Say what? Did that title make you want to clean your glasses or bop yourself gently to make sure you are reading correctly? Yup, welcome to the world of communications among powerful decision makers that you don’t see but that are designed to both affect what is coming to classrooms. And to redesign the future. All of ours. Without consent. All based on the disputable idea that is not being shared with you–the idea that “human beings and their institutions could be changed for the better.” Can they?
History tells us that a wholesale restructuring of a social system that evolved over time is a terrible idea and that incremental change is the way to go because effects of changes can then be seen and evaluated. But then those systems never had the opportunity to hire as a consultant someone who is a thought leader in Appreciative Inquiry or a research associate for the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. Much less the Co-chair of the 2009 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Did they do any climbing do you think or just embrace the joys of human potential while traveling at someone else’s expense? Do Not Know but I pulled that description off a presentation the Taos Institute did for the Houston Schools in 2009 called “Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools: Leveraging the Power of Our Community.” It was to be a national model and brought together a broad range of city stakeholders to chart a new course. I am thinking this AI Whole System approach that puts “future scenarios” into HISTORICAL and GLOBAL perspective (their bolding and caps) so students and adults have “shared understanding and great commitment to act” is going to come in so handy with the Green Urban Economy and Regionalism commitment of a redesigned future from our last two posts.
So good to know GCI will be coming to Houston in May where leaders, employees, and students have had AI training to engage in a “collaborative search to identify and understand the organization’s strengths, the greatest opportunities, and people’s aspirations and hopes for the future.” All reimagining paid for with contributions and Stimulus dollars and lots of public debt and now new visions for federal revenue sharing. Free to use the AI 4D Model of Dream, Design, Deployment, and Discover which is not a model anyone would use on their own dime or intentionally with their own kids.
As I have said before, with 40% of all federal spending currently being borrowed, what happens to all these Pie in the Sky Schemes to reimagine a Future by targeting kids consciousness when they become adults who firmly believe just as cultivated and monitored? But no one actually knows much or can do much but collaborate and want someone to provide for them what they have been led to expect is their due?
Can you really Create “Promising Futures through Social Construction” as associates of the Taos Institute are leading educators (and UN officials apparently) to believe? Let’s back up to how I got here because I do not go perusing school districts’ websites unless I have a reason. No, in yet another one of those troubling reports produced recently by the influential Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in American Education called “Social Epistemology and the Pragmatics of Assessment” I read many things I knew were factually untrue.
Note to future schemers: Using Legal Theory to Create a Barrier to Criticism just comes across to me as proof of playing games. I also have a real problem with the idea that a professor whose psychological views of knowledge and social constructivist perspectives might be over the heads of those bright Swarthmore students (according to a debate in a newsletter online from about 10 years ago) are now being taught as fact to K-12 teachers for implementation on students as part of the Common Core reforms.
As Kenneth Gergen said himself in his 2009 book Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community (that the title of this post came from), his views come from “an enormously important line of scholarship stemming from sociological and political theory” and that it is “especially important in its critique of liberal individualism.” Now elsewhere in his book Gergen mentioned advancing Marxian thought and the Frankfurt School (by name. Look up Lukacs, Adorno, Herbert Marcuse if you are not familiar. Need to move on). Which again raises the question. Why on earth would any free society with any aspirations for remaining free in the future be grounding their future educational practices and philosophies in what I would honestly describe as Individual Subjugation Theories?
Gergen wrote that communitarian works like Habits of the Heart that we have already discussed reveal “in touching detail the insidious implications of individualist ideology for human relationships.” A viewpoint that is his privilege to hold. But if it guides his pedagogy and that pedagogy is coming to a classroom or assessment near you under the Common Core mandate, then it has ceased to be JUST his personal viewpoint. He was on the Gordon Commission for a reason. And it seems to be these views and his desire, citing James Paul Gee from the last post, of making:
“Learning and knowledge not so much understood as inside the head of the learner as embodied in the relational actions and practices taking place in the learning environment.. . [These alternative ways of thinking and practicing evaluation then] create pushes for “more egualitarian (new word I suppose), reflective, dialogic, collaborative, and context sensitive practices of enhancing human performance.”
Again those views are his and Professor Ezekial J Dixon-Roman’s right to hold. But we get to understand those practices and beliefs for what they are. Designed to gain political, social, and economic transformation through the classroom by changing what students believe, value, and feel and drastically restricting what they actually know. Without our permission as a country or community or as parents. Without a vote. Under an invisibility cloak as I have called it.
In his book Gergen said these educational practices that his Taos Institute calls Appreciative Inquiry are to “reflect, sustain, and advance productive forms of relational being.” We have talked about how the actual Common Core implementation teaching standards require a “student-centered classroom.” That shift from a “curriculum-centered education (drawing from the teacher’s knowledge base)” is necessary for a relational classroom. Where the focus is to be on “student capabilities,” not the transmission of knowledge to an individual.
What Gergen described as the relational classroom is precisely what we are seeing as required by standards for “teaching and learning” or “relevance” or “engagement”. The “focus” is “directed to relations between teachers and students, and among students.” Then:
“Relations between the classroom and its environment should also be extended from the local to the global context. The classroom would ideally be a meeting ground for the concerns of the world. [making good use of the AI 4D Cycle I am sure to pretend all problems can be solved with good faith and collective will. Tell that to North Korea] And finally, there are the relationships of the future. With what skills are students prepared to enter the relationships on which global life will depend?”
And who decides what the future will be like? We have already encountered another systems thinker and Organizational Learning specialist, Peter Senge, lay out his Regenerative Society and the related Capitalism 3.0. Professor Shoshana Zuboff has laid out her Distributed Capitalism within a Support Economy. We have profiled Harry Boyte’s vision of the cooperative commonwealth in a different post.
All of these visions seem to fit with Professor Gergen’s views and preferences for our collective social future. But no one is asking us. They simply want us to provide our tax money and our children. Those without children will be getting employees in the future who expect the workplace to be reformed to fit their interests and capabilities. They have been told they will be consulted and collaboration is the key. At a living wage too.
What if all this is wrong? Where will we be then with the expectations being baked in (or embedded as the ed profs love to say knowing it will be hard to detect what is going on) to education reform? To business school degrees? To public policy and urban study and psychology degrees? Under the new Lumina Diploma Qualifications Profile to all college degrees?
I may not be able to stop the journey at this point. But I will describe the pathway and the real destinations. Since thankfully I somehow have managed to get my hands on the maps and blueprints while we have just begun.