Is that what you think of when you hear a Super or Principal or Politician say they want excellence in education? Can you appreciate how useful it would then be to create a false belief system about reality through curricula like Facing History or a UN report about catastrophic manmade global warming regardless of actual temperatures? Check on the feelings component. How about the utility of a rather limited store of facts coupled with a new value system driven by a perceived need for fairness and social justice? That sure would affect what was wished for. Top it all off with a mind that was never taught to read phonetically and uses context strategies to guess at unknown words. Couple that to a brain that was never taught logic through grammar or systemmatic, sequential coverage of math topics (abstractions are taboo, remember?), and you have precisely the classroom recipe we have been dealing with in some schools, districts, and states for about twenty years.
If our Colleges of Education aspire to create mushbrains and then have their graduates meddle in the students’ inner subjective emotions to create a new sense of self and personal identity, professors pushing such a dialogic vision for the engaged classroom should not turn around and write Editorial letters that school tragedies must be the result of guns. The Second Amendment. Lots more has changed in education. Targeting that inner self is a big part of what changed in the last 25 years or so.
The economist Thomas Sowell writes presciently that:
“Civilization has been aptly called a ‘thin crust over a volcano.’ The annointed are constantly picking at that crust.”
Well, in our case the annointed are largely education professors or those with sociology or psych degrees who have decided they get to decide what kind of future there is going to be and they plan to use their monopolies over K-12 and higher education to get there. Even though they clearly do not understand economics or history. I am going to stop what is not a funny topic to tell a funny, telling, story I read this week on the Cafe Hayek blog about Amitai Etzioni.
As you may recall, he’s the Communitarian professor whose vision of the future is so much a part of the Positive School Climate mandate, the real definitions of College and Career Ready, and the C 3 civics push for a Common Good emphasis. Apparently he suggested that until we can get national gun control legislation, people should voluntarily get rid of their guns and then put a sign in front of their home announcing that fact to strangers as they go by. Now should someone who finds that to be an inspirational idea really be who we are listening to on their vision of the future?
I had a similar thought this week as I looked through Spence Rogers’ Teaching for Excellence Materials. The co-creator of Transformational Outcomes Based Education with Bill Spady recommended pushing psychology prof Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow for all teachers using his classroom template. Since I have children in a school and district using Rogers’ work and had already written about Csik http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-if-higher-order-thinkingdeliberate-confusion/ it was time to get his other books. I already had Csik and his co-authors saying their education reform work was about “trying to direct the course of the future” and maligning capitalism.
I am actually using Csik’s 1997 book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life for this post and the title. If you believe excellence is about using the classroom to train students to “curb the goals” arising from “their genetic or cultural inheritance” (Ripping the whole cover right off Sowell’s volcano) and your psychological theories are being widely implemented, tragic results simply cannot be treated as unexpected. Or inexplicable. Just because tragic results were not Csik’s or Rogers or Spady’s or the principal or super’s intentions. We are explicitly targeting feelings via the classroom to supposedly “restore an inner subjective order” and develop new attitudes not shaped by “our peculiar capitalist heritage.” Csik’s vision is to use school to push the idea that as the Hindus believe “persons were not considered to be separate individuals as we think of them, but rather nodes in an extended social network.”
This excellence via flow vision of Csik’s that is now part of teacher professional development rejects the transmission of knowledge purpose of the school. The emphasis on student performance outcomes and goals are all reflected in IB and the Common Core and the Standards for Learning and Teaching. All insist that education must be about experiences. Not abstract ruminating. By golly, if you are thinking and comparing on an assignment you need to be able to cite the passage behind your thoughts. Gee, I remember when A work was making a point even the professor had not thought of. Students today supposedly need a consciousness “full of experiences” where “what we feel, what we wish, and what we think are in harmony.”
That’s a flow experience to Csik and that aspiration by the government into the full spectrum of a student’s personality to be monitored via data and feedback to measure “personal growth” should not really be considered intrusive. It’s in pursuit of a different future after all. And if you wonder why teachers or principals sometimes get a glazed zealot look in their eyes when describing their PEAK teacher training or Peter Senge’s systems thinking seminars or Camp Snowball, this is Csik’s description of a flow experience.
“The metaphor of “flow” is one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives. Athletes refer to it as “being in the zone,” religious mystics as being in “ecstasy,” artists and musicians as aesthetic rapture.”
If you need more proof that education and pedagogy no longer accept any boundaries– personal, spiritual, social, or political– in the determination to transform the student from the inside-out. Changing where students find meaning itself, here’s an interview with Professor Kazanjian who headed up the 1998 Wellesley Education as Transformation project that expressly also mentions K-12. http://www.ikedacenter.org/thinkers/kazanjian_int.htm
If you have never read this post on Bela Banthy’s totalizing vision of education he called Achieving Excellence to take us to a different future, I suggest reading it. Now. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-granted-permission-to-spearhead-societal-evolution-to-a-global-cooperative-consciousness/ Then ask yourself why Bill Spady, who had directed Banathy at the Far West ed lab in Oregon later misdescribes the 1991 creation of Transformational OBE in Aurora, Colorado after it became controversial. And never mentions Banathy’s more comprehensive version of the OBE vision at all.
I think it is because Banathy gives the rest of the story. The economic and political transformation that all these education reforms and psychologizing of the classroom are actually leading us to. The planned society. The planned economy.
The highly emotional, manipulated to be servile and give in to the herd mind. Led by too many adults who are now always seeking a continuation of what felt like a mystic experience. Who don’t see anything wrong with trying to create a new world via the classroom. Who lack the knowledge to put the pieces together and then recognize why this cannot end well.
I wish everyone reading this post and blog a very Merry holiday season. Please do not be sad about the gravity of what I have been writing about. I don’t know why I was put in the precise places I needed to be over the last few years to get this story. But I was and I have it.
And I genuinely believe that telling it will make all the difference in really altering the future. But in a good way. Certainly better than what is currently intended for most of us.