Turning All of Us into Piggy Banks or Dependents Who Need Direction and Aid and Desired Dispositions

Following up directly from the presentation discussed in the previous post, do you believe that the “best way to prepare students for the future is to equip them to invent it?” Can we in fact design the future we want if we are just all determined enough? What makes one a good inventor? Passion or knowledge? How well do most group efforts where consensus and majority rules prevail work out in the real world?

How about education designed to “plant the seeds of peace in children’s minds”? Will that work or is the West, especially the US, simply disarming, mentally and emotionally, its young people while real threats still await? Both of those quotes come from Fernando Reimers, the Harvard Ed School professor who used to be an official with the World Bank, whose three dimensions of global competency were explicitly mentioned in that P21 video. If something is being incorporated by reference into classrooms to get at student values, attitudes, and beliefs, and create new dispositions and behaviors, we had best know what it is. Now. Before we have a toxic collective common core in a majority of voters.

If you are reading this outside the US, we now have our explicit link from a European journal of all this to the 2001 Citizenship initiatives in the UK and Australia I first described here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ . Canadians who have never read the 2012 Shifting Minds report from C21Canada should find it. Global indeed in every sense of the word. Not speculating here and it’s not just an American problem. Even though there are apparently additional gold stars and bounties available for change agents whose theories gain international acceptance. Just ask Pearson’s Michael Barber.

What are we dealing with here then? Well, to quote Reimers we “could call these dimensions the three A’s of globalization: the affective dimension, the action dimension and the academic dimension.” By “affective” Reimers means the “development of character, affect, and values” around a “global common framework of values” such as the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I took the title from my own observation that everyone in the world having a right to a certain standard of living means a global class of administrators redistributing from those with the duty to provide to those waiting to benefit from the goodies. History shows the national leaders will want their cut and no one has an incentive to get off the dole or taxpayer teat. Especially if it is just there. At least until the money dries up completely and then where are we? Gimme anyway? And all this gets administered by bureaucrats from the UN or OECD who want tax-free salaries and benefits that only have a reason to exist as long as dependence and tragic dysfunction remain. Anywhere. More lucrative jobs if misery then spreads.

A Global Problem-solving focus is Not a prescription to get better. In other words, global education around competency and sustainability is actually likely to be unsustainable and make existing problems worse. The power to coerce gets used where it exists even if the students mean well in all these Youth Movements being fostered in the name of:

1. “A positive disposition toward cultural difference and a framework of global values to engage in difference. [I always sensed IB was a stalking horse for something bigger for everyone. Yikes!] This requires a sense of identity and self-esteem but also empathy toward others with different identities [remember here how critical Irina Bokova views the relationship between UNESCO and the new UN initiative–the Alliance of Civilizations]. And interest and understanding of different civilizational streams [with a spin that Bokova and AOC and Reimers approve of] and the ability to see those differences as opportunities for constructive, respectful and peaceful transactions among people. This ethical dimension of global competency includes also a commitment to basic equality and rights of all persons and a disposition to act to uphold those rights.” [cites make it clear this is an economic justice/John Dewey definition of democracy, not a structure of government].

Second is the skill dimension that develops the “motivation to act and the competency to act.” By that Reimers means “addressing personal and collective needs and of achieving sustainable human-environmental interactions” through those internalized Global Values created via the Affective Dimension (I am combining about 3 different sources for Reimers. All are the same vision and written since 2006). Reimers wants students to learn to “live these [Universal Declaration of Human] rights (not just to know them).”

Third is that academic dimension and notice it IS knowledge but it is supplied knowledge and concepts to prompt the desire to act politically. To invent a different future around a collective responsibility for the wellbeing of humanity. “To understand the interconnectedness of the entire globe on a range of issues, environmental, political, demographic, and recognize their importance.” Again Reimers–“global competency encompasses the skills and interest to understand the basic interdependence of human beings and the environment on a planetary scale.” Now that’s a definition that will require a global class of tax paid administrators intent on coordinating and regulating and outright restricting.

Here then is a direct quote of the academic dimension taken from Reimers book by way of the NEA Foundation’s website (to show their support and intent I suppose), ALL students will need “Deep knowledge and understanding of world history, geography, the global dimensions of topics such as health, climate and economics and of the process of globalization itself …and a capacity to think critically and creatively about the complexity of current global challenges.” [aka systems thinking, paging Peter Senge and Bela Banathy].

So to be clear Global Competence also comes in under definitions of what constitutes 21st Century Learning. Even if you are not in a Senge affiliated district or state like Nevada, let’s say you live in the Atlanta area where the large districts of Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett have joined the 10 districts piloting Ed Leader 21’s Suburban Consortium http://www.edleader21.com/index.php?pg=33&id=2 that will delight their taxpayers no end as they discover no where to run from the policies and practices that led to the dysfunction of the Atlanta cheating scandal. The DC area is in the same situation as Fairfax County, Arlington City, and Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties in Maryland also close off the escape route. And Charlotte, Greenville, SC, and Miami-Dade to complete the long sought attempt to level academics in the suburbs and shift those home-instilled values and dispositions.

I mentioned proof above of global coordination of all these citizenship and global competency initiatives, here’s the 2007 link http://www.citized.info/ejournal/Vol%203%20No%202/Vol%203%20no%202.pdf . It puts a new reason on why we really needed a single set of national standards in the US. Too many of the states you see had created civics and citizenship standards that focused on developing the dreaded accurate knowledge among young people. And since having the federal government push this formally was just not available, as usual, one of the charitable foundations, Carnegie, picked up the tab and “the National Centre for Learning and Citizenship at the Education Commission of the States convened a series of meetings with civic policymakers and practitioners.” Instead of knowledge, these meetings “encourage policymakers to conceptualize citizenship education as ‘strands’ of civic competency that encompass civic-related knowledge [because direct instills patriotism?], cognitive and participative skills, and civic dispositions.  Equally important, there was agreement that these citizenship competencies are best developed through a coherent sequence of learning experiences that extend from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

Get ’em emotional often and early for many years in other words should make for igniting a reliable  generation of social change agents. Having “primary grade children …discuss the nature of ‘fairness’ and create a better school environment” are the experiences that “provide the civic foundation for middle and high school.” Where they will be primed to attend Youth Forums in Costa Rica to hear Al Gore or the Global Youth Summit next year in China.

That’s how and why all of these earth-shaking mental and psychological changes get instilled in your child or a majority of voters. And the elections in the West gradually get used to mandate a taxpayer-financed fundamental shift.

That UN and education superintendents and university administrators and too many politicians at all levels and every party are determined to give a 21st Century try.

And because they are adults who have spent their careers living off either the public sector’s ability to extract taxes and incur debt. Or live off the tax-free and compounding wealth left by Andrew or John D or Model T Henry or even today’s Bill, Melinda, Eli, and Warren, they are tragically unaware of what will happen when we make the purpose of education–Global Competency or Sustainability or Transformational Outcomes Based Education–turning out the rational, independent lights of most individual minds.

To “instill seeds of peace” in a dangerous world. To create influential guiding beliefs that are false. To mandate “perspectives” because we wish that is how the world worked.

Breaking the individual and collective piggy banks and then where will we be?

Igniting an Entire Generation of Dedicated Social Change Agents via Education Compelled to Act Now

The great Political Theorist Kenneth Minogue’s tragic death yesterday gave me a good reason to go back and reread the highlights of his fine 2010 book The Servile Mind. Turns out to be just the kind of insights we need to grasp precisely what is being attempted globally in education. And why. I had been fuming since Friday that we have basically three tracks going on right now in education. Track 1, the vast majority, really have no idea that there are to be dramatic changes in the nature of K-12 and higher education. Track 2 is aware of the Common Core and is concerned that it is a usurpation by the feds of local control over the curriculum.

I observe and write about Track 3–the real implementation  intended to fundamentally change attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors in order to gain a desired political, social, and moral transformation. Track 3 is so anti-content that it calls for substituting emotional engagement instead (this past week’s Partnership for Global Learning annual conference in NYC). Or as this influential group advocates  http://p21.org/tools-and-resources/p21blog/1151-how-can-technology-empower-deeper-learning-in-a-21st-century-school “deriving the curriculum from the lived experience of the student” rather than “a collection of fixed texts.”

Minogue recognized in The Servile Mind that something fundamental was shifting all over the world “as governments take over the tasks individuals used to do for themselves.” That our very conception of society is changing and much of the attitudes driving those changes are being first nurtured, and then required, by education “reforms.” He rightfully worried about what happens in countries where a majority of voters come to see themselves as “an association of vulnerable people whose needs and sufferings must be remedied by the power of the state.”

Minogue recognized that the power and unprecedented prosperity achieved by countries in the West grew from a foundational vision of “self-conscious individuals guiding their destinies according to whatever moral sentiments they entertain.” Now, all over the world, a competing vision seeks stealth enactment and education is the preferred means of avoiding detection as the rulers sculpt the citizens to be malleable. And behaviorally predictable if only the right buttons are pushed. Yes, that would be another job for the compliant media if Minogue had only had a copy of all those UNESCO reports. Minogue does nail the new vision though. A future society “in which individuals find their identifying essence in supporting public policies that are both morally obligatory and politically imperative.”

That future vision now can quietly come in the front door of the school to coerce compliance from an early age. Via lots of psychological student data and a very poorly understood definition of Student Growth. Which will make it much more difficult for us to protect the next generation from being manipulated into a “gullible acquiescence to the projects of government.” Minogue wrote about the Romans and how they “had learned the moral practices needed for a sycophantic submission” during the long reign of Augustus. And when the atrocious Tiberius came along they had been mentally and emotionally disarmed from coping with overt tyranny. The usefulness of deliberately targeting “hearts and minds” has been clear from time immemorial and we should honor Professor Minogue’s admonition that “we should never forget that moral change takes place below, and often deeply below, the surface of a culture.”

Back to track 3 to discuss what is off most radars. It has explicit intentions to create those very moral changes we were just warned about. In an entire generation of learners. Hoping to, in the words of one speaker, create “habits of head, heart, and hand that together will hopefully cause students to take meaningful action. And engage in volunteerism and service. Standing up against injustices and improving conditions and making changes in the world around them.” I have warned about media education and the primacy of the 21st Century Skills push and also the Global Competence portion of the Common Core that guides the classroom vision even though it is usually unmentioned in the PR push. On June 4, 2013, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (which had deceitfully claimed to be shutting down a few years ago) put on a Congressionally Sponsored Global Awareness Event at the Capitol Hill Visitors Center. To push Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy. We had the Pearson Foundation as a sponsor and a Disney executive (as in Mickey Mouse and lots of Media pull) as the moderator.

If you have 40 minutes to spare, here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Us7qvshjhw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUK7RYYXF4XqP_mIDu28ZtuQ . I am going to assume you are busy though and give you the highlights. Or what I consider the troubling implications of a vision of education that regards the whole point now as getting students to “become passionate about global issues.” Issues selected and fostered because they will be useful to growing the tendency of the government to intervene, or at least guide, in all matters in the future. I was quoting Scott Hirschfield of the US Fund for UNICEF earlier so let’s continue with what knowledge and values and skills he wants to see K-12 schools cultivate. He said UNICEF defines global citizen as someone who “understands interconnectedness and appreciates global diversity. Someone who challenges inequities and takes meaningful action in their communities at the global level.”

Hirschfield went on the say that “head–heart–hand is how we shorthand this.” I am going to interrupt my quoting to point out that genuinely free market economies provide people with what they want to buy but they are drivers of economic inequality. It’s just that the least successful still are better off financially than has ever been the case in a state-directed economy. With Statism what gets equalized has generally been misery unless you are politically connected. Everyone else gets misery without much recourse apart from physical escape. On rafts. Over Berlin Walls. Tunneling. A human drive to be free.

So when content is pooh-poohed and emotions are pushed and equity becomes the driver we need to beware of knowledge as officially described as “economic and political literacy and an understanding of human rights.” Hand is the “skills we want” like “conflict resolution and a willingness to negotiate and compromise.” Then we get heart as “the values and dispositions we want young people to internalize” like “compassion and toleration of others.”

I will interrupt this troubling confession of the new purpose of education to once again borrow Professor Minogue’s insight that “the ideological frenzies of the twentieth century” like Nazism and Communism “have largely disappeared, except in universities, but the basic impulse in our civilization toward collective salvation has not.” And the way an elite go about obtaining that collective salvation and servitude is through a “change in the hearts and minds of human beings.” So we recognize the impulse but what happens to a society where the next generation knows little but feels the need to jettison what exists and try to design anew?

I will shift and end with Kathleen Welling’s vision since she too sees the new purpose of education as “changing lives.” She hyped the first Global Student Leaders Summit in March in Costa Rica with Al Gore as the keynoter. Next April the Summit is going to China and the emphasis is on “how do we change this world?”

I think the term “playing with fire” is too mild to describe the dangers of this new, to be mandated, view of education. Welling also mentioned that she believed that the Asia Society was doing fine work in promoting this new view of Global Education which is why I led off this post with a mention of its PGL13 conference last week. http://sites.asiasociety.org/pgl2013/about/ She also mentioned the work of Fernando Reimers at Harvard as guiding this new vision of global education for all in the future.

He’s probably not on your radar yet but he’s been on mine for a while. At the beginning of this week that celebrates genuine freedom, what type of meaning would freedom have in a country where K-12 education becomes devoted to “all children” must “develop their own understanding about how we all share responsibility for the well being of humanity?”

Not just that understanding mind you, but also “develop that compassion” so that students will learn to act as desired. And on the political issues desired.