From the Ford Foundation’s Realizing Democracy template that lays out how “Fixing Democracy demands the building and aligning of people’s motivation and authority to act” https://ssir.org/pdf/Winter2020-Supplement-Han-Problems-Power.pdf to the recent WISE Summit in Qatar with its “Unlearn, Relearn: What it means to be Human” theme, which even had our Blueprint author, Nicholas Christakis, as a keynote panelist, to the new Catalyzing Change plans for remaking high school mathematics around goals of Equity so that math can become a tool to “challenge injustices and contribute to societal improvement,” we have lots of openly declared education missions that reminded me of the goals of the Lame Demon from the 1967 book The Art of Conjecture, which the Ford Foundation also funded. It’s clearly part of the behavioral science file cabinet still in play so let’s take a look back at it to better appreciate all these similarly aligned goals.
After all if you are a social scientist intent on transformation and believe that “any power, whether social or political, is maintained by people’s attitudes; any project, short or long, shallow or profound, is founded on their attitudes and behavior” then you might make use of:
a Lame Demon who unroofed houses to reveal what was going on inside. Let us suppose that this diable boiteux could reveal people’s minds in the same way, enabling us to surprise the projects each member of a society forms in his inner self. We could then apprehend, at their origin, those shoots which as they grow will deform the familiar social surface and produce swellings, fractures, and cracks.
Those ‘swellings, fractures, and cracks’ are to an imaginary world that could supposedly exist if people simply had a different set of beliefs, attitudes, values, and motivations to act. Precisely what all those links above to recent publications aim to do. Precisely what was laid out here as the new role of social science and the research university https://issues.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Prewitt-Retrofitting-Social-Science-Fall-2019.pdf , which once again seems to be hyping Aristotle and his action-oriented phronesis as a less infamous substitute for what Uncle Karl laid out as Man as a Maker of History once the needed moral revolution could be made to occur. Let’s go back then to the 1960s and the first time the global Marxist Humanist vision was launched to see the domain to be targeted and those blueprints for change.
I have formed a representation that does not correspond to observable reality and placed it in a domain suited to receive it; now my activity tends toward the validation of what my imagination has constructed. For the event to comply with my design, the moral force of my intention must hold and push me on the road to the goal [AKA ‘meeting the standard’ or ‘achieving the learning objective’]. ..The image that I have formed and placed somewhere in ‘time to come’ is like a beacon beckoning me…Hobbes put it like this: ‘For the thoughts are to the desires as scouts, and spies to range abroad, and find the way to the things desired.’
The book called that the ‘motive power of the image’ and we also saw it as a focus in the last post as to how to create a new ‘ontological reality’. Control a student or adult’s mental images and you control future behavior and motivations to act, as well as how current experiences are interpreted, and what gets perceived and what gets ignored. Behavior becomes a science via a certain vision of education for reasons that have nothing to do with Skinner or his pigeons as learning analytics and digital learning environments act as the Lame Demon getting inside the roof of the mind’s house in the brain. Again to Jouvenel:
Images are formed in our mind and inspire us; we know this from daily experience. It is absurd to look for explanations of human conduct that disregard this essential phenomenon. Our actions properly so called seek to validate appealing images and invalidate repugnant ones…Time future is the domain able to receive as ‘possibles’ those representations which elsewhere would be ‘false’. And from the future in which we now place them, these possibles ‘beckon’ to us to make them real…
the sufficient reason of human action is…[that] man acts, not ‘because…,’ but ‘in order to…’ Action is explained by its final cause, its goal: ‘In this sense we may say that in volition the practical motive lies in the future. We are to understand by this that the future is the domain into which a man has projected, and in which he now contemplates, the possible he wishes to make real, the image that is and will be, as long as it subsists in the mind, the determining reason for his actions.’
That change in the focus of education can be masked under terms like Standards-Based Reforms, High Quality Project-Based Learning, the AAR Inquiry of Anticipation, Action, and Reflection (part of the OECD’s Compass for Education 2030), or action learning as Doers of Mathematics laid out here https://www.quantamagazine.org/math-and-the-best-life-an-interview-with-francis-su-20170202 .Ultimately, all these visions seek to control the nature of the Images in the mind because the imagination can be used as a place:
where I can place images that do not correspond to any historical reality. An image of this kind is not a mere fantasy if I have the will and feel I have the capacity [hence all the hype about student agency!] to bring about at some later time a state of affairs that corresponds to the image. The image represents a possibility because of my power to validate it in this way, and represents a project because of my will to do so…
For man as this role as an active agent the future is a field of liberty and power, but for man as a cognizant being the future is a field of uncertainty. It is a field of liberty because I am free to conceive that something that does not now exist will exist in the future; it is a field of power because I have some power to validate my conception (though, naturally, not all conceptions indiscriminately!). And indeed the future is our only field of power, for we can act only on the future. Our awareness of this capacity to act suggests the notion of ‘a domain in which we can act.
That Erhard/ Jensen Framework coaching adults from the last post called that domain the ontological. K-12 learning standards simply get there by insisting that Equity mandates that student achievement be recast away from the mental to the domain of action–disarmingly called ‘performance standards’ to mask the shift to the realm of action. What about the Lame Demon’s goals to get at the contents of the mind we might reasonably ask? Let’s go back to a paper Michael Barber co-wrote in the 90s with Vicki Phillips before he moved on to working for Prime Minister Tony Blair on learning standards and then Pearson and before she moved on to Oregon and then the Gates Foundation. It was called “Fusion: How to Unleash Irreversible Change–Lessons for System-Wide School Reform” and I picked up my copy from a Hong Kong server where the protests of recent months might indicate that the mind might not be quite as malleable to change as the Chinese authorities and the paper’s co-authors laid out.
The popular conception is wrong. Winning hearts and minds is not the best first step in the process of urgent change. Beliefs do not necessarily drive behaviour. More usually, it is the other way round–behaviours shape beliefs. Only when people have experienced a change do they revise their beliefs accordingly. [Imagine the uses of digital virtual reality environments in the context of this quote!] And often they must experience change over a period of time for such beliefs to change permanently. Denial is a powerful force and it is not possible to overcome resistance simply by attempting to win hearts and minds, Sometimes it is necessary to mandate the change, implement it well, consciously challenge the prevailing culture, and have the courage to sustain it until beliefs shift. In other words, sometimes it is more effective to show people something or let them experience it than to tell them about it.
That quote would certainly explain why the law became such a useful tool for transformationalists seeking to force a change in the nature of education without the nature of the change or the reasons for it being apparent. It’s basically why I write and what brought me to the story that became Credentialed to Destroy in the first place. Because unlike those Hong Kong protesters who clearly always intuited the future impact of the collectivist vision the Chinese authorities had in mind with their Citizenship curriculum hyping Universal Love, most parents and students in the Western democracies have no idea the true nature of the transformation or how long these same plans have been in play.
The contemplated Futuribles has not yet been realized, but all the links in this post show that there is a clear and coordinated global march to realize this vision via experiential education grounded in specified guiding concepts. Controlling the Images of the Mind and the Actions that will create those desired Images.
Or as the French social theorist from the 60s put it above, controlling Attitudes and Behavior surreptitiously controls future Projects. Ultimate power then comes from making K-12 education about those bullseyes as the domains targeted for Continuous Improvement.
How to close the gap between what is desired under the roof of the Mind and what currently exists?
Gives a whole new meaning, doesn’t it, to what Standards-Based Reforms are really about?