When Deep Learning and Systems Thinking Radicalizes the Student, Factual Reality Ceases to Matter

To the student, that is. The problem for society is that factual realities like incentives and consequences and what makes an economy grow and what will make it contract or even implode are still out there. Like gravity, reality and economics and the likely result of giving government officials unrestrained power to make decisions for others will have their way regardless of intentions. Or whether anyone understands them or even believes in them. I wish more educators and politicians and charitable foundation employees involved in all these machinations would remember the wise words with which the eminent economist Ludwig Von Mises closed his epic book Human Action in the wake of the carnage of the Second World War.

Von Mises was writing about the regularity of “phenomena with regard to the interconnectedness of means and ends” in human activities. That’s what he regarded as economic knowledge. You and I would call it the wisdom that helps one successfully navigate daily life.

“The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused. But if they fail to take the best advantage of it and disregard its teachings and warnings, they will not annul economics; they will stamp out society and the human race.

I am not quoting Von Mises to scare anyone. Well, I guess that is not really true. Think of it as an Impetus Bout of Deliberate Fright. It is time for those of us who are knowledgable about history and economics to speak up and tell those who are not, notably many Principals, Supers, accreditors, professors of sociology or education, and way too many politicians and public and private bureaucrats, that there are unacceptable costs for everyone associated with their planned education policies. Pushing Transformational Outcomes Based Education and its close cousin Systems Thinking and SEL through the schools and classrooms will not be a victimless, lucrative for insiders, Success For All scheme. It will make victims of all of us and the Educrats seem to be the least knowledgable on the likely consequences of their actions and inactions. That means-end correspondence Von Mises was referring to.

Virtually all of the actual curriculum for Common Core I have seen makes Sustainability the focus of classroom activities. And not in the sense of conservation of natural resources and please do not litter. As a connected Swede, Carl Lindberg, put it, the whole point of the UN inspired international Education for Sustainable Development is to “create a feeling of global responsibility” in each individual. Needless to say, teaching young children and adolescents that they are merely parts of a broader community that ultimately encompasses the whole planet via systems thinking is a useful tool to create just such a useful feeling. To cultivate that Senge-Scharmer Blind Spot we discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/second-order-change-why-reform-is-a-misnomer-for-the-real-common-core/ so that each student’s perceptions and future behaviors can be manipulated.

To that manipulation toolbox the educators intend to use to gain Transformative political and social change without our consent, we need to add what the Hewlett Foundation calls Deep Learning Strategies.  Deeper Learning is part of the Foundation’s 2010 plan to “equalize education for all students.” This will of course involve a levelling process for the intellectually gifted and involves a high level of ignorance for all but at least it is equitable. And the politicians and bureaucrats will not have to worry about Axemaker Minds pointing out the likely consequences thereby impeding the implementation of theories and planning. And those established businesses need not be as concerned about an Axemaker Mind creating market-disrupting new technology. Of course we will be in the situation of tragic concern Von Mises worried about when too many will remain too ignorant to even have the opportunity to disregard needed knowledge from the past.

This is what Hewlett defines as deeper learning (they really love to bold it too. I suppose to show their enthusiastic embrace).  Remember this is all anyone is to get to know and this dovetails perfectly with the well-connected 21st Century Skills push. Almost verbatim. And before you get too excited about the mention of Core Academic Content, let me give you the examples they use:

“Learn about water, oxygen and nitrogen cycles, food webs, and similar topics.”

So the academic content relates to thinking of the world around you as full of systems. The academic content then either relates to Sustainability issues or other “real world challenges” the students will be asked to try to solve. Using their nonexistent base of conceptual knowledge and search engine skills. Hence the push for Relevance as part of the new 3 R’s of the Common Core implementation.

I have already given you the example of core academic content as one of the five key elements and Hewlett’s example. They mention “mastering core academic content” too. Since this comes up all the time with Common Core, I need to point out that “mastering” does not mean knowing. It means applying. No need to stock that conceptual mental hotel with facts. Mastering thus frequently contemplates classwork with the relevant facts presupplied. No need to worry though about bias or propaganda being part of the given facts. It’s not like there is a political purpose associated with the Common Core.

I will tell you the remaining four keys along with Hewlett’s specific examples. I also want to point out that the Hewlett Foundation believes that the purpose of academic content under Common Core is to “understand ecosystems.” Except the deep, emotional understanding being sought for each student is more Paul Ehrlich Newmindedness than Von Mises based in reality. Apparently though that emotional, connected to a New Vision for Future Society element makes for “better retention of content knowledge.” What’s better–Deeply remembered nonsense or slightly forgotten accuracies? I am afraid we are about to find out if we do not act soon.

Here goes:

Think critically and solve complex problems. Examples: Re-create a natural ecosystem in a terrarium. Collect data to understand the interdependence of physical and biological elements.

Work collaboratively. Example: Work in a team to design, build, and monitor the terrarium.

Communicate effectively. Example: Present data and conclusions in writing and to an audience.

Lastly, Learn how to learn independently. Example: Use teacher feedback, test results, and reflection to guide future learning and improve study habits.

Sounds perfectly dismal to me but I can see how this would add up to preventing more Axemaker Minds from developing. And Hewlett matters. They were one of the petitioners behind the socio-cultural learning theory push the Obama Administration officially adopted that we talked about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/

And Hewlett’s vision for how to educate low income and minority students so they are essentially primed for the hoped-for Insurrection is embodied in how they and other educators define “Excellence and Equity.” That will be the next post.

You are not going to like it but it is what is showing up in the suburbs as the New 3 R’s. It also explains the community organizing push we chronicled here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/keep-urban-schools-weak-to-force-economic-and-social-justice-then-make-the-suburbs-close-the-gap/

It all fits so well it makes you wonder if there is not an active coordination around a common purpose.