Guaranteeing Surreptitious Mind Shifting Requires Binding Unknown Research and Coordination

Building on what we found in the actual language of HPL II from the last post, I want to talk about precisely how what is being referred to authoritatively as the Science of Learning & Development makes it all the way to the local classroom, fidelity to the purpose of the theory intact. First though, let’s detour to the always forthcoming Harlan Cleveland (HC) and what he wrote in 1998 about how to guarantee the desired “guarantee mind shifting” necessary to create a means of “organizing human beings to work together toward common goals.” It was laid out in an article called “Religion and Governance” available here , which makes it crystal clear that the Integral Mindset we keep encountering and its sought Arational, non-Axemaker Mind, was called the “Transmodern Way of Thinking” by HC [who has an ISC tag].

Cleveland wanted to make “human beings the dominant actors in their own future evolution,” which may sound pie-in-the-sky until we recognize just how seminal ‘learner agency’ is to what is being called The Brain Basis for Integrated Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: How emotions and social relationships drive learning in a little publicized paper released last month by the Aspen Institute. HC once headed the Aspen Institute, which makes this concern about how “citizens have been slow to change” all the more alarming. HC also wrote (remember his pursuits in the 80s are covered in CtD) that:

“many countries citizens have been slow to change their minds because their leaders fear the consequences of ‘many flowers blooming’–as Mao Tse-Tung did, even though he popularized the phrase–in gardens they wish to control. But it’s dangerous not to take full advantage of new learning technologies; the breakdown of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union bears witness.”

Sounds like regret, doesn’t it? Sadness over lost transformation opportunities of leaders not using the powers of innovation to create “more satisfying belief systems” that are “open to adaptation” and instill a desired “inner sense of what is appropriate.” On that note, one of the backers of those papers above, EducationCounsel, the policy arm of Richard Riley’s law firm that also represents school districts, has worked with the same CCSSO that created the Common Core to create Principles of Effective School Implementation Systems and Deep Dive Principle 1 insists that “schools will provide effective and engaging instruction within a supportive school culture.”

All terms with a definite meaning under HPL II, its troika, and those Turnaround papers. What is effective though is not just about listed Outcomes where “students will be academically prepared.” Students will also be “socially responsible,” which sounds remarkably like a Garden to be Controlled in the 21st century by ‘public policy’ and legal mandates. Principle #2 fleshes out that garden by referencing the “full range of knowledge, skills, and mindsets necessary for students to succeed in college, career, and civic life.” Mindsets is a synonym in these documents which is sometimes replaced by Dispositions, Attitudes, or Attributes. By any of these names, it gets at the needed:

“epigenetic adaptation [grounded in experience]–the biological process through which these reciprocal individual-context relations create qualitative changes to our genetic makeup over time, both within and across generations…Genes are chemical ‘followers’, not the prime movers, in developmental processes; their expression at the biological level is determined by contextual influences.”

‘Contextual influences’ is more commonly known now as prescribed ‘learning experiences’ aimed at getting at the internalized realm of a student’s KBVAF–knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, and faith–to gain the desired new values and patterns of thinking. was the source of that quote and one of its primary authors is one of the keynoters at this week’s iNACOL conference in Nashville. Here’s another quote since the “human relationship is a primary process through which biological and contextual factors mutually reinforce each other” and the “human relationship is an integrated network of enduring emotional ties, mental representations, and behaviors that connect people across time and space.”

Is it any wonder that Positive School Climates and social and emotional learning then are being legally mandated for intervention as Student Success and School Improvement using every legal vehicle available? We now are to consider both children and adults as ‘developmental systems’ where governments and other institutions seek to intervene to control the:

“continuous interaction between the individual and the context of each individual’s relationships and experiences. [Human] development is shaped by a convergence of individual, biological, contextual, cultural, and historical factors…An understanding of neural malleability and plasticity, the dynamics of resilience, and the interconnectedness of individuals with their social and physical contexts offers a transformational opportunity to influence the trajectories of children’s lives.”

While making them ‘socially responsible” to boot, huh? Remember how HC loved that garden metaphor for the potential of controlling the mind? Well, the unpublicized Aspen paper above opens with telling us that “the developmental sculpting of the brain’s networks through learning is akin to the process of growing a botanical garden.” Maybe, but none of us get to pick out either the landscape architect or gardener doing the planning, mowing, or pruning. Politicians, public policy think tanks, academics, and other TOGAS–translocal organizations of government actors, like CCSSO–are the one’s planning to utilize “the brain’s plasticity, the very adaptability that allows us to adjust to the demands of our environments…as a critical opportunity and responsibility for education.”

No wonder these aims were called Tranformational Outcomes-Based Education in the 90s with a true aim to target the “situations, problems, ideas, and social relationships… that a person engages with [so that] these experiences [will] influence patterns of brain structure and function that undergird a person’s changing skills and inclinations over time.” Then comes the garden metaphor language followed by:

“Just as a garden grows differently in different climates and with different climates and with different plants, styles of gardening, and use, a person’s brain develops differently depending on age, predispositions, priorities, experiences, and environment. When given adequate opportunity, support, and encouragement, children naturally think, feel emotions, and engage with their social and physical worlds. And these patterns [KBVAF] of thoughts, feelings, and engagement organize brain function over time and in age-specific ways, influencing growth, intelligence, and health into the future.”

If that only sounds a bit creepy as a mandate for intervention as School Improvement or Student Achievement , how about an image of firing within the brain while discussing the depicted area as (2) the right and left insulae, which sense the viscera and can be thought of as feeling emotion-related ‘gut’ responses and integrating those feelings with cognitive processes; and (3) regions of the Default Mode Network that are involved with processing the psychological self, building coherent narratives, calling up personal memories, and thinking about beliefs and moral values.”

How intrusive. No wonder we get euphemisms about School Improvement, Higher Order Thinking Skills, and Student Success instead of the open statement that brain structure and functional change for transformative political purposes requires students:

“be willing and able to tackle challenging tasks…to also learn to perceive themselves as capable of succeeding, which illustrates the connection between cognitive and emotional capacities. Learning environments that are structured to be consistent with how the brain develops generally include these features: They place the learner’s emotional and social experience at the forefront. Productive learning environments attend to learners’ subjective perceptions and help students build scholarly and social identities that incorporate their new skills and knowledge. They help people to feel safe and purposeful, and to believe that their work is important, relevant, and valuable.”

Now does all the role playing and references to learning to Think like a Scientist, Historian, or Mathematician make more sense? It’s all about a means to gain the desired neural change that fuses circuitry uniting emotion with thought. The remaining needed features for neural change, also bold-faced are age-appropriate exploration and discovery that allows “learning important concepts and skills” and exploring “essential questions.” No, we do not get to decide what is ‘important’ or ‘essential’, anymore than we get to pick out the border shrubs for this metaphorical neural garden. “They support flexible and efficient thinking. [where] productive learning environments attend to the trade-off between plasticity and efficiency in brain development, strategically offering activities that encourage flexible thinking along with those that encourage mastery of necessary building-block skills and knowledge.”

Next we get “help students acquire habits of mind and character. Productive learning environments help students acquire habits of mind that facilitate acquisition of age-appropriate knowledge and skills, reasoning, and ethical reflectiveness. These habits of mind become tools for navigating the world as a learner, bringing curiosity, interest, persistence, and a deep thirst for understanding.” They left out that habits of mind are largely unconscious so these learners are being guided by the same instilled internal rudder I call the Invisible Serfs Collar. How right I was with my own metaphors.

Now we know why we keep encountering required practices for the classroom that “attend to the development of the whole child in context, and the need for aligned partnerships throughout the community that can support children’s and their families’ health and well-being.” No wonder this vision of education and the omnipresent communitarian emphasis “is a necessity for all children” and every type of school.

For these political and social plans to gain effect without effective opposition in time, education needs to be about forcing planned interdependence in the neural circuitry of each citizen’s “cognitive, emotional, and social processing.”

I can see why euphemisms, undisclosed alliances, and legal mandates are so necessary to such a vision to gain Implementation with Fidelity.

15 thoughts on “Guaranteeing Surreptitious Mind Shifting Requires Binding Unknown Research and Coordination

      • This paper you linked to Robin is nothing short of terrifying. If anyone had any doubt that K-12 teachers and admin. are tasked with being the primary attachment figures ( Parents? Who needs ’em? ) to our children then this paper should remove all wondering.

        • Did you note the reference in ‘phronesis’ in the Malleability, Plasticity, and Individuality paper as what instructional design should create inside the student? The paper states that “Aristotle discusses phronesis as ‘practical wisdom’–knowledge that guides a person to enact the right moral virtue, in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right place. Simply, phronesis is knowing what is best to do, and how to do it, in a specific setting.”

          Talk about being programmed to develop Individuality in a prescribed way!

          Then the footnote links back to what brain-based personalized learning touted as ‘developmental science’ really seeks from the curriculum and learning tasks: “reflecting the Aristotelian concept of phronesis, instructional design should seek to provide the right amount of challenge, rigor, support, feedback, and formative assessment to drive and accelerate the developmental range and performance of individual students.”

          This is NOT about academics. To the extent it still exists it is simply a tool to create the desired instilled behavioral change. See why these papers needed to stay off parents’ radars?

        • Speaking of parents, must actively get their mindsets transformed too.

          Richard Riley, the Clinton Ed Sec behind EdCounsel and representing so many school districts where the school board members are being actively misled judging from their public comments, is on the Board of Carnegie.

          Also Lily Steyer, one of the co-authors of the two papers pushed by Turnaround for Children, is the daughter of James Steyer, whose Common Sense Media is involved with the Media Literacy Standards we have looked at. Lots of tools to get to shared meaning making, huh?

      • Seems it’s mostly aimed at poor behaving and poor performing students, and the message is that you can’t just kick out the troublemakers, you have to soothe them and get them to calm down, and it’s the teacher’s job to do that.

        You have to know each little darling’s emotional state, you have to relate to his or her ethnic challenges, you have to give a challenging curriculum and to assure them that they can improve, you have to reward effort over results …

        (I would be unwilling to teach in a school where if there’s trouble, I can’t just call security and have it removed. I could probably do good things for 80% of those kids, but if I couldn’t have the bad 10 or 20% removed, I wouldn’t be available for that service.)

        They also seem to be in favor of mixed race and ability groupings without any concern for how they affect the more capable kids.

        • The more capable kids are assumed to also be privileged developmental systems who owe access to their capabilities and greater vocabularies to everyone who can be brought into their orbit.

          “Developmental systems theories (DST)…at its heart is a general theoretical perspective [i.e. a hypothesis using the classroom to get verified] on development, heredity, and evolution that departs from dichotomous views of development. It goes beyond ‘conventional interactionism’ between genes and environment, producing a ‘truly epigenetic view of development’ as an ongoing, constructive enterprise between the individual and multiple biological, psychological, and sociocultural systems and agents over time.”

          Think of the capable student as a biological and psychological system who may cease to move forward or slow down due to all the interaction with the less capable, but remember that’s consistent with an Equity focus. The capable student, like the teacher, become tools of this epigenetic focus for all students. Quoting “Malleability, plasticity, and individuality” again: “Epigenetic adapatation is the biological process through which the ecology of relationships, experiences, perceptions, and physical and chemical toxins get ‘under the skin’ and influence lifelong learning, behavior, neural integration, and health.”

          Co-author Lily Steyer was a 2015 Stanford grad in ‘human biology’. That’s Paul Ehrlich’s program and he is the original proponent of a new kind of arational mind in the book he wrote in the late 80s with Robert Ornstein that caused me to create the Axemaker Mind as the metaphor for what was being targeted. It’s why he has a tag on this blog. Remember too his MAHB–Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior work? Also, his statements that people in the 21st century only need Foresight Knowledge–the ability to imagine how things might be different and then to act to make the visions real?

          • Here’s another quote that goes to the role of that capable student in this vision of education. “The human mind emerges from the development of the brain and exists to guide and interpret human activity.The development of the brain is an experience-dependent process, in fact, neurons and neural tissue are the most susceptible to change from experience of any tissue in the body. Experience is a ‘stressor’ to brain growth…Experience shapes not only what information enters the mind but also the mind’s ability to process that information…
            The brain receives signals from its different regions, other systems throughout the body, and the outside world. The processing functions of the brain integrate information from these diverse sources into templates–representations of various types of stimuli–so that the brain gains meaning. Templates are drawn from prior affective, cognitive, social, and emotional experiences, including some that are not remembered consciously.”

            Your capable student is simply one of those ‘diverse sources’, which is why I bolded the term. Their role is not to keep adding to their own stores of mental knowledge, but to make those stoes from experiences available to help create or bolster the internalized templates of other, less fortunate, students.

  1. Thanks for the link to the Carnegie Report on engaging families to help shift mindsets for the new era. It’s mind-boggling how sophisticated are the techniques used. Undoubtedly it’s part of the shift away from academic emphasis to more social-emotional development. Unfortunately, young parents especially are so trusting of the teaching world.

    These are the approaches in the Western world of education — the seductive, incremental, persistent, crafty methods — to shift traditional pedagogy to these new constructivist styles, which cognitive science discredits.

    Now look what is to happen in the Eastern world! Pearson, big name in education, has sent out this news release about their fresh series of English materials for students in India.

    Pearson openly identifies their philosophy: “Modern psycho-pedagogy, constructivism, which forms the basis of its learning experiences, makes the book(s) appealing to all learning styles and preferences.”

    • And yet people who write about education regularly, like Lynn Taylor in North Carolina or Donna Garner in Texas, will send out blog posts or emails insisting that Constructivism is about “discovery learning’. As you know I covered Constructivism in CtD, but its new name is simply ‘learner-centered’ paradigm. came out yesterday.

      Again, parents have no idea just how much their child’s physical biology is being targeted for transformational change. Yesterday, the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative announced money for CASEL, GripTape, Peer Health Exchange, and the Roses in Concrete Community School. Over the weekend, I was looking at the links between positive psychology and self-determination theory and up popped a relevant paper on what is intended by a Saskatchewan psych prof, VI Chirkov, called “Dialectical Relationships Among Human Autonomy, the Brain, and Culture.” Hopefully I will write it up soon if my life will accommodate my writing.

      • Interesting, how so many of these reports are about “movements” — learner-centered movement (KnowledgeWorks), breadth of skills movement (Brookings), etc. Wonder how they arose? Don’t movements usually arise from the ground up due to some revealed need? And legitimate movements are kinda “spontaneous”, not contrived and coordinated by some well-heeled outfits.

        Anyway, the language they use gets familiar after a while: “reached a pivotal moment in time”; “sustainable transformation”; “accelerate the transformation”; “shifting education goals”; “shifting of norms”, etc. But definitely part of the same thrust — the 21st Century Learning Goals. Part of the SDG 2030 goals (Sustainable Development Goals 2030) and why there’s anxiety to “accelerate”: 12 more years to get there.

        But, but, really, most of it is about the promotion and advancement of the old constructivist style of education, miles away from truth, academics and knowledge and toward relativism, soft skills (4Cs, 5Cs, 6Cs . . .) and producing happy citizens. Those two new movements just add two more variations to the other names — discovery, inquiry, problem-based learning, experiential, progressive, personalized, group work, psycho-pedagogy (another new one added by Pearson), and I’ve missed some, I’m sure.

        They all, somehow, manage to be promoted and embedded in ways that are not openly declared but adopted without much public knowledge. I’ve always felt that there should be truth in advertising in education and that is one movement I do hope takes hold. Parents and students should have ready information about the schools they choose, the methods and philosophy.

        • The issue typically is common funding or allies in common efforts. Brookings was founded with Rockefeller Foundation money as their ‘think tank’ and KnowledgeWorks has ties to Carnegie as does EducationCounsel.

          The Brookings paper cites to this UNESCO paper that calls these skills–Transversal Competencies. That’s a term I first came across looking at Finland and its new curriculum framework, but the graphic on page 11 of this pdf is rather graphic on what is targeted. Love the confession that what is being targeted is “how people think, act, use tools, and interact.” That’s rather comprehensive and what parent fully appreciates that this is what is targeted for neural transformation when they are presented with language about a desired Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profile.

          I actually woke up before dawn this morning with the epiphany that the term “learning’ is this 21st century vision is actually about a push to “Coerce the Will” of Individuals Invisibly but Effectively without that being understood. I think it is also why there is such an organized campaign from public policy think tanks and their allies to misrepresent the true nature of these reforms. Everyone seems to want to use this means of neural transformation for psychological change without that being understood.

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