Distributive Justice is Not Enough We Must Break the Illusion of the Unitary Self

If you plan to use education in the US to “break the illusion of a stable and unitary self,” you will get my attention once it comes on my radar screen. We have already talked about the dominance of Communitarian principles in Common Core’s implementation through the actual definition of Career Ready and what is required for a Positive School Climate. I have mentioned repeatedly that the primary designers of Common Core have said social and emotional learning are the primary goals, not content knowledge.

Content is merely a tool for the students to visualize and emotionalize real world problems. To pretend that everything is fixable with discussion, enough tax money, and central planning. And maybe a new set of values too. Something the typical student and maybe adults who have spent their lives on the public payroll might actually believe. But what does this type of curriculum look like in practice?

I have said before that “Learning” is now defined as changing individual values or beliefs or feelings or especially behaviors. Learning is no longer about factual knowledge. This is true all over the world to varying degrees. We have a great deal of cooperating going on among teachers from various countries copying each others’ ideas for this new type of Learning. Supposedly more suitable for the Information Age and the hoped for New Caring Economy based on Sustainability in the 21st Century. Recently, the teachers have been linking to the ideas of an Australian blogger and teacher. Her suggestions include molding the curriculum around “What do you think is unfair?” and “What would you do to change the world?”

Now obviously a student with little knowledge of facts will feel her way to her answer. That’s considered to be deep, reflective thinking. Even better if the student writes her “thoughts” down. I use the scare quotes deliberately because unsupported, emotional beliefs are not what most of us consider to be “thinking.” Especially the kind of thinking we want schools or colleges to be cultivating. Indeed mandating. In case you wonder what the teacher’s motivations are she tells us: “Developing an awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act.” Her bolding to make sure readers got the point. Encouraging students to change the world.

The unfairness curriculum is supposed to draw the class closer together:

“as we reveal what bothers us and find commonalities. We make connections between the different injustices and relate them to our own experiences. We shift back and forth between personal and global perspectives. We discuss how global issues might affect us personally and how personal issues might be relevant in broader contexts.”

And a student with this type of Relevant, Authentic, Engaging Curriculum would be an absolute sitting duck for all these schemes to use education to change the filtering mindset. To gain A New, non-Axemaker Mind. To prime the students for a different social, political, and economic system than what created the West’s prosperity. We could honestly call this curriculum educating for Utopia and have no chance any teacher or student would be likely to grasp that Utopia means Nowhere for a reason.

Back to our quote from the title, this week I read about a Building One America conference held in July 2011 at the White House. It was supposedly about the Regional Equity Movement in the US. That really caught my eye as my reaction to every regional conference I have ever attended has been to wonder why no one else attending seems to appreciate they are describing a centrally planned economy with its terrible track records.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/and-governments-must-facilitate-everything/ is a post I wrote to describe what I heard and what it actually means if carried through. As you can imagine with my work on the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance at the international level, the Building One America conference sounded like an awfully useful political vehicle for transformative change. Worth looking into in light of what we already know.

One of the listed speakers complete with powerpoint was an Ohio State professor, john a. powell (his preference is all lower case). He wants future students and citizens:

“animated not simply by visions of distributive equality, nor even equality of opportunity, but more fundamentally, by a transformed view of the self, of relationships, and of the world.”

powell’s new vision of self is about “interconnection, of interbeing.” He wants to build this new definition of self and “awareness into our institutions and processes.” That would certainly explain all this Communitarian emphasis we have been seeing and the rejection of individual thinking we described in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/.

Just to update that adoption of socio-cultural theory as the new basis for American education practices, the US Partnership for 21st Century Learning this week explicitly endorsed that Education for Life and Work report as providing the foundation for a new view of learning. I’ll say. I don’t think they were expecting anyone to go past the news release or Executive Summary.

Back to powell, this is the definition of freedom that permeates his work and the Regional Equity Movement. And it sounds just like that Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems learning theory we also discussed that is the specious basis for bad education practices all over the world now. Now isn’t this a definition of freedom that is the antithesis of the concept of the individual in the West and the type of freedom the US Constitution was created to preserve? Quoting cultural historian Jeremy Rifkin by name, powell says:

“Freedom is found not in autonomy but in embeddedness. To be free is to have access to many independent relationships. . . It is inclusivity that brings security–belonging, not belongings.”

Well, I suppose, it is good not to emphasize belongings in a social justice movement seeking to obtain racial equity, class equity (I guess they mean no classes a la that Line of Plenty for All), and spacial equity (they seem to want us all crowding back into urban areas and walking or taking transit). That is supposed to foster economic development for all. Not likely.

But breaking the illusion of the solitary self requires “new approaches to learning” and students and citizens “open to reexamining social and economic assumptions” writes a different Regional Equity architect, Paloma Pavel. You can see how not knowing much history would make that reexamination easier to push. Even if the actual consequences remain catastrophic. Who will know until the catastrophe occurs once education becomes about “the need for internal transformation within the consciousness of each individual?”

Stanley Kurtz in his new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities says that Building One America is to be a primary goal of an Obama Second Term. He thinks the American people have a right to know what that would entail. Last week I tracked down the education vision of the Regional Equity Movement. It sure does fit with what we already know about what Common Core actually looks like as well as the Belmont Challenge aspirations.

So maybe we need to decide whether the individual actually is an antiquated idea we want educators trying to eliminate. In malleable, captive minds. Using psychological practices.

Just thought I’d ask.

21 thoughts on “Distributive Justice is Not Enough We Must Break the Illusion of the Unitary Self

  1. Great website and articles.
    I call it “soft” communism. “Step by step, inch by inch.” Reminds me of a qoute by Lenin, “Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.” He also was qouted with, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Very chilling indeed. We are in such a pickle.
    Look forward to read your articles and others coming down the pike.

  2. Robin,

    You’ve got the “Education Mafia” figured out.

    The key context you’re missing–although you feel it (“for decades”)–is the origin of this communitarian vs. individualism struggle in the American Education Mafia.

    This is a totally anti-American point of view. The only way that it could be inserted into our Education (and Academia) system was by stealth.

    Dr George S. Counts, of Columbia’s Teachers College (TC), was likely the first to insert this profoundly anti-traditional-American message into our Education system. He was hired at TC’s International Institute (TCII) in the late-1920s, as their “Russia expert,” even though he knew nothing of Russia, did not speak Russian, and had no experience in the area.

    Within less than two years, Counts visited Russia, learned Russian, and returned with a little book he brought back to America.
    The book, which “came to his desk,” from a “Russian friend,” was an internal propaganda training book, New Russia’s Primer. It was designed by the Soviets to introduce their school children to the communist five-year plan. The Soviets internal propaganda system was well-developed. They understood the need to inject communism into their citizens’ lives at an early age.
    The five-year plan reflected Stalin’s central-planning pipedream of creating a communist economic powerhouse. The entire Soviet economy proved to be completely untenable and imaginary.
    On Nov. 12, 1934, in an article headlined “Dr. Counts Sees New Social Era…Age of Individualism is Drawing to a Close…Asks Educators to Prepare Public for Collectivism,” he told the New York Times that “America has already entered an era of collectivism.”
    George S. Counts is studied and revered in American Schools of Education today. They call him the father of the “Social Reconstructionist” wing of American Education.
    In fact, as I show in my book, Willing Accomplices: How KGB Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness, Counts was a recruited agent performing influence work for the KGB.
    The goal of the KGB’s operation was to destroy America’s traditional culture.
    As you can see, they’ve pretty much succeeded.
    Details: http://www.kentclizbe.com
    I’d be happy to send you a copy of my book to review.

    All the best.

    Kent Clizbe

    • The irony is that for all the ideological conditioning, the average Soviet student typically ran rings around his American counterpart. In the wake of the Sputnik trauma (for America), a bunch of researchers went over to the USSR to study how and why Soviet students were so much more proficient in math and the sciences than Americans. What they discovered was striking: Not only were they head and shoulders above them in those areas, but they utterly outranked them in the liberal arts disciplines. With the exception of Dostoevsky, they all read the entire opus of great Russian literature (interpreted, of course, through the Marxist-Leninist lens) and were broadly read in the rest of great literature, as well. “Soviet culture” was a serious ideal, as incongruous as it seems. Check it out in What Ivan Knows that Johnny Doesn’t. Note the publication date: 1960. So, by that measure, we’re 60 years into the idiotizing of America. Although, of course, we’re much further along than that.
      I’ve been involved in the educational culture wars for almost 20 years, having done battle in our school district (unsuccessfully) against Gary Nash’s revisionist history textbook series (we lost) and having been a founder of an extremely successful charter school in Colorado Springs. We use the Direct Instruction curricula and delivery techniques in the elementary school, along with Core Knowledge for content scope and sequence. I know DI is viewed with suspicion (cf. Charlotte Isybert) by many on the right side of the “wars” who associate Direct Instruction with Skinnerian conditioning and Marxist orientation. Well, to this I say, “Skinnerian conditioning” has its place (the piano, practicing scales; the basketball court, practicing free throws; the classroom, drilling multiplication tables). It is misused in teaching the children to chant, “Death to America” or “Black is White” or “4+4=5” or “I love Big Brother.” (And I acknowledge that many if not most of those who produce DI materials are on the Left, which is why they are so perpetually confused about why other leftists hate them!) As for us, we use it to teach the Preamble. And Paul Revere’s Ride. And cursive writing (starting in Kindergarten). We said No thanks to Doug Carnine’s reductionist American history textbook, even though he is a major guru in the DI publishing constellation. One year while I was still actively involved on the board of the charter school, our students took so many of the prizes of the Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest that they asked us to sit out a year.
      To loop back — The Soviet ideal was to create American brains full of mush and Soviet brains full of Marxist-Leninist zeal, and that included plenty of content and hard intellectual work. Russians were avid readers, although I understand from a Russian friend that this is declining — American revenge, ha ha! It would be interesting to know what role Russians play on the conference circuit touting the Brave New World in all its various manifestations. My hunch is, not much.

      I ventured to write this comment after having sent an earlier, brief one which never showed up. Hearing that others had the same experience motivated me to give it another try.

      • I am sorry Deborah. I never saw it. One thing I would disagree with you about involves the Soviet experience with those who had solid knowledge. That’s where the dissident class came from and they discovered that deep knowledge in any area made the mind less malleable period. In the early 1970s the Soviets went to something very similar to what is being pushed in US now. It was basically techademics. Vocational and basic numeracy, literacy, and writing but stripped of the theoretical aspects that emphasize the abstract and are thus not accessible to all students.

        They still pulled the very elite students with natural gifts for math and science and sent them to boarding school. But the rest got the same type of education for all coming our way that was geared to the “full personality.” Lots of parents were upset that their kids were not getting the education you wrote about that they had received as Russia went to behavioralism after its Dewey experiment as it industrialized in the Stalin and Kruschev years.

        The anger over this new type of math instruction became so substantial that it even became a matter taken up by the Central Committee in 1977. That’s the math that became Everyday Math here in the states.

        The interesting thing as well is certain state department of eds in the US started pushing a version of tecademics in high schools at about the same time in the 70s.

        Fascinating, huh?

        I agree with you that behavioralism that teaches someone the symbolic system of sounds and letters so they can access words in print they have never seen before works for me. It’s not ideal. Ideal is having a solid spoken vocabulary and teaching sound letter correspondences in readers that create progressive exposure. And also reading great books on the side while doing it so the kids know why it is worth the trouble. One of my kids was determined to read Ursula LeGuin’s Catwings series to herself. Another loved the Dorrie the little witch books. The 3rd adored Bill Peet’s books. Great books made it easily apparent why reading was worth the trouble of learning to recognize the letters and sounds and less common alternatives.

        It makes me sad when someone comments how unusual phonetic reading is anymore.

        One great part of all this research I have done is all the great minds I have gotten to interact with. I got to see the 20s or the 70s in the Cold War or the 90s when they thought Goals 2000 would go all the way through. Writing before something becomes controversial are very honest.

        • Robin, I am so glad I got through this time. Your information about the progression of education in the USSR/Russia in the recent past is illuminating. However, if the Soviet equivalent of Everyday Math was the vehicle for delivering basic numeracy to the masses, it must have been an abject failure. It is not the goal of delivering basic numeracy that is in error. Would that such a goal were attained! The problem is that those who point to Bloom’s Taxonomy always manage to skip level 1 — the acquisition of basic information and skills — and pounce on the “higher order thinking skills.” As you have so eloquently written in this blog, that’s the whole point — leave the child’s malleable brain a tabula rasa easily susceptible to indoctrination. Voc ed, too, will fail if a student in a shop class doesn’t know how to calculate the number of yards in a piece of lumber, or how to determine a unit price in order to decide what purchase is most economical. Finally, basic literacy cannot be achieved without phonics. Period. So, bottom line, the stated minimalist goal of education for the masses — basic literacy, basic numeracy, voc ed — cannot be achieved by Deweyesque methods.
          That said, these basics are not the ends, but the means. True “higher order thinking skills” can be achieved by students most people would write off, people like Charles Murray, for whom I have the utmost respect in many regards. Or the cherry-picking Soviet intelligentsia. We see it daily at Cheyenne Mtn. Charter Academy, which I helped found, and the James Irwin Charter Schools where I now work as a consultant. I and the research agree with you that a rich vocabulary is a critical determinant of how the child develops intellectually. That, however, is a reflection of the home culture. We teach many, many, low SE kids, including non-English speakers. It is our job to beef up that vocabulary and level the playing field. Of course, broad and challenging reading is a factor in this development of vocabulary, but vocabulary can also be increased explicitly through skilfully designed and delivered curricula, such as the DI programs offer. Very Axe-maker oriented, I assure you. We are not producing little robots, but well-behaved and motivated whipper-snappers, smart as can be. Come visit us some time.
          Finally (for this installment), metacognition is a valuable concept, although it may be put to grotesque uses by the “change agents.” As we use the term, it means Knowing What You Don’t Know. Thus, it assumes a fairly high level of knowledge. We’re fond of saying that the most useless thing a teacher can say to a class is, Are there any questions? The students may very well not know that they don’t know, or feel vaguely confused but unable to verbalize the confusion because they don’t know enough to do so. The only way to determine clarity and mastery of the concept is for the teacher to probe for squishiness. That’s DI, too.
          I’ve enjoyed following the antics of Mike Miles, our local educational wonder-child, through your reports on his dazzling performance in Dallas. I want to take the opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work you are doing in this arena. When will your book be published and how can we get hold of it?

          • All the breaking stories this summer Deborah have made me stop working on the book insofar as the publishing aspect and devote my time to telling what was happening in real time before it goes into effect. I use it to help me understand how everything fits and hope to get back to it soon. (I was finalizing footnotes). In the meantime, everyone I have spoken with says this blog that is other info is a great way to market. I really did figure out how it works. The Belmont Challenge and Future Earth Alliance materials that I came across in late March made me realize that I had to start writing in a blog format to try to make this unknown aspects public info in time to hopefully stop what is clearly planned for us between 2013-2020 according to the documents.

            Sounds like you are doing wonderful work. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-is-really-standing-in-the-school-house-doorway/ is an early post from back in May where I explained that the regional ed lab in Aurora is pushing 2nd order consciousness in connection with Common Core.

            I have a lot of materials on Colorado which is in some ways Ground Zero for OBE as you know. One of the power point slides makes it clear the ed schemers who envision a political transformation are planning to use the accreditation process to strong arm recalcitrant schools and districts. Please beware of this tactic in advance.

            I find the fact that Mike Myers still does business with that side company on federal contracts with turnaround situations and school improvement which amounts to implementing OBE and it’s OK as long as he avoids doing business with Dallas ISD to be such a telling example of what is really going on with all these models.

            Turns out PEAK wants $6000 a teacher to come to Fulton County, Georgia, to train. The $120,000 I mentioned was not for whole school but 20 teachers.

            What a lucrative gravy train for the connected at taxpayer expense all of this is.

        • I remember being bored to tears by Dick and Jane and Sally. I was born in 1952, but my educational experience was not typical. I had an older brother with a serious illness that demanded all my mom’s time and my sister (nine years older) decided it would be fun to teach me what she learned in school. I cannot even remember not being able to read or do basic math. By first grade I was reading in encyclopedias (bought for my older sister, history books on Ancient Greece and Rome and Science Fiction books from the library (none from the children’s section), and the Bible. Even then in the 50s and 60s, I was bored out of my mind in school and because of that I was a behavior problem for my teachers in first and second grade. One wanted to hold me back because of it, claiming it was my immaturity. But in 3rd grade, I finally had a teacher who had a plan for kids like me. I did the stupid stuff everyone else was doing but then, I got to go to the back of the room where she had books and games that were of all levels up to high school and above reading levels. That was when I finally adjusted to going to school. I figured out it was a scam and that I would really have to educate myself for the most part. My salvation in high school were classes in science and in Latin as well as participation in athletics. I cannot really say I got much out of the school system. I think Mrs. Jones (I kid you not) my 3rd grade teacher would have been marvelous if they had just unleashed her and let her simply teach us. All these efforts to manipulate, and they go back a long ways, just make me angry at all the waste of good minds and child like curiosity.

          • Bill,

            This model is all about holding the bright kids who excel at abstract, logical work back. Differences in knowledge quickly lead to differences in outcomes and that is not acceptable in our soon to be economically just world. Of course the govt intrusive enough to create such equal outcomes will be too powerful for there to be any justice for anyone but the politically connected.

            Sad. But we now understand it all which means the bogus explanations will not work anymore. Hooray!!

  3. Fascinating stuff. I have also been noticing patterns in a lot of this stuff from education to news media, to city planning, and beyond. While I would not exactly call it a conspiracy (I collect them as a hobby), it does have all the elements of a genuine one except for the secrecy part. This is actually a pretty open collaboration between like-minded and I believe deluded people. Keep up the good work Invisible Serf’s Collar.

    • There is a documentable record of coordination around a common purpose. Most people are pushing their sliver and are not really equipped or interested in seeing the big picture. So I guess the taxpayers picking up the tab need to.

      Thank you for your kind words. Welcome aboard.

  4. Robin,

    Great analysis.

    I tried to leave a comment earlier, but it’s dissappeared now.

    Please take a look at my website: http://www.willingaccomplices.com for a full explanation of where the destruction of our education system that you document here comes from.

    See my writing on Dr George S. Counts, Columbia Teachers College International Institute’s “Russian expert” in the 1930s.

    He championed the idea of collectivism in place of individualism, and advocated teaching this point of view in American K-12 schools.

    Full details: http://www.willingaccomplices.com

    Kent Clizbe

    • Thank you Kent. I will. Yes I am familiar with Counts.

      For those of us who love history, this is particularly hard to read because we appreciate what happens when you pitch to emotions. And then deliberately try to cultivate the herd instinct.

        • They appealed explicitly to emotions and disparaged reason. But then we have a vast store of history knowledge that makes us recognize when an economic policy or education practice has been tried before with tragic results. That’s not true of the typical principal or administrator or super in schools and districts anymore. Much of what they have been taught as learning theories and desirable pedagogical practices actually has a troubling track record they are, I hope, unaware of. But they are pushing incendiary ideas nevertheless.

          What is considered subversive in one decade though becomes a widely pushed practice in the next decade when it gets renamed as something pretentious like metacognition. The teaching candidates and teachers get told it is a Best Practice and research based and they will be evaluated on whether they use it. No one points out it is just a political theory and the research will take place in the classroom when the practice gets mandated.

          I am wondering if we should all be getting a tax break for being guinea pigs. But no, the gypsy supers want bonuses from us instead.

  5. I have to say, I find your blog to be truly horrifying reading – because I see the truth of what you’re talking about.

    In the “about me” you use the analogy of the Titanic and the iceberg and you’re trying to point out the wrong course so we can steer ourselves away from disaster. But to me it seems like a more apt analogy is that you’re pointing out that our country has got cancer, and with each article, you’re showing us yet another part of the body that it’s spread to.

    I just wonder, is there really any hope? Or is the cancer spread too far for any treatment?

  6. I also tried to comment yesterday and it disappeared.

    It feels to me as though our society is ridden with cancer, and every post of yours is pointing out another place the disease has spread to.

    Is there any hope, honestly? Or has the rot spread so far and gone so deep that there’s no recovering from it? I’d really like to believe that’s not true, but it’s hard to think so sometimes.

    • I think there is hope now that we understand the nature of the poison and where it is coming from. There are adults and kids who will always be impacted but if we do not talk about it now, for example, phonetic reading which used to be taken for granted will become quite rare. Not only have I seen what the Common Core literacy curriculum looks like (it basically tells you what words and concepts you are to be exposed to) but the colleges of ed are saying that the focus is to be on whole words and syllables primarily.

      I am off researching some fundamental insights in their own words that links to one of the major Gypsy Supers. If the mentor of your doctorate says this is politically subversive activity and then he or she, as the newly minted Doctor of Ed push those practices on teachers and schools as a better way to learn or accessible to all students, that original politically subversive intent still attaches.

      The question becomes what do we parents and taxpayers do when the acknowledged practices being pushed are grounded in emotion in order to spark a collectivist transformation in the US. Because I actually do have that level of evidence.

      Let me check the filter and try to liberate yesterday’s comment.

    • Years ago when I knew the explanations I was hearing were not true but I did not know the whys, I used to joke about feeling like Cassandra. Of course I love the Greek myths and hope to have a much better fate.

      Since we have already let the Trojan Horse inside the gates, let’s keep it guarded soundly and around the clock until we can take it back outside the city. Then we will stand there and ask the would be invaders to come out and explain themselves.

      Exile seems like a nice idea too. Them, not us. This time hopefully Beautiful Troy will remain intact to continue to serve as a beacon of true freedom for others. I have been reading the Bill Ayers’ version of freedom in the last hour and it’s as bad as powell’s.

    • Thanks. Love David Goldman’s work. He is like me in terms of arcing across numerous subject areas to get at the whole story.

      Love helpful links to illustrate what we are all dealing with.

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