Butterflies of the Soul: Using Education Reforms as the Chrysalis for Social Reengineering

I have to admit that the first part of that title is not my metaphor. It does, however, perfectly capture the true story behind of where education reforms, learning standards like the Common Core, SEL competencies, or School Choice, actually lead. The true story is found via a converging mixture of open declarations by insiders, coupled to deceitful narratives by people also tied to ‘public policy’. The False Narratives always seem to be trying to obscure the same actual goals as what someone else openly declares. Either that obstruction, as in “Don’t Look Here!”, or we get a deliberate misrepresentation of what something means or how it works (based on Robin’s handy Education Glossary of terms).

In other words, both shrouding something I know is there or misrepresenting a definition are telling facts of what the deception is about. Using my own metaphor now, if the Open Admitters of education as a transformational tool are Hansel, and the Deceiving Craftsmen (and women) are Gretel, the crumbs Hansel is leaving, and the areas of the pathway that Gretel’s crumbs never touch, are headed in the same direction. Let’s look there!

One of the documentable facts I have uncovered in the last few months of footnote tiptoeing and then reading is that in 2003 the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society was launched at a conference at the Vatican. At an opening session workshop, the Senior Scientist of One Laptop Per Child, Antonio Battro, presented a video called Mysterious Butterflies of the Soul, which was a metaphor for the neurons in the student’s physiological brain. The idea was how to transform education to target the ‘living brain’ so its structures reliably guide future actions and behaviors. This future activity is to be grounded in the supposed “spiritual roots of humanity.” That true neurobiological focus then gets obscured by frequently substituting the terms cognition or mind.

Linking up with the last post’s observation that all these aims, when uncovered or deciphered, turn out to be about the student’s decision-making capacities, Antonio Damasio, from the same conference (USC prof involved with BRAIN Initiative and author of Descartes’ Error) told us why SEL Standards are really so important. Hint: it has nothing to do with any government database of PII.

“We use emotions and the devices that underpin them every day of our lives, frequently as a helping hand in the conscious decision-making process and just as often to orient our behaviors and enrich our humanity. Creativity [one of the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning] is not conceivable without emotion. Neither is moral behavior. As for education, it is difficult to imagine how to proceed without two of the leading consequences of emotion: engagement and attention. The brain uses emotional processes to identify salient features of the environment that are especially relevant to the management of life.”

When the think tanks, American Principles Project and the Pioneer Institute, decided to pilfer from the footnotes of my book Credentialed to Destroy, with neither proper attribution nor permission, to misrepresent the true focus of both Competency-based Education and Transformational Outcomes Based Education, the misleading pathway constructed led away from that very same Life Roles focus as what Damasio and IMBES were getting at. “After the Fall: Catholic Education Beyond the Common Core” made public education supposedly all about preparation for the workforce. It also alleged the Common Core was “devoid of any attention to ‘the true, the good, the beautiful,” and catered to “man with the soul amputated.” Well, that butterfly metaphor makes a mockery of that statement.

Plus, on the next page Professor Damasio told us that “the importance of emotion in education  is not confined to its role in engagement and attention. The role that emotions play in the construction of moral behavior and, by extension, building a citizen is just as important.” I bolded those phrases because when the Atlanta Classical Academy, which is part of both the Atlanta Public Schools and where the head of Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative, Terrence Moore, is the principal,  ran an ad in the local paper recently it touted its curriculum as building the basis for Virtuous Living and Good Citizenship. Sounds like synonyms for Damasio’s vision for MBE education to me.

Moreover, in following our trails of crumbs and no crumbs, an October 13, 2016 story in The Federalist entitled “Meet the Americans Revitalizing Freedom, One Child at a Home” on Classical Education and the charter schools opened under the Barney Initiative cited how Moore had spoken at “a summer institute dedicated to introducing new volunteers to the ideas behind the Barney initiative.” We can all decide if this seems to be a fact-based curriculum to us.

“Moore playacted the part of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists of the American Revolution, illustrating ways to engage children in Western civilization’s great ideas. The seminar’s whiteboards proclaimed: ‘I will learn the true. I will do the good. I will love the beautiful.‘”

I bolded that because we are going back to what Antonio Battro of the Mysterious Butterflies of the Soul metaphor wrote just before he described the IMBES launch from the Vatican. In his section called “Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” he latinized these tenets everyone seems to be using to make education about transforming the emotional bases, values, and beliefs that guide future behavior. Just like what the Barney Charter initiative says it wishes to do and which is also supposedly the purpose of the new Catholic Curriculum Framework. What are the odds of such consistent similarities if not outright congruence?–Quoting Battro: “In the words of the old scholastic dictum, Verum, bonum et pulchrum convertuntur (Truth, goodness, and beauty are interchangeable.)”

At this rate so are the visions of the schools being created by School Choice advocates and public education generally. The pro-Common Core and Anti-Common Core organized forces are also headed in a common direction when we delve far enough. Interchangeable is truly the perfect word if we pay attention to function and not slight differences in phrasing or supposed purposes. I am also sure it is totally coincidental that the same day the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks rolled out with its admitted aims that somehow tie to the same behavioral science template as what Tranzi OBE and Competency-Based Ed really mean, the Center for Assessment in Dover, New Hampshire rolled out its Framework for what would constitute innovative, student-centered quality assessments under federal law.

Headed to the same place with measurable results of what is being internalized, in other words. Apparently no one is ever supposed to recognize all this commonality as long as different talking points are used in the official descriptions we are just to accept demurely.

One more example of all that can be learned about the real agenda from affiliated think tanks and the desire that we all accept analogical thinking using the presupplied metaphors that take us in a non-factual direction. This one seemed to be about once again wanting us to misunderstand the Common Core and ‘standards’ generally. We are also supposed to move on. First, the Bradley Foundation-financed, Harvard PEPG publication, Education Next, went with the story “Lessons on the Common Core” by Robert Pondiscio on January 5, 2017. The next week the PEPG partner and Education Excellence Network absorber, Fordham Institute, republished the same article. Later, that week, my local School Choice pusher think tank led its Friday Facts newsletter with this quote:

“to be upset by academic standards is to invest them with a power they neither have nor deserve. In my five years of teaching fifth graders, I never–not even once–reached for English language arts standards when deciding what to teach. I would wager that when I.M. Pei was commissioned to design the Louvre Pyramid, his first move was not to reach for a copy of the Paris building codes for inspiration.” A clever, but totally inapt metaphor, for the purpose of ‘standards’. They are not ‘academic standards’ in the historical sense of that term as transmitting a fact-based curriculum. A better metaphor would have Pei mulling over the laws of physics governing the desired design. True ‘learning standards.’ like the Common Core or Competency-Based Education, are always so interested in neurons and biology after all.

And why are everyone’s learning standards so focused on transmitting knowledge in terms of concepts, instead of building up from known facts and cause-effect relationships? Our IMBES template again had Vartan Gregorian, the President of the hugely influential Carnegie Corporation, telling us that “concepts are far more important than facts and the ability to analyze and synthesize has much greater value than the ability to memorize. In short, school may be multiple choice but real life is all essay.” All this interest in pushing concepts, categories, themes, topics, and ideas as the essence of Knowledge makes more sense if, like Gregorian said, there is now to be “no boundaries between learning and life.” Just like in Tranzi OBE, Competency-Based Ed, and apparently Classical Education too, once properly understood without deceit.

An admitted Marxist poli sci prof, back in 1996, laid out his vision of the future and what needed to be altered in italicized, reconstructive terms, in a way that someone writing about just education reform for an audience of parents, politicians, and taxpayers is typically unwilling to do. That does not change the fact that the desired poli sci or economic transformations can only occur with a certain type of change in the nature of education. Education reforms, to be deemed effective or what is now called ‘evidence-based’ should be gathering student data studying “mass dispositions and capabilities and associated discourses of democracy. Reconstructive science is concerned with the social competences of individuals and the corresponding grammars of human interaction. Its categories are sought in how its subjects apprehend the world.”

Everyone cited in this post, whether being honest or providing a metaphor or narrative to mislead, appears to be interested in providing the basis for how we ‘subjects’ in this 21st Century Age of undisclosed collectivist Politicalism–‘apprehend the world’.

In the next post we will cover how someone with ties to virtually everyone cited in this post wants education to be about practicing the desired “internal acts of reason and will.” A vision incorporating “the moral norms available to guide choice and action.”

I guess we will call the next post the End of the Trilogy laying out the Deceit surrounding Manipulating Each Student’s Personal Decision-Making Capacity, with neither notice nor consent.

Can anyone tell I do not like any vision of education that regards us as anyone’s ‘subjects’?

Opting Out as the Remedy May Mean Accidentally Accelerating Nonconsensual Transformations

Did you notice that transformations is plural? That added ‘s’ is  not a case of early morning hyper typing. As I have mentioned numerous times with substantial evidence in my book Credentialed to Destroy and this blog, we cannot separate out the end goals in our real world from the intention of using education to change what “type of person” students will become as adults. That inextricable reality of global K-12 education reform that the Common Core is tied to was brought painfully home this week when I came across this new report from KnowledgeWorks.  http://www.knowledgeworks.org/sites/default/files/Improving-Student-Outcomes-Through-Collective-Impact.pdf

In case you are not familiar with KnowledgeWorks, it is a well-connected nonprofit that has Clinton’s Education Secretary and Carnegie Vice Chair Richard Riley on its Board. It gets financing from the Gates, Carnegie, and Hewlett Foundations and pushes the Education reforms that were controversial in the 90s. This time though “There will be no Notice so There can be no Choice” could be the motto. So when KW creates a Policy Guide for Federal Policymakers (aka DC bureaucrats) that says that only those communities pushing a shared vision grounded in Uncle Karl’s vision of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” will be getting “federal place-based education grants,” we are about to have a problem. Especially if the local mayor or city council or school board wants to tout the disguised communitarian mandate as a ‘local’ idea.

Committing to transforming workplaces, the built environment, economies, and all the things governments will now do for all citizens is rather a large transformation. Everywhere in the world that is pushing this, which unfortunately amounts to everywhere ordinary people have ever been free to make their own choices, sees education as the means for forcing this change, like it or not. Here is as succinct a description of the end game person to be carved out by all these reforms as I can find. It is as if people now are to be treated as a block of ice to be produced into a form ready for a tony reception centerpiece on demand. Apt snark in brackets.

“Individuals who: (1) are constantly authenticating or reconstructing their beliefs through experience and reflection [Dweck’s Growth Mindset]; (2) are capable of critically analysing and transcending given texts, contexts, systems and structures [ready to jettison the world as it is for a world that might be and may work even worse]; (3) are able to prosper in changeable social, cultural and economic environments [all those other transformations to be pursued above as collective impact partnerships to get federal funds like the WIOA I despise]; (4) have recognised and developed passions, talents, and capacities which they willingly contribute to productive and cooperative purposes [that would explain why putting others first ended up as a requirement of the Career Ready Standards and all the references to collaboration]; (5) have a strong sense of identity, autonomy and self-efficacy [precisely what Facing History and the Anti-bias Standards are determined to create]; and (6) have a genuine respect for themselves and others [remember the Affirmative Code of Student Conduct now mischievously required in all classrooms?]”

The Australians call that the Key Abilities Model created by Global Change Agent Michael Fullan’s New Theory of Education and we simply cannot get there via a fact-based, lecture curriculum that is about content knowledge in the traditional sense. I mentioned Opt-Out because that is the remedy I kept hearing about while I was out in California. If the model of Next Generation Learning and Competency-based is to get rid of traditional tests altogether, opting out may be the proverbial jump from the frying skillet into the fire itself. Let’s quote an April 2013 Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) document called “The Pathway to Possibility” on the new type of “measures of learning” desired. Please remember that KnowledgeWorks is closely tied to NGLC.

“Different approaches to learning and revised definitions of success require new metrics that accurately reflect both the process [of personal change] and the product [the changes in the student] of learning and attainment. Such a shift would mean enormous changes in measurement design by itself, but that level of change is compounded by new thinking about the role of assessment in learning, both in the United States and internationally. Rather than being used primarily (often solely) for summative purposes–e.g., an on-demand final exam–assessment is increasingly understood to be an essential, ongoing, highly integrated component of the learning process.”

Embedded then in classwork like gaming or the online software increasingly ubiquitous in classrooms, this change the student capability goes by the names “assessing for learning” and “formative assessment.” If parents are unaware that changing how the student perceives the world from the inside out is the new purpose of curricula and what happens in the classroom, they may miss that the Opt Out hype aids this always intended transition. I personally believe that the pain of constant testing has been deliberately heightened precisely so that frustrated parents will proclaim no more objective measuring of what is happening in the classroom. It’s too frustrating for the kids. Then the real extent of the psychological shifts and the lack of real factual knowledge will be easy to miss. At least until the transformation is irreversible.

That’s the hope anyway. Let’s go back to Australia then to once again appreciate that the student’s basic assumptions about the nature of reality are what these reforms are really targeting. http://www.aare.edu.au/data/publications/2004/sea04954.pdf lays out the New Global Educational Paradigm. It’s just a matter of social science theory and our children and society itself are the intended guinea pigs for real-world testing. Wish we could opt out of this. Maybe we can if enough people are aware in time. These are the 15 Constructs of the desired changes in identity, dispositions and orientations to the world K-12 education is to be creating in students. These are the “transformational outcomes” desired.

Construct 1 is “Reality is not discovered, but constructed“. The world is what a person perceives and believes and there is no objective reality. That would certainly explain the disdain for lectures, textbooks, and phonetic reading to allow a dialogue with the past.

Construct 2 is “Human life transcends the appearance of duality.” That stunner insists we are not in fact separate from the world we inhabit and this historic duality gets bridged by making action and experience the classroom focus.

Construct 3 is “Human life is purposeful.” How a person interprets “objects, concepts, ideas, speech, events, actions and contexts depends on the individual’s purposes or perceptions of a problem.” So facts gets minimised and values and beliefs get all the attention so that purposes and perceptions can be usefully manipulated.

Constructive 4 is “Human Consciousness is evolutionary.” Not in a way that has anything to do with apes. Here the brain must be constantly willing to adapt how it interprets that real world. This theory calls for deliberately introducing conflict [aka rigor] so that the frustrating inconsistency will force a revision of our “internal schemes or internal reference standards (the experiential goals which drive our behavior)”. That would be the authoritarian goals I mentioned in the previous post that are supposed to be superior to mere rote learning of facts.

Construct 5 is “Human individuals are autonomous agents.” This translates into a person will fight external demands or limits imposed by arbitrary authority. So of course the answer is to make the control invisible and internal via education. Construct 6 is that “Human beings need to be familiar with the world around them.” That one bluntly boils down to how people organize their experience impacts their willingness to act to transform the world. Construct 7 is that “Human beings are vulnerable to conditioning.” Exploiting that has become the entire basis for graduate education degrees.

Construct 8 is “Particular forms of experience alienate human beings from our selves and the world.” Book knowledge gets in the way of transforming current reality is the concern. Construct 9 is “Authentic human beings can help others to become authentic.” Authentic means transcending current definitions and given systems and changing everything that currently exists. No, there’s nothing about collective impact but it fits. Construct 10 is “Intelligence is adaptive action.” Beginning to see a pattern? A person should be willing to change how they see the world to fit with their aims. Yes, this is a construct only a tenured prof would come up with, not someone spending their own money.

Construct 11 is “Life is change.” So is drowning, but that’s no reason to actively pursue it. Construct 12 is “Particular forms of experience create a disposition to intelligent action.” Of course those types of experiences must become the virtual reality of gaming or apprenticeships in the new design of high schools. Construct 13 is “A human being’s identity can transcend definitions.” That is particularly easy if the education paradigm proclaims the Death of the Gutenberg Era in order to deemphasize the magical effects on the mind of print.

Construct 14 is “Every human being is a conscious and autonomous process of becoming.” That is almost precisely what the NEA, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers wanted to make the new focus of K-12 education back in 1962. Everything old is new again for the 21st Century as Next Generation Learning. Sounds better than Humanist Psychology, doesn’t it?

Finally, Construct 15 is “Human beings change ourselves and our world.” Education here seeks to create an “awareness that texts, contexts, systems, and structures are not unalterable givens, but things that challenge us.”

That sounds precisely like the goal of that Collective Impact report we started with.

What’s the correct word to describe the intentions of these 15 constructs?

What happens when all these sought changes are involuntary and undisclosed to the people being changed and the taxpayers funding it all?

Imaging the Past to Experience and Reshape the Present More Fully: APUSH as Social Science

I tend to come at the same issues from a different approach in part because I usually pick up on all the terms that have quietly acquired a non-dictionary meaning. The real definitions completely change what people are actually admitting they intend to do. When it comes to history now, at whatever age, approach all courses or activities, even for elementary students, with a recognition that “Personal Transformation on our Minds” is the motto crooned to the tune of “Georgia on My Mind”. You will never be far off from what the real goals are. Facts are really only important in this view of history if they can be used to shift how we see ourselves or others in the present.

Did you know that historian Thomas Bender (he actually seems to prefer the term Humanities professor) from the previous APUSH post and another NYU historian (now Harvard) Walter Johnson, also at La Pietra, have each been fellows at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences since the Conference and before the formal relationship with the College Board began? History as a tool for altering human behavior in the present certainly puts the purposes of that otherwise mystifying Conceptual Framework in a new light, doesn’t it?

Did you know that back in 1934 the American Historical Association issued a Carnegie-financed report (remember they are now sponsoring Competency-Based Learning and so much more) called the “Report of the Commission of the Social Studies.” My thanks to the reader who read the previous post and directed my attention to this report on the american deception website. All the way back then, the AHA announced that “the American people are part of Western Civilization now merging into a world order.” Schools therefore needed to modify any coursework that would encourage “the traditional faith in economic individualism.” The US would be “embarking on vast experiments in social planning and control which call for large-scale cooperation on the part of the people.”

Compliant is probably a more apt description for the new desired attitudes, but the soothing PR sales pitch in the report is that “education so conceived is concerned with the development of rich and many-sided personalities capable of co-operating.” Education that continued to focus on subject-matter content would simply “intensify the conflicts, contradictions, maladjustments, and perils of the transition.” Just thinking of us then is why we have been lied to about what has been really going on. The view that school could become primarily a matter of social adjustment and experiences while the real purposes hid behind continuing use of Academic Course Names has been on the record for a very long time.

When I said in the last post that the La Pietra Conference immediately made me think of the World Order Models Project, the original book that I reached for was the 1990 Contending Sovereignties: Redefining Political Community. That book was essentially the post-Soviet Blueprint of how to proceed to ‘reform’ the West as if it actually did not ‘win’ anything at all. It grew out of a 1988 Moscow Workshop that launched the Global Civilization Project. I know. Another lost invite. The essential premises going forward were that the era of the nation-state was over and that the historic state form was insufficient as a “political community.” Instead, the locality should be the focus of the political community and politics should now be reconceived as “purposive social action directed at the conditions of social existence.”

If you redefine “democratic theory” going forward as “a theory of social movements rather than states” and you do not want to tell the masses in case they do not want to go along with such an oligarchy power play, you hide the shifts in education. You create a Common Core and use Close Reading to foster the desired perceptions of “which human identities are crucial, what forms of social action are necessary, what political communities have to be created.” You use the school to create classroom practices that involve “politics as an everyday experience” and never disclose why. You create an APUSH Framework that is missing most of the crucial facts, but is full of activities and concepts offering students a means for “working out new understandings of themselves and bringing those understandings into the world.”

That’s because it’s the Flyv Social Science definition of understanding as grounded in subjective experience and how the student learns to perceive it using the provided concepts and disciplinary Big Ideas. I will pull one more nerdy word out of Robin’s Magical Glossary of Pertinent Education Terms: phronesis. Every time you see the word ‘understand’ from now on having to do with what students are to ‘know’ it means grounded in experience and perception and not logic or facts. A phronetic, Arational understanding is what the social scientists and educators intent on fundamental transformations call it and we should appreciate it is not a fact-grounded, analytical sense of the word ‘understanding.’ Is APUSH making more sense now?

How about if I add that Bender’s 1978 book Community and Social Change in America explained the now close relationships between sociologists and historians to create a means to “illuminate the dynamics of a complex society.” To use historical data and sociological ideas to examine “the ways in which the roles, statuses, and identities held by individual Americans changed over time.” Now that’s a view of the purpose of history that would fit right in with a Global Civilization Project interested in bypassing the factual history that might preserve the legitimacy of the nation-state. Instead we quietly build up senses of entitlement and grievance in social movements.

Bender acknowledged that “ideology can create a national community held together by emotional bonds similar to those associated with the social experience of community” that we are discussing here. What Bender seems to want to focus on as history is the “network of social relations in which the individual is embedded” and what the “structure of social experience is.” He wants to look for and hopefully use history coursework to start a course back towards relationships and interactions grounded in the “qualities of mutuality and sentiment associated with community.”

If that sounds like Bender is interested in fostering the kind of communitarianism we just keep stumbling across in the actual Common Core implementation, I think that is exactly right. It would also explain all the foundation sponsorship of the La Pietra Conference. It is history as a social practice of students and teachers acting as a community to explore the past to better appreciate what is wrong with the present.

I have one more place I want to look to put APUSH into perspective while once again encountering the communitarian emphasis that never seems to be far away from what will be imposed on students in a K-12 school or classroom. The goal always seems to be to accustom each student to a more communitarian, interdependent approach in society and the economy. This book from 1992, Responsive Schools, Renewed Communities, is by Clifford W Cobb, a co-author of the very troubling for the common good, with a Foreword by famous communitarian prof Amitai Etzioni. It actually advocated for vouchers and charter schools and school choice generally as a more reliable vehicle for achieving the communitarian focus. That surprise would suggest I am not the only one who understands that accreditation is the monkey wrench that undermines genuine choice for parents.

So beware what remedies we advocate for without reading the footnotes and small print. My purpose for using that book is how well it fits with the template from both the 1934 Report and the methods for transformation of political community laid out in Contending Sovereignties. That 1992 book wanted schools that depend on “fostering concrete experiences of commitment to an immediate community. Those experiences can then be generalized into a devotion to the common good.” School becomes a means to “generate allegiance to core values,” which would of course put it in line with the global education template UNESCO and Pearson are quietly pushing.

Relevant to our igniter of social movements goal as the new actual purpose of history coursework (or Civics or English or STEM…) is the desire that Multiculturalism and Diversity be seen as goals that will allow the “continuing distinctiveness and autonomy of subcultures, particularly those based on ethnicity.” Well, let’s face it, not all ethnicities qualify. A few sentences further is the real point of cultural pluralism. Those “ethnic nuclei” that are to be respected are those that can constitute “enduring centers of social action.” Oh, that will go well with the new, post nation-state emphasis. The next page, revealing that our prying eyes were never meant to read that book and really grasp all the Diversity hype, “stresses the tactical value of limited separatism.”

Especially in our new world with its focus on the locality and everyday experience. Whatever the intentions of individual advocates today, please be aware that back in 1992 School Choice was being pushed by some as yet another means to get back to:

“the context of a community of personal affiliations that imposed moral expectations and sanctions on its members. That tradition can be revived by shifting from devotion to an abstract national community to reliance on particular, local communities. In other words, rather than expecting the state to resolve our disagreements with each other on moral issues, we should learn to rely on participatory communities to guide the behavior of individuals.”

I think that is what all education at every level globally is now geared to if, like me, you know where to look. We have been looking at an astonishing consistency of aims now from a huge variety of starting points and assumed affiliations.

Next I will walk us through how history is actually to be used before APUSH to get to the Global Civilization Project goals.

Ready for the assessment to be a class quilt?



Anesthetizing Any Ability to Blow Up Or Contaminate a Chosen Politically Useful Narrative

In both adults and children it now turns out. We all are to have our ability to accurately perceive what is going on around us, its true causes, and the likely consequences under deliberate, guided assault. We get to be inadvertent active participants in fundamental transformations we might object to if we were aware. All the coordinated lies or declarations in conferences we are not invited to and books and reports we were never to see. I have seen them though and it propels this compulsion to play Paul Revere to yell “The Bad Ideas that are a-coming” to a classroom, newsroom, or PR campaign soon. Some are already in place with unfortunate psychological effects unappreciated by parents and taxpayers lured into believing that higher graduation rates or greater levels of “student achievement” or Student Growth are necessarily a good thing. Instead, many are masking changes in personality and deliberate efforts to “shatter the rule of law and regularity in the mind.”

That last quote was from a Chapter called “Direction for Human Development” in that The Great Adventure book I mentioned in the last post. Before we discuss what is planned, I want us to remember the game of Red Rover most of us played as children. As adults if we happened upon kids arguing over a badly bruised arm or shoulder injuries from a determination to hold tight against breaking the grip and accusing the fast, aggressive runner who broke through of deliberately wanting to hurt them, we would recognize the problem. Everyone intended their respective actions, but no one gave any thought to consequences beyond their own goals. Think of all the plans for credentialing students, teachers, and administrators to be change agents. Fundamentally transforming economic, political, and social systems they have deliberately been given false understandings of.

Misapprehension of what actually works, why elements really do not, and what all the likely consequences of the sought actions will be. The creators of these theories want everyone involved playing as if they were still children in Red Rover, moving through the POWER Model and securing data as to what to do next. Totally unable to accurately perceive what is bound to occur, lest that inhibit future action. In that same chapter the authors confess:

“Our use of representation, leaving immediate experience behind, and living within the confines of our constructs [or as my own children call it when I am writing ‘mom’s been in her head all day thinking’] can be particularly limiting. If we use our capacities to build edifices of knowledge that are fundamentally static and closed, we can become trapped in limiting worldviews, strangled by our own assumptions.”

Unwilling then, of course, to be Change Agents to try to force changes in the real world that will redirect history going forward. That’s why “a reform in thinking is needed…a kind of thinking that does not reject uncertainty and ambiguity [and in fact nurturing this capacity is what the hype about Rigor and Higher Order Thinking Skills is all about], but rather feeds on [the uncertainty, ambiguity, lack of a correct answer] it for a constant process of self-eco-re-organization.”

It’s no secret that I believe there is a connection between the mass school shootings and their links to communities aggressively pushing using school to dissolve the rational mind and manipulate perception from the inside-out. Today though we are talking about how all this invisibly goes global and why. The ties to violence in the past though are a component of why I am so worried. The social radicals seeking wholesale transformations have always known that “education and learning are what chiefly drive us at all the levels of activity explored by psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and all the other fields of social science, systems science, the humanities, and what we call spirituality, as well as in every other human activity that—as it most clearly does involve evolution—calls out for a newly inclusive definition and a vastly expanded and updated theory and story.”

Our Toronto planners and friends (look here from 2011 to Common Core and 90s version architect Lauren Resnick and her involvement with the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research Scientific Committee http://www.iscar2011.org/eng/ISCAR_PROGRAM_UPDATE_01092011.pdf ) really are targeting prevailing mental maps for extinction and extensive alteration. To gain the very real transformations in the actual world that so many involved in public policy are determined to have, the necessary target is “the bottom line is the perception of large masses of people–a perception oriented by the paradigm that dominates their society.”

So that paradigm, that is nurtured by fluent reading and algebra problems and geometry proofs, has to go. Without admitting that true explanation. My thanks here to the reader who pointed out the work of the FrameWorks Institute and their Strategic Frame Analysis. It describes the lies and how a perception marketing theme is uncovered and how to make sure it is not blown up or contaminated.

One of the biggest prevailing memes now–that everyone must go to college–is generally cited to Professor Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown. In an earlier version of his life he was the author of those New Workforce Training Manuals that so much of the real implementation guidelines appear to be lifted straight out of. I had looked into his background before since so many pernicious recommendations he or groups citing him are pushing for go back to a previous paper he wrote. In other words, a foundation of druthers, not factual research. That’s why I loved that he put his detailed CV in one of the manuals, apparently taking the equivalent of a victory lap. Not knowing 25 years later it would be damning.

Carnevale wanted us to know he was a Board member of the Carnegie-sponsored National Center on Education and the Economy that was created after those 1985 Carnegie agreements between the US State Department and the USSR. I think that is why Carnegie sponsored the Competency-Based Learning Summits in 2011 to get Next Generation Learning across the hype of the Common Core. It’s why Competency to me looks so much like the essential skills Carnevale laid out as Learning to Learn in the 1990 manual.   Carnevale also listed having been the governmental affairs director for AFSCME, the union for state, county, and municipal public employees, the only area of union membership that grew in the last half of the 20th century.

It is Carnevale’s degrees that remind us how to use education and learning changes to invisibly drive cultural changes in collectivist directions without admitting what is going on. Or gaining consent. He listed a BA in “intellectual and cultural history” from Colby College, a rather euphemistic phrase to disguise a Marxian view of history as a process of cultural change in prevailing mindsets. An MA in “social science and public administration” from Syracuse is again quite consistent with wanting social science to be able to design human [that would be people like us], social, economic, and physical environmental systems like cities going forward, just as our Toronto planners and Cultural-Historical Activity Theorists all have in mind. (Wave to Michael Cole and Engestrom too if you click on the ISCAR link). Finally, his PhD is from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs. Billing yourself as an ‘economist’ for deference to your beliefs that the public sector should control the economy seems to me to be False Advertising in order to get Theory into Action.

Everyone wants to use education and the media too to alter how we perceive the world in predictable ways.  To again get political theory into action without admitting it. Our Toronto planners in the “What Should It Look Like” chapter though gave us something else highly useful in their plans for cultural change without permission.

“In bringing the ‘active agent’ into the picture…we come to what used to be billed as the dialectical perspective. During the twentieth century the words ‘praxis’ and ‘dialectical’ became taboo within much of science and Western society because of their historical association with the ‘dialectical’ materialism’ of Marxist theory, communism, and the grim years of the Cold War…[but] “because of its enduring intellectual power…and reached its philosophical high point with Hegel, Marx, and Engels [that’s continued open admiration and reverence, folks!] has been resurrected under other names in cybernetics, chaos and complexity theory, as well as in new ways in the works of most of the authors of these chapters, as we’ll next see.”

I am going to pause here for a second. David Loye is saying that virtually all the theories guiding K-12 and higher ed ‘reforms’ are grounded in some of history’s most notorious collectivists. To mask that fact, various labels likely to be difficult to understand are being used. I guess to stop any opportunity for a blow up or contamination during the process of fundamental transformations. Now what Loye said next takes us to the very heart of the new envisioned K-12 classroom as well as what the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning are really getting at. Here goes, with the italics as usual in the original.

“The basic dynamic for dialectics is the idea of two or more ‘forces’ and their interaction, either in conflict or working together, which shape our lives into what becomes known as history or human evolution. (Thanks to Marxism, the dialectical model is misrepresented as being solely restricted to conflict…to remedy this problem, the idea of dialogue, or the dialogical model is used to describe the alternative of two forces that complement or otherwise peacefully work together.)”

Puts a whole new spin on group projects, doesn’t it? And the omnipresent word Du Jour–collaboration.

I am going to stop here as following up on this brought me all sorts of startling real-life consequences, including the use of these Dialogic Design principles during the lead-up to the 2008 Presidential campaign and what MOOCs really intend to accomplish.

This would be easier to bear if these theories were in a sci fi novel instead of a book and blog devoted to real-time revelations.


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? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/weak-humanscomputersexpert-modelling-of-captured-data-is-this-your-approved-vision-of-the-21st/

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.






Using Education to Make Giving More Power to Those Who Govern Us the Common Vision

Does that title give more clarity to why those Essential Learning Outcomes from the last post must now be what the student  becomes and believes as a result of school and college? How about the official Democracy push via education for a new cooperative commonwealth in the future? Or using contemplative practices in the classroom to bypass the rational mind and make the Heart the driver of what will become reflexive Habits of the Mind?

We in the US especially, but also as the dominant vision all over the West, simply have always seen ourselves as individuals first. A vision of the Governors and the Governed is alien to our psyche. But unfortunately it is not alien to the druthers of an awful lot of influential people who would like more power please. Or who get together with each other–politicians, foundation heads, Big Business titans, and bemoan their decaying power To Get Things Done. The Loss of Their Grip on Society.

So one way to look at all these education reforms whose true target seems unfathomable to us since it shuts down useful knowledge is as an Oligarch Protection Scheme. Now I have generally known that but in March 2013 the book The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be was published. Yes, I am considering nominating this book for whiniest title of the year but that is not why it caught my attention. You see, its author, Moises Naim, is a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the former Editor-in-Chief of Foreign Policy magazine. Now maybe you are unaware of just how many of the controversial ideas in education have been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York but I am not. So I ordered the book hoping for insights into what Carnegie’s plans were now for all of us. What it is really pushing under the cover of Common Core or EdLeader 21 or High Tech High replicas or Early College High Schools or those Next Generation Science Standards.

Can you say Bingo? Or Touchdown with a conversion for a total of 8 points from the play? Now how’s this for the back cover endorsements of the book–former President Bill Clinton, George Soros, Arianna Huffington, the President of Brazil, and Francis Fukuyama. The last one makes me wonder whether the End of History ended where we thought. The first one is a reminder that all these ed reforms were hoping to be fully implemented in the 90s. If you check the Acknowledgments page, Naim thanks the President of the Carnegie Endowment by name for all her help with the manuscript that became the book. He also thanks the President of the Brookings Institution, Strobe Talbott, by name and former Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers.

So this is the official What the Oligarchs would like to See Going Forward Vision. What drives grantmaking and the research that is pushed in education or other related areas like Metropolitanism or Immigration or Regional Equity generally. I have gradually put together that all these changes are part of a common, governments at all levels, led vision for the future. But the Oligarchs just talk about it over dinner or while jetting to conferences like Davos. They Know because it is part of their ongoing conversations.

But since Naim wrote it down and so many powerful people cooperated, let’s see what the Oligarchs have in mind for us. He bemoans the fact that our elected leaders “are paralyzed by the vetocracy” and he wants to change that. He ends the book with this haunting line:

“Driven by the transformation in the acquisition, use, and retention of power, humanity must, and will, find new ways of governing itself.”

According to Naim, we need to “endow our leaders with the capacity to contain the decay of power.” Now at some point Naim was Venezuela’s Minister of Industry and Trade and also with the World Bank so maybe that’s where his tendency to talk in terms of the Governed and the Governors comes from but he’s not in Venezuela anymore. He works in the US for an endowment tied to one of the richest foundations in the world. A global think tank that aspires to be THE global international affairs go to place. For countries all over the world. So when he writes and thinks in terms of “the societies they wish to govern” repeatedly and nobody even thinks to edit it out, we do have a declaration of how the Oligarchs think of each of us. And what they wish to do to push back against “the decay of power.” They wish to change the “one critical area [that] remains surprisingly untouched: the way we govern ourselves, our communities, nations, and the international system.” Naim writes that “we are on the verge of a revolutionary wave of positive political and institutional innovations.”

Positive for whom? For the family paying real estate taxes that put a strain on the family budget while Supers and their staffs deliberately push Mind Arson in the schools? When you deal with a Principal who refuses to listen to valid concerns or a PTA President who does not care that teacher professional development is being led by someone who has openly held up Mao Tse-Tung as an example of leadership, just remember what is really going on is a struggle for the soul of people and nations. A desire that schools now foster Mindsets of dependence and a belief in the need for collective action to address supposedly insuperable global problems and challenges like Climate Change and Overpopulation and Nuclear Proliferation.

Naim repeatedly belittles the Tea Party for its views and for hobbling “one of the world’s most powerful political machines”– the Republican Party. Well, that certainly explains a lot of why it keeps mounting such ineffective Presidential runs. He also disparages “eighteenth-century readings of the American constitution advocated by characters dressed in period costume” although I suspect he would be no more fond of the language of that document if the speaker had on a Bespoke tailored suit with a European cut. In the name of the “social good” for the future, Naim wants to create:

“an increased disposition in democratic societies to give more power to those who govern us. And that is impossible unless we trust them more. Which is of course even more difficult. But also indispensable.”

Well, indispensable to Oligarchs who want to transform the way “humanity organizes itself” for their own benefit. So they use education for Mind Arson and new beliefs and values. All trackable now via personal data. In the name of economic growth, the urban areas are quietly seeking a shift to a planned Cronyistic regional economy and calling it the Metropolitan Revolution. Have you read it yet? All supposedly necessary again so “we will be able to tackle the most pressing global challenges.” Who are they kidding? These global problems are just the excuse for a feast at our expense and a future of invisible chains and continuous taxes as the Oligarchs enjoy themselves. And take care of each other. We are truly to be just passengers that exist for the sake of the ship.

So when you read a presentation like this recent one  http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/Presentations/Education_for_Life_and_Work_Feb_2013.pdf that you and I were not invited to attend since we might have wondered why the Common Core assessments were to actually focus on intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies, remember now it is assessing Mindsets Suitable to be Governed. Don’t forget to notice the slide thanking all the sponsoring foundations including Carnegie.

You may never have heard of the Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences of the National Research Council.  But the NRC also tracks back to Carnegie funding. 1919. But with governmental sponsorship now. Cool, huh? Binding and mostly out of sight. Carnegie also funded this report “The Heart of the Matter” issued in June to change the direction of humanities and social sciences instruction to “address major global challenges.” Of course and all we need are basic competencies now from K-12. http://www.humanitiescommission.org/_pdf/hss_report.pdf . Don’t forget to notice that the head of that NRC Behavioral Division is a member of that Humanities Commission.

And when you read that very troubling report, don’t forget that Paul Ehrlich said the humanities are to be the focus now on how to change human behavior. That his MAHB is now doing for UN entities.

Which are also tied to Carnegie funding. Not having to pay taxes just leaves so much more money to use to mess with the psyche of those of us who do. And to plan and scheme and coordinate. Especially with those other foundations. Who all have such transformative plans for us.

Let us be forever grateful that the Oligarchs put so much in writing upfront.

And that we can still read and think and act.

Muzzling Minds All Over the Globe While Trumpeting Higher Order Skills

One of the hardest aspects for those of us who have grown up in free countries, especially the United States, is to grasp what it is like to live in a society committed to having its citizens think ideologically. Through the prisms of political theory. With the lens of  models supplied and practiced with until the filtering becomes quite unconscious. Reflexive. Habits of mind common to almost everyone that are at the core of perceptions and daily behavior.

I should have had this insight last Christmas when a friend who had grown up behind the Iron Curtain began to tear up at hearing some of my stories on what was being targeted and why. She knew ideological thinking from her childhood. Maybe it was reading that 1988 KEEP book I wrote about a week ago on creating the “dialectical growth of concepts” to be interpretive and integrative filters in each child’s mind. I was ready to really grapple with this painful aspect of the real implementation template of these global education reforms.

But I think the epiphany started with reading The Devil in History by Rumanian emigrant, now Maryland poli sci professor Vladimir Tismaneanu, and phrases like “their [the Communist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe] main weakness was a failure to muzzle the human mind.” Oh. Just imagine importing their theories and this time trying on an unsuspecting West via unappreciated education reforms. Describing from his experience, you can imagine my shock at reading descriptions of “conceptual frameworks” that “acted to make sense of general experience for all: all real phenomena could be judged against it and were ascribed value, form and essence in its light.” Do you know how often I have encountered conceptual frameworks in tracking the real Common Core? CRESST itself even told the Hewlett Foundation reassuringly that the actual assessments would be built around those, not the content standards.

Tismaneanu in describing the “continual assault on the mind” he associated with building new values and beliefs and a new Identity (and yes those terms do get used interchangeably in Ideological societies along with Worldview) reminds us pointedly that:

“However socially conditioned the individual’s thinking may be, however necessarily it may relate to social questions, to political action, it remains the thought of the individual which is not just the effect of collective processes but can also take them as its object.”

I have never lived in a society where it is considered “seditious” to maintain your individuality but plenty of people have and they have written about it. When I first wrote this alarming post on Yrjo Engestrom and where I saw the Global Cities Education Network taking us http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/treating-western-society-and-its-economy-as-a-train-in-need-of-rebuilding-and-central-direction/ , I grasped that he did not sound like he was describing a dead philosophy or theories. But I did not yet know that in 1991 he wrote an essay called “Activity theory and individual and social transformation.” Gulp. That sounds just like the aspirations we have been encountering. And it took some searching but this weekend I located a copy. On the servers at Harvard Graduate School of Education as an assigned reading. Maybe to go with the 10 Cs I first described here?

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/making-race-and-class-oppression-the-locomotives-driving-the-positive-school-climate-mandate/ And if you are not sure yet we are dealing with ideology notice how often trains get used as the desired metaphor. I am just repeating all the uses. Which begins to make more sense once we know that (from the essay):

“Activity theory has its threefold historical origins in classical German philosophy (from Kant to Hegel), in the writings of Marx and Engels, and in the Soviet Russian cultural-historical psychology of Vygotsky, Leont’ev, and Luria.”

OK then. That also brings in Urie Bronfenbrenner and his Ecological Systems Theory that is at the center of the Common Core Social Studies Conceptual Framework. And Activity Theory is now centered at UC-San Diego and Michael Cole’s CHAT research which I have mentioned several times. But the very First International Congress on Activity Theory took place in Berlin in 1986 with Cole and Engestrom participating. That’s about the same time that Cole was thanking the Carnegie Corporation for financing the importation of psychology theories from “our Soviet colleagues.” Following up on the links between the term “Authentic Pedagogy” and Vygotsky and Cole’s work pulled up a 1987 seminal document I had never seen before. Published by the National Academies of Science and written by Lauren Resnick (who would co-chair the New Standards alternative assessment project in the 90s version of these ed reforms before serving on the Common Core creation panel) the document is called “Education and Learning to Think.”

That report, which I found on a server listed as a Common Core Precursor Document, is the source for the now ubiquitous term–Higher Order Thinking. And that document also thanks Cole and his Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition for related work that Carnegie also was financing. Thanks a lot Andrew. Might have been better to let your heirs dissipate the fortune with too many mansions and gaudy vehicles. Since Higher Order Thinking is such an important term to today’s actual classroom emphasis under the Common Core and Texas version but also the ancestry of these ideas, let me quote Lauren’s definition with her italics intact. And remember this is for all children. Concepts and expansionary thinking for all you might say.

–Higher order thinking is nonalgorithmic. That is, the path of action is not fully specified in advance.

–Higher order thinking tends to be complex. The total path is not “visible” (mentally speaking) from any vantage point.

–Higher order thinking often yields multiple solutions, each with costs and benefits, rather than unique solutions.

–Higher order thinking involves nuanced judgment and interpretation.

–Higher order thinking involves the application of multiple criteria, which sometimes conflict with one another. [We have discussed in other posts how this type of mental dissonance can force the need for new mindsets and models.]

–Higher order thinking often involves uncertainty. Not everything that bears on the task at hand is known.

–Higher order thinking involves self-regulation of the thinking process. We do not recognize higher order thinking in an individual when someone else “calls the plays” at every step. [Here Lauren seems to be alluding to sequential, linear mathematics or science where you learn theories that someone else developed and proved. AKA traditional math and science]

–Higher order thinking involves imposing meaning, finding structure in apparent disorder. [If that reminds you of RECAST, David Perkins of Project Zero is listed as involved with this report].

–Higher order thinking is effortful. There is considerable mental work involved in the kinds of elaborations and judgments involved.”

Well, it is my belief that all those are euphemisms for saying higher order thinking is ideological. It is training students to think in terms of assigned categories and imagine different futures for everyone one involved. Planning. Imagining a different economic structure. Other ways to organize societies. Solutions for alleged catastrophes. Creativity that is not impeded by knowledge of what worked or led to catastrophe in the past. Not your own conceptual understandings as gifted students have developed them through the ages but supplied concepts and models and definitions.

There were more congresses on Activity Theory and they were absolutely chock full of Russian psychologists. Which actually makes sense as I will show you in the next post that CHAT and what is now called ISCAR–International Society for Cultural and Activity Theory–are related to the so-called New Thinking that Mikhail Gorbachev transitioned to in the mid-80s as part of perestroika. And why it appears that the restructurings were not just physical but also altered mindsets, values and beliefs, and new interpretive theories. Global this time.

Remember Davydov and his Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete as the new mode of ideologically oriented systems thinking was called? He died in 1998 and was revered at that year’s ISCAR Congress in Copenhagen where his planned address was read instead. The most recent Congress was in 2011 in Rome, Italy. Guess which names showed up as part of the International Scientific Committee for that ISCAR conference? Why that would be Michael Cole, Yrjo Engestrom, and Lauren Resnick. Just in time to make sure the US Common Core implementation and assessments align with ISCAR philosophy and those higher order skills criteria from so long ago.

In case you are too busy to check, the described foundations of ISCAR fit perfectly with what Engestrom described above in 1991 as the source of Activity Theory. Which is also the current basis for most education degrees in the US. Especially the Masters and Doctorates.

Now I am just getting started on all the links involved. And I have read too much history not to have a perspective on what we are looking at here.

But I want you to get used to an idea that I have known for a while but this time approached through a new direction.

The Cold War simply did not end quite in the manner we believed. And the potentials of Activity Theory and a stealth noetic assault on Western values and beliefs appear to be the reasons we were played.

It was a good strategy but unfortunately the answers of why lie in history and political theory books I have now read.

Digest the above revelations and then we will talk some more. And no I am not speculating here. This is way too serious for conjecture. But it is fascinating too because it also makes perfect sense. Actually more sense than the spun stories once you get used to the idea.

What Happens When the Hidden Goal of Education Is Interrupting Pre-existing Social Stratifications?

What if you were a hungry pioneer in a new town in the middle of nowhere in the 19th century and it was a long, cruel winter? Inexperienced you did not appreciate the danger of eating the seed corn that would be needed if there were to be plants for the following years. So you and your family and maybe other starving townspeople consumed it all to get through the winter. Unaware just how precious it might turn out to be in hindsight. But by then it is gone.

That failure to appreciate the precariousness of how we stay where we are culturally and economically, and the preciousness of what it actually took to get to this point in history, is exactly what I worry about when I read statements about “suspending the contributions of inborn capacities” or the “extent to which people expend great effort.” Jettisoning those important things is supposedly necessary to “adequately interrupt the reproduction of pre-existing social stratification.” And I am once again NOT playing Fish Around for Horrific Quotes to Get People Riled Up About the Common Core. Or C-Scope. Or even those preparing for a new type of capitalism 21st Century Skills.

Initially the quotes I am using are from another one of those Gordon Commission reports I have been writing about in recent posts. This one called “Democracy, Meritocracy and the Uses of Education” is by Aundra Saa Meroe. It helps frame the very dangerous mindsets being created in graduate higher ed programs to credential adults to impose what are actually political or sociology theories on students in K-12 institutions. And soon to be preschool.

I am going to detour for a second to reiterate a point Nobel Economist Friedrich Hayek made in his classic 1944 bestseller The Road to Serfdom. It is something to keep in mind as we explore today and generally in this blog the determination to use educational institutions to transform the prevailing worldviews. In the US and all over the world especially anywhere that ever cherished individual liberty and freedom to create and trade and set rules by private contract. Schools and colleges and universities really are being used to alter individual feelings, values, attitudes, and beliefs to embrace, or at least tolerate or not notice, a radically different political, economic, and social structure than what has ever brought mass prosperity. Hayek with his background in prewar Europe and then among the Fabian social planners in London knew what was, and still is being sought.

“The important point is that the political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much an effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives. This means, among other things, that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that the new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.”   (HT to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek for that timely Quote)

That destruction is absolutely the hidden intent of the Common Core’s actual planned implementation and its new assessments and the Lumina Diploma Qualifications Profile in higher ed and all the social and emotional emphasis coming to the classrooms. To understand why anyone would contemplate such a wholesale attack I want to quote from a part of this report that sets up the anger and actual hatred for what currently exists:

“The history of nascent democracy and nation-building in the United States among voluntary immigrant populations obscures how the broadening horizons for some were in part realized through the brutal eclipses of basic human freedoms, for many others through land seizure, warfare, the persecution and containment of indigenous populations, the enslavement of African people and the subordination of women. These forms of oppression and subjugated labor underlie the advances made in the nation’s formative forays into farming, commerce and industry.”

In this view everything that exists in our 21st Century America is seen as irrevocably tainted by the past and illegitimate. The remedy? “Absent the larger society’s commitment to an equal distribution of resources, academic institutions are held to be central sites for the distribution of resources.” Hence the Equity in Credentials even if they no longer designate meaningful knowledge or skills. Those unfulfillable expectations merely become more fuel for the desired radical transformation. That’s why all these education reforms are always coupled to a Social Citizenship vision in a Welfare State vision. We first saw it here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/.

Meroe then follows up her vision of tainted America with a description of Robert Dahl’s vision for democracy to become “an evolving, progressive social enterprise.” This time “all people must have equal opportunities to realize” their “mutual interests and valued goods.” Of course history has shown that that kind of equality can only exist with an overarching government constantly administering “fairness and justice.” And government involved to that extent will ALWAYS be captured by politically connected rent-seekers wanting favors at our expense. And thus be even less fair or just in the long run. But, hey, let’s not let reality intrude quite yet on all these pie-in-the-sky decrees.

One more pivot to the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard that philanthropist Eli Broad set up in 2008 with a $6 million contribution. Best known in education for his creation of the Broad Prize for Urban School Districts and training administrators in a Superintendents Academy, I am going to use the description of the purpose of the Ed Labs found on the website of the WEB Du Bois Institute at Harvard. It says the project is “devoted to understanding the causes and consequences of inequality in American society. .. The broader objective of the lab is to employ scientific methods–rather than anecdotal or ideological reasoning–to improve public decision making and policy around issues related to inequality in the US.”

Fair enough although with all the behaviorist economists, psychologists, and sociologists involved in the effort you do have to wonder if the “scientific methods” are not BF Skinner’s vision for a science of education using operant conditioning. It sure would fit our known facts and is something to keep an eye on.

Meroe’s report goes on to announce that the “ubiquity of substandard public education among students of lower-SES ethnic minority groups . . . also reveals the malevolence of meritocratic rationalization.” She is on her way to lay the ground work for “mass-scale capacity for cooperative productivity in the workplace” that we have seen before. She advocates for what she calls “these collectivist goals of ‘democratic equality’ and ‘social efficiency’ [that] can conflict with a view of education as a private good for the purposes of education.”

Meroe is not unique in her angst about the urban areas and seeing the solution as Social Citizenship. We saw it with the Building One America conference and the Regional Equity and Metropolitanism movement I have written about. I read Professor Michael Katz’s The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State this week and got treated to yet more of the Social Citizenship as necessary to give our inner cities a remedy for their devastation argument. Likewise, the involvement of a number of the listed Ed Lab contributors with the Russell Sage Foundation led me to the future vision laid out in 1995 in their Poverty, Inequality and the Future of Social Policy: Western States in the New World Order.

So I actually do see where all this is going and it is an unworkable remedy. But I want to go back to the rationales. In particular that the low achievement in the urban districts is a result of “malevolence.” Whose? After all it is the urban districts that readily embraced the Vygotskyian “sociocultural” approaches first. Why? Because as we saw in the goals of the last post and as Leontiev and Bronfenbrenner apparently discussed in the 60s in talking about the Western countries and economies, many decision-makers do not want education theories or practices that preserve or reenforce the prevailing capitalist/individualist systems. They want urban students primed for transformation. This was also why Saul Alinsky’s IAF saw urban schools as great places for community organizing. The Alliance Network in Texas and other states now show it still is viewed that way.

I have written about Professor Michael Cole before. In a chapter to a 1985 book called Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskyian perspectives, Cole writes “In circumstances where we do not want to take the cultural context as given. . . [sociocultural theory] offers a very fruitful framework because of its militant insistence on linking individual and social activity.” So what was a militant linkage in 1985 is now to be the required classroom practices under the definitions of Effective Teaching under the Common Core. Moreover, that physical and social activity approach had toxic effects in urban areas. Especially when normed or even criterion tests are used against suburban schools which still had an academic focus and parents who could remediate at the proverbial kitchen table or hire a tutor.

That’s not malevolence and the resulting gaps in performance are certainly no reason to wreck everything as we are doing. And it’s not like the sociocultural/Soviet emphasis in the Urban schools was a secret. Professor Cole goes on to thank the Carnegie Corporation for the funding to import the psychology theories from “our Soviet colleagues.”

This went longer than I wanted so I will stop. The dysfunction of the inner cities and the achievement gaps have causes that are not being discussed. They have become excuses for wholesale transformation of all our institutions and even us. From the inside-out.

And when we trace backwards we find either false beliefs or political theories with a tragic past. All being pushed by tax free foundations intent on social change and without any willingness to do the cleanup work from the effects of previous theories.

Equality-the chimera that threatens to ruin the futures of anyone without political connections.


Does Community of Learners Sound Warm, Fuzzy and Harmless? It’s Not

Community of Learners (CoL) is a phrase that first came on my radar when a new high school principal who prided himself on being a Change Agent kept mentioning it. Sandwiched in between troubling references to the teachers “may no longer teach or lecture” and “students should construct their own learning.” So the term was on my radar screen as probable trouble in a way that most parents or community leaders or politicians are unlikely to pick up on. My guess is the first time any of you or the political decision makers hear of  a CoL or its earlier name, Collaborative Classroom, will be something along the lines of the way Lee S Shulman, the President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and another Stanford prof, described it. He called it a “pedagogic reform”–“Fostering a Community of Learners.” My comments are in brackets.

“The essence of FCL is the creation of learning experiences in which students who are working on big ideas [now frequently called essential questions as in McTighe/Wiggins Understanding by Design] become interdependent in their investigations and their collaborations around new tasks. [remember CCSSI is student-centered and all the mentions are to activities, tasks, and projects. Virtually all group]… FCL rests heavily on the deep understanding [emotional; affective; grounded in feelings and beliefs based on experiences]. [FCL] is primarily concerned with achieving changes in the social relations among students [paging John Dewey to the 21st Century classroom!!]. Moreover, we argue that this form of task division and distribution is not merely a pedagogical tactic; it mirrors the ways in which complex problems are addressed in both academic and entrepreneurial contexts in the modern world.”

Now, minus my snarkiness or inserted explanations prompting a recall of earlier points in previous posts, this explanation of a reform might sound pretty convincing. Especially if sold as a means to decrease the drop-out rate by increasing student engagement. You can bet this would come with all the university presidents and business people who think it is a wonderful idea. Left out of course would be the fact that the higher ed accreditation agencies required the change in the classroom and probably pushed the “independent” endorsement of FCL to boot. Or that virtually all the businesses being cited for support have some undisclosed conflict or are looking forward to being a designated vendor of a NEED in a hoped-for new kind of Capitalism as we have talked about.

So I see things differently because I understand more pertinent facts than what is typically supplied by the sales campaign for these education or economic reforms. And those of you who are hearing horror stories (finally!!) about the new Common Core Science Standards and its emphasis on consensus science, remember Carnegie financed those standards. So the real point of FCL is pertinent to the real point of those Science Standards. Which is to replace objective, experimental Science as a body of disprovable  knowledge. Instead we are to get experience knowledge grounded in personal perspectives. As you can appreciate Experience Science is much more susceptible to influence from political power. Very convenient in a hoped for government-led economy of the future.

Now what Shulman and others advocating CoLs as a key component now of Effective Teaching and Classrooms and Positive School Climates and Cultures are likely to leave out is that this is yet another export from the Soviet Union from the time of the Cold War. Professor Bronfenbrenner was not the only American prof dropping in on Soviet psychologist Leon’tiev for some advice on how to teach American students in the future. Then Harvard Ed Prof Courtney Cazden just happens to mention in her book Classroom Discourse: The Language of Art and Teaching that FCL came from observations of a mid-70s trip to the USSR she and Professor Ann Brown and Professor Michael Cole took.

The late Ann Brown is considered to be the creator of the US version of FCL along with her husband Joe Campione. She grounded it explicitly in the theories of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky who we have talked about before. He was trying to come up with a way to create the perfect Soviet personality for the future. The FCL Project is described as a “system of interactive activities designed to create a self-consciously active and reflective learning environment.”  Which sounds ever so much like the actual intentions for the Common Core classroom all over the globe now when you read the documents the insiders send to each other on what they wish to achieve.

If you are wondering why now after the USSR went poof, let’s remember all the cited political theorists and business professors and systems thinkers I have described as seeking economic democracy globally in the 21st century. Scharmer, Zuboff, Harry Boyte, Benjamin Barber, and John Dewey himself. Cazden herself said that these types of social interactions in the classroom are “essential for students’ development toward active citizenship in a pluralistic democratic society.”  Professor Michael Cole cited John Dewey for this reason:

“the social environment … is truly educative in the degree to which an individual shares or participates in some conjoint activity. [a nerdy way to say group learning]. By doing his share in the associated activity, the individual appropriates the purpose that actuates it [don’t be surprised if it’s about global warming or overpopulation], becomes familiar with its methods and subject matters, acquires needed skill, and is saturated with emotional spirit.”

That last part really got my attention as another one of the books being cited to push for a different kind of economic system to go with these ed reforms is called The Spirit Society imported from the UK. Plus Zuboff described her distributed capitalism in terms of using education to infuse the desired spirit. We seem to have a consistent theme and desire going here.

Cazden described the importance of FCL and its emphasis on social relationships like this: “Now each student becomes a significant part of the official learning environment for all the others, and teachers depend on students’ contributions to other students’ learning, both in discussions and for the diffusion of individual expertise through the class.”

Yes that is the real reason Gifted programs and tracking are being discontinued. Those fine minds and excellent vocabularies and outside school experiences become common property of the classroom. To be accessible to everyone instead of the talented students moving on in the subject-based, abstract world they are capable of and may prefer. That would be selfish in our hoped for economic democracy where everyone’s needs come first and individualism is no longer a concept to be cherished or even accepted. See Cazden’s colleague James Paul Gee’s rejection of even the concept in an earlier post.

Professor Cole likewise said the Community of Learners concept is grounded in Vygotskyian “cultural-historical activity theory” or CHAT for short. His acronym, not mine.  Like Dewey, Professor Cole sees these learning theories where “humans are [supposedly I add] created in joint mediated activity” as about changing the prevailing society and its customs, feelings, values, attitudes, and beliefs. In fact, Cole said the “acid test of CHAT” would be its “success in guiding the construction of new, more humane forms of activity.”

Like Boyte’s Cooperative Commonwealth or Zuboff’s distributed capitalism or Otto Scharmer’s Capitalism 3.0? Every time we peel away the cover of the rhetoric intended to be the sales campaign about the US Common Core and its related education reforms globally, we find these radical Transformative intentions. Cole says “Culture is exteriorized mind; mind is interiorized culture.” So if you make the classroom about social interaction and the use of a visually-oriented external thinking devices like Smartphone or tablets like an IPad, the hoped-for change is the student’s mind from the inside out. Hopefully largely empty of accurate facts. Do that to enough students, especially making the activities about emotionally provocative or insoluble complex world problems, and you can change the prevailing culture.

Implementing these ed theories may also though destroy everything that works without gaining viable substitutes in its place. Except the strong arm of government coercion. I have not made too heavy of an emphasis on how the Communitarian aspects of all these reforms harkens back to what was going on in 19th century German education reforms. I will simply add that the Germanic term Gemeinschaft keeps being cited in these related reports for internal consumption. One such report from December 2000 went on with the definition of a desired school community “where the value of individuals working together for the common good is upheld and respected.” It also referred reverentially to Amitai Etzioni by name as well as his anti-individualism “social movement.”

Can you see why I see the reality of the Common Core so much differently? It is all there once you treat education reform like an onion and peel away the rhetoric. And track back to the actual creators of these implementation practices.