Reimaging the Nature of the World in the Minds of Students Alters Future Behavior and Social Events

When I read something troubling and manipulative about change in the nature of education for the 21st century or in a recent book like America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy, I have recourse to comparable pushes from previous decades to help me examine what is really going on. And what the likely consequences will be. Professor Lester Milbrath, who we met in the last post, also had a 1989 book Envisioning a Sustainable Society: Learning Our Way Out where he laid out the vision for the to-be-sought wholesale transformation that remains current today. Key of course is what Milbrath called social learning-new values and beliefs of cooperation that would guide perception and thus learning itself. Milbrath especially wanted “systemic and futures thinking modes” to be developed first in students and then applied by a variety of institutions until “the public could learn to demand this kind of thinking in the planning and decisionmaking of their governments and other social institutions. This mode of thinking would be a key component of a society programmed to learn.”

Now society is NOT demanding that kind of thinking nor that governments take on that kind of decision-making Overlordship but federal agencies have usefully (to themselves) seized this kind of coercive authority anyway. Either by Executive Order or regulation or overly broad readings of court cases. And now of course the public sector wants Mindsets in citizens amenable to someone having such sovereign power. Over the decisions that history shows are best made by private individuals who have to bear the consequences of lousy decisions. In unlikely to be accidental timing, the Obama Administration in the US and the OECD and UNESCO globally are currently pushing wholesale transformation of K-12 and higher ed. They can thus try to cultivate worldviews that either embrace, or ignore, wholesale changes in governance of society and citizens.

We have already encountered the Humanist Psychologists like Maslow and Carl Rogers whose theories for change are so useful to turn to. Let’s go back to one of the main creators of systems thinking, Kenneth Boulding, and a book published in 1964, The Meaning of the Twentieth Century: The Great Transition, to examine the importance of what a person thinks the world is like. So we can understand why this is the bullseye in the middle of the noetic transformation template and has been for decades. Before I lay out Boulding’s quote, let’s follow it up with his next concession that what people “think need not of course be true.” As he says “It is sufficient to note that the presence of any image will affect a system in a certain way.”

So those seeking transformation first need to create beliefs about the nature of the system they want to change and then plant beliefs about why it is unsatisfactory, and then prime for what should be changed. Education has always been useful for this goal but the advent of computer gaming and immersion of students in virtual, deliberately created worlds, takes the possibilities of implanting the desired images to a whole new level. A fact quite apparent here for reasons that seem to have everything to do with what SRI has always pushed in education (more in a moment). Here’s the crucial point that schemers who want the world to now be guided by social science theories have long known. It’s time we all did too.

“the social systems of ants and bees are essentially static in nature and do not exhibit adaptation to the environment beyond what biological mutation can provide. With man, however, comes self-awareness and awareness of a whole system in which the self is embedded. This can produce conscious effort toward  a change in the system of the world whether biological, physical, or social.

In any human social system, therefore, the image of the world possessed by its human participants is a vital element in the over-all dynamics of the system. We cannot tell what the system will do unless we know what the people in it think of it, for what they think affects their behavior and their behavior affects the system.”

And that Crucial psychological fact with a capital C is what has guided higher ed for at least two decades now. Common Core and 21st century learning are designed to bring it to K-12, public and private, globally, in any country with a tradition of individual liberty. especially the US. Think of it as cultivating Milbrath’s needed Social Learning component. But also have no doubt about what is going on via education and its close ally, the media, that insist dangerously that we should “stop dichotomizing the world and develop a pragmatic, indeed a social scientific approach to the problem.” As when Boulding wrote that in 1964 and now, there remain groups that wish us harm just waiting for us to naively simply begin to “see mankind as a whole.”

Last week MIT announced a new videogame to teach students empathy called Quandary. Players “win the most points by accurately predicting each character’s reaction.” Helpfully the game is said to address multiple Common Core standards and be appropriate for grades 3-8. Now since the characters are not real people, the game is also a highly useful technique for fostering false beliefs about people and their values and what drives them. Unlike the real world or even an accurate history textbook, the Quandary characters will be driven by what the game designers want students to believe about the world. Those desires become the guiding images for students during their most pliable, personality formation, years. And in that post I linked above, game designer Jane McGonnigle was quite forthright in the intentions to use games to create images of a desired future and the need for change.

Both Jane’s boss, Marina Gorbis (see tag for her) and Willis Harman (discussed in linked post) worked during the 80s at SRI. Now I first became familiar with what used to be known as the Stanford Research Institute when SRI kept coming up as the grant evaluator for university partnerships aggressively pushing constructivist math and science on K-12 in return for multimilliondollar grants from the National Science Foundation. Just imagine how much better I would have understood the dynamic of why aggressive implementation (whatever the outcry or results) brought renewals for a new term if I had better understood SRI as a hive of Humanist Psychology. But better late than never as we evaluate this interview with SRI’s Director of Research in Informal Learning Environments being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation as part of their Reimagining Education digital learning initiative. is a good basic short overview of the belief about learning now being pushed by the foundations and the federal DoED. It asserts without proof based on desires for cultural change that “learning is not about knowledge accumulation and test performance, but about participating in activities that are well designed or that naturally provide an opportunity to become better at something.” Now if that sounds to you like a shift to Milbrath’s Social Learning without saying so, here’s a bit more of this new vision of 21st century mandated education. In these new school environments:

“it’s much more about kids trying, maybe failing, and maybe succeeding, all the while engaging with the materials and each other and doing so in ways that show they are attending to the resources and the possibility for building skills in that environment that help them solve a problem, accomplish a goal, or succeed at a game.”

Maybe Quandary? This is education that assumes a Great Transition is to finally be eminent. Seeking to create the Mindsets to make it so all while misrepresenting to parents, taxpayers, and teachers what is really going on. Lest we all rebel and tell the Malevolent Marshmallow Brain Superintendent or Consultant to quit trying to blow up the society and economy that produces the taxes that overpay them for their willingness to push such nonsense without scrutiny and usually with deceit.

That link mentions another April 2010 paper “Naturalizing Assessment” that I managed to secure with some appreciated help. In case you cannot get a copy, it graphically explained the whole point of such reimagining and new theories of learning and the nature of the classroom as being this newsworthy goal–Redefining Learning to Focus on How Well Prepared Individuals Will Be for Adaptive Behavior in New Situations.

Now the New Situations are of course the sought Great Transition wholesale social, political, and economic transformations being masked under euphemisms like Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community or Harry Boyte’s cooperative commonwealth or just the term ‘democracy’ as Gar Alperowitz likes to now use.

Let’s take a hard look in the next post on the erroneous assumptions in the required classroom implementations to get us to a new “sustainable” public sector centric collectivist society.

That no one tells us about unless we start with the Great Transition and trace backwards to the how.


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 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 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?

Agents of Ideological Hegemony: How the Real Common Core Shifts Us to State Capitalism

A state capitalist society may sound off-putting but it is the proper term for what we are living through now. Education is an essential component because of the need for a ‘consensus’ ideology among the broad population that comes to see the desired ends and policies of the politically-connected and public sector class as consistent with their own beliefs. Or necessary to avoid economic or environmental disaster. Even if those To-Now-Be-Desired beliefs have had to be heavily propagandized by the schools and the media.

When the “politicizing of economic relationships” emerges as the dominant decision-making power in an economy, state capitalism is actually the proper term. Since your mayor or Governor or Congressman is unlikely to speak in those terms, we all have to learn to recognize that such politicizing is precisely what is going on with the calls to no longer distinguish between the public and private sector or for “partnerships between government, companies and universities” to quit thinking in terms of silos and working together to “drive innovation and entrepreneurship in [insert the major city closest to you].”

That was the spirit of that Dalian, China conference discussed in the last post. It was the underlying mindset of a program I attended last week sponsored by the world’s most famous search engine on “Georgia’s Digital Economy” that probably will have a variant coming to your state. Where access to the sovereign powers is what counts for future prosperity. The last quote above is from the program materials for my next field trip. And the needed radical changes to education, K-12 and higher ed, are essential components of all these pushes.

We have had a mixed economy for a while in the US, with the resulting stagnation and distortions and favoritism (on who gets bailed out of bad decisions or a waiver from a mandate like Obamacare) that interventionism always brings. But each of these new programs are symptomatic of a wholesale sought ideological shift to finally obtain the needed prevailing mindset. As John T. Flynn noted when he compared New Deal economic policies to fascist policies in Europe, we are now looking at a consistent and coordinated drumbeat across governments at all levels that they get to be the ultimate decision-maker in allocation decisions. Flynn’s precise and apt description for what is coming at us, quickly and methodically, is government–local, regional, state, and federal–who intend now to “insert itself in the structure of business, not merely as a policeman, but as partner, collaborator and banker.”

There is a name for this as it has been tried before–Zwangswirtschaft was Ludwig Von Mises’ term from his experiences in Europe. Others have astutely called it “authority capitalism.” But whatever it is called, there is no mass prosperity involved. I am going to quote here something that Murray Rothbard recognized back in 1977 and we all need to know to see the tragedy inherent in this sought pathway:

“In fact, it is the state that is robbing all classes…it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind. And who is the state? It is any group who manages to seize control of the state’s coercive machinery of theft and privilege. Of course these ruling groups have differed in composition through history, from kings and nobles to privileged merchants to Communist parties to the Trilateral Commission. [Today we might add the Davos and Dalian invitees]. But whoever they are, they can only be a small minority of the population, ruling and robbing the rest of us for their power and wealth. And since they are a small minority, the state rulers can only be kept in power by deluding us about the wisdom or necessity of their rule.”

And centralizing control over the messages being delivered via education and making it psychological and visual in focus using gaming and virtual reality is, oh so useful, in perpetuating the needed delusion. The level of interventionism being sought in our society and economy requires comprehensive planning. And that “presupposes complete unity with regard to a scale of priorities” which again implicates schools and the media. I am quoting here from a June 1975 paper called “From Laissez-Faire to Zwangswirtschaft: The Dynamics of Interventionism” by John Hagel, III and Walter Grinder. They say the only way out of this destructive trajectory is for people to come to recognize just how destructive this pathway is. I am doing my best with this blog and particular post to do just that.

A transformative, uniformity imposing, vehicle of standardizing values, attitudes, desired beliefs, and feelings via education during the years when the human personality is most malleable is necessary for this mass shift. Grinder and Hagel (citing Hayek and his 1944 The Road to Serfdom) note that “since comprehensive planning requires ‘general acceptance of a common Weltanschauung [Worldview or Mindset is the common 2013 term], of a definite set of values,’ the transition to a system of Zwangswirtschaft is accompanied by increasing efforts to assert ideological hegemony over the social system and thereby mobilize support for the planning priorities selected within the state apparatus. As a consequence, ideological purity becomes a prominent concern and the educational system in particular is progressively integrated into the overarching system subjected to …management. Just as the market place of goods has been progressively subjected to controls [the essence of the needs, cooperative commonwealth economy we have encountered and discussed under a variety of names], so must the market place of ideas submit to the dictates of the state as ‘wrong’ ideas are perceived as a potentially disruptive element within the system.”

And that real aim is why fathers in Maryland are being arrested now for trying to speak out against the Common Core at a school board meeting. It’s why high-achieving Fulton County in Georgia needed a conversion charter that actually commits it to gut academics with no effective recourse by parents, taxpayers, or students and why the charter is being touted as a model for other suburban districts. It’s why elected school boards are being increasingly stripped of authority by the accreditation agencies who rarely advertise that they see their positions as using their lucrative government-provided monopoly positions to invisibly advance cultural change towards this very Zwangswirtschaft vision.

All of this matters so much because state-directed economies are enormously wasteful in addition to the lack of genuine individual freedom. In a different paper linked to by Rockwell above, they point out that the “political means alone is unproductive and parasitic” and it needs a private sector of labor and exchange to survive but planning and intervention, once started, create dislocations that led to more interventions, which leads to more economic stagnancy and unemployment. Which leads to more political demands to do something. Precisely where the US finds itself in 2013 after that 2008 crony financial bailout and a Stimulus Act in 2009 that could best be described as “friends, family, and large supporters” on who was helped. Not to mention what is going on in healthcare.

And now the Common Core and the attendant transformation of higher ed can target students to create the desired consensus and ideology and Worldviews. Remember UNESCO has said this is precisely what they are doing now globally via education and the sought complicity of the media. was that revelatory post.

I have to get ready to take good notes at another confab of what is being billed as “the elite” assembling to learn why and how to push this vision. With no mention so far of the attached poison that comes with it. The term in the title “agents of ideological hegemony” is the precise term used repeatedly of what it takes to get this vision in place and I will be listening to see whether I am hearing from a knowing, duplicitous agent or a naive, inadvertent one.

I strongly suggest using the same tactic whenever you hear a pitch for the Common Core or PISA or 21st Century Learning and other education reforms. It really does describe what Marina Gorbis is actually up to in education or Peter Senge. And so many others who are being marketed by school districts and politicians as authorities to trust and defer to.

Remember always where this vehicle intends to go. And that economic stagnancy or collapse is the inevitable result, whatever the PR hype.

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.

When Gaming Intends to Shape and Distort Our Perceptions of Everything Around Us. Viva La Revolution!

A title that provocative really should be based on at least some speculation. Maybe with me looking bug-eyed and highly excitable. Nope. Everywhere I looked to try to make the K-12 gamification focus we encountered in the last post a fringe ambition–on the periphery–I just ran into more graphic, open declarations. From people with the money and power to make their visions a reality. A 2011 book laying out these aspirations approvingly pointed out that the “Microsoft game-testing lab ‘looks more like a psychological research institute than a game studio.”

That author, Jane McGonigal, of the Institute for the Future, is a keynote speaker of this month’s annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in San Antonio, Texas. She explicitly mentions Robert Torres’ Quest To Learn charter school vision in NYC as a means of reinventing public education as we know it. That Gates and MacArthur and Pearson Foundations vision of Reimagining Education. shows it is now the feds vision too.

Before I talk about the book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and its prescriptions for using immersion role-playing games and alternate reality games to encourage students to want to reinvent reality, let’s talk about how we get to this point in K-12. Last week President Obama issued a directive to the FCC “to take the steps necessary to build high-speed digital connections to all of America’s schools and libraries.” . The directive on Jumpstarting Learning Technology says our schools “do not prepare our student’s for a collaborative and networked economy” . Which really does sound like the kind of reenvisioned needs economy I have been telling you is integrally linked to these ed reforms. Anyway, here’s a full extended quote:

“We must make our schools an integral part of the broadband and technology transformation–particularly when that same technology can be harnessed to drive empowered, more personalized learning. From digital textbooks that help students visualize and interact with complex concepts to apps and platforms that adapt to the level of individual student knowledge and help teachers know precisely which lessons or activities are working. This technology is real, it is available, and its capacity to improve education is profound.”

That’s the real fundamental shift. All that wonderful personal data plus there’s no longer any need to use print to mentally envision what an author is describing or how things work. The video in the digital textbook or videogame will show the student.  Not influenced in the least by the fact that the creator of the game or textbook publisher openly acknowledged that as “we’re making these games, we dream of the other revolutionary things swarm intelligence might make possible. Low-carbon futures, mass creativity, living happily with less.”

Swarm intelligence by the way is part of what massive online player games can create.  The idea is that “experiencing communitas in an everyday game can spark a taste for the kinds of community action that makes the world a better place. Learning to improvise with strangers toward a shared goal” teaches that “swarm intelligence”–which game designers hope “makes people better able and more likely to band together toward positive ends.” I am really tempted here to bring in a comment about cultivating the little c era of association and community using the the benefits of a profoundly different new technology but I will refrain. Maybe. But even the White House says it is a new age–the Digital Age–and certain notorious political philosophies do believe that new ages grounded in new technology call for a new kind of consciousness. Do you agree?

At the 2008 meeting of the professional group for education professors, the AERA (yes that is the group that elected Bill Ayers to an executive position), Eva Baker of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing–CRESST–presented a paper called “What Do We Know About Assessment in Games?” She pointed out that Games work well when the point is measuring, as in the now federally-required measures of Student Growth. Rather than evaluating, as in traditional testing of the now-defunct knowledge unsuitable for the Digital Age. Her work seems to be the foundation for what GlassLab  is now doing. You “embed the assessment in the transactions of the game and build it into a game’s underlying engine.” The game then becomes the “types of learning to be experienced.”

But that would require coordination with game developers. Good thing then Eva (who you may remember also evaluated SBAC and PARCC for the Hewlett Foundation to ensure these would be measurements of Deep Learning) was a speaker at the 2012 Serious Games Summit. And CRESST is listed as a sponsor of the 2013 Summit. Also conveniently Jane McGonigal started writing her book soon after Eva’s AERA speech. Laying  out a vision on the Rise of the Happiness Engineers. The game designers who use the elements of Positive Psychology so that gaming can set off “the orgasm of positive emotions” such as awe. McGonigal quoted Dacher Kalter as saying that:

“The experience of awe is about finding your place in the larger scheme of things. It is about quieting the press of self-interest. It is about folding into social collectives. It is about feeling reverential toward participating in some expansive process that unites us all and ennobles our life’s endeavors.”

I am not trying to spook you. But if these are the intentions of the designers of the games that are now to constitute what is learning in the 21st century, it matters. The Institute of the Future does a great deal of consulting to famous companies and foundations. Apart from Jane’s high venue speeches.  Jane believes that games “have an important role to play in how we achieve our democratic, scientific, and humanitarian goals over the next decade and beyond.” Now her goals (or Eva’s or these foundations) may not be yours but they are the goals being designed into the objectives of these games.

And whether the student exhibits the desired beliefs, values, and attitudes (suitable for Transformation) is what is being assessed and measured as Student Growth. Jane by the way described her vision of a Sustainable Engagement Economy in the book. It reminded me of Shoshana Zuboff’s Needs Support Economy with its distributed capitalism. She also envisioned reinventing the workplace except she sees the new attitudes coming out of the gaming experiences as driving the desire for change. Making reality more like games is how she put it.

Reading Reality is Broken really is alarming since there really is no intermediary between the vision of the future designed into these games, the psychological and emotional methods incorporated into the games, and the student. And it’s not like I am inferring the vision here. There are many more troubling, to me, examples in the book. But the book reminded me of another troubling book I had read from 1988 called Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution In the Way We Think. So I went back and reread the marked passages. It was a reminder that if you want social transformation, which that author Willis Harman certainly did as well, you need to target the unconscious belief system. Harman even mentioned our old friend Milton Rokeach (see tags if not familiar). Here’s the vision:

“This concept of unconscious beliefs and the extent to which they are capable of shaping and distorting our perceptions of everything around us–and within us–is so central to understanding the global mind change that we shall make a temporary digression to look into it more deeply.

Each of us holds some set of beliefs with which we conceptualize our experience–beliefs about history, beliefs about things, beliefs about the future, about what is to be valued, or about what one ought to do.”

That’s precisely the real Common Core implementation targets. That’s what Digital Learning is designed to assess and reshape if needed. The assessments have to be performances and activities because as Harman said in 1988: “persons may not realize they have these unconscious beliefs, but the beliefs can be inferred from behavior–from slips of the tongue, compulsive acts, ‘body language’, and so on.”

Now think about this next quote and whether the phrase common core may be a metaphor and not just a factual statement about skills and knowledge and consistency among students.

“In the innermost core of the belief system are basic unconscious assumptions about the nature of the self and its relationship to others, and about the nature of the universe.”

The Game Designers say that is what is being targeted. Ed professors and ed labs and implementation theories openly call these reforms “second-order thinking” and “Irreversible Change” because it is the unconscious being targeted.

We are priming the emotions and using virtual reality to practice how to change reality. While simultaneously leaving the mind empty of knowledge of likely consequences.

Which might foresee a Revolution more likely to deteriorate as the French one did than build something wondrous. As the American one did.




New Mindsets and Changed Values Tied to ICT as the Long Sought Marxian New Mode of Production

Computers and ICT generally just keeps getting cited as the magic technology that Marx and Engels speculated could allow a world where everyone’s needs get met. Advances in technology was a hugely important concept in all their political theorizing of how in the future society would be organized in radically different ways. That the age of the individual and capitalism would be over. It’s the era I have explained as small c communism in previous posts because that is what they called it. Well, they also called it the age of association and community. Princeton prof Robert Tucker said it was to be a time of positive humanism. Since that term is less off-putting than either communism or Marxist Humanism, that strikes me as a better term for us to use so we don’t bring in visions of Kremlin Walls or Mao’s Black Book uninvited. But the future social and economic vision is the same as what we have encountered under varying names in numerous posts now.

And the prosperous West remains the target. With education as the preferred vehicle to gain the desired changes in consciousness and values and attitudes and especially feelings. We in the West assumed the PH vision was about who had what. But it turns out Uncle Karl’s theory had what might be called a magic trigger. Let me explain with a quote:

“every historical mode of production has been conditioned by the nature of the available means of production or state of technology. As [Marx] puts it in a vivid passage, ‘The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.’ According to this view, the rise of a new technology, a new set of material productive powers…”

necessarily triggers a social revolution. Computers, the Internet, cellphone communication etc–what I and others abbreviate as ICT–are being held up as that triggering technology. And to put it bluntly we have political idealogues, ready to administer public sector and NGO bureaucrats, and tech and media companies ready to stop future competition, who are quite happy to use education to commence the needed changes in mindsets and values. All while being well-paid of course. All over the globe but especially in the US. That’s really a big part of what Common Core is about when you peel back the layers and delve into the ever present, consistent, feature–must use ICT as an integral part of classroom. The focus.

Being honest that this tracks back to Uncle Karl would of course be a bad PR selling point so instead we get university students being told that “unjust ecological and social conditions” require “transformation of existing power relations and even worldviews.” Radical change needs minds that have been primed to accept “a society based upon distribution according to need” and primed for activism. Students who believe in the “possibility of realizing it, of moving from the world as it is to the world as it ought to be.”

Gaming and role-playing and little factual knowledge are really useful to such aspirations of transformative change. Luckily for the Change-the-World Crowd the visual, concrete, nature of making school about the use of the computer and making films and power points ditches the abstract mind bolstering aspects of reading print that is designed around symbols for sounds. Remember that when you find out that Pearson and the MacArthur Foundation underwrote a 2011 PBS special called “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” hyping the new types of literacy. How digital media is “changing the ecology of reading and writing” so it is no longer “doing the type of reading where you sit in your bedroom by yourself reading a novel.”

What about under an umbrella on the beach while working on a tan I ask in alarm?

No, “kids need to get a deep passion” for what they are doing and school needs to be about what will make them feel passionate. We shouldn’t be rewarding the “kid who stays up late reading a book” while “a kid who spends that same time working with his guild in ‘World of Warcraft’ is thought to have a problem.” Yes, these quotes are coming straight from the program’s transcript. Have a read if you can stand it. The vision of “where learning and assessment are the same thing.” Which is precisely what Robert Torres said is a big part of the Gates Foundation’s current focus. So that computer, role-playing, games become the means of measuring whether learning is occurring.

No I am not kidding. Torres spoke at the G Summit in April 2013 on “Transforming Education with Gamification” and saw it as a means of determining if the Common Core Standards and the new science standards are being met. And I noticed that very time the interviewer, Gabe Zicherman, brought up knowledge, Torres switched back to his preferred term–learning. Behavioral changes then will do while the head remains quite empty.

In case you are stunned by this whole idea, here’s the June 28, 2012 News Release creating GlassLab–The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab–under the premise that “video games can revolutionize American education and students’ testing and learning. We can harness students’ passion and energy for video games and utilize that to reach and educate a 21st century workforce with skills critical for college and career readiness.” One can just imagine this idea of work or college but at least all the students will get plenty of daily practice with the designated new mode of production. Torres is quoted as saying “we need projects that will work with students and speak to them in their native language: digital media. Through game-based learning, students will be challenged, and teachers and parents can get real-time feedback on student progress.”

Will the parents really understand that the Growth and Achievement are from being online and immersed in role-playing video games? Will they understand that the games will count as Literacy under the Common Core? This presentation is about 7 minutes . You can decide if this is your idea of desirable Learning or Literacy. And with Pearson and NewsCorp’s Amplify and many of our Gordon Commission members involved with GlassLab, this really does look like the intended future. Have a look if you’d like

One of the people interviewed as part of that PBS program was Dr Nichole Pinkard, founder of Chicago’s Digital Youth Network. Which Gates is supporting but not quite as generously as the $50 million the MacArthur Foundation has plowed in. Here’s the vision of a different design for classroom learning Dr Pinkard made a very interesting statement in her interview with PBS. She said that “literacy has always been defined by technology.” Under this theory of history grounded in you know who’s writings, the technology changes the type of consciousness. So the printing press and moveable type are what made print the new designated form of literacy. And this line of thinking goes, since we now have tablets and films and videos on demand and computers learning to respond to sound, we should change the nature of what constitutes literacy.

Now John Dewey and the Soviet psychologists, among others, all understood that learning to decode and use symbols for sound or math that did not look visually like the concept they actually stood for is what turbocharged the potentials of the individual mind. (As compared with drawing a fish to symbolize a fish). And in the name of Equity and Mastery Learning and Gamification and Engagement and the new Era of ICT, we are trashing that herd-defying, capable of logic, abstract mind. Trying to put the Genie Back in the Bottle and deliberately regress in the average person’s working knowledge.

I simply cannot imagine a scenario where this will turn out well. It’s just a matter of how far down this Expensive Road to Ignorance we travel before recognizing what is going on.

I believe Marxism in essence is a Public Sector Subjugation Theory over the Individual and his or her Precious Mind. I get why people who currently have power, or who want more like the UN, would want to keep bringing it back. It levels the most capable and turns everyone else into reliable clients in search of “Bread and Circuses” delivered by the public sector and their privileged cronies.

And we may not be able to stop this but it is certainly time we understood what infamous theories we are really dealing with here. And thus why digital literacy and the use of the computer in some form is front and center now in education.