Prospection: Training the Mind to Reject the Pre-Given World In Favor of What Might Be

Most of us, at least of a certain age, see the word ‘Understand’ and then it has something to do with how the world actually works or events that transpired in the past and what likely caused them and their ultimate consequences. This is from the Science Direct article called “Understanding is a Design Problem” written by Michael Lissack of the American Society for Cybernetics. It supplies the use of Understanding being pushed by Positive Psychology and its PERMA Model for education globally as well as other initiatives.

**  When the act of understanding becomes a design problem, we can more readily recognize the role played by individual agency/construction in shaping these understandings, and also our next moves.

**  Understanding is not about cognizing a pre-given world, it is about becoming aware of and consciously choosing the aspects of the world that we decide to cope with.

Those were from the bullet points of the abstract, but the following quote is from the paper itself under a heading of “The Role of As-Ifs,” which will fit nicely in a minute with what Positive Neuroscience and Psychology co-creator Martin Seligman calls Prospection and what the Templeton Foundation funded found here https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/readings-and-videos/selected-scholarly-articles called “Navigating the Future or Driven By the Past.” First, here is Lissack and think again of the Reading, Math, and Science Wars as we do:

Understanding requires agency. We do not nakedly receive meaning, nor do we just perceive the world as it is. Our cognitive equipment demands that we intervene to filter, prime, and frame some portion of the world, attend to that, develop an understanding and move on…The notion of as-ifs is critical to the argument that follows. Because of our limited cognitive resources, we cannot deal with the world as it is. We are stuck dealing with what our minds can process and treat that as if it were the world itself. The implications are vast. There may be fixed facts and absolute truths that apply in the real world, but we have no way of knowing such things…

We are stuck having to deal with as-ifs and not the real world. Where we do have choice is in the composition of those as-ifs. This is the context in which design [especially when mandated via learning standards like competency frameworks] can make a difference. ‘The object of the world of ideas as a whole is not the portrayal of reality–this would be an utterly impossible task–but rather to provide us with an instrument for finding our way about more easily in this world.’ [and] ‘Knowledge is not a matter of getting reality right…but rather a feature of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality.’

Gives new meaning, doesn’t it, to the emphasis now on Concepts first and whether the student applies the concepts in real world simulations and new situations that get required via Equity mandates like this one from yesterday? https://www.inacol.org/resource/how-systems-of-assessments-aligned-with-competency-based-education-can-support-equity/ Success for All suddenly means all students must have their mental models reengineered. Equity does sound better.  All students need the so-called higher performance (as in action, not grades) measures of achievement because as Lissack explained it:

Attention and ascription–giving a label to something, and thus providing a means of reference for it–entail a continuous circular reflexivity which drives our decision making and actions at any given instant…Only attended-to possibilities can afford an option for action. Unattended-to affordances, while theoretically available, simply do not afford. Action is dependent upon recognizing an affordance, which is dependent upon attention, which in turn is dependent on priming (preparedness to be attended to), which is itself dependent upon prior ascriptions, prior attention, and prior actions.

It is this context that I would put this mandate https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/13/new-zealand-schools-to-teach-students-about-climate-crisis-activism-and-eco-anxiety as the desired attended-to concepts are instilled in students’ minds to necessitate future action. Now to Seligman’s 2013 article which claimed that “Prospection, the representation of possible futures, is a ubiquitous feature of the human mind…Prospection involves no backward causation; rather, it is guidance not be the future itself but by present, evaluative representations of future possible states.” Sounds like Lissack’s desire to design the as-if conditionals that will become students habits of mind and motivators to act to me. Suddenly the need for Character Education and Virtue Training makes perfect sense if the emphasis is to be on decision making in light of ‘needs and goals’ as in this passage from the first paragraph laying out the new model of human psychology.

We suggest an alternative framework in which people and intelligent animals draw on experience to update a branching array of evaluative prospects that fan out before them. Action is then selected in light of their needs and goals. The past is not a force that drives them but a resource from which they selectively extract information about the prospects they face.

One point of contention between this blog and my book Credentialed to Destroy and other education writers has been a tendency for others to hype Behaviorism as the inspiration reforms, while I have seen cybernetics and the desire to control perception and the internalized mental models as the aspiration. Seligman shed meaningful light on this point where “the failure of behaviorism lay in its overreach, trying to use a theory that worked for rats and pigeons in the experimental setting to explain human psychology in unconstrained situations…we believe that the crucial failure was in eschewing teleological explanation, which followed directly from the exclusion of mental events in favor of drives and habits.” He then goes on to detail how the rat experiments actually “pointed clearly away from the idea that behavior was under the control of past motor ‘habits,’ suggesting instead that an acquired ‘cognitive map’ governed navigation flexibly, permitting goal-directed behaviors of unprecedented kinds.”

Seligman then made the fascinating point that the oft-cited Russian psychologist Pavlov’s research had been mistranslated into English “in such a way as to underscore the lack of teleology. His ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional’ were rendered ‘conditioned’ and ‘unconditioned’ and this shift to the past participle brought with it the connotation of a fixed relation, whereas ‘conditional,’ Pavlov’s term, allows the ‘if-then’ representation of possibilities.” Remember our ‘pragmatic inquiry’ from Part 1 of what I am ultimately going to call this Enactive Cognitive Science Trilogy? Seligman goes into more detail about the actual rat experiments and then concludes that:

Rats, it seems, are more predictable when we postulate that they act through complex expectation-based representations of possible actions and outcomes, behaving more like inquirers actively seeking to anticipate the future than creatures of habit-channeled drives? Perhaps humans should be given as much credit…A conceptual error seems to have animated behaviorism, in which something genuinely suspect–a metaphysical teleology of causation backward in time, of the present by the future–was conflated with something not at all mysterious, namely, guidance by a system bearing causal and evaluative information about possible futures.

The quotes above from Lissack about ascriptions and attended-to affordances fit with what Seligman calls the Logic and Benefits of Expectation. Try not to compare 21st century students to Lashley’s rats in this quote:

Choice now makes sense. Lasley’s rats, even when confined to the narrow channels of the maze, appear to have been building up ab evaluative map of the possibilities their environment afforded, stretching well beyond actual experience and enabling them to improvise opportunistically on the spot. Such behavior draws attention to another core aspect of cognition that is oriented toward prospection: the active, selective seeking of information (‘exploration’), which, if we are right about prospection, should be as vital as the active, selective processing of information…Expectation is pivotal in schema (1) [adaptive feed-forward/feedback models of learning and control] because it transforms experience into experimentation–continuously generating a ‘test probe’ so that the next experience always involves an implicit question and supplies an answer, which can then function as an error-reducing ‘learning signal’.

Doesn’t that sound just like what the Formative Assessment hype brought in above in the name of Equity calls Continuous Improvement? It is what Seligman called “such active, ongoing prospection nicely illustrates teleological control–navigating into the future by considering future possibilities and electing action [student performance] in light of the benefits and risks they promise.” All the emphasis on Virtues in the Portrait of a Graduate or in Classical Education https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/four-pillars-educating-america/ , for example, make far more sense if there is a perceived need to educate Desire: “because desire provides an intelligible teleology for human action, a narrative arc stretching from discovery of a transfixing but distant prospect, across the drama of longing, seeking, and overcoming obstacles, to arrive at a denouement in union with the object of desire.”

What a student likes and values then affects their action in light of perceived possibilities and the “motivation for such action is not determined by fixed drives or past conditioning but is elicited by the evaluative process itself through the normal working of desire…Our title emphasizes navigating the future because, like a navigator, the organism must not only act but also mentally explore options and keep track of progress.” Let’s close not with the theory, but with the OECD’s Future of Education and Skills 2030 aspiration. In the ironically called Conceptual learning framework for Student Agency for 2030, where the children are already in our schools:

The concept of student agency, as understood in the context of the OECD Learning Compass 2030, is rooted in the principle that students have the ability and the will to positively influence their own lives and the world around them. Student agency is thus defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others…While a well-developed sense of agency can help individuals achieve long-term goals and overcome adversity, students need foundational cognitive, social, and emotional skills so they can apply agency to their own–and society’s–benefit.

The illusion of choice using a contrived cognitive map created by mostly mandated learning experiences that over time have turned into habits. Predictable actions in the future engineered by all those as-if scenarios practiced in digital learning environments and role-playing online and in group activities.

Part 3 whenever I get a chance. Bon Chance!

 

 

 

Eradicating the Axemaker Mind via Schools to Supposedly Promote Global Flourishing

Welcome to the 2020s! This is the Decade where Governments all over the world intend “to act as an instrument of the common good” and use the schools to rewire students’ brains so that they are more amenable to the plans political leaders have for us in the 21st century. I wish this was fiction or just a theory of mine, but it is not. I certainly was not going to write about this during the holidays, but there were quite a lot of white papers put out in December on this point, and being the careful researcher I am, I then followed up on the books and papers cited in the footnote and here we are. This is not a one shot post, but the beginning of what has become a well-documented armada of coordinated initiatives to use schools to cultivate “positive attitudes and activities” so that students can “develop the inner means to handle distress themselves when it arises. In other words, we should aim at a society in which people have the inner resources to flourish.”

About the same time those words were published in the inaugural 2018 World Happiness Policy Report presented at the World Government Summit in Dubai, a retired MIT professor, John Ehrenfeld, submitted his vision of “Flourishing: Designing a Brave New World” to she ji, a journal of design and innovation, asserting that “Flourishing is possible only when the right brain hemisphere is the master, but balanced with the left. The ultimate goal of every designer should be to foster flourishing…For humans, flourishing requires (1) restoring the supremacy of the right brain through direct practices, for example, mindfulness training, and (2) re-designing institutions and artifacts to enhance presencing: the perception of being connected to the contextually rich surrounding world.”

Well, that got my attention since the actual classroom practices now tied to learning standards all over the world fit with what Ehrenfeld wrote would be needed to make the right-brain dominant. I have school mandates under Positive School Climate prescribed materials that turn out to be renamed cognitive behavioral therapy practices. I poke familiar names and find books like Super Better: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient that plan to use digital learning virtual reality and videogames to Hardwire the Brain via “repeated activation of specific neurological circuits that train the brain to be motivated by challenge, rewarded by feedback, and more resilient in the face of temporary failure.” Use the fact that “neurons that fire together, wire together” to create digital learning experiences to hardwire “cognitive habits that lead to lifelong success and psychological well-being.”

If “Schools are the primary place where the values of a culture get instilled in young people” and the materials quoted above and conferences like Learning and the Brain repeatedly declare that the ‘instilling’ is to be neural, we need to think about the implications of poems like the following created as part of the Search Inside Yourself e-book “Practice Kindness” created for students in honor of World Kindness Day.

Kind hearts are the gardens,

Kind thoughts are the roots,

Kind words are the blossoms,

Kind deeds are the fruits.

The new way for governments, political leaders, and their cronies to control behavior in the 21st century is not overt coercion, but by controlling the inner psychology and the practices and experiences known to instill desired neural and cognitive structures. Let’s get back to how Ehrenfeld laid out the how and why, but never believe his is a voice in the wilderness. Instead, it is entirely an accident that I came across his article while following up on something else and, using my experience from writing what is detailed in my book Credentialed to Destroy, recognized how his prescriptions for right-brain dominance were already enshrined in what has been misleadingly labelled as the Reading and Math Wars. Right Brain Dominance “can create a pull towards a different kind of future.” A future where the focus is no longer on the individual as those of us located in the West have always believed, but on the collective and its supposed needs. That shift needs to get at “the way we hold reality” itself and shift it to focus more on empathy or caring.

Think about all the changes in the nature of education and the new purposes of schools and higher education as you read this Ehrenfeld quote:

With new understanding of how the brain functions, the root causes can be traced to an imbalance between the two cerebral hemispheres. Modern culture is the product of the left-brain dominance, but flourishing can arise only from the opposite: the mastery of the right over the left. The challenge ahead is to reverse this through design and practice…Only the right connects to the [world as it is, with its rich context] , and can produce empathy and enable authentic caring…A key to increasing authenticity is the ability to delay or stop the left brain from taking over–that is, to remain in the present moment…Mindfulness offers a possible way to maintain the attentional stance of the right.

Now all the hype about bullying, where mindfulness practices are held out as the remedy and we happen to also notice that the trainer for the teachers does New Age Buddhist retreats on other days of the week, make far more sense. In fact, in Super Better, McGonnigal notes that “mindfulness meditation, for example, has been measured to have quite similar physiological benefits as casual game play…game play is a way to learn to control our attention–which is one of the primary aims of Buddhist practice!” Neuroscientists have shown that attention is a necessary component for neural rewiring and certain kinds of practices make the emotional side of the brain dominant. Here’s the sought practice beyond mindfulness training under “Reflective Practice”:

Reflective practice is a general label for the interruptive process by which experience can be embedded to the brain as part of learning. Reflective practice in design is driven by direct experience (right-brain) [virtual reality counts as direct!], rather than the mere application of abstract, general rules (left-brain). In terms of the divided brain model, reflection is the process that new experiences, under the control of the right brain, are passed over to the left hemisphere.

How often now are we hearing hype about students needing Whole Child instruction in controlling emotions to “develop five skills: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. All correspond to right brain activities.” Those of us who have ever had a child in an IB Program who were paying attention know we got almost as tired from hearing hype about “Inquiry Learning” as we did from the “Are you an IB Learner?” question. Now we discover that Inquiry is a right brain activity and Lecture is a Left:

Science is the paradigm of the left brain at work. Conversely, pragmatism is based on paying persistent, broad attention to the whole system and creating new understanding; it depends on holding the left at bay. Meaningfulness, or pragmatic truth, is not to be found in the abstract, left-brain, self-consistent, world of science. It is to be found in the real, right brain, phenomenal world…Pragmatic inquiry is a method that keeps the right brain engaged over extended periods in order to capture the dynamic, context-dependent character of complex systems…Presencing is a form of attention, which exploits the right brain’s attributes of breadth, persistence, and exploration/creativity. Presencing restores context to the external world that has been lost while the left-brain was dominant. Such context is necessary for flourishing.

Presencing looks at the world as a domain for acting and transforming. The focus becomes on what could be, instead of what is. Now that we have covered this desired rewiring, in the next post we will cover how this new right-brain vision of what it is to Understand in the 21st century is “not about cognizing a pre-given world, it is about becoming aware of and consciously choosing the aspects of the world we decide to cope with.” That quote was from a paper featured last week in a newsletter I receive and was written by a member of the American Society of Cybernetics. It fits with what the Father of Positive Psychology and Positive Neuroscience who presented at that World Government Summit says should be the new focus of Models of the Human Mind.

Are we going to be Driven by the Past and the dominance of the left brain or shall we make the focus of education “Navigating into the Future”? No, we are actually not the ones who get to design that future. It gets selected for us and then hardwired into our brains neurologically so we can “draw on experience to update” our choices and then act accordingly based on our “needs and goals” that have also been the aim of Right-Brain focused education.

It truly is a Brave New World once we read certain influential journals and look at the programs being put on at the certain well-attended conferences. No need to theorize about this coordinated effort at all. Just review the documentation. At least that is still possible for those of us for whom the left brain remains dominant.

Here’s to the Axemaker Minds who are not yet left to accepting an offered narrative of where education is really going and why it must be changed.

 

 

Destination Identity: Scaffolding the Collective Images of the Desired Futures to Habituate Needed Action

Let’s go back in time to the 1960s for social plans before comparing them to plans from last month in the UK clearly following the same long desired blueprint. The back cover of The Art of Conjecture book from the last post mentioned a related book called Social Technology that helpfully explains to us that:

the gap between the social and the physical sciences will not persist…[as long as people come to recognize that] the comparison with the social with the physical sciences is a spurious one, based on an epistemological misconception regarding the nature and purpose of scientific activity…this is the crucial point–there is every reason to believe that, by effecting specific changes in attitudes and procedures, we can substantially narrow the gap between physical technology and sociopolitical progress…The time has come to emulate, not physical science, but physical technology.

Translating that into more graspable English, it is the role of the physical sciences to describe what is or, at least, what seems to exist. The role of physical technology is to be put into operation in the existing world to see what gets changed as a result. For this vision of Social Technology to work, it needs means for “devising appropriate educational innovations” that can “construct a common frame of reference in order to promote a unified collaborative effort.” We might call such an aspiration as the creation of an internalized common core of prevailing attitudes, beliefs, conceptual Ideas, values, and motivations to act. It was all laid out many years before what we today would call THE Common Core or Competency-Based Education. Think though of the potential of learning standards globally tied to UNESCO criteria if the sought sociopolitical transformations need a specified contextual map grounded at the physical, neural level, establishing:

a common vocabulary, an agreed-upon ideology, a set of reasonable goals, a common context for symbols, and ways of translating ideas into actions… [These would lead] above all, to acquiring an integrated overview of the problem area…forcing the analyst to make specific which elements of a situation he is taking into consideration and in imposing on him the discipline of clarifying the concepts he is using. The model thus serves the important purpose of establishing unambiguous intersubjective communication about the subject at hand. Whatever intrinsic uncertainties may becloud the area of investigation, they are thus less likely to be further compounded by uncertainties owing to disparate subjective interpretations.

Put the Reading Wars in a whole new light. doesn’t it? It also explains why phonetic reading and how to teach it had to be constrained until after learning standards could be mandated that would specify the desired conceptual frameworks that would provide the required new categories of thought. Let’s go back to The Art of Conjecture one more time since it accurately recognized that “Our perception of the facts depends on our ideas: it is through our ideas that we know reality.” Therefore through education that uses learning standards and required annual assessments of Higher-Order Thinking Skills to monitor and control which Ideas a Mind uses to guide perception and the interpretation of experiences, political authority and its think tank allies across the political spectrum have stealthily managed to control what every censor and authoritarian government in history craved control over: “our awareness of reality and our expression of this reality.”

That is because as a practical matter “our mind ‘sees’ by means of ideas” and education and the media have formally joined hands to control those ideas. The role of prescribed lenses, frames, narratives, or scenarios to imagine what might be different has the effect of prescribing the ideas we use in reading the facts. Now, the author of the Social Technology book, Olaf Helmer, was a co-founder of the Institute for the Future in 1968 to bring about the vision from both his book as well as The Art of Conjecture to create an institution to create a “constructive approach which will ensure to us some measure of control over the future of our society.”

IftF works closely today with Knowledge Works to create Forecasts involving to future of K-12 education and push Competency-Based Education. Its employees are also closely involved with pushing the potential of digital technology to reimagine what the world could become and why it is needed. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/ is from 2013. IftF also repeatedly shows up working with the GEFF 2030 visions surrounding the SDGs and all of the OECD’s work called Education 2030. Now let’s come back to last month’s https://media.nesta.org.uk/documents/Our_futures_by_the_people_for_the_people_HrqsGPo.pdf on how mass involvement in shaping the future can solve complex problems. It is where the term ‘Destination Identity’ and the aspiration for “scaffolding public imagination” come from.

Crucially,  before the social planners writing that paper get to specifying the desired changes at the levels of the community and institutions, they first target a desire to control each individual’s ‘Mapping horizons,’ ‘Creating purpose’ for individuals, ‘Charting pathways’ for each individual, specifying the criteria to habituate ‘Acting together’, and, tied to the discussion from the beginning of this post, framing ‘Testing ideas’. The Framework for Evaluating Participatory Futures, in other words, just happens to coincide with what 21st century skills hypes, as well as Project-Based Frameworks to implement Competency-based Education. It gets at what learning standards specify and it says the real reason all this must be standardized through a reenvisioning of education globally is to

build collective intelligence about the future by helping people to diagnose change over the long-term, draw out knowledge and ideas about how the future could be, and develop collective mental images of the futures people want.

Well, at least the futures people will want when digital simulations, required learning experiences, formative assessments for HOTS, and High Quality Project-Based Learning get done with their ‘imaginations’. After all, that report disdains “only engaging people to think about the future in an analytical and rational way.” Mustn’t greet the future, in other words, with an Axemaker Mind full of actual factual information and your own developed categories of thought. Might lead to disparate subjective interpretations of what is important or even a wise idea to be transforming at all. Instead, we get the admission:

Art, embodied and experiential processes have a much greater influence on citizens, their sense of meaning, motivation and subsequent actions.

Can you repeat after me: “Inside Out and Just as Specified for Habitualizing Future Actions”? Nothing sounds more effective for creating a desired Social Technology than helping participants, whether they be K-12 or higher ed students or adults on a Learning Together retreat, “feel the future” so they will come to believe “how malleable these futures are.” Activities and learning experiences can be used to “scaffold public imagination; drawing out knowledge and ideas about how the future could be, and developing collective mental images of the futures people want.” Then those deliberately instilled common collective images of the future can be used to create “new collective actions and behavior in the present”.

Remember how Catalyzing Change from the last post hyped student agency and critiquing the present as the excuse for reimagining high school math? It turns out to be essential for a requisite “need to help people and communities deal with uncertainty, build resilience to change and act collectively.” Now, math, science, or history learning experiences become a means for “helping people to feel a sense of agency over their own futures is critical for maintaining social cohesion and preventing a fracturing along ethnic, racial, cultural, historical or other identity lines. Participatory futures can also facilitate collective action that is necessary to tackle systemic challenges like climate change.”

The Social Technology book set out a vision for dynamic social planning that works a great deal like what NESTA is now laying out and it also relies greatly on the control of ideas. So much more effective at evading any perception of censorship or control and less rigid than any Five Year Plan. Think of required Literacy Activities through the following aspiration from the NESTA report:

Collective images of the future help orient and organize in times of disruption. Throughout history, humans, organisations and societies have used mental images in the forms of myths, legends and religion to organise themselves. Images of the future play a particularly significant role in our lives, since our ability to make plans, decisions or set goals rests on them. Brain research shows that collective images offer orientation in times of uncertainty or when the necessity of reshaping our living environments becomes apparent. Participatory futures approaches use and create shared public images of the future that can provide a ‘destination identity’–acting as a motivating force to turn the ‘imagined’ into the real…positive images help pull us toward the future helping to catalyze social change and overcome cultural obstacles to it.

I think that is enough to take in right now as we contemplate the use of the ubiquitous Greta Thunberg or why common weather events now have to be the lead story on the national news. If you desired that social science, including its education and pedagogy components, have a role to play in shifting from what is to what could be, social planners know they need to create a “shared diagnosis of the key facts, trends, and problems,” even if that shared diagnosis is factually untrue in the world that currently exists.

The whole point is the effect of the shared mental images on actions that can remake what currently exists. I wonder if anyone else will grasp all these aspirations as Uncle Karl’s Man as a Maker of History, usefully brought into place at a neural level by achievement standards that hype student ‘performance’ and actions.

It turns out to be a plan for social reengineering with a long pedigree if we know where to look.

 

 

Discerning and then Retraining the ‘In-Order-To’ Image that Will Guide Future Action

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 acthttps://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?

Ubiquitous Coincidence or Deliberate Targeting? The New Science of Mind, Brain, and Education

Let’s start with a quote from November 2018 and an international adult leadership seminar tied to one of the creators of the K-12 MBE model referred to in the title and then tie it to the use of learning standards from the last post as ‘self-regulation’ and exactly what is being targeted as the missing elements in the Iceberg Problem. Sorry for the delay in writing, but I needed to be sure of how everything fit and one of my sources was a more than 700 page book. This is from a man called Werner Erhard who came up quite often when I was researching Esalen and Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and its ties to the K-12 actual template.

We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world to be what are lives are really about.

Each of us now has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity, and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution–it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet. What we create together is a relationship in which our work can show up as making a difference in people’s lives. I welcome the unprecedented opportunity for us to work globally on that which concerns us as human beings.

Those aspirations fit well with that Blueprint from the last post, don’t they? The quote came from the materials found here https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1263835&download=yes and it is a co-author, Michael Jensen, whose personal bio ties him to the creation of the MBE program at Harvard in the 1990s. By Autumn 2011, we can find an article by Michael Ferrari and Hazel McBride called “Mind, Brain, and Education: The Birth of a New Science” on “the benefits as well as the difficulties involved in integrating neuroscience into education policy and practice.” We parents and taxpayers have every right to be properly informed as to what is meant by the following terms and also the real links between this vision and Mr Erhard’s quote above. After all, as the article’s conclusion stated:

Educators and school boards are increasingly coming under media scrutiny and increased pressure to improve educational outcomes at a time when educators, policy makers, and the public have become fascinated with ‘brain research’. At the same time, governments and policymakers are promoting and supporting Evidence-Based Decision Making and Knowledge Transformation. These are ideal conditions for the Growth of Mind, Brain, and Education.

Do Tell. Notice the reference in that quote to Knowledge Transformation because it goes to the mouthful distinction between what those course materials call “An Ontological/Phenomenological Model.” Before I quote what that transformation means, let me remind everyone that Mihaly Csiksentmihaly [see tag] describes himself as a phenomenologist and it is his model of Excellence being mandated now in the US under civil rights calls for Equity and Excellence. It matters greatly that his model was pushed globally at the 2017 World Government Summit in Dubai as I covered here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/radio-silence-and-the-dog-that-did-not-bark-positioning-positive-education-globally/ . According to those course materials, an “ontological exercise…is about a transformation in who you ‘wound up being'”.

Since the course materials were created for adults, a comparable ontological/phenomenological exercise in children and teenagers through deliberately created learning experiences also goes to who they are at a neural level. Let me go to that 700 page book, Humans as Self-Constructing Living Systems, and what it referred to as ‘person-based self-regulation.’ That New Science article hypes the role of the OECD in pushing the MBE model and, like Professor Clabough from the last post, the OECD has said ‘self-regulation’ is the purpose of K-12 education in the 21st century. Let’s quote what that really means:

Humans have developed two interrelated social-regulatory methods: (a) to impose and enforce regulatory rules on social components through power and physical arrangements external to the organization’s components, whether social groups or individuals (e.g., through laws and punishment, police action, imprisonment); (b) to make the regulatory rules and processes properties of the components themselves so they become self-regulating in relationship to the social organizations of which they are a part.

I bolded that particular phrase because it is actually what George Will called Soulcraft and the rightful domain of governments, what Erin Clabough pushed as neural and second nature, and what we keep encountering as personalized, student-centered, competency-based learning. In the Karoly paper on the “Mechanisms of Self-Regulation: A Systems View” from the last post under “The Activation and Use of Standards” think of it as why the Iceberg Problem created an Appendix III on the role of learning standards to change the nature of K-12 education.

Having a goal (or a specific performance level to which one aspires) and being able systematically to surveil goal-relevant activities do not alone provide the impetus to self-regulated modulation of thought, affect, or behavior. Before the all-important comparison of the feedforward and the feedback signals can occur in human control systems, the goal or standard must be triggered, activated, or called up from long-term memory.

The adult leadership course materials spend a great deal of time undoing what is in long-term memory that is judged to be an impediment to the desired way of being. The materials lament that the neural wiring of the adult brain is too tied to the “realization of that past-derived predicted future“. The slideshare bolded that phrase as neural wiring is viewed as in the way of the Creating a Desired Future and “What Happens in the Brain with Such a ‘Created Future'”. K-12 grounded in phenomenology can go directly to shaping who a student will “wound up being” by pushing transformational learning that goes directly to controlling “who you are as a product of the beliefs you assimilated concerning yourself and the world, and the socialization and roles you learned.”

The MBE/ontological/phenomenological emphasis with adults has to “explore our worldview and frames of reference themselves–their genealogy, internal logic, uses–as well as assess the costs and benefits, and advantages and disadvantages…[in order to provide] the opportunity to discover and eliminate the constraints and shaping imposed by your worldview.” K-12, with the same emphasis, gets to head directly to ‘Go’ in most students and simply impose the desired worldview and frames of reference and then have the federal government (in the US) mandate all students have those assessed at least annually as Higher Order Thinking Skills. HOTS then has always been more about what will guide students ways’ of being, goal setting, and decision-making in the world than about what used to be known as epistemological or information learning.

No wonder lectures are passe and textbooks must be electronic and experiential. I want to end with an abstract from a May 2019 essay from World Futures that ties to the Global Education Futures Forum 2030 that uses language that also ties to that 1968 Bellagio conference at the Rockefeller Foundation villa. The Erhard/Jensen materials used similar language seeking to make the present about the future to be created, not the past. Alexander Laszlo stated his intention “to bring into being a world and future where all of us can thrive has been shared by numerous people. Yet despite these intentions, we have not yet been able to effectuate the deeper transformational change required for bringing this forth at the pace and scale now required.”

If that gain sounds remarkably like the Blueprint, both authors have fathers who have been at this Social Sciences Altering Consciousness to Change Social Systems vision for decades. Let’s finish with what Alexander (the son) described in January 2008 about how this transformation could occur in “The Making of a New Culture Learning Conversations and Design Conversations in Social Evolution.” You would need to target the “confluence of values, beliefs, ideas, and forms of expression characteristic of interpersonally aligned individual cognitive maps.” Alexander Laszlo said those arose “from a community,” but we have met them recently as Collective Cognition and it is what learning standards tied to competency-based frameworks and the Common Core create. They target the needed “psycho-personal and socio-cultural to bio-physical and process-structural” all at once.

If all the authors cited in this and recent posts are writing and speaking about the “importance of learning for the purposeful design of the future,” don’t we have the right to know about this hijacking of purpose? That suddenly classes labelled as reading, math, history, or science are more about a physiological change at the level of the mind and brain than they are about information transmission? When schools or even higher ed regard themselves as “learning communities to foment doing the right things” at a neural level in their students in order to effectuate a transformation to act to create “changes that will approximate their visions of the future,” we need to understand this deliberate targeting.

Especially since it turns out that actual factual knowledge and an Axemaker Mind in the student are the ultimate bulwarks against this neural and psychological manipulation.

Titanic Alert! The Iceberg Problem and the Blueprints for Proximal Volitional Regulators

“When we do indeed decide to pushback against our evolved nature” would have been the rest of the title, but that would have been too long. Moreover, when a book linked to here https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-10-07-what-we-need-to-unlearn-and-relearn-to-thrive-in-the-future contrasts its intentions for social reengineering at a biological level with what Stalin and Mao tried to do, I think we should pay attention on whether the distinctions are valid. First, though, let me quote from a 2019 book being talked about all over the world Second Nature: How Parents can use Neuroscience to Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity, and Self-Control, even though for some reason my copy of the book said it had already been discarded by the Phoenix Public Library. Perhaps before any parent could make the connection between language in Arizona’s ubiquitous charter schools and what Erin Clabough lays out to get the desired neural rewiring in place?

This is from the concluding chapter called “Parents Shape Future Free Will,” which sounds lovely, except if learning standards, school charters, mission statements, or Portrait of a Graduate require those same practices, then the effect is the same. Suddenly, math, science, or history are not about the transmission of knowledge. It is instead:

…this is why the way experience crafts our neurons is so important…If a person’s actions are governed by neural pathways that aren’t accessible by consciousness, then that person’s choices and actions may not be governed by true free will. And the most compelling part of this for parents is that as neuroscience research pushes toward mapping the way neurons are connected, we’re learning that if we can trace brain circuits, we can also predict behavior with nearly 100% accuracy…

kids are born with a vast network of synaptic connections–a wealth of possible connections that are then eliminated one by one as they lie unused. And in exchange, the pathways that have been activated–one to learn the letter g, another to recognize the smell of an oatmeal cookie, and yet another to understand it’s not okay to hit a playmate–are strengthened and remain, since neuronal pathways get stronger when used…Freedom of decision is possible, though it’s governed by neuroanatomy that can’t change instantaneously. We are defined by our neural circuits, and those circuits are defined by use…

if what we call free will is a natural biological process, then not only can neuroscientists track it, but parents are placed in a unique position to craft it. As parents, we have this miraculous opportunity to lay down those critical brain pathways for our children simply by deciding what they practice. When repeated practice makes something a habit, neurophysiology changes, and future behavior choices narrow.

That was a longer than usual quote because the self-regulation that comes from the brain’s planned neuroanatomy in this vision of what learning experiences can do showed up in several recent papers for our schools. Professor Clabough footnoted to a January 1993 paper called “Mechanisms of Self-Regulation: A Systems View” by Paul Karoly that made it crystal clear that references to ‘standards-based education’ in the 1990s, or now, are simply goal-based education where the desired results are neural structures that become Habits of Mind to guide perception, the interpretation of daily experiences, and the motivation to act. So reports like this https://www.inacol.org/resource/aligning-education-policy-with-the-science-of-learning-and-development/ or this https://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/05-SAL-What-Educators-Need-to-Know-About-Adolescent-Development_FINAL.pdf , both pushed last week, need to be read in light of the planned neuroanatomical changes.

Also last week, we had this paper that I found to be rather curious https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/overcoming-the-challenges-facing-innovative-learning-models-in-k-12-education-lessons-from-teach-to-one/ , especially since the author had never written for AEI before. He also had the same last name as the Harvard prof who created the Mind, Brain, Education template. Joel Rose turned out to be tied to something called the New Classroom Innovation Partners, which had Tom VanderArk as an Advisory Board member and his Getting Smart was pushing those two reports above. Also on the Board was the former district superintendent of the school system where I live that my children attended. Many of the insights that would ultimately become Credentialed to Destroy came from listening to his deliberate misrepresentations to parents and school board members as to what terms meant and what the curriculum changes actually intended to accomplish.

Neuroanatomical changes to students’ brains are not an effect, in other words, but the entire purpose of these education reforms. When the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Joel Roses’s group is tied to the global evidence-based policymaking template and last week’s winners of the Nobel Economics Prize, we have our ties to the ‘evidence-base’ in education being changes to the neuroanatomy of the brain in planned, hoped-for ways. The group had recently put out this report https://www.icebergproblem.org/ that was supposedly about math deficits in certain students. Anyone who has read Karoly’s paper though (and it has been translated into other languages), would recognize that what is really missing are “deficits in memory, attention, or knowledge [that] compromise the effectiveness of the proximal volitional regulators.” Translating that quote into slightly less stilted language would mean that a student is missing a neural pathway needed for him or her to perceive and act as desired.

When New Classroom Innovation Partners writes that “Our hope is for a new perspective on accountability that preserves rigor, transparency, and equity, while also creating the space for new approaches to learning that have the potential to achieve better results for all students,” that lofty language actually pushes practices that have as their purpose neuroanatomical changes to the brain. The opening quote came from Nicholas Christakis’ 2019 book Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (which had also been discarded by the Jefferson County, Colorado system that has also been home to so many education reforms). Among the funders was the Gates Foundation that underwrote so much of the curriculum created for the Common Core learning standards and the related progressions (detailed in CtD) and the Templeton Foundation whose Conscious Cultural Evolution, Positive Neoroscience, and Jubilee Center work we have covered recently on this blog. It had blurbs from Angela Duckworth of Grit, the Character Lab, and National Growth Mindset Network fame, as well as from Jonathan Haidt who will be the keynoter at Jeb Bush’s annual ed conference this year (in San Diego).

Nicholas Christakis’ father, Alexander, was involved in the 1968 Rockefeller Foundation conference at Bellagio that would give rise to the Club of Rome and later became tied to the 1980s GERG-Global Evolution Research Group that created the Achieving Excellence template that became so controversial in Colorado schools. When Nicholas writes of ‘learning’ as a tool in planned cultural change as a medical doctor and sociologist, he knows precisely what the plans involving this term have been through the decades. To pull together the last several posts, it strikes me that George Will in his Soulcraft book, Candace Vogler with Self-Transcendence and her work with the Vatican’s Humanity 2.0 Initiative, and the Lightbearers curriculum are all trying to get at the same kind of neural change via education as Nicholas Christakis.

Each of these writers is pushing a vision of education tied to What kind of society is good for us?, except none of us are part of the group planning ‘thoughtfully’ the desired neuroanatomical changes. This is the contrast with Mao according to Christakis:

A notable aspect of Mao’s philosophy was an analogous confidence in the malleability of human behavior, on both individual and collective levels. Mao felt that the state must directly intervene to shape the belief and actions of human beings because the transformation of society ‘depends entirely on the consciousness, the wills, and the activities of men.’ Mao did not think highly of notions of an innate, shared human nature.

Mao’s views sound remarkably like Soulcraft, agency-based education, and Tranzi OBE, don’t they? Those are just a few of the euphemisms used over time to mask this transformational template. Are we really comfortable with a distinction as to whether it is okay to rewire brains for political purposes if one argues that the ‘learning’ being created is simply uncovering our preexisting ‘good’ human nature? All of these pushes want to get at the realm of moral judgments precisely because the writers want to place the emphasis away from “the state the world is in” to “the state we would want it to be in”. What Clabough pushed above to be neurally practiced until the pathways created a habit as Creativity and Empathy gets to the same place as what Christakis stated as “moral judgments implicitly contain commands. Ought invites us to do something in a way that is does not.” Templeton and Professor Vogler push the same vision as a Science of Virtues.

Is it really a valid distinction to push visions of education that get at the neurobiological realm in order to control future behavior in a difficult to perceive way because the future vision will “be good for us”?

How can anything be good for us when it has been shrouded in so much deceit? Is this why no amount of school shootings has ever been able to alter this template for neurobiological change?

Is global governance in the 21st century not about any kind of world parliament or binding judiciary, but rather the neural structures global learning standards and prescribed learning experiences, especially via technology and virtual reality, can deliver?

Just because we are not invited to these meetings does not mean that the purpose of the meetings and the sought changes cannot be tracked. Next time though a book is too direct in its laid out blueprints for change, it should probably be truly discarded in a trash bin and not resold to someone who recognizes either the name of the author or the book’s connections to plans for schools and students.

 

Collective Cognition: Stipulating Right Thinking and Prescribing Prevailing Ideas to Defeat Polarization

Never heard the phrase ‘collective cognition’ before? Wouldn’t creating required learning standards and then assessing for their presence in guiding a student’s thoughts and actions amount to learning How to Think as a Community? After I wrote last week’s post, but knowing we were about to pivot next to something called the Hidden Tribes Project, I was fascinated to read the bio of the co-author of this recent article https://behavioralscientist.org/the-cognitive-science-of-political-thought-practical-takeaways-for-political-discourse/ where Professor Sloman admits that the cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences can be used to create Collective Cognition. If only some ultra-rich person would bequeath mega-millions to his employer, Brown University, to set up a Center to create models for K-12 education reforms.

Think of the Hidden Tribes Project as what to do about the adults whose minds and values got away when earlier versions of K-12 education reforms, like outcomes-based education, failed to shift as desired away from subject-content to changing:

the ideas that give your life direction. And the answers fit together into a larger picture–what we call a ‘worldview,’ a way of understanding and making sense of our world. Your worldview determines (consciously or unconsciously) how you interpret and respond to everything in life. This is why it is so important to begin thinking about your worldview and the ideas you believe to be true…develop a worldview that influences everything you do.

That is a really useful definition of worldview and why, I believe, we have found it as the aim of what my book laid out as Tranzi OBE from the 90s, and what we are seeing as Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profiles now. It’s why learning standards globally carefully lay out the desired elements and seek to prescribe the ‘learning experiences’ that will create the characteristics at an internalized, physiological level. The Hidden Tribes Project, clearly related to the same aim but geared to adults and located at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, stated that its “focus is to better understand the forces that drive political polarization and tribalism in the United States today, and to galvanize efforts to address them.” I found the Project after it was hyped here in July https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_are_the_solutions_to_political_polarization and I recognized the links to both Seedbed of Virtues and the 1997 “A Call to Civil Society”.

George Will, in his Soulcraft book, kept using the same term “Better Angels of Our Nature” so let’s look and see how ‘our nature’ can be reengineered with education reforms and other social science projects. After all, one of the co-authors of the June 2019 More in Common report “The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart” is tied to the Templeton-funded Positive Neuroscience initiative at U-Penn that is also tied to the World Happiness Reports the UN has taken to publishing. If he states that “in coming years I plan on continuing to use the tools of social science to improve human interaction and society. Through teaching, speaking, researching, and writing, I hope to do my part to help humanity realize the best possible version of itself,” we would be wise to listen.

Humanity is so grateful, I reply with my usual sarcasm. Hopefully such aspirations and scholarship in “studying how social context in various populations can impact people’s moral judgment and behavior…” will get Mr Yudkin tenure somewhere. According to the 2018 “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape” the “work of rebuilding our fractured society needs to start now” and it needs to occur at the level of each person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs. This will allow “re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to building a renewed sense of national identity: A bigger story of us.” More in Common believes that “a healthy democracy…requires a sense of shared values and commitments, and a willingness to find common ground”. That desired answer to polarization and tribalism, a desired standardization at the level of “mind, heart, and soul” for all citizens, young and old, requires deliberately targeting:

At the root of America’s polarization are divergent sets of values and worldviews, or ‘core beliefs’. These core beliefs shape the ways that individuals interpret the world around them at the most fundamental level. Our study shows how political opinions stem from these deeply held core beliefs. This study examines five dimensions of individuals’ core beliefs:

  •  Tribalism and group identification
  •   Fear and perception of threat
  •   Parenting style and authoritarian disposition
  •   Moral foundations
  •   Personal agency and responsibility

This study finds that the hidden architecture of beliefs, worldview and group attachments can predict an individual’s views on social and political issues with greater accuracy than demographic factors like race, gender, or income.

So education at every level and the media, whether broadcast, print, or websites of various supposed spectrums, need to get at and change that hidden architecture. To uncover and understand core beliefs, and “explore how this understanding can be used, not to deepen polarization but to bring people together.” Does the coordinated effort to pretend that the Common Core was about workforce preparation or a database of personally identifiable information about students instead of an effort to change those prevailing values, attitudes, and beliefs suddenly make more sense? What if I told you that the initial indented quote on worldview came from something called the Lightbearers Curriculum from Summit Ministries that I found after a Daily Caller article this summer made a reference to something called a Blue Sky Worldview and a camp to create it? What if the same article simultaneously misrepresented socialism and asserted that Marxism is only what was found in the past in Communist countries or is what Bernie Sanders pushes?

Let’s just say our False Narrative purveyors were well-represented among the advocates for this curriculum that also seeks to control “what ideas will rule the world” and provide “guidelines for shaping society for everyone’s benefit”. It is a curriculum intended for “endowing [the student] with the responsibility for shaping the future of the world.” Theoretical Marxism, the non-historical kind that is a theory of Man as a Maker of History seeking to drive a transformational process in the real world, would recognize that aspiration as bringing about what Uncle Karl called the Human Development Society. It is still the same theory even when the M word is not used and the sales pitch is the need to “redeem culture as part of God’s creation.” Worthy aspirations and a theological emphasis do not change the nature of this theory or who created the idea of how to get such a theory into practice (Praxis?).

Calling it “faith in action” instead of praxis, or opining that “without action, students may relegate what they are hearing to dry academic philosophies and not realize that these ideas should become part of their lives on a daily basis,” doesn’t distinguish aims that function the same with comparable purposes. So religious based or classical schools want ideas embodied into action as an integral part of the curriculum to create Desired Habits and Behaviors and so do public schools now as part of learning standards and what is called High Quality Project-Based Learning. See what I mean about going to the same place and targeting the same normative realm in each student?

Tranzi OBE, in function even if now euphemized into a myriad of new names, still is in play if the curriculum actively seeks to tell students they should be change agents and

stop being conformed by the ‘water’ around them, the culture they were in. Rather, they should be transformed by renewing their minds. The idea behind the word ‘transformed’ is that of metamorphosis–changing into something different. While conformity to the world is something that happens passively, being transformed is something that happens actively. Conformity just happens, but transformation requires effort. Transformation only happens through mind renewal, changing the way you think.

I bolded that last part from the Lightbearers Curriculum to call attention to a discussion in the comments from the last post when I said that the predecessor to the Common Core was something in the 90s called the New Standards Project. Before Professor Lauren Resnick helped create that initiative, she called her curriculum a Thinking Curriculum to be grounded in HOTS–Higher Order Thinking Skills. Stipulated Ideas would dominate so that the real world perceptions would be controlled by Desired Ideas and Theories of What Could Be. The Soviets in 1962 called this a new kind of Dialectic Materialism that would allow a transformation of the existing world via a theory they called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete.

Its ideals still work the same today whether pushed on adults to supposedly bridge a Perception Gap and create a Convergence to defeat Polarization, or on children via mischaracterized learning standards and Thinking Curricula.

All of these advocates recognize that changing how we think leads to “transforming our behavior” in predictable ways. If anyone wants to prescribe “the basis of our decisions and actions,” as these various NGOs like UNESCO or the OECD, faith-based institutions, think tanks, or any other institution have explicitly said they wish to do if we know where to look, we should all be aware that has become the new purpose of education and the goal of much of what is broadcast or published by the media.

I suppose I should be grateful my book and then this blog set off such an orchestration of False Narratives. The deceit left the crumbs that enable us to see the common vision. Everyone seems to want to get at what we believe and feel in order to control how we will behave.

And it has nothing to do with training pigeons except that once installed in our neural circuits via cognitive psychology, we will be programmed indeed.

 

 

Standardizing Self-Transcendence & Psychological Attributes to Deliberately Converge Prevailing Consciousness

Since none of us were probably invited to NYC for the United Nations General Assembly last month, they just announced the roll out of a Futures of Education initiative with a ‘Learning to Become’ theme. It “invokes the need to develop the capacity to imagine a good and fulfilling life.” Sounds like Statecraft as Soulcraft, doesn’t it, taken to a current, global level? If anyone is still wondering too why there is so much hype about how all weather disasters must be due to Human-Caused Climate Change, we have this next quote as part of the Learning to Become agenda:

As we come to terms with human-caused changes to the planet and face the possibilities of fundamental transformations in social organization, human consciousness, and human identity, humanity needs to devote attention to the question: What do we want to become? Knowledge and learning are at the core of transformations in human minds and societies. Learning to Become invites us to become something we have not yet become.

As usual, I think that ‘we’ is rhetorical and ‘we’ are not supposed to really have a choice. I have warned repeatedly going back to Credentialed to Destroy how learning standards really work, but this NSF-funded paper “Understanding Standards” from Michigan State’s Center for the Study of Standards and Society really does an explicit job of laying it out. The paper is from 2011 and is part of this Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences 2020 Agenda.  https://www.nsf.gov/sbe/sbe_2020/Abstracts.pdf Yes, that would be next year.

We live in a world in which we are surrounded by standards for people, processes, practices, and products. These standards structure the sociotechnical world as well as the behavior of people in a variety of ways…Standards may best be understood as a means of governance that fall (largely) between laws and social norms…Standards are exemplars against which people and things are judged…[They can also be used to mandate] ethical codes of various sorts…Since standards are all about what and whose values shall be incorporated in products, processes, and practices, they are as much ethical as technical phenomena.

That is especially true when the ‘standards’ are prescribed to organize how the human mind and personality are to work, with that mandate carried out through poorly understood educational processes, locking in the desired changes at a physiological, neural level. When I was reading about both the Vatican’s Humanity 2.0 Initiative and the Jubilee Centre’s new curriculum on Virtue, as well as the Templeton Foundation’s mega-million funding of planned social evolution, a name kept cropping up, Professor Candace Vogler, a philosophy professor at the University of Chicago. I located this interview with her on a Templeton supported research project https://news.uchicago.edu/story/qa-philosopher-candace-vogler-virtue-happiness-and-meaning-life where the repeated use of the term ‘self-transcendence’ struck me as the newest euphemism for what George Will called ‘soulcraft’, Amitai Etzioni calls ‘communitarianism,’ and the Marxist Humanist vision called little ‘c’ communism to be enabled by a high level of technological prowess and inventions.

Professor Voglin also came up as involved with numerous Lumen Christi Institute presentations including those pushing something called ‘Right Reason,’ which I am probably not exhibiting in writing this blog post. Templeton has now launched this initiative https://www.lumenchristi.org/news/2019/03/lumen-christi-receives-john-templeton-foundation-grant-for-science-religion-project to fund research at the so-called “intersection between science and religion”. Just imagine how useful learning standards are to THAT agenda, and why it would provide multiple incentives for think tanks with common funding to Professor Voglin and George Will to misrepresent how those Catholic Curriculum Standards REALLY work. Professor Voglin said the Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning of Life Project had its ‘genesis’ in her “thinking about what the difference was between the people whose daily lives could be a source of happiness and purpose, and the people whose daily lives were a giant to-do list that was mostly a slog.”

I will let everyone guess which expletive I wrote in the margin after that quote rationalizing this push towards collectivism, but the next quote did strike me as far more truthful:

We are mostly investigating the possibility that a fundamental attachment and orientation to a good can make your daily life into a source of happiness that can sustain you through struggle and trial and give you resilience and a sense of purpose.

That rang true because Hillsdale Barney Charter Initiative has used similar language, as do the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks, and the concept of a moral compass and guiding North Star also shows up in charters being funded by the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative. Tell me this next passage does not sound like Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s definition of Excellence as aligning what is thought, wished for, and felt as the goals of Education. Remember too that various civil rights mandates now require Excellence and Equity as an education requirement as a matter of law.

What does virtue mean to you in the context of this project? Virtue is a kind of strength of character that helps you organize the things you take in from the world and the way you respond to them in the service of the actual good. And virtue helps to do that by harmonizing your thoughts, feelings, actions, and aspirations in good ways.

There is a new Personal Growth Framework out that calls precisely that-‘self-authorship’- and we now know UNESCO calls it Learning to Become. A 2011 book I just finished called From Brain to Mind: Using Neuroscience to Guide Change in Education says  educational practices designed to create such harmony intend to get at, and rewire, something called the Anterior Cingulate part of the human brain. That’s one way to turn Mind, Brain, and Education into a true science, isn’t it? Let’s see what the two-day capstone project held in October 2017 had to say about this so-called virtue of ‘self-transcendence’ so we can appreciate what it means to enshrine it in learning standards, a school charter, a Portrait of a Graduate, or Curriculum Frameworks:

Our conviction that virtue is essentially related to self-transcendence has grown out of engagement with research throughout the humanities and the social sciences that has continued to suggest that individuals who understand themselves to be practically oriented to something greater than the self–a family with a long history and the prospect of future generations, a spiritual practice oriented towards due reverence for the sacred and the need to live right by and be consciously united with others, work on behalf of social justice and the improvement of one’s community–often feel happier, have a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, and have overall better life outcomes than those who do not. Some psychologists have labeled this necessity for locating one’s self within a broader context ‘self-transcendence’.

That phrase has more universal appeal, doesn’t it, than when George Will defined those same aims as ‘Conservatism’? We have a global convergence going on now to use education, governments, regulations, think tanks, and faith-based organizations, among others, to push a vision that seeks to instill, via each person’s central nervous system, “a deep attachment to an overall good (happiness or living well) that individuals cannot attain through dispositions of thought, action, and feelings that are ordered to securing individual benefit…One commonality explored in this volume [from capstone conference] is the way that virtue is intimately connected to a social or communal vision of happiness, and how virtue can play an instrumental role in securing this goal for us.”

All this manipulation via education and, quite frankly, also the media is because we apparently don’t know what is best for ourselves or our children so we need a reimagining of education to lock in the desired visions of transformation. Plus lots of deceit about what is really going on so not enough of us can balk at the requisite neural nets of ‘new citizenship’ in time.

As usual, I have too much going on to continue today, but I want to get back next to what is planned for us to force the so-called Better Angels of Our Nature to bloom. George Will used that Better Angels phrase a great deal and it showed up tied to yet another Kennedy School of Government Initiative from this summer.

I said I had to take a break from writing. I did not take any break from my reading.

Totalitarianism or Rightful Regulation? The Reasons for the Redirection of Education Fall into Place

When I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then later started this blog, I knew I could trace what was actually occurring, even if I did not always understand precisely why or the reason for so much deceit. After all, I am a lawyer and so many of the changes were being enshrined into law so that the tracking was easy and the intended results mandatory. When I wrote about the Social Reconstructionists I did not yet grasp that in the early 1980s, after a series of lectures at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (no wonder it later created a PEPG-Program on Education Policy and Governance to implement its aims), that laid out how Conservatism was now to be redefined in terms of a new role for government that would create institutions and new ideas that would “retrace our cultural steps, and rethink what we think.” That would certainly explain the sudden interest in using the techniques of Tranzi OBE and mandated learning standards, wouldn’t it?

Apparently, after “two centuries of cultivating the physical world, Americans have been prodigies of productivity” so that now it was time to “place the focus of government on the intellectual and moral world within us.” Do tell. I am quoting from a George Will 1983 book called Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does that I found as I was following up on both this push for Cultural Evolution using a so-called Science of Virtue as well as the communitarian push I kept stumbling across as supposedly necessary for ‘citizenship’ in the 21st century in a Republic. Brought to us by the same people who work for think tanks that cannot manage to accurately explain what the Common Core is really about and what competency-based education really entails. Perhaps this is why:

that inner world is what ‘concerns fitness for republican government’…the most important revolution of all is the ‘revolution in sentiments, manners, and moral opinions’. It will be said, instantly and energetically and broadly, that ‘sentiments, manners, and moral opinions’ are none of the government’s business. Are they not ‘private’ and properly beyond the legitimate concern of public agencies? No, they are not…

political order needs to be concerned about the inner lives of the people…and the character of the citizenry…By the legislation of morality I mean the enactment of laws and implementation of policies that will prescribe, mandate, regulate, or subsidize behavior that will, over time, have the predictable effect of nurturing, bolstering, or altering habits, dispositions and values on a broad scale…

Government would do better if it admits what it is doing.

Yes, it would, but since that might create a public outcry, create repercussions at the ballot box, or affect fundraising for think tanks, it is left for me to lay that out. Explains so much, doesn’t it? Especially my documentation of the affirmative, normative use of the law in a revised vision of education. George Will emphasized his point by quoting US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, in a famous case concerning compulsory flag salutes, as writing that “Law is concerned with the external behavior and not the ‘inner life of man.'” Then Will responded with “The purpose of this book is to explain why that proposition is radically wrong.” I had called attention in my last several posts of the use of Greek philosopher Aristotle as a substitute for a vision that I recognize as Marxist Humanism. Hyping the Claasical roots in antiquity lets the vision escape the infamy of that ‘M’ word.

Will may well be the originator of this substitution as he expounded on how Aristotle was “a founder of:

conservatism, properly understood, because his realism did not preclude a politics that takes its bearings from what ought to be. The United States acutely needs a real conservatism, characterized by a concern to cultivate the best persons and the best in persons…A purpose of politics is to facilitate, as much as is prudent, the existence of worthy passions  and the achievement of worthy aims. It is to help persons want what they ought to want. Politics should share one purpose with religion: the steady emancipation of the individual through the education of his passions.

I keep thinking of the Chinese Social Credit System that so-called ‘conservative’ writers keep calling attention to, and wondering if the real concern is simply that the Chinese are being too overt with their Reeducation or Recrimination Program to get desired Results. What precisely are these ‘worthy passions’ and ‘worthy aims’ in a vision that goes on to describe a vision of education where “true conservatives have a soft spot in their hearts for organic collectivity.” So do admitted progressives and they too have big plans for also using education for “nurturing of the shared ‘national mind’.” Heck, at least the Progs admit that the desired transformation of the individual’s ‘inner life’ is just  a tool to get a desired global consciousness amenable to the desired changes and the “bridling of egoistic motives.”

My accurate tracking all these years using the law makes far more sense now that we have found this reimagining that “we must rethink today’s constricted notion of the legitimate uses of the law…It is time to come up from individualism.” After all, in this new vision of Conservatism, “a function of government is the modification of [citizenry] habits.” The Diversity of this country back in the 1980s, which is nothing compared to what immigration has done in the interim to now, was supposedly a reason that necessitated “law concerned with values as well as actions–with mind as well as body. They necessiate law as a ratifier and stigmatizer, in which role law is a tutor.” In other words, government at all levels and education as its favorite tool committed to realizing a vision where:

what is at issue is not coercion, it is not compelling persons to act against their settled convictions, it is not a collision of wills, the state’s and the citizens. Rather, it is a slow, steady, gentle, educative and persuasive enterprise. Its aim is to dispose citizens toward certain habits, mores and values, and to increase the probability that persons will choose to will certain things.

One of the discussions I have had when I first called attention to Tranzi OBE and commenters I later found to be involved with the False Narrative would treat the problem as simply a wrongful area for the FEDERAL government, while I saw the shift as Totalitarian for ANY level of government, came to mind when I read this passage from Will’s reenvisoning:

…proper conservatives proclaim, as Burke did, the gentling functions of government. Proper conservatism teaches that authority does not form on high, in the clouds, and clatter down, painfully, like Kansas hail stones. Rather, conservatism teaches that authority grows organically from the rich loam of social mores and structures.

…the urgent tasks of government include mending and maintaining the ‘chain of community’…The political system must also incorporate altruistic motives…Altruism–principled regard for others–is not optional.

No wonder we have had such a dance over what social and emotional learning is and whether it can be discussed, if, quietly, the authors of so many books or articles have their income from a source that pushes covertly this reimagining of what Conservatism and a new role for governments actually is. Someone who believes in the following quote needs the tool of Tranzi OBE, whatever they mask it with as a euphemism:

Justice depends, therefore, on a certain disposition, It depends on–in a sense, it is– a state of mind. A society that is organized socially and justified philosophically the way ours is must take special care to supply itself with the rhetoric, institutions and policies that encourage that state of mind.

And try to silence interlopers like me who accurately lay out what education is really altering and who actually benefits from the shift. After all, this may be a vision that wants to use the “skill of disposing persons to think of public as well as private interests,” but if the history of the consistent outcry over Outcomes-Based Education tells us anything it is that no one really wanted this level of forthcomingness to be tied to these education reforms that have functioned the same in terms of the true desired results over the intervening decades. Virtue and Character sound so good as a major goal of ‘student-centered education’ that is holistic and creates agency. Those euphemisms sound so much better, don’t they, than the actual aspiration:

That is why I am so concerned about the shaping of passions and desires in the direction of virtue. By virtue I mean nothing arcane or obscure. I mean good citizenship, whose principal components are moderation, social sympathy and willingness to sacrifice private desires for public ends.

What happens to citizens in a polity where education is being covertly hijacked to “nurture the habit of regarding our fellow citizens as united in a great common enterprise”? Especially one that touts School Choice as a feint to obscure the actual coordination and sought transformations in the student and to the polity?

Good to be back. Hopefully there will be no more unexpected interruptions as there is so much going on now.

Epiphany Moment: Education as Cultural Transformation Using Heart and Mind Manipulation

Eureka! When I wrote the last post I recognized the common vision, but had not yet fully tracked down the why. That shifted quickly though when I followed up on one of the attendees at the Humanity 2.0 conferences at the Vatican, U-Chicago prof Candace Vogler, since I remembered she was also tied to the NIH-funded Science of Virtues Project covered here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/locating-the-internalized-information-guiding-human-behavior-so-it-can-be-controlled-and-transformed/ . Rereading that post was a reminder of just how very tied the players covered there are to the organized False Narrative of what the Common Core, competency-based education, SEL, and data gathering are all about. That much coordination and coincidence cannot be accidental. Discovering then just how much of Vogler’s work has been financed by the Templeton Foundation, and finally that Templeton had announced its intention to finance and investigate cultural evolution via the individual human mind was my epiphany moment.

Suddenly we were no longer talking about the Social Reconstructionists, UNESCO, and its founder, Julian Huxley’s vision, as covered in Credentialed to Destroy, but think tanks across the purported political spectrum. All the pushes about values and Character initiatives and an emphasis on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness make sense if you believe that “Moral systems are the psychological and sociological ‘glue’ that holds human groups together as adaptive units, at the scale defined by the moral system, establishing a fundamental connection between morality and group-level intelligence” as this Templeton announcement put it https://evolution-institute.org/prosocial-world-receives-grant-from-templeton-world-charity-foundation/ . As a recent book by the Director of the Templeton-supported Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues in the UK (where I first found the reference to Humanity 2.0) put it in his book Flourishing as the Aim of Education:

In general, human associations across the globe seem to be moving in a morally progressive direction despite recent ‘post-truth’ blips: a direction that makes educational discourse ripe for accounts of human flourishing as its ultimate aim…[The sought self-change in the students occurs because of] these ‘Damascus experiences’ that comes about through the recognition of transpersonal ideals that inspire awe…The awe and wonder we experience in the face of such self-transcendent ideals enables us to envisage new horizons for ourselves; we suddenly see ourselves and the world in a radically different way.

It turns out there is a word for this, ‘cultural cognitive models’ and transforming these has become the stealth means of evolution in the 21st century. As best I can tell, a 1973 paper (tied to the same Palo Alto behavioral change research center now tied to the National Growth Mindset Network) called “Theories of Culture” hatched the plan in earnest. Its author, Roger M. Keesing, laid out a desire for:

Conceiving culture as an ideational subsystem within a vastly complex system, biological, social and symbolic, and grounding our abstract models in the concrete particularities of human social life. [Today’s Evidence-Based Policymaking!]…attempts to map cultures as ideational systems in the light of an emerging understanding of mind and brain should enable clearer insights into the organization of experience and the nature and depth of variation in the thought worlds of men.

With prescribed, globalized learning standards, there won’t be much variation for long! If anyone does not believe me that the ‘thought worlds’ are a bullseye for standardization we have this 2017 paper financed by Templeton called “Cultural evolutionary theory: How culture evolves and why it matters” https://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/7782 stating:

Deeper analysis of how human culture, human ecology, and the human environment coevolve is necessary for understanding historical and present dynamics, and for predicting future trends. These analyses will provide much-needed tools for the planning and direction of such dynamics. Humans’ worldwide well-being and that of the ecosystem we live in depend on our ability to make such predictions and act accordingly.

Here is another confirmation of this intended aim tied to another Templeton grantee https://singularityhub.com/2018/02/22/cultural-evolution-can-provide-the-tools-to-build-global-scale-resilience/ and on July 17, 2018 the American Anthropological Society announced its intention to make ‘cultural models theory’ (CMT) the path for future research grounded in CMT’s ‘fundamental assumption that the locus of culture is the minds of individuals.” I have alluded to this before since conceptual frameworks and Disciplinary Core Ideas are being laid out in learning standards mandates, but this paper “From Cultural Models to Cultural Categories”  helps make the bullseye and the rationale for targeting it even more clear. http://acrwebsite.org/volumes/8631/volumes/v29/NA-29 Making sense of the world and your experiences or ‘cultural meanings’ :

are created and maintained by the interaction between an extrapersonal world of objects and symbols and the intrapersonal world of individual’s mind. Thus, to understand and analyze culture in totality we need to to take into account both the intrapersonal world of cultural values and cognitive structures of mind and the extrapersonal world of cultural symbols and artifacts. The main objective of this paper is to propose a conceptual framework, which derives cultural categories by analyzing culture at perceptual, behavioral, and symbolic levels.

Precisely what outcomes-based education in the 90s and competency-based education tied to learning standards targets now. All designed, then and now, to force a cultural evolution grounded in transforming Values and Thought Patterns as illustrated here https://www.spps.org/cms/lib/MN01910242/Centricity/Domain/125/iceberg_model_3.pdf It really does make the ubiquity of Tranzi OBE quite clear, doesn’t it? No wonder it has been renamed now as Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profiles. That does sound more appealing than transforming the mind to fit the global collectivist vision for the desired 21st century comrade. Here is one last link that did a succinct job of laying out why altering cultural cognitive models is the new stealth means of revolutionary change that may initially be hard to discern.  http://trnerr.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Cultural-Models.pdf which usefully italicized the fact that : “Cultural models are important for communicators to consider because they shape and constrain how people think about an issue and the solutions that they see as effective and appropriate.”

The widely-shared nature of cultural models makes them incredibly valuable for strategic framers who wish to change the conversation about a complex social issue…models derive from exposure to common experiences over time. If communicators can change the context in which people experience an issue–through the media, through advocacy and through policies that change the context–[now just imagine adding the immersive possibilities of digital learning and virtual reality!] they can, over time enact deep, meaningful, and sustainable changes at the level of cultural models. The durability of cultural models means that communicators need to be aware of these ways of thinking and that they need to work hard to create new ways for people to think about social issues.

This has truly been a fascinating journey, especially because of the amount of clarity surrounding what I can document and thus prove. All the sudden references to Aristotle in a recommended template for change in the student that certainly looks to me like the Marxist Humanist template make far more sense if, like me, you located the PhD thesis of the author of Flourishing as the Aim of Education where he laid out the ties between Marx’s thought and its foundations in Aristotle’s. Suddenly the multisyllabic title of “A Neo-Aristotelian Model of Moral Development” created by the Jubilee Centre in 2017 can be accurately seen for the euphemism for an infamous ideology it actually is.

We cannot fight against what we cannot see and as usual, this post is an attempt to create the needed illumination. Otherwise, our childrens’ minds and personalities will remain tools for transformation in what is actually a global Social Reconstruction Project.