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.

 

 

Tapping the Assumed to Be Real and the Logic of What Might Be to Control Purpose Here and Now

Once again, let’s go back in time to the 50s, to another episode detailed in Dark Hero of the Information Age, because it illustrates the very organic processes of the human brain that learning standards and competency frameworks want to manipulate covertly. It’s my job as a writer to make that documentable manipulation explicit. In the early stages of computers:

another breakthrough in brain science defied the digital computer models that were becoming the rage in cognitive science. artificial intelligence, and many other fields. The discovery, based on a whole new approach to neuroscience theory and laboratory research, confirmed that the human brain did not process information in the mode and manner of a digital machine… [From the neurophysiology lab at MIT, Jerry] Lettvin and his crew made their finding that turned a half century of neuroscience on its head. Their study of vision in frogs revealed that the brain’s most basic information-processing operations were carried out by analog means to an extent never before considered possible. They discovered that the neurons in the lowly frog’s eye were capable of sophisticated activities of image detection and analysis, and routinely performed complex tasks, such as determining the size, shape, and motion of objects in the frog’s field of view, through analog processes innate in the structure and communication operations of each individual neural cell…Published in November 1959 with the tantalizing title “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain,” [it] forced a sudden rethinking of everything that was known and assumed about sensory perception and the brain’s cognitive operations…It strengthened the biological foundations of cybernetics and unveiled a new order of living processes in the brain.

It is those living processes that are being manipulated by Constructivism, Whole Language, DJEM ,or by Exemplary History Education Programs seeking to control the categories of thought that guide consciousness. That control of consciousness can, in turn, guide purpose and the behavior it motivates. To quote briefly from a 1943 paper called “Behavior, Purpose and Teleology” Wiener co-authored: “The term purposeful is meant to denote that the act or behavior must be interpreted as directed to the attainment of a goal.” The goal (or standard or objective) provides “a continuous feedback that modifies and guides the behaving object.” The student in K-12 becomes that behaving object able to compare the difference between where they are “at any time and the final state interpreted as the purpose.” Now, to bridge that gap, cybernetic education hypes “sensemaking as a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively…Sense-Making reconceptualizes factizing (the making of facts which tap the assumed-to-be-real) …as an action oriented process that people automatically go through in order to integrate experiences into their understanding of the world.”

So students are encouraged to use the “logic of what might be” and act using inference or ‘best guess’ leaps. See what happens, collect that evidence, and adjust accordingly as needed to move closer to the laid out goals. Now, back in 1978, with a 2nd Edition in 1995, the co-authors of Dark Hero published a book called Snapping that explained the process of communication [a 21st century skill, remember?] in a way that is useful for recognizing what is being manipulated by K-12 learning standards all over the globe. It gets at why it is so crucial for learning standards to include social and emotional learning as well as controlling the categories of thought and concepts that are the representational level that exists in the space between the neurons of living biological systems and the prevailing collective culture.

The process of communication reaches far beyond the mere exchange of spoken and written messages among individuals. This complex and sophisticated process controls both our bodies and our minds. Communication, in fact, governs everything we experience as human beings. It is the basic organic process that regulates the everyday operations of the human brain and nervous system, and it is the main channel through which the new cult methods of change and control turn inward and take root in the mind. The principles of communication that underlie…rhetoric,…propaganda and …group dynamics are one with the natural laws that direct and control the flow of experience throughout the body, brain and mind. By this common process, acts of speech, from sermons to hypnosis to casual conversations and every other form of communication [which is what any curricula is], may affect biological functions at their most rudimentary levels and human awareness in its highest states of consciousness and spirituality.

Controlling sense-making then is a powerful tool indeed. It seeks to target the means by which “human beings exchange thought, feeling and experience with one another.” Suddenly, we find education methods being prescribed on the basis of “a new view of human beings based on dynamic, organic processes of human awareness and experience.” We saw that in the Reimagining American History Education exemplars and goals from the last post and I saw it in a May 2019 letter from Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, laying out Ohio’s vision for 2019-2024. It has Four Domains of Learning and wants to prescribe what must be experienced. It demands “clear standards that define social-emotional learning” because:

Human beings are social creatures. That means in society, successfully interacting with other people is essential to the effective functioning of a community, workplace, or even a family. People need to know how to successfully interact with each other, establish and maintain positive relationships, feel and show empathy, understand and manage their emotions and set and achieve positive goals. Social-emotional learning improves children’s mental health and helps them avoid risky decisions, make healthy choices and stay drug free.

Nice sales pitch, but “Each Child Our Future” is really about controlling those organic processes of inner communication, isn’t it? When Snapping reminds us that:

Experience, in our perspective, was not just another name for information. It was the living embodiment of the stuff in human terms, the active form in which people come to know and feel the flood of information they take in and process daily…[so that] each piece adds some small measure to the greater whole of the mind, and each becomes an ongoing part of that individual’s awareness and personality…the human brain physically metabolizes experience through its natural capacity for transformation…Like the other organs of the body, the heart which runs on blood, the lungs which run on air, the human brain–the seat of the mind and main stage of awareness–runs on experience.

See why it became so crucial to reform education so it became about goals and prescribing desired student learning experiences? Like blood to the heart, except that:

this life-giving information does not merely fuel the brain as gasoline fuels a precast auto engine. In human terms, experience plays a much more vital role in fundamental processes of brain growth and development…the intricate synaptic connections between and among those neurons, the living information processing pathways that determine how an individual’s experience will, in fact, become ordered and interpreted, are only minimally organized at birth. The fundamental workings of the mind–the labyrinthine networks of synaptic connections that create the brain’s higher communication capacities–are determined by experience…Experience literally creates the everyday workings of the mind, transforming the raw material of billions of loosely connected brain cells into a living triumph of communication. Experience also shapes the distinctive patterns of thought, feeling and self-expression that underlie that larger human form–personality.

Now look at the Four Domains of Learning set forth here http://education.ohio.gov/About/EachChildOurFuture or in other comparable state or district plans and see a means of prescribing that living triumph of communication in ways that lock in governance of each person at a biological level at the point of their minds and personalities.

Something to reflect on as our summers begin.

Unleashing the Power of Disruptive Imagination in Every Citizen to Avoid Linear Thinking

Educators, think tanks, and other social scientists are not the only ones who can ‘backwards map’ from desired individual and social outcomes to the policies that need to be prescribed by law to put them in place. We writers can also use papers on desired New Forms of Governments by 2030 to lay out the new citizen characteristics needed to supposedly get these transformations. As a recent paper from the EU laid out https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/future-government-2030-citizen-centric-perspective-new-government-models the FuturGov game creates a process (bolding in original):

through which participants immerse themselves into the future, take on roles that are not theirs, and strategize the achieve their goals…[This will] Trigger imagination and creativity [and] Immerse people into possible futures…shaking up people’s preconceived ideas about the future. The aim is to avoid linear thinking in order to be more receptive to emergent changes…New literacies will be needed for the future. Futures literacies are needed to enable citizens to participate in anticipatory decision making recognising the context of uncertainty and complexity and building up individual and societal resilience to work collaboratively to address these…Critical thinking should be nurtured, through the education system and beyond in the workplace and civil society, including understanding digital media [media literacy] but also other aspects of people’s lives. Policy literacy is also very important, both for the present and for the future.

[Prescribing and standardizing values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors is simply part of the] “New practices and innovative strategies needed for governments to be able to tackle the emerging challenges. It is essential that governments nurture the culture of innovation, as well as the openness and responsibility for society.” Student-centered learning then, and a 21st century focus on prescribed outcomes on what is to be internalized at the level of the mind and personality. should be seen as simply a necessary component that are “enablers of new forms of government from 2030+ onwards…[part of] Putting citizens at the centre, not only is an opportunity to rethink government formats, and individual relationships with the state and institutional ways of working.”

Apparently an Axemaker, linear thinking, logical mind with a store of factual information is an impediment to an envisioned “‘hard-wiring’ of equality into the economy.” In this other recent, complementary, vision https://media.nesta.org.uk/documents/Imagination_unleashed-_Democratising_the_knowledge_economy_v6.pdf just quoted:

It is not only ‘economic’ institutions that require transformation. The power of disruptive imagination needs to be unleashed in every citizen. Education systems and participative democracy needs to encourage a spirit of experimentation. Critically, these must be accompanied by the protection of vital stakes, safeguards, and endowments, making it possible for people to remain unafraid in the midst of quickened change.

Somehow I can just hear Sean Connery’s voice from The Hunt for Red October, but instead of the accented “One Ping Only”, we get policy planners and politicians all over the globe with these transformational plans for us insisting students now just need “Essential Content Only” and then attributing that to the presence of AI or search engine and Internet availability. Factual knowledge and a logical mind gets in the way of being ‘unafraid’ as the above quote called for. It gets in the way of the supplied conceptual understandings and prescribed categories of thought designed “to realise this cultural change, [which needs] education that fosters an attitude of lifelong questioning.” Going to the title of the previous post, genuine factual knowledge impedes the willing use of:

alternative pictures of how the future world, in which citizens live and governments operate, might look. Narratives do not claim to be unique truths, they are considered as frames that facilitate making sense of the world, frames that usually combine past and future, fact and fiction. Made of hopes, desires and fears, narratives frame people’s understanding of the past, perception of the present and imagination of the future. We took into account assumptions about the situation in 2030+ that related to the following categories: society, technology, economy, policy/legislation of the state, relationships between citizens and the state, new actors in citizen-government relationships, and role of corporations.

It is a vision that claims to be “citizen centric” and responsive to societal needs and it requires an education system where the obligation “requiring citizens to engage in regular and ongoing local policymaking” has been joined with ‘numeracy’ and ‘literacy’ as “the key pillars of the school system from Year 1 of schooling.” Anyone with actual, unrestricted knowledge of history and political theory would read aspirations of a future where “To avoid a divided state and a broken social contract, democracy work needs more resources and extensive engagement from all citizens. Democracy needs to permeate the entire society” and recognize it for the authoritarian, anti-individual, conception it actually is. Therefore we get Essential Content Only because it allows the necessary “shaping and constraining how governments, citizens, businesses and others interact with one another.”

Factual knowledge gets in the way of the transformative need to “generate conversations about what the future may look like by allowing us to displace our understanding of the present.” Provided concepts that can be used to address perceived problems “produce new ways to explore uncertainty and to have dialogues with stakeholders about complex and dynamics issues.” Making so much K-12 and higher education about the use of computers and virtual reality allows the needed “expressing different ideas and stories of the future through tangible objects allows the public to challenge their imagination; to see the possible future more as a multiplicity of ideas rather than separate space and time as well as to address the present critically.” No wonder we have such an emphasis now that all curricula be Relevant to the lives of students and perceived problems.

Let’s go back to that Nesta vision with its desire to create “an inclusive knowledge economy” that “gives expression to our distinctive human ability to reimagine the world around us” to advance ‘human freedom and realisation’  for everyone. That requires “promoting experimental government,” reforming education, and altering the “stories societies–and politicians–tell.” No wonder I keep encountering False Narratives from think tanks on education, data privacy, and how evidence-based policymaking really works if the crucial lever towards these transformations is to create stories to engage “the power and potential of the individual and collective imagination.” Factual knowledge and a logical mind get in the way of Nesta’s story of a reimagined vision for education where (bolding in original):

We must equip citizens not only to participate in the economy and society but to transform it, through a lifelong education system that promotes cooperation and prioritises the power of imagination…[Required Learner Profiles and Portrait of a Graduate come in handy where] the knowledge economy, therefore calls for education, both in youth and throughout life, that develops character, mindset, and non-cognitive as well as cognitive skills. This style of education crosses the divide between general and technical education. Rather than emphasising job-specific and machine specific skills, it requires a new model focusing on generic, flexible, high-order capabilities…they also form part of a larger challenge: how to equip every student with the tools they need not only to flourish within their societies as they currently exist but to transform them for the better. Teachers and students must have the political, legal, and financial means to deal experimentally with the central tension in education under democracy: preparing people to flourish within present arrangements and assumptions while equipping them to defy those assumptions and arrangements.

That flourishing and defiance requires “Essential Content Only” with prescribed beliefs, values, and categories of thought. It requires active learning so the needed Habits of Mind that will motivate the requisite transformational change in the present are embedded at a neural level in each student’s mind and personality. It creates a Marxist Man as a Maker of History which is not a surprise to anyone familiar with the work of its author, Harvard law prof Roberto Unger, which is why he has a tag here at ISC already.

If we have been led to see Marxism though as about the USSR and the Iron Curtain, and to believe socialism is about state ownership of the means of production, we will never recognize in time the little ‘c,’ Human Development Society vision, embedded in both these linked documents. If we only know what the think tanks tell us about education reforms and how standards, competencies, and social emotional learning work, we will not grasp that the requisite education laid out above to fit this sought transformation to ‘democracy’ is precisely the education being imposed by public and private schools right now.

Factual knowledge and a logical mind are viewed now by  institutions, politicians, think tanks, and civil society operators as impediments to this desired “push forward into the realm of the adjacent possible.” It is the only thing that can liberate us from this clearly planned intention to enslave the mind and person in the name of inclusion for all. flourishing, and meeting our needs.

History as a body of knowledge, and not as this planned march to alter and control the future politically, would reveal this will not go as planned. The question becomes though how many of us will recognize in time where these education visions are actually going.

My thanks though to all the promoters of the deceitful narratives. It made the desired Super Collaborative Government, Scenario #3, easy to see because it was full of all the many things I had noticed, that were factually not true, in various published White Papers.

The Future of Government is apparently all-intrusive according to anyone, of every persuasion, involved officially with formulating public policy. Education reforms are their favorite, largely invisible when misexplained, tool.

Good to know now, huh?

Regard the Past, Perceive the Present, Imagine the Future, and Then Act for Transformation

Ironically, the first part of that title came to me while I was taking a break from research because one of my favorite historical series had published a new novel. Set in Tudor times, the author’s desire to have past events interpreted in a way that altered how the reader would regard similar efforts now was unmistakable. The story had taken on a normative purpose that reminded me of current pushes around the ‘cooperative commonwealth’ or Morality-as-Cooperation. In other words, the author was trying to manipulate adults in much the same way as learning standards and required conceptual progressions intend to manipulate our children, while their brains and personalities are largely still malleable. Both purposes go to creating (or rearranging) what is called the ‘sociological imagination’.

Both fit with what C. Wright Mills called ‘The Social Scientist’s Task’, exemplified by this quote I found when discovering that in 1995 the news media was asked by philanthropic foundations to rethink its role and begin to consciously impact public opinion and policy to advance social change objectives.

Men and women in a mass society are gripped by personal troubles which they are not able to turn into social issues. They do not understand the interplay of these personal troubles with the problems of social structure.The knowledgeable person [College, Career, and Citizenship Ready!] in a genuine public, on the other hand, is able to do just that. He understands that what he thinks and feels to be personal troubles are often also problems shared by others, and more importantly, not capable of solution by any one individual but only by modifications of the structure of the entire society. Men in masses have troubles, but they are not aware of their true meaning and source; men in public confront issues, and they usually come to be aware of their public terms.

Very useful then for anyone desiring transformational social change so we had the media going to Brandeis https://www.frameworksinstitute.org/assets/files/PDF/open_letter_foundation_community.pdf where they “joined public interest advocates and service providers in examining the power that media holds to set the public agenda. By choosing which public problems demand our collective agenda, the media shape the public agenda which, in turn, shapes the policy agenda.” Just as we saw with think tanks  in the last post, and as we can see in higher ed (MIT specifically) recently in this series https://shass.mit.edu/news/news-2019-ethics-computing-and-ai-perspectives-mit , all these institutions regard their 21st century mission to be the “reengagement of American citizens in common ground problem solving.”

That mission requires common goals and shared meanings, which is precisely what competency-based education creates. Adults get the news or as this document from last week http://frameworksinstitute.org/assets/files/unleashingthepowerofhow-anexplanationdeclaration.pdf states:

It is imperative that, as a field, we examine the way we define and use narrative to ensure that it delivers the social change we seek…For a communication to act as a story, some one or some thing must act, or be acted upon, and thereby propelled towards an ultimate result…human interest stories are insufficient to drive change. While the human brain is attracted to tales of episodes in other people’s lives, the civic body is distracted by them. In contemplating close-up portraits of affected individuals, the broader landscape of systems and structures is readily ignored…when considering the plight of an individual, the human mind exaggerates the protagonist’s agency, focuses on individual choices, and blames outcomes on individual frailties rather than broader factors. In this way, human interest stories reinforce dominant paradigms of individualism and dampen attention to policy issues or other collective actions.

Reenforcing my belief that there is a common blueprint across all these institutions that acts as the rudder for the desired change starting at the neural level of each individual, we have MIT literature prof, Mary Fuller, at the link above telling us that Stories now can serve as “Conceptual meeting spaces for thinking together.” She must be able to identify with the need for media, educators, and think tanks to supply explanations, narratives, and stories to build up ‘shared understanding’ and ‘explanatory chains to make implicit assumptions explicit’ to avoid the apparently horrific alternative that the “public might otherwise fill in with their own thinking” as the Frameworks Institute put it above (p.10).

No wonder federal law now insists students must be assessed at least annually to ensure they are using prescribed concepts and categories of thought when presented with unfamiliar situations or problems that have no single, algorithmic answer. As Fuller put it:

Stories allow us to model interpretive, affective, ethical choices; they also become common ground, conceptual meeting places that can serve to gather very different kinds of interlocutors around a common object, We need these. Computer science alone can’t shoulder the task of modeling the future, understanding social and global impacts, and making ethical decisions.

Computer science comes in because those MIT profs are asserting what Uncle Karl would have recognized as his Human Development Society vision in the name of Artificial Intelligence and the new morality and collective action it supposedly compels. As “The Tools of Moral Philosophy” essay makes clear, AI will create problems that, like Climate Change, cannot and should not be “solved by individual action.” No, instead we need:

systemic change [where]…it will be vital to put in place social and institutional structures that support, encourage, and guide ethical behavior. One responsibility that falls on us as individuals is to work toward political conditions in which it is possible for us to live and work more ethically.

Bonus points to everyone that recognizes that those new political conditions require a rejection by both students and enough voting age adults of the status quo. For that it is helpful to have think tanks, the media, and education institutions, from preschool to the Ivies, asserting that education be about values and character, with content that is largely conceptual and designed to create what Wright called a ‘genuine public.’ As that 1995 Strategic Communication for media paper put it when they quoted then Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, all these institutions have now been told that:

the core responsibility of those who deal in policy…is to provide the public with alternative visions of what is desirable and possible, to stimulate deliberation about them, provoke a reexamination of premises and values, and thus broaden the range of potential responses and deepen society’s understanding of itself.

For students, that examination may be occurring in a school or higher ed institution being forthright about its desire to foster a mindset for deep social change and the motivation to act to bring it about. Other parents thinking the have exercised choice in rejecting ‘progressive change’ and John Dewey may seek out religious schools, charters, or Classical Education without an awareness that most also seek transformative change. That really struck home to me when I read the “Safeguarding Our Humanity” essay from a Chemical Engineering prof at MIT who wanted to redirect education so it “would guide our lives in a direction that truly makes us better” by “Redirecting our thinking from an education focused on a particular discipline to an education that liberates our minds and allows us to investigate our true situation with the whole.”

In his view in the age of AI with its (purported) potential to be ‘the greatest existential threat,’ we should completely change our approach to education and “start to think carefully about what is important about human life. This means redirecting our thinking from what is merely advantageous to what is genuinely good, from a blind belief in efficiency to a considered understanding of what is the best in human life.”

Education, the media, think tanks, and philanthropy have united with politicians of both parties to use all the arrows in their quivers to control what determines “what comes to mind” and then what the human mind believes will be the problems and solutions to what it perceives. As one journalist put it with a great deal of arrogance: “we have some obligation to ensure that the citizenry has a clue of what’s going on.” In education we get prescribed what is called Whole Person Learning (WPL) with a similar goal where education is to be transformed so it is “not only a process to know more or better, but as an exercise to be better.” By whatever name, this transformative, outcome-oriented vision wants to be student-centered and personalized to create “an effective stimulation of imagination (to escape from the prison of their current definitions of problems), while inducing a genuine internalization of responsibility (avoiding passing the buck to one or several other stakeholders) and enhancing the obligation of action.”

I will close with a link from a paper cited by Frameworks in its Explanation of How paper to this https://haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/changing-our-narrative-about-narrative which seeks to create what it calls Narrative Power by immersing “people in a sustained series of narrative experiences required to enduringly change hearts, minds, behaviors, and relationships.” That’s what prescribed learning experiences to fit with the CEDS–Common Education Data Standards–also seek to do for students. It fits with the moral compass and social pillars we keep encountering from schools being hyped by school choice advocates.

Think of something like CEDS or its international peer–the ISCED–as creating what Rashad Robinson called narrative infrastructure. It has to be in place at a level like the human mind so the shift is both inevitable and invisible. We keep encountering the same underlying template of internalized affective, cognitive, and conative (what is sought or willed) change because all these institutions, whatever their sales pitch to parents, seek to “change the rules of society–our society’s operating system–and shape society in the image of our values.”

It seems that these shifts are everywhere because we are dealing with goals for transformation that are “just as much about changing the rules of cultural production..as they are about capturing normativity.” That can only happen if the desired changes in values, attitudes, and beliefs are prescribed by law (if you know where to look) and imposed “through social and personal spaces that aren’t explicitly political or focused on issues, but are nonetheless the experiences and venues through which people shape their most heart-held values.”

The March through the Institutions meant ALL institutions and, as Credentialed to Destroy laid out in great detail, the reading and math wars were never actually about how to teach reading or math.

It’s about controlling what comes to mind, heart, and ‘moving feet’ for social change.

 

Mindful Agency & Futuribles Enabled via Dispositional Learning Analytics and New Forms of Testing

I just had to change that title slightly when I realized I had deduced the relevance of the 1967 book The Art of Conjecture before in an April 14, 2016 post, but today it goes to the relevance of targeting a student’s Purpose laid out in the previous post. I believe it also goes to the push now for new forms of assessment that hype role playing and gaming simulations as shown here https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/53071/how-schools-spark-excitement-for-learning-with-role-playing-games . That came out after the mention of Georgia’s shift in the last post. An emphasis on Indeterminate Situations, Productive Struggle, or Wicked Problem Solving as ‘rigorous instruction’ makes sense when we are aware of the Ford Foundation-financed global interest (my bolding):

beyond the domain of the true and false, and this ‘beyond’ constitutes another domain, where I can place images that do not correspond to any historical reality. An image of this kind is not a mere fantasy if I have the will and feel I have the capacity to bring about at some later time a state of affairs that corresponds to the image. The image represents a possibility because of my power to validate it in this way, and represents a project because of my will to do so.

Testing about facts, or with right and wrong, algorithmic answers, does not get to this desired “domain in which one can act” in an imagined different world. Purpose matters so much because it goes to that will or motivation to act in a given context.  One more quote from the Futuribles because it fits my assertion that the idea now of assessments as a learning journey from Purpose to Performance or Product is consistent with what that above quote called an italicized project. Futuribles was all about a declared goal to “instigate or stimulate efforts of social and especially political forecasting” and these new forms of testing and use of Dispositional Learning Analytics get at the “inside-out basis” for the desired changes. Education is a ‘social science’ as is psychology and Futuribles insisted that the “social sciences should orient themselves toward the future.” Nothing like role-playing games then to practice a vision:

For man in his role as an active agent the future is a field of liberty and power, but for man as a cognizant being the future is a field of uncertainty. It is a field of liberty because I am free to conceive that something which does not now exist will exist in the future; it is a field of power because I have some power to validate my conception…

Now let’s leave those quotes from the past on the desired transformation in the basis of education and the social sciences and pivot to this recent post https://www.gettingsmart.com/2019/02/preparing-all-learners-for-an-uncertain-future-of-work/ that gives a different rationale but the same aim. We have encountered the formalized False Narrative about an SEL focus as about a database of PII on each student, but let’s quote the Institute for the Future’s employee who authored that piece. She is the source of the “inside-out basis” quote used above.

Putting social-emotional skill development at the center of learning promises to help individuals develop the foundation necessary to navigate uncertainty throughout their lives. The new foundation for readiness shown below illustrates how redefining readiness from the inside out–focusing on human development rather than attempting to prepare learners for any particular future of work–can provide a platform for future success. This new foundation for readiness is grounded in the human qualities that are most central to our relationships with one another and which are most difficult to code.

When I debunked the Database of PII narrative about SEL, many of its advocates moved along to hype ‘Workforce Readiness’ as the purpose of the Common Core and Competency learning standards. That alternative purpose though, as the Getting Smart graphic makes clear, is also a False Narrative. The aim is ‘inside-out’ alteration of the student at the level of their personality and Identity, using Purpose and Project-Based Learning as a main means. The shown common core of each student is Individual Awareness (Emotional Regulation), Social Awareness (Empathy and Perspective-Taking), and Self-Discovery (Deep Self-Knowledge).

That same core gets targeted by the Dispositional Learning Analytics (DLA) work being built into these gaming platforms being used for formative assessment and misportrayed as testing. That readiness foundation gets created at a neural level as described in a 2015 paper by the author of that Chapter 25 covered in the last post.  The paper is called “Developing Resilient Agency in Learning: The Internal Structure of Learning Power.” It states that it is concerned with “the establishment of dispositions, attitudes and values associated with being an effective learner,” but it is the same changed vision of Knowledge and Learning we encountered back in 2014 here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/identifying-education-globally-as-the-crucial-lever-for-nonconsensual-behavior-and-societal-change/ Being an ‘effective learner’ then simply translates to a willingness to alter “dispositions, attitudes, and values”, along with ultimately behavior.

See if this quote reminds you of the Futuribles one from decades ago as well as the New Readiness Foundations from last week:

the concern with learning power was to develop a range of competencies crucial for success in the complex, information-rich and radically uncertain world of the emerging twenty-first century. These competencies are now to the forefront- forming the outcomes focus for institutions and organizations the world over…assessment data included aspects of a person’s learning that were both ‘internal’ and ‘social’–influenced by a person’s sense of ‘self’ in a sociocultural and historical context. Feedback was in the form of an immediate visual image of an individual’s learning ‘profile’ as a spider diagram. This provided a framework for a coaching conversation which moved between the coachee’s [aka the student or child] identity as a learner and his or her learning experiences and purposes. The ELLI instrument [acronym for Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory] was designed to identify and strengthen an individual’s learning dispositions, attitudes and values and provide a starting point for self-directed learning and teacher-facilitated pedagogical change.

Any of those sought changes of a student’s internalized core at the level of his mind, personality, and motivations is Learning. We also hear the same aim euphemized as Student Growth, Mastery, Success, or Achievement. The student’s mind and personality, depicted via a Spider Diagram profile to show the changes created by curricula and learning experience,s gets treated as a “complex systems architecture…that sets out the key parts of a system, what they do and how they fit and work together.” A student’s Identity and Purpose get mapped and targeted for change [Learning] because:

effective learning requires the identification of personal desire or purpose, in response to first identifying a need or a problem that requires a solution of some sort. Learning that begins from this point in lived, concrete experience is ‘bottom up’ and usually both interdisciplinary and interdomain–in other words it transgresses traditional subject boundaries. Articulating a purpose in learning requires that I or we know something about ourselves, our story and what is of value to us, and it is thus associated with identity as well as a particular time and place.

The authors go on to point out that 21 C learning outcomes require “learners who can persist in learning, responding effectively to open-ended and complex problem spaces.” Any parent who has ever wondered why math became about ‘productive struggle’ in Indeterminate Situations instead of taught algorithms can take that quote to the bank for enlightenment. It’s not about teaching math any longer. It’s using activities in a class labelled as math to develop  Mindful Agency from the ‘inside-out’ in the student. What goals to set and how to go about achieving those goals or purpose is called meta-cognition. The needed metacognition to act on the future in the present using Mindful Agency are “products of nonanalytic, nonconscious inferential processes particularly when there are conditions that do not allow full analysis of the situation such as under conditions of uncertainty.”

It’s now pretty clear that it will take a Trilogy to finish this discussion so let me finish with these online platforms providing trace data that allow formative assessment, usually mislabeled as ‘testing’ for public relations purposes, to get at and profile a student’s internalized “tripartite structure for mindful agency, which is about the self as agent of his or her own learning, able to take responsibility for the process, as well as managing feelings in learning (such as feeling confused) and being able to judge how long something may take and how to go about it (meta-cognitive strategy). This serves to integrate three distinct strands in the research literature: metacognition, the role of affect in self-regulation (emotional intelligence) and self-efficacy of agency.”

We are back in the sought domain of Futuribles so let me close with a quote from it on the role of purpose, planning, imagining, and training to act in uncertainty on the basis of:

fabrications of the mind…that do not represent any reality past or present…these fictions are of major importance in our life. Although we discard the vast majority as fantasies, we value a small number of them, and these can serve as the cause of future realities. There is no volition without object, and the object of a volition is that a fiction of the mind become a ‘fact’. This fact is the goal of the action…When we retain a fiction as something to be enacted, it serves as the source of systematic action. This fiction–a non-fact–can be situated only in the future, which is necessary as a receptacle for a fiction accompanied by an injunction to become real.

Learning standards grounded in performances, projects, and activities are creating the needed internalized cores for future action. Whether called ‘bottom up’ describing Mindful Agency, or ‘inside-out’ in the new Foundations for Readiness, we are dealing with the same, poorly understood basis for transformation in the student.

All as needed to guide future action is reliable, predictable ways. Which that 2014 post established as the new 21st Century definition of Knowledge.

 

 

 

 

Another Gear Change: Perceiving the Patterns Underlying the Human Learning Process

Over the weekend, I was reviewing my notes and trying to figure out how to explain the common transformative aims of what has arrived in my inbox  since the beginning of 2019. A quote Kenneth Boulding made in the mid-70s in his book Ecodynamics: A New Theory of Societal Evolution jumped out at me. He wanted to target the “evaluative processes of human judgment, which are the foundations of decision-making,” just like UNESCO announced in May 2018 was to be their goal for K-12 education. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/facing-the-fold-to-overcome-the-prisons-of-our-minds-and-thus-transform-the-future/ laid out how to change images of the future and anticipatory assumptions and fits with what Boulding hoped for decades before.

“reasoning about the self and about society is likely to accelerate the patterns of evolutionary development, but we can be sure that reason as we know it today is not final…In the future we may be able to perceive patterns and handle models of complexity far beyond our present capability. Should this enable us to perceive the patterns underlying the human learning process itself, this might indeed constitute another gear change in the long process of evolution with a further acceleration of the evolutionary pattern through time…all decisions are about the future and all our experience and records are of the past. It is only as we see patterns in this past record that we have any hope of making projections of the future and of making decisions that will change the future in ways we desire. To change the future, after all, is the object of any decision.”

Now what if a planner with desires for fundamental transformations could control what “patterns are seen in this past record” by making learning conceptual, instead of factual? Couldn’t that planner and any learning standards created to internalize the desired pattern perception actually control people’s desired images of the future? That’s the plan anyway as an October 1991 article called “Ten Ways to Integrate Curriculum” made clear. It talked about using Concepts, Topics, and Categories so that eventually “The disciplines become part of the learner’s lens of expertise; the learner filters all content through this lens and becomes immersed in his or her experiences.” Some autonomy, huh? See why it mattered in the last post if the explicit instruction is to impart conceptual lenses, instead of imparting facts? Who will then recognize if the concepts are inapt and the provided example is false?

Before we talk about the social and emotional learning emphasis of this contrived web of perception and interpretation as laid out in http://nationathope.org/report-from-the-nation/ that came out in January from the Aspen NCSEAD we have covered repeatedly, I want to pull up a January 1998 speech Martin Seligman (of IPEN and Positive Neuroscience among others) gave upon assuming the Presidency of the APA. Several of the people mentioned in the speech titled “Building human strength: psychology’s forgotten mission” are also involved with that Nation of Hope report and its supporting documents. https://nonopp.com/ar/Psicologia/00/pres.htm wants to “create a science of human strength…focused on systematically promoting the competence of individuals.” That science’s goal and the new role of education will be to “foster these virtues in young people” as likely buffers against mental illness: courage, optimism, interpersonal skill, work ethic, hope, honesty and perseverance.

One of the supporting papers from that Nation at Hope vision can be found here https://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2018/rwjf450542 from December 2018 and it is also tied to both that 1998 APA speech as well as the Nation at Hope NCSEAD vision. Its cover gives a nice concise definition of social and emotional learning (SEL) that fits with Boulding’s, Seligman’s, and now the NCSEAD plans for evolutionary education to a new kind of mind and decision-making processes.

SEL is defined as the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

To change the future, after all, is the object of any decision is what Boulding wrote decades ago and suddenly that hoped for gear is the focus of so much interest and plans. A Nation at Hope states that “children require a broad array of skills, attitudes, and values.They require skills such as paying attention, setting goals, collaboration, and planning for the future. They require attitudes such as internal motivation, perseverance, and a sense of purpose. They require values such as responsibility, honesty, and integrity. They require the abilities to think critically, consider different views, and problem solve.” It goes on to talk about “helping children learn these traits and skills” using the usual contrived arguments so lets go back to Boulding’s far more forthcoming explanation:

“It may well be that biological evolution is approaching its end and that it will be succeeded by an evolutionary process wholly dominated by noogenetic processes directed by human values.”

Noogenetic may sound like a mouthful, but the prescribed concepts, categories, and topics, learning standards, competency-emphasis, SEL hype, are all examples of how experiences alter in foreseeable ways the genetic, biological material we were all born with. Think of all these books, plans, reports, and speeches as simply declarations of “Boy, do we have plans for you using the Holy Grail of education” to mask the hoped-for transformation. Remember how I called attention to the focus on values, attitudes, and beliefs in my book Credentialed to Destroy and then the False Narrative hijacked that insight to mean a database of PII on each student? A Nation at Hope explains that targeting like this: “No one involved in education can view the values and beliefs held by students as trivial or secondary. They are the very things that can grip the imagination and determine the direction of a life.”

Values, attitudes, and beliefs, in other words, act as the rudder of personal decision-making and being able to prescribe them and manipulate them is a crucial aspect of steering a society as a collective without effective opposition. Internalized at the level of ideas, images, and emotions is quite hard to see unless, like me, you keep stumbling across those very plans for internalized subordination and unknowing submission. The False Narratives themselves make far more sense when we read of the NCSEAD plans of Convergence using the SEL focus because “it brings together a traditionally conservative emphasis on local control and on the character of all students, and a historically progressive emphasis on the creative and challenging art of teaching and the social and emotional needs of all students, especially those who have experienced the greatest challenges.”

Right on cue, we had an essay by a Maryland State Education Board member and ed consultant Andy Smarick, with ties to a number of supposedly conservative or libertarian think tanks https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2019/01/48003/ pushing for a vision he called Capacitating Conservatism which would see “policy as a tool for re-empowering individuals and their mediating institutions so that they can re-instill beliefs and practices that have atrophied.” If what is to be instilled has to live behind deceit about the true ed reform agenda and how learning standards really work, it’s not actually Conservative. That’s simply a label to gain implementation and support without opposition.

Human Flourishing as a goal does not come from deceitful, False Narratives of the kind we keep encountering. Yet if the Civil Society emphasis of that article’s author fits with A Nation at Hope‘s rhetoric about “effective education involves values, healthy attitudes, social skills, and a commitment to the betterment of the community,” we have a Convergence by think tanks around a common vision for education that is not being shared as they fundraise. If a Classical School’s Pillars of Excellence or a charter school network’s Due North Moral Compass also illustrate what A Nation at Hope envisions as  “working to transform schools into places that foster empathy, respect, self-mastery, character, creativity, collaboration, civic engagement and–on the strength of these values-academic excellence. They are encouraging communities to embrace the ambition, compassion, and rigor of social, emotional, and academic education,” assertions begin to make more sense.

Every one involved with these visions and the supposed alternatives appears to actually be going to the same place. They are on the same page to use a different metaphor. We are not supposed to grasp that though. Think about what Boulding said would be possible once Human Learning knowledge reached a certain point and then read this quote with the Header: “Think About the Skills that Help You Learn and Grow as an Adult Every Day.”

The ones that help you think, relate, and act responsibly. What if we could help our children develop that same set of skills in school? We know more than ever about what it takes for optimal learning; now is the time to put that knowledge into practice for all children everywhere.

Is the focus on Equity then, really about Fairness and Justice for All? Or is it a slogan that lets How We Think become a basis for prescription, monitoring, and adjustment for purposes of political change? The latter can be called ‘public policy’ as a euphemism and pitched instead as the “lessons, beliefs, and norms that make a free society succeed.” After all, how many students and adults grounded in supplied concepts, categories, and topics, coupled to contrived learning experiences to instill the desired Attributes, will recognize factually what free societies really had in common historically?

If we do, in fact, have an unacknowledged Convergence now globally around education the following quote makes more sense as it talks about the shared vision.

In Every Collective Human Endeavor There Comes a Moment–a moment when we know so much more about what we ought to do. A moment when multiple voices and perspectives coalesce around a shared vision. A moment when, together, we can make the possible real. In education, that moment is now.

I think the moment is now too, which is why it is so important to decipher the actual shared vision that is intended to transform us and our children. Professors Boulding and Seligman were honest about their intentions of transformation using education. The purposes of an Integrated Curriculum and an SEL focus are also crystal clear.

If a Clarion Call is sounding, we darn well better understand accurately what we are being called to do, be, and become.