Nothing As Practical As a Good Theory For Gaining Access to Action Research

If a political theory gets you grant money or a job at a foundation, it “works” whether it is true or not. And puts its creator in a position to drive social change. The same is true with a learning theory. It does not have to be grounded in how kids actually gain knowledge if imposing it on a classroom will change future behaviors of soon-to-be voters in desired ways. Or might. That’s the great thing about action research theories. You impose them in real-life situations and see what happens. And you call them “research-based” to add an additional touch of legitimacy. Slyly leaving off the key point that the research is yet to come.

We already encountered Anthony Giddens saying it did not matter if global warming theory did not turn out to be factually true. That the theory itself would drive desired changes in individual behavior and social and economic changes. German sociology prof Ulrich Beck was even more forthright in declaring CAGW theory created a basis for a post-Berlin Wall Metamorphosis of the State all over the  traditionally capitalistic and individualistic West.

Social science researcher Kurt Lewin is the one who made the observation that there is “nothing as practical as a good theory.” He is considered the Godfather of all political theory action research and is intimately involved in what education pedagogy has become. Culmination of his life work you might say if you look him up.  The fact that he is quoted by name as a justification that:

“in order to learn how to sustain the development of the whole of humankind, individual human minds develop new mental models that can be used for representing worldviews in innovative ways. One way that knowledge of a global view of the world can be enhanced is through the use of systems thinking, from which merges the concept of global interdependence.”

Now the part in the next section about systems thinking being a useful metaphor and not literally true gets left out when systems thinking comes to a classroom. There it takes on its intended function of creating new mental models and worldviews. By the way that IB presentation I mentioned in an earlier post recently had multiple slides on creating new worldviews. It was the purpose of the Critical Thinking and Global Citizenship emphasis.

The disturbing fact that these new mental models and worldviews are intended to use education to drive a Biosocial Evolution should give us pause. So should the reality that I pulled the language from a UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Especially as the National Geographic Society is helping to draft the Chapter called “Global Interdependence and Biosocial Systems.” It’s not like NGS is involved also with the drafting of the new US Common Core Science Standards.

That’s us. A biosocial system. And the introduction of such systems thinking into the classroom likely will not have the intended effect but it will alter values, beliefs, emotions and perceptions. That highly useful foursome to change future behavior. Just like Paul Ehrlich says his MAHB is more than five years into doing. Now Paul Ehrlich has a history of outrageous predictions of future calamities that never turn out to be true. I have noticed a tendency recently to mock his predictions and ridiculous statements on Twitter and in books and publications. It can make it easy to forget that Ehrlich’s theories do not have to be right. They are not intended to be. What they are intended to be is Influential. To become the excuse for someone’s desired change. That Metamorphosis of government power over people and an economy and the political structure. And in those domains his theorizing seems to be working splendidly.

That’s also why the influence of his Stanford colleague psychology prof Albert Bandura on the classroom implementation of the Common Core in the US and education reforms globally matters to all of us. That would be Bandura who is now trumpeted as the most cited living psychology prof. It appears we have located MAHB’s how to fundamentally change human behavior via UNESCO’s sought global education reforms. It is Bandura who Ehrlich and Orenstein thank first in their Humanity on a Tightrope book. Bandura is intimately in the hyping of overpopulation with Ehrlich. He and Ehrlich were working together to get the Palo Alto schools to study how to motivate students to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Oh and Stephen Schneider too for those who know his work. And if you wonder if he hypes quite as much as Paul I suggest locating Bandura’s 2007 “Impeding Ecological Sustainability through Selective Moral Disengagement.”

Not like access to the classroom would give a means to do something about Moral Disengagement on this issue in the future. That’s Bandura’s Self Efficacy Theory by the way creating a new theory for equity and student success in the Classroom that I described in this post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/self-efficacy-cultural-proficiency-training-critical-reflection-and-change-agency-development/ Based on that 2010 Framework created by California Tomorrow to become a national template. That’s also his theories involved when I wondered why the Facing History theory taught students that “history is largely manmade” even though that is clearly not true. Described in this important previous post  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/changing-the-filtering-perception-the-way-we-see-the-world-is-key/

Stressing the idea that each person can make a difference turns out to be based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory. He has discovered it encourages motivation to take action if students believe they can manage fortuity as he calls it. So he has developed theories of Social Agency to encourage students to take action, individually and collectively. So Kurt Lewin was right. Good theories are practical means of  trying to change the future in Transformative Ways. And it is important that we remember that and not get caught up in the falsity of the theory.

Now if Bandura’s influence was limited to what I cited above, it would still be important to write about. UNESCO and friends really are trying to use government mandates over education and what constitutes science and regulatory policy to drive a Biosocial Evolution. Why? Because it brings them power and money and justifies what they already have. A motivation about as old as Ancient Babylon and Eqypt if not just after the Garden of Eden exodus. No Bandura is much more influential than that. Which is how he came to my attention.

I have mentioned that Ed Week wanted to trumpet Fulton County, Georgia’s Conversion to a Charter System as of July 1, 2012. And that when I read that charter it clearly reflected the Hearts Desire of UNESCO for post-Berlin Wall education that I wrote about here.   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/values-and-vocational-creating-citizen-drones-via-education-worldwide/ . One of the troubling terms used repeatedly in that Charter was Life Skills. Clearly a defined term left undefined in the actual document so I went looking for the origination of the term. And I found it in a 1993 document put out by the World Health Organization, Division of Mental Health with help from UNICEF, TACADE UK, and funding from the Carnegie Corporation in New York.

The idea was that teaching everyday life skills would promote mental well-being and positive health behavior. Something to keep in mind now as social and emotional learning are being trumpeted as necessary post-Sandy Hook “mental first-aid.” These Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence are listed as “Decision making, Problem solving, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Effective communication, Interpersonal relationship skills, Self-awareness, Ability to empathise, Coping with emotions, and Coping with stressors.” The actual document goes on to describe each of these in detail. Leaving no doubt that Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence is the less politically correct name for what are now being called 21st Century Skills. Which is not just a controversial US push under the name P21. As I mentioned in the previous post it is global under the name ATC21S and tied into what Pearson will actually be assessing students for. That will be the next post. I promise.

Today we are talking about Ehrlich and Bandura and the usefulness of theories in driving attempts at social change. Which is why the following paragraph from that WHO report is so important. Not just to education’s real intentions globally. Since its intended purpose is to change future voters from the inside out on what will motivate them to take action and how to behave in the future. That’s really how you get Transformative Change. Here goes:

“The methods used in the teaching of life skills builds upon what we know of how young people learn from the people around them, from observing how others behave and what consequences arise from behaviour. This is described in the Social Learning Theory developed by Bandura (1977).  In Social Learning Theory, learning is considered to be an active acquisition, processing and structuring of experiences. It is this emphasis on the individual as an active processor of reality that lies at the heart of the conceptual basis for teaching life skills using active, learner-centred teaching methods.”

So the actual classroom implementation of what is being called Common Core in the US and Quality Learning and what goes under a variety of names in other countries all ties back to what was laid out in this WHO document in 1993. That ties into what every UN agency wanted before and since. That ties into Ehrlich’s declarations. And the measurements to be used to determine if this is in fact what is going on in classrooms. And the Effective Teacher evaluations. Yes I do have all the relevant documents.

So never ridicule an influential theory or theorist until we successfully defuse those who plan to impose those theories on us anyway. At our expense. Short term financially and long term culturally.

 

Isn’t It Political Sabotage to Use Education to Eliminate the Assumption that Students are Individuals?

Yes I am in a feisty mood today. I am angry at the level of deception and duplicity surrounding the actual Common Core implementation and where this is all going. Or was until some of these revelations. Those of you past a certain age may remember the 80s TV show “The A-Team” when George Peppard would put a cigar in his mouth, lean back, and with a grin say “I love it when a plan comes together.” Well today we really are taking a huge step towards unravelling a well-laid but nefarious scheme that involves Common Core but more importantly it involves education globally. And UNESCO. And the IB, International Baccalaureate Program, and its IB Learner Profile and concept of Global Citizenship as where Common Core is actually going.

I had intuited this from personal experience over the past several years but never thought I could prove it. Then Ed Week did a story right before Christmas on how Common Core was now emulating IB except that the Common Core was missing the IB’s focus on the affective or social and emotional learning. Well I was intrigued and annoyed. Fascinated that Ed Week would admit the link given the IB focus is on changing the individual to listed Personality Characteristics rather than knowledge. For the student to develop a desired Worldview that frames their perceptions of reality for a lifetime. But the typical person does not know that. And annoyed because I knew Common Core was just drowning in social and emotional learning. And Ed Week likely knows that too. I think they are angling for SEL to get an invitation to come in through the front door instead of the windows or through Executive Orders.

I tucked that annoyance away until I was reading David Conley’s 2007 report to the Gates Foundation on College Readiness and recognized just how much the listed characteristics mirrored the IB Learner Profile. And also the 21st Century Skills Movement. Doublechecking to see if I was right pulled up a September 2010 IB document called “Meeting the needs of 21st century learners: New Developments in IB Programmes.” Which sure did look like it fit the actual Common Core implementation I have been charting. Moreover, Harvard’s Project Zero is advising IB. That meant Howard Gardner and Csik’s Flow. And we have been chronicling what they say they are up to. Altering the future. Lots of that aspiration. In fact the new IB motto is “Imagine Education for a Better World.”

IB’s updated Learner Profile language too is quite reminiscent of what Paul Ehrlich and IHDP and Peter Senge all claim to be seeking via education. See what I mean?

“The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.”

IB just loves to push that “I am because we are” theme, claiming it is an old South African expression. And its elementary program, PYP, has an educator in 2012 proudly proclaiming that “our students no longer see themselves as the centre but as part of the whole. The change is inspiring!” Yes and Peter Senge, who IHDP views as one of their favorite futurists and a useful Statist aider and abettor calls that Systems Citizenship. I wrote a post about it in horror. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/develop-learners-who-think-and-behave-and-view-themselves-as-systems-citizens/

When I went online to check to see if IB was touting a connection to the US Common Core up came the Hunt Institute in NC which is putting out so many of the Common Core training videos for teachers. They had put up the Ed Week story on IB as proof that the Common Core reflected “World-Class Standards.” So IB=World Class Standards. Time to track IB some more. Which is what I did. Arne Duncan in his Equity/Civil Rights drive would be pleased to know that IB is changing its programmes to make them more accessible to all students. Called “Valuing All Learners” it is intended to allow for the inclusion of special needs students in everyday classrooms for all kids. Just change what counts as learning!

Then it turned out that Professor Martha Nussbaum is an advisor to IB talking about Critical Thinking and the problems of our current economic model. More links to Chicago! She wanted IB attendees to know she did not hate business. She merely believed “a human face needs to be attached to our economic system by the teaching of critical thinking and global citizenship.” I think Riane Eisler called that a Caring Economics in our new 3 R’s post. Nussbaum wants education and society to produce more “people who are prepared to live with others on terms of mutual respect and reciprocity” and fewer of the people “who seek the comfort of domination.” Well, honestly, the solution for that is not to make sure nobody knows much and is driven by feelings and intuition instead of facts. But, hey, I am not tenured. What do I know about how the world has always worked. That doesn’t really matter I suppose now that we have IB to recreate our Worldview for the future. More than one slide laid that out.

Now I could talk about IB over several posts but all the papers and slideshows I was downloading over the past several years certainly looked like the planned Common Core implementation if you take good notes. Then things got ever so much more interesting. IB put up its partners in research. They included the University of Chicago and Columbia University Teachers College. Plus the American Institutes for Research. Which might well explain why so many of the slides were from the US. Guess who else? EPIC–Education Policy Improvement Center, David Conley’s group. No wonder the definition of College Readiness reminded me of the IB Learner Profile.

And representatives from the UK and Canada and Australia and Hong Kong. Which would explain why there is so much commonality worldwide. It’s not just UNESCO although UNESCO helped create and fund IB initially. And IB in the last few years has again openly embraced the UNESCO vision of using education to obtain cultural evolution. Downloaded that pdf before writing this post. And IB and Martha are quite graphic in seeing IB education as a vehicle to “promote a humane, people-sensitive democracy dedicated to promoting opportunities for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for all. Which sounds strikingly like the Second Bill of Rights push her old friend Cass Sunstein is touting for Obama’s Second Term.

I am going to close with two statements David Conley made in his 1993 book Roadmap to Restructuring that graphically laid out every aspect of what will be sought via education for transformation. His involvement in both IB and College Ready and laundering non-cognitive in 2012 is no surprise. Various Means to Still Sought Transformations that go far beyond education. What he said in 1993 as a statement that underlay all his visions and intentions for education that explicitly included OBE and systems thinking and communities of learners was that this was all an education for “a democratic society that rejects the social class system.” And the alternative would be a leveled society except for political insiders? That’s a caste system like the Middle Ages with no movement or mass prosperity.

The other complained of continuing “learning experiences predicated on assumptions of students as individuals.” There is nothing accidental about the communitarian emphasis to the definition of Career Ready or in the interdependence to be fostered by mandated systems thinking  or john a powell’s determination to destroy the concept of the unitary self.

I have said before that globally there is a recognition that the sought common core is changed values. A Global Consciousness. Values with a Common Good/Universal Love orientation. Now that it appears that the IB Learner Profile=Common Core in US and global classrooms we have to decide whether educators and politicians have the power to jettison the concepts of Individualism without our permission.

It turns out there was a very good reason for all that Mind Arson. Power. Getting it and keeping it. The real 21st century vision.

When Deep Learning and Systems Thinking Radicalizes the Student, Factual Reality Ceases to Matter

To the student, that is. The problem for society is that factual realities like incentives and consequences and what makes an economy grow and what will make it contract or even implode are still out there. Like gravity, reality and economics and the likely result of giving government officials unrestrained power to make decisions for others will have their way regardless of intentions. Or whether anyone understands them or even believes in them. I wish more educators and politicians and charitable foundation employees involved in all these machinations would remember the wise words with which the eminent economist Ludwig Von Mises closed his epic book Human Action in the wake of the carnage of the Second World War.

Von Mises was writing about the regularity of “phenomena with regard to the interconnectedness of means and ends” in human activities. That’s what he regarded as economic knowledge. You and I would call it the wisdom that helps one successfully navigate daily life.

“The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused. But if they fail to take the best advantage of it and disregard its teachings and warnings, they will not annul economics; they will stamp out society and the human race.

I am not quoting Von Mises to scare anyone. Well, I guess that is not really true. Think of it as an Impetus Bout of Deliberate Fright. It is time for those of us who are knowledgable about history and economics to speak up and tell those who are not, notably many Principals, Supers, accreditors, professors of sociology or education, and way too many politicians and public and private bureaucrats, that there are unacceptable costs for everyone associated with their planned education policies. Pushing Transformational Outcomes Based Education and its close cousin Systems Thinking and SEL through the schools and classrooms will not be a victimless, lucrative for insiders, Success For All scheme. It will make victims of all of us and the Educrats seem to be the least knowledgable on the likely consequences of their actions and inactions. That means-end correspondence Von Mises was referring to.

Virtually all of the actual curriculum for Common Core I have seen makes Sustainability the focus of classroom activities. And not in the sense of conservation of natural resources and please do not litter. As a connected Swede, Carl Lindberg, put it, the whole point of the UN inspired international Education for Sustainable Development is to “create a feeling of global responsibility” in each individual. Needless to say, teaching young children and adolescents that they are merely parts of a broader community that ultimately encompasses the whole planet via systems thinking is a useful tool to create just such a useful feeling. To cultivate that Senge-Scharmer Blind Spot we discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/second-order-change-why-reform-is-a-misnomer-for-the-real-common-core/ so that each student’s perceptions and future behaviors can be manipulated.

To that manipulation toolbox the educators intend to use to gain Transformative political and social change without our consent, we need to add what the Hewlett Foundation calls Deep Learning Strategies.  Deeper Learning is part of the Foundation’s 2010 plan to “equalize education for all students.” This will of course involve a levelling process for the intellectually gifted and involves a high level of ignorance for all but at least it is equitable. And the politicians and bureaucrats will not have to worry about Axemaker Minds pointing out the likely consequences thereby impeding the implementation of theories and planning. And those established businesses need not be as concerned about an Axemaker Mind creating market-disrupting new technology. Of course we will be in the situation of tragic concern Von Mises worried about when too many will remain too ignorant to even have the opportunity to disregard needed knowledge from the past.

This is what Hewlett defines as deeper learning (they really love to bold it too. I suppose to show their enthusiastic embrace).  Remember this is all anyone is to get to know and this dovetails perfectly with the well-connected 21st Century Skills push. Almost verbatim. And before you get too excited about the mention of Core Academic Content, let me give you the examples they use:

“Learn about water, oxygen and nitrogen cycles, food webs, and similar topics.”

So the academic content relates to thinking of the world around you as full of systems. The academic content then either relates to Sustainability issues or other “real world challenges” the students will be asked to try to solve. Using their nonexistent base of conceptual knowledge and search engine skills. Hence the push for Relevance as part of the new 3 R’s of the Common Core implementation.

I have already given you the example of core academic content as one of the five key elements and Hewlett’s example. They mention “mastering core academic content” too. Since this comes up all the time with Common Core, I need to point out that “mastering” does not mean knowing. It means applying. No need to stock that conceptual mental hotel with facts. Mastering thus frequently contemplates classwork with the relevant facts presupplied. No need to worry though about bias or propaganda being part of the given facts. It’s not like there is a political purpose associated with the Common Core.

I will tell you the remaining four keys along with Hewlett’s specific examples. I also want to point out that the Hewlett Foundation believes that the purpose of academic content under Common Core is to “understand ecosystems.” Except the deep, emotional understanding being sought for each student is more Paul Ehrlich Newmindedness than Von Mises based in reality. Apparently though that emotional, connected to a New Vision for Future Society element makes for “better retention of content knowledge.” What’s better–Deeply remembered nonsense or slightly forgotten accuracies? I am afraid we are about to find out if we do not act soon.

Here goes:

Think critically and solve complex problems. Examples: Re-create a natural ecosystem in a terrarium. Collect data to understand the interdependence of physical and biological elements.

Work collaboratively. Example: Work in a team to design, build, and monitor the terrarium.

Communicate effectively. Example: Present data and conclusions in writing and to an audience.

Lastly, Learn how to learn independently. Example: Use teacher feedback, test results, and reflection to guide future learning and improve study habits.

Sounds perfectly dismal to me but I can see how this would add up to preventing more Axemaker Minds from developing. And Hewlett matters. They were one of the petitioners behind the socio-cultural learning theory push the Obama Administration officially adopted that we talked about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/

And Hewlett’s vision for how to educate low income and minority students so they are essentially primed for the hoped-for Insurrection is embodied in how they and other educators define “Excellence and Equity.” That will be the next post.

You are not going to like it but it is what is showing up in the suburbs as the New 3 R’s. It also explains the community organizing push we chronicled here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/keep-urban-schools-weak-to-force-economic-and-social-justice-then-make-the-suburbs-close-the-gap/

It all fits so well it makes you wonder if there is not an active coordination around a common purpose.