Not just once as an aside but multiple times. Loud and clear. No ambiguity. Well, at least not if you read the actual Bela Banathy book Systems Design of Education: A Journey to Create the Future that I mentioned in the last post. Still not convinced since that Educational Leadership article said 1992. Well, but school districts are redistributing that 1992 article right now to illustrate what they mean when they say they want to use systems thinking in the classroom as part of the implementation of CCSSI. Want more current proof? How about how well Professor Charles Reigeluth’s Handbook Chapter on “Systems Design for Change in Education and Training” fits with that Fulton County Georgia district charter that Ed Week heralded as a national template when it went live on July 1, 2012?
Did you know Professor Reigeluth also teaches a course called “Systemic Change in Education and Training” that used both Banathy’s book and Peter Senge’s books so that credentialed educators can be prepared to redesign education and the American economy around systems thinking and design competence just as Banathy envisioned? No wonder the Model Standards for the Educational Leadership degrees mention that it is grounded in Human Development Theory. Which is precisely what Banathy describes as taking the place of the content instructional view of education. So the principal or super or other administrator with a recent (last ten years or so) Educational Leadership degree, especially a doctorate, got a heavy dose of Banathy’s vision for using a radically revised vision of education to be “a key agent in the transformation of the society.” When they weren’t being bombarded with Paulo Freire social justice or John Dewey’s Reconstruction vision.
So many of the administrators living off of your property taxes and state and federal taxes have been led to believe that we are in a Post-Industrial Information Society where there is a tremendous gap between the types of minds society will need in the future and what schools and colleges have typically produced. Social institutions that no one ever designed in the first place but which evolved are going to be trashed in favor of a new type of education and a planned economy developed around systems thinking and Sustainability. What could go wrong? I guess ignorance really comes in handy with these advanced education degrees because a knowledge of history would reveal that this scheme has catastrophe written all over it. Let’s disregard the lessons of the past indeed.
Let’s look at specifically at what Banathy laid out since as we now know it was the basis for what was being field tested in Colorado in the 1990s and it is coming to school districts right now under district charters, training by Senge or the Waters Foundation, or just the nature of the education degree work of the administrators in charge or your district. A promise to fulfill this vision and other political transformation visions for education may well be the entire basis for being able to use the title “Doctor.”
Banathy says that a key core idea and value in creating new images of education is the idea that:
“we should undertake to design our societies and their environments so that people of the future will be able to design their lives in ways that express their own humanity.”
Now I am a bit tempted at this point to start humming the song “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” I learned at summer camp and then give a lecture on what happens when you try such a gutting and redesign in order to centrally plan an economy and a society. Here’s the problem with just rejecting Banathy and then showing up at a school board meeting to lecture the Super on precisely the kind of social engineering hubris that killed 100 million people in the 20th Century. This vision is not just confined to Ed World. It’s the guiding vision behind the Future Earth Alliance and the Belmont Challenge we have talked about. It is the mission of that USGCRP 2012-2021 report we have also talked about. It is embodied in the Ecosystem representing both the economy and the environment which has been the purpose of numerous conferences and workshops and reports over the last several years. I monitor the National Academy of Sciences releases weekly for just this very reason.
The US federal government really does envision that the tech companies can organize the American economy around Sustainability with supercomputers and sufficient personal data on citizens. So Banathy’s vision may seem farfetched to those of us paying the bills and trying to survive in the nonpolitical private sector but lots of tax money is being spent right now in pursuit of this very vision. If it cannot work, now is a really good time to be talking about it. We are not over the falls yet but I hear them and can see that sudden precipitous gap in the nearby horizon. In fact truth be told, I think too many school districts have already gone over. I believe that was the essence of what led to the Atlanta cheating scandal. And we already have too many teens and twenty-somethings with credentials and expectations and manipulated values but no real marketable knowledge or skills from previous, non-national pushes of this vision. Graduates who have just their time and perhaps a willingness to show up regularly to offer an employer. Teamwork preferred.
Here are the Nine Dimensions Banathy proposed to “constitute an internally consistent and integrated guiding image for human and social development.” You know the image for education that is replacing the to-be-rejected idea that the “key function of education is the transmission of the knowledge of the past.” Talk about doomed to repeat it. Here goes verbatim in order to get to a “new image for humankind.” No, I don’t think Banathy studied hubris in the Greek tragedies of Sophocles. (His caps and it is pages 45-46 if you have a copy. My snark added)
“a SOCIAL ACTION dimension, implemented by social justice, and an increase in cooperation and integration of our social systems (this cooperation is really popular with existing Big Business and colleges and universities. Its historic name since I have a knowledge of past is Dirigisme or Corporatism);
an ECONOMIC DIMENSION with a focus on economic justice and integrated and indigenous development (so everyone will have roughly the same wealth and income unless you are politically connected and we will move away from an industrialized society);
a MORAL dimension of strengthening self-realization, social, and ecological ethics (why there was a CASEL report on these very Competencies published last week);
a WELLNESS dimension that nurtures the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the individual and the society (apparently there are no church/state concerns when the practices push Eastern forms of spirituality like Buddhism);
an EDUCATIONAL dimension of nurturing the full development of individuals and social groups (I have a Soviet document from the 70s with almost the same language except it uses the term “Full Personality”);
a SCIENTIFIC dimension mobilized for promoting human and social betterment (behavioral and social sciences are to be the dominant sciences in the 21st century to better control technology);
a TECHNOLOGICAL dimension of placing technology under the guidance of socio-cultural intelligence and human wisdom, and harvesting its potential for the nonviolent resolution of conflicts, and the improvement of the quality of life for all (see above snark. The Middle East at the moment illustrates this will not work and the very aspiration increases our risk);
an AESTHETIC dimension in pursuit of beauty, in cultural values, in the arts and humanities, and the enrichment of the quality of our inner lives (because in this post GDP/non-economic growth planned world inner qualities will have to replace desired consumer goods);
a POLITICAL DIMENSION of self-determination, governance for peace development, global cooperation and integration, and for the improvement of human conditions. ( I think the pictures outside American embassies in the last 2 weeks illustrate this hope will likely have tragic consequences if the US follows this position).
So the current vision for education being actually imposed under the pretense of the Common Core is ultimately about those Nine Dimensions. Can we please put on the Broadway tune ” The Impossible Dream” and start moving American and global education back away from the abyss this vision actually represents? Because rejecting knowledge from the past has DOOM written all over it.