Internalizing a ‘reliable compass’ was one metaphor and the desired ‘New Golden Rule’ was another. Today’s metaphor comes from a Mindshift article called “Why Empathy Holds the Key to Transforming 21st Century Learning” that came out last November and has been cited since then in numerous articles on a “new vision for education that emphasizes mastery of critical knowledge and skills” rather than traditional factual, subject knowledge. It is education aimed at assessing and altering the “complex mix of other meaningful emotions and attitudes that fuel human personality,” which is why the Faux Narrative about social and emotional learning standards being about creating a student database of PII is so laughably wrong. No one gets to keep their emotions, beliefs, and values just because they like them and they work anymore than they got to keep their Doctor under Obamacare.
That’s just sales rhetoric to keep the attention in the wrong place. Why? Well, if the same people pushing the False Narrative are also very vocal about the central role of a certain Faiths in their lives and the leaders of those various faiths (including Progressivism as a secular but guiding force of values and beliefs) are also quite vocal about the desire to use education to create a Revolution of the Heart; a New Golden Rule; the Good, True, and Beautifu; or World Happiness and Human Flourishing (just a few examples), we seem to have our answer. An ability to use the psychological tools provided by a new vision of education without the altered goals, techniques, and practices really being appreciated by parents and taxpayers would make perfect sense. Get the desired alteration that guides future behaviors as Habits of Mind with no outcry.
Outcries require recognition, which means reading this blog and having read my book Credentialed to Destroy. No wonder the Faux Narrative crowd prefers to simply mine selective proven facts to appear authoritative while hiding or misleading about the true aim of this new vision. Let’s poke at it some more today using some of the sources cited in the footnotes of papers mentioned in the last two posts. Both the Jubilee Centre papers and conferences and the Special Rome Edition to the 2016 UN-issued World Happiness Report called “Human Flourishing, the Common Good, and Catholic Social Teaching” kept mentioning an Alasdair MacIntyre. He turned out to be a retired Prof at Notre Dame and I tracked down the constantly cited book After Virtue.
Remember too that this is not just a template for Catholic schools. The Jubilee Centre materials, the Science of Virtues curriculum, and a Templeton-funded Toolkit on Character and Self-Control (link in the previous post comments) are all examples of an emphasis for all schools–public, private, parochial, and every religion. It explains why the Islamic Tarbiyah Project reminded me so much of the Tranzi OBE template I had laid out in CtD. They are all new visions of education that seek to shift to goals and purposes of student work so that education can create a desired shift “between man-as-he-happens-to-be and man-as-he-could-be-if-he-realized-his-essential-nature.” One thing too all these visions agree on. The school will provide the “precepts” to be internalized through practices and learning activities.
They will mandate the required Virtues, Ethics, or Character Traits. Back to After Virtue then where he described what Classical Education initiatives now call the ‘well-ordered soul’ that is to be the goal of this new vision of education.
“The desires and emotions which we possess are to be put in order and educated by use of such precepts and by the cultivation of those habits of action which the study of ethics prescribes; reason instructs us both as to what our true end is and as to how to reach it.”
I am pretty sure there are plenty of people out there who truly wish they could convince me that my true end is to stop writing, but I was always a much worse student on conduct grades than book knowledge. I did pull out my dictionary though to determine what the difference is between a concept and a precept. Concepts are a category for grouping ideas or experiences, but precepts are even more relevant to aspirations of internalizing a reliable compass. A Precept is “a rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct.” In other words, Precepts are just the thing if someone is interested in fundamental cultural transformation or simply invisible steering of people and their likely daily activities with each other.
Professor MacIntyre and all these documents quoting him really do want to combine “thought and action,” which certainly sounds like Competency-based education to me. “Abstract changes in moral concepts are always embodied in real, particular events.” Sounds like a reason for performance standards and Project-Based Learning in real world, authentic contexts, doesn’t it? If anyone is still unclear as to precisely how the neural alteration occurs, we thankfully had the Instapundit blog on June 10, 2017 plugging the book Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. Since I grasp the connections between that blog and the School Choice narrative, I found that particular plug revealing to my Faux Narrative balloon popping.
Not news to me, but hopefully helpful to everyone trying to grasp the real aims of this new vision of education. Happiness is about having the right “neural traits” (think about those Graduate Profiles now!) and “what you pay attention to–what you rest your mind on–is the primary shaper of your brain…This means you can deliberately prolong and even create the experiences that will shape your brain for the better.” With the new school year dawning too early in too many places, notice if that phone call from the District Super or letter from the principal or headmaster this year does not mention hopes for your child’s learning experiences during the upcoming school year. They are not referring to lectures and those experiences will be dictated by the desired outcomes to be instilled at a neural level in the student.
Hardwiring Happiness then indisputably defined the word ‘learning’ as the “conversion of fleeting mental events into lasting neural structures.” That means that learning standards like the Common Core are really about what type of neural structures each student is to have per governmental edict. Does it really matter what level of government imposes it when it is without effective notice or consent and it is surrounded by coordinated deceit? It turns out the reason SEL standards are required for this new vision of education has to do with getting the desired neural transformation. Think about this quote as the shift to role playing and Global Challenges where Justice and Equity are not yet universal becomes the focus of so much educational activities.
“Often we see a good fact but don’t have any feelings about it. This seemingly small step–from idea to embodied experience–is critically important, for without it, there’s not much to install in your brain. In terms of building neural structures, what matters is not the event or circumstance or condition itself but your experience of it. Knowing without feeling is like a menu without a meal.”
On that provocative note, I need to end this post without getting to all I wanted to cover. My real life is calling and I need to take off my writing/analyst hat and switch to my Nursemaid role.