Once again, let’s go back in time to the 50s, to another episode detailed in Dark Hero of the Information Age, because it illustrates the very organic processes of the human brain that learning standards and competency frameworks want to manipulate covertly. It’s my job as a writer to make that documentable manipulation explicit. In the early stages of computers:
another breakthrough in brain science defied the digital computer models that were becoming the rage in cognitive science. artificial intelligence, and many other fields. The discovery, based on a whole new approach to neuroscience theory and laboratory research, confirmed that the human brain did not process information in the mode and manner of a digital machine… [From the neurophysiology lab at MIT, Jerry] Lettvin and his crew made their finding that turned a half century of neuroscience on its head. Their study of vision in frogs revealed that the brain’s most basic information-processing operations were carried out by analog means to an extent never before considered possible. They discovered that the neurons in the lowly frog’s eye were capable of sophisticated activities of image detection and analysis, and routinely performed complex tasks, such as determining the size, shape, and motion of objects in the frog’s field of view, through analog processes innate in the structure and communication operations of each individual neural cell…Published in November 1959 with the tantalizing title “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” [it] forced a sudden rethinking of everything that was known and assumed about sensory perception and the brain’s cognitive operations…It strengthened the biological foundations of cybernetics and unveiled a new order of living processes in the brain.
It is those living processes that are being manipulated by Constructivism, Whole Language, DJEM ,or by Exemplary History Education Programs seeking to control the categories of thought that guide consciousness. That control of consciousness can, in turn, guide purpose and the behavior it motivates. To quote briefly from a 1943 paper called “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology” Wiener co-authored: “The term purposeful is meant to denote that the act or behavior must be interpreted as directed to the attainment of a goal.” The goal (or standard or objective) provides “a continuous feedback that modifies and guides the behaving object.” The student in K-12 becomes that behaving object able to compare the difference between where they are “at any time and the final state interpreted as the purpose.” Now, to bridge that gap, cybernetic education hypes “sensemaking as a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively…Sense-Making reconceptualizes factizing (the making of facts which tap the assumed-to-be-real) …as an action oriented process that people automatically go through in order to integrate experiences into their understanding of the world.”
So students are encouraged to use the “logic of what might be” and act using inference or ‘best guess’ leaps. See what happens, collect that evidence, and adjust accordingly as needed to move closer to the laid out goals. Now, back in 1978, with a 2nd Edition in 1995, the co-authors of Dark Hero published a book called Snapping that explained the process of communication [a 21st century skill, remember?] in a way that is useful for recognizing what is being manipulated by K-12 learning standards all over the globe. It gets at why it is so crucial for learning standards to include social and emotional learning as well as controlling the categories of thought and concepts that are the representational level that exists in the space between the neurons of living biological systems and the prevailing collective culture.
The process of communication reaches far beyond the mere exchange of spoken and written messages among individuals. This complex and sophisticated process controls both our bodies and our minds. Communication, in fact, governs everything we experience as human beings. It is the basic organic process that regulates the everyday operations of the human brain and nervous system, and it is the main channel through which the new cult methods of change and control turn inward and take root in the mind. The principles of communication that underlie…rhetoric,…propaganda and …group dynamics are one with the natural laws that direct and control the flow of experience throughout the body, brain and mind. By this common process, acts of speech, from sermons to hypnosis to casual conversations and every other form of communication [which is what any curricula is], may affect biological functions at their most rudimentary levels and human awareness in its highest states of consciousness and spirituality.
Controlling sense-making then is a powerful tool indeed. It seeks to target the means by which “human beings exchange thought, feeling and experience with one another.” Suddenly, we find education methods being prescribed on the basis of “a new view of human beings based on dynamic, organic processes of human awareness and experience.” We saw that in the Reimagining American History Education exemplars and goals from the last post and I saw it in a May 2019 letter from Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, laying out Ohio’s vision for 2019-2024. It has Four Domains of Learning and wants to prescribe what must be experienced. It demands “clear standards that define social-emotional learning” because:
Human beings are social creatures. That means in society, successfully interacting with other people is essential to the effective functioning of a community, workplace, or even a family. People need to know how to successfully interact with each other, establish and maintain positive relationships, feel and show empathy, understand and manage their emotions and set and achieve positive goals. Social-emotional learning improves children’s mental health and helps them avoid risky decisions, make healthy choices and stay drug free.
Nice sales pitch, but “Each Child Our Future” is really about controlling those organic processes of inner communication, isn’t it? When Snapping reminds us that:
Experience, in our perspective, was not just another name for information. It was the living embodiment of the stuff in human terms, the active form in which people come to know and feel the flood of information they take in and process daily…[so that] each piece adds some small measure to the greater whole of the mind, and each becomes an ongoing part of that individual’s awareness and personality…the human brain physically metabolizes experience through its natural capacity for transformation…Like the other organs of the body, the heart which runs on blood, the lungs which run on air, the human brain–the seat of the mind and main stage of awareness–runs on experience.
See why it became so crucial to reform education so it became about goals and prescribing desired student learning experiences? Like blood to the heart, except that:
this life-giving information does not merely fuel the brain as gasoline fuels a precast auto engine. In human terms, experience plays a much more vital role in fundamental processes of brain growth and development…the intricate synaptic connections between and among those neurons, the living information processing pathways that determine how an individual’s experience will, in fact, become ordered and interpreted, are only minimally organized at birth. The fundamental workings of the mind–the labyrinthine networks of synaptic connections that create the brain’s higher communication capacities–are determined by experience…Experience literally creates the everyday workings of the mind, transforming the raw material of billions of loosely connected brain cells into a living triumph of communication. Experience also shapes the distinctive patterns of thought, feeling and self-expression that underlie that larger human form–personality.
Now look at the Four Domains of Learning set forth here http://education.ohio.gov/About/EachChildOurFuture or in other comparable state or district plans and see a means of prescribing that living triumph of communication in ways that lock in governance of each person at a biological level at the point of their minds and personalities.
Something to reflect on as our summers begin.