Distributive Justice is Not Enough We Must Break the Illusion of the Unitary Self

If you plan to use education in the US to “break the illusion of a stable and unitary self,” you will get my attention once it comes on my radar screen. We have already talked about the dominance of Communitarian principles in Common Core’s implementation through the actual definition of Career Ready and what is required for a Positive School Climate. I have mentioned repeatedly that the primary designers of Common Core have said social and emotional learning are the primary goals, not content knowledge.

Content is merely a tool for the students to visualize and emotionalize real world problems. To pretend that everything is fixable with discussion, enough tax money, and central planning. And maybe a new set of values too. Something the typical student and maybe adults who have spent their lives on the public payroll might actually believe. But what does this type of curriculum look like in practice?

I have said before that “Learning” is now defined as changing individual values or beliefs or feelings or especially behaviors. Learning is no longer about factual knowledge. This is true all over the world to varying degrees. We have a great deal of cooperating going on among teachers from various countries copying each others’ ideas for this new type of Learning. Supposedly more suitable for the Information Age and the hoped for New Caring Economy based on Sustainability in the 21st Century. Recently, the teachers have been linking to the ideas of an Australian blogger and teacher. Her suggestions include molding the curriculum around “What do you think is unfair?” and “What would you do to change the world?”

Now obviously a student with little knowledge of facts will feel her way to her answer. That’s considered to be deep, reflective thinking. Even better if the student writes her “thoughts” down. I use the scare quotes deliberately because unsupported, emotional beliefs are not what most of us consider to be “thinking.” Especially the kind of thinking we want schools or colleges to be cultivating. Indeed mandating. In case you wonder what the teacher’s motivations are she tells us: “Developing an awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act.” Her bolding to make sure readers got the point. Encouraging students to change the world.

The unfairness curriculum is supposed to draw the class closer together:

“as we reveal what bothers us and find commonalities. We make connections between the different injustices and relate them to our own experiences. We shift back and forth between personal and global perspectives. We discuss how global issues might affect us personally and how personal issues might be relevant in broader contexts.”

And a student with this type of Relevant, Authentic, Engaging Curriculum would be an absolute sitting duck for all these schemes to use education to change the filtering mindset. To gain A New, non-Axemaker Mind. To prime the students for a different social, political, and economic system than what created the West’s prosperity. We could honestly call this curriculum educating for Utopia and have no chance any teacher or student would be likely to grasp that Utopia means Nowhere for a reason.

Back to our quote from the title, this week I read about a Building One America conference held in July 2011 at the White House. It was supposedly about the Regional Equity Movement in the US. That really caught my eye as my reaction to every regional conference I have ever attended has been to wonder why no one else attending seems to appreciate they are describing a centrally planned economy with its terrible track records.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/and-governments-must-facilitate-everything/ is a post I wrote to describe what I heard and what it actually means if carried through. As you can imagine with my work on the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance at the international level, the Building One America conference sounded like an awfully useful political vehicle for transformative change. Worth looking into in light of what we already know.

One of the listed speakers complete with powerpoint was an Ohio State professor, john a. powell (his preference is all lower case). He wants future students and citizens:

“animated not simply by visions of distributive equality, nor even equality of opportunity, but more fundamentally, by a transformed view of the self, of relationships, and of the world.”

powell’s new vision of self is about “interconnection, of interbeing.” He wants to build this new definition of self and “awareness into our institutions and processes.” That would certainly explain all this Communitarian emphasis we have been seeing and the rejection of individual thinking we described in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/.

Just to update that adoption of socio-cultural theory as the new basis for American education practices, the US Partnership for 21st Century Learning this week explicitly endorsed that Education for Life and Work report as providing the foundation for a new view of learning. I’ll say. I don’t think they were expecting anyone to go past the news release or Executive Summary.

Back to powell, this is the definition of freedom that permeates his work and the Regional Equity Movement. And it sounds just like that Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems learning theory we also discussed that is the specious basis for bad education practices all over the world now. Now isn’t this a definition of freedom that is the antithesis of the concept of the individual in the West and the type of freedom the US Constitution was created to preserve? Quoting cultural historian Jeremy Rifkin by name, powell says:

“Freedom is found not in autonomy but in embeddedness. To be free is to have access to many independent relationships. . . It is inclusivity that brings security–belonging, not belongings.”

Well, I suppose, it is good not to emphasize belongings in a social justice movement seeking to obtain racial equity, class equity (I guess they mean no classes a la that Line of Plenty for All), and spacial equity (they seem to want us all crowding back into urban areas and walking or taking transit). That is supposed to foster economic development for all. Not likely.

But breaking the illusion of the solitary self requires “new approaches to learning” and students and citizens “open to reexamining social and economic assumptions” writes a different Regional Equity architect, Paloma Pavel. You can see how not knowing much history would make that reexamination easier to push. Even if the actual consequences remain catastrophic. Who will know until the catastrophe occurs once education becomes about “the need for internal transformation within the consciousness of each individual?”

Stanley Kurtz in his new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities says that Building One America is to be a primary goal of an Obama Second Term. He thinks the American people have a right to know what that would entail. Last week I tracked down the education vision of the Regional Equity Movement. It sure does fit with what we already know about what Common Core actually looks like as well as the Belmont Challenge aspirations.

So maybe we need to decide whether the individual actually is an antiquated idea we want educators trying to eliminate. In malleable, captive minds. Using psychological practices.

Just thought I’d ask.

Mind Thieves: Everyday Examples that Add Up to a Cultural and Political Tsunami

I have talked before about how the anti-content/just generic skills and social and emotional learning dominance of the Common Core implementation amounts to mind arson. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/how-can-ed-reform-lead-to-innovation-if-it-is-really-mind-arson/ And how this psychological manipulation, and starvation of the mind from facts to prevent any creation of its own mental concepts or access to sequential logic and solid analytical thinking in grammar or math or even systematic phonetic reading instruction, is a huge boon to existing Big Business. It makes the chances of someone creating a superior competing product consumers prefer or other genuine innovation much more remote. Because, honestly, nobody hates free markets and having to compete on price to satisfy customers more than already established businesses. Especially ones that have been around long enough to have political connections locally, in the statehouse, or lobbyists on retainer in DC plus politicians that rely on their contributions.

Once an economy becomes driven largely by the government and politicians and regulators, these political connections become dominant. The classic collusion of widely distributed costs (that’s me and you, ordinary taxpayers, picking up the bill) and concentrated benefits (politically connected businesses). In the midst of our conversations recently about the Axemakers Mind vs Nonlinear New Mindedness fit for Sustainability and a New Planned “Caring Economy” yet another National Research Council report popped onto my horizon. Called “Continuing Innovation in Information Technology” it pushes the idea that the federal government should be the dominant funder of future IT research to keep the US dominant in this field. It plans to use grants to research universities to finance the research.  Now that won’t create any conflicts of interest during these times of sought political transformations, will it?

Now I have explained before what a poor job governments do vs everyday people out and about and thus in a position to recognize real needs and desires in anticipating future markets and technology. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-the-world-makes-far-more-sense-if-you-add-dirigisiste-to-the-things-you-understand/ Plus the government has to tax or borrow to get the money to give to political favorites who are doing and advocating as officials want and not what markets will pay for. Think Solyndra and watch your tax dollars disappear completely or shift to connected coffers. That’s the reality of a politically directed economy and why free markets are more desirable even if they do not produce equity. Honestly, the world’s major search engine company and the world’s great creator of computer operating systems and Big Blue “System of Systems” pushing Sustainability and Smarter Cities as revenue generators do not need taxpayer money funding their research. Their treasure trove of liquidity beats the US taxpayer hands down. Four of the 6 places at the table.

And I am not picking on them. I am sure they are great companies to buy products from and work for. But it does seriously taint their advice pushing Career Pathways or P-Tech high schools for all kids or 21st Century Skills. Plus any partnering on ATC21S, the worldwide push to change academic measures of assessment so that the non-Axemaker mind grounded in emotion and generic skills is not noticeable in time to stop the sought noetic transformation. In fact, I noticed the only research university on the relevant committee, UCLA, is where CRESST is located. The entity involved early on in developing the curriculum and assessments that are now to become what Common Core looks like in your child’s classroom. The personalized, engaging learning designed to keep you from worrying so much when there are no more textbooks.

Again, Big Business will always become political entrepreneurs and push desired policies that will lock in revenue, protect them from future competition, and get them a seat at the table to sic regulators on others. That inevitability that has become rampant in the US now is why there is no long-term prosperity in a politically-directed economy for the average person. And no fluidity either as the nomenklatura of the political class seek to pass their abilities to engineer political and economic subjugation on to their own kids. And that actually hurts each of us, unlike the seeming unfairness of the lucky sperm living off a trust fund they had nothing to do with.

So when we see this omnipresent digital literacy, laptop, smartphone, interactive e-textbook push coming to a classroom near you soon, please do not forget just how rampant the cronyism is throughout Common Core and the global ICT push and the Sustainability push. None of this transformation for the 21st century economy involves widespread prosperity for the typical person. It is to be a state planned economy with equalized incomes around a designated Line of Plenty. Yes I found that in some of the documents getting ready for Rio+20. Given the coffers of the foundation funding that global transition work and what else they are involved in, that Line of Plenty certainly qualifies as a bad idea. But it is a real one. It’s where those Common Core Career Pathways are really leading.

This “ALWAYS LEARNING” video crossed my desk recently by way of Australia where it is really being pushed. The Next Generation Learning emphasis is the push from one of the vendors with a seat at the table for that NRC report we discussed above to get us to fund future computer innovation.

A Serious Talk: KIds Demand Next Genera tion Learning

What kind of future do you really think those kids will have? And to keep our Cronyism/Political Transformation theme Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Michael Barber, was responsible for bringing Cambridge Education to the US to spread the UN’s contentless vision. I wrote about that here:  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-the-system-seeks-to-destroy-the-ability-to-think-can-james-madison-save-us/ As Tony Blair’s former ed advisor, he is widely credited with being the reason the UK is considered to be an exemplar of UNESCO’s vision for education. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of how often his name just keeps popping up. The business cards should perhaps say Global Change Agent Extraordinaire.

But there is one more point I want to make on this digital literacy push and Common Core. It comes from a recent Ed Week story “It’s Not About the Machine, It’s About Heart” about Mooresville NC using the Flippen Capturing Kid’s Heart emotional intelligence program in conjunction with their all-digital classroom. How would you feel as a taxpayer and parent to know content is largely gone. That researchers are aware that all that digital and visual stimulus makes the chances of ever developing a linear mind, an Axemakers Mind, slim without home intervention. And then the school announces that:

“They also use a behavior management program and develop a behavior management contract that students build with teachers that constitutes a culture of caring and an agreement on how they will treat each other. [Superintendent Mark] Edwards said, ‘It is so important to be intentional about building school culture.”

Indeed. Wake Up. Before mental and emotional tyranny comes to a classroom near you soon. At great expense. If your school or district is already there, please comment or drop me a line. I will help you get more info to try to prevent your child from being a victim of utopian newmindedness.

Learning to Learn or How to Replace Old Minds with Sustainable New Ones

I know you are thinking no one would really say that but they did. In fact the book we talked about in our last post Management for A Small Planet even has a chapter called “We Are How We Think” that quotes a 1989 book by Population and Environmental alarmist Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich wrote “there is now a mismatch between the human mind and the world people inhabit”. To properly deal with the environmental threats he saw everywhere, people “need to replace our old minds with new ones.” How? By changing the learning process itself. Now before I explain how in ways that will build on things like the SEL, values, communitarian ethos, and higher order thinking we have been talking about, I want to talk about Ehrlich’s dispute and bet with economist Julian Simon over the future. And whether to be optimistic or pessimistic.

Now I am not going to explain the wager itself. It is too easy to search the phrase “simon ehrlich wager” and get the details. It is Simon’s vision of humanity and education and the economy I first want to talk about. His vision reflects what most of us think we are getting when we pay property taxes to fund schools or write that tuition check or take out a student loan. If our education spending is based on obtaining Simon’s vision for the future but we are unwittingly buying Ehrlich’s desire for reframed new minds instead, I think it is past time we recognize that difference. Especially if Common Core and the related reforms of higher ed are about to really impose the Ehrlich/Small Planet mental vision.

In 1981 Julian Simon wrote a book The Ultimate Resource that rebutted all the doom and gloom about the scarcity of energy and natural resources and the “perils of overpopulation” that people like Ehrlich or groups like the Club of Rome had been pushing throughout the 1970s. Simon argued that it is the human mind that has made natural resources of value in the first place. He believed and argued persuasively that the ultimate resource on Planet Earth is the human imagination of creative, knowledgeable people when combined with a determined human spirit. That combination is what literally creates civilizations. At least it can when it is combined with a political-social-economic system that provides personal freedom from government coercion.

What Simon points out (pages 11 -13) in the 1996 reissue called The Ultimate Resource 2 is that if you look everywhere in the world where widespread prosperity and human progress has ever appeared you find important commonalities in the story:

“Skilled persons require a framework that provides incentives for working hard and taking risks, enabling their talents to flower and come to fruition. The key elements of such a framework are economic liberty, respect for property, and fair and sensible rules of the market that are enforced equally for all.”

Now Simon’s definition of “skilled” is not the generic 21st century skills designed to be accessible to anyone drawing a breath. He meant education that actually increases the “stock of useful knowledge,” not paper credentalling for all in the name of social justice. As Simon says (I couldn’t help myself but this really is not a child’s game): “minds matter economically as much as, or more than, hands or mouths.” Now here is the critical point where Julian Simon is precisely right but it is diametrically opposed to the Sustainability vision of the future economy:

The essence of wealth is the capacity to control the forces of nature, and the extent of wealth depends upon the level of technology and the ability to create new knowledge.”

That is the opposite of the Small Planet/Sustainability/UNESCO vision of the future. That new knowledge is created from a solid foundation of the transmitted knowledge of the Ages that the Common Core and OBE and the UN’s Education For All generally refuse to allow. With the regional accreditors on board to act as enforcers for this Ehrlich/Small Planet quest for new minds.

So Simon won the wager and Ehrlich paid him. But Ehrlich’s economic and environmental vision is what has been and is being unwittingly adopted globally through Outcomes Based Education grounded in authentic learning and emotionally engaging pedagogies and ecological/cultural approaches to curriculum. A classic example of winning the battle and losing the war. And mostly out of sight as taxpayers believe they are getting consistent content requirements state to state in case they ever need to move. Other countries got similar Bait and Switch programs. The solution to the created problem in education ends up being a more extreme version of what created the problem initially.

Authentic learning (ATLAS) came to Australia officially about 2001. In the US it is a part of the Common Core implementation. The idea is to “investigate real-world topics and solve real-world problems.” Students are to “demonstrate their understanding by applying what they have learned to new and challenging situations.” Ehrlich’s new minds (he has plenty of company from our previous posts) then are supposed to come about through double-loop learning processes. Yes that really is italicized just like that on page 95 of Small Planet just after the new minds quote. I have a feeling all that data and feedback we keep hearing about will be very helpful to this aim of altering mental frameworks.

So basically you take those authentic, challenging real-world topics and complex, largely insoluble, social problems and have the students reflect and inquire.  Teachers and other students examine the underlying assumptions, values, experiences, and social norms that frame each student’s expressed beliefs. The double-loop aspect focuses on the systems structures that supposedly “address the underlying causes of behavior.”

And that fundamental personal reexamination process and inquiry into a real world that the student is unlikely  to have much factual knowledge about (content no longer being the main point of school) is officially called “learning to learn.” And it is regarded as a terrific foundation for modifying how people think. To get them to see the world in terms of dynamic interrelationships.

And only in terms of their own physical interactions and experiences and emotions. How politically useful but so mentally confining. Makes you want to rebel and go read a book just for spite.