That was a longer writing break than I had intended but I got called up for jury duty, needed CLE credits, threw a 90th birthday party, and kept everyone happy last week with turkey, etc. Mostly though I was taken aback shortly after I wrote the last post when the National Academy of Sciences released an on-point and thoroughly alarming paper called “Learning Through Citizen Science: Enhancing Opportunities By Design” that made it crystal clear that the ‘science’ is about redesigning citizens–you, me, and our children–at the level of our ‘motivation, interest, and identity’. Since I have seen this vision before, let me go back and quote from a 1992 book called Harmonic Learning by James Moffett, who was involved with both the true aims of learning standards and Carnegie-funded innovative curricula before that. Since what was innovative before is now required learning experiences that are ‘relevant,’ ‘authentic,’ and foster desired competencies, let’s see what Moffett aimed for.
Moffett aimed at what he called the “inner system” and he rejected the transmission of existing knowledge because it would preserve identification with what exists now, instead of what could be. He wanted activities and experiences that would create a (bolding is mine):
“generation of students who will have thoughts we have not had before. It is clear that the nation’s and the planet’s problems cannot be solved by just thinking along the lines we do now according to our heritage. Societies relying on conventional wisdom are doomed. They need instead some breathtakingly new ideas that will never come from a cookie-cutter curriculum designed to relay some gist of what is known and thought now…If we don’t enable the young to transform the culture, we won’t have one to transmit…If we educate youngsters to transcend their heritage, they will be able to transform it and lead other cultures to do the same.”
That quote from more than 25 years ago fits with a story published on November 13 called “Why Zero-Based Thinking is Mission Critical in Reimagining Education” in case anyone thinks it is not still what drives learning standards. Zero-Based Thinking strikes at the limitations placed on thinking “by existing practices” and the “system we’ve inherited” to stress the “thinking our society demands we come up with…therein lies the block that prevents so many from getting to Zero-Based Thinking. We know too much…change demands we break those ties that bind…change demands that we see opportunities, instead of simply seeing a structure…On the other hand, if we see opportunities, we can focus on the possibilities.”
That’s why the Citizen Science paper wants to move “beyond a simple view of learning as an individual acquiring a fixed body of declarative facts and procedural knowledge to the recognition that learning is embedded in social interactions and involves complex reasoning and reflection.” That crucial shift puts the “inner system” of each citizen on the menu for reeducation so that the “critical aspects of program design that can engage cognitive, affective, and social outcomes” can be politically mandated. Those conceptual, intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes are the specified ‘learning objectives’ and getting them into place at a neural level is the new purpose of curricula and prescribed learning activities and experiences. That we are the entities that must be transformed through schools and also the media is why citizen science insists that “motivation, interest, and identity…are learning outcomes themselves.”
We know from the previous post that the desired neural change needs that perception of autonomy, even though it is illusory in a world of globally prescribed learning standards, implemented locally. After all, last week the OECD (the creator of the influential PISA) released a draft document called BASIC–A Toolkit and Ethical guidelines for Applying Behavioural Insights in Public Policy that freely admitted targeting “the way individuals and groups process information and make decisions” for transformational change purposes. BASIC is an acronym for Behaviour, Analysis, Strategy, Intervention, and Change. One of the BASIC tools is what it calls the ABCD Framework. That’s right. It wants education to target individual’s at the “inner system” level of Attention, Belief Formation, Choice, and, finally, Determination.
The ABCD framework has the graphic of a circle and makes it clear that we citizens are being molded at the level of our mental models to ultimately be motivated to act in desired ways without ever recognizing just how manipulated we are. No wonder the OECD and its UNESCO partner are pushing competency-based education worldwide. We don’t have to intuit anything after looking at such a graphic, but like those ubiquitous Ronco holiday commercials when I was a child, “Wait! There’s more!” Tomorrow, in Incheon, Korea, the OECD commences its 6th OECD World Forum. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-future-of-well-being/ The draft programme lays out that “Navigating the most pressing well-being challenges facing governments and citizens in the future will require new ways of measuring, thinking and acting. More than ever, many of these challenges will need coordinated approaches and collective action, both within and between countries.”
With one of the sessions having the name “A psychological approach to the future of well-being” featuring Positive Education’s Richard Layard, we once again do not need to speculate on the how of the desired transformation. Let me quote though from what the phrase “Governance in a complex world” actually means, especially since another panel is “Rethinking the State for the 21st Century.” If, as I have been warning, the meaning of the term ‘governance’ now is about rewiring desired citizen characteristics in at a neural level using poorly understood learning standards and competency frameworks, the following verbiage from the forum makes perfect sense and fits with BASIC and that ABCD Framework.
“These sessions will address the new modes of governance that are needed to ensure inclusive growth and sustainable well-being in the coming years. They will address issues such as the need for an ’empowering state’ that invests in fostering equality and improving people’s lives, how governments can and should work together with non-state actors from the private sector and civil society, how to ensure international cooperation into the future, how to make the connection between local action and global realities, and how to rebuild trust amongst citizens.”
Among the panelists at the Future of Well-being World Forum are the producers of the Global Happiness Policy Report 2018 (GHPR), which we should recall pushed Positive Education as the answer, just like our current US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/subservient-and-malleable-students-devos-federalizes-our-moral-obligations/ Looks like we could substitute the word ‘globalizes’ for ‘federalizes’, given what is going on this week in Incheon. I found my notes from reading that report and it is pertinent to everything in this post and other papers that came out this month I will cover in the next post.
“The global movement to put happiness at the center of governance reflects a mix of inspiring idealism and down-to earth realism…Good governance is nothing less nor more than political leaders acting for the average citizen and pursuing the common good.”
I guess that’s how the powers-that-be justify trying to redesign and transform the world starting at the level of the human mind using citizen science, learning standards, and the ABCD Framework, just for starters. GHPR openly pushes “cognitive behavioural therapy” in schools and classrooms aimed “not just at removing negative thoughts but at cultivating positive attitudes and activities.” That’s one way, I suppose, to “rebuild trust amongst citizens”, merited or not. Remember, in the name of Promoting Mental Health for All, GHPR wants to no longer focus “on treating those who are in serious distress,” but to target everyone, all of us citizens is one way to put it, especially through the schools, so we “can enable people to avoid distress in the first place, or to develop the inner means to handle distress themselves when it arises. In other words, we should aim at a society in which people have the inner resources to flourish.”
Can we target those ‘inner means’ or ‘inner resources’, especially by deceitful narratives about education reforms, to advance political and social transformation without shifting towards what used to be recognized as totalitarianism in fact? I don’t think so, which is why I persevere in writing about these painful aims for education. We, and our children, are Ground Zero for all these plans that fit together like a geared mechanism ready to roll.
I want to close with what GHPR wants all children to become as the new primary purpose of education because it fits with where I want to pick up in the next post.
“Above all, this means children acquiring:
*compassionate and cooperative values and behaviour, and
*understanding their own emotions and those of others, and developing the skills to manage those emotions.
No wonder all children can succeed, achieve, and learn in the 21st century. They can be neurally rewired with the right prescribed activities and experiences to a desired transformative, psychological template.