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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For all of us.

Say what?



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the Gaming posts I have written and GlassLab as assessments in the future come in as Institute of Play and its Quest to Learn school are one of the exemplary case studies. Those links and the Urie ones are easy to locate if you have not seen them via the tags. I am going to close with a link to an old post that readers of the report are not likely to recognize as related.

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

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

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

Once Again the Official Target is Scrambling Rational Thinking, Do Pro-Social Purposes Make It OK?

What should horrify us more–the intention? Or the fact that numerous editors at Ed Week must have read the language and merely nodded. Because after all the idea that now “Teachers design spaces and experiences that rearrange the neurons in young people’s brains for pro-social purposes” is not news to readers of this blog. /change_the_frame_two_ways_to_rethink_education_for_reform.html?cmp=ENL-EU-VIEWS2 is the link from last week. It is the lead-in to paragraph 4. And the author is the educator who first led me to focus on gaming after a conference he hosted at MIT.

Ramping up for the 90s version of these same “reshape the personality and values” reforms, which became infamous as Outcomes Based Education, there was a flurry of books on creating new kinds of minds. Willis Harman’s Global Mind Change from the previous post was one. Paul Ehrlich wrote New World New Mind and we also had The Axemaker’s Gift that gave us the useful Axemaker’s Mind metaphor to explain what is being targeted. Well, the sought goal has never gone away. Apparently the era of Positive Humanism (aka little c you-know-what) can only commence if the rational “ego-mind” that promotes individuality has been anesthetized. Put into deep sleep via K-12 education. To be reenforced periodically through lifelong learning and today’s new term–media education.

This time around we again have more illuminating books to guide us toward the future others want for us. First we have Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want published in 2011. Ecologist Frances Moore Lappe, who also serves on a new global entity (with Riane Eisler if you have ever read the Caring Economics post)  wants to reframe the “largely unconscious mental map made up of big ideas orienting our lives.” She points out a very useful phrase to keep in mind as we keep reading about Enduring Understandings and systems theory “lenses” and Understandings of Consequence that are to be provided in the Common Core classroom to help organize every student’s beliefs about the world and the past. “Can we remake our mental map?” Lappe asks. Because she points out that “while we often hear that ‘seeing is believing,’ actually believing is seeing.

Which will of course come in quite handy in an education now to be focused on the visual and modeling future scenarios on the computer.  Because the tech companies and their broadcasting allies globally have been quietly sponsoring (as in literally funding the conferences) the idea that “society has evolved from a literacy culture to a media culture. To be able to function in this new culture, people need to develop sufficient proficiency in media literacy in much the same way as people in a literacy culture need to be able to read and write.”

And if this is news to you the Common Core literacy standards do mention media literacy but no one seems to be focusing on the implications yet. Probably because they have not been reading the programs of the Media & Learning Conferences that started in Brussels in 2010 and noted the significance of the statement that “different media provide access to different parts of the brain.” And, yes, games are an important component of this new view of K-12 education as digital and media-based.

As the 2011 “Harnessing the power of Media to support Learning” Conference put it so succinctly, games are “tools to support training in soft skills and understanding of complex situations.” Of course this is all in the context of an assumption that globally we are moving toward a “more participatory,” equitable society. And to get there as a speaker noted, the role of education needs to be seen as the “physiological and psychological growth of the child.”

Why that sounds just like Student Growth in the US! What the feds are now requiring as the measure of an effective teacher. Just coincidental I am sure. Actually you have probably already noticed the shift to integrating media creation into the classroom. You just did not know it was part of an organized, ideological shift. Or that a conference would be organized to push “the underlying principle was that video production includes a whole process of skills which, once acquired, can be transferred to solve other complex tasks.” Oh good. What IB and UNESCO call homo faber–man the maker.

By the 2012 Conference called “Media as an Agent for Change in Education and Training,” a keynote speaker, Andrew Keen, was warning the audience that digital learning was a “form of ideology that is shifting us to a flatter global societal structure” with a “disappearing middle class.” We could heed his points that “such widespread democratisation in education is already leading to the radicalisation of education” if only anyone in the US or anywhere outside of Europe were being honest with the general public on what is really going on with these ed reforms.

If you think this is just a European problem, then you are unaware that the New Media Consortium and this new view of education actually originated in the US. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it just had its 15th anniversary conference. And I listened to Karen Cator’s Keynote speech on “Participatory Learning-Powered by Technology”. And then I found the federal reports she mentioned. Which told me precisely how important ICT is to the new assessments. It allows a move away from “covering subject matter” to a “concern with cognitive skills, including those that have been identified as 21st-century skills.” The “subject matter content emphasis” of traditional schooling led schools to “neglect the higher order or complex cognitive components such as inquiry, problem solving, and explanation.”

The new assessments via ICT are “designed to handle the interdependencies among a learner’s actions in dealing with complex, multistep problems or inquiries.” Now remember from our previous posts that these complex problems are deliberately “ill-structured” or “Indeterminate Situations” for which there is no fixed answer. And the computer is obtaining a tremendous amount of data generated by students at an unconscious level as they try to come up with an answer. And we also know that part of the intended aim of this confusing structure is to force the students to rely on creative, deep intuition to apply existing concepts or big ideas to new situations. Then the computer can adapt to give students immediate feedback to get the students back on whatever the pathway the game or software designers programmed into the instructions.

Don’t worry. It’s not like game designers have said they intended to use these programs to target student’s belief systems. It’s not like the designers are using positive psychology principles to make the visual as compelling as possible. Book Number 2 this time around came out in 2010. Marina Gorbis from the last post mentioned The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction by Rebecca Costa. is her as the keynoter at last October’s Bioneers Conference. Costa is a well-connected sociobiologist who considers Capitalism to be an example of “Extreme Economics.” She views widespread public skepticism over Global Warming and whether climate changes are manmade to be an example of the kind of irrational beliefs that have led to catastrophic civilizational collapse in the past.

She says the answer lies in turning to Insight and the unconscious mind as the solution to the increasing complexity of the modern world. The insight she describes sounds much like Harman’s deep intuition or Alice Bailey’s creativity if you want to go even further back to the same pursuit in the 30s and the 50s. It’s once again the nonrational mind that is to be given free rein except for one big difference this time. Rebecca admits she wants to abandon the norm of analytical problem-solving or right-brain synthesis of facts. Rebecca also points out the part of the brain that thinks inspirationally is now known. It can be found in a fold in the brain called the anterior Superior Temporal Gyrus (aSTG).

Functional brain imaging can now show that when someone is using insight or intuition or creativity to solve a problem, this “little-known fold ‘lights up like a Christmas tree.” So radicals have targeted this nonrational, unconscious capacity as part of their Transformation to Utopia plans for decades. All of a sudden numerous commentators are talking about reorganizing the brain’s neurons. Literally. And in early March President Obama announced a brain-imaging initiative.

Costa wants people to make “novel connections rather than continue to rely on reductionist thinking.” The actual implementations in the K-12 classroom globally appear designed to give the aSTG a workout. That’s what all those references to Higher Order Thinking Skills are about. The part of the brain that thinks logically and sequentially is under concentrated, coordinated attack.

And all this desired New Minds for a New Future can be physically measured now.

And we could address the implications of all this for personal freedom and the legitimacy of the individual in the future. If only these reports and conferences and expressed intentions were better known.


Students Must See Themselves as Active Participants in Social Change and Designers of Social Futures

Before I tell you where that quote came from and what the connection is to the Gordon Commission, I want to go back in time first. I did what I frequently do when presented with troubling declarations of plans that I know will come to a poor end. I went back to someone who dealt with comparable aspirations and ideologies for insights into what is really going on and how this might end. History is much more reliable than a crystal ball. And, unlike the Marxist historians active in Europe before World War I and the 1920s, I do not use historical research as a “means of political agitation.” I will confess though it can be more useful than espresso as a jolting wakeup call.

No, I am not that ancient except to my kids but I did go back to someone who lived through what happened in Europe in the early 20th century and presciently recognized the gravity of what he was looking at. Economist Ludwig Von Mises saw that history and political theories were being used all around him “to provide weapons against the hated bourgeois order of society.” Remember that quote when we get to the end of this post. Von Mises was infatuated with socialism when he was younger, like most German and Austrian intellectuals of that time. But he wrote the book Socialism to explain why he believed it would not work. Long before Communism had crashed and burned in the USSR or the Germans tried out a more Corporatist and Nationalist version of socialism that launched 2 world wars. I wanted his insights into why planning societies does not work from what he saw in real time. The book was originally published in German in 1932 so Von Mises is speaking from quite a unique vantage point.

What I hit upon instead was so on point with using education to shut down the abstract mind and push action instead. Plus the desire we keep encountering to supply the interpretive concepts and metaphors, instead of accurate facts, to filter student’s daily reality. I decided we could use Von Mises’s observations from so long ago.

“Abstract thought is independent of the wishes which move the thinker and of the aims for which he strives. Only this independence qualifies it as thought. Wishes and purposes regulate action (his italics).”

Von Mises goes on in a footnote to clarify that “the wish is the father of faith.”  Faith is thus what all these education reforms are really trying to create. Do you remember this post  where influential Harvard psychology prof Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi  laid out his vision of the Flow experience? As Von Mises ably observed in dealing with earlier “Let’s Remake the World Schemers,” there is no abstract thought when wish for and feeling are joined to thought. It is the sort of cultivated personality ready to attend and celebrate at rallies without a second thought. Csik’s Flow and the idea of physical activity in a digital environment instead of mental is mentioned throughout this new view of curriculum and assessment we started to look at in the last post. A primary solution for engaging students at school and keeping them in school is Gaming. As in video games.

That really caught my interest for several reasons. I know the Gates Foundation has been funding it for the Common Core implementation. I know that Professor James Paul Gee, who we discovered in this post does not believe in the concept of discrete individuals, has pivoted in the last 10 years in his education research to focusing on gaming. And I know that Amplify has been hyping Zombie-Based Apocalypse simulations as learning on its website. To get to what Joel Klein has called “new kinds of minds” I suppose.

So Pearson and the Gordon Commission and everyone else is pushing Gaming. And Gee who wants education to help create people to be “better modules in a distributed non-authoritarian system” is both a member of the Commission and pushing Gaming instead of linguistic mischief making. His previous research mission. Although if you look up his report “Good Video Games and Good Learning” you will see he is quite excited that Gaming helps move education beyond its fetish with print and words. Important to the schemers as we now know.

What do they mean by Gaming? As we saw with the Zombie Apocalypse simulation story that cited sources acknowledging that this type of digital learning is known to weaken the mind , the point of the simulations described is to practice planning and redesigning societies. You can see why I went back to Von Mises. So the same report that starts off maligning knowledge of facts as “banking education” wants students to practice reimagining other ways for societies to exist and to come to believe that societies can be planned. And the games cited are multi-user to get both social interaction and collaboration practice. Cited are the game River City where the students learn to solve a simulated 19th century city’s problems. At least in the virtual world with the provided, controlled variables. A difference from the real world that is not likely to be pointed out to the students or the teachers.

Then there is the “epistemic game called Urban Science that mimics the professional practicum experiences of urban planners.” Yes, because they are noted for doing a bang-up job with planning in the real world. Let’s ignore that and go with Professor Don Schon’s aspirations for cities and people to be systems that can be treated as problems to be solved. The virtual world awaits and the students immersed in such Gaming are likely to soon accept social and economic planning and fiats as a norm.

Perhaps the most graphic example of where all this is going in the Pearson/ Gordon Commission report is the game Quest Atlantis. There the aim is explicitly described like this:

“the focus of critical design work is to develop sociotechnical structures that facilitate individuals in critiquing and improving themselves and the societies in which they function.”

In fact the creators of the game noted that:

“although they could have focused the Quest Atlantis virtual environment solely on particular science standards about erosion, they became concerned with highlighting attitudes toward environmental awareness and social responsibility.”

And just in case you are wondering where are values, feelings, and beliefs that usually go along with these outcome-based maneuvers to change future behavior, the authors did not forget. They go on to describe how they:

“decided to make a structure connected to social commitments, creating a story [because all political schemers seem to know children learn better with a narrative!] about collecting pieces of crystal, with each representing a social commitment the designers wanted to enforce, like political awareness. They instilled in the community around the game a value of these commitments through the design of the ecosystem.”

The title of this post is quoted from the Introduction to Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures and it was too consistent with the aspirations of the Gaming emphasis not to use. Plus Gee and Courtney Cazden of the Discourse Classroom that we met in the Community of Learners post were both contributors. In fact Gee acknowledged that all these education reforms are to “change the game, that is, to change our society” to what he called a distributed economic system.

You may have noticed all the focus on cities and urban education above and in Edmund Gordon’s mission as a professor. Likewise there are increasingly stories about students being told to learn about White Privilege or their “economic class.” This week’s version involved Americorps workers in Wisconsin but the reports are increasing around the US. So I want to close this post and set up the next one with another quote from Gee’s “New People in New Worlds” essay from the book.

“We, then, really have two school problems. [to get to the sought new economic order]. The first concerns how to ensure that poor and minority children, really for the first time, get well educated enough to participate in building and transforming our societies. The second concerns how to ensure that advantaged children can get out of school able to think ‘critiquely’ about issues of power and social justice in the new global capitalist order.”

How succinct was that admission of the essence of what we are dealing with?