Can you imagine what your workday would be like if your boss or the owner of the company actually had their own secret boss? Who was giving marching orders on what you should do or not do? You think you know what you are expected to do but there’s this whole other agenda going on in your workplace beyond your sight. It would be confusing and unsettling to say the least. Likely nothing you were being told as feedback would quite make sense.
That is essentially the role that UNESCO now plays in education globally. At both K-12 and higher ed and increasingly professional schools. Hugely influential about the nature of the degree programs that credential the teachers and administrators. Through the poorly understood accreditation process, UNESCO can influence what local school boards themselves can now get involved in or risk property value destroying revocation or just watch status. Then there is the dynamic that promotions from teaching into the much more lucrative administrative positions or from principal to the six-figure world of the Central Office all go to those implementing UNESCO positions with fidelity. Even if only a few recognize that UNESCO and its declared drive for a new Scientific Humanism globally for the 21st century is where so many contentious pushes originate. At the Central Office any chance for your own school district or lucrative post-retirement (or even while also still on the district payroll) consulting jobs go to those who implement with fidelity. Whatever the parent or student outcry.
So failing to understand the role of UNESCO or the accreditation process is literally a failure to grasp what drives what can go on in a school or classroom. Whatever the intentions of parents, school boards, legislators, Congress, or Governors. And that’s apart from currently having a federal DoED that expressly seeks to work in tandem now with UNESCO. If Romney had won the Presidency in the US in 2012 or if you elected a Republican governor, UNESCO remains a primary driver of policies and practices. It would just be less overt.
So when Bulgarian Irina Bokova campaigned to head UNESCO and return it formally to Julian Huxley’s pathway to an evolving Scientific Humanism that has nothing to do with the Renaissance and everything to do with Uncle Karl, it was going to affect local education virtually everywhere. Formal initiatives like the CCSSI in the US or Core Skills and Wellbeing in Australia just give the UNESCO agenda a vehicle to hide in. A vehicle that gets Bokova’s Agenda, or as she called it, her Mission Statement, into the classroom or online software program, where it can begin to alter Worldviews and Values and Beliefs. Just as she has openly declared. http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/BPI/EPA/images/media_services/Director-General/mission-statement-bokova.pdf
You may not believe in global governance or that education should be about shifting away from the Western concept of the primacy of the individual to the Eastern concept of the responsibility of the individual to the group but Irina and UNESCO do. And they have huge, poorly understood powers to bring about change. And the fact that Russian speakers at a UNESCO meeting in Paris are saying that this New Humanism and communism (little c, see earlier posts) are the same should really give us pause.
Except we were not supposed to know. And honestly too many Principals and Central Office Admins are too busy blindly pushing whatever will get them the next promotion to care or even pay attention to the real implications of these policies and practices. http://instituteforscienceandhumanvalues.com/articles/philosophical%20reflection.htm
from February 2012 is a Dutch prof who attended the symposium and was alarmed by what he heard.
So when UNESCO and its Moscow-based Institute for Information Technologies in Education (ISTE) published “Media Literacy and New Humanism” in 2010, it was intended to change education globally to get the Mindsets and values and beliefs UNESCO seeks for a radically altered global future. Behind our backs. Without our consent. But still coming to a classroom or university campus near you soon because of the way education really works. And the relationship between the real drivers like the accreditors or charitable foundations or even multinational corporations (who simply prefer to do business with a government Ministry that can also regulate potential competition) impacts the actual implementation. Not any “standards” or outcomes that contradict the new transformative purposes of education.
So it is not kooky to talk about UNESCO. Instead, it borders on negligence to do work in education and not be aware of its role. And when UNESCO seeks to turn education and the role of the media globally into a partnership designed to limit what we can know or do and what we are to believe, we need to take them at their nefarious word that they are quite serious. This was italicized in the foreword to the original report:
“Considering media literacy from intercultural perspective, the authors describe its role in the world where the notion of the uniqueness of each civilization as an isolated, self-sufficient entity is no longer valid: Humanity must force the media system as a whole to shoulder the obligation to stimulate this intense intercultural relation that the global world demands of us. We must force it to act as an interpreter and translator–cultural translation–among all of humanity’s diverse codes: between our codes and the codes of the Other. In other words, the goal is to align the entire media system with the obligation to make a systematic effort at mutual understanding among all the collectives, peoples. societies and communities in this global world.
And if a certain group’s designs or expressed intentions are incompatible with a sought just, equitable, and peaceful world, do you make the presentation or curriculum about the actual reality or the sought one? See our problem? This alliance may be news to us but probably not to anyone heading up a global media or advertising or even a tech company. It’s simply what passes for the Way Things Now Are at the conferences we do not get invited to. Its assumptions basically pass into the water of influence that filters down from there.
I will say that I did not see a single reference to Uncle Karl in that report. But a restatement of his theories and metaphors so thoroughly runs through it that the book/report would qualify for plagiarism under any campus honor code I have seen. Basically it could be satire of how to get to the same end result without using the M word. Marx talked about the mode of production, the report makes the mode of communication the trigger. In either case though ICT is that trigger and it is time for education and the media to concentrate “on the processes of constructing personal identities” ready for the socially networked world and an era of “universal relationships.” Not too far from the language used in President Obama’s recent high-speed broadband and digital learning edict.
Marx may have come up with the metaphor that “All that is Solid Melts into Air” to describe the time of tremendous change http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ but that quote might have triggered the real link. So the report cites NYU Prof Bauman and a Spainard instead for the insight that “our (everyday) life has abandoned the solidity of the past and become liquid.” Likewise, Marx’s outrage over what he called the alienation of man gets turned into statements about “a kind of personality dominated by being alone together.”
In case you are wondering what UNESCO seeks to do about all this, oh, nothing much. They just want to use education and the media to “decisively influence our psyche and our character.” Later, they get even more explicit on the goals: “transforming both the manmade environment around human beings and their interior, that is their intellectual capacities and mental skills.” Two points for every reader who recognizes an intent to gain an EcoMind and prevent Axemaker Minds.
We would be here all day if I quoted every horrifically troubling intention. The next post will have to be the how. Here are some of the highlights. This New Humanism really benefits holders of existing technology since it wants veto power over technological development in the future. So there will be a high degree of cronyism as “the new 21st century humanism must foster a critical sense that is alert to the hypertechnologized environment and capable of discerning between what should be retained and revamped.”
Also the “new humanism in the global communication society must prioritise a new sense of respect for multiplicity and cultural diversity and must support media development with the goal of consolidating the new culture of peace.” Well, kumbayah, at last. A brief look around the world tells us not to hold our breath but that knowledge is just not going to affect the classroom or newsroom. No, because “now is the time for us to be capable of reviving the classical idea of the cosmopolitan, universal citizen, with very clear rights and responsibilities, that entail a planet-wide commitment.”
And in the Brave New World connection that you just could not make up, here comes Aldous’ brother Julian as the inspiration for this 21st century vision. A vision that explicitly targets “our value system” as UNESCO and ISTE inform us that “We are calling for a global, evolving humanism, in the words of Julian Huxley.”
Do tell. And I will. More in the next post.