I can still remember the sense of betrayal I felt when I was researching the why of a statewide integrated math mandate. It turned out to be tied into tens of millions in grants to certain universities and state agencies and school districts. All undisclosed to the taxpayers paying for the schools and watching real learning stop for so many students. Later I became a bit of an expert on how a certain part of the National Science Foundation created these conflict ridden abuse of trust partnerships to corrupt math and science instruction in obliging states and districts all over the country. It was part of NSF’s human sciences and behavioral sciences research, but that is never readily identified when you first hear about an NSF grant.
You don’t think of using American schoolchildren as guinea pigs in something called Project 2061, an earlier NSF project (its math curricula are what ignited the math wars in the 90s) to blend the natural and social sciences. It remains active. Now with the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance documents, we know why. It turns out NSF has a Geosciences Division too. And it is a ringleader in saying goodbye to the concept of the free individual or economic liberty or even US sovereignty. The Earth is to be viewed as a single system with lots of planning to do to manage people and societies and economies.
But not to worry. The Belmont Forum is working with a Swedish group, IGBP, to focus on the “social and economic dimensions.” And IGBP:
“will actively promote a new era of inter-and trans-disciplinary research and will work with relevant partners to support solutions to societal transformation.”
Guess who those partners are? The Belmont Forum and its US NSF and UK NERC managing partners. And ICSU–the International Council for Science. Your tax dollars at work I suppose. Did anyone put such a societal transformation up for a vote? In any of these countries? Well actually President Obama mentioned recently in an interview that climate change would be the dominant priority for his 2nd term. Could he have meant the Belmont Challenge and the IGBP-led Earth System Visioning Process and the International Earth System Science Partnership that are all scheduled to begin their formal operations and work together in 2013? Under the name Future Earth Alliance. And a 10 Year time frame to be put fully into place.
Now would you be more comfortable if I told you further that UNESCO of Education for All and Education for Sustainable Development and Quality Assurance accreditation fame was formally participating in the Future Earth Alliance (let’s call it FEA)? How about the United Nations Environment Programme? Those busy bureaucrats sponsoring that Rio+20 Sustainable Development conference June 20-23 next week where tens of thousands are planning and bonding and festivaling. Not reassured yet? How about the active involvement of ISSC, the International Social Science Council? Doesn’t it make you just a tiny bit relieved to know that “the primary international body representing the social, economic and behavioural sciences” is involved too? There really is always pedagogy, huh?
Now actually we do have some good news if we are prepared to act quickly. The Future Earth final framework document is dated February 2012, a few months ago. Rio+20 is just cranking up and FEA is to begin its machinations next year in 2013. Let’s talk now about where our national and international politicians and bureaucrats are dragging us with our own money and Just Say No. No to such a grasping effort “to manage and govern our activities to reach and sustain global sustainability.”
We know human ingenuity is the ultimate natural resource on the planet Earth and we are tired of funding an expensive, organized effort through education reforms globally to shut down that marvelous, unique capacity some people have for genuine, life-altering innovation. We are also tired of funding and living with the consequences of pedagogy and instructional practices designed to bring about “behavioural change” for some international pie-in-the-sky scheme like FEA to benefit the politically connected. We want the continued freedom to pursue our own dreams, thank you very much. If all do not benefit equally, all will do better than before the innovation in the end. Those buggy whip makers did go on to different vocations.
We do not want a centrally designed and managed future based on taxpayer funded bureaucrats unaccountable to anyone. They haven’t even been forthcoming in telling us what was going on. Now they want us to pay for and be docile while they:
“provide solutions and transition pathways; ranging from economics to behavioural change and governance”
“creation of partnerships between research, organizations, policy and practice to deliver knowledge that is useful to decision makers, responds to development priorities, and can be easily explained to citizens.” Yes simpletons that we are and in need of guidance by decision makers.
“research that is co-designed by the partners represented in the Alliance, bringing together natural, social, human and applied/professional/engineering sciences for consultation and input”
So these academics and bureaucrats develop theories and then jet around to conferences at our expense to discuss which ones to implement on us in practice in the real world. Involving virtually every aspect of daily living. Rejecting traditions and practices that evolved over a millenia and survived because those who used them prospered. Can’t anyone see what a catastrophe this would be? Or is the lure of grant money and those awesome trips just too blinding?
Gee. And we thought using students as guinea pigs for integrated math and Transformational Outcomes Based Education was economic suicide. Apparently the schemers living and travelling at our expense were just getting warmed up.