Making Man Moral through Integrative, Holistic Education Focused on Purpose

Sometimes these days I feel like I am a part of that old musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” not because all these machinations via education and deceit are funny, but because suddenly between posts something happens that proves just how correct I am on how this fits together. Last week, the blog Cafe Hayek run by George Mason economic profs mentioned a January 24 piece by “my colleague Peter Boettke on the late economist Kenneth Boulding.” Now that may seem innocuous and even dry, but there cannot be a more seminal person other than John Dewey to the sought transformation of education. Boulding laid out its purpose and how it could be used to control other social systems. Is this further evidence of a Convergence of the Right and Left Pincers we can see so much evidence of? Confessions, after all, are so much nicer. is the post and it tied in my mind to why everyone suddenly wants education to be about moral values, guiding principles, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Classical Concepts, and other ideas first that can then guide a child’s perception. How they interpret their daily experiences and what they never even notice. This is the end of the Trilogy so let’s pull all this together so we can appreciate How to Invisibly Control Future Personal Decision-making with No Need to Admit It. Bolding (without the ‘u’) is mine.

“Themes without facts may be barren, but facts without theories are meaningless. It is only ‘theory’–i.e., a body of principles–which enables us to approach the bewildering complexity and chaos of fact, select the facts significant for our purposes and interpret the significance.

Indeed, it is hardly too much to claim that without a theory to interpret it there is no such thing as a ‘fact’ at all…what, then, is the ‘fact’ about the wart? [Boulding’s example that should be read in full while thinking about the meaning of Disciplinary Core Ideas or Enduring Understandings] It may be any or all of the above, depending on the particular scheme of interpretation into which it is placed.”

When I was a student, part of what made for A+ work was the ability to develop an appropriate scheme of interpretation by myself, in the privacy of my mind, using what I saw as the pertinent facts. Something that made the prof go “That’s it! Wish I had expressed it that way.” This is something else. These are essentially presupplied ‘constructs’ designed to guide perception and future action in a way that makes a person likely to desire and instigate transformational change in the circumstances we all live under. If they cannot do it, they can organize together so politicians will implement the changes. That’s why I created the term Politicalism. What Boulding was known for was “incorporating the ideas, concepts and tools from the natural sciences into social scientific analysis.” Why?

His good friend Bela Banathy, who also has a tag and was involved in the creation of the concept of charter schools and what now goes by School Choice, told this story that his close friend Boulding shared with him in 1983. In 1954, at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) where so much else was hatched:

“four Center fellows–Bertalanffy (biology), Boulding (economics), Gerard (psychology), and Rappoport (mathematics)–had a discussion  in a meeting room. Another Center Fellow walked in and asked: ‘What’s going on here?’ Ken answered: ‘We were angered about the state of the human condition’ and ask: ‘What can we–what can science–do about improving the human condition‘ Oh!’ their visitor said: ‘This is not my field.’ At that meeting the four scientists felt that in the statement of their visitor they heard the statement of the fragmented disciplines that have little concern for doing anything practical about the fate of humanity. So they asked themselves, ‘What would happen if science would be redefined by crossing disciplinary boundaries and forge a general theory that would bring us together in the service of humanity?'”

That overdone analogy to the ‘outmoded factory model of education’ is actually a cloaking metaphor to mask this complete change in the purpose of education that drove the education reforms in the 60s, 80s, and now covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy. It’s also why Tranzi OBE and Competency needed to be deliberately misdefined as we saw in the last post. Why do we keep coming across an emphasis on Character or Moral Dispositions and Attributes? Because social and political scientists like Boulding came to recognize “that the universe of ethical values is a driving force in human life” and can be altered to drive a transformation in what is acceptable in the future.

If you want to drive cultural change, alter human consciousness by instilling new ‘active principles’ that people must now use to organize their lives and institutions. Then have them practice it in the classroom or workplace or even their church until relying on these principles becomes a Habit of Mind. In his 1969 AEA Presidential Address, Boulding informed those economics professionals that “any system contains the seeds of its own transformation or future genesis, and that this works through a learning process.” See why education had to change away from an emphasis on facts? Economics was just one of the human social systems that interested Boulding and he knew change had to start with the very mental models each person internalized:

“All these social systems are linked together dynamically through the process of human learning which is the main dynamic factor in all social systems.”

That’s such a useful quote for anyone who wonders why I cannot stick to just writing about education. Because it’s a tool to a transformation for a different purpose and a new, unlikely to succeed well for most of us, vision of the future. When should we talk about it? After the carnage is more advanced and even more resources depleted in the name of education? I am going to shift away from Boulding for a moment, but his vision was covered in the Trilogy begun here with his book The Meaning of the 20th Century and its effect on the Commission on the Year 2000 covered in the post that followed. Rereading those yesterday almost took my breath away because it fits so closely with what was in the Roadmap for the Next Administration and the Architecture of Innovation on what data can be made to now do.

This post’s title comes from a book Robert George–Princeton professor, Bradley Foundation board member, well-known spokesperson for Catholicism, and founder of the same American Principles Project that did not want to define certain terms accurately in the last post, wrote in 1993. If ‘common guiding principles’ and shared meanings are in fact what makes people and organizations act as ‘systems’ as Boulding and systems science generally believed, it makes perfect sense not to concede that is what ALL Competency-based education reforms, and what I nicknamed Tranzi OBE, are about. The aims are no different then from the Catholic Curriculum Framework although some of the offered concepts, principles, and the justifications for the changes may differ.

Like Boulding in the quote Boettke chose or in my quotes from his 1969 AEA address, George in his making men moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality wanted education to provide “first principles of practical reason…to guide choice and action.” Fascinating, huh? Everybody seems to want to carve that rudder that will guide future decision-making without being forthright on the connection. All we get are School Choice!, Federal Misedukation, and Autonomy to the Locals and parents. Some autonomy as both education and “laws have a legitimate subsidiary role to play in helping people to make themselves moral.” Then sell it to parents that way and admit Classical Education IS designed to create a steerable rudder both parents and students are not being told about.

Character is a wonderful thing, but not when it operates at an unconscious level as a Habit of Mind and parents are not told that their children are being steered in the name of Goodness. Truth. and Beauty or Equity and Justice or Sustainability or other Guiding Principles to guide practical reason and likely future action. The same Spiritual and Moral Framework that can be used by New Agers like the Ross School from the last post or Social Justice Warriors grounded in Paulo Freire Pedagogy for the Oppressed aligns with the aim of instilled Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions from the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks. They ALL want to provide the ideas, emotional motivations, and values students internalize as their guide to future decision-making. School now wants to provide their purpose for living and the vision of what the future might be.

To truly get the dangers of this personalized, student-centered, transformative vision of education perhaps it will help if we follow those Moral and Spiritual Frameworks (as well as the cited Ron Miller’s “What are Schools For?”) right straight to a School of Education and Psychology in Isfahan, Iran. If “Holistic Education: An Approach for 21st Century” from 2011 is okay with the mullahs and their tyrannical vision of people, we really need to quit using the word ‘autonomy’ to describe the student when this vision of education is through with them. Yes, they have a purpose, but is it really theirs? I will quote from the Abstract because it fits with the vision I have described in this Trilogy. Think of the implications of that.

“Holistic education encompasses a wide range of philosophical orientations and pedagogical practices. Its focus is on wholeness, and it attempts to avoid excluding any significant aspects of the human experience. It is an eclectic and inclusive movement whose main characteristic is that educational experiences foster a less materialistic and more spiritual worldview along with more dynamic and holistic views of reality.

It also proposes that educational experience promote a more balanced development of–and cultivate the relationship among–the different aspects of the individual (intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and Aesthetic), as well as the relationships between the individual and other people, the individual and natural environment, the inner-self of students and external world, emotion and reason, different disciplines of knowledge and forms of knowing, holistic education is concerned with life experience, not with narrowly defined ‘basic skills.'”

Doesn’t that life experience/basic skills distinction sound just like the erroneous definition of Competency from the last post? Isn’t the US goal of College and Career Ready just another euphemism for this holistic life experience vision that seeks to control what gets internalized to guide the adults our children will become?

How is it not authoritarian for any government at any level to make education holistic or integrative using those aims?

How on Earth can this really be “education for humanity” when the type of human we become is subject to undisclosed political control?

28 thoughts on “Making Man Moral through Integrative, Holistic Education Focused on Purpose

  1. Hi Robin, I plugged your blog today at Bombthrowers, Capital Research Center’s new blog. Hope it gets you some much deserved new eyes on the page

    • Thank you Trina. Hope you are well. Now I know why Teri Sasseville preferred promoting Terrence Moore’s The Story-Killers over your recommendation that Credentialed to Destroy told the enduring why in that conference call so long ago.

      I really had walked into the middle of a story that was not to have been told accurately. Now I get to think about the important things in the other parts of my life like dinner.

  2. I did a little rummaging around on the background of the new Supreme Court nominee. Sorry to report that he is the progeny of John Finnis, a legal scholar and philosopher under whom Gorsuch got his doctorate. Without getting into the weeds, Finnis is a propounder of the New Natural Law, manufactured in the 1960s. Guess who else studied under Finnis?

    Robert George.

    Not meaning to borrow trouble, but count the spoons.

    • Thanks Deborah. Hopefully he is not in the Stephen Breyer mode, but with more felicitous language as the cloak. When I was looking into the Process Theory of the Law months back I got Breyer’s book, Active Liberty, and he decries literalism because it impedes making men equal.

      Breyer knows precisely how to get to John Dewey or Amy Gutman’s vision of democracy. You need to focus on the “purposes” a law was intended to further. He “identifies consequences as an important yardstick to measure a given interpretation’s faithfulness to these democratic purposes. In short, focus on purpose seeks to promote active liberty by insisting on interpretations, statutory as well as constitutional, that are consistent with the people’s will. Focus on consequences, in turn, allows us to gauge whether and to what extent we have succeeded in facilitating workable outcomes that reflect that will.”

      Basically, Breyer believes that whatever the people want to use legislation to achieve is consistent with the Constitution’s democratic purpose. He also believes the law involves “changes that bubble up from below.” He would thus just love Tranzi OBE, Competency-based education, and make Character much of the focus because they all go to the future vision of what might be people hope to see. Remember when I talked in my book about consuming seed corn with all this mind arson?

      Read a noted investment guru this week who both touted the increase in knowledge that would grow the economy as well as the work of the Santa Fe Institute. That’s where Gintis and Bowles have gone. These things are actually incompatible whatever someone has told him. Made me mad.

      • I just remembered Breyer too was a Marshall scholar who went to Oxford. Bet it wasn’t for the punting and a pint of bitters.

        • This was an interesting and I think relevant comment by Edward Feser, a prominent contemporary Thomistic philosopher, regarding the New Natural Law vs. the traditional natural law as understood by Aristotle and Aquinas:

          “Of course, “new natural lawyers” do attempt to ground their overall approach in a theory of the “basic goods.” To the theory’s critics, though, the list of basic goods (which varies somewhat from writer to writer) itself seems arbitrary, formulated precisely so as to guarantee that certain desired conclusions will be reached and certain others will be ruled out. Since (unlike traditional natural law theory) the “new natural law” lacks a foundation in an independently motivated metaphysics of human nature, this charge is hard to rebut.”

          Arbitrary, pre-determined outcomes. Hmmm. Where have I come across that before?

          • That’s more philosophy than I am up for encountering at the moment, but I did write down in my notes what Robert George’s definition of ‘society’ is. He clearly regards it as a tool apart from the size of Mrs Astor’s ballroom too.

            Society is the “core mentality around which people have integrated themselves.” See the usefulness then of learning standards like the Common Core, NSP and OBE in the 90s, or Competencies for gaining that necessary ‘core mentality? See why all the deceit creates the desired functions within people while simultaneously not having the reputation of being a Marxian revolutionary?

            It’s not Marx’s theory of capitalism they want. It’s his theory of consciousness and how to turn people into Makers of History. Driving forces in cultural evolution to more collectivist values where politicians make their choices for them and instill that blindly within their minds via misunderstood education.

            By the way did you catch this last week? It talks about philosopher Philip Kitcher and making science about what “would be endorsed in a democratic deliberation among well-informed participants committed to engagement with the needs and aspirations of others.” That’s what the Human Development Society is. It’s about meeting the needs of others using the supposed surplus wealth created by capitalism and technology. It’s also called little ‘c’ communism, unfortunately, by its creators.

    • Stakes R High In Education Appointee

      From my perch here in Canada I’m seeing a massive dogpiling going on to thwart the DeVos proposed appointment as Education secretary.

      What I do find exceptionally valuable is following as best I can just who are the main opponents to her gaining that position? Are there objective points of merit being brought forward? Or, is it that so many in the present status quo are threatened?

      Is the education field some kind of underground of cultural change that America will be demonstrably different if DeVos provides some leadership in reform? We also need reforms in our systems? Who are these massive resistance forces and who is coordinating them?

      • What signs of leadership has DeVos shown?

        As I have mentioned on this blog, she lacks fundamental knowledge of what is the essence of ed reform. She is also an investor in many of the companies that would benefit from what she advocates for through tax-free philanthropy?

        I am worried that too many who push for DeVos find her to be their Useful Idiot. She may not ne, but she has certainly come across that way so far. I believe that is why Jeb Bush, Bill Bennett, and lamar Alexander push for her so. I do believe she wants to do right by children via education. I also believe she has no clue as to what is actually the framework that has been created that she would be “in charge” of. Cui bono?

      • She would do some important things. I have a feeling she would reverse the “dear colleague” Title IX letters that force schools to set up star chamber courts to investigate charges of sexual assault. She would probably cut down other excessive OCR stuff and slice away at a doubtless overstaffed DOE.

        These may be the things that really scare Dems, and it might take someone with business experience to get them done. Maybe these are the most important things to do first. It is good that she’s probably skeptical of the role of DOE altogether.

        But it’s hard to know how she’ll interpret school choice and mandates, we really have little evidence and she’s said nothing that I know of.

        Vote tomorrow morning I guess. Mike Pence is supposed to be there in case of 50-50 tie in the Senate.

        • Next Monday apparently. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska still supposedly undecided Republican and the special ed lobby, Council for Exceptional Children, is pushing its parents to lobby against her.

          This article from Education Week today suggests that the Trump Ed Department will simply be PEPG on steroids. “Three new staffers with backgrounds in education policy have joined a growing list of political aides smoothing the way for President Donald Trump’s administration to take over the U.S. Department of Education, according to a memo sent to department employees Thursday and obtained by Education Week.

          They include Michael Brickman, who until recently served as a senior project director at Luntz Global Partners, a GOP political strategy organization. Before that, he worked as a national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank in Washington that supports high expectations for students and state flexibility. Brickman was also a policy adviser to Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican from Wisconsin, from 2011 to 2013.

          Also joining the team: Matt Frendewey, who previously worked on communications for the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy organization that education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos chaired until recently. He’s also worked in Michigan politics, including for the Michigan Republican Party.

          And the list includes Jana Toner, who served as a White House liaison for the U.S. Department of Education during President George W. Bush’s administration.”

          Michael Brickman being an advisor to Scott Walker is concerning as the Bradley Foundation is based in Wisconsin. Hard to imagine him not doing their bidding with a reputed $850 million in assets.

          • “Doing their bidding” is the operative term for Michael Brickman. Some years back he was hired as Fordham’s minion going around the country engaging in debates and presentations on the glories of Common Core. Presented the party line without deviation, spewed lies without a tremor. I got into it with him on one occasion after such a debate panel on which a colleague of mine took the anti-Common Core position.

            This was the same period of time in which Fordham was publishing pro-CC op-eds at intervals in various newspapers around the country, simply plugging in the name of the city or region in which each was published in order to “personalize” them.

            I defy the education leadership team that Trump is assembling to explain in what way a Jeb Bush DOE would look any different. At a minimum this is a betrayal of all those parents whom he promised at rallies that he would “abolish Common Core.” (I am an “ear” witness.) Even if those parents didn’t know the half of it.

          • “evidence-based global standards”– That would explain so much about all the commonalities I have uncovered and the deceit. is the paper I just finished that was cited by a recent Brookings paper on learning put out by their Center for Universal Education.

            School Choice then is just a melodious phrasing for how to best get children and schools operating as ‘systems’. SABER even stands for “Systems Approach for Better Education Results” and that is the Framework paper for the necessary School Autonomy and Accountability. SABER’s partners include Australia, Korea, the OECD, and UNESCO, which would explain why all this aligns to Charles Fadel’s global work via the Center for Curriculum Redesign.

            Brickman is just another person implementing the Politicalism template because that’s his livelihood. I created the term “intellectual whore” not because I am cruel, but to fit with the fact that many academics and think tank employees and so-called Public Servants living at taxpayer expense make their living selling False Narratives and erroneous sales pitches about what is going on in K-12 education in the name of Standards, Competencies, and evidence-based, scientific, policy-making. Bragging about having a book contract or the number of times you have testified before legislatures or Congressional committees or a job in what is shaping up to be the PEPG-approved FED ED, because you are either willing to deceive or are not, in fact, an expert at all, is analogous to the prostitute wanting to talk about the frequency of their sex life.

            The activity really is not a reflection of what you know or are, but what you are willing to do for money.

          • The best gloss I can put on this is:
            (1) Trump meant it when he said get rid of Common Core (and anything equivalent but named differently) and bring education local, and DeVos will carry out that program.
            (2) But DeVos needs all the Republican votes she can get because the Dems are blocking all nominees. And they won’t vote for anyone who is not union-approved. Therefore she needed to kiss up to Lamar Alexander so he would jam her thru the committee and limit questioning as he did.

            So the good theory is she’ll be OK and is just trying to get in.

            The bad theory is that Trump lied and she’ll do what it looks like she’ll do.

            In favor of the good theory is that Dems, esp. Patty Murray today, really went after DeVos with hatred. Anyone she hates that much can’t be all bad.

            I just don’t know.

          • I see it differently. As I mentioned last summer when I read the FH Buckley book (he is a GMU prof too who works with Boettke) The Way Backfrom April that the Bradley Foundation’s Encounter Books published, School Choice does not mean what FH Buckley told the Trumps it meant. We know where this came from because Don Jr credited that book in his convention speech last July. So what the Trumps have been led to believe about School Choice is not true.

            Whether DeVos knows that or is also misled and simply served on the Boards of AEI and jeb’s Foundation and never quite grasped the essence is a genuine question. Same problem with Common Core. When you get ed advice from Heritage you get bad info. So Trump can be saying things that are not true while geuinely believing they are. Same for DeVos. What is not in question anymore is how all this fits together.

            I have said I do believe DeVos wants to do right by the kids. She simply does not understnad the game that is afoot.

          • That’s interesting about PIE. I haven’t been following very closely here and didn’t know about the school recovery ballot initiative that you rejected on Nov. 8 — congratulations on that!

            It seems even PIE can’t decide on the matter of DeVos. We’ll know tomorrow, I think Mitch McConnell has scheduled the final vote then.

        • This ties together School Choice, pay for Success investing, behavioral science, evidence-based policymaking and lots of what I have been building up to.

          This also ties to Moneyball for Government, Results4America, and Bloomberg’s What Works Cities initiative. There is a tremendous conflict in where all this is going MRs DeVos herself may well not grasp.

  3. Without a doubt. Brickman could pose for the poster. Fordham prostituted for Gates, which remunerated them lavishly, and Brickman in turn did Fordham’s bidding.

    • Those would be what the Catholic Curriculum Framework called Dispositions and what Michael Horn, formerly with the Christensen Institute, whose book Jeb Bush wrote a back cover blurb for, calls Attributes in the definition of “Competency-Based Education” he provided to EDSurge in an interview a few weeks ago.

      Remember also Character is one of the Four Dimensions Charles Fadel has the Center for Curriculum Redesign that is a partnership of MIT, Harvard, and Stanford pushing. Kevin Ryan, one of the 4 listed authors of that Pioneer/APP paper that misled its readers on the nature of competency-based ed and Tranzi OBE heads the character education program. It gets its primary funding from the McDonnell Foundation funded when Boeing bought them out. It also funds systems research and the Santa Fe Institute on complex systems.

      There is indeed a core. My book had its essence, but grasping ALL the details did need the illumination provided by all this coordinated deceit and the commonalities among its funders.

      Remember also I cited Maurice Elias and his work for UNESCO in my book on what really is targeted. Now we know it is targeted because of its role in decision-making and which part of the brain Politicalism seeks to train to respond as a matter of habit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.