Collecting Student Data to Practice PsychoPolitics on a Massive but Invisible Scale without Consent

Consent from legislatures, state boards of education, local school boards, misunderstood charters, or NCLB waivers should not count in countries founded on the principle that governments must respect a zone of privacy around individuals. If that zone exists at all anymore, it should certainly protect against governments collecting student data to ensure compliance with the appropriate psychological development to share visions of political and social transformation. Through all of our discussions of the constant social and emotional learning components to the actual implementation either on this blog, or as my book details, being required by the accreditation agencies overseeing virtually all schools and districts, someone will invariably write to me and say “but that sounds like brainwashing.”

That is the reality but it’s such an off-putting term, conjuring images of adult prisoners in totalitarian countries  being put through physical and mental torture, that it is not a term I have ever wanted to use. An Australian reader though asked me if I had read Eric D. Butler’s work written during the Cold War. I had not, but looking at it was a reminder that the Russians and Chinese had another word for brainwashing activities that actually does fit with the real function of the phrase “continuous improvement of student learning” and all the intended data gathering that goes with the required emphasis on the Whole Child-physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. That phrase is “psychopolitics”–changing political demands and beliefs and the prevailing culture through psychological monitoring, techniques, and practices.

We are not speculating about this either. Remember, for example,  Urie Bronfenbrenner’s work with Leontiev as a graduate exchange student in the early 60s and now the critical importance of the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory to the real Common Core classroom implementation? Or to provide yet another timely and global example on January 29, 2014 UNESCO released its vision of what education globally will look like post-2015.

Before you think that will not bind your country remember the accreditation agencies view UNESCO as who they take their marching orders from. So in a country like the US where policy makers want central political power to decide what goes on in every school, public or private, and what every student will come to believe and value (usefully hidden in vague terms like outcomes and standards and competency) without that centralizing being apparent, the accreditation agencies are being increasingly empowered by the states and the federal government to play that central role. Completely unappreciated by the typical parent or taxpayer.

When I rattle off the phrase about “changing values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors” are you ever tempted to start muttering the phrase in a sing songy way because it just keeps recurring? Let’s put it into a particular current context and expressed intention then. Speaking of other constantly recurring phrases, this is from page 177 of that UNESCO report fascinatingly called Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality For All under the heading “Education needs to be part of the solution to global environmental problems.” Please remember that the UN does not use the term environmental problems to mean Do Not Litter. It sees the solution as jettisoning individual choices in favor of state planning using computers and data around the principle of equity within countries and between countries. My bolding for emphasis and personal observations in brackets.

“Education’s vital role in preventing environmental degradation and limiting the causes and effects of climate change has not been sufficiently acknowledged or exploited. By improving knowledge [this is where systems thinking, interdependence, and the constant push on human agency and Albert Bandura’s psychological work all come in. It’s not about facts],  instilling values, fostering beliefs and shifting attitudes, education has considerable power to change lifestyles and behaviours that are harmful for the environment.”

Issued less than two weeks ago, these very real aims for transformation using data and education are so not a theory about some kind of conspiracy over the use of education globally. It’s an open proclamation of intent. And remember the ultimate threat to the environment if you are a central planner is the independent individual making their own choices and some of them doing it with well-stocked creative minds and the able use of logic and reason. Butler, in writing about how much the Fabian Socialists had aided in creating popular perceptions that favored what Communism hoped to achieve, pointed out that:

“All central planners fear individual freedom because no one can predict how the individual will use his freedom. Central planning requires that planners have effective control of all aspects of human activity. The exercising of freedom by the individual is essentially a creative and spiritual activity.”

You get that control invisibly through misunderstood but quite intentional actual definitions of student ‘growth’ and ‘success’ and ‘learning’ and data being collected around students who “demonstrate mastery of competencies aligned to standards.” Uniform standards, where how to get there can vary but the necessity of getting there cannot. That’s what “tight-loose” fidelity of implementation means by the way. What is loose is how a teacher or computer gets the student to change, not the type of change that must occur.

Psychopolitics was defined in the past as the “art and science of asserting and maintaining dominion over the thoughts and loyalties of individuals, officers, bureaus, and masses.” That is precisely what UNESCO has said it intends to use education to do. That is precisely what all the stories of outrage over troubling Common Core curricula seek to do. There’s no real dispute over what is being sought via education or what types of transformation it relates to.

That’s why we have to face it sooner rather than later and appreciate that this is not, in fact, unimaginable. It’s a norm associated with a desire to centralize political power and deprive individuals of their own decision-making power, lest they do or create something unexpected and genuinely innovative. Like critical thinking, the words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ get used disingenuously. They are used to describe what is being sought by these K-12 education reforms precisely to obscure the reality that the real goal is to shut down that very threatening capacity of some individuals.

I am going to end this post with two more examples from history that remind us of how vital standardizing and limiting the mind is in any society seeking to vest final decision-making authority in government officials instead of the people themselves. Eric Butler also points out that Lenin made it very clear that he was most interested in the attack upon the mind. He cites a book, The White Nights, that detailed intimate conversations  between Lenin and Pavlov (of dog experiment fame) in trying to standardize (Butler’s term in something he wrote decades ago) human thought and behavior. Butler also points to a Canadian Royal Commission Report on Communism which discussed The Development of Ideological Motivation and conceded that “There is no doubt that the Communists have studied exhaustively every possible method of attacking the mind.”

Butler also cites the concerns of a Dr Sargent in 1953 addressing the BBC that the Communists were largely concerned with “changing men’s thoughts and beliefs on a mass scale.” Sargent went on to express his belief that “ultimately the fate of the world will depend on the conversion of the masses to one idea of life or another.” Well, we know from the above quote what idea of life UNESCO and other UN entities will be pushing. It ought to concern us too that the part of UNESCO devoted to digital learning remains headquartered in Moscow and that most of that UNESCO work remains untranslated from the Russian language. Free to tap into all that psychology research on changing thoughts and beliefs.

In my book I lay out all the controversial aspects of K-12 education reforms that indisputably track back originally to the Soviet Union. It even includes the very definition of what pedagogy actually is and what the colleges of education have been pushing for at least the last 20 years and in some places far longer than that. It matters that we have been using all that psychological research on how to interfere with how an individual mind perceives reality.

It especially matters that every aspect of education now is aimed at that very level with no means of complaining if anyone does accurately recognize what is really being sought and why. Which is why it is so vital that as many people as possible, as soon as possible, begin to recognize the true aims and deliberately obscuring definitions of all these relevant terms being used.

This need not be the No Way Out situation being deliberately imposed on all of us.

It will, however, take genuine knowledge about the evils people in power will do if there are no effective constraints anymore. And this world of Competency and that’s to be it is all about limiting such genuine knowledge or ability.

Not if I can help it. Just call me the Queen of Unauthorized Knowledge.



Circumscribing Knowledge: Part 2 of Imposing Mindsets to Fit a New Political Philosophy

Back in the 1960s during the era of both the Cold War and the Vietnam War and thus dramatically different circumstances, we still find the foundations of the sought social, political, and economic changes being imposed through education “reforms” now. Off our collective radar screens but no longer off mine, we can find the reports of the Carnegie-funded Commission on the Year 2000. It sought to shift the US away from “hackneyed notions about decaying capitalism or creeping socialism” so that the US could transition to a “national society committed to some form of directed social change.” And none of us were consulted about who would be steering that wheel or holding the compass and issuing directions. I guess we can assume though Carnegie officials believed they had ringside seats from financing the plans.

Systems Thinking creator Kenneth Boulding’s writing about the Great Transition and what was needed to achieve it from the last post was cited by Commission members. Just like Lester Milbrath in the 1980s and UNESCO and the OECD now, there was a call for “some sort of computing and planning agency outside the legislative process” that would be in charge of “weighing of interrelationships within the society and within the technological processes.” In fact, Harvard psych prof George A. Miller wrote of “large, centralized, integrated data bases in the social sciences. Without them, the planners in the year 2000 will be scarcely better off than we are today.” Gulp. Gulp.

And how will such intrusive databases be created? Why computer systems used as part of education of course. In fact, Miller writes of a concern that there will be a “temptation for government to keep complete dossiers on all its citizens, and particularly on those who are intellectually most active.” Should we all just wave now? Hi NSA. Just fulfilling an old dream of the “application of computers to the study of man”? Seriously. Ponder this MIller quote as Common Core and blended learning launch us into the era of personalized learning and adaptive software and mandated Statewide Longitudinal student databases:

“The computerization of psychology is already well advanced, and the other behavioral and social sciences are not lagging far behind. Larger data bases and more ambitious data analysis are only part of the story. The machines can be programmed to simulate complex psychological and social systems, to conduct experiments, and to provide communication among scientists. The computer could become as important to the behavioral sciences as the microscope is to the biological.”

Harvard was not alone in being the Cambridge representative on this push. Perhaps getting ready for all its Limits to Growth social systems computer modelling work and urban planning and Peter Senge’s version of systems thinking, MIT Neuroscience prof Gardner Quarton wrote that “one can safely predict that techniques for controlling behavior and modifying personality will grow more efficient by the year 2000.” Maybe this post should come with a warning about reading on an empty stomach. But I want to put the shocking shifts in the nature of what is now being imposed on classrooms and what must be shunned to avoid teacher demerits, if not downright dismissal, within the context of what is REALLY being sought.

The SRI Rethinking Education link from the last post and the related “Naturalizing Assessment” article need to be seen through the Lens of the declared social science aims. That’s why we find statements  about how “the conception of knowledge shifts from ‘in the head’ facts, procedures, and professed attitudes, to participants’ abilities to participate meaningfully in valued activities while bringing to bear personal, material and social resources.” In other words just showing up and being ‘engaged’ will do.

This shift in the classroom is not a dispute about how students best learn. It is about what kind of education can best propel the sought sociocultural shift. And to do it at the level of the student’s mind and personality.That emphasis will alter the future even if the actual consequences are not as planned. It’s also how you “manipulate the public” as the Commission admitted it sought to do. As SRI has sought to do as well over the decades.

Social psychologist Lawrence Frank helpfully lets us know that “the need for a political theory for this emerging ‘Service State’ is, therefore, especially urgent.” And what’s a Service State we ask? Why it sounds just like the OECD’s current focus on citizen subjective well-being as the purpose of 21st century governments. The Service State is to be “oriented to the enhanced ‘wellbeing’ of everyone.” And explaining so much behind the inexorable growth of US governments at all levels since the 60s, the Service State:

“marks the acceptance of human conservation as the basic democratic task; each year sees the enlargement and extension of services furnished directly or financed by the Federal Government and reinforced by state and local agencies. These services embrace medical and health care, improved housing and urban rehabilitation, educational facilities and programs from early childhood into adult years, plus the improved care and support of the indigent, the handicapped, the impaired, and all others incapable of fending for themselves in our money economy.”

Sound familiar? Nothing wrong that the social sciences and policies to “revise anachronistic and obsolete institutions” can’t fix. Just keep minds empty of facts that might pick up on the flaws in these plans so students will design away for better societies in the future. And if the parallels to what is being pushed today are still not apparent enough, how about Frank suggesting that “a promising model for a political theory is that of a communications network, with many different channels for transmitting a variety of messages.” Just like the background on the slides at that Atlanta (co)lab summit? Or as former SRI employee Marina Gorbis laid out in her recent book, including a visual on its cover, as I described alarmingly here?

Interdependence, holistic thinking, and a systems approach were touted as a means to “unify now separate social sciences” to reframe “what we believe, value, and aspire to” so we will have a different political philosophy impacting the “choices and decisions that guide our individual and group living.” If all of this was about a new planned social order in 1965, the same ideas and intentions remain about that in 2013. Even if those pushing these ideas have never heard of the Commission on the Year 2000.

And all of this gets accomplished now by (quoting SRI in 2010 again) “adjusting one’s conception of knowledge or the nature of valued outcomes” as well as the nature of “participant assessment.” And as SRI put it, to accomplish the sought Mindset and personality changes “these shifts need to occur in tandem.” All these think tanks like SRI, Rand, Gorbis’ Institute for the Future, or Willis Harman’s Institute for the Noetic Sciences are all fascinated by a hoped-for ability for the “intervention of man into the evolutionary process.” Yet such manipulation is the lied about and hidden push by a self-appointed elite over masses of people just trying to make their lives work and erroneously assuming K-12 schooling remains about the transmission of knowledge.

A more accurate Image (to use Boulding’s term) for where the sought preschool, the K-12 Common Core and digital learning reforms, and the massive changes in the nature of higher ed should be filtered through one more Daniel Bell quote as he concluded where the Year 2000 Commission sought to go:

“The formulation of social policy that seeks to reknit underlying social networks and solidarities as it works toward manifest solutions is, therefore, one of the important intellectual tasks for the social sciences if our goal of ‘understanding’ the future and making meaningful choices is to be realized.”

Education in 2013 has become all about imposing such social science theories on real people and schools and then seeing what happens. Only a background devoid of solid knowledge or polluted by a desire for radical change or driven by acute greed could fail to see we have a disastrous future building up if these plans continue their march toward full implementation.






Destroying the Dominant Social Paradigm Via Education for 21st Century Political Power and Personal Gain

Who knew that targeting the Dominant Social Paradigm to facilitate future social change was so thoroughly underway in countries like Germany and the US and the UK by the early 80s that books were being written simply shorthanding the goal as DSP? No wonder Outcomes Based Education and systems thinking were needed via K-12 education reform globally starting in earnest in the 80s. Now that I have firmly attached my deerstalker hat on my head of curls and pulled out by magnifying glass to peruse the footnotes, let’s go back to Lester W. Milbrath and his Environmentalists:Vanguard for a New Society before pivoting to go through the troubling Brookings Institute presentation yesterday of the new Oxford report. Pushing for “a collective vision for society” and “shared global values around which a unified and enduring pathway for society can be built.”

Whew! Good thing thing Brookings has no interest in education or social policy or we might need to be worried about what they are pushing. Why? How? Who really benefits? will all need to become our habitual inquiries as we embark upon our continuing investigation into this hoped for wholesale transformation away from individualism and personal choices to a planned public sector centric economy and society. As we saw in the last several posts, this aim has gone on for decades but whether we know it or not, we are in the final stages.

So let’s go back to 1984 without Orwell to lead us and make it satirical. These have been very real, long term aims. To develop and then unite a new “sophisticated understanding of how the world works with a normative/ethical system that recognizes and addresses those realities.” That would certainly explain why as I traipse around the world via the Internet examining global ed reforms over the last 10 years or so I just keep encountering diagrams of concentric circles with “core values and core beliefs” at the center.

As Milbrath wrote, “social change begins, and is most fundamentally and widely expressed, in the beliefs and values of the people.” And I would add that this level is much easier to access in a mind that has been deprived of its own store of facts and lots of practice with logical thought. Which certainly explains why fluent reading and math and science textbooks and lectures have all come under attacks with explanations that never hold up to detailed scrutiny. That would be due to an organized effort to substitute “an agreed upon ‘story’ that guides the beliefs and behavior of the people.” Well, we didn’t agree. But annoyed by the failures of attempts in previous decades, politicians and profs and district supers and accreditors and state boards of education are brooking no opposition this time from anyone in the way of the desired little c common core. The prevailing beliefs and values to be targeted at school, at work, at church, and especially in higher ed.

Colleges really should just tell parents that a New Worldview comes with the tuition payments and drop the expensive subterfuge. Milbrath used another word in addition to Worldview and the now more common Mindset–paradigm. All of these terms quite simply mean the “belief structure that organizes the way people perceive and interpret the functioning of the world around them.” No wonder constructivism has become all the rage in the Common Core implementation and reading, math, and science instruction. Until reality can be changed, altering the widespread personal perceptions of it will have to do. And that is precisely what is under continuous and coordinated attack now via education. Think of it as cultivating mindsets suitable to prompt action for transformative social, political, and economic change every time you hear of a troubling incident at a university or a curriculum assignment designed to instill hate or confusion or fear.

Here’s what is officially under attack.  Every organized society has a dominant social paradigm–the DSP–which consists of:

“values, metaphysical beliefs, institutions, habits, etc., that collectively provide social lenses through which individuals and groups interpret their social world. [Doesn’t the C3 Social Studies Framework and the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems metaphor presence make more sense now?]

Social paradigms condition individual goals and expectations, provide a definition of social problems, establish a structure of social and physical rewards for various types of preferred behavior, and create shared gains and deprivations which make social harmony in complex societies possible.”

Now things would certainly not be so harmonious if it were better understood that governments and their beneficiaries and allies have decided to use education to push for new structures and institutions and values and beliefs that reject “once accepted patterns and relationships among people.” I personally deplore analogizing individual choices and markets to slavery and colonialism as other once accepted patterns but then I hate a bad analogy. Milbrath was only too ready to create new premises “about the way we should structure our society and conduct our public business” and going after DSP was the way to do it. Still is but most people do not read the Great Transition documents the OECD is pushing now or the UN’s post-2015 report we have also considered. Much less this Oxford Martin global commission report that came out in mid-October.

All of these sought global transformations get pushed at meetings we are not invited to and seek to dramatically transform our future and disregard the current political structures and safety valves we take for granted. Education is the way in and altering the DSP invisibly and quickly means the shift is an irreversible done deal while even the attentive are still arguing on whether the Common Core State Standards Initiative tramples  federalism. What? Under a US Constitution that provides no genuine protection when the means of attack is against the DSP once a majority of voters have been affected? We have to understand how the game is actually being played better. We have to understand the nature of political power.

If you do read that Oxford Martin report, don’t stop until you figure out who the C-30 companies are behind this vision and more importantly you trace the C-40 Cities to the core involvement of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropy (also sponsored the NYC citylab recently), and the World Bank. All of this planned transformation has your tax money and the ability to incur debt, loads of contributions hoping for additional political careers, and the ability to regulate and impose public policy. No wonder everyone is talking about mayors and cities as being the correct level to impose change for the future. Usefully also with a high concentration of totally dependent voters looking for a public sector to take care of them.

Well, everyone cannot live at the expense of others and ignoring the inherent parasitic nature of governments under the best of circumstances is dangerous if we hope to keep even the current weakened levels of the economy (that everyone seems intent on redistributing). But getting that essential fact requires some knowledge of history and how can education built around problem and project-based learning create such necessary knowledge? And that seems to be much of the point behind the new games-based focus and design emphasis in the classroom. It encourages the kind of “trial and error [as] the basic element in this kind of social change; it constitutes a type of social learning.” That social learning intention is designed to create “a growing awareness that the present system is not working well.” Milbrath laid it out in his concluding chapter called “Can Modern-day Prophets Redirect Society?” Prophets like the regularly cited Paul and Anne Ehrlich and their rather troubled by now record of catastrophe hyping.

But students raised on a curriculum diet of “successfully navigating open-ended challenges” won’t know that. Expect more of these types of priming projects as students are taught everything around them can be redesigned for a better 21st century. For everyone.

Just need to give the Governors at all levels more power and decision-making authority.

Meanwhile, students will be doing helpful things like:

“After collecting information, students then strive to infer the underlying thoughts and feelings of a user. By immersing themselves in the experiences of users and developing ‘deep empathy,’ they are able to develop a deeper understanding that can lead to key insights.”

Insights that guide future behavior without any likely connection to reality. Such a perception contrary to reality was so helpful for English Prime Minister Chamberlain in Munich in 1938.

So many had that lovely feeling of Peace in Our Time right up until the invasion emboldened by the false perceptions.

History and reality vs perceptions and hope and key insights from ‘deep empathy.’

Where would you place your bet on the 21st century future?

Eupsychia and Humanist Education-Shouldn’t the Links to 21st Century Skills and Common Core Be Emphasized?

Those of us who play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit tend to remember that the word “Utopia” literally translates as “Nowhere.” And Nowhere is an unacceptable expression for philosophers and dreamers and self-interested planners who do want to reorganize society going forward towards new values and new beliefs and a hoped-for vision of the future. One of those people was the creator of Humanist Psychology and the Eupsychia vision of the Good Society, Abraham Maslow, who laid out theories for education and a new type of school in a book published after his death in 1971. It builds on the New Focus of Education/NEA financed vision from 1962 that I wrote about here.

Ever since I wrote that post as I have sat in Mindfulness seminars that curiously enough now count as continuing legal education and all our encounters with Robert Kegan and the competences vision being pushed by the UN and the OECD, I keep coming back to that 1962 vision as the foundation for so much that has been called “transformational” ever since. I think it is the grounds for the increasing acknowledgment that long-term behavioral change is a major purpose of the Common Core classroom. . So when I saw a recent reference to the later book, I thought we might gain some important insights into what is coming at us.

Because I now live in a world where a Professor Emeritus at the New School for Social Research, Hans Jonas, laid out in the early 80s his understanding of the then planned shift from each of us being “responsible subjects” to “programmed behavior systems.” And that was before the rise of adaptive software, blended learning, Big Data, and Gaming to constantly crosscheck how the new psychological emphasis in the classroom was doing. When we talk about education reform and assessments that are not measuring knowledge that parents are not allowed to see, keep this long-term aspiration in mind:

“Here I merely point to this most ambitious dream of homo faber, summed up in the phrase that man will take his own evolution in hand, with the aim of not just preserving the integrity of the species but of modifying it by improvements of his own design.”

Well, neither you or I have been invited to participate in such designing but Maslow was and Jonas was aware of it. Jonas presciently asked the question that should be on posters at Dalian, China and Davos, Switzerland and plenty of ed labs globally:

“Who will be the image-makers, by what standards, and on the basis of what knowledge? Also, the question of the moral right to experiment on future human beings must be asked.”

That’s still a critical question to ask now as consultants and district administrators and principals are all being paid to push just such experimentation of untried psychological theories. Or if not untried, ignoring the indisputable linkage to prior tragedies from such probing of the “deeper self. (Maslow’s italics)” Maslow notes that primary creativeness (one of the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills) “comes out of the unconscious, which is the source of new discovery-of real novelty-of ideas that depart from what exists at the moment.”  You see, the psychological emphasis in education that has been trying to come in the front door of being the new focus of education globally since the 60s in earnest is based on Maslow’s belief that “We need a new kind of human being who can divorce himself from his past, who …[can] handle the problem well in an improvising way, without previous preparation, if need be.”

Now the latter is called the 4C of critical thinking & problem solving and gets measured via new planned Common Core assessments of Higher Order Thinking Skills where there is no fixed, linear answer and ambiguity is preferred. By the way, in 1970 Maslow wanted a “new kind of human being that we would need even if there were no cold war, and even if we were all united in a brotherly species, is needed simply to confront the new kind of world in which we live.” Now that’s a sentiment that fits right into what a conference of ed professors or administrators is still hearing in 2013. They simply may not know it comes from Maslow saying:

“What I am really interested in is the new kind of education which we must develop which moves towards fostering the new kind of human being that we need, the process person, the creative person, the improvising person, the self-trusting, courageous person, the autonomous person.”

That latter reference to autonomy frequently came with a cite to Erich Fromm of the Frankfurt School so please do not get excited that there was a glimmer of legitimate individualism being allowed through. No, in fact real education should impel the student on an “Ought-Is-Quest” that does NOT distinguish anymore between facts and values. Maslow called those Species-Brotherhood new values Being Values like Justice and Equality that are to “guide human action” in the future. They should be instilled and monitored via education. In fact, humanistic education had a “new conception of learning, of teaching, of education. Stated simply, such a concept holds that the function of education, the goal of education–the human goal, the humanistic goal, the goal as far as human beings are concerned–is ultimately the ‘self-actualization’ of a person, the becoming fully human, the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand up to or that the particular individual can come to.”

And of course, Maslow noted that such a shift in vision would require a substantial shift in the psychology of teaching. Which as my new book details is precisely what has happened. I am going to leave you to mull over another part of this new vision of education and school which you may well also discover to be embodied in charter language that was designed to both bind and not be well understood by outsiders. Or as Maslow noted tactlessly: “even morons can learn emotionally and spiritually” so beware of mandates that instructional methods used MUST close the achievement gaps. Just think of the enhancement of power in a desired public-centric economy of the future based on officially designated needs rather individual consumer choices this goal of future education will be:

“this is a way of discovering what the self is like. There are signals from inside, there are voices that yell out. ‘By gosh this is good, don’t ever doubt it!’ This is a path, one of the ways we try to teach self-actualization and the discovery of self. The discovery of identity comes via the impulse voices, via the ability to listen to your own guts, and to their reactions and to what is going on inside of you.

This is also an experimental kind of education that, if we had the time to talk about it, would lead us into another parallel education establishment, another kind of school.”

Like a student-centered school that must be engaging and provide success for all students?

That sees all students as “assets” and refuses to accept any “deficit” visions for 21st century education?

Those last two are quotes from the education vision I heard being pushed at the September (co)lab summit in Atlanta.

Forging New Categories of Consciousness Globally to Make Political Power the Key Determinant of 21st Century Life

If you are like me when I initially encountered the true story behind education reform, you wish political change was not a crucial aspect to the story. Let’s face it, it’s quite off-putting and can seem to be quite kooky at first. It’s an unbelievable story except it’s a factually provable one even if it’s hard to believe. So like it or not I had to go there in my new book. And I have to go there now on the blog to give additional information about what is coming at us from our politicians and agencies but also from international groups like UNESCO and the OECD that can bind us without being on our radar.

When I raise the concept of the little c theory of future human development from a certain notorious historical figure I mischievously refer to as Uncle Karl, or I simply keep reiterating the political purpose behind all these education reforms and the OECD’s PISA or the UN’s sustainability pushes and climate hyping, it is natural to want me to stop it. Keep it simple. Only tell the story from the angle someone is prepared to hear it from. That is really difficult to do though if we are to have any chance for avoiding this fiasco. Tracking all this over decades really does lead us to statements like “restructuring social, economic, and political systems was much more effective” in order to “bring about a desirable future.” So said one of the Club of Rome’s favorite world system modellers, Donella Meadows, in her 1982 book Groping in the Dark: The First Decade of Global Modelling.

Donella conceded something that is crucial for understanding what the UN is really up to with its IPCC Climate reports since plenty of observers have noticed there seems to be little effort to reflect reality. That’s not the purpose of these models. Their purpose is to model social systems. There was a great deal of frustration at the 1978 6th Annual Meeting of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) that the book came from that the world’s environment and its social, behavioral, and political systems were so hard to model. Who else thinks that between the education reforms that began in earnest in the 80s and the Sustainability push that commenced via Our Common Future in 1987, the policy makers hit upon strategies to try to make people conform better to the desired model of the future? And a single world system that everyone in 1978 seemed to assume was coming into being over the next several decades.

Who knew? Now we know why I found what I describe in the book or the World Order Models Project I previously described on this blog that began in 1973. Did you know Moscow had an “All-Union Institute for Systems Studies” or that it participated in IIASA’s work? No wonder the emphasis of all this is towards collective planning and decision-making and “managing human affairs during the transition.” The kind of transition I laid out in the last post was being assumed by East and West in the 70s. At least if tied to the UN or OECD or the Club of Rome and now it is hurtling at us. Before I shift back to the current vision, let me quote Donella since I believe it explains why we cannot ignore the little c pursuit:

“There is no known physical or technical reason why basic needs cannot be supplied for all the world’s people into the foreseeable future. These needs are not being met now because of social and political structures, values, norms, and world views, not because of absolute physical scarcities.”

That’s the dangerous wealth as a fixed sum view of the world. And it guides international entities, systems thinkers, national and local politicians, and too many public employees. They see the environment as the justifying issue and education as the favored method for changing all those things Donella just listed to make such redistribution towards the poor in the North and South generally the point of public policy globally in the 21st century. Because those are goals that require the dominance of political power in all decision-making and the ability to bind the individual. There was actually a particular world model that was created in South America and financed by the Canadians that fits with the scenario laid out as the Great Transition. It was called the Bariloche model and was all about “fundamentally” changing global “values and institutions” and “sketching a way of arriving at the final goals of a world liberated from backwardness and misery.”

The Bariloche model from 1976 envisioned a world “in which human needs and human rights, rather than the desires to consume and to accumulate wealth, would become the basis for resource allocation.” And of course create the need for both a dominant public sector globally and docile masses capable of doing little more than Groping in the Dark. Except now with spiffier names like Competency and 21st Century Skills and Capability as a Human Right. Always essential to this vision though is a new way of thinking grounded in emotion that will see the world and its inevitable problems in ways that are beneficial to those who currently hold political power or would like to. Think of it as Mindsets suitable for an Oligarchy in power pretending it is really all about human needs, Gaia, and Successful Learning for All Kids.

Let’s come forward in time to the culminating 2006 document outlining the Great Transition. Called “World Lines: Pathways, Pivots and the Global Future” it gives further insights into all the social and emotional learning and Whole Child pushes as a means of “cultural innovation and social adaptation” that call for “emergent social forms [that] were also realms of the heart that broadened the affective sphere of community and reciprocity.” And such realms are necessary now you ask? Well, yes, we are supposedly in a “pivotal” historical moment to achieve a “peaceful, just, and sustainable world.” Don’t you just want to start a list of all the troubling regions of the world that haven’t gotten the memo about the Great Transition we have embarked on?

Do you think everyone will start behaving well if we just give them more of the world’s physical resources and learn to live with less ourselves? Lots less. How about if we use education to create in each student a “sense of planetary affiliation, kinship, and citizenship”?  Is that the ticket to social justice or just more power and resources to an increasingly parasitic public sector that gets to pursue its self-interest at everyone else’s expense while acting as the administrators of the Great Transition society? Making education policy globally and the 21st century visions of governments at all levels about adjusting to “a global future based on human solidarity, human fulfillment, and ecological sustainability–a vision we refer to as a Great Transition” will be a not-so-great transition to devastation of everything that has ever worked. Transitioning based on incentives that have never worked for the benefit of anyone not connected to political power.

Trying to use education reforms like the poorly understood actual intentions of the US Common Core or Quality Learning and Global Competency and 21st Century Skills everywhere as an effort to create “thought and action [that] must rise to the level of this emergent totality, as well as its separate manifestations” is utter madness. Especially when the supposed emergent reality is a factually false statement like:

“History has entered the planetary phase of civilization in which humanity and the biosphere are entwined in a common fate.” Repeat after me, none of us deserve to be classified as comparable to inanimate objects or as just another animal. Well, maybe  certain notorious fraternities on certain college campuses. Here’s more of the attempt to diminish every single one of us as an individual and to try to make us mere parts of a greater whole with no fundamental right to our own decisions.

“rather than independent, these phenomena are separate expressions of a larger process, the formation of a unitary global system.”

Now if you thought the communitarian aspects of all these sought social reforms were intrusive, who exactly will any of us be in a “unitary global system” apart from a source of tax revenue and needed labor in a world where all of the incentives have been perverted to chase after a possible future?

I did not lay out all this info to scare anyone so much as to force us to see the vision that people with considerable power and access to the coffers of public money really are pushing on us. Now.

The actual common core to be cultivated in everyone is a “new suite of values-human solidarity, quality-of-life, and respect for nature” that will be the foundation for a public sector administered “egalitarian social contract, poverty eradication, and democratic political engagement at all levels.” Right. Plus unicorn rides every Wednesday.

We apparently really are at a historical moment.

Will the independent individual really cease to have political legitimacy in the 21st Century?

Utopian Education: Creating Mindsets that Push Future Fighters for Something Beyond the Current Real World

I am beginning to think I should get new business cards that say “Reads troubling plans for revolutionary change in the world we take for granted so you don’t have to.” It has been one of those weekends after I read a report from our Competency-pushing OECD in Paris that American taxpayers fund so generously. It was talking about New Economics to be imposed on the West via our institutions and using digital learning and technology and education and social reforms generally (my bolding):

“To turn connectivity into connectedness dedicated policies have to be designed with a twofold goal: first, to guarantee that all the emerging opportunities brought about by technology and its outcomes can be seized in favour of economic and societal development and second, that the resulting benefits of these opportunities are equally accessible to all. Education has to play a major role in the achievement of these two goals.”

Now unlucky me has spent enough time immersed in all these political theories to recognize when I am looking at a description of Uncle Karl’s little c vision of the future. is where I first addressed why changing values and beliefs is so crucial to achieving this little c vision. And it’s not about Lenin or Mao but it remains toxic to the individual and freedom in the sense of what created the West. Today I want to focus on all the current official publications that verify just how right I am as to what is really being targeted and why.

It’s also why parents are getting no relief when they want to opt out of Statewide Longitudinal Databases. It’s because tracking the changes in attitudes, values, dispositions, and beliefs via efforts at schools, and what curricula force changes more quickly and thoroughly, is an important part of the social engineering research being carried on via the schools. Especially with adaptive software and digital learning that allows immersion in virtual worlds.

All through the 70s Arne Naess’s books were bestsellers in Norway for their ecological visions of a new type of society. To prime the West towards a comparable vision of the future in time for the 90s efforts at wholesale transformation, his book Ecology, community and lifestyle was helpfully translated into English in the late 80s. He pointed out that ecology is where the socialist crowd was migrating because it created a belief in the necessity of political change. Central to these efforts is always a “change in consciousness.” As Naess graphically put it, the change “consists of a transition to a more egalitarian attitude to life and the unfolding of life on Earth.” Remember it is the Axemaker Mind that builds on existing cultural knowledge to invent technology and tools that can manipulate nature for man’s benefit. The “unfolding” vision wants people to merely be another creature. Very useful vision for political leaders, bureaucrats, and business leaders wanting to play future overlords and preserve current power. Not so good for the rest of us peons to be administered.

Before I detail more of the current efforts to create such a these New Mindsets, let’s read another Naess explanation on the intentions:

“The necessity of efforts to change mentality is closely associated with the necessity of organised efforts for profound changes in society. These two kinds of effort must be coordinated, not polarised against one another.”

And coordinated they are. It’s why education leaders are such a crucial component of the visions set out at a (co)lab in Atlanta or the cityLab  in NYC recently. It’s also why education is so crucial to the UN and the OECD’s plans. Following up on the OECD’s expressed intentions for change at its most recent forums led me straight to this transformational vision . It’s the kind of wholesale redistribution vision that would have made Uncle Karl weep with joy over his continued influence. Typical people should note though that this vision plans to take the world’s existing wealth and redistribute for the benefit of the poor in countries in the North and to raise living standards all through the Southern Hemisphere. It also involves shifting globally from a profit economy to a ‘needs’ economy in the 21st century.

Essential to that vision which we have already encountered in Shoshana Zuboff’s support economy book and the Aspen Institute pushing a Fourth Sector “for benefit” economy (see tags) it will “also be necessary to develop non-consumerist ways of understanding and being in the world.” Now won’t all the current reforms in K-12 and higher ed and the expansion into preschool be useful to such goals? How about an article published last month in the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment by Burns H. Weston and David Bollier which seeks to use Martha Nussbaum’s work we have talked about “as the theoretical means to restore ‘the obligation of result’. This would thereby move the discussion from the abstract to the concrete…” Why, yes, it would. It means we are trying to use education at all levels to create mindsets that will come to use the law and capability theory to impose Uncle Karl’s little c vision on societies without saying so.

Using the term “share-and-share-alike Golden Rule” sounds so much better than “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” that was the hallmark of Uncle Karl’s vision of what would be possible in a society that had used capitalism to get to a certain advanced stage of technology. As the OECD said above, now it can be seized for the benefit of all others who have “needs.” Again this vision “must include a large-scale and sustained commitment to human rights education–as imaginatively pursued, for example, by the People’s Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE), a New York-based NGO ‘dedicated to human rights learning for social and economic transformation.’ It is, after all, life on Planet Earth that hangs in the balance.”

Probably not but it makes a good sales pitch for power to the public sector in the 21st century. Clearly this vision of ‘a just society’ laid out by Weston “that honors a public order of human dignity–the essence of human rights–marked by the widest possible shaping and sharing of all basic values among all human beings.”

Since the idea of the Great Transition is central to all these visions of the 21st century and what quality learning really means globally, the planners see a need for a GCM-a Global Citizens Movement demanding this vision of the future as a matter of rights. Legal rights. Useful then is the largely unheralded fact that CCSSO, the sponsors of the Common Core State Standards, has used its subsidiary Ed Steps, to partner with World Savvy  to get students to examine the “historical forces that have shaped the current world system” and push the “knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes [that] are all aspects of Global Competency.” CCSSO’s real aim. Here’s the vision brochure created in August by World Savvy. WS “celebrates innovation, art, and the limitless power of youth to make positive change” and is at the “cutting edge of education for the 21st century.”

To guarantee that the classroom work is “relevant and current” WS picks 3 year themes and the 2013-2016 theme is Population and Progress. It “helps students explore how a growing population defines progress, analyze the evolving nature of our collective challenges, and develop innovations that address these issues.” In fact students can pretend to be Uncle Karl’s Makers of History as WS has them create and submit “a Knowledge to Action Plan.” You will be so glad to know current WS students are quoted as saying they have “abandoned the notion of Us and Them in favor of We.”

Finally, CCSSO has quietly conceded that it is the Dispositions of the students themselves being targeted by these education “reforms.”

It adds a new C though. Our children are to be “college, career, and citizenship ready.” And if you are wondering what kind of citizenship CCSSO has in mind they go on to cite their sources and usefully mention every controversial report I have ever written about on this blog down to rejecting the individual mind and mandating communitarianism through the Career Tech guidelines. Thank you CCSSO for your hubris in that document.

People trying to criticize the idea of national education standards have begun to use the phrase “Commie Core” to attack the Common Core State Standards. The irony is if you track CCSSO’s actual planned implementation and the agendas of its named partners in developing classroom curricula and assessments and you compare it to Uncle Karl’s actual vision of little c communism, you get a match to the values, behaviors, dispositions, and mindsets to be fostered.

Perhaps a more apt phrase then would be the Commie Core designed to aid the Great Transition whether we consent or not? Designed to be implemented while we are still unaware of such wholesale changes or wrongfully believe this is about the transmission of academic content in the 21st century.

As Naess wrote, these values need to be internalized so direct regulation of the individual in the future will be unnecessary. “I envisage a change of revolutionary depth and size by means of many smaller steps in a radically new direction.”

That was the plan in the late 80s. In 2013 it feels as a parent like all those smaller steps are being pushed in a frenzy at the same time.

Some people have become very impatient for transformative change that benefits them but not us. And hardly anyone recognizes what is happening.

Digital Trilogy’s End and Perhaps Ours? Revolutionary Transformation as Explicit Goal of the National Ed Tech Plan

In 2010 the US federal Department of Education issued the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) report named Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology. It calls explicitly for “revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering.” Thereby confirming the worst fears of anyone concerned the Common Core was some sort of an attempt to nationalize ed policy. Now I maintain the feds are actually plugging American ed into the internationalization of ed as a vehicle for systematic change with UNESCO and also the Paris-based OECD as the lead drivers but that is not today’s story. But do keep that in mind as part of the why. The Grit Perseverance Report and Digital Promise and media education and the computer gaming as classroom activity and assessment are ALL part of NETP.

So is the Common Core State Standards Initiative that I just abbreviate as CCSSI. Its purpose is described in NETP as creating the standards (used consistently and interchangeably in report as a synonym for outcomes in students) and new alternative assessments to “measure 21st century competencies.” Now I will come back to all this while you mull over the fact that CCSSI was always merely a temporary means to force states and local school districts to make the desired shifts laid out in the NETP and its collateral documents. That were never really intended to be widely read or known about.

CCSSI takes the political heat. NETP lays out the real sought transformation. Except it’s the same transformation at the level of the individual student and future voter as what was sought in the 90s as well. And we know that because in numerous places NETP mirrors both UNESCO’s DeLors, The Treasure Within, report from 1996 and Chapter 9, “A Curriculum About Humanity,” of the Paul Ehrlich book New World New Mind that I wrote about in the last post. Think of it as a long sought global vision for ed.

So why do we need to change what goes on in the classroom? Because we need to literally change the way people think says Ehrlich: “most important, we have to shift our understanding of ourselves as separate individuals, each seeking our own welfare, to an understanding of how we fit into social, biological, and physical environments.[a Blue Ribbon for every reader recognizing that description of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory graphic] It is not that increasing scientific knowledge makes learning morals obsolete, but that the new world we’ve created makes the nature of moral choices unprecedented.”

Now hiding a deliberate shift in values, attitudes, and beliefs through adaptive software and in vague terms like competencies and 21st century skills and learner outcomes and social and emotional learning to supposedly prevent bullying and create mental health for all is obviously a great back door in for such a Change the Way We Think goal. Especially if you want to teach all these needs to alter moral choices “to children right at the beginning of their education.”

Remember Ehrlich was writing back before the Internet and today’s generation of videogames and stunning, visually compelling multimedia graphics. So his suggested way “to introduce young children to a new view of humanity might be through a cleverly crafted series of Saturday morning cartoons. The first might present humanity, metaphorically, as one single animal. We could show that if humanity were one animal, that ‘creature’ would now weigh more than 100,000 times its original weight. Think about an animal growing until it is now 10 million times more powerful than it was at birth. Wouldn’t that creature have to behave differently at the time of its great power than in its great power than in its weak infancy?”

Now before I continue on with the quote, I want you to keep that intentional manipulation via visuals and emotions on impressionable children in mind from now on every time you read or hear of an intention to use technology in the classroom to engage all students. Or here’s another quote from the NETP “leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures.” Elsewhere, NETP lays out technology’s ability to assess non-cognitive features like motivational influences and to do it through virtual reality simulations that can assess personal responses “within the context of relevant societal issues and problems that people care about in everyday life.”

Ehrlich, much like all these education professors whose theories we have looked at, wants to figure out how to change people’s perceptions of their daily reality. Here’s the rest of the quote from above. Ask yourself if Ehrlich would be a fan of David Christian’s Big History curriculum we have discussed.

“If we imagined humanity this way, we and our children could begin to think differently. Instead of pondering the local problems of our own life, we need to think about the collective life of our species. If, instead of thinking in terms of decades, centuries, or even the millenia of recorded history, we contemplated our history for many millions [italics in original] of years, then the problems we now face would take on a vastly different purpose.”

Well if that doesn’t give additional clarity to all the hyping about catastrophic man-made global warming whatever actual temp trends or trumpeting weather events like Hurricane Sandy as proof of too much “carbon” in the air, how about the acknowledgment that “If we could teach this understanding of our history and capabilities, both students and adults might begin to channel the development of humanity in new directions.” Directions that, like NETP’s vision for revolutionizing education, have a likely effect of making people far more malleable to being governed. And more susceptible to the social engineering aspirations of the behavioral sciences.

If you think of curricula in the 21st century not as a body of knowledge but as the prescribed set of learning experiences, it is a lot easier to see that learning sciences and cognitive theory as mentioned repeatedly in these reports as what the new classroom is to be about gets you to Ehrlich’s New Mind goals. Here’s another quote consistent with his intent that “the key to getting new-minded adults seems to be training them early.”

“When we say change the curriculum, therefore, it is really a code for saying change the whole society (since curricula are determined largely at the local level [Not anymore! How convenient.]) and changing the entire education system. It is a big order, our survival depends on it, and it is a task for grown-ups.”

Preferably those grown-ups with an Edudoctorate and a title to mandate all these changes that seek to transform society invisibly at taxpayer expense. These Supers and profs and principals and overpaid consultants have all been totally immersed in all these learning theories that are either political theories that track back to Uncle Karl or based on Soviet psych research. The lack of genuine knowledge in the typical ed degree program at any level leaves these Determined to be Change Agents almost the last people to be able to appreciate the likely dire implications of what they are pushing. Or its known tragic history.

Let’s get back to the NETP since it really is how the federal DoEd and the foundations and the tech companies for starters intend to get Ehrlich’s New Minds in a sufficient number of voters to drive the rest of the sought changes through the ballot box. Two explicit goals that actually sound nice and worthy drive this entire transformation of the ed system. Which of course is intended to drive revolutionary transformations in everything else.

Goal Number 1: “We will raise the proportion of college graduates from where it now stands (around 41 percent) so that 60 percent of our population holds a two-year or four-year degree by 2020.”

That’s a requirement that forces the nature of both K-12 and higher ed to change so that we have equity in credentials without real knowledge. Which in turn sets up voters who are likely to have expectations for their adult lives that cannot be met under current economic and social structures. They will have no idea that it is government interventionism and overregulation and the “learning sciences and theories” themselves driving the economic stagnation. They will thus be ready to vote for every demagogue promising change.

Goal Number 2: “We will close the achievement gap so that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.”

That second goal again forces changes on what can go on in the classroom since no achievement gap is allowed despite different life experiences, parenting, or language issues. The emphasis on ready to succeed again fuels the drive to reform higher ed AND the nature of the workplace AND the nature of the economy.

It will then become a necessary role of governments to ensure that anticipated adult success. Which is really convenient as I will lay out in the next post what the planners have in mind when they say they want governments to be the designers of new social systems.

For all of us.

Say what?



Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills as the Long-Sought Rapid Change of Minds for the Future

When I was looking for a way to explain what the effects would be from seeking new kinds of minds and personalities through ICT and tracking affective responses, I remembered the 1989 book New World New Mind: Moving Towards Conscious Evolution. Now I do occasionally pull books off the shelf to help illustrate a point vividly but the link of that book to the Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills initiatives is actually quite direct. is a July 31, 2013 story on the meeting of League of Innovative Schools Supers and Admins with reps from the federal DoEd, the White House Domestic Policy Council (this push is a high priority for this Administration), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. John Holdren heads OSTP and his long-time mentor and associate Paul Ehrlich of hyping various global catastrophes fame (with his own tag) co-wrote the New World New Mind book. Ehrlich mentioned and thanked Holdren for his help on the Acknowledgments page.

Chapter 8, “The Beginnings of Real Change,” makes it clear this is a global program to use education to change “the nature of our minds and the training we give them.” According to Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein: “although the problems that humanity now faces are immense, at least they are of our own making. The mismatch of our brains with our environments has been produced by millenia of effort, by the skill, ingenuity, and drive of our species–by the very minds that are now out of step with the world they live in.”

Ornstein and Ehrlich wanted to extinguish that independent ingenuity and drive some people have through “a revolution in the way we bring up children and in the way we teach and what we teach.” They recognized, as all of us now need to, that traditional “schooling also changes the structures of children’s minds significantly [they mean at a physiological level]. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, so commonly taught, are not [emphasis in original] natural acts of the mind, but are radical transformations of the way the nervous system operates. The mind’s default positions are for talking and listening…”

Which is precisely why talking and listening as the purpose of the Discourse classroom, and required projects and group collaboration and communities of learners, is such a huge focus of the actual Common Core implementation. It is why print literacy is minimized and media and digital literacy are held to be just as important. It’s not a better way to learn. It’s an active pursuit using ICT of these New Kinds of Minds. After all Joel Klein, head of Rupert Murdoch’s tech-focused ed subsidiary, Amplify, actually said that was the goal to my face at a luncheon last fall.

So New Kinds of Minds remains the pursuit almost 25 years later and the other Ehrlich/Ornstein goal then becomes changing prevailing attitudes on politically useful topics. Cultural-historical activity theory or CHAT is a learning theory imported from the USSR created to change  the course of the future by changing the dominant culture itself. Through school specifically but also education generally. I’ll put it this way CHAT theorists also care about what stories get pitched on the nightly news and what the headlines read. What themes will the typical person come to believe are an issue as they go through busy lives? One of the CHAT theorists, a Finnish prof who also works in the US. Yrgo Engestrom (also tagged), kindly put his Learning by Expansion’s theory’s purpose into explicit published words in 2010.

The article acknowledges a reality that the Supers and ed profs and principals do not bother to tell parents, politicians, and taxpayers so I will: “there are two basic metaphors competing for dominance today: the acquisition metaphor and the participation metaphor.” Now I will stop quoting Yrjo for a minute to point out that the entire actual Common Core classroom implementation this blog has been describing is dedicated to requiring the participation vision. Using misleading terms like equity and excellence and Quality Learning to get there. As I have been explaining, every entity that has a legal ability to regulate or mandate what goes on in the classroom is insisting that participation now win this competition. And it gets hidden in the insistence on group projects and collaboration. But Yrjo was even more graphic about what his and other CHAT learning theories are designed to do and change.

The key dimension underlying the acquisition vs participation “dichotomy is derived from the question: Is the learner to be understood primarily as an individual or as a community?” The participation purpose comes down on the community side of that question in direct contradiction to the West’s historic belief in the primacy of the individual. That is the question at stake in all these ed reforms. Pushing for this new answer behind our backs and without our consent is precisely what Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills are really about.

Yrgo again kindly says there are three more dimensions at stake with all these learning theories like his that are designed to push participation as the new radical vision of education to create “new activity structures for society.” Think workplace, neighborhoods, political processes. These ed profs and administrators have great ambitions while they are living at taxpayer expense. In each of these questions, it is the part I bolded after the “or” that is what is stealthily coming at us like a high-speed freight train whatever our state says it is doing on the Common Core. And in other countries too. Oh, and the ICT focus is a huge tool for gaining this shift.

*Is learning primarily a process that transmits and preserves culture or a process that transforms and creates culture?

*Is learning primarily a process of vertical improvement along some uniform scales of competence or horizontal movement, exchange and hybridization between different cultural contexts and standards of competence? [Think of this as hip hop being as valid a means of communication as a well-written insightful factual paper]

*Is learning primarily a process for acquiring and creating empirical knowledge and concepts [reflects reality in other words] or a process that leads to the formation of theoretical knowledge and concepts?

Now theoretical knowledge and concepts is of course another term for ideology but what do you expect from a theory designed to achieve massive social change as a direct successor to Uncle Karl’s now infamous theorizing? Yrjo leaves no doubt where we are all going with this quote: “While traditional schooling is essentially a subject-producing activity and traditional science is essentially an instrument-producing activity, [expansive] learning is an activity producing activity.” [his italics]

Now that kind of graphic lay out of intent to create transformative action in students is what is coming to our classrooms but the graphic warning is nowhere in sight. Instead we get far more innocuous sounding initiatives being paid for by the National Science Foundation such as Janet Kolodner’s “Learning by Design’s Framework for Promoting Learning of 21st Century Skills.” Janet is also the listed PI for the troubling and related NSF Cyberlearning push that I described here Now Janet’s CV is simply too solid for me to believe that she really thinks that a case-based method that is suitable for adult med students, who have a well-stocked brain of knowledge and analytical skills to be where they are, is somehow suitable for middle schoolers who generally have neither.

The truth is the whole Next Generation Science and Learning By Design and Case-Based Learning is just a rejection of science as an “instrument-producing activity” as in sharp ingenious minds or new unapproved technology without saying so. What Ehrlich and Ornstein sought in their book so long ago. It’s the excuse for a classroom centered around social interaction and designed to limit the cultural transmission of knowledge built up over generations that makes humans a very special species and some people downright extraordinary in their impact on all of us and the direction of civilization.

Kolodner sees people as “goal processors who make our way through the world trying to achieve our goals” which strikes me as a horrifically hobbling vision for the future. Like so many other reformers she wants to shift our daily perceptions going forward and limit us to our previous experiences coupled to theoretical framing school will provide. Yrjo would approve. The end result of these classroom activities are students who are adaptable to uncertain, new, and rapidly changing conditions. Which of course the ed reforms intend to drive. Students who are capable of complex communication and social interaction. The world trembles at the thought of a superpower preparing ALL students to be in the habit of listening and asking questions of each other and making presentations. We also get students capable of non-routine problem solving and self-management which is starting to sound a great deal like David Conley’s definition of College and Career Ready  created for the Gates Foundation.

Finally, students learn to be good systems thinkers and to see themselves as embedded in systems. Even if it is not true in reality, it is such a useful metaphor to get students to see themselves as part of a community instead of an independent individual.

No wonder Paul Ehrlich is running around giving UN presentations that humanity is more than 5 years into a global program to radically change human behavior.

Yes indeed, driven by education reforms that are poorly understood and collectivist political theories masquerading as learning theories.


Avenue for Achieving the Broader Social Vision of Equity, Full Participation and Collective Contribution

On December 19, 1969 Time magazine did a special issue in preparation of the upcoming new decade. In an article called “The Next Decade: A Search for Goals” Time began to set the framework for a hoped-for “profound change” in people’s way of thinking and acting. Here’s the aspect that is important to anyone, like a David Christian with his Big History or Paul Ehrlich with his catastrophe hype, who hopes for a conscious cultural evolution. By basically using education to remove the imagination ignition power of a store of facts coupled to reason. Here’s Time in 1969:

“The veneration of rationality was the special myth of modern man. The worldview created by the enthronement of reason included a universal belief in individualism and competition; now that myth is dying. Faith in science and technology has given way to fear of their consequences.”

Author Ayn Rand looked at such passages and the student riots of the 60s and what she saw in California’s universities and she remembered the deliberate Bolshevik assault on cultural traditions in her home country of Russia in the 1920s. Like me, she wrote to try to alert others of the urgency of what she saw and read. In 1970 she published an essay “The Left: Old and New” where she wrote this astute observation that is even more under assault today. Let’s listen to her informed voice because we will need these insights:

“reason leads to (and is the foundation of) individualism and competition, i.e., capitalism. Capitalism’s enemies know it. Its alleged friends are still twisting themselves into double-jointed pretzels in the struggle to evade that knowledge.

Let us also remind you that reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses–i.e., that reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge–and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction of the facts of reality.”

Handy, huh, if you are trying to use potential climate catastrophes to shift people globally into a Mindset to be Governed as we have also recently talked about? I have written before that James Burke’s book The Axemaker’s Gift made it clear that the assaults on how to teach reading and math that set off the so-called wars were really about diminishing the power of those abilities to nurture reason. To ignite an individual’s Axemaker Mind. That remains the goal now decades later in education reforms. That Bayard Rustin essay from the last post was not something that could be quoted by the mainstream press without jeopardizing the social, political, and economic goals themselves. Most of us are simply not going to be still or lay down if we know we and the traditions that created unprecedented overall national success and global prosperity are being attacked. So education becomes the means and the individual mind the target of an invisible, taxpayer-funded attack.

The MacArthur Foundation’s January 2013 report is simply the latest push to fulfill Bayard Rustin’s dream except with the treasure chest of untaxed gains from past innovative breakthroughs. Waiting I suppose to be called on by US Presidents frustrated that they are not getting their way with Congress on Climate Change legislation. ” I will call on philanthropies and college presidents” was in this week’s speech. And, oh, will they ever listen. Hard to find any group coordinating so actively to set in motion revolutionary transformations.

Connected Learning is all about using education as an avenue to a “broader reform and equity agenda” that will “serve the interests and needs of non-dominant young people and their communities.” And if all the report’s angry references to what “privileged families” do with their own children was not a dead giveaway on where this is all going, the report early on says it uses the term non-dominant (which it bolds for emphasis like these other terms) “instead of the more common descriptors of minority, diverse, or of color, as non-dominant explicitly calls attention to issues of power and power relations than do traditional terms to describe members of differing cultural groups.”

OK, well, we have known for a while, haven’t we, that the Common Core and 21st Century Skills were just a PR gambit in a much broader, hidden struggle? And I would agree. Education reform really is about power and intentions over future power relations. As in the public sector and its connected cronies want to call the shots in the future globally and have too few of us to matter in a position to object. So in part 1 to Connected Learning, MacArthur cites quotes from the heads of two other foundations, Spencer and Russell Sage, known for funding behavioral science research. That’s us folks and we behave more like the models if schools and the universities snuff out the Axemaker Minds of students and substitute politically useful concepts and ideas to be the guiding lenses of future behavior. Brought to us by people who prove in Part 1 they have no understanding of the economy because they don’t have to. The paychecks roll in regardless of knowledge. Fidelity and fealty to theory is all that matters now in too many places surrounding education.

Part 2’s lead-in cannot even get the name of John Dewey’s 1916 book right but this is all brought to us by foundations where the heart is pure, the intentions are noble, and the treasure chest is vast. Who cares then if the report is careless on facts or regularly uses the terms “our emerging hypothesis” or “we posit” in discussing what they plan to impose and set in motion. On students. In schools. And the rest of us given these express aspirations to remake society and gain a new economy. Car sharing and bike sharing and non-proprietary forms of business to get a more participatory economic future? Really?

Connected learning then is defined “by a set of values, an orientation to social change and a philosophy of learning.” Isn’t it good to know they are partnering with the federal DoEd on all this? Connected learning is explicitly about achieving “progressive and equity-centered reform efforts in school and policy areas.” As Rustin and Harry Boyte noted this is about marching through and changing far more than schools and universities. All the social institutions are targeted. But it starts this time with all the new media and digital and computer gadgets. “Today’s technologies offer us the ability to pursue these progressive goals in new ways through purposeful integration of tools for social connection, creation, and linking the classroom, community and home.”

Connected learning “takes a networked approach to social change that aligns with our ecological perspective.” I will stop the quote for a moment to tell you the previous page absolutely referenced our old friend Urie Bronfenbrenner by name which means in comes his Ecological Systems Theory “metaphor” that classroom teachers and students never get told is just a metaphor. And long time readers know this also brings in Soviet psychologist Leontiev’s plans on how to conduct a behavioral and social change experiment in the West. As I say, fiction writers have nothing on education and political schemers in the ongoing struggle over power. Quickly the report disdains the individual unless he or she is contributing to the officially-endorsed vision of the common good and wants to put the emphasis on collective and societal goals. It sees digital and blended learning as means to achieve broader social, cultural, and economic visions.

And the second part of the quote I interrupted tells us again how offshoots like Agenda 21 and Clean Energy and Green Technology are in fact related through the broader overall social vision of change. “We believe that systemic shift requires linked efforts across different sites of learning, and that our best hope for educational change lies in connecting like-minded reform efforts.” It looks conspiratorial because it is intentionally coordinated. Especially through the foundations and federal agencies funding all these “like-minded” efforts at overall transformation.

All the Gaming posts I have written and GlassLab as assessments in the future come in as Institute of Play and its Quest to Learn school are one of the exemplary case studies. Those links and the Urie ones are easy to locate if you have not seen them via the tags. I am going to close with a link to an old post that readers of the report are not likely to recognize as related.

Do you remember that shocking James Paul Gee quote of the future aspiration that “There are no discrete individuals. Only ensembles of skills stored in a person, assembled for a particular project, to be reassembled for other projects, and shared with others within ‘communities of practice?”

The report’s Acknowledgments page thanks network advisor James Paul Gee for his thoughtful reviews and comments.

Not just a “networked” vision then but one with chilling implications that have been put to paper now and in the past once we know where to look.

Once Again the Official Target is Scrambling Rational Thinking, Do Pro-Social Purposes Make It OK?

What should horrify us more–the intention? Or the fact that numerous editors at Ed Week must have read the language and merely nodded. Because after all the idea that now “Teachers design spaces and experiences that rearrange the neurons in young people’s brains for pro-social purposes” is not news to readers of this blog. /change_the_frame_two_ways_to_rethink_education_for_reform.html?cmp=ENL-EU-VIEWS2 is the link from last week. It is the lead-in to paragraph 4. And the author is the educator who first led me to focus on gaming after a conference he hosted at MIT.

Ramping up for the 90s version of these same “reshape the personality and values” reforms, which became infamous as Outcomes Based Education, there was a flurry of books on creating new kinds of minds. Willis Harman’s Global Mind Change from the previous post was one. Paul Ehrlich wrote New World New Mind and we also had The Axemaker’s Gift that gave us the useful Axemaker’s Mind metaphor to explain what is being targeted. Well, the sought goal has never gone away. Apparently the era of Positive Humanism (aka little c you-know-what) can only commence if the rational “ego-mind” that promotes individuality has been anesthetized. Put into deep sleep via K-12 education. To be reenforced periodically through lifelong learning and today’s new term–media education.

This time around we again have more illuminating books to guide us toward the future others want for us. First we have Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want published in 2011. Ecologist Frances Moore Lappe, who also serves on a new global entity (with Riane Eisler if you have ever read the Caring Economics post)  wants to reframe the “largely unconscious mental map made up of big ideas orienting our lives.” She points out a very useful phrase to keep in mind as we keep reading about Enduring Understandings and systems theory “lenses” and Understandings of Consequence that are to be provided in the Common Core classroom to help organize every student’s beliefs about the world and the past. “Can we remake our mental map?” Lappe asks. Because she points out that “while we often hear that ‘seeing is believing,’ actually believing is seeing.

Which will of course come in quite handy in an education now to be focused on the visual and modeling future scenarios on the computer.  Because the tech companies and their broadcasting allies globally have been quietly sponsoring (as in literally funding the conferences) the idea that “society has evolved from a literacy culture to a media culture. To be able to function in this new culture, people need to develop sufficient proficiency in media literacy in much the same way as people in a literacy culture need to be able to read and write.”

And if this is news to you the Common Core literacy standards do mention media literacy but no one seems to be focusing on the implications yet. Probably because they have not been reading the programs of the Media & Learning Conferences that started in Brussels in 2010 and noted the significance of the statement that “different media provide access to different parts of the brain.” And, yes, games are an important component of this new view of K-12 education as digital and media-based.

As the 2011 “Harnessing the power of Media to support Learning” Conference put it so succinctly, games are “tools to support training in soft skills and understanding of complex situations.” Of course this is all in the context of an assumption that globally we are moving toward a “more participatory,” equitable society. And to get there as a speaker noted, the role of education needs to be seen as the “physiological and psychological growth of the child.”

Why that sounds just like Student Growth in the US! What the feds are now requiring as the measure of an effective teacher. Just coincidental I am sure. Actually you have probably already noticed the shift to integrating media creation into the classroom. You just did not know it was part of an organized, ideological shift. Or that a conference would be organized to push “the underlying principle was that video production includes a whole process of skills which, once acquired, can be transferred to solve other complex tasks.” Oh good. What IB and UNESCO call homo faber–man the maker.

By the 2012 Conference called “Media as an Agent for Change in Education and Training,” a keynote speaker, Andrew Keen, was warning the audience that digital learning was a “form of ideology that is shifting us to a flatter global societal structure” with a “disappearing middle class.” We could heed his points that “such widespread democratisation in education is already leading to the radicalisation of education” if only anyone in the US or anywhere outside of Europe were being honest with the general public on what is really going on with these ed reforms.

If you think this is just a European problem, then you are unaware that the New Media Consortium and this new view of education actually originated in the US. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it just had its 15th anniversary conference. And I listened to Karen Cator’s Keynote speech on “Participatory Learning-Powered by Technology”. And then I found the federal reports she mentioned. Which told me precisely how important ICT is to the new assessments. It allows a move away from “covering subject matter” to a “concern with cognitive skills, including those that have been identified as 21st-century skills.” The “subject matter content emphasis” of traditional schooling led schools to “neglect the higher order or complex cognitive components such as inquiry, problem solving, and explanation.”

The new assessments via ICT are “designed to handle the interdependencies among a learner’s actions in dealing with complex, multistep problems or inquiries.” Now remember from our previous posts that these complex problems are deliberately “ill-structured” or “Indeterminate Situations” for which there is no fixed answer. And the computer is obtaining a tremendous amount of data generated by students at an unconscious level as they try to come up with an answer. And we also know that part of the intended aim of this confusing structure is to force the students to rely on creative, deep intuition to apply existing concepts or big ideas to new situations. Then the computer can adapt to give students immediate feedback to get the students back on whatever the pathway the game or software designers programmed into the instructions.

Don’t worry. It’s not like game designers have said they intended to use these programs to target student’s belief systems. It’s not like the designers are using positive psychology principles to make the visual as compelling as possible. Book Number 2 this time around came out in 2010. Marina Gorbis from the last post mentioned The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction by Rebecca Costa. is her as the keynoter at last October’s Bioneers Conference. Costa is a well-connected sociobiologist who considers Capitalism to be an example of “Extreme Economics.” She views widespread public skepticism over Global Warming and whether climate changes are manmade to be an example of the kind of irrational beliefs that have led to catastrophic civilizational collapse in the past.

She says the answer lies in turning to Insight and the unconscious mind as the solution to the increasing complexity of the modern world. The insight she describes sounds much like Harman’s deep intuition or Alice Bailey’s creativity if you want to go even further back to the same pursuit in the 30s and the 50s. It’s once again the nonrational mind that is to be given free rein except for one big difference this time. Rebecca admits she wants to abandon the norm of analytical problem-solving or right-brain synthesis of facts. Rebecca also points out the part of the brain that thinks inspirationally is now known. It can be found in a fold in the brain called the anterior Superior Temporal Gyrus (aSTG).

Functional brain imaging can now show that when someone is using insight or intuition or creativity to solve a problem, this “little-known fold ‘lights up like a Christmas tree.” So radicals have targeted this nonrational, unconscious capacity as part of their Transformation to Utopia plans for decades. All of a sudden numerous commentators are talking about reorganizing the brain’s neurons. Literally. And in early March President Obama announced a brain-imaging initiative.

Costa wants people to make “novel connections rather than continue to rely on reductionist thinking.” The actual implementations in the K-12 classroom globally appear designed to give the aSTG a workout. That’s what all those references to Higher Order Thinking Skills are about. The part of the brain that thinks logically and sequentially is under concentrated, coordinated attack.

And all this desired New Minds for a New Future can be physically measured now.

And we could address the implications of all this for personal freedom and the legitimacy of the individual in the future. If only these reports and conferences and expressed intentions were better known.