Dialectical Integration of the Person as a Totality: How Can That Make Anyone Competitive Internationally?

What do you mean no one describes the goal in that language in their powerpoint and it’s rude of me to interject such a graphic description into the public debate? Should it count if the clear trail from what is being pushed in the name of making countries or states internationally competitive in the 21st century global economy tracks back to that kind of explicit language? I think it should too even if the 1990 book I took that language from was intentionally withdrawn from the library shelves at Colorado College precisely to prevent anyone from doing just what I did. Recognizing what the editor had been up to in the last 10 years in his work for the OECD and ordering the previously unknown book when a cite to it cropped up in the footnotes on the psychological, Social Brain Project, focus. Truly as much as I love to read, some descriptions that make it to print need to be buried deep or burned if you want to keep the aim and mystery of “college and career ready for all” and everyone should try to excel on international assessments like PISA.

Otherwise a pesky writer might chase the vision back to lots of references about how to get social systems to evolve to new kinds of mindsets that would no longer see the Soviet Union as the ‘other’ and risk nuclear annihilation. What is it about psychologists and educators who keep insisting we must have empathy towards cultures where the facts actually show plenty of leaders would like to eliminate us to put it mildly if they could. USSR in 1990 and the Alliance of Civilizations in 2013. Dialectical Integration of the Person in 1990 and a Growth Mindset and systems thinking and metacognition and Kegan’s self-authoring, 4th stage, in 2013. Now I think we have had to wind our way through too much psychobabble in recent posts precisely so we could appreciate the sought emphasis coming to schools, classrooms, and maybe your next corporate retreat soon.

I want to talk about how all this rhetoric about being “high performing” and “internationally competitive” and ensuring “economic prosperity” is forcing us to adopt that very psychosynthesized, dialectically integrated, inner core driven by love for all vision accidentally. Because no one seems to bother to look into the actual definitions of terms or the nature of these international assessments. Busy, famous people who hopefully mean well with all their advocacy are pushing ideas that are not actually aimed where these professors and politicians and business executives claim they want us to go.

Now a Swede by the name of Torsten Husen laid out the function of these “tests’ in driving a global socialist, welfare state vision decades ago in his 1974 book The Learning Society and then later in 1986 in The Learning Society Revisited. Not really a dispute over that one.

Likewise the true nature of PISA and the OECD term Competencies and the intentions were well-laid out in February 2002 at the Second DeSeCo Symposium in Geneva, Switzerland. Which again we were not invited to. We could have brought our ski boots and a cute jacket and drank brandies by a fireplace with a view but no. DeSeCo by the way is an abbreviation for Definition and Selection of Key Competencies but how do we, I mean the OECD officials, get to decide what will be key? Well, we could have Robert Kegan come be the keynoter of the symposium. That’s the same person we encountered in the last post and previously when the Hewlett Foundation hired him and Peter Senge to make sure the Common Core vision in the US would align with Hewlett’s deep learning emphasis. And deep learning says the OECD as of 2010 means the same as its term “adaptive competence.” It all fits together like a designed blueprint, huh, once we focus on the actual implementation instead of the PR powerpoints?

So Kegan focused on “Competencies as Working Epistemologies: Ways We Want Adults to Know.” Now he left out the part about “so they will be suitably malleable in our evolving new social systems and take action to achieve what we wish” but that is the gist of it. If you remember genuine disciplinary knowledge and a well-practiced logical mind leads to overintellectualization. And that proves to be an obstacle to the desired consciousness that never forgets it is part of an interdependent collective. Seeking harmony with all others and nature…

So that’s the vision the OECD is chasing with PISA and it’s also the vision the RSA is pushing in its Social Brain Project so that students will be ready for what the OECD regards as a well-functioning 21st century society. Which is still about a public-sector administered subjective well-being society of equity and justice…

Oh quit laughing. Who says it will end poorly this time? We can dream, can’t we? As you can see there’s a reason everyone uses vague illusory phrases and misleading definitions to obscure the real vision. A book came out last week called Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School published by the Brookings Institute with Larry Summers writing the Foreword. Mr Soon-to-Be-Head at the Federal Reserve Maybe. It laid out the need to do well on PISA and other international assessments as a means of “guaranteeing a vibrant economic future.” Poppycock! That’s not what is being measured and chasing after that type of excellence virtually ensures no continuation of economic prosperity.

I mentioned the Brookings angle because chasing after getting good at dialectical thinking and the integration of feeling into thought and new values as PISA actually pushes and monitors fits in perfectly to Brookings’ Metropolitanism, Regional Equity, Let the Public sector and Private sector work in partnership crony economic vision that we have already encountered. Like most things having to do with ed reforms these days the truth is behind the curtain and under the sofa but it IS there. And it is all linked. And surprisingly consistent across the decades once you see the vision of transformative change.

But a means for economic prosperity? No. I went back to another 1990 book so I could explain what really causes the kind of economic success and technological progress that is being used as the misleading sales pitch for all this psychological, change-the-student and society crap. Written by an economic historian, Joel Mokyr, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress lays out the necessary ingredients. And unfortunately for all of us, they are precisely what is being shut down by these ed reforms.

Mokyr points out that what always stops technological progress in its tracks is “social forces that for one reason or another tried to preserve the status quo.” Now the benefits of ed reform and especially the digital literacy focus involve concentrated benefits to a relatively few companies and consultants and widely dispersed costs. Many of those are not even financial but the invisible shift to more malleable mindsets and personalities. Benefits to a few and dispersed, almost unseen costs, are a classic case of when the winners will try to lobby politicians and regulators to “help them out a bit.” And that’s apart from the paranoia that putting Worldcom and DEC on the list of former leading companies will do to surviving tech companies. Can’t imagine being dropped from the Dow Industrial Average will slow down HP’s push into ed in the least. Probably will become part of the turnaround plans. That’s how the cronyism instinct works once the public sector controls so much of who gets what.

Progress requires just the kind of willingness to manipulate the physical environment and nature that the ecologists are trying to shut down. The emphasis on holism just does not fit with the reality from history that “Teasing these secrets out of [nature] and then manipulating them for material benefit is the essence of any technological breakthrough.” Moreover, “technological change involves an attack by an individual on a constraint that everyone else takes as a given.” Now how will that happen in a society trying to wipe out the very legitimacy of individualism? Let’s run through the conditions required to be technologically creative and thus economically prosperous and let’s decide what is left standing after these ed reforms:

“First, there has to be a cadre of ingenious and resourceful innovators who are both willing and able to challenge their physical environment for their own improvement. ..Second, economic and social institutions have to encourage potential innovators by presenting them with the right incentive structure. In part such incentives are economic; technological creativity is more likely if an innovator can expect to become rich…Third, innovation requires diversity and tolerance [of ideas!! not skin color or gender]. In every society, there are stabilizing forces that protect the status quo… Technological creativity needs to overcome these forces.”

So the parts of the economy and educational institutions that do promote genuine technological creativity are becoming captive to the public sector and businesses wanting to make sure they don’t become the next defunct or greatly diminished company.

And all those slogans about innovation and entrepreneurship turn out to be about new social systems or different ways of organizing an economy or new kinds of human nature.

In other words, if we are to have ANY chance of preserving mass prosperity and technological progress going forward, we have got to keep our eye on the real implementation.

Verify everything from now on when it comes to education.


9 thoughts on “Dialectical Integration of the Person as a Totality: How Can That Make Anyone Competitive Internationally?

    • Thanks David.

      I think the Wall Street Journal’s advocacy now of PISA and pushing the Endangering Prosperity meme has to be seen through their huge Amplify investment.

      Can you believe this was written the day after this post? http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323324904579042672762472600.html

      Klein has said these tablets will come loaded with games that are adaptive. In other words, the tablet will come to know students and what their strategies are and how they seem to frame their views conceptually and whether they have fixed mindsets or growth. Amplify is also one of the original players involved with inBloom as it was first being developed so that is a tremendous amount of psychological and motivational data. Much of that is being taken from the unconscious responses students may not be aware of.

      I was pretty horrified last fall to be 20 feet away from Joel Klein as he pushed the idea that these tablets would help create “new kinds of minds” so I wrote the next post about the implications of what he said. It is even more relevant today. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/ridiculing-the-1860s-mind-as-unsuitable-for-the-21st-century-cui-bono/

      The touchy-feely term being used to obscure the extent of the sought transformation of the mind and personality via computer is “personalized.” As the school district continues to flounder about the improper handling of the loaded gun in an area middle school, part of the reason for the floundering seems to be deceit over the true nature of the charter, the fraud surrounding site-based management, and excitement over shifting to “personalized” learning. Going back and forth from the theory and open declarations to actual school and district meetings is fascinating.

      So busy trying to transform students and schools and society without being caught, these principals and administrators are just not capable of dealing with the world as it currently exists. Their real job.

    • I have read it now and look forward to other reader’s reactions.

      Did you notice the reference to how “democratizing” this technology is? Are we better off then to be level in the gutter economically together or with uneven levels of wealth and income generated in the private, noncronyist sector that throws off prosperity from new inventions and innovations to products and services people want?

      Notice all the references to those international assessments a justifying the need to change. This is what I call a bridging post. There is info here we will need going forward to appreciate how we are being played and why it is these ed reforms and the actual sought implementation, especially this digital model, that ultimately endanger prosperity.

      Data about individuals is not the danger. It is the personal data about how individuals react that is so crucial and anonymity lets it remain useful. The mention of monitoring length of gazing and pupil dilation was very telling.

      If the mention of monitoring the developing mind is not alarming given our mentions of dialectics and CORE and using emotion and Enduring Understandings to frame perceptions and Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete, the next post will really nail it down. I am reading a Kegan book from the early 90s and it is graphic on what is desired as it was written before the controversy. Dovetails nicely with the open declarations in the 1990 book mentioned in this post.

      Thanks again. And I enjoyed your examples in the other discussion.

    • Here’s one more link because this gets pushed as an idea but it succinctly reflects where I happen to know the actual implementation is aimed at. Using projects and computer learning but it’s this real world problem centered vision and shift from content.


      The article leaves it out but mentions Elizabeth Coleman as an inspirer of this vision and a link to her TED talk. That is David Coleman’s mother and I would agree she has greatly inspired where he seeks to take US education and global. First as creator of CCSSI’s vision and now with all the College Board’s power and money.

      • Tyler never does explain where the students are going to get subject-area knowledge in his model. I expected it somewhere after “let me explain” but the explanation did not include that.

        The main justification given seems to be that it will force teachers to plan lessons together. If that’s so important, a “team” approach can be used with traditional subject areas too. Our middle school does everything that way. English and Social Studies often show signs of such coordination. (I think the Social Studies curriculum and teachers are generally deleterious, but that’s another issue.)

        And so what we get is a bunch of entitled ignorami telling us how to solve problems they are told they understand well enough — but don’t. And even more importantly, they are totally clueless about the outline of what they don’t understand — at that age, it’s inevitable. And those who do understand at least parts of the problems will have a real hard time shutting down the nonsense and being heard above the din. And God forbid someone say that we don’t have to take seriously the solutions of some average 14 year olds proposed for whatever they are told are our pressing problems of the day. I am sure that in many career fields, even hinting at such a thing would be a career ender.

  1. I thought I would repost this here, as well as at your last posting, because I wanted David to know how I appreciated and resonated with his previous posts as well as many who add to and support your research. I felt a fool upon retirement having no clue about the planned future of American students. But the insidiousness of the plans are now evident to me.

    Robin, before I came to trust what you wrote, I needed to know your worldview. I need to know someone’s lens on the world before I try to see it through their eyes. Many of the responders here give us a peek at their lives and what has lead them to caring about CCSS and their effect on our children and our children’s children in their lives here in the home of the brave and land of the free (as my Dad believed it to be when he abandoned his family in eastern Europe and brought my Brit mom and me to America).

    Having three kids, and now 9 grandkids, 7 of which are in public schools and the oldest (16) being home schooled by me, and having taught over 3000 or so other folks’ children, I have experience in Ed behind me for my worldview. That as well as 50 or so years as a practicing Christian who still believes, ” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Tim 3:16. And I wish I were more winsome but I am still working on that.

    Foil hat wearer alert: I am suspicious of our govt as never before, and I will read ISC regularly as Robin has her finger on the Public Education Kool Aide drinking masses like no one else on the web. I am learning daily that in a multitude of words, well according to Ecclesiastes 10, anyway, 

    “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
        but fools are consumed by their own lips.
    13 At the beginning their words are folly;
        at the end they are wicked madness—
    14     and fools multiply words.
    No one knows what is coming—
    who can tell someone else what will happen after them?

    Not you, not I, but at least Robin’s research rings true to what I saw happening my last 15 years in my local school system. And I drank that Kool Aide myself for most of those years. I was no dummy, but I didn’t see it coming. I was what I now call a true believer, in that I wanted to see only the good in the system and vocation I had chosen to be my life’s work.

     I retired from a school that was in a corrections mode, with 2 years left before the state dumped the admin and picked their own. The creativity was out the door and the template teaching was on it’s way. I hear they are full swing into facilitating, not teaching, group work not individual accomplishment, cut n paste not read and write from treasured sources, PBS not consequences for inappropriate behaviours. All the power stripped from the teacher and given to the children. Collectivism, propaganda preaching, and deep learning that means the children end up knowing nothing of true moral or ethical value, and precious little content of any kind.

     That’s what I know. And Robin is giving me the background on the why of it. And for that I will always be grateful to her website. She is already accomplishing a tremendous amount here.  (And ThomasG is totally confusing the issue.)

    I calls it like I sees it. My street creds and my background allow me to speak to this issue, just like many, but apparently not all of us, here.

  2. Robin, could there be a link on your page to a compendium, a list or glossary to help those of us with shorter memories with all the acronyms and arcane/ double-speak/ news-peak jargon?

    • George-if you look at the tags to left you will usually find that I attach the full name to the tags and in definitions for the tag like ‘rigor’.

      I think I used HP in this post reflexively for Hewlett Packard. You can also ask me to direct you to the best post for a definition in the comments. I have note books of every post. Except this one because the printer was acting up.

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