Constructing an Alternative Vision of Either the Natural or Human World As the Basis for a College Degree

Somehow the Beatles song “Say You Want a Revolution” just popped into my head as I was typing that title and preparing to give you the full quote from “The Degree Qualifications Profile” published by the Lumina Foundation in January 2011.  http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/The_Degree_Qualifications_Profile.pdf is the link if you want to give this egregiously bad idea a good look. The quote I am about to give you is on page 13 under “Intellectual Skills, Engaging diverse perspectives, bachelor’s level”:

” Constructs a cultural, political, or technological alternative vision of either the natural or human world, embodied in a written project, language, political order, or technological context, and explains how the alternative perspective contributes to results that depart from current norms, dominant cultural assumptions, or technologies–all demonstrated through a project, paper, or performance.”

Perhaps performing a Dance of Despair of what will happen if fossil fuels remain in use and we remain a consumer-oriented society that values economic freedom. Art students could show the lovely Green World that would exist if we returned to an agricultural economy that used windmills and water wheels for power. Oh, that’s right, no artificial damming. Make that just windmills and solar cells and lots of back breaking labor as we return to washing our clothes in streams and drying them on rocks.

I wish I could say I am being facetious but that is close to the vision in these books and speeches (they do leave out the details about laundry but I remember those Little House books well) that underlie this supposedly new economy for the 21st Century that needs a new way of thinking. One that is not very keen on thinking as it has been traditionally understood in the West from the Enlightenment on.

In fact to read Peter Senge and the systems thinkers he represents who aspire to shape K-12 via Common Core or the Lumina DQP I am talking about today or Deep Ecologists like David Orr and Thomas Berry from this post   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-need-a-radical-change-in-our-mode-of-consciousness-even-a-new-sense-of-being-human/ is to constantly be assaulted with an insistence that the 21st Century must embrace radical new minds, mainstream Eastern spiritual practices in everyday life starting in K-12, develop a communitarian economic system that would destroy prosperity, constantly teach and monitor whether students, K-12 and college, are regularly demonstrating that they put others and the common good before their interests, etc.

I have written about the consequences of these initiatives before but the Lumina DQP really is an assault on how little of the past any student is to be allowed to know. And if you think the colleges and universities can escape this noxious mandate, the accreditors got on board almost immediately to “test” Lumina’s framework.  And the accreditors control who gets to participate in the federal student loan program. That’s a lot of leverage for the entities behind the 8 Year Study and developing “objectives” and “outcomes” and alternative assessments to distract the typical taxpayer or parent paying the bill that the focus of first K-12 and now college is shifting away from the transmission of knowledge.

Truly if someone in the Soviet KGB had hatched a scheme during the Cold War and afterwards on how to take down the US specifically and the West generally via its noetic system it would be hard to top the very policies and practices the accreditation agencies have imposed. Whatever their actual intentions or rationales accreditation has been and continues to be a highly effective and lucrative means of national and international cultural destruction.

Finishing up Peter Senge’s 2005 book Presence and its description of an integrated science I found horrifying but that I also recognized from recent carpool comments as I drove, it hit me how much Senge’s systems thinking reminded me of Marx’s famous quote:

“It is not thinking that determines being, but being that determines thinking.”

I think that is just as wrong as can be and I imagine you do too. After all we are essentially having a mental conversation through this blog to discuss some very troubling and potentially tragic ideas. My thoughts and all those private conversations I have had with amazing minds, some long dead, are a large part of the adult I have become. And that’s precisely the problem. That’s not a factual quote or something Marx and Engels and their admirers believe to be true so much as something they want to be true. It is aspirational.

Add in the reality of the K-12 monopoly and who may teach and what and how.  And now all of higher ed, public and private, is subject through the accreditation agencies and their powers to penalize noncompliance via the student loan program. Greedy schemers or political idealogues or just naive ignoramuses making a living as Professors or Principals or Supers and pushing whatever is required are now in a position to realize that Marxian aspiration from so long ago.

To make sure that nothing in education, K-12 or higher ed, public or private, occurs that bolsters the independent, abstract thinking capacity of the individual that would disprove that doctrinal statement. To try to undo the belief system and any Axemaker Mind attributes that came in from home or via religious practices. Instead, if you look at the math wars and reading wars and values clarification and SEL and implementing Dewey’s vision and systems thinking and 21st Century Learning, it is all about the Being side of Marx’s political aspiration.

In fact that is also one of UNESCO’s primary visions for education and Education for All–Learning to Be. Coincidence? I rather doubt it given what historians who have tracked UNESCO practices and preferences have written about which side they empathized with in the Cold War. Do you think celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s birth is a good reason for an official celebration?

Back to the DQP now that we have put all of these previous posts in a firmer context of where this is all going and why it matters so much. To each of us. Anywhere. It is clear that the DQP builds on the “standards for teaching and learning” ruse version of the Common Core we described here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/ . Every description either mentions “learning” or “outcomes” as the goal. The DQP even says explicitly that (their italics, not mine):

“beyond what graduates know, what they can do with what they know is the ultimate benchmark of learning. They emphasize a commitment to analytic inquiry, active learning, real-world problem solving, and innovation–all of which are vital in today’s evolving workplace and in society.”

It’s that 2nd sentence that is the real killer because that assumed evolution is based on a rejection of capitalism and free markets and individuality and fossil fuels and personal liberty. That’s the Ecosystem redesigned and planned economy with the tech companies gathering data and running models so that government agencies can tell citizens what behaviors are deemed  Sustainable and permitted or unSustainable and forbidden. Every bit of college coursework envisioned by that DQP pertains to physical activity and experiences and projects examining and solving “a contemporary or recurring challenge or problem.” The student even “justifies the importance of the challenge in a social or global context.” No refusing to get on board with the need for a Transformation with a capital “T.”

It is hard to imagine the Soviet or Chinese thought police or the administrators of Moscow or Beijing Universities in the 1970s having more interest in limiting what their citizens were allowed to know or do than what the “standards for teaching and learning” prescribe for Common Core in K-12 or the DQP pushes in higher ed.  And then we have initiatives like AACU’s “Character Traits Associated with the Five Dimensions of Personal and Social Responsibility.” When did personality attributes become a matter for the federal government to intervene on? Or state or local?

Can someone please tell me where freedom is hiding in this vision of education? In the fact that there are no gulags yet?

Trust me, between systems thinking, SEL, and deep learning the mind will become its own permanent prison. And then what? What happens when you have expectations of a future without the knowledge or skills to back it up? What happens when the schemers finally begin to recognize central planning fails for reasons other than inadequate computing power or insufficient personal data?

See Mom. Told you I would make good use of that history major. No wonder it is being officially disallowed.