Since none of us were probably invited to NYC for the United Nations General Assembly last month, they just announced the roll out of a Futures of Education initiative with a ‘Learning to Become’ theme. It “invokes the need to develop the capacity to imagine a good and fulfilling life.” Sounds like Statecraft as Soulcraft, doesn’t it, taken to a current, global level? If anyone is still wondering too why there is so much hype about how all weather disasters must be due to Human-Caused Climate Change, we have this next quote as part of the Learning to Become agenda:
As we come to terms with human-caused changes to the planet and face the possibilities of fundamental transformations in social organization, human consciousness, and human identity, humanity needs to devote attention to the question: What do we want to become? Knowledge and learning are at the core of transformations in human minds and societies. Learning to Become invites us to become something we have not yet become.
As usual, I think that ‘we’ is rhetorical and ‘we’ are not supposed to really have a choice. I have warned repeatedly going back to Credentialed to Destroy how learning standards really work, but this NSF-funded paper “Understanding Standards” from Michigan State’s Center for the Study of Standards and Society really does an explicit job of laying it out. The paper is from 2011 and is part of this Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences 2020 Agenda. https://www.nsf.gov/sbe/sbe_2020/Abstracts.pdf Yes, that would be next year.
We live in a world in which we are surrounded by standards for people, processes, practices, and products. These standards structure the sociotechnical world as well as the behavior of people in a variety of ways…Standards may best be understood as a means of governance that fall (largely) between laws and social norms…Standards are exemplars against which people and things are judged…[They can also be used to mandate] ethical codes of various sorts…Since standards are all about what and whose values shall be incorporated in products, processes, and practices, they are as much ethical as technical phenomena.
That is especially true when the ‘standards’ are prescribed to organize how the human mind and personality are to work, with that mandate carried out through poorly understood educational processes, locking in the desired changes at a physiological, neural level. When I was reading about both the Vatican’s Humanity 2.0 Initiative and the Jubilee Centre’s new curriculum on Virtue, as well as the Templeton Foundation’s mega-million funding of planned social evolution, a name kept cropping up, Professor Candace Vogler, a philosophy professor at the University of Chicago. I located this interview with her on a Templeton supported research project https://news.uchicago.edu/story/qa-philosopher-candace-vogler-virtue-happiness-and-meaning-life where the repeated use of the term ‘self-transcendence’ struck me as the newest euphemism for what George Will called ‘soulcraft’, Amitai Etzioni calls ‘communitarianism,’ and the Marxist Humanist vision called little ‘c’ communism to be enabled by a high level of technological prowess and inventions.
Professor Voglin also came up as involved with numerous Lumen Christi Institute presentations including those pushing something called ‘Right Reason,’ which I am probably not exhibiting in writing this blog post. Templeton has now launched this initiative https://www.lumenchristi.org/news/2019/03/lumen-christi-receives-john-templeton-foundation-grant-for-science-religion-project to fund research at the so-called “intersection between science and religion”. Just imagine how useful learning standards are to THAT agenda, and why it would provide multiple incentives for think tanks with common funding to Professor Voglin and George Will to misrepresent how those Catholic Curriculum Standards REALLY work. Professor Voglin said the Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning of Life Project had its ‘genesis’ in her “thinking about what the difference was between the people whose daily lives could be a source of happiness and purpose, and the people whose daily lives were a giant to-do list that was mostly a slog.”
I will let everyone guess which expletive I wrote in the margin after that quote rationalizing this push towards collectivism, but the next quote did strike me as far more truthful:
We are mostly investigating the possibility that a fundamental attachment and orientation to a good can make your daily life into a source of happiness that can sustain you through struggle and trial and give you resilience and a sense of purpose.
That rang true because Hillsdale Barney Charter Initiative has used similar language, as do the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks, and the concept of a moral compass and guiding North Star also shows up in charters being funded by the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative. Tell me this next passage does not sound like Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s definition of Excellence as aligning what is thought, wished for, and felt as the goals of Education. Remember too that various civil rights mandates now require Excellence and Equity as an education requirement as a matter of law.
What does virtue mean to you in the context of this project? Virtue is a kind of strength of character that helps you organize the things you take in from the world and the way you respond to them in the service of the actual good. And virtue helps to do that by harmonizing your thoughts, feelings, actions, and aspirations in good ways.
There is a new Personal Growth Framework out that calls precisely that-‘self-authorship’- and we now know UNESCO calls it Learning to Become. A 2011 book I just finished called From Brain to Mind: Using Neuroscience to Guide Change in Education says educational practices designed to create such harmony intend to get at, and rewire, something called the Anterior Cingulate part of the human brain. That’s one way to turn Mind, Brain, and Education into a true science, isn’t it? Let’s see what the two-day capstone project held in October 2017 had to say about this so-called virtue of ‘self-transcendence’ so we can appreciate what it means to enshrine it in learning standards, a school charter, a Portrait of a Graduate, or Curriculum Frameworks:
Our conviction that virtue is essentially related to self-transcendence has grown out of engagement with research throughout the humanities and the social sciences that has continued to suggest that individuals who understand themselves to be practically oriented to something greater than the self–a family with a long history and the prospect of future generations, a spiritual practice oriented towards due reverence for the sacred and the need to live right by and be consciously united with others, work on behalf of social justice and the improvement of one’s community–often feel happier, have a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, and have overall better life outcomes than those who do not. Some psychologists have labeled this necessity for locating one’s self within a broader context ‘self-transcendence’.
That phrase has more universal appeal, doesn’t it, than when George Will defined those same aims as ‘Conservatism’? We have a global convergence going on now to use education, governments, regulations, think tanks, and faith-based organizations, among others, to push a vision that seeks to instill, via each person’s central nervous system, “a deep attachment to an overall good (happiness or living well) that individuals cannot attain through dispositions of thought, action, and feelings that are ordered to securing individual benefit…One commonality explored in this volume [from capstone conference] is the way that virtue is intimately connected to a social or communal vision of happiness, and how virtue can play an instrumental role in securing this goal for us.”
All this manipulation via education and, quite frankly, also the media is because we apparently don’t know what is best for ourselves or our children so we need a reimagining of education to lock in the desired visions of transformation. Plus lots of deceit about what is really going on so not enough of us can balk at the requisite neural nets of ‘new citizenship’ in time.
As usual, I have too much going on to continue today, but I want to get back next to what is planned for us to force the so-called Better Angels of Our Nature to bloom. George Will used that Better Angels phrase a great deal and it showed up tied to yet another Kennedy School of Government Initiative from this summer.
I said I had to take a break from writing. I did not take any break from my reading.