Embody or Perish: Unmasking the Communitarian Motto Behind Student-Centered Learning

If this blog provided sound effects, I could blow the whistle now and holler that we have reached our destination. This is the 6th post in a series that began on February 27. I used the unexpected DeVos declaration of our ‘moral obligations’ and the IPEN paper on global education as recent examples of what the UN had enacted in the late 90s as the Universal Ethics Framework. I found that because well-known communitarian advocate Amitai Etzioni cited it as he laid out his vision for The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society that seemed to accurately reflect the actual classroom and school implementation of Radical Ed Reform going back to the mid-80s. It also seemed to track all the organized deceit I had found about SEL Standards, the Common Core, and other matters which are too consistent in what is being suppressed to be coincidental.

Let’s dive right in because as I have warned, a communitarian mandate pops up on a regular basis and it is always mired in deceit. Now I know why. To prevent resistance to what is being sold as an italicized regeneration of American Society that seeks to penetrate ALL schools and ALL colleges and universities. Here’s the quote that also fits with what was laid out in A Call to Civil Society and Hardwired to Connect from the last post. It explains the neural emphasis we just keep coming across now:

“The communitarian analysis, at least as practiced here, involves a keen awareness that values need to be embodied; that is, for values to guide behavior, a society needs to evolve social and personal formations that undergird the society’s values…Embody or perish is the communitarian motto behind much of what follows.

Embodiment refers to the need for shared values to be internalized by the members and for these values to be integrated into the societal formations [like schools and churches] that help shape behavior.”

Won’t federally required ‘performance standards’ be so useful in making this needed internalization and embodiment an invisible component of how every student will succeed? If such sarcasm seems unbecoming, we need more quoting, especially on how a communitarian society differs from an authoritarian one. My succinct explanation is the coercion is imposed neurobiologically via education to become a Habit of Mind so the coercion is mostly invisible. At least it was until I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then this presciently named blog. Communitarian societies are steered in “a new shared normative direction. Communitarian societies differ from authoritarian societies in that they require a smaller core of shared values (although significantly more than the societies individualists envision).”

That antipathy toward “individualists” sounds straight out of the new Classical Learning Test hype, doesn’t it? That’s not coincidental, as I will show later. Etzioni stated that:

“the new golden rule requires that the tension between one’s preferences and one’s social commitments be reduced by increasing the realm of duties one affirms as moral responsibilities–not the realm of duties that are forcibly imposed but the realm of responsibilities one believes one should discharge and that one believes one is fairly called on to assume.”

Education, of course, is first on the list of the ‘normative means’ used to create the desired moral commitments which enough people have internalized as the basis for their likely future behavior to change the direction of the society. In case anyone thinks this is just the admitted Left pushing this, remember that Hardwired to Connect from the last post with its ties to the supposedly conservative think tanks pushing School Choice vocally also stated explicitly:

“… an ‘us’ strategy is quite different. It is much broader and more radical. Its focus is cultural, not merely political or programmatic. It aims less at a specific intervention than a fundamental social shift–a change that involves the society as a whole. A ‘them’ strategy is about getting specific things done, but it is more fundamentally about guiding an entire society in a certain direction.”

My book’s pivotal observation that the actual Common Core implementation targeted student’s ‘values, attitudes, and beliefs’ makes so much more sense once we become aware of the widespread desire for Social Reconstruction that is no longer just a project of the admitted Left. Did you know that Chester Finn of Fordham, who we have tracked back to the mid-80s duplicitous Project Education Reform and forward to his work with Diane Ravitch and now Fordham’s co-sponsorship of the PEPG forum at the Kennedy School of Government, is listed as a signatory to Etzioni’s Responsive Communitarian Manifesto? So are several other people tied to those IAV papers in the last post. This truly is where the Right and Left Pincers want to take education. They want the coercion to be invisible and binding.

As I told my kids when they were growing up, wanting something doesn’t mean you are entitled to get it. To avoid the invisible coercion we have to know this vision “requires that most members of the society most of the time, share a commitment to a set of core values, and that most members, most of the time, will abide by the behavioral implications of these values because they believe in them rather than being forced to comply with them.”

The role of all these think tanks makes much more sense to this vision if we know that “a core of shared values also enhances the ability of a society to formulate specific public policies.” Try not to be too shocked that elsewhere those policies must include society and its individual members meeting all needs to provide for ‘individual well-being’. The Communitarian agenda says that is the 21st Century purpose of government. Nothing like 21st Century euphemisms redeeming Uncle Karl’s real vision of human development.

Lamar Alexander doing a presentation at AEI last week pretending ESSA supposedly gets the feds out of education makes perfect sense if ESSA laid out a mandate for the needed framework to force internalization within each student. Remember the requisite Internalization must occur without effective opposition from parents and taxpayers. Also, the local hype fits with the statement that “reconnecting the political decision-making bodies to community dialogues is one of the most important items of the communitarian public policy agenda.” Fits right into what AEI’s President Arthur Brooks called the true tenets of Conservatism. It requires a  Revolution of the Heart too.

The calls of SEL Standards for self-discipline or self-regulation, or what the Faux Narrative refers to as ‘self-government,’  ( https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/03/common-core-damages-students-college-readiness/ )  which is also straight out of the Manifesto mentioned above,  call for a longer quote from Etzioni that explains all:

“From a communitarian viewpoint, to draw on public schools as developers of character (for a stronger, higher self) it is most important that they focus on development of personality capabilities that enable people to act civilly and morally. [Soft Skills for All!] First among these capabilities is the ability to control one’s impulses [Is that what the above link calls the ‘right and responsibility of self-rule’?]…Second, a well-formed person must have what Adam Smith called ‘sympathy’: roughly, the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes, what we would refer to as empathy. Without this quality, there is little likelihood that children will develop charity, fairness, respect for other people, or the other virtues. When a person possesses these twin capacities, the psychological foundations for abiding by internalized values are in place.

Once schools are restructured in ways that enhance personality development, the question of which specific values are to be taught recedes in importance but still needs answering.”

The requisite ‘non-cognitive factors’ that must be a component of the State Plans under ESSA all go to that personality development prerequisite in one way or another. It’s not a database, but a starting point to get the needed internalized change to support this communitarian vision of a new moral order. It’s not coincidental that the definition of the law taught in elite law schools has now been altered quietly as the “enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules.”

I personally reject the distinction that something is not coercive as long as people and governments can successfully misrepresent what they are up to via education and the law. It is also greatly troubling I keep coming across references to collecting data on where students are in each of the 24 listed characteristics of the VAI-Values in Action–Character Survey.

I need one more quote from Etzioni that goes a long way towards explaining what makes education through provided conceptual lenses and themes about what is important, cross-cutting, or Good, True, and Beautiful so necessary to a transformationalist. We will need it in the next post as I continue to prove this IS the vision ALL of education is being organized around. Long time readers will recognize this is the theory with the nerdy name of Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete created in the USSR in 1962.

“Such statements about moral causes that present themselves to us as compelling are similar to what religious authorities speak of as revelation. This does not mean we cannot reason about these matters. The fact that some cause initially appears to one as powerful does not obviate the need to examine it closely. However, here reason follows and buttresses revelation, and not the other way around…It should be noted that reason plays a rather different role here.”

I’ll say. I wanted to shout “Transfer” as Lauren Resnick has been pushing for in education reforms for decades. She must be so pleased that her integral Higher Order Thinking Skills that embodies this very concept of Revelation first, and then Apply the provided concepts to real world, concrete situations, is a required ESSA component. Measuring every student for compliance at least annually.

That will be so useful for imposing this requisite Internalization.

Next time we will find this same goal being stated in terms of the US Founding Fathers and the purported requirements of “constitutional government.” We will see more clearly then why facts get in the way of simply accepting the provided concepts as Revelations that are to be accepted, internalized, and never disputed.

I feel like such a naughty Individualist sometimes for recognizing when we are being lied to and when something else has the same function.

20 thoughts on “Embody or Perish: Unmasking the Communitarian Motto Behind Student-Centered Learning

  1. Robin,

    Thank you for the insightful posts. I haven’t read your book yet and am ordering it.
    Can you please explain more about CC math and the connection to behavior modification? CC rolled out when my daughter started K or 1st grade and she never learned math in a linear, logical fashion (except when I work with her – which she then understands). In school now (7th grade) all they do is Discovery Education (online CC) which is goofy, convoluted, and difficult. Her math teacher makes us feel like conspiracy nuts – they seem to turn things back on us as ignorant or misguided parents. I can’t even always help her with her Math (specifically Discovery Ed.) and it creates much distress and frustration in our family. Some of the math problems are subjective, like calculating how many bananas an average person eats throughout their lifetime. It really is frustrating; I am curious as to how and why CC math, particularly Discovery math, was designed this way – is it to dumb kids down or is it designed to mess with their minds intentionally?

    Also, can you speak more about Values in Action Character survey please?

    Many thanks~~

  2. This blog post shows more clearly why we are being “snookered” by “conservative/religious” organizations, along with the supposedly conservative political think tanks, into believing that we are not being pushed into the same tunnel toward Uncle Karl’s vision of society. Any organized group operating right now can be analyzed as leading us in that direction with the same techniques under different titles. Education reaches the most vulnerable strata of our population. What is “falling” on our students and children resembles the serine gas unleashed in Syria–invisible and deadly.

    • After I wrote Credentialed to Destroy someone in an audience asked me if Tranzi OBE could be used to push any ideology into being the guiding factor behind behavior and I said yes. Basically, as much as religion can mean to people, it is a belief system. We are at a point where everyone is backward mapping from their desired vision of the future and then making ed and the law their foremost tools on creating the needed blindly subservient minds and personalities.

      It’s not coercive if no one is aware of its existence?

      Look at this alarming conference at Stanford on April 20 with two of our faves–Roy Pea and John Seely Brown. https://mediax.stanford.edu/events/mediax2017-conference

  3. Ah that conference at Stanford well this splains it :

    “On April 20th, the #mediaX2017 Conference will delve into the human mind as a sense-making organ, keeping as context the whole body, the whole person, in community”

    Ok so the whole body, they got their hands on our kids brains, on their private parts too, and will tell them what to eat, feeding them 3 meals a day down at da hub….They will be sure to install the sense of a tranquilized baboon in them and the rabid hyena activism switch to shout down any ists they may encounter.
    Da Hub is your community. Das it. You will be able to travel as far as the local bus/trolly can go down the corridore of the arts in your community. You will be rewarded with grants to open a nifty thrifter or make surrealist murals and perhaps a ticket for a latte if you ride your bike.
    Yes baboons can ride bikes, cuz that makes sense from my brain.

  4. Forgot their meaning of ” whole person in community” group learning aka peer pressure aka equity. Community aka Institution governance. Community includes the ” third space”. Live work PLAY. Monitoring all. Lifelong learning.
    Massive over use of the word Conmunity.
    Its so over done. But gotta give them credit for mass confusion due to their ability to justify lying endlessly.
    End ( utopia) justifies the means.
    All comes down to Hegel and Hess and protege uncle Karl.

    • thanks. gourmet cooking is a hobby and this started over the holidays and then the typing aggravated.

      sel is not an add-on. it,s the whole point. academic subject names are merely the conduit for the activities to create the desired internalized dispositions and scripts and schemas.

      here is the graphic in what it means to ‘thrive’. http://4h.ucanr.edu/files/4046.pdf

    • This gives more detail on what I am working on.

      Her paper [Carol Dweck] with Kristina Olson, “A Blueprint for Social Cognitive Development” (2008), lays out the central features of this approach. Particularly important in this approach is the importance these researchers give to the role of the mental frameworks through which people navigate the world and solve the problems they encounter.

      At its core, SCD is a field concerned with how mental representations and mental processes relevant to social development change across development. It also involves the study of how these mental representations and processes may mediate or moderate the impact of particular antecedents (e.g., parental input) on children’s outcomes (e.g., well-being). (193)

      Olson and Dweck highlight four key goals for research in social cognitive development studies:

      Identify and measure a social cognitive mental representation or process that is believed to be important in development.
      Manipulate the mental representation, and observe its impact on outcomes of interest over development.
      Investigate the antecedents of the mental representation or process of interest.
      Compare how the mental representation operates in the laboratory and in the real world. (195-196)

      This is a crucial theoretical innovation, because it insists on what we have previously called an “actor-centered” approach to behavior. What is the mental framework on the basis of which the individual acts? Olson and Dweck consider examples of aggression and achievement motivation and demonstrate how beliefs and mental frameworks influence the child’s dispositions to behavior in various circumstances.

      that would be what i meant by script and schemas.

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