Eupsychia and Humanist Education-Shouldn’t the Links to 21st Century Skills and Common Core Be Emphasized?

Those of us who play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit tend to remember that the word “Utopia” literally translates as “Nowhere.” And Nowhere is an unacceptable expression for philosophers and dreamers and self-interested planners who do want to reorganize society going forward towards new values and new beliefs and a hoped-for vision of the future. One of those people was the creator of Humanist Psychology and the Eupsychia vision of the Good Society, Abraham Maslow, who laid out theories for education and a new type of school in a book published after his death in 1971. It builds on the New Focus of Education/NEA financed vision from 1962 that I wrote about here.

Ever since I wrote that post as I have sat in Mindfulness seminars that curiously enough now count as continuing legal education and all our encounters with Robert Kegan and the competences vision being pushed by the UN and the OECD, I keep coming back to that 1962 vision as the foundation for so much that has been called “transformational” ever since. I think it is the grounds for the increasing acknowledgment that long-term behavioral change is a major purpose of the Common Core classroom. . So when I saw a recent reference to the later book, I thought we might gain some important insights into what is coming at us.

Because I now live in a world where a Professor Emeritus at the New School for Social Research, Hans Jonas, laid out in the early 80s his understanding of the then planned shift from each of us being “responsible subjects” to “programmed behavior systems.” And that was before the rise of adaptive software, blended learning, Big Data, and Gaming to constantly crosscheck how the new psychological emphasis in the classroom was doing. When we talk about education reform and assessments that are not measuring knowledge that parents are not allowed to see, keep this long-term aspiration in mind:

“Here I merely point to this most ambitious dream of homo faber, summed up in the phrase that man will take his own evolution in hand, with the aim of not just preserving the integrity of the species but of modifying it by improvements of his own design.”

Well, neither you or I have been invited to participate in such designing but Maslow was and Jonas was aware of it. Jonas presciently asked the question that should be on posters at Dalian, China and Davos, Switzerland and plenty of ed labs globally:

“Who will be the image-makers, by what standards, and on the basis of what knowledge? Also, the question of the moral right to experiment on future human beings must be asked.”

That’s still a critical question to ask now as consultants and district administrators and principals are all being paid to push just such experimentation of untried psychological theories. Or if not untried, ignoring the indisputable linkage to prior tragedies from such probing of the “deeper self. (Maslow’s italics)” Maslow notes that primary creativeness (one of the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills) “comes out of the unconscious, which is the source of new discovery-of real novelty-of ideas that depart from what exists at the moment.”  You see, the psychological emphasis in education that has been trying to come in the front door of being the new focus of education globally since the 60s in earnest is based on Maslow’s belief that “We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who …[can] handle the problem well in an improvising way, without previous preparation, if need be.”

Now the latter is called the 4C of critical thinking & problem solving and gets measured via new planned Common Core assessments of Higher Order Thinking Skills where there is no fixed, linear answer and ambiguity is preferred. By the way, in 1970 Maslow wanted a “new kind of human being that we would need even if there were no cold war, and even if we were all united in a brotherly species, is needed simply to confront the new kind of world in which we live.” Now that’s a sentiment that fits right into what a conference of ed professors or administrators is still hearing in 2013. They simply may not know it comes from Maslow saying:

“What I am really interested in is the new kind of education which we must develop which moves towards fostering the new kind of human being that we need, the process person, the creative person, the improvising person, the self-trusting, courageous person, the autonomous person.”

That latter reference to autonomy frequently came with a cite to Erich Fromm of the Frankfurt School so please do not get excited that there was a glimmer of legitimate individualism being allowed through. No, in fact real education should impel the student on an “Ought-Is-Quest” that does NOT distinguish anymore between facts and values. Maslow called those Species-Brotherhood new values Being Values like Justice and Equality that are to “guide human action” in the future. They should be instilled and monitored via education. In fact, humanistic education had a “new conception of learning, of teaching, of education. Stated simply, such a concept holds that the function of education, the goal of education–the human goal, the humanistic goal, the goal as far as human beings are concerned–is ultimately the ‘self-actualization’ of a person, the becoming fully human, the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand up to or that the particular individual can come to.”

And of course, Maslow noted that such a shift in vision would require a substantial shift in the psychology of teaching. Which as my new book details is precisely what has happened. I am going to leave you to mull over another part of this new vision of education and school which you may well also discover to be embodied in charter language that was designed to both bind and not be well understood by outsiders. Or as Maslow noted tactlessly: “even morons can learn emotionally and spiritually” so beware of mandates that instructional methods used MUST close the achievement gaps. Just think of the enhancement of power in a desired public-centric economy of the future based on officially designated needs rather individual consumer choices this goal of future education will be:

“this is a way of discovering what the self is like. There are signals from inside, there are voices that yell out. ‘By gosh this is good, don’t ever doubt it!’ This is a path, one of the ways we try to teach self-actualization and the discovery of self. The discovery of identity comes via the impulse voices, via the ability to listen to your own guts, and to their reactions and to what is going on inside of you.

This is also an experimental kind of education that, if we had the time to talk about it, would lead us into another parallel education establishment, another kind of school.”

Like a student-centered school that must be engaging and provide success for all students?

That sees all students as “assets” and refuses to accept any “deficit” visions for 21st century education?

Those last two are quotes from the education vision I heard being pushed at the September (co)lab summit in Atlanta.

18 thoughts on “Eupsychia and Humanist Education-Shouldn’t the Links to 21st Century Skills and Common Core Be Emphasized?

  1. Maslow says the goal of education is ” the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand up to or that the particular individual can come to.” and I can only agree.

    How he could think to achieve this by withholding from the students the fruits of mankind’s intellectual labors is beyond me. Rather than listening just to our own guts, doesn’t it make sense to listen to the lessons of history?

    But logic was never necessary, nor sufficient, for them.

    • David,

      Here are some more quotes: “All of this adds up to an increased emphasis on psychological health and strength. It means an increased valuing of the ability to pay the fullest attention to the here-now situation, to be able to listen well, to be able to see well in the concrete, [my emphasis as there are multiple references indicating he familiar with Ilyenkov] immediate moment before us. It means we need people who are different from the average kind of person who confronts the present as if it were a repetition of the past, and who uses the present simply as a period in which he prepares himself for future threats and dangers, which he doesn’t trust himself enough to meet unprepared when the time comes.”

      Then comes the sentence about needing that new kind of human being even if there was no cold war.

      It reads as theory on how the world might be and we are implementing it. These people seem to feel, or have a vested financial interest in believing, that they have waited long enough for the noetic revolution and they want to finish it up and start with the overall society.

      There is so much consistency on what is being sought across decades and languages and countries and social science disciplines.

      • I guess there’s no equivalent in SimCityEDU for the following idea:
        1. Obama outlaws the burning coal as fuel, supposedly because it causes pollution.
        2. Coal producers (largely in Wyoming) therefore sell to China, which is willing to pay several times the domestic price to float it from the USA to China.
        3. China burns the coal in unscrubbed stacks and the flyash floats back across the Pacific.
        4. The flyash produces acid rain, especially west of the Sierra range in California.

  2. Had a friend share with me information on the USSR, US agreements and joint declarations of the recent past. Robin, all this psycho-babble is nothing more then a means to enslave society and at the same time give some majorly lazy person a way to sit on his/her rear end, get paid and call it work. This charade of compassion is just that, a charade. Because anyone truly interested in the well being of others would educate themselves to the truths of human nature and natural law. Bottom line is, we let the enemy (communist) into our educational system and they took over. Like heck a person that supports an ideology of slavery should have academic freedom!

    • You are probably referring to the 1985 Carnegie Agreements between the Soviets and US Dept of State with Carnegie Foundation involvement. Gives rise to the National Commission on Education and the Economy and Marc Tucker’s 90s push of all this. Both Bev Eakman and Charlotte Iserbyt do I nice job with that in the 90s.

      My thoughts have always been that those agreements gave a rationale for the flood of Soviet psych work on pedagogy that had already been translated and was in actual use as I detail in the book.

      I know about that but am far more interested in the consistent references to converging to a single system that were being discussed in earnest from about 62 on. Premised on using education with a psychological orientation to drive social change. Over time and across countries now at the center of the diagram are always core values and core beliefs. Driving the perception of reality. The actual curriculum I have seen or read of anecdotally are designed to change those organizing beliefs.

      When I was reading Maslow’s book I was quoting from, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature it was hard not to recognize how useful the end personality would be to those who wish to retain or augment political power. That’s the bottom line. Create an education model that prevents the rise of enough pesky individuals to be able to make a dent in the desired Statist plans. That’s why I veer sometimes into the economic aspects as it is unworkable. My concern over the shareable model and monitoring of what is being pushed led this week to Ecuador’s new 5 Year Plan.

      They might as well be planning to ignore gravity but how much will be destroyed trying to transition to an impossible and dangerous vision of the future? And when it crashes and burns predictably, will the people demand that the “rich North bail them out? With what by that time with our own toxic visions of social change and equity for all being used to level what has been productive?

  3. Today this post made me think about the movement of “Humanism” itself. Recently, I’ve noticed this movement within the church as well. Until now, I never connected the dots that the movement was pushing rapidly into the schools. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. What is in the world is pushing itself into the church.

    • LL-Paolo freire was actually an advisor to the World Council of Churches in the 80s. Maslow talks about religion quite a bit in the book. He thinks it should also be pushing these B-values and acting as an institutional center cultivating social change.

      In early December 2012 I wrote two posts about religion as transformation and Dewey’s view of the religious life as stressing the need to change the nature of this world. Today all the references tend to be to the Boddhisetva mentality but Maslow wants a Taoist attitude. We’ll just use a sense of Eastern spirituality as the broad category. Fits with both the contemplative ed we have covered and this new CARE push for teachers file:///D:/Downloads/Should%20Teachers%20Be%20More%20Mindful%20%20-%20Teaching%20Now%20-%20Education%20Week%20Teacher.htm

      Definitely a coordinated effort. In part from the UN as the Ikeda Institute at Harvard basically shows in links from those earlier posts I mentioned.

  4. There is a movement afoot in the modern church today known as Emergent Christianity. I can’t go into this devolution of traditional values and reliance on the Word, or the Bible, I suggest anyone concerned about their own church or pastor to get online and research this new counterfeit faith sneaking in by back doors. Apparently even the Baptist Convention is sliding down this slippery slope of humanism and tolerance of all things non-Christian. Some very big names in Evangelical (big E) circles are joining hands to sing Kumbaya with anyone who believes in Anything except reliance on Scripture or traditional morality, and making big money writing and crusading all the while.

    The book is wonderful, by the way, Robin, well done.

    • Tina-

      If you get a chance more Amazon reviews would help get this info into more hands.

      The church is seen as an alternative source of values and consciousness and that’s not OK. When Gramsci said the March through the Institutions, the Church was front and center along with the schools and universities. It also reenforces individualism in many instances and that’s unacceptable as well.

      I have a lot more info supporting what is in the book but it is designed to make whatever direction is attempted from now on, anyone who reads it will know the why. And have some idea how to go about undoing both the damage and the ultimate aims.

  5. That post was in response to LL btw, and anyone else who is concerned. YouTube videos also cover the Emergent Church quite nicely and it is just one more sign of a rapidly devolving culture parallel to that in education today. Gee, if I didn’t know better I’d thing there was an evil force at work in the world working to destroy mankind. Good thing I read the end of the book and know that the good guys do win no matter how bad things look right now.

  6. Rent-seeking On Steroids !


    On page 355 of your book — Credentialed . . . You exclaim — Rent seeking on steroids.

    You spend a short time in explaining that a public entity could very well be operating ONLY for the benefit of the employees — in perpetuity. The students, who generate per capita ransom to the system, are sculpted and subjugated to be the hostages (“assets”) to ensure this income base. The students’ rewards might be to “gain employment in a state-directed and managed economy.”

    Yes, I think that is what your book is all about — how a pernicious strategy allows the education industry to guarantee itself the jobs and power needed to live and thrive. This technique worked in nation-states. Now, similar strategies are to be extended internationally.

    Most people do not know how noxious rent-seeking is because they are only aware of “rent” used only one way, as in renting an apartment, for example.

    In economic terms rent-seeking includes lobbying for special privileges: In education it is the collective bargaining that produces sweetheart deals with unions to gain labor peace.

    Rent-seeking in its most callous application creates no benefit for society but just redistributes resources from taxpayers to the special-interest groups. Nobel prize winners write about it.

    Predatory lending which resulted in the 2008 financial collapse is a form of rent-seeking. Even student loans is a form of rent-seeking, snaring students into the education trap.

    The public good is not served. And the students and their parents are servile losers.

    This is a giant rip-off. On top of that, these 21st C Learning change agents are into using sophisticated psychological techniques to try and change human nature itself for their purposes.

    Career and college ready is one thing, but “citizenship-ready” is terrifying! Is citizenship certification next from these social engineers?

    Self-serving rent-seeking in public education needs more understanding to grasp just how cruelly our young people are being used and manipulated.

    • If you own an apartment, generally we don’t object to your seeking rent from a tenant. This ability to rent it out is one of the rights of ownership.

      If you own certain powers as a result of a position that you are supposed to use for the benefit of your employer, and that employer is the public if you’re in government, you may be able to use those powers (corruptly) to gain rent instead for yourself. That’s how I think of “rent seeking”.

      Schools are very powerful and very unaccountable. Police departments don’t touch them, they have plenty of legal budget, etc. The schools we set up to help educate our children have turned into self-satisfied big players. By definition, this transformation is an abuse of our trust.

  7. Speaking of funny money in education, I remember one year, my yearbook was a financial disaster. For various reasons, anniversary issue, 8th graders who actually wrote stories and conducted interviews, great photography by my daughter and a few staff member buddies of hers, a growing number of pages, hence deadlines, and the biggest/most expensive (over)budget at around $14,000 for over 400 copies ordered. It came in late, a summer delivery. Bad for sales. Presales had generated almost $10,000 but I would end up $4000 in the hole. A job ender and I was scared. My principal had been yearbook advisor when he taught at my school, as had his wife, now high up in the system. He loved my yearbooks, I spent hundreds of hours in the evenings and on holidays to assure the quality of an award winning book, as well as teach Algebra, over the years. I spoke to him one afternoon in the new school year, about my debt of $4 thousand I’d have to make up with extra dances and “no” budget that year. He laughed, and then told me of his $400000 caused by a huge over projection in our student attendance due to a new district school opening. We were the oldest and poorest in the district.
    I said all that to say this, money must truly be no object if you know the right people (have the right cronies?). He ended up as an Asst. Super and is now in drop for his last year as principal of the localngood old boy high school, where I hear he does absolutely nothing for a $100000 per year plus his drop salary making it close to $200 grand for doing it well. My yearbook fiasco was a one time occurrence almost twenty years ago and I learned from my mistakes. Not so the public school system throwing billions away on CCSS implementation and it’s assessments.

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