casually writes about starting the day with mindfulness exercises as if it is to be the new norm.

          • Look at this MS-Knewton partnership just announced.

            Don’t you just love the part about working with the Ministries of Education. They left out the “new world order” phrase, but honestly it does seem to be implied. And only a week after Pearson announced its PS with MS over the all digital CC curriculum. You can just bet that the visual and emotions and misleading models that drive perception of the need for transformational change away from the current course towards devastation will all be fully utilized.

          • Education has been sabotaged in UK since 1945 or earlier. In 1973 the British Dyslexia Assn was formed but… in all 40+ years it has limited its work to helping strugglers. Getting it right first time has not been on their agenda, and still is not. There is a conference March 27-0, £400, and you can bet that, too, will be all about strugglers and no hint of the whole nation recovering. A 1 in 4 failure goes far beyond dyslexia. Can you draw attention to the need for getting it right first time, please? It would not cost anything and save £/$billions and much hear-ache.

  1. Human Subjects Experimentation Demands Rules

    Can parents be assured that there are safeguards in place when so much experimentation is taking place in education? Experimentation is bad enough, but so much in Common Core and 21st Century Learning projects around the world are being imposed so quickly and rather coercively that teachers and other practitioners are both ill-prepared and haven’t bought into the philosophy or procedures applicable.

    Also, in application of new procedures or approaches parents should be informed and should sign consent forms, or be allowed to opt out.

    Just what are the protocols that apply?

    I see that the Jeffery Rodamar is the “protector of human subjects coordinator” with the US Department of Education. He was recently involved in discussions of “Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule” regarding the protection of human subjects in research in the behavioral and social sciences last year. It would be appropriate to find out in what way the DOE is following and advising the proper implementation of Common Core.

    Here is a link to his notes to a conference he attended:
    (IRB= Institutional Review Board)

    • Tunya-

      Don’t forget the US is trying to map how the brain works now. It was announced in 2013 I believe. Plus the League of Inoovative Schools and Digital Promise reports acknowledge the intent to experiment. That’s why it is so significant everyone, including Pentland and Hassan, keeps mentioning the Kurt Lewin quote on “Nothing as useful as a good theory.” It gives an excuse to put the transformation theory into effect to see what happens.

    • Tunya-

      I am working on cementing this link between Education 3.0, Tacit Knowledge, Talyzina’s explanation of cybernetic control theory when it involved human behavior, and Open Source.

      Look what came up as the only organized promotion of Education 3.0

      The Connected Learning paper I used in the Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory post on March 7. I am pretty proud of myself. I was going off of function, but this is a very influential teaching blog where she goes to meetings we are not invited to. This is a recent bio on the lead author of Connected Learning. I would call that a research focus that relies heavily on theory.

      • All this mind control is going on during an unprecedented global population explosion. People used to vote. Now we are just units – units of demand, units of housing, units of car ownership, just units to be pushed around, told what to do, nonthink. And at the same time terrible inflation. It is hard to provide for a future 50 years hence, for children etc.
        Greed operates now in politics at a level not previously there, I think. Enoch Powell took patriotism with him into the House of Commons, but I seems now to be almost a brothel! with long holidays. I try to reach Michael Gove, EdSec, but it seems his staff intercept what I send, and I cannot reach him. So his credentialed “advisers” all conform to government edict, and massive reading failure goes on for more decades! That word, “Credentialed” says it all.

      • Wow. That screenshot of Education 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 is not just idiotic but scary.

        Schools are everywhere? No longer destinations?
        Parents see ‘schools’ as places where they can learn too?

        The individuals who trumpet this garbage who are not themselves The Planners… they honestly believe they would have learned the store of facts that they hold in their craniums if they had been educated under this ideal 3.0 model?

        The short sightedness is jaw dropping. These credentialed, mid level managers do not seem to understand that when the first wave of seriously disaffected and disgruntled Critical Thinkers who ‘KNOW” everything is wrong with the world and who cannot think their way out of a paper bag get truly pissed, it will be the mid level managers who will be the first targets of their Collective Ire.

        These wanna be Planners will be marching to the FEMA camps along with all the other disagreeable serfs.

        • Mari: go back to that part where you see this:

          “Parents see ‘schools’ as places where they can learn too?” This is for stage 3.0.

          Now, isn’t it the biggest insult to parents to think that in the previous two stages, 1.0 and 2.0 parents sent kids to schools just for Daycare? That was NEVER the case for most parents. They wanted the education.

          For this gross error alone, this whole amateurish article should be dismissed. And parents should get an apology from the writer.

          • Totally Agree. It is outrageous. I have never once considered the education of my children to be about anything other than the growing of their minds. Daycare my aunt fanny.

  2. If all children learned to read in their firs 2 years, this would transform all later education! Almost all dyslexics could learn this way – but a lot of special needs teachers would be out of a job! It is free on the web or in UK all of £5 (inc p&p) for hard copy. Will those attending the dyslexia conference this month please note! And ask why getting it right first time is never on the agenda? “All children are different”? – yes in some ways, but they are alike in far more ways. These 4 words have bedevilled the lives of dyslexic families for decades!
    Mona McNee

    • But Mona then some of the students would be in a position to develop their own conceptual understandings and maybe create their own narratives of reality instead of the assigned ‘lens.’

      The refusal to teach reading and math properly and now lecturing comes from the need of the cybernetic control theory not to be building up the mental capacities of individuals in ways that promote independent mindsets.

      • Yes. The UK parliament gave up on democracy, representing us, a long time ago, certainly by 1945, or ? 1931 the 5th Hadow report that said “The curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored.2and this somehow got passed!
        Mona M.

        • Mona-it is this kind of unappreciated global transformation agenda going on right now that is why there is now so much overlap among countries.

          And if you go back to the actual task force, there’s the ubiquitous Michael Barber. He must be in the frequent flyer hall of fame. It is a bit eerie to read that there will now be a charting of the extent to which schools are creating “citizens of the World.” Fits in perfectly though with the actual implementation I documented in the book. Just more and more documentation of the real aims.

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