Protected Producers vs Paying Consumers/Taxpayers:Who will Prevail on Education and the Economy?

If we did not already understand just how much the entire legitimacy of individualism and free choices are at stake in what is being sought through education and the Sustainability Economic Transformation, that graphic phrase from the last post’s title “psychological umbilical cord” should be a wakeup call. At a deep emotional level cultivating the fundamental belief that each of us is nothing without the group. That our physical environment and social interactions determine who we are. Not just as a contributing factor.

Now you know part of the impetus for the frequent assertion for the statements that K-12 education cannot be fixed as long as poverty exists. That first we must change the environments so that everyone has comparable opportunities.  Of course we now know that is bogus. That K-12 is being consciously broken to prevent Axemaker Minds and take away the magic mental effects that people gain from the power of symbolic manipulation.

This week was quite the series of confirmations on precisely what is going on. Socially. Economically. Globally. Before I tell the story of the new revelations, I went back to the 1982 book on using Systems Thinking to alter the direction of the future to revisit the whys of what I knew and could prove. It is relevant to why accurate factual knowledge of the past and the enduring drivers of human nature are such a danger for anyone with a futurist orientation. Here’s a telling quote on the motivation behind what became known in the 90s as Transformational Outcomes Based Education or today’s Systems Thinking in the classroom. The core of the Common Core is an apt way to describe the planned classroom dominance of reimagine the future activities for Real World Problems. Solvable of course with just enough taxpayer money, dialoguing, and maybe a Model UN Session or Two.

“Where memory is rooted solely in the past, imagination may be oriented in the past, present, or future. ”

Knowledge of history then or human nature from great literature influences your beliefs about what can be in confining ways. Practical ways that get in the way of anyone with aspirations of Utopia or just a desire for an old-fashioned Power Grab. Here’s more (the next line):

“The subsequent behavior of the living system is governed by the nature of the image, whether of memory or imagination.”

Can you see the value of convincing young students that the polar bears are drowning and clinging to life on ice floes from disintegrating icebergs? Caused by industrialization and fossil fuels and human activity in general? How useful an emotional visual appeal is to creating a deep felt belief that Authorities must intervene and Do Something? Anything to help. ASAP.

What’s the effect of actual knowledge of the past on such a cry? Might the student recognize that power corrupts or that it is foolish to jettison what works for the most part in favor of Something that has never been tried before? Or worse that it is similar to what brought tragedy in the past. And that the Designers of the Plan have no real downside if they screw up. But we taxpayers and ordinary unconnected to the Political Powers-that-be Folks will be left with the consequences of any fiasco. Think about that as we pull up another Systems Thinking futurist quote of precisely the importance of what education, K-12 and higher ed, is shutting down.

“What gives man a significant ‘edge’ over other living systems is not so much his ability to transmit symbols horizontally, to his contemporaries, but vertically, to his successors. It is this vertical capacity that is made possible by the time-binding nature of his symbols . . . This permits us to encapsulate and transmit to our successors a culture embracing our past experiences in a degree far more effective than other creatures, making possible a progress unique to man.”

And that is precisely what the Learner Centered classroom mandated in the CCSSI classroom implementation takes away. And Whole Language. And making regular use of tools like the I-Pad or a laptop or a Smartphone the focus in the classroom. All fundamentally interfere with this Vertical Transmission of Knowledge.  In fact as we have discussed more than once. That Desired Interference is a Feature, not a Bug prompting the mandated use. is from our helpfully explicit  Texas Insurrectionists. And taking out the Vertical Transmission aspect means that actual knowledge need not impede the imagination conjuring up alternative futures.

Except The Powers that Be or Hope-to-Be already have a desired future in mind. They just do not want enough well-informed Axemaker Mind voters to get in the way and alter what seems to them to be a perfectly good and lucrative dirigiste scheme around the notion that Gaia has a temperature and the world’s indutrialized economies need to radically restructure. Now. We have talked in a few posts about the Regional Equity Movement. The seminal conference was actually not the 2011 Building One America. Instead in 1998 the Brookings Institution held a national Regionalism conference. Bruce Katz assembled the results into a series of essays, Reflections on Regionalism, published in 2000 with then VP and Presidential candidate Al Gore writing the book’s Foreword.

That book clarified an unappreciated aspect to both education reform and Regionalism and the racial justice movements in the US: “ensuring that people of color have equal access to jobs, schools, and housing throughout metropolitan regions.”

Now that goal is impossible in an economy based on capitalism and individual achievement and free choice. It is impossible where education is based on academic achievement of the individual. See our real problem? See why the Green Economy is such a lure? As admitted and avowed Communist Van Jones himself acknowledged in 2009 it let’s government bureaucrats and politicians and their connected cronies set the terms of who benefits, where business is located, whose, what kind, etc.

I had seen Bruce Katz’s name attached recently to a national taxpayer funded push known as Regional Innovation Clusters that takes a more Dirigiste/Corporatist approach to Regionalism. It is still not Capitalism as Adam Smith described it that creates mass prosperity. So when I saw that Bruce Katz would be speaking In Atlanta last week at a political breakfast to promote Regionalism, I bought a ticket and went. Relying on my Memory and Big Ears and Eyes to catch a glimpse for us of what Regionalism looks like in 2012.  Still working at Brookings and promoting what is now known as Metropolitanism internationally.

As always Regionalism is about getting us to a new future economy redesigned around Export Manufacturing and Low Carbon Technology. Katz said the New Economy would be “Production driven, not consumption driven.” I wonder if I was the only person there who immediately recognized that is Mercantilism. And a huge part of where ed is going and the premise behind 21st Century Learning. Katz went on to describe an economy where businesses would “collaborate to compete” which sounds a whole lot like officially endorsing Collusion between Government and Established Businesses. Which they have always loved but it works quite dismally for those of us who pay the bills and do not have a Seat at the Table or a Tee Time with just the right Lobbyist.

I am going to close with the vision in an Education Transformation Plan that I found horrific but that so inspired AT&T that it offered the School District one of the choicest venues in Atlanta, the historic Fox Theatre, to roll it out. Thus emboldening every administrator and principal and politician attending that This Was a Good Plan. The plan insists on using computer technology to get graduation rates up to 90% and then wants 85% of that to go on to colleges already being reorganized in light of this Paper Credentialling Vision

So here’s my question to all of you. Is that our future? A take it or live it world where we finance an educational vision and an economic vision where we have no choices. Where students and consumers are merely sources of long-term revenue for politically connected adults? Where there can be no mass prosperity?

Because Systems Thinking and Pedagogy and implemented collectivist political theories may be able to alter our future but none of them can feed any of the billions currently alive who actually rely on Capitalism and the benefits it creates for their Daily Bread. And so much more.

When will we contemplate what is being destroyed in the name of Equity?


Who Granted Permission to Spearhead Societal Evolution to a Global Cooperative Consciousness?

Not just once as an aside but multiple times. Loud and clear. No ambiguity. Well, at least not if you read the actual Bela Banathy book Systems Design of Education: A Journey to Create the Future that I mentioned in the last post. Still not convinced since that Educational Leadership article said 1992. Well, but school districts are redistributing that 1992 article right now to illustrate what they mean when they say they want to use systems thinking in the classroom as part of the implementation of CCSSI. Want more current proof? How about how well Professor Charles Reigeluth’s Handbook Chapter on “Systems Design for Change in Education and Training” fits with that Fulton County Georgia district charter that Ed Week heralded as a national template when it went live on July 1, 2012?

Did you know Professor Reigeluth also teaches a course called “Systemic Change in Education and Training” that used both Banathy’s book and Peter Senge’s books so that credentialed educators can be prepared to redesign education and the American economy around systems thinking and design competence just as Banathy envisioned? No wonder the Model Standards for the Educational Leadership degrees mention that it is grounded in Human Development Theory. Which is precisely what Banathy describes as taking the place of the content instructional view of education. So the principal or super or other administrator with a recent (last ten years or so) Educational Leadership degree, especially a doctorate, got a heavy dose of Banathy’s vision for using a radically revised vision of education to be “a key agent in the transformation of the society.” When they weren’t being bombarded with Paulo Freire social justice or John Dewey’s Reconstruction vision.

So many of the administrators living off of your property taxes and state and federal taxes have been led to believe that we are in a Post-Industrial Information Society where there is a tremendous gap between the types of minds society will need in the future and what schools and colleges have typically produced. Social institutions that no one ever designed in the first place but which evolved are going to be trashed in favor of a new type of education and a planned economy developed around systems thinking and Sustainability. What could go wrong? I guess ignorance really comes in handy with these advanced education degrees because a knowledge of history would reveal that this scheme has catastrophe written all over it. Let’s disregard the lessons of the past indeed.

Let’s look at specifically at what Banathy laid out since as we now know it was the basis for what was being field tested in Colorado in the 1990s and it is coming to school districts right now under district charters, training by Senge or the Waters Foundation, or just the nature of the education degree work of the administrators in charge or your district. A promise to fulfill this vision and other political transformation visions for education may well be the entire basis for being able to use the title “Doctor.”

Banathy says that a key core idea and value in creating new images of education is the idea that:

“we should undertake to design our societies and their environments so that people of the future will be able to design their lives in ways that express their own humanity.”

Now I am a bit tempted at this point to start humming the song “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” I learned at summer camp and then give a lecture on what happens when you try such a gutting and redesign in order to centrally plan an economy and a society. Here’s the problem with just rejecting Banathy and then showing up at a school board meeting to lecture the Super on precisely the kind of social engineering hubris that killed 100 million people in the 20th Century. This vision is not just confined to Ed World. It’s the guiding vision behind the Future Earth Alliance and the Belmont Challenge we have talked about. It is the mission of that USGCRP 2012-2021 report we have also talked about. It is embodied in the Ecosystem representing both the economy and the environment which has been the purpose of numerous conferences and workshops and reports over the last several years. I monitor the National Academy of Sciences releases weekly for just this very reason.

The US federal government really does envision that the tech companies can organize the American economy around Sustainability with supercomputers and sufficient personal data on citizens. So Banathy’s vision may seem farfetched to those of us paying the bills and trying to survive in the nonpolitical private sector but lots of tax money is being spent right now in pursuit of this very vision. If it cannot work, now is a really good time to be talking about it. We are not over the falls yet but I hear them and can see that sudden precipitous gap in the nearby horizon. In fact truth be told, I think too many school districts have already gone over. I believe that was the essence of what led to the Atlanta cheating scandal. And we already have too many teens and twenty-somethings with credentials and expectations and manipulated values but no real marketable knowledge or skills from previous, non-national pushes of this vision. Graduates who have just their time and perhaps a willingness to show up regularly to offer an employer. Teamwork preferred.

Here are the Nine Dimensions Banathy proposed to “constitute an internally consistent and integrated guiding image for human and social development.” You know the image for education that is replacing the to-be-rejected idea that the “key function of education is the transmission of the knowledge of the past.” Talk about doomed to repeat it. Here goes verbatim in order to get to a “new image for humankind.” No, I don’t think Banathy studied hubris in the Greek tragedies of Sophocles. (His caps and it is pages 45-46 if you have a copy. My snark added)

“a SOCIAL ACTION dimension, implemented by social justice, and an increase in cooperation and integration of our social systems (this cooperation is really popular with existing Big Business and colleges and universities. Its historic name since I have a knowledge of past is Dirigisme or Corporatism);

an ECONOMIC DIMENSION with a focus on economic justice and integrated and indigenous development (so everyone will have roughly the same wealth and income unless you are politically connected and we will move away from an industrialized society);

a MORAL dimension of strengthening self-realization, social, and ecological ethics (why there was a CASEL report on these very Competencies published last week);

a WELLNESS dimension that nurtures the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the individual and the society (apparently there are no church/state concerns when the practices push Eastern forms of spirituality like Buddhism);

an EDUCATIONAL dimension of nurturing the full development of individuals and social groups (I have a Soviet document from the 70s with almost the same language except it uses the term “Full Personality”);

a SCIENTIFIC dimension mobilized for promoting human and social betterment (behavioral and social sciences are to be the dominant sciences in the 21st century to better control technology);

a TECHNOLOGICAL dimension of placing technology under the guidance of socio-cultural intelligence and human wisdom, and harvesting its potential for the nonviolent resolution of conflicts, and the improvement of the quality of life for all (see above snark. The Middle East at the moment illustrates this will not work and the very aspiration increases our risk);

an AESTHETIC dimension in pursuit of beauty, in cultural values, in the arts and humanities, and the enrichment of the quality of our inner lives (because in this post GDP/non-economic growth planned world inner qualities will have to replace desired consumer goods);

a POLITICAL DIMENSION of self-determination, governance for peace development, global cooperation and integration, and for the improvement of human conditions. ( I think the pictures outside American embassies in the last 2 weeks illustrate this hope will likely have tragic consequences if the US follows this position).

So the current vision for education being actually imposed under the pretense of the Common Core is ultimately about those Nine Dimensions. Can we please put on the Broadway tune ” The Impossible Dream” and start moving American and global education back away from the abyss this vision actually represents? Because rejecting knowledge from the past has DOOM written all over it.