Enshrining a Neural Expansive Universe of Obligation via Collective Cognition and Calling It Good Citizenship

Consider this post to be the mother of all syntheses from this past year of confessional online webinars coupled to insights that go back to the research from my more prescient than ever book Credentialed to Destroy. At one point I even considered using the post title “Most Apt Analogy Ever!” to describe just how well the metaphor of this blog that there is a quietly imposed, via education, ‘serfs collar’ of owed obedience planned for each of us all over this globe in the 21st century. Education and communications generally, including the media and public policy think tanks, are a big part of this coordinated effort. I have known that for years, but recently the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US (that is so involved with the absurd response to COVID in the US) put much of what I have found into perspective. https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/118/27/e2025764118.full.pdf explains the pandemic, learning standards in education, climate change hype, and allegations of ‘structural racism’ and inequality generally are all tools for “Stewardship of Global Collective Behavior”.

Inferring is one thing, but that’s quite the admission, isn’t it? Now the term–Expansive Universe of Obligation–is not in that paper. It comes from a civics curricula Facing History and Ourselves has created for K-12 teachers and students on the Holocaust and Human Behavior, but I recognized it functioning the same as what already has a tag on this blog–Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory. We also covered it years ago as being part of the Hong Kong Citizenship K-12 Curriculum imposed by the Chinese Communist Party. I guess the new phrase gets the function without any notoriety, but in two separate webinars this summer on the new ‘history/civics’ Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy (EAD) I heard the presenters hype creating a belief in the students that they have a responsibility to enact what was laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That this is what Democracy entitles all people to in the 21st century.

I even clarified through the CHAT function that students were to be taught that Democracy now means an “Expansive Universe of Obligation coupled to an Economic Justice Vision”. The speaker, who works for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, thought that was a lovely, succinct new definition of what is intended. So when the White Paper linked to above mentions that ” A consolidated transdisciplinary approach to understanding and managing human collective behavior will be a monumental challenge, yet it is a necessary one” and that “decisions that impact the structure of society should not be guided by voices of individual shareholders but instead by values [functions like Principles or Ideals from previous post] such as non-maleficence, benevolence, autonomy, and justice,” they mean that they will create “ethical standards” to be imposed via a new vision of education globally that will impose “a globally held normative framework for deciding what constitutes healthy societies or desirable socio-technical interactions.”

As that paper detailed, this stewardship process has to intervene at a personalized level that gets at beliefs as to ‘perceived reality,’ in order to inculcate desired ‘feedback loops’ to address ‘injustice and inequality.’ It must also get at ‘individual motivations’ and provide new ‘ethics’ for future behavior. All of that fits both with how personalized learning in a Competency-Based Framework really work, especially when coupled to a digital environment delivering some of the desired experiences. None of this is an accident, since I recognized one of the institutions–the Santa Fe Institute–from both the proclaimed (ny name, not function) Marxist aspirations for the US of some of its fellows using education, as well as Santa Fe’s Artificial Societies research. The first matters because Samuel Bowles has now moved on to selling his vision in terms of “Good Citizenship’ in his 2016 The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens. Add the word ‘Citizen’ to our list of hijacked Abstract terms to be wary of.

The second matters because David A. Lane’s “Artificial Worlds and Economics” paper from Santa Fe, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation [both heavily involved with learning standards and pushing Constructivism in education], laid out a new theory of learning that it contrasted as follows:

In the rationalistic view [the old transmission of knowledge/textbook/lecture approach], the world is composed of definite objects, properties and relations, and ‘learning’ is the process whereby an agent forms a mental model of the world that correctly describes these features. Learning in classifier systems is acquiring circumstance-specific behavioral propensities that function together to produce reward. That is, the agent is learning how to act in the world, rather than how to describe it.

Bingo!! Best explanation I have read for Constructivism in subject-disciplines, competency-based education, and all the hyping now about Conceptual Frameworks to trigger ‘Higher Order Thinking Skills’ in all students. Those HOTS skills have to be assessed now at least annually in the US to keep track of each student’s needed ‘internal states’ and the mental ‘classifier system’ the student is using.

A learning-based theory directly models the transformation from information-stream to actions.That is, all the mechanisms that process the information stream on the basis of which the agent is assumed to act are handled internally to the theory. In principle, agents in such a theory could learn to ‘choose’–but the theory would be responsible for describing how the agents identify situations in which they regard choice as appropriate, how they organize what they perceive about the environment into the ingredients of a problem of choice, and how they develop the methodology that they apply when they go about the act of choosing.

I guess we could define Misinformation then as factual information that incompatible with the Theories needed for this invisible stewardship? Remember when I explained that UNESCO wanted to make education globally about getting at decision-making processes and how the Rockefeller Foundation in 2014 began to focus on getting at ‘anticipatory assumptions’ students were using? The above quote is saying the same thing. These are all a means to get at:

the internal states…agents [use] to progressively ‘model’ their world: that is, to generate broad categories that describe the world, to develop plausible hypotheses about the relationships between these categories…and to refine these categories and hypotheses on the basis of increasing experience.

See now why Knowledge has become about Concepts, Principles, and other abstractions with a supplied illustration to fit a Narrative instead of a body of facts as in the past? In late July the Institute for New Economic Thinking put out “The One-Earth Balance Sheet” explicitly stating that “a new collective mental map is needed” because “siloed thinking created many of our problems with inequality, injustice and planetary damage.”  Now all the Misinformation hype makes more sense. We must not have Information circulating that disagrees with this desired new Collective Mental Map. It’s also why UNESCO is pushing the idea now of an Infodemic that is as dangerous to its plans as the Pandemic. https://gemreportunesco.wordpress.com/2021/08/16/reflections-on-the-covid-19-second-wave-in-india/ Education now is needed to create desired ‘internal states’ in students to “help create shared efforts for a common understanding of shared threats.”

Anyone in a back-to-school sudden hyping of Humanities and STEM should recall that the needed collective mental model calls “to evolve trans-disciplinary thinking that integrates the natural, social, biological sciences and arts by transcending disciplinary boundaries.” Now imagine those concepts for the Collective Mental Map coming from those who admit wanting “active management and guidance” of collective behavior using internalized mental maps and new values. I am fascinated to see so much fascination with “vaccine refusal” in a paper from people who want to ‘steward’ our behavior with no right to say no. Who want to create the Theories through which people “model the world’.

I want to close with a recent anecdote from my alma mater that it is calling the Deliberative Citizenship Initiative. It let me know about “our common humanity” and how the term Citizenship bolded just like that was NOT being used “as a narrow marker of legal status but as a source of identity we all share as human beings, a collective identity that complements our individual commitments and associations”. In other words, there is a vision being put out by educational institutions at all levels that each of us has an obligation to “transcend our existing positions as we work together to solve the deep challenges that face our society” and that this obligation is “the work of citizenship“. Italicized just like that.

If alumni of highly-ranked colleges and universities are getting these kinds of lectures unsolicited, just imagine what is occurring on campus with the young people. I mentioned FHAO above and the materials being used as part of the professional development webinars for the EAD Roadmap. This unit https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-holocaust-and-human-behavior was referenced in the webinar along with the question “What does learning about the choices people made during the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust teach us about the power and impact of our choices today?” Anyone not convinced this is not ultimately about getting at that internalized Classifier System within each student and the teachers as well should read this concluding Learning Goal that came up in connection with what is supposed to be ‘integrated history and civics’. This really is NOT about a body of knowledge being transmitted at all.

Make connections between universal themes related to democracy, citizenship, racism, and antisemitism that this history raises and the world they live in today. Understand their responsibilities as citizens of the world to make choices that help bring about a more human, just, and compassionate world.

Neuroeducation via Learning Standards to force Neuroliberalism: Such a Fruitful Site for Intervention

The original title for this post on the admissions about Psychological Governance (PG) and its declared ties to ‘standards-based’ education reforms and ‘competency frameworks’ was going to be “Shaping Citizen Identity and Social Practice so that Governance is Inside-Out, not a Building”. That gets at the function nicely and what must be, and is being, changed by law and governmental edicts as a matter of public policy. It’s also an aim that has been lied about repeatedly over the years in a most coordinated manner by people with ties to public policy think tanks and the philanthropies that fund them. I don’t think any of this is coincidental as I will explain. As I was outlining this post, however, the admissions about what neuroeducation and PG are were even more explicit than I remembered. Plus, the Hewlett Foundation, which has been heavily involved with education reforms via its Deeper Learning Initiative to prescribe the conceptual frameworks to be internalized within each students’ minds (the micro level of reforms),  moved forward in December 2020 to the needed shifts at a more macro-level in what it is calling its Economy and Society Grantmaking Initiative that seek to explicitly move beyond ‘Neoliberalism’ to get to a ‘Fairer Tomorrow’ as the our old instigator-in-chief the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences is calling it.

We are going to deal with the micro-level today, although I have tracked down, downloaded, and read all the cited macro reforms that apparently can now be put in place via higher ed and the Academy because the K-12 learning standards aligned to neural pathways are fully in place. Let’s start off with the definitions of Neuroliberalism and PG contained in the 2017 Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the mind, brain and behavior. They are essentially the Goal and the envisioned Tool of Choice.

Neoroliberalism is a vision to change the contents of people’s heads using education, cognitive restructuring and behavioural exercises…[to get to] a more inclusive and emancipatory politics. Psychological Governance are interventions targeted at the interface of conscious and non-conscious thought and action, connecting emotional response and rational deliberation…The exercise of psychological governance is a form of regulation of the social good through targeting the minds of individuals as a means of changing their behaviour…with a view to normalizing ‘an interrelated set of psycho-emotional’ attributes, dispositions, attitudes and behaviours associated with emotional regulation/intelligence/literacy, resilience, stoicism, optimism, character, hope, aspiration and community-mindedness…

I was revisiting my ISC posts from the spring of 2018 when I was working on the nexus of the think tanks and their seemingly organized deceit around education over the weekend. I came across the advocacy for instilled Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (the Reflective System!) within the mind of each student and the accompanying quote about how what air is to the lungs and blood is to the heart, experience is to the brain. I guess the author of the analogy wanted to remind readers that the brain is a physiological organ of the body with a purpose, but, in my mind, pumping blood and breathing air don’t change how the heart and lungs function. Experience, though, changes the brain at a physiological–predictable and observable–level and that universal reality of being a human being is precisely what standards-based reforms and competency frameworks have always been intended to quietly manipulate. That manipulation embodies a new vision for “an understanding, empathetic citizenship [grounded] in a ‘universal’ dimension of human experience and identity.”

That’s why john a. powell in Racing to Justice wants to hype racism in the US as a reason to target students at the level of their automatic decision-making systems. It’s why the 2020 Behavioral Insights book from MIT argues for a vision of education that recognizes “there are many environments that individuals struggle to change on their own, indicating a change in politics or policy is needed…to gain a healthy democracy and civic agency.” Sounds like just the thing Hewlett now wants to fund under its Moral Economy or Law and Political Economy Initiatives, doesn’t it? Getting back to our micro-level discussion though, that sought civic agency needs  “the use of behavioral insights can actually help build that agency.” Here’s the next paragraph on how–

At the most basic level, behavioral insights can be used to nudge people to take part in civic activities in the first place. Although this nudge may be operating on the Automatic System, the goal is to make sure that someone takes part in in an activity that engages their Reflective System [where it gets to use the instilled Fuzzy Concept Map]. Then, behavioral insights can be used to design better deliberative mechanisms. Many of these activities take place in groups, but behavioral science shows that groups are vulnerable to issues like group polarization, availability cascades, and self-censorship. We can’t just assume that good reasoning prevails in deliberative settings–but evidence-based design makes it more likely.

Both of these books insist that this nudging and the behavioral insights work is done in “full public view,” that there is no “conspiracy to govern through expert knowledge on the mind, brain and behaviour,” and that “there is no sense it was a secret cabal unleashing a programme of control of citizens around Whitehall.” None of those assertions, however, dovetail with the ties to mandated learning standards globally that quietly impose a vision with “implicit moral assumptions about the kinds of young people we ought to cultivate” by targeting their Automatic Systems through the classroom and digital learning and manipulating their Reflective Systems. When the footnotes in these books take me to the 2012 Special Feature of the journal Ecology and Society called “Nudging Evolution” that laid out how to manipulate conceptual frameworks to gain new useful belief systems to allow a reenvisioned social construction of reality, it becomes clear just how targeted both the Automatic AND Reflective visions are in this vision of education reforms.

Learning Standards, and the curricula and assessments they quietly impose, then simply become a euphemism for what author Daniel W. Bromley called “Rules to Live by”. In this vision, instead of the purpose of education being to gain an understanding of reality itself, we are to get a replacement–

a workable view of the world out there, and its meaning to us, [which] comes to fruition (is realized) as a process of convergence…this alternative approach authorizes an epistemic community to engage in a process whose very purpose is the creation of convergence. When a consensus emerges among members of that epistemic community, then this consensus might as well come to be regarded as the accepted account of that observed and apprehended reality. In other words, what is really out there is the agreed upon account presented to us by those whose job it is to study and analyze what is out there, and then report back to the rest of us.

So in this vision of the social construction of reality it is the media, the academy, and public policy think tanks who are to provide us with the agreed upon account, which we are to simply accept. No wonder I angered so many when I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then started this blog. Learning standards, in fact, prevent the ability for most students to develop “our own idiosyncratic meanings”  and they force students to come to a “shared understanding” of global challenges and observed problems. Those are necessary for social systems, including individual people, to evolve toward “a desired outcome in the future, and the preferred means by which that outcome might be brought about.” Further,

In essence, each individual must work their way through this process by continually ‘updating’ their beliefs, as new evidence emerges, in order to reach some consensus on the exact problem, plausible solutions to that problem, and the range of feasible instruments by which the solution might be achieved…Reason giving is the essential component of democratic discourse in which a gradual evolution in mental models is the point of that discourse.

In PG, and its favorite tool–learning standards–we see a phenomenon going on around us that is insufficiently understood–“the role of the state in responding to and producing particular subjectivities.” It’s every bit as intrusive if it is the local mayor and Chamber of Commerce pushing for this invisible manipulation, as it is if Congress enacts it (which it has). In actuality, all these levels and institutions coordinate around the use of neuroeducation for 21st century transformations and “the broader rubric of psychological governance as a strategy for molding the adolescent brain, behaviour, character, and resilience.” Remember all the references we keep encountering to Virtues and Aristotle, apart from all the mindfulness mandates grounded in Buddhist practices? PG recommends either turning to “ancient Western or Eastern philosophies,” such as Aristotle, to “provide philosophies for living, tools for happy, virtuous and well-regulated emotional lives.”

How ironic, huh? Let’s finish with the quotes from the title that bring this all together.

Neuroeducation is still very much an effort to make pedagogy more effective in terms of teaching competencies that are dictated by standards committees…in neuroeducation, neural pathways are the real and imagined site of relevant moral and pedagogical interventions…what makes the brain such a fruitful site of intervention is that it is located at the threshold, intimately connected as it is to the senses, between the body and its social networks and environments, and that it is plastic, changeable, malleable. The brain is a site of encounter amenable to manipulation…the objective of teaching pupils to ‘respond not react’ to stressful, emotionally charged situations has put the brain and, in particular, the prefrontal cortex as the location of ‘executive function’–as that which must be crafted in order to achieve the most positive outcomes.

See how ALL students can learn or succeed and why Equity mandates are so crucial and ubiquitous now? They all force or flow from this recrafting of the brain quite literally to supposedly force a more normative vision of the future. Let me close with a quote which followed the above and note that by writing about these aims and methods here today they are ‘unnoticed’ no more.

What goes unnoticed, however, is the difference between the brain as a real organ in people’s heads and the brain as an ethical object that motivates new practices and behaviors.

Interesting isn’t it how all the offered solutions to the hype misrepresenting the nature of the Common Core and competency frameworks turn out to envision an education remolding the brain as an ethical object? That thus “Nudge Evolution’? That this is also ultimately the solution being pushed as the solution for ‘systemic racism’?

These days nothing is a coincidence when it comes to education. It’s simply too useful a tool and the changes are mostly hard to observe, unless you know who to quote as they proclaim their intentions and methods of choice.

 

Mappae Mundi, Psychological Governance, and 21st Century Citizenship Priming

Let’s start with a quote that will help us recognize the bullseye that needs to be manipulated by education reforms tied to social and political transformations. This blog and my earlier book laid out in depth that those transformations are the undisputed goal.

To acquire knowledge we need an apparatus of concepts to classify and organize our sensory experiences–the more so as the latter become, through all kinds of measuring equipment, elaborate extensions of those experiences…Beyond our immediate sensory experiences, with or without artificial extensions, we use inferences, hypotheses, speculations, conjectures and refutations as part of our genetic and acquired configuration…It may sound trivial but: you can only see what you can see. Yet even in the realm of sensory perceptions philosophical questions may arise about the relationship between those perceptions and the associated experiences, information and knowledge. There is always a lot of filtering and selection going on, followed by complex cognitive processes which add ‘meaning’ to the perceptions–or simply ignore them.

That’s what was being manipulated that gave rise to what were misleadingly termed the reading, math, and science ‘wars’–pretending the dispute was about how to properly teach a subject. As the book Mappae Mundi put it, “human beings are able to conceive new ideas, put these new ideas into practice and transmit their innovations that come after them”. That capacity, however, is not evenly distributed among human beings and is thus not equitable. Even more crucially though, those who possess that capacity, really do not fit well into a collective. Inventors of new ideas may not simply accept the transformational “myths, maps, and models” those with political power insist that they use.

the idea of myth as a narrative account intended to make sense of the present by explaining it in terms of events and developments in the past…[This interpretation of myth] has the advantage of not drawing a sharp dividing line between ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ images of the past…The standards by which we measure the validity of our myths evolve; but this applies to our maps and models as well. Maps are a pictorial means of orientation and communication…The standards by which we measure the quality of maps depends on the purpose for which we wish to use the maps…Loosely speaking, any scheme representing associations between events may be called a model…In the process, the complex forces at work are interpreted and simplified. Even rudimentary and relatively simple models can serve important heuristic purposes by pointing to significant problems for further research…Myths, maps, and models represent three modes of discourse, that is, of thinking and communicating, which are, respectively, mainly narrative, descriptive or explanatory.

Useful to control in other words for anyone wishing transformation in the world that currently exists, but not just at the level of conscious thought. In July 1999 American Psychologist published an important article entitled “The Unbearable Automaticity of Being” that recognized a crucial aspect used by learning standards and the conceptual frameworks they mandate. School curriculum can be created to manipulate “mental processes that are put into motion by features of the environment and that operate outside of conscious awareness and guidance.” See how useful controlling Myths, Maps, and Models can be once they become embodied in the neural architecture of the brain as Habits of Mind that can be activated without any conscious thought, but still actively guiding both perception and behavior? That article quoted a 1911 insight of philosopher Alfred Whitehead we should also be aware of:

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle–they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

Controlling conceptual frameworks instilled in students at both a conscious thought and an automatic level means that when the student believes they are making their own decisions–launching a cavalry charge to use the above metaphor–they are still coordinating their life in a way designed by others. When it is unconscious, it uses what that article called “a direct and automatic route provided from the external environment to action tendencies, via perception.” Makes the requirement that student achievement now be measured by action required–‘performance standards’ as the measure of learning make more sense, doesn’t it? The student as automaton, completely unaware of how much his or her future action has been programmed into them. A useful tool for anyone with aspirations for a compliant collective and disdain for the historic Western conception of the individual.

That includes john a. powell from Racing to Justice to build on the previous post, whose interest in dreams in the book, made it crystal clear that he too wants to reconfigure K-12 and higher ed to use the psychological fact that:

Mental representations designed to perform a certain function will perform that function once activated, regardless of where the activation comes from. The representation does not ‘care’ about the source of the activation…The activated mental representation is like a button being pushed; it can be pushed by one’s finger intentionally (e.g., turning on the electric coffeemaker) or accidentally (e.g., by the cat on the countertop) or by a decision made in the past (e.g., by setting the automatic turn-on mechanism the night before). In whatever way the start button is pushed, the mechanism subsequently behaves in the same way.

Think of it as BF Skinner’s aims, but not his methods, because the values, attitudes, and beliefs–the categories of thought whether myths, maps, images, models, lenses, or frames–become the activated mental representations guiding perception and behavior. Across the political spectrum, this bullseye appears to be what everyone wants to use education to remodel and control. It’s also the source of a great deal of deceit. Much of the deceit comes from think tanks, which makes far more sense given these totalitarian aims, when we become aware of a book from 2017 called Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the Mind, Brain and Behavior. No wonder there was such an organized effort to misdirect public attention away from the documented revelations in Credentialed to Destroy, especially in the areas of how learning standards, competency frameworks, and Tranzi OBE (as defined in book) operate.

They all utilize both the manipulation of nonconscious processes, as well as when the student believes they are making their own decisions consciously. Why on earth would a think tank that quietly advocates that governments and the law promote “the widespread use of psychological governance techniques” be forthcoming about such aims? Utilise the methods of 21st century governance that rely on

the ‘two-brain model’ that succeeds in gaining policy traction precisely because it does not challenge liberal democratic assumptions of political freedom…Certain nudges are aimed at cultivating deliberation and rational responses, whilst others seek to bypass conscious awareness to achieve rational responses through irrational (heuristic) means.

That 2017 book recognised valid concerns that such psychological governance techniques could be considered by some to be overly intrusive in a free society, but rejected that contention since there was supposedly no covering up of this nudging. My point in today’s post is to reject that contention because this targeting is being made in K-12 learning standards that virtually everyone writing books and white papers on behalf of think tanks is misrepresenting. That deceit then leaves no impediment to each student’s very mind, brain and behavior becoming a means where

Key to the exercise of psychological governance in this case, therefore, is a set of technological developments that represent certain tools and techniques necessary for the practical workings of governmental power…[It allows] the political and cultural normalisation of a therapeutic behaviour change agenda. In educational settings from early years to university, numerous policy reports reflect a wide, influential consensus that an interrelated set of psycho-emotional attributes, dispositions and behaviours…can be taught, learned and transferred over time as an essential foundation for successful education and life functioning…All mainstream political parties now agree that the inner states of human subjects determine the relationship between psycho-emotional responses and behaviours in complex, non-linear ways.

Ways that are now being deliberately manipulated via education globally to create the desired citizen of tomorrow, ready for the ‘wicked problems’ of 21st century living. For our own good supposedly we are seeing a new vision of 21st century education grounded in values, attitudes, and beliefs and controlling the instilled mental representations, operating largely unconsciously where

psychology is a source of knowledge and practice with regard to policies and initiatives designed to make live: to impel people to live in particular ways, to endorse certain views of the good or responsible life, to promote and normalise ways of achieving this good life.

In the next post,  I will track this aim through particular curriculum like a 21st century conception of American Democracy grounded in a new vision of History and Civics, as well as Global Education Futures new Learning Ecosystems: An Emerging Praxis for The Future of Education.  These qualities for a governmentally mandated and psychologically instilled ‘good life,’ with its need dispositions and attributes, are ALL communitarian in their vision. They all have the effect that at least john powell laid out explicitly as the real purpose of all this attention on race–to target and then rearrange–“the meaning of the Western self, to bring us into a new relationship with the other and the self. We can and must expand the circle of human concern and attend to our structures and the work they are doing.”

Rather than quoting more from powell that ties to the next post’s specific curricula or restate his tied to both K-12 education and higher ed, let me point out he has a tag for anyone interested in previous posts. Let me close by pointing out that he covered the importance of “framing and priming” because “what we call something can be consequential, affecting the way we think and what we do in relation to our conceptualization of it.” Mandating desired categories of thought to guide our perception and thought at an unconscious level are a major target of his book Racing to Justice as a way to get to his vision of a just society laid out here in a way that will fit well into the next post.

as humans, we are living beings, inherently connected with one another and with the natural world. So although our brains develop partly through categorizing and organizing in ways that can be challenging in a diverse society, our hearts orchestrate a system hardwired to care and respond empathically to one another’s suffering and joy. We can’t allow structures–economic or political–to block or blunt these connections…To embrace our commonality…will require new selves, who are citizens in the true sense of the term: individual, interconnected, and inclusive in ways that reflect the highest aspirations of our nation and our species.

Those new aspirations, to be instilled neurally at an unconscious level, just happen to be the target of the Roadmap to American Democracy and Learning Ecosystems for the global or species level. I guess we could call this the Instilled Mental Map Trilogy.

Promulgating a Personality Manipulating System However One Regards Cries of Structural White Supremacy

The word ‘promulgate’ has several meanings per the always useful OED, but today I am using it in the sense of “to make widespread, as, promulgate learning and culture.” Lots of stories in recent days and weeks of the curricula planned beyond the links I have provided, including a Fox News story on Oregon’s Department of Education revising its learning standards, https://thefederalist.com/2021/02/08/how-socio-emotional-learning-became-another-vehicle-for-anti-white-racism-in-schools/ and https://www.dailysignal.com/2021/02/12/activists-outline-their-plan-to-push-black-lives-matter-in-classroom/ as recent examples. These are all rightfully outraged, but erroneously create the impression that there is a special place where these types of emotionally evocative curricula (to go back to the point of the previous post) can be avoided. No, not until the actual source of the contagion, and its true target, is understood.

That’s where ISC comes in as usual using my quite literally huge library of materials, which I mine to put things into perspective. The category White Supremacy is an example of an idea being used in the same twofold process first described in a Dutch book by Fred Polak from the 1950s called The Image of the Future. It won lots of European awards and fellowships for its author, including one at the inaugural program of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) in 1954-55. Polak became close friends with the same Kenneth Boulding (see tag) who would create the systems science vision of education and helped found the social science-oriented General Systems Research Group that same year with fellows at CASBS. Kenneth’s wife Elise taught herself Dutch in order to be able to translate and abridge Polak’s book into English.  That’s what I am quoting from:

Man’s attempts to push back the frontier of the unknown…can be seen as a twofold process: the development of ideas concerning the ideal future as it ought to be, and the unfolding of the real future in history, partly as a result of man’s purposeful intervention…The relationship between conceptions of the time-dimension, the future, and the idealistic ethical objectives of mankind for that future, has been a neglected one and offers a fruitful field for research.

Well, it’s no longer neglected and has been a major source for behavioral science research of the kind laid out in my book Credentialed to Destroy and now on ISC where we cover the twists and turns of a new vision of education and student learning. Neither actually seeks a return to the past or a ‘classical time.’ Rather, this new vision seeks concepts and images that:

picture a radically different world in an Other time, and they are imaginatively shaped in a way that they can be applied on behalf of mankind…The more general theory of images may be thought of as ‘eidetics’. This concept, derived from the Greek eidelon, ‘image,’ has a long history…[Not] enough emphasis [has been put] on the significance of the time-dimension in the dynamics of image formation and image propagation…attention must be given to the dynamics of image formation, both in the public and private mind, and the function of images in the economy of the individual personality and the social, national, or cultural group.

What do images mean, how are the meanings transmitted, and how do they affect individual and social behavior? Under what conditions do images change, and why? What can accelerate or retard these changes? How amenable are they to purposeful manipulation, in both the short and the long run?

The answer to the last question is quite amenable to purposeful manipulation, which is precisely how we should start seeing the New York Times’ 1619 Project or Howard Zinn’s work as well. It’s not about history as a body of knowledge, where someone is erroneously changing the facts of the past. This is actually about how education, as a social science, is a tool to where “social science is increasingly making use of these images to increase its analytic power.” That analysis is only the beginning though as this later quote recognizes. The point is to “control social processes” and redirect them to what john a. powell [see tag] described in his 2012 book Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society as the use of allegations of White Supremacy to change our categories of thinking to force “a renewed commitment by all of us to fulfill the promise of a truly democratic society.”

Before getting back to powell and his intention to use White Supremacy as a means to target and alter the unconscious mind to create his desired new kind of self and new kind of citizen, let’s quote again from Polak because powell’s techniques seem to be exploiting Polak’s insights.

The image of the future as such may be an important tool for interdisciplinary social science. The possibility that science may be able to predict and control social processes through analysis of existing images of the future, both private and public, and direct a change of these images, is a thought-provoking one… it is still not too soon to begin pondering the problems of controlled image-change. How could such a possibility be fitted into a democratic system of government?..If we pause to think what can be done with the minds of men…

And women. Boys, and girls. It has happened and is happening even more now. These aims of reconstruction are how we should view not just these White Supremacy curricula currently receiving so much attention, but also the Pandemic, the Holocaust, Reconstruction, the Charlottesville Hoax with the tiki torches, and, finally, the Insurrection at the Capitol. It’s about the Images of the Future  and their potential to incite and justify transformational change in the minds and hearts of students at all levels of society. To quote powell again from his Afterword:

Although our brains develop partly though categorizing and organizing in ways that can be challenging in a diverse society, our hearts orchestrate a system that is hardwired to care and to respond empathically to one another’s suffering and joy. We can’t allow structures–economic or political–to block or blunt these connections…To embrace our commonality in an increasingly diverse public space will require new selves, who are citizens in the truest sense of the term: individual, interconnected, and inclusive in ways that reflect the highest aspirations of our nation and our species. This is a heavy lift for all of us, and it is particularly heavy for those who continue to organize around the myth of the radically isolated individual. The alternative–a just society–requires major realignments with respect to corporations and a remaking of our institutions and ourselves. But it is a dream worth dreaming and a fight worth fighting for.

I think that Dream fits with the essence of what ‘public policy’ is always about, whatever the expressed goals of any think tank, is, which is why we keep getting cries for School Choice that actually enable the planned mechanism of change when examined closely. I think it’s why there has been so much deceit surrounding the Common Core, competency frameworks, and especially CtD’s coverage of what I nicknamed Tranzi OBE. There is a desire for this kind of change to a just society grounded in the minds and hearts of a new kind of citizen. Powell mentioned the unconscious target, but his footnote went to a 2002 book Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious . It is that adaptive unconscious, a term I had never encountered before, that I immediately recognized as the true realm of Tranzi OBE, the actual language in charters for schools and districts, mission statements for private schools now, the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks, state Portrait of a Graduate mandates, and other redirections with the same aim.

Let’s finish this Part 1 on Images of the Future, the ‘adaptive unconscious’ with its “distinctive characteristic ways of interpreting the social environment and stable motives that guide peoples behavior”, and how it can be manipulated by quoting the ‘personality mediating system’ it creates. Yes, I substituted the word ‘manipulating’ for the original term ‘mediating,, but it fits with what media actually means and does. Media, whether print, broadcast, or social platforms for dissemination, has now set itself up as the Lighthouse that gets human perception to notice and then the Interpreter that explains the to be accepted significance of what got noticed. It is no accident that the Oregon pamphlet on Equity in its new curricula intends to target the ‘lived experiences’ of the students as the area of change to supposedly end White Supremacy. It gets at what Walter Mischel in 1968 found in a review of personality research (my numbering to ease the categories):

people possess a unique set of cognitive and affective variables that determine how they react to the social world. They describe five components of this ‘personality mediating system’ that guide people’s behavior: [1] encodings (people’s construals of themselves, others, and situations); [2] expectancies about themselves and the social world; [3] affect and emotions; [4] goals and values; and [5] competencies and self-regulatory plans. In short, they argue, people have distinctive ‘if-then’ rules that determine how they respond in a particular situation; for example, ‘If I feel I’m being ignored, then I get angry and aggressive.’ [Remember] a fundamental property of the adaptive unconscious is that people have no access to the ways in which it selects, interprets, and evaluates information.

The student may not know that, but personalized learning, formative assessments, and holistic, evidence-based strategies can all ferret that out, call it personalized learning, and use curricula to instill the desired images, ethics, categories of thought, and interpretive tools to be changed. Feelings and emotions can be changed through role play. Digital learning is a particularly rich source for mining and manipulating this ‘personality mediating system.’ The system each and every student has so targeting it for change is equitable and coincidentally, conducive to the sought change to “ourselves and institutions”. The other part of the rallying cry and civil rights mandates of Equity and Excellence turns out to mean getting at students at the level of what they want, think, and feel. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/

Sounds just like a bullseye of the Adaptive Unconscious to me.

Gaslighting We the People In the Name of Well-Being to Avoid a Dictatorship of the Dead

Welcome to 2021 and if any of you have ever read a book or seen a film where Gaslighting by some villain was a tool of control, you will remember that the sanity of the person being manipulated always becomes an issue. Think of this post as a means of illuminating what may appear to be Gaslighting, but actually serves a long-term, even more insidious purpose, than making someone seem disturbed and crazed. As always I have lots of quotes. No need to speculate here.

First, I want to build on our ESS insight from the previous post by quoting from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3761438 a recent legal paper on “Rescuing Our Democracy” by changing the legal standard involving defamation. It asserted that “a basic requirement of a healthy democracy [is] the development of a set of broadly agreed-upon facts.” No, not really, but later the paper asserts again that “a functioning democracy must have a basic consensus on what is real and what is fake and the way to reach such determinations.” Clearly, the Powers-that-Be want to Control the Narrative, while insisting erroneously that accepting such narrative is the essence of a democracy. Beginning to get a headache from the gas yet? Hold on.

In early January, a link to a June 2020 paper called “Rethinking Humanity: Five Foundational Sector Disruptions, the Lifecycle of Civilizations, and the Coming Age of Freedom” came my way. It called forthrightly for:

a new Organizing System, one governed by new rules with new belief systems, conceptual frameworks, and models of thought to better explain the world, leading to new political, economic, and social systems to influence, control, and manage society.

Not the first to call for that, but the ESS aspiration, the Fake News definition that is not about veracity but an approved source, the labeling of demonstrably true statements as Disinformation, and the above insistence that democracy is about a set of broadly agreed-upon facts should all be seen as a means to impose that New Organizing System without admitting that is the true shift. Learning Standards and competency frameworks further enable this stealth shift to a New Organizing System. The Dictatorship of the Dead quote is from Harvard Prof Roberto Unger and covered in this post http://invisibleserfscollar.com/multiple-recent-proclamations-laying-out-commitment-to-revolutionary-transformation-of-our-entire-society/

Unger has been referenced recently in numerous footnotes and this July 2020 interview https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/roberto-mangabeira-ungers-alternative-progressive-vision/ makes it clear that his imagination first wholesale restructuring would be greatly aided by outrage at present conditions and his call that education has “as its primary goal the enhancement of analytic and syntheticcapabilities, rather than the mastery of information.” How to Think is a great way to substitute a New Organizing System. What better way to get new conceptual frameworks than to insist that “what matters with respect to content is less encyclopedic coverage than it is selective depth.”

We use, someone else selects. If we happen to still have Axemaker Minds with encyclopedic elements and we notice the selected concept is inapt, we are not using the New Organizing System. We must be sent outside the mainstream of thought. Accusations of Sedition, being a Conspiracy Theorist, or deplatforming to shut up should do. The Gaslighting aspect has to do with the insistence of the New Way of Thinking. It’s actually not about facts. Now we are going back to the early 90s, when the hope for a Science of Emotion was just getting underway. A book The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions came out and Richard J. Davidson was one of its two editors. Close friend of the Dalai Lama with whom he works regularly, on the Board of UNESCO’s MGIEP based out of India, author of Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation, and quietly while most of us were unwrapping Christmas presents, he coauthored “The plasticity of well-being: A training-based framework for the cultivation of human flourishing”.

That framework published by his Center for Healthy Minds in December https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/117/51/32197.full.pdf wants to get at

four dimensions of well-being: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. These dimensions are central to the subjective experience of well-being and can be strengthened through training. In this respect, they can be likened to skills, and the cultivation of well-being for a repertoire of skills. The cultivation of well-being thus involves the use of self-regulatory processes to learn, practice, and apply these skills in daily life.

A feeling of interdependence with others, a “heightened and flexible attentiveness to perceptual impressions in one’s environments,” and purpose, all being manipulated by others via provided daily educational experiences, also sounds like a good way to get to a New Organizing System. Since these dimensions all have “neurobiological underpinnings,” the New System of Thought grounded in emotion is a keeper. Last Friday, the SoLD Alliance mentioned in the last post continued its “Who Gets to Thrive?” Series with a particular emphasis on SoLD as a “Tool for Anti-Racism”. When the speaker’s specialty is Affective Neuroscience and she talks about using functional MRI on students to see what is being changed and shows pictures of brain scans, we are once again looking at neurobiological underpinnings.

Professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang spoke of addressing the notion of white supremacy and “a pivotal moment to grow our young people into the citizens they can be” by targeting each student’s “emotional feeling state that becomes the story a student uses to make meaning.”  She asserted that “meaning making is where it all begins and ends because it’s how we create our reality.” It allows the student to focus on things that don’t currently exist now and she rued the fact that “Deep Reflection and Personal Meaning Making about the Problems of the World and How they can be transcended and what causes them” is not the focus of more school curricula. Suddenly, curricula “becomes about the nature of human rights, what is good and not good and we can see in the brain how it rewires when education asks these kinds of questions.”

That does sound again like a New Organizing System, hardwired in, and my hand was flying taking notes. When I looked up, I noticed the professor seemed to have been crying in excitement at the type of future world this kind of equitable curriculum would enable. She did note that these kind of practices and imagination grounded in feeling experiences did not change with varying socio-economic levels, immigration status, gender, or other characteristics of students. See where a civil rights mandate of Equity and Excellence really takes us? The webinar moderator, Karen Pittman, then lamented that the zoom webinar had no ability for everyone in the audience to stand and applaud as they would be in-person.

Pittman did later ask MHI-L about how to best get at Meaning Making and the response was that a student’s Identity and Cultural History affect the Brain more than Genes. It becomes epigenetically turned on by the experiences provided, especially once students are made aware of “How can I grow myself to be adaptive to what is needed?” It turns out that Karen Pittman is the co-author of a new book that was the subject of this article https://www.gettingsmart.com/2021/01/a-new-vision-for-a-new-administration-whole-child-development-learning-and-thriving/ that came out on the same day as the above webinar. It also explains why she brought up psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner and his Ecological Systems Thinking and other spheres of influence beyond just the mind, school, and family.

Urie was an exchange student working in the Soviet Union in the 60s so the Theories of Mind involved with pushing Dynamic Systems Thinking go beyond my ability to recover them in this post. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ is that old post. Two more quick points that I can see the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative is financing the research that created that book that came out of the SoLD Alliance. It is especially interested in ACTUAL student’s trajectories of change and what experiences caused them in something called MMDC–Measures and Methods Across the Developmental Continuum. Information based on group averages might not reflect an real human being and what can change them.

Secondly I found this related paper https://forumfyi.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Thriving.Equity.Learning.Report.pdf that also tied to the upcoming book and its desired neurobiological change grounded in a student’s inner characteristics and how they can be altered to cause them to act as desired on existing external conditions.Now we can come back to the 1994 book The Nature of Emotion because it fits with the curricula I saw created in advance before Charlottesville, the Racial Equity curricula capitalizing on the furor surrounding George Floyd’s death, and now the curricula and common narratives created for the so-called ‘Insurrection at the Capitol’. Those links can all be found in the comments on the previous post, this summer’s posts, and back in August 2017. Let’s look at these stated aspirations as looking for a New Organizing System.

Davidson and his co-editor noted that there is a physiological difference in the brain between information processing and “evaluation of events that provoke an emotion.” They further noted that “emotion involves a subjective experience, a feeling state” and that “emotion is not a peripheral phenomenon but involves the organism totally. Emotional experience shapes and reflects individual personality development.” Some of its undisputed functions back in 1994 were that “1.Emotions have motivational properties…; 2. Emotions organize behavioral and physiological patterns to deal with emotion-evoking events, interrupting less important ongoing events…”

I think all these curricula have been designed to get at what is known about the brain, how to alter its neurobiological underpinnings, the role of Image in dynamic systems theories, and what emotion-evoking events can do to help create a New Organizing System. As part of a CASEL Cares webinar on “Discussions about Teaching and Learning that will Last Beyond the Pandemic,” also held on January 22, the teachers were asked about the lessons they used “to help students process the events of January 6.” The teachers discussed how scary those events had been for both themselves and their students and how the students had to “have accurate facts about the events”. The students could then process their feelings by journaling or class discussion.

Since there is a dispute among reasonable people as to what happened, when, and why, the fact that students are not allowed that knowledge was interesting. Must be because the feelings created by an emotion-evoking event are the primary area to be cultivated. A featured teacher mentioned they got their lessons and the facts from Newsela. Of course I looked it up and the partners include most major print media plus Al Jazeera as well as entities like the Zinn Education Project  and the SEL program Facing History and Ourselves. The latter two repeatedly state that their purpose is to reimagine the events of the past in order to affect how students feel about the present and the future.

We need to remember now that both education and journalism are branches of social science and as Jean-Francois Revel noted in The Flight From Truth :

In the social sciences it is what people want to see proved that becomes the main criterion of the ‘truth’…In the approximative sciences verification and refutation can be indefinitely delayed and contested. Not so in the exact sciences.

Now where exactly do emotionally laden Guiding Fictions created by prescribed subjective experiences that rewire the brain at a biological level to affect a student’s meaning making and view of reality going forward fit into this apt dichotomy between the social and hard sciences?

It’s going to be an interesting 2021 with these admitted aspirations and their ancestry, isn’t it?

Epistemically Secure Society–Phraseology to Explain this Coming Decade of Plans for Us

Since Epistemically Secure Society is rather a mouthful, let’s shorthand this useful phrase as ESS. It’s an important semantic tool to grasp though as it builds on the Shared Reality aspiration we covered in the last post, as well as the rather remarkable set of events set in motion around the US Presidential election. The type of demonstrably provable factual events media platforms will no longer allow to be mentioned or disseminated. The type of assertions, that despite sets of affidavits, may get a lawyer sanctioned now if they push the stories in Michigan. They may be true, but they deviate from the desired narrative of events and thus threaten the ESS. It fits too with how learning standards work and their component conceptual frameworks that now constitute Knowledge with a capital ‘K’. These approved concepts or theories that the standards both disseminate and mandate act as a common core of perception and motivation for future decision-making. The officially approved set of filters installed at a neural level is another way to put it.

The ESS phrase was laid out in a document called “Tackling Misinformation During Crisis” which stated this in October

The current COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying ‘infodemic’ clearly illustrate that access to reliable information is crucial to coordinating a timely crisis response in democratic societies. Inaccurate information and the muzzling of important information sources have degraded trust in health authorities and slowed public response to the crisis. Misinformation about ineffective cures, the origins and malicious spread of COVID-19, unverified treatment discoveries, and the efficacy of face coverings have increased the difficulty of coordinating a unified public response during the crisis.

In a  recent report researchers at the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) workshopped an array of hypothetical crisis scenarios to investigate social and technological factors that interfere with well-informed decision-making and timely collective action in democratic societies.

The UK’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence put that out October 21, and a newsletter in the US tied to global change aspirations linked to it in mid-November, after the election. I was struck when I read it how well the expressed aspiration fit with everything I was hearing in the name of Equity in the US and the Science of Learning and Development being led by Biden Education Advisor Linda Darling-Hammond. It fits with an interview I watched before Christmas with the same NCEE that created the New Standards Project where the name David Albury came up. I tracked that new name to a 2016 Australian document called “Innovating for Global Excellence,” which matter-of-factly informed readers that China too had embarked on an ideas-oriented transformation of its educational system. A little research confirmed that shift.

When a well-known dictatorship wanting to be the world’s dominant power thinks an ‘ideas’ curriculum reform is also compatible with its plans, the potential embodied in ESS certainly comes into perspective. It fits with how the media in the US seemed to coordinate to keep out any bad news about one candidate prior to the election, while refusing to cover even documented election fraud. As the Leverhulme paper put it: “If there is no shared belief among the actors in  a community about the nature of a crisis or the efficacy of a proposed response, collective action is less likely to come.”

And it turns out collective action and its need for a common core of a widespread shared belief among the actors is what ESS is all about. Since we are all living in the midst of this, I thought the phrase would be a helpful arrow in our quiver of recognizing what we are dealing with and all these plans for transformation over this next decade. Many of us with 20-something graduates will recognize that the expressed “need for robust and reliable systems of information production and dissemination” is already being met by elite higher ed institutions and the media and tech platforms are merely following suit. The Leverhulme paper may have premised the need for an ESS “in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming 2020 elections,” but it also recognized it as the “solution to managing infodemics” which require a coordinated effort to control what information is produced, disseminated, and how it is UNDERSTOOD by individual minds:

the promotion of epistemically secure democracies will help us be more resilient to similar events in the future.

Methinks in an ESS, there will be no inconvenient assertions about fentanyl overdoses when a horrible video emerges that can become a totem for allegations of systemic racism meriting the wholesale transformation of society, its component minds, institutions, and prevailing normative values. Another paper I located in a footnote to that Science of Development and Learning openly called for a New Sociology of Education that would enable a TPS–a Totally Pedagogized Society. No wonder the Chinese are on board and digital learning experiences are now becoming ubiquitous. The TPS and the ESS go together nicely like interlocking gears turning something much bigger. No need to point out that the TPS analogy for what is needed now compared it to “the medieval period during which Religion played a totally pedagogising role and function.”

Awareness of TPS and ESS as openly expressed global aspirations help us understand what is going on around us and what is ahead of us in a way that clearly deviates from the hoped-for widespread shared belief system. Let’s stick though to the facts as long as we can. I joke about my bookshelf, but I did go looking there yesterday for insights after I decided these unequivocal concepts actually helped me grasp what otherwise seems to live more like bad science fiction than the reality that 2020 has been. I landed first on Richard Falk’s 1975 book A Study of Future Worlds from the World Order Models Project that the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations funded that I have covered previously here at ISC [see tag]. Its Prospectus for Transition seemed to be precisely what Donald Trump’s surprise Presidential election in the US in 2016 or the earlier Brexit referendum shock from that same year seem to have interrupted. See if this sounds familiar if a bit off schedule:

In terms of political action we anticipate t1, the 1970s, to be the decade in which value changes occur mainly on the level of political consciousness, i.e., orientations toward action. In t2, the 1980s, the main value changes will involve mobilization for action to achieve the new value priorities, while in t3, the 1990s, the focus will be on action to achieve transformation of institutions and organizations, both to alter value and goal priorities and to adapt organizational forms to the emerging value consensus.

Just because the timing is off, doesn’t mean the plans changed. Unlike the bolding in this post, those italics were in the original Proposal for Transition. I think Professor Falk and WOMP’s funders were a bit optimistic in how much it would take to change minds. That is probably why both sources of funds began to push educational reforms around conceptual frameworks beginning in 1980. Now we also get Competencies and Performance learning standards that fit right in with Mobilization for Action. Beyond Falk’s plans though, I also pulled Kenneth Minogue’s always excellent book The Servile Mind. His insight of what had changed in our conception of society really hits its mark in 2020, ten years after its publication.

…our very conception of society has changed. It is no longer an association of independent self-moving individuals, but rather an association of vulnerable people whose needs and sufferings must be remedied by the power of the state.

A few pages later in the book’s Introduction Minogue pointed out that

At the heart of Western life as we inherited it within living memory are self-conscious individuals guiding their destinies according to whatever moral sentiments they entertain…this moral idiom is being challenged by another, in which individuals find their identifying essence in supporting public policies that are both morally obligatory and politically imperative.

That’s the essence of learning standards properly understood all over the globe and the ESS and TPS they are to lead to in the 21st century. It is also the reason, I believe, that the False Narrative around education reforms, especially the Common Core, that commenced in earnest in 2011 in a most coordinated manner, keeps tying back to certain public policy think tanks. We will cover that more in 2021 so we can ‘be alert to the semantics’ as Minogue put it in this quote. Seems like an excellent way to finish this post and this troublesome year designed to resurrect the desired Transition and Transformation from unexpected electoral interferences.

I for one am not dismayed that attitudes have a life of their own, and that the demos in the twenty-first century is not entirely plastic material suitable to be sculpted by rulers. Rulers may get excited about ‘changing the culture,’ but modern peoples are usually brutish enough to resist being improved. Being alert to the semantics by which the moral has been transposed into the manipulable is one protection against a gullible acquiescence to the projects of government.

ESS and TPS, election fraud with no legal remedy, allegations of systemic racism with no regard to the facts, mask mandates regardless of whether they work, and lockdowns whatever the economic destruction and lack of efficacy–just a few of 2020’s Projects of Government.

See you in 2021 so we can stay alert to the semantics and try to avoid the mental and socio-emotional sculpting.

 

Shared Reality is Essential but Not Enough. Shared Values Must Also be Instilled to Get Collective Action Globally

After the last post insisting we must all shift to new mental models, the drumbeat of the need to “create a shared reality” as this article laid out https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/09/invention-opportunity-shared-reality/ explicitly, which was then reenforced by what the Chinese government is calling its Beijing Principles on Artificial Intelligence for Children, has been exceptionally acute. In either vision, AI in education using the kind of LMS we have covered, and the Chinese have been investing in, will be used to “help guide children to form sound and scientific values” as the English translation stated. Given the source, it is especially hard not to remember that ‘scientific values’ sounds a lot like Uncle Karl’s assertion that a ‘moral revolution’ wiithin each individual, or at least the vast majority of present and future citizens, would be necessary for his vision that clearly lies at the core of the “Thriving Together” vision we covered in the last post–the Human Development Society as he called it. Science means social science in other words.

As this previous post in the same series as the one above put it https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/09/15-invention-opportunities-in-learning/ –“AI is quickly being incorporated into every aspect of learning and systems that support learners–with the opportunity to extend access to powerful learning.” AI thus is a key component of the “visual and logic tools for building a shared reality” which it asserts is essential in order to “invent for equity” and “offer every person on earth access to high-quality learning.” Since that term was also discussed in the Beijing Principles, let’s quote them since we have a common core of common language now being used around the world:

Quality education

The development of AI should help provide more inclusive, fairer, and quality education for children. The development of AI should help protect children’s right to education, help provide children with scientific, high-quality, and ethical educations, help children fully develop their personalities, talents, and abilities, and help avoid dangerous, coercive, unhealthy, and immoral educations.

This link, which came out October 8, is also using much of the same language and conceptions https://education-reimagined.org/next-level-transformation-inventing-community-based-learner-centered-ecosystems/ as the Beijing Principles in its vision of “an education system that provides every single child access to what they need to thrive.” I would argue that “help stimulate children’s potential” is a suitable euphemism for what we are encountering as a prerequisite to ‘thrive’. It also fits with what in the US is now being asserted as “essential for our democracy” https://www.facinghistory.org/educator-resources/current-events/where-do-we-get-our-news-and-why-does-it-matter with its questions: “What effect does the way we all consume news and media have on our society? On our ability to live up to the ideals of democracy?” for each student as part of its Election and Polarization curricula.

A shared reality certainly would cut down on Polarization, wouldn’t it? That’s precisely what the first article laid out in detail

The fundamental problem is one of communication, “The problem of persuasion, the problem of getting people to agree on a shared consensus view of reality, and to acknowledge basic facts and to have their probability assessments of various outcomes to converge through honest conversation,” explained neuroscientist and author Sam Harris

The interrelated problems we face don’t have simple solutions and their early data sets haven’t yielded conclusive answers. Nonetheless, it’s hard to make progress without starting with a common fact base and a shared sense of reality.

Shared reality is the necessary first step of leadership whether that’s a school, a company, or a country. Shared reality starts with the facts but because those are open to interpretation, the shared reality is most likely to emerge within the identity of membership– citizenship of a city or stakeholder of a school system. You’ve got to invite people into a system to have a shot at a shared reality.

Seriously, if I got a quarter for every time that article used the phrase ‘shared reality’, I could have an excellent lunch. Let’s keep looking at why that shared reality and shared values are so crucial that we must  be coerced by the media, tech companies, and all our educational institutions at every level in to migrating to one. As this final link puts it “Mental models underpin systems” and our man-made systems are all targeted for transformation in the 21st century so we can all THRIVE! https://education-reimagined.org/looking-beneath-the-surface-systems-thinking-on-the-journey-toward-transformation/ makes it clear that this means targeting the “values and beliefs that influence how people understand and act in the world.They come from lived experiences.” So if AI gets used to manipulate those ‘lived experiences’ to gain desired internalized changes in students via virtual reality delivered through an LMS, or Project-Based Learning with certain stipulated goals to reach a consensus within the group, we get to alter mental models, with few parents much the wiser on the nature of the shift.

As that final link also asserts, “we all have mental models [that] affect our beliefs, our actions, and our systems’ behavior [so] we can no longer allow those mental models to remain hidden.” Or more crucially, and this is why Tranzi OBE, as described in my book Credentialed to Destroy, remains ubiquitous with only new euphemisms for it changing. The mental models CANNOT remain hidden because our mental models CANNOT remain UNCHANGED.

Shared Reality as an Invention Opportunity

Access to quality learning for the (soon to be) 8 billion of us depends on inventing combinations of new tools and agreements that will expand access to powerful learning and lives of opportunity.

Our list of invention opportunities starts in an unlikely place–a shared set of facts and ways to interpret those shared facts that will enable communities (and countries) to move forward together. Creating a shared reality–a common situational awareness that enables collective action–requires shared facts, shared values, and shared models.

1. Shared Facts. Shared reality tools will, in some ways, be the opposite of current versions of social media which have crafted self-reinforcing information gullies and propagated difference and viral hate…

2. Shared Values. Humans interrupt facts through complicated values-based filters that are shaped by groups we associate with. This tribal psychology motivates how we behave to fit in with our peers.

“At times, since belonging goals are so vital to our survival, we value signaling that we are good members of our tribes much more than we value being correct, and in those circumstances, we will choose to be wrong — if signaling we believe wrong things seems like it will keep us in good standing with our peers,” said David McRaney about why some people don’t wear masks in a pandemic.

As a result of these thick and influential group memberships, just laying out the facts isn’t enough to create a shared reality. It requires involvement and enrollment in shared values.

Journalist Jad Abumrad realized that “hammering at a scientific truth when someone has suffered, that wasn’t going to heal anything.” He began thinking of his job as leading “people to moments of struggle because the truth is no longer just a set of facts to be captured. It’s become a process. It’s gone from being a noun to being a verb. Increasingly in this confusing world, we need to be the bridge between those differences…

These education examples suggest that facilitating shared values are key to doing important sustained collective work. However, as a verb, values dynamic, integrated, and sustained.

3. Shared Models. Three days before landfall, the National Weather Service predicted the time and the location Hurricane Laura would hit the Louisiana coast (see featured image). Scientists at the National Hurricane Center blend information from a half a dozen computer models to achieve super-accurate forecasts. These models save lives and reduce property damage by driving collective action.

Shared realities will be based, in part, on the collective adoption of predictive models.

“Collective adoption of predictive models” like those Climate Change models that never come true or the outlandish predictions of Covid mortality from the Imperial College of London that became the basis for the emergency lockdowns all over the world back in March. We can see the rationale for all the mind arson documented by this blog since I started writing if we must all accept a consensus view of reality because:

It turns out it’s hard to facilitate a shared reality–but it looks more important than ever for moving forward together for communities and countries. A shared sense of what’s happening and what that means is critical for collective action.

There’s that collective action obligation for us again, which then gets followed up by a call for “the invention of new trusted curated sources of truth.” We will talk about that in the next post because using false assertions of Disinformation turns out to be an attempt to get precisely that in place. We can think of calls for a shared reality and values with new mental models as the resculpting of the interior receiver of information within each person. Disinformation seems to be about squelching forbidden information that escaped into the public domain without authorization. It must not be widely read or listened to lest it imperil the desired transformations and willingness to engage in the desired collective actions.

Or help elect any politicians not on board with this agenda for the reimagined role of communication in the 21st century.

 

We Must Reframe Americans’ Mental Models toward Shared Fate and Equal Opportunity to Drive Well-Being

Our LMS from the last post will be useful for that, won’t it? Let’s get to several quotes before I get to the document called “Thriving Together: A Springboard for Equitable Recovery and Resilience in Communities Across America” that so many of the education visions of transformation actually tie to. The first comes from https://www.facinghistory.org/chunk/student-activities-assessing-strength-democracy recently tied to the subject of one of this summer’s extravaganza funerals, where attendees need not worry about crowd limitations or quarantine orders between states, is quoted in a way that is guaranteed to shift the students’ mental models of what ‘democracy’ means. Here is the offered quote from a posthumously published editorial in the New York Times by “civil rights leader John Lewis”. The Times is one of the listed partners in the “Thriving Together” agenda.

Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Students are then asked to reflect as follows:

What do you think John Lewis meant when he said democracy is an act not a state?

How do you think John Lewis’s definition of democracy is similar to or different than the one you created on your concept map?

According to John Lewis, each generation is responsible for taking action to support democracy. What actions do you think people in your own generation are taking to create “a nation and world society at peace with itself?”

And just like that a revolutionary theory, that John Lewis himself would have tied to Bayard Rustin [see tags from where we have had related past posts] gets operationalized in classrooms and LMS activities to internalize the new desired mental models. Let’s go with the next quote from the cover of “Thriving Together” from Amanda Gorman, listed there as the US Youth Poet Laureate 2020 (emphasis in original):

The Miracle of Morning

From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.

We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind

Are also the moments that make us humans kind;

Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;

Heeding the light before the fight is over.

When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing

In testing times, we became the best of beings.

One of the themes of all the reenvisoning of education in light of covid and supposed ‘systemic racism’ is this call for education to support Becoming straight out of Humanist Psychology’s launch in the early 60s. It’s back by name [see links to Maslow and Rogers from past] and the education vision ties to this broader social, economic, and political transformation that is far worse than what I first recognized in Credentialed to Destroy. No wonder Tranzi OBE never goes away by function. It just gets new names or incorporated in a school’s charter or mission statement. “Thriving Together” also has a new vision of what Democracy means that is also getting quietly incorporated into new civics activities.

Thriving and well-being for all in the long-term of 10 years and beyond. Transformation to an equitable society where everyone thrives is the goal and is the moral imperative to aspire to. ..Our systems writ large do not work for low-income Americans. ..The democratization of power so that there is a shift to community and local governance models where government resources are provided to local communities who are responsible for making decisions about how to improve their conditions is a key element in successfully financing well-being…This shift will reinvigorate our democracy and help financing of well-being goals. It will create a different social contract between citizens and government that engages citizens in improving their communities [gives a new meaning to learning standards to be ‘citizenship ready’], versus the primacy of individualized pursuits of wealth and prosperity. Social contracts are rooted in reciprocity and mutually beneficial relationships that over time sew bonds and relationships of trust that transcend self-interest and are critical for achieving well-being and for surviving over the long term as a unified prosperous nation and human experiment in freedom and justice.

That last puts a new spin on what is meant by the phrase We the People as a curriculum in the 21st century doesn’t it? We will come back to that in future posts but if you are an eager beaver, track down Professor Danielle Allen’s Education and Equality. Regardless, all these visions where education is now seen as the tool to transform the meta-systems of Capitalism, Racism, and the nature of Democracy state outright, in a reelaboration of our title that (my bolding):

We must pursue comprehensive, long term attitude and mindset shift initiatives to reframe Americans’ mental models toward shared fate and equal opportunity. As a nation, if we understand our shared fate, we will be much more motivated to create an equitable society, not only for the moral imperative, but because it is also in the self-interest of the population as a whole. This is the central argument of our transformational work.

To get at the meta-systems requires “shifts in mindset, beliefs, and values”, which is exactly what education generally, but especially the LMS, is designed to do. It allows for the desired experiences to foster epigenetic change at a neurobiological level to be reliably delivered and then outcomes, improvement, and overall student transformation can be measured. In fact, although we have only covered LMS’s as they pertain to desired changes to student and how to best create them, “Thriving Together” see LMS as a much broader tool for overall systems change.

We recommend choosing, measuring, and tracking process and outcome measures over time that are inclusive of all collaborating sectors to create a ‘learning management system’ that uses harmonized data [subject to a standard like the Common Core and CEDS and ISCED via ISO] shared transparently [interoperability and Project Unicorn] to work together to achieve a common goal of creating an equitable, thriving community. This learning management system can inform the journey towards a thriving community…

Attitudes must shift after all if you are teaching students that “Democracies function effectively with all citizens contributing to the whole and a service mentality.” Put that kind of a statement of prescribed collectivism in a textbook and parents will notice and object. Design learning activities, either in person or online, around creating that very mindset and it is hard to notice until the mindset is in place and your student is spouting theories of how the world should work at the family dinner table, leaving parents rather mystified as to what happened, where it is going, and how.

Well, not if they read ISC or have my book, and we are going to cover this more in the future now that I hopefully will have more of a chance to describe all these confessions that have popped out this summer from all over the globe. I have them documented and know how this all fits. Let’s close though with a quote from the Harvard Redesign Lab at their Graduate Ed School from the “Thriving Together:” section titled “Lifelong Learning: Cradle to Career” as it laid out the ways that the school closings “can be harnessed to shift paradigms”.

We must shatter the myth that our current K-12 education system is the great equalizer, single-handedly creating an equal opportunity society in spite of unprecedented inequality in income and wealth. It’s a noble ideal, but the data over more than a century clearly prove that schools alone, even when substantially reformed, are too weak an intervention to deliver on the promise of giving all children a fair chance to succeed. It’s a myth. Now, we must move from an old-fashioned, schoolhouse-bound model of child development and education to a system of robust, flexible learning opportunities coupled with basic supports available from birth through adulthood.

See you next time, since disclosure is the only way to have any chance of avoiding this vision of collectivism imposed almost invisibly through the mind and personality of students. Luckily for us, it’s not actually invisible and the policy creators have been most communicative, even if they only intended to be speaking to fellow travellers.

Let’s just say I hitchhiked a ride and peered into lots of reports pertinent to the US, but never mentioned to or linked here.

Education as a Form of Brain Surgery Means We Better All Appreciate the Function of an LMS

Gone for a while and here I show back up with a new acronym. An LMS is a Learning Management System. It provides the learning experiences, prescribes the activities, and collects tremendous amounts of data generated by online experiences about the student so that who the student is at a fundamental level–‘desired character traits’ was the term one LMS used–can be restructured at a neurobiological level. Hope that explicit explanation does not make anyone wish I had stayed gone. In fact, between personal issues this summer I have spent a great deal of time on webinars laying out precisely how LMS’s work. The so-called global pandemic has essentially made them mandatory in districts not already using them since, even in districts with in-school classes, the risk of sudden flareups has forced almost everyone into at least a hybrid model if not purely distance learning.

How’s this for a relevant quote for these times? The discussion was about the ability of the constructed virtual reality experiences an LMS can provide to illustrate how ‘models’ work. The example given in a book published back in 2017 by MIT Press went like this:

models are often used to develop predictions, test predictions, and explore relationships among variables. We use the content area of global pandemics to address different ways that models can facilitate decision making. For example, students work with a simulation model to test predictions about whether disease containment (e.g., quarantine, minimizing potential disease transmission on public transit) or prevention (e.g., vaccination) would more effectively stem a global pandemic.

That particular book was about an LMS being used by a university, but it has since expanded into K-12 https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/07/new-standards-of-quality-minerva-baccalaureate-and-debt-free-college/ and the location of its use does not alter the planned physical and emotional alteration of students. So feel free to substitute any school using an LMS in the following quote instead of the referenced ‘universities’. Function matters, not the location of the manipulation.

…in order to develop the mind, universities must provide a structured approach. One could think of education as a form of brain surgery: education effectively changes the structure and function of the brain. And, as with other forms of surgery, there must be a clear plan of action before the education operation begins. [See why the prescribed Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profile matters?] It is not acceptable to start an operation and only then start thinking about what the next step should be. When universities perform this ‘brain surgery’ and try to grow the capability and capacity of the mind, they should not do so in a haphazard way. They should have a plan of action [maybe a Common Core of Learning tied to standardized goals each student is to demonstrate?]. And therefore the structure of the educational path, commonly known as the curriculum, is important.

The LMS is what is providing that curriculum in either Hybrid or Distance Learning. Even physical experiences get uploaded via a rubric to the LMS so it begins to have a picture of each student that functions like ‘Google Maps,’ as one summer webinar laid it out, for the desired Knowledge, Skills, and Personal Characteristics (Attributes or Dispositions are the usual terms used). Let’s abbreviate that as a useful KSA and the LMS acts like many people’s phone prescribing what a student needs to change and how given where they are now in their KSA vs. the desired destination. Skills is self-explanatory since it involves actions and behavior but our ‘K’ is something too few appreciate since it has quietly shifted to something known as ‘practical knowledge’.

We believe the basic task of a liberal arts education [feel free to substitute Classical Education such as the Barney Initiative in K-12] is to provide citizens with a set of intellectual tools that is applicable across a wide range of situations–and that therefore serves as practical knowledge. Practical knowledge, as we use the term, is knowledge that one can use to adapt to a changing world, helping one to achieve one’s goals…[Knowledge] becomes a set of habits of mind and foundational concepts… [that] everyone ought to use–something akin to a basic cognitive operating system.

Two of the terms being used to deal with a new vision of education being pushed in either the name of Covid     https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/restarting-reinventing-school-covid-report or systemic racism, or both  https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/brooklyn-laboratory-charter-schools-partners-release-guidebook-on-cultivating-learner-identity-and-agency-to-better-equip-students-to-deal-with-covid-19-this-fall-301117433.html has been Identity and Agency. It also fits with what is called Culturally Relevant Teaching in other summer webinars. It’s omnipresent as the remedy in other words with a variety of justifications. LMS’s are good at cultivating both of these as well since they can use the insights from “new technologies that afforded insight into how the mind functions and the brain reacts to the signals it receives from different modes of communication and different media.”

In fact, “because of their immersive narratives, video games have the potential to play an important role in communication and persuasion for socially beneficial purposes.” The LMS facilitates the creation of a shared understanding because it can be set so that it “requires developing a dialogue with previously unexamined layers of the self and one’s relationship to the world. This [manipulated] interior dialogue and self-examination are [supposedly] the first step to good communication.” Students can learn to use the models and simulations available in the LMS to study “how to change the behavior of groups and individuals” and move on to “some of the most pressing social and political challenges facing the world today.” These activities and experiences create an embedded reality “where students come to see themselves not as mere cogs in the complex systems in which they exist but rather as agents whose behavior and initiative have the power to change these systems, potentially in far-reaching and beneficial ways.”

Let’s pivot just a second away from what the LMS is facilitating to just how very useful it is. Last week, “The Anti-Racist Discussion Guide” came out for higher ed. Now just imagine the use of a higher ed LMS if this is the ultimate goal of the change in the nature of what will now constitute an education.

What we are exposed to shapes our worldviews. And in very real ways, our worldviews shape the world, through our perspectives, our words, and our actions. Because of this educators, have a unique responsibility to play an active role in helping students become aware of their role within larger societal and global systems, and to help students build the critical questioning skills and confidence necessary to create change in these systems.

What underpins an ‘anti-racist’ teaching method–or critical pedagogy–is the desire to help students question and understand the systems and structures of power which exist in our society, both implicit and explicit, and actively critique and dismantle them to create a society that maximizes the happiness, success, and freedom of all of its citizens.

Long time readers will recognize that last line as Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society, which again fits with numerous webinars from this summer, especially some quotes from both PolicyLink’s Angela Glover Blackwell, as well as Beloved Community. It also fits with the Happiness Curriculum being pushed globally. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Development-of-student-and-teacher-measures-of-HC-factors-FINAL-081920.pdf is from a Center that ties to UNESCO for anyone not familiar with their work.

In the Bibliography of that last paper was one published in frontiers in Human Neuroscience that also takes us back to the title of this post. “Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness” will be fascinating to anyone concerned about mindfulness mandates imposed on their local schools. The practices that go hand in hand with what constitutes education to promote Agency and Identity though also trigger those same neurobiological mechanisms if you actually read the paper along with what is laid out in the papers I have linked to (which are only the tip of the iceberg of what is out there from just this summer).

That’s right. These shifts laid out as remedies to COVID and Systemic Racism literally are designed to both alter the human nervous system, including the brain, as well as finally embody, in the most literal way, the qualities John Dewey laid out as necessary for a citizen in the reimagined democracy of the future. He does get mentioned a lot again in case anyone wants to go back and reread Chapter One of my book Credentialed to Destroy. He would be so excited about the potential of an LMS, as would the Communists who used their then precious resources just after the Russian Revolution to translate Dewey’s work.

It’s all coming together now in earnest. Best to understand now or we will all be targeted by the Revolution at the Level of our Minds–the ultimate microsystem.