21st Century Learning really should not be about ‘neural tuning,’ “leverage points” for “brain reorganization”, or about how “habits of mind directly shape the anatomy and connectivity of the brain.” All of those terms came from the new How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures that EdWeek‘s “Inside School Research” touted with this celebratory lead-in on October 8, 2018:
“Learning is a conversation with the world, from a newborn’s brain lighting up as his mother sings to him, to a teenager choking on a test for fear of fulfilling a stereotype to elderly people heading off cognitive decline by learning a new language. In an update to its landmark reports on education research, the National Academies new HPL II digs into what science can tell schools about how to build on students’ culture and experience to improve learning.”
Most people, even educators with doctorates who loved to be addressed with the Dr. salutation, do not read the actual reports. They will never know then that the learning standards, science of learning, and brain-based research are grounded in how the brain can be redesigned and rewired given the “right kind” of learning experiences. They will not read the paragraph under “Learning as a Social Activity” and recognize the implications of who is being cited. Let me quote:
“Another body of work in psychology that explores the role of culture in shaping psychological processes has focused on learning as a dynamic system of social activity. Many of these researchers draw from a set of ideas about development advanced by Lev Vygotsky, Alexander Luria, and Aleksei Leontiev: the ‘troika’ of pioneers in what is variously known as the sociocultural, social historical, or cultural-historical theory of development: the idea that social, cultural, and historical contexts define and shape a particular child and his experience…Researchers who adopt the sociocultural-historical perspective in examining learning do so within the cultural context of everyday life.”
I covered Lev Vygotsky in Credentialed to Destroy and Leontiev’s quote that American research on human development was erroneously focused on social and economic systems that presently exist or had occurred in the past in a previous post. This set of ideas about development HPL II is mandating then fit with the purpose of these Soviet theories: how a child “can become what he not yet is.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ HPL II also specifically cites to Urie Bronfenbrenner and his Bioecological Systems Theory, which was also covered in that post and which has its own ISC tag, like Leontiev. Finally, I have read Luria’s Autobiography, which Professor Michael Cole (also has a tag) translated into English to help promulgate this ‘set of ideas about development.”
When the creators of a set of ideas tell us the purpose of the theories is to create a new kind of person with a new kind of consciousness that they proudly called homus sovieticus, we should be a bit reluctant to make those practices the required source of 21st Century K-12 Learning in societies that regard themselves as free. Especially when governments are creating learning standards and required assessments that seek to regulate “the processes [that] are the activities and interactions in which individuals engage that help them make sense of their world and their place in it.”
All the mandates about the Whole Child and required social and emotional learning make sense when we recognize the targeting of “emotions, goals, social relationships, prior experiences, and cognitive and biological predispositions [that] all influence how individuals interpret situations and hence what they learn” for transformational change. Remember the Learner Exit Profile vision UNESCO is pushing to target future decision-making from the last post? That goes to the need to manipulate the activities and learning experiences through “the changing demands, features, and supports of the learning situation [to] further influence people’s interpretations and emotions, what they will decide to do, and consequently what they learn.” All controlled by the desired outcomes of changing who the student is and what they desire from the inside-out.
Last week also saw the release of https://education-reimagined.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Schools-Out-Brochure_FINAL.pdf advocating a “meaningful new system of learning” because education now “must produce thoughtful, contributing members of society who can survive and thrive in rapidly changing environments.” That sounds so much better than what Leontiev described as a goal of creating people for a world that does not yet exist, but it is actually the same goal. That’s probably why ‘community leaders’ interviews after that report came out framed it as pursuing John Dewey’s vision of education as “the pursuit of self-actualization and a contribution to the broader collective.” Another leader said “education is what remains after we forget everything we’ve been taught” which certainly sounded like internalized neural Habits of Mind to me. He then went on to say education is “really about creating a harmony between the ideas that we have in our minds and the values we hold in our hearts.”
Making sure those Ideas and Values are what is desired then becomes the whole point of 21st Century Learning. After all, as HPL II put it: “learning at the individual level involves lasting adaptations of multiple systems to the changing external and internal environment, including changes in the biology of the brain.” If you wanted to know why targeting emotions now is so crucial, HPL II tells us that “emotions help learners set goals during learning. They tell the individual experiencing them when to keep working and when to stop, when she is on the right path to solve a problem and when she needs to change course, what she should remember and what is not important.”
That’s what is being targeted for transformation to allow the world to supposedly shift beyond political and economic systems that exist now or have in the past to a new vision of how the world might be. When HPL II states that “the committee has taken a sociocultural view of learning,” this is an aspirational statement of what can be made to be, at a biological, neural level, if only the the ‘right’ theories of learning are imposed to create the new desired psychological processes. That’s also the reason for the definition of Learn HPL II adopts:
‘Learn’ is an active verb: it is something people do, not something that happens to them. People are not passive recipients of learning, even if they are not always aware that the learning process is happening. Instead, through acting in the world, people encounter situations, problems, and ideas, they have social, emotional, cognitive, and physical experiences, and they adapt. These experiences and adaptations shape a person’s abilities, skills, and inclinations going forward, thereby influencing and organizing that individual’s thoughts and actions going forward.”
By creating desired adaptations at a biological level and making learning formative to “shape a person’s abilities, skills, and inclinations” at the level of thought and likely future action, the Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Exit Profile, like Tranzi OBE in the 90s (covered in CtD), means that people have a steerable rudder ready to be exploited without their knowledge or consent. A politically organized society using education as its primary tool and data to see if desired goals are coming to fruition. Two more reports released last week made it clear to me that Equity as a civil rights legal mandate will be the banner used to make sure these learning theories created by the Soviet ‘troika’ make it into every classroom. https://www.crpe.org/sites/default/files/crpe-mind-gap-will-all-students-benefit-21st-century-learning.pdf is one and the other is here https://www.inacol.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Quality-Principles-Book.pdf .
Somehow the High-Quality Competency-Based Education with Equity at the Center to correct the Ten Flaws of the Traditional System requires practices that fit with HPL II and all were released in the same week. Let’s close with yet another quote from a ‘community leader’ advocating for the School’s Out vision. Ravi believes that the question “How do we educate for an unpredictable future?” is “putting the cart before the horse because we create the future based on how we educate. I think this opens up the opportunity to consider education not as a way to prepare kids for society but as a means of empowering them to lead us into the future and make changes along the way.” Based on desired goals apparently because this is the same leader who thought education was what remained after we forget everything we’ve been taught.
One of the educators for that same report said that “with our younger learners the science of human development needs to be front and center for everything we design.” The problem is this so-called science of human development is simply a tool of collectivists intent on transformational social, political, and economic social engineering if we read their books and papers as I have and do. See what I mean about how evidence-based learning and education standards essentially trying to program the mind and emotions?
Since the only way I know to make this metaphorical serf’s collar visible is to write about it, I guess I will keep trying to buck this script aimed at thoughts and future actions.
Social engineering nightmare seems like more of an apt description.