That title comes from combining two different confessional quotes on the purpose of all these education reforms now hiding as the Common Core, Competency, or 21st Century Learning. We are sticking with Marcus Raskin’s book The Common Good we met in the last post. That initial phrase came as Raskin laid out how to “Reorganize the government for the common good. ” The “first task in a program of governmental reorganization which asserts social reconstruction [just like I described in my book Credentialed to Destroy] and citizen participation [no wonder we keep encountering the National Center for Deliberative Democracy] is to rip aside the mask of concern for efficiency to determine which group or class is being served by a particular way of organizing the governmental process.”
Wondering why all of a sudden the word Equity as an obligation is everywhere? How’s this for an open declaration? –“the criteria which are used to reorganize government should be consistently and deliberately discussed according to specific value standards: equity and caring, egalitarian interdependence and cooperation.” Now before I switch to the other quote and the vision of democratic education to create the necessary citizen to get there, some people may be tempted to ignore these declarations as from decades ago. In one of those serendipitous occurrences that remind us just how thoroughly we are tracking what is really coming at us, since I wrote the last post, Raskin and many others from the Institute for Policy Studies signed on to and published http://thenextsystem.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/NSPReport1_Digital1.pdf .
“The Next System Project: New Political-Economic Possibilities for the 21st Century” features many of the radical names we have already covered on this blog. http://thenextsystem.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/nextsystem_ForWeb.pdf is the list for those who want to play Recognize that Name and Contemplate the Implications. Since everyone can read those for themselves, let’s get back to the source for the second part of the title. I also want everyone to keep in mind the ubiquity now of CTE for All (last post again) and authentic, real world, active learning for all students.
“For most students a practical, concrete and non-abstract education encourages their productive and imaginative side. [Think of Creativity as one of the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning] If schools pursued this course the society would become an existential and experiential laboratory for students. Schools would become the central place to bring one’s personal experience, other people’s experience and findings together with human needs. The experiences themselves, the way they were described and understood could and should include the ethical ought and the nurturing of the artistic.”
“…the way they were described and understood” sounds precisely like what the Frameworks Institute from our last post does in education and beyond. Minimizing facts makes perfect sense for anyone who believes “the educational process becomes the central way to bring forth value considerations in relation to actual situations in the lives of people and their institutions and in the way human beings relate to nature.” If we did not already know that the phrase Democracy is usually no longer about candidates, voting, and elections, this should do it:
“Democracy’s project is the sharing of responsibility between the citizenry, finding common uses and ownership of property where that benefits the whole [in whose opinion?]–while continuously recognizing the needs of the person…A modern democracy recognizes the need to generate situations and relationships which simultaneously recognize similarity in the Other…it moves beyond individual and group interest to hammer out shared values which can be located in the whole, the group, but which cannot be found in the individual.”
That alarming project, coming at us like pollen on a spring day in Atlanta–fast moving and everywhere–views education as the means for how “skills…where people share their public and private lives and where problems of everyday life and abstract problems are considered.” That sharing and consideration gets masked behind the non-dictionary meaning of yet another 4C–communication. And if that communication is ultimately about “social regulation which needs and demands alternative modes of thinking and living,” values, beliefs, and thinking itself can be changed and molded with few parents being the wiser as long as “the grades are OK.”
I have mentioned that I have learned enough political theory in the last few years to recognize Marxist Humanism whether it uses the M word or simply attributes the change to sociology or brain science. Yet sure enough, there was Raskin quoting “the Marxist philosopher Roger Garaudy” to hype his point that “authentic esthetic education is also the cultivation of the senses that have become atrophied in our Western tradition as a result of the exclusive emphasis of logic and discursive reasoning.” New modes of thinking indeed. Those who wish to dramatically transform society and the economy hate “the cold, abstract madness that parades as reason and ‘objective reality.'” We can each contemplate where the madness truly is in this vision.
Now Raskin was definitely not afraid to call a spade a spade and used the M word as an apt description of certain beliefs and hopes and the means to get there. Hint: EDUCATION as my book laid out. He did, however, criticize Marxists by name for having “failed in comprehending the ethical dimension to political power and the role it must play.” Raskin saw the role of the “experience and process of democratic education” as a means for transcending the “type of social science that explains passivity from the dominated and control from the dominator as the natural order of things.” Raskin must be in ideological heaven with all the classroom hyping of White Privilege now as he helps roll out the Next System Project.
What happens when education is seen as the means of making some students feel guilty while others are emboldened to feel entitled to “change the political system by integrating procedural rights with political demands. The demands are meant to get the social, legal [Remember progressive, polyphonic federalism and the Constitution in 2020?], and economic systems to change so that the person forges a set of conditions that guarantees his or her egalitarian interdependence in all aspects of society.” ‘Do for me. I am owed’ has never, ever been a basis for mass prosperity. Heaven help us that this vision is to be locked into place invisibly through little known legal shifts binding all of us.
Such as revamping the nature of citizenship “to allow the person to comprehend in concrete terms the way each aspect of life is related and interdependent.” Substituting supplied concepts, core disciplinary ideas in a ‘domain’, and cross-cutting issues for facts plays right into training students to comprehend things that are not so and misattribute causes in ways that will only make the problems worse. For those of us with Axemaker Minds and a factual body of knowledge from history or science it’s hard not to imagine the tragedy from teaching future educators and their administrators and all those public policy degree holders that “social problems can be framed to yield humane and progressive solutions.” Maybe, but probably not.
Enduring Understandings, Understandings of Consequence, Understanding by Design–all huge components of the actual Common Core implementation and especially the new assessments make perfect sense if you believe, as Raskin stated, that “how we categorize can help us organize energies for the common good.” Social and emotional learning, role playing as a slave to appreciate the Civil War, and a Whole Child emphasis likewise makes perfect sense as a necessary component if the goal is to “bring the purpose of equity into lived reality.”
In the world of the same curriculum for all from the proverbial dimwit to the Super Nova intellect and the elimination of tracking, I want to close with how Raskin concluded his book’s vision. He saw a “great struggle” although with all these deceitful terms being used to describe the shifts in purpose, policies, and practices, who will know in time to resist?
“People are not prepared to surrender their present comforts or those knowledges which helped them achieve such comforts either for the protection of humanity, the building of a world civilization–let alone egalitarian interdependence.” That’s not just a chilling declaration of purpose.
It reminds us that a huge component of the means to accomplish these admitted transformations is to destroy fine, well-stocked minds. Anywhere they can be discovered.
What a thing to be implementing blindly while hyping the skills gap and the need to be internationally competitive.