The idea of deliberately fostering muddled minds via K-12 education that we encountered in the last post and the overall disdain for Axemaker Minds in the 21st Century that is practically a theme for this blog makes perfect sense when we remember all the entities and people we have encountered, in either my new book or this blog, who have openly proclaimed a desire to use education to drive radical political and socioeconomic change. From John Dewey and Karl Marx as I describe in the book to the OECD’s current admission of The Great Transition or the UN’s related The World We Want 2015 campaign, we are just being overwhelmed by people generally living at taxpayer expense who want wholesale transformation. The US Common Core Initiative and 21st Century Learning globally are simply methods to stealthily get US schools, teachers, and students “in transition” without being honest with parents or taxpayers as to what is going on.
To truly appreciate how so much change could be attempted in plain sight without being properly understood, it is important for us to take a look at the new RSA report that came out this week. http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1536844/J1530_RSA_climate_change_report_16.12_V51.pdf The so-called “New Agenda on Climate Change” described in that graphic report is to cease debating the reality of manmade climate change and to turn it into a “social fact.” Widely believed and therefore influencing behavior whatever the actual facts. Needless to say, K-12 education that is no longer fact based but instead focuses on key concepts usefully presupplied will come in awfully handy to such a “social fact” aspiration. Not to mention a muddled mind and a trained willingness to act in the face of ambiguity and “persist in the face of difficulty” as we encountered in the last post’s mention of those desired learning dispositions.
Called the 4 Rs by Claxton and UK documents, these Learning-Power Dispositions of Resilience (Feeling or the emotional aspects of learning), Resourcefulness (Thinking or the cognitive aspects of learning), Reflectiveness (Managing or the strategic aspects of learning), and Reciprocity (Relating or the social aspects of learning) http://www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk/images/blpia_extract.pdf make perfect sense as a focus of the classroom if change to and in the student is what is sought. As an invisible means to broader transformation. Claxton even said that the 4 Rs are part of a needed Epistemic Climate Change in the schools. So let’s go back to what Jonathan Rowson wrote is now desired to appreciate why it is the student, and ultimately voting adults, whose values and guiding beliefs and personality need to all change.
Rowson and the Social Brain Project and its work are not interested in dealing with an environmental problem. He wants to “refocus the debate away from the existence of the problem towards competing ideas about solutions.” Which again is very useful if the problem does not actually exist and was always just an excuse for social, political, and economic transformation in a desired collectivist direction which is precisely what we have discovered on this blog going back to the early 60s. RSA is simply going to assume away the dispute. It knows about the governmental monopoly over education that allows a radicalizing focus on bringing students on board with the desired changes while erroneously believing they are essential. Rowson acknowledges the extent of RSA’s goals on behalf of the UK and actually the rest of the world by announcing:
“we have to connect with the root causes of the climate problem, which is partly about using way too much energy to fullfil socially and culturally needs and desires, but is more profoundly about the price of fossil fuels [what was that quote from candidate Obama about necessarily skyrocketing?] that produce that energy, and political and economic structures that keep us addicted to them.”
So it is the political and economic structures that need changing. Rowson concedes why getting at individual values, attitudes, and beliefs is so essential in all these radical change efforts as the agenda seeks to get at “how the behaviours of consumers and citizens serves to perpetuate the economic and political basis of the energy production and consumption that drive climate change.”
Or don’t drive climate change at all but are useful to social, political, and economic change. Those 4 Rs as the student and classroom focus instead of knowledge would certainly help if the solution to be pushed is some kind of Universal Love or obligation to care for others. Rowson mentions Robert Kegan in the paper and we know Kegan spoke at RSA this past year so Kegan’s Stages that are in turn based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s globally influential Stages of Moral Development are very much on the mind of the RSA, the OECD (remember this is what their Key Competences are built around?), US implementers of the Common Core, and new Hong Kong definitions of Citizenship traits to be fostered in school. Such global commonality around what is basically the same set of desired personal dispositions and moral beliefs at the same time can hardly be coincidental.
Especially when the Rowson paper explicitly mentions that what President Obama (no insertion of ‘US’ there as if Rowson considers him everyone’s President Obama) did with the climate change discussion that was so crucial was to frame it in “distinctly moral terms.” We keep coming back to the same goal to be encouraged in students and ultimately everyone: “the ethical responsibility to safeguard the welfare of people we care about as well as those we are never likely to meet.” Necessitating our need to take someone else’s word for what those unknown people want and need from us.
Now if this is the change you want in the future, how useful is an official Learning Quality Framework http://learningqualityframework.co.uk/index.php/using-the-framework/ that has a New Vision for Learning? That the school should now be “investigating social, economic, moral and personal reasons for revising the school’s vision of and for learning.” To make the new focus of school how “teachers now plan lessons around the learning capacities they are trying to help students to build.” And the “development of learning capacities is planned to ensure progression.” That’s not knowledge folks and this view of the focus is not confined to the UK either. It fits perfectly with descriptions of how the College and Career Ready Index and Student Growth are being touted in US school districts too. Elsewhere the Framework makes it clear teachers are to be “drawing students attention to learning behaviours they are using” so that the students will be “progressing in developing learning habits.”
The purpose of content under this vision is merely to “drive learning opportunities and stretch and progress learning capacities” although it of course remains terribly useful to taking an unknown and getting students to know regard something as a social fact. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Guy Claxton talks about meeting with David Perkins of Harvard who we have encountered in connection with the NSF-funded Understandings of Consequence approach to science and social studies learning under the Common Core. Nor his mention of working with one of the best known Whole Language advocates Shirley Brice Heath or fuzzy math advocates-Jo Boaler. All of these education so-called wars makes much more sense if affecting what the student believes is the actual goal of all these controversial philosophies.
So many of us still hear the word assessment and simply erroneously assume we are still talking about measurements of knowledge. The Learning Quality Framework makes it clear that assessing for learning is about “tracking and authenticating the growth of learning dispositions (with regard to when, where, and how they are used)” and insists that such tracking, likely to be revealed to parents using opaque terms like data and feedback, “builds learners’ motivation and informs learning design.” Which of course gets sold under the euphemistic term “personalized learning for all students” but sounds rather like BF Skinner’s operant conditioning.
Again having such intimate data and detail about the essence of each student is very useful if the goal is “challenge the values, structures and processes that led to this case of overconsumption and resource depletion, and which otherwise leads to more.” And that is precisely what Rowson says the new goal is. He also proclaims the need to shift mindsets and must be excited about the prominence in the UK of Guy Claxton’s Learning Power work.
Does anyone doubt that a ‘learner-centred classroom” in the UK and the US and elsewhere will really come in handy if you believe we as a society need a “broader cultural shift that reframes ‘prosperity’ as something with social, relational and experiential dimensions”?
How about if it is your intention to challenge “the structure of the macroeconomy and the logic of capitalism”?
Stay tuned as I drop yet another related disclosure bomb next time.