The final Chapter of that 1989 New World New Mind book we have talked about in the last two posts moved on to where all the radical education reform visions go eventually if you know where to look. That new vision of the future with a transformed society and economy. We need to always understand that if the future vision is anathema or likely to lead to unappreciated consequences that may well be tragic, we need to know that up front while the education pathway for these transformations is being put in place. The chapter was called “Changing the World Around Us” and pointed out that “people’s ideas are not as fixed as commonly thought–that in fact much is known about how to change them systematically.”
Which is precisely what the education reforms in the 90s known as Outcomes Based-Education and Whole Language set out to do. Another fascinating point from more than 20 years ago is the statement that “Television, of course, is one of the most important tools for developing new minds that society possesses.” Now that certainly explains an awful lot of series plotlines, doesn’t it?
Ehrlich and Ornstein point out that “the media, with minimal effort, could do a great deal to promote new-mindedness.” Boy did they ever step up to that plate. Greatly enjoying their inclusion among the “people who have leverage in our society” who would be on the list where “We must expose leaders of society to notions that are not now current.” I would say they all bit since virtually every troubling figure I have written about in recent months seems to be doing keynote speech after conference headliner after traipsing to DC or up to Boston to meet with Project Zero. Busy times as we reach the end game of what was laid out in 1989 as:
“Obviously, we need to make new kinds of thinking and new ways of handling our problems immediately available to society’s decision makers. And while changing the form and content of education would be a major step toward conscious evolution, much has to be done outside the schools as well.”
Which did happen. Society’s decision makers from their positions at foundations and think tanks and the UN and OECD and Big Business and ambitious politicians at every level have excitedly answered that call and are busily planning that future in books most of us have not read, in commissions we were not asked to join, in initiatives we have never heard of, and at conferences we have not been invited to. But it is no theory that there is a massive coordinated effort going on at our expense with a common consistent vision that involves our future and it has been in motion for about 25 years now. Let’s take a look at it since it involves no longer permitting the “pursuit of material self-gain” and an insistence a global self-appointed elite will create new systems of governance on our behalf with new “rules, arrangements and institutions that enable us to live well together: minimising destructive conflict and division in society.”
When I read the language in the 2010 National Education Technology Plan about 21st Century Competencies being the real goal, it was not news to me but it reminded me that I had better take a look again at what else the OECD was pushing. I knew they had issued Guidelines in March 2013 declaring that everyone’s subjective well-being was now their concern. How’s that for an all encompassing intrusive edict to justify a hoped-for lifetime of a tax-free salary and then pension? Was there a relationship between this Competencies/ Digital Learning push and the Subjective Well-being Initiative? Well of course. “Everything within the State, Nothing Outside the State, Nothing Beyond the State” as the saying with an unfortunate history goes. The language I quoted in the title and last paragraph came from this April 2013 OECD report. http://www.oecd.org/site/oecdgfd/Session%203.1%20-%20GFD%20Background%20Paper.pdf
This intrusive juggernaut coming out of both the UN and the OECD really tracks back to the Human Development Review reports that started in 1991 just as Ehrlich would have hoped. Over time what was sought just got bigger until now we get NGOs insisting they get to monitor and respond to whether “everyone’s relational and subjective needs are being and will be met” and “what governance in the 21st Century must consist of.” All that personal ed data and visualization will really come in handy when targeting personal “perceptions and aspirations” in order to gain a “cohesive society” is what is sought.
You can read that troubling 19 page report. Please note that the same US National Academy of Sciences now pimping 21st Century Skills and that Soviet pedagogy-inspired Education for Life and Work report has already quietly assembled a panel on Subjective Well-being as well. Another thing we are paying for but we are not invited to. Let me now add the Meeting of the Minds in Toronto in September to the list. 350 invites and they forgot us. http://cityminded.org/events/toronto/agenda But we all have minds as well. Are we insufficiently newminded to qualify for the event? This annual get together to plan all of our futures without our consent around the concept of sustainable cities and regions started in 2007. We would all love to hear the “Economic Development Case for Urban Social Equity” and how universities and hospitals can become “anchor institutions” controlling the economy of an entire area. Or listen to the EPA official announcing the US is “re-inventing commerce as we know it, pivoting from a consumption model to something more sustainable.” As both the taxpayers paying his salary and the consumers about to be shafted can’t we listen too?
I am also intrigued by the “Dumb Phones, Smart Kids: The Coming Revolution of Citizen Engagement” program since that does seem to put an unacknowledged real purpose on all the Bring a Mobile Device to School hype. Apparently “Present and future generations will have unprecedented leverage with youth ‘voice’ in such areas as mobilization of demand, improvement of services, participatory engagement and accountability in local government.” Will the youth be able to tweet when their relational and subjective needs are not being sufficiently met?
Two of the listed speakers at the conference though are involved with pluralist commonwealth visions for our futures that just happened to come my way last week. These planners all seem to love that commonwealth phrase every bit as much as Harry Boyte and now the White House Office of Public Engagement. Lots of commonality of what the future Good Society is supposed to be in places we would not be likely to look at so let me give this a boost. In July 2013 PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress released the book All-In Nation: An America that Works for All http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/AllInNation-1.pdf with a government-centered/redistribution on steroids vision that will likely imperil almost everyone’s prosperity if it goes forward.
In addition we have a special journal issue called The Good Society laying out the commonwealth vision for the future. It did recognize that education is how we get there and that the US Constitution would need to be jettisoned or amended heavily and reenvisioned. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.5325/goodsociety.22.1.0074.pdf?acceptTC=true lays out how we get to a “Property-Owning Democracy” just as soon as a majority of voters will it apparently. The contribution from the Democracy Collaborative (which also got invited to speak in Toronto) http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.5325/goodsociety.22.1.0001.pdf is called “The Possibility of the Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community-Sustaining Economy.”
All the papers are in a similar vein. Public ownership and a state-directed economy and a reimagined workplace can be made to work in the 21st Century if we simply build the right Mindsets and personal perceptions and values through our schools. There is one more book that is being repeatedly cited as the vision for the future that goes along with these educaion reforms. Written by a sociology prof admirer of both Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren and all their environmental economics work. Publishing her (by Pearson’s Penguin Group of course) basically gets their past and current visions but it appears to be a new voice. Called Plenitude: the new economics of true wealth it sees us all swapping used clothes in the future and work sharing and rebuilding a face-to-face, localized, self-sufficiency economy.
Now none of us can debate what we do not know about and apparently only “society’s leaders” are supposed to be the decision makers in this future. No wonder there is so little knowledge in this Competencies/ digital learning vision. No wonder information on emotions and perceptions and motivations is so vital to the vision of future education. These visions of the transformed future that are sitting on unlikely assumptions about changing human nature are literally joined at the hip to the actual planned education reforms galloping into classrooms and schools that start classes tomorrow or in a few weeks at the latest.
Now one of the expressions that gets used all the time to sell this new vision for learning and education is to quit thinking in terms of silos. Well that goes both ways. We parents and taxpayers and believers in individualism and knowers of what actually creates mass prosperity and what dooms it need to start peering into the silos of future plans.
I for one just do not have the disposition to merely be among the ‘governed’ in the 21st or any century.