Digital Trilogy’s End and Perhaps Ours? Revolutionary Transformation as Explicit Goal of the National Ed Tech Plan

In 2010 the US federal Department of Education issued the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) report named Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology. http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf It calls explicitly for “revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering.” Thereby confirming the worst fears of anyone concerned the Common Core was some sort of an attempt to nationalize ed policy. Now I maintain the feds are actually plugging American ed into the internationalization of ed as a vehicle for systematic change with UNESCO and also the Paris-based OECD as the lead drivers but that is not today’s story. But do keep that in mind as part of the why. The Grit Perseverance Report and Digital Promise and media education and the computer gaming as classroom activity and assessment are ALL part of NETP.

So is the Common Core State Standards Initiative that I just abbreviate as CCSSI. Its purpose is described in NETP as creating the standards (used consistently and interchangeably in report as a synonym for outcomes in students) and new alternative assessments to “measure 21st century competencies.” Now I will come back to all this while you mull over the fact that CCSSI was always merely a temporary means to force states and local school districts to make the desired shifts laid out in the NETP and its collateral documents. That were never really intended to be widely read or known about.

CCSSI takes the political heat. NETP lays out the real sought transformation. Except it’s the same transformation at the level of the individual student and future voter as what was sought in the 90s as well. And we know that because in numerous places NETP mirrors both UNESCO’s DeLors, The Treasure Within, report from 1996 and Chapter 9, “A Curriculum About Humanity,” of the Paul Ehrlich book New World New Mind that I wrote about in the last post. Think of it as a long sought global vision for ed.

So why do we need to change what goes on in the classroom? Because we need to literally change the way people think says Ehrlich: “most important, we have to shift our understanding of ourselves as separate individuals, each seeking our own welfare, to an understanding of how we fit into social, biological, and physical environments.[a Blue Ribbon for every reader recognizing that description of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory graphic] It is not that increasing scientific knowledge makes learning morals obsolete, but that the new world we’ve created makes the nature of moral choices unprecedented.”

Now hiding a deliberate shift in values, attitudes, and beliefs through adaptive software and in vague terms like competencies and 21st century skills and learner outcomes and social and emotional learning to supposedly prevent bullying and create mental health for all is obviously a great back door in for such a Change the Way We Think goal. Especially if you want to teach all these needs to alter moral choices “to children right at the beginning of their education.”

Remember Ehrlich was writing back before the Internet and today’s generation of videogames and stunning, visually compelling multimedia graphics. So his suggested way “to introduce young children to a new view of humanity might be through a cleverly crafted series of Saturday morning cartoons. The first might present humanity, metaphorically, as one single animal. We could show that if humanity were one animal, that ‘creature’ would now weigh more than 100,000 times its original weight. Think about an animal growing until it is now 10 million times more powerful than it was at birth. Wouldn’t that creature have to behave differently at the time of its great power than in its great power than in its weak infancy?”

Now before I continue on with the quote, I want you to keep that intentional manipulation via visuals and emotions on impressionable children in mind from now on every time you read or hear of an intention to use technology in the classroom to engage all students. Or here’s another quote from the NETP “leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures.” Elsewhere, NETP lays out technology’s ability to assess non-cognitive features like motivational influences and to do it through virtual reality simulations that can assess personal responses “within the context of relevant societal issues and problems that people care about in everyday life.”

Ehrlich, much like all these education professors whose theories we have looked at, wants to figure out how to change people’s perceptions of their daily reality. Here’s the rest of the quote from above. Ask yourself if Ehrlich would be a fan of David Christian’s Big History curriculum we have discussed.

“If we imagined humanity this way, we and our children could begin to think differently. Instead of pondering the local problems of our own life, we need to think about the collective life of our species. If, instead of thinking in terms of decades, centuries, or even the millenia of recorded history, we contemplated our history for many millions [italics in original] of years, then the problems we now face would take on a vastly different purpose.”

Well if that doesn’t give additional clarity to all the hyping about catastrophic man-made global warming whatever actual temp trends or trumpeting weather events like Hurricane Sandy as proof of too much “carbon” in the air, how about the acknowledgment that “If we could teach this understanding of our history and capabilities, both students and adults might begin to channel the development of humanity in new directions.” Directions that, like NETP’s vision for revolutionizing education, have a likely effect of making people far more malleable to being governed. And more susceptible to the social engineering aspirations of the behavioral sciences.

If you think of curricula in the 21st century not as a body of knowledge but as the prescribed set of learning experiences, it is a lot easier to see that learning sciences and cognitive theory as mentioned repeatedly in these reports as what the new classroom is to be about gets you to Ehrlich’s New Mind goals. Here’s another quote consistent with his intent that “the key to getting new-minded adults seems to be training them early.”

“When we say change the curriculum, therefore, it is really a code for saying change the whole society (since curricula are determined largely at the local level [Not anymore! How convenient.]) and changing the entire education system. It is a big order, our survival depends on it, and it is a task for grown-ups.”

Preferably those grown-ups with an Edudoctorate and a title to mandate all these changes that seek to transform society invisibly at taxpayer expense. These Supers and profs and principals and overpaid consultants have all been totally immersed in all these learning theories that are either political theories that track back to Uncle Karl or based on Soviet psych research. The lack of genuine knowledge in the typical ed degree program at any level leaves these Determined to be Change Agents almost the last people to be able to appreciate the likely dire implications of what they are pushing. Or its known tragic history.

Let’s get back to the NETP since it really is how the federal DoEd and the foundations and the tech companies for starters intend to get Ehrlich’s New Minds in a sufficient number of voters to drive the rest of the sought changes through the ballot box. Two explicit goals that actually sound nice and worthy drive this entire transformation of the ed system. Which of course is intended to drive revolutionary transformations in everything else.

Goal Number 1: “We will raise the proportion of college graduates from where it now stands (around 41 percent) so that 60 percent of our population holds a two-year or four-year degree by 2020.”

That’s a requirement that forces the nature of both K-12 and higher ed to change so that we have equity in credentials without real knowledge. Which in turn sets up voters who are likely to have expectations for their adult lives that cannot be met under current economic and social structures. They will have no idea that it is government interventionism and overregulation and the “learning sciences and theories” themselves driving the economic stagnation. They will thus be ready to vote for every demagogue promising change.

Goal Number 2: “We will close the achievement gap so that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.”

That second goal again forces changes on what can go on in the classroom since no achievement gap is allowed despite different life experiences, parenting, or language issues. The emphasis on ready to succeed again fuels the drive to reform higher ed AND the nature of the workplace AND the nature of the economy.

It will then become a necessary role of governments to ensure that anticipated adult success. Which is really convenient as I will lay out in the next post what the planners have in mind when they say they want governments to be the designers of new social systems.

For all of us.

Say what?

 

 

Avenue for Achieving the Broader Social Vision of Equity, Full Participation and Collective Contribution

On December 19, 1969 Time magazine did a special issue in preparation of the upcoming new decade. In an article called “The Next Decade: A Search for Goals” Time began to set the framework for a hoped-for “profound change” in people’s way of thinking and acting. Here’s the aspect that is important to anyone, like a David Christian with his Big History or Paul Ehrlich with his catastrophe hype, who hopes for a conscious cultural evolution. By basically using education to remove the imagination ignition power of a store of facts coupled to reason. Here’s Time in 1969:

“The veneration of rationality was the special myth of modern man. The worldview created by the enthronement of reason included a universal belief in individualism and competition; now that myth is dying. Faith in science and technology has given way to fear of their consequences.”

Author Ayn Rand looked at such passages and the student riots of the 60s and what she saw in California’s universities and she remembered the deliberate Bolshevik assault on cultural traditions in her home country of Russia in the 1920s. Like me, she wrote to try to alert others of the urgency of what she saw and read. In 1970 she published an essay “The Left: Old and New” where she wrote this astute observation that is even more under assault today. Let’s listen to her informed voice because we will need these insights:

“reason leads to (and is the foundation of) individualism and competition, i.e., capitalism. Capitalism’s enemies know it. Its alleged friends are still twisting themselves into double-jointed pretzels in the struggle to evade that knowledge.

Let us also remind you that reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses–i.e., that reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge–and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction of the facts of reality.”

Handy, huh, if you are trying to use potential climate catastrophes to shift people globally into a Mindset to be Governed as we have also recently talked about? I have written before that James Burke’s book The Axemaker’s Gift made it clear that the assaults on how to teach reading and math that set off the so-called wars were really about diminishing the power of those abilities to nurture reason. To ignite an individual’s Axemaker Mind. That remains the goal now decades later in education reforms. That Bayard Rustin essay from the last post was not something that could be quoted by the mainstream press without jeopardizing the social, political, and economic goals themselves. Most of us are simply not going to be still or lay down if we know we and the traditions that created unprecedented overall national success and global prosperity are being attacked. So education becomes the means and the individual mind the target of an invisible, taxpayer-funded attack.

The MacArthur Foundation’s January 2013 report is simply the latest push to fulfill Bayard Rustin’s dream   http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/ConnectedLearning_report.pdf except with the treasure chest of untaxed gains from past innovative breakthroughs. Waiting I suppose to be called on by US Presidents frustrated that they are not getting their way with Congress on Climate Change legislation. ” I will call on philanthropies and college presidents” was in this week’s speech. And, oh, will they ever listen. Hard to find any group coordinating so actively to set in motion revolutionary transformations.

Connected Learning is all about using education as an avenue to a “broader reform and equity agenda” that will “serve the interests and needs of non-dominant young people and their communities.” And if all the report’s angry references to what “privileged families” do with their own children was not a dead giveaway on where this is all going, the report early on says it uses the term non-dominant (which it bolds for emphasis like these other terms) “instead of the more common descriptors of minority, diverse, or of color, as non-dominant explicitly calls attention to issues of power and power relations than do traditional terms to describe members of differing cultural groups.”

OK, well, we have known for a while, haven’t we, that the Common Core and 21st Century Skills were just a PR gambit in a much broader, hidden struggle? And I would agree. Education reform really is about power and intentions over future power relations. As in the public sector and its connected cronies want to call the shots in the future globally and have too few of us to matter in a position to object. So in part 1 to Connected Learning, MacArthur cites quotes from the heads of two other foundations, Spencer and Russell Sage, known for funding behavioral science research. That’s us folks and we behave more like the models if schools and the universities snuff out the Axemaker Minds of students and substitute politically useful concepts and ideas to be the guiding lenses of future behavior. Brought to us by people who prove in Part 1 they have no understanding of the economy because they don’t have to. The paychecks roll in regardless of knowledge. Fidelity and fealty to theory is all that matters now in too many places surrounding education.

Part 2’s lead-in cannot even get the name of John Dewey’s 1916 book right but this is all brought to us by foundations where the heart is pure, the intentions are noble, and the treasure chest is vast. Who cares then if the report is careless on facts or regularly uses the terms “our emerging hypothesis” or “we posit” in discussing what they plan to impose and set in motion. On students. In schools. And the rest of us given these express aspirations to remake society and gain a new economy. Car sharing and bike sharing and non-proprietary forms of business to get a more participatory economic future? Really?

Connected learning then is defined “by a set of values, an orientation to social change and a philosophy of learning.” Isn’t it good to know they are partnering with the federal DoEd on all this?   http://reimaginingeducation.org/speakers/ Connected learning is explicitly about achieving “progressive and equity-centered reform efforts in school and policy areas.” As Rustin and Harry Boyte noted this is about marching through and changing far more than schools and universities. All the social institutions are targeted. But it starts this time with all the new media and digital and computer gadgets. “Today’s technologies offer us the ability to pursue these progressive goals in new ways through purposeful integration of tools for social connection, creation, and linking the classroom, community and home.”

Connected learning “takes a networked approach to social change that aligns with our ecological perspective.” I will stop the quote for a moment to tell you the previous page absolutely referenced our old friend Urie Bronfenbrenner by name which means in comes his Ecological Systems Theory “metaphor” that classroom teachers and students never get told is just a metaphor. And long time readers know this also brings in Soviet psychologist Leontiev’s plans on how to conduct a behavioral and social change experiment in the West. As I say, fiction writers have nothing on education and political schemers in the ongoing struggle over power. Quickly the report disdains the individual unless he or she is contributing to the officially-endorsed vision of the common good and wants to put the emphasis on collective and societal goals. It sees digital and blended learning as means to achieve broader social, cultural, and economic visions.

And the second part of the quote I interrupted tells us again how offshoots like Agenda 21 and Clean Energy and Green Technology are in fact related through the broader overall social vision of change. “We believe that systemic shift requires linked efforts across different sites of learning, and that our best hope for educational change lies in connecting like-minded reform efforts.” It looks conspiratorial because it is intentionally coordinated. Especially through the foundations and federal agencies funding all these “like-minded” efforts at overall transformation.

All the Gaming posts I have written and GlassLab as assessments in the future come in as Institute of Play and its Quest to Learn school are one of the exemplary case studies. Those links and the Urie ones are easy to locate if you have not seen them via the tags. I am going to close with a link to an old post that readers of the report are not likely to recognize as related. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/

Do you remember that shocking James Paul Gee quote of the future aspiration that “There are no discrete individuals. Only ensembles of skills stored in a person, assembled for a particular project, to be reassembled for other projects, and shared with others within ‘communities of practice?”

The report’s Acknowledgments page thanks network advisor James Paul Gee for his thoughtful reviews and comments.

Not just a “networked” vision then but one with chilling implications that have been put to paper now and in the past once we know where to look.

Schools that Break Down Obstacles to the Formation of Revolutionary Personalities

No, David Christian, the Professor pushing the new Big History course has said and written some doozies as we will see but today’s title was not one of them. I borrowed it from aspirations for Italian schools in 1972 since David so clearly wants today’s students to learn to think as idealogues instead of factually. And with Bill Gates’ backing and his Foundation’s funding and McGraw Hill debuting the textbook Big History: Between Nothing and Everything in August, this may be nonsense to those of us who prefer facts and knowledge but it is about to be influential nonsense. And in more places that the “enlightened” high schools already on board. There’s a reason for connections too between Big History–BH for now– and those NSF-funded Understandings of Consequence that are also frequently false. You see, BH combines natural sciences and humanities within a single framework to emphasize the interconnections. Here’s the international newsletter http://ibhanet.org/Resources/Documents/newsletters/Newsletter_III_05.pdf  for April so you can mull over why this is now called Convergence Education in Korea.

Now in case you have always thought of ideology as an insult, let’s use the working definitions of some experts who knew it well and spent a lifetime pointing them out and refuting them. Here’s the great Kenneth Minogue again, this time from his 1963 classic The Liberal Mind: [my snark in brackets]

“An ideology may therefore be defined as a set of ideas whose primary coherence results not from their truth and consistency, as in science and philosophy, but from some external cause; most immediately, this external cause will be some mood, vision, or emotion. [Wouldn’t an emphasis on values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings be oh so useful?] The psychological mark of ideological entrapment is the feeling of despair which accompanies the prospect of defeat in argument. [usually resulting in an irrelevant but nasty personal attack] Ideologies seek to avoid such painful experiences by framing their key utterances in a vague or tautological form, in order to make these propositions impregnable. The intellectual mark of ideology is the presence of dogma, beliefs which have been dug into the ground and surrounded by semantic barbed wire. [Think Climate Change models that ignore actual temps and omit key influences]. Ideologies incorporate some kind of general instructions about behavior–ideals or value-judgments, as they would commonly be called.”

Now since we learned in the last post for sure that we have a modern class of international nomenklatura who wish to govern us whether we like it or not, what better tool than schools that dispense Mindsets of Ideology instead of facts. No more making your own concepts, remember? Those will now be assigned as the acceptable Big Ideas to guide 21st Century student thinking. No parent need ever know. Who are they compared to a Social Studies Education major anyway. Now the typical ed major or doctorate that gets to be in charge of such a change in curricula may be blissfully unaware of the dangerous, even murderous, past of ideologies, but we are not. Especially after this post. Let’s borrow a few more key components from Jean-Francois Revel’s 1988 (1991 translation into English) book, The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information. Our title came from one of his stories.

Ideology is

–“concerned with a view to action. It transforms reality, indeed far more powerfully than exact knowledge does.”

–“refuse to heed displeasing arguments and facts–something that is the very negation of the scientific spirit.”

–“One can only begin to talk of an ideology with respect to collective beliefs.”

–“always active…a mixture of strong emotions and simple ideas, linked to a certain mode of behavior.”

Now I am going through this at some link because truthfully a push to have K-12 and higher ed be active dispensers of ideologies is exactly what we are dealing with in so many areas. And it is especially what the ed degree programs are all about. The District Central Office and the college deans and maybe your principal have all been trained to think ideologically without really knowing it. So we have to know ideology better than they do so we can always recognize both the poison and its advocates. Yes, this is about far more than BH.

Revel has one more vital insight we need to keep in mind. Many people prefer to think ideologically if they must think at all. As he notes:

“Human beings experience all sorts of needs for intellectual activity other than the need to know. The libido sciendi is not, contrary to what Pascal said, the principal motor of the human mind. It is only an accessory inspirer, and only among a small number of us. [See why TAG and Honors classes must go?] The average human being seeks the truth only after having exhausted all other possibilities.”

Well, not on this info-filled blog but Revel raises an important point for us to remember. Now I am going to start with a link to 1991 since David started pushing this project before the broken glass had been cleaned up at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/journals/jwh/jwh022p223.pdf And David’s specialty was not just history but Sovietology. So I want you to remember this desire for “large-scale maps” that “reestablish {history’s} centrality as a discussion about what it means to be human” in light of a certain ideology that had come into disrepute at the time he was writing whenever it was upfront with its name. Beyond usurping the roles of philosophy and religion, BH wants to delve into “human impact on the environment” so ecology comes in too. In fact, BH is to play “as significant a role in modern industrial society as traditional creation myths have played in nonindustrial societies.” By that I guess he means “who are we and why are we here?” Boy, will BH get along well with contemplative education.

Christian is far more graphic on his intentions in the 91 article than he is now. He pointed out there “that growth, far from being the normal condition of humanity, is an aberration.” Trust me with these education policies and practices, that aberration is about to cease if it hasn’t already. Somehow if BH referred to how “the ‘bacillus’ man is taking over the world”, I am wondering if it might slow down textbook sales and funding. Probably not but someone who writes about the “sudden breakdown in an ancient equilibrium between a large mammal species and the environment it inhabits” will certainly be on board with the No More Axemaker Minds campaign Paul Ehrlich and the UN are mounting.

Honestly if BH “blurs the borderline between history and the natural sciences” then none of these subjects are in a form we would recognize. http://www.thegreatstory.org/universal-history.pdf is that troubling “History and Theory: The Next 50 Years.” Christian makes his intention that history “will have a powerful impact on public thinking about the past” quite clear. He thinks this “shared history” suitable for China or the US, Russia or South Africa will “help educators generate a sense of global citizenship.” Gag. That phrase again. Since Christian is fairly deceitful in marveling over where have all the Universal Histories gone, he is avoiding saying that was the role played by Uncle Karl’s theories. He clearly does NOT want to point that out. So I will and cite to Robert Heilbroner in his 1980 Marxism For and Against for pointing out that “No other study of history is so consciously oriented to mastering history, as is Marxism. For that reason alone it warrants our respect.” You didn’t think I would quote a Tea Party historian to refute Christian did you?

Here’s Heilbroner again: “Marxism is intended to provide more than an understanding of history. It is intended to serve as a guide for making history.” Why, how active. See above under Ideology.  So a “history that looks to the future” as Christian claims for BH is a history that functions just like what Uncle Karl envisioned. Something to think about as it becomes mainstreamed.

http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/6.3/christian.html makes it clear that David is quite aware that it is the power of symbolic language and the storehouse of cultural info across generations that has driven the human ability to adapt. To change our environment. He and others involved with global education reform know it is unique to our species and they are not too happy about its potential. You can take a look yourself to see if you think BH, like Whole Language, is an attempt to diminish that human ability to adapt and innovate.  http://usm.maine.edu/sites/default/files/The%20Collaborative%20of%20Global%20and%20Big%20History/christian%20historically%20speaking%20big%20history.pdf is one more link for you to see if you share my belief that this type of “underlying unity of modern knowledge” is because it fits Minogue and Revel’s definitions of ideology.

Because if it does, this is just another tool in that giving more power to Governments and the Public Sector vision. Which is precisely where ideology is the most entrenched.

Who knew it was going to be such a ferocious struggle to maintain the legitimacy of the individual in the 21st century?