Inventing the Education of the Future By Insuring Planet-Wide Activity to Produce Unified Outlooks

Last week EdX announced that 15 more colleges and universities had joined its vision to offer online degrees. What caught my eye about the announcement was that one of the colleges, Davidson, a perennial Top Ten US News institution, had announced last fall that the Duke Endowment was paying it $45 million to “boldly” remake the nature of liberal arts education. So when Davidson’s part of the EdX announcement focused on the “transdisciplinary” nature of its new focus I decided I was looking at what we lawyers call a “defined term that is dangerously missing its actual definition.”

What I found is relevant to everybody everywhere. Whatever your interests. Because the search for that Transdisciplinary definition led me to the manifesto for implementing Agenda 21 and economic, political, and social visions first laid out at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. In 1994 the first world congress on transdisciplinarity was held in Portugal. Its purpose was to lay out how to get the desired mentalities to evolve via education. This is all part of what UNESCO calls its Culture of Peace Project.

In 1996 UNESCO issued its vision for elementary and secondary education globally–the DeLors Report “The Treasure Within.” It laid out the four pillars of a new kind of education: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. It is based on UNESCO’s idea that education in the future should rely on what it viewed as in “the case of human beings, the decisive ‘ingredient’ is their mental and personal disposition to trust, share, negotiate and collaborate.” And that education in the future should cultivate that quality to “produce unified outlooks.”

Yes that is the origination of all that Group Project push but K-12 is not today’s focus. Remember I am using international documents that were created before the K-12 implementation in the US stalled and became partial in light of the outcry over outcomes based education and School to Work and nonacademic standards from the various disciplines like history and English and math. So we have the DeLors vision that I believe moved into the IB curriculum when those rocky shoals developed and Al Gore lost the election in 2000. The K-12 Transdisciplinary vision hid there waiting for another US President to come along and reignite what was called radical education reform in the 90s when all these documents were created. But the DeLors vision of K-12 rolled forward in other parts of the world.

But UNESCO in the 90s did not have a crystal ball and it knew what kind of complete cultural shift it sought. Basically the same one the World Orders Model Project also sought starting in the early 70s that I explained here . I am not throwing out the term Marxist Humanism to be provocative and I have made the case in every post between that one and this one. Other entities have pushed and are pushing similar visions.

But the history of the latter part of the 20th century and education especially only makes sense when you realize that the bounteous wealth created by prosperity in the West was and is coveted for redistribution. ICT-Internet Communications Technology–has been assumed by plenty of MH theorists all over the world to be the long sought technology that could make widespread leisure a possibility if only people could be made to share. And the best way to force people to share is to use education to create new values and mindsets and beliefs. A widespread belief in an impending crisis would also help.

So in 1997 there was a conference in what must have been, as usual, a lovely setting, in Lucarno, Switzerland on the next step after the DeLors Report. The Transdisciplinary Evolution of the University was the topic. But the report issued was far more encompassing than just the higher ed component. It’s basically the blueprint for all the UN pushes that have become so controversial in so many areas. It is THE manifesto for what has come and is coming through related (if you track from the UN backward) initiatives like the US Common Core or Living Cities or Green Growth or the Regional Equity Movement. You name it and it is probably there. As usual I am giving the precise name to allow for searching but not a link since that would take it down before many of you can read this post. At the moment it is on multiple servers in multiple languages.

Called “Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action,” it was created as part of UNESCO’s call to action from the Rio Summit to implement Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 to gain the desired global social, economic, and political changes in structures and institutions and especially people’s mindsets, personalities, and values. As usual it was a call to action for the levers of the sought revolution and biosocial evolution–“the multiple partners and broad community of stakeholders in the educational enterprise.” No, they apparently don’t mean parents or taxpayers.

The really nice thing is the report tells us the truth about Sustainability and acknowledges that “sustainable development is an amorphous concept, intended to be:

“an emerging vision…In truth, it is as much an ethical precept as a scientific concept, as  concerned with notions of equity as with theories of global warming. Sustainable development is widely understood to involve the natural sciences and economics, but it is even more fundamentally concerned with culture: with the values people hold and how they perceive their relations with others. It responds to an imperative need to imagine a new basis for relationships among peoples and with the habitat that sustains human life.”

And education, K-12 and higher ed, is how you get those new values. Especially holistic education that targets the Whole Child, emotions as well as knowledge. Particularly if you get to make education about real world problems to be engaging and relevant. And you get to supply the Big Ideas and Conceptual Lenses that students will then use to guide their daily perceptions. It’s an essential part of How to Change and Guide Beliefs 101. And grounded in feelings instead of much actual facts makes those beliefs integrated. Hard to change later. Whatever the reality.

So not only is education globally the recognized vehicle for social and economic change, the idea expressed is that “not only can it inform people, it can change them.” Yes, that does make all that behavioral data being scooped up via computers in the Digital and Blended Learning K-12 emphasis all the more important. That is part of what EdX and the MOOCs are also doing in higher ed as we will discuss in the next post.

In the mean time all these visions are attached to a recognition that education is essential to “a vision of society organized in a new way.” Which all my recent posts have laid out in detail as the vision attached to education reform. UNESCO and politicians globally know that “societies need to be convinced of the need for sustainable development, in order to show their capacity to devise solutions to the problems confronting them.” A recognition that of course always comes down to a belief that direction from governments at the federal, state, and local levels and international agencies are an essential component of every future economy. Despite the reality that government-centric economies in the past have gutted mass prosperity. Cronyism inevitably abounds. See IRS Scandal.

So here is education’s UNESCO-assigned mission in the 21st century globally:

–“bring about the changes in values, behavior and lifestyle that are needed to achieve sustainable development, and ultimately democracy, human security and peace;

–disseminate knowledge, know-how and skills that are needed to bring about sustainable production and consumption patterns and to improve the management of natural resources, agriculture, energy and industrial production;

–ensure an informed populace that is prepared to support changes toward sustainability emerging from other sectors.”

That would translate roughly into students who no longer have Axemaker Minds or unapproved knowledge. Who have what UNESCO calls a Common Ethic or a “new global ethic that transcends all other systems of allegiance and belief, which is rooted in a consciousness of the interrelatedness and sanctity of life.”

It is also the cultivation of attitudes of servitude and what I would call sheepdom.  Willing to move with the herd and not stand apart.

I find this to be an appalling vision for the future. Especially one being delivered largely out of sight by college professors and administrators in higher ed and education professors and School District administrators and Principals in K-12.

With an attitude of “there are promotions and lucrative contracts and grants available if you push this.”

The Education for a Sustainable Future vision actually seems civilization crashing to me. Which UNESCO turns out to agree with. They believe the next resulting civilization will be the peaceable one.

If they are tragically wrong, who will give the tuition or tax refund?


16 thoughts on “Inventing the Education of the Future By Insuring Planet-Wide Activity to Produce Unified Outlooks

  1. A virtual tower of Babel is what you describe, and well.

    Hope that guy in London with the meat cleaver and blood on his hands gets the message of peace and understanding. All it would take is a few more guys like that to bring it all down since it already takes 20 minutes for modern society to respond to such mayhem and it will take longer in years to come as we become more “peaceful.”

    I am sure it was not lost on the more direct and violent enemies of civilization that all it takes to shut an American city like Boston is one James Dean-ikov. Well hell, violence is part of their culture so I guess it’s authentic… so, “shelter in place.”

    • I had the same thought Bernal when I was outlining this post. We are being asked to believe many things that are not necessarily true with the focus on desired Enduring Understandings.

      The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has said UNESCO intends to work hand in hand with another UN initiative, Alliance of Civilzations, in the global education agenda. I had never heard of it and it was only created about 2006.

      Here is the link to their 5th Conference from a few months ago.

      You can consider what the implications are going to be of making Diversity of Culture front and center. If you have the time read through the program. I did yesterday as I was working on all this. Especially after Stanford prof Roy Pea, in his description of MOOCs, called attention to the vital importance of respect for the Culture of Diversity in the on-line community being created.

      The idea of MOOCs is to learn from the perspectives of fellow students, not the prof. Which can create dangerous misperceptions about reality. Cultural and scientific.

  2. Hi Robin. Is the version of the DeLors Report you’re quoting from an older version? I downloaded the version available online, and did a search for the terms “produce unified outlooks” and it came up with nothing.

    • Good to know you were able to get a copy of the DeLors report.

      The Romanian Basarab Nicolescu has been pushing transisciplinary as the vision for education globally since the 70s. In 1987 he set up CIRET which is the UNESCO institute devoted to the transdisciplinary template. The comment about making mentalities evolve came from a paper he wrote called “The Transdisciplinary Evolution of Learning.”

      The unified outlooks quote came from a 1998 UNESCO paper called “transdisciplinarity: Stimulating Synergies, Integrating Knowledge”. It is in the upfront letter of Yersu Kim, the Director of UNESCO’s Division of Philosophy and Ethics.” Since I joked about the lovely locations, the 1998 report came from a symposium held in May 1998 at Royaumont Abbey. That is also the source of the ingerdient quote.

      I am not done with Transdisciplinary in the least. In fact as you will see I think MOOCs fit language in Nicolescu’s vision of the education of the future. Down to outlining it as an “extension of networks, such as the Internet” that coulsd “establish interactions on the universal level for the first time.”

  3. HM theorists are concerned with making “widespread leisure” possible. Hmm. But we have that in America already, it’s called “unemployment.”

    The UNESCO Common Ethic—I can hear the chanting and smell the incense burning—oh, excuse me, here comes the crack pipe . . .

    Thanks for taking up this term, Transdisiplinary. It’s still a bit of a mystery to me, and I think that they like it that way.

    Basarab Nicolescu defined the term as “that which is at once between the disciplines, across the disciplines, and beyond all discipline.” He went on to say, “For classical thought, transdisciplinarity appears absurd because it does not appear to have an object.”

    Nicolescu is a Romanian Quantum physicist. My question is, why bring this into the K-12 schools, especially the elementary level? It’s confusing. There’s an assumption that every student has a learning style and aptitude of J. Robert Oppenheimer. I wish it were true.

    • Because a child who encounters a problem he or she cannot solve will apply the concepts in their reportoire already. That’s what you want. To train people to apply concepts supplied blindly. Donald Schon called it Generative Metaphors and Resnick called it Generative Knowledge. The Big Ideas and Concepts you instinctively apply when you encounter incongruity or an untaught area. Anticipatory Schema is another phrase we have seen used.

      Transdisciplinary gets you also to what the UN and Paul Ehrlich called Tacit Knowledge. Which was all we were supposed to have. That was a 2006 UN Report I wrote about here.

      It also plays into what Ehrlich calls Foresight Intelligence–also explained there. The vivid expression in the title was from Marx. It is the metaphor he used for the crisis of capitalism that would ignite the era of little c communism. What now gets called New Humanism but it will take me a few posts to get there. If you are impatient search that and Irina Bokova’s name.

      UNESCO uses that same melting metaphor in its push for all this that I also have not gotten to yet but it is what I spent Thursday nailing down before I started down this road. Except they make it oozing liquid and cite to some Spanish author. That whole document as I will explain is a recast of Marx’s historical progression meriting new kinds of minds at each stage. Except instead of type of industry and technology it is told in terms of stages of communication used.

      I have this figured out but I am literally just about swimming in as much info as EdX and Coursera and inBloom all aim to collect. And I am about to watch another YouTube on this early morning.

      • this is about the size of it. the absurdity that this wingnut crowd who gather in places like Timbuktu is running USA schools in secret is infuriating. something needs to be done!

        UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the French president, François Hollande, during the visit to Timbuktu © BFM TV / BFM TV

    • I’m thinking of that physicist you cited in this post, and the mathematician a few posts back. To me, as a fellow though surely less accomplished geek, the Axemaker mind is not an economic imperative so much as a spiritual one. Even if we had a world of plenty of leisure I would still want to be able to think independently. Like any tool, thinking can be used for good or ill ends. But to turn us into effectively lower beings in the interest of stopping any mischief is not just uneconomic — it is insidious evil. To hell with economics. This is about the spirit that allows us to ascend, in our thoughts at least, closer to God.

      And God probably has some Enduring Understandings that aren’t in the Common Core, that we should be steered away from!

      I cannot believe that people like those professors want to do away with Axemaker Minds. They are Axemakers through and through, and one does not reach that level without learning real gratitude and wanting everyone to learn it too. I’ve never seen an exception. So these guys are being used, their words redefined and being taken out of context. That’s the only sense I can make of it. Robin, do you think I’m wrong?

        • David,

          This post that I wrote before you joined us explains that education conferences from about 1990 on have called the digital learning initiative a Trojan Horse precisely because it does change mental processing. That it allows a shift away from the rational mind that bolsters the “I, the interiorized ego” as David Orr called it.

          I have written about David Orr in several posts as his Slow Knowledge is once again being pushed as part of Common Core. There is a tag for him because his advocacy has been so influential now for decades on sustainability.

          Robert Torres CV says he has a degree from Oberlin. For all we know he could have been taught by Orr and that could be driving his interest in Gaming. He was a founder of the Institute of Play. His education activities and advocacy have the results that Orr also advocates.

      • The Axemaker Mind is what defies the herd and so if you are a political idealogue like John Dewey or Paul Ehrlich or the author of the 2011 book Ecomind, for example, yes it’s an impediment. And a deliberate target. But most people have not read The Axemakers Gift or New World New Mind so they may not recognize that’s the target.

        I think one of the reasons so many of these new Principals are abjectly stupid people is that it simply does not occur to them what all this adds up to. I see the Big Picture on this because I see so many of the related areas. Most people only know their sliver.

        The video I mentioned I was going to watch yesterday was on Gamification and the GT Summit in San Francisco in April. I find the open expressions of the behavioral manipulations planned for these digital platforms and education to be shocking. That’s actually where I am going next. In the video I watched Robert Torres of the Gates Foundation kept being asked whether the games resulted in knowledge. And he kept switching back to the term learning as a proxy. Except it’s not. It’s measuring behavioral changes or changes in values, attitudes, levels of engagement, and beliefs that lead to behavioral changes.

        I think all of this is quite evil. It is what drives me 7 days a week to get ahead of this story and stay ahead. Which I have done. It is what made me put book aside and just write the blog to try to call attention to all this. It actually works out better. I know much more now but everything I wrote more than a year ago remains the foundations of all of this. My searches based on all this are really good precisely because I do understand it. You can imagine my surprise when I had the epiphany that the Common Core push had to actually be about getting digital learning in all classrooms. And that had to in turn be about the resulting avalanche of behavioral data and the then available predictive abilities that would flow. Which turned out to be exactly right. Even downloaded the federal DoEd report yesterday on Data Mining and Learner Analytics. And Stanford Prof Roy Pea is not just Mr cyberlearning and a fan of Vygotsky as we discovered here.

        He is also quite excited about the Big Data flowing from these MOOCs and blended learning and tablets like what Amplify has produced in its partnership with ATT. The Community of Learners goes global and the learning interactions are with each other, not the professor.

        And following up on all that led me to UNESCO’s Tech division. That happens to be based at Moscow State.

        One last point the easiest funding grants for a university to get right now involve education advocacy. I have seen gag rules put on university systems where profs can tout a change or be quiet but they cannot say it is a lousy idea. Unless they want no more promotions or salary increases. I have read Vice Chancellors telling system presidents that they will be judged on ability to bring in outside grants and that the easiest grants to get involve education and climate change advocacy.

        In the book I will explain that the ability to use funding to corrupt the Western universities was foreseen back during the Cold War. I have the documents laying it all out and when they were translated into English.

  4. Just FYI, a wonderful new book by Diana West, American Betrayal:The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, just released, gives much of the background on that pre/during/post war infiltration so readily assisted by American politicians in (very)high places. Great read simultaneously with your posts and many of the responses. Americans generally have no clue of the CPUSA and it’s Moscovite handlers damage to our future freedoms, and I am now so grateful that my Polish Dad warned and taught me of these matters. The public education system was not what I thought it was when I get on board in 1982 and started chuggin the kool aid. Eyes opening wider every day. Keep those posts coming, Robin. I am doing my best to catch up.

    • Thanks Tina. The importance of the link of IITE to Moscow comes out in complaints about where Irina is taking UNESCO and for what purposes. Plus IITE’s own materials published within the last year say the Digital Learning initiatives are part of achieving the global New Humanism vision. And those were the materials in English. More than half of the IITE report was in Russian. No telling what they said.

      “Fools. Fools. We have you on the run and you are so unaware” is a real possibility even if saying reminds me of Boris, Natasha, and Bullwinkle cartoons.

    • Tina,

      I am rereading Robin’s posts from the beginning and rereading her book. I read your comment about American Betrayal, which I read last summer, so you beat me by about a year. What a book. And what mistreatment West has received at the hands of those who ought to be supporting her. Disgusting.

  5. I just received my first invitation to a “Green and Sustainable Wedding.” No kidding! The whole day is planned in a 3 miles area complete with a bike procession from the wedding site to the reception. We can decorate our bikes if we’d like. Too funny—had to share.

    • Now I have not seen one of those but I certainly read a great deal of intentions to create just such a mindset. And one found another.

      I have said I do not know Climate but I do know it is viewed as the global, transnational, potential crisis that makes a splendid reason to do the transformation that was wanted all along. By 1980 Princeton Prof Robert Tucker would only mention Uncle Karl “in passing” as he put it. But he was all about the Club of Rome and overpopulation and how to create that consciousness of specieshood.

      The really fascinating part is how much he is talking about Erik Erikson who I had written about. Apparently he is even more important than I realized. And still from Chicago.

      Oh and he talks about Falk and the World Orders Project a lot too. Refers to it as the Party of HUmanity.

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