Learning to Walk Naked into the Land of Uncertainty While Calling It Math, Science or Lit Class

Did that get your attention? Mine too. The first part came from a January 2003 article in the Journal of Transformative Education. The latter part is me recognizing from all the Common Core rubrics I have seen how the same principle makes it to classrooms as higher order cognitive tasks or rigor. This is taken from the body of the National  Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)’s recent report Principles to Action. Mathematical tasks are “classified as low level when they have little or no ambiguity about what needs to be done.” So those word problems you remember doing in Algebra that involved using symbols for ratios tied to the real world that taught logic and analytical skills and also might have genuine uses in life as an adult are unacceptable because there is a fixed solution. Beyond the reenforcement of the Axemaker Mind, the traditional type of math problem supposedly does not prepare a student to deal with a world in flux and to act despite uncertainty on the likely consequences.

When humanist psychologist Carl Rogers shifted his focus “from psychotherapy with individuals [and writing books as we have seen with Abraham Maslow and the NEA] to transformation in larger social systems,” he decided that large group work would be a fine way to go about “changing hearts and changing consciousness” in order to get to the desired Person of Tomorrow.  http://insightu.net/content/library/journals/jtevol01no01january200364-79.pdf Since the Quartet of planned Transformations we just finished to supposedly create Climate-Resilient Pathways in advance fit so well with the “deep change is different from incremental change in that it requires new ways of thinking and behaving…Making a deep change requires walking naked into the land of uncertainty” theme, I thought it would make a fine way to illustrate the targeting of the inner mental models and value systems of the student in classes that still have subject names.

Back to NCTM’s P to A again as they like to shorthand it where, speaking of using large groups to provide a mind altering herd effect per Rogers, teachers are to “establish an equitable environment that engages all students in the collective work of understanding mathematics.” As Rogers foresaw “person-centered group processes” are a good place to acquaint individuals “with the urgent societal need for people to voluntarily make personal sacrifice for the common good.” The group becomes a place to reject the West’s conception of “the individual as a separate, conscious agent disappears into the service of the interconnected whole. The African concept of umbuntu (“I become me through you and you become you through me”) is an example of such a connected worldview.” Since we have already tied down that those Career Ready and Positive School Climate edicts lead straight to cites of expected communitarianism, we might as well add an African name for what will be expected of students to show the desired proper attitude of change and inclusion.

Again from P to A “students are actively involved in learning that involves productive struggle with mathematical ideas leading to a disposition of perseverance in problem solving.” Such struggle, perseverance, and Grit is far  less embarrassing for most of us than walking around in our birthday suit, but every bit as deliberately intended to cultivate a mindset to act in the face of uncertainty and “tolerating ambiguity.” You see, it’s not just teachers, Principals, and those Gypsy Supers who are being primed to be Transformational Change Agents. NCTM one more time–” mathematical tasks are viewed as placing high-level cognitive demands on students when they allow students to engage in active inquiry and exploration or encourages students to use procedures in ways that are meaningfully connected to concepts or understanding.”

http://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/ngss/files/EQuIP%20Rubric%20for%20Science%20%26%20Response%20Form_Finalv1.pdf is the new eval that tells us when there is meaningful connection going on so that a lesson includes “the blending of practices [behaviors], disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts” to create “three-dimensional learning to make sense of phenomena or design solutions.” That instructional materials eval was for the Common Core Science Standards, but the same three dimensional concept is in the comparable rubrics for ELA and Math. Not only does that account for the second part of this post’s title, but the required 3 dimensions are targeting the student’s inner mental models of reality in precisely the way the cybernetic theory of control over human behavior laid out. Gold stars to all readers who read 3 dimensions and gasped: “but that’s Piotr Galperin’s image [provided by activity in a physical context], associations [those cross cutting concepts], and overall core understandings.”

NCTM also just loves the idea of concepts to guide perception of reality. In fact, they have also figured out a way to make math class a place to ignite the burning passion for transformation in the social, economic, and political spheres too. P to A insists “mathematics educators must be pushed to grapple with the complexity and particularities of race, marginalized status, and differential treatment by providing a lens for examining social, institutional, and structural inequities that contribute to differentials in the opportunities to learn mathematics.” Not to worry though, the teacher will be provided with an accurate understanding of history and economics to use in explaining the causes of such inequities to the students. Christopher Columbus started it.

Sorry, but turning math class into a medium for theorizing about social justice as a group process to reach consensus reminds me again of that Rogers’ article talking about “members of the group suspend their assumptions and judgements to become empathically attuned to others in the group as equally unique and sovereign coparticipants in the same larger community.” No. No. No. Particularly when the article went on to describe the mind altering and compliance enforcement potential of such conscious communities or integral groups and praised the belief that members will undergo deep change as a result of their willingness “to go along with it–not because they are conforming but because they believe that their individuated aims and the community’s aims are one.” Remember it’s not just math or Lit class. To be an Effective Principal under ASCD guidelines is to be pushing the Fostering Communities of Learners and Whole Child visions.

Notice that the Rogers article quoted the creator of the term ‘Excellence’ in education, Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, who we just keep running into. In all the Professional Development for the Common Core using Csik’s flow concepts though, no one has ever mentioned that the altered consciousness sought in teachers and students is “like being on some mind altering drug without the chemicals.” Sure does explain the giddiness of the administrators afterwards though on the utter joy from using the techniques in classrooms. Gets you to that same place again in altering consciousness then with all your clothes still on. Thank goodness.

The NCTM vision of mathematics education “that works for all students” where students may work on “problems that take hours, days or even weeks to solve–mirroring the world for which we are preparing them” really does sound like math class to change how the world is perceived. The hyping of “digital tools that allow teachers to take learning much deeper” sets up the vision we just keep coming across to let programmed virtual reality be the preferred substitute now for the real world. Students come to see “math as a useful tool in understanding the world in which students live,” with nothing to tip them off that false perceptions are being deliberately cultivated to drive the belief in the need for fundamental transformational changes.

Digital learning for all gets mandated to supposedly drive equity and then those “available tools and technology help teachers and students concretize and visualize [Galperin’s Image again] mathematical abstractions.” Suddenly a discipline created to provide a symbolic system to reliably and unambiguously describe, and abstractly manipulate, actual reality in ways that created the civilizational progress we take for granted becomes a conceptual tool for misperceiving reality in politically useful ways.

At least if you have fundamental transformations on your mind.

Like Rogers, NCTM, and most of the central office employees in your local school district.

15 thoughts on “Learning to Walk Naked into the Land of Uncertainty While Calling It Math, Science or Lit Class

  1. I remember seeing, a few years back, a math book, “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers”. From a Diane Ravitch review:

    “… shows how problem solving, ethnomathematics, and political action can be merged. Among its topics are ‘Sweatshop Accounting,’ with units on poverty, globalization, and the unequal distribution of wealth. Another topic, drawn directly from ethnomathematics, is ‘Chicanos Have Math in Their Blood.’ ”

    Another site: http://www.radicalmath.org/docs/SJMathGuide.pdf

    “A Guide for Integrating Issues of Social and Economic Justice into Mathematics Curriculum”

    Go to page 10, where a problem in linear programming starts out

    “The local Union SEIU is planning a rally in front of the federal building in order fight for better wages for home health care workers.
    . . . .
    The problem is to find an optimum mix of blocks of phone calls and sending out mailings, with a $600 budget, to “maximize the number of people who turn out for the rally.”

    I have no idea whether this propaganda is widely used by Common Core. But the writer, Jonathan Osler, is the “lead math teacher” at “El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Brooklyn” (a high school)

    Follow the lead here: http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon2007-03-19ss.html

    • ZZ Mike-

      You might find this influential Newsletter that just came out interesting. It is tied to Peter Senge and Jay Forester’s work and thus has ties to both the Club of Rome and the UN process, but also shows plans to train math and science teachers to model systems to comply with national math and science standards. That would be the Common Core. http://clexchange.org/ftp/newsletter/CLEx23.2.pdf

      The lead “Learning to Connect the Cots” article is a great example of consciously cultivating these mental models so that they unconsciously influence the child’s perception of reality and how the world works. This will be very hard to undo later and basically creates that steerable keel I have written about at an individual level that primes a person to believe that all systems should be designed and planned and then revised based on data. Sloan Management School’s long time dream as Alex Pentland’s new Social Physics book laid out.

      In an earlier post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/science-fiction-made-real-were-we-ever-to-know-in-time/ I talk about that book and the FuturICT project. All the data pouring out from the digital learning components of the Common Core and the adaptive software are a FuturICT dream come true.

      The actual Common Core story is a huge series of declarations of intentions of social engineering. It’s a long time dream though going back decades as this post lays out http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/oh-good-grief-now-i-need-to-know-what-a-noetic-system-is-because-it-is-under-attack/

    • Gee, it’s not like the media in general and the NYT in particular are not deeply involved in pushing this entire theme integrally related to Radical Ed Reform on controlling the messages and information people receive while consciously manipulating those mental models. It’s not just UNESCO’s current media education drive that Bokova commenced in 2010. Every Club of Rome report talks about the crucial role of the media.

      It’s the average person who does not get that controlling communication is the key component of both cybernetic theory and the means of generating transformations from the inside out generally. Communication has 2 components: education and media. So the NYT wants CC left alone. AS Gomer Pyle used to say in that odd voice: “Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.”

  2. The Northwest has our own lovely conference for teachers encouraging this very topic. http://nwtsj.org
    I was told by radical math teacher, lesbian, world changer, that I was not contributing in a positive way to my child’s education, and in fact hindering his future, because I will not participate in online math practice, Moby max and IXL. Spring break had mandatory required written log keeping track of daily required time spent there. Radical teacher and I had a conversation regarding the point of the assignment, to practice math or computer? She was disgusted that my student returned with a stack of completed math worksheets, she can’t accurately track his progress that way. Really? School is nearly over and I have seen two math worksheets come home all year. Home assessment is the only reason I know where he is at. Reinforcing traditional algorithms and sequential mathematical process at home helps.
    Surprisingly my teen in AP math is still using solid materials. Here it seems the attack is on the younger students. However normal classes are seeing widespread math failure. No new texts at this time. Do you think something has changed in instruction? Likely does not help they have chosen terc, everyday math and investigations. Lots of glaring eye dangers when I suggested to board that the failure rate might improve if they ceased using constructivist math and went to traditional logical sequential math. Guess that would not provide the lens they are looking for though.

    • LL-one of the reasons I found this metaphor created by the people pushing deep change internally via education so apt is that it admits to conditioning. “Learning to walk naked” is to override the student’s natural instincts of self preservation and the integrity and privacy of self and expose all that to the group. Soul-bearing disclosures of the kind traditionally made to a psychotherapist are precisely what is hoped for in the Discourse Classroom and via adaptive software to open-ended questions and questions deliberately provided to create cognitive dissonance.

      The uncertainty element and creating a habit of mind to act anyway and then evaluate the results is the quintessential part of CC. It’s also in Texas in their STAAR assessments. It;s what Levels 3 and 4 of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge are all about and both PARCC and SBAC have been created around DOK as was STAAR.

      It’s in the formative assessments I have seen. And the insider description of the mindset being fostered is literally “learning to walk naked into the land of uncertainty.”

      How much fun are we going to have with this metaphor? As in “not only do they not want any more Axemaker Minds, but …

      • Hahaahaha!…not only do they not want Axe maker minds……they want high Pathos and Victims Galore.

        I listened to an NPR story the other day, which by the way I rarely do any more because the propaganda is a tad heavy handed, which was droning on in treacle-like tones about a school in Philadelphia which was hosting a day of personal confessions.

        Okay, it probably had a more official title but for all intents and purposes it may as well have been a Jerry Springer episode of confessional t.v.

        Student after student stood on stage emoting, revealing their personal King/Queen for a Day nightmares and generally undergoing this transformative catharsis whereby their barely intelligible spoken angst struggle was supposed to draw the rest of the student body to them so that they all became one in the oppression.

        Talk about walking naked. Sheesh. Frankly, it also really irked me because teenagers are SUCH an easy mark for drama. Growing up is hard. Regardless of where you live or your economic level. And this sort of emotional feeling EST-like acting out only feeds the hormonal monster that is adolescence. I consider the manipulation of these kids to being nothing short of abuse.

        Of course that is probably the point. Capture the feeling selves in their heightened state of emotional reactivity and insure a lack of rational thought and let them feel validated with Springer like theatrics and Voila! As a planner you have a voting block of your dreams.

        • Mari-it also reenforces the idea that there is no legitimate private sphere.That who you are to the core is a matter that should be shared upon request by officials.

          I am reading a 1971 book about the intentions of these same reforms in Sweden quoting officials there by name and politicians. It is so sad to read the constant refrain of denigrating the legitimacy of the individual.

          I was describing the demeanor and attitude of an Assistant Principal I had encountered to a concerned parent. It is impossible not to believe she was promoted precisely because she is an experienced fool. These are administrators who have little life experience and function as marionettes. If their ed profs said intense emotional disclosures help create a sense of community and catharsis in students, then that is what they will push. It seems to be why it is so important now to make admins of people who have barely taught as long as they have the desired attitudes.

          Apparatchiks who have no idea what they do not know. They have a title now so they believe lack of knowledge is A-OK.

        • Mari-

          Notice how all these pushed projects are actually designed to reshape the student’s sense of Self. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-students-to-be-visionary-curriculum-stacey-goodman

          This idea that schools are now to be sculpting and then remodeling student’s sense of Identity really should be better appreciated. It’s very Marxist and social engineering at the same time.

          Project ends up bringing communities together in new ways of Being. It’s the perfect form of ed if you are hoping for a transformation both internally and externally, but what then? Is there a scenaio where this vision of ed is not consistent with burning $100 bills and then wondering where the money went when you become an adult.

    • LL-Have you seen this? http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2014/04/21-faith-equality-religious-progressives-davis

      There’s a webinar on report release tomorrow. “Faith in Equality: Economic Justice and the Future of Religious Progressives” sure does explain the determination to bring the Common Core to parochial schools with its focus on 3 dimensional learning that creates new mindsets for viewing Self and Society and the supposed need for broad change.

      • Just read it. Sigh…. They can claim some success for what the Milennials act like. After all they are contributing to the shaping them right? That generation is exactly what they seek.
        “Young people associate religion with intolerance and homophobia, and therefore they do not see themselves, or wish to be seen, as religious.” Seems to be the focus of the point they are trying to make. Because generally speaking those of us who believe in God, have a conservative stance on politics, or conservative moral values in general, are almost always intolerant of Gays, and homophobic. I am sure they also think none of us have the capability to love a family member or friend who is openly gay without harsh judgement and poor treatment. They believe those of Faith incapable of genuine love and care for another person for the value the relationship of friend, bother, sister, cousin, without treating them as if they have an illness and constantly expressing judgement for a lifestyle choice we may not agree with. Grow up. Quit making it out to be people of faith that are causing the “problems”. Don’t get me wrong, I know many a Christian who would turn their nose up at what I just said and who cannot resist passing judgment. They are wrong, pride cometh before the fall. On the other side, some of the most intolerant people I know openly express they have no faith or God.
        “Americans of faith should use their witness to build a movement for economic justice. But to do this, they must engage and partner with the unaffiliated.”
        Are we not already? Look around at the countless ministries helping. I’ll tell my friends in Mexico, Serbia, Africa and Sudan they should do more than pledge their entire life to serve the underprivileged. Shameful article. Today, and openly Gay judge in Oregon is reviewing the same sex marriage vote, seeking to overturn how the state voted. What’s the point of a vote these days anyway if they can just change the will of the people on a whim. Okay, sorry rant over.

    • How close are you to Multnomah County, Oregon? http://www.nsba.org/sites/default/files/reports/Partnerships_Not_Pushouts_Guide.pdf

      Again this is how Equity & Excellence look upon implementation. Schools turn into community centers providing both ed (for the Whole Child with an SEL emphasis that also fits Conley’s definition of College Ready) and healthcare.

      What was called IEPs for all in the 90s is now to be Personal Opportunity Plans. Emphasis is always now on changing who the student is, not imparting knowledge unless it is politically useful.

      This also fits perfectly with the Work-Based Learning statute Georgia’s governor signed the other day. I suspect comparable legislation is occurring in other states. School to Work again with little public outcry because it occurs at a state level rather than feds this time. Impose communitarianism via school board vote. Notice the push to coordinate with those unelected regional authorities.

      • Multnomah county is my neighboring county. It is a large county that bumps up against my rural area. It is the epicenter of progressive change in Oregon. When you write about Oregon and Portland, most of it stems from this county or the Eugene area. Oregon continues to push ahead. There are only an handful of us that know what is happening. No one asks questions, they just put their head down and let the reformers and planners take it away. Read this the other day, it may interest you.
        This week a candidate panel discussed carbon tax in Oregon, all on the panel were for it.

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