Parrhesia, Bill Ayers, Reinventing Schools for Meaning-Making, and Rewiring Teens’ Brains

Does that title seem a bit like a Jeopardy Question that starts with an unusual word and then leads to a notorious name for click bait? I wish, but Parrhesia is a Greek word that was in the last post’s paper on how John Dewey’s Ethics of Moral Principles and Deliberation were to be incorporated per IEEE Standards (no one was to tell us about) into the ‘adaptive instructional systems’ being touted as the answer for the Pandemic’s need to social distance. Until a Vaccine!! The systems of ethical deliberation becomes a component via required practices adaptive instructional systems incorporate into supplied student experiences. These are to “allow participants to safely engage in parrhesia.” No mention of “Guilty as *, Free as a Bird” Ayers yet, as the definition is a democratic mode of being, that is “an ancient Greek concept…[of] telling truth as one sees it with honesty and integrity…parrhesia qualities include engaging in dialogue, questioning, having a passion for public affairs and human equality. Parrhesia requires intellectual courage and risk-taking in truth telling and pursuits of inquiry.”

Ok, then the footnote goes to a paper by Kerry Burch on “Parrhesia as a Principle of Democratic Pedagogy” helpfully placed on US education websites with the heading “Social Justice: A Language Re/Considered”, which seems to be something we should know about before assuming digital learning is the answer to all our problems. It starts with quotes from Cornel West (whose self-professed ties to the Marxist Humanist vision we have covered here at ISC) and Paulo Freire, whose name is associated with rejecting the so-called Banking Theory of Education. Bill shows up later in the paper, but not by his nickname or standing on a flag in a New York Times article published just before 9/11/2001. No, here’s the passage:

Few educational thinkers describe the kind of democratic personality traits [Dispositions or Attributes of cybernetic citizenship or Character Education?] that need to be cultivated today as elegantly as William Ayers. These traits cannot easily be brought about by relying on the mechanistic knowledge ordained in conventional approaches to ‘learning’ about ”democracy’. Ayers’ charts a different course: ‘We want to teach them to take initiative, to be creative, to be imaginative, to take risks, to question authority, to wonder about the world. This means fundamentally, in a school system based on democratic values, we really believe that the full development of all is a condition for the full development of each.’

Ayers said that and the footnote goes to a Winter 2009 published interview, but Ayers is in turn quoting from Uncle Karl and his Human Development Society vision of the premise for his little ‘c’ communism ideal. No wonder the Chinese and the UN love this vision of cybernetic citizenship, but what a mandate for ‘adaptive instructional systems’ to be cultivating in students to prepare them for parrheistic modes of being. Sounds a bit like the call for an Arational mind that we have discovered lies at the foundation of what is really student proficiency in a competency-based system. When we think of ‘adaptive instructional systems” for K-12, who thinks it is something that would please Bill Ayers and fulfill Uncle Karl’s plans? Who will be looking for “how the buoyant sociality of parrhesia would promote the creation of critically awake democratic personalities”?

Another paper I located called “The Ethics of Critical Inquiry: Educational Research Informed by Parrhesia” attributed this push to notorious French philosopher Michel Foucault, who in turn talked about Aristotle. Which one gets cited later for a similar vision with differing sales pitches and rhetoric does not seem to be about any disagreement on what is being sought through education. Instead, I believe, the different approaches stem from which name the audience, including people being solicited for donations, are likely to revere. Parrhesia here is an attempt to “contribute to social good and bring about positive change” by fostering educational practices that will create “an ethos of disrupting human subjectivities from within”. That sounds a bit disruptive to the student’s personality, doesn’t it? The

early meaning was to open one’s heart and mind completely to other people through his or her discourse…Parrhesia … became associated with transforming the soul of an individual. Most importantly the concept developed political dimensions indispensable to democracy. Parrhesia meant to engage socially and politically as a consequence of integrity of the heart. It required one to courageously say truthful things that are useful for all to hear…It’s not a ‘body of knowledge’ but a ‘body pf practices’ without reference to an external order…It allows for mediation between the ethos of an individual and the well-being of society. In short, it is through parrhesia that an individual constitutes him/herself as a moral subject in relation to others.

Just the thing if a moral revolution is sought at the level of the human mind, heart, and soul as Uncle Karl envisioned. If you don’t want resistance create a need for digital learning because of something like a Pandemic and then mandate ‘parrheistic practices’ into the programming the learning experiences provided by ‘adaptive instructional systems’ offer up. Now before we turn to the latter part of this post’s title I want to link to this article https://behavioralscientist.org/behavioral-public-policy-faces-a-crisis/ on the failure to properly respond to COVID-19 which calls for cultivating minds that can “understand complex systems in crisis”. Since we keep coming across the behavioral sciences and their desire to create a new kind of educational template going back to the 1950s at least, I thought that article’s confession that:

Behavioral public policy is rooted in the idea that biases, heuristics, and mental models determine behavior. If you reframe or alter individuals’ decision making context, you change their behavior.

We now know that is precisely what learning standards like the Common Core in the US or any tied to UNESCO’s ISCED globally and competency-based education frameworks are designed to do. The Pandemic simply makes this desire for “shared frames of reference” for meaning-making supposedly necessary. It’s to be perceived as a crisis, like climate change, that necessitates common ways of looking at the world and what must be changed to meet the demands of the crisis. Individual deviations are not allowed. Yes, tell that to Shelly Luther in Texas or that barber in Michigan.

Timely too is that the May 2020 issue of Educational Leadership published by ASCD, which is now independent of the NEA, unlike in 1985 when it first introduced an internalized common core as I covered in Credentialed to Destroy. The issue is devoted to “Learning and the BRAIN” and one of its articles called “Building Meaning Builds Teens’ Brains” lays out how “Connecting adolescents’ concrete work to big ideas may help shape their neural networks over time.” Research for the article was provided by the National Science Foundation, which certainly explains why they also funded the math and science constructivism covered in Chapter 3 of CtD, and the Templeton Foundation. It would explain the latter’s funding of the Jubilee Centre in the UK and its Virtues curriculum, which we have since tied to the Pope’s new Humanity 2.0 initiative and its new vision for education. Templeton also funded Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology and Positive Neuroscience work, among other things we have covered.

Remember so long ago here at ISC when I mentioned a new vision of Dialectical Materialism, a mouthful term, created in the USSR by Evald Ilyenkov called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete? We have now over time here at ISC tied to cybernetic designs, conceptual frameworks, and the now federally required assessment annually of Higher Order Thinking in virtually all US students. Now we have this new article informing us of the need for “Reinventing Schools for Meaning-Making”. What it bills as ‘narrative building’ by students certainly sounds like what the others described above suggested as parrheistic modes of being.

These curricular practices turn out to be expressly designed to rewire what the neural networks in teenage brains look like and what the students can do. In fact, by going to motivation, these practices act as an accelerant of future likely behavior. All of these intended interventions are probably helped by the co-authors connections that I have encountered in my research over time. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang shows up at both UNESCO conferences and Aspen’s NCSEAD on the need for social and emotional learning, as well as the NSF’s Brain Initiative. Perfect places to push a vision of education globally grounded in DiaMat that asks “How can we know when young people are building [brain networks]…predictive of success in school, self-actualization, relationship satisfaction, and other positive indicators in early adulthood?”

Think of the parrhesia invisible focus of ‘adaptive instructional systems’ and then ask the article’s question of “What kind of learning experiences strengthen connectivity across these networks?” Remember Bill Ayers’ mention of democratic traits above, which is why I bolded it? The ASCD article focuses on a similar target it italicized as dispositions of mind, which it goes on to say is not a new goal of education, citing to John Dewey among others. These are the stories or narratives the students tell themselves:

their inclinations to engage reflectively with issues and ideas, their tendencies to be curious and compassionate, and their proclivities to use what they learn to inform their emerging values…the patterns of thinking and feeling associated with these dispositions appeared to be influencing the growth of the networks of their brains.

Sounds like Parrhesia’s vision too, doesn’t it? That’s what education for meaning-making and tied to Big Ideas is targeting and it is what grounding adaptive instructional systems in John Dewey’s work also seeks to reengineer. No question about it anymore. This is not a peripheral aim and it’s not really about education per se. It’s education as a tool to reengineer at a neural level the citizens available for the global future. At the service of governments and their cronies.

As I will cover in the next post, it turns out that the stories we tell ourselves, and the concepts and categories of abstractions we use to interpret our daily experiences, are key to how we see the world and plan to act in it. Let me close with another quote from the EL article and just imagine the effect of the Pandemic on “The Stories Teens Tell” or at least what they will tell in the future.

…tying these dispositions to neural development, life success, and mental health gives this effort new urgency, and points us due north in an attempt to reimagine adolescents’ schooling. Evidence suggests that educators can learn to recognize, model, and support the development of these dispositions if they know what kinds of narratives to listen for and what kind of learning experiences lead to these patterns of thinking?

Now imagine the utility of standardizing ‘adaptive instructional systems’ in John Dewey’s work and Parrhesia will do for controlling the needed learning experiences to produce the desired ‘patterns of thinking’ and feeling for the new type of future citizen.

Gives new meaning to calls of May Day, May Day, doesn’t it?

 

 

Hotwiring the Second Wing of the Eagle: Utilize the Human Brain as the Sustainability Trigger in the 21st

I suppose I am giving away both my age (autos before too many electronics) and geography (southern) with that metaphor, but it struck me on a walk yesterday that the old technique for surreptitiously taking a vehicle you didn’t have a key for also fits with how global learning standards and digital curriculum immersions actually are designed to work. Instead of being forthcoming that a Portrait of a Graduate is not about knowledge in the traditional Periodic Table in Chemistry sense. Rather it goes to what physicist David Bohm meant when he wrote that:

Science consists not in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the creation of fresh modes of perception.

That quote was the Epigraph to a 1998 essay called “The second wing of the eagle: the human dimension in learning our way to more sustainable futures,” that was in turn footnoted in an 2019 article pushed last week called “Community science: A typology and its implications for governance of social-ecological systems.” That’s us, people, once we parse through that mouthful of verbiage because the keystone for the desired control over and coupling of human and ecological systems is so-called ‘social learning’. Learning and a transformed nature of education need to create a “shared understanding of the social-ecological system” for the purpose of  “complex social-ecological problems.” Those problems get highlighted via provided experiences and conceptual frameworks, images and emotions, that create common ‘shared beliefs’ of the type we covered in the Trilogy finished in the last post.

The Blue Dot July 2018 issue on “Digital Pedagogies” from the last post mentioned its use of something called the LIBRE process so I of course went a-searching and quickly located a September 2019 article called “Libre–Nourish the Brain So the Future Can Flourish” that insists that the UN’s global goals for sustainability can only be met if:

Education needs to shift from a utilitarian perspective to one that focuses on the greater social good. Recent brain research supports the multiple digital pedagogies of Libre.

Before we cover those,  let’s clarify what is meant by the Second Wing of the Eagle metaphor since as we will see the Right Emotional Brain Dominance of the Logical Mind, Prospection, and deliberately crafted virtual reality experiences from the Trilogy all fit with liberating that Second Wing. It fits with what both Community Science, at a collective level, and Citizen Science, at an individual level, want to transform via a new kind of education. It is clearly what LIBRE means by enabling the critical consciousness needed for ‘active citizenship’. This is from a review of the article in June 1999 in BioScience:

Environmental management has traditionally been regarded primarily as a technical task, whereas the causal agents of environmental damage are people. Until human behavior is brought into the equation, solutions will not be forthcoming. [The Second Wing essay] introduces the concept of social learning and discusses the need for integration of the scientific and social disciplines to achieve social action. The authors want to get the eagle that is environmental management flying again. The figurative eagle is currently skirting the issues, madly beating the one wing it knows how to use. The coupling between ‘human systems’ and ‘ecosystems’ can only constructively be addressed using the social learning approach.

Puts a new perspective on the hype over the supposed Anthropocene Age and man-made global warming that doesn’t care about actual temperatures and uses every graphic weather image to try to reenforce the theory, doesn’t it? It’s about the coupling and control–the need to resculpt human perceptions and link that to the motivation for future action. As the second wing essay puts it, the resolution to getting at both wings working in a manner that does seem like totalitarianism from within must get at “the self-understanding and self-definition of individuals [which are] in a state of flux.” This so-called “environmental crisis within” has two aspects that must be targeted by education.

The first has to do with values and beliefs…The second aspect has to do with knowledge itself…This is not a disguised attack on science…It is an attack on ways of thinking, approaches to problem solving, and political institutions founded on the ideological view that empirical science is the epitome of human reason and the primary route to truth and human understanding [Truth? Beauty? Goodness?]…The engagement of individuals in understanding the environmental crisis and in developing a willingness to promote or at least accept substantial change is essential…Social learning is an approach and philosophy which focuses on participatory processes of social change… It encompasses a positive belief in the potential for social transformation based on:

  •  critical self-reflection;
  • the development of participatory multi-layered democratic processes;
  • the reflexive capabilities of human individuals and societies;
  • and the capacity for social movements to change political and economic frameworks for the better.

Social learning, then, fits precisely with Libre as we are about to see. It regards knowledge from an “actor-orientated perspective…as a potentially powerful force for change. Such change emerges as actors ‘change their minds’ through interaction and dialogue with others.” Since I alluded to a link to Classical Education above, minus any link to Paulo Freire, let me do a quick link to a 1987 Virtue Ethics Essay I found when following up on the IEEE Standards for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (which includes people) and then recognized the Humanity 2.0/ Jubilee Center link that popped out.   https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/ethics-and-virtue/ also wants us to know that education and the “moral life is also a matter of trying to determine the kind of people we should be and attending to the development of character within our communities and ourselves.” Sounds like the IEEE is not the only entity desiring a common core so be wary about so-called ports in this storm.

According to Libre, “education needs to be restructured to respond constructively and progressively to both social change and technological advancement.” Its purpose must also change so that education will now “empower learners to question inequality, unsustainability, loss of common identity, and violence.” Libre intends to utilize the “neurobiological process called ‘neuroplasticity,’ which is the capacity of the brain to change, at the levels of both structure and function, in response to change in the cognitive environment.” Libre also makes it clear that ‘personalized learning’ is not about different trajectories for learning since shared understandings, beliefs, values, and motivations for future action are needed for the desired socio-ecological transformation. No, personalized is a reference that in the beginning, say preschool, “no two human brains are identical” and “each brain is unique.”

Remember that when you read now of required student assessments and inventorying of attributes in kindergarten. Beyond the EMCC we met in the last post, Libre proposes:

a problem-based approach to education that enables learners to build a critical consciousness to drive ‘active citizenship,’ develops their abilities to frame their identities; and empowers them to critically question any systemic, cultural, and physical manifestations of exclusions and marginalization…The ‘Libre’ process was developed to achieve such [full potential] learning by creating environments that ‘liberate’ learners and provide them with competencies to build knowledge using their lived reality…It adopts Freire’s ‘problem-posing’ approach in the classroom, which allows learning to be driven by the learner’s inquiry and guided through everyday words that have a direct connection to students’ lives.

The pedagogies of Libre and the learning experiences they create use 5 methods that all fit with both the Trilogy and the Second Wing essay. They are (1) Storytelling (“helps build a caring and cooperative attitude”); (2) Gamification (“failures become challenges, which encourages learners to revise their actions until they arrive at the ‘correct’ way of doing things”); (3) Inquiry (Mindfulness practices); (4) Reflection (OECD’s A-A-R Cycle in 2030 Learning); and (5) Dialogue (“seeks to adopt a collective learning approach”).

Putting the above back into the goal of bringing the human dimensions to learning so that dormant wing begins to flap we are told we are told requires a willingness to act despite:

unacknowledged conditions and unintended consequences of action. Hence, human judgement and political activity became things not to be simply made ‘scientific’; but rather are more encompassing dimensions of the human condition fundamental to our ability to ‘go on in the face of uncertainty and our potential understanding of the worlds we inhabit…Social learning, while not outright rejecting the utility of positivist methodologies, is predicated on a constructivist position…not with some external reality out there…but rather human experience (human life).

I need to finish up but think about the real reasons for constructivism in the reading, math, and science wars in light of the following quote that also fits with that Freire mention in the Libre aspirations for digital pedagogies now.

The constructivist alternative to positivism is based on recognizing the primary importance of language. Humans are reflexive knowledgable beings because of language. Consciousness and ‘reality’ arise from language and not vice versa. This shift places the emphasis for understanding knowledge not on the subject-knowledge relationship but on the relationship between human subjects. What we experience as ‘reality’ and hence knowledge is to a very large extent constructed by social processes.

If that was an aspiration back in 1998, we are now twenty years later with such uses of language and creation of experiences and social processes locked in by learning standards tied to digital technologies and required school practices. Then we add in where Libre intends to go globally under the euphemism Sustainability as it calls now for a “revolution in education–one that is restructured to promote global citizenship and allows humans to flourish rather than one that only caters to narrow political or economic agendas” and we once again find ourselves beginning to flap that second wing allowing total planning and control over the biophysical dimensions as well as the human and social. What Libre sees as “education as the life-long process of learning and un-learning [that] involves an intense churning of beliefs, values, and worldviews,” the second wing metaphor graphically told us that:

A process of ‘structural change’ in a person’s thinking can be triggered but not directed. The nature of the change will be determined by the pre-existing structure of the person’s ideas and theories of the world which have been learnt during life and their cultural heritage…the reality we perceive is determined not by what is external to us but rather by our own physical and cognitive structures. Because we are informationally closed systems we can only ever talk of our experience.

Neither you, dear reader, or I, the ultimate autodiadact, are ‘informationally closed systems’ although I guess reading this or my book qualifies as an experience. That’s the aspiration anyway and what is needed for the planned transformation in the name of Sustainability.

It’s all about getting access to our brains and minds. That’s the focal point for the planned revolution in thinking. I would argue, in fact, that the planned thinking is more emotion and visual images than what created the West, its economic prosperity and technological inventions, and regard for the individual. All on the chopping block now in the 21st century assault on the individual and genuine autonomy from political overreach.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stifling the Individuality of Thinking to Standardize WTPs–Ways of Thinking and Practices

Yes I do know it is summer, but the UN was busy last week putting out the global ed vision at a High Level Policy Forum we were not invited to (as usual). Plus my life seems to have calmed down from the multiple pots overflowing stage to just a slow simmer so let’s use this post as an opportunity to get out of the sun and heat and talk about these laid out plans for us so we will develop the desired skills and dispositions https://education-reimagined.org/hey-teacher-what-shall-we-call-you/  , WTPs, “21st-century student outcomes” (iNACOL, July 10,2019),  or “the achievement of relevant and effective learning outcomes” from  https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/hlpf2019 in the Beyond Commitments link. To really appreciate what all these references actually have in mind, let’s go back in time to 1967 when E.D. Hirsch was not yet writing about what every American needed to know. Instead, he was writing the following in his book on the topic of ‘Understanding’ called Validity in Interpretation. The passage really clarified for me just how learning standards or competency frameworks can quietly force ‘shared meaning making’ and prescribed ways of thinking.

The inadequacy of identifying textual meaning with ‘tradition’ or some other changing norm is seen first of all in the total impracticality of such a norm on the level of scholarly interpretation. Certainly, in scriptural questions, changes in interpretations can be institutionalized at any moment by an authoritative pronouncement about the ‘consensus ecclesiae’. Similarly, in legal questions, changed interpretations can be institutionalized by a pronouncement from the highest court. But in the domain of learning such pronouncements cannot carry authority. No one, for example, would hold that a law means “what the judges say the law means” if there were not a supreme tribunal to decide what, after all, the judges say. There could never be such arbitrary tribunals in the domain of knowledge and scholarship.

Now, when I read that passage, I immediately wrote “not true” in the margin since I have documented that Common Education Data Standards and UNESCO’s education standards classifications do, in fact, operate quietly as just such arbitrary tribunals. More fascinatingly, a few weeks after I read that passage and objected (with at least one cat as my witness), an Elements in Public Policy White Paper by Daniel Beland confirmed I was right in my analysis by laying out “How Ideas and Institutions Shape the Politics of Public Policy.” Once again I wrote in the margin of the paper that it’s no wonder think tanks of various purported visions keep misrepresenting how learning standards work or what Competency education really is. They are part of the process of quietly institutionalizing these ideas, just like legally mandated learning standards themselves.

Let’s go back to something else Hirsch wrote earlier in that same book where he pointed out that the “necessary requirement” for the “shareability of verbal meaning” is the “existence of shared conventions.” That’s precisely what learning standards specify, as well as prescribed DCIs-Disciplinary Core Ideas, Enduring Understandings, and other ways of stipulating the desired categories of thought students are to use. Here’s Hirsch:

An implication belongs to a meaning as a trait belongs to a type. For an implication to belong to verbal meaning, it is necessary that the type be shared, since otherwise the interpreter [aka each student in a standardized classroom] could not know how to generate implications; he would not know which traits belonged to the type and which did not. And there is only one way the interpreter can know the characteristics of the type; he must learn them. (For those characteristics are not usually ‘syncategorematic’ or absolutely necessary like color or extension. Even the Pythagorean Theorem is a learned characteristic of a right angle, no matter how ‘necessary’ it may seem once it is learned.) Implications are derived from a shared type that has been learned, and therefore the generation of implications depends on the learner’s previous experience of the shared type. The principle for generating implications is, ultimately and in the broadest sense, a learned convention.

I quoted that passage in its entirety because as soon as I read it I realized that everybody involved in education reform wants to control not just the meaning of words we decipher, but also the implications we draw from interacting with any text. It answered my question as to why suddenly so many states are pushing phonetic reading via regulation or statute after years of citing Marie Clay, Guided Reading, or a Balanced Approach. Because now we have conceptual frameworks in place to act as the circumscribing barrier of shared meaning that all students are to interpret with. That passage helped reaffirm my intuition that had been brewing this legislative season.

Even more confirming was this passage from a more recent book by Noel Entwistle called Teaching for Understanding at University which laid out the true purpose of the use of academic disciplines and what the ‘intended outcomes’ for the students would be. The acronym WTPs comes from that book complete with italics as the ways of thinking and practicing in the subject.

The great disciplines like physics or mathematics, or history, or dramatic forms in literature, were…less repositories of knowledge than of methods for the use of the mind. They provided the structure that gave meaning to the particulars…The object of education was to get as swiftly as possible to that structure–to penetrate the structure, not to cover it…[And] mastery of the fundamentals of a field involves not only the grasping of general principles, but also the development of an attitude toward learning and inquiry, toward guessing and hunches, toward the possibility of solving problems on one’s own…

Now let’s go to yet another source to confirm yet again what kind of desired mental structures and new ways of thinking, and the extent to which both will be politically imposed, from the related world of Classical Education and a book by Vigen Guroian called Tending the Heart of Virtue. It recognized the same point we have found behind the terms Guiding Fiction and Anticipatory Assumptions (related to UNESCO declaring last year ‘decision-making’ to be the new global purpose of education). As Guroain noted:

while not all seeing is believing, believing is still a form of ‘seeing’. Or putting the matter somewhat differently, one truly ‘sees’ when one believes. When one believes, then the scales fall from one’s eyes and one ‘sees’ into the deeper reality of things.

Or at least fervently believes that you do since this “way of knowing and experiencing the world is not the objective knowing normally associated with physical science; nor is it the subjectivity of solipsism. It is an intersubjective and relational way of experiencing and knowing. It is a way of interpreting the world that requires memory and a moral imagination; otherwise a moral self cannot come into being.”  Whether it is the so-called Right wanting to promote a moral transformation at an internalized level in the name of virtue necessary for a “Constitutional Republic,’ or an admitted progressive pushing the same transformation in the name of Democracy and Uncle Karl, the bullseye euphemised as Student Success or Achievement is the same in the individual human being. So is how it will be instilled.

Fairy tales and modern fantasy stories project fantastic other worlds; but they also pay attention to real moral ‘laws’ of character and virtue. These laws ought not to be high-handedly shoved down the throats of children (or anyone else). More accurately, they are norms of behavior that obtain in patterns of relation between agent, act, other, and world. Rational cognition is capable of grasping these norms. They become habit, however, only when they are lived, or, as in the case of fairy tales, experienced vicariously and imaginatively through the artful delineation of character and plot in a story.

See why we get so many euphemisms for what must be changed? Can any of us imagine the outcry if people understood that education globally is now about prescribing norms of behavior without that being readily apparent? Can we all see why standards of achievement and student success had to cease  to be about what is rationally known so that students had provide behavioral performances or tasks instead? Proves it is a habit and neurally hardwired to lock in that desired future decisionmaking and motivations to act.

Now that we have put what is aimed at into context and stripped away the deliberate vagueness of ‘outcomes,’ let me end with another, much shorter, vision UNESCO put out last week in the form of a comic book called ‘Let’s Work Together’ https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000369006/PDF/369006eng.pdf.multi on the role education is to play in the UN meeting its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As GEM put it in a blog post on July 10, “every goal in the 2030 Agenda requires education to empower people with the knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies.” If we wonder why implications of words must be shared and constrained, why knowing must become a matter of habit and grounded in emotion, and why our very categories of thought must now be prescribed in advance, it would be hard to put the reason more succinctly than this quote from the second page of that link since in order to “work together” apparently–

Education must teach people to think collectively and not individually.

Explains so much doesn’t it? I feel like I should end this post with a declaration of still being a defiantly individual thinker. Who would have thought that would become such an issue in the 21st century?

Implanted Thoughts Never Had Before Via Citizen Science and the ABCD Framework

That was a longer writing break than I had intended but I got called up for jury duty, needed CLE credits, threw a 90th birthday party, and kept everyone happy last week with turkey, etc. Mostly though I was taken aback shortly after I wrote the last post when the National Academy of Sciences released an on-point and thoroughly alarming paper called “Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities By Design” that made it crystal clear that the ‘science’ is about redesigning citizens–you, me, and our children–at the level of our ‘motivation, interest, and identity’.  Since I have seen this vision before, let me go back and quote from a 1992 book called Harmonic Learning by James Moffett, who was involved with both the true aims of learning standards and Carnegie-funded innovative curricula before that. Since what was innovative before is now required learning experiences that are ‘relevant,’ ‘authentic,’ and foster desired competencies, let’s see what Moffett aimed for.

Moffett aimed at what he called the “inner system” and he rejected the transmission of existing knowledge because it would preserve identification with what exists now, instead of what could be. He wanted activities and experiences that would create a (bolding is mine):

“generation of students who will have thoughts we have not had before. It is clear that the nation’s and the planet’s problems cannot be solved by just thinking along the lines we do now according to our heritage. Societies relying on conventional wisdom are doomed. They need instead some breathtakingly new ideas that will never come from a cookie-cutter curriculum designed to relay some gist of what is known and thought now…If we don’t enable the young to transform the culture, we won’t have one to transmit…If we educate youngsters to transcend their heritage, they will be able to transform it and lead other cultures to do the same.”

That quote from more than 25 years ago fits with a story published on November 13 called “Why Zero-Based Thinking is Mission Critical in Reimagining Education” in case anyone thinks it is not still what drives learning standards. Zero-Based Thinking strikes at the limitations placed on thinking “by existing practices” and the “system we’ve inherited” to stress the “thinking our society demands we come up with…therein lies the block that prevents so many from getting to Zero-Based Thinking. We know too much…change demands we break those ties that bind…change demands that we see opportunities, instead of simply seeing a structure…On the other hand, if we see opportunities, we can focus on the possibilities.”

That’s why the Citizen Science paper wants to move “beyond a simple view of learning as an individual acquiring a fixed body of declarative facts and procedural knowledge to the recognition that learning is embedded in social interactions and involves complex reasoning and reflection.” That crucial shift puts the “inner system” of each citizen on the menu for reeducation so that the “critical aspects of program design that can engage cognitive, affective, and social outcomes” can be politically mandated. Those conceptual, intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes are the specified ‘learning objectives’ and getting them into place at a neural level is the new purpose of curricula and prescribed learning activities and experiences. That we are the entities that must be transformed through schools and also the media is why citizen science insists that “motivation, interest, and identity…are learning outcomes themselves.”

We know from the previous post that the desired neural change needs that perception of autonomy, even though it is illusory in a world of globally prescribed learning standards, implemented locally. After all, last week the OECD (the creator of the influential PISA) released a draft document called BASIC–A Toolkit and Ethical guidelines for Applying Behavioural Insights in Public Policy that freely admitted targeting “the way individuals and groups process information and make decisions” for transformational change purposes. BASIC is an acronym for Behaviour, Analysis, Strategy, Intervention, and Change. One of the BASIC tools is what it calls the ABCD Framework. That’s right. It wants education to target individual’s at the “inner system” level of Attention, Belief Formation, Choice, and, finally, Determination.

The ABCD framework has the graphic of a circle and makes it clear that we citizens are being molded at the level of our mental models to ultimately be motivated to act in desired ways without ever recognizing just how manipulated we are. No wonder the OECD and its UNESCO partner are pushing competency-based education worldwide. We don’t have to intuit anything after looking at such a graphic, but like those ubiquitous Ronco holiday commercials when I was a child, “Wait! There’s more!” Tomorrow, in Incheon, Korea, the OECD commences its 6th OECD World Forum. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-future-of-well-being/ The draft programme lays out that “Navigating the most pressing well-being challenges facing governments and citizens in the future will require new ways of measuring, thinking and acting. More than ever, many of these challenges will need coordinated approaches and collective action, both within and between countries.”

With one of the sessions having the name “A psychological approach to the future of well-being” featuring Positive Education’s Richard Layard, we once again do not need to speculate on the how of the desired transformation. Let me quote though from what the phrase “Governance in a complex world” actually means, especially since another panel is “Rethinking the State for the 21st Century.” If, as I have been warning, the meaning of the term ‘governance’ now is about rewiring desired citizen characteristics in at a neural level using poorly understood learning standards and competency frameworks, the following verbiage from the forum makes perfect sense and fits with BASIC and that ABCD Framework.

“These sessions will address the new modes of governance that are needed to ensure inclusive growth and sustainable well-being in the coming years. They will address issues such as the need for an ’empowering state’ that invests in fostering equality and improving people’s lives, how governments can and should work together with non-state actors from the private sector and civil society, how to ensure international cooperation into the future, how to make the connection between local action and global realities, and how to rebuild trust amongst citizens.”

Among the panelists at the Future of Well-being World Forum are the producers of the Global Happiness Policy Report 2018 (GHPR), which we should recall pushed Positive Education as the answer, just like our current US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/subservient-and-malleable-students-devos-federalizes-our-moral-obligations/ Looks like we could substitute the word ‘globalizes’ for ‘federalizes’, given what is going on this week in Incheon. I found my notes from reading that report and it is pertinent to everything in this post and other papers that came out this month I will cover in the next post.

“The global movement to put happiness at the center of governance reflects a mix of inspiring idealism and down-to earth realism…Good governance is nothing less nor more than political leaders acting for the average citizen and pursuing the common good.”

I guess that’s how the powers-that-be justify trying to redesign and transform the world starting at the level of the human mind using citizen science, learning standards, and the ABCD Framework, just for starters. GHPR openly pushes “cognitive behavioural therapy” in schools and classrooms aimed “not just at removing negative thoughts but at cultivating positive attitudes and activities.” That’s one way, I suppose, to “rebuild trust amongst citizens”, merited or not. Remember, in the name of Promoting Mental Health for All, GHPR wants to no longer focus “on treating those who are in serious distress,” but to target everyone, all of us citizens is one way to put it, especially through the schools, so we “can enable people to avoid distress in the first place, or to develop the inner means to handle distress themselves when it arises. In other words, we should aim at a society in which people have the inner resources to flourish.”

Can we target those ‘inner means’ or ‘inner resources’, especially by deceitful narratives about education reforms, to advance political and social transformation without shifting towards what used to be recognized as totalitarianism in fact? I don’t think so, which is why I persevere in writing about these painful aims for education. We, and our children, are Ground Zero for all these plans that fit together like a geared mechanism ready to roll.

I want to close with what GHPR wants all children to become as the new primary purpose of education because it fits with where I want to pick up in the next post.

“Above all, this means children acquiring:

*compassionate and cooperative values and behaviour, and

*understanding their own emotions and those of others, and developing the skills to manage those emotions.

No wonder all children can succeed, achieve, and learn in the 21st century. They can be neurally rewired with the right prescribed activities and experiences to a desired transformative, psychological template.

Serendipitous Admissions: Using Psychology to Impose Philosophy Makes Education the Requisite Tool

Let’s go back and forth between the aims that nerdy writers and scholars say they want to do in the name of a new kind of authentic, holistic education and why, and the everyday how. The means and tools can be seen through learning standards and yesterday’s push under the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to shift to “phenomenon-based learning”. Let start with a means quote from Carter Phipps (who does executive coaching and leadership training in addition to his cultural evolution) in his book Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea:

“In his latest book, Evolution’s Purpose, Steve McIntosh describes developmental psychology as ‘the branch of social science that deals most directly with the evolution of consciousness. Indeed, this rich tradition…is critical for understanding the kinds of research, thinking, and perspectives that have given birth to our new appreciation of how the internal universe evolves’.”

Developmental psychologists create legally mandated learning standards whether imposed locally, by a state, nationally, or globally, so they get to specify how they want that so-called internal universe to evolve both for individual students and collectively for an entire generation of the population. Cool tool, huh? Likewise, they create curriculum such as what The Lawrence Hall of Science has created for Amplify Science that “motivates students by providing them with a sense of purpose and agency, and by engaging their curiosity.” In other words, it is a curriculum that is about targeting and changing the student’s internal universe and not conveying knowledge in the historic sense of education. Those same developmental psychologists get to decide what is to be “culturally relevant phenomenon,” which is awfully useful as we once again quote Phipps that “cultural evolution happens right here, in the collective interior life of humanity.”

How nice then to use learning standards like the Common Core or competency frameworks that no one but me seems to be explaining accurately to target that very “collective interior life.” As I was reading Evolutionaries I kept thinking that they were not planning for its audience to include someone who understood K-12 education reforms and its underlying legal mandates to enforce compliance so well. I think the Amplify Science paper also never expected someone to look at its supporting references and then track down the Symeonidis & Schwarz 2016 paper “Phenomenon-Based Teaching and Learning through the Pedagogical Lenses of Phenomenology: The Recent Curriculum Reform in Finland,” much less recognize the significance of grounding these reforms in the work of an M. Heidegger from 2006 with a cite in German.

Being a serious nerd who covered the nexus to Deconstructionism in my book Credentialed to Destroy, I recognized Martin the German (and Nazi) existentialist and his 1927 Time and Being with a little help from a translator search engine. Much like Phipps, phenomenology wants to “use complexity as a starting point” and for comparable reasons I suspect. A 2012 paper by a James Magrini on the promise of phenomenology and the  philosophy of existentialism to create ‘authentic education’ though it:

“might be related with great success to social reconstruction and critical pedagogy for social justice in education. For the values we are ‘creating’ and endorsing are never restricted to the classroom, they have an impact on the greater society and, most importantly, the potential that exists for for its change…in addition ‘to assisting our students in their preparation to fit into existing social, political, and economic structures’, as so much of our educational system is currently geared toward doing, we, perhaps especially those of us who teach philosophy, need to encourage our students to think about how these structures might be significantly changed for the better.”

Brought to us by students trained to act from emotion using provided concepts and categories of thought deliberately introduced to drive a belief in the need for cultural change and new social, economic, and political structures. Trained using so-called ‘Power Standards’ that most parents will not even know exist. Let’s face it, phenomenon-based learning in 21st century science has little to do with science as a historically developed and useful body of undisputed knowledge and everything to do with changing each student’s interior universe. In fact, that 2016 paper stated that this phenomenological perspective will allow students to “become mindful of their own learning and acquire strategies of how to learn, a joyful, creative and reflective activity to ensure a good life. Competence, the buzzword of the 21st century, lies at the heart of this conceptualization of learning, which is essentially constructivist and psychological.”

Sounds like that internal, supposedly personal, universe to me, but serendipitously, I had seen a 1972 book cited in the Esalen book from the previous post by W. Warren Wagar, our old friend from the gravely concerning and therefore tagged on this blog–World Order Models Project–that commenced the next year. So I tracked down that book Good Tidings: The Belief in Progress from Darwin to Marcuse to see if I could walk through his cited philosophy to discern just how far back this desire to use education to drive cultural evolution at the level of consciousness actually went. I read that over the weekend and, serendipitously again, Wagar too was influenced by Heidegger and existentialism.

Come to think of it, a founder of Esalen, had his Stanford life turned around by a colleague and friend of Heidegger’s, a refugee, Frederic Spiegelberg, who introduced him to the vision of the perennial philosophy contained in Eastern religion. You know, the one UNESCO does forums on with the Dalai Llama in conjunction with Harvard and the same one Pavel Luksha sees as creating a universal psycho-spiritual wisdom tradition globally using education that we covered in the last post? Now, if that seems like a lot of commonality, it’s the tip of the iceberg to the books and papers I have accumulated, but we need to move on. Plus, I hope, everyone gets the point now.  Good Tidings says ‘Discard’ instead of ‘Withdrawn,’ but its aims remain explicitly current. That’s probably why it was pulled from circulation, huh? Let’s see why.

Wagar was quite graphic about what he called the “telic process of the mind, in which man took control of his own evolution and moved forward deliberately.” Telic is just a fancy word from the Greek telos that goes to people’s purpose, motivations, and aims, which is exactly what UNESCO, with previous Rockefeller Foundation funding, has recently announced they are targeting in the name of Futures Literacy and the Discipline of Anticipation. Somebodies (plural) are quite determinedly pushing cultural evolution by using education to control consciousness and have been, per Wagar, for a long time. Contrary to the above rhetoric, or Phipps pretending that Evolution is just an idea whose time has suddenly come in our 21st century, we get Wagar describing a Korzybski as calling for “the perfection of a ‘science’ and art of human engineering,” which is, of course, how learning standards are now to work.

Has anyone asked any of us if we are OK with “the welfare of the race would be managed efficiently”? To listen to much of the False Narrative surrounding the Common Core and data privacy, such psychological human engineering is A-OK as long as it’s imposed somehow at the school or state level, even if the blueprints are global and decades in preparation. If the financiers of the False Narrative also believe, or want to make use of a widespread, instilled belief, that “the key to future progress, therefore, was ‘integrative thinking and behavior,’ ‘democratic planning for freedom,’ the engineering from an improved social psychology of democratic human cooperation [Remember ‘Soulcraft’?]…also came to feel that social and behavioral scientists would have to work hand in hand with churchmen to help provide the ethico-spiritual integration indispensable to social harmony.”

More interdisciplinary forums most of us will not get invited to. We all need to understand though that Wagar laid out, as so many others have, a desire to “make the supreme task of the behavioral and social sciences to make mankind conscious of itself, and therefore put the future of the race under the control of reason.” Education IS a behavioral and social science and it is the one most of us will encounter most often. It is mind and personality that is aimed at and a belief that our collective culture, human intentions, and aims are all malleable because “the possibility of progress is open to man because he was educable, and because he had learned to control his environment through the sciences…Human beings today were born with the same emotions and powers as savages…Since the variable factor, the factor that may be altered indefinitely, is the social conditions which call out and direct the impulses and sentiments, the positive means of progress lie in the application of intelligence to the construction of proper social devices.”

That’s what learning standards are, as well as phenomenon-based learning curricula, or formative assessments. They are just three real-life examples of “proper social devices” for human engineering of the psychological internal universe of the student in order to implement normative philosophies of the future such as social reconstruction and social justice.

I could go on, but the rest of these quotes simply reenforce the recognition that the rest of us need to grasp as well. If political authority, at any level, and cultural institutions like schools, universities, and churches are all being led to believe that “In man, evolution has entered a new phase, no longer biological, but moral and spiritual” and that “‘psychosocial’ progress” can be made by compelling what those moral and spiritual practices are to be until they become instilled Habits of Mind, we need to recognize those aims.

Because those aims have NOT been discarded or withdrawn, unlike so many of the books that laid them out.

 

 

Deciphering the Deceit to Discern Accelerants Dispensed By False Education Narratives

The point of being right about what is really going on in the name of education reforms is not a matter of pride of authorship or who figured out something accurately first. The point is how easy it is to create an even more psychologically intrusive version of the concerns parents are raising when it turns out that the remedies advocated for do not work as parents have been told. Before I give a current example I have noticed involving yet another acronym–GDPR–or General Data Privacy Regulation, and what actually benefits Microsoft, no matter how many times some commentator complains about Gates Foundation funding, lets go back to 1969 when one of the original Education Policy Research Centers (Syracuse, NY) was actually upfront about the intended switcheroo. Warren Ziegler wrote the report and he wanted to change the goals of education going forward in order to “shape policy not in order to accommodate ourselves to a future continuous with the past, but to bring about–to ‘invent’–a future different from and, in significant ways, discontinuous with the past…might we not think about inventing the future itself through policy implementation?”

Think about that quote as we go from false think tank narrative involving education to deliberately sponsored misinterpretations and spread deceit. Your goals as parents may well not be the goals of think tanks that are all about using planning, public policy, the law, and transformative education (unperceived as a radical shift) to change the future. Maybe the Delphi technique keeps coming up in public forums not just to control what we all think on an issue, but “to set some approximate limits within which reasonable alternative futures might be developed” as Ziegler put it. That was 1969 but reinventing the future by having education globally focus on the “values, attitudes, and behaviours that must be accepted and practiced in earnest by decision-makers as well as ordinary people…This principle of constant ‘attuning’ is central to the New Humanism. Peace and shared welfare are two sides of the same coin. And humanism is that coin” to quote from a 2014 UNESCO paper called “Envisioning a New Humanism for the 21st Century: New Avenues for Reflection and Action.”

Linking us functionally to that enhanced view of ‘self-government’ from the last post, UNESCO wants to “explore new or renewed ideas, values, attitudes, behaviours, and models, and through these to address the challenges faced by the international community.” That means UNESCO loves concentrating on local officials with political authority over just those very things. In fact, the local is probably the easiest domain for a philosophy that “seeks to create their own future…It is a resource for all individuals and all communities to pursue their own progress and development. This presupposes social inclusion of everyone and at all levels of society.” When Irina Bokova became UNESCO Director-General in 2009, her installation speech should give us all pause, especially when education is now collecting the very kind of learner analytic data in student-centered learning pilots that reveals whether her desired aims are being met.

Bokova had plans “for bringing people together and sharpening their conscience with regard to the potential of a world based on peace, democracy, justice, and human rights.” If conceptual frameworks and Disciplinary Core Ideas for math, science, and history, just to give 3 current examples, are no longer actually about the transmission of knowledge as this article https://townhall.com/columnists/janerobbins/2018/06/05/whats-wrong-with-common-core-math-n2487580 still asserts misleadingly, but rather topics that can be used to solve everyday current problems and image the future as UNESCO keeps asserting, then all of these intentions are already in play unbeknownst to most of us.

If Bokova stated that it is “through the nature of their intentions and the strength of their will” that UNESCO intends to work and ‘their’ refers to human beings generally and her desire to see “peace constructed in the minds of people” we better be paying attention to those goals when all the elements  are in place or are being put in place by advocates complaining in the US about SEL abuses or the need for stronger data privacy. Remember what I said about Beware of the Offered Remedy? https://pulse.microsoft.com/uploads/prod/2018/03/WorkProductivity_GDPRforEducation_KickStartGuide.pdf shows that Microsoft regards GDPR as beneficial to its business much like how Brer Rabbit felt about that Briar Patch. After all, it even boldfaced that it has the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings of any cloud service provider.

Want to make sure a school or other online education provider is in compliance with GDPR? Just load all that data gathered to Microsoft proprietary servers and they will see that you “meet your GDPR requirements.” In all my prowling across the Internet in the EU I could not find any provider who did a good job describing the nature of the data being gathered in the name of “learner analytics.” Just that the student or parent acknowledged it was being collected and was integral to the desired changes education hoped to achieve in the student. Not much of a remedy so far, is it? But wait, just like those Ronco holiday commercials when we were younger, there’s more! https://news.microsoft.com/en-au/features/microsoft-launches-transforming-education/ came out on June 5. Along with a greatly revised vision of education for the 21st century, it provides us with a new term to get us there–the Analytics Trinity.

That Trinity turns out to be data about the student “from all student learning activities and assessments” and it works just fine even if there is nothing Personally Identifiable about it, cloud processing, and machine learning. In other words, Microsoft’s model for transforming education globally is actually supercharged by GDPR as well as the Student Achievement Standards Network and the learner data it needs that the Gates Foundation has funded. The My Ways Framework from the last post feeds into that kind of data nicely and so do competency-based curriculum frameworks like the Common Core. Here we have a perfectly lovely Microsoft confession that ties to UNESCO’s goals above, the true nature of evidence-based policymaking in education, and new conceptions of accountability (my italics for emphasis):

“once you have accessible, usable data, you can report accurately, demonstrate that you are spending tax dollars effectively, measure the impact of new initiatives and comply with new sustainable development monitoring requirements in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda.”

GDPR is indeed an accelerant in the UN’s agenda of reimagining the future starting with the minds and personalities of people. Let’s look once again at what Microsoft sees that vision of education as being so we can focus on where we are really going and not where think tanks want us to believe we are going. https://www.hoover.org/research/californias-common-core-mistake is another recent example. This transformed vision gives us still more insights into why social and emotional learning is suddenly such a necessary component of 21st century education. Microsoft looks to Daniel Pink, who says the “role of school is to help students identify their purpose, learn how to pursue that purpose, and experience achieving self-defined goals.”

It’s both ironic and tragic that two of the people who for some reason are so actively pushing these false narratives of where GDPR takes us and what the data gathering is really about, Cheri Kiesecker and Michele Malkin, are both residents of a state, Colorado, that has a Student Centered Learning Pilot with clear ties to UNESCO. To illustrate its aims we have graphics of the desired changes in the brain synapses and dendritic connections. As I warned about in the beginning, this is a dangerous area to write about if you misinterpret what you are looking at or call for remedies like GDPR that only make the problem worse. I called attention to that Colorado pilot because of this next Microsoft quote:

“For learning transformation, student centricity should be the core of your ‘disruption’. This makes it possible to move successfully from a traditional model based on mastery of a curriculum, to a model of learning that is about giving students the practical experience to achieve their personal potential.”

The latter bolding is what the Gates Foundation regards as student achievement globally and what will be called in the US–Success for All Students–under the various state plans that become operative in the upcoming 2018-19 school year. In other words, this summer is actually a crucial time for parents to toss away the false narratives and start listening to what connected organizations are saying they intend to do in the name of education, data, student-centered learning, and the future.

I really am not picking on anyone in this post or other recent ones where we showed the difference between dispersed narratives and provable facts. To some extent I think this is a matter of money or employment being available if certain memes are pushed and the pusher may have no idea what is wrong with the vision they are pushing. Remember when I called attention to how David Horowitz and the Freedom Center were pushing the “Teaching Students How to Think, Not What to Think” vision and I accurately said that supplying the desired categories of thought and concepts WAS teaching students what to think? I will close this post trying to reset the discussion in actual reality, not pretend narratives, by pointing out that Microsoft gave an example of its desired Future Ready Skills that all students are to have. They want the “Focus on teaching students how to think, not what to think.”

Not to pick on Mr Horowitz since I also found that exact same quote as an education aim in in The Conservatarian Manifesto.

See why I am so worried about the remedies being put out now?

Lucrative Deceit: Managing Consciousness By Conjoining Social Media & Charter Schools

This post was outlined before the outcry over Facebook’s gathering of data, but the outside in power of all that data on so much of the population should be kept in mind as we look at the Chan Zuckerburg interest in transformative charter schools. It also fits with the interest we have seen since my March 8 post on Parkland and the meaning of that motto of the PROMISE Program in Broward County. I have repeatedly read since then numerous articles from supposedly conservative sources misportraying the clear developmental focus of the required practices. It gets pitched as simply a matter of federal overreach and coercion via funding. Yesterday, the charter-supporting Heritage Foundation https://www.heritage.org/firearms/report/focusing-school-safety-after-parkland joined what looks like a well-coordinated campaign to make Paul Sperry’s derivative and whitewashed description of the Program the official narrative. Mustn’t accurately explain what one intends to use so let’s just mine ISC for information and skip over Robin’s inconvenient interpretations that shine an accurate light on these practices.

After all, we know charters have a likely chance to be deemed effective and gain a right to more federal funding if they have a Whole Child focus that Infuses Developmental Neuroscience into the curriculum and required practices as this link lays out. http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(12)00192-9/pdf Likewise, notice how often a private or charter school has language in its mission statement about its purpose “to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring, and contributing citizens” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12971193 or hyping their “strengths-based approaches to child and adolescent development…and emphasis on students’ resilience in the school and community” (quoting the National Association of School Psychologists), or Promoting Youth Development (PYD). http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/Taylor%20et%20al%20-%20FINAL%20document%206%2017%202017.pdf

All of the linked SEL research matters because they are tied to the PROMISE Program when accurately interpreted using its cited foundational research and not whitewashed for political purposes. The whtewashing is no surprise though as the charter schools use the same developmental template as Broward’s PROMISE program when the latter is properly understood. Let’s switch to something else charters use to ensure their efficacy and are not upfront about. I am quoting from a 2011 book by Duke prof Cathy N Davidson called Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century where Davidson profiled the innovative new forms of learning being implemented by a number of cited charter schools. When we talk about the use of categories, concepts, or guiding principles, recall how useful it will be to have the News Literacy Project we encountered in the last post working hand in hand with the categories of thought pushed as Reading and Thinking Like A Historian or Higher Order Thinking Skills.

This post begins a trilogy and that will be the in-depth topic of the next post. In the mean time let’s appreciate what charter operators all know. “How we use our brain (what we pay attention to) changes our brain. Those things that capture our attention–our learning and our work, our passions and our activities–change our actual brain biology.” That’s a direct confession, isn’t it? Plenty of reason for deceit there. The emphasis on Disciplinary Core Ideas to use just one of the euphemisms or Enduring Understandings makes sense when we all become aware that “once everything is located in a proper category, the category itself (for better or worse) answers a host of unaskable questions. A category is a shorthand.” And whoever controls those required categories of thought can insist all day long that “they are teaching students how to think, not telling them what to think” but that repeated assertion doesn’t make it true. Whoever controls the prescribed categories of thought, controls thought. Period. Especially once it becomes a Habit of Mind.

Quoting Davidson again: “distinctions are normative, sensory, behavioral, social, cognitive, and affective all at once. Learning happens in categories, with values clumped together in our words, concepts, and actions. And this is where attention and its concomitant attention blindness come from.” All the emphasis now on Engagement, activity, and relevance really make sense when we appreciate that a classroom emphasis on these has become required because they “transform not merely our behavior but the underlying neural networks that make attention possible. Every manifestation of attention in the real world begins in the brain” and every successful charter school operator knows that as well as so should we. Davidson went on to call out Canadian Donald O. Hebb by name as the “father of neuropsychology” because:

“he was the first person to observe that learning occurs when neurons streamline into pathways and then streamline into other pathways, into efficient clusters that act in concert with one another. This is now called the Hebbian principle: Neurons that fire together, wire together. This means the more we repeat certain patterns of behavior (that’s the firing together), the more those behaviors become rapid, then reflexive, then automatic (that’s the wiring). They become patterns, habits, groupings, categories, or concepts, all efficiencies that ‘wire together’ sets of individual reflexes or responses.”

Now if your child’s school of any type or online curriculum is grounded in creating such a Hebbian neural web that will ultimately guide their future behavior at an unconscious, but predictable, level, don’t you want to know that? Isn’t all the organized deceit making more sense now? I feel though like those old Ronco holiday commercials when many of us were kids advertising for some useful gadget that we supposedly cannot live without in every house. “But wait! There’s more!” As part of the case after the Parkland shooting for why more social and emotional learning and an antibullying emphasis were needed came this story https://www.educationdive.com/news/creating-schools-that-fit-our-kids/518917/ hyping a report from the Aspen Institute and its panel of educators.

Now I first wrote about that panel back in September here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/capturing-every-thought-captive-and-sculpting-students-as-systems-driver-of-perfidy/ and in several of the following posts. That report and Consensus Statement were always going to come out, but the Parkland mass murder gives gave a chance to pitch the change in emphasis as urgent so that “social, emotional, and academic development” can be integrated. That also fits with the links above that are the basis for how charters really work and what the PROMISE Program was actually designed to change. Now I have written about one panel member before, Linda Lantieri, and how she trains classroom teachers in techniques that are billed as New Age on some days depending on her audience and on others as Positive Psychology. I recognized other names too, but the Council of Distinguished Educators member that really caught my eye was from a chain of charter schools called Valor Collegiate Academies.

That’s where our conjoining reference comes from as we have funding coming from the Left Pincer in the form of the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative and from the Right Pincer that seemingly does not want the PROMISE program accurately understood in the form of the Charter Schools Growth Fund. Now Valor openly trumpets in its materials that it uses required regular group Valor Circle practices that are “grounded in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology which posits that relationships ‘inspire us to rewire our brains toward integration.'” Well, that’s certainly one way to create change in the student effectively and thus ensure additional funding and opportunities for expansion. Valor has graphics about targeting the students’ “drives for agency and communion, or self-determination and connection… and helping scholars (and adults) create their own ‘inner compass'”.

Now, I am not disagreeing that people need an inner compass, but if a school is deliberately rewiring childrens’ brain in a Hebbian manner, parents should be told that forthrightly before they act like programmed automatons. How many parents appreciate that neural rewiring emphasis when they read language (bolding in original) about “All Members of the Valor Community aspire to balance their Sharp Mind and Big Heart and to live their Noble Purpose through Aligned Actions, all the while accessing their True North” to make meaningful choices in their everyday life. ” That True North: Habits of Center is grounded in Mindfulness research, which is certainly an interesting remedy for preventing another Parkland type shooting.

It’s not just that I recognize what is cited as Mindfulness, but here’s a quote from a draft I downloaded of what was to be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year per “True North ‘standards’ or intended learnings.

“True North practices range in duration and focus. Many of the True North practices at Valor are informed by curricula such as Mindful Schools and Applied Mindfulness: Inner Life Skills for Youth and are attention training activities [remember the Cathy Davidson quotes above on the effect on the brain] to help scholars increase concentration and well-being while reducing stress levels. Practices range in focus from one’s basic goodness to posting attention and from compassion meditations to mindful movement.”

Is that what anyone was expecting to be touted “at a time when the nation is looking for solutions to violent tragedies like the Feb. 14 shooting” at Parkland? Is this why we cannot get accurate reporting except at ISC or in my book Credentialed to Destroy of what competency-based education and frameworks actually aim to change or what the Broward PROMISE Program and Restorative Justice programs really hope to alter? Are charter schools, online providers, and private and parochial schools all afraid they will not get access to public funds if parents recognize that they too are aimed at neural rewiring “to produce knowledgeable and competent adults able to participate as informed citizens in the democratic process”?

We will discuss the source of that last quote and its ties to the School Choice funding campaign in the next post–Part 2 of this Trilogy of Lucrative Deceit.

Outside In: Conjoining Education & Media to Consciously Create Consensus

Do you regard the phrases “public transformation” and “societal transformation” as synonymous? The first, as we saw in the last post, seems interested in transforming who we are at the level of our beliefs and values–our very consciousness. The other wants to transform existing institutions and organizations–the external reality. The coverage of the Parkland mass school shooting and the student activists it has launched makes considerable more sense if we know that Global Education Futures (GEFF) released a report last fall called “Educational Ecosystems for Societal Transformation” that is referenced in other internal reports with a different title about “Education Ecosystems for Public Transformation.” Either title reflects a desire that the “level of challenges faced by humanity today calls us to find answers through a consciously created consensus.”

One side of the media, especially the legacy media, wants us to see the tragedy as a reason for gun control. The other seems to see Parkland as a convenient tool to hype School Choice, on-line learning, and supposed ‘local’ solutions to federal government tyranny. No one seems to want to eliminate the media’s ability to frame how we see Parkland and what we believe the solutions to be. Since the transformation vision relies heavily on misunderstanding the nature of learning standards like the Common Core or Competencies (Inside-Out) and also not reporting the long planned convergence of the media and education to create the narrative driving a perceived need for change, let’s tear away the shroud obscuring this cooperation.

Russian Pavel Luksha, who is a leader in GEFF as we covered here in 2015, also turns out to be involved with Chris Whittle’s new venture called the Whittle School, a global education venture. Back in 2005, Whittle wrote a book called Crash Course hyping the ability to use School Choice globally and private providers of education to drive innovation and a new vision of learning. He created a hypothetical “worldwide leader in K-12 curricula” that had previously been “the first of the world’s major communications and publishing companies to grasp fully that the world of schooling was an extension of the core competencies found in many communications entities.” We need to recognize that now too as that outside-in tool was a huge part of why previous UNESCO head Irina Bokova simply shorthanded the conjunction and its global transformative potential as “media education.”

Likewise, when that GEFF report headlines its “New Horizon” chapter with this Margaret Wheatley quote, think not just of the roles of the media and a new type of learning, but also all the high school students we are now seeing who simply assume a right to redesign the world and existing systems.

“We have only just begun the process of discovering and inventing the new organizational forms that will inhabit the 21st century. We need the courage to let go of the old world, to relinquish most of what we have cherished, to abandon our interpretations about what does and doesn’t work.”

That shift is much easier if, unbeknownst to most parents, the schools have long since shifted from a subject-centered curriculum to an ‘experience-centered curriculum’. Suddenly, topics, themes, concepts, and principles come first to provide students with a means to “intellectualize his experience.” To mine my personal library using a post WW2 book called Reorganizing the High-School Curriculum from 1947 to move away from the school as “merely an instrument for perpetuating the status quo” to one where “our democratic society is to be refined and re-created,” would require a new type of education grounded in a new theory of learning.

“Learning in its best sense involves the ‘continuous reconstruction of experience.’ Learning products are identified as changes in attitudes upon the basis of new or deeper understandings, and the acquisition of general and special abilities, habits, and skills. The learning experiences which the school provides [now online learning can also do this] for students are directed towards changes in behavior in line with democratic ideals and values. [Remember the PROMISE motto from the last post and the role of Restorative Justice programs] The school provides work experience for the student, not primarily to get the work done, but because such experience enhances growth in line with democratic values.”

That’s what student-centered learning is really about and everyone involved with education reforms, except students and parents, is either openly or covertly pushing this same vision. If we miss the planned role of all media in this, we are fighting a battle with blinders on. That was sixty years ago, but only the names and tools change, not the transformative aims. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/using_story_to_change_systems has a similar aim and came out about a week ago. Also recently the Data & Society Research Institute issued a report called “Dead Reckoning: Navigating Content Moderation After ‘Fake News'” that caught my eye. One thing about tearing a tendon in your leg, I have been rather stuck watching bad TV like it or not. A publication like that wanting to define what is Fake News not by veracity of the information but rather or not the source is preapproved by the powers that be simply emboldens the lies I have been forced to watch recently on the evening network news.

The difference though was I was in a position to find out more of what looked like immunity to lie to advocate for the repeatedly announced “public” or “societal transformation” as I was signed up to attend a February 23, 2018 Georgia Bar Media & Judiciary Conference sponsored by CNN among others. The speakers, who included a Morehouse journalism prof, a New York Times reporter, a former CBS reporter, and the managing director of CNN International, kept hyping the role of the “Legacy Media’ to be ‘gatekeepers’, which to me rather smacked of censorship before the fact by approved sources. The CBS reporter,  hyped “the crucial role of the press in shaping American history” and asserted that Facebook and Google’s recent policy changes to prefer the Legacy Media in search results were a good start but were “not enough”.

I thought about how Walter Cronkite had so hyped the Tet Offensive that a generation of Americans thought we lost military ground then. They did not recognize a deliberate use of the news and what gets covered, to steer popular and prevailing consciousness on an issue. When the audience was asked for questions, I raised my hand and asked if their position was that the term “Fake News” was about the source of the information or the quality of the information? That’s when things got really interesting since no one knew education was my area of expertise. The response by several of the panel members was to agree it was about the source and the standards of truth used by the ‘legacy media’ and then begin to talk about the need for new curriculum in the schools to create deference to the Legacy Media.

Another member then mentioned that the real solution to Fake News allegations was “further down the food chain in the schools” and called attention to a News Literacy Project that had been created to do just that. It would aid students to differentiate between Fake News and to know “what to believe.” That continued targeting of the internalized belief system that has always been a hall mark of Tranzi OBE under its various names (see last post and comments) got my attention.

So I came home and looked up the Project and discovered it had been started in Spring 2008 by veteran reporters from the LA Times. The family that had owned the Wall Street Journal before Rupert Murdoch was also involved and Steve Schmidt who had worked in the White House under Bush 43 and who managed John McCain’s Presidential run. Mollie Hemingway, now a Federalist editor and contributor to Fox News is on the Board. Since she is married to a writer at the Weekly Standard I think we can conclude that the Legacy Media as well as the so-called non-establishment media that is supposedly conservative all want to create school curriculum on how the media is regarded.

The really fascinating member of the Board in my mind who thoroughly conjoins media and education, learning standards and media literacy projects, and inside-out vs outside-in filtering to Consciously Create Consensus was Sam Wineburg. Wineburg is an education prof at Stanford who has been active in creating standards for “Civic Online Reasoning”. The Stanford History Education Group or SHEG is where everything comes together as they have created the Reading Like a Historian curriculum that can be used to create and measure the existence of the ‘desired understandings’ that students are to internalize as their required Higher Order Thinking Skills under federal ESSA law.

Doesn’t that sound like an excellent way to Consciously Create Consensus, especially if the curriculum gets used to create formative assessments that few parents will understand if they have not read Credentialed to Destroy? The News Literacy Project presented at both the 2016 and 2017 National Council for the Social Studies annual conference so we know these curricula will be used to create the C3 Framework ‘lenses’ to evaluate how students view the world around them. Turns out the nonsensical slogan that “we are teaching students how to think, not what to think” is actually not true at all.

Suddenly media literacy, new forms of learning, competencies, and the need to control the internalized belief system and values via prescribed standards and Habits of Mind takes us to a view of History that Karl Marx would have recognized. We need to as well to cut through the False Narratives ALL the media now seemed to find so useful:

“History is the ‘precondition of political intelligence’…It allows us to undertake sensible inquiry into the political, social, or moral issues that trouble us…[and] achieve the informed, discriminating citizenship essential to democratic government.”

The Parkland and other high school students then are simply fulfilling the roles SHEG and other experiential curriculum have trained them for. The way out of students who see themselves as Makers of History is to recognize that school has neurally and deliberately rewired them to do, think, want, and act in preapproved ways.

We are, after all, the Public whose consciousness the media, educators, and virtually every think tank I have looked at wants to control. We need to recognize the how and why and that it is not just students being targeted.

Change Your Belief, Change Your Behavior, Change Your Life–Tranzi OBE Again at the Forefront

Last week, we had yet another monumental school tragedy and, as always, one of my first reactions besides grief was to look at which of the poisonous behavioral science theories and models were being pushed in those schools. Transformational Outcomes-Based Education was a phrase used more in the 90s version of these same change-the-child reforms that I covered thoroughly in my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. Tranzi OBE is simply my shorthand nickname because it really is ubiquitous in its use even though the names used to describe it change. Having attended Restorative Justice programs here in Atlanta that would supposedly cure the School to Prison Pipeline, I did a search involving Broward County Schools.

This post’s title comes from the motto used by Broward’s exemplar (which got Superintendent Runcie invited to the White House in 2015) PROMISE Program. PROMISE is an acronym for Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support & Education. According to a February 18 Washington Post “Teacher’s say Florida suspect’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him,” Nikolas Cruz “was entrenched in the [PROMISE] process for getting students help rather than referring them to law enforcement.” In the previous two posts, I have been warning that the focus hiding behind phrases like Evidence-Based Policymaking needs to be on the model or theory being implemented–What is the desired change being sought?

That’s how I can recognize that motto as grounded in Tranzi OBE because it assumes the key to controlling future behavior is to get at students’ underlying beliefs and values and to ground future decision making in emotion. Get at what drives attention and intention and then provide new experiences until the desired assumptions become Habits of Mind. It is what the PROMISE Model will call “more effective coping skills and pro-social behaviors”. The e-book Eliminating the School-to-Prison Pipeline published by BCPS can be found here https://www.browardprevention.org/behavior/promise/ and I especially want to call attention to an assumption of the PROMISE model that seems tragically mistaken after Parkland. Let’s bold for emphasis– This approach focuses on the situation being the problem rather than the individual being the problem.

Translated that is a theory of human nature that assumes that people are not evil, circumstances are and that if environments can be changed and people can practice new behaviors grounded in new beliefs and values (Broward also uses Singleton’s Courageous Conversations on Race), people can change. After 17 murders and an intention to commit many more, does it make any sense to be using an education model that asserts that the individual is not the problem? I am going to quote from the beginning of that book because I truly believe there is a reason that school mass shootings always seem to occur in districts pushing Tranzi OBE as the new template of education. It is a manipulative, flawed view of human nature that fits a society where too many people want to steer people and institutions through the political process. These italics and bolding are in the original.

“Broward County Public Schools is committed to keeping students engaged in school and
out of the Juvenile Justice System. We take great responsibility towards achieving our
mission – to educating all students to reach their highest potential. We believe the
potential of each of our students is worth developing, including our youth who are at
risk of engaging in delinquent or criminal behaviors, and those already involved in the
juvenile justice system. It is for this reason that we have invested heavily, in
partnership with a number of community organizations, to provide prevention and
intervention programs and wraparound services for identified youth.
Additionally, Broward County Public Schools is a learning organization that values and
considers emerging research and is driven by the analysis of a body of data to inform
our practices. The national research and data on school discipline is clear on a number
of issues:

Exclusionary practices such as out-of-school suspension, expulsion and school
related arrests are detrimental to student success in school and in life.

School districts have a legal, and more importantly, a moral responsibility to
eliminating disproportional representation of minorities, student with
disabilities, and LGBT students in discipline.

Adults, in and out of school buildings – school leaders, teachers and support
personnel, law enforcement, court and juvenile justice leaders, behavior
health professionals, advocacy groups, policymakers, parents and students,
all play an important role in addressing this issue.”
So despite all the incidents we now know about, Nikolas Cruz could buy an AR-15 gun because no one wanted to be detrimental to his life chances? Because his school district believed that the situation was the problem, not the individual, right up until its former students like Nikolas Cruz or Trayvon Martin suddenly become notorious for their behavior? Because “punitive measures such as suspensions, expulsions, and school-based arrests” are viewed as “harsh policies [that] disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities and related behavioral problems.”
This link from the BCPS area http://www.lauderdalelakes.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2130 is called “Building Sustainable Communities through Restorative Justice” . It lays out the decision to use Civil Citations and Diversion alternatives to those ‘punitive measures” so that “Individualized, culturally competent delivery of restorative justice services addresses harmful incidents while allowing juveniles to make amends to their victims, communities, and families–in ways that do not sabotage their futures.”
If the Restorative Justice or Tranzi OBE models for education are harmful and push social theories with deadly results, adhering to them is still evidence-based policymaking. That’s why appreciating the errors in the underlying theory or model is so important. There are 17 fine people who have had their futures more than sabotaged by Nikolas Cruz’s intentional behavior and the flawed template being used to supposedly obtain Equity in education results cannot be ignored amid cries of gun control. I believe that’s also why we have seen so much conflation in the last week as if gun violence at schools and intentional mass murder in schools to kill students and teachers are equivalent and synonymous.
That second link states that in February 2014, Broward County, Florida became the “first county government in the US to earn certification as a “4 Star Sustainable Community.” It achieved this recognition that other school districts and counties are now supposed to emulate for its “violence prevention programs and strategies and best practice human service delivery.” In particular Broward “deserved this certification” because of its “Using Restorative Justice and other best practices to: ~Disrupt the ‘Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline,’ ~Address minority disproportionality, and ~provide alternatives to juvenile arrest and court involvement.”
Shouldn’t these practices grounded in behavioral science and flawed assumptions that people can be treated as ‘systems’ be reexamined instead of blindly calling for gun control? The same Behavioral Scientist publication that wanted to force Charlottesville Conversations that were all some how created before the August tragedy on all K-12 schools and classrooms insisted yesterday that we remember that mass shootings are NOT a product of mental illness. http://behavioralscientist.org/myth-mental-illness-causes-mass-shootings/ That’s reality getting in the way of a useful theory for social change, isn’t it?
Parkland and the media manipulation of this tragedy to support an existing agenda means that the existing agenda should be the focus of our attention. Why must the Tranzi OBE template always be protected as the new focus of K-12 schools? Why is no amount of innocent blood ever enough to force a reexamination? The same learning models that created Tranzi OBE, PROMISE, and Restorative Justice practices have been quietly embedded in every state plan I have looked at under ESSA, the new federal education law. We must be able to address what is wrong with these theories of behavioral and social science in a society with genuine aspirations of freedom for each individual.
Contrary to what too many professors in higher ed are teaching too many students, the 21st century should not be an experiment in social transformation if only the correct public policies can be enacted. If education to implement “a new, transformational theory of change” keeps coinciding with mass school shootings, why on earth are we refusing to take a hard look at that underlying theory of change and the techniques it is using?