Since we all just adore an explicit declaration of intent, how’s this for a doozy? “For purposes of organizing [a modern participatory democracy grounded in the common good] it is not important whether there is an objective or subjective reality to this belief since the belief is the basis upon which people act.” That statement certainly gives a reason for all the current focus on skill development for a variety of offered reasons. I have warned that most of the planned assessments should not be described as tests so maybe this description of what is sought will help–“performance assessments are those in which the ‘answer’ is the behavior itself.” Training to act as desired also fits with another quote that gives us the rationale for all these Enduring Understandings, Core Concepts and Disciplinary Ideas we keep encountering as the Knowledge component to go along with all those Skills:
“It is crucial, however, to analyze for people what goes on in areas where they do not have direct experience. Once such analysis comes within their grasp, they will come to see that they can change social reality.”
That would be the same social reality that may not actually exist in the form believed, or be a result of the causes believed, but students, and the adults they will become, will be trained to act anyway. Let’s give one more quote that gives a reason for all the stress on activities and Project-Based Learning and Whole Child SEL Initiatives: “Obviously, one’s capacity to care must be integrated with rationality just because common good requires the reattachment of ‘head to heart’ in our public activities.” To the discussion in my book of everything that started in earnest in the mid-80s with the goal of transforming the political, economic, and social systems of the West, especially in the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK, we need to add another book from 1986–The Common Good: Its Politics, Policies and Philosophy by Marcus Raskin put out by the Institute for Policy Studies (Robert Chandler’s 2008 book Shadow World gives the background on IPS and Raskin as part of the global New Left).
The quote in the title comes from the IPS book as well although I did not know IPS was behind that book when I ordered it. I just recognized the vision desired from the 2001 Learning Society paper and the assumptions being used by that Frameworks Institute from the last post. http://www.ssireview.org/images/articles/2011_WI_Feature_Kania.pdf links to a “Collective Impact” essay hyping Strive in Cincinnati (and other listed cities as well like Houston, Texas and Portland, Oregon) “as an example of collective impact, the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.” On the second page is a picture of people bringing together pieces from a jigsaw puzzle so that there can be a collective organized effort around meeting people’s needs without having to confess the total agenda.
This is a long quote but important to appreciating no one is going to run up the flagpole a banner stating: “Our new education agenda is actually tied to these radical transformation descriptions where people actually do mention ‘Marxist thought’ without even a hiccup or a cleared throat.” It’s up to us to find those confessions and put the pieces together:
“complex problems can be solved only by cross-sector coalitions that engage those outside the nonprofit sector…Adaptive problems, by contrast, are complex, the answer is not known, and even if it were, no single entity has the resources or authority to bring about the needed change. Reforming public education, restoring wetland environments, and improving community health are all adaptive problems. In these cases, reaching an effective solution requires learning by the stakeholders involved in the problem, who must then change their own behavior in order to create a solution.”
Good thing the students will have practiced doing that on all those performance assessments and a new definition of learning that now means changes in values, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. It does not mean having a solid base of accurate factual knowledge lest we refuse to defer to the Experts or the ‘important actors’ of those coalitions. Or even worse, develop an innovative product that displaces an established business with a superior idea. Think of how handy practice in a Discourse classroom at creating shared beliefs as the 21st century skill of Communication will be in a world where: “collective impact requires all participants to have a shared vision for change, one that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.”
Did any of us get an invite to go to Dallas in January 2015 to be part of the 75 Metro Area Convening put on by the Lumina Foundation to move forward with these transformations with no need to ask the parents or taxpayers? That’s where I found that Stanford Social Innovation paper cited. It covers our communities, our schools, and our children, but no one is telling us about it openly or giving us a piece of the puzzle to start fitting together. Me? At this point I just gate crash, download the issued reports and presentations, and then notice that it is essentially Raskin’s, Marx’s, and the Learning Society vision all being imposed on us quietly. Negotiated at ‘convenings’ we pay for, but don’t get invited to.
This recent report is from another related ‘convening’–this time in May 2014–http://www.competencyworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CompetencyWorks-Maximizing-Competency-Education-and-Blended-Learning.pdf . That’s a long title so they left off the very end that is designed to gain both automatic implementation and little objective scrutiny–“Insights from Experts.” Should we kneel or curtsey then? And if the tenets in that paper and all the emphasis on Equity mean that only a Marxian or IPS/Raskin vision of education to gain the necessary consciousness for economic democracy to work, are we still obligated to defer? Does an education, urban planning, sociology, or public policy degree come now with a license to lie to the public while everything they value and that works gets jettisoned if a Stakeholder Engagement Process decides to put a theory into practice to see what happens?
http://results4america.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2015-3-18-Moneyball-for-Education-Report.pdf is yet another attempt to put Theory into Practice sold as “informed by thinking from a select group of seasoned experts from the left and right who have much experience with federal education policy.” Given the tragic history of what those federal policies have done to schools and students, we would prefer that be a disqualifier. Has anyone else noticed that expertise in general is constantly dismissed in all these visions of education in the future? Meantime we are supposed to defer to every social science graduate degree as the only reverenced expertise. Again, that’s the way to get Theory into Practice and false beliefs and new values in place to guide future behavior.
Anyone else ever heard of Dane Linn? Now there’s an expert. He was at the NGA when it co-sponsored Common Core. Then he moved on to the College Board to help David Coleman with his current platform for well-funded mischief, before joining the Business Roundtable. http://www.careertechnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Georgetown.BR_.CB-CTE-report-11.2013.pdf is called “The Promise of High-Quality Career and Technical Education:Improving Outcomes for Students, Firms, and the Economy.” It forces the kind of “contextualized learning, in which even academic material is presented in the context of projects or workplaces” that Uncle Karl and his 20th Century social reconstruction supporters like Robert Beck (Chapter 4 of my book) have always dreamed of. This is to be for ALL students, including the most academically gifted, because, just as Beck worried about, CTE must no longer be stigmatized.
That paper advocates “states and local districts can adopt/adapt/develop standards and curricula in collaboration with local businesses. Students must demonstrate competency in these skills.” What skills? Oh, the ones laid out in that Competency Works paper that just came out that provides “Insights from Experts” without really specifying which theories those experts’ opinions are really grounded in. Anybody else finding all the stress on needed skills development as awfully useful as we switch to a vision of education that is no longer really about accurate facts in someone’s personal, private possession? When the ‘answer’ is desired behavior, hyping Skills Development to be globally competitive as the rationale is quite the invisibility cloak.
One of the nice things about being where I am in my research on what is really going on is being able to recognize when we are dealing with pieces of a common puzzle created to be function together. We have every right to examine them as the consolidated whole they are intended to become, even if no one invites us to these ‘convenings’. Sometimes these reports and sources are not created to be pieced together though. Sometimes the linkage is the common destination that allows traveling on unconnected tracks. That’s why I mentioned that Robert Beck called himself a social reconstructionist as he pushed the federally funded polytech vision that also fits with this current CTE vision back in the late 1980s. Beck’s work also fits with Anthony Carnevale’s Workplace Basics vision that we found so troubling in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/ballad-of-the-long-sought-shift-to-being-educable-not-educated-adaptation-via-dissolving-the-logical-mind/
Fascinating, huh, since the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy issued that CTE report in conjunction with the College Board and the Business Roundtable. Do you know who else calls himself and his vision a social reconstruction philosophy? Andrew Raskin in The Common Good.
This story gets much easier to track when we look for common destinations and then Backward Map to the pathways being used to get there. The blueprint is also discernable when the jigsaw pieces are so clearly designed to fit together.
Combine both and the vision and its constancy through the decades begins to feel like a supernova, blinding in its intensity.
The Frameworks Institute is not the only one who gets to create analogies and metaphors to guide analysis.