Getting back to our theme of how useful this Pandemic Hype and the mandated shutdowns of schools, colleges and universities, and many businesses has been to the already announced global agenda for transformation, in March IEEE issued an edict that ‘adaptive instructional systems’–you know like the digital learning so many closed school systems have resorted to–needed to modified to add John Dewey’s Ethics of Moral Principles and Deliberation. Anyone who has read my book Credentialed to Destroy understands precisely the transformation Dewey hoped for with his reimagining of K-12 education, but the IEEE paper began with this epigraph from his book Ethics
Especially in times like the present, when industrial, political, and scientific transformations are rapidly in process, a revision of old appraisals is especially needed.
Italicized just like that so that these ‘online’ or ‘digital’ systems will be designed to incorporate “Moral principles or standards that provide a consistent point of view to be taken in ethical deliberation.” Now each student can practice the Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions that they will need “for analyzing novel situations.” Like a Global Pandemic with a previously unknown deadly virus? Well, this high school English teacher certainly thinks so https://www.educationdive.com/news/coronavirus-the-definition-of-global-and-climate-curriculum/576322/ as he hopes for “a curriculum that leads to action and solidarity…as students see how true ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ really is.”
Nothing like these past two months of food insecurity and financial concerns to have a lasting impact on the children as they face a vision of education that wants to focus on:
the methods through which we seek to continuously determine what is good, what is of value, what should define our moral principles…As a pragmatist, Dewey’s interest was rooted in the importance of employing reflective, reflective, discriminate intelligence to revise our judgments as a result of acting upon them–what Dewey termed deliberation. Deliberation, Dewey asserts, includes the ‘reflections when directed to practical matters to determination of what to do.’ Through deliberation, our judgments are formed to redirect actions when habits fall short — particularly in the context of solving novel problems. Essentially, Dewey’s meta-ethics of value judgments derived from moral principles, and his notion of deliberation functioned as an iterative expression between thoughts and behaviors…
Dewey’s Deliberation then functions just like what Classical Education touts as the Good, True, and Beautiful or what is also termed Higher Order Thinking skills. Domain learning objectives, instead of actually being about history, science, math, or literature, become merely the avenue for “a continuous process of reconstructing experience that involves lasting adaptation of the learner.” Classes and online curriculum become, in this vision of education few are even aware of:
organs of initiation into social values. As mere school studies, their acquisition has only a technical worth. Acquired under conditions where there social significance is realized, they feed moral interest and develop moral insight.
Again, what could be of greater ‘social significance’ or involve more ‘practical matters’ that will “impact our perception of the world and how we interact with it,” than this pandemic, how it has been portrayed, and the shutdowns and their continuing, likely long term, consequences? Let’s pivot though from the changed function of adaptive instructional systems to be grounded in Dewey to another document with global aspirations (tied, in part, to Russian Pavel Luksha who we have covered numerous times here at ISC) to be found here https://weavinglab.org/ . We can all read that site and contemplate how the Pandemic impacts education to cultivate a need for Universal Well Being or what the constant refrains of “We are All in This Together” will do for the typical student being constantly exhorted to view themselves as Interdependent with the Collective.
Whereas, IEEE wants to make the focus practicing analyzing a novel situation where old habits fail, the Weaving Lab wants education to focus on how to “align people to shared notions of quality in daily practice (seeing that values are manifest in daily practice) [aka Action] and Helping your community agree principles that everyone will adhere to.” Hard not to think of the people descending on state capitols in still totally lockdowned states in the US or trying to get to a beach on a sunny day, while being told they will be punished for their defiance of official mandates with another month of lockdowns, and not think of this open admission of where education globally now wants to go. Honor political authority and its edicts. Respect the collective.
The Weaving Lab wants to make the focus what will this individual student and the adult they will become do in VUCA situations — Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. Again like the Pandemic, where algorithmic answers will supposedly not suffice and Old Habits Fail. The Weaving Lab wants to create the mental conditions that support ‘collective action’ for ‘co-creating the future’. Nothing like the Pandemic and its shutdowns to fuel the kind of uncertainty to make students feel there is a need to co-create a different kind of future and imagine the “new ecosystems you want to bring about.” The Weaving Lab again was created before the Pandemic, but the Pandemic hype creates the incentives for transformation Luksha had already laid out in numerous papers I have written about. It reenforces at a turbocharged, visual, emotional level, the need for the New System being sought.
Just imagine how the Pandemic hype functions if students are to be “developing yourself through intentional inner-work” and the remedy curriculum for the stress of the Pandemic is Mindfulness Practices? The effect of a One World broadcast with lots of celebrities when there is a desire to have students “seeing the interconnectedness of the system and seeing yourself as part of the system.” Creating students who are “willing to change your mind, behaviours and approach” and shift their emphasis in schoolwork to “developing and paying attention to your inner compass to navigate your way in the world.” That ‘inner compass’ reference, like the North Star emphasis we saw with Valor Collegiate Academy that the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative funded, covered here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/lucrative-deceit-managing-consciousness-by-conjoining-social-media-charter-schools/ is a cybernetic concept.
So is the Learning to Train Ethical Thinking that IEEE seeks to have incorporated invisibly into adaptive instructional systems. It’s why this paper I saw last week on “How to Make the Perfect Citizen? Lessons from China’s Model of Social Credit System” really caught my eye as it laid out a model of ‘cybernetic citizenship’. Precisely the purpose of how learning standards and competency frameworks really work under my analysis. In looking for the described paper, which was revised in April in light of the fact that the “Covid 19 crisis has triggered a new wave of digitalization of the lives of citizens,” I located this January presentation in Berlin http://global-citizenship.eui.eu/event/how-to-make-the-perfect-citizen-redefining-civic-virtue-in-chinas-social-credit-system/ that makes it clear that this vision is tied to a reimagining of governance globally and the areas for control over individual citizens using education and cybernetic principles. The Berlin presentation’s funding also usefully tied to the creation of PISA and the DeSeCo Framework that I covered in my book.
In other words, once again, we find education being used as a tool for the kind of internalized transformation of morals and ethics Uncle Karl said would be necessary for his Human Development Society (Universal Well Being seems like a good euphemism for the same vision) and John Dewey helped flesh out the blueprints for. We also have a great deal of attempts to mislead us about what is going on. I appreciated that paper’s authors being upfront that the Social Credit System China wishes to enact (with more precision than they were able to control bat virus research) is actually a cybernetic vision that “blurs the distinction between law, economics, and morality.” Just like education grounded in learning standards mandates these days, when those ‘standards’ are properly understood.
If a state-mandated Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profile, like China’s Social Credit System, lays out a vision that “citizens ought to have certain qualities to sustain social order and harmony” or to drive desired future transformation to a New System as we saw above, these visions of what the student should be are also grounded in a cybernetic vision and an entirely new understanding of what citizenship is in the 21st century. China is being upfront about this aim (if about nothing else). Education systems elsewhere in the world, especially in the West, are using a new vision of education, cybernetic methods, an emphasis on the collective, and a reenvisioning of the individual without being upfront about it. We are also subject to “new possibilities to reconceptualize citizenship” that the Pandemic is being used to shift into high gear.
What is student-centered learning grounded in social values but an attempt to assess and then change each student’s Purpose? Why does that matter to so many school or district mission statements these days? It gets at what is necessary to create Cybernetic Citizenship, which is less visible than a serf’s collar but every bit as constraining to future choices. Here’s the definition from the How to Make the Perfect Citizen paper.
In general, the field of cybernetics is concerned with understanding systems of control and communication–how humans and machines communicate with one another. It is premised on the idea that goal-directed entities such as animals, humans, and machines cannot only be understood in mechanical terms but should also be comprehended in teleological terms, that is, explaining behavior in terms of ‘purpose’. These entities are conceptualized as ‘systems’ in the sense that they are assemblages of parts (e.g., databases, surveillance cameras) in greater wholes. and have relatively stable boundaries. Cybernetic systems have an internal, corrective feedback mechanism, which makes use of sensory inputs to change a behavioral output; governing is perceived as a purposive action, a goal-directed behavior.
Do you know what another word for goals is? Standards. Learning standards properly understood prescribe how to turn students into the desired cybernetic systems that they are capable of becoming with the right kind of prescribed learning experiences. They become the desired citizen of the future with few parents or taxpayers recognizing the wholesale shift. They certainly don’t grasp it is the same principles the Chinese are using with their Social Credit System or the same methods admittedly totalitarian governments use on their citizens.
We need to understand how all these aims work together now that the Pandemic has acted as an accelerant. Only knowledge lets us see how to get control over these levers of change that are being used. Only accurate knowledge, not prescribed frames, conceptual lenses, or approved narratives, can intervene in this scheme to get children, and plenty of adults as well, to think the world must now be transformed into a new system to control the risks of a VUCA future.