House of Tomorrow: Targeting Behavior Change Requires Move Away from Declarative Knowledge

If you hang out in the dungeons and attics of the Transformation Blueprints like I do, one of the omnipresent confessions that is crucial, but not making it into the public domain YET, is that classroom activities and experiences are now “aims-based” or “goal-directed,” not “subject-matter based.” History, math, literature, or science course names still get used, but it hides the new broader purposes of social change. They have ceased to be, unfortunately, ends in themselves. The very phrase “standards-based” over the last two decades is also intended to hide what is indisputedly a shift to a personal behavior emphasis that is still too obscured.

This post is designed to remedy that and build on the facts and declarations laid out in the recently finished APUSH trilogy as well as particularly Chapter 7 of my book–“What if Common Core Actually Limits What Everyone Can Know or Do While Targeting Feelings,  Beliefs, and Values Instead?” The Question that Grows in Pertinence on a Daily Basis. Often times the best way to illustrate what is being required in education is to consult a professor in another area, who is unlikely to mask his statements about what is intended. Do you remember the London School of Economics where that troubling Fabian Stained Glass window has now found a new home? As a symbol of reverence, not infamy, unfortunately.

Back in 1994, LSE’s then Director, sociologist Anthony Giddens, kindly explained the role of History to political radicals in a book called Beyond Left and Right. It matters because not enough of us appreciate that the Fall of the Berlin Wall, death of Mao, or dissolution of the USSR, never altered the widespread desire for History to be progressing somewhere. If facts get in the way, education becomes the preferred tool to get the process headed in the desired direction again. Tell me this quote is not behind the spirit of the activities I spelled out in the previous posts: “For socialists, the past is not comforting; it is valued at most because it has provided the means whereby we can actively move on to grasp and appropriate the future.”

If you make K-12 education about altering and creating desired feelings, values, beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors (performances or learning are the preferred K-12 euphemisms obscuring this reality), education can supposedly create the conditions for the House of Tomorrow.  When I write posts explaining the NEA CARE Guide created with the Southern Poverty Law Center to use in the Common Core classroom or the Aspen Institute’s  RETOC-Racial Equity Theory of Change, tie those intentions to highlight race, class, and ethnicity to create feelings of grievance or guilt to Giddens telling us that Marxism’s allure for so many is and was the “metaphysical idea that history, in its more consequential and revolutionary moments, is made by the oppressed.”

If that quote seems a bit too ‘metaphysical’ for anyone’s taste, let’s simply make real-world problem solving the focus of K-12 education, and see if the classroom over time doesn’t create a consciousness precisely as Uncle Karl would have wanted. In 2013 the Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability published a helpful confession from Erin Redman complaining that traditional education and declarative knowledge like facts, lectures, and textbooks were too “value-free, didactic” and “one-way methods of communication” (instead of the now glorified classroom ‘Dialogue” among ‘Equals’).  Education in the 21st Century is supposed to be about long-term behavior change from an unconscious basis at the level of each individual. Those Aims or Goals require “require real-world, experiential and problem-based learning.”

Thanks for the honesty even if it is tucked away. Keep in mind the calm assertion that “Behavioural scholars have, however, clearly established that the linear, information-deficit approach [aka Transmission of Knowledge of the Best that has Been Thought or Done by the Sages of the Past] to education is insufficient in promoting behaviour change.” Since we have been concentrating on what these Aims and Goals do to history coursework, let’s end with the recommendation that this Normative view of the purpose of curriculum results in a suggestion for “shifting away from scientific facts as the primary discourse in sustainability.” That ‘s why it’s so important to emphasize feelings and the Whole Child.

It is why Procedural Knowledge gets so hyped now in the form of the Skills Deficit. That is the needed action-related process knowledge and how-to skills useful for real-world transformations. Effectiveness Knowledge now gets hyped because Beliefs about the Need for transformations in the present to alter the future are very much influenced by “perceived consequences associated with different behaviours as well as beliefs about who is responsible for given outcomes.” That’s the Aim that really finds factual knowledge to be an obstacle since it might prevent viewing the assigned Villains as culpable or notice that local politicians will blow even more money if given ever more planning power.

But then I am no teenager and we have already concluded I would be on the first shipment to Perception Re-education Camps to extinguish Factual Knowledge as an Impediment to Fundamental Change. The typical adolescent will be easy prey though for classrooms built around: “One of the central ways for enhancing effectiveness knowledge is by focusing on problems that are locally relevant and at a scale with which students feel empowered to act, while also examining the positive impact of individual and collective change.” Lack of much factual knowledge, unless the parents have stepped in or the child is the rare fluent, voracious reader, means that a capacity or willingness to conceive of any negative impact is unlikely happen in most classrooms anymore.

Finally, “social knowledge (i.e. norms) encompasses subjective and local knowledge including the motives, intentions and actions of other people. In order to enhance social knowledge, it is critical that sustainable behaviours are positioned as the normal and the desired way to act.” Objective, norm-referenced tests of knowledge have to go away quietly in this sought scenario for the future since they center on Declarative Knowledge. Radicals always needed alternative assessments to examine whether the desired behavior and attitude changes were occurring and what strategies and concepts are used when there is no correct answer and not enough information is given. Today’s Rigorous Assessments merely build on what was known as the New Standards Reference Examination in the 90s Created again by the Mother of both Higher Order Thinking Skills as well as the related term Rigor, Professor Lauren Resnick.

We should simply view them correctly as Cultural Activity Research on our kids with our tax dollars. Remember the ISCAR 2011 Conference in Rome, Italy? It’s all about Aims-Based Education too. Transformational Aims with Political and Social Purposes. Just like the Common Core or 21st Century Learning or Competency-Based Instruction now. It’s all about Behavior Change if we climb down to the dungeons or up to the attics or just trace back to the footnotes in the typical Aspen Institute Report.

Those interested in fundamental transformations in the political and social spheres that is the Progressive View of the Role of History now need the tool of K-12 education, if not preschool as well, to reach those same Aims and Goals. It’s why so many education graduate degrees today openly trumpet their grounding in Change Agent Theories. To make students the mass carriers of new cultural memes and behaviors without most parents or the typical taxpayer even being aware of the shift. That’s the purpose of all the Orwellian language that has me climbing down, then up, and flipping back to those footnotes again and again.

I may have to understand all this at a very nerdy level just bursting with facts and wordy declarations of intent to once again try out notorious theories in the real world, but that is not the level where most people live. When I explain what is intended in order to get real traction in the real world, I always have to find ways to bring these intentions into the everyday lives of my readers. Unfortunately, though, I am not the only one who understands that crucial point.

In fact, the shift away from Declarative Knowledge to granting parity to subjective ways of knowing and interpreting, along with that targeting of Procedural, Effectiveness, and Social Knowledge we have just talked about, is all about meeting people and students at the level of knowledge that “guides conduct in everyday life.” Just the arena, in other words, if long-term behavior change is the admitted (if only quietly shared among insiders), new Goal or Aim of K-12 education.

Behavior Change Architects intent on Political and Social Transformations to kick History Back into Gear on the Planned Pathway of Change would need to appreciate each person’s “subjective experience of reality.” To get at the perception of reality held by the “common-sense of the ordinary members of society.”

That’s what alternative ‘high-quality’ assessments like the NSRE above got at and what the Common Core and formative assessments get at now. It’s what adaptive software gets at as well.

Then we have performance standards under their variety of masking names like College and Career Ready or Next Generation Learning to capture and then remediate over time behaviors, values, and attitudes that are not desirable for transitioning to the Planned Pathway for History.

Not to mention what all the social and emotional programs being sold as Character Education or Bullying Prevention or Positive Behaviors for the Whole Child do.

Am I finally reaching the everyday recognition of what is coming at all of us?

26 thoughts on “House of Tomorrow: Targeting Behavior Change Requires Move Away from Declarative Knowledge

  1. Knowledge and facts were specifically removed from UK schools in 1931, the 5th Hadow Report: “The curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored.” And parliament passed I, and has never tried to throw it out until Chris Woodhead c alled for the DfE to be wrestled to the ground. Bu grows and grows, £100bn a year is a lot of power to maintain failure and keep success out.

  2. Robin, You write so much with the requirement to go slowly that I can’t keep as I would like to comment in helpful, unredundant manner. I do, however, feel the to urgently point out a couple pieces referred to me by other black-belt researchers that have taken my understanding to a new level. One is by a former Nazi turned whistleblower, Herman Rauschning. His 1939 book on how the Nazis, mostly through propaganda and education were going to take Germany, is titled “The Revolution of Nihilism”. The full text is posted here:

    Another work, an essay titled “The Power of the Powerless”, written by former Czeck President is only 40 pages should be read first. The piece is dedicated to Jan Patocka who was arrested for teaching philosophy and died during “interrogation”. This paper tells why “truth telling” becomes deadly in a post-totalitarian regime and how this intolerance gets formed in society, all within 40 pages. He gives the example of a greengrocer putting out a sign in the window saying “workers of the world unite” and how, when stops doing that, he becomes a suspect and his neighbors turn him in for “dissent”. A good parallel metaphor would be putting the red equal sign on one’s facebook page and taking it down makes one a suspected enemy of the state. That text is posted here: I also learned, in that region, underground universities developed called “The Floating” or “Flying University”, because teaching certain things had become illegal. I would rather you didn’t post this because I worded it so badly in a rush, but if you check what I wrote, you will find it highly important to the issue at hand.
    Kind regards

    • Kyrie-your wording is just fine and I knew others would want to share these links as well.

      You are also illustrating why facts, from history or science or just plain logic are such an obstacle to these plans for transformation. Any knowledgeable person aware of what is intended can readily appreciate where this is all headed. Same reason I find the 1927 Treason of the Intellectuals so potent.

      I am going to delve into this targeting of the subjective construction of reality next. It is distressingly detailed and it took my breath away when I realized the relevance in so much of the implementation I am reading about. The book though was written in 1966, back when Maslow and Rogers were first pushing Humanist Psychology and MACOS was being created and when John Goodlad first worked with Ralph Tyler on that 1966 Yearbook I used in my book.

      Thanks for the afternoon reading assignment.

      • On that Rauschning link, the “read online” format is linked to the wrong book. That format link goes to a book titled “That Printer of Udell’s”. However, the “kindle” format link is the correct book. Also on, their “look inside” link goes to that same wrong book titled “That Printer of Udell’s”. Pretty strange, but just try a different link.

      • Yes. Dewey, also, was pushing Humanism from even further back.

        Check out the description of this document posted at Humanistic_Morals_And_Values_Education-Vince_Nesbitt-19
        Education for Social Change Humanistic education began in the U.S.A. in the progressive education movement, which dates from about 1905, and its founder is John Dewey, a pragmatist (“what works is good”) and a Humanist (first President of the American Humanist Society, and a signatory to Humanist Manifesto I). He aimed to introduce into the U.S.A. National Socialism, later known in Germany as Nazism, which he called “Collectivism”, and to use the schools as instruments of social change to bring this about . (18) Dewey changed the aim, content and methods of education in the U.S.A. In 1905 he organised, along with some Fabians, the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which in 1921 changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy, and this in turn formed in 1962 an action arm called the Students for a Democratic Society. The aim of the League was to put into the classroom teachers, into the pulpits preachers and into the trade unions leaders who were collectivists (reflecting the Fabian method) . Early in the century, Dewey formed the Progressive Education Association, and the American Association of University Professors, also committed to the goal of collectivizing the U .S.A. (19) The schools were seen as essential to the task: “Nothing less than thoroughgoing reconstruction is demanded, and there is no institution known to the mind of man that can compass the problem except education.” (20) Implementation of the plan was to be mainly through social studies, developed chiefly at that time by Dr George Counts .

        • Thanks anon. When the new President of my alma mater proudly announced to alumni she was a feminist and a humanist I wondered how many really appreciated she was announcing an intent beyond support for women and liking people.

          Dewey also was the original envisioner of tenure for profs after a colleague and friend at Columbia lost his job. Profs and college Presidents are apparently supposed to be perfectly free to reimagine the USA in all respects without penalty for what they are pushing at young minds.

          Chapter 2 of my book is about Dewey and how he is a philosopher who chose education as a useful means to change society. Much like Woodrow Wilson he pushed going to War in Europe in 1917 for the same reason. George Counts we met in an earlier post when he and Sidney Hook picketed against the Waldorf Astoria Peace Conference in 1949. Both were undeniably collectivists, but by 1949 they were not willing to join in with so many other American profs and celebrity intellectuals in “insulting the United States and glorifying the Soviets.”

          One can see why tenure came in so handy. That latter quote and the Counts/Hook story was detailed in E. Merrill Root’s 1955 book Collectivism on the Campus.

          One more point that ties today to what anon raises. PEA created the 8 Year Study to shift the American high school away from academics in the 1930s. The actual reason for the Common Core now as we have seen. Ralph Tyler created the term ‘objectives’ to obscure that reality in the same way that ‘standards’ is now being used for the same purpose of obscuring the shift from a subject-matter content emphasis.

          Ralph Tyler’s work on this is the basis for the omnipresent intentions we now hear to Understanding by Design and Backwards Mapping. Those terms hide the actual start from the final Aim or Goal of a concept, principle, attitude, or skill backwards to how to create it in the student. Then that gets euphemised again as personalized student-based learning or Student Growth. Creating Student Growth, even if it is largely affective as new values and emotional beliefs and dispositions, is treated as the mark of an effective teacher under the NCLB waivers. The teachers’ unions are trying to buy time for their members until all objective assessments of knowledge vanish before allowing penalties. At that point Effective Teacher goals tied to Student Growth are all about reliably creating desired classroom behaviors in the adults. Just like the related Community of Learners’ concept.

          • Just looked at the pdf and wanted to update a few details from 1981 to the present. The Unfreezing, Changing & Refreezing technique described on page 9 came up last May in the public meeting of a Fulton school board member when an Area Superintendent who had previously been the Chief of Staff to the Super, recommended it for veteran teachers not on board with the required shifts in classroom emphasis.

            Secondly, Kohlberg’s work described on page 19 is most commonly coming in now under Civics and Citizenship instruction. It is also being pushed now globally. It is the basis for the new Hong Kong conception of citizenship now that the Mainland fully controls that former British colony. Individualism out, Collectivism in.

            Kohlberg is described by Harvard prof Robert Kegan (who has a tag) as his mentor. It is Kegan’s work that forms the basis for the OECD’s Key Competences and I wrote about his troubling speech to the RSA on Stages. He partners with New Ager Ken Wilber in pushing Integral Theory and his work is cited in the 2012 higher ed report A Crucible Moment as forming the basis for the new, non-academic, vision of college.

            Finally, the Hewlett Foundation hired Kegan and Peter Senge back in 2012 to ensure that the Common Core assessments would be looking for signs of the kind of deep learning Hewlett is advocating.

            So none of this is forgotten, but the computer and digital learning makes these goals so much easier to invisibly accomplish.

  3. I remember Saul Alinsky talking about the unfreezing/refreezing technique in his book “Rules For Radicals”; a book he dedicated to Lucifer; the first radical that won his own kingdom. I have seen this book on the recommended (if not required) reading list for NEA (National Education Association-teachers’s union) members.

    In my research I have learned that way back to the Knights Templars and before, people bent on the desire to rule, figured out the secret to ruling the world was “hidden worship”. These people combed the scriptures for things they could use and turned the ideas upside down. For example, in Matthew 4, where Jesus is temped in the wilderness, the third and final temptation reads thus:

    “8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

    This is where this idea came from; elites worship Lucifer in exchange for world power. Some actually believe in him, some don’t; but you can be sure, the ones at the top go through the ritual motions as a brotherhood. They can be seen using handshakes, making gestures, and using certain symbols. By the images they print on our currency, they have put the masses on notice as to who is in charge.

    Thank goodness D’nesh D’souza talked about Alinsky in his recent movie “America, Imagine The World Without Her”. People actually now are interested in finding out about Alinsky’s rules for radicals. Here is a pretty good short video explanation of Saul Alinsky:

    • Anon-I know nothing about the Lucifer part and I refuse to speculate about anything I cannot prove, but I certainly can vouch for a desire to rule.

      I associated the Unfreeze Freeze technique with Kurt Lewin and that Area Super did attribute it to him as if he knew the name but not that there was any infamy involved.

      There are also definite ties between IAF, Alinsky’s group, and the Alliance groups in Texas involved in virtually all the major cities and apparently working closely with school boards there.

      Plus the capacity for ambiguity that Rigor and Levels 3 and 4 of the DOK rubric used in Florida and Texas for years and now a part of PARCC and SBAC is the same capacity community organizers are taught to emphasize. It makes a person willing to act even though they have no idea what the consequence will be.

      Sounds to me like a disastrous trait to be deliberately nurturing in the long term.

        • Anon-I know Alinsky did dedicate his book to Lucifer and I know Alice Bailey’s books really do come with a Lucis Publishing card inside. My point is that short of such proof I will not assert a connection to anyone else.

        • Anon,
          It is interesting that Alinsky was a Chicago community organizer. He sure helped, didn’t he? *sarc off* It should be easy to see that everywhere that method has been used, it has made things worse, and hasn’t helped anyone at all. It has been completely political. I saw a quote somewhere, that says, in effect, that wherever there is a christian institution, that is what Satan is going to flip upside down. The Bible verse you used, I have seen that used as an example of Freemasonry also.

    • Did not know purchase price but saw a blurb earlier and immediately recognized MS is buying the company whose game is being so touted for use in the classroom.

      It’s ‘engaging.’ Which is of course more important than actually knowning anything.

    • Funny how much difference the portrayal of China is from this Chinese story on how much more cooperative the culture is.

      All of the districts cited as involved in cheating scandals that I am familiar with ALL shifted to a Goal-based view of standards but got tripped up by still having to deal with knowledge oriented tests. So of course the solution is to get away from any objective testing.

      Just finished reading a report that came out today called the Climate Change Educational Partnership: Climate Change, Engineered Systems, and Society.” It quotes an ed professor at Penn State, Richard Duschl, as :
      “Duschl echoed the call to align goals, or what he referred to as standards, with the assessment of learning outcomes. Over the past decade much has been learned about learning, and measures and assessment techniques have become more sophisticated, so tools are now available to assess the knowledge and practices that are the goal of education.”

      Next page then mentions what ‘enduring understandings’ students should have as what is meant by knowledge. Lynn Erickson should be pleased.

      All the hyping of what is or is not being taught as a subject completely fails to appreciate the nature of the shift in classroom behaviors. It’s like standing by the front door arguing while the burglar goes out unchallenged from the back door. The alarm is going off. We have the memos saying the back door is the way in and out.”

      Yet so many involved with attacking the Common Core refuse to take the essential next step of dealing with the real implementation and the reasons for the shifts.

      • From the xinhuanet article:

        “”Because teachers in China only teach 10-13 hours a week out of their whole 40-hour week, there are weekly meetings for lesson planning. And in the United States, unless you meet during your lunch you’re not meeting with your colleagues because you’re teaching,” Weisen said.”

        13 contact hours / week is like a university teaching load, without the research expectation. They must really care about education there, and they can afford it.

    • At the risk of saying something too obvious, the Chinese schools manage to teach everyone to read and write in Mandarin, which involves a huge amount of drill, but it isn’t just drill either. The easiest part of it is the phonetic “pinyin”, which uses our same letters to write the sounds.

      And we don’t even successfully teach phonics in English. Let alone thousands of characters.

      • If the bulk of the American population knew how to read well, they would be more difficult to control in the new world order. The teaching of reading in the US is working perfectly according to plan.

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