It’s the holiday season so let me provide the gift of clarity on the true direction of education at any level, in both the US and globally. This time we are going back to 1994 to another book from the last post’s James Moffett called The Universal Schoolhouse: Spiritual Awakening Through Education. I went back and reread it a few weeks ago after so many of the new papers and stories in just the last month reminded me so much of his earlier vision. Remember my motto about how the intentions of the architect for his plans follow automatically if anyone chooses to implement those plans, whether that actual purpose is known or not? Moffett told us though so let’s listen. Moffett, after all, believed that Culture and Consciousness should provide the dual focus for a new sort of education. He asked:
“How may public education best affect culture and the individual consciousness it interacts with?…I argue that personal development must be central, because all solutions to public problems, no matter how collective the action, depend on mature, enlightened individuals to call for and indeed insist on these solutions. Democracy simply cannot work otherwise, and we will lose it if political leaders continue to have to pander to the selfish, childish, bigoted, and short-sighted elements of the electorate. [No wonder citizen science is needed!] So it is not only for the sake of self-fulfillment that individuals should set and assess their own educational programs but for the sake of the commonweal, which needs members who, in learning to think and do for themselves, can think about and take care of each other.
All learners would participate in community service, and social agencies would be built into the educational system as major arenas of learning. Expanding awareness must occur socially, as part of transforming the culture. Only individual maturation will make either capitalism or democracy work, because freedom in both the market and individual behavior, presupposes a consciousness and identity that go beyond mere egoism.”
I will stop there as alert readers will recognize those aims are not just those of the admitted Left in transformational plans. We have also been told repeatedly, as I have documented here at ISC, that such a balance of instilled virtue is the very essence of modern Conservatism. So if I watch this video https://lp.hillsdale.edu/barney-charter-school-initiative-townhall/ sent out less than a week ago, I am told this new vision of education is all about instilling desired Character and tools of meaning-making and sense-making in viewing the world. Moffett would approve. Likewise, when a Hillsdale alumna who writes often about education wrote in The Federalist on November 10, 2018 that “all K-12 public schools should be duty-bound to instill in the next generation of voting citizens an understanding of their own country and the habits of mind and character befitting our historically unparalleled constitutional republic,” we get a substitute of the ‘republic’ term for Moffett’s Democracy, but the desired Citizen Science and internalized transformation in Consciousness is there all the same.
When I wrote Credentialed to Destroy, I covered much of the misleading narrative that sought to obscure the real aims of the Common Core and competency frameworks and how they fit with what was laid out above as well as the “students need common skills and understandings” called for here https://www.crpe.org/sites/default/files/crpe-thinking-forward-new-ideas-new-era-public-education.pdf and the “system of learning designed to ensure that all learners are prepared with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to be successful lifelong learners” from here https://www.inacol.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Moving-Toward-Mastery.pdf . Since I am providing those links, I want to focus on what all these links and references have in common, no pun intended.
The common core is not something external, but rather something internalized as a new form of consciousness just as Moffett intended. Those CRPE and iNACOL papers fit with what Moffett said would be “Subjects and methods are reorganized around individual learners forging their personal curricula in interaction with others doing the same across a whole spectrum of learning sites, situations, and technologies. This is what I am calling the universal schoolhouse.” Today, we simply call it Project-Based Learning around a student’s built and natural environment. I get so frustrated when the False Narrative around these reforms makes Fed Ed the boogeyman because Moffett then, and the ESSA in the US, and UNESCO and the 0ECD globally, all know that “Part of this radical proposal is that the functions and funds of government be redeployed so that each level of government from municipal to federal does only what it can do better than the others.”
Since Moffett was so forthcoming that “without personal development you cannot hope for the enlightened electorate that democracy requires,” let’s go back to his vision that “Governments themselves will have to undertake this redirection, because they have charge of resources, and through them people must take action. [Higher standards enforced via the Rule of Law]. The state has to sponsor personal development for the sake of the social body, because there is no public problem one can name–unwanted children, unemployment, corruption in government–that would not be dramatically improved if the people involved were more mature, capable, and moral. Selfishness, ignorance, and immaturity can spoil any political and economic system, as indeed they have with both capitalism and communism.”
In case the real intention of learning standards is not yet evident, even though the eulogies for Moffett from NCTE members when he suddenly died, laid out that his work was “always on a quest for a better society” and the “culture we should create,” let’s go back to his admission that “education must prepare for the future…Evolution seems to press forward with a will of its own that gives history a direction no government ever planned. We must become conscious of this direction and try to interpret its import for future society…The more we take evolution into our own hands, the less destructive it needs to be.”
I don’t think you or I are included in that ‘our,’ but the political potentates at any level of government certainly are. They enact learning standards mandates and then give an erroneous sales pitch on why it is necessary as we saw above. Meanwhile, we get the law, my specialty, being used for “creating social coherence while fostering personal self-realization–the trick of our era–requires an education tuned to human evolution.” That OECD ABCD Framework from the last post makes total sense when we appreciate that the impetus for learning standards from the beginning was part of a vision where “nationhood is evolving into something better, based on relegating different sorts of governance to different levels of affiliation within and beyond itself, according to where different concerns can best be handled.”
The Powers-that-Be have decided some of those concerns are best handled at the level of instilling desired Habits of Mind and a Revolution of the Heart and they haven’t exactly been forthcoming in that purpose. It’s dangerous to keep hyping Workforce Development as the intended new role of education globally, when the architects of the tools being used tell us that “Since it is within familiar human realms that we have to transform education, however, let’s designate consciousness and culture as the new framework replacing nationalism and economics but understand that transformation itself aims to make consciousness and culture cosmic.” No wonder we keep stumbling across references to Ken Wilber and his Integral Theory behind all these plans for educational, political, or social transformation.
Remember that the ABCD Framework put the focus on developing the Learner’s Attention, Belief Formation, Choice, and then Determination? Compare that to what Moffett called “Sociality for Individualization”:
“Public education will have to do what the culture has so far failed to do–develop the individual’s inner resources to match the freedom we have been granted. Freedom is not enough; one has to learn how to use it. This means practicing it all while growing up by making decisions about how to spend one’s time…developing good judgment and learning how to make decisions is precisely what a good education ought to feature for the sake of both self-fulfillment and effective employment. Public education needs to be more personal [personalized learning?] in order to connect with individual will and intelligence. Exercise of will and mind go together. The school system cannot reserve will to itself and leave mind to the learner.”
I think I will close on that quote.
Happy December everyone.