Critical Race Theory as a Tool for Social Reconstruction: Why Consistently Omit Its Stated Purpose?

Welcome to 2022. This post starts a series that once again gets to the essence of what educational practices and standards are intended to act as a handmaiden for–the transformation of individual consciousness. That amalgamation of values, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions that motivate behavior, often at a subliminal level. It’s no accident that the civil rights slogan for schools all over the US and frequently elsewhere calls for Equity and Excellence. It sounds fair and few places other than here at ISC have laid out that the meaning of Excellence is getting at students at the level of what they think, want, and feel as psychologist and cultural evolutionist Mihaly Csikzsentmihalyi (Csik) laid out decades ago. Now he pushes much the same globally as Part of the Positive Psychology orientation of the schools which is why he has a tag here at ISC.

The point is that if education practices and standards, especially when coordinating with the media and think tanks around the same messaging and conceptual framing of real events, can change enough individual mindsets and worldviews, we get a deliberately changed culture. Julian Huxley, the founder of UNESCO, knew that and hoped for it as I covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy. I just didn’t fully appreciate how widely spread and coordinated that common aim to force cultural evolution was when I wrote CtD. That’s what we are talking about here and in companion posts. It’s how this relates to my discussion of the Chinese concept of Tianxia, which has a common purpose and function. It also seeks to use the student and adult’s mind, heart, and soul as instruments to be manipulated by the state for political ends.

I have covered Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society, its ties to Humanist Marxism and need for a Moral Revolution at a psychological level numerous times here at ISC as it just keep coming up. It seeks to use education to target a person’s internalized reflexivity–the internalized process whereby perception affects actions because it is the social world and its institutions that need to be transformed. That is the repeated stated purpose of CRT and its new moniker–Anti-Racist Education– as I will show today. If someone writes or states that Marx was a historical materialist and did not write about psychological aims, they do not know his work, no matter how lofty their title, how famous the publication they are writing for, or how deep the pockets are of their funding source. If someone writes an article that CRT has no place in K-12 education because it is a ‘legal theory’ and should be confined to law schools, they are not familiar with the Bibliographies in relevant sites like this one  https://antiracistfuture.org/web-series/principles/ and what the cited sources say must be changed in K-12.

CRT is a tool to get at individual consciousness. It is NOT a body of knowledge or part of a set of information students are to learn. As that link above from the Center for Anti-Racist Education lays out in “Our Vision for an Antiracist Future”, CRT is about transitioning to a more just future where governments and laws will restructure economies and social institutions like workplaces so that “we look to a future where the promise of equality is upheld for everyone”. Democracy is not about elections so much in this vision, but about a purpose that almost sounds like a Portrait of a Graduate from local schools. As a new book coming out called For the Common Good put it recently, the shift to “a more just social order…is not a morally optional undertaking. The claim that community members have to a social order that protects and advances their ability to pursue a reasonable life plan” is to now be implemented and enforced.

That Vision quotes Nelson Mandela “that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and the last Principle calls for an aim to Create Just Systems. That’s Social Reconstruction, even if the author of the recent Conflict Campaign brief on the horrors of state-anti-CRT legislation only briefly alludes to the transition to a more just order as the CRT purpose in her paper being hyped here https://www.thenation.com/article/society/critical-race-theory-elections/ to inflame partisan discourse around what can, cannot, or must be allowed in K-12 schools. The actual report basically accuses the writers of the legislation of wanting to go back to the Jim Crow era, which ought to be a clue as to how useful this tool of Critical Consciousness can be. Since everyone can read those graphic Principles themselves, let’s jump to the explicit intentions laid out in the References, including the book from the main author of the above paper–Mica Pollock–from 2008 called Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School .

Here’s a sampling from that book she edited that fits with the Social Reconstruction purpose mentioned above:

My greatest challenge as a teacher educator has been to help white students and students of color understand that racism is not simply a personal attitude or individual disposition and that feeling guilty or ‘being nice’ are not enough to combat racism. Racism involves the systemic failure of people and institutions to care for students of color on an ongoing basis…[Or] What is often missing in classroom discussions of racial issues is a critical examination of how the concept of ‘race’ has been linked to the distribution of resources…[Using] curriculum aimed at developing young people’s abilities to evaluate, understand, and confront oppressive structures of racial inequality…contributing to the development of a just nation.

Pollock’s Conflict Campaign paper is definitely angry about state legislation blocking the desired use of CRT and the wild accusations of the purposes of the legislation really did not seem to me to track with the language. The reason, I believe, is that the legislation affects the desire to use classroom activities and practices to affect each student’s internalized Identity and Purpose going forward. The section of the 2008 book called “Remember that People are Treated as Racial Group Members and Need to Examine that Experience” told us that:

a core principle of everyday antiracism: students (and teachers) need to process their experiences in the world as racial group members. How can educators assist students in this ‘processing’? Create cocoons for strengthening identities…so that students of color in particular can benefit from some time voluntarily ‘cocooned’ with students from the same racial group, in order to process their schooling and life experiences as group members and build healthy identities as such. Be aware that students of color may need to heal from internalized oppression…[where] racism can involve people hating themselves, not just ‘others,’ and that students need to be assisted to analyze how such self-hatred comes about. [Third] students need to see and treat one another as equally worthy. [They] need concrete opportunities  to learn to value each other equally across racial lines.

Again, that’s not CRT as a subject and it very much targets reflexivity as I quoted above.  It encourages students to change their Worldview, at both a conscious and subliminal level, so they will look for actions they can take “to achieve justice for themselves and their communities.” In this vision reading is not a tool to get information, but a means where students “learn to see the text as an extension of their lived experience and their lived experience as an extension of the text”. I read that and immediately recognized that the hated, but graded on, current high school practice of Annotation was straight out of Paulo Freire’s “reading the word and the world”. It also has a comparable, but unstated to parents, revolutionary aim because it trains students to critique their lived experiences and real world conditions so

educators can link discussions of texts about inequality to students’ experiences of inequality. This  move raises critical consciousness and can empower students to act collectively to transform these structures. Educators must also prompt discussion of how such inequalities can be collectively addressed. An emphasis on critical awareness and collective struggle against structures of inequality should replace the current overemphasis on individual striving as the sole way to transcend the conditions of poverty and racism.

We just need that fundamental transformation as a former US President put it in his plans for what to do to the US once in office. He ought to know since Chicago was Ground Zero for the use of learning standards as a ‘reform’ to push for Social reconstruction covertly, at the level of the mind, heart, and soul. We will cover other materials from the References in the next post. Before I get to one last quote affirming the purpose of CRT in education, the author Pollock has relocated from her perch at Harvard where she first came to my attention to UC-San Diego. Why does that matter? Maybe she just loves sea lions and wanted to be closer to the caves in La Jolla ? Given these stated aims and the histrionics of the accusations laid out in the report   https://idea.gseis.ucla.edu/publications/the-conflict-campaign/publications/files/the-conflict-campaign-report I think it is important to know that Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT with a tag) with its intentional plans to manipulate consciousness for revolutionary purposes grounded in Soviet psychologists translated work from Russian is also based there.

Totally coincidental I am sure, just like the major philanthropies involved with the import of CHAT to the West. I will close with a good explanation for why Positive School Climate is so important and manipulable that Obama made it the purpose of an Executive Order in summer 2012 that would make social and emotional learning front and center in every classroom in every school. It went well with his Common Core learning standards and fundamental transformation via education as this passage on Developing Antiracist School Policy laid out near the conclusion of Pollock’s book. The author

works from a perspective that understands racism to include a much broader set of actions and assumptions than racially biased hatred. Crude, obvious, and deliberate acts by individuals are only the tip of a much larger iceberg. While there are no biologically meaningful subdivisions to the human race, social beliefs and daily practices construct inequities around the notion of racial differences…Racism cannot be understood in isolation from wider economic, social, and political inequalities. At the same time, one of the central messages of this collection is that racism operates through countless ordinary assumptions made and actions taken by people in educational settings, as well as outside them.

As we will see as I continue this discussion, there is no ambiguity as to the purpose of CRT in education or its broader aims. It is stated repeatedly, graphically, and with detailed illustrations. Why make criticisms of it about anything but its stated purpose? Why treat it as a dispute as to what to teach in history and why or what literature to cover in Language Arts? Why ignore the revolutionary intentions when evolution is sought in culture?

Tickling the Brain to Invisibly Assert Control: Guard Rails and Common Rules, Student, Then Citizen

When I laid out the authoritarianism from the inside-out definition of the Chinese term–Tianxia in the last post, regular ISC readers may have seen the reference to a “common choice” and remembered that UNESCO has made “decision-making” a main focus of its education efforts globally. Likewise, last week UNESCO was one of the key sponsors of this event https://www.aiathens.org/ , where one of the highly influential speakers https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210430005340/en/Bruce-Simpson-Former-McKinsey-Company-Senior-Partner-Hired-as-CEO-of-the-Stephen-A.-Schwarzman-Foundation-Co-CEO-of-Schwarzman-Philanthropies made a reference to the 3 Rs no longer being enough. He envisioned “tinkering with our brains” so that “Aristotle and Ethics” could be integrated into a focus on gaining knowledge via education.

It’s Tranzi OBE (covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy) all over again but now with access to Digital Technology and Immersive Learning Experiences tied to learning standards grounded at the neurological, intrapersonal level too few are aware of. It is how the Sustainability Agenda is actually to be implemented as an article in AI and Ethics called “Conceptual and normative approaches to AI governance for a global digital ecosystem supportive of the UN SDGs” laid out. It seeks to get to people at the level of “what people are able to do and to be” and have “government, private sector and others coming together to promote guard rails and common rails” so that people will develop “a common purpose” and “shared principles and values”. See why I brought the term Tianxia to our attention? We all see these same aims when Portraits of a Graduate or Learner Profiles lay out creating a common North Star to guide student’s actions.

Anyone who has read CtD and reads ISC understands what is really going on in education–K-12 or higher ed–but I was quite struck by two different quotes recently where the writers were responding to the Pandemic hype and what governments have mystifyingly decided they now can and MUST do, See what I mean? From this essay https://dailysceptic.org/reaping-the-whirlwind/ from December 7th:

…In each case, we find the same conclusion that to successfully govern complex, massified modern societies is not to thrash citizens to within an inch of their lives (the state riskily showing its hand), but, rather, to mould and shape those citizens into people who won’t ever need to be thrashed (the state remaining safely in the shadows).

Doesn’t that perceptive quote get at the aim I had in mind when I created the Invisible Serf’s Collar metaphor for what is really going on in education? The author may not be aware of the global education learning standards and competency frameworks but he grasps that their essence is government mandated action to ” help inculcate certain values, behaviours, habits, mores and beliefs within the hearts and minds of Italian citizens.” And not just Italy we can all add in unison. We also have the insightful essay–“The Death of Europe” cited to here https://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2021/12/13/2021-the-year-freedom-died/ that aptly recognized that:

we are living through a chilling overhaul of the entire relationship between the state and the individual, with the state empowered to such an extraordinary degree that it can now instruct its citizens on what to inject into their bodies, and the individual so politically emaciated, so denuded of rights, that he no longer enjoys sovereignty over himself, over that tiny part of the world that is his body and mind.

I think that is precisely right, but my point is that required vaccinations to avoid punitive measures and learning standards aimed at controlling hands, heart, and minds to create Habits that guide at an unconscious level are part of the same aim. The idea that Tianxia is an acceptable aim of governments in the 21st century. The belief that neurological synapses can be tinkered with to fit collective normative aims no one asked us to consent to. It all comes out of the assertions we are seeing all over the world that Wellbeing is THE Goal of Government in the 21st Century. That means there are no barriers to regulation, even if the realms to be dictated and controlled are far more out of sight than Lockdowns and required vaccinations.

That “Death of Europe” essay may have helpfully gone back to English philosopher John Locke’s assertion in 1689 that “even if a man ‘neglect the care of his soul’ or ‘neglect the care of his health,’ still the authorities have no right to interfere with him. No man can be forced to be healthful'”. Well, that kind of vision may have stoked the Glorious Revolution Locke had just lived through, and ultimately the American Revolution, but it is certainly in the way of all these 21st Century plans for us that require a common purpose, values, principles, and common mentally and emotionally tools grounded habits of “sensemaking”. That aim gets us back to the real meaning of the Social Credit System being pushed by the Chinese beyond its geographic boundaries once all these education initiatives and Pandemic remedies are better understood.

An Essay by Braden R. Allenby called “World Wide Weird: Rise of the Cognitive Ecosystem” published in Issues in Science and Technology lays out just how crucial control over cognition is for all these plans for us. As the article subtitle tells us that “social media, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the data economy are coming together in a way that transcends how humans understand and control our world”. Yes, that’s the aim, which is why I write. Quoting usefully, we should never forget what Allenby owned up to here:

As historical examples suggest, the emergence of the cognitive ecosystem has the power to transcend and radically reshape everything from individual psychologies to institutions to societies and geopolitics, and indeed the world.

That’s the real purpose of Critical Race Theory under its various aims or Intersectionality to give two current examples. To change how this world is seen and motivate beliefs about what must be done to transform it. Same reason learning standards now make Knowledge about Concepts that then must be tied to current real world examples illustrating Global Challenges. Interestingly, Allenby then pivoted to the Soviet Union in the 1970s as his illustrative example and its desire for what it called ‘reflexive control’ over people who had no idea they were being programmed.

To understand what this looks like today, and how it differs from the past, remember an example from the Cold War. During the 1970s, the Soviet Union developed a theory of ‘reflexive control,’ which involved structuring narratives and disinformation campaigns causing people, such as activists in the United States, to act in ways they would believe were voluntary, but in fact were predetermined by the Soviets to benefit their country’s interests, Such a strategy, while seductive, proved difficult to implement given the technological and geopolitical environment of the time.

Well, it’s no longer difficult to implement, which is why I included the Marc Tucker interview link in with the last post. It’s why it matters that the IEEE discussed here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/stealthily-weaving-cybernetic-citizenship-at-the-requisite-neural-level-in-the-name-of-universal-well-being/ was a major sponsor of that AI Athens Conference. Not only have they incorporated normative goals into their standards for educational digital platforms, but the US entity–NIST–that gave the Chugach School District in Alaska its innovation award https://www.nist.gov/image-19594 for its Competency-Based education learning standards, had a speaker at the conference–Elham Tabassi– who spoke about how closely NIST works with IEEE and ISO–another global standards setting organization. Guard Rails and Common Rules–that’s what standards are, even when what they target is the human mind, emotions, or the soul itself.

Allenby’s second case study was China’s social credit system and he recognized that digital technology and the “rise of the cognitive ecosystem” now allow the targeting of “the individual citizen” with “a degree of granularity”, which was previously impractical, if not impossible. Much like the quote above that recognized a subtler shift away from directly “thrashing” citizens, the Social Credit System which can use “data regarding many aspects of an individual’s private and public behavior” [now do vaccine passports make more sense regardless of the efficacy of the vaccine?] evaluates “how good a citizen that person is”. Do that exhibit characteristics and behaviors showing they adhere to the Common Rules and stay within the desired Guard Rails? Digital technology, the common learning experiences it can easily provide, and the tremendous data it produces when tied to standards offers “For the first time, this powerfully ubiquitous tool offers governments the ability to design social and cultural stability with reasonable efficiency and cost.”

It’s supposedly a way around “traditional authoritarianism” being implemented that represents a “new technological reality that the Chinese are using well, and the Americans and the West, so far, are not.” It may be true that the Chinese are successfully targeting the cognitive, social, and emotional realms of their citizens, but the truth is the West, and especially the US, are trying to keep up. I think it’s why we have had so much organized deceit around the Common Core learning standards and what competency-based education really is. I think it’s why we have the overlap laid out here between the targets being aimed at in the name of the Pandemic or Structural Racism and what must be transformed in the name of a new kind of education to be grounded and shrouded by the term Equity. It must be Equitable because it aims at All Hearts, Hands, Minds, and Souls.

The banner being raised and the rationale being offered change depending on the audience. The targets never do. Well, maybe, the lexicon of vocabulary does, but it’s why we keep track of the targets by the function of the tools used. Learning Standards being a misunderstood, global favorite.

Ubiquitous being one of my favorite words. Good to be able to spot Ubiquity, even when it utilizes a variety of words to obscure its continual presence.

See you in 2022.

Neuroeducation via Learning Standards to force Neuroliberalism: Such a Fruitful Site for Intervention

The original title for this post on the admissions about Psychological Governance (PG) and its declared ties to ‘standards-based’ education reforms and ‘competency frameworks’ was going to be “Shaping Citizen Identity and Social Practice so that Governance is Inside-Out, not a Building”. That gets at the function nicely and what must be, and is being, changed by law and governmental edicts as a matter of public policy. It’s also an aim that has been lied about repeatedly over the years in a most coordinated manner by people with ties to public policy think tanks and the philanthropies that fund them. I don’t think any of this is coincidental as I will explain. As I was outlining this post, however, the admissions about what neuroeducation and PG are were even more explicit than I remembered. Plus, the Hewlett Foundation, which has been heavily involved with education reforms via its Deeper Learning Initiative to prescribe the conceptual frameworks to be internalized within each students’ minds (the micro level of reforms),  moved forward in December 2020 to the needed shifts at a more macro-level in what it is calling its Economy and Society Grantmaking Initiative that seek to explicitly move beyond ‘Neoliberalism’ to get to a ‘Fairer Tomorrow’ as the our old instigator-in-chief the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences is calling it.

We are going to deal with the micro-level today, although I have tracked down, downloaded, and read all the cited macro reforms that apparently can now be put in place via higher ed and the Academy because the K-12 learning standards aligned to neural pathways are fully in place. Let’s start off with the definitions of Neuroliberalism and PG contained in the 2017 Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the mind, brain and behavior. They are essentially the Goal and the envisioned Tool of Choice.

Neoroliberalism is a vision to change the contents of people’s heads using education, cognitive restructuring and behavioural exercises…[to get to] a more inclusive and emancipatory politics. Psychological Governance are interventions targeted at the interface of conscious and non-conscious thought and action, connecting emotional response and rational deliberation…The exercise of psychological governance is a form of regulation of the social good through targeting the minds of individuals as a means of changing their behaviour…with a view to normalizing ‘an interrelated set of psycho-emotional’ attributes, dispositions, attitudes and behaviours associated with emotional regulation/intelligence/literacy, resilience, stoicism, optimism, character, hope, aspiration and community-mindedness…

I was revisiting my ISC posts from the spring of 2018 when I was working on the nexus of the think tanks and their seemingly organized deceit around education over the weekend. I came across the advocacy for instilled Fuzzy Cognitive Maps (the Reflective System!) within the mind of each student and the accompanying quote about how what air is to the lungs and blood is to the heart, experience is to the brain. I guess the author of the analogy wanted to remind readers that the brain is a physiological organ of the body with a purpose, but, in my mind, pumping blood and breathing air don’t change how the heart and lungs function. Experience, though, changes the brain at a physiological–predictable and observable–level and that universal reality of being a human being is precisely what standards-based reforms and competency frameworks have always been intended to quietly manipulate. That manipulation embodies a new vision for “an understanding, empathetic citizenship [grounded] in a ‘universal’ dimension of human experience and identity.”

That’s why john a. powell in Racing to Justice wants to hype racism in the US as a reason to target students at the level of their automatic decision-making systems. It’s why the 2020 Behavioral Insights book from MIT argues for a vision of education that recognizes “there are many environments that individuals struggle to change on their own, indicating a change in politics or policy is needed…to gain a healthy democracy and civic agency.” Sounds like just the thing Hewlett now wants to fund under its Moral Economy or Law and Political Economy Initiatives, doesn’t it? Getting back to our micro-level discussion though, that sought civic agency needs  “the use of behavioral insights can actually help build that agency.” Here’s the next paragraph on how–

At the most basic level, behavioral insights can be used to nudge people to take part in civic activities in the first place. Although this nudge may be operating on the Automatic System, the goal is to make sure that someone takes part in in an activity that engages their Reflective System [where it gets to use the instilled Fuzzy Concept Map]. Then, behavioral insights can be used to design better deliberative mechanisms. Many of these activities take place in groups, but behavioral science shows that groups are vulnerable to issues like group polarization, availability cascades, and self-censorship. We can’t just assume that good reasoning prevails in deliberative settings–but evidence-based design makes it more likely.

Both of these books insist that this nudging and the behavioral insights work is done in “full public view,” that there is no “conspiracy to govern through expert knowledge on the mind, brain and behaviour,” and that “there is no sense it was a secret cabal unleashing a programme of control of citizens around Whitehall.” None of those assertions, however, dovetail with the ties to mandated learning standards globally that quietly impose a vision with “implicit moral assumptions about the kinds of young people we ought to cultivate” by targeting their Automatic Systems through the classroom and digital learning and manipulating their Reflective Systems. When the footnotes in these books take me to the 2012 Special Feature of the journal Ecology and Society called “Nudging Evolution” that laid out how to manipulate conceptual frameworks to gain new useful belief systems to allow a reenvisioned social construction of reality, it becomes clear just how targeted both the Automatic AND Reflective visions are in this vision of education reforms.

Learning Standards, and the curricula and assessments they quietly impose, then simply become a euphemism for what author Daniel W. Bromley called “Rules to Live by”. In this vision, instead of the purpose of education being to gain an understanding of reality itself, we are to get a replacement–

a workable view of the world out there, and its meaning to us, [which] comes to fruition (is realized) as a process of convergence…this alternative approach authorizes an epistemic community to engage in a process whose very purpose is the creation of convergence. When a consensus emerges among members of that epistemic community, then this consensus might as well come to be regarded as the accepted account of that observed and apprehended reality. In other words, what is really out there is the agreed upon account presented to us by those whose job it is to study and analyze what is out there, and then report back to the rest of us.

So in this vision of the social construction of reality it is the media, the academy, and public policy think tanks who are to provide us with the agreed upon account, which we are to simply accept. No wonder I angered so many when I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then started this blog. Learning standards, in fact, prevent the ability for most students to develop “our own idiosyncratic meanings”  and they force students to come to a “shared understanding” of global challenges and observed problems. Those are necessary for social systems, including individual people, to evolve toward “a desired outcome in the future, and the preferred means by which that outcome might be brought about.” Further,

In essence, each individual must work their way through this process by continually ‘updating’ their beliefs, as new evidence emerges, in order to reach some consensus on the exact problem, plausible solutions to that problem, and the range of feasible instruments by which the solution might be achieved…Reason giving is the essential component of democratic discourse in which a gradual evolution in mental models is the point of that discourse.

In PG, and its favorite tool–learning standards–we see a phenomenon going on around us that is insufficiently understood–“the role of the state in responding to and producing particular subjectivities.” It’s every bit as intrusive if it is the local mayor and Chamber of Commerce pushing for this invisible manipulation, as it is if Congress enacts it (which it has). In actuality, all these levels and institutions coordinate around the use of neuroeducation for 21st century transformations and “the broader rubric of psychological governance as a strategy for molding the adolescent brain, behaviour, character, and resilience.” Remember all the references we keep encountering to Virtues and Aristotle, apart from all the mindfulness mandates grounded in Buddhist practices? PG recommends either turning to “ancient Western or Eastern philosophies,” such as Aristotle, to “provide philosophies for living, tools for happy, virtuous and well-regulated emotional lives.”

How ironic, huh? Let’s finish with the quotes from the title that bring this all together.

Neuroeducation is still very much an effort to make pedagogy more effective in terms of teaching competencies that are dictated by standards committees…in neuroeducation, neural pathways are the real and imagined site of relevant moral and pedagogical interventions…what makes the brain such a fruitful site of intervention is that it is located at the threshold, intimately connected as it is to the senses, between the body and its social networks and environments, and that it is plastic, changeable, malleable. The brain is a site of encounter amenable to manipulation…the objective of teaching pupils to ‘respond not react’ to stressful, emotionally charged situations has put the brain and, in particular, the prefrontal cortex as the location of ‘executive function’–as that which must be crafted in order to achieve the most positive outcomes.

See how ALL students can learn or succeed and why Equity mandates are so crucial and ubiquitous now? They all force or flow from this recrafting of the brain quite literally to supposedly force a more normative vision of the future. Let me close with a quote which followed the above and note that by writing about these aims and methods here today they are ‘unnoticed’ no more.

What goes unnoticed, however, is the difference between the brain as a real organ in people’s heads and the brain as an ethical object that motivates new practices and behaviors.

Interesting isn’t it how all the offered solutions to the hype misrepresenting the nature of the Common Core and competency frameworks turn out to envision an education remolding the brain as an ethical object? That thus “Nudge Evolution’? That this is also ultimately the solution being pushed as the solution for ‘systemic racism’?

These days nothing is a coincidence when it comes to education. It’s simply too useful a tool and the changes are mostly hard to observe, unless you know who to quote as they proclaim their intentions and methods of choice.

 

Mappae Mundi, Psychological Governance, and 21st Century Citizenship Priming

Let’s start with a quote that will help us recognize the bullseye that needs to be manipulated by education reforms tied to social and political transformations. This blog and my earlier book laid out in depth that those transformations are the undisputed goal.

To acquire knowledge we need an apparatus of concepts to classify and organize our sensory experiences–the more so as the latter become, through all kinds of measuring equipment, elaborate extensions of those experiences…Beyond our immediate sensory experiences, with or without artificial extensions, we use inferences, hypotheses, speculations, conjectures and refutations as part of our genetic and acquired configuration…It may sound trivial but: you can only see what you can see. Yet even in the realm of sensory perceptions philosophical questions may arise about the relationship between those perceptions and the associated experiences, information and knowledge. There is always a lot of filtering and selection going on, followed by complex cognitive processes which add ‘meaning’ to the perceptions–or simply ignore them.

That’s what was being manipulated that gave rise to what were misleadingly termed the reading, math, and science ‘wars’–pretending the dispute was about how to properly teach a subject. As the book Mappae Mundi put it, “human beings are able to conceive new ideas, put these new ideas into practice and transmit their innovations that come after them”. That capacity, however, is not evenly distributed among human beings and is thus not equitable. Even more crucially though, those who possess that capacity, really do not fit well into a collective. Inventors of new ideas may not simply accept the transformational “myths, maps, and models” those with political power insist that they use.

the idea of myth as a narrative account intended to make sense of the present by explaining it in terms of events and developments in the past…[This interpretation of myth] has the advantage of not drawing a sharp dividing line between ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ images of the past…The standards by which we measure the validity of our myths evolve; but this applies to our maps and models as well. Maps are a pictorial means of orientation and communication…The standards by which we measure the quality of maps depends on the purpose for which we wish to use the maps…Loosely speaking, any scheme representing associations between events may be called a model…In the process, the complex forces at work are interpreted and simplified. Even rudimentary and relatively simple models can serve important heuristic purposes by pointing to significant problems for further research…Myths, maps, and models represent three modes of discourse, that is, of thinking and communicating, which are, respectively, mainly narrative, descriptive or explanatory.

Useful to control in other words for anyone wishing transformation in the world that currently exists, but not just at the level of conscious thought. In July 1999 American Psychologist published an important article entitled “The Unbearable Automaticity of Being” that recognized a crucial aspect used by learning standards and the conceptual frameworks they mandate. School curriculum can be created to manipulate “mental processes that are put into motion by features of the environment and that operate outside of conscious awareness and guidance.” See how useful controlling Myths, Maps, and Models can be once they become embodied in the neural architecture of the brain as Habits of Mind that can be activated without any conscious thought, but still actively guiding both perception and behavior? That article quoted a 1911 insight of philosopher Alfred Whitehead we should also be aware of:

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle–they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

Controlling conceptual frameworks instilled in students at both a conscious thought and an automatic level means that when the student believes they are making their own decisions–launching a cavalry charge to use the above metaphor–they are still coordinating their life in a way designed by others. When it is unconscious, it uses what that article called “a direct and automatic route provided from the external environment to action tendencies, via perception.” Makes the requirement that student achievement now be measured by action required–‘performance standards’ as the measure of learning make more sense, doesn’t it? The student as automaton, completely unaware of how much his or her future action has been programmed into them. A useful tool for anyone with aspirations for a compliant collective and disdain for the historic Western conception of the individual.

That includes john a. powell from Racing to Justice to build on the previous post, whose interest in dreams in the book, made it crystal clear that he too wants to reconfigure K-12 and higher ed to use the psychological fact that:

Mental representations designed to perform a certain function will perform that function once activated, regardless of where the activation comes from. The representation does not ‘care’ about the source of the activation…The activated mental representation is like a button being pushed; it can be pushed by one’s finger intentionally (e.g., turning on the electric coffeemaker) or accidentally (e.g., by the cat on the countertop) or by a decision made in the past (e.g., by setting the automatic turn-on mechanism the night before). In whatever way the start button is pushed, the mechanism subsequently behaves in the same way.

Think of it as BF Skinner’s aims, but not his methods, because the values, attitudes, and beliefs–the categories of thought whether myths, maps, images, models, lenses, or frames–become the activated mental representations guiding perception and behavior. Across the political spectrum, this bullseye appears to be what everyone wants to use education to remodel and control. It’s also the source of a great deal of deceit. Much of the deceit comes from think tanks, which makes far more sense given these totalitarian aims, when we become aware of a book from 2017 called Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the Mind, Brain and Behavior. No wonder there was such an organized effort to misdirect public attention away from the documented revelations in Credentialed to Destroy, especially in the areas of how learning standards, competency frameworks, and Tranzi OBE (as defined in book) operate.

They all utilize both the manipulation of nonconscious processes, as well as when the student believes they are making their own decisions consciously. Why on earth would a think tank that quietly advocates that governments and the law promote “the widespread use of psychological governance techniques” be forthcoming about such aims? Utilise the methods of 21st century governance that rely on

the ‘two-brain model’ that succeeds in gaining policy traction precisely because it does not challenge liberal democratic assumptions of political freedom…Certain nudges are aimed at cultivating deliberation and rational responses, whilst others seek to bypass conscious awareness to achieve rational responses through irrational (heuristic) means.

That 2017 book recognised valid concerns that such psychological governance techniques could be considered by some to be overly intrusive in a free society, but rejected that contention since there was supposedly no covering up of this nudging. My point in today’s post is to reject that contention because this targeting is being made in K-12 learning standards that virtually everyone writing books and white papers on behalf of think tanks is misrepresenting. That deceit then leaves no impediment to each student’s very mind, brain and behavior becoming a means where

Key to the exercise of psychological governance in this case, therefore, is a set of technological developments that represent certain tools and techniques necessary for the practical workings of governmental power…[It allows] the political and cultural normalisation of a therapeutic behaviour change agenda. In educational settings from early years to university, numerous policy reports reflect a wide, influential consensus that an interrelated set of psycho-emotional attributes, dispositions and behaviours…can be taught, learned and transferred over time as an essential foundation for successful education and life functioning…All mainstream political parties now agree that the inner states of human subjects determine the relationship between psycho-emotional responses and behaviours in complex, non-linear ways.

Ways that are now being deliberately manipulated via education globally to create the desired citizen of tomorrow, ready for the ‘wicked problems’ of 21st century living. For our own good supposedly we are seeing a new vision of 21st century education grounded in values, attitudes, and beliefs and controlling the instilled mental representations, operating largely unconsciously where

psychology is a source of knowledge and practice with regard to policies and initiatives designed to make live: to impel people to live in particular ways, to endorse certain views of the good or responsible life, to promote and normalise ways of achieving this good life.

In the next post,  I will track this aim through particular curriculum like a 21st century conception of American Democracy grounded in a new vision of History and Civics, as well as Global Education Futures new Learning Ecosystems: An Emerging Praxis for The Future of Education.  These qualities for a governmentally mandated and psychologically instilled ‘good life,’ with its need dispositions and attributes, are ALL communitarian in their vision. They all have the effect that at least john powell laid out explicitly as the real purpose of all this attention on race–to target and then rearrange–“the meaning of the Western self, to bring us into a new relationship with the other and the self. We can and must expand the circle of human concern and attend to our structures and the work they are doing.”

Rather than quoting more from powell that ties to the next post’s specific curricula or restate his tied to both K-12 education and higher ed, let me point out he has a tag for anyone interested in previous posts. Let me close by pointing out that he covered the importance of “framing and priming” because “what we call something can be consequential, affecting the way we think and what we do in relation to our conceptualization of it.” Mandating desired categories of thought to guide our perception and thought at an unconscious level are a major target of his book Racing to Justice as a way to get to his vision of a just society laid out here in a way that will fit well into the next post.

as humans, we are living beings, inherently connected with one another and with the natural world. So although our brains develop partly through categorizing and organizing in ways that can be challenging in a diverse society, our hearts orchestrate a system hardwired to care and respond empathically to one another’s suffering and joy. We can’t allow structures–economic or political–to block or blunt these connections…To embrace our commonality…will require new selves, who are citizens in the true sense of the term: individual, interconnected, and inclusive in ways that reflect the highest aspirations of our nation and our species.

Those new aspirations, to be instilled neurally at an unconscious level, just happen to be the target of the Roadmap to American Democracy and Learning Ecosystems for the global or species level. I guess we could call this the Instilled Mental Map Trilogy.

Gaslighting We the People In the Name of Well-Being to Avoid a Dictatorship of the Dead

Welcome to 2021 and if any of you have ever read a book or seen a film where Gaslighting by some villain was a tool of control, you will remember that the sanity of the person being manipulated always becomes an issue. Think of this post as a means of illuminating what may appear to be Gaslighting, but actually serves a long-term, even more insidious purpose, than making someone seem disturbed and crazed. As always I have lots of quotes. No need to speculate here.

First, I want to build on our ESS insight from the previous post by quoting from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3761438 a recent legal paper on “Rescuing Our Democracy” by changing the legal standard involving defamation. It asserted that “a basic requirement of a healthy democracy [is] the development of a set of broadly agreed-upon facts.” No, not really, but later the paper asserts again that “a functioning democracy must have a basic consensus on what is real and what is fake and the way to reach such determinations.” Clearly, the Powers-that-Be want to Control the Narrative, while insisting erroneously that accepting such narrative is the essence of a democracy. Beginning to get a headache from the gas yet? Hold on.

In early January, a link to a June 2020 paper called “Rethinking Humanity: Five Foundational Sector Disruptions, the Lifecycle of Civilizations, and the Coming Age of Freedom” came my way. It called forthrightly for:

a new Organizing System, one governed by new rules with new belief systems, conceptual frameworks, and models of thought to better explain the world, leading to new political, economic, and social systems to influence, control, and manage society.

Not the first to call for that, but the ESS aspiration, the Fake News definition that is not about veracity but an approved source, the labeling of demonstrably true statements as Disinformation, and the above insistence that democracy is about a set of broadly agreed-upon facts should all be seen as a means to impose that New Organizing System without admitting that is the true shift. Learning Standards and competency frameworks further enable this stealth shift to a New Organizing System. The Dictatorship of the Dead quote is from Harvard Prof Roberto Unger and covered in this post http://invisibleserfscollar.com/multiple-recent-proclamations-laying-out-commitment-to-revolutionary-transformation-of-our-entire-society/

Unger has been referenced recently in numerous footnotes and this July 2020 interview https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/roberto-mangabeira-ungers-alternative-progressive-vision/ makes it clear that his imagination first wholesale restructuring would be greatly aided by outrage at present conditions and his call that education has “as its primary goal the enhancement of analytic and syntheticcapabilities, rather than the mastery of information.” How to Think is a great way to substitute a New Organizing System. What better way to get new conceptual frameworks than to insist that “what matters with respect to content is less encyclopedic coverage than it is selective depth.”

We use, someone else selects. If we happen to still have Axemaker Minds with encyclopedic elements and we notice the selected concept is inapt, we are not using the New Organizing System. We must be sent outside the mainstream of thought. Accusations of Sedition, being a Conspiracy Theorist, or deplatforming to shut up should do. The Gaslighting aspect has to do with the insistence of the New Way of Thinking. It’s actually not about facts. Now we are going back to the early 90s, when the hope for a Science of Emotion was just getting underway. A book The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions came out and Richard J. Davidson was one of its two editors. Close friend of the Dalai Lama with whom he works regularly, on the Board of UNESCO’s MGIEP based out of India, author of Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation, and quietly while most of us were unwrapping Christmas presents, he coauthored “The plasticity of well-being: A training-based framework for the cultivation of human flourishing”.

That framework published by his Center for Healthy Minds in December https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/117/51/32197.full.pdf wants to get at

four dimensions of well-being: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. These dimensions are central to the subjective experience of well-being and can be strengthened through training. In this respect, they can be likened to skills, and the cultivation of well-being for a repertoire of skills. The cultivation of well-being thus involves the use of self-regulatory processes to learn, practice, and apply these skills in daily life.

A feeling of interdependence with others, a “heightened and flexible attentiveness to perceptual impressions in one’s environments,” and purpose, all being manipulated by others via provided daily educational experiences, also sounds like a good way to get to a New Organizing System. Since these dimensions all have “neurobiological underpinnings,” the New System of Thought grounded in emotion is a keeper. Last Friday, the SoLD Alliance mentioned in the last post continued its “Who Gets to Thrive?” Series with a particular emphasis on SoLD as a “Tool for Anti-Racism”. When the speaker’s specialty is Affective Neuroscience and she talks about using functional MRI on students to see what is being changed and shows pictures of brain scans, we are once again looking at neurobiological underpinnings.

Professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang spoke of addressing the notion of white supremacy and “a pivotal moment to grow our young people into the citizens they can be” by targeting each student’s “emotional feeling state that becomes the story a student uses to make meaning.”  She asserted that “meaning making is where it all begins and ends because it’s how we create our reality.” It allows the student to focus on things that don’t currently exist now and she rued the fact that “Deep Reflection and Personal Meaning Making about the Problems of the World and How they can be transcended and what causes them” is not the focus of more school curricula. Suddenly, curricula “becomes about the nature of human rights, what is good and not good and we can see in the brain how it rewires when education asks these kinds of questions.”

That does sound again like a New Organizing System, hardwired in, and my hand was flying taking notes. When I looked up, I noticed the professor seemed to have been crying in excitement at the type of future world this kind of equitable curriculum would enable. She did note that these kind of practices and imagination grounded in feeling experiences did not change with varying socio-economic levels, immigration status, gender, or other characteristics of students. See where a civil rights mandate of Equity and Excellence really takes us? The webinar moderator, Karen Pittman, then lamented that the zoom webinar had no ability for everyone in the audience to stand and applaud as they would be in-person.

Pittman did later ask MHI-L about how to best get at Meaning Making and the response was that a student’s Identity and Cultural History affect the Brain more than Genes. It becomes epigenetically turned on by the experiences provided, especially once students are made aware of “How can I grow myself to be adaptive to what is needed?” It turns out that Karen Pittman is the co-author of a new book that was the subject of this article https://www.gettingsmart.com/2021/01/a-new-vision-for-a-new-administration-whole-child-development-learning-and-thriving/ that came out on the same day as the above webinar. It also explains why she brought up psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner and his Ecological Systems Thinking and other spheres of influence beyond just the mind, school, and family.

Urie was an exchange student working in the Soviet Union in the 60s so the Theories of Mind involved with pushing Dynamic Systems Thinking go beyond my ability to recover them in this post. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ is that old post. Two more quick points that I can see the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative is financing the research that created that book that came out of the SoLD Alliance. It is especially interested in ACTUAL student’s trajectories of change and what experiences caused them in something called MMDC–Measures and Methods Across the Developmental Continuum. Information based on group averages might not reflect an real human being and what can change them.

Secondly I found this related paper https://forumfyi.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Thriving.Equity.Learning.Report.pdf that also tied to the upcoming book and its desired neurobiological change grounded in a student’s inner characteristics and how they can be altered to cause them to act as desired on existing external conditions.Now we can come back to the 1994 book The Nature of Emotion because it fits with the curricula I saw created in advance before Charlottesville, the Racial Equity curricula capitalizing on the furor surrounding George Floyd’s death, and now the curricula and common narratives created for the so-called ‘Insurrection at the Capitol’. Those links can all be found in the comments on the previous post, this summer’s posts, and back in August 2017. Let’s look at these stated aspirations as looking for a New Organizing System.

Davidson and his co-editor noted that there is a physiological difference in the brain between information processing and “evaluation of events that provoke an emotion.” They further noted that “emotion involves a subjective experience, a feeling state” and that “emotion is not a peripheral phenomenon but involves the organism totally. Emotional experience shapes and reflects individual personality development.” Some of its undisputed functions back in 1994 were that “1.Emotions have motivational properties…; 2. Emotions organize behavioral and physiological patterns to deal with emotion-evoking events, interrupting less important ongoing events…”

I think all these curricula have been designed to get at what is known about the brain, how to alter its neurobiological underpinnings, the role of Image in dynamic systems theories, and what emotion-evoking events can do to help create a New Organizing System. As part of a CASEL Cares webinar on “Discussions about Teaching and Learning that will Last Beyond the Pandemic,” also held on January 22, the teachers were asked about the lessons they used “to help students process the events of January 6.” The teachers discussed how scary those events had been for both themselves and their students and how the students had to “have accurate facts about the events”. The students could then process their feelings by journaling or class discussion.

Since there is a dispute among reasonable people as to what happened, when, and why, the fact that students are not allowed that knowledge was interesting. Must be because the feelings created by an emotion-evoking event are the primary area to be cultivated. A featured teacher mentioned they got their lessons and the facts from Newsela. Of course I looked it up and the partners include most major print media plus Al Jazeera as well as entities like the Zinn Education Project  and the SEL program Facing History and Ourselves. The latter two repeatedly state that their purpose is to reimagine the events of the past in order to affect how students feel about the present and the future.

We need to remember now that both education and journalism are branches of social science and as Jean-Francois Revel noted in The Flight From Truth :

In the social sciences it is what people want to see proved that becomes the main criterion of the ‘truth’…In the approximative sciences verification and refutation can be indefinitely delayed and contested. Not so in the exact sciences.

Now where exactly do emotionally laden Guiding Fictions created by prescribed subjective experiences that rewire the brain at a biological level to affect a student’s meaning making and view of reality going forward fit into this apt dichotomy between the social and hard sciences?

It’s going to be an interesting 2021 with these admitted aspirations and their ancestry, isn’t it?

Hotwiring the Second Wing of the Eagle: Utilize the Human Brain as the Sustainability Trigger in the 21st

I suppose I am giving away both my age (autos before too many electronics) and geography (southern) with that metaphor, but it struck me on a walk yesterday that the old technique for surreptitiously taking a vehicle you didn’t have a key for also fits with how global learning standards and digital curriculum immersions actually are designed to work. Instead of being forthcoming that a Portrait of a Graduate is not about knowledge in the traditional Periodic Table in Chemistry sense. Rather it goes to what physicist David Bohm meant when he wrote that:

Science consists not in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the creation of fresh modes of perception.

That quote was the Epigraph to a 1998 essay called “The second wing of the eagle: the human dimension in learning our way to more sustainable futures,” that was in turn footnoted in an 2019 article pushed last week called “Community science: A typology and its implications for governance of social-ecological systems.” That’s us, people, once we parse through that mouthful of verbiage because the keystone for the desired control over and coupling of human and ecological systems is so-called ‘social learning’. Learning and a transformed nature of education need to create a “shared understanding of the social-ecological system” for the purpose of  “complex social-ecological problems.” Those problems get highlighted via provided experiences and conceptual frameworks, images and emotions, that create common ‘shared beliefs’ of the type we covered in the Trilogy finished in the last post.

The Blue Dot July 2018 issue on “Digital Pedagogies” from the last post mentioned its use of something called the LIBRE process so I of course went a-searching and quickly located a September 2019 article called “Libre–Nourish the Brain So the Future Can Flourish” that insists that the UN’s global goals for sustainability can only be met if:

Education needs to shift from a utilitarian perspective to one that focuses on the greater social good. Recent brain research supports the multiple digital pedagogies of Libre.

Before we cover those,  let’s clarify what is meant by the Second Wing of the Eagle metaphor since as we will see the Right Emotional Brain Dominance of the Logical Mind, Prospection, and deliberately crafted virtual reality experiences from the Trilogy all fit with liberating that Second Wing. It fits with what both Community Science, at a collective level, and Citizen Science, at an individual level, want to transform via a new kind of education. It is clearly what LIBRE means by enabling the critical consciousness needed for ‘active citizenship’. This is from a review of the article in June 1999 in BioScience:

Environmental management has traditionally been regarded primarily as a technical task, whereas the causal agents of environmental damage are people. Until human behavior is brought into the equation, solutions will not be forthcoming. [The Second Wing essay] introduces the concept of social learning and discusses the need for integration of the scientific and social disciplines to achieve social action. The authors want to get the eagle that is environmental management flying again. The figurative eagle is currently skirting the issues, madly beating the one wing it knows how to use. The coupling between ‘human systems’ and ‘ecosystems’ can only constructively be addressed using the social learning approach.

Puts a new perspective on the hype over the supposed Anthropocene Age and man-made global warming that doesn’t care about actual temperatures and uses every graphic weather image to try to reenforce the theory, doesn’t it? It’s about the coupling and control–the need to resculpt human perceptions and link that to the motivation for future action. As the second wing essay puts it, the resolution to getting at both wings working in a manner that does seem like totalitarianism from within must get at “the self-understanding and self-definition of individuals [which are] in a state of flux.” This so-called “environmental crisis within” has two aspects that must be targeted by education.

The first has to do with values and beliefs…The second aspect has to do with knowledge itself…This is not a disguised attack on science…It is an attack on ways of thinking, approaches to problem solving, and political institutions founded on the ideological view that empirical science is the epitome of human reason and the primary route to truth and human understanding [Truth? Beauty? Goodness?]…The engagement of individuals in understanding the environmental crisis and in developing a willingness to promote or at least accept substantial change is essential…Social learning is an approach and philosophy which focuses on participatory processes of social change… It encompasses a positive belief in the potential for social transformation based on:

  •  critical self-reflection;
  • the development of participatory multi-layered democratic processes;
  • the reflexive capabilities of human individuals and societies;
  • and the capacity for social movements to change political and economic frameworks for the better.

Social learning, then, fits precisely with Libre as we are about to see. It regards knowledge from an “actor-orientated perspective…as a potentially powerful force for change. Such change emerges as actors ‘change their minds’ through interaction and dialogue with others.” Since I alluded to a link to Classical Education above, minus any link to Paulo Freire, let me do a quick link to a 1987 Virtue Ethics Essay I found when following up on the IEEE Standards for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (which includes people) and then recognized the Humanity 2.0/ Jubilee Center link that popped out.   https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/ethics-and-virtue/ also wants us to know that education and the “moral life is also a matter of trying to determine the kind of people we should be and attending to the development of character within our communities and ourselves.” Sounds like the IEEE is not the only entity desiring a common core so be wary about so-called ports in this storm.

According to Libre, “education needs to be restructured to respond constructively and progressively to both social change and technological advancement.” Its purpose must also change so that education will now “empower learners to question inequality, unsustainability, loss of common identity, and violence.” Libre intends to utilize the “neurobiological process called ‘neuroplasticity,’ which is the capacity of the brain to change, at the levels of both structure and function, in response to change in the cognitive environment.” Libre also makes it clear that ‘personalized learning’ is not about different trajectories for learning since shared understandings, beliefs, values, and motivations for future action are needed for the desired socio-ecological transformation. No, personalized is a reference that in the beginning, say preschool, “no two human brains are identical” and “each brain is unique.”

Remember that when you read now of required student assessments and inventorying of attributes in kindergarten. Beyond the EMCC we met in the last post, Libre proposes:

a problem-based approach to education that enables learners to build a critical consciousness to drive ‘active citizenship,’ develops their abilities to frame their identities; and empowers them to critically question any systemic, cultural, and physical manifestations of exclusions and marginalization…The ‘Libre’ process was developed to achieve such [full potential] learning by creating environments that ‘liberate’ learners and provide them with competencies to build knowledge using their lived reality…It adopts Freire’s ‘problem-posing’ approach in the classroom, which allows learning to be driven by the learner’s inquiry and guided through everyday words that have a direct connection to students’ lives.

The pedagogies of Libre and the learning experiences they create use 5 methods that all fit with both the Trilogy and the Second Wing essay. They are (1) Storytelling (“helps build a caring and cooperative attitude”); (2) Gamification (“failures become challenges, which encourages learners to revise their actions until they arrive at the ‘correct’ way of doing things”); (3) Inquiry (Mindfulness practices); (4) Reflection (OECD’s A-A-R Cycle in 2030 Learning); and (5) Dialogue (“seeks to adopt a collective learning approach”).

Putting the above back into the goal of bringing the human dimensions to learning so that dormant wing begins to flap we are told we are told requires a willingness to act despite:

unacknowledged conditions and unintended consequences of action. Hence, human judgement and political activity became things not to be simply made ‘scientific’; but rather are more encompassing dimensions of the human condition fundamental to our ability to ‘go on in the face of uncertainty and our potential understanding of the worlds we inhabit…Social learning, while not outright rejecting the utility of positivist methodologies, is predicated on a constructivist position…not with some external reality out there…but rather human experience (human life).

I need to finish up but think about the real reasons for constructivism in the reading, math, and science wars in light of the following quote that also fits with that Freire mention in the Libre aspirations for digital pedagogies now.

The constructivist alternative to positivism is based on recognizing the primary importance of language. Humans are reflexive knowledgable beings because of language. Consciousness and ‘reality’ arise from language and not vice versa. This shift places the emphasis for understanding knowledge not on the subject-knowledge relationship but on the relationship between human subjects. What we experience as ‘reality’ and hence knowledge is to a very large extent constructed by social processes.

If that was an aspiration back in 1998, we are now twenty years later with such uses of language and creation of experiences and social processes locked in by learning standards tied to digital technologies and required school practices. Then we add in where Libre intends to go globally under the euphemism Sustainability as it calls now for a “revolution in education–one that is restructured to promote global citizenship and allows humans to flourish rather than one that only caters to narrow political or economic agendas” and we once again find ourselves beginning to flap that second wing allowing total planning and control over the biophysical dimensions as well as the human and social. What Libre sees as “education as the life-long process of learning and un-learning [that] involves an intense churning of beliefs, values, and worldviews,” the second wing metaphor graphically told us that:

A process of ‘structural change’ in a person’s thinking can be triggered but not directed. The nature of the change will be determined by the pre-existing structure of the person’s ideas and theories of the world which have been learnt during life and their cultural heritage…the reality we perceive is determined not by what is external to us but rather by our own physical and cognitive structures. Because we are informationally closed systems we can only ever talk of our experience.

Neither you, dear reader, or I, the ultimate autodiadact, are ‘informationally closed systems’ although I guess reading this or my book qualifies as an experience. That’s the aspiration anyway and what is needed for the planned transformation in the name of Sustainability.

It’s all about getting access to our brains and minds. That’s the focal point for the planned revolution in thinking. I would argue, in fact, that the planned thinking is more emotion and visual images than what created the West, its economic prosperity and technological inventions, and regard for the individual. All on the chopping block now in the 21st century assault on the individual and genuine autonomy from political overreach.

 

 

 

Driving Behavioral Change by Building a Different Kind of Brain Circuit in Students: Unity for Our Strife-Driven World?

Let’s finally get to the end of the Trilogy on Enactive Cognitive Science which is not really about how human minds work. It is about how the human mind can be made to work when immersed repeatedly in the ‘right-kind’ of experiences. As we will see, virtual reality and digital technologies are seen as a Godsend to aspirations that go back to 1932 Congress of the International League for a New Education in Nice, France stating:

The current crisis calls for a worldwide concentration of all the efforts made towards a renovated education. In 20 years, education could transform the social order and establish a spirit of cooperation susceptible of finding solutions to our present problems. Only an education that completely redefines the relationships with the children can start a new era, freed from the ruinous competitions, the biases, the concerns and miseries so characteristic of our civilization.

That aspirational quote from the past was in an insert from UNESCO’s MGIEP publication Blue Dot, Issue 8 (July 2018), article called “Learnification: Encouraging Learning Through Video Games” that also informed us that:

Education can no longer mainly be focused on reproducing content knowledge; it evolves too fast, and has never been so broadly shared and so easily accessible. Educational success is now more about what people are able to do with what they know, how they adapt and how they behave. It is more about being versatile, about constantly adapting and constantly learning and growing in a fast-changing, hyper-connected world.

A renovated education needs to balance content knowledge and understanding with skills that help students extrapolate what they know, and with curiosity, motivation, and socio-emotional intelligence that will teach them to consider the wider implications of their actions, and to act mindfully.

I found that issue because to a cited author in this India Today story from a few days ago https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/featurephilia/story/how-a-global-citizenship-curriculum-could-create-the-empathetic-citizens-we-need-in-future-to-save-the-world-1642944-2020-02-03, Professor Duraiappah, also wrote the lead-in called “Technology: A Game Changer in Education”. Today’s title came from the article’s aspiration to use  a new curriculum to “to incorporate MGIEP’s socio-emotional learning framework titled EMCC or EMC2 and aims to build empathy, mindfulness, compassion and critical inquiry in students.” Sounds complementary to the Right Brain planned dominance covered in Part 1 of this Trilogy, doesn’t it?

With proper socio-emotional training, children understand how to deal with their emotions better. Apart from building emotional resilience, they effectively learn how to control their behaviour and relationships with others.

SEL training focuses on the core personality traits of students and develops them into wholesome human beings rather than specifically targeting subject-knowledge.

Moreover, SEL can serve as a proactive measure to prevent mental health illness, reduce stress, anxiety, depression and impulsive behaviour.

Why do we need a Global Citizenship Curriculum?

“Global citizens can be described as lifelong learners, who possess the critical consciousness to drive ‘active citizenship’, to recognize the inherent interconnectedness and dignity of all life, and instill the values of acceptance, equality, respect for diversity, empathy and compassion,” explains Prof. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP.

Now, it is not possible for students to suddenly transform their behaviours. Thus, the curriculum needs to be created in a way that can train the students and drive behavioural change by building a different kind of brain circuit.

Building a different kind of brain circuit. Hard to get more explicit about the real purpose of learning standards and global competency frameworks than that, is it? Here’s a bit more and think Axemaker Mind as a metaphor for what must be changed by the planned curriculum delivered in a virtual environment by digital technologies.

This means that the usual way their brains worked in certain situations would need to be changed via extensive training to build both intellectual and emotional intelligence. This is the kind of transformation that the Global Citizenship Curriculum aims to bring.

“MGIEP’s Global Citizenship (GC) curriculum is designed to inculcate such behavioural change. It advocates that it is not enough just informing students about why one must be a global citizen but to also inculcate the competencies of understanding the ‘other’ and doing concrete action to foster global citizenship,” Prof Duraiappah adds.

Going back to that earlier article from the Blue Dot, it ended with the aspiration that:

Education needs to change in order to prepare the future generations not only to thrive as individuals, but also to take up the incredibly complex challenges humanity as a whole will face in the near future. We need a renovated education system to save the world. And, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, we might need video games to save education.

Before we cover all these plans for manipulative virtual reality environments some more because of the planned experiences to create new neural Habits of Mind they can provide, let’s look at two more books that also cover the crucial effect of experience: The Biology of Belief and The Embodied Mind. As the first book cited put it:

I call it the belief effect to stress that our perceptions, whether they are accurate or inaccurate, equally impact our behavior and our bodies…[a] whole new field of research called behavioral epigenetics [whose] mission… is nothing less than to figure out how nurture shapes nature…Here, nature refers to gene-controlled characteristics, and nurture refers to the influence of a wide range of life experiences, from social interactions to nutrition to positive mental attitudes.

So when another Blue Dot article on Virtual Reality in Education tells us that “Pedagogically, these types of interactive VR display systems can offer major advantages over other visualisation media, because of the engaging, immersive and interactive (active rather than passive) nature of the learning experience they create,” we need to recognize this as the manipulation of experience that it is. In fact, MGIEP notes that it “collaborated with Google to develop several 360-degree expeditions,” which again matters because Google is also the Vatican’s partner in using education to achieve Humanity 2.0 and was the developer behind Search Inside Yourself from Post 1. All of these see VR and embedding SEL within its experiences as a means for “transforming education for building peaceful and sustainable societies. It [MGIEP] sees immersive experiences such as VR as an integral part of SEL for our younger generations as they face 21st century challenges to build a peaceful and sustainable planet.”

The Biology of Belief provided this succinct explanation of the role of experience without regard to how the concept can be turbocharged for manipulation via VR and immersive digital environments that include what parents have been told are simply ‘digital textbooks’. Look for the Immersive Experience could be the warning label!

The same epigenetic influences also continue after the child is born because parents [and then educators] continue to influence their child’s environment. In particular, fascinating new research is emphasizing the importance of good parenting in the development of the brain. ‘For the growing brain of a young child, the social world supplies the most important experiences influencing the expression of genes, which determines how neurons connect to one another in creating the neuronal pathways which give rise to mental activities.’

The bookwent on to urge parents to act as ‘genetic engineers’ to provide the right kind of environment to “activate the genes to develop healthy brains,” but as the Blue Dot cover story “A New ‘Digital Ecosystem’ for Whole Brain Learning” made clear, parents are no longer to be the primary ‘genetic engineers’. From the article with the same co-author as cited by India Today above:

To summarise, new digital learning environments engage students in ‘real world-like’ interactions forcing them to use multi-sensory ways to learn. Resources from technology can provide access to multiple simulated environments and virtual reality experiences in novel situations, enabling students to experience the real-world relevance of their learning. For instance, learning platforms facilitate building skills of collaboration and communication. Similarly, digital games have emerged as a novel methodology to teach and assess both prosocial behavior and socio-emotional skills. The digital gaming scenario lends itself rather appropriately for SEL since it allows stealth assessments in real-world scenarios and opportunities to intervene and remediate them when necessary.

Who do you think evaluates such a necessity and whose vision lies behind the Learning Trajectories for remediation? As usual I am running long, but imagine the uses of this recognition that “genes are shaped, guided, and tailored by environmental learning experiences” when tied to digital VR student environments and remediation tied to global learning standards and frameworks. The Biology of Belief illustrates the role of environment and experience by pondering the effect on Liza Minnelli of being raised not in Hollywood by her “superstar mother Judy Garland and her father filmmaker Vincent Minnelli,” with its highs and lows of stardom and abuse, but:

If Liza had the same genes but was raised by a nurturing Pennsylvania Dutch farming family, that environment would have epigenetically triggered a different selection of genes. The genes that enabled her to pursue a successful entertainment career would likely have been masked or inhibited by the cultural demands of her agrarian community.

Masked or inhibited. Now imagine the effect of all this planned role playing in virtual reality with the provided student experiences grounded in how “the actual connections among ensembles of neurons change as the result of experience. In brief, these ensembles present us with a self-organizing capacity that is nowhere to be found in the paradigm for symbol manipulation.” That latter is a quote from The Embodied Mind, which recognized that:

it makes no sense to speak of brains as though they manufacture thoughts the way factories manufacture cars. The difference is that brains use processes that change themselves–and this means we cannot separate such processes from the products they produce. In particular, brains make memories, which change the way we’ll subsequently think. The principal activities of brains are making changes in themselves.

I am going to close today’s post on how neuroscience can create the very needed experiences using digital technologies to alter how most students brains will be wired. Many such changes have already taken place and such neural transformations go to the very essence of what learning standards tied to data standards seek to alter.

Such neural transformations that go to the dialectical nature of brain activity in conjunction with its environment, whether natural or artificial, are the essence of what stakeholders all over the world mean when they proclaim the upcoming Sustainable Future. It is why “it will be necessary to use performance-based assessments as manifested in behavior” that cross-check what students do in ‘novel situations’ instead of what they know from the past or how the world works in external reality now.

As usual, I am glad we know what is planned for us and our children, even if it is not particularly pleasant. If experience alters neural wiring in meaningful ways, knowledge of these plans helps us retain the ability to still act as ‘genetic engineers’.

 

Prospection: Training the Mind to Reject the Pre-Given World In Favor of What Might Be

Most of us, at least of a certain age, see the word ‘Understand’ and then it has something to do with how the world actually works or events that transpired in the past and what likely caused them and their ultimate consequences. This is from the Science Direct article called “Understanding is a Design Problem” written by Michael Lissack of the American Society for Cybernetics. It supplies the use of Understanding being pushed by Positive Psychology and its PERMA Model for education globally as well as other initiatives.

**  When the act of understanding becomes a design problem, we can more readily recognize the role played by individual agency/construction in shaping these understandings, and also our next moves.

**  Understanding is not about cognizing a pre-given world, it is about becoming aware of and consciously choosing the aspects of the world that we decide to cope with.

Those were from the bullet points of the abstract, but the following quote is from the paper itself under a heading of “The Role of As-Ifs,” which will fit nicely in a minute with what Positive Neuroscience and Psychology co-creator Martin Seligman calls Prospection and what the Templeton Foundation funded found here https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/learn-more/readings-and-videos/selected-scholarly-articles called “Navigating the Future or Driven By the Past.” First, here is Lissack and think again of the Reading, Math, and Science Wars as we do:

Understanding requires agency. We do not nakedly receive meaning, nor do we just perceive the world as it is. Our cognitive equipment demands that we intervene to filter, prime, and frame some portion of the world, attend to that, develop an understanding and move on…The notion of as-ifs is critical to the argument that follows. Because of our limited cognitive resources, we cannot deal with the world as it is. We are stuck dealing with what our minds can process and treat that as if it were the world itself. The implications are vast. There may be fixed facts and absolute truths that apply in the real world, but we have no way of knowing such things…

We are stuck having to deal with as-ifs and not the real world. Where we do have choice is in the composition of those as-ifs. This is the context in which design [especially when mandated via learning standards like competency frameworks] can make a difference. ‘The object of the world of ideas as a whole is not the portrayal of reality–this would be an utterly impossible task–but rather to provide us with an instrument for finding our way about more easily in this world.’ [and] ‘Knowledge is not a matter of getting reality right…but rather a feature of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality.’

Gives new meaning, doesn’t it, to the emphasis now on Concepts first and whether the student applies the concepts in real world simulations and new situations that get required via Equity mandates like this one from yesterday? https://www.inacol.org/resource/how-systems-of-assessments-aligned-with-competency-based-education-can-support-equity/ Success for All suddenly means all students must have their mental models reengineered. Equity does sound better.  All students need the so-called higher performance (as in action, not grades) measures of achievement because as Lissack explained it:

Attention and ascription–giving a label to something, and thus providing a means of reference for it–entail a continuous circular reflexivity which drives our decision making and actions at any given instant…Only attended-to possibilities can afford an option for action. Unattended-to affordances, while theoretically available, simply do not afford. Action is dependent upon recognizing an affordance, which is dependent upon attention, which in turn is dependent on priming (preparedness to be attended to), which is itself dependent upon prior ascriptions, prior attention, and prior actions.

It is this context that I would put this mandate https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/13/new-zealand-schools-to-teach-students-about-climate-crisis-activism-and-eco-anxiety as the desired attended-to concepts are instilled in students’ minds to necessitate future action. Now to Seligman’s 2013 article which claimed that “Prospection, the representation of possible futures, is a ubiquitous feature of the human mind…Prospection involves no backward causation; rather, it is guidance not be the future itself but by present, evaluative representations of future possible states.” Sounds like Lissack’s desire to design the as-if conditionals that will become students habits of mind and motivators to act to me. Suddenly the need for Character Education and Virtue Training makes perfect sense if the emphasis is to be on decision making in light of ‘needs and goals’ as in this passage from the first paragraph laying out the new model of human psychology.

We suggest an alternative framework in which people and intelligent animals draw on experience to update a branching array of evaluative prospects that fan out before them. Action is then selected in light of their needs and goals. The past is not a force that drives them but a resource from which they selectively extract information about the prospects they face.

One point of contention between this blog and my book Credentialed to Destroy and other education writers has been a tendency for others to hype Behaviorism as the inspiration reforms, while I have seen cybernetics and the desire to control perception and the internalized mental models as the aspiration. Seligman shed meaningful light on this point where “the failure of behaviorism lay in its overreach, trying to use a theory that worked for rats and pigeons in the experimental setting to explain human psychology in unconstrained situations…we believe that the crucial failure was in eschewing teleological explanation, which followed directly from the exclusion of mental events in favor of drives and habits.” He then goes on to detail how the rat experiments actually “pointed clearly away from the idea that behavior was under the control of past motor ‘habits,’ suggesting instead that an acquired ‘cognitive map’ governed navigation flexibly, permitting goal-directed behaviors of unprecedented kinds.”

Seligman then made the fascinating point that the oft-cited Russian psychologist Pavlov’s research had been mistranslated into English “in such a way as to underscore the lack of teleology. His ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional’ were rendered ‘conditioned’ and ‘unconditioned’ and this shift to the past participle brought with it the connotation of a fixed relation, whereas ‘conditional,’ Pavlov’s term, allows the ‘if-then’ representation of possibilities.” Remember our ‘pragmatic inquiry’ from Part 1 of what I am ultimately going to call this Enactive Cognitive Science Trilogy? Seligman goes into more detail about the actual rat experiments and then concludes that:

Rats, it seems, are more predictable when we postulate that they act through complex expectation-based representations of possible actions and outcomes, behaving more like inquirers actively seeking to anticipate the future than creatures of habit-channeled drives? Perhaps humans should be given as much credit…A conceptual error seems to have animated behaviorism, in which something genuinely suspect–a metaphysical teleology of causation backward in time, of the present by the future–was conflated with something not at all mysterious, namely, guidance by a system bearing causal and evaluative information about possible futures.

The quotes above from Lissack about ascriptions and attended-to affordances fit with what Seligman calls the Logic and Benefits of Expectation. Try not to compare 21st century students to Lashley’s rats in this quote:

Choice now makes sense. Lasley’s rats, even when confined to the narrow channels of the maze, appear to have been building up ab evaluative map of the possibilities their environment afforded, stretching well beyond actual experience and enabling them to improvise opportunistically on the spot. Such behavior draws attention to another core aspect of cognition that is oriented toward prospection: the active, selective seeking of information (‘exploration’), which, if we are right about prospection, should be as vital as the active, selective processing of information…Expectation is pivotal in schema (1) [adaptive feed-forward/feedback models of learning and control] because it transforms experience into experimentation–continuously generating a ‘test probe’ so that the next experience always involves an implicit question and supplies an answer, which can then function as an error-reducing ‘learning signal’.

Doesn’t that sound just like what the Formative Assessment hype brought in above in the name of Equity calls Continuous Improvement? It is what Seligman called “such active, ongoing prospection nicely illustrates teleological control–navigating into the future by considering future possibilities and electing action [student performance] in light of the benefits and risks they promise.” All the emphasis on Virtues in the Portrait of a Graduate or in Classical Education https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/four-pillars-educating-america/ , for example, make far more sense if there is a perceived need to educate Desire: “because desire provides an intelligible teleology for human action, a narrative arc stretching from discovery of a transfixing but distant prospect, across the drama of longing, seeking, and overcoming obstacles, to arrive at a denouement in union with the object of desire.”

What a student likes and values then affects their action in light of perceived possibilities and the “motivation for such action is not determined by fixed drives or past conditioning but is elicited by the evaluative process itself through the normal working of desire…Our title emphasizes navigating the future because, like a navigator, the organism must not only act but also mentally explore options and keep track of progress.” Let’s close not with the theory, but with the OECD’s Future of Education and Skills 2030 aspiration. In the ironically called Conceptual learning framework for Student Agency for 2030, where the children are already in our schools:

The concept of student agency, as understood in the context of the OECD Learning Compass 2030, is rooted in the principle that students have the ability and the will to positively influence their own lives and the world around them. Student agency is thus defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others…While a well-developed sense of agency can help individuals achieve long-term goals and overcome adversity, students need foundational cognitive, social, and emotional skills so they can apply agency to their own–and society’s–benefit.

The illusion of choice using a contrived cognitive map created by mostly mandated learning experiences that over time have turned into habits. Predictable actions in the future engineered by all those as-if scenarios practiced in digital learning environments and role-playing online and in group activities.

Part 3 whenever I get a chance. Bon Chance!

 

 

 

Totalitarianism or Rightful Regulation? The Reasons for the Redirection of Education Fall into Place

When I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then later started this blog, I knew I could trace what was actually occurring, even if I did not always understand precisely why or the reason for so much deceit. After all, I am a lawyer and so many of the changes were being enshrined into law so that the tracking was easy and the intended results mandatory. When I wrote about the Social Reconstructionists I did not yet grasp that in the early 1980s, after a series of lectures at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (no wonder it later created a PEPG-Program on Education Policy and Governance to implement its aims), that laid out how Conservatism was now to be redefined in terms of a new role for government that would create institutions and new ideas that would “retrace our cultural steps, and rethink what we think.” That would certainly explain the sudden interest in using the techniques of Tranzi OBE and mandated learning standards, wouldn’t it?

Apparently, after “two centuries of cultivating the physical world, Americans have been prodigies of productivity” so that now it was time to “place the focus of government on the intellectual and moral world within us.” Do tell. I am quoting from a George Will 1983 book called Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does that I found as I was following up on both this push for Cultural Evolution using a so-called Science of Virtue as well as the communitarian push I kept stumbling across as supposedly necessary for ‘citizenship’ in the 21st century in a Republic. Brought to us by the same people who work for think tanks that cannot manage to accurately explain what the Common Core is really about and what competency-based education really entails. Perhaps this is why:

that inner world is what ‘concerns fitness for republican government’…the most important revolution of all is the ‘revolution in sentiments, manners, and moral opinions’. It will be said, instantly and energetically and broadly, that ‘sentiments, manners, and moral opinions’ are none of the government’s business. Are they not ‘private’ and properly beyond the legitimate concern of public agencies? No, they are not…

political order needs to be concerned about the inner lives of the people…and the character of the citizenry…By the legislation of morality I mean the enactment of laws and implementation of policies that will prescribe, mandate, regulate, or subsidize behavior that will, over time, have the predictable effect of nurturing, bolstering, or altering habits, dispositions and values on a broad scale…

Government would do better if it admits what it is doing.

Yes, it would, but since that might create a public outcry, create repercussions at the ballot box, or affect fundraising for think tanks, it is left for me to lay that out. Explains so much, doesn’t it? Especially my documentation of the affirmative, normative use of the law in a revised vision of education. George Will emphasized his point by quoting US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, in a famous case concerning compulsory flag salutes, as writing that “Law is concerned with the external behavior and not the ‘inner life of man.'” Then Will responded with “The purpose of this book is to explain why that proposition is radically wrong.” I had called attention in my last several posts of the use of Greek philosopher Aristotle as a substitute for a vision that I recognize as Marxist Humanism. Hyping the Claasical roots in antiquity lets the vision escape the infamy of that ‘M’ word.

Will may well be the originator of this substitution as he expounded on how Aristotle was “a founder of:

conservatism, properly understood, because his realism did not preclude a politics that takes its bearings from what ought to be. The United States acutely needs a real conservatism, characterized by a concern to cultivate the best persons and the best in persons…A purpose of politics is to facilitate, as much as is prudent, the existence of worthy passions  and the achievement of worthy aims. It is to help persons want what they ought to want. Politics should share one purpose with religion: the steady emancipation of the individual through the education of his passions.

I keep thinking of the Chinese Social Credit System that so-called ‘conservative’ writers keep calling attention to, and wondering if the real concern is simply that the Chinese are being too overt with their Reeducation or Recrimination Program to get desired Results. What precisely are these ‘worthy passions’ and ‘worthy aims’ in a vision that goes on to describe a vision of education where “true conservatives have a soft spot in their hearts for organic collectivity.” So do admitted progressives and they too have big plans for also using education for “nurturing of the shared ‘national mind’.” Heck, at least the Progs admit that the desired transformation of the individual’s ‘inner life’ is just  a tool to get a desired global consciousness amenable to the desired changes and the “bridling of egoistic motives.”

My accurate tracking all these years using the law makes far more sense now that we have found this reimagining that “we must rethink today’s constricted notion of the legitimate uses of the law…It is time to come up from individualism.” After all, in this new vision of Conservatism, “a function of government is the modification of [citizenry] habits.” The Diversity of this country back in the 1980s, which is nothing compared to what immigration has done in the interim to now, was supposedly a reason that necessitated “law concerned with values as well as actions–with mind as well as body. They necessiate law as a ratifier and stigmatizer, in which role law is a tutor.” In other words, government at all levels and education as its favorite tool committed to realizing a vision where:

what is at issue is not coercion, it is not compelling persons to act against their settled convictions, it is not a collision of wills, the state’s and the citizens. Rather, it is a slow, steady, gentle, educative and persuasive enterprise. Its aim is to dispose citizens toward certain habits, mores and values, and to increase the probability that persons will choose to will certain things.

One of the discussions I have had when I first called attention to Tranzi OBE and commenters I later found to be involved with the False Narrative would treat the problem as simply a wrongful area for the FEDERAL government, while I saw the shift as Totalitarian for ANY level of government, came to mind when I read this passage from Will’s reenvisoning:

…proper conservatives proclaim, as Burke did, the gentling functions of government. Proper conservatism teaches that authority does not form on high, in the clouds, and clatter down, painfully, like Kansas hail stones. Rather, conservatism teaches that authority grows organically from the rich loam of social mores and structures.

…the urgent tasks of government include mending and maintaining the ‘chain of community’…The political system must also incorporate altruistic motives…Altruism–principled regard for others–is not optional.

No wonder we have had such a dance over what social and emotional learning is and whether it can be discussed, if, quietly, the authors of so many books or articles have their income from a source that pushes covertly this reimagining of what Conservatism and a new role for governments actually is. Someone who believes in the following quote needs the tool of Tranzi OBE, whatever they mask it with as a euphemism:

Justice depends, therefore, on a certain disposition, It depends on–in a sense, it is– a state of mind. A society that is organized socially and justified philosophically the way ours is must take special care to supply itself with the rhetoric, institutions and policies that encourage that state of mind.

And try to silence interlopers like me who accurately lay out what education is really altering and who actually benefits from the shift. After all, this may be a vision that wants to use the “skill of disposing persons to think of public as well as private interests,” but if the history of the consistent outcry over Outcomes-Based Education tells us anything it is that no one really wanted this level of forthcomingness to be tied to these education reforms that have functioned the same in terms of the true desired results over the intervening decades. Virtue and Character sound so good as a major goal of ‘student-centered education’ that is holistic and creates agency. Those euphemisms sound so much better, don’t they, than the actual aspiration:

That is why I am so concerned about the shaping of passions and desires in the direction of virtue. By virtue I mean nothing arcane or obscure. I mean good citizenship, whose principal components are moderation, social sympathy and willingness to sacrifice private desires for public ends.

What happens to citizens in a polity where education is being covertly hijacked to “nurture the habit of regarding our fellow citizens as united in a great common enterprise”? Especially one that touts School Choice as a feint to obscure the actual coordination and sought transformations in the student and to the polity?

Good to be back. Hopefully there will be no more unexpected interruptions as there is so much going on now.

Rebooting the Mind and Heart to Get at Humanity 2.0 and a Global Convergence

We are going to do a travelogue today using quotes from a UNESCO institute in India with a vision written by American education profs, hen a May conference at the Vatican we were not invited to, on to Washington, DC and a think tank tied to Betsy DeVos, and an upcoming August 8 conference at UN HQ right there along the East River. Then we get to visit the Silicon Valley to finish up. All of these initiatives are pushing the exact same visions and many are tied to the same institutions and people who worked so hard to misportray the Common Core and competency-based education in the US. None of these conferences though are mentioning each other unless you recognize common attendees and funding.

I don’t think the ties to the False Narrative are an accident and if I, and my book Credentialed to Destroy, are going to be an irritant to that vision, I might as well be highly effective and revelatory in precisely what we are really jousting against here at ISC. In fact, it was following up on things that were put into print that were provably untrue that led me to the Humanity 2.0 conference so let’s start there. https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/05/11/humanity-2-0-answers-popes-call-for-entrepreneurs-with-a-conscience/

The full name of the Vatican’s new initiative, now with co-sponsorship from Google, is “Humanity 2.0: A Shared Horizon for Humanity” that quotes its CEO, a Canadian tech entrepreneur, as stating that:

All that is required to change our destiny is prudence and the will to act. If history has taught us anything, it’s that humans rarely rise to the occasion unless they’re inspired by what ‘should be’, and this is why Humanity 2.0 is committed to articulating a common vision.

And then using education and the news media and social media platforms to impose that ‘common vision’ and create a “shared horizon to unite humankind.” Humanity 2.0 also intends to facilitate “collaborative ventures between the public, private, and faith-based sectors.” That convergence of every institution with the ability to forge policy probably explains why the website headlines with a quote from Thomas Aquinas that sounded eerily reminiscent of the Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi definition of Excellence in education we tracked to the General Evolution Research Group from the 1980s–education should tie together in the student what is wanted, known, and felt. These ties make sense since both GERG and Humanity 2.0  see education as the primary tool to create “the kind of human civilization we should be striving to build” in the internalized attitudes, values, and beliefs of the students.

Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.

Now, let’s switch to India to MGIEP–the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Education for Peace and Sustainable Development which has its first ever World Youth Conference on Kindness coming up on August 20-23 in New Delhi and its second TECH–Transforming Education Conference for Humanity in December. MGIEP:

employs the whole-brain approach to education, with programmes that are designed to mainstream social and emotional learning in education systems, innovate digital pedagogies, and put youth as global citizens at the centre of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development…In addition to giving youth the agency to lead the process of societal transformation, we need to rethink how they are educated…We should not [be] continuing with the same modality of preaching and instructing. This prevailing practice of making an intellectual case for peace is not sufficient. The seat of human behavior, including hatred and violence, is the emotional brain. Understanding this seat and the emotional stress of violence at individual-societal levels, and aligning education accordingly is, therefore, the first step in the pursuit of peace.

Let’s switch to that invite https://peaceandthebrain.eventbrite.com/ so that I can point out it aligns with MGIEP’s push that as so important that it bolded the following statement just like this: “There is a need for education not as the usual intellectual exercise of regurgitation but a journey through self–of building peace first with the self, before the society. Education that is aligned with neurobiological development [my italics] and aimed at nourishing the whole person.” See what I mean about rebooting the internalized neural wetware we humans use to process our experiences, set goals, and make decisions? That August 8 meeting in NYC for “Brain-based Holistic Education for Peace” intends to:

discuss how violence happens in the brain, and ways to work towards creating peace in our brains and project that peace onto society.

That UN agenda fits right in with what Humanity 2.0 describes as its “Faith and Integral Human Development” vision where the Catholic Church, which the CEO described in the Crux linked above, as “the largest and most influential institution in human history,” [Ideas and Institutions are how we change public policy in the 21st Century, remember?],

intends to propose a humanism that is up to the standards of God’s plan of love in history, an integral and solidary humanism capable of creating a new social, economic, and political order, founded on the dignity and freedom of every human person, to be brought about in peace, justice, and solidarity.

Achieving that vision will be a lot easier if we access the Working Paper “How Mindful Compassion Practices [more WTPs!] can Cultivate Social and Emotional Learning” from this site https://mgiep.unesco.org/academic-publications that is also grounded in achieving neurobiological change.

The good news is that the brain is highly plastic and as such, the brain develops from experience. In other words, what one pays attention to and focuses upon changes certain portions of the brain and thus, the related primary functions also change…of specific interest is the notion of cultivating humane or compassionate behavior.

Another word for that desired behavior used elsewhere in the “manuscript” reminds us that “the way SEL is defined allowed us to introduce a specific set of SEL skills and then illustrate how they align with Mindful Compassion outcomes.” Those outcomes fit with many a school’s Graduate Profile now or what the US think tank (where Betsy DeVos was on the Board) pitches as a desire for “connecting moral and religious instruction to SEL.” http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/The-Moral-and-Religious-Roots-of-Social-and-Emotional-Learning.pdf Talk about removing silos between public, private, and faith-based! Also, its ‘character’ and “cardinal virtues of Greek and Christian thought” are just the euphemisms for what MGIEP calls “Mindful Compassion Practices”. The last week we had a followup paper http://www.aei.org/publication/the-f-word-of-social-and-emotional-learning-faith/ , which really caught my eye since I was familiar with UNESCO wanting to use whole child education to target each student’s internalized KBVAF–Knowledge, Beliefs, Values, Attitudes, and Faith.

The latter paper even urged that “education leaders should explore ways to partner with communities of faith.” I guess AEI was afraid someone would notice if that silo analogy was used yet again, but the aim is clearly the same. While it sells the idea of interjecting faith and character practices into public schools, MGIEP is qualifying its observation that:

Mindful compassion practices (MCPs) are not new to many world cultures. However, they are new to many schools that are exploring how to best integrate them into existing curriculum in a secular manner.

Whatever argument gets the desired results in the student at a neurobiological level, right? Now, if you do pull up that paper, make sure you look at Figure 3 on page 11 called “Map of Executive Function and Related Terms to Intra-and Inter-Personal Skills” because it is the final proof that we are looking at the same global template. The last stop in our Travelogue is a Jesuit institution in California called Santa Clara University. Its Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is involved with Humanity 2.0 and its Trust Project involving the Future of the Internet. It also has Lesson Plans to incorporate SEL into academic curricula practices just like MGIEP advocated. https://www.scu.edu/character/lesson-plans/ I also watched the video found there “What is Character Education?” and took verbatim notes. That is why I am so certain I am looking at precisely the same vision as to what must be changed, where, and why all over the world.

What gets sold at MGIEP as Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education, which needs MCPs, and Humanity 2.0, which does too, gets pitched by Markkula (fitting well with that MGIEP Figure 3) as:

Character development impacts three key domains: moral behavior, personal performance, and civic engagement. Virtues ethics, one of the prominent ethical frameworks, sees moral behavior as the way to live the good life. Through the enactment of virtues such as honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and respect we can flourish while behaving responsibly within family and society. Performance virtues, such as perseverance, resourcefulness, open-mindedness and determination, enable us to maintain healthy life habits, work toward personal goals, and adapt to life changes and demands.

Civic engagement virtues such as justice, leadership, sense of duty, and environmental consciousness are important for becoming contributing and lawful citizens in a democratic and thriving society and a sustainable environment. Character development requires that all three components of virtue–affective, cognitive, and behavior–will grow through social interaction and personal reflection.

I am going to stop there for now, except to say that I have no doubt the commonality I am seeing and have documented (this post is just the tip of the connections) is due to the need for what Uncle Karl called a Moral Revolution once a certain stage of technological development was available to the world. Rather than pitch infamous political theories accurately so that their attendant baggage from history can be examined in time, we get illusory sales pitches that nevertheless get to the same realm that must be changed. Closing once again with MGIEP:

Social-emotional skills and abilities are important because they affect how and what we learn, and the way in which we apply that knowledge to our relationships, our work, and our navigation through our world.