Creating New Minds, Different Values, Equity in Credentials: Can this Really Lead Us to Prosperity?

Contrary to the slogans Prosperity really is not available by government fiat but it sure can torpedo it. Beyond regulation, poor choices by politicians and other officials with the power to distribute other people’s money (like School Supers or the accreditors or even “private” businesses like Amplify or IBM or AT&T or other tech companies) who push harmful education ideas while capturing taxpayer money can destroy value. Poof! Take those dollar bills and light them afire! No you say. It was paid in salary or revenue to a connected company, it did not go poof.

But what happens when the resources confiscated from the taxpayer through property taxes or an ESPLOST or their federal or state income taxes buys less than the value that would have been created in the private sector? Where it would have been spent by a purchaser who cared about whether he was getting actual value for what he was spending. We are all poorer because that money was taxed away from private hands to a less efficient spender. So it needs to be spent for a good purpose.

That’s problem No 1 anytime the government decides to take money. That is true of all government but it is especially acute with school districts. Especially now. Why? Education reform now is heavily “influenced by the writings of Vico, Spinoza, and Hegel, Marx, and Engels [who] developed a theory of society now described as historical or dialectical materialism.” I mentioned that hereĀ but the book I mentioned in the last post, Computers as Cognitive Tools, and an article cited there “Beyond Amplification: Using the Computer to Reorganize Mental Functioning” make it crystal clear that the Skill Dominant Initiative and the Digital Learning Mandates and the No Transmission of Knowledge are ALL driven by political ideology. That really is taxpayer money spent poorly. A bonfire in fact, not just a Poof.

Collectivist, Remake Minds and Values Ideology. No ifs, ands, or buts about it even if a particular pushing administrator or Principal is unaware of the tainted past and Horrific Intentions of what they are implementing. That’s the beauty of Government Coercive Power. Do it or find another job. There are always people wanting to do business via political favors rather than crafting a superior product or service and taking real risk of capital.

This is the new view of education sought in the reforms in the 90s and now through the CCSSI ruse we have talked about This is not a dispute then about what to teach or how. Stripped of the rhetoric designed to obscure the reality of sought Political Transformation, we are in the midst of a dispute about what kind of country we will be in the future. Will the individual be free and have real personal autonomy? Or do politicians get to use operant conditioning techniques in K-12 education to change values and make curriculum choices to limit permissable knowledge? Is a student merely a lump of clay to be molded by the state to fit its needs and especially the needs of those employed by or seeking revenue from the government? That’s what the real CCSSI implementation assumes. That’s what Digital Literacy and Mandated Sight Reading Methods are all about.

Symbolic cultural tools identified by Soviet psychologists Vygotsky and Luria as strengthening individual mental capacity like written language must be weakened. Tools with the innate capacity, like the computer, to weaken mental function by becoming a substitute for it, must be pushed. It is desired cultural evolution where we are under attack to STOP “our nature-transcendent innovation as a species.” Just like Paul Ehrlich wanted when he pushed his Newmindedness and James Burke wrote about as the Axemakers Gift that must be stopped. Here’s the political vision being pushed by our ed schools and the accreditation agencies all over the world. It is the essence of what CCSSI is seeking and why Arne Duncan wants all curriculum to be digitized by 2017 at the latest.

“Human nature, on this view [reference to Marx and others listed above], rather than being a product of environmental forces, is of our own making and continually ‘becoming.’ Humankind is reshaped through a dialectic of reciprocal influences: Our productive activities change the world, thereby changing the ways in which the world can change us. By shaping nature and how our interactions with it are mediated, we change ourselves.”

So the computer and digitizing content and making the visual dominant instead of relying on symbolic transformation and haranguing any teacher pushing factual content each become a means of “cultural redefinition”. The dialectic just outlined of “shaping who we are by changing, not just amplifying, what we do.” Together these initiatives being imposed all at once are designed to actually pummel the individual student mentally and psychologically. No wonder there is a tragic history to these mandated social and emotional learning coupled with limits to knowledge shifts.

Over this past weekend, a Canadian education site pushed this Open Letter to Educators. Not complaining mind you but wanting these thoughts to gain widespread attention. Without the paying public even knowing.

“Education isn’t about teaching facts. It is about stoking creativity and new ideas. It is not about teaching students to conform to the world as it is. It is about empowering students to change the world for the better.”

Now how can someone without knowledge of history and what has gone tragically wrong and why, or economics with its built-in appreciation for unintended consequences, actually be in a position to change the world for the better? Changing the world for the better has always grown from the ascendancy of the individual and freedom of choices. Now realistically how can education reform designed to gut all that change the world for the better? This is education reform that destroys value instead of enabling its future production. There is no future prosperity here no matter what Amplify’s press releases say. Just prosperity for connected businesses that hire former School District Supers that can rely on doing business with taxpayer money with their former associates.

Now is wholesale social change an appropriate decision for educators or computer or broadband vendors or accreditors to be making? Especially in a country like the US with the US Constitution protecting the mind as property and the primacy of the individual instead of government?

Instead of knowledge the computer becomes a means of collaboration and testing hypotheses against the computer’s prepackaged scenarios (where the Earth will be frying itself whatever the actual temps or facts) and solving complex problems that may actually be insoluble (at least by a central planner but the computer will not tell you that. And the teacher may now be forbidden to) and making plans and setting goals. That’s knowledge in our new Digital world. I may have been horrified by the educational vision of Mooresville, NC but Amplify’s website saw it as the August 10 featured story.

Likewise, I find the vision of graphic novels centered around a pretend Zombie Apocalypse for middle schoolers to be horrid. See for yourself and decide Amplify sees it as an innovation to be touted on its website and celebrates that ZBL “appeals to kids the same way a videogame does.” Yes, at an emotional, visual, non-rational level.

Let’s end with what its creator says he intends the students to be learning from ZBL: It is supposed to be a framework for teaching middle school geography (in a way most of us would associate with Cultural Anthropology and Sociology).

“The story has several parts: Students prepare for the impending outbreak, then they have to survive the chaos, find a new settlement, build a new community, and plan for the future of their new home. Instead of just studying existing maps, for example, they have to design their own to track the spread of the zombies. In the end, students have to use higher-order thinking to solve real-world problems, or almost real world that is.”

So students are being taught virtually nothing about the world where they actually dwell and must ultimately get by in. They are immersed in imaginary scenarios that encourage them to trash the world as it exists and aspire to a different future.

Only in a sector of the economy used to living off OPM, Other People’s Money, could such ludicrous ideas as remaking education to fit Marxian political theory gain widespread currency. And I am afraid it will be up to those of us without the magical Education Indoctrination degrees to put a stop to it.

What would we do if medical schools reverted back to bleeding as the remedy for all ailments? This is not dissimilar.



6 thoughts on “Creating New Minds, Different Values, Equity in Credentials: Can this Really Lead Us to Prosperity?

  1. Pingback: Educational values your child will be forced to espouse « Churchmouse Campanologist

  2. You ask: “What would we do if medical schools reverted back to bleeding as the remedy for all ailments?”

    We may find out. The new MCAT exam starting in 2015, for students applying to medical school, will feature a reduced role for linear thinking. Instead of just chem, physics and bio. now they’ll be testing your knowledge of social and behavioral sciences — probably ties into something in Obamacare..

  3. Robin, do you (or does anyone else) have a good link to what Vygotsky did in the USSR? The best thing I’ve found is the wikipedia entry:

    which says he developed the idea of social learning but says his ideas were repressed rather than being adopted. It also doesn’t mention anything coercive like advocacy of mind-numbing methods or technology. For that matter, 80 years ago Vygotsky could hardly imagine the arrival of computers, so what were his comments about technology?

    Thanks for any help, I am starting to think in your recent writings that I am missing the prerequisite to this course, what with all the Vygotsky references!

    • David,

      James Wertsch and Michael Cole are the two US scholars most associated with being Vygotsky scholars. So is Peter Smagorinsky in English. It has to do with denying that their is any intrinsic mind. Everything arises from the environment and social interaction according to Vygotsky and then it comes to the individual. Which means what ever he or she is capable of did not originate with them and therefore doesn’t really belong to him. is probably my first post about Vygotsky.

      A computer is a mediational cognitive tool and cultural artifact of the kind he wrote about. Except it is one that can weaken mental capacity. Virtually everyone we are dealing with from the USSR to the US labels themselves as Vygotskyian. It’s not about the individual mind. And what you children can do that is exceptional is because they have well educated parents and then offering them Gifted for example just adds to what are already considered to be illegitimate advantages. Plus catering to today’s gifted reproduces current inequities.

      Lois Holzman, who is up your way, used to work with Michael Cole at Rockefeller U, before CHAT relocated to San Diego. She wrote a book called Schools for Growth: Radical Alternatives to Current Educational Models in 1997 that was reprinted in 2009. What was radical in the 90s now gets mandated as Best Practice missing the Radical adjective. She is talking to insiders so she graphically lays out the Vygotskyian/ Marxian developmental vision.

      A book I had been waiting on arrived yesterday from the UK. It is from the early 80s and lays out the Hegelian vision as compared to traditional education. I will be finishing it today but I would clearly now take all this back to Hegel. Constructivism is what he called expressivism and one of the related books with a kind of cooperative commonwealth economic vision for the future is called The Spirit Society. It is being especially pushed in the UK which is further along on the ed transformation template thanks to Blair and Michael Barber’s programs and priorities. But Robert Reich, Clinton’s Labor Secretary wrote the Forward.

      Plus Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi who I just call Csik who wrote Flow and defined excellence in education as aligning what is wished for, felt, and thought, describes himself as a phenomenologist. Which brings in Hegel. Csik is also involved with coming up with what constitutes creativity for CCSSO’s EDSteps Initiative.

      Hope that helps. When I write of Urie Bronfenbrenner or Cultural-Historical Activity Theory that is Vygotskyian. And Ann Brown, who created the Fostering Communities of Learners template for the classroom also describes the Learning Communities as Vygotskyian. And inspired by what she, Michael Cole, and Courtney Cazden saw on a trip to the USSR during the Cold War. Cazden mentions it in her book and my FCL documents mention over and over again it is based on Vygotsky.

      That is long but should get you what you are looking for. I have a book that lays out the Computer as a Vygotskyian tool and the recognition it weakens the mind. That is also acknowledged in the Cyberlearning post. Roy Pea is another who proudly wears the mantle of pushing Lev’s vision.

      • Hello Robin,

        I am seeing many teachers coming out of college whether it be undergraduate or graduate using Carol Dweck’s Mindset as a basis for change in the classroom. Why is Dweck becoming so accepted in the classroom?

        • She is a Vygotskyian scholar and her work (which I have multiple copies of over at least the last 20 years). Her work is designed to change the child and what they value, believe, feel, and how they ultimately act. Since phrasing it that way would be a tipoff to parents as to what is going on and they might be alarmed, her work from decades as a social/developmental psychologist with a decidedly political vision of where all this “Learning” should take society, got repackaged as a Growth Mindset. That sounds desirable while Fixed Mindset does not.

          But the reality is it masks the shift from a traditional, content-oriented, transmission of knowledge curriculum to a change the child, developmental curriculum. What my most recent post on Desiring a Radical Dialectic Change called “authoring.” Transformative education at the level of consciousness to ultimately get to social, economic, and political transformation. Of course I think we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater and will end up with adults that have expectations that cannot be met because they have little knowledge or genuine skills.

          As you know I have come at this from every angle for a reason apart from explaining all the ramifications. I cannot see it working from any of the anticipated angles. Tomorrow will be another interweaving post and you will see once again it is all related. It is global. And it relies on continued access to OPM, Other People’s Money, to keep what is actually a Ponzi scheme going. But Ponzi this time has access to a printing press, taxpayer money, and a taxpayer backed credit card in the form of Treasury and municipal bond debt.

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