Imaging the Past to Experience and Reshape the Present More Fully: APUSH as Social Science

I tend to come at the same issues from a different approach in part because I usually pick up on all the terms that have quietly acquired a non-dictionary meaning. The real definitions completely change what people are actually admitting they intend to do. When it comes to history now, at whatever age, approach all courses or activities, even for elementary students, with a recognition that “Personal Transformation on our Minds” is the motto crooned to the tune of “Georgia on My Mind”. You will never be far off from what the real goals are. Facts are really only important in this view of history if they can be used to shift how we see ourselves or others in the present.

Did you know that historian Thomas Bender (he actually seems to prefer the term Humanities professor) from the previous APUSH post and another NYU historian (now Harvard) Walter Johnson, also at La Pietra, have each been fellows at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences since the Conference and before the formal relationship with the College Board began? History as a tool for altering human behavior in the present certainly puts the purposes of that otherwise mystifying Conceptual Framework in a new light, doesn’t it?

Did you know that back in 1934 the American Historical Association issued a Carnegie-financed report (remember they are now sponsoring Competency-Based Learning and so much more) called the “Report of the Commission of the Social Studies.” My thanks to the reader who read the previous post and directed my attention to this report on the american deception website. All the way back then, the AHA announced that “the American people are part of Western Civilization now merging into a world order.” Schools therefore needed to modify any coursework that would encourage “the traditional faith in economic individualism.” The US would be “embarking on vast experiments in social planning and control which call for large-scale cooperation on the part of the people.”

Compliant is probably a more apt description for the new desired attitudes, but the soothing PR sales pitch in the report is that “education so conceived is concerned with the development of rich and many-sided personalities capable of co-operating.” Education that continued to focus on subject-matter content would simply “intensify the conflicts, contradictions, maladjustments, and perils of the transition.” Just thinking of us then is why we have been lied to about what has been really going on. The view that school could become primarily a matter of social adjustment and experiences while the real purposes hid behind continuing use of Academic Course Names has been on the record for a very long time.

When I said in the last post that the La Pietra Conference immediately made me think of the World Order Models Project, the original book that I reached for was the 1990 Contending Sovereignties: Redefining Political Community. That book was essentially the post-Soviet Blueprint of how to proceed to ‘reform’ the West as if it actually did not ‘win’ anything at all. It grew out of a 1988 Moscow Workshop that launched the Global Civilization Project. I know. Another lost invite. The essential premises going forward were that the era of the nation-state was over and that the historic state form was insufficient as a “political community.” Instead, the locality should be the focus of the political community and politics should now be reconceived as “purposive social action directed at the conditions of social existence.”

If you redefine “democratic theory” going forward as “a theory of social movements rather than states” and you do not want to tell the masses in case they do not want to go along with such an oligarchy power play, you hide the shifts in education. You create a Common Core and use Close Reading to foster the desired perceptions of “which human identities are crucial, what forms of social action are necessary, what political communities have to be created.” You use the school to create classroom practices that involve “politics as an everyday experience” and never disclose why. You create an APUSH Framework that is missing most of the crucial facts, but is full of activities and concepts offering students a means for “working out new understandings of themselves and bringing those understandings into the world.”

That’s because it’s the Flyv Social Science definition of understanding as grounded in subjective experience and how the student learns to perceive it using the provided concepts and disciplinary Big Ideas. I will pull one more nerdy word out of Robin’s Magical Glossary of Pertinent Education Terms: phronesis. Every time you see the word ‘understand’ from now on having to do with what students are to ‘know’ it means grounded in experience and perception and not logic or facts. A phronetic, Arational understanding is what the social scientists and educators intent on fundamental transformations call it and we should appreciate it is not a fact-grounded, analytical sense of the word ‘understanding.’ Is APUSH making more sense now?

How about if I add that Bender’s 1978 book Community and Social Change in America explained the now close relationships between sociologists and historians to create a means to “illuminate the dynamics of a complex society.” To use historical data and sociological ideas to examine “the ways in which the roles, statuses, and identities held by individual Americans changed over time.” Now that’s a view of the purpose of history that would fit right in with a Global Civilization Project interested in bypassing the factual history that might preserve the legitimacy of the nation-state. Instead we quietly build up senses of entitlement and grievance in social movements.

Bender acknowledged that “ideology can create a national community held together by emotional bonds similar to those associated with the social experience of community” that we are discussing here. What Bender seems to want to focus on as history is the “network of social relations in which the individual is embedded” and what the “structure of social experience is.” He wants to look for and hopefully use history coursework to start a course back towards relationships and interactions grounded in the “qualities of mutuality and sentiment associated with community.”

If that sounds like Bender is interested in fostering the kind of communitarianism we just keep stumbling across in the actual Common Core implementation, I think that is exactly right. It would also explain all the foundation sponsorship of the La Pietra Conference. It is history as a social practice of students and teachers acting as a community to explore the past to better appreciate what is wrong with the present.

I have one more place I want to look to put APUSH into perspective while once again encountering the communitarian emphasis that never seems to be far away from what will be imposed on students in a K-12 school or classroom. The goal always seems to be to accustom each student to a more communitarian, interdependent approach in society and the economy. This book from 1992, Responsive Schools, Renewed Communities, is by Clifford W Cobb, a co-author of the very troubling for the common good, with a Foreword by famous communitarian prof Amitai Etzioni. It actually advocated for vouchers and charter schools and school choice generally as a more reliable vehicle for achieving the communitarian focus. That surprise would suggest I am not the only one who understands that accreditation is the monkey wrench that undermines genuine choice for parents.

So beware what remedies we advocate for without reading the footnotes and small print. My purpose for using that book is how well it fits with the template from both the 1934 Report and the methods for transformation of political community laid out in Contending Sovereignties. That 1992 book wanted schools that depend on “fostering concrete experiences of commitment to an immediate community. Those experiences can then be generalized into a devotion to the common good.” School becomes a means to “generate allegiance to core values,” which would of course put it in line with the global education template UNESCO and Pearson are quietly pushing.

Relevant to our igniter of social movements goal as the new actual purpose of history coursework (or Civics or English or STEM…) is the desire that Multiculturalism and Diversity be seen as goals that will allow the “continuing distinctiveness and autonomy of subcultures, particularly those based on ethnicity.” Well, let’s face it, not all ethnicities qualify. A few sentences further is the real point of cultural pluralism. Those “ethnic nuclei” that are to be respected are those that can constitute “enduring centers of social action.” Oh, that will go well with the new, post nation-state emphasis. The next page, revealing that our prying eyes were never meant to read that book and really grasp all the Diversity hype, “stresses the tactical value of limited separatism.”

Especially in our new world with its focus on the locality and everyday experience. Whatever the intentions of individual advocates today, please be aware that back in 1992 School Choice was being pushed by some as yet another means to get back to:

“the context of a community of personal affiliations that imposed moral expectations and sanctions on its members. That tradition can be revived by shifting from devotion to an abstract national community to reliance on particular, local communities. In other words, rather than expecting the state to resolve our disagreements with each other on moral issues, we should learn to rely on participatory communities to guide the behavior of individuals.”

I think that is what all education at every level globally is now geared to if, like me, you know where to look. We have been looking at an astonishing consistency of aims now from a huge variety of starting points and assumed affiliations.

Next I will walk us through how history is actually to be used before APUSH to get to the Global Civilization Project goals.

Ready for the assessment to be a class quilt?



29 thoughts on “Imaging the Past to Experience and Reshape the Present More Fully: APUSH as Social Science

  1. You quote American universities that have taken a wrong turning. Here it is Oxfod, a beautiful city fo buildings, but the thoughts and actions coming thence have done a lot of damage. Think of Oxfam, Water, Save the children, all the opposite of what we need – to stop creating more babies to grow up starving! They need contraceptives, clinics to give men The Snip. Clearly Oxford U. is devoid of the common sense we need, but has the power to make things worse!

    • Mona-I spent the summer of 1980 studying history there. Punting by Magdalen College, High Street, justifying the first cashmere sweater I ever bought because it was cold that summer there.

      Flyv has left Denmark and is ensconced there. So is Big Data and so much more.

    • Mona-as always here’s the global template grounded in social and emotional learning. Held in lovely Geneva in October.

      Our honeymoon years ago was in Germany in October. Still remember how beautiful Lindau was and Lake Constance.

      Charles Fadel’s Curriculum Redesign then is now admitted to be SEL with UNESCO and the OECD alongside. And Massachusetts.

  2. Oregon has very little school choice. Few charters, no voucher program. The Oregon DOE is fully in charge. Our teachers union is vehemently against choice. Since it is not an option here I had to read a lot to understand the danger and destruction. I suspect many may be in the same boat.

    • I’m with L.L. It took a REALLY long time to figure out why “school choice” and charters are not necessarily a good thing. And we have obviously been keeping up, so for the average American, I imagine it will take a while.

      • Me too. It’s a matter of an odd coalition, reading the language of these charters, but I had no idea when I bought that book that it was about School Choice. I almost fainted at the alliance with Etzioni. But the language in the book on what was sought with charters and vouchers fits with so much else we have encountered.

        All roads to lead to communitarianism. Oregon does not need charters or vouchers, does it?, to push the Regional Equity vision because you are first on the list of keenest innovators.

        I just want people to be careful. In education so many of the crises are deliberately created to create a frenzy for the solution all along. The frenzy prevents anyone from noticing that what they got was not good. should help put what we are dealing with into further context. Same site a few years later says it will all be Big History as the curriculum across the Board globally.

      • Gee-look what the World Future Society chose to dedicate its September/October 2014 issue to

        APUSH and history generally as Part 3 will show are a good contrast to show what the invasion of the social science view of what education’s aims are means in the daily classroom because virtually all of us recall how we learned what history we know. The change is thus quite salient.

        Oh look, the College Board in 2014 added “Foresight” to the required lenses to be included in AP coursework.

        “Foresight Education aspires to train the next generation to responsibly and compassionately handle the hard, ethically challenging decisions and complex issues and demands of a future in which they will live. On a tactical level, our goal is to help students engage in a global conversation about the future without being encumbered by today’s problems. We encourage them to believe that they can make a difference. And we hope to empower them with the skills needed to influence their own future opportunities.

        The program’s Guide for Curriculum was built on research and pedagogical practices drawn from foresight practitioners and futurists, and uses the Institute for Alternative Futures’ Aspirational Model as a way to guide students when they develop their alternative futures. It incorporates elements from innovative educational frameworks, including 21st Century Skills and Knowledge, project-based learning, and student-centered learning. It is aligned with Common Core States Standards for English Language Arts. In 2014, the College Board announced that it was adding “foresight” to the essential skills, or lenses, to which all students will be exposed in the new College Board course offerings.

        The curriculum employs an experiential-based approach in which teachers and learners share knowledge to build their understandings. Foresight Education recognizes that there are many pathways to thinking about the future and dealing with uncertainties, so it encourages teachers and students to explore their own pathways. Most importantly, the program is flexible and adaptable so that teachers can mold the program to fit their own classroom needs.”

    • LL-this OECD Skills report is ostensibly on Norway. What it really does is outline how this skills emphasis in education becomes the perfect excuse for social engineering via the schools to supposedly ‘prepare’ students for the new workplace. Then the workplace is constantly regulated via a “whole-of-government” approach and treated as existing to provide worker training. Only a bureaucrat could see the world like this but it also fits with WIOA and Promise Neighborhoods and Sector Strategies.

      The mentions of the inclusive society this is a part of are as close as we get to the admission this is a social science view of school, the economy, and the workplace with everyone expecting to behave now as the governed.

      Did you see RSA toting today their version of charters–the Academies? As with redefining Student Growth and achievement here around criteria measuring psychological changes, the school improvement goes back to changing what is measured. In our now NCLB waiver mandated A-F measuring systems for schools, it is important to know Etzioni in his Foreword mentions the need to come up with a summary technique indexed to some measure that would tip off parents as to whether a school was ‘good’ or not.

      When someone feels the need up front like that to keep parents from having full info and consciously seek to guide what they will perceive is good without really explaining the criteria, something is up. My experience on this issue is that people lie when confronted with the holes in their sales pitches. Major think tanks censor comments on their blogs even if they are factual and supportive. That’s what Heritage did. Not interested in a factual discussion. When I pointed out on Jay Greene’s blog maybe 2 years ago that people need to read the language of the charters and that many in my experience unexpectedly gutted academics by limiting schools to soft skills, life skills, and technology use, Matthew Ladner’s response was to post a picture of someone wearing a tin foil hat.

      So Jeb Bush’s education advisor does not want actual facts getting in the way of the sales pitches. Having read the Aspen Report now on student-centered learning I can appreciate why. Like the skills-centered/ international competitiveness argument, nothing is to be allowed in K-12 anymore that would nurture the independent mind so that it continues to perceive itself as an individual entitled to sanctuary under the US Constitution from all these whole-of-government approaches to dictate life’s options. It deplores the Axemaker Mind who reads the sales pitch for the future and notices the term “the people’ is now being used as a collective that need only be consulted to then be thoroughly bossed around going forward.

      No wonder the powers-that-be want Big History. They want to sell the illusion that collectivism and governmental bossing is inevitable and simply the next stage.

      No it is not. But plenty of people on the so-called Right are just as eager to sign up for this planned economy and society as the Left while the masses on both sides of the spectrum have no idea that the hoped-to-be planners and their cronies are selling the entire process via bogus arguments surrounding education.

    • Are you and Macey familiar with the Catlin Gabel school in Oregon? The link I just put up on the previous post to Mari keeps mentioning that Bazemore, then at New Canaan Country Day, was heavily involved with piloting this new MSA non-cognitive assessment being sold to parents as character education.

      I suspect the privates, which almost necessarily involve educated parents of means and thus rich home experiences, are piloting how to best shift that segment of the population in public or private hands. Also bet they will drill down hard on which schools and their practices show the most change in the least amount of time.

      • Yes, I am familiar with that school. It was just a couple weeks back you linked a paper that had a spear from the school. Several prominent people on the board, tied to business and Workforce development. It is a whole child, green school, very progressive and quite expensive.

      • I don’t know the school in Oregon but I do know New Canaan Country School. I live about 10 miles from it. I’ve been inside the elementary school (up to 4th grade I think) there.

        The kids there seem to behave clearly worse than at other, more selective day schools in the area (Whitby School, Greenwich Academy (girls), Brunswick Academy (boys) ).

        I don’t know what their educational philosophy is, but it doesn’t seem to work so well.

        • David-you are not the first with personal experience of that school to tell me the same thing. If you go through the toolkit I linked, it explains that the Board of Trustees does not commonly get involved with curriculum decisions, but that they had a retreat around the MSA. Then later it provides the Elevator Pitch for touting the benefits of this approach to education for the 21st century, clearly understanding the type of parent’s work life who has a kid at one of these schools.

          Been there, done that, removed my kids. I always wondered though why the privates were so nervous about me that they chose to disregard my kids’ 99th percentile SSATs and great grades. Now I know. My background in healthcare and the link between the transformations in health care and education as ‘rights’ towards a vision of subjective well-being as the legitimate new purpose of governance meant I always saw right through the plausible but false justifications for the changes.

          New Canaan was also heavily involved with the attendant and related recent redo of the SSAT to make it more focused on looking for comparable qualities and that all-important Growth Mindset of Dweck’s. I just nickname it as having a suitably malleable personality. Not my forte now or when I was 10. We really are going to have to form an Axemaker Mind Preservation Parents’ League, aren’t we?

          • Has the senior level SSAT been changed too? What I see on web searching is that the lower level ones changed, but they just added a bit more math content to the senior level test.

          • David-not that I am aware of. The importance of changing the Lower SSAT to noncognitive factors is that it will influence elementary programs to push the MSA or something comparable. (That discussion has been going on in the comments on the previous post.

            The Upper Level SSAT will likely be influenced by the new PSAT and SAT. Both of those are about a year away. Piecing bits here and there the measurement of College and Career Ready appears to me to be about what strategies do you employ and what concepts do you interpret with when there is no correct answer and the question is full of ambiguity. What rigor gets at, Higher Order Thinking Skills, and Levels 3 and 4 of Webb’s DOK. It’s all the same point and it fits with CCR and the desire to make doing well on the SAT equally accessible to all groups.

            I have a Pearson paper from about 2012 at a Vancouver conference when they said the primary interest is to get at perceptions and how students deal with these unstructured situations. It is tremendously revealing behaviorally about what students value, believe, and what their attitudes are. My point about phronesis was not me showing off vocabulary. That concept is everywhere once you recognize what competent, proficient, and “acting like an expert” really mean. Students are being trained to act even when they do not know anything accurate and have no real precedent for what they ought to do.

          • I was really happy to see our Super announce that we were going to have new “rigorous curriculum”, and that it involved explaining everything. You can’t just do math or science, you have to talk about it too.

            I think our district is pretty old-school and a lot of faculty members resist this stuff. Hooray for entrenched union employees! I am willing to overpay them for their reticence, I guess, since I don’t have a choice anyway, the courts keep saying we have to fund their future extravagant pensions up-to-date also.

            Anyway my interest in the SSAT shows I am interested in alternatives too.

          • I wonder how they give a single numerical score to a test designed to emphasize noncognitive factors. Are some ways of dealing with ambiguity to be valued more highly than others? Are the candidates told how this is evaluated?

          • The MSA says it is not individual scores but schoolwide and administered 6-8. This template really loves rubrics so I am guessing certain buzz words merit higher scores. That has been my experience tracking the different levels. Especially will student try to come up with a new scenario.

            I am not guessing about this but I do not YET have a Master Grading Template. Maybe next month at this rate.

            The point is less the score and more that scoring on these criteria has to disrupt any lecture, textbook, traditional fact based curriculum.

            If you have a good super, I am happy for you. But the suburbs are Target #1 so don’t be surprised if an offer too good to be refused causes a change in the next year or two.

          • Robin I think you missed the sarcasm in my mention of the Super. Would I really be happy with “rigorous” curriculum that involves explaining everything?

            You’ve succeeded in making it real clear that “rigor” is one of those words that means about the opposite of what one would expect. I just hadn’t seen that buzzword show up in District communications, but now it does and I am hearing footsteps!

          • Wishful thinking then. I always hope there are places that will still have a grace period for a year or two.

            So far though the spread into the high-profile suburbs in virtually all the major metro areas is quite steady. That is why it’s so crucial to get the privates on board as well. The feeling of no way out merely accelerates the parents imagining that maybe online is the answer now. Completely unaware they are then participating in a scifi adaptation of HG Wells’ World Brain idea.

            It has been a busy week of active declarations with me following along. No one mentioned Wells by the way. I am familiar with it though and it closely models what was described as the revolution ultimately available through online coursework. They will not be lecturing much in other words.

  3. This is not APUSH news, but I wanted to pass it along as it involves AP. Ap English Language and composition teachers are being surveyed about their willingness to teach Microsoft Word as part of the AP Language class, a skill that has NO bearing on success in the course. It does, however, have the sickly smell of Bill Gates imposing his will. Calling in a favor? from the College board and Obama’s data team. Bringing the lower CCSS standards to a supposedly higher course near you.

    • Nimbus-I have heard from award-winning, like STAR Teachers, level teachers from both public and private, that the laptop or its equivalent needs to be the focus of the ELA classes or jobs are on the line

      That would fit. A chance remark in something disturbing and relevant I read today fits with that double helix symbol I keep encountering that I have always wanted to really get the significance of. If it does in fact stand for the combination of technology and democracy, everything fits. And I pieced it together still without those darn invites.

      Thanks for adding that. This place is going to be an information exchange this year. In the best sense of the phrase.

    • Nimbus-I have heard from award-winning, like STAR Teachers, level teachers from both public and private, that the laptop or its equivalent needs to be the focus of the ELA classes or jobs are on the line

      That would fit. A chance remark in something disturbing and relevant I read today fits with that double helix symbol I keep encountering that I have always wanted to really get the significance of. If it does in fact stand for the combination of technology and democracy, everything fits. And I pieced it together still without those darn invites.

      Thanks for adding that. This place is going to be an information exchange this year. In the best sense of the phrase.

  4. Just wanted to adda few lines from a book published in 1976:

    TO CREATE A NEW MODEL OF THE EDUCATED PERSON. Historical concepts of the EDUCATED PERSON–philosopher king and the Renaisance man–are no longer applicable to the contemporary human and planetary condition. While no single unifying hypothesis of human nature has yet emerged to replace these earlier concepts, a recent Stanford Research Institute study entitled “Changing Images of Man” found evidence that a new dominant image of man is coming. More important, the SRI report argued that the “increasingly serious dilemmas of industrialized society appear to REQUIRE for their Ultimate resolution a drastically changed image of man-on-earth.”. . . In short, there is a critical need for a new model of the educated person–based on a new IMAGE OF MAN and new standards of COMPETENCE–to provide direction for our educational efforts. In this book I have coined the term TRANSFORMER as a general label for the kind of new educated person I think is needed, one capable of leading the transformation of dynamically conservative social systems from a state of crisis to one of equilibrium.

    That was written in 1976 by a man who studied under BF Skinner ( operant conditioning) and Vasiley Leontief (management by objective based on the soviet model and the father of Planning, Programming and Budgeting System [PPBS]) at Harvard and managed to be the representative of the “politically conservative” offering in education in Newt Gingrich’s lineup for his “transformation” when he became Speaker of the House. He was also one of the first to make very explicit proposals for vouchers and choice in education. To miss the importance of the transformation of our governmental system through the introduction of choice and charters in our education system is the same as going to an art museum with your eyes closed.

    • Thanks CP. I came across a UNESCO paper that I read this morning from 2003 On Learning and Work that also pushed the idea of vouchers towards the end of the 172 page paper. I saw this when I was researching Australian education as well.

      Vouchers are seen by officials as a means to taint everything. To force ALL schools to adopt the non-academic, change what the child believes and values template.

      It seems that as bad as Common Core is, few want to highlight the real essence of what makes performance standards objectionable or even that Common Core or College and Career Ready are behavioral standards. In the UK they call this switching from subject-matter education to aims-based education. Same with the Whole Child aspect.

      Makes me wonder if some people want to keep performance standards as long as they are the ones picking out the types of desired behaviors and new values and beliefs.

      I just have been surprised by how many of the media stories hype what is bad about the Common Core in terms of evil curriculum or weak academics, but they do not seem interested in the rest of the transformational story. No matter how much it can be documented.

      Glad you got your Internet back.

      • This year I asked the science department in our district whether my son could accelerate a year of science, since he clearly knew all the content to be taught in the upcoming grade at a level higher than what would be taught.

        The department didn’t even try to argue about my son’e level. But they turned down the request. The department chair explained to me that according to some new principle (I don’t remember the name, it was some combination of ordinary words I had never heard before, and he just told me on the phone — sorry I didn’t keep notes) learning to participate in discussions about the content was to be important, as well as learning the content itself. And of course those discussions had to occur in their classroom under their assigned teacher with the assigned classmates and partners. Hence, no acceleration.

        They did agree to try to accommodate his needs within the classroom. Whatever. I think a directive from on high (Super level perhaps) was given.

        • Remember in the book I explain the concept of distributed intelligence within the classroom? That knowledge is a joint possession with others and your son has a responsibility to share what he knows and also his vocabulary and experiences. What your child knows is merely a reflection of having well-educated parents and catering to that would simply reproduce the current stratification in society.

          One of my kids was caught up in the transition in math where the 7th Grade Algebra kids were basically repeating in 8th grade the same coursework so they would cease to be 2 years ahead. My guess is science is to work the same as Common Core math where the course of study is the same. The acceleration or what makes it Honors Level is that it is done at an earlier point. That meant of course that the kids who used to be ready for Algebra in 7th, who had to be slowed down that year, ended up in 9th with the on-level 10th who had never been accelerated but had not flunked either.

          That’s such a nice combo in high school? The sharper, younger, more verbally precocious kids in with the slower, older kids with everyone aware of the difference. Then you largely make math about group projects. Guess who is teaching and doing the work? It does help the graduation rates though, especially once projects can be the final ‘assessment’.

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