Embody or Perish: Unmasking the Communitarian Motto Behind Student-Centered Learning

If this blog provided sound effects, I could blow the whistle now and holler that we have reached our destination. This is the 6th post in a series that began on February 27. I used the unexpected DeVos declaration of our ‘moral obligations’ and the IPEN paper on global education as recent examples of what the UN had enacted in the late 90s as the Universal Ethics Framework. I found that because well-known communitarian advocate Amitai Etzioni cited it as he laid out his vision for The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society that seemed to accurately reflect the actual classroom and school implementation of Radical Ed Reform going back to the mid-80s. It also seemed to track all the organized deceit I had found about SEL Standards, the Common Core, and other matters which are too consistent in what is being suppressed to be coincidental.

Let’s dive right in because as I have warned, a communitarian mandate pops up on a regular basis and it is always mired in deceit. Now I know why. To prevent resistance to what is being sold as an italicized regeneration of American Society that seeks to penetrate ALL schools and ALL colleges and universities. Here’s the quote that also fits with what was laid out in A Call to Civil Society and Hardwired to Connect from the last post. It explains the neural emphasis we just keep coming across now:

“The communitarian analysis, at least as practiced here, involves a keen awareness that values need to be embodied; that is, for values to guide behavior, a society needs to evolve social and personal formations that undergird the society’s values…Embody or perish is the communitarian motto behind much of what follows.

Embodiment refers to the need for shared values to be internalized by the members and for these values to be integrated into the societal formations [like schools and churches] that help shape behavior.”

Won’t federally required ‘performance standards’ be so useful in making this needed internalization and embodiment an invisible component of how every student will succeed? If such sarcasm seems unbecoming, we need more quoting, especially on how a communitarian society differs from an authoritarian one. My succinct explanation is the coercion is imposed neurobiologically via education to become a Habit of Mind so the coercion is mostly invisible. At least it was until I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then this presciently named blog. Communitarian societies are steered in “a new shared normative direction. Communitarian societies differ from authoritarian societies in that they require a smaller core of shared values (although significantly more than the societies individualists envision).”

That antipathy toward “individualists” sounds straight out of the new Classical Learning Test hype, doesn’t it? That’s not coincidental, as I will show later. Etzioni stated that:

“the new golden rule requires that the tension between one’s preferences and one’s social commitments be reduced by increasing the realm of duties one affirms as moral responsibilities–not the realm of duties that are forcibly imposed but the realm of responsibilities one believes one should discharge and that one believes one is fairly called on to assume.”

Education, of course, is first on the list of the ‘normative means’ used to create the desired moral commitments which enough people have internalized as the basis for their likely future behavior to change the direction of the society. In case anyone thinks this is just the admitted Left pushing this, remember that Hardwired to Connect from the last post with its ties to the supposedly conservative think tanks pushing School Choice vocally also stated explicitly:

“… an ‘us’ strategy is quite different. It is much broader and more radical. Its focus is cultural, not merely political or programmatic. It aims less at a specific intervention than a fundamental social shift–a change that involves the society as a whole. A ‘them’ strategy is about getting specific things done, but it is more fundamentally about guiding an entire society in a certain direction.”

My book’s pivotal observation that the actual Common Core implementation targeted student’s ‘values, attitudes, and beliefs’ makes so much more sense once we become aware of the widespread desire for Social Reconstruction that is no longer just a project of the admitted Left. Did you know that Chester Finn of Fordham, who we have tracked back to the mid-80s duplicitous Project Education Reform and forward to his work with Diane Ravitch and now Fordham’s co-sponsorship of the PEPG forum at the Kennedy School of Government, is listed as a signatory to Etzioni’s Responsive Communitarian Manifesto? So are several other people tied to those IAV papers in the last post. This truly is where the Right and Left Pincers want to take education. They want the coercion to be invisible and binding.

As I told my kids when they were growing up, wanting something doesn’t mean you are entitled to get it. To avoid the invisible coercion we have to know this vision “requires that most members of the society most of the time, share a commitment to a set of core values, and that most members, most of the time, will abide by the behavioral implications of these values because they believe in them rather than being forced to comply with them.”

The role of all these think tanks makes much more sense to this vision if we know that “a core of shared values also enhances the ability of a society to formulate specific public policies.” Try not to be too shocked that elsewhere those policies must include society and its individual members meeting all needs to provide for ‘individual well-being’. The Communitarian agenda says that is the 21st Century purpose of government. Nothing like 21st Century euphemisms redeeming Uncle Karl’s real vision of human development.

Lamar Alexander doing a presentation at AEI last week pretending ESSA supposedly gets the feds out of education makes perfect sense if ESSA laid out a mandate for the needed framework to force internalization within each student. Remember the requisite Internalization must occur without effective opposition from parents and taxpayers. Also, the local hype fits with the statement that “reconnecting the political decision-making bodies to community dialogues is one of the most important items of the communitarian public policy agenda.” Fits right into what AEI’s President Arthur Brooks called the true tenets of Conservatism. It requires a  Revolution of the Heart too.

The calls of SEL Standards for self-discipline or self-regulation, or what the Faux Narrative refers to as ‘self-government,’  ( https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/03/common-core-damages-students-college-readiness/ )  which is also straight out of the Manifesto mentioned above,  call for a longer quote from Etzioni that explains all:

“From a communitarian viewpoint, to draw on public schools as developers of character (for a stronger, higher self) it is most important that they focus on development of personality capabilities that enable people to act civilly and morally. [Soft Skills for All!] First among these capabilities is the ability to control one’s impulses [Is that what the above link calls the ‘right and responsibility of self-rule’?]…Second, a well-formed person must have what Adam Smith called ‘sympathy’: roughly, the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes, what we would refer to as empathy. Without this quality, there is little likelihood that children will develop charity, fairness, respect for other people, or the other virtues. When a person possesses these twin capacities, the psychological foundations for abiding by internalized values are in place.

Once schools are restructured in ways that enhance personality development, the question of which specific values are to be taught recedes in importance but still needs answering.”

The requisite ‘non-cognitive factors’ that must be a component of the State Plans under ESSA all go to that personality development prerequisite in one way or another. It’s not a database, but a starting point to get the needed internalized change to support this communitarian vision of a new moral order. It’s not coincidental that the definition of the law taught in elite law schools has now been altered quietly as the “enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules.”

I personally reject the distinction that something is not coercive as long as people and governments can successfully misrepresent what they are up to via education and the law. It is also greatly troubling I keep coming across references to collecting data on where students are in each of the 24 listed characteristics of the VAI-Values in Action–Character Survey.

I need one more quote from Etzioni that goes a long way towards explaining what makes education through provided conceptual lenses and themes about what is important, cross-cutting, or Good, True, and Beautiful so necessary to a transformationalist. We will need it in the next post as I continue to prove this IS the vision ALL of education is being organized around. Long time readers will recognize this is the theory with the nerdy name of Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete created in the USSR in 1962.

“Such statements about moral causes that present themselves to us as compelling are similar to what religious authorities speak of as revelation. This does not mean we cannot reason about these matters. The fact that some cause initially appears to one as powerful does not obviate the need to examine it closely. However, here reason follows and buttresses revelation, and not the other way around…It should be noted that reason plays a rather different role here.”

I’ll say. I wanted to shout “Transfer” as Lauren Resnick has been pushing for in education reforms for decades. She must be so pleased that her integral Higher Order Thinking Skills that embodies this very concept of Revelation first, and then Apply the provided concepts to real world, concrete situations, is a required ESSA component. Measuring every student for compliance at least annually.

That will be so useful for imposing this requisite Internalization.

Next time we will find this same goal being stated in terms of the US Founding Fathers and the purported requirements of “constitutional government.” We will see more clearly then why facts get in the way of simply accepting the provided concepts as Revelations that are to be accepted, internalized, and never disputed.

I feel like such a naughty Individualist sometimes for recognizing when we are being lied to and when something else has the same function.

Neural Enslavement to Instill Desired Virtues for Social Change: Deceitpalooza

Silly me. I got the bright idea of distracting myself and decided to just read some history. I picked Ian Mortimer’s millennium, which turned out to have been published on November 8, 2016. It hoped that a woman would be the most significant agent of change in the 21st Century. Not yet, but after making my way through the centuries, I get to the conclusion only to discover I was not getting a break from the familiar refrain after all. Mortimer wanted to “focus our attention on the forces that are likely to act upon our nature in the future.” The fantastic wealth and levels of technology the world now enjoys were accomplished via the “breaking of boundaries…Many of these boundary crossings can be characterized in terms of the “go West, young man’ paradigm…This paradigm underpinned scientific discoveries, world exploration and economic growth. But with the recognition of the approaching exhaustion of our fossil resources on Earth, this boundary-breaking mentality is out of date.”

Long time readers will recognize this hostility to what I nicknamed the Axemaker Mind and the hope of ecologist Paul Ehrlich for Newmindedness. Part of what we will do in this post is tie this hostility and desire for a new kind of mind to what is being pushed as Classical Education as in this piece touted last week. http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/11/individualism-root-error-modernity-george-stanciu.html  It is also tied to much of the organized deceit surrounding the Common Core as so many think tank employees and their mysteriously connected colleagues “against the Common Core” turn out to be tied to instilling a common core of moral virtue using education to create a neurally-grounded, ‘well-ordered soul.’

That well-ordered soul instilled within the student in turn is designed to know and choose based on instilled habits that are consistent with the UNESCO Ethics Framework from the last post, the Positive Education template, DeVos’ moral mandate, Amitai Etzioni’s Communitarian New Golden Rule, and finally Karl Marx’s vision for his Human Development Society. Since Mortimer put it, like Uncle Karl, in terms of the existing base of wealth and technology that had been reached, let’s go back to the quote above to see why “Hey, Hey, Ho. Ho. The Existing Mentality just has to Go.” Bad pun I know.

“The challenge now is not one of expansion but self-containment: a series of problems with which the all-conquering male is ill-equipped to deal. We, Homo sapiens, have never before had to face the problem of our own instincts threatening our continued existence; they have always been for our benefit, the survival of our genes. The frontiers we face now lie not on the horizon–or even in space–but inside our own minds.”

Now let’s jump to how the 1995 book Seedbed of Virtues defined the “Classical Conception of Virtue.” Please pay attention because this definition and book are closely related to both the new Catholic Curriculum Framework, School Choice, and why the American Principles Project/Pioneer report from last fall that laid the narrative for those frameworks (by misrepresenting the nature of Competency-based Education and Transformational Outcomes Based Education) may have done that. This is a little long, but absent the references to Aristotle and substituting Character or Whole Child for Virtue, think of it as what all 21st century education must be doing.  I will boldface the why so we can tie it to Mortimer and Uncle Karl and snark in brackets for current relevance.

“The classical conception of the relation between virtue and politics was spelled out by Aristotle. Individual virtue (or excellence–the Greek arete will bear both meanings) is knowable through everyday experience [Project-based or service learning?], definable through philosophic inquiry [Higher Order Thinking Skills?], and is always and everywhere the same [Truth. Beauty. Good?]. For Aristotle, the virtues are not just Greek, but rather human, virtues. Political life must be seen as in large measure a means to the attainment of virtue, understood as an end in itself. Once the threshold conditions of physical and material security are met, the political community should structure its institutions and policies to promote virtue in its citizens [remember the NIH and Templeton-funded Science of Virtues at U-Chicago?), and its worth as a community depends on the extent to which it achieves that goal.”

To make a long story short, that book was cited in connection with UNESCO’s Ethical Framework and I recognized the name Mary Ann Glendon (Harvard law prof) from both the Catholic Frameworks that wanted to specify Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions that students are to have internalized, as well as being a communitarian associate of Amitai Etzioni. If the book sought to elevate the “collectivity over the individual” and duties over individual rights, it would explain so much of what I have found over the years being imposed though education via an affirmative view of the law. As I am prone to do when I find a vision that is both alarming and clearly connected to what we are seeing imposed on classrooms, I looked up the book’s publisher,  the Institute for American Values (IAV).

Remember how the Ethical Framework recognized the need to control and create new values and categories and principles to guide thought if the sought social and economic changes to meet all human needs via Universal Ethics were to be imposed? IAV turned out to have a Sean Fieler as its Chairman. I recognized that name as he is also the Chair of the American  Principles Project. What are the odds? Then I discovered the ubiquitous Bradley Foundation, THE major funder of School Choice and so much else, delightedly recognizing its support of IAV. I have written about what School Choice actually does and it fits with how Tranzi OBE and Competency-based education actually work. Here’s the stated aim from Seedbed of Virtues that would certainly explain both the support of School Choice and all this documentable deceit.

“need to reshape institutions [like schools, universities, and churches] for the sake of revitalizing civil society…the path to better rather than worse judgments–must ultimately be sought, not in the seedbed, but in the seed: the human person…to control his knowing and his choosing.”

Isn’t that what Ian Mortimer called for in that recently published, much hyped book? Interestingly, last week, many of the think tanks pushing either School Choice or Classical Education or both, touted the release of the Classical Learning Test, to be a successor to the ACT or SAT. Its release celebrated that “instead of individualism, we stress community…rather than merely becoming a number, we want to see students use standardized tests as yet another opportunity to mature in wisdom, virtue, and academic competency.” Boy, that aim certainly sounds like the goal is to instill the internalized rudder of desired personality traits and supplied Knowledge to be acted on as a matter of habit.

An article accompanying the release of the CLT–“Happiness and the Moral Dimension of Education” leaves no doubt that the CLT seeks to evaluate the extent to which a student’s “body, emotions, desires, will, and a mind…are in harmony, working together for the true good of the whole person and his community.”

In 1998, IAV released “A Call to Civil Society: Why Democracy Needs Moral Truths” that saw the historic Western civilization “understanding of the human person as fundamentally flawed…Our capacity for reasonable choosing and loving is what allows us to participate in a shared moral life, an order common to us all..”

In the next post we will look at that document and its implications, including where School Choice and all education reforms are really taking us. We will also cover IAV’s 2003 publication Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities since it gives plenty of reasons for the deceit surrounding the Common Core and education reforms generally.

Hard to force what Uncle Karl called communism and others have called Marxist Humanism or Systems Thinking once enough people grasp the presence of its clear tenets. Much better to do what IAV did in that 1998 report, call for a ‘new society model’, where “society consists of individual members who are encultured by institutions and obligated to the common good.”

Gramsci was not the only Transformational Collectivist seeking to March through the Institutions. He was simply more upfront about it.

 

Anchored to the Human Psyche to Engineer the Invisible Coup: the Narratives Converge

The previous two posts illustrated real-time proclamations from just the last few weeks that fit with what we are going to cover today–the quietly imposed Common Framework for the Ethics of the 21st Century issued by UNESCO in September 1999. It grew out of Universal Ethics Project begun in 1997, imposed invisibly by education, P-12 and higher ed, under obscuring terms like learning, outcomes, standards, and competencies. The Framework was referenced in a footnote I came across while trying to chase down the common education agenda being pushed by the admitted Left Pincers (in this case communitarian prof Amitai Etzioni) and American Principles Project founder, Robert George, as a representative of the School Choice pushing, but headed in the same actual direction, Right Pincers.

Before I could write up the implications of that Framework, we suddenly had Ms DeVos’ statement about the moral obligations none of us may abdicate and the Positive Education practices mandate coming from the World Government Summit. Since they each seemed to assume the shift into the obligations of a Framework few of us are even aware of, I went with the “this is coming now” approach in the previous two posts. Now that the Imminence is crystal clear and not speculative, let’s take a look at what is being concealed from us. Because this is a blog, not a book, this post will be followed next by how I know for sure that this is where all the deceit surrounding the Common Core and School Choice really leads.

Those who have read Credentialed to Destroy are aware of just some of the evidence I cite on why I believe the ending of the Cold War was somewhat stage-managed to let education quietly assume the transformational reins. Let’s add to that body a Gorbachev book, The Search for a New Beginning, I did not have then telling us what Perestroika was really about. Gorbachev wanted to “join politics with morality” and create a Framework for new forms of required interaction and new forms of thinking. Instead of “artificially constructed utopian schemes” that “are not workable anywhere,” he called for:

“The recognition of the world as an integral whole [which] calls for a change in our value system, or to put it more precisely, for actualizing the initial values that are inherent in the nature of the human being as a social and spiritual entity. In one form or another, and in varying degrees, those values are reflected in the world religions and in the great humanistic doctrines.”

In a preview of what will be coming in the next post, substitute the word ‘Virtues’ for ‘values’ in that quote above and we quickly get to precisely where Classical Education is taking Privates and Charter Schools. First though let’s get back to Gorbachev’s bluntness because it explains so well the language we will cover on the need to shift away from traditional views of Individualism and rationality. (the italics are in the original text)

“The future of human society will not be defined in terms of capitalism versus socialism. It was that dichotomy that caused the division of the world community into two blocs and brought about so many catastrophic consequences. We need a paradigm that will integrate all the achievements of the human mind and human action, irrespective of which ideology or political movement can be credited with them. This paradigm can only be based on the common values that humankind has developed over the centuries.”

We will leave Gorby now and shift back to the supposed new values, ideas, and principles that people need to internalize from an early age (enter education tied to behavior and the Whole Child which is precisely what performance standards mandate) so that everyone can “flourish” in the 21st Century. Sure enough, that particular uncommon verb is ubiquitous now throughout the UNESCO Ethics Framework, the Positive Education Practices we encountered in the previous post, as well as the NIH-funded and Templeton Foundation sponsored Science of Virtues going on now at U-Chicago. What are the odds of such common, uncommon, terminology?

The cool thing about the Ethics Framework is that there is no overt, publicized command that makes people feel coerced. The Russians and Chinese noticed those edicts from on high simply did not work as well as using a reenvisioned type of education that affected “the will of individuals in every and all situations in which he or she acts.” Once that Learning becomes a Habit of Mind we have installed an invisible internalized neural rudder that allows society and an economy to be steered and guided without anyone needing to be the wiser. Students will have Moral Dialogues grounded in “philosophical value knowledge” (just like the School Choice-advocating Manhattan Institute laid out recently in an odd “Republic in the Atlantic” piece in City Journal).

The goal of education then, whether marketed as “knowledge, skills, and dispositions” in K-12 or Essential Learning Outcomes in higher ed, is actually aimed at using reading, classroom conversations, group projects, and virtual reality adaptive learning aimed at:

“developing the capacity of individuals to make right evaluations of others’ actions, of events, situations etc., and to find out, in the light of philosophical value knowledge the implications of such a will: what they should, or can, do, so that human dignity can be protected or be as little damaged as possible in the given unique situation, in which they have to act, as a whole.”

If that aim is not graphic enough that what the Universal Ethics Framework, instilled via education, seeks is a “paradigm shift in consciousness” so that we can all “apply our minds collectively and …work towards a new intellectual and spiritual renaissance,” let me use another. This quote from Paris, March 27, 1997, bemoaned that:

“whereas humanity is transiting to the global society, our minds are still mired in pre-global concepts. And it is this difference, it is this gap between the emergence of the global society and the non-emergence of a global consciousness, that is at the root of many of the problems that we see in the world today.”

If the means of closing that gap and creating the desired new thinking and ethics is new ideas and values, is it coincidental that suddenly the relief offered from the horrors of the Common Core is framed in terms of Character Education, Positive Psychology, Conceptual Understandings and Core Disciplinary Ideas as the ‘content knowledge’, and Virtues?

Does anyone else feel like the remedy offered is actually grounded in this little discussed Ethics Framework? Because apparently reenvisioning the human future is “affected and even determined by the behavior of humans acting on the basis of normative ideas and principles.” If education in the 21st Century is actually premised on the italicized “question: what values and principles may be mobilized in order to steer the forces of technological and economic change for the purposes of human survival and flourishing?”, aren’t we even entitled to know that is the foundational question behind all these imposed changes?

There’s that ubiquitous aspirational verb again. Anyone else wondering who will really flourish in this vision?

Making Man Moral through Integrative, Holistic Education Focused on Purpose

Sometimes these days I feel like I am a part of that old musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” not because all these machinations via education and deceit are funny, but because suddenly between posts something happens that proves just how correct I am on how this fits together. Last week, the blog Cafe Hayek run by George Mason economic profs mentioned a January 24 piece by “my colleague Peter Boettke on the late economist Kenneth Boulding.” Now that may seem innocuous and even dry, but there cannot be a more seminal person other than John Dewey to the sought transformation of education. Boulding laid out its purpose and how it could be used to control other social systems. Is this further evidence of a Convergence of the Right and Left Pincers we can see so much evidence of? Confessions, after all, are so much nicer.

http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2017/01/kenneth-boulding-on-the-task-of-interpretation.html is the post and it tied in my mind to why everyone suddenly wants education to be about moral values, guiding principles, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Classical Concepts, and other ideas first that can then guide a child’s perception. How they interpret their daily experiences and what they never even notice. This is the end of the Trilogy so let’s pull all this together so we can appreciate How to Invisibly Control Future Personal Decision-making with No Need to Admit It. Bolding (without the ‘u’) is mine.

“Themes without facts may be barren, but facts without theories are meaningless. It is only ‘theory’–i.e., a body of principles–which enables us to approach the bewildering complexity and chaos of fact, select the facts significant for our purposes and interpret the significance.

Indeed, it is hardly too much to claim that without a theory to interpret it there is no such thing as a ‘fact’ at all…what, then, is the ‘fact’ about the wart? [Boulding’s example that should be read in full while thinking about the meaning of Disciplinary Core Ideas or Enduring Understandings] It may be any or all of the above, depending on the particular scheme of interpretation into which it is placed.”

When I was a student, part of what made for A+ work was the ability to develop an appropriate scheme of interpretation by myself, in the privacy of my mind, using what I saw as the pertinent facts. Something that made the prof go “That’s it! Wish I had expressed it that way.” This is something else. These are essentially presupplied ‘constructs’ designed to guide perception and future action in a way that makes a person likely to desire and instigate transformational change in the circumstances we all live under. If they cannot do it, they can organize together so politicians will implement the changes. That’s why I created the term Politicalism. What Boulding was known for was “incorporating the ideas, concepts and tools from the natural sciences into social scientific analysis.” Why?

His good friend Bela Banathy, who also has a tag and was involved in the creation of the concept of charter schools and what now goes by School Choice, told this story that his close friend Boulding shared with him in 1983. In 1954, at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) where so much else was hatched:

“four Center fellows–Bertalanffy (biology), Boulding (economics), Gerard (psychology), and Rappoport (mathematics)–had a discussion  in a meeting room. Another Center Fellow walked in and asked: ‘What’s going on here?’ Ken answered: ‘We were angered about the state of the human condition’ and ask: ‘What can we–what can science–do about improving the human condition‘ Oh!’ their visitor said: ‘This is not my field.’ At that meeting the four scientists felt that in the statement of their visitor they heard the statement of the fragmented disciplines that have little concern for doing anything practical about the fate of humanity. So they asked themselves, ‘What would happen if science would be redefined by crossing disciplinary boundaries and forge a general theory that would bring us together in the service of humanity?'”

That overdone analogy to the ‘outmoded factory model of education’ is actually a cloaking metaphor to mask this complete change in the purpose of education that drove the education reforms in the 60s, 80s, and now covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy. It’s also why Tranzi OBE and Competency needed to be deliberately misdefined as we saw in the last post. Why do we keep coming across an emphasis on Character or Moral Dispositions and Attributes? Because social and political scientists like Boulding came to recognize “that the universe of ethical values is a driving force in human life” and can be altered to drive a transformation in what is acceptable in the future.

If you want to drive cultural change, alter human consciousness by instilling new ‘active principles’ that people must now use to organize their lives and institutions. Then have them practice it in the classroom or workplace or even their church until relying on these principles becomes a Habit of Mind. In his 1969 AEA Presidential Address, Boulding informed those economics professionals that “any system contains the seeds of its own transformation or future genesis, and that this works through a learning process.” See why education had to change away from an emphasis on facts? Economics was just one of the human social systems that interested Boulding and he knew change had to start with the very mental models each person internalized:

“All these social systems are linked together dynamically through the process of human learning which is the main dynamic factor in all social systems.”

That’s such a useful quote for anyone who wonders why I cannot stick to just writing about education. Because it’s a tool to a transformation for a different purpose and a new, unlikely to succeed well for most of us, vision of the future. When should we talk about it? After the carnage is more advanced and even more resources depleted in the name of education? I am going to shift away from Boulding for a moment, but his vision was covered in the Trilogy begun here with his book The Meaning of the 20th Century and its effect on the Commission on the Year 2000 covered in the post that followed. Rereading those yesterday almost took my breath away because it fits so closely with what was in the Roadmap for the Next Administration and the Architecture of Innovation on what data can be made to now do.

http://invisibleserfscollar.com/reimaging-the-nature-of-the-world-in-the-minds-of-students-alters-future-behavior-and-social-events/

This post’s title comes from a book Robert George–Princeton professor, Bradley Foundation board member, well-known spokesperson for Catholicism, and founder of the same American Principles Project that did not want to define certain terms accurately in the last post, wrote in 1993. If ‘common guiding principles’ and shared meanings are in fact what makes people and organizations act as ‘systems’ as Boulding and systems science generally believed, it makes perfect sense not to concede that is what ALL Competency-based education reforms, and what I nicknamed Tranzi OBE, are about. The aims are no different then from the Catholic Curriculum Framework although some of the offered concepts, principles, and the justifications for the changes may differ.

Like Boulding in the quote Boettke chose or in my quotes from his 1969 AEA address, George in his making men moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality wanted education to provide “first principles of practical reason…to guide choice and action.” Fascinating, huh? Everybody seems to want to carve that rudder that will guide future decision-making without being forthright on the connection. All we get are School Choice!, Federal Misedukation, and Autonomy to the Locals and parents. Some autonomy as both education and “laws have a legitimate subsidiary role to play in helping people to make themselves moral.” Then sell it to parents that way and admit Classical Education IS designed to create a steerable rudder both parents and students are not being told about.

Character is a wonderful thing, but not when it operates at an unconscious level as a Habit of Mind and parents are not told that their children are being steered in the name of Goodness. Truth. and Beauty or Equity and Justice or Sustainability or other Guiding Principles to guide practical reason and likely future action. The same Spiritual and Moral Framework that can be used by New Agers like the Ross School from the last post or Social Justice Warriors grounded in Paulo Freire Pedagogy for the Oppressed aligns with the aim of instilled Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions from the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks. They ALL want to provide the ideas, emotional motivations, and values students internalize as their guide to future decision-making. School now wants to provide their purpose for living and the vision of what the future might be.

To truly get the dangers of this personalized, student-centered, transformative vision of education perhaps it will help if we follow those Moral and Spiritual Frameworks (as well as the cited Ron Miller’s “What are Schools For?”) right straight to a School of Education and Psychology in Isfahan, Iran. If “Holistic Education: An Approach for 21st Century” from 2011 is okay with the mullahs and their tyrannical vision of people, we really need to quit using the word ‘autonomy’ to describe the student when this vision of education is through with them. Yes, they have a purpose, but is it really theirs? I will quote from the Abstract because it fits with the vision I have described in this Trilogy. Think of the implications of that.

“Holistic education encompasses a wide range of philosophical orientations and pedagogical practices. Its focus is on wholeness, and it attempts to avoid excluding any significant aspects of the human experience. It is an eclectic and inclusive movement whose main characteristic is that educational experiences foster a less materialistic and more spiritual worldview along with more dynamic and holistic views of reality.

It also proposes that educational experience promote a more balanced development of–and cultivate the relationship among–the different aspects of the individual (intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and Aesthetic), as well as the relationships between the individual and other people, the individual and natural environment, the inner-self of students and external world, emotion and reason, different disciplines of knowledge and forms of knowing, holistic education is concerned with life experience, not with narrowly defined ‘basic skills.'”

Doesn’t that life experience/basic skills distinction sound just like the erroneous definition of Competency from the last post? Isn’t the US goal of College and Career Ready just another euphemism for this holistic life experience vision that seeks to control what gets internalized to guide the adults our children will become?

How is it not authoritarian for any government at any level to make education holistic or integrative using those aims?

How on Earth can this really be “education for humanity” when the type of human we become is subject to undisclosed political control?

Whispering in the Ears of Princes and Parents: False Flag Education Narratives

For anyone counting, that would be two different metaphors in a single title, but since they each illustrate our unfortunate facts so well I have pulled them together to make a point. In the last post, before Mother Nature threw me for a loop, we had stumbled across proof that what is now called economic theory was merging with psychology and learning theories.  If you were like me, that came as a rather rude, but revealing, surprise. Anyway, while the body was weak, this mind just kept on delving into the implications of the last post as well as articles and reports coming out where I immediately recognize a false narrative at play. We talked about Professor Daniel Kahnemann’s work in the last post, but he did not win that ‘Economics’ Nobel alone.

The other recipient, Professor Vernon Smith, usually has his theories touted as ‘market-based solutions’ when some think tank is hyping them as a less than disinterested remedy. A little research though uncovered the fact that Dr Smith refers to his theories as ‘experimental economics’ and has confirmed, in a 2012 conference in Arizona, that the School Choice theories in general and the current darling being hyped as the be-all remedy, Education Savings Accounts, are products of experimental economic theories. Have any of the think tanks testifying these past several weeks to either house of the Texas legislature been forthcoming about that?

Back in 1985, at an Econometric World Congress we probably would have been bored at even if we had got an invite, experimental economics (EE) was discussed. These EE theories can be classified by what motivates the need to create them and to whom they are intended to be persuasive. Now that struck me as terribly useful as I sorted through all the false narratives flying around in education about the Common Core’s actual purpose, how School Choice really works, the actual purpose of SEL Standards, or the most recent false narrative around Evidence-Based Policymaking. That list is not exhaustive and it is always important to contemplate Cui Bono? Who benefits from the deceit and do they have financial ties to the pushers of the False Narrative?

The three categories of uses for these theories are “Are they Speaking to Fellow Theorists?” like academics where handing out an Education Doctorate or Sociology degree on the basis of someone’s willingness to act on a theory is grounds alone for creating it. Remember our Guiding Fiction discussion? If it changes how we behave and act in everyday life or what we force on others, that’s an effective theory even if it’s not true. A learning theory, for example, can be factually not true, but have the promise of neurologically restructuring students’ brains if implemented in the classroom. A theory that works, if implemented, is an example of the category two use of experimental behavioral science theories: “Does the theory allow us to Search for Facts?” Social or biological change is darn factual when it occurs.

Category Number 3 of the use of these theories is “Whispering in the Ears of Princes.” Having chased the false information in Donald Trump Jr’s heartfelt convention speech on school choice to FH Buckley’s book The Way Back, this category seemed an apt description why a false narrative can be needed. The personal intentions of any Prince with Power do not control the effect of a theory in EE once implemented. That’s a well-known fact of Implementation Science no one is likely to pass on to either the princes or the parents. Let’s face it, all the current hype about a database of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on Students is another false narrative. It’s useful because it enrages parents and they look for solutions, like charters, privates, or ESAs. Omitted is the relevant fact that these institutions must themselves still assess the student’s internal states and values, attitudes, and beliefs for change. Otherwise, no more funding!!

That’s one of the dirty little secrets I suppose no one is supposed to recognize in time. What gets a charter renewed for a subsequent term or entitles a Charter Management Company to get federal money under ESSA to expand into other states is effectiveness at learning. If you can change values, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors, you are an effective school. Learning occurred in the student changed. Parents though are unlikely to be too excited this is the actual purpose now of a charter or private school. So they need to be lied to about what all these terms mean. That seems to have been the reason for the sudden pivot in the May 2012 Pioneer Institute/ American Principles Project paper “Controlling Education from the Top” where a quote of what characteristics of a student the Common Core would be “assessing for” became PII in the next paragraph without warning or support.

It’s also a good reason for the same paper to consistently follow all references to “assessment” with the same parenthetical “(standardized tests)”. I finished my book Credentialed to Destroy (the same book the pushers of the false narratives feel the need to suppress) and it chronicles what the term ‘assessment’ was known to mean by spring 2012 and how it was to work under both Common Core and its successor, competency-based education. Both of these appear to be false narratives so that parents will never know that the supposed remedies in education they are being led to advocate for are actually also target their child’s internal states for change. Honestly, given the extent of my documentation now from this blog and researching two different books as well, I could turn this blog going forward into Nail Down that Deceit.

Instead, I am just giving Princes and parents both a warning and illustrating with just some of what I have documented. Speaking of Whispering to Princes, I noted in a previous post that FH Buckley’s explanation of the need for School Choice was both quite obnoxious to my mind and grounded in what seemed to be Marxian rhetoric. So Buckley is at George Mason (GMU) as was Professor EE, Nobel-Prize winner Vernon Smith. Supposedly the Mercatus Center there is Ground Zero for all the Atlas Network think tanks. Sounded like a convergence worth investigating to me. Imagine my Absolute Shock at discovering that in May 2007 the Krasnow Institute at GMU launched the Decade of the Mind global initiative. Did you gulp just now?

Just wait, before that in 2004, the Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics started, as a joint venture of GMU’s School of Law (naming it for the late Antonin Scalia makes a good shrouding cover), the Department of Economics, the Krasnow Institute, and the Mercatus Center. Ding. Ding. The Center is a place that studies “how our brains interact through our institutions to produce social, political, and economic order.” The Center also works closely with IFREE–the International Foundation for Research in EE founded by Vernon Smith in 1997 and based in Tucson. Tucson is where the now yearly conferences known as “Towards a Science of Consciousness” began in 1994 and it is now tied to a Center at the University of Arizona there. For those who are unaware, Arizona is also the state that has most fully embraced School Choice and ESAs.

So many facts, so little time is how I feel about what could come next in this post just to illustrate this problem. Let me pivot first though to the second metaphor. A false flag operation comes from the days of wooden ships. One ship would hang the flag of an enemy ship before attacking an ally in its own navy. Because the attack gets attributed to the country behind the flag instead of the country engaged in the attack, this actual practice became known as a False Flag Operation. I am borrowing the metaphor because it explains much of the deceit surrounding education reform over the decades and especially now. The same donors and think tanks who wish to financially benefit from an ability to use education practices to create a reliable, steerable keel within student’s brains and personalities do not want that reality recognized.

Who can blame them? But what is really being targeted and why and all the ties among the targeting entities is not really in dispute. Like so much of what I laid out in Credentialed to Destroy, it is simply not well known. So we seem to have a race between all these entities and me. They are tied to people wanting to profit from the deceit. I, personally, cannot bear knowing what I can prove without at least trying to alert as many parents and taxpayers as possible. Again, this is not personal, but factual. It looks like I only have time for one more example so it needs to hit as many points as possible. In November 2016 GMU and others are hosting a Congress in honor of the 20th Anniversary of an EE classic- Growing Artificial Societies.

I located a copy and it told me that it is knowing and manipulating the “agent’s internal state” that is the focus of experimental economics. That’s a good reason then for how Charters, ESAs, SEL Standards, and Competency-Based Education really work. Lots of reason for deceit then and there has been for a very long time. But I found the actual cited paper and discovered it was from the Santa Fe Institute (co-sponsor of November Congress) and was funded by the MacArthur Foundation (before they moved on to the Real Utopias project and Connected Learning). It explained the need to alter the nature of education so that the coursework all focused on altering the student’s internalized ‘classifier system’ that guides perception and how daily experiences get interpreted.

If that’s not startling enough (not to me but this is very useful language for illustrating the rationale for the PII deceit especially), we learn what fits with all of the proposed education reforms out there. Also remember the local level has always been the focus for education change. In the old “rationalistic view, the world is composed of definite objects, properties and relations, and ‘learning’ is the process whereby an agent forms a mental model of the world that correctly describes these features.”

My guess is that the typical parent being sold on Classical Education or what private schools offer still believes that quote describes the nature of education still available there. The reality though is we have shifted to the EE form of education where the student is being trained in “learning how to act in the world, rather than how to describe it.”

My goodness, just the realities we have discussed today give a myriad of reasons for all these false narratives that surround education. Best from now on to judge all education narratives not by the flag being flown or the rhetoric being used, but by the nature of the vessel and the financial interests that stand to benefit from the deceit.

Rewiring Student’s Brains at a Neural Level to Constrain, Guide, and Motivate Desired Future Behaviors

Part of the reason for the time gap between the last post and this one is my youngest child has now officially graduated. Hallelujah! Knowing what is really going on in American and global education in the name of euphemisms like standards, competencies, Whole Child, Positive School Climate, and Higher Order Thinking Skills I am afraid I think of schools now as psychological Auschwitzes. That is not a phrase I use lightly, but unfortunately, there will be no respite from this deliberate neurological assault on minds and personalities until we parents and funding taxpayers recognize what is really targeted for change and why. Also we need to grasp just how experimental all these sought shifts actually are.

During the last two weeks documentable, official confessions of just how much our children’s very synapses and whether the regions used in thinking are rational or tied to emotions have come out on an almost daily basis. Originally I thought all the reports I have read and downloaded since May 1 were tied to desired teacher training over the summer for a rollout next fall. That was before I came across the Human Brain Project’s announcement that it had shifted to the active, operational stage in April 2016 after being in the planning stage since 2013. Then I discovered that USC, the employer of Professors Immordino-Yang and Damasio from the last post, was one of the US partners of HBP. So are the entire U-California university system, Yale, and the University of Tennessee as well.

The US BRAIN Initiative (which began in 2013 too) coordinates actively with HBP and goes to its programmes in Europe. Turns out part of that initiative included a Bioethics Commission http://bioethics.gov/ where we can locate the BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision report as well as the two Gray Matters reports that leave our government’s desire to interfere with internalized mental processes for political purposes in no doubt. It is also chaired by Penn Pres Amy Gutmann who was probably chosen by President Obama precisely because her 1987 book Democratic Education called on schools to shift away from the ‘well-intentioned misperception’ that schools have an “obligation to impart information.” Instead, Gutmann wanted teachers to develop the moral character of students so that they “feel the force of right reason” to reshape society.

There’s that ‘feeling’ hype again. I know it is not coincidental because I have a few additional writings we can survey. I have Damasio’s 2010 book Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain where he stated that “emotions are the dutiful executors and servants of the value principle.” A useful target for emphasis for planners hoping to alter the drivers of future behavior. Since Professor Damasio elsewhere mentioned “the need to manage the behaviors of humans,” forcing student thinking to be grounded in emotion would appear to be an excellent place to start. UNESCO agrees too since I located an August 2015 paper stating that the new purpose of ‘curriculum’ in the 21st century is to make sure there is no “contradiction or dissociation between the cognitive and the ethical dimension in learning.”

In order to advance the ‘concept of social justice’ and the new UN “guidelines on the meaning of education based on the ideal of building more just societies,” educational experiences must be created so that each student’s commitment to the ideals of social justice is not “an adherence that is purely rhetorical or cut off from how people actually behave.” Rounding out our support is this paper that I-Y coauthored   http://iesteulada.edu.gva.es/portal/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Neuroscience-and-learning.pdf which ended with a diagram that makes it clear it is Emotional Thought, and not High Reason/ Rational Thought, that 21st century education wants to cultivate. Why? Because of its useful role in desired ” moral decision-making.”

Now all these reports have a great deal of aspirational goals for a changed society pretending to be how the mind works or how education must now be changed. Educationists cite Damasio as “neuroscience research says…” Ed Week cites I-Y for how emotions must now guide educational practices and no one seems to bring up Professor Gutmann’s earlier book. The truth is though this is not how the brain or education must now work, but rather how it needs to be altered if people are to be changed at a neurological level. Guided and motivated then by new values and images of how the world might be. Now you may be saying rightfully that I am not a neuroscientist, although I have read a great deal of their writings, and one of them, Zenon W. Pylyshin, helpfully told us back in 1980 precisely why the rational/High Reason brain is so targeted now by K-12 education.

In a published paper “Computation and Cognition” created while he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Pylyshin laid out precisely how the human mind was thought then to work with nary a mention of these now omnipresent emotions or feelings. Here is a quote from the end that tells me precisely what had to be suffocated for the social transformation use of the mind to prevail. The mentioned George Miller is another famous behavioral scientist.

“we ought to be far more impressed with the extreme flexibility that thought can exhibit. For example, we ought to take seriously the fact that there seems to be no specifiable limit to what the human mind can imagine or think. As George Miller recently remarked to me, the salient property of mental life is surely that we can will it to do practically anything we wish: given the appropriate goals and beliefs, we can alter our behavior and thoughts to a remarkable extent by a mere act of will.”

Feels a bit like eavesdropping from decades away, doesn’t it? We now know that picking our own goals, beliefs, and values is precisely what K-12 education intends to make sure no longer happens. In fact, now we can shift back to that BRAIN 2025 vision since it too envisioned mapping the brain because of its ‘special province’ as the “interior terrain of thinking, feeling, perceiving, learning, deciding, and acting to achieve our goals.” If anyone has any doubt that this initiative is about a transformative, social justice agenda this quote should obliterate all doubt: “our brains make us who we are, enabling us to perceive beauty, teach our children, remember loved ones, react against injustice, learn from history, and imagine a different future.”

Our Founding Fathers may have seen our beliefs as a form of property not to be subject to government interference http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-the-system-seeks-to-destroy-the-ability-to-think-can-james-madison-save-us/ but we get no such deference in the 21st century. To quote again  from an initiative we are now spending $500 Million per year to pursue: “In advanced organisms our concept of ‘behavior’ must be extended to include sophisticated internal cognitive processes in addition to externally observable actions.” The Bioethics Commission may hype neurological and psychiatric disorders so that the full extent of the neurological manipulation is obscured but BRAIN 2025 states explicitly that the “primary goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to understand healthy brain function.”

The purpose of the Bioethics Commission is not to examine if this emphasis and research is ethical, but to make sure everyone at all levels of education believes that such research is necessary and ethical. In fact, all we get is a question as to whether “inner desires, psychological states, or motivations…deserve more privacy protection than externally observable clues about the mind.” Consistent with my concern that all this agenda is about quietly forcing a shift to the Human Development Society Uncle Karl envisioned without saying that is the actual goal, we have the Gray Matters volume on the Integration of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society insisting that “the potential of science to improve human welfare grounds a societal obligation to undertake and support” this type of research.

Leaving no doubt as to why we have to discuss these initiatives to grasp why I now call schools psychological Auschwitzes being used to force a transformational political agenda at a neural level, we have that same volume stating “one desirable goal for ethics education is ‘transformational learning,’ which goes beyond cultivating cognitive learning or critical thinking to inculcate ‘habits of mind, attitudes, and dispositions.'” That’s neural change and designed to motivate future behavior from a level unconscious to the neurologically reengineered student. It certainly explains the odd affect and unfocused eyes in this video of high school students hyping personalized learning. http://www.cio.com/article/3002698/cio-role/how-one-cio-leverages-technology-to-transform-education.html .

Volume 2 of Gray Matters opened with a tribute to a now deceased commission member who was described as a “seeker of justice for all.” That certainly fits with the actual intention of all this neuroscience research and the stress on emotions as an integral part. So does this quote that “ethics education has a better chance of informing action when it is continually reenforced and connected to practical experience.” Showing us once again how a certain vision for education going forward is key to this entire transformation of people and institutions, the Bioethics Commission lets us know that Equity is such a focus of this new vision. that “if safe and effective novel forms of cognitive enhancement become available, they will present an opportunity to insist on a distribution that is fair and just.”

Oh. Good. Grief. Once again Gray Matters made it clear that it is not just education being called on to reengineer society at the level of the biological neural mind. The rule of law gets redefined to be a social reengineering tool as well. As a lawyer and student of Anglo-American history and the function of the common law, it is hard to read a federally-financed call “ensuring the progress and responsible application to neuroscience to the legal system and policymaking.”

The report may insist that “today, and in the foreseeable future, neuroscience does not enable us to read minds. Technology remains extremely limited and cannot reveal the inner desires, psychological states, or motivations that are worthy of the term ‘mind-reading.'” The problem is that covering, Nothing to Worry About Here, statement is not true. Those things are precisely what adaptive learning digital virtual reality platforms, formative assessments, wicked, open-ended problem solving and other now required educational practices turn up. That is a big part of what all the data gathering is about. It’s also why the Personally Identifiable Information hype is such a Red Herring that obscures what is really at risk.

Watching the students on that video, do we really want Presidential Commission’s questioning “whether ‘inner mental or neural processes’ deserve more privacy protection than external or behavioral elements such as words and actions”?

What does ethics actually mean if all these neurological planned interferences can be pursued in the 21st century in the name of education?

 

Fracturing the Personal and Social Failsafes and Omitting the Most Pertinent Parts of the Plans

Now don’t visualize Failsafe in the sense of Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove unless those graphics help with a proper sense of urgency at what we are facing in the name of ‘education’ for ‘our children.’ I actually am using failsafe in the dictionary meaning of “compensating automatically and safely for a failure, as of a mechanism or power source.” I would add people as well as we can adjust ourselves to thwart the reality of what is happening unless the offered narrative is false. Our ability to adjust our outrage is also offline if education has been changed to deliberately manipulate our emotions so certain responses and likely interpretations are neurally locked in in advance.

In the recent ACES post, I finished by saying we would turn to emotions and here we are. Carefully documenting the media manipulation and the parts of the story being ably omitted lest we become informed and outraged. If anyone thinks it is conspiratorial to imagine active coordination around deceit, last week the National PTA in a letter to fed ED on regulations on required parental engagement under ESSA, requested the use of “Leading by Convening: A Blueprint for Authentic Engagement.”  http://www.ideapartnership.org/documents/NovUploads/Blueprint%20USB/NASDSE%20Leading%20by%20Convening%20Book.pdf That way parents could be Delphied into useful beliefs about what ESSA does that have actually nothing to do with its mandates or shifts.

Remember sociologist Anthony Giddens telling us that behavioral scientists know that what guides and motivates behavior is not what is actually true, but what is personally and emotionally believed to be true? Let’s take a look at the organized media juggernaut on hyping emotion as the key to learning. On April 27, 2016 Education Week wrote a story called “Emotions Help Steer Students’ Learning, Studies Find: Scholar sees passion as mind’s rudder” which hyped the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her new book Emotions, Learning, and the Brain. Here’s the lead quote that should probably be read with a reminder that one of the definitions of using cybernetics in education is to create a steerable keel with a student’s mind and personality. One that is locked in neurally that the student is largely unaware of.

“People think of emotion getting in the way of cognition, but it doesn’t. Emotion steers our thinking; it’s the rudder that directs our mind and organizes what we need to do.”

Gives new meaning certainly to a declared goal of ‘standards-based reforms’ and competency-based education that seek to create Habits of Mind and desired Dispositions and Attributes to be deemed College, Career and Citizenship Ready, doesn’t it? That hyping article was followed by a May 4 New York Times piece called “To Help Students Learn, Engage the Emotions.” It also hyped the same professor’s work exclusively with more quotes that resonate with initiatives like Hewlett’s Deeper Learning (omitted from article) where “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about.” Really? How about the insistence that it is the:

“emotional connection that can result when teachers make learning personally relevant to students is what differentiates superficial, rote, topical assimilation of material from a superlative education marked by deep mastery and durable learning.”

In other words, it is experiences carefully crafted for the classroom so that what will guide and motivate future student behavior gets practiced and then locked in at an unconscious level. Talk about bypassing any personal failsafe. And this is the kind of ‘meaningful learning’ that CCSSO, Linda Darling-Hammond and groups connected to her are calling for as the new form of accountability under ESSA. Oh the things that get left out when the article also hyped “the best, most durable learning happens when content sparks interest, when it is relevant to a child’s life, and when the students form an emotional bond with either the subject at hand or the teacher in front of them. Meaningful learning happens when teachers are able to create an emotional connection to what might otherwise remain abstract concepts.”

How did I ever pass the bar exam without this kind of instruction? Now before we get back to what else is being left out, let me assure you I have the 1979 book created from the February 1977 symposium titled “Toward the Human Use of Human Beings: A Cybernetic Approach to the Assessment of Children” held in Denver. I may be able to recognize a cybernetic focus by how it functions, but that is no where close to the end of my proof. I also have open declarations on this “interdisciplinary attempt to apply the principles of cybernetics, the science of control and communication, to certain issues of child development” via American education and needed reforms.

Also in my library of research for the sequel to Credentialed to Destroy was a 1994 book by a USC neurobiologist, Antonio Damasio, called Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. Query: do Immordano-Yang and Damasio work together? Just imagine if the writers of these hyping articles had mentioned that Prof I-Y wrote the journal for the International Mind, Body, and Education Society (IMBES) I have alarmingly covered. What if the Brain Creativity Institute is involved in all this sudden BRAIN Initiative NSF and NIH gushes of federal money? Just a little digging an up came this joint published article “We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education” from 2007.

Now the first line of the abstract “highlighting connections between emotion, social functioning, and decision-making” should remind all of us that ACES theorizes that people are now to be Anticipatory Cognitive Embodied Systems and thus easily manipulable via education. Our transformative systems thinkers like Kenneth Boulding also wanted us to be reconceptualized as ‘goal-seeking, purposeful systems.” Is that also the vein of all this sudden hyping of the role of emotions in learning. Even if I did not have Damasio’s books, there are hints just in that article that all these pushes are consistent with professors who also want to see Values as the Drivers of Human History and education to create a new Science of Virtues because the article opens with a mention on:

“how culture shapes learning, and ultimately the development of morality and human ethics. These are all topics of eminent importance to educators as they work to prepare skilled, informed and ethical students who can navigate the world’s social, moral, and cognitive challenges as citizens.”

I always want to insert ‘comrade’ as an adjective in front of that kind of vision of the purpose of education to be a ‘citizen,’ but then gallows humor is a part of how I deal with all the open declarations I uncover. The GSV San Diego conference did not just tout the increased annual spending for the BRAIN Initiative. It also called explicitly for the Acceleration of Ideas that Address the Integration of Mind, Body, and Soul.” Sounds like values and emotions are to be neurally integrated via K-12 education practices is required federal policy and investors want to pile into tech companies with a means to do just that. Still all omitted from the official narrative unless we monitor these meetings and recognize co-partners of who is being officially touted.

Federally funded brain research and required education practices to foster and invisibly manipulate a hope that “our brains still bear evidence of their original purpose: to manage our bodies and minds in the service of living, and living happily, in the world with other people.” Now I would start to get nervous if I was constantly encountering attempts to enshrine a communitarian ethos in Positive School Climate Presidential Executive Orders or the actual definition of what Career Ready really meant. Now I would really get nervous if that 2007 article had a graphic of what it hyped as the desired Emotional Thought with this subheading:

“The evolutionary shadow cast by emotion over cognition influences the modern mind. In the diagram, the solid ellipse represents emotion, the dashed ellipse represents cognition. The extensive overlap between the two represents the domain of emotional thought. Emotional thought can be conscious or nonconscious and is the means by which bodily sensations come into our conscious awareness. High reason is a small section of the diagram and requires consciousness.”

No declarations that the small area of high reason needs to be smothered further via education reforms and required practices, but there is a hope to “produce the sort of automatic moral decision making that underlies intuitive notions of good and evil” that appears more social and political than “lying is bad and murder is wrong.” Let’s turn to Descartes’ Error and see what it tells us on why hyping and controlling emotion via education is so crucial. Well, consisting with taking the failsafes away from the steering of the student we have Damasio telling us that “emotion and feeling, central aspects of biological regulation,…provide the bridge between rational and nonrational processes, between cortical and subcortical structures.”

Just the thing, in other words, to be the openly declared object of required education practices and declared federal research priorities that then get deceitfully explained or not covered at all when talking to students and their parents. Damasio’s book laid out use of emotion to create what he called somatic markers and even italicized. Nary a mention though in either those Times or Ed Week stories. Now what happens when these carefully cultivated, emotionally-laden, nonconscious somatic markers neurally embedded and part of what is being assessed as Higher Order Thinking Skills and Understanding or Meaningful Learning was created to quietly acheive the declared goals of affirming ” a new level of being in which one can invent new artifacts and forge more just ways of existing”?

Now who would have suspected such nice stories could involve so much more? That the ‘learning experiences’ being loaded into the cloud or instilled in an adaptive, digital learning virtual reality game were created by developers hoping to create nonconscious somatic markers. That the developers and research profs knew that “most somatic markers we use for rational decision making were created in our brains during the process of education and socialization, by connecting specific classes of stimuli with specific classes of somatic state. In other words, they are based on the process of secondary emotions.”

All of this psychological and neuroscience research is being forced into required educational practices and no one is accurately telling us unless we dig as I do. Then we get to discover that those ‘secondary emotions’ being carefully hyped and manipulated are “those emotions and feelings [that] have been connected, by learning, to predicted future outcomes of certain scenarios.” Those were professor Damasio’s italics for emphasis in his book. Can the student know the future? No but they are being trained with Guiding Fictions ‘as if’ certain possibilities could be made true. Then the tasks are repeated until the emotionally-embued perception becomes a nonconscious Habit of Mind.

Just imagine making the definition of ‘success’ under the new federal education law or competency as about successfully planning and making decisions without adding that the decision making will be guided by instilled somatic markers. Those nonconscious emotions then become the ‘criteria…which express, at any given time, the cumulative preferences we have both received and acquired.”

Gives a whole new conception as to choice about what is ‘received and acquired’, doesn’t it?

Does ‘student-centered learning’ that is relevant and engaging still seem like a good goal to be blindly implementing for ALL students?

 

Orchestrating an All-Encompassing Conception of the Legitimate Domains of Government Control over Individuals

If anyone managed to avoid the fury over this past weekend over the Obama Administration’s Transgender Bathroom decrees http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201605-title-ix-transgender.pdf and this http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oshs/emergingpractices.pdf , you either have a set of headphones we would all like to acquire or you had a loved one just graduate. Most of the coverage and outrage is directed at imagining the physical intrusiveness of this edict. Occasionally we will get someone stating that this is not the role of the federal government. Reading both those releases though makes it quite clear that we have governments insisting they can command ‘citizens’ to defer to personal perceptions that disregard physical reality.

Let’s take a look at how useful that command ability is for those who have long sought to bring fundamental transformation to human societies, targeting what people value and how they must behave. Anyone think it is a coincidence that the sacred point for deference–personal perception–is precisely the point that the cyberneticists have wanted to control going back to those Macy conferences in the 40s? I just happened to have an essay from 1973 from Heinz Von Foerster (who edited the conference reports) telling researchers that “Since there are only 100 million sensory receptors, and about 10,000 billion synapses in our nervous system, we are 100 thousand times more receptive to changes in our internal than in our external environment.”

Is it any wonder governments have decided to target that internal ‘Simplex’ at a biological, neural level to gain the compliant citizens they (and their donor class like the Chambers of Commerce) want for the 21st Century? Refuse to believe me because it seems too horrible to contemplate? Let’s go looking for well-connected confessions from people at two places that have been ringleaders in these plans for us going back decades–MIT and Harvard. When I found out that in 1987 Stewart Brand wrote a book called The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT, I got a copy.  The last chapter has a fascinating, matter-of-fact conversation with Peter Schwartz that called attention to something I warned about in the early days of the blog. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-the-world-makes-far-more-sense-if-you-add-dirigisiste-to-the-things-you-understand/

“Schwartz: No, I think most of the world still believes it is appropriate for the government to control what the people will know. It’s really quite amazing–to me at least, having grown up in the United States. Regimes everywhere are–a term that is not well known in the United States–dirigiste. French word. Literally, it means state direction. It isn’t socialism, it isn’t fascism, it’s essentially the idea that part of the central role of the state is to direct society–as opposed to take care of a few things and let everybody else take care of themselves, which is [was?] the US philosophy. Most every country in the world is in some sense dirigiste.”

Now even if I had not explained recently what Upravleniye meant or the Science of the Individual or the required state and local economic planning now in WIOA or the change and then monitor the mental models of each student laid out in ESSA–the new federal education legislation, anyone want to venture a guess as to which direction global education reforms emanating from the UN would be taking the US on the dirigiste template? But the MIT conversation was not over and the other speaker was Jay Ogilvy, formerly director of research of the Values and Lifestyles Program at SRI International. Now I know SRI used to stand for Stanford Research and was involved in a hugely troubling task force called Changing Images of Man among lots of other things. Let’s listen in decades later to what Ogilvy said to Brand:

“Ogilvy added: What gets me is how utterly inappropriate our basic economic categories are. We need to recast the concept of property for one thing, because in Marx’s terms property is by definition alienable: that is, unlike your elbow which is you and not yours, property must be transferable to another (alia equals other). I sell you the cow. You got the cow. I don’t have the cow anymore. I sell you information. You got the information. I still have the information. That’s one anomaly.

Another anomaly: intrinsic in information is the ‘difference that makes a difference’–to a receiver. So the condition of the receiver is an important part of whether a given signal is or is not information. Is it news or isn’t it news? Well, that depends on the receiver and the receiver’s ability to understand it. That’s not true of a ton of steel. It’s not true of a ton of wheat.”

Where else do we get such a chance to eavesdrop on insiders so we can recognize that we, and especially students with still malleable minds, are the receivers (author’s italics but my bolding) whose ability to understand needs to be manipulated at the internalized (see ratios above), neurological level. Still resisting? When I kept encountering references to the book Harvard and the Unabomber and the social science experiments it laid out going on at Harvard in the 50s involving some of the Macy Cybernetics conference participants, I decided I should read it too. Turns out the author Alston Chase had also graduated from Harvard in the 1950s and he was rather matter-of-fact as well about how “Psychology came to be seen as a powerful tool that could be used for good (when employed by an enlightened elite) or for evil (when used by Hitler).”

On the list of things the Enlightened forgot to mention was the “rise of psychology in public policy” because “the masses could not be trusted, or, as the historian Ellen Herman put it, summarizing the thinking of this time, ‘mass opinion was dangerous as well as fickle…[It] was a real threat to rational planning.” Another word for such planning is dirigiste and the most effective and hard to observe place to enact such planning would be to go after what the so-called receiver has internalized to guide their perceptions and then interpretations of daily experiences.

Still want more quotes as to intentions? “Yet in their heart of hearts they had lost faith in people and embraced a new paternalism. They became what historian Brett Gary calls ‘nervous liberals,’ beset by ‘propaganda anxieties.’ Saving democracy, these scholars concluded, required new psychological techniques that would point public opinion in ‘correct’ directions. Social science was seen as not just a way to understand man, but to control him as well.”

Well, I am ready to leave Cambridge and whatever is in that air along the Charles River beyond world-class hubris. Let’s get back to why all this is clearly relevant to what the planners want to achieve with these Transgender Edicts. When I wrote my book Credentialed to Destroy , a professor–Ernst Von Glasersfeld and his theory of radical constructivism–figured prominently in what was known in the 90s as the Math Wars and what is really being changed via math classes now. What I learned recently was that Glasersfeld’s theories were a part of cybernetics aspirations and that he had written for a 1984 book called The Invented Reality.

Now if governments wish to guide societies and control citizens at a neural level without that really being appreciated, how useful is a theory of education or philosophy (depending on the department of the advocating professor) that preaches to students and future doctorates and administrators that:

“it does not matter what an object might be like in ‘reality’ or from an ‘objective’ point of view; what matters is exclusively whether or not it performs or behaves in the way that is expected of it, that is, whether or not it fits.”

Getting at perception and controlling it gives a means to literally change how students will act in the future to alter reality and how they will insist on interacting with others. That’s why the physical reality of anatomical parts and other ways to protect privacy and feelings are not enough for the Civil Rights Advocates. They know, and we should to, that all these theories on how to turn students, principals, and people in general into Marx’s Makers of History ride on using education to control perception. People may not like the bathroom edicts, but is anyone questioning the legitimacy of legally compelling how the world must work simply on the basis of a student’s declared perception of being transgender?

In 1979 Glasersfeld and a Viennese prof, John Richards, published a paper called “The Control of Perception and the Construction of Reality.” I am really not speculating here on how crucial controlling individual perception has always been to transformational plans to a planned society that meets all human needs. The transformationalists, showing their fondness for italics, want to shift the purpose of education away from What is the structure of the real world? to a cognitive, internalized emphasis on What is the structure of our experiential world? That is precisely the point of emphasis in the Transgender Edicts: Does the student perceive themselves to be a different gender? No need for psychiatric or medical evidence. A personal declaration will do and must be accepted at face value.

This is simply a furthering of the governments’ desire for to be dirigiste and to plan using psychological techniques. As that 1979 article in Dialectica stated, that desired shift simply needed that “We thus redefine ‘knowledge’ as pertaining to invariances [like how they subjectively perceive gender or racism or White Privilege]  in the living organism’s experience rather than to entities, structures, and events in an independently existing world. Correspondingly, we redefine ‘perception.’ It is not the reception or duplication of information that is coming in from the outside, but rather the construction of the invariances by which the organism can assimilate and organize its experience.”

Anyone beginning to see why all mandates now push a concept-based, activity-oriented [project-based learning] focus for education for everyone? We need to recognize that the theorists are using education to enact their observation that “the brain’s model of reality, as far as consciousness is concerned, is reality–there is nothing else to perceive.” By manipulating that model of reality through educational practices and then insisting that we must all defer to that manipulated perception of reality, the Transgender Edicts are not just about bathrooms and privacy. The government is continuing to insist that individual perception is a legitimate area for it to manipulate. Then we must all accept the results of the consciousness that was intentionally fostered to believe in the need for change.

A Haverford philosophy professor cited in a footnote concluded that ” today [writing in 1988] the type of dialogical communities that are required for its flourishing are being distorted, undermined, and systematically blocked from coming into existence.” The Transgender Edicts with their deference to personal perception over actual reality, the Science of Virtues and other pushes of Character and values first, and the ubiquity now of a Whole Child emphasis and emotions as an integral component of learning are all means to remove the barriers to the desired communities that promote the desired “solidarity with our fellow human beings.”

I am not the one who throughout the 80s in elite higher ed kept quoting from Marx on what must be done to change history. This is how Richard J Bernstein concluded his book on Beyond Objectivism and Relativism:

“Marx’s second thesis on Feuerbach, especially his claim that ‘man must prove the truth, the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice,’ is a fitting conclusion to this study. We can no longer share Marx’s theoretical certainty or revolutionary self-confidence. There is no guarantee, there is no necessity, no ‘logic of history’ that must inevitably lead to dialogical communities that embrace all of humanity and in which reciprocal judgment, practical discourse, and rational persuasion flourish.”

So ‘standards-based education reforms’ were called on to alter perception to force what was never inevitable at all. Now we get legal decrees to further that same actual mandate and restart the hoped-for transformation.

See how this is not really about locker rooms and bathrooms?

Triggers of Action: Carving the Noetic Keels Needed for Politics to Steer Society and People

Serendipity has always been one of my favorite words. I used to tell my children that a great vocabulary word has a sentence full of meaning in a single word. Several weeks ago I was out of town and catching up on emails when an investment newsletter just happened to use the following quote to make a point:

“A world of unseen dictatorship is conceivable, still using the forms of democratic government.”–Kenneth Boulding, University of Michigan

Yes, that is a troubling quote, but I recognized the name as being the professor I had cited in my book Credentialed to Destroy. He was behind the push that began in the 1970s to force ‘systems thinking’ into the classrooms. The quote was credited to a 1957 bestseller I had never heard of called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. Getting that book zoomed to the top of my To Do list even before I knew that the quote introduced a section of the book called “Persuading Us as Citizens.” It covered how the motivational research the PR and marketing firms were using to sell products and services had been introduced into politics in order to “influence the state of our mind and to channel our behavior as citizens.”

What was then at least understood by its dispensers as ‘depth psychology,’ and controversial enough to drive a bestselling tell-all explaining it, is precisely what is now known as Whole Child Education and Deep Learning. It must be used by teachers and principals, who may never have encountered anyone explaining the true background of these practices and techniques. Why? To be deemed Effective. This is why I created the term Inadvertent Change Agent in my book. It is also tied to what the new K-12 federal legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), mandates as the means of establishing ‘success’.

“Forced ideological homogenization” and “equitable economic development” have long been regarded as necessary components of an attempt by systems thinkers to reorganize society and individuals and redefine what constitutes ‘self-reliance.’ I am really getting tired of all these non-asterisked redefinitions, aren’t you? There was a February 1976 annual meeting of Boulding’s General Systems Research Group followed the next day by a meeting at Harvard of virtually every group we have ever covered on this blog or in the book including representatives from the Club of Rome and the World Order Models Project. I located the minutes of the meetings in a book which was kind enough to tell us this:

“in order to carry out the program proposed by the model, one really has to carry out very deep structural and attitudinal changes. This is why we say that the main problem is a sociopolitical, not a material, resource kind of problem, in the sense that there are paths and strategies which can take us to the satisfaction of basic needs. But the main problem remains of a sociopolitical nature.”

Good thing, huh, that systems thinkers specialize in a remaking of education and the creation of think tanks and a public policy network that will cause politicians to believe that they need to mandate and plan all these areas in the name of Equitable Economic Development? In fact, that is what the 2014 federal legislation–WIOA–now has all states and localities on record as planning. Since all the legislation to force the needed sociopolitical changes is now in place in the US, let’s go back to see what motivational research already knew in the 50s. After all the Congressionally created and White House visiting League of Innovative Schools was created to obtain desired research into what ‘motivates’ students.

Boulding, in a 1973 paper he wrote for the Social Science Education Consortium, laid out his interest in viewing the “whole human being as a system” whose “concepts and perceptions are often strongly influenced by our motives.” Is it any wonder then that motives have been officially targeted for research and that ‘concepts and perceptions’ are officially required for annual assessment via ESSA? Vance Packard shorthanded Motivational Research and its goals and techniques as MR in his book The Hidden Persuaders so we will too as we access some of its insights as to why education is now taking the same techniques and forcing them deceitfully on classrooms and students everywhere.

Packard quoted the magazine Advertising Age as stating the wide use of MR in politics–“This is all to the good.” What was not good, however, was the “growing public discussion of the importance of advertising in politics.” If public awareness that politicians were seeking to influence them emotionally and at subconscious and unconscious levels was problematic in the 50s, by all means let me continue to try to force a discussion of these same MR methods into K-12 education now. After all, if ‘role playing’ is a ‘psychological technique’ used to ‘modify the behavior and attitudes’ when it is used on ‘key personnel’ in large industrial organizations, it still has that same function when it becomes a required classroom practice for students.

If an insurance exec admitted role playing was used widely because “we needed a motivational device…[that] at the same time teaches at the emotional level,” that remains true when the methods are transferred from adults to the far more malleable minds of students. When Packard quoted the book The Engineering of Consent on how the MR methods are of “considerable value…to those who wish to modify society” and that “People must be controlled by manipulating their [instincts and emotions] rather than by changing their reasonings,” we get to remember that quote when the Davos crowd suddenly this month calls for  https://www.weforum.org/reports/new-vision-for-education-fostering-social-and-emotional-learning-through-technology .

That’s even more true once we realize that MR users in the 50s knew already that “if you are engineering consent, then I think the social sciences would like to warn you that you should begin with a basic analysis of three levels upon which consent moves in a society like ours.” Try not to get ill when we recognize that education now is all about manipulating level two and public policy think tanks and many pundits from every spectrum and announced party affiliation are all about targeting level three. The man being quoted above and below is a social anthropologist Lyman Bryson describing 1953 seminars on the social sciences held at Teachers College, Columbia for PR firms. My bolding.

“The first level, he said, is human nature. He added that little really could be done here to ‘manipulate’ people. The second level was cultural change, which is where you must operate, he said, if you want to influence people’s ideas. The third level is the region of choice. Here is where an impulse is running in a particular direction, and some sort of choice will be made regardless, ‘as when a choice between similar products [think tank or media deceit functions here] is made.’ At this level, he said, ‘it is relatively easy to manipulate people.’ On the other hand, if you are trying to change their ideas, ‘you work on the second level,’ where different ‘psychological pressures, techniques, and devices from those successful on the third level’ must be used.”

Think of that quote and the ubiquity of the School Choice mantra that the think tanks push as their solution to education and the needs of public policy. Suddenly the imperviousness of the phrase to facts that show there is actually no choice becomes clearer. Likewise, Packard quoted a Dr Samuel Stouffer, director of Harvard’s Laboratory of Social Relations telling his listeners that “it was a good working rule that people’s attitudes are more easily reached through their emotions than through their intellects.” Back to role playing and a Whole Child emphasis and that Science of Virtues, then, huh?

It should bother us a great deal that Dr Stouffer considered that to be ‘learning theory’ research. Looking for ‘triggers of action’ in the form of words or visuals, learning theory even in the 50s knew that “behaviors can be changed by changing ‘the motivational forces working upon them.'” Think about that when you reread Chapter 7 of my book about how the Common Core and Competency-based education really target values, attitudes, and beliefs. If people are systems as Boulding and others hoped, then those are the areas that must be changed in order for personal behavioral goals to change as well. Once again the redefinitions kick in as the socially reengineered student, and then adult, gets described as ‘autonomous.’ It’s called Hidden Persuaders for a reason as the MR techniques “can create wants in people that they still didn’t realize existed.”

Trained through learning tasks and classroom experiences to act. Requiring ‘performance standards’ precisely to force daily practice with engineered mental models and manipulated emotions. Meanwhile no one planned to disclose the engineered existence of an internalized noetic keel consciously carved during years of preschool-high school ‘student-centered’ education. Carved precisely so that politicians and agency planners can steer society as they wish and reward cronies as they want. Packard ended his book with this worry:

“The most serious offense many of the depth manipulators commit, it seems to me, is that they try to invade the privacy of our minds. It is this right to privacy in our minds–privacy to be either rational or irrational–that I believe we must strive to protect.”

Federal law now requires, and states and schools, public and private, everywhere are happy to go along with, a now mandated invasion of the privacy of our minds. That’s the purpose of education research and the mandated databases. Longitudinal is another word for what used to be called more clearly ‘time series data’. The point is not what is personally identifiable, but the changes over time to allow this desired steering process. Packard was lucky. He was able to get the word out to enough people that MR became notorious. So it went underground and got new names and is now mandated for all of our children. To ultimately control enough of us for this steering to guide all institutions, but installed through deceitful false narratives and K-12 education.

Let me end with the remaining purpose that I believe has motivated who has been  deemed acceptable for the Presidency and other political offices by either party since at least 1988. I think it is why ESSA and WIOA were “Bipartisan and Bicameral” as necessary components of the mostly invisible steering process. It’s 2016 and the oligarchs think it has taken far too long for what was planned in earnest from the 1950s on. Removing all obstacles, down to the level of the mental models of our minds, that might block the planned:

“most important social engineering role of them all–the gradual reorganization of human society, piece by piece and structure by structure.”

Person by person, starting with the children and euphemised as being about Learning, Student Growth, and Success for All.

 

 

Pitching Personality Predation But Redefining It as Student Success, Achievement, and Learning

Nothing like a little mental break to help clear out the cobwebs and blow away the fog impeding clarity of thought. As is typical for me when I recognize the connectedness of initiatives that have been announced since my last post, I went back to my bookshelf for a little perspective. In this case it was to a short story Ayn Rand published in 1970 called “The Comprachicos,” where she wrote about the effects of the progressive education in the 60s grounded in John Dewey’s philosophies. This was education designed to cripple the mind and undermine its ability to accurately deal with reality. Sound familiar? Rand created a superb metaphor for what this type of Competency/Ideas first, instead of facts, education could do to the mind of a high school graduate by comparing it to the faculty of sight.

“Try to project what you would feel if your eyesight were damaged in such a way that you were left with nothing but peripheral vision. You would sense vague, unidentifiable shapes floating around you, which would vanish when you tried to focus on them, then would reappear on the periphery and swim and switch and multiply.”

Now that is a good example except this type of manipulation of Ideas, beliefs, values, and emotions starts in preschool now so there would be no memory of any other way to see. Peripheral vision would become each student’s idea of what it meant to “see”. Likewise, a mind taught to use ideas first to filter experiences is being trained “to use concepts, but he uses concepts by a child’s perceptual method. He uses them as concretes, as the immediately given.” [Italics in original]

It is a bit unnerving, isn’t it, to know that Rand was worried about where the behavioral sciences wanted to go with the mind even back in 1970? She even had a term for it–the student’s “psycho-epistemology.” So our student would be trained to use words and concepts like a parrot and believe they had ‘understanding’. To be willing to transfer those ideas and concepts to new situations where an expert would know their use was inappropriate–the Inapt Analogy we can call it. Without facts though, the student will not.

In the Trilogy I just finished I argued that it appears to me to be a consensus about what education should be in the future and that politicians and think tanks from the so-called Right and Left, admittedly Progressive or declaratively conservative or “for limited government and markets,” seem to be describing a common vision. That vision again takes us back to John Dewey as Steven Rockefeller described his vision of Democratic Humanism. It would act as a religious faith best implemented through the schools and other social institutions. So when someone pitches education grounded in Conceptual Understandings, Guiding Ideas, Cross-Cutting Themes and Concepts, or other ways to describe the same general instructional practice, remember why John Dewey wanted this technique to become the core of education. This is true even if the pitch person insists this technique is actually a form of classical education or intended to mold character in desirable ways.

Dewey “proposes that ideas are guides to action in concrete problemmatic situations, that is, ‘plans of operations to be performed or already performed.'” The antipathy we have found towards lectures and textbooks makes far more sense as we switch to education where “ideas are not correctly conceived as reproductions of what already exists, but as plans of something to be done and anticipations of some result to follow. They are tools, instrumentalities.” Fits with the Maker Movement and Project-Based Learning now, doesn’t it? Especially when we add on this quote: “The validity or truth of an idea can only be determined empirically by putting the idea to use and observing the consequences of the actions to which the idea leads.”

Remember all the current emphasis on relevance and real world problems? Evidence-based policy making using data? In Dewey’s vision for an education that can lead to a reconstruction of society, emphasizing moral issues plays a crucial role. Students are expected to regularly identify “the causes of moral and social problems in concrete situations and on framing ideals with reference to the available means for overcoming such problems.” So ideals need to be connected to real world action. Otherwise, “ideals that are framed apart from the study of problems and possibilities in concrete situations are dreams, wish-fantasies, and useless as instrumentalities in directing practical affairs.” Anyone unclear as to why the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires not tests per se, but that states use performance assessments that involve activities and tasks to see if the stipulated learning is occurring can simply reread those two sentences.

If it’s not action-oriented it may not guide or motivate future behavior. Likewise, if school is merely intellectual, the desired future behaviors may not occur. Social and emotional learning, whatever the given rationale, a Whole Child emphasis, Head, Heart, and Hand, as well as soft skills, are all consistent with what Dewey also recognized–the Role of the Heart in Moral Life. That way “prizing and appraising unite in the direction of action.” Dewey and every other progressive since culminating now in where Deeper Learning (pushed by the Hewlett Foundation as part of 21st Century Learning) is going recognizes that “Reason divorced from emotional involvement has no moving power.” Can you say student engagement as a necessary 21st century classroom practice to be an effective teacher?

Dewey’s conception of education and learning fits perfectly with what ESSA now requires and Competency education generally. It fits with the kind of effectiveness that will get a school charter renewed and allow a CMO (Charter Management Company) to expand. It fits with what will make online learning an example of Best Practices for Student Growth. In none of these instances though is the Learning about the transmission of knowledge in a traditional sense. No, it’s about what kind of person the classroom activities are helping to create. “Growth means reinforcing those habits that contribute to human well-being and reconstructing those habits that do not.” Since none of us can even get an honest answer from most of the advocates for the Common Core as well as against it as to what they really envision for 21st century education, do not expect to be the arbiter of what constitutes your own or your child’s well-being.

For Dewey then and for any school or other education provider wanting access to taxpayer money now (federal, state, or local), “learning means an increased perception of the meaning of things that leads to a modification of character (i.e., of basic dispositions and attitudes). In short, growing and learning involve the reconstruction and transformation of the self leading to an improved capacity of the self to adjust to its environment and to control and direct subsequent experience.

The concept of habit is the fundamental idea in Dewey’s psychology of the development of the self or character. Dewey insists that the self is essentially identical with its active interests, purposes, and choices. There is no self apart from these activities. The core of the self is formed and defined by the concrete things about which it cares and by the choices it makes in pursuit of these things.”

Guess what? If, like me, you are an expert on the actual implementation it is easy to read that biography of Dewey and recognize the actual current significance. For those of you with more of a life than I have managed since I started researching and writing on all this, first of all I congratulate you. Secondly, let me call everyone’s attention to two examples in just the past week quietly putting Dewey’s vision into widespread effect without even using his name.

First, many of the elite institutions of higher education have joined together to redefine what they intend to look for in an admitted student. The initiative is called Making Caring Common and it looks for non-minority students for whom acting on behalf of others and for the common good and to transform existing institutions and local environments has been shown to be a way of life. http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/16/01/turning-tide-inspiring-concern-others-and-common-good-through-college-admissions

How’s that for an effective means to change the behaviors and practices at every high school with aspirations of of Ivy League admissions? Anyone reading that report can recognize it will result in a change in emphasis to what Dewey wanted for the schools. The creation of a “free person who is able to form his or her purposes intelligently, evaluating desires and goals by the consequences which will result from acting on them, and one who is able to select and order the means necessary to realize chosen ends.”

A similar end result comes from this paper http://asiasociety.org/files/A_Rosetta_Stone_for_Noncognitive_Skills.pdf except it admits it wants to restructure the emphasis in primary and secondary schools. The omnipresent rationale, as usual, is that this personality and psychological emphasis is necessary for future success in college, career, and life. The real reason, as is true of anything emanating from a Rockefeller-funded philanthropy like the Asia Society, is to advance the vision of the future Dewey called Democratic Humanism and others call Marxist Humanism. As Dewey, Ayn Rand, and Uncle Karl all knew and we need to recognize to protect ourselves and our children, collectivists need to target the emotions and personality to realize their plans for us.

Why? Dewey insisted that “unrest, impatience, irritation, and hurry that are so marked in life are inevitable accompaniments of a situation in which individuals do not find support and contentment in the fact that they are sustaining and sustained members of a social whole.” That’s what education that targets the personality and forces regular practices of altruism and actions grounded in provided ideas can all be manipulated to do. That’s why we have such a coordinated push now.

We have a sustained push from the Left and the Right, from the religious and atheists, from the global bureaucrat or ex-politician to the local mayor or city council member. All pushing practices that, whatever their personal beliefs and expectations in advocating for them, were nevertheless developed to “generate the sense of shared values and organic interconnection needed to harmonize society and to integrate and set free the personalities of contemporary men and women.”

If terms like Marxist Humanism seem off-putting, let’s just translate it as Dewey and his biographer Steven Rockefeller did and ask “Can a material, industrial civilization be converted into a distinctive agency for liberating the minds and refining the emotions of all who take part in it?” If a politician claims to want Quality Education for All Students, you might want to inform him or her as to what that actually entails.

When I get upset about the 2014 Bipartisan and Bicameral piece of federal legislation known as WIOA that all the candidates running for President who are US Senators voted for, it is because it fits perfectly with Dewey’s insistence that a planned economy would be needed for democratic socialism to be achieved and it was best implemented at the local level. After all, what is WIOA but legislation with the effect of controlling the ends of education as well as allowing for “social control of industry and the use of government agencies for constructive social ends” just as Dewey sought.

Let me close by pointing out that those of us not employed by the public sector or businesses getting taxpayer dollars are unlikely to find any of these desired ends particularly constructive.