Molding the Minds of the Masses Toward Myths as an Effective Means of Manipulating Action for Change

Two posts ago I mentioned I had one more equity event to attend as I listened in person to the blueprints of intended transformation for all metro areas, not even just the US. So December 4, I attended the roll-out of the Harvard Equality of Opportunity Project at a  meeting of the Atlanta regional Housing Authority. Among those special guests recognized by name at the event were the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the group that had just put out that Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas I have written about, and the head of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. Apparently I am not the only one who gets that all these entities and terms are linked in a common transformative vision of the future.

As I have been attending all these events or reading mentioned books like White Flight, it has been hard for me not to notice the extent to which beliefs in things that are not so, or which did not happen in the manner described, are being presented as fact. One of the points made at the Wednesday event by representatives of an entity, Georgia StandUp, with ties to ACORN, complained of the still present “plantation mentality.” That this was the reason it was hard in metro Atlanta to move from the bottom percentage of income earners to the top 20%.

Now I can be a pretty serious nerd, but we are not going to have that kind of policy discussion. I was struck at several of these events, however, about the myths about money and power, and who has it and how they got it, that are taken for granted by speakers or audience members. It is as if everyone believes that only predators prevail, and they now want governments to step in so various groups can supposedly take their turn being a predator and dictating who can do what, and where, and with whom. Treating society and the economy and people like we actually are a plantation in need of new owners and overseers.

I keep leaving sad and climbing in my car and thinking we are in great trouble if so many with political power and the ability to coerce taxpayers have so few accurate perceptions about how the world worked to create mass prosperity. As Daniel Hannan from the last post noted:

“In almost every period of human history, people’s circumstances were fixed at birth…The miracles of the past three and a half centuries–the unprecedented improvements in democracy, in longevity, in freedom, in literacy, in calorie intake, in infant survival rates, in height, in equality of opportunity–came about largely because of the individualist market system developed in the Anglosphere.

All these miracles followed from the recognition of people as free individuals, equal before the law, and able to make agreements one with another for mutual benefit.”

And we are now using education reforms like those new civic values and regional planning and new visions of reforming Workforce Development and Human Capital Policies to throw it all away. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2013/12/04%20workforce%20development%20jacobs/fedroleworkforcedev.pdf We have lots of people in power who clearly believe the myths of still dominant racism they were taught to foster a sense of grievance that cannot be extinguished until capitalism goes. With no idea of how much they have been relying on its fruits.

The post title comes from a 1937 quote from Zalmen Slesinger in his book Education and the Class Struggle where he wrote about the desire to use the schools to shift society away from capitalism. Slesinger agreed with Earl Browder, then the head of CPUSA, who had said “The school system must itself be revolutionized before it can become an instrument of revolution–or of any serious social change.” Which is precisely why we are now seeing district conversion charters and limitations on elected local school boards and accreditation agencies assuming classroom policy oversight. Their leaders know what Browder meant even if we do not. As Slesinger wrote:

“[These] molders of the minds of the masses must assume the role of the propagandist, the political strategist, using whatever techniques may be effective in convincing and in converting the minds of the masses as speedily and as effectively as possible. Failure to do so is to expose the masses to the destructive demagogy of the ruling class.”

These quotes were in a Chapter called “A Fascist and Communist view of the function of the American school” in a book by Professor Clarence J. Karier. I noticed the strong resemblance between what was described there and what the actual Common Core implementation is looking like and the rhetoric being used. As Karier noted when he wrote the book in 1967: “The end clearly justifies the means for each group. If myth satisfies the irrational need of the masses in a mass society and if it serves as an efficient vehicle of manipulating the people, then both would use it for their own purposes.” And that’s still the case even if those who hold such a view of education run under the banner of a mainstream political party, or work in aid of a regional planning authority or taxing district. Lots of ways to effect these same ends while masquerading as a moderate or even a conservative. At least the ACORN affiliates are not masking what they pursue.

One more time with Karier as he noted that “[b]oth totalitarian views conceive of education as a weapon of indoctrination to be wielded by the power elite.” That’s the natural outgrowth of Statism through the ages and suddenly everyone with ambition or greed or a sense of grievance is lobbying to become a member of the planning and predatory power elite. Which is why the myths being created by Harvard history professor Lisa McGirr in her 2001 Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right are so dangerously effective in creating mass beliefs that it is the Right that is selfish and irrational. Borderline paranoids and delusionals who saw communist threats where none really existed and who held an erroneous “mythic vision of the nation’s past.”

McGirr used Orange County, California as the “lens” for examining the Conservative movement, and the legitimacy of the suburban vision, and ultimately the President they helped first promote as a Governor, Ronald Reagan. In her chapter on “The Conservative Worldview” McGirr complained of hostility “toward liberal ‘equalitarianism’ and conservatives’ skepticism about democracy. She illustrated that ‘radicalism’ and ‘right-wing rhetoric’ by pointing out that conservatives noted “marked distinctions between a republic and a democracy and emphasized that the United States had been founded as a republic.” Such an outrage to actually be familiar with formative documents like The Federalist Papers one can assume will remain unassigned in McGirr’s courses. She also complained about libertarians who “express deep dismay with the voting process, seeing it as a means for the majority to coerce the minority.” Which is kind of funny given how often I read now of the intention to force the minority to submit to the vision of the common good developed by the voting majority.

McGirr also consistently pointed out the irrational, apocalyptic “fear of communism” with “elements of conspiracy theory.” Unfortunately for her, I have an increasingly large collection of people operating in California and elsewhere in the US, especially the Ivies, in the time she is writing about who essentially bragged about what they were up to and who they were actively coordinating with. There may have been loony conspiracy theorists in Orange County, but there was also a great deal of transformative activity being pursued.

McGirr’s Harvard undergrads may believe that such fears were nuts and thus that Conservatives are too, but it is sloppy as factual history. Since McGirr regularly mentioned the work of Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell and what he wrote in his 1963 book The Radical Right, I do not think any of the ‘myths’ about the Right and Orange County and the 1960s legitimacy of anticommunism is an accident. It reads under the now known facts like intentional misdirection.

I guess if you want transformative change the needs for plausible myths abounds. Unfortunately again for Professor McGirr I have read and written about Boulding’s 1962 The Great Transition and Bell’s Commission on the Year 2000 report and his view of The Post-Industrial Society and also the World Order Models Project. None of these leave any doubt about the sought little c vision of world federalism and redistribution being sought. Orange Countians, in other words, had real reasons to be paranoid. But today’s students are being taught it is all myths and people creating a “cast of villains” in order to preserve their own “way of life and a set of power relations in American society” that had been beneficial to them.

My favorite myth that McGirr complains of is “the firm belief in the wastefulness of government.” Only an idealogue with a political view of the use of history would dispute the accuracy of that belief. But then again, McGirr admitted she used the term ‘ideology’ as defined by Eric Foner [an admitted radical historian at Columbia where she got her PhD],   “who calls it ‘the system of beliefs, values, fears, prejudices, reflexes and commitments–in sum, the social consciousness–of a social group, be it a class, a party, or a section.”

Fascinating that the used definition of ideology is precisely what education, and the myths it is now trying to consciously cultivate, are targeting. In preschool, K-12, college, AND grad school.

With all these myths abounding we can appreciate why actual facts and modelling reality are out. And emotional imagination and online gaming is in.

Willingness to Make Personal Sacrifice for the Good of the Whole to Become an Integral Component of Student Identity

After last year’s stealth release of the hugely troubling C3-College, Career and Civic Ready Framework over Thanksgiving week to avoid anyone noticing what was actually changing under the invisibility cloak of the Common Core, I was watching like a hawk this year. But I really was not expecting anything like what I saw. A new definition of US civic education and to be required and assessed values that literally would have transformed Mao’s cold dark totalitarian heart in the manner of the end of the cartoon The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Why such joy from a bloody tyrant? Because the only way to describe the Youth Civic Development & Education: A Conference Consensus Report released by the Stanford Center on Adolescence on November 27, 2013 (but oddly with a 2014 copyright) is suitable for schools in a country that aspires to authoritarianism over the individual. Any knowledge of history would clue that the actual result in practice is likely to be even worse.

Everything any dictator could ever want from his or her schools sounds hyperbolic and you may be wondering how many cups of espresso I have had this morning. Two cups of Lapsang Souchong tea so that’s not the reason I am writing in such dramatic terms. And I have done some additional reading in recent days to verify both the seriousness of what we are looking at and the price of what we are scheduled to lose. Invisibly and soundlessly. No notice means no protest in time and using technology as is planned means no offensive textbook coming home to alert parents or taxpayers to the wholesale transformation.

The paper’s primary author, William Damon, has already been quoted on this blog as seeking to use education “to direct the course of the future.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-if-higher-order-thinkingdeliberate-confusion/ . After reading this report one has to wonder if he or any of the other authors was tempted to jet to London and visit Highgate Cemetary to put a bound volume at Uncle Karl’s tomb to pay homage to his hoped for view of the future and human development. So much more meaningful than flowers at this point across the centuries of this bloody pursuit to finally gain full submission over even the idea of the legitimacy of the individual.

The first book I dove into to verify what I was reading a description for was a 1973 book by Ivan Illich called Tools for Conviviality. Illich made no pretense that he was calling for socialism globally and how to get there. The book came on my horizon because it is a part of a World Perspectives series that began in the 60s with Kenneth Boulding’s The Great Transition that we have already alarmingly discussed. Illich insisted that “society must be reconstructed to enlarge the contribution of autonomous individuals and primary groups to the total effectiveness of a new system of production designed to satisfy the human needs which it also determines.” Like Broadband for all?

We have encountered this human needs focus (instead of individual choices vision) before and it did start with Uncle Karl’s writings. Illich called it the convivial society and Gar Alperowitz calls it the Good Society or the pluralist commonwealth and Shoshona Zuboff called it a support economy and distributed capitalism. Apparently there’s a good reason why this same vision with a variety of names keeps lurking in the shadows of radical education reform. It is the Illich/Marxian vision of submission to “public controls over tools and institutions” and apparently people too.

Education is the invisible, no need to gain consent from the masses, means of finally shutting down what Daniel Hannan in his fine new book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking People Made the Modern World calls the Anglosphere Miracle. The uniquely English idea “that the law existed not to control the individual but to free him.” The highly unusual in most parts of the world and throughout much of history “idea that the government ought to be subject to the law, not the other way around.” As Hannan notes “oppression and power are far more usual” which is why “politically, a medieval European monarchy would not have been so very different to a modern African kleptocracy. Once people are in a position to set the rules, they tend to rig those rules in their own favor.”

So changing the definition of required civic values in the US so that “all citizens must be prepared to make sacrifices for the common good” as what will be mandated and assessed in K-12 public schools is quite simply an insistence from government that citizens now submit to the suzerainty of majority political will. Administered by politicians and bureaucrats who intend to plan and confiscate. In case you think I am taking damning quotes out of context to rally outrage against the Common Core, how about insisting that “Democracy requires that citizens be willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good”? Doesn’t that phrase bring home why Ayn Rand’s personal experiences with the Bolsheviks in Russia in the 1920’s led her to fret so about “mandated social altruism” imposed by state edict?

It is hard not to visualize all those white crosses and stars in the Arlington National Cemetary or the monuments to the fallen in the D-Day invasions in Normandy France and be appalled that US education and law professors and writers are now seeking to revise. The very definition of what is to constitute politically acceptable 21st century US patriotism.

“Patriotism requires an ethic of sacrifice and duty, and the capacity to act on that ethic. It requires sacrifice in the form of civic activity that involves giving back for the benefit of the whole society.

We have already encountered the mandate of a recognition of the “interdependence of all people across the world” also in that report. It is straight out of the Global Citizenship mandate the UK and Australia and Scotland all imposed under Michael Barber’s insistence before he left the Tony Blair Administration to push global ed reforms through McKinsey Consulting and now Pearson Education. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ The US is about to join the rest of the Anglosphere in closing down this ancient view of the individual and his rights before the government and no one was really supposed to notice. No statutes here. Just ambitious Principals and Supers and Consultants and accreditation agencies seeking to lead cultural change towards public control over all institutions.

How many of you have heard about all the founding primary source documents that are to be an essential component of the Common Core classroom implementation? Better read this consensus report then. Those documents are to be read through the lens of what constitutes “authentic liberty.” The report states that

“a nation cannot have authentic liberty, for example, if conditions of severe inequality render freedom an illusion for some members of the democratic community. Nor can we understand the areas in which equality is essential unless we link those elements of meaningful access and opportunity to the freedoms we ultimately must exercise in order to flourish throughout our lifetimes.” [That is unabashedly Marx’s theory of human development or what Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen are pushing now via the UN and OECD as capability as a human right.] To continue with the quote after making that crucial observation:

“Similarly, some citizens feel a loss of liberty when the government increases regulations of their personal and economic activities in pursuit of particular visions of equality. [Yes we are familiar with those particular visions. See above brackets]. The values of liberty and equality, in turn, are connected to a core notion of human dignity.”

We are NOT being asked to surrender the great Anglosphere invention that enabled unprecedented mass prosperity because production became more lucrative than predation as the way to get financially ahead. We aren’t even being informed. Apparently that joyful message reverts to a snoop like me. Aren’t you enthused that students are to even focus on the proper levers for taking by majority fiat as they learn about “treating political power as a central theme of civic education involves helping young people see how they gain greater control and influence over the many issues that affect them and the people they care about.”

No need to worry about where the lessons of history predict this will all end up because students are to be taught a version of power “firmly grounded in ethical principle.” Yes because any knowledge of reality might foretell the likely tsunami of political oppression that inevitably occurs anytime any group gets this kind of power over individuals who have no effective recourse.

That’s enough. Read the whole thing if you can bear it. I am obviously having a hard time with the no-holds-barred language being used. I think we need to all know our students are to be assessed on whether they are willing to “sacrifice for the the common good or greater good.”

And that this is being defined as “must reflect a commitment to interdependence and improving things for the many and not just the self. Furthermore, students ought to reflect on this principle in terms of a shared humanity beyond the boundaries of the nation, and from the perspective of future generations, considering the worldwide and intergenerational implications of the choices they will make.”

In the name of Common Core and civic education we are about to get all destructive propaganda, all the time. And the specialness of the Anglosphere won’t be all that disappears.

Every radical’s dream coming in as civic education.

Circumscribing Knowledge: Part 2 of Imposing Mindsets to Fit a New Political Philosophy

Back in the 1960s during the era of both the Cold War and the Vietnam War and thus dramatically different circumstances, we still find the foundations of the sought social, political, and economic changes being imposed through education “reforms” now. Off our collective radar screens but no longer off mine, we can find the reports of the Carnegie-funded Commission on the Year 2000. It sought to shift the US away from “hackneyed notions about decaying capitalism or creeping socialism” so that the US could transition to a “national society committed to some form of directed social change.” And none of us were consulted about who would be steering that wheel or holding the compass and issuing directions. I guess we can assume though Carnegie officials believed they had ringside seats from financing the plans.

Systems Thinking creator Kenneth Boulding’s writing about the Great Transition and what was needed to achieve it from the last post was cited by Commission members. Just like Lester Milbrath in the 1980s and UNESCO and the OECD now, there was a call for “some sort of computing and planning agency outside the legislative process” that would be in charge of “weighing of interrelationships within the society and within the technological processes.” In fact, Harvard psych prof George A. Miller wrote of “large, centralized, integrated data bases in the social sciences. Without them, the planners in the year 2000 will be scarcely better off than we are today.” Gulp. Gulp.

And how will such intrusive databases be created? Why computer systems used as part of education of course. In fact, Miller writes of a concern that there will be a “temptation for government to keep complete dossiers on all its citizens, and particularly on those who are intellectually most active.” Should we all just wave now? Hi NSA. Just fulfilling an old dream of the “application of computers to the study of man”? Seriously. Ponder this MIller quote as Common Core and blended learning launch us into the era of personalized learning and adaptive software and mandated Statewide Longitudinal student databases:

“The computerization of psychology is already well advanced, and the other behavioral and social sciences are not lagging far behind. Larger data bases and more ambitious data analysis are only part of the story. The machines can be programmed to simulate complex psychological and social systems, to conduct experiments, and to provide communication among scientists. The computer could become as important to the behavioral sciences as the microscope is to the biological.”

Harvard was not alone in being the Cambridge representative on this push. Perhaps getting ready for all its Limits to Growth social systems computer modelling work and urban planning and Peter Senge’s version of systems thinking, MIT Neuroscience prof Gardner Quarton wrote that “one can safely predict that techniques for controlling behavior and modifying personality will grow more efficient by the year 2000.” Maybe this post should come with a warning about reading on an empty stomach. But I want to put the shocking shifts in the nature of what is now being imposed on classrooms and what must be shunned to avoid teacher demerits, if not downright dismissal, within the context of what is REALLY being sought.

The SRI Rethinking Education link from the last post and the related “Naturalizing Assessment” article need to be seen through the Lens of the declared social science aims. That’s why we find statements  about how “the conception of knowledge shifts from ‘in the head’ facts, procedures, and professed attitudes, to participants’ abilities to participate meaningfully in valued activities while bringing to bear personal, material and social resources.” In other words just showing up and being ‘engaged’ will do.

This shift in the classroom is not a dispute about how students best learn. It is about what kind of education can best propel the sought sociocultural shift. And to do it at the level of the student’s mind and personality.That emphasis will alter the future even if the actual consequences are not as planned. It’s also how you “manipulate the public” as the Commission admitted it sought to do. As SRI has sought to do as well over the decades.

Social psychologist Lawrence Frank helpfully lets us know that “the need for a political theory for this emerging ‘Service State’ is, therefore, especially urgent.” And what’s a Service State we ask? Why it sounds just like the OECD’s current focus on citizen subjective well-being as the purpose of 21st century governments. The Service State is to be “oriented to the enhanced ‘wellbeing’ of everyone.” And explaining so much behind the inexorable growth of US governments at all levels since the 60s, the Service State:

“marks the acceptance of human conservation as the basic democratic task; each year sees the enlargement and extension of services furnished directly or financed by the Federal Government and reinforced by state and local agencies. These services embrace medical and health care, improved housing and urban rehabilitation, educational facilities and programs from early childhood into adult years, plus the improved care and support of the indigent, the handicapped, the impaired, and all others incapable of fending for themselves in our money economy.”

Sound familiar? Nothing wrong that the social sciences and policies to “revise anachronistic and obsolete institutions” can’t fix. Just keep minds empty of facts that might pick up on the flaws in these plans so students will design away for better societies in the future. And if the parallels to what is being pushed today are still not apparent enough, how about Frank suggesting that “a promising model for a political theory is that of a communications network, with many different channels for transmitting a variety of messages.” Just like the background on the slides at that Atlanta (co)lab summit? Or as former SRI employee Marina Gorbis laid out in her recent book, including a visual on its cover, as I described alarmingly here? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/weak-humanscomputersexpert-modelling-of-captured-data-is-this-your-approved-vision-of-the-21st/

Interdependence, holistic thinking, and a systems approach were touted as a means to “unify now separate social sciences” to reframe “what we believe, value, and aspire to” so we will have a different political philosophy impacting the “choices and decisions that guide our individual and group living.” If all of this was about a new planned social order in 1965, the same ideas and intentions remain about that in 2013. Even if those pushing these ideas have never heard of the Commission on the Year 2000.

And all of this gets accomplished now by (quoting SRI in 2010 again) “adjusting one’s conception of knowledge or the nature of valued outcomes” as well as the nature of “participant assessment.” And as SRI put it, to accomplish the sought Mindset and personality changes “these shifts need to occur in tandem.” All these think tanks like SRI, Rand, Gorbis’ Institute for the Future, or Willis Harman’s Institute for the Noetic Sciences are all fascinated by a hoped-for ability for the “intervention of man into the evolutionary process.” Yet such manipulation is the lied about and hidden push by a self-appointed elite over masses of people just trying to make their lives work and erroneously assuming K-12 schooling remains about the transmission of knowledge.

A more accurate Image (to use Boulding’s term) for where the sought preschool, the K-12 Common Core and digital learning reforms, and the massive changes in the nature of higher ed should be filtered through one more Daniel Bell quote as he concluded where the Year 2000 Commission sought to go:

“The formulation of social policy that seeks to reknit underlying social networks and solidarities as it works toward manifest solutions is, therefore, one of the important intellectual tasks for the social sciences if our goal of ‘understanding’ the future and making meaningful choices is to be realized.”

Education in 2013 has become all about imposing such social science theories on real people and schools and then seeing what happens. Only a background devoid of solid knowledge or polluted by a desire for radical change or driven by acute greed could fail to see we have a disastrous future building up if these plans continue their march toward full implementation.

 

 

 

 

 

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 http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/ 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 http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/11/teaching-empathy-through-digital-game-play/ 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.

http://dmlhub.net/newsroom/expert-interviews/exploring-alternative-visions-assessing-informal-learning-environments 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.