Parrhesia, Bill Ayers, Reinventing Schools for Meaning-Making, and Rewiring Teens’ Brains

Does that title seem a bit like a Jeopardy Question that starts with an unusual word and then leads to a notorious name for click bait? I wish, but Parrhesia is a Greek word that was in the last post’s paper on how John Dewey’s Ethics of Moral Principles and Deliberation were to be incorporated per IEEE Standards (no one was to tell us about) into the ‘adaptive instructional systems’ being touted as the answer for the Pandemic’s need to social distance. Until a Vaccine!! The systems of ethical deliberation becomes a component via required practices adaptive instructional systems incorporate into supplied student experiences. These are to “allow participants to safely engage in parrhesia.” No mention of “Guilty as *, Free as a Bird” Ayers yet, as the definition is a democratic mode of being, that is “an ancient Greek concept…[of] telling truth as one sees it with honesty and integrity…parrhesia qualities include engaging in dialogue, questioning, having a passion for public affairs and human equality. Parrhesia requires intellectual courage and risk-taking in truth telling and pursuits of inquiry.”

Ok, then the footnote goes to a paper by Kerry Burch on “Parrhesia as a Principle of Democratic Pedagogy” helpfully placed on US education websites with the heading “Social Justice: A Language Re/Considered”, which seems to be something we should know about before assuming digital learning is the answer to all our problems. It starts with quotes from Cornel West (whose self-professed ties to the Marxist Humanist vision we have covered here at ISC) and Paulo Freire, whose name is associated with rejecting the so-called Banking Theory of Education. Bill shows up later in the paper, but not by his nickname or standing on a flag in a New York Times article published just before 9/11/2001. No, here’s the passage:

Few educational thinkers describe the kind of democratic personality traits [Dispositions or Attributes of cybernetic citizenship or Character Education?] that need to be cultivated today as elegantly as William Ayers. These traits cannot easily be brought about by relying on the mechanistic knowledge ordained in conventional approaches to ‘learning’ about ”democracy’. Ayers’ charts a different course: ‘We want to teach them to take initiative, to be creative, to be imaginative, to take risks, to question authority, to wonder about the world. This means fundamentally, in a school system based on democratic values, we really believe that the full development of all is a condition for the full development of each.’

Ayers said that and the footnote goes to a Winter 2009 published interview, but Ayers is in turn quoting from Uncle Karl and his Human Development Society vision of the premise for his little ‘c’ communism ideal. No wonder the Chinese and the UN love this vision of cybernetic citizenship, but what a mandate for ‘adaptive instructional systems’ to be cultivating in students to prepare them for parrheistic modes of being. Sounds a bit like the call for an Arational mind that we have discovered lies at the foundation of what is really student proficiency in a competency-based system. When we think of ‘adaptive instructional systems” for K-12, who thinks it is something that would please Bill Ayers and fulfill Uncle Karl’s plans? Who will be looking for “how the buoyant sociality of parrhesia would promote the creation of critically awake democratic personalities”?

Another paper I located called “The Ethics of Critical Inquiry: Educational Research Informed by Parrhesia” attributed this push to notorious French philosopher Michel Foucault, who in turn talked about Aristotle. Which one gets cited later for a similar vision with differing sales pitches and rhetoric does not seem to be about any disagreement on what is being sought through education. Instead, I believe, the different approaches stem from which name the audience, including people being solicited for donations, are likely to revere. Parrhesia here is an attempt to “contribute to social good and bring about positive change” by fostering educational practices that will create “an ethos of disrupting human subjectivities from within”. That sounds a bit disruptive to the student’s personality, doesn’t it? The

early meaning was to open one’s heart and mind completely to other people through his or her discourse…Parrhesia … became associated with transforming the soul of an individual. Most importantly the concept developed political dimensions indispensable to democracy. Parrhesia meant to engage socially and politically as a consequence of integrity of the heart. It required one to courageously say truthful things that are useful for all to hear…It’s not a ‘body of knowledge’ but a ‘body pf practices’ without reference to an external order…It allows for mediation between the ethos of an individual and the well-being of society. In short, it is through parrhesia that an individual constitutes him/herself as a moral subject in relation to others.

Just the thing if a moral revolution is sought at the level of the human mind, heart, and soul as Uncle Karl envisioned. If you don’t want resistance create a need for digital learning because of something like a Pandemic and then mandate ‘parrheistic practices’ into the programming the learning experiences provided by ‘adaptive instructional systems’ offer up. Now before we turn to the latter part of this post’s title I want to link to this article https://behavioralscientist.org/behavioral-public-policy-faces-a-crisis/ on the failure to properly respond to COVID-19 which calls for cultivating minds that can “understand complex systems in crisis”. Since we keep coming across the behavioral sciences and their desire to create a new kind of educational template going back to the 1950s at least, I thought that article’s confession that:

Behavioral public policy is rooted in the idea that biases, heuristics, and mental models determine behavior. If you reframe or alter individuals’ decision making context, you change their behavior.

We now know that is precisely what learning standards like the Common Core in the US or any tied to UNESCO’s ISCED globally and competency-based education frameworks are designed to do. The Pandemic simply makes this desire for “shared frames of reference” for meaning-making supposedly necessary. It’s to be perceived as a crisis, like climate change, that necessitates common ways of looking at the world and what must be changed to meet the demands of the crisis. Individual deviations are not allowed. Yes, tell that to Shelly Luther in Texas or that barber in Michigan.

Timely too is that the May 2020 issue of Educational Leadership published by ASCD, which is now independent of the NEA, unlike in 1985 when it first introduced an internalized common core as I covered in Credentialed to Destroy. The issue is devoted to “Learning and the BRAIN” and one of its articles called “Building Meaning Builds Teens’ Brains” lays out how “Connecting adolescents’ concrete work to big ideas may help shape their neural networks over time.” Research for the article was provided by the National Science Foundation, which certainly explains why they also funded the math and science constructivism covered in Chapter 3 of CtD, and the Templeton Foundation. It would explain the latter’s funding of the Jubilee Centre in the UK and its Virtues curriculum, which we have since tied to the Pope’s new Humanity 2.0 initiative and its new vision for education. Templeton also funded Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology and Positive Neuroscience work, among other things we have covered.

Remember so long ago here at ISC when I mentioned a new vision of Dialectical Materialism, a mouthful term, created in the USSR by Evald Ilyenkov called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete? We have now over time here at ISC tied to cybernetic designs, conceptual frameworks, and the now federally required assessment annually of Higher Order Thinking in virtually all US students. Now we have this new article informing us of the need for “Reinventing Schools for Meaning-Making”. What it bills as ‘narrative building’ by students certainly sounds like what the others described above suggested as parrheistic modes of being.

These curricular practices turn out to be expressly designed to rewire what the neural networks in teenage brains look like and what the students can do. In fact, by going to motivation, these practices act as an accelerant of future likely behavior. All of these intended interventions are probably helped by the co-authors connections that I have encountered in my research over time. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang shows up at both UNESCO conferences and Aspen’s NCSEAD on the need for social and emotional learning, as well as the NSF’s Brain Initiative. Perfect places to push a vision of education globally grounded in DiaMat that asks “How can we know when young people are building [brain networks]…predictive of success in school, self-actualization, relationship satisfaction, and other positive indicators in early adulthood?”

Think of the parrhesia invisible focus of ‘adaptive instructional systems’ and then ask the article’s question of “What kind of learning experiences strengthen connectivity across these networks?” Remember Bill Ayers’ mention of democratic traits above, which is why I bolded it? The ASCD article focuses on a similar target it italicized as dispositions of mind, which it goes on to say is not a new goal of education, citing to John Dewey among others. These are the stories or narratives the students tell themselves:

their inclinations to engage reflectively with issues and ideas, their tendencies to be curious and compassionate, and their proclivities to use what they learn to inform their emerging values…the patterns of thinking and feeling associated with these dispositions appeared to be influencing the growth of the networks of their brains.

Sounds like Parrhesia’s vision too, doesn’t it? That’s what education for meaning-making and tied to Big Ideas is targeting and it is what grounding adaptive instructional systems in John Dewey’s work also seeks to reengineer. No question about it anymore. This is not a peripheral aim and it’s not really about education per se. It’s education as a tool to reengineer at a neural level the citizens available for the global future. At the service of governments and their cronies.

As I will cover in the next post, it turns out that the stories we tell ourselves, and the concepts and categories of abstractions we use to interpret our daily experiences, are key to how we see the world and plan to act in it. Let me close with another quote from the EL article and just imagine the effect of the Pandemic on “The Stories Teens Tell” or at least what they will tell in the future.

…tying these dispositions to neural development, life success, and mental health gives this effort new urgency, and points us due north in an attempt to reimagine adolescents’ schooling. Evidence suggests that educators can learn to recognize, model, and support the development of these dispositions if they know what kinds of narratives to listen for and what kind of learning experiences lead to these patterns of thinking?

Now imagine the utility of standardizing ‘adaptive instructional systems’ in John Dewey’s work and Parrhesia will do for controlling the needed learning experiences to produce the desired ‘patterns of thinking’ and feeling for the new type of future citizen.

Gives new meaning to calls of May Day, May Day, doesn’t it?

 

 

Pandemic’s Utility as a Massive Shared Meaning Making Tool to Force Widespread Systems Thinking

How many of us recognize the current widespread school and higher ed cancellations and switch to online and virtual learning as fitting with the education template various global institutions are pushing called the Libre process of digital pedagogies we covered in the last post? Never let a crisis go to waste, indeed. If you read as many global plans and conference materials for using education to force change as I do, it is hard not to notice that the word ‘pandemic,’ like man-made climate change, has long been considered a tool to force the desired sense of interdependence and communitarianism. Here’s a quote from a 2019 paper https://www.wise-qatar.org/2019-wise-research-learning-ecosystems-innovation-unit/  that makes the desired shift explicit:

The starting point must be around the holistic development of living in a better world–to be changemakers. I am convinced that ecosystemic approaches are necessary to move from mechanistic education systems to learner centric ones…It is clear that education needs to become an avenue through which global society will overcome the challenges, gaps and barriers we have created: the digital divide, the growing economic and social inequality, religious, ethnic, and cultural divides, and the extreme ecological pressures we are placing upon the Earth…An active search is underway for new ways of learning and new organizational forms for education that will be consistent with the emergent social and economic reality. In such a context, perhaps it is unsurprising that inspiration for change is sought from biological, as opposed to mechanical, analogues.

A biological lens is certainly easier to practice with during and after a global hype of deadly pandemics, isn’t it? Here’s another quote from that same paper that again fits where we are all suddenly being forced to go:

Across the globe there is a growing consensus that education demands a radical transformation if we want all citizens to become future-ready in the face of a more digitally enabled, uncertain and fast changing world…As learning frameworks outlining ambitious global agendas for inclusive education and lifelong learning begin to emerge, and as societies become more connected and intertwined, it is becoming clear that society has a collective role to play in equipping people to create meaningful futures, through lifelong learning.

Deriving from the field of evolutionary biology, an ‘ecosystem’ is a community of interdependent organisms acting in conjunction with the natural environment…This type of ecosystem comprises complex, evolving networks of organizations including think tanks, foundations, governmental and global agencies and others who are consciously connecting to facilitate the sharing of new knowledge about education and learning, innovation, funding opportunities and more. It is largely concerned with building the global shared knowledge base, scaling innovation and enabling the better use of resources and opportunities to tackle shared global learning challenges, not only within but between networks.

What is meant by a ‘global shared knowledge base’ we might ask and how does that tie to ‘shared meaning-making’ via common global learning standards? It reminded me of the requisite ‘systems thinking’ push over the decades that I first covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy and have since found in recent federal statutes and a new vision of Regulatory Governance pushed by a New Zealand professor, Jeroen van der Heijden, that has made its way here   https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3531381 for broader dissemination. It helpfully (with italics) pointed out  the need for a shift from:

thinking of systems as something ‘out there’ –an ontological approach –and systems thinking as a tool that helps us to think about reality–an epistemological approach.

The kind of conceptual learning frameworks I have covered repeatedly on this blog that require a common understanding to become widespread (that the Soviets also pushed as Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete) fits right in with what that paper above covers as “Regulation and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM)”.

SSM requires a careful understanding and defining of the system at hand–known as ‘root definition’. Defining the system and the problem it seeks to address is best done by a variety of individuals and organizations from within the system. In short, the definition includes the basic transformation a system seeks to achieve (T), the worldview that provides meaning to this transformation (W), system ownership (O), system operators (A), the customer or target of the system (C), and the environmental constraints of the system (E)…After establishing the root definition–again, done in a deliberative process with a variety of individuals and organisations from within the system–conceptual models are developed to actualize the stated aims (C). These conceptual models then must be compared with the real-time, real-world situation to define possible and feasible changes.

In late February in the US a paper came out called “Changing Expectations for the K-12 Teacher Workforce” that laid out such Conceptual Models as the new kind of knowledge all teachers are to develop–Deeper Learning. Reading the paper it is impossible not to recognize that without a deep and broad knowledge base that comes from being well read with an Axemaker Mind, the typical student, and the adult they will become, is not in a position to know whether the required Conceptual Models fit with reality or not. What a useful means of covert regulatory governance by governments at all levels and the institutions that serve as their cronies and proxies. It all fits perfectly with this SSM, 21st century global vision, of “regulation as a (cybernetic) system of control” where people and the organisations they are a part of can be:

configured in relation to each of the three components of a cybernetic system: that is, at the level of standard-setting (whether behavioural standards are ‘simple’ /fixed or ‘complex’ /adaptive) [Common Core/Competencies!], information gathering and monitoring (reactive or pre-emptive) [formative assessment and continuous improvement], and behaviour modification (automated or recommender systems) [aka Learning!]…

A call for applying systems thinking to a regulatory problem is a call to focus on the emergent behaviour of a collection of parts and their interactions as they ostensible relate to that regulatory problem…systems thinking sets boundaries to delineate what is relevant and what is not–such boundaries are often operational rather than spatial. Systems thinking introduces a set of concepts that help to map, explore, interrogate and give meaning to a complex problem at hand.

Finally, let’s quote from yet another paper being linked to globally on what learning standards and a transformed vision of education is really intended to do. It is by Ervin Laszlo’s son Alexander from 2014 and came out of ISSS’s 57th meeting on the meta-theme of Curating the Conditions for a Thrivable Planet. Called “Connecting the DOTS: The Design of Thrivable Systems Through the Power of Collective Intelligence,” it sought (with italics in original) systemic leverage points for emerging a global eco-civilization. Number one leverage point? The

centrality of meaning-making to human activity systems–at both individual and collective levels…This meaning-making drive brings us together…[it creates] a community of interest–around systems perspectives and approaches; a community of practice–around the application of systemic ways of thinking/ doing/ being; and a community of place–that sees and appreciates the interdependence of a globally interconnected world.

As we self-isolate in the coming days and weeks, let’s remember that creating a common vision and vocabulary for meaning-making is a prerequisite for the desired transformational change–first, at the level of each individual, but then also in broader political, social, and economic spheres. Notice how often the rhetoric is looking to foster, at both a visual and emotional level,  those very communities of interest, practice, and place needed for transformational change for a different type of collective future. Notice how the release of a new virus from Wuhan China somehow gets used to reenforce the desired changes at an internalized, personal, level that global education conferences have been laying out graphically and with explicit transformational rationales for about a decade.

What a fortuitous kickstart as long as we remain in the vast majority of this planet that will probably not get seriously ill or even know someone who has.

Timely, isn’t it, with only a decade left to the declared finish line of 2030.

Collective Cognition: Stipulating Right Thinking and Prescribing Prevailing Ideas to Defeat Polarization

Never heard the phrase ‘collective cognition’ before? Wouldn’t creating required learning standards and then assessing for their presence in guiding a student’s thoughts and actions amount to learning How to Think as a Community? After I wrote last week’s post, but knowing we were about to pivot next to something called the Hidden Tribes Project, I was fascinated to read the bio of the co-author of this recent article https://behavioralscientist.org/the-cognitive-science-of-political-thought-practical-takeaways-for-political-discourse/ where Professor Sloman admits that the cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences can be used to create Collective Cognition. If only some ultra-rich person would bequeath mega-millions to his employer, Brown University, to set up a Center to create models for K-12 education reforms.

Think of the Hidden Tribes Project as what to do about the adults whose minds and values got away when earlier versions of K-12 education reforms, like outcomes-based education, failed to shift as desired away from subject-content to changing:

the ideas that give your life direction. And the answers fit together into a larger picture–what we call a ‘worldview,’ a way of understanding and making sense of our world. Your worldview determines (consciously or unconsciously) how you interpret and respond to everything in life. This is why it is so important to begin thinking about your worldview and the ideas you believe to be true…develop a worldview that influences everything you do.

That is a really useful definition of worldview and why, I believe, we have found it as the aim of what my book laid out as Tranzi OBE from the 90s, and what we are seeing as Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profiles now. It’s why learning standards globally carefully lay out the desired elements and seek to prescribe the ‘learning experiences’ that will create the characteristics at an internalized, physiological level. The Hidden Tribes Project, clearly related to the same aim but geared to adults and located at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, stated that its “focus is to better understand the forces that drive political polarization and tribalism in the United States today, and to galvanize efforts to address them.” I found the Project after it was hyped here in July https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_are_the_solutions_to_political_polarization and I recognized the links to both Seedbed of Virtues and the 1997 “A Call to Civil Society”.

George Will, in his Soulcraft book, kept using the same term “Better Angels of Our Nature” so let’s look and see how ‘our nature’ can be reengineered with education reforms and other social science projects. After all, one of the co-authors of the June 2019 More in Common report “The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart” is tied to the Templeton-funded Positive Neuroscience initiative at U-Penn that is also tied to the World Happiness Reports the UN has taken to publishing. If he states that “in coming years I plan on continuing to use the tools of social science to improve human interaction and society. Through teaching, speaking, researching, and writing, I hope to do my part to help humanity realize the best possible version of itself,” we would be wise to listen.

Humanity is so grateful, I reply with my usual sarcasm. Hopefully such aspirations and scholarship in “studying how social context in various populations can impact people’s moral judgment and behavior…” will get Mr Yudkin tenure somewhere. According to the 2018 “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape” the “work of rebuilding our fractured society needs to start now” and it needs to occur at the level of each person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs. This will allow “re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to building a renewed sense of national identity: A bigger story of us.” More in Common believes that “a healthy democracy…requires a sense of shared values and commitments, and a willingness to find common ground”. That desired answer to polarization and tribalism, a desired standardization at the level of “mind, heart, and soul” for all citizens, young and old, requires deliberately targeting:

At the root of America’s polarization are divergent sets of values and worldviews, or ‘core beliefs’. These core beliefs shape the ways that individuals interpret the world around them at the most fundamental level. Our study shows how political opinions stem from these deeply held core beliefs. This study examines five dimensions of individuals’ core beliefs:

  •  Tribalism and group identification
  •   Fear and perception of threat
  •   Parenting style and authoritarian disposition
  •   Moral foundations
  •   Personal agency and responsibility

This study finds that the hidden architecture of beliefs, worldview and group attachments can predict an individual’s views on social and political issues with greater accuracy than demographic factors like race, gender, or income.

So education at every level and the media, whether broadcast, print, or websites of various supposed spectrums, need to get at and change that hidden architecture. To uncover and understand core beliefs, and “explore how this understanding can be used, not to deepen polarization but to bring people together.” Does the coordinated effort to pretend that the Common Core was about workforce preparation or a database of personally identifiable information about students instead of an effort to change those prevailing values, attitudes, and beliefs suddenly make more sense? What if I told you that the initial indented quote on worldview came from something called the Lightbearers Curriculum from Summit Ministries that I found after a Daily Caller article this summer made a reference to something called a Blue Sky Worldview and a camp to create it? What if the same article simultaneously misrepresented socialism and asserted that Marxism is only what was found in the past in Communist countries or is what Bernie Sanders pushes?

Let’s just say our False Narrative purveyors were well-represented among the advocates for this curriculum that also seeks to control “what ideas will rule the world” and provide “guidelines for shaping society for everyone’s benefit”. It is a curriculum intended for “endowing [the student] with the responsibility for shaping the future of the world.” Theoretical Marxism, the non-historical kind that is a theory of Man as a Maker of History seeking to drive a transformational process in the real world, would recognize that aspiration as bringing about what Uncle Karl called the Human Development Society. It is still the same theory even when the M word is not used and the sales pitch is the need to “redeem culture as part of God’s creation.” Worthy aspirations and a theological emphasis do not change the nature of this theory or who created the idea of how to get such a theory into practice (Praxis?).

Calling it “faith in action” instead of praxis, or opining that “without action, students may relegate what they are hearing to dry academic philosophies and not realize that these ideas should become part of their lives on a daily basis,” doesn’t distinguish aims that function the same with comparable purposes. So religious based or classical schools want ideas embodied into action as an integral part of the curriculum to create Desired Habits and Behaviors and so do public schools now as part of learning standards and what is called High Quality Project-Based Learning. See what I mean about going to the same place and targeting the same normative realm in each student?

Tranzi OBE, in function even if now euphemized into a myriad of new names, still is in play if the curriculum actively seeks to tell students they should be change agents and

stop being conformed by the ‘water’ around them, the culture they were in. Rather, they should be transformed by renewing their minds. The idea behind the word ‘transformed’ is that of metamorphosis–changing into something different. While conformity to the world is something that happens passively, being transformed is something that happens actively. Conformity just happens, but transformation requires effort. Transformation only happens through mind renewal, changing the way you think.

I bolded that last part from the Lightbearers Curriculum to call attention to a discussion in the comments from the last post when I said that the predecessor to the Common Core was something in the 90s called the New Standards Project. Before Professor Lauren Resnick helped create that initiative, she called her curriculum a Thinking Curriculum to be grounded in HOTS–Higher Order Thinking Skills. Stipulated Ideas would dominate so that the real world perceptions would be controlled by Desired Ideas and Theories of What Could Be. The Soviets in 1962 called this a new kind of Dialectic Materialism that would allow a transformation of the existing world via a theory they called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete.

Its ideals still work the same today whether pushed on adults to supposedly bridge a Perception Gap and create a Convergence to defeat Polarization, or on children via mischaracterized learning standards and Thinking Curricula.

All of these advocates recognize that changing how we think leads to “transforming our behavior” in predictable ways. If anyone wants to prescribe “the basis of our decisions and actions,” as these various NGOs like UNESCO or the OECD, faith-based institutions, think tanks, or any other institution have explicitly said they wish to do if we know where to look, we should all be aware that has become the new purpose of education and the goal of much of what is broadcast or published by the media.

I suppose I should be grateful my book and then this blog set off such an orchestration of False Narratives. The deceit left the crumbs that enable us to see the common vision. Everyone seems to want to get at what we believe and feel in order to control how we will behave.

And it has nothing to do with training pigeons except that once installed in our neural circuits via cognitive psychology, we will be programmed indeed.

 

 

Evolutionary Epistemology: A Mouthful Term that Euphemizes a Wholesale Education Shift

In the last post we looked at Professor Cabrera’s DSRP template. I laid out its connections to current curriculum practices that get euphemized as ‘rigor’ or ‘high-quality instructional materials’, but left out a curious quote about targeting the human conceptual system via learning standards so that DSRP “provides a mechanism for the memetic behavior that must exist in order for evolutionary epistemology to be a viable proposal. For these reasons, DSRP should be considered a more robust alternative to logic where complex cognitive systems are concerned.” I am rather fond of logic myself, but apparently that’s no way to get a theory of how things might be different in the future into practice. Recognizing that the mouthful term obscures the reality that seeks to change prevailing culture by systematically prescribing new values and beliefs via poorly understood ‘standards’ in K-12 and higher ed, I looked up the term.

It turned up this 2018 Abstract https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29199093 from the same US government agency funding Science of Virtues and the BRAIN Initiative to create a Research Programme for Distributed Biological Intelligence. No wonder logic needs to be jettisoned. Suddenly the reading, math, and science wars and the focus on ‘close reading’  and ‘conceptual frameworks’ click into the appropriate context when we read:

The concept of ‘information’ acquires a new meaning because information processing is at the heart of biological intelligence. All biological systems, from bacteria to Gaia, are intelligent, open thermodynamic systems that exchange information, matter and energy with the environment. (v) The organism-environment interaction is cybernetic. As much as the organism changes due to the influence of the environment, the organism’s responses to induced changes affect the environment and subsequent organism-environment interactions. Based on the above principles a new research agenda can be formulated to explore different forms of biological intelligence.

I bolded those references to changes because they too get euphemized as student learning, even though the desired changes are not really about passing on a body of knowledge as in the historic conception of education. EE, as I am going to abbreviate it, “aims at understanding the complex relations between biological evolution, especially the biological evolution of human cognition, and the cultural evolution of scientific knowledge.” Because federal laws, mandated learning standards, accreditation criteria, and curricular materials and online activities are all aiming to change the nature of that cognition and then prescribe it for the masses, this is not a matter of speculation. Let me read a passage from a Norbert Wiener biography called Dark Hero of the Information Age that should make what is being stealthily targeted and why more clear:

As he made clear from the outset, the universal processes and principles of cybernetics–information, communication, feedback, ‘circular causality’ or reciprocal influence, and ‘teleology’ or purposeful, goal-directed action–apply equally to technology, biology, and all the complex systems of society. The biological and social dimensions of cybernetics were widely overlooked in Wiener’s day and in the decades since his death, as technology loomed ever larger. Yet those neglected aspects of Wiener’s science hold some of the most powerful insights cybernetics has to offer, and they are as important as any technical tool for understanding the complex forces that shape and influence all our lives.

The conceptual tools of cybernetics can help people think in more effective and productive ways, to create, innovate, and perhaps even begin to envision at the levels to which Wiener raised his most talented disciples to ‘see over the fence,‘ as he did, and down the road to the end result of any effort. Cybernetics, its sister sciences of information theory and systems theory, and their descendants in the new sciences of complexity and human communication offer scientists and nonscientists alike new ways to think systematically and strategically, to solve problems, paint scenarios, and identify potential trouble spots before disaster strikes…[It is] the next step on the learning curve of the global society.

Wiener and his colleagues could ‘see over the fence’ because they had huge stores of factual knowledge that allowed their brilliant minds to make connections that could then be proved in experiments. Prescribing the methods of seeing over the fence to evaluate the future for all without any ‘vast stores of knowledge,’ or even much in the pantry beyond the prescribed conceptual frameworks, means there is no safety catch between what is factual and what is a politically useful fiction. Now before I get to the curriculum I mentioned from Developing Minds in the Digital Age, I want to mention one more book, from 2015, called The Cybernetics Moment or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age that was funded by the National Science Foundation. That matters because that Developing Minds comes from the NSF Science of Learning Centers, as have so many of the curricula involved with the reading, math, and science wars (covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy).

The book’s author, Ronald R. Kline, who is a Professor of History and Ethics of Engineering at Cornell, where Derek Cabrera and his DSRP work is also based, has the Cybernetics Moment as ending in the 1970s despite its promise. I maintain that is not true since it migrated to education ‘reforms’. It thoroughly saturates the actual Common Core implementation and now what is known as competency-based education, correctly construed (which so few do these days). See if this sounds familiar from the discussion above.The NSF/OECD conception of a “Science of Learning for 21st Century Education…encompasses complex changes in the learner from his/her dynamic engagement with an equally ever-changing environment.”

Now I promised last time we could recognize the DiaMat/cybernetic intentions in the OECD/NSF DJEM–Designed Joint Engagement with Media. Since I initially read that report I also learned that some of the cited researchers are involved with the now 20-year old Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition that is a joint project of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. That matters because Carnegie Mellon gets NSF funding to create a great deal of immersive online learning curricula. U-Pittsburgh was involved with the New Standards Project, which is the forebear of the Common Core from back in the 90s. Both are in a position then to implement DJEM as:

purposefully created, shared experiences where individuals interact with one another while simultaneously attending to a media. DJEM can take many forms, including viewing a video, playing a game on a mobile device or reading a digital book together. DJEM grows out of the idea that joint attention or the coordinated focus of all interacting individuals on the same phenomena, is a necessary condition for joint engagement and is fundamental to human learning from an early age.

Now, if you have a goal of fundamental transformation in social, economic, and political systems, which the OECD and its affiliates in the UN make no bones about as in Leave No One Behind by 2030 and Equity for All, the Number One prerequisite is to get people to “common forms of sensemaking”. Precisely, what DJEM is designed to do so that:

Both the speaker and the listener play an important role in establishing, monitoring and sustaining joint attention during interactions, drawing both on non-verbal communication (e.g.-pointing, moving to share visual perspective, etc) and on meta-communicative verbal comments. The use of such strategies helps create a ‘between-person state of engagement‘ that draws on both the cognitive and the social dimensions of communication and helps partners develop a shared conceptual structure in which they collaborate and learn as they engage in media together…These shared conversations-joint social engagements–serve as sites for knowledge construction and meaning making.

So the purpose of these  prescribed learning experiences is not to learn math, science, history, or to become a better reader. It is to instill a common internalized conceptual structure about some real-life phenomena in each of the interacting students. And the NSF is simultaneously financing books saying the Cybernetic Moment is over, while funding online curricula and activities that use cyberneticist Gordon Pask’s conversation theory. No, they didn’t cite him in their Science of Learning push, but they did describe and use his Conversation Theory. We do get to recognize by function, not assigned labels, since I am still driven by logic and a vast storehouse of facts instead of an assigned conceptual framework. Anyway, the Center for Curriculum Reform’s recent book on Artificial Intelligence in Education happened to mention that the desired AI platforms to be used with students were based on Pask’s theories.

Cybernetics is not dead as all these links show. The new Science of Learning wants us to accept that “Expertise lies not so much in the number of facts an individual can state but in the way in which that knowledge is organized and the ability to apply it flexibly and appropriately in new situations.” My book and this blog exist because I have a highly organized understanding of where education is going, how it intends to get there, what the likely impacts are, and how the theories of cybernetics matter to all these efforts. It does not represent an Approved Conceptual Framework though, which sometimes makes me a persona non grata to discussions. Imagine instead that your child is in this Sid the Science Kid animated programme for preschool children from the Jim Henson Company that “explores everyday phenomena and provides models of science practices and science talks…to deepen and reenforce target concepts.” Tell me this doesn’t sound to you like Code the Kid at the Level of the Mind and Start Early to create Binding Habits of Mind.

To test the feasibility and promise of the DJEM theory, we developed and refined a curriculum supplement…[that] comprised an eight-week experience on change and transformation, foundational concepts across science content areas. Modules were two weeks long and included two to three days of instruction each week that integrated video episodes, classroom discussions, teacher guided book readings, and hands-on investigations. The curriculum supplements four modules targeted types of change that children likely observed in their daily lives: decay, growth, reversible change, and irreversible change.

Learning as creating common conceptual frameworks tied into emotion and the visual to guide perception and the interpretation of experiences in predictable ways at the level of a preschoolers mind. That is a vastly different realm to be standardizing than measuring weight or distance. Cybernetics requires common goals and learning standards are a means of dictating goals without that shift being readily apparent to the typical parent or student. It is up to those of us with Unapproved Conceptual Frameworks to grasp where these learning standards really seek to go. This is not a discussion on the metric system vs miles. There the chosen standard has no impact on the distance being described. Here, the purpose of the learning standard is to reimagine the mind and then turn it from the open system it can be to the closed system that will behave predictably. Which will change the environment, which will impact the mind and personality, which will then change the now altered Environment. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We need to wake up to how many of our young people are to be in this EE Research Programme. Anyone think it is coincidental preschoolers are being instructed on transformation and change? Me neither.

Foiling False Narratives Amidst Unsupported Cries of Balderdash!

The last post was not designed to ruffle feathers so much as continue to warn that words like Classical or Christian when applied to education, much like what we have already seen with Critical Thinking and Rigor, may not have the actual meaning assumed. I am genuinely worried about the extent to which Classical Education is modeling a psychological template that came out of the Soviet Union to bind the mind and personality. A reader in the comments put up this slideshow http://slideplayer.com/slide/695610/ that reveals a troubling and intentional use of cybernetic techniques via education to mentally and emotionally bind a person for religious purposes. Please scrutinize what on-line vendors or actual charters or privates have in mind when they use these terms.

Today we will continue to explore the broader template of what is being pushed under the Classical label and its very troubling bedfellows that were turbocharged in December with the language in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A reader contacted a well-known education writer known for being anti-Common Core and pro-Classical Education asking for a rebuttal of what I wrote in the last post. We are going to go through the various responses because they illustrate so well what a muddle these Great Ideas centric educations can actually create. Response 1 was that the post was “Balderdash.” Since that descriptive word would mean writing that is contrary to facts and nonsensical, the natural question became “what is not true?” That provoked a link http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431182/donald-trump-bernie-sanders-gnostic-campaigns  that the frustrated reader forwarded to me.

I pointed out I never theorize in writing about conspiracies, but that I do get to quote people who declare they are involved in a coordinated effort to use education to achieve some declared transformation of society. Secondly, that article basically insults certain political supporters as acting like people who use a Gnostic simplistic analysis to view the world around them. Well, that was a new criticism and not particularly consistent with the facts. Maybe I was supposed to be horrified, but I did wonder whether someone needed my Inapt Metaphor lesson on lousy analogizing. A few days later I got the final response from the reader who really wanted there not to be some kind of misuse of the phrase ‘Classical Christian education’ for purposes unappreciated by parents. Here is the final criticism of that post and apparently the reason for trying to protect people from either my book Credentialed to Destroy or this blog. I have a few responses in brackets.

“My point is addressing it does nothing because verifying people’s intentions is impossible. [What’s to verify if I am quoting what they write as to intentions?] And there is no high volume of readers. [Of course that has nothing to do with any coordination to hijack what can be said or written about the Common Core by certain well-funded think tanks] Because global warming crazies say the earth is round I need to wonder if the earth is flat. Absurd. And Robin’s assertion that we need to prioritize facts but not their connections is a non-starter to thinking people. [Someone skipped the class day devoted to the Strawman Fallacy] She does that herself. There are not demons under every doily that she has not herself made.”

That last part about “demons under every doily” was too alliterative to have been original. You too may want to put it in quotes and see the results of the search. The real question though is what makes me write about something on this blog at any given time? Usually I  am responding to something that appears to be hidden by a wall of deceit. That type of factual investigation may be annoying and inconvenient, but it’s not nonsensical.  Let’s get back to why I am so concerned and right to be so. Another book, Classical Education: Towards the Revival of American Schooling by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Andrew Kern, came and only heightened my concern. They do a chapter on Douglas Wilson’s model, then Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Proposal as an example of Democratic Classicism, and then David Hicks’ Moral Classism and its emphasis on the “importance of character development and the full flowering of the human personality.”

No, I don’t want the human personality to be allowed to wilt and I also want to develop character. There is an alignment here though of what everyone from Charles Fadel and his well-connected Center for Curriculum Redesign is now pushing as Four-Dimensional Education, what the Dewey acolytes want, and what is being pushed as Classical Education. Every single one is targeting the same areas of what the student is to have internalized and how they are to work together to guide the vision of the future and motivate likely behavior. Common Core talks about its purpose as being College and Career Ready and the Classicist aim is said to be “to form the adult-to-be”? Does that sound like a similar destination to anyone else?

I have written before about Carol Dweck, what is called the Growth Mindset, and even that the White House Behavioral and Social Sciences Team has now commenced a national Growth Mindset study. Tell me if that aim fits with the following passage from the Moral Classicism template (my bolding). Notice this is not about the transmission of factual knowledge.

“…classical learning is neither doctrinaire religious instruction nor analytical scientific positivism. Even though the classical student begins by accepting dogma (i.e, ‘that which seems good’,) he personalizes it by questioning it –that is, by employing dialectic. As the student refines his understanding, his insight grows, ‘ascending a dialectical staircase to an upper room of fragile truths and intangible beliefs.’ Challenges and contradictions arise to dogma and within it by the process of dialectic, and this leads to dogma’s reformulation. Using his conscience and the process of dialectic, and guided by the universal vision of the ideal type, the student grows toward the Ideal. Commitment to dialectic is thus the first principle in Hicks’ version of classical education: the conscious development of the internal dialogue guides us to the fulfillment of our natures.”

Well, someone is specifying those Ideals and creating an education intended to internalize them. I am not sure the student gets much say. Neither will the parents unless they scrutinize what comes in now under the banner of ‘classical’ education. Now I honestly do not know how much those pushing this template as ‘classical education’ appreciate why Evald Ilyenkov created the New Dialectics in the USSR to advance the Human Development Society vision of Marxism that commenced in earnest globally around 1962. I do, however, know an institution that has had a very good handle on this integration of East and West using education. If Harvard’s Project Zero classifies Hicks’ Interdisciplinary  Humanities Program as a Pre-Collegiate Program conducive to bringing about “an all-encompassing framework of meaning,” we need to take them at their word on the links to the IB Theory of Knowledge coursework and the notorious constructivist Math and Science programs.

http://www.interdisciplinarystudiespz.org/pdf/Nikitina_Strategies_2002.pdf If all of these are cited as means to teach contextualizing or context-building, conceptualization, and problem-solving so that inquiry-oriented coursework becomes a means of teaching social responsibility, the need for social change, and the “primary goal of finding causes and cures for human calamities,” we can assume that the Change Agent Licensors understand where Classical Education is actually going, even if its proponents do not. At this point, I was thoroughly concerned that we once again have Inadvertent Change Agents pushing a remedy to the Common Core they have repeatedly deplored that amounts to jumping from the frying pan into the fire, I went back to who Douglas Wilson cited as his source for his Trivium.

He put Dorothy Sayers’ 1947 essay The Lost Tools of Learning as an Appendix to the book covered in the last post. I found her emphasis on the “medieval scheme of education” to be a little odd as that was a preliterate society. To quote historian William Manchester in his fine A World Lit Only By Fire, the Middle Ages was a time when “literacy was scorned” and Holy Roman Emperors themselves would respond to a correction of their Latin as being ‘above grammar.’ It was a time when the “devout scorned reason…Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), the most influential Christian of his time, bore a deep distrust of the intellect and declared that the pursuit of knowledge, unless sanctified by a holy mission, was a pagan act and therefore vile.”

Anyone else beginning to question whether the whole Trivium and Quadrivium hype is just a narrative manufactured by someone wanting to hide the clear connections to cybernetic psychological theory and systems thinking? Then the narrative gets repeated until it seems true. Back to Manchester, who pointed out that “there was no room in the medieval mind for doubt, the possibility of skepticism simply did not exist.” He also pointed out “medieval man’s total lack of ego. Even those with creative powers had no sense of self” and “an almost total indifference to privacy. In summertime peasants went about naked.” Aren’t we glad this post is written and not a multimedia presentation? See why I am so suspicious we have yet another false narrative.

The “rediscovery of Aristotelian learning–in dialectic, logic, natural science, and metaphysics” did happen during the 1198-1216 pontificate of Innocent III. It was “synthesized with traditional Church doctrine,” beginning a shattering process known in Italy as the Rinascimento. I bet we are all more familiar with the French term. There is no question that Dorothy Sayers hyped the medieval mind and going back to her essay I think she was making ahistorical assertions looking for a remedy via education against the just lived through horrors of World War II. Under the heading “Unarmed and Unequipped,” she wrote this:

“For we let our young men and women go out unarmed in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight mass propaganda with a smattering of ‘subjects’; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spellbinder, we have the impudence to be astonished.

We dole out lip-service to the importance of education–lip-service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school leaving-age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours, till responsibility becomes a burden and a nightmare; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal effort of it.”

Can’t you still hear the anguish decades later? Sayers thought she had a very good reason for using education to mandate a worldview.

Maybe she did. Our problem is that so many now have the same intentions, but obscure the real new purpose and focus of education behind terms we believe still have their dictionary meanings.

Dragging this documented reality into the sunlight should not result in cries of Balderdash.

Bogus Excuses to Always Hype What Extinguishes or Controls the Analytical, Rational Mind

In the ancient world, if all roads did in fact lead to Rome, it would not be much of a stretch to decide that Rome was the place where those who took the time and expense to travel likely needed to go to. Likewise, if every K-12 education reform that I know is part of the mandatory classroom vision has the same actual or intended effect on the human mind and a student’s personality, we can conclude that the global transformationalists we met in the first two posts of this trilogy need a certain mindset for their success. In fact, I considered naming this post “Becoming a Plant” after the video game Reach for the Sun where students will be “challenged to ‘become a plant’ and balance resources like starch and water. “Extend your roots, sprout leaves, and make your flowers bloom before winter hits.'”

Now if I had described that “learning activity” before Christmas and linked it to the Arational Mind push we have been noticing going back to this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/blending-sustainability-and-education-to-gain-arational-nonlinear-minds-and-new-behaviors/ , I would have had the makings of a good freestanding post. Knowing the goals of the global CIFAL Network, the desire to use ICT to extinguish the Left Hemisphere’s historic dominance per that Global Village book, plus the explicit goals transformational goals laid out by ValuesQuest and the Institute for the Future, and the new vision of the role of the law globally, just make it so much easier to grasp why fact-filled, analytical minds would be regarded as barriers to all that planning and collective transitioning.

We have been having a discussion in the comments about the federally required MPOs–Metropolitan Planning Organizations–that push metro-wide transportation projects and how they are now being urged to explicitly get into economic and workforce development. I have noted that one of the things WIOA requires is that all students be trained in ‘systems thinking.’ At a DC conference this week the federal Transportation Secretary Foxx proclaimed transportation plans as the ultimate “system of systems” that merited a 30-year lay-out of plans. Into all this planning about us, our future, and using our money, I believe it’s no accident that videogames and digital learning are being pushed into classrooms. http://www.kqed.org/assets/pdf/news/MindShift-GuidetoDigitalGamesandLearning.pdf

Paul Ehrlich’s co-author of that 1989 New World New Mind book discussed in the linked post above, Robert Ornstein, wrote a 1974 book The Psychology of Consciousness pushing a desire to move away from the rational, analytical mind fostered by phonetic reading and traditional math, science, or grammar to a holistic right brain orientation that would perceive the world in interdependent, relational ways. Very helpfully he tied the ability and need for such a shift to the world now being in a position to meet everyone’s ‘biological needs.’ Time then for a more collaborative, communitarian focus to global problem-solving. Needless to say, K-12 education would need to shift and Ornstein saw great possibilities once “computer-assisted instruction” was able to “take the ‘state’ of the learner into account.”

What would such instruction, maybe called ‘personalized learning,’ look like? How about the Mindshift confession that “When it comes to assessment, many games have robust back ends that provide assessment data about the students who play them. That data can be extremely useful, providing information about your students that is applicable well beyond the game itself.” Information the students themselves may very well not be aware of. Data that adaptive learning ICT platforms need if they are to have the desired effects of changing the child’s perceptions, values, beliefs, and attitudes as the new focus of student-centered K-12 education.

Fits the Ornstein desire for educational activity with the student “embedded in the environment” perfectly, except most people would not be familiar with the Ornstein or Marshall McLuhan work we have looked at. They would simply accept the sales pitch that games-based learning would “replace a points-based extrinsic motivation system with a contextualized hands-on learning experience.” Not being in the habit of reading federal statutes like WIOA or federal agency plans, they probably would not appreciate the significance of the confession:

“Keep in mind: The common attribute of all effective learning games is that they simulate systems [or real-world social structures the trasfomationalists want students to believe are systems comparable to how the heart and lungs reliably interact]. They teach students how to understand academic concepts in relationship to the world around them. Certainly this increases engagement [what Ornstein called Being in the Moment that he tracked to ancient Asian religious practices] and retention, but what really matters is about using knowledge in interdisciplinary ways. [Don’t feel under control just because your personal use of knowledge is being prescribed in advance].

Digital or analog, game-based or not, good teaching and learning [Remember obuchenie?] is also about building social awareness, considering the individual’s impact on the wider world.”

Now won’t that latter effect work well with the Sustainability aspirations for the future laid out by the UN CIFAL Network, ValuesQuest, and that Institute for the Future Toolkit to prepare students for new forms of governance? We covered all the proposed role-playing in history classes as part of my AP US History Trilogy, but MindQuest proposes teaching American Government by having a student “role play a member of Congress.” A new form of Governance in utter disregard of the US Constitution is highly likely once curriculum is an “immersive experience” where “students sponsor bills, trade in influence, awareness, and approval. The game simulates meeting with lobbyists, donors, and volunteers. The object is to get reelected to office.”  Now that certainly suffices as allowing “teachers to present academic concepts in a contextualized, experiential way.”

Interestingly enough, precisely what Ornstein said a Right-Brain oriented curriculum should be doing if it intends to shift the focus from intellectual content to personal knowledge. Oh, our joy at effective school reforms that will raise student achievement in meaningful, authentic ways knows no bounds. Why did I start this post’s title with Bogus Excuses? Well, should we buy that games-based learning is OK for the classroom because “a generation of gamers has grown up without a civilization collapsing”? Someone was not listening when their English teacher covered the dangers of hyperbole. How about this rationale? “Positive mood states” or empathy “toward people from another country.” I am also afraid that being told “the way corporations, foundations, and research organizations are thinking about games and learning” is no justification when they are all on record seeking transformational social change using K-12 education.

That’s it, isn’t it? K-12 education globally must be shifted to producing a mind and personality suitable for a collectivist orientation. The simulation will prime the students to act in predictable ways without being in a position to recognize that real world consequences do not follow the prearranged instructions of the software developer. It’s no accident that Jane McGonnigal of Institute for the Future is quoted on this point of how students will come to see the real world, without noting her IFTF affiliation. Only that she wrote a book called Reality is Broken that I covered here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/

If you want a transformed economy, then push education based on “connected, networked ways of knowing that will dominate the digital future. Sharing and collaboration go hand-in-hand with integrating non-competitive and non-commodified ways of playing games.” Will that lead to a shareable economy? Maybe but it will be necessary since so few graduates in such a vision will have the mind or skills that have always been necessary for wealth to arise outside of war and just taking.

Is it true that “The way students play and learn today is the way they will work tomorrow”? Maybe, but they will be quite poor in such a world unless they can get elected or appointed to office or get a tax-free job in the UN System. Mostly the gaming is prepping for the student to be a participating member of a planned and controlled system, blindly accepting from a deep emotional level that increasing levels of material deprivation are inevitable and not a result of predation by the public sector.

Instead of declaring war on another country for wealth this is a system of predation on citizens. For those of us with a base of history knowledge not grounded in role play, it’s what the nobility did when they imposed serfdom. People exist for the use and benefit of those with power and are not free to make their own choices. No thanks. Another bogus excuse is that “the distinction between STEM and ELA is an arbitrary and superficial one” since they are each “simply forms of expression.” That really is someone determined to extinguish the analytical, rational mind for reasons laid out in Chapters 2 and 3 of my book. “All good games offer challenges in intuitive ways.” Want to guess which side of the brain acts intuitively and which does not?

Another bogus excuse? Gaming needs to be a part of early childhood education because it “teaches those students to associate screens with refined cognitive skills.” In other words, those children are to never know what rational, non-designed, grounded in facts, spinning out of various scenarios and likely consequences actually feels like. And won’t that be helpful to all our self-confessed transformationalists and futurists?

I am going to close this with an update to what has been one of the most controversial Values Clarification exercises for decades. It is called the Lifeboat but gaming lets a similar scenario, and obligation to reach a consensus, be visual so that the body’s physiology gets pulled into the plight. It will respond as if it is actually in a Life or Death situation as Willis Harman recognized in the 80s in his Global Mind Change book. Carried out as part of a Zombie Apocalypse in Norway classrooms, MindQuest ends on that example of a “sociocultural view of learning” where students and teachers “believe in sharing and constructing knowledge together.”

So they and others can build a new kind of economy and society together. Never appreciating in time that none of these things actually are ‘systems’ ready to fall into place like a game.

Mischievous Masquerade: APUSH as the Sought Coherent Framework Justifying Intervention in History

Before I explain why I have decided to join the current discussion surrounding the remake of the AP US History course (“APUSH”) course, let’s remember that most people who have ever sought fundamental transformations of the real world as it currently exists think of history as a consciousness altering tool. We will never get back to the “grand narrative supported by well-known documents, events, and historical personae” many of us long for unless we recognize this political pursuit of history. That history as a body of knowledge, even one dominated by Leftist figures and radical ideas, is Ahistorical to anyone who looks now at all coursework, in all subjects, in K-12 or higher ed, as determined by “the kind of society and world we would like to bring about as the United States enters its third century.”

That quote is from a 1988 paper by the same Freeman Butts I wrote about in my book describing all the transformative shifts obscured within the term Competency. http://www.civiced.org/papers/morality/morality_ch1c.html We cannot then be surprised that Butts also saw the Teaching of History as a means for creating a new kind of citizen. One who will believe fervently in, and be ready to act, to bring about Democracy in the sense of Economic Justice. The original advocate for this view of history though as a Framework for creating change in the here and now was actually not Uncle Karl. Luckily there is no buzzer in this post so no one loses points for a wrong guess.

Let’s meet an 18th century man from the Naples area of Italy-Giambattista Vico. He matters so much to anyone writing about education as a means of social change because Vico believed that the means of transforming the real world of social relations, institutions, and everyday life lay in “modifying” how our human minds see that world. Change the mental concepts and a process begins, Radicals hope, whereby one “historical structure succeeds another.” That’s real history to someone intent on transformational change. So with the push for conscious evolution, or requiring a common understanding as the Rockefeller-funded Communication for Social Change or the Structured Dialogue Design do, we are back to Vico’s view:

“Mind is, however, the thread connecting the present with the past, a means of access to a knowledge of these changing modes of social reality. Human nature ( the modifications of mind) and human institutions are identical with human history.”

Change how the mind perceives the past and the theory then is we can change human nature itself. I think that’s a bad bet, which is why I interjected myself into the APUSH discussion. Continuing to discuss any AP course or any other coursework for any age being touted as the Common Core, Next Generation Learning, 21st Century Skills or Competency as if we are still talking about conveying a body of knowledge is a mistake with potentially tragic consequences since we are literally talking about social engineering. This past Monday there was once again a hearing in Georgia on the Federal Role In Education. It was conducted with a level of conscious deceit that would have been right at home at the Trotsky Trial. In the midst of all the lies though, there was consistent and accurate testimony across witnesses about one thing: concepts.

Knowledge to the extent its still exists under the Common Core is about concepts. We have encountered this before as the Enduring Understandings or Ilyenkov’s Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete. Concepts that can be used within and across subjects to guide how a student and later the adult he will become will perceive everyday experiences. Guess who it goes back to? Now you do long for a buzzer to press, don’t you? Yes, “Vico’s project, which we would now call social science, was to arrive at a ‘mental dictionary,’ or set of common concepts, with which one is able to comprehend the process of ‘ideal eternal history.'”

Well, it’s ideal if Transformative Social Change is the name of your game. In the real world, deliberately trying to mentally engineer how the masses view the existing world has a terrible, bloody track record. Since controlling history is now seen as just another tool to create a desired Worldview, those objectionable, bloody parts will be omitted just as surely as anything that might foster pride in the world as it currently exists. Years ago, I first encountered this idea of teaching history through broad concepts instead of facts when I encountered the new AP World History framework that was full of hatred for capitalism and the environmental destruction it supposedly caused. It literally treated the term Communism as an “international means of structuring economic relations.” Talk about a whitewash. That Framework was supposed to go into effect first, then APUSH.

In looking into the history of that Framework I discovered that what all the participants in its planning had in common was a reverence for the work of historian William H. McNeill. Now President Obama appreciates his work as well as we can see from this smile as he hands the professor the 2009 National Humanities medal. http://chicagomaroon.com/2010/03/02/obama-honors-history-prof-mcneill-for-u-of-c-experience/ McNeill sees history as the “search for a normative matrix connecting the world in its totality” and built around “the idea of gradual progress.” The progress, by the way, once again supposedly heads towards Economic Justice.

When I read Stanley Kurtz’s article this past week “How the College Board Politicized US History” http://www.nationalreview.com/node/386202/print and he wrote about the 1998 La Pietra Conference, two things jumped out at me. One, that Thomas Bender was clearly seeing history through the same conceptual lens as William McNeill and that I should look into that. Secondly, that La Pietra should be seen as a continuation of everything I knew about the still extant World Order Models Project. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/reorienting-world-order-values-via-the-intervention-of-activist-education-and-progressive-politics/

The Giambattista Vico discussion is from a 1984 book tied to WOMP called Culture, Ideology, and World Order. It basically is the global blueprint for all the changes that have come in as education reform and in the name of Sustainability, except there it is acknowledged to be a New World Order intent on making sure the poor of the world anywhere get their fair share. Nary a concern at all about temperatures or carbon dioxide levels. That’s a book that recognized that fundamental transformations need a “common conceptual paradigm or vision” as well as “a coherent framework of intervention in the historical process” and set about to provide it.

That’s how APUSH as well as the La Pietra conference should be seen. Needless to say, it was no surprise to me to discover that the Rockefeller Foundation had also helped to fund La Pietra. Just another way to influence the prevailing common understanding of the masses, just like WOMP, CFSC-Communication for Social Change, Metropolitanism, or its deliberative democracy funding. Useful ties all for grounding APUSH into other components of a common transformative vision, as is that Freeman Butts piece I linked to above on how to use history “to reclaim the public realm, where groups interact to make a national politics and culture, as the central territory of history.” Using history then to change prevailing conceptions to create support for new ways of living together and organizing the society and economy politically.

That turned out to be how McNeill, Butts, and Thomas Bender all saw history back in the mid-80s. History should be about creating a “commitment to deeply held humane values.” As McNeill put it, “Better than any discipline, history can defend shared, public identities.” Those identities of ordinary citizens are public because they have been deeply grounded in achieving “the positive ends of a society dedicated to ‘liberty and justice for all.'” As Bender noted in 1985, “public life” is crucial because it is “that essentially civic arena where groups interact, even compete, to establish the configuration of political power in a society and its cultural forms and their meanings.”

That philosophy of history as a handmaiden to contemporary change just cannot cohabit with a view of education or history as the transmission of a body of knowledge. It might nurture a nostalgia for the past that could become a barrier to a transition to a new kind of citizenship in a different kind of democracy. As Butts noted, quoting the 1987 New York State Social Studies Framework: “The principles of a democratic system should serve as organizing ideas for the social studies program and for student learning. The development of civic values consistent with life in a democratic system is an overriding goal of the entire program.”

That’s not a goal that can be met if students become acquainted with what the American Revolution really sought to achieve. Given that the CCSSO last year emphasized the necessary Dispositions for Citizenship and Citizenship is the 3rd C of the Social Studies C3 Framework, Butts’ idea that the “morality of citizenship should be the central theme” of all K-12 coursework clearly remains alive and well. Any analysis now needs to remember what was said and sought back in the 80s too since these admissions were made before School to Work and outcomes-based education ran into controversy in the 90s.

Let’s close this intro to a transformational view of history with what Bender wrote in 1986:

“The present task is to begin establishing the relationship over time of the interclass, multiethnic, and multicultural center, which I call public culture, and the smaller, more homogenous gemeinschaftlich groups of the periphery…A focus on public culture and its changing connections with cultures smaller than the whole offers an image of society capacious enough to sustain a synthetic narrative.”

Synthetic narrative is fancy Profspeak for a common transformative vision of what the future ought to be and why. It’s not a Franklin or George Washington view of history, but Vico and Uncle Karl would be pleased.

 

Transcending the Individual Mind as the Analytical Unit of Learning While Still Guiding How We Will Act

In 2003, Peter Senge, also tied to MIT’s Sloan School of Management just like Alex Pentland from the last post, wrote an article “Creating Desired Futures in a Global Economy” based on remarks he delivered at his Society of Organizational Learning’s first Global Forum. It was held in Helsinki, Finland. Like John Dewey’s purposes for education, Peter Senge’s purposes or Alex Pentland’s or those who push practices unaware of their background, the purposes still attach to the desired education practices. No matter what or where. No matter how pure the heart may be or how noble the personal intentions. The purposes need to be a part of every discussion of education reform, and no degree from any institution should enable anyone to impose these practices with their undisputed collectivist intention in a country that intends to remain free.

Otherwise we have precisely what seems to be occurring. Education being used to mount a nonconsensual political coup at the level of the human mind. In that article Senge quoted a physicist David Bohm, who in 1980 expressed the sentiment that “the most important thing going forward is to break the boundaries between people so we can operate as a single intelligence. [J.S., another physicist] Bell’s theorem implies that this is the natural state of the human world, separation without separateness. The task is to find ways to break these boundaries, so we can be in our natural state.” Senge apparently agrees with Bohm and gave a similar quote from Einstein.

He also waxes on about the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton (interestingly, that’s the same noosphere project I drew attention to in the book). If this were simply a matter of personal beliefs that would be one thing, but when these beliefs drive education policy no one should lose the right to avoid declared manipulations of minds and feelings, values or complete personality, just because the person pushing these ideas got a certain kind of degree or works at a school or district or university or government agency or has a lucrative consulting contract.

If the nature of the education policy or practice is to foster that Marxist change in the student and the world to make history that we encountered in the last post, then the people pushing these policies are Marxists. Whether they admit it or not and whether they are aware or not of the ancestry of what they are pushing. I don’t know about what you feel when reading the word Marxist, but when I have to type it feels like I am insulting someone. Like telling them they have bad breath or must turn sideways to make it through a door. For many of the people developing and pushing these education ideas though, it’s a term of pride. And when it comes to pushing Vygotsky’s theories or those of Piotr Galperin, who we are going to talk about today, it is not merely that they personally had Marxist sentiments or lived in a country under its sway.

Using education to create “forward-looking transformative practices that are needed to enact history in the present” is the entire purpose of their theories and instructional practices. If the actual implementation of the Common Core in the US and comparable education reforms elsewhere are grounded in Vygotsky (usually admittedly if you know where to look) and Galperin (by the function of the required practices and how closely they align with his theories), then the purpose of the education reforms is every bit as much of a Marxist transformation as anything that happened in Russia in 1917 or Cuba in 1959. Nobody is goose stepping or shooting or fleeing abroad this time, but that does not change the aim. Nor does it change admissions that these theories and practices are “ideology-driven” to foster a different kind of future world.

What Galperin set out to do, and what his decades of research on students in the USSR showed, according to Igor Arievitch and Jacques Haenen, was how to use the “active construction of actions in the external form [what the Common Core calls learning tasks]” to guide “transformation of those actions into mental processes.” That’s what ‘teaching students how to think’ and a ‘thinking curriculum’ actually mean. To put it in the language used in a different essay by Arievitch and Anna Stetsenko, Galperin’s systemic-theoretical instruction laid out “how to arrange teaching-and-learning processes [what he and we now call by its Russian name obuchenie] in such a way that they indeed lead to a profound developmental change in children’s minds.”

How you ask? You provide a conceptual understanding from the beginning that encompasses the point of instruction (maybe true, but what a student is to believe regardless) and what types of physical phenomena it applies to (supposedly) and the (mostly invisible) relationships among those phenomena that physically exist in the real world. So real physical things encountered in daily life by a student or adult evoke “a chain of images, associations, and concepts”  in the mind that is designed to pop up like a reflex response. Let’s tap that knee says the doctor.

Now if whoever created the textbook or software or video wants actual knowledge, you could actually use Galperin’s “technology of instruction” to accurately build up a fairly accurate understanding of reality. Such programmed instruction is not inherently bad, but there’s no real safety valve to protect against manipulative creators of virtual reality gaming or software or any other means of instruction from pushing concepts that are not true or do not apply. Nor is there any means of ensuring that the taught relationships among things accurately reflects real, verifiable, connections. Like Senge’s systems thinking, the instruction may be about hoped for connections transformation advocates want students to believe exist.

Because the manipulative potential of Galperin’s ‘technology of instruction,’ as his research demonstrated, stems from the fact that it orients future behavior in predictable ways. In other words, systemic-theoretical instruction has tremendous potential to anyone wanting to change reality and guide perception and govern individual behavior. All without saying so. Well, at least not at the typical PTA meeting. Now how is this different from that theory you learned in science class or as an interpretation in history? Glad you asked. In traditional education, those theories come from known facts. Remember though we are in the age when facts are being rejected as boring, or too print intensive, or unnecessary in a world of search engines.

Theory in the Galperin instructional practice and to Alex Pentland in the last post, and as used throughout the actual ed reform mandates, comes first. It comes from the philosophy that there is nothing as practical as a good theory for fostering social transformation. It shapes and alters how people perceive reality. It interferes with the absorption of facts when they do manage to come along. Remember all the classroom visions we are seeing pushed are experiential. Usually in a group. Physical activity. Visual encounters. Projects. All the references we have been encountering about providing students with ‘lenses’ or ‘Understandings of Consequence’ or ‘Enduring Understandings’ or ‘Generative Metaphors,’ to cite a few examples we have encountered, all seem to be used precisely as Galperin outlined. That means this is the attached vision (Arevitch & Haenen 2005):

“In fact, Galperin’s teaching strategies can be used to reduce if not virtually eliminate the gap between declarative and procedural knowledge. Namely, in his stepwise teaching model, each action that students master can be comprehended conceptually because it is introduced, from the beginning, in its functional relation to a broader, meaningful task to be learned.

At the same time, each concept students are learning is represented as a sequence of procedures (actions) that serve as a basis for solving problems. Therefore, declarative [facts traditionally] and procedural [how to do it] knowledge are essentially merged into an integrated whole. This can be achieved when teaching and learning are organized into meaningful activities, thus putting the acquisition of new knowledge to the service of orienting and guiding new actions.”

Highly useful theory of education, instruction, and knowledge to anyone with a transformation agenda, isn’t it? We started with Peter Senge, let’s close with a statement from the same paper since it applies to so much of the stated rationales for needing these so-called 21st century education reforms.

“The fundamental difference between creating and problem solving is simple. In problem solving we seek to make something we do not like go away. In creating, we seek to make what we truly care about exist. Few distinctions are more basic.”

Few education theories then would be more useful than one that orients future behavior in predictable ways.

Change Perception, Change Behavior, Change Rules, Change Systems–the Real Common Core/Teacher Coercion Story

Today’s post reenforces my consistent point that what is going on in education ‘reforms’ at all levels is not about the how and what of getting as many students as possible as knowledgeable and able as possible. What most of us view as the historic role of schools. Even something as fundamental as the new teacher evaluations and measures of what constitutes student ‘achievement’ or ‘growth’ are actually bound up in the broader social, economic, and political transformation agenda. And once again the aim is not limited to the US or Canada or the UK or Australia. It truly is global in aim as this short video called ‘Purpose’ show us. http://www.purpose.com/

Now the first part of the title comes from that circle chart at the 1:21 mark that the way to achieve this comprehensive vision of global transformation is to Change Perception which causes Individual Behaviors to Change, hopefully along the preselected pathways. That in turn allows Changes in the governing Rules (either explicitly or as we saw with Harold Berman through the concept of evolving law that shifts with needs and new contexts). Finally, all of these shifts over a majority of voters results in a Change in the economic, social, and political Systems.

We could also call that chart a Graphic Organizer illustrating how to accomplish Dialectical Materialism in the real world. Now I still find that to be an off-putting phrase and just using the initials might not alert my readers to what I mean. I am also darn sure we are going to keep needing to refer to this Theory with an Infamous Past so I hereby rechristen it DiaMat for short. Why am I so sure this theory will need a nickname to allow for easy use?

Because I believe that the new teacher evaluations and professional development standards, and even the new definition of professional learning that is coming out of Kentucky, are all about getting DiaMat into everyday practice in our schools and classrooms. DiaMat in the teachers’ daily instructional practices of course allows that Obuchenie mindset to be developed in the students. Then the new alternative assessments being administered by Pearson, even in states like Texas that are not adopters of the Common Core, get to measure whether the desired changes in perception are occurring.

If we look at the inner core of that circle chart, we see Perception changes through new Story Telling, which of course is most vividly accomplished by ditching textbooks and making virtual reality Gaming and Cyberlearning the new focus of the classroom (under the motto that it keeps students engaged and thus keeps them from dropping out). Next, at the inner core under Change Behavior we find ‘Motivator,’ which is precisely what the League of Innovative Schools and the federally promoted Digital Promise hope to use technology in the classroom to determine. Under Change Rules, we find ‘Mobilizer,’ which I believe is a euphemism for the better known–‘community organizer.’ Finally, under Change Systems, we find ‘Platform Builder.’ Like Peter Senge promoting systems thinking or Mark Greenberg pushing positive psychology on schools or Angela Duckworth on Grit and Tenacity as examples in education? Or to take it up a notch, we have Harry Boyte and his concept of the cooperative commonwealth or Gar Alperowitz and his Democracy Collaborative or King’s Beloved Community as only being satisfied via economic democracy.

The point of just those few examples is that the world itself and all the individuals in it may not be interdependent, but the idea behind radical ed reform and the transformation visions that accompany it certainly are. My book and this blog are dedicated to trying to sound the alarm of these connections in time. You may not have read Imagine Living in a Socialist USA that came out about two weeks ago from HarperCollins Publishing, but I have. It is a historically and economically illiterate vision with a devastating conclusion of what a Thanksgiving 2077 could be like in the transformed US. In the middle is an essay from Bill Ayers of Weathermen and “Just another guy in the neighborhood” fame laying out the associated ed vision. Ayers calls it “Teach Freedom!” but the Common Core calls it student-centered deep learning of the desired concepts with application to real world problems. DiaMat again.

Remember how we discovered that the omnipresent around the classroom implementation dual phrase “teaching and learning” was an inexact stealth attempt to bring in the Russian psychology and political theory of obuchenie to alter the student’s perception? Well, we did not dwell on it then but it is the teacher’s perception that is also  under active attack. The students are not the only ones to be asked to Ascend from the Abstract to the Concrete based on preassigned concepts to be understood as desired and acted upon. Teachers must shift too. Think of it as forcing everyone to become a change agent or to find a new job or career.

That’s what the new classroom observations and teacher evaluations are all about according to the developers of the Common Core standards themselves, Student Achievement Partners. Well, they did not mention obuchenie or Ilyenkov’s Ascending theory but they are intimately tied to the new definition of student achievement and how to end educational inequality. You see? This is why radical schemers are so hostile to us having our own personal store of accurate facts about the past. We go beyond the assigned story and interject our own conceptual understandings based on a pertinent solid foundation. Naughty me! Seriously in November 2013 TNTP (yes it is the entity Michelle Rhee started) released an Issue Analysis Report co-developed with Student Achievement Partners called “Fixing Classroom Observations: How Common Core Will Change the Way We Look at Teaching.”

That report itself says that “the implementation of improved teacher evaluation systems in a growing number of states and school districts, and the introduction of Common Core State Standards across the country” are “inextricably linked by their shared goal: better instruction for students.” Once again so much for the talking point about Common Core NOT being about how to teach the content. It is ALL about how to teach the content and in fact greatly limits what the content may be. Common Core and TNTP together ( they are distinct only to minimize the previous public outcries that supposedly derailed outcomes based education) are all about obuchenie instruction. On the circle graph we talked about above it is a certain type of instruction that changes perception so that behavior itself changes. Then the DiaMat process that should result in transformed systems can begin in earnest.

DiaMat is why the TNTP report stresses the need to teach the “right content.” Interpolating again, I believe that means content that will shift perception in politically powerful ways so that “students are learning what they should be learning.” Learning remember has been redefined as a change in values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, or behaviors. That redefinition then fits well within the Purpose Chart for Change. If you really believe that outcomes-based education went away instead of morphing into new names and a different PR strategy, look at page 6 of that TNTP report under “student outcomes” (the italics are in original) about “Rubrics should draw a clear distinction between the  outcomes teachers are responsible for producing in a successful lesson and the strategies that can help them achieve those outcomes.”

Because I really am trying my best to alert teachers and students and parents in time about what is really going on and where it is all designed to lead, here is one more heads up addressed especially to teachers. It also goes to my certainty that what we are dealing with is in fact obuchenie and DiaMat and that they are integrally interrelated to the actual Common Core implementation and the Competency ultimate fallback. “State Lessons for Transforming Professional Learning” http://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/commoncore/seizing-the-moment.pdf Launched in 2011 from the official CCSSI sponsors and coming from Kentucky, the remainder of the 6 pilot states are Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah, and Washington. It will be going national though and it is tied to what TNTP is developing as well. It also ties into the history of what it means to be an effective teacher that I laid out in my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon.

It is DiaMat that ultimately weaponizes students and teachers and administrators caught up in this tragic vision. They are being credentialed and coerced to be change agents to transform the world. Meanwhile their educations at the K-12, collegiate, and graduate levels are being systematically stripped of anything accurate that might be an obstacle to a willingness to seek transformation–first at the level of perception, then behavior, then reality itself.

While people like me who have studied history and economics and classical lit and science are jumping up and down and screaming like that silly robot in Lost in Space with his “Danger! Danger!”

This has been a week in Atlanta where the dangers perceptible to anyone paying attention were unrecognized, or disregarded, by too many education decision-makers. Expanding the authority of this sector nationally and globally so that it can ignite transformational systems change will create comparable results to what happened Tuesday.

Nowhere to Go. No Way to Get There. Except this time there will be no innate southern kindnesses to keep us and our loved ones and our resources safe.

Destroying the Dominant Social Paradigm Via Education for 21st Century Political Power and Personal Gain

Who knew that targeting the Dominant Social Paradigm to facilitate future social change was so thoroughly underway in countries like Germany and the US and the UK by the early 80s that books were being written simply shorthanding the goal as DSP? No wonder Outcomes Based Education and systems thinking were needed via K-12 education reform globally starting in earnest in the 80s. Now that I have firmly attached my deerstalker hat on my head of curls and pulled out by magnifying glass to peruse the footnotes, let’s go back to Lester W. Milbrath and his Environmentalists:Vanguard for a New Society before pivoting to go through the troubling Brookings Institute presentation yesterday of the new Oxford report. Pushing for “a collective vision for society” and “shared global values around which a unified and enduring pathway for society can be built.”

Whew! Good thing thing Brookings has no interest in education or social policy or we might need to be worried about what they are pushing. Why? How? Who really benefits? will all need to become our habitual inquiries as we embark upon our continuing investigation into this hoped for wholesale transformation away from individualism and personal choices to a planned public sector centric economy and society. As we saw in the last several posts, this aim has gone on for decades but whether we know it or not, we are in the final stages.

So let’s go back to 1984 without Orwell to lead us and make it satirical. These have been very real, long term aims. To develop and then unite a new “sophisticated understanding of how the world works with a normative/ethical system that recognizes and addresses those realities.” That would certainly explain why as I traipse around the world via the Internet examining global ed reforms over the last 10 years or so I just keep encountering diagrams of concentric circles with “core values and core beliefs” at the center.

As Milbrath wrote, “social change begins, and is most fundamentally and widely expressed, in the beliefs and values of the people.” And I would add that this level is much easier to access in a mind that has been deprived of its own store of facts and lots of practice with logical thought. Which certainly explains why fluent reading and math and science textbooks and lectures have all come under attacks with explanations that never hold up to detailed scrutiny. That would be due to an organized effort to substitute “an agreed upon ‘story’ that guides the beliefs and behavior of the people.” Well, we didn’t agree. But annoyed by the failures of attempts in previous decades, politicians and profs and district supers and accreditors and state boards of education are brooking no opposition this time from anyone in the way of the desired little c common core. The prevailing beliefs and values to be targeted at school, at work, at church, and especially in higher ed.

Colleges really should just tell parents that a New Worldview comes with the tuition payments and drop the expensive subterfuge. Milbrath used another word in addition to Worldview and the now more common Mindset–paradigm. All of these terms quite simply mean the “belief structure that organizes the way people perceive and interpret the functioning of the world around them.” No wonder constructivism has become all the rage in the Common Core implementation and reading, math, and science instruction. Until reality can be changed, altering the widespread personal perceptions of it will have to do. And that is precisely what is under continuous and coordinated attack now via education. Think of it as cultivating mindsets suitable to prompt action for transformative social, political, and economic change every time you hear of a troubling incident at a university or a curriculum assignment designed to instill hate or confusion or fear.

Here’s what is officially under attack.  Every organized society has a dominant social paradigm–the DSP–which consists of:

“values, metaphysical beliefs, institutions, habits, etc., that collectively provide social lenses through which individuals and groups interpret their social world. [Doesn’t the C3 Social Studies Framework and the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems metaphor presence make more sense now?]

Social paradigms condition individual goals and expectations, provide a definition of social problems, establish a structure of social and physical rewards for various types of preferred behavior, and create shared gains and deprivations which make social harmony in complex societies possible.”

Now things would certainly not be so harmonious if it were better understood that governments and their beneficiaries and allies have decided to use education to push for new structures and institutions and values and beliefs that reject “once accepted patterns and relationships among people.” I personally deplore analogizing individual choices and markets to slavery and colonialism as other once accepted patterns but then I hate a bad analogy. Milbrath was only too ready to create new premises “about the way we should structure our society and conduct our public business” and going after DSP was the way to do it. Still is but most people do not read the Great Transition documents the OECD is pushing now or the UN’s post-2015 report we have also considered. Much less this Oxford Martin global commission report http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/commission/Oxford_Martin_Now_for_the_Long_Term.pdf that came out in mid-October.

All of these sought global transformations get pushed at meetings we are not invited to and seek to dramatically transform our future and disregard the current political structures and safety valves we take for granted. Education is the way in and altering the DSP invisibly and quickly means the shift is an irreversible done deal while even the attentive are still arguing on whether the Common Core State Standards Initiative tramples  federalism. What? Under a US Constitution that provides no genuine protection when the means of attack is against the DSP once a majority of voters have been affected? We have to understand how the game is actually being played better. We have to understand the nature of political power.

If you do read that Oxford Martin report, don’t stop until you figure out who the C-30 companies are behind this vision and more importantly you trace the C-40 Cities to the core involvement of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropy (also sponsored the NYC citylab recently), and the World Bank. All of this planned transformation has your tax money and the ability to incur debt, loads of contributions hoping for additional political careers, and the ability to regulate and impose public policy. No wonder everyone is talking about mayors and cities as being the correct level to impose change for the future. Usefully also with a high concentration of totally dependent voters looking for a public sector to take care of them.

Well, everyone cannot live at the expense of others and ignoring the inherent parasitic nature of governments under the best of circumstances is dangerous if we hope to keep even the current weakened levels of the economy (that everyone seems intent on redistributing). But getting that essential fact requires some knowledge of history and how can education built around problem and project-based learning create such necessary knowledge? And that seems to be much of the point behind the new games-based focus and design emphasis in the classroom. It encourages the kind of “trial and error [as] the basic element in this kind of social change; it constitutes a type of social learning.” That social learning intention is designed to create “a growing awareness that the present system is not working well.” Milbrath laid it out in his concluding chapter called “Can Modern-day Prophets Redirect Society?” Prophets like the regularly cited Paul and Anne Ehrlich and their rather troubled by now record of catastrophe hyping.

But students raised on a curriculum diet of “successfully navigating open-ended challenges” won’t know that. Expect more of these types of priming projects http://d1lhirsz7m8sbi.cloudfront.net/mindshift/wp-content/blogs.dir/42/files/2013/10/iLab_infographic_11x171.pdf as students are taught everything around them can be redesigned for a better 21st century. For everyone.

Just need to give the Governors at all levels more power and decision-making authority.

Meanwhile, students will be doing helpful things like:

“After collecting information, students then strive to infer the underlying thoughts and feelings of a user. By immersing themselves in the experiences of users and developing ‘deep empathy,’ they are able to develop a deeper understanding that can lead to key insights.”

Insights that guide future behavior without any likely connection to reality. Such a perception contrary to reality was so helpful for English Prime Minister Chamberlain in Munich in 1938.

So many had that lovely feeling of Peace in Our Time right up until the invasion emboldened by the false perceptions.

History and reality vs perceptions and hope and key insights from ‘deep empathy.’

Where would you place your bet on the 21st century future?