I have to admit that the first part of that title is not my metaphor. It does, however, perfectly capture the true story behind of where education reforms, learning standards like the Common Core, SEL competencies, or School Choice, actually lead. The true story is found via a converging mixture of open declarations by insiders, coupled to deceitful narratives by people also tied to ‘public policy’. The False Narratives always seem to be trying to obscure the same actual goals as what someone else openly declares. Either that obstruction, as in “Don’t Look Here!”, or we get a deliberate misrepresentation of what something means or how it works (based on Robin’s handy Education Glossary of terms).
In other words, both shrouding something I know is there or misrepresenting a definition are telling facts of what the deception is about. Using my own metaphor now, if the Open Admitters of education as a transformational tool are Hansel, and the Deceiving Craftsmen (and women) are Gretel, the crumbs Hansel is leaving, and the areas of the pathway that Gretel’s crumbs never touch, are headed in the same direction. Let’s look there!
One of the documentable facts I have uncovered in the last few months of footnote tiptoeing and then reading is that in 2003 the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society was launched at a conference at the Vatican. At an opening session workshop, the Senior Scientist of One Laptop Per Child, Antonio Battro, presented a video called Mysterious Butterflies of the Soul, which was a metaphor for the neurons in the student’s physiological brain. The idea was how to transform education to target the ‘living brain’ so its structures reliably guide future actions and behaviors. This future activity is to be grounded in the supposed “spiritual roots of humanity.” That true neurobiological focus then gets obscured by frequently substituting the terms cognition or mind.
Linking up with the last post’s observation that all these aims, when uncovered or deciphered, turn out to be about the student’s decision-making capacities, Antonio Damasio, from the same conference (USC prof involved with BRAIN Initiative and author of Descartes’ Error) told us why SEL Standards are really so important. Hint: it has nothing to do with any government database of PII.
“We use emotions and the devices that underpin them every day of our lives, frequently as a helping hand in the conscious decision-making process and just as often to orient our behaviors and enrich our humanity. Creativity [one of the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning] is not conceivable without emotion. Neither is moral behavior. As for education, it is difficult to imagine how to proceed without two of the leading consequences of emotion: engagement and attention. The brain uses emotional processes to identify salient features of the environment that are especially relevant to the management of life.”
When the think tanks, American Principles Project and the Pioneer Institute, decided to pilfer from the footnotes of my book Credentialed to Destroy, with neither proper attribution nor permission, to misrepresent the true focus of both Competency-based Education and Transformational Outcomes Based Education, the misleading pathway constructed led away from that very same Life Roles focus as what Damasio and IMBES were getting at. “After the Fall: Catholic Education Beyond the Common Core” made public education supposedly all about preparation for the workforce. It also alleged the Common Core was “devoid of any attention to ‘the true, the good, the beautiful,” and catered to “man with the soul amputated.” Well, that butterfly metaphor makes a mockery of that statement.
Plus, on the next page Professor Damasio told us that “the importance of emotion in education is not confined to its role in engagement and attention. The role that emotions play in the construction of moral behavior and, by extension, building a citizen is just as important.” I bolded those phrases because when the Atlanta Classical Academy, which is part of both the Atlanta Public Schools and where the head of Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative, Terrence Moore, is the principal, ran an ad in the local paper recently it touted its curriculum as building the basis for Virtuous Living and Good Citizenship. Sounds like synonyms for Damasio’s vision for MBE education to me.
Moreover, in following our trails of crumbs and no crumbs, an October 13, 2016 story in The Federalist entitled “Meet the Americans Revitalizing Freedom, One Child at a Home” on Classical Education and the charter schools opened under the Barney Initiative cited how Moore had spoken at “a summer institute dedicated to introducing new volunteers to the ideas behind the Barney initiative.” We can all decide if this seems to be a fact-based curriculum to us.
“Moore playacted the part of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists of the American Revolution, illustrating ways to engage children in Western civilization’s great ideas. The seminar’s whiteboards proclaimed: ‘I will learn the true. I will do the good. I will love the beautiful.‘”
I bolded that because we are going back to what Antonio Battro of the Mysterious Butterflies of the Soul metaphor wrote just before he described the IMBES launch from the Vatican. In his section called “Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” he latinized these tenets everyone seems to be using to make education about transforming the emotional bases, values, and beliefs that guide future behavior. Just like what the Barney Charter initiative says it wishes to do and which is also supposedly the purpose of the new Catholic Curriculum Framework. What are the odds of such consistent similarities if not outright congruence?–Quoting Battro: “In the words of the old scholastic dictum, Verum, bonum et pulchrum convertuntur (Truth, goodness, and beauty are interchangeable.)”
At this rate so are the visions of the schools being created by School Choice advocates and public education generally. The pro-Common Core and Anti-Common Core organized forces are also headed in a common direction when we delve far enough. Interchangeable is truly the perfect word if we pay attention to function and not slight differences in phrasing or supposed purposes. I am also sure it is totally coincidental that the same day the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks rolled out with its admitted aims that somehow tie to the same behavioral science template as what Tranzi OBE and Competency-Based Ed really mean, the Center for Assessment in Dover, New Hampshire rolled out its Framework for what would constitute innovative, student-centered quality assessments under federal law.
Headed to the same place with measurable results of what is being internalized, in other words. Apparently no one is ever supposed to recognize all this commonality as long as different talking points are used in the official descriptions we are just to accept demurely.
One more example of all that can be learned about the real agenda from affiliated think tanks and the desire that we all accept analogical thinking using the presupplied metaphors that take us in a non-factual direction. This one seemed to be about once again wanting us to misunderstand the Common Core and ‘standards’ generally. We are also supposed to move on. First, the Bradley Foundation-financed, Harvard PEPG publication, Education Next, went with the story “Lessons on the Common Core” by Robert Pondiscio on January 5, 2017. The next week the PEPG partner and Education Excellence Network absorber, Fordham Institute, republished the same article. Later, that week, my local School Choice pusher think tank led its Friday Facts newsletter with this quote:
“to be upset by academic standards is to invest them with a power they neither have nor deserve. In my five years of teaching fifth graders, I never–not even once–reached for English language arts standards when deciding what to teach. I would wager that when I.M. Pei was commissioned to design the Louvre Pyramid, his first move was not to reach for a copy of the Paris building codes for inspiration.” A clever, but totally inapt metaphor, for the purpose of ‘standards’. They are not ‘academic standards’ in the historical sense of that term as transmitting a fact-based curriculum. A better metaphor would have Pei mulling over the laws of physics governing the desired design. True ‘learning standards.’ like the Common Core or Competency-Based Education, are always so interested in neurons and biology after all.
And why are everyone’s learning standards so focused on transmitting knowledge in terms of concepts, instead of building up from known facts and cause-effect relationships? Our IMBES template again had Vartan Gregorian, the President of the hugely influential Carnegie Corporation, telling us that “concepts are far more important than facts and the ability to analyze and synthesize has much greater value than the ability to memorize. In short, school may be multiple choice but real life is all essay.” All this interest in pushing concepts, categories, themes, topics, and ideas as the essence of Knowledge makes more sense if, like Gregorian said, there is now to be “no boundaries between learning and life.” Just like in Tranzi OBE, Competency-Based Ed, and apparently Classical Education too, once properly understood without deceit.
An admitted Marxist poli sci prof, back in 1996, laid out his vision of the future and what needed to be altered in italicized, reconstructive terms, in a way that someone writing about just education reform for an audience of parents, politicians, and taxpayers is typically unwilling to do. That does not change the fact that the desired poli sci or economic transformations can only occur with a certain type of change in the nature of education. Education reforms, to be deemed effective or what is now called ‘evidence-based’ should be gathering student data studying “mass dispositions and capabilities and associated discourses of democracy. Reconstructive science is concerned with the social competences of individuals and the corresponding grammars of human interaction. Its categories are sought in how its subjects apprehend the world.”
Everyone cited in this post, whether being honest or providing a metaphor or narrative to mislead, appears to be interested in providing the basis for how we ‘subjects’ in this 21st Century Age of undisclosed collectivist Politicalism–‘apprehend the world’.
In the next post we will cover how someone with ties to virtually everyone cited in this post wants education to be about practicing the desired “internal acts of reason and will.” A vision incorporating “the moral norms available to guide choice and action.”
I guess we will call the next post the End of the Trilogy laying out the Deceit surrounding Manipulating Each Student’s Personal Decision-Making Capacity, with neither notice nor consent.
Can anyone tell I do not like any vision of education that regards us as anyone’s ‘subjects’?