I wish I could tell you I made up that title because it sounded alarming and I wanted attention. No such luck, unfortunately. I followed the trail of deceit surrounding the Common Core, competency-based education, and School Choice to a 1990 book by Neil Flinders called Teach the Children: An Agency Approach and started quoting. I remain a curious and pondering Individual even if that concept is now to be openly ridiculed and rejected. Notice that it will not be that much discredited Individual (which the Orwellian term ‘School Choice’ wishes to reengineer noetically) that gets to decide what is Right, Good, or Correct. No, we are in the era now of Brain-based learning and as the Institute for American Values’ Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities put it, we need a new kind of education and a new model of human development to fit with the italicized fact that “Social context can alter genetic expression and impact neurocircuitry itself.”
Nothing like neural rewiring to implement a desired new “bio-psycho-social-cultural model of child development” grounded on the fundamental premise that morality is about “love of neighbor.” The sought “authoritative community” trumps the historical set of values that built up the West’s prosperity and advanced levels of technology known as “individualism.” Community will now define “what’s virtuous” which is probably why I can track that IAV document to the NIH funded Science of Virtues guiding K-12 education and a new communitarian definition of Liberty that I covered last March in this post. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/locating-the-internalized-information-guiding-human-behavior-so-it-can-be-controlled-and-transformed/
Little did I know that just barely a year later, we would link that to a declaration that “an authoritative community stands for certain principles [ideas, concepts, Enduring Understandings!] and, in its treatment of children, seeks to shape and launch a certain kind of person. Put a bit more formally, an authoritative community clearly embodies a substantive conception of the good and includes effective communal support for ethical behavior.” We will get back to that confessional report and its IAV 1997 predecessor A Call to Civil Society in a minute after we cover the how. Through euphemisms like Growth, Student Achievement, Social and Emotional Learning, or federally required Higher Order Thinking Skills that mask an Education that puts the heart in charge of how the brain thinks.
Agency education then (which based on what I know from writing Credentialed to Destroy acts like what that book laid out as Tranzi OBE and competency-based education) states that “what people think, how they feel, and the way they act in relationship to themselves and others is more central to education than what methods, techniques, or organizational strategies are supplied.” Under any of these names, I can recognize its tenets and it is tied to this call for radical “Authoritative Communities”. It is, according to that book’s dedication, the kind of education needed for “those individuals who will occupy the twenty-first century.”
Flinders stated that his book was for those seeking to use education “for establishing moral and intellectual rather than economic order.” Much like these other two reports though, Flinders did tie his education vision to the “unequal distribution of wealth” and that “current economic orders are driven by greed, power, and pride” with “some people…sensitive to the divine alternative to these faulty economic orders.” It’s not that I see Uncle Karl behind every tree or new vision of education. I simply recognize both his handiwork and the updated Marxist Humanism vision launched on the rich and technologically advanced West in the early 60s when I run across it. It is everywhere present in the language of these reports and books, even though there is no alarming use of the M word.
Just its themes so let’s get back to quoting so we can also see that this Third Way to be grounded in community, new values, neurocircuitry, and false narratives like the 2011 Closing the Door on Innovation is tied to what I usually simply shorthand as the MH vision, instead of always writing out Marxist Humanism. It does explain that new definition of Liberty noted above as well as why the Hoover Institution seemed to like A Call to Civil Society when it came out. http://www.hoover.org/research/civic-renewal-vs-moral-renewal In case anyone is hoping I am being overly alarmed when told that “we Americans understand freedom, our primary civic end, as an ethical condition–not simply as immunity from restraint,” I personally want a buzzer I can sound every time we track new visions of education or “civic obligations” to such redefinitions of historical terms.
If I am told that “our core imperative is democratic renewal through civic engagement” and that “effective civic engagement…depends on a larger set of shared ideas about human virtue and the common good,” do we as parents and taxpayers have a right to a head’s up to such a fundamental shift before this new vision is simply instilled as Habits of Mind in student-centered, personalized education? Where’s the actual Choice in School Choice if all the available educational choices are quietly committed, under a myriad of differing terms, to neurally instilling these selected virtues and ideas that will guide Right Actions, Good Thoughts, and Correct Intentions grounded in a New Golden Rule as Hardwired to Connect put it.
Flinders is not the only one tying this vision of education to concern over economic inequality. Also remember that the same Bradley Foundation that supports Harvard’s PEPG and its Education Next visions proudly funds the IAV behind both reports I am quoting from. In 2016, my research showed that the same Hewlett Foundation behind Deeper Learning and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund were too. Those philanthropries make strange bedfellows unless I am right that the Right and Left Pincers behind School Choice are headed in the same direction and that direction is the stealth enactment of the MH vision. Education and the law, two of my personal specialties, are primary tools. Here is A Call to Civil Society again:
“The economy exists to support human flourishing. It is not an end in itself…the weakening of civil society, including its moral foundations, is closely connected to the persistence and spread of economic inequality.” Does anyone doubt that IAV would be quoting Thomas Picketty if this report were reissued now? At least Picketty is honest about his agenda. What happens to us all when students are simply taught to feel and act on “our belief that we are one people, with obligations to one another”? If you are lucky enough to have escaped reading reading Uncle Karl and the MH template expressed without any mention of him, here is the IAV 1998 expression of it:
“…the basic subject of society is the human person, and the basic purpose of government–and all other institutions–is to help foster the conditions for human flourishing. In turn, the essential conditions for human flourishing are the elements of what we are calling democratic civil society, anchored in moral truth.” That moral truth is apparently that we have obligations to all others to meet their needs and that it is only in community “can we approach authentic self-realization.”
No wonder I kept stumbling over mandated communitarian concepts and practices as I tracked the actual requisite Common Core implementation in schools and classrooms. If think tanks and universities are going to push a vision of education that deliberately overrides the beliefs common to “most Americans today–[that] we humans, at least in the US, are autonomous units of desires, rights, and legitimate values of our own choosings. We are self-originating sources of valid claims, essentially unencumbered, self-owning, and auto-telological” they need to be open about it. Otherwise we have deceit to parents about what the Common Core is really about and how the various remedies they are being sold actually tie directly to this agenda I am describing in this post.
We are due more than a dismissal like “we view this understanding of the human person as fundamentally flawed” in a document most of us have never heard of. If this masked vision of education reforms and its true purpose is tied to adopting “a new ‘civil society model’ for evaluating public policies and solving social problems,” aren’t we entitled to be told of the linkage? If we are told that the “new model is essentially ecological. It strives to view social environments the way ecologists view natural environments,” shouldn’t we know that so we can recognize the implications of adopting what Urie Bronfenbrenner called his Ecological Systems Theory? That his colleague, Soviet psychologist Leontiev said would be the Great Experiment on the West?
I guess we cannot react to what we are unaware of and thus spoil this great Third Way experiment http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ . I wish these ideas and practices had no ancestry, much less one I stumbled across years ago. The old model of civil society in the US was supposedly “a stool with two legs: government and economics. The new model adds the missing third leg: social institutions and values.” Schools being the most useful and common of those needed new social institutions, which will come in handy since the “new model seeks directly to protect and nourish social capital.” Our kids, their ‘social capital’ in other words, since in the “new model society consists of individual members who are encultured by institutions and obligated to the common good.”
Now that quote seems like a good stopping point before we discuss the implications of binding us all to a New Golden Rule we are largely unaware of.
If our children are taught, at an emotional level, to be a good 21st Century Comrade and act accordingly, do we parents and taxpayers have a right to know? Are we simply left to follow the tales grounded in deceit until we notice all the open and connected coordination as this post just begins to lay out?
I really wish this post came with a big sheet of paper and magic markers so we could simply draw all those connections. Some things really are more easily explained visually than in print. Nevertheless, all these quotes are quite clear on the essence of the desired shifts.
More next time.