Are you starting to feel that 2013 reality seems like something George Orwell or Aldous Huxley or HG Wells would have dreamed up in fiction? Or satire? One of the key tools for confusing perceptions in politically useful ways, and bringing those always reliable emotions into play, is to skew what language really means. Notorious theories get warm, appealing names for a third bite at the apple of the student’s mind and her “full personality.” The Whole Child. Likewise, the historic purpose of school and university to transmit culturally and economically valuable knowledge? The transmission curriculum gets quietly dropped as “inequitable”and referred to disparagingly as “deficit-based orientations toward youth of color.” Have you ever noticed everyone not being equally good at something is not wiping out football or basketball as acceptable activities?
In 2012 the SRCD journal Child Development Perspectives published “Youth Organizing as a Developmental Context for African American and Latino Adolescents.” It advocated using schools to focus “attention to the political context of young people’s lives, both in how youth interpret their sociopolitical world and how they participate in changing it.” If you, like me, are wondering what the likelihood is of students getting accurate info of what the actual causes are and target the real predators, don’t hold your breath. I am willing to bet it will look similar to what the influential New Economics Institute envisions for its Campus Connect initiatives–http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/content/campus-network . Whatever these students are being told and however they are guided, there is no dispute that education is the place where they are compelled to gather together for many years. That long duration access is seen to be politically useful. For fundamental change.
How’s this? “Organizing enables young people growing up in working-class and poor communities to identify the social origins of problems and take action to address these problems.” In fact here’s a link to the Funder’s Collaborative Report laying out “An Emerging Model for Working with Youth: Community Organizing+Youth Development=Youth Organizing.” http://www.fcyo.org/media/docs/8141_Papers_no1_v4.qxd.pdf . Don’t miss the Tides Foundation support just as with the restructuring the inner-cities around Green Energy Initiatives I wrote about. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/well-no-wonder-no-one-listens-to-common-core-complaints-if-it-is-tied-to-federal-revenue-sharing/ Also appreciate that this becomes an acceptable focus of the classroom and a formal measure of school success since political action to “work collectively to address quality-of-life and human rights issues” gets classified as engaging and relevant.
It’s the real reason the Common Core was needed to take out objective tests of knowledge since that is no longer to be the focus. Anywhere. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/keep-urban-schools-weak-to-force-economic-and-social-justice-then-make-the-suburbs-close-the-gap/ . Now we get that amorphous term Student Growth which is really convenient as “studies of youth organizing” in, of all places, the Chicago Public Schools, “provide evidence that youth participants experience growth in three developmental domains: civic development, psychological wellness, and academic engagement.” The other two are self-explanatory but psychological wellness refers to “a sense of hope, empowerment and purpose in life” that “researchers theorize” can come from “building an awareness of justice and inequality, combined with meaningful social action.”
And if this all sounds alarming and intriguing there’s the Free Minds, Free People conference starting July 11 in Chicago that Ed Week is trumpeting. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2013/07/conference_aims_to_promote_education_as_a_tool_for_justice.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2 Note that K-12 students AND parents are invited so they can “understand the root causes of inequality” and “learn to take action to dismantle those inequalities.”
Now I am going to pivot for a moment to remind you that the Common Core is usually referred to by the politicos as “college and career ready standards” so changing the nature of most college work to be about creating a “robust democracy” is rather pertinent to what can then go on in high school and middle school. We have met Harry Boyte before (he has his own tag and is said by Stanley Kurtz to have been a major influence on President Obama’s choice to be a community organizer). The White House and the federal DoED have committed to the American Commonwealth project involving changing the nature of higher ed. http://www.nifi.org/stream_document.aspx?rID=21022&catID=19164&itemID=21020&typeID=8 . Readers with a good memory will remember that the “cooperative commonwealth” was Boyte’s name for a reimagined US society that functioned like small C you know what. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/viewing-education-as-the-prime-lever-for-international-social-change-community-organizing-everywhere/ That post was an alarming enough vision before we knew about this formal relationship to DC power and money and AASCU.
AASCU stands for American Association of State Colleges and Universities which would make this trade group VERY influential about what is to constitute “college” and “coursework” in the 21st Century. And last month in Denver AASCU had a conference with the now ubiquitous goal for K-12 AND college students. “21st Century Citizens: Building Bridges, Solving Problems.” Here’s the program http://www.aascu.org/meetings/adptdc13/FullProgram.pdf .If you go to page 2 you will find the Opening Speech with a blurb that perfectly explains where K-12 and higher ed are actually going. Without telling most of us and with taxpayer money and mounds of student debt. All that debt simply fuels a demand for political and economic change. I am going to quote at link since, for once, no one is speaking in Orwellian Doublespeak. And the intentions for ed are graphic.
” This is both the best of times and worst of times. The worst is the unprecedented level of global change and the uncertainty and insecurity that come with change. Our environment, our economy, our civil society are in a tailspin. The tools for mediating these new and turbulent terrains are evolving slower than the change itself. The good news is that a generation of idealists–the Millenials–are coming of age to navigate these murky waters.
But this is only if we effectively prepare them for this brave new world. We cannot use old methods for addressing this new world; we need to redesign our educational system for major social and economic transformation. Millenials need skills to tackle tomorrow’s key challenges, including sustainability, civility and global citizenship, and above all, ambiguity. These challenges are best addressed through experiential learning focused less on service-learning (learning how to do what is already being done) and more on innovating social change experiences for Millenials, so that they may deliver in these new times.”
How? Boyte’s cooperative commonwealth or Peter Senge’s Regenerative Society? You can vote it in. You can teach about a vision for a new world but you cannot make it so. You can though break everything that works now and end up with a generation with expectations of the future that are unmeetable. Or they are meetable but only with an old-fashioned vision of education that tolerates differences among people and seeks to make everyone as mentally strong and accurately informed and as autonomous as possible.
Off the high horse for one more phrase you will recognize from K-12, the goal of “Educating Globally Competent Citizens.” AASCU has even come up with a Global Challenges framework for colleges to use in building curricula and coursework for our young scholars/Change Agents To Be. Conveniently it aligns with the UN’s priorities for change in the West and a shift to the Primacy of the East as well. We get population, resources, technology, information, economic integration, conflict/security and governance.
As you can see from preschool through K-12 and higher ed, no one will have much accurate knowledge unless they get it from home. Or are stealthily a voracious and fluent reader. But we are to be overwhelmed by students completely indoctrinated in the need for fundamental changes that will require a Government-directed economy and society at all levels. That cannot get to where these students want to go because we have completely severed knowledge from power in this vision. And genuine prosperity always requires that a knowledgeable individual have power to make their own decisions. And suffer from poor consequences.
And there are no knowledgeable individuals in this vision. It is utterly consumed with creating high school and college students primed for change and dedicated to “active citizenship” before the next 2016 US Presidential election. Actively gathering data.
Fulfilling every nightmare a Founding Father ever had about what majoritarian democracy could do. Or take.
Especially if no one with the knowledge of what constitutes irreplaceable cultural seed corn has a say. Or even a shield from the Predatory State to protect themselves.
And the children. The Millenials.