Silently and Seismically Shifting Sovereignty Away from the Individual

Unconstitutional earthquakes no one would willingly submit to can be hard to prove. Words like governance or mandatory collective decision-making or public goods get thrown about where the implication of a seismic shift is there, but that is rarely good enough to lay out convincingly on a blog that we are at great, demonstrable risk. If all of the actual Common Core implementation, and the digital learning essential component that runs in tandem with it, are actually designed to “give birth to the new systems and structures through which ordinary people are taking responsibility for their own and their community’s futures,” we have every right to have that included in the upfront public explanation of what is really going on. Especially in a world where Human Rights are now quietly touted as involving Economic Justice based on Racial Equity Outcomes.

That makes who has authority to seize, plan, and redirect people and property of vital importance going forward. As we discussed in the last post, crucial to these shifts is a new theory being pushed by the White House and charitable foundations called Deliberative Democracy. Like Sherlock Holmes fixating on a dog that did not bark, the lawyer and historian in me could just smell the fundamental shift in quotes like this one from the 2005 Deliberate Democracy Handbook (my bolding):

“By stipulating fair procedures of public reasoning that are, in principle, open to everyone, the outcomes of a deliberative procedure will be seen as legitimate because they are the result of a process that is inclusive, voluntary, reasoned, and equal…Deliberative democracy takes seriously the idea that the exercise of collective political authority must be capable of being justified to all those who will be bound by it. To fail to accept this idea is to fail to take the freedom and equality of persons equally.”

Do tell. So like Fulton County’s Conversion School District Charter, the idea is to use contractual language or laws or regulations to invisibly and nonconsensually bind anyone who might complain or resist once they become aware of this seismic shift in where sovereignty over the citizen and student lies in the 21st century. This turns out to be a global pursuit, but the US has a federal Constitution intended to prevent just this sort of public sector power grab. That would explain the desire to bring this in invisibly via education and regional governance compacts and mission statements and vision reports about metro areas.

In case anyone believes that I have an overactive imagination or am reading intentions into perfectly innocent and well-intentioned statements cooperation, here are three links to get your attention that this is a real problem that we were never to recognize in time. The first is The Deliberate Democracy in the Classroom Toolkit created to be compliant with the Common Core classroom and a new vision for what citizenship involves in 21st century America, including new kinds of dispositions. http://cdd.stanford.edu/toolkit/cdd-complete-toolkit.pdf The Toolkit has an interesting view of the relevant facts and obligations and once again PBS has prepared a curriculum called By the People, much as it did for that related transformational curriculum for the Common Core involving Facing History and Ourselves we covered in our recent Human Rights Trilogy.

Now just think about how handy that Toolkit and mandates about a Discourse Classroom involving considering respectfully the perspectives of all others as equally valid and schools Fostering Communities of Learners who come to agreement on a shared understanding will be to this goal:

“[learning democracy] centers share a common goal of lifting the voices and mobilizing the creative energies of diverse community members to improve the quality of life across all sectors and in all its dimensions.”

To those of you who have read the book John Dewey’s concept of ‘participatory democracy’ as the means to force economic justice is indeed alive and well and so is his favorite tool of forcing the seismic shift nonconsensually through the schools. The second point also aligns with the book’s disclosures and what the 1966 Yearbook described as intended for metro regions and urban areas and then what Turchenko described in 1976 in that Soviet report that was so quickly translated into English. Bruce Katz, who we first met here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/protected-producers-vs-paying-consumerstaxpayerswho-will-prevail-on-education-and-the-economy/ wrote a 2013 book called The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.

The book was published under the “auspices of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation.” That matters because the Rockefeller charities are clearly pushing the Deliberative Democracy concept hard according to searches I did over the weekend. That’s actually what turned up the Toolkit since By the People was created with funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as it repeatedly states. Someone is pleased with their efforts and is insistent on saying so.

I am going to resist the temptation to explain to Bruce Katz that economies cannot be built based on federal grants to create manufacturing institutes around clean energy or voters in LA and Denver voting massive sales tax increases around transit projects. Those are transfers involving bureaucrats spending OPM-Other People’s Money. Zero sum is the best case scenario.

Economic illiteracy, like the results of mind arson to get citizens compliant with Deliberate Democracy, matters though to the consequences of public spending. It is very easy to get lots of debt and unmeetable expectations for the future in the public sector-led reimaginings of the way the world should work going forward. That’s why it is so dangerous for Katz to be calling for “another historic shift in federalism.” He wants the “dual sovereigns” of the states and the federal government to be forced to share power with “their subjects, cities and metropolitan areas.”

Sometimes only a $100 word will do. That Usurpation by Fiat of sovereignty away from the individual in the US system, and then insisting sovereignty that is not supposed to exist in fact now be shared with nebulous regional authorities coordinating around Vision Statements, is absolutely Stealth Authoritarianism. It is the politically connected coercing everyone else to go along. How’s this for an open declaration of radical reshaping? This economic vision will amount to waste, but the hoped-for shift to governance of the individual is intended to survive apparently.

“We are trying to advance a theory of federalism that asks how federal and state sovereigns, and other partners and networks in governance, should interact to coproduce the economy. The metropolitan revolution is, at its core, an economic revolution…”

I’ll say. The next page says that “private and public sectors will coproduce the public good.” That’s highly doubtful, but it sure makes a good rationale for an unconstitutional usurpation of authority over people and property. I guess we can now think of what we know, own, or can do as merely in our temporary custody. Subject to seizure by the public sector and its cronies in an economic power grab that’s not that different from the serf forced to work land because it benefits the noble landholder.

Point 3 relates to that Open Data initiative that was President Obama’s first act on taking office in 2009. We have already seen it used as part of the FuturICT Big Data vision that was troublingly outlined here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/science-fiction-made-real-were-we-ever-to-know-in-time/ When I located this Core Principles for Public Engagement report from 2009 http://ncdd.org/rc/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/PEPfinal-expanded.pdf it made it clear that what I had seen as about data was actually part of an organized redirection of the public and private sectors to begin to collaborate over governance.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-12.pdf is the actual memo. Hard to believe that the Administration that has supposedly lost incriminating IRS e-mails after they were subpoenaed actually meant to become Transparent, but that National Center for Dialogue & Deliberation makes it quite clear that this vision of public participation and collaboration is very crucial to that openly declared intention of fundamental transformation.

The better to bind us by and invisibly shift sovereignty going forward apparently. This is a good breaking point before I launch into explaining how the mindset perfectly suited for Deliberative Democracy per that Handbook is also the precise Mindset and malleable Worldview that the Common Core and digital learning state that they want to create.

Plus I do not think it’s coincidental that the name of the new Aspen Center report on digital learning and the new kind of mindset needed–“Learner at the Center of a Networked World” uses one of Bruce Katz’s favorite expressions for his desired metro-led economy of the 21st century–the ‘networked world’.

We are so far beyond having to infer any more from a Dog that Did Not Bark in our investigations of what is really going on in education.

And what is intended for most of us. Stealth Usurpation. What a phrase.

Wider World is Primary, Not the Stifling Prison of the Instantaneous Present

Education is the entry way, but it is by no means the ultimate goal. Those of us who want to believe that all would be well if only all decisions were made locally instead of at state, federal, or international levels should be aware that the Local was preselected back in the mid-80s as the place where “equity, implementation of human rights, promotion of democracy, and environmental protection” could best be invisibly put into place, especially in the capitalistic West like Canada, the UK, Australia, and the US. It was at the local level that the “world must evolve structures of governance (not necessarily government) that offer improved prospects of achieving sustainability…and decency.” The global belief that the local is the place to impose authoritarianism while pretending it is participatory democracy can also be seen here http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_barber_why_mayors_should_rule_the_world as long time activist Benjamin Barber wants binding power now centered in the cities.

The following discussion needs to be added to what we already know from the book on unappreciated events that took place in the 80s getting ready for a pivot away from communism and the Cold War that impacted education so much in the 90s and now. The World Orders Models Project we have already disturbingly met http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/reorienting-world-order-values-via-the-intervention-of-activist-education-and-progressive-politics/  began  a Global Civilization Project in the 80s after a visit in the fall of 1986 from a special assistant to Mikhail Gorbachev. This Georgi Shakhnarov “discerning the changes which were about to take place [prescient, huh?] in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, and possessing an impressive familiarity with WOMP materials, he felt that recent events were vindicating many of the WOMP policy objectives while obligating many in the global community to revisit the security doctrines that had authorized Cold War hostilities.”

Sure enough WOMP had a meeting in Moscow in 1987 that we were not invited to (although I did manage to locate the resulting book) that began the new vision we are still dealing with now, whether we recognize the sources or not. The post-Cold War world, much like the Great Transition, Subjective Well-Being, and post-2015 hype from the OECD and UN entities now, wanted “alternative policies that promote the ‘world order values’ of peace, economic well-being, social justice, ecological balance, and positive human identity.” From those goals came a radically transformed vision of education where:

“To realise the potential of the twenty-first century we will need to put aside the obsessions of the 20th century, especially the fixation on what we may have, and return our attention to the perennial question of what we may be. That process can begin now, in schools. This book has been informed by the view that the outer world is an expression of the inner one. The biggest step forward would be re-establishing a map of culture which includes more than the material and the instrumental. We can then use the new map, the new world-view, both to frame and define futures which breach the bounds of instrumental rationality and see human life as a self-aware part of the whole.”

That was the conclusion of a book Education for the Twenty-First Century published simultaneously in 1993 in the UK, Canada, and the US. That’s a lot of kick starting via the schools of a new vision of values to guide perceptions of reality going forward. The reason the core, then and now, of transformative changes in human behavior has to be values is because human values guide preferences. If you want social action for change, education and other social institutions where people gather, like religions or mass media programming, have to constantly be pushing the envelope on values and ethical issues and reimagining morality. And you wondered why values clarification suddenly dropped into the schools in the 90s or why a Kairos Center is being launched now.

Another one of those assumptions that was invisibly altered in the 80s and early 90s to commence the social and economic justice assault on the West was to push Socio-Economics as envisioned by the very same Professor Amitai Etzioni regarded as the Communitarianism Guru. We first encountered his work being cited to justify Positive School Climates and Positive Behavior interventions for all students. Then he came up again when we discovered the communitarian focus for what Career Ready Standards actually meant. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/does-common-core-target-hearts-and-minds-to-sway-future-voters/ Big surprise. His work on the ‘totality’ having primacy over the individual is to guide this new vision of economics. No wonder his work  keeps making uninvited appearances.

Let’s take a look at the three characteristics an economic system must adopt to prepare for the kind of reorientation Etzioni, WOMP, Gorbachev, and too many others in well-compensated positions of leadership have decreed without our consent. Being shaped and then imposed invisibly via education: K-12 and college and now preschool and graduate programs.  First, the individual is no longer to be independent and able to exercise their own free will. Instead, he or she must see themselves as interdependent. Part of interlocking systems. So when we have come across initiatives like Fostering Communities of Learners that are to be required and made a measure of whether a Principal is deemed Effective, that focus is priming students and teachers for the new way the economic and social systems of the future are to work.

The second rejection is the idea of maximizing value from a given choice. Instead, the emphasis shifts to ‘satisficing behavior’–good enough. No need to hold out for the ideal or a perfect fit. Students practice for this element of the reenvisioned social and economic systems via all those ‘rigorous’ assessments where there is no correct answer or the material has never been taught. It is what counts as operating at Higher Levels of Thinking under a Depth of Knowledge template for evaluating student work. Practicing a good enough strategy and being willing to act anyway. In satisficing behavior the focus is always on the future so that image of what could be can begin to reshape the current reality. Once again brought to you by people paid to push these pernicious ideas without having to live with the consequences. Yet anyway.

Number 3 is “consensus formation as the essential nature of interaction between individuals and institutions within the economic system.” This is the part where we all have an obligation not to point out to the community organizer or Area School Super that their vision is stuck at the level of a dull 12-year old mind or grounded in the anger of a thwarted teenager. All perspectives are equally valid, remember? This new behavioral characteristic gets modelled in the Common Core Discourse Classroom as students in the end do not get to retain their own opinions. They must practice learning to accept the consensus because in the Totality vision: “once a consensus is reached, all entities party to that consensus will embrace the final decision and quickly integrate that decision into their behavior.”

So just as many of us have feared all this pushing for consensus and mentions of governance really can accurately be viewed as authoritarianism imposed in the 21st century from below, rather than above. Locally, instead of globally even if it is the international wanna-be nomenklatura class that has always been behind the advocacy and architecture of these local and Totality visions of the future. I am going to continue to talk about this atrocious binding vision of Governance in the next post. I may have forgotten to mention that some of this post came from what is laid out in another WOMP book On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics.

Not if, and I mean this sincerely, I can still write and type and speak. There will be nothing humane in the end about this vision of the future. I want to end with a question. Have you noticed the sudden rise of signs guiding people to the physical location of the Chamber of Commerce in your community? Perhaps that is because, previously unbeknownst to us, “in the totality model, the means of resolving potential areas of conflict will be institutionalized within the economic system.” Suddenly then the Chamber’s headquarters may be as important for prosecuting interests as the courthouse or state capitol. At the table or on the menu has always been the reality in a politically planned and directed economy.

Have you noticed the ubiquity of touting ‘public-private partnerships’? Perhaps again it is a reflection of this hoped-for reality from the Totality vision:

“Thus, government does not operate in a contentious relationship with corporations (the public versus private dichotomization so prevalent in an individualistic economic system). As coequal institutions within the totality of the economic system, government and corporations recognize their interdependent relationship and realize the welfare of both institutions will be increased through cooperation rather than conflict.”

Did you notice in all this collusion at our expense no one is the least bit concerned with our welfare?

And to think all these truly lousy ideas are coming at us first and foremost through the schools. That of course would be precisely where the rollback needs to start as well.

 

Illusion Remains the Deadly Enemy of Hope, its Smiling Murderer: Continuing Our Journey to Keep Hope Alive

To explain the whys of what I have so unambiguously now documented, I frequently go back in time to others who have played the role of prescient Cassandra urging the Trojans not to bring that strange gift of a wooden horse within the unbreachable walls. Today’s title comes from an essay Whittaker Chambers published in Cold Friday to convey his reaction to the mid to late 1950s Eastern European revolts against Communist oppression. Chambers always understood what was under attack from ideologies that target “the view we hold, unconsciously or not, of the world and its meaning and the meaning of our lives in it.” Since I have been asserting for a while that this is precisely what the Common Core and 21st Century Learning and cybernetics and Radical Ed Reform through the decades is actually targeting, let’s look at the full quote:

“In this age, hope is something that must be taken by the throat. This is to say, hope, to be durable and real, must begin with things exactly as they are, not as we suppose they were (even a few tranquillizing months ago), or as we wish they might be…The terms of hope are not to delude ourselves about this in order not to suffer in the shattering spins of fear that casts out hope. The deadly enemy of hope, its smiling murderer–is illusion…hope for you (as it has been for [the Eastern Europeans]) can truly begin only when complacency has been eaten off as by an acid bath, consuming the temptation to illusion.”

Never thought of myself or my book as an acid bath before, but the metaphor may well be apt. The way out is consistent with what I tell audiences when I speak. We need to keep our focus at this point on the actual implementation being required. It is provable and alarming. Right now intentionally created illusions impede our way out of this planned darkness of raw political power merging the religious and the secular, the public and the private, and society and the economy. In fact I found those Chambers’ quotes when I was mulling over that the Baha’i see no boundaries to their planned usurpation of authority over the minute details of our personal beliefs and conduct. With the raw power and all-pervasive tentacles of the UN and its affiliates behind them and UNESCO pushing their values as the integral core of global education reforms, we have a problem.

Confronting the actual intentions seems the only way out. Baha’i came out of Islam and clearly retains Islam’s doctrine of absolute deference to political authority. Likewise, Baha’i clearly contemplates what Totally Integrative Education now seeks as well, the “political and the sacred are indissolubly merged.” I am also seeing in the consensus mandates of the required Discourse Classroom or the Fostering Communities of Learners mandate what an American scholar of Islam, Franz Rosenthal, analyzed as consistent with the Muslim concept of hurriyya where an individual Muslim “was expected to consider subordination of his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the proper course of behavior.” Moreover, Rosenthal noted “the individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed…”

That attitude, that was common to Communism and is a tenet of both Islam and Baha’i, is radically opposed to the Western conception of the primacy of the individual and reason and the conception of freedom that came out of the Enlightenment. The individual has been the essence of traditional education, especially after the printing press and easy access to books made literacy widespread. Now we are back to a Whole Child education that explicitly targets personal values, attitudes, and beliefs with the federal government collecting data to keep track of how the personal transformation from the inside-out is going. We need a Douglas MacArthur moment from when he confronted State Shinto in Japan after World War II.

“Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with.”

And it was. Today we have comparable attempts to indoctrinate students into collectivism as the only viable solution and transformation as the only acceptable action. The Baha’i books I cited in the previous post are full of those aims. Instead of reiterating those, I want to point out that these aims also come from a different direction that greatly influenced what would come to be known as LBJ’s Great Society. Now with the 50th anniversary eminent, we had best fully appreciate what was really sought in the first place. The planners are not done yet. Back in 1961 Robert Theobald published The Challenge of Abundance laying out his vision of how the West must change now that it had sufficient wealth and technology to meet all needs. He also described using education as the means to obtain the necessary new attitudes and values. This is from page 1:

“the attitudes necessary for the most rapid rate of growth are not those which encourage a meaningful life for the individual or a valid sense of community.”

That desire is still what we are dealing with today and it is what also drove the Swedes to dramatically alter their ed system in the 60s as we discussed in ways that mirror what is being sought today in other parts of the world. The idea, which I believe is erroneous but it IS the foundation for all these sought transformations via education, is that the “society of abundance could, at last, provide independent means” for everyone to reach their potential and thus for the first time in history have “true freedom.” It was Marx’s vision and it drives UNESCO today as Scientific Humanism. It also goes by Human Capability theory now  and has an international conference coming up in Greece.

Education is always such a crucial component over the decades this has been sought because, as Theobald wrote: “such a society is possible only with the acceptance of limited desires. We too can have a society of abundance in the rich countries before the end of the twentieth century [yes, a bit off-schedule here in the US!!!. hence the hurry now]. But abundance is not a specific quantity of goods; it is a state of mind, a set of attitudes. Man can never produce all he could use, abundance depends on the acceptance of a reasonable standard of living.”

As of 2012, by the way, the Ford Foundation began calling that very same concept the Line of Plenty. Think about that passage every time you read about education creating a Growth Mindset instead of a Fixed Mindset. The Growth is in the new values and attitudes and beliefs about the role of the individual and the primacy now of the community and the perceived common good. It really is about getting the desired evolution from the inside-out that will allow the social, political, and economic transformations that have been sought for many years, behind our backs. We cannot afford to maintain the illusion of good faith disputes over content or how to best tech reading or math. The reality is that everyone from John Dewey to the Baha’i to the Club of Rome and Theobald are all determined to use education globally are;

“asking that man become unselfish. This is not necessarily impossible. ‘Selfishness’ stems, at least in part, from the fact that Western economic and social systems are set up to encourage individualism. If we reduce the necessity for economic conflict, it may be that we can develop a co-operative form of society.”

History reveals a very expensive mess coming out of these intentions Theobald laid out in 1960, but this remains the true aim in 2014. Common sense tells us that such aims will continue to push us towards a kleptocracy, but too many of the decision-makers now in education have a vested interest in continuing and expanding the organized theft from taxpayers. All the more reason to ramp up the mind arson to avoid detection for long enough to get another lucrative contract or lock-in that pension or promotion.

It does create a tremendous irony though that all these destructive policies and determined pursuit of changes to students’ values, attitudes, and beliefs involve the use of so much deceit to try to put in place “a new idea–we must demand that man should become responsible and willing to make decisions on the basis of the general interest of the community.”

Because that goal is always so beneficial to those who hold the strings of economic, social, and political power. Ever fearful of the magnificence the unencumbered individual mind is capable of.

Keeping hope alive indeed. Piercing through the deceit straight to the core of the actual intentions.

Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills as the Long-Sought Rapid Change of Minds for the Future

When I was looking for a way to explain what the effects would be from seeking new kinds of minds and personalities through ICT and tracking affective responses, I remembered the 1989 book New World New Mind: Moving Towards Conscious Evolution. Now I do occasionally pull books off the shelf to help illustrate a point vividly but the link of that book to the Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills initiatives is actually quite direct.

http://www.digitalpromise.org/how-practitioners-and-policymakers-can-work-together-to-innovate/ is a July 31, 2013 story on the meeting of League of Innovative Schools Supers and Admins with reps from the federal DoEd, the White House Domestic Policy Council (this push is a high priority for this Administration), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. John Holdren heads OSTP and his long-time mentor and associate Paul Ehrlich of hyping various global catastrophes fame (with his own tag) co-wrote the New World New Mind book. Ehrlich mentioned and thanked Holdren for his help on the Acknowledgments page.

Chapter 8, “The Beginnings of Real Change,” makes it clear this is a global program to use education to change “the nature of our minds and the training we give them.” According to Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein: “although the problems that humanity now faces are immense, at least they are of our own making. The mismatch of our brains with our environments has been produced by millenia of effort, by the skill, ingenuity, and drive of our species–by the very minds that are now out of step with the world they live in.”

Ornstein and Ehrlich wanted to extinguish that independent ingenuity and drive some people have through “a revolution in the way we bring up children and in the way we teach and what we teach.” They recognized, as all of us now need to, that traditional “schooling also changes the structures of children’s minds significantly [they mean at a physiological level]. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, so commonly taught, are not [emphasis in original] natural acts of the mind, but are radical transformations of the way the nervous system operates. The mind’s default positions are for talking and listening…”

Which is precisely why talking and listening as the purpose of the Discourse classroom, and required projects and group collaboration and communities of learners, is such a huge focus of the actual Common Core implementation. It is why print literacy is minimized and media and digital literacy are held to be just as important. It’s not a better way to learn. It’s an active pursuit using ICT of these New Kinds of Minds. After all Joel Klein, head of Rupert Murdoch’s tech-focused ed subsidiary, Amplify, actually said that was the goal to my face at a luncheon last fall. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/ridiculing-the-1860s-mind-as-unsuitable-for-the-21st-century-cui-bono/

So New Kinds of Minds remains the pursuit almost 25 years later and the other Ehrlich/Ornstein goal then becomes changing prevailing attitudes on politically useful topics. Cultural-historical activity theory or CHAT is a learning theory imported from the USSR created to change  the course of the future by changing the dominant culture itself. Through school specifically but also education generally. I’ll put it this way CHAT theorists also care about what stories get pitched on the nightly news and what the headlines read. What themes will the typical person come to believe are an issue as they go through busy lives? One of the CHAT theorists, a Finnish prof who also works in the US. Yrgo Engestrom (also tagged), kindly put his Learning by Expansion’s theory’s purpose into explicit published words in 2010. http://www.helsinki.fi/cradle/documents/Engestrom%20Publ/Studies%20on%20expansive%20learning.pdf

The article acknowledges a reality that the Supers and ed profs and principals do not bother to tell parents, politicians, and taxpayers so I will: “there are two basic metaphors competing for dominance today: the acquisition metaphor and the participation metaphor.” Now I will stop quoting Yrjo for a minute to point out that the entire actual Common Core classroom implementation this blog has been describing is dedicated to requiring the participation vision. Using misleading terms like equity and excellence and Quality Learning to get there. As I have been explaining, every entity that has a legal ability to regulate or mandate what goes on in the classroom is insisting that participation now win this competition. And it gets hidden in the insistence on group projects and collaboration. But Yrjo was even more graphic about what his and other CHAT learning theories are designed to do and change.

The key dimension underlying the acquisition vs participation “dichotomy is derived from the question: Is the learner to be understood primarily as an individual or as a community?” The participation purpose comes down on the community side of that question in direct contradiction to the West’s historic belief in the primacy of the individual. That is the question at stake in all these ed reforms. Pushing for this new answer behind our backs and without our consent is precisely what Digital Promise and 21st Century Skills are really about.

Yrgo again kindly says there are three more dimensions at stake with all these learning theories like his that are designed to push participation as the new radical vision of education to create “new activity structures for society.” Think workplace, neighborhoods, political processes. These ed profs and administrators have great ambitions while they are living at taxpayer expense. In each of these questions, it is the part I bolded after the “or” that is what is stealthily coming at us like a high-speed freight train whatever our state says it is doing on the Common Core. And in other countries too. Oh, and the ICT focus is a huge tool for gaining this shift.

*Is learning primarily a process that transmits and preserves culture or a process that transforms and creates culture?

*Is learning primarily a process of vertical improvement along some uniform scales of competence or horizontal movement, exchange and hybridization between different cultural contexts and standards of competence? [Think of this as hip hop being as valid a means of communication as a well-written insightful factual paper]

*Is learning primarily a process for acquiring and creating empirical knowledge and concepts [reflects reality in other words] or a process that leads to the formation of theoretical knowledge and concepts?

Now theoretical knowledge and concepts is of course another term for ideology but what do you expect from a theory designed to achieve massive social change as a direct successor to Uncle Karl’s now infamous theorizing? Yrjo leaves no doubt where we are all going with this quote: “While traditional schooling is essentially a subject-producing activity and traditional science is essentially an instrument-producing activity, [expansive] learning is an activity producing activity.” [his italics]

Now that kind of graphic lay out of intent to create transformative action in students is what is coming to our classrooms but the graphic warning is nowhere in sight. Instead we get far more innocuous sounding initiatives being paid for by the National Science Foundation such as Janet Kolodner’s “Learning by Design’s Framework for Promoting Learning of 21st Century Skills.” Janet is also the listed PI for the troubling and related NSF Cyberlearning push that I described here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-need-to-know-as-we-understand-it-today-may-be-a-lethal-cultural-sport/ Now Janet’s CV is simply too solid for me to believe that she really thinks that a case-based method that is suitable for adult med students, who have a well-stocked brain of knowledge and analytical skills to be where they are, is somehow suitable for middle schoolers who generally have neither.

The truth is the whole Next Generation Science and Learning By Design and Case-Based Learning is just a rejection of science as an “instrument-producing activity” as in sharp ingenious minds or new unapproved technology without saying so. What Ehrlich and Ornstein sought in their book so long ago. It’s the excuse for a classroom centered around social interaction and designed to limit the cultural transmission of knowledge built up over generations that makes humans a very special species and some people downright extraordinary in their impact on all of us and the direction of civilization.

Kolodner sees people as “goal processors who make our way through the world trying to achieve our goals” which strikes me as a horrifically hobbling vision for the future. Like so many other reformers she wants to shift our daily perceptions going forward and limit us to our previous experiences coupled to theoretical framing school will provide. Yrjo would approve. The end result of these classroom activities are students who are adaptable to uncertain, new, and rapidly changing conditions. Which of course the ed reforms intend to drive. Students who are capable of complex communication and social interaction. The world trembles at the thought of a superpower preparing ALL students to be in the habit of listening and asking questions of each other and making presentations. We also get students capable of non-routine problem solving and self-management which is starting to sound a great deal like David Conley’s definition of College and Career Ready  created for the Gates Foundation.

Finally, students learn to be good systems thinkers and to see themselves as embedded in systems. Even if it is not true in reality, it is such a useful metaphor to get students to see themselves as part of a community instead of an independent individual.

No wonder Paul Ehrlich is running around giving UN presentations that humanity is more than 5 years into a global program to radically change human behavior.

Yes indeed, driven by education reforms that are poorly understood and collectivist political theories masquerading as learning theories.

 

Finale: Essential Learning Outcomes To Guide ALL Students Through Decreed Global Challenges

And ALL truly means all, K-12 and higher ed. As with most binding plans designed to govern and transform the “entire educational experience” of the 21st century, the blueprints were sitting somewhere no one was likely to look. Especially since it is a higher ed document by one of its governing groups.http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/GlobalCentury_final.pdf   It just happens to mention that theses are Outcomes and then Principles of Excellence that apply to students in K-12 schools as well. The accreditors then know all this and will enforce this vision out of your sight. The central office staff will know it. I have no doubt that this is what is behind that new EdLeader 21 Coalition of Suburban Districts as their Supers take those districts where the urban districts have already gone.

When you add what is in that AACU link to the AACSU initiatives we went over in the last post. Plus this AACSU Seven Revolutions Vision for Educating Globally Competent Citizens and we truly do have a noetic revolution going on in our midst. http://aascu7revolutions.pbworks.com/w/page/39316693/FrontPage?mode=embedded gives you something to ponder on the Mindsets being created in these current and future voters, especially with governance in the future listed as one of the 7 Revolutions. Like all things that might be controversial if known accurately in education and public policy, the rhetoric of this has now been toned down to Global Engagement. But the 7 Rev Framework remains and as I am about to explain, also applies to what is expected from high school graduates.

It’s no accident that the 7 Rev developer institutions have large teacher colleges. Some of them, like Kennesaw State, have huge programs, especially for continuing education. And that is certainly a stealthy way to get a revolution to invisibly trickle down. Influential but mostly out of sight. The preferred 21st century transformational method as we now know.

I am going to quote from the doc but this is one I really do urge everyone to download and read. This is IT. As page 14 says: “These essential learning outcomes should become the guiding compass for student accomplishment in the twenty-first century.” They are to be the guiding principles for the learning tasks, the curriculum, the projects, the videos, and all those poorly understood assessments. Because the focus will be using content to engage “with big questions, both contemporary and enduring,” in comes the Climate Change materials that National Geographic has prepared that many scientists regard as false.   http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/global-warming/?ar_a=1

So polar bears may not actually be endangered and we have had 17 years without increases in global temps but schoolchildren are not to know that. Influential false beliefs change behaviors, prompt action, and make future citizens willing to tolerate Invasive Governments at every level. Then NG nicely gives a link to UNEP so teachers can download those materials as well for the K-12 classroom. http://www.unep.org/tools/default.asp?ct=clim is that link. Remember factual reality affects actual consequences, but personal perceptions of reality guide an individual’s future behavior. And now education is deliberately splitting factual reality from perceptions. Without notice.

The document by the way is from 2007. So while what will become known as CCSSI was being planned but before it was official, a governing document of the defining implementation principles once again was published. Where few but silly Miss Marple with her determination to track down the relevant blueprints would ever look. Think of those Essential Learning Outcomes as laying out future Personality Characteristics for All Students. Best described, in my opinion, as specifying Who each Student Will Be Inside, Be Able to Do, and Be Ready to Act on, and What they Will Believe. As the report says “beginning in school.” No wonder preschool too has now been targeted for transformation and monitoring for social and emotional learning.

After all it takes time to ensure that “all students” have “an informed concern for the larger good.” To be guided in life by always asking “what is most worth doing?” Nothing personal to my teacher readers, but an ed degree, or a political science doctorate, or urban planning masters do not qualify anyone to create a curriculum designed to mandate that attitude. And I would be the first to concede, neither does a law degree. That should be an individual decision backed up by the wisdom of the ages. And no I am not referring to the Dalai Llama’s version of the wisdom of the ages. Which is part of the reason contemplative education is so troubling. That takes the personal decision away by grounding action in unconscious feelings and school redesigned new values. But the contemplative push meshes with this new Essential Learning Outcomes perfectly.

The troubling Part 2 “From the American Century to the Global Century” laid out a strategy to make the US demise quite inevitable. Poisoned via expensive education. The report basically lays out every talking point or UN-led initiative to become the Holy Grails incorporated into all education. Then the report falsely claims (as a Phi Beta Kappa history major I may know this off the top of my head but few students today will) the following:

“Americans live in the world’s most powerful democracy. But democracy, as the founders recognized [not], is much more than a design for government and lawmaking. Rather, it is a framework for a special kind of society in which citizens must take mutual responsibility for the quality of their own communities and their shared lives. Democracies are founded on a distinctive web of values: human dignity, equality, justice, responsibility, and freedom.”

That has to be John Dewey and Martha Nussbaum’s definition of freedom which is all about the larger good being fulfilled. No wonder we keep finding obligations throughout the actual definition of Career Ready that just reek of Communitarianism. Creating that belief in each student is an Essential Learning Outcome. And the report even asks ” How do we cultivate what Martha Nussbaum has called the “narrative imagination” so that graduates are able to engage diverse communities and other societies? How do we prepare citizens to address the growing and destabilizing divisions between those with hope and those who still live on the margins of our own and other societies.”

Now doesn’t that goal mirror the reasons laid out in the last post for using education to mobilize low income children of color? You can organize students and parents but this vision cannot make the world work the way it plans. It simply removes the mental tools that can best help the individual cope with genuine daily problems.  I need to move on but Martha calls this sought view for ed “cosmopolitan education” and it is clearly why she was the IB’s Keynote Speaker on creating desired Worldviews.

I am going to quote in its entirety the AACU’s Principles of Excellence framework since it is THE governing vision for what students are to become in the 21st century, using K-12 and higher ed, and CCSSI and Democracy Projects and Global Competency etc as the cudgels to make it so. And personal data to monitor it is happening.

Principle One. Aim High–and Make Excellence Inclusive

Make the Essential Learning Outcomes a Framework for the Entire Educational Experience, Connecting School, College, Life, and Work

Principle Two. Give Students a Compass

Focus Each Student’s Plan of Study on Achieving the Essential Learning Outcomes–and Assess Progress

Principle Three. Teach the Arts of Inquiry and Innovation

Immerse All Students in Analysis, Discovery, Problem Solving, and Communication, Beginning in School and Advancing in College

Principle Four. Engage the Big Questions

Teach through the Curriculum to Far-Reaching Issues–Contemporary and Enduring–in Science and Society, Cultures and Values, Global Interdependence, the Changing Economy, and Human Dignity and Freedom

Principle Five. Connect Knowledge with Choices and Action

Prepare Students for Citizenship and Work through Engaged and Guided Learning on “Real-World” Problems

Principle Six. Foster Civic, Intercultural, and Ethical Learning

Emphasize Personal and Social Responsibility, in Every Field of Study

Principle Seven. Assess Students’ Ability to Apply Learning to Complex Problems

Use Assessment to Deepen Learning and to Establish a Culture of Shared Purpose and Continuous Improvement

I bolded that Shared Purpose to be able to point out that is describing the Community of Learners concept we have traced back to Michael Cole, Courtney Cazden, and Ann Brown’s visit to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Please also notice what the continuous improvement is in. These listed Learning Outcomes.

We will be here all day if I describe all the ways these Outcomes reflect every post I have ever written on this blog. No wonder I found what I found and we can talk about the links in comments if you like.

I just want to close by pointing out that I do track these ed reforms all over the world. I download and read those reports and frameworks too even though I do not usually mention in posts. I think committing a deliberate murder of American exceptionalism and our superpower status and the primacy of the US Constitution are all express goals of the implementation of these ed reforms. And others I know about.

But when the transformation of the US is done, the goals of these Principles of Excellence align with what I have seen in every country I have ever reviewed ed reforms in. Global indeed.

But as the criticisms of Martha Nussbaum’s cosmopolitan education have pointed out, this is citizenship for a world that has never existed. Which may not slow down all those being paid to push this vision.

But it truly ought to be a compelling concern for those of us providing the funding for this takedown of the US.

 

Placing a Global Bet that Psychology Infused Via Education Can Change Human Beings and their Institutions

Supposedly for the better which is why the initiative is called Positive Psychology to sound inspirational. But citing back to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers’ work as foundational makes this push about more than instilling good work habits and hope. This Organizational Development (OD) push, that Appreciative Inquiry from the last post and systems thinking a la the higher profile Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer are an intrinsic part of, plans to act on the theory that human beings can be changed for the better. Globally but especially the US.

And it fully intends to try using the Global Quest for Educational Excellence and all those poorly understood international tests like PISA and TIMSS as the drivers of change. While you are thinking it’s about finally getting more knowledgeable students who are better at reading or math, these taxpayer funded visionaries have figured out how to also use Positive Behavior Interventions and Positive School Climate Executive Orders and data collection around Student Growth to drive continuous improvement toward “inspiring and shared moral purposes.” How very communitarian.

Apparently all the hyping about closing the Achievement Gap is just a ruse. Instead, the US CCSSI is part of a global attempt at “establishing the new and eclipsing the old in human systems.” So exciting that it really was italicized just like that in the 2010 Framework document I am describing today.  Coupled to a 2012 book by two Boston College professors called The Global Fourth Way laying out what really makes for a high performing school system. Hint: it’s not what you know but what you feel and are willing to do about it. Supposedly equitable outcomes for ALL students and Deweyan Quality Learning that changes the Whole Personality are just the thing that will “produce the economic and social outcomes that are essential for economic dynamism, social cohesion, and democratic ways of life.”

And before you get excited about the economic dynamism aspect during this Great Recession you should know it is premised on the idea that “going green might well become the biggest business opportunity of the twenty-first century.” Or not as all those bankruptcies from ventures like Fisker and Solyndra that got tax dollars in the 2009 Stimulus Act should show.

So once again the education component that is the real Common Core implementation is tied into a political and social upheaval that is not being advertised and an economic vision that shows no likelihood of working. No matter how many AI Summits like “Green City on a Blue Lake” cities like Cleveland hold envisioning a new green future and an extension of relatedness that will somehow save the Inner Cities and economic blight. The vision, that has Positive Psychology architect, Marty Seligman of UPenn (save Philly somehow please!) and David Cooperrider (a Taos Institute founder and Case Western, in Cleveland, prof), reportedly giving speeches to lots of famous companies, the US Army and Navy and the US Environmental Agency (no wonder it now plans with systems thinking), and the UN Global Compact among others around 2010, is called Innovation-inspired Positive Organization Development. Or IPOD as they call it to create an “economy and ecology of strengths.”

I wonder if they put their IPOD speeches on an IPad? Sorry. That IPOD Framework even mentioned that there was a “recent business leaders meeting at the UN to collaboratively design the future.” I guess it’s not collusion when it is for a good cause like Sustainability and preserving current markets. Which we should all keep in mind every time you hear “Business needs the Common Core or 21st Century Skills or Career Pathways.” This is SO not about what is best for our individual futures. In fact that’s why you keep hearing all these references to organizations. According to IPOD’s vision, organizations like schools and businesses are to become:

“institutions that serve to bring our highest human strengths into the world in a magnified way…They exist to serve a life-enriching purpose, and accomplish things no individual set of strengths can accomplish alone.”

Oh, I don’t know about that. An individual mind can be quite intrepid which is truthfully the whole problem with the old transmission of knowledge curriculum. It’s the real reason it must be jettisoned in the 21st century. None of these people want herd-defying individuals figuring things out without authorization or creating world-altering technology breakthroughs without permission. So they take Uncle Karl’s human development theory and give it a new disguise that sounds inspiring. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ .

The IPOD approach to change then is to be “collaborative [like group projects and Communities of Learners], educational based on experiential learning [hands on projects! service learning for credit!], dialogical [Courtney Cazden’s discourse classroom community], and contextually conditioned upon inquiry [just like a good IB Learner!] into the relevant content and process of a human system.”

No wonder we keep hearing a requirement for relevance and a link to real world problems. You get the IPOD, Fourth Way, vision implemented without having to mention it or get approval. Thus the IPOD framework says the “DNA pulsating through” it can be described by three essential features:

1. That special spirit of inquiry [they do love italics for emphasis] that seeks “to learn, experiment, seek feedback and build shared understanding through dialogue and open exploration of things that may never have been collectively explored.” How expensive and unproductive if simply based on the feelings of deliberately created Know-Nothings. Next.

2. The collaborative design of the future. Now this impossibility is based on the very accurate observation that “people build their commitment to change in direct proportion to the degree that they are actively engaged in designing the change.” Which is why you are unlikely to get the PTA President or members of your local School Council to listen to you when you point out, for example, that Spence Rogers’ own books cite Mao as a good example of leadership and that makes him a poor choice for teacher professional development.

The collaboration also primes all participants for the “assumed centrality of interdependence in organizational life” to force recognition that it is “the quality of the relationships, the processes–how the relationships give or deplete life” that make a human system work. No wonder relationships are one of the new 3 R’s along with Relevance and the imaginative Rigor [think of that Spirit of Inquiry above as what Rigor is really about].

3. A positive view of the human being. Now this is the age old question that has kept philosophers speculating for centuries. You will be glad to know that IPOD comes down on the side not supported by history. IPOD has not only “proclaimed a belief in people” from its “infancy.” It goes on to [this is a little long but it is a vision worth quoting in full. Maslow to Marx with the behavioral sciences thrown in to boot]

“Insofar as we might discover the conditions that help bring out the best in life–for example, Abraham Maslow’s studies into peak experiences–then we might well be able to apply this knowledge in our institutions. Drawing from the entire mosaic of the social sciences–from anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and biology and more–OD would be unique in not only propagating a collaborative, inquiry-driven approach to change but would be centered on advancing the developmental potentials of the human being. [And you thought I was being sarcastic about Uncle Karl or his 20th century leading advocate Erik Erikson and why they matter to CCSSI] Instead of being woven at random, like an afterthought design into our economic and organizational fabric, human development would be at the center. Lines would radiate out from the human dimension to all the others–the economic, technological, strategic, structural, political, etc.”

That would be truly all-encompassing and people focusing on who owns the means of production are not keying in on what parts of Marx’s vision are back for a 21st Century run.  The framework also mentions the good prof Csik as a key component of this positive psychology vision http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/ . Why look, excellence just like the Fourth Way. What a coincidence. Not.  But it also notes that for a new OD as described here to “truly emerge, it would need a new human science knowledge base.”

Well, guess what? All that data being thrown off –measuring Student Growth or soft skills or attitudes, values, and beliefs and continuous improvement in PBIS or PATHS and other “mental health first aid” or social and emotional learning curricula as we see from CASEL– is just what OD needs to be its “human science knowledge base.” No wonder ICT vendors are so excited. No wonder the accreditors now require its collection. And the US federal government by requiring teacher evals based on “multiple measures of Student Growth.”

Should it trouble us that the World Economic Forum just put out a report on creating the 21st century economy around ICT and Big Data? Coincidences surely abound these days.

Students Must See Themselves as Active Participants in Social Change and Designers of Social Futures

Before I tell you where that quote came from and what the connection is to the Gordon Commission, I want to go back in time first. I did what I frequently do when presented with troubling declarations of plans that I know will come to a poor end. I went back to someone who dealt with comparable aspirations and ideologies for insights into what is really going on and how this might end. History is much more reliable than a crystal ball. And, unlike the Marxist historians active in Europe before World War I and the 1920s, I do not use historical research as a “means of political agitation.” I will confess though it can be more useful than espresso as a jolting wakeup call.

No, I am not that ancient except to my kids but I did go back to someone who lived through what happened in Europe in the early 20th century and presciently recognized the gravity of what he was looking at. Economist Ludwig Von Mises saw that history and political theories were being used all around him “to provide weapons against the hated bourgeois order of society.” Remember that quote when we get to the end of this post. Von Mises was infatuated with socialism when he was younger, like most German and Austrian intellectuals of that time. But he wrote the book Socialism to explain why he believed it would not work. Long before Communism had crashed and burned in the USSR or the Germans tried out a more Corporatist and Nationalist version of socialism that launched 2 world wars. I wanted his insights into why planning societies does not work from what he saw in real time. The book was originally published in German in 1932 so Von Mises is speaking from quite a unique vantage point.

What I hit upon instead was so on point with using education to shut down the abstract mind and push action instead. Plus the desire we keep encountering to supply the interpretive concepts and metaphors, instead of accurate facts, to filter student’s daily reality. I decided we could use Von Mises’s observations from so long ago.

“Abstract thought is independent of the wishes which move the thinker and of the aims for which he strives. Only this independence qualifies it as thought. Wishes and purposes regulate action (his italics).”

Von Mises goes on in a footnote to clarify that “the wish is the father of faith.”  Faith is thus what all these education reforms are really trying to create. Do you remember this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/  where influential Harvard psychology prof Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi  laid out his vision of the Flow experience? As Von Mises ably observed in dealing with earlier “Let’s Remake the World Schemers,” there is no abstract thought when wish for and feeling are joined to thought. It is the sort of cultivated personality ready to attend and celebrate at rallies without a second thought. Csik’s Flow and the idea of physical activity in a digital environment instead of mental is mentioned throughout this new view of curriculum and assessment we started to look at in the last post. A primary solution for engaging students at school and keeping them in school is Gaming. As in video games.

That really caught my interest for several reasons. I know the Gates Foundation has been funding it for the Common Core implementation. I know that Professor James Paul Gee, who we discovered in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/ does not believe in the concept of discrete individuals, has pivoted in the last 10 years in his education research to focusing on gaming. And I know that Amplify has been hyping Zombie-Based Apocalypse simulations as learning on its website. To get to what Joel Klein has called “new kinds of minds” I suppose.

So Pearson and the Gordon Commission and everyone else is pushing Gaming. And Gee who wants education to help create people to be “better modules in a distributed non-authoritarian system” is both a member of the Commission and pushing Gaming instead of linguistic mischief making. His previous research mission. Although if you look up his report “Good Video Games and Good Learning” you will see he is quite excited that Gaming helps move education beyond its fetish with print and words. Important to the schemers as we now know.

What do they mean by Gaming? As we saw with the Zombie Apocalypse simulation story that cited sources acknowledging that this type of digital learning is known to weaken the mind http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/creating-new-minds-different-values-equity-in-credentials-can-this-really-lead-us-to-prosperity/ , the point of the simulations described is to practice planning and redesigning societies. You can see why I went back to Von Mises. So the same report that starts off maligning knowledge of facts as “banking education” wants students to practice reimagining other ways for societies to exist and to come to believe that societies can be planned. And the games cited are multi-user to get both social interaction and collaboration practice. Cited are the game River City where the students learn to solve a simulated 19th century city’s problems. At least in the virtual world with the provided, controlled variables. A difference from the real world that is not likely to be pointed out to the students or the teachers.

Then there is the “epistemic game called Urban Science that mimics the professional practicum experiences of urban planners.” Yes, because they are noted for doing a bang-up job with planning in the real world. Let’s ignore that and go with Professor Don Schon’s aspirations for cities and people to be systems that can be treated as problems to be solved. The virtual world awaits and the students immersed in such Gaming are likely to soon accept social and economic planning and fiats as a norm.

Perhaps the most graphic example of where all this is going in the Pearson/ Gordon Commission report is the game Quest Atlantis. There the aim is explicitly described like this:

“the focus of critical design work is to develop sociotechnical structures that facilitate individuals in critiquing and improving themselves and the societies in which they function.”

In fact the creators of the game noted that:

“although they could have focused the Quest Atlantis virtual environment solely on particular science standards about erosion, they became concerned with highlighting attitudes toward environmental awareness and social responsibility.”

And just in case you are wondering where are values, feelings, and beliefs that usually go along with these outcome-based maneuvers to change future behavior, the authors did not forget. They go on to describe how they:

“decided to make a structure connected to social commitments, creating a story [because all political schemers seem to know children learn better with a narrative!] about collecting pieces of crystal, with each representing a social commitment the designers wanted to enforce, like political awareness. They instilled in the community around the game a value of these commitments through the design of the ecosystem.”

The title of this post is quoted from the Introduction to Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures and it was too consistent with the aspirations of the Gaming emphasis not to use. Plus Gee and Courtney Cazden of the Discourse Classroom that we met in the Community of Learners post were both contributors. In fact Gee acknowledged that all these education reforms are to “change the game, that is, to change our society” to what he called a distributed economic system.

You may have noticed all the focus on cities and urban education above and in Edmund Gordon’s mission as a professor. Likewise there are increasingly stories about students being told to learn about White Privilege or their “economic class.” This week’s version involved Americorps workers in Wisconsin but the reports are increasing around the US. So I want to close this post and set up the next one with another quote from Gee’s “New People in New Worlds” essay from the book.

“We, then, really have two school problems. [to get to the sought new economic order]. The first concerns how to ensure that poor and minority children, really for the first time, get well educated enough to participate in building and transforming our societies. The second concerns how to ensure that advantaged children can get out of school able to think ‘critiquely’ about issues of power and social justice in the new global capitalist order.”

How succinct was that admission of the essence of what we are dealing with?

Does Community of Learners Sound Warm, Fuzzy and Harmless? It’s Not

Community of Learners (CoL) is a phrase that first came on my radar when a new high school principal who prided himself on being a Change Agent kept mentioning it. Sandwiched in between troubling references to the teachers “may no longer teach or lecture” and “students should construct their own learning.” So the term was on my radar screen as probable trouble in a way that most parents or community leaders or politicians are unlikely to pick up on. My guess is the first time any of you or the political decision makers hear of  a CoL or its earlier name, Collaborative Classroom, will be something along the lines of the way Lee S Shulman, the President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and another Stanford prof, described it. He called it a “pedagogic reform”–“Fostering a Community of Learners.” My comments are in brackets.

“The essence of FCL is the creation of learning experiences in which students who are working on big ideas [now frequently called essential questions as in McTighe/Wiggins Understanding by Design] become interdependent in their investigations and their collaborations around new tasks. [remember CCSSI is student-centered and all the mentions are to activities, tasks, and projects. Virtually all group]… FCL rests heavily on the deep understanding [emotional; affective; grounded in feelings and beliefs based on experiences]. [FCL] is primarily concerned with achieving changes in the social relations among students [paging John Dewey to the 21st Century classroom!!]. Moreover, we argue that this form of task division and distribution is not merely a pedagogical tactic; it mirrors the ways in which complex problems are addressed in both academic and entrepreneurial contexts in the modern world.”

Now, minus my snarkiness or inserted explanations prompting a recall of earlier points in previous posts, this explanation of a reform might sound pretty convincing. Especially if sold as a means to decrease the drop-out rate by increasing student engagement. You can bet this would come with all the university presidents and business people who think it is a wonderful idea. Left out of course would be the fact that the higher ed accreditation agencies required the change in the classroom and probably pushed the “independent” endorsement of FCL to boot. Or that virtually all the businesses being cited for support have some undisclosed conflict or are looking forward to being a designated vendor of a NEED in a hoped-for new kind of Capitalism as we have talked about.

So I see things differently because I understand more pertinent facts than what is typically supplied by the sales campaign for these education or economic reforms. And those of you who are hearing horror stories (finally!!) about the new Common Core Science Standards and its emphasis on consensus science, remember Carnegie financed those standards. So the real point of FCL is pertinent to the real point of those Science Standards. Which is to replace objective, experimental Science as a body of disprovable  knowledge. Instead we are to get experience knowledge grounded in personal perspectives. As you can appreciate Experience Science is much more susceptible to influence from political power. Very convenient in a hoped for government-led economy of the future.

Now what Shulman and others advocating CoLs as a key component now of Effective Teaching and Classrooms and Positive School Climates and Cultures are likely to leave out is that this is yet another export from the Soviet Union from the time of the Cold War. Professor Bronfenbrenner was not the only American prof dropping in on Soviet psychologist Leon’tiev for some advice on how to teach American students in the future. Then Harvard Ed Prof Courtney Cazden just happens to mention in her book Classroom Discourse: The Language of Art and Teaching that FCL came from observations of a mid-70s trip to the USSR she and Professor Ann Brown and Professor Michael Cole took.

The late Ann Brown is considered to be the creator of the US version of FCL along with her husband Joe Campione. She grounded it explicitly in the theories of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky who we have talked about before. He was trying to come up with a way to create the perfect Soviet personality for the future. The FCL Project is described as a “system of interactive activities designed to create a self-consciously active and reflective learning environment.”  Which sounds ever so much like the actual intentions for the Common Core classroom all over the globe now when you read the documents the insiders send to each other on what they wish to achieve.

If you are wondering why now after the USSR went poof, let’s remember all the cited political theorists and business professors and systems thinkers I have described as seeking economic democracy globally in the 21st century. Scharmer, Zuboff, Harry Boyte, Benjamin Barber, and John Dewey himself. Cazden herself said that these types of social interactions in the classroom are “essential for students’ development toward active citizenship in a pluralistic democratic society.”  Professor Michael Cole cited John Dewey for this reason:

“the social environment … is truly educative in the degree to which an individual shares or participates in some conjoint activity. [a nerdy way to say group learning]. By doing his share in the associated activity, the individual appropriates the purpose that actuates it [don’t be surprised if it’s about global warming or overpopulation], becomes familiar with its methods and subject matters, acquires needed skill, and is saturated with emotional spirit.”

That last part really got my attention as another one of the books being cited to push for a different kind of economic system to go with these ed reforms is called The Spirit Society imported from the UK. Plus Zuboff described her distributed capitalism in terms of using education to infuse the desired spirit. We seem to have a consistent theme and desire going here.

Cazden described the importance of FCL and its emphasis on social relationships like this: “Now each student becomes a significant part of the official learning environment for all the others, and teachers depend on students’ contributions to other students’ learning, both in discussions and for the diffusion of individual expertise through the class.”

Yes that is the real reason Gifted programs and tracking are being discontinued. Those fine minds and excellent vocabularies and outside school experiences become common property of the classroom. To be accessible to everyone instead of the talented students moving on in the subject-based, abstract world they are capable of and may prefer. That would be selfish in our hoped for economic democracy where everyone’s needs come first and individualism is no longer a concept to be cherished or even accepted. See Cazden’s colleague James Paul Gee’s rejection of even the concept in an earlier post.

Professor Cole likewise said the Community of Learners concept is grounded in Vygotskyian “cultural-historical activity theory” or CHAT for short. His acronym, not mine.  Like Dewey, Professor Cole sees these learning theories where “humans are [supposedly I add] created in joint mediated activity” as about changing the prevailing society and its customs, feelings, values, attitudes, and beliefs. In fact, Cole said the “acid test of CHAT” would be its “success in guiding the construction of new, more humane forms of activity.”

Like Boyte’s Cooperative Commonwealth or Zuboff’s distributed capitalism or Otto Scharmer’s Capitalism 3.0? Every time we peel away the cover of the rhetoric intended to be the sales campaign about the US Common Core and its related education reforms globally, we find these radical Transformative intentions. Cole says “Culture is exteriorized mind; mind is interiorized culture.” So if you make the classroom about social interaction and the use of a visually-oriented external thinking devices like Smartphone or tablets like an IPad, the hoped-for change is the student’s mind from the inside out. Hopefully largely empty of accurate facts. Do that to enough students, especially making the activities about emotionally provocative or insoluble complex world problems, and you can change the prevailing culture.

Implementing these ed theories may also though destroy everything that works without gaining viable substitutes in its place. Except the strong arm of government coercion. I have not made too heavy of an emphasis on how the Communitarian aspects of all these reforms harkens back to what was going on in 19th century German education reforms. I will simply add that the Germanic term Gemeinschaft keeps being cited in these related reports for internal consumption. One such report from December 2000 went on with the definition of a desired school community “where the value of individuals working together for the common good is upheld and respected.” It also referred reverentially to Amitai Etzioni by name as well as his anti-individualism “social movement.”

Can you see why I see the reality of the Common Core so much differently? It is all there once you treat education reform like an onion and peel away the rhetoric. And track back to the actual creators of these implementation practices.