Future Common Communicative Competence With Regional Economies Focused on Effective Social Relationships?

Readers beyond a certain age or with a fondness for TV reruns are likely responding to that title with a high-pitched “Say What?” This is one of those seminal posts that ties together the education, social, political, and economic visions for the future. I am using US documents since we do have that pesky US Constitution that vests (or is supposed to) ultimate authority in the individual instead of the state. But the vision works everywhere and actually was kindly laid out in a 2001 book The Global Third Way Debate edited by British sociologist Anthony Giddens but with global participation. Notable US writers included reps from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Brookings Institute (now pushing Metropolitanism and the Global Cities Initiative so hard), and the Ford Foundation (financing so much but especially new economics and Global Transition 2012  http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/  last year leading up to the Twentieth Anniversary of the original Rio Summit).

This future vision is premised on an economy “enabled and shaped by government” at the federal level through “macroeconomic (top-down) policy” coupled to “tailored, place-based (bottom-up) economic policy” of the type we saw being developed in Cleveland and NE Ohio as part of the Appreciative Inquiry Green City on a Blue Lake Summit we have already covered and the Project 21 vision originating there. NE Ohio, the Minneapolis-St Paul Area, and Seattle were explicitly the three pilot sites for this “new model for federal and state investment in regions, and so for intergovernmental relations in America’s federalist system” as the 2011 Brookings document described it. No, it is not a federal or economic vision Madison or Jefferson would have supported but it does explain the need to tie the Common Core in education to a broader economic development vision. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2011/4/12-metro-business-muro/1208_metro_summit_business_framing_paper

Every one of the Social Studies 2009 Enduring Understandings I mentioned in the last post would foster a belief that this kind of wholesale political transformation is permitted by a majority consensus in a society. I believe the Concepts laid out in the Next Generation Science Framework are likewise geared to cultivating beliefs that such social and economic change is necessary. As are the Understandings of Consequence videogames we have covered. To be a large part of the equity in credentialing and increased high school graduation rates that are part of the Common Core and associated Metropolitan Business Development visions.

It is no accident that both seek “consortiums of local governments, business and civic organizations, and the private and non-profit sectors to engage in coherent strategic action.” So no more accusing me of being a conspiracy theorist. To the extent we have organized coordination and collusion Brookings has officially pronounced it to be “coherent strategic action.” And it looks just like what the Aspen Institute is now pushing as the Global Fourth Way or Fourth Sector-For Benefit Economy.

The original vision in that Giddens book called all this “a new political economy of the left” which would “become an effective and lasting new political programme which will guide the next generation.” The actual hope was that this would become the global economic and social vision for the entire 21st Century. Something to keep in mind when you hear a sales pitch for skills needed for the 21st Century economy. It really is not supposed to be the vision you have in mind. But virtually all of the major investment banks and huge philanthropies are on board. If you do not believe me take a look at the Board of the Living Cities Initiative or read the theory behind their Integration Initiative. http://www.livingcities.org/integration/theory/

Education policy is in a position to influence the values, attitudes, and beliefs of the next generation and create the “social capital” and “human capital” of the future. Those beliefs and values can be manipulated to believe in “maximizing communicative equality” through dialogues and the sets of “horizontal relationships” cultivated in school. Bonus points for readers who immediately thought of Fostering Learning Communities as the current example of precisely what is being described. In the aggregate it also fits with the Learning Cities we saw UNESCO pushing globally. I gave you the Integration Theory link because it is my belief that Living Cities is the US version of what is being called Learning Cities elsewhere. They seem to function the same. No wonder effective principals are to be Leading Learning Communities. Perfect priming from a young age for a political transformation is a better description of the effective principal of the future. This is the reason and the vision.

So the third way acknowledged it would need “three structural elements, soundly constructed and mutually articulated.” You can contemplate how useful the ability to impose Enduring Understandings and abstract theories to organize beliefs and filter day to day perceptions of life’s experiences will be to people seeking the following:

“moral principles and priorities (the axioms of the programme: ‘what we believe in and where we are going’);

a fully elaborated ideology which convincingly argues and demonstrates in more detail how these principles and priorities can be practically related to the workings of ‘the real world‘, real people and their relationships to each other and the economy; [Gee wouldn’t something like systems thinking, service learning, or the new 3R’s of rigor, relevance, and relationships come in handy?] and

a specification of the practical policies and measures which are required in order to change the society and the economy towards the desirable model of social and economic relationships that has been elaborated. [see above links, any or all for examples].

Think of those three elements as a common core to get total transformation over time. So “North American social scientists” and educators figured out that “if third way thinking successfully integrates the concept of social capital into its understanding of the market economy, this will provide it with its own new, rigorous and practical [emphasis in original] analysis of the economy.” Then all you have to do to get the third way implemented is make this sociological view of the economy and its view of social capital part of education and urban planning degree programs, especially those masters and doctorates for future administrators. Easy Peezy Transformation once attached to federal dollars mandating compliance with this vision. Or do without those federal and NGO dollars that will then flow elsewhere to competing cities or regions.

I am going to provide a longer quote that explains why the cities are so important in any country with elections. It’s where a sizable number of votes are concentrated. Especially if the vision promises equity and benefits dependent voters cannot or will not get for themselves. So in:

“a polity actively nurturing its social capital, the state has to perform a vital partnership and facilitation role in at least two obvious ways. Firstly, it needs to deploy resources to empower disadvantaged individuals: the sick, injured, young, old, poor and poorly-educated, and other groups subject to social exclusion for reasons that are beyond their power to alter, such as their gender or ethnic affiliation. This is to endow them with their citizenship and their liberties [it sounds like what Goodwin Liu called Social Citizenship!], and so enable them to participate with their fellow citizens on an equal status basis, in all the networks and associations through which social capital functions. [This is also why metrowide school districts and busing are so important to this political vision].

Secondly, there is the importance of the locally devolved form of ‘state’: participatory, local self-government in active partnership and responsive negotiation with the communities and businesses whose environment it administers.

Now you know why Green Cities and Smart Cities and Global Cities just keep popping up. Why the very real Agenda 21 implementers met separately and plan with ICLEI-the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives at the Rio Summit last summer. And had food and wine and a lovely fashion show to boot.

I also think that is why the Asia Society funded an “Educating for Global Competency Workshop”  facilitated by worldsavvy in Minnesota on April 30th, a few days ago. And is holding a Statewide Summit on Global Learning next week on May 9, 2013 at St Cloud University in Minnesota. Inviting precisely the public and private groups to be involved in the Metropolitan Business Plan on the new economy. With Tony Jackson from the Asia Society as the keynote speaker.

So on top of being part of the Global Competence push as we have seen and a primary sponsor of the Global Cities Education Network we have covered and apparently tied into the Metropolitanism new economy vision in the US, we have the Pearson Foundation in 2011 highlighting with films the Asia Society’s role in promoting Global Citizenship. http://asiasociety.org/education/international-studies-schools-network/films-documents-how-students-becoming-global-citizen

That’s right. In the name of standardizing academic content from state to state, we are ending up with a toleration for a new model of intergovernmental relations. Plus Global Citizenship beliefs. Plus the third way’s vision for a new political economy after Communism crashed and Welfare States developed a bad name. Based on the general principle of “maximizing communicative equality.”

That would be why Gifted education is going away and why high-performing suburban schools have to be taken down.

Proper Mindsets and Dependent Mediocrity are needed for this vision of the future.



Placing a Global Bet that Psychology Infused Via Education Can Change Human Beings and their Institutions

Supposedly for the better which is why the initiative is called Positive Psychology to sound inspirational. But citing back to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers’ work as foundational makes this push about more than instilling good work habits and hope. This Organizational Development (OD) push, that Appreciative Inquiry from the last post and systems thinking a la the higher profile Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer are an intrinsic part of, plans to act on the theory that human beings can be changed for the better. Globally but especially the US.

And it fully intends to try using the Global Quest for Educational Excellence and all those poorly understood international tests like PISA and TIMSS as the drivers of change. While you are thinking it’s about finally getting more knowledgeable students who are better at reading or math, these taxpayer funded visionaries have figured out how to also use Positive Behavior Interventions and Positive School Climate Executive Orders and data collection around Student Growth to drive continuous improvement toward “inspiring and shared moral purposes.” How very communitarian.

Apparently all the hyping about closing the Achievement Gap is just a ruse. Instead, the US CCSSI is part of a global attempt at “establishing the new and eclipsing the old in human systems.” So exciting that it really was italicized just like that in the 2010 Framework document I am describing today.  Coupled to a 2012 book by two Boston College professors called The Global Fourth Way laying out what really makes for a high performing school system. Hint: it’s not what you know but what you feel and are willing to do about it. Supposedly equitable outcomes for ALL students and Deweyan Quality Learning that changes the Whole Personality are just the thing that will “produce the economic and social outcomes that are essential for economic dynamism, social cohesion, and democratic ways of life.”

And before you get excited about the economic dynamism aspect during this Great Recession you should know it is premised on the idea that “going green might well become the biggest business opportunity of the twenty-first century.” Or not as all those bankruptcies from ventures like Fisker and Solyndra that got tax dollars in the 2009 Stimulus Act should show.

So once again the education component that is the real Common Core implementation is tied into a political and social upheaval that is not being advertised and an economic vision that shows no likelihood of working. No matter how many AI Summits like “Green City on a Blue Lake” cities like Cleveland hold envisioning a new green future and an extension of relatedness that will somehow save the Inner Cities and economic blight. The vision, that has Positive Psychology architect, Marty Seligman of UPenn (save Philly somehow please!) and David Cooperrider (a Taos Institute founder and Case Western, in Cleveland, prof), reportedly giving speeches to lots of famous companies, the US Army and Navy and the US Environmental Agency (no wonder it now plans with systems thinking), and the UN Global Compact among others around 2010, is called Innovation-inspired Positive Organization Development. Or IPOD as they call it to create an “economy and ecology of strengths.”

I wonder if they put their IPOD speeches on an IPad? Sorry. That IPOD Framework even mentioned that there was a “recent business leaders meeting at the UN to collaboratively design the future.” I guess it’s not collusion when it is for a good cause like Sustainability and preserving current markets. Which we should all keep in mind every time you hear “Business needs the Common Core or 21st Century Skills or Career Pathways.” This is SO not about what is best for our individual futures. In fact that’s why you keep hearing all these references to organizations. According to IPOD’s vision, organizations like schools and businesses are to become:

“institutions that serve to bring our highest human strengths into the world in a magnified way…They exist to serve a life-enriching purpose, and accomplish things no individual set of strengths can accomplish alone.”

Oh, I don’t know about that. An individual mind can be quite intrepid which is truthfully the whole problem with the old transmission of knowledge curriculum. It’s the real reason it must be jettisoned in the 21st century. None of these people want herd-defying individuals figuring things out without authorization or creating world-altering technology breakthroughs without permission. So they take Uncle Karl’s human development theory and give it a new disguise that sounds inspiring. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ .

The IPOD approach to change then is to be “collaborative [like group projects and Communities of Learners], educational based on experiential learning [hands on projects! service learning for credit!], dialogical [Courtney Cazden’s discourse classroom community], and contextually conditioned upon inquiry [just like a good IB Learner!] into the relevant content and process of a human system.”

No wonder we keep hearing a requirement for relevance and a link to real world problems. You get the IPOD, Fourth Way, vision implemented without having to mention it or get approval. Thus the IPOD framework says the “DNA pulsating through” it can be described by three essential features:

1. That special spirit of inquiry [they do love italics for emphasis] that seeks “to learn, experiment, seek feedback and build shared understanding through dialogue and open exploration of things that may never have been collectively explored.” How expensive and unproductive if simply based on the feelings of deliberately created Know-Nothings. Next.

2. The collaborative design of the future. Now this impossibility is based on the very accurate observation that “people build their commitment to change in direct proportion to the degree that they are actively engaged in designing the change.” Which is why you are unlikely to get the PTA President or members of your local School Council to listen to you when you point out, for example, that Spence Rogers’ own books cite Mao as a good example of leadership and that makes him a poor choice for teacher professional development.

The collaboration also primes all participants for the “assumed centrality of interdependence in organizational life” to force recognition that it is “the quality of the relationships, the processes–how the relationships give or deplete life” that make a human system work. No wonder relationships are one of the new 3 R’s along with Relevance and the imaginative Rigor [think of that Spirit of Inquiry above as what Rigor is really about].

3. A positive view of the human being. Now this is the age old question that has kept philosophers speculating for centuries. You will be glad to know that IPOD comes down on the side not supported by history. IPOD has not only “proclaimed a belief in people” from its “infancy.” It goes on to [this is a little long but it is a vision worth quoting in full. Maslow to Marx with the behavioral sciences thrown in to boot]

“Insofar as we might discover the conditions that help bring out the best in life–for example, Abraham Maslow’s studies into peak experiences–then we might well be able to apply this knowledge in our institutions. Drawing from the entire mosaic of the social sciences–from anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and biology and more–OD would be unique in not only propagating a collaborative, inquiry-driven approach to change but would be centered on advancing the developmental potentials of the human being. [And you thought I was being sarcastic about Uncle Karl or his 20th century leading advocate Erik Erikson and why they matter to CCSSI] Instead of being woven at random, like an afterthought design into our economic and organizational fabric, human development would be at the center. Lines would radiate out from the human dimension to all the others–the economic, technological, strategic, structural, political, etc.”

That would be truly all-encompassing and people focusing on who owns the means of production are not keying in on what parts of Marx’s vision are back for a 21st Century run.  The framework also mentions the good prof Csik as a key component of this positive psychology vision http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/ . Why look, excellence just like the Fourth Way. What a coincidence. Not.  But it also notes that for a new OD as described here to “truly emerge, it would need a new human science knowledge base.”

Well, guess what? All that data being thrown off –measuring Student Growth or soft skills or attitudes, values, and beliefs and continuous improvement in PBIS or PATHS and other “mental health first aid” or social and emotional learning curricula as we see from CASEL– is just what OD needs to be its “human science knowledge base.” No wonder ICT vendors are so excited. No wonder the accreditors now require its collection. And the US federal government by requiring teacher evals based on “multiple measures of Student Growth.”

Should it trouble us that the World Economic Forum just put out a report on creating the 21st century economy around ICT and Big Data? Coincidences surely abound these days.