Manipulating the Inner, Psychological Aspects of What Makes Each Student Tick Are Key

To any Broader Cultural Transformation. At this point I tend to take an understanding of the work of Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School for granted as a tool for analyzing sought changes through education or the media. But there was a time in my life just a few years ago when I would have wondered if the Frankfurt School had something to do with hot dogs or polishing a German accent or maybe be a fun place to hang out during Octoberfest. To help each of us grasp how an express intention for broad cultural transformation is not some vague conspiracy but a documented intention stretching back almost 100 years to target the West, let’s have a bit of a history lesson.

After all, this widely-circulated 2011 Oxford Leadership Journal  article on “Sustainability: The Inner and Outer Work” (tied to Peter Senge) targeting emotion to gain an inner and permanent transformation as a means for “shifting the trajectory of civilization” is easily recognizable to anyone who has studied the political theories of the Frankfurt School. And the constant references to Frankfurt School member Erich Fromm by the humanist psychologists like Maslow and Carl Rogers showed they saw their aim at radically restructuring the nature of education precisely like a good Frankfurter would. As author Alberto Piedra wrote:

“Gramsci in most of his writings insists that the first and almost exclusive role of the Marxist intellectual lies in education. The revolution, he believed, must be prepared with time, patience, and a calculating mind. This involves dismantling or destroying the values of the past by slowly infiltrating the ‘old’ institutions and changing the mentality of the masses.”

Well, they have arrived in our local schools and district central offices and consulting firms. And they are frequently more credentialed than genuinely intellectual in the knowledge sense. And there is usually no express use of the M word or a hammer and sickle t-shirt to alert parents or taxpayers with the history of the theories and practices being pushed. So once again it is up to us parents and taxpayers to inform ourselves to protect our children, our wallets, and a civilization that does not need to be jettisoned and redesigned by a greedy or naive public sector.

Although there is plenty of info available on the Internet once you know about the Frankfurt School and Gramsci, I am using in particular Chapter 2 of a 2008 book by Robert Chandler called Shadow World as my reference and the source for that Piedra quote. Quiet, stealth destruction of social institutions and existing social relationships from the inside out were the whole idea of the Frankfurt School. It really did start off in the 1920s as the Institute of Social Research, a part of the University of Frankfurt. Its purpose was to emulate the Marx-Lenin Institute in Moscow and develop the theories that could be used to gain broad social and political transformation of the West. And assaulting culture was the approach these theorists came up with. Since many of the theorists were Jewish, they moved to the US in the 30s to set up an exile base at Columbia University in New York and some of them never left.

The doctrine ceased to be some type of “cataclysmic clash between workers and capitalists as the final act.” Instead, like the drip, drip, drip that over time can erode stone, Gramsci and the Frankfurters envisioned “a nonviolent, persistent, and ‘quiet’ transformation of American traditions, families, education, media, and support institutions.” Antonio Gramsci, a communist, was writing from prison in the 20s and 30s, after Benito locked him up. Gramsci grasped that the way to change the West was to go after “what is … [inner] and immediate to individuals and groups…in their daily lives.” Like school, family, and a Christian faith that guided daily behavior.

So when we keep encountering social and emotional learning and the Whole Child Initiative of the Common Core and Positive School Climate or 21st Century Learning which is clearly going after the whole personality for tracking and change remember it is Gramsci who saw that inner self as the key to wholesale revolutionary change in the broader culture. In a footnote, Chandler quoted a 1995 speech by a John Vennari warning the Catholic bishops in Mexico City. I am going to quote it in full because the nerdy word “immanent” is precisely the realm being targeted in the 1962 book Perceiving Behaving Becoming: A New Focus for Education that we first encountered 2 posts ago. I have read it in full now and could testify in a court of law that it lays out the current actual planned implementation in education globally. It’s just masquerading in the US as the Common Core as an allusion to its real aim of transforming each student’s inner core. Here’s the reason why it just keeps coming.

“The key element of Gramsci’s blueprint for the global victory rested on Hegel’s distinction between what was ‘inner’ or ‘immanent’ to man and what man held to be outside and above him and his world–a superior force transcending the limitations of individuals and of groups both large and small. For Gramsci, the IMMANENT and the TRANSCENDENT were unavoidably paired and yoked. Marxism’s ‘transcendent’ was the utopian ideal. But the Marxist ideal was too foreign to the Christian mind and Christian culture. So, Gramsci argued that since the immanent and the transcendent are paired, then unless you can systematically touch what is immanent and immediate to individuals and groups and societies in their daily lives, you cannot convince them to struggle for the transcendent.”

In other words, if you want students and the adults they will become to act to change society to get the sought justice and equality and a cooperative commonwealth and other utopian ideals we just keep running into attached to these ed reforms, you need something that accesses and monitors personal values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. And then collects all that as data. Gaming and adaptive software will do coming in as digital literacy and blended learning. So will contemplative education seeking to get at “hearts and minds” where the coaches alternate between SEL and New Age training depending on the day of the week and who is paying.

As Alberto Piedra astutely noted about the Frankfurters, “a cultural revolution can only be successful if the educational system is firmly committed to the transmission of the new forms of behavior that the revolutionaries endorse.”

Now isn’t it convenient that from 1962 to today we have quietly had K-12 education seeking to use humanist psychology to get these desired behavioral changes? And no one felt the need to ask our permission. No wonder the schools just kept becoming ever more expensive and dysfunctional. We had Maslow and Rogers and the NEA itself deciding that we needed “new ways of seeing and dealing with the world.” It makes sense now that we keep reading about conceptual lenses and generative metaphors if personal perception has been officially targeted for change. Without notice, in 1962 the purpose of K-12 education did a U-turn so that it deals “with subject matter, not as an end in itself, but as a means of helping children to achieve the intelligent imagination and creativity necessary to find adequate answers to the world’s increasingly complex problems.”

That’s irrational imagination and creativity by the way. Grounded in feeling which is an aid and not a barrier to getting at behavior. 1962 was when the definition of learning officially changed. Now to be a means of making the “transition from autocratic to democratic relationships, there is no turning back.” And to get that transition learning becomes “a problem of the total personality” because “unless behavior has changed, one has not really learned.” Got that? To get to the desired political and social transition, behavior must change and government officials and their selected appointees and vendors get to figure out how. And they have called on the psychologists and sociologists and psychiatrists to come up with the techniques and theories to impose in the classroom.

And we are going to spend several posts detailing precisely what has been and will be sought without anyone’s consent. In a country that held itself out as free. I will end this post with yet more insights from Maslow and Rogers that are influencing what is coming.

“It is becoming more and more clear that the key to effective behavioral change is an individual’s personal discovery of meaning. It is values, beliefs and personal meanings which affect behavior most markedly.”

And behavior and those drivers gets targeted stealthily under the euphemisms ‘outcomes’ or ‘performance standards’ or ‘objectives’ or ‘competencies’ or 21st Century Learning. Where most parents and taxpayers totally miss the behavioral focus or why it is being targeted.

And it has been for decades.

But the monitoring equipment has vastly improved in the 21st Century. Yikes!!


4 thoughts on “Manipulating the Inner, Psychological Aspects of What Makes Each Student Tick Are Key

  1. Yes I remember back in the 1960/s and 70’s there was a bit of utopian and idealistic stuff floated, totally free of argument as to how it would actually work, and I just went along with it and gave them back what they wanted and everyone was moderately happy. They couldn’t lower my grade. But I guess this was their behavior modification attempt.

    It worked on some people. Screwed up their heads, ruined their futures. Took their idealistic nature and turned it against them. I could never get carried away, I just never seemed to have enough imagination. Boring, we Capricorns are.

    I thought teachers had to do some of that happy-talk and it was our job as polite students to smile and give an equally hypothetical answer to the implicitly hypothetical prompts. (Implicitly hypothetical because, after all, the world obviously doesn’t work that way, but if it did …)

    I suppose they’re trying to close that loophole. Now you can’t just go along with it politely until the nonsense is over and discussion gets back to thorny reality, you are expected to prove that you are a change agent or something, and they’ll be monitoring on various dimensions. You and the teacher can’t just agree to get along, the computer will be evaluating. Yuck.

    Speaking of private schools that have gone for this transformation, I remember we were thinking of a particular east coast private school because it’s academically pretty good and has a sailing program. And what do you know, one of your posts linked to a presentation that included an admin from that VERY school, saying they’ve gone with lots of projects in every grade and that the more academically able families complain about it but he just tells him that the students need these skills. His disdain for these tuition-paying families’ traditional expectations is palpable.

    Darn. He really likes sailing. But I won’t put him thru (and pay for) the rest of that. Thanks for nothing, common core.

    You could tell which school it was because their logo was in the background. And if you look at their website, they never mention a word about project based learning or any such curriculum changes, even in the areas about academics. If it’s so great, why are they so quiet about it?

    • Here’s a video being pushed in one of the major ed industry newsletters. The gaming focus is just so prevalent now. I personally think the boy’s expression looks vacant but then we know a non-Axemaker Mind is really the point.

      It’s just under 4 minutes.

      I have been downloading recent UK and OECD publications that are quite graphic on the sought behavioural changes to get to a transformed economics and society. Funny how they forget that part when they push gaming. Of course they also keep citing James Paul Gee and Robert Kegan and Kenneth Gergen and they all have tags because they are graphic about their motives.

      But who else reads the footnotes?

  2. From Effective Schools To Affective Schools

    Having children in school and active in parents’ rights in the 80s, I placed great store in the Effective Schools literature.

    Everything was there — academics, accountability, avoidance of fads, meaningful parent involvement — as some of the 8 essentials of an effective school.

    However, naïve, trusting and compliant parents would not readily see the parent involvement that emerged was a fraud — a symbolic use of parents, lip service and fund-raising “ladies’ auxiliary” busy-work! Effective schools principles may have been seriously attempted elsewhere, but not with respect to the parent section.

    William Cutler in his illuminating book — Parents and Schools: 150-year struggle for control in American education — summarized this dismal superficiality thus:

    ** “The school and the home need not be in conflict so long as the former controlled the latter, not the other way around.” (pg 83)

    The current material I am reading to try and fathom why and how the effective schools movement was foiled — International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement — gives some clues why a proven model did not last. Firstly, the Effective Schools movement was hijacked by another phalanx of school reformers, the school improvement/turnaround crew (Fullan et al) that injected its self-interest into conferences, projects, etc. Secondly, where effectiveness according to the checklist did occur, it did not meet with approval from educrats with progressive agendas. This second point can be illustrated by the conclusion voiced by two Canadian professors (Charles Ungerleider, Ben Levin, chapter 23):

    ** “Canada’s schools are struggling to respond to an increasingly individualistic and instrumental approach to schooling that threatens what is already a fragile social structure.”

    If that means that schools that are effective according to the checklist thus become unique (individualistic) and self-determining (instrumental) isn’t that desirable and praiseworthy ? Aren’t that what parents want — what educators and politicians want? The school would be a school of choice, one with character and a magnet for others desiring those characteristics. Why should a school comply with some external dictates that aim at “social cohesion” for the nation or whatever? Besides, as a Canadian I do not see “social fragmentation” as a reality. That excuse is being conveniently used as code to impose outside agendas and to inflict uniformity on a school.

    To return to the gist of this post which is about the shift to affective (feelings, emotions) education — and teachers as change agents using psychological techniques on kids for “broader cultural transformation” — please see this Accord that I believe more that 50 Deans of Canadian education faculties signed, in particular this clause:

    ** “An effective initial teacher education program encourages teachers to assume a social and political leadership role.”

    • Tunya,

      Effective at what is indeed the right question. Site-based management is considered an essential component of successfully pushing this affective, change the child vision of education. Which is why it is built into the AdvancED accreditation standards issued in 2011 for the 2012 school year going forward. But most parents and taxpayers will never see those.

      One of the clues that led to turning up this 1962 book and its 1965 sibling from a psychiatrist who keeps using psychotherapy and education as interchangeable terms was wondering why the conflict-ridden ed consultant/parent chairing our school’s Governance Council while billing taxpayers $2500 a day to train other school’s governance council members was so determined that no controversy was to prevent the continued use of Spence Rogers for professional development at the schools implementing the district charter.

      The School Governance Councils are touted as a means of parent involvement when in reality they prevent recourse when the inevitable controversy about this psychological emphasis arises. No way out this time is the real meaning.

      I knew what the language of the charter said and I knew what Rogers’ books said he was pushing and I knew what Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s books said they were grounded in. I guessed Maslow and Carl Rogers after a reference to them came up in the League of Innovative Schools research. But at that point I did not know about this book. It was cited in one of the papers on conation.

      My book should solve your questions about the term ‘effective.’ I talk about it being another Orwellian term.

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