Let’s start off with a quote I have had since I did the ACES post on April 30. “In social cognitive theory, sociostructural factors operate through psychological mechanisms of the self system to produce behavioral effects.” Now that may sound like a mouthful, but if we substitute ‘a person’ or ‘the student’ for ‘self system’ the meaning is clearer. Now we have discussed that Karl Marx is widely recognized now as having been a lousy economist. Less recognized though is how his related sales pitch that social revolution could be achieved if ‘Man’ would simply become a Maker of History is still wildly reverenced, especially in education. So let’s now add in another quote from the same 2001 Annual Review of Psychology article by Albert Bandura to shake out that other mouthful–‘sociostructural factors.’
“The self system is not merely a conduit for sociostructural influences. Although the self is socially constituted, by exercising self-influence human agents operate generatively and proactively, not just reactively, to shape the character of their social systems. In these agentic transactions, people are producers [Making History!] as well as products of social systems. Personal agency and social structure operate interdependently. Social structures are created by human activity [and especially laws and other legal vehicles like charters] and sociostructural practices [here comes the law again which is why we now have edicts about Positive School Climate and required proactive approaches to bullying and Restorative Justice], in turn, impose constraints and provide enabling resources and opportunity structures for personal development and functioning.”
I learned a new word this week that is typically used in a military context–Schwerpunkt–but which fits even better in the human and behavioral sciences, which is what education and even the law have now become tools for. It means “weight (or focus) of effort” and the weight or focus of effort in education ‘reforms’, as we finally began to confront in earnest in the last post, involves trying to lock-in desired “psychosocial changes and levels of functioning” at a biological, neural level because, quite simply, genetic social engineering by governments would take too long.
Anyone else fascinated to learn that “social efforts to change lives for the better require merging diverse self-interests in support of common core values and goals.” There’s that phrase again so I decided to bold it for emphasis. The real common core operates at an internalized, psychological, neural level and another word for those internalized goals practiced repeatedly through prescribed educational activities would be ‘standards’ as in standards-based, student-centered ‘reforms’.
Now just to provide some hint of just why I decided to add Schwerpunkt to our quiver of useful vocabulary terms to capture the essence of the desired transformational changes, let’s cover just a few of the confirming revelations that have popped out in just the last week. I recognized, for example, that Professor Damasio’s 2010 book Self Comes to Mind was actually restating Bandura’s work without mentioning him so I did a search to see if others had recognized the link. Out the connections spewed across the globe in languages I did not speak and had to translate, but our Google overlords kindly told me that both men’s work deal with the psychological means for the “self-regulation of thought and moral conduct.” Goes better than a slice of bacon then with those needed “common core values and goals.”
We have Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains recommended for summer reading http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/publications/books/Teaching-Students-to-Drive-Their-Brains-sample-chapters.pdf complete with not-so-amusing graphics of Upper Elementary Students being taught to visualize using their Brain Cars. That fits though with our learning that there was a K-12 component to the Pacific Northwest Neuroscience Neighborhood part of the BRAIN Initiative. It is called Noggin and there are numerous detailed links in the comments to the last post with pictures as well as the revelation that Fulton’s new Super as of June 1, Jeff Rose, came from one of the Noggin districts. What are the odds?
http://rise.huffingtonpost.com/watch/scientists-are-using-psychology-nudge-us-right-direction from What Works Cities (and what precisely ‘evidence-based’ policymaking turns out to mean) admits that changing behavior is official government policy across US federal agencies and also globally. Finally we have http://knowledgeworks.org/worldoflearning/2016/06/cunningham-elementary-school/ showing a Texas school that is pushing an emotionally-grounded moral thinking of the kind Professors Damasio and Bandura promote as what a new kind of 21st century learning grounded in Equity should look like. All this makes sense though if we go back to what Bandura wrote in 2001 and recognize that when charters (like Fulton’s) refer obliquely to a euphemism like ‘life skills’ as the new focus of schools they are actually incorporating Bandura’s work. I am nothing if not a good researcher after all so of course I can prove it.
Since what that charter really intended to lock in for a particular school district, and what ESSA has now done to every school district, is grounded in Bandura’s work and he said it was to drive Biosocial Coevolution, let’s tear away the shroud of euphemisms and look at these intentions in the sunlight. Now if I give a hot link to the article it will be off the server within the hour so I will just continue to make reference to it. When located, however, just go to page 18 to the section called “Emerging Primacy of Human Agency in Biosocial Coevolution” and think about how lucrative it is for the lawyers, administrators, and consultants working to change education because “psychology is the one discipline that uniquely encompasses the complex interplay between intrapersonal, biological, interpersonal, and sociostructural determinants of human functioning.”
I am going to interrupt the quote to point out that this is the reason all these learning theories of education want to dethrone the rational Prefrontal Cortex from being a primary driver of human behavior. It’s an obstacle to what Bandura will momentarily call the desired Collective Efficacy. Back to the next line of the quote now: “Psychology is, therefore, best suited to advance understanding of the integrated biopsychosocial nature of humans and how they manage and shape the everyday world around them.” Beginning to finally see the clear reason for all the deceit, euphemisms, and use of misdescribed legal mandates to force these political uses of psychological theories invisibly imposed via education? Recognize now why school board members are trained to defer to anyone with an education degree? They are deferring to a revolutionary shift in the conception of what human beings can be, imposed while most are led to believe we are still talking about academics.
Charters, legislation, and reinterpretations of civil rights laws are simply not being accurately presented as mechanisms for the ‘biologizing of psychology,” even though that is the decades-long Schwerpunkt focus of all K-12 education reforms. It’s also why my book Credentialed to Destroy is even more relevant now than when it was written. It recognized the required focus of efforts long before I grasped that everything laid out actually had an intended biological component of desired neural effects. Bandura was stunningly revelatory so let’s keep listening. He told us that the “selection pressures of social and technological innovations on biological evolution get ignored,” which may be the most succinct rationale for the digital learning mandates we will find. After all, “human evolution provides bodily structures and biological potentialities, not behavioral dictates. Psychosocial influences operate through these biological resources to fashion adaptive forms of behavior.”
Prescribed adaptations and forms of behavior with no need to admit the manipulation out loud. Tuck it into charters or statutes no one else reads or required instructional practices no one explains accurately and suddenly education and the law can be tools taking advantage of the known, but usually undisclosed, “malleability of evolved dispositions.” Seeing the avenue of unimpeded social change as being through the manipulation of the known plasticity of the human brain and nervous system and then refusing to openly declare that actual intent. Recognizing that the real aim of Competency, the Common Core, and what were misleadingly called the Reading and Math Wars was about deliberate targeting of the “specialized neurophysiological structures and mechanisms that had evolved over time.”
Targeting “these advanced neural systems [that] are specialized for channeling attention, detecting the causal structure of the outside world, transforming that information into abstract representations, and integrating and using them for adaptive purposes,” except due to undisclosed neural manipulation the goals and purposes are no longer really your own. Think of the desired History Maker to Change Existing Systems while once again listening to what Bandura aimed at: “These evolved information processing systems provide the capacity for the very agentic characteristics that are distinctly human–generative symbolization, forethought, evaluative self-regulation, reflective self-consciousness, and symbolic communication.” Just what Noggin and Brain Car Lessons train students to be comfortable allowing others to manipulate instead of holding sacred. What Professors Immordino-Yang and Damasio block off access to with their hype of learning grounded in emotion.
We didn’t really think all these reforms would be disclosed accurately as the “psychosocial side of coevolution gains ascendancy,” did we? Good thing I can recognize what I am looking at by now even when no one actually meant for such a confession to come out. This was how Bandura ended so let me quote and then translate.
“What is technologically possible eventually gets applied. As previously noted, the genetic factors provide only potentialities, not the finished psychosocial attributes. However, there is no shortage of individuals with the resources and belief in genetic determinism to underwrite attempts at genetic engineering of human nature. The values to which we subscribe and the social systems we devise to oversee the uses to which our powerful technologies are put will play a vital role in what we become and how we shape our destiny.”
What Bandura proposed, and what education and the law have now locked in, is that those values and social systems are no longer a matter of personal choice. The choices have been made for us. The social engineering of human nature is now being attempted at a biological and neural level and we are all literally in the midst of what Soviet Psychologist Leontiev called the Great Experiment back in the 60s. Political power wants to dictate what those ‘psychosocial attributes’ will be and circumscribe what regions of the brain are likely to be used by the typical student when they become an adult.
And the euphemism for that latter neural manipulation is College and Career Ready.
I really do need to create an ISC Dictionary of True Meanings for 21st Century Guidance to Avoid Psychological Manipulation, don’t I?