Now don’t visualize Failsafe in the sense of Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove unless those graphics help with a proper sense of urgency at what we are facing in the name of ‘education’ for ‘our children.’ I actually am using failsafe in the dictionary meaning of “compensating automatically and safely for a failure, as of a mechanism or power source.” I would add people as well as we can adjust ourselves to thwart the reality of what is happening unless the offered narrative is false. Our ability to adjust our outrage is also offline if education has been changed to deliberately manipulate our emotions so certain responses and likely interpretations are neurally locked in in advance.
In the recent ACES post, I finished by saying we would turn to emotions and here we are. Carefully documenting the media manipulation and the parts of the story being ably omitted lest we become informed and outraged. If anyone thinks it is conspiratorial to imagine active coordination around deceit, last week the National PTA in a letter to fed ED on regulations on required parental engagement under ESSA, requested the use of “Leading by Convening: A Blueprint for Authentic Engagement.” http://www.ideapartnership.org/documents/NovUploads/Blueprint%20USB/NASDSE%20Leading%20by%20Convening%20Book.pdf That way parents could be Delphied into useful beliefs about what ESSA does that have actually nothing to do with its mandates or shifts.
Remember sociologist Anthony Giddens telling us that behavioral scientists know that what guides and motivates behavior is not what is actually true, but what is personally and emotionally believed to be true? Let’s take a look at the organized media juggernaut on hyping emotion as the key to learning. On April 27, 2016 Education Week wrote a story called “Emotions Help Steer Students’ Learning, Studies Find: Scholar sees passion as mind’s rudder” which hyped the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her new book Emotions, Learning, and the Brain. Here’s the lead quote that should probably be read with a reminder that one of the definitions of using cybernetics in education is to create a steerable keel with a student’s mind and personality. One that is locked in neurally that the student is largely unaware of.
“People think of emotion getting in the way of cognition, but it doesn’t. Emotion steers our thinking; it’s the rudder that directs our mind and organizes what we need to do.”
Gives new meaning certainly to a declared goal of ‘standards-based reforms’ and competency-based education that seek to create Habits of Mind and desired Dispositions and Attributes to be deemed College, Career and Citizenship Ready, doesn’t it? That hyping article was followed by a May 4 New York Times piece called “To Help Students Learn, Engage the Emotions.” It also hyped the same professor’s work exclusively with more quotes that resonate with initiatives like Hewlett’s Deeper Learning (omitted from article) where “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about.” Really? How about the insistence that it is the:
“emotional connection that can result when teachers make learning personally relevant to students is what differentiates superficial, rote, topical assimilation of material from a superlative education marked by deep mastery and durable learning.”
In other words, it is experiences carefully crafted for the classroom so that what will guide and motivate future student behavior gets practiced and then locked in at an unconscious level. Talk about bypassing any personal failsafe. And this is the kind of ‘meaningful learning’ that CCSSO, Linda Darling-Hammond and groups connected to her are calling for as the new form of accountability under ESSA. Oh the things that get left out when the article also hyped “the best, most durable learning happens when content sparks interest, when it is relevant to a child’s life, and when the students form an emotional bond with either the subject at hand or the teacher in front of them. Meaningful learning happens when teachers are able to create an emotional connection to what might otherwise remain abstract concepts.”
How did I ever pass the bar exam without this kind of instruction? Now before we get back to what else is being left out, let me assure you I have the 1979 book created from the February 1977 symposium titled “Toward the Human Use of Human Beings: A Cybernetic Approach to the Assessment of Children” held in Denver. I may be able to recognize a cybernetic focus by how it functions, but that is no where close to the end of my proof. I also have open declarations on this “interdisciplinary attempt to apply the principles of cybernetics, the science of control and communication, to certain issues of child development” via American education and needed reforms.
Also in my library of research for the sequel to Credentialed to Destroy was a 1994 book by a USC neurobiologist, Antonio Damasio, called Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. Query: do Immordano-Yang and Damasio work together? Just imagine if the writers of these hyping articles had mentioned that Prof I-Y wrote the journal for the International Mind, Body, and Education Society (IMBES) I have alarmingly covered. What if the Brain Creativity Institute is involved in all this sudden BRAIN Initiative NSF and NIH gushes of federal money? Just a little digging an up came this joint published article “We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education” from 2007.
Now the first line of the abstract “highlighting connections between emotion, social functioning, and decision-making” should remind all of us that ACES theorizes that people are now to be Anticipatory Cognitive Embodied Systems and thus easily manipulable via education. Our transformative systems thinkers like Kenneth Boulding also wanted us to be reconceptualized as ‘goal-seeking, purposeful systems.” Is that also the vein of all this sudden hyping of the role of emotions in learning. Even if I did not have Damasio’s books, there are hints just in that article that all these pushes are consistent with professors who also want to see Values as the Drivers of Human History and education to create a new Science of Virtues because the article opens with a mention on:
“how culture shapes learning, and ultimately the development of morality and human ethics. These are all topics of eminent importance to educators as they work to prepare skilled, informed and ethical students who can navigate the world’s social, moral, and cognitive challenges as citizens.”
I always want to insert ‘comrade’ as an adjective in front of that kind of vision of the purpose of education to be a ‘citizen,’ but then gallows humor is a part of how I deal with all the open declarations I uncover. The GSV San Diego conference did not just tout the increased annual spending for the BRAIN Initiative. It also called explicitly for the Acceleration of Ideas that Address the Integration of Mind, Body, and Soul.” Sounds like values and emotions are to be neurally integrated via K-12 education practices is required federal policy and investors want to pile into tech companies with a means to do just that. Still all omitted from the official narrative unless we monitor these meetings and recognize co-partners of who is being officially touted.
Federally funded brain research and required education practices to foster and invisibly manipulate a hope that “our brains still bear evidence of their original purpose: to manage our bodies and minds in the service of living, and living happily, in the world with other people.” Now I would start to get nervous if I was constantly encountering attempts to enshrine a communitarian ethos in Positive School Climate Presidential Executive Orders or the actual definition of what Career Ready really meant. Now I would really get nervous if that 2007 article had a graphic of what it hyped as the desired Emotional Thought with this subheading:
“The evolutionary shadow cast by emotion over cognition influences the modern mind. In the diagram, the solid ellipse represents emotion, the dashed ellipse represents cognition. The extensive overlap between the two represents the domain of emotional thought. Emotional thought can be conscious or nonconscious and is the means by which bodily sensations come into our conscious awareness. High reason is a small section of the diagram and requires consciousness.”
No declarations that the small area of high reason needs to be smothered further via education reforms and required practices, but there is a hope to “produce the sort of automatic moral decision making that underlies intuitive notions of good and evil” that appears more social and political than “lying is bad and murder is wrong.” Let’s turn to Descartes’ Error and see what it tells us on why hyping and controlling emotion via education is so crucial. Well, consisting with taking the failsafes away from the steering of the student we have Damasio telling us that “emotion and feeling, central aspects of biological regulation,…provide the bridge between rational and nonrational processes, between cortical and subcortical structures.”
Just the thing, in other words, to be the openly declared object of required education practices and declared federal research priorities that then get deceitfully explained or not covered at all when talking to students and their parents. Damasio’s book laid out use of emotion to create what he called somatic markers and even italicized. Nary a mention though in either those Times or Ed Week stories. Now what happens when these carefully cultivated, emotionally-laden, nonconscious somatic markers neurally embedded and part of what is being assessed as Higher Order Thinking Skills and Understanding or Meaningful Learning was created to quietly acheive the declared goals of affirming ” a new level of being in which one can invent new artifacts and forge more just ways of existing”?
Now who would have suspected such nice stories could involve so much more? That the ‘learning experiences’ being loaded into the cloud or instilled in an adaptive, digital learning virtual reality game were created by developers hoping to create nonconscious somatic markers. That the developers and research profs knew that “most somatic markers we use for rational decision making were created in our brains during the process of education and socialization, by connecting specific classes of stimuli with specific classes of somatic state. In other words, they are based on the process of secondary emotions.”
All of this psychological and neuroscience research is being forced into required educational practices and no one is accurately telling us unless we dig as I do. Then we get to discover that those ‘secondary emotions’ being carefully hyped and manipulated are “those emotions and feelings [that] have been connected, by learning, to predicted future outcomes of certain scenarios.” Those were professor Damasio’s italics for emphasis in his book. Can the student know the future? No but they are being trained with Guiding Fictions ‘as if’ certain possibilities could be made true. Then the tasks are repeated until the emotionally-embued perception becomes a nonconscious Habit of Mind.
Just imagine making the definition of ‘success’ under the new federal education law or competency as about successfully planning and making decisions without adding that the decision making will be guided by instilled somatic markers. Those nonconscious emotions then become the ‘criteria…which express, at any given time, the cumulative preferences we have both received and acquired.”
Gives a whole new conception as to choice about what is ‘received and acquired’, doesn’t it?
Does ‘student-centered learning’ that is relevant and engaging still seem like a good goal to be blindly implementing for ALL students?