Anticipatory democracy may sound like a mouthful, but it’s really just a nerdy term policymakers created to justify governments at all levels becoming the decision-makers. We see it in the Inclusive Prosperity, America Next, and Dignity for All by 2030 vision from the previous two posts. Goals for our collective future are set out at forums we are not invited to and then officials decide how to get there from the present. Do you know what “Anticipatory Democracy and Aspirational Futures” http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/152-S06.pdf always needs? It needs to develop a shared vision for the future across a broad spectrum of society that justifies governments as decision-makers. How can it do that? Well, it might want to seize control over the Internet now, but even before there was an ICT industry, every radical with transformational plans knew to look to education.
On February 17, 2015 the well-connected KnowledgeWorks put out its vision for the ESEA Rewrite wanting it to be grounded in Competency, including social and emotional ones, and for the federal, state, and local levels to operate together as a single system. http://knowledgeworks.org/sites/default/files/policy-political-landscape-k12-competency-education.PDF Sounds like polyphonic, progressive federalism to me as we covered in a previous post. Now I am assuming knowledge of Competency as laid out in Chapter 4 of my book Credentialed to Destroy and how it fits with the real Common Core implementation and learning progressions. What I want to do here is overlay the pertinent visions we are dealing with where people have confessed the need for New Mindsets, perceptions, and personality traits that will fit with their new visions of what governments at all levels are to be doing in the developed world.
Nobody was ever going to put us on notice or ask our permission. This was to be a fait accompli and somehow tenacious me has stumbled across it all with my constant listening and reading and musing over “why are they saying that? It’s not how the world has ever worked. What’s going on?” Now my reaction to the manipulative deceit of the language in that America Next report sent me scurrying back to a cited book from 1992 called Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector . It made me see what was going on in the name of Outcomes-based education and School to Work in the 90s in a whole new light. Remember how I have been bothered by the sudden ubiquity of all the references now to ‘Governance’ and our being governed? Read this (my bolding throughout this post):
“Governance is the process by which we collectively solve our problems and meet our society’s needs. [In other words it’s a euphemism for what Marx called the purpose of his Human Development Society]. Government is the instrument we use. The instrument is outdated, and the process of reinvention has begun. We do not need another New Deal, nor another Reagan Revolution. We need an American perestroika.”
Interesting choice of language in 1992. Since the Reinventing book also cites Harlan Cleveland multiple times, let’s overlay this post into what my book laid out on what seems to really been going on in the 80s and 90s and who was really to undergo the wholesale restructuring. In this new vision the “job of government is to steer, not to row the boat.” Well, that grabbed my attention given the number of times I have encountered the idea that Competency-based education is creating a desired keel at the useful level of the student’s mind and personality. This is the fundamental vision of what the 1992 book called “third-party government” where governments look to third parties to carry out the public objectives they have set. So please do not disingenuously describe it as free enterprise or limited government or conservative policymaking.
A confessed goal of steering society and “using public leverage to shape private decisions to achieve collective goals” is using sovereign power for personal manipulation and control over individuals. Pure and simple. This Entrepreneurial (R)evolution needs a Crisis, which is basically what a hyped ‘skills gap’ and high unemployment provides. It needs Trust in Government, which requires an absence of factual knowledge about the past. It needs Shared Vision and Goals, which is precisely where education again comes in. Where better to go about sculpting “the key element is a collective vision of a city or state’s future–a sense of where it’s headed.” That was John Parr, executive director of the National Civic League, speaking in the book. Parr went on to say: “If you haven’t put that [vision] together, it’s very difficult to make these innovative approaches work, because people become so confused about the role of government. They become very confused about why government is changing.”
If that quote is not hitting anyone else like a ton of bricks given all the hype on a new paradigm for education, how about the open declaration that the cultivated shared vision about the new role of governments “simply assures that enough of the community shares the leaders’ vision to overcome the opposition.” No wonder we keep hearing all those mentions of democracy. Has there ever been a more meaningful confession of majority rules? Now the Reinventing Government book left me breathless because it fit the facts I have noticed or laid out in my book so well going back to the 60s. It said the original version of this reprivitization/steering vision though had come from Peter Drucker and cited a 1968 book The Age of Discontinuity.
Now the 1992 book did own up to needing to change the “mental image of government” each of us has, but Drucker thankfully set out a graphic description of the kind of education for ALL students that would be necessary to fit his vision that “after 250 years, political theory and social theory” would once again join together. If that sounds like the historic concept of the individual is about to go poof, Drucker did call for a “new individualism” and a “new concept of freedom.” To clarify “the purpose of government is to make fundamental decisions and to make them effectively.” Next time you hear that “citizenship dispositions” is a stated purpose of Competency education and the Common Core, remember that Drucker wrote that “In a free society, the citizen takes responsibility, above all, for his society and its institutions.”
Drucker’s vision called for education and learning grounded in skills that would be the “cornerstone of tomorrow’s education for everybody.” This would not be an academic education grounded in subject content and he wanted the focus to be on nonverbal experience and performance. Like performance standards and assessments and learning experiences? What is now being described as Competency education suitable for the workforce or college open to all sounds like what Drucker called in 1968 his “education of technologists.” Education suitable for an equitable society where governments now do the steering and see that all people’s needs are met.
Drucker’s “education of technologists” had three essential components. Now when Drucker says “apply knowledge to work” or “using theory” he does not mean book knowledge. He means what we are now encountering as Enduring Understandings, core disciplinary ideas, cross-cutting issues, and other terms for the supplied Big Ideas and ‘lenses’ to be used to guide our interpretation of the world. Drucker wanted “an infinite number of people capable of using theory as the basis of skill for practical application in work.” What today we would call Project-based Learning and Competency-based education. If my interpretation of the likely end result of Fostering Faithful Followers seems a bit too cynical it’s because we have not yet covered the other two essential elements. “Equally important is the training and formation of perception and emotion in school.”
In the next post I want to talk about how the push to make Equity an essential obligation of the federal government makes this steering vision and collectivism necessary. We need to challenge that fundamental false premise before all that is left is a discussion over means. Meanwhile, I want to end with a quote that fits the current, actual K-12 implementation as well as where something in higher ed called the ETS Proficiency Profile is taking us. Remember what I always say about the purpose of policies and practices attaching to them even if the school and classroom users remain unaware. Drucker and the Reinventing Government authors were very graphic. Here goes:
“Perception and emotion are trained, developed, and disciplined only in the experience of performance, that is, only under the challenge of objective standards that exist no matter what the individual’s ability, inclinations, or proficiency.”
Those are standards in the sense of goals for everyone. That is a vision that allows for Student Success for ALL. It fulfills the current attempt to create a federal civil rights obligation grounded in quality education that provides Equity and Excellence.
And at its fundamental foundation it uses governments in the Developed World to steer economies and society to finally fulfill what Uncle Karl called his Human Development Society.
One last revelation from Reinventing Government in 1992–A Global Revolution–that fits with the worldwide push towards Competency.
“If the rise of entrepreneurial government is an inevitable shift rather than a temporary fad, as we argue, one would expect it in other nations as well. And to a startling degree, it has. A similar process of transformation is under way throughout the developed world.”
Using similar mechanisms for comparable reasons.