Part Two begins with the UNESCO General Conference meeting in Paris that last week enacted what it already abbreviates as FFA–Education 2030 Framework for Action: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. UNESCO is celebrating its 70th anniversary at this meeting and fully intends to use “Quality Education” to achieve its long time agenda of “Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women”. That’s what Rapprochement of Cultures and Human Rights Education were about from the last two posts. I happen to have the up-to-date official definition of Quality Learning at the ready for us:
“there is an acute need to foster skills, values and attitudes that will enable people to overcome religious, linguistic and cultural differences, to coexist peacefully, and to discover shared human, moral and ethical principles…we attach great importance to enhancing quality in learning by..raising awareness of shared moral, ethical and cultural values, and promoting tolerance of differences [at least certain kinds of differences as the Oregon bakers discovered].”
It is that internalized belief and value system we all have that is being consistently targeted, isn’t it? They do intend to build peace at the level of the mind, or at least prevailing perceptions that it is possible. To discover why let me introduce you to a new definition of ‘culture’ and something I had never heard of–Cognitive Anthropology. See where footnote surfing gets us? To quote a cited book, Cultural Models in Language & Thought, “this school of anthropology came to stand for a new view of culture as shared knowledge [hence the boldfacing above]–not a people’s customs and artifacts and oral traditions, but what they must know in order to act as they do, make the things they make, and interpret their experiences in the distinctive way they do.”
Sound familiar? That’s what Competency gets at, what Higher Order Thinking Skills assessments evaluate for, what the Maker Movement and Project-based Learning have students emphasize, and what the local school administrators mean when they hype ‘quality learning experiences’ for all students. When the White House Summit this week on reimagining American high school showed a film Most Likely to Succeed touting High Tech High in San Diego http://mltsfilm.org/ they were pushing a vision of education developed by cognitive anthropology research. The title of this post tells us why. Education–preschool, K-12, higher ed, and adult–is looking for “insight into those conditions under which cultural models [what Quality Learning internalizes. See above] are endowed with directive force and hence with ideological potential.”
Gulp. The essence of the phrase “sustainable development” is finding cultural models that can be internalized as values, beliefs, and attitudes that will reliably guide and prompt desired future behaviors. If that sounds authoritarian, it is. It fully intends to rely on ‘statutory enactment’ and ‘political regulations’ to be binding, but those things and ‘financial incentives’ cannot carry the load fully. Education for All throughout a lifetime, from cradle to grave, is needed to always be malleable and subservient to political power. No rebellions and no resentment, at least not overtly. In what may be my all time favorite phrase taken from a 2006 book Learning Cities, Learning Regions, Learning Communities: Lifelong learning and local government, written by a professor and UNESCO consultant Nicholas Longworth:
“Top-down authoritarian structures are no longer in vogue and leaders in cities and regions will need to know how to harness the creative energies of thousands of people for the good. Shakespeare’s ‘tide in the affairs of men’ becomes also a tide in the affairs of local and regional authorities.”
Remember this as your Congress Critter or Senator Lamar Alexander hypes the ESEA Rewrite returning power to states and local districts and schools. Remember it as your State Governor files his WIOA plan, with its state and local boards, with DC. This is all consistent with the UN vision for achieving its 2030 Dignity for All agenda via Learning Cities and Learning Regions. The FFA mentioned above says so. We may not know any cognitive anthropologists or behavioral scientists, but the UN does, and it knows:
“Social life depends on the fit between what is socially required [see above and previous posts] and what is individually desired [Quality Learning games this]. So, too, the designs of those who would rule society and those who would benefit from this control over others, depend upon the willingness of the populace to fill its role in these plans. Therefore, states and other agencies promulgate ideology [Equity for All; Catastrophic Global Warming] persuading people to do what they otherwise might question or resist…To be successful, ideologies must appeal to and activate preexisting cultural understandings [Quality Learning again]…to be convincing, an ideology must pose as either legitimate or inevitable.”
Now we know why Outcomes-Based Education just keeps coming back as my book laid out and as a speaker from the well-connected Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education confirmed just last night. The stipulated outcomes are what can ‘grip us’ and act as an internal compass as Human Rights Education called it. That FFA stated that “Education is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and essential for the success of all SDGs.” Front and center and running through everything, crucial to education, beginning ‘at birth’ and continuing ‘throughout life’ is the ‘concept of lifelong learning.” This time it is FFA bolding that phrase and luckily for us the footnote is on that page and not at the end. It was all-encompassing though and sent me scurrying for the cited technical paper. That’s when the Learning Cities and Regions came rolling out so here’s the quote:
“In essence, lifelong learning is rooted in the integration of learning and living, covering learning activities for people of all ages (children, young people, adults and elderly, girls and boys, women and men) in all life-wide contexts (family, school, community, workplace and so on) and through a variety of modalities (formal, non-formal and informal) which together meet a wide range of learning needs [what new state funding formulas all seem to emphasize] and demands. Education systems which promote lifelong learning adopt a holistic and sector-wide approach involving all sub-sectors and levels to ensure the provision of learning opportunities for all individuals.”
I was a history major and I recognize a variant of Mussolini’s infamous definition of Fascism, even if the State force is divvied up at multiple levels from the global to the local all the way to an insistence on student-centered learning: “All within the State, Nothing outside the State, Nothing against the State.” Remember authoritarianism is not rejected, just any perception of a top-down, centralized imposition. When I found that Lifelong Learning Technical Paper, it revealed a supposedly binding set of documents from 2013 called the “Beijing Declaration on Building Learning Cities” and ” Key Features of Learning Cities.” Locating these and reading through them it became apparent that I had been living through and attending meetings clearly implementing this Learning Region agenda. No wonder I accidentally learned so much as my book pulled together in alarming detail.
I now know that for sure and not just by inference because a few days ago the San Francisco region issued what it called the Roadmap http://www.bayareaeconomy.org/report/a-roadmap-for-economic-resilience/ that fits with every tenet aspiration of a UN Learning Region down to wanting to create a public-private partnership of elected officials and civic and business leaders to guide an Economic Development partnership that would be qualified to access federal funds as one of the 380 duly-qualified Economic Development Districts. Lots to build Learning Cities and regions on, huh? The report thanked those that have gone before and listed Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, DC, and Los Angeles.
Between the last post and this one I went out of town and part of that trip involved driving Interstate 75 through Dalton, a reminder of the Aspen/fed Communities that Work Partnership http://www.aspenwsi.org/communities-that-work/overview/ that just commenced. WSI is Workforce Strategies Initiatives because in Learning Cities and Learning Regions, we all know that K-12=Workforce Development=Economic Development=Living itself under that definition of Lifelong Learning. Get enough physically juxtaposed regions and cities in one federal program or another, including Community Broadband that the close-by Chattanooga just issued bonds to finance, and our Learning Regions start knitting into a Learning Society committed via the law and education to Lifelong Learning–everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Quickly as I am running out of time, at the end of September 2015 a Second Learning Cities Summit was held in Mexico City and it set out the above as Guiding Documents for cities and regions to formally join the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. Maybe our mayors or city council members do not plan to tell us though and simply go to conferences like PolicyLink’s October Equity Summit in Los Angeles where the principles are all asserted with federal officials mixing with local and with community organizers, implementing a global agenda without telling us officially.
Maybe the recognition comes from something like an ASCD Whole School Whole Community Whole Child Poster http://www.ascd.org/programs/learning-and-health/wscc-model.aspx once we know about the Lifelong Learning/Learning Region formal agenda and seeing how it fits like a jigsaw piece to a puzzle. When we read about “more collaboration and partnerships with families, industry and business, voluntary associations, people active in cultural life are needed,” we need to recognize this is not just some random public spiritedness and desire for collaboration. It derives from official global policy for a new kind of cultural model internalized within the mind and personality.
We will close with the aspiration laid out by the Chinese Vice Premier at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo that this UNESCO agenda of Lifelong Learning is to “facilitate the comprehensive and personalized development of each and every individual.” Now take the top-down authoritarianism rejection and marry it with the bottoms up intent of Human Rights Education. This is Part 2 of a Trilogy, remember?
The Key Features Framework has a Greek Temple graphic with Sustainable Development across six pillars that basically summarize elements of the vision as the Major Building Blocks of a Learning City and three steps laying out the needed fundamental conditions. The left side of the pediment at the top is “Individual Empowerment and Social Cohesion.” Get it? The collective is what empowers the individual, even if it is only an entitlement to basic skills. The right side joining it is “Economic Development and Cultural Prosperity.”
Now would be a good time to remember it does not say Economic prosperity. It would also be a good time to remember that new definition of Culture the Cognitive Anthropologists created set out above.