Motivationally Misleading Situations and Wicked Decision Problems: Imposing Psychological Experiments on Students

What would you think if you read the Dear Colleague Letter put out yesterday by the  CCSSO trade group that is funded by tech companies and the accreditors and other beneficiaries of taxpayer education dollars and that supposedly represents state Departments of Ed and you ended up finding this sentence. “There is no experimental evidence to back up this dialectical/constructivist view of self being created by the required assessments being pushed under the Common Core. Or by the OECD to be considered internationally competitive in the future. In fact, we have to look instead to existential philosophy, meditation, spiritual, and history-of religion literatures to locate proof that the kind of personality we want to use education to create is actually possible.” Would you say “that sounds like a wonderful mandate for all schools and all students. Here’s my tax dollars to fund the transformation?”

Well, of course, we wouldn’t. That’s the beauty of the misrepresentations surrounding the Common Core and charters with duplicitous language actually mandating Maslow’s psychological model of growth or the lack of genuine appreciation for what the OECD’s PISA ‘test’ is measuring. It makes the end goal of a revolutionary new purpose for education on automatic pilot towards fruition even though no one would agree to it voluntarily with their own money. Despite the fact that warning after warning is out there in the small print that this is all a massive psychological experiment designed to gain a nonconsensual political and social transformation. Starting at the level of the student’s personality.

Now the letter   did not actually say that but when you track back what it did say about what constitutes “high quality assessments” and “deep knowledge” and the ancestry of the term “higher order thinking skills” instead of surface knowledge back about 25 years that descriptive quote I wrote up is precisely what you find. Especially if you go further and click-on the “Criteria for High-Quality Assessment” issued in June 2013 .

It lays out precisely the international push to gain personalities amenable to the rise of China and public-sector directed state capitalism as the global model. Citing the Singapore Ed Minister we all need “engaged learning, discovery through experiences, differentiated teaching, the learning of life-long skills, and the building of character, so that students…can develop the attributes, mindsets, character and values for future success.”

Everyone remembering that Dalian New Champions Conference held out Singapore as the model for the desired 21st century state capitalism? Good because that vision is hugely important to such statements as “new assessments must advance competencies that are matched to the era in which we live.” Now if I run through all the rest of the reasons this letter and that report tipped me off as to what was going on we will never get where I need to go. Regular readers should see it and I can answer questions from new readers in the comments but both sent me looking at “An essay on wisdom: toward organismic processes that make it possible” by Professor Juan Pascual-Leone. Why? It’s a combo of what was sought along with what was said at the (co)lab conference as being part of the desired education transformation for this sought future. Especially Sir Ken Robinson’s statement that the revolution he sought was to view education now as “an organic process.”

The easiest way to explain what is being sought is a desire to have all thought grounded in emotions. It is the constant refrain that the problems to be used for assessment have no fixed answer and it is why lecturing and textbooks are becoming abhorrent. They build up the logical, independent, mind and are not necessarily grounded in feelings. Which means they may not produce the behavior desired to fit with all these plans for transformation. To get that requires a personality that has been shaped by “qualitative metamorphoses in affective-cognitive experiencing and thinking.” Which is precisely what the new curricula and gaming and online learning and these new assessments are designed to create. It’s also why you keep hearing so many mentions now globally to ‘quality learning.’

That’s what these ill-defined “motivationally misleading situations” and “wicked decision problems” assessments force. Discomfort in the student so they change values and strategies and how they view the world. Such “reexaminations are actual executive-learning situations, where the subject, little by little, can acquire suitable metaexecutives” that will guide the desired “mental revolution” of when and how student’s choose to act going forward in dealing “with the hard, misleading reality of everyday experience.”

That’s why the problems have to be authentic and grounded in the real world and relevant. It brings in emotions and changes how the world will be viewed going forward. It’s also why this type of education is something all students can do without regard to family income levels or cultural backgrounds. And if this seems like BF Skinner’s operant conditioning or a science fiction novel, Pascual-Leone actually says this will synthesis (he likes italics a lot) is the answer to Skinner’s belief that “the human mind is so strongly conditioned by its learning history that it cannot be free, and thus the will is an illusion.”

These cognitive psychologists and education profs are saying no, human will exists but we can use pedagogy and theories of education to both shut it down and guide it in desired ways. Since we would all rebel if that was the way these reforms were presented, they are not being phrased that way. To us. In the materials we are supposed to use to frame our beliefs and attitudes toward education reforms. But I track down to the insider-only material that gets withdrawn from library shelves for a reason and it is quite clear. In fact, the commonly used term  “college and career ready” is clearly a play on gaining over time a progression of how students “create our conscious structuring of the intersubjective world of everyday experience” so that each student structures their vision of reality in the way desired.

Over time these motivationally misleading situations and wicked-decision problems are supposed to create empathy in the student towards others and the world. To be “developmentally sophisticated and advanced” in this vision of education, what is desired in future students is to be “humanistically oriented or psychologically ‘spiritual.” Now you know why we just kept encountering such a psychological emphasis as we explored the real Common Core implementation and why there is so much deceit and  misleading definitions to so many terms. Being upfront and declaring you are seeking a personality suitable for the illicit political revolution may be true but it would make for a bad PR campaign.

Now I have explained this psychological model before.Yesterday’s letter simply clarified how important a particular kind of assessment is to the vision. It’s how the psych model gets mandated in the US and globally without admitting it. This psych model by the way has long been pushed in urban school districts. It’s just that now it is being foisted on the suburbs in a way that is not supposed to be visible. I am very concerned though by the widespread belief among many minorities that the only way for them to succeed is to push this psych model on all schools.

It’s the economy as a fixed pie belief and they want government to intervene to give them a larger share. And the economy is not a fixed pie and the way governments are intervening to push this Competency model as the goal for all students will ultimately be the death knell of mass prosperity. It’s just not appreciated yet. There has been an awful lot of racial hatred that has been nourished over the years to get this psych model and the overall political transformation in place. Breaks my heart to watch and hear.

Commenting on a similar push in Brazil a WSJ letter to the editor pointed out how hard it is to contain “the populist forces of fairness and change once unleashed for political gain…[E]conomic success overseen by leftist populists intensifies the hard-left passion for absolute social justice and equality.” Yes, and that is precisely the blood lust these ed reforms and the Inner Cities vision and all the movies being pushed now on inequality are building up. Not bothering to point out that the public sector dominant remedy being pushed ultimately brings less prosperity for most of us.

I am going to close with a quote from Sir Henry Sumner Maine from 1885 that we need to all keep in mind to confront what most assuredly is coming all of our way (h/t Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek blog):

“Yet nothing is more certain, than that the mental picture which enchains the enthusiasts for benevolent democratic government is altogether false, and that, if the mass of mankind were to make an attempt at redividing the common stock of good things, they would resemble, not a number of claimants insisting on the fair division of a fund, but a mutinous crew, feasting on a ship’s provisions, gorging themselves on the meat and intoxicating themselves with the liquors, but refusing to navigate the vessel to port.”

I would add that now the enthusiasts are blindly or greedily insisting no one may have navigational skills in the future either. Then where will we all be?



Creating King’s Blessed Community Thru Federal Spending, a Curriculum of Affect, and No Rational Mind

No matter how lofty the rhetoric about the beautiful, idealistic future to be built via education, if the foundation is mind arson and a refusal to teach reading well because it might foster an independent mind, the future will be one of exploiting people. If governments are directing the economy, who gets what will become parasitic. If I want someone to regularly buy my legal services or tap my knowledge, I have to be good. I better be right. And I ought to be polite and congenial to work with. That’s the private marketplace.

When the public sector controls and pays itself with taxpayer money or incurs debt, power is all that matters. And people get paid not for what they know or can do but for what they are willing to do. Or push. Or advocate for. Even if it’s a terrible idea. Beyond the inherent political favoritism of which companies get chosen when politicians and bureaucrats make economic decisions instead of consumers, there’s no real personal penalty for being wrong or wasteful or pushing abusive ideas like a psychological approach to education grounded in research from the Soviet Union. If the charitable foundations with their compounding annually, untaxed assets push socially and economically destructive ideas, there will still be money for salaries and benefits and more destructive grants next year.

That may all be obvious but it creates huge problems with the idea of research universities, government agencies, politicians, nonprofits, and connected Big Business collaborating and coordinating together to direct a new kind of 21st century economy and society. Only the parasites are getting seats at the decision-making table or they can greatly outvote the productive sector that ultimately has to fund it all. Making my own way in the private economy, I have to get the big picture and appreciate likely consequences. Even the hard to foresee ones. But there’s really no incentive for someone who gets paid for what they push on others from the public trough to figure out what the consequences will be. The only consequence that counts is the inability to get a lucrative consulting contract or research grant or promotion. That’s what controls. It’s why dirigiste economies ultimately produce stagnancy if not worse.

So Sunday and Monday I was at the first ever (co)lab, A Collaborative Leadership Summit in Atlanta with all sorts of Big Business sponsorship. It was to be the template for what is to go on in other cities to push this new economic/social vision for the future. Tom Friedman flew in to give the closing address and Sir Ken Robinson and Tony Wagner from Harvard were just two of the famous education reformers who laid out the ed component for getting to the new desired future. The Fulton County School District’s Conversion Charter that I have been so horrified by ever since I read it was featured as a key component of getting to this reimagined society. A woman by the name of April Rinne spoke on the collaboration, support economy of the future. And since she is also with the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, there’s our link of what Atlanta inaugurated and what went on a week earlier in Dalian, China (Sept 18, 2013 post).

When I went to look into the whole concept of collaborative leadership a bit more, I discovered it is being pushed hard globally by the same group that planned that Dalian conference. Ah, sustainability as the excuse for government control of the economy. That was another key component of the (co)lab vision of the future. I could spend the next few weeks laying out all the troubling aspects of what was presented as The Vision for Our Collective Future. Like it or not, here it comes. No more of an emphasis on the individual and making their own choices. This is an imposed vision and education with a curriculum of affect designed to make students either like it or simply accept it as inevitable. Hopefully though they will act to help make it so, completely unaware of what I laid out in the first few paragraphs of this post.

I want to focus today on a comment in just one of the speeches. It was so inspiring to the audience the speaker got a standing ovation. I sat there in horror though wondering precisely what was coming at Atlanta and the rest of the country in the name of honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Now I have encountered and written about so many examples of the communitarian mindsets the real Common Core implementation seeks to instill. So when the speaker, after pitching the need for all of us to develop empathy for all others so they no longer seem to be the ‘other’ and the need to ‘hold multiple truths’ at the same time (I wondered if maybe she had been listening to Robert Kegan describing his 4th Stage Consciousness or reading Psychosynthesis), then brought up the “blessed community,” I was very uneasy. She said (co)lab and what was being discussed there were supposed to help make Atlanta the “living embodiment of MLK’s ‘blessed community.”

Now I was already going to look that up when I got home even before the next line. Creating that ‘beloved community’ was going to require “qualitative change in our souls as well as quantitative change in our lives.” Sounds like wholesale noetic change and then redistribution. Well, I have heard that pitch so many times in recent years and it never bodes well. Change what we feel, believe, value, wish for, and how we live. How comprehensive that is. How transformative. How personally intrusive.  That’s also the goal Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers had that we have covered and for similar reasons. It’s the goal of the humanistic education and the Curriculum of Affect. I have those Ford Foundation financed visions from the 60’s that we will go over in the next post.

What I did not know though is that there were so many people waiting to finalize King’s ‘blessed community’ revolution of civil society and the economy. Conducted through the schools and in the name of the disadvantaged and saving the inner Cities where ever they are located. The most explicit layout of what is really being contemplated dovetails with what King-aide Bayard Rustin laid out in 1965 that we discussed here But the MLK ‘blessed community’ vision that virtually duplicates what we have learned to associate with little ‘c’ Marxist Humanism is described here as being where Dr King had gone in the last two years of his life. And it is this vision that (co)lab and Fulton’s charter and the described reforms consistent with changing the purpose of education are now unquestionably linked to.

When the vision attached to education reforms or political reforms to restructure the nature of cities is attached to language about ” a new more human society” with ‘new values” we all need to pay attention. That aspiration has never worked out well. In the name of avoiding exploitation and oppression and achieving justice and equality, the exact opposites occur because political power and its ability to coerce with minimal consequences to the pushers become dominant. But there is such reverence now for King. Will anyone recognize in time the dangers of blindly advocating for fulfilling his vision “to develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole”?

What about putting the public sector and charitable foundations in charge of shifting us all from a “thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society?” Wouldn’t a curriculum of affect grounded in psychology as the new focus of education be a useful tool for that goal?

We are all being hurdled towards uprooting what we have now to design and create anew. And most people are not in the meetings where this is being laid out at. And there are lots of lies being told in meetings we are at to cover this up so we do not rebel before it is all done. And most of the people advocating for all this are doing it because such advocacy is their livelihood.

No one getting paid to push this has to bear the likely atrocious long-term consequences and they have no incentive to even be aware of them. The people who do have to bear the consequences are largely unaware of what is even intended.

Which is why my typing fingers are getting calloused and my voice hoarse from trying to sound the alarm in time.

As soon as I hear it or see it or read it. Sometimes all three like this time.