Pandemic’s Utility as a Massive Shared Meaning Making Tool to Force Widespread Systems Thinking

How many of us recognize the current widespread school and higher ed cancellations and switch to online and virtual learning as fitting with the education template various global institutions are pushing called the Libre process of digital pedagogies we covered in the last post? Never let a crisis go to waste, indeed. If you read as many global plans and conference materials for using education to force change as I do, it is hard not to notice that the word ‘pandemic,’ like man-made climate change, has long been considered a tool to force the desired sense of interdependence and communitarianism. Here’s a quote from a 2019 paper https://www.wise-qatar.org/2019-wise-research-learning-ecosystems-innovation-unit/  that makes the desired shift explicit:

The starting point must be around the holistic development of living in a better world–to be changemakers. I am convinced that ecosystemic approaches are necessary to move from mechanistic education systems to learner centric ones…It is clear that education needs to become an avenue through which global society will overcome the challenges, gaps and barriers we have created: the digital divide, the growing economic and social inequality, religious, ethnic, and cultural divides, and the extreme ecological pressures we are placing upon the Earth…An active search is underway for new ways of learning and new organizational forms for education that will be consistent with the emergent social and economic reality. In such a context, perhaps it is unsurprising that inspiration for change is sought from biological, as opposed to mechanical, analogues.

A biological lens is certainly easier to practice with during and after a global hype of deadly pandemics, isn’t it? Here’s another quote from that same paper that again fits where we are all suddenly being forced to go:

Across the globe there is a growing consensus that education demands a radical transformation if we want all citizens to become future-ready in the face of a more digitally enabled, uncertain and fast changing world…As learning frameworks outlining ambitious global agendas for inclusive education and lifelong learning begin to emerge, and as societies become more connected and intertwined, it is becoming clear that society has a collective role to play in equipping people to create meaningful futures, through lifelong learning.

Deriving from the field of evolutionary biology, an ‘ecosystem’ is a community of interdependent organisms acting in conjunction with the natural environment…This type of ecosystem comprises complex, evolving networks of organizations including think tanks, foundations, governmental and global agencies and others who are consciously connecting to facilitate the sharing of new knowledge about education and learning, innovation, funding opportunities and more. It is largely concerned with building the global shared knowledge base, scaling innovation and enabling the better use of resources and opportunities to tackle shared global learning challenges, not only within but between networks.

What is meant by a ‘global shared knowledge base’ we might ask and how does that tie to ‘shared meaning-making’ via common global learning standards? It reminded me of the requisite ‘systems thinking’ push over the decades that I first covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy and have since found in recent federal statutes and a new vision of Regulatory Governance pushed by a New Zealand professor, Jeroen van der Heijden, that has made its way here   https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3531381 for broader dissemination. It helpfully (with italics) pointed out  the need for a shift from:

thinking of systems as something ‘out there’ –an ontological approach –and systems thinking as a tool that helps us to think about reality–an epistemological approach.

The kind of conceptual learning frameworks I have covered repeatedly on this blog that require a common understanding to become widespread (that the Soviets also pushed as Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete) fits right in with what that paper above covers as “Regulation and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM)”.

SSM requires a careful understanding and defining of the system at hand–known as ‘root definition’. Defining the system and the problem it seeks to address is best done by a variety of individuals and organizations from within the system. In short, the definition includes the basic transformation a system seeks to achieve (T), the worldview that provides meaning to this transformation (W), system ownership (O), system operators (A), the customer or target of the system (C), and the environmental constraints of the system (E)…After establishing the root definition–again, done in a deliberative process with a variety of individuals and organisations from within the system–conceptual models are developed to actualize the stated aims (C). These conceptual models then must be compared with the real-time, real-world situation to define possible and feasible changes.

In late February in the US a paper came out called “Changing Expectations for the K-12 Teacher Workforce” that laid out such Conceptual Models as the new kind of knowledge all teachers are to develop–Deeper Learning. Reading the paper it is impossible not to recognize that without a deep and broad knowledge base that comes from being well read with an Axemaker Mind, the typical student, and the adult they will become, is not in a position to know whether the required Conceptual Models fit with reality or not. What a useful means of covert regulatory governance by governments at all levels and the institutions that serve as their cronies and proxies. It all fits perfectly with this SSM, 21st century global vision, of “regulation as a (cybernetic) system of control” where people and the organisations they are a part of can be:

configured in relation to each of the three components of a cybernetic system: that is, at the level of standard-setting (whether behavioural standards are ‘simple’ /fixed or ‘complex’ /adaptive) [Common Core/Competencies!], information gathering and monitoring (reactive or pre-emptive) [formative assessment and continuous improvement], and behaviour modification (automated or recommender systems) [aka Learning!]…

A call for applying systems thinking to a regulatory problem is a call to focus on the emergent behaviour of a collection of parts and their interactions as they ostensible relate to that regulatory problem…systems thinking sets boundaries to delineate what is relevant and what is not–such boundaries are often operational rather than spatial. Systems thinking introduces a set of concepts that help to map, explore, interrogate and give meaning to a complex problem at hand.

Finally, let’s quote from yet another paper being linked to globally on what learning standards and a transformed vision of education is really intended to do. It is by Ervin Laszlo’s son Alexander from 2014 and came out of ISSS’s 57th meeting on the meta-theme of Curating the Conditions for a Thrivable Planet. Called “Connecting the DOTS: The Design of Thrivable Systems Through the Power of Collective Intelligence,” it sought (with italics in original) systemic leverage points for emerging a global eco-civilization. Number one leverage point? The

centrality of meaning-making to human activity systems–at both individual and collective levels…This meaning-making drive brings us together…[it creates] a community of interest–around systems perspectives and approaches; a community of practice–around the application of systemic ways of thinking/ doing/ being; and a community of place–that sees and appreciates the interdependence of a globally interconnected world.

As we self-isolate in the coming days and weeks, let’s remember that creating a common vision and vocabulary for meaning-making is a prerequisite for the desired transformational change–first, at the level of each individual, but then also in broader political, social, and economic spheres. Notice how often the rhetoric is looking to foster, at both a visual and emotional level,  those very communities of interest, practice, and place needed for transformational change for a different type of collective future. Notice how the release of a new virus from Wuhan China somehow gets used to reenforce the desired changes at an internalized, personal, level that global education conferences have been laying out graphically and with explicit transformational rationales for about a decade.

What a fortuitous kickstart as long as we remain in the vast majority of this planet that will probably not get seriously ill or even know someone who has.

Timely, isn’t it, with only a decade left to the declared finish line of 2030.

16 thoughts on “Pandemic’s Utility as a Massive Shared Meaning Making Tool to Force Widespread Systems Thinking

  1. Yep, yep, and yep.

    Was thinking, too, that the so-called AIDS epidemic was an earlier ‘go’ at this, though it did not involve the digital learning aspect. It was based on BAD SCIENCE, and the complicity of the media in eliciting wide-spread and irrational fear, and it did drive wide-spread behavioral change among members of the population who likely never knew an AIDS victim, or even someone who knew one.

    And, note, the immediate response of certain more ‘sophisticated’ commentators on this crisis to ‘sense make it’ using data, while not asking necessary questions about that data.

    On another but related note, I have been reviewing with an est/Landmark ‘survivor’ an exercise that is staple to a lot of these groups, though the flavors may change. It is a ‘choice’ exercise in which participants are asked to choose between two flavors of ice cream, chocolate or vanilla. Most people have a preference and express it. Next, the preferred flavor is removed and they are asked to ‘choose’, which flavor they prefer, and explain why. Of course, many participants respond that they ‘chose’ X, because there was no longer a choice possible, but this is NOT the right answer, and this is a RIGHT answer. The agonizing over this may go on for hours until the participant says in exasperation, “I chose it because I chose it.” EUREKA, the ‘aha’ moment, whereby it is understood that ‘no choice’ equals ‘choice’ if one is in the right ‘frame of mind’.

    Now with the latest virus scare, choices ARE to question it and reap social opprobrium, to ignore it and risk same, to embrace ‘new’ behaviors and feel that one is contributing to a ‘solution’.

    Somebody mentioned the media response to the Swine Flu epidemic that occurred during the Obama administration, and which was quite lethal. Here, there was a measured approach that seemed to actually have something to do with limiting the scope of a contagion but did not involve memes like ‘social distancing’. We need to build “heard immunity” to b.s.

    • Have you seen this? https://www.horizonadvisory.org/news/coronavirus-series-report-launch-viral-moment-chinas-post-covid-planning

      Remember that ISSS conference I was quoting from in this post took place in Vietnam and systems science fits well with these plans. The Chinese have also been all over the related Living Cities push that I have covered here at ISC in the past. Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete and the HOTS emphasis on Enduring Understandings etc to guide perception and the interpretation of daily experience are essentially an update of DiaMat.

      Just imagine what the laid out information system plans will do when overlaid with the IEEE Standards on Autonomous Systems that include people and tie to ISCED learning standards globally.

      Adding this from unesco that is just out, since we know they are involved with Libre and ISCED is their baby too. Never let a crisis go to waste indeed. https://gemreportunesco.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-could-education-systems-have-been-better-prepared/

      New ways of learning amidst virtual reality immersions was already the agenda.

    • Once again we must not let this crisis go to waste and we must think in terms of ‘systems’, not individuals. https://knowledgeworks.org/resources/resilience-empathy-equity-navigate-uncertain-future/ came out yesterday.

      That said, these events have shown that our systems – education, health care, economic – are not designed to respond and flex in these ways. In our forecast on the futures of young children and their families, we pointed to the fact that people have had to self-organize solutions in response to a stretched social fabric. I think we are seeing that very clearly; individuals are doing a great deal and are responding in some amazing ways, and many of them are doing so with no safety net. The systems, however, are showing that they are able to function only in the best-case scenario, and even then so many people have not been served well by them.

      Jason Swanson: I think the formation of networks, education clusters and ecosystems, all of which are built on a density of partnerships, are themselves a direct result for a desire to be more sustainable. As we grapple with the effects of COVID-19, such partnerships are indispensable for getting the word out about the virus and actions that should be taken, as well as providing resources for learners and their care givers as many physical places of learning are temporarily closed.

      This moment in time has really caused us to realize what an important role schools and other learning institutions play in our lives – from custodial care to feeding people to simply having a fun place to go to see other learners. Without those institutions, issues of equity are being exacerbated. Conversely, as we take a collective pause, it might also be an opportunity to look at what we might we need to let go of that is not serving us well.

      I am adding a bit more as it really is the excuse for the Human Development Society Uncle Karl dreamed of as the byproduct of a certain level of society. Human-centered systems to meet needs the article calls for as it notes the joining together of the education and healthcare systems. Then there is this

      Katie King: We are seeing people make some sacrifices on behalf of others, and I wonder if this is an opportunity to shift our mindsets to lead us toward greater levels of educational equity and justice. Parents, communities and leaders often say they want equity, but we often behave in ways that perpetuate inequity and protect privilege. The system and the incentives are set up to promote that behavior. But if those of us with privilege were willing to sacrifice something, whether comfort, certainty, status or even something material, I believe that we all would gain a great deal more in well-being and could make way for more equitable outcomes. As a result of the event, a new foundation could form for new types of approaches to learning and to community building.

      Jason Swanson: This has made me think about privilege. The virus lays bare a lot of the social and economic inequalities in our society. We need to think about how to maintain high quality learning in the face of disruption, which is something we explored in Navigating the Future of Learning. There is a need for education to develop some level of capacity with futures thinking about deep disruptions in terms of trends and other patterns of change, but to also future events like the one we’re experiencing now and what implications they might pose.

      Virgel Hammonds: I wonder how the empathy and human-centeredness our world is displaying today may have an impact on our behaviors, systemic designs and outcomes in the future. May this pandemic help our world feel the systemic inequities that thrive in our current structures? May this global crisis inspire new, more inclusive structures that ensure the vibrancy of our communities? I believe so, I hope so; our children and families are counting on it.

      Pandemic’s Utility to destroy privilege. Yeah, right. Privilege here is only available to the politically connected in an Upravleniye vision of the future.

      • Pandemic’s Utility to destroy privilege.

        Yeh, right, what I am seeing is the privileged trying to make a buck peddling everything from Corona ‘masks’ (designer) to consulting related to remote work strategies/technogies. This whole thing is a little TOO well-organized.

        On a personal front, my research partner in Madrid reports that he tested positive for the virus upon disembarking an international flight. He reports that the symptoms are similar to that of a mild cold. He is under house quarantine.

        I wonder if, during any cold/flu season, you pulled people off trains, airplanes and tested them, how many would test positive for cold or flu strains. I think that number would be very high.

        • I hope you are right, but with a husband in the hospital for several days in January we have to be careful here. Good thing I like to cook from scratch and can easily shift to what is available. Had swiss chard with bacon and red wine vinegar Wednesday night which was a big hit with the baked haddock I made.

          More use of crisis. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-03-18-teacher-interrupted-leaning-into-social-emotional-learning-amid-the-covid-19-crisis

          This is not a snow day. It’s not a holiday break. It’s a crisis.

          So what can we do to support ourselves and our students in getting through these difficult times? We need to look to social and emotional learning (SEL) for evidence-based practices to help us now and to support us when we eventually return to school.

          SEL is for everyone. It’s especially critical for students with the greatest needs—the ones who will be severely impacted by the psychosocial and fiscal effects of this pandemic. But it’s also for teachers and students in the most well-resourced districts and institutions.

          The crisis around COVID-19 is leaving an indelible footprint on the hearts and minds of multiple generations of children and adults—even our youngest ones who are not yet old enough to realize it. The impact and ripple effects across our collective livelihoods is likely too vast to comprehend.

          It’s scary. But it’s not hopeless.

          Now is when we need to apply everything we’ve learned about SEL. Recognizing your emotions and leveraging the science of SEL is more important now than ever. SEL skills are real skills that can support us in managing the roller coaster of emotions we will be having over the coming days and months. For many of us it’s dealing with daily uncertainty and new ways of interacting socially….
          Briefly, SEL is the teaching of an interrelated set of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies that underscore our capacity to learn, develop and maintain mutually supportive relationships, and be both physically and psychologically healthy. The field of SEL is replete with programs and approaches, which support schools in embedding five large dimensions into teaching and learning. These include self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

          At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, we use the power of emotions to create a healthier, more equitable, productive and compassionate society, today and for future generations. Our approach to SEL, the RULER Approach, provides tools and resources grounded in the theory of emotional intelligence to promote the psychosocial health and well-being of educators and their students and parents.

          Reason to go where we were always supposed to go anyway. Yale is simply using the RULER acronym to push what Bela Banathy recognized in the 80s as the needed focus to shift students and the people they would become towards thinking with systems and acting predictably as one as a result.

        • Here’s another example https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-03-17-school-leaders-say-plan-for-remote-teaching-but-take-care-of-students-first

          How do schools prioritize mental wellbeing right now?

          Reshan Richards: It might be figuring out the close networks or clusters of people around a child or a family to make sure that more proactive check-ins are happening. And maybe from a sense of prioritization, if the school has a high percentage of students or families who need that, maybe that is what takes priority over figuring out what video conferencing solution we are going to use.

          Again, I can’t say it enough: If your online school gets delayed by two weeks because you’re solving the mental health question, then I think your energy’s in the right place. The long-term health of the institution—like our society—will be better off if that becomes the priority. We’ll figure out the math, we’ll figure out Hamlet and the Odyssey. That’ll be all right. It’s all of these other things that school provides that you can’t diminish and you can’t create online.

          Also think of all the constructivist math thinking that will get undone while stuch working from home parents actually teach multiplication tables and explain ratios and fractions. One of my kids commented on the number of conference calls now with the sound of children in the back ground.

          • I am adding this as I wrote a post on EcoMuve a few years ago and this successor VR experience is being pushed for stay at home resources during covid https://ecolearn.gse.harvard.edu/projects/ecoxpt

            It all tracks back to David Perkins (AI from MIT like Kahn as in Kahn Academy) and the CORE–Conceptual Reorganization–NSF grants I also covered in the past. Now called Visible Thinking, but ties to Howard Gardner as well as IB globally.

            https://pz.harvard.edu/projects/visible-thinking is the overall template.

            isible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based conceptual framework, which aims to integrate the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters.

            Visible Thinking began as an initiative to develop a research-based approach to teaching thinking dispositions. The approach emphasized three core practices: thinking routines, the documentation of student thinking, and reflective professional practice. It was originally developed at Lemshaga Akademi in Sweden as part of the Innovating with Intelligence project, and focused on developing students’ thinking dispositions in such areas as truth-seeking, understanding, fairness, and imagination. It has since expanded its focus to include an emphasis on thinking through art and the role of cultural forces and has informed the development of other Project Zero Visible Thinking initiatives, including Artful Thinking, and Cultures of Thinking.

    • Look at all the systems thinking videos being hyped to get the desired visuals in place. We have this http://www.clexchange.org/resources/videos.aspx

      Plus the Infection Game is available for downloading.

      As we deal with a world-wide epidemic of a novel virus, there are many ways to help our students cope. One of them is just talking about what is going on, how they are feeling, the practicalities of their lives in a quarantine situation, and how to think about infections from a 10,000perspective (meta-cognition.) Another is figuring out what useful enrichment activities would be helpful and fun.

      This simulation, especially for younger students, is a start in meta-cognitive understanding of a large and scary topic. Sensitivity in introducing something like this is needed, but may actually give some students a way of handling their upside-down world. This short lesson is taken from the Shape of Change, (The Infection Game). Explore other CLE Simulations on the CLE website. We are in the process of converting some of the CLE simulations to the isee Exchange, a great resource for accessible simulations. A simulator for COVID-19 is available on isee.

      Other resources that may be of interest to your students who are on home-stays:

      Splash! – our small simulation app for hand-held devices. Fun to play with and helpful for learning to create little, simple models. A guide called SplashCards is available for purchase from the CLE website.

      Making Thinking Visible Videos – short videos demonstrating the building blocks of systems thinking.

      Model Mysteries – An Exploration of Vampires, Zombies, and Other Fantastic Scenarios to Make the World a Better Place. Available to purchase in book format or downloadable.

      Micro-lessons – Short lessons focused on encouraging students (of all ages) to use systems thinking to solve problems.

      And the headers for all these pushes actually hype it as not letting a crisis go to waste.

      Plus we have this calling for New Age of Mutuality.

      2/14/20 note: This post was written a few weeks ago when China was in the early days of battling COVID-19. It was not yet clear that it would mushroom into a global pandemic.

      What is clear is that we live in an age of what Kay and King called Radical Uncertainly “for which historical data provide no useful guidance to future outcomes. Radical uncertainty concerns events whose determinants are insufficiently understood for probabilities to be known or forecasting possible.”

      When I wrote this post I was thinking primarily about the intersection of the two biggest change forces impacting life on earth—the rise of AI and global warming. This pandemic suggests a third vector of complexification—in short, we have no idea how natural and manmade system will collide and interact.

      The five implications listed below are just the beginning for this new era of human existence. A sixth implication is that leadership matters. I hope this post provokes deep thought about the nature of public leadership required in this challenging time.

      https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/03/%ef%bb%bfthe-new-mutuality/

      Finally here is the link to the referenced Future of Humanity report. https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Windfall-Clause-Report.pdf

      • “The five implications listed below are just the beginning for this new era of human existence. A sixth implication is that leadership matters. I hope this post provokes deep thought about the nature of public leadership required in this challenging time.”

        Well, if leadership matters, how does one explain the leaders selected for Trump’s COVID-19 task force? Robin, I don’t know if you have watched Deborah Birx in action but she has made bold statements to the effect that solutions to the issues posed by COVID-19 will require the flexible, systems-thinking minds of younger generations. So, why is she a leader on this task force? Fauci, Birx and others have DEEP connections to HIV/AIDs combines and to the Gates and Clinton foundations, organizations, which have shown an incredible flare for graft in their third-world activities. Could NYC become Haiti?

        Regarding your earlier post, Project Zero caught my eye. This is the foundation-funded Harvard think tank that also sponsored the Good Work Project. Yeh, Gardner is involved and Czick. Look out!

        Robin, I have a question. I consider myself to be a good interdisciplinary thinker and feel this is a useful activity. I sense something very different is going on with systems-thinking, though — beyond the fact that they don’t really DO IT.

        Any thoughts on this?

        • Your neural system that dictates how you perceive the world and interpret your experiences is something YOU developed. This envisioned neural net which acts as a dependable ‘system’ controlling thinking and future decision-making is prescribed to have that desired effect. Notice all the hype over disinformation that, upon examination, amounts to using unapproved mental analysis. We do that a lot here at ISC as you know. You can see it though in the graphic at visible thinking link. Good time to bring back this old post. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/

          Also with links to Classical Ed and the Templeton Foundation we have this essay from this week https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2020/03/61609/

          The Coronavirus Has Unveiled a Deeper Political Disease
          March 23, 2020By R.J. Snell
          A crisis like a pandemic forces citizens to confront what they hold in common. But the coronavirus has revealed that many, whether boomer or millennial, do not even see themselves as citizens—as participating in and being partially responsible for the common good.

          …In other words, this is not a question of age. Whether boomer or millennial, it hardly matters, for many do not see themselves as citizens—as participating in and being partially responsible for the common good. Even if we bracket the moral duty to avoid needlessly harming the health and well-being of others, which is a real duty, the sense of civic friendship, that we’re “in this together” as fellow members of a joint project, seems absent from the minds of so many. (Not of all, to be sure, and thankfully.) Pericles’ famous “Funeral Oration,” in which he recounts how Athenian soldiers “fought and died” for Athens’s good while the survivors remain “ready to suffer in her cause,” reads as if from an impossibly foreign culture and time, assuming as it does that the glory and good of the city come before private interest. In our own moment, many appear to have concluded that the nation is no more than “a bureaucratic supplier of goods and services, which is always about to, but never actually does, give its clients value for money.” The invitation “to lay down one’s life on its behalf . . . is like being asked to die for the telephone company.” And let’s be honest, no one is going to sacrifice for their cell phone provider.

          If one views, as many do, the civic project as little more than a bureaucratic—if largely inefficient—way of delivering goods and services, then citizenship is experienced as mostly irrelevant or an outright inconvenience. Citizenship is an occasional visit to the DMV, in other words.

          The gross irresponsibility of some in the face of coronavirus is not simply a failure of their moral character, but also symptomatic of an underlying political disease. According to Manent, our misunderstanding of rights is largely to blame: “Our political regime has progressively brought about its own paralysis. . . . The rights of man have been separated radically from the rights of the citizen, and, instead of freeing members of society in order to make them capable and desirous of participating in what is common, [individuals] are now supposed to suffice to themselves, and public institutions are nothing more than their docile instrument. We are probably the first, and we will surely remain the only, people in history to give over all elements of social life and all contents of human life to the unlimited sovereignty of the individual.”…

          Our society, and its schools and colleges, have devoted themselves to unmasking, unveiling, and deconstructing the really human things, in order to reveal them as artificial: as nothing but power, privilege, or a religious hangover: as things that need to be destroyed, so that the individual qua individual can define himself or herself as he or she wishes to be. Rights are ascribed to the denuded, not-fully-human individual; they are all but devoid of content. And thus there is really nothing reasonable to say or think about rights, since they are mainly expressions of how and what the individual wishes for himself—not as a human living under law, but as a self-defining will.

          Understood in this way, individuals are unlikely to view themselves as citizens, for each is an anarchic kingdom unto himself. It becomes highly improbable that such little tyrants could envision the common good, let alone make sacrifices for it, no matter how painless and inconsequential.

          Some are arguing that COVID-19 will change everything. On the contrary, it simply reveals how many of our fellows have long ago stopped being citizens. Since they do not understand themselves as living under law, the loss of ordered liberty that is (very likely) to result from the pandemic was all but inevitable in a nation that is composed of consumers who claim rights rather than of citizens who claim responsibilities.

          Snell sounds just like John Goodlad in the quotes I used in CtD, as well as other Social Reconstructionists I quoted. Citizens do not get to create their own neural nets. That’s what global learning standards are for.

  2. COVID-19 — a global perspective
    This ‘event’ seems to be over in Japan, with workers sitting at their desks, and large- scale sporting events going forward. Kinda funny, huh, and given the amount of CN/JP traffic that must have occurred just prior to the outbreak in Wuhan.

    Some of the locals believe we are not being told the truth…I kinda think the truth is not being told in other locations.

    But get this, and it is so Japanese. The utility companies are maintaining service for those who cannot pay their bills. Landlords are forgiving back rent. I guess we have had a lot of practice with disasters and they have become the new ‘normal’.

  3. Saw an interesting doc discussion the other day in which a cool-headed virologist observed that a virus really needed to have three characteristics to drive mass hysteria. It needed to:
    1) be formidably lethal — (think MERs, or even Avien Flu)
    2) kill children (think so-called Spanish Flu)
    3) cause permanent disability or disfigurement (think polio)

    This thing lacks all of these criteria.

    • I am going to quote at length from something the Frameworks Institute has put out that makes the Upravleniye function of this virus crystal clear.

      Topic #2: Making a powerful case for the role of government
      To come through this crisis we need governments to act. There are actions that only governments can take – and our communications can shape a robust mandate for this critical leadership.

      An effective narrative about government responsibility is also a powerful antidote to us-vs-them thinking.

      If government responsibility goes off the radar, we fail to get the action we need – and stigmatized groups can quickly become targets. Our narratives can help prevent simmering ageist or xenophobic resentments from boiling over into full-blown questioning of which lives are worth saving and at what cost.

      But government responsibility is also a topic we must navigate carefully. When people see governments as wholly useless or corrupt, it perpetuates inaction and drives disengagement. A singular focus on partisanship, special interests, or dissatisfaction with elected leaders can obscure the potential for an effective government response. When we trigger the idea that government is all about the people in power, it’s harder to focus attention on the powerful structures that we have, and need, to mount an effective response.

      Here are three framing strategies that can help us lead a more productive conversation about the mission, role, and responsibility of governments at this crucial time.

      Emphasize that we need and deserve a robust public response to this crisis.

      Talk about what governments can and must do. Be clear that government action is do-able and in line with how our society can and should function.

      Instead of starting and ending with government failure
      “Our government is failing all of us and the most vulnerable will pay the biggest price. There is no concerted plan, dangerously unclear guidance, and crushingly inadequate support for those in most need. This is no time for politics as usual but we’re seeing again and again that today’s leaders are not up to the job.”

      Hold government accountable. Call leaders to action.
      “We all rely on government leadership and action to keep our society going. Our leaders must take immediate action to slow the spread of the virus and mobilize the medical equipment and supplies needed to keep us all safe. And they must lead us all through the problems that lie ahead, using the best tools humanity has to rebuild our societies.”

      2. Be clear that government action has a distinct role – different from the things businesses, nonprofits, or individuals can do.
      The term “government,” on its own, can spark mistrust, fear, or ridicule. It helps to pair the term government with a description of how it should act – as a protector, a long-term planner, or as the people’s voice.

      Instead of calling for others to fill in the gaps
      “Businesses must step up, do the right thing, and look for how they can provide a product or service that fills our new needs. To protect the elderly and frail, the young and strong must put personal desires and fears aside, avoiding the temptation to stockpile food or take unnecessary outings. And we all must do what we can to support our heroic doctors and nurses – whether that’s staying at home, donating supplies, or sewing protective masks.”

      Emphasize the roles and democratic ideals that only government can fulfill
      “We are all relying on our public institutions to protect us from physical harm and economic hardship during this pandemic. Businesses, nonprofits, and individuals can all play a part, but only government can channel public resources into the things we all need like vaccines or ventilators. Only government can set and enforce the rules that keep us all safe and well. We need action that makes the biggest difference for everyone and this must be led by government.”

      . Don’t play the individual blame game. Instead, call leaders to action.
      Avoid activating a sense that our leaders are too inept or self-serving to trust. Instead, focus on the concrete actions that specific agencies or jurisdictions can and must take now for the common good. Once attention is focused on specific elected officials, the conversation quickly shifts away from collective action and gets stuck in politics-as-usual.

      Instead of talking about personalities, politicians, or politics
      “Unfortunately, our current leader is more focused on protecting his reputation than he is on protecting public health. And the rest of the party is going along with it. In the end, the very voters that put him in office will be the ones who suffer the most from this pandemic. It will be interesting to see how this turns out when – or if – the next election is held.”

      Focus on the actions that citizens should hold government accountable for
      “We all need our governments to respond swiftly to new information about the virus and act quickly to protect us. We call on agencies at every level of government to deploy every policy tool at their disposal – and to do it now. And we call on citizens to stay informed, stay engaged, and hold their representatives accountable for doing the right thing.”

      n this uniquely challenging moment, we need to connect people to the bigger picture. We need ways to explain health, enhance community, and offer hope.

      We’re pulling guidance from twenty years of framing research and practice to help advocates and experts be heard and understood in a time of global crisis. Every few days, we’ll share a few ideas that can help us all amplify the values of justice, inclusion, and interdependence.

    • Plus we have this from GSV and what used to be iNACOL:

      The Coronavirus has changed the attitudes and behavior of society overnight. And while the global pandemic will eventually be extinguished, the shift of the way people, business, and government go about doing things is likely changed forever.

      We’re moving from B.C. to A.D….
      ”Before Coronavirus, After Disease”

      Join GSV, Minerva, and a distinguished group of thought leaders in an important and timely program around the accelerated role of online learning in our New World:

      Sal Khan
      CEO, Khan Academy

      Paul LeBlanc
      President, Southern New Hampshire University

      Marni Baker Stein
      Provost & Chief Academic Officer, Western Governors University

      Ted Mitchell
      former U.S. Undersecretary of Education

      Sam Chaudhary
      CEO, Class Dojo

      Ben Nelson
      CEO, Minerva

      plus more speakers to follow…

      Being Digital has been a Megatrend for 30 years, and online learning has gone from a concept to a $100 billion industry. The fundamentals of the Knowledge Economy and Digital Infrastructure have been in place to see a massive market evolve—with COVID-19 clearly a catalyst for the market exploding right now.

      Converging technologies such as video, 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, and collaboration tools provide a way to reimagine how people learn—which, in many ways, can be superior to the traditional physical model.

      We had the World before Coronavirus. And we will have a New World after this challenge subsides. While we are all going through a turbulent storm right now, over the horizon is the Dawn of a New Age with great promise. The future is here.

      It’s all an excuse to push the UN’s global governance via learning standards agenda. Change people at the level of their minds so they accept the organized society Ervin Laszlo laid out in the early 70s for the West.

    • One more from someone with ties to both the NEA and AFT that I have followed since the Bipartisan Summit on Capitol Hill that soros helped finance a few years ago (2014 0r 15)

      There has never been more need and more opportunity for a new kind of education system to emerge from these incredibly trying times.

      In this moment, what if we let the humanity of our kids, families, and communities guide us? Rather than relying on an educational system that selects a narrow range of standardized knowledge every child in this country must be filled with, what if we put trust in a young person’s natural curiosities, help strengthen their self-confidence in pursuing their interests, and honor the unique journeys of each individual learner?

      https://medium.com/education-reimagined/covid-19-an-invitation-to-pause-reflect-and-embrace-the-power-of-community-9f522634df1

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