Developing Dispositions/Character Traits as the New Global Focus: Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness, Reciprocity

The idea of deliberately fostering muddled minds via K-12 education that we encountered in the last post and the overall disdain for Axemaker Minds in the 21st Century that is practically a theme for this blog makes perfect sense when we remember all the entities and people we have encountered, in either my new book or this blog, who have openly proclaimed a desire to use education to drive radical political and socioeconomic change. From John Dewey and Karl Marx as I describe in the book to the OECD’s current admission of The Great Transition or the UN’s related The World We Want 2015 campaign, we are just being overwhelmed by people generally living at taxpayer expense who want wholesale transformation. The US Common Core Initiative and 21st Century Learning globally are simply methods to stealthily get US schools, teachers, and students “in transition” without being honest with parents or taxpayers as to what is going on.

To truly appreciate how so much change could be attempted in plain sight without being properly understood, it is important for us to take a look at the new RSA report that came out this week. The so-called “New Agenda on Climate Change” described in that graphic report is to cease debating the reality of manmade climate change and to turn it into a “social fact.” Widely believed and therefore influencing behavior whatever the actual facts. Needless to say, K-12 education that is no longer fact based but instead focuses on key concepts usefully presupplied will come in awfully handy to such a “social fact” aspiration. Not to mention a muddled mind and a trained willingness to act in the face of ambiguity and “persist in the face of difficulty” as we encountered in the last post’s mention of those desired learning dispositions.

Called the 4 Rs by Claxton and UK documents, these Learning-Power Dispositions of Resilience (Feeling or the emotional aspects of learning), Resourcefulness (Thinking or the cognitive aspects of learning), Reflectiveness (Managing or the strategic aspects of learning), and Reciprocity (Relating or the social aspects of learning) make perfect sense as a focus of the classroom if change to and in the student is what is sought. As an invisible means to broader transformation. Claxton even said that the 4 Rs are part of a needed  Epistemic Climate Change in the schools. So let’s go back to what Jonathan Rowson wrote is now desired to appreciate why it is the student, and ultimately voting adults, whose values and guiding beliefs and personality need to all change.

Rowson and the Social Brain Project and its work are not interested in dealing with an environmental problem. He wants to “refocus the debate away from the existence of the problem towards competing ideas about solutions.” Which again is very useful if the problem does not actually exist and was always just an excuse for social, political, and economic transformation in a desired collectivist direction which is precisely what we have discovered on this blog going back to the early 60s. RSA is simply going to assume away the dispute. It knows about the governmental monopoly over education that allows a radicalizing focus on bringing students on board with the desired changes while erroneously believing they are essential. Rowson acknowledges the extent of RSA’s goals on behalf of the UK and actually the rest of the world by announcing:

“we have to connect with the root causes of the climate problem, which is partly about using way too much energy to fullfil socially and culturally needs and desires, but is more profoundly about the price of fossil fuels [what was that quote from candidate Obama about necessarily skyrocketing?] that produce that energy, and political and economic structures that keep us addicted to them.”

So it is the political and economic structures that need changing. Rowson concedes why getting at individual values, attitudes, and beliefs is so essential in all these radical change efforts as the agenda seeks to get at “how the behaviours of consumers and citizens serves to perpetuate the economic and political basis of the energy production and consumption that drive climate change.”

Or don’t drive climate change at all but are useful to social, political, and economic change. Those 4 Rs as the student and classroom focus instead of knowledge would certainly help if the solution to be pushed is some kind of Universal Love or obligation to care for others. Rowson mentions Robert Kegan in the paper and we know Kegan spoke at RSA this past year so Kegan’s Stages that are in turn based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s globally influential Stages of Moral Development are very much on the mind of the RSA, the OECD (remember this is what their Key Competences are built around?), US implementers of the Common Core, and new Hong Kong definitions of Citizenship traits to be fostered in school. Such global commonality around what is basically the same set of desired personal dispositions and moral beliefs at the same time can hardly be coincidental.

Especially when the Rowson paper explicitly mentions that what President Obama (no insertion of ‘US’ there as if Rowson considers him everyone’s President Obama) did with the climate change discussion that was so crucial was to frame it in “distinctly moral terms.” We keep coming back to the same goal to be encouraged in students and ultimately everyone: “the ethical responsibility to safeguard the welfare of people we care about as well as those we are never likely to meet.” Necessitating our need to take someone else’s word for what those unknown people want and need from us.

Now if this is the change you want in the future, how useful is an official Learning Quality Framework that has a New Vision for Learning? That the school should now be “investigating social, economic, moral and personal reasons for revising the school’s vision of and for learning.” To make the new focus of school how “teachers now plan lessons around the learning capacities they are trying to help students to build.” And the “development of learning capacities is planned to ensure progression.”  That’s not knowledge folks and this view of the focus is not confined to the UK either. It fits perfectly with descriptions of how the College and Career Ready Index and Student Growth are being touted in US school districts too. Elsewhere the Framework makes it clear teachers are to be “drawing students attention to learning behaviours they are using” so that the students will be “progressing in developing learning habits.”

The purpose of content under this vision is merely to “drive learning opportunities and stretch and progress learning capacities” although it of course remains terribly useful to taking an unknown and getting students to know regard something as a social fact. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Guy Claxton talks about meeting with David Perkins of Harvard who we have encountered in connection with the NSF-funded Understandings of Consequence approach to science and social studies learning under the Common Core. Nor his mention of working with one of the best known Whole Language advocates Shirley Brice Heath or fuzzy math advocates-Jo Boaler. All of these education so-called wars makes much more sense if affecting what the student believes is the actual goal of all these controversial philosophies.

So many of us still hear the word assessment and simply erroneously assume we are still talking about measurements of knowledge. The Learning Quality Framework makes it clear that assessing for learning is about “tracking and authenticating the growth of learning dispositions (with regard to when, where, and how they are used)” and insists that such tracking, likely to be revealed to parents using opaque terms like data and feedback, “builds learners’ motivation and informs learning design.” Which of course gets sold under the euphemistic term “personalized learning for all students” but sounds rather like BF Skinner’s operant conditioning.

Again having such intimate data and detail about the essence of each student is very useful if the goal is “challenge the values, structures and processes that led to this case of overconsumption and resource depletion, and which otherwise leads to more.” And that is precisely what Rowson says the new goal is. He also proclaims the need to shift mindsets and must be excited about the prominence in the UK of Guy Claxton’s Learning Power work.

Does anyone doubt that a ‘learner-centred classroom” in the UK and the US and elsewhere will really come in handy if you believe we as a society need a “broader cultural shift that reframes ‘prosperity’ as something with social, relational and experiential dimensions”?

How about if it is your intention to challenge “the structure of the macroeconomy and the logic of capitalism”?

Stay tuned as I drop yet another related disclosure bomb next time.



Prescribing How We Frame Experiences is the Lynchpin of Wholesale Unconscious Behavioral Change

Historian Robert Conquest has a great term for the kind of ideas and concepts we are dealing with as education all over the globe thinks reframing our consciousness is the legitimate new focus. To get a different kind of society and economy and future of course. Because good intentions excuse all? When any kind of knowledge of the past and the consistency of human nature and governments that accept no boundaries would be sending up red flags of danger. It feels a bit like 1938 when Churchill’s knowledge of history told him that there would in fact be “no peace in our time” from conceding to a not yet full-strength tyrant.

Conquest calls these ways of framing our perceptions and experiences that have in fact escaped the reality that currently exists and any empirical controls–“brain blindfolds.” An apt term it seems to me to deal with K-12 and higher ed institutions globally where the principals and Supers and college Presidents are being pushed to see their new mission as transformation of the students they are presented with. Like this as the instructions on how to push the desired changes (my bolding for emphasis):

“one continually sees that a critique of one’s identification with the values and loyalties of one’s cultural or psychosocial surround precedes the construction of a fourth order system that can act upon those values, set them aside, or modify or reappropriate them to a new place within a more encompassing organization.”

That passage is from a 1994 book by the now-regularly present, Harvard prof Robert Kegan, called In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life. Written before the Democrats lost the House for the first time in 40 years in 1994 or Outcomes Based Education and School to Work controversies began to undermine the educational ‘reforms’ the Clinton administration was pursuing at the federal level in the 90s version of what is being called the Common Core now. These old blueprints do not go away and books written before controversies tend to be graphic in their intentions. Now that we have learned that the OECD is pushing ed reforms in K-12 globally around Kegan’s vision of shifting consciousness and that the US plans to reshape higher ed announced in January 2012 by the White House are also grounded in Kegan’s work, we had better understand what we are dealing with. The $50 word ‘omnipresent’ is not an exaggeration of the role Kegan’s theories are playing.

Except they are not really his theories as in unique, original work. It’s more like he is a major spokesperson and proponent of theories with an even more troubling pedigree. According to the Comparative Education Research Center based at the University of Hong Kong as laid out in a 2001 book Values Education for Dynamic Societies: Individualism or Collectivism, this focus on personality-oriented education and a socio-psychological concept of “personality development” comes straight out of Russian and then Soviet traditions. And upon reading that I did some checking yesterday on the current integrative models being pushed by Mikhail Berulava (he gets cited in book). Alive and well and stronger than ever since the Cold War is one way to describe it. And apparently Sochi is ever so much nicer than Siberia.

In other words, we have a real problem. It is global but that 2001 book does let us know that “elites’ in the US want American citizens to have a much greater orientation toward the collective. So does Kegan. This is what he wants to see for an adolescent curriculum. He wants the school to “grow the mind” so that each student’s daily perceptions become guided in a way “faithful to the self-psychology of the West [think Maslow and Rogers] as to the ‘wisdom literature’ of the East.” Elsewhere, Kegan mentions a Zen-like orientation as desirable. He wants education to create “a process by which the whole (‘how I am’) becomes gradually a part (‘how I was’) of a new whole (‘how I am now.’)”

Kegan may talk a lot about ‘autonomy’ and ‘self-direction’ but both he and the global ed reforms movement that pushes his and the personality development purpose generally (which is basically everybody with power now to be honest) expressly reject defining these terms as “personal authority or psychological independence.” No, this vision of education as ‘a reconstitution of self’ via “a transformation of ‘the way we understand'” never loses sight of the person as a mere part of a greater whole that should be dedicated to a common good.

Kegan envisions adolescence developing so that each child takes “out membership in a community of interest greater than one, to subordinate their own welfare to the welfare of the team, even, eventually, to feel a loyalty to and identification with their team, so that its success is experienced as their own success.” Talk about No Man is an Island. No Man Stands Alone. I am going to interrupt this discussion to point out that these are the same reforms that were so controversial in Hong Kong when they were introduced there. Kegan even mentions Kohlberg on his Acknowledgments page as his “late teacher and friend.”

They would be controversial in other countries too if they were not hiding in what PISA is actually measuring or in poorly appreciated definitions of “lifelong learning,” “self-directed learning,” or “college and career ready.” Everything is geared towards us never seeing what is coming that we are funding until it is too late. The internal psychological changes will have already occurred. Because they are intrinsically tied to feelings and emotions from an early age they are supposed to be almost impossible to reverse.

Reader alert! If the mention of sex is not something you want to accidentally read about, skip this paragraph. But Kegan saw teenage sex, not counting intercourse in passages I cannot believe I had to read, as helpful to priming adolescents to be guided by their experiences at both a physical and emotional level. Doesn’t that put a new spin on the unending push for graphic presentations to students in schools over the last few decades? He literally sees such a push as being beneficial for adolescent students to learn what mutuality means and how to relate to others and their needs. That’s enough. I am blushing now and this is mild compared to his descriptions in the book. But mentioning this and the reasons for it should help all of us appreciate how important the desired wholesale changes in behavior and how things are perceived is. And how crucial education is to the venture.

As many teachers have already either intuited or actually heard from a Change Agent Principal, these personality changes and consciousness shifts are needed from teachers as well. No one in the building or on campus shall survive in the form and with the values they entered would be one way to describe it. I want to go back to Robert Conquest again and his fine book from 2005 The Dragons of Expectation: Reality and Delusion in the Course of History because he and I are worried about the same thing–“the general state of the Western Mind.” It’s just that this blog has a great deal of detail on how it is being targeted for wholesale change. But I would argue still for the same end as what Conquest recognized. We have bureaucrats and politicians and self-interested cronies in the public and private sectors who personally would benefit from “state control of much of human activity.”

When I mention the Soviets as the source of a theory or practice, I am not trying to frighten you. As a history major, I get what it was created to do and why it does not belong in schools or college classrooms or any society that hopes to remain truly free. Where individuals still matter in the original meaning of autonomy. If history is not your idea of a good beach read, you may never have pondered the significance of Robert Louis Stevenson’s (remember Treasure Island?) observation that “Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by catchwords.” And one group with aspirations for social transformation will know exactly what those cultivated catchwords are.

When we are worrying about the origination of these theories and practices being pushed on us without our consent, let’s keep in mind this Conquest observation (my points in brackets):

“The ideal totalitarian state should control the mental as well as the physical lives of its population. Real life is not quite up to this. But if we consider the Stalin and other similar regimes, we see that they had progressed a long way towards it. [Precisely what has been imported to the US and other countries]. The most obvious and critical point is the degree to which all channels of information were blocked [by poor reading methods? cultivated erroneous perceptions? reliance on feeling and propaganda visuals?], and the extent to which a radically false picture was forced on Russian minds. For the Stalinist regime did not merely deny reality; it substituted for it a fully ideologized world fantasy.”

False pictures and world fantasies and substitutions of videogames for reality are precisely what is coming at us in 2013. Stay tuned.


Naming Educators as the Levers Shifting the Human Personality To Marx’s Moral Revolution

The full quote was Change Producing Levers and it bemoaned their current disassembled status. But that was decades ago before education doctorates became about implementing Marx’s Human Development Theory in the schools and classrooms. And before all that psychology research from the late Soviet Union got rolled into pedagogy as we have discussed several times. And before Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, grounded in Hegel and Uncle Karl’s hope that man could change himself and his values and external conditions through practical activity in the world, got renamed to pitch to parents as student centered or project based learning.

Honestly I was a history major and I have spent the first five decades of my life not giving the disgruntled German revolutionary dreamer much thought. Especially since I wrongfully assumed it was a tired old defunct ideology anyway. But it just kept coming up as I charted what the real Common Core implementation, the one compelled by degree programs and actual definitions and the accreditors and laws and regs no one else seems to be reading, looked like.   So I dusted off my Phi Beta Kappa key for inspiration and rubbed it like a charm for good luck, shook the cobwebs out of my non-student brain, and dove into what turns out to be a still vibrant world of Marxist scholars looking for our answers. Especially why I kept seeing references to some unpublished 1844 manuscript that was still supposedly a vibrant vision for the future. The 21st century future.

I started with Gar Alperovitz’s new book that had struck me as fitting a vision of a small “c” communist future. That insight then pulled up economists Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick lecturing and writing away in an inspired way that showed no signs of being a defunct ideology. In fact they have said there are more Marxists today teaching in American colleges and universities than ever. I believe them but it also suggests that our collective guard is down about something that is still a real but unappreciated threat. If educators in higher ed and K-12, especially administrators, are committed to reorganizing our society and economy around Uncle Karl’s belief that:

“In a properly human society, we would find our freedom through our relations with other human beings. A proper human life is one which is lived, at least in part, for the sake of others.”

And no, Karl was not referring to spouse, kids, and friends. But that does read remarkably consistently with what is called Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development and the Universal Love Principle which we encountered in Hong Kong and all through teacher training in the US.

So lucky me tackled several books by NYU prof Bertell Ollman that were quite enlightening on how important it was to Uncle Karl to provide the Concepts of Understanding that would then filter daily perceptions. Check. We had rather noticed the omnipresence of conceptual frameworks and how the planned assessments are tied to those supplied Enduring Understandings and Understandings of Consequence. And Harvard Project Zero’s CORE–Cognitive Reorganization. So the lineage goes back to how to spark an inner change at the level of the mind and personality. That will then ramp up the motivation to take action to change the world.

Another enlightening prof I tackled this week from London was Jonathan Wolff. His insights may also help explain why Bill Ayers goes running around declaring himself to be a small “c” communist apart from a propensity to be obnoxious. Wolff quoted from The German Ideology where Karl wrote that “communism is not for us a state of affairs which is to be established or an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.”

A quote to keep in mind as education and other degree programs trumpet their purpose of creating Social Change Agents. And with education reforms globally admitting their purpose is wholesale social, political, and economic change. Away from the concept of the individual and the primacy of the rational mind. And before we really dive into our Uncle Karl Scholarship 101 Cliff Notes version dialogue, remember how I have told you several times that the accreditors all over the world answer to UNESCO? That accreditation is actually being used as a driver of cultural and noetic change in higher ed, graduate programs, and K-12 and that the standards tie to what we have identified as the vision of Humanist Marxism we discussed two posts ago?

Well it now turns out UNESCO actually has a division called MOST–Management of Social Transformations–that ties to virtually everything controversial that I have ever written about. Including the Belmont Challenge and International Human Dimensions Programme–IHDP– that Paul Ehrlich has bragged will fundamentally alter human behavior. I mention both of those programs again because they are operational right now with far-reaching visions of global change. Especially to citizens of the world’s only superpower. See the tags on right to find those posts if you have never read them.

Now we come to Princeton political science prof and Sovietologist, Robert Tucker. He wrote a 1961 book called Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx. Now Professor Tucker had little use for Karl’s economic vision but he believed that:

“the aspect of Marx’s thought that is most live and relevant to the concerns of men in the contemporary West is the purely utopian aspect, the part relating to the post-revolutionary future…his vision of the future world was, if not scientific, at least rather prophetic of real possibilities. Marx’s concept of communism is more nearly applicable to present-day America, for example, than his concept of capitalism.”

That quote calls for both a deep breath and a sit down and gulp reaction. 1961. Especially as Tucker goes on to make the point that is so critical to the education reforms that commenced all over the West in the 1960s. Prompting outrage from the get go but never accurately perceived. The sought revolution is not military confrontation and it needs no pitchforks. “The world revolution would be the universal act of human self-change.” If that’s not clear enough, Tucker goes on:

“The revolution involved is not a political one but rather a revolution of man’s attitude towards himself and the purposes of his existence, a revolution of values.”

And if that is not clear enough Tucker goes on to say the sought change is “psychological” and “a moral revolution within the self”. This Growth (as in each student in the federally mandated teacher evals) is the “outcome of a gradual process” (like over years of collected data now starting in preschool). If you wonder why the ASCD is pushing the Whole Child as an essential component of the Common Core and why every one with any power over the classroom is decreeing a social and emotional learning focus, we need go no further than Tucker’s insistence that the revolutionary change needed to target each person’s personality. As Tucker wrote graphically: “it is only there, and by the individual’s own moral effort, that the egoism can be undone and the revolutionary ‘change of self’ achieved.”

Now I am not trying to spook you but those passages accurately describe precisely what is being targeted. And now we know for sure why. And for most of us the terms Marxism and Communism are bounded by visions of the Kremlin and Mao and Stalin. We remain dangerously unaware of the real threat to the West from Uncle Karl’s philosophies. And how it can come in and create the desired, revolutionary changes in values, attitudes, and beliefs without notice. And at a psychological level within the student.

The year after Tucker’s book many of leaders in the Behavioral Sciences in the US visited the USSR on an officially sanctioned trip to look into the psychological research being done there. Ralph Tyler and BF Skinner were both on that trip and Skinner kept a diary. And Ralph Tyler came back and basically wrote the legislation that launched Title 1 and the massive federal involvement in US education. And Skinner pushed the operant conditioning potential of education, especially if tied to the computer. And in 1965 federally funded research began to change the nature of the colleges of education to make Behavioral Sciences the focus. Others have written about that BSTEP program and the revolution it controversially ignited.

But not in the context of Tucker’s book about where the real communist, little c, revolution needed to begin.

I will leave you to mull all this over. But I will add that all the economic and social transformations we have encountered in post after post that all seem to be different names for the same vision are all consistent with this little c vision of the economic future and social citizenship.

Oh, one more thing. Robert Tucker turned out to be the father-in-law of Robert English. You know who wrote the 2000 book that gave the award-winning, officially sanctioned story of how Gorbachev’s New Thinking was actually the Marxist-Humanist thinking?

Small world, huh?


Mandating Global Citizenship Mindsets by Assessing Whether Students Adopt Social Altruism

The out in the open version of education reform in the US never got over that 99-0 Senate vote on the National History Standards in the 90s. Much of the reason today’s Common Core implementation looks so different from what is being publicized tracks back to the memory of that political rejection. And an insistence that this time no one gets to object. I have described more than once that what is going on in the US is linked to comparable education reforms all over the world. Driven primarily by UN agencies insisting we must evolve into a “just and sustainable world in which all may fulfill their potential.” Under the eager administration of UN or OECD or other bureaucratic employees of course. With their generous tax free salaries courtesy of you. But I digress.

Well let’s face it if that were the sales pitch for the Common Core standards or any education reform voters and parents would revolt. So we get vague euphemisms like College and Career Ready for the end goal or words like Excellence or Quality Learning that actually have a unique meaning in Ed World we are not likely to appreciate. But in the UK and Australia the Citizenship Education agenda including its Global Dimension was explicitly laid out. Even if few people in any of these countries appreciated what they were relinquishing at the time.

We have talked numerous times about Sir  “Irreversible Change” Michael Barber who now heads up Pearson Education, the world’s leading education company. You know Pearson. They have the contracts for the SBAC and PARCC and Texas STAAR assessments measuring the results of what goes on in Texas and soon to be most US classrooms. They are global. So the fact that Barber wants to “shape new ways of thinking and forge new, sustainable behavior” as the January 2011 UNESCO meeting in London he helped chair put it probably has something to do with the kind of open ended, no fixed solution real world problems likely to make it on any of these assessments globally.  Especially since the assessments are supposed to be at Levels 3 and 4 of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. You know the one that mirrors the Dewey Indeterminate Situation I have written about. To foster a recognition of the need for social change? Won’t the nickname “Mad Professor” come in handy imagining potential scenarios for change to use?

As will this attitude of Barber’s from 1997 when he set off a firestorm in the UK by suggesting that UK students should learn the ethics of ‘global citizenship’ to replace crumbling religious values. Barber was speaking at a Secondary Schools Heads conference and mentioned that Christianity, although “still hugely influential historically and culturally”, was “no longer able to claim unquestioning obedience.” I bolded that last part because it suggests that unconscious impulse we have seen cultivated before.  He is looking for beliefs or values or feelings that will compel action so student performance assessments grounded in emotional imagining or frustration hold great potential for Learning. In the sense of changing the student from the inside-out.

Barber goes on to say that:

“For a while in the mid-20th century it seemed as if communism might establish new ethics, but by the 1970s all that remained in Western countries was rampant consumerism and ‘the quicksand of cultural relativism’–an abandonment of the morality of right and wrong.”

And “In the absence of God and Marx what are we to do?” Well Barber got his Global Citizenship Standards. I am looking at the Secondary school curriculum that went into effect in 2002.  It explicitly proclaims that its concept of Global Citizenship is grounded in Agenda 21. Which is actually not the urban legend some people seem to believe. If Agenda 21 is a conspiracy, it’s an on-the-record open one. Here it is described as “a universal initiative that recognizes the right of everyone to be consulted about the sort of community in which they want to live. Agenda 21 is about improving the quality of life both locally and globally.”

Well Kumbayah. As one of my law profs used to say if someone has a right, someone else has an obligation. Precisely who bears that Agenda 21 obligation and at what cost? Or is Global Citizenship trying to create a willing acceptance of that obligation throughout the West? No further questions asked.

We have discussed before how the real common core seems to be new values and attitudes and beliefs and feelings. All to create new behaviors. How’s this for graphic? The Global Dimension of Citizenship will target the student’s “sense of identity” and “secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, local, national, and global levels.” Well that will make the UN bureaucrats very happy. If we could get something like this in place in the US it sure would go a long way towards getting Paul Ehrlich his long time Heart’s Desire. Let’s see what else Global Citizenship seeks:

Global dimension emphasizes the moral imperative to understand and empathise with fellow human beings. [Boy doesn’t that sound like Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory that is in US classrooms? And Hong Kong too!] It provides young people with a solid foundation on which to base and build their value system. [Convenient for getting back to unquestioned obedience. No wonder Milton Rokeach’s name kept coming up as I was researching the real common core implementation]. It helps them make decisions and take action–based on knowledge [opinions and false beliefs is more likely] of the world–which respect the nature of the world we live in and the rights and dignity of others in an interdependent world.”

No wonder Systems Thinking and Peter Senge and Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory keep coming up as part of the classroom or district implementation of the Common Core. It along with the some of the other theories I snarkily added because I couldn’t help myself at this point in the deception get us where the UK schools are without nearly the controversy. I keep hearing that Senge’s Systems Thinking is OK for US elementary students because “the teachers love it so.” So maybe we should be more honest and just rename it Systems Thinking to Create Permanent Habits of Mind for Global Citizenship?

To link up with the last post on what will be a 3 parter before I am done, the September 2012 IB presentations in Madrid talked repeatedly about Global Citizenship. But IB was citing this 2005 Oxfam document based on the 2001 UK Citizenship Standards I have been describing. It sure does fit with all the US Common Core curriculum I have been seeing and the Texas CSCOPE curriculum currently attracting so much controversy. It also calls for “active and participatory learning methods.” Sound familiar? As in Michael Barber recommending Cambridge Education in 2007 to NYC to launch their lucrative US operation of telling schools and teachers they may not teach the content directly anymore. Yes that same Michael Barber. I wrote about it last May.

Oxfam recognizes that “Education is a powerful tool for changing the world” which I would be the last to dispute. I just do not think all this Social Change Education is going to create a bright future for hardly anyone. One more point as we talk about how this GC template seems to be coming into the US surreptitiously through online curriculum and the assessments. When I tracked the other definition of Global Citizenship cited by the IB, I found the AERA’s winning paper for 2003 and a Canadian and a US prof openly changing Dewey’s Social Reconstructionism vision to a new name.  Justice-Oriented Citizens.

I have a lot more evidence that the US is getting this same vision of Global Citizenship and not just in IB schools. All schools is the plan. All students. Yikes!

I am going to close with a link to a July 4, 2012 letter by Pearson to PARCC detailing all the assessment and testing work they do. But insisting there will be no conflicts or breach of confidentiality. It’s rather startling to have that much power and they leave off the ATC21S work in Australia with Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco. Oh and the US National Academy of Sciences. And others. That’s a great deal of global reach for one company. Especially one led by a visionary for Irreversible Change that compels personal action.

That Pearson letter says Pearson’s services are to “improve student achievement and college-and-career readiness in the United States.” Given the real definitions of those terms there’s a great deal of room to insert this Global Citizenship/Justice-oriented Citizens/ New Ways of Thinking into assessments and curriculum and still be within that mandate.

Second is to “improve access to quality education for all students.” Quality learning and education is a term that tracks back to John Dewey with unappreciated,  emotional and intuition meanings. Again quite convenient if you want students to “use their imagination to consider other people’s experiences.”

It is quite unnerving how much commonality I am finding globally with what is coming to the US and is already in place elsewhere. Looks like a widespread desire to gain  “unquestioning obedience” among the 21st century masses.

Who Knew Karl Marx had a Human Development Model? Or that It Fit Our Facts So Well?

Or that it could be put in place in the US by executive fiat at the federal level? All you have to do is misinterpret the nature and language and case law of the federal civil rights laws. And then repeat. Early, often, and adamantly. It’s not like someone with a working knowledge of con law also reads education declarations and documents. It’s also not like changing the nature of education in the classroom could have any impact on a society or economy. Or political beliefs. Or future behaviors.

About a week ago the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent school districts a letter announcing that “We Must Provide Equal Opportunity in Sports to Students With Disabilities.” It included a 12 page Dear Colleague letter from the DoEd’s Office of Civil Rights. A number of commentaries (Rick Hess and Mike Petrilli among them) have wondered where such a pronouncement came from and noted how impractical it is. Equal opportunity in sports at whatever cost. What no one seems to be paying attention to is what both letters declared. To  quote Arne directly:

“Federal civil rights laws require schools to provide equal opportunity.”

No actually federal civil rights laws do no such thing. Congress can rewrite them or the courts can change their interpretation of them. But Arne and his employees, even the ones with law degrees, may not. Especially on a Friday afternoon in the first week of a Second Term in office. If you read the OCR letter you will see that sports is just an illustration of a much broader right Arne and his Department want to create. And they explicitly want to include learning disabilities, not just physical ones.

Think about that. If federal law did mandate that those with learning disabilities have an equal opportunity to students without disabilities or who are just plain brilliant, then school and high ed could not really be about intellectual pursuits anymore. That’s a playing field where inequalities in capabilities exist. Must change playing fields then. How about social and emotional learning since everyone has feelings? That would be an equal opportunity arena. All students can also interact at some level. Especially with computers. We also have a push now to promote life skills. Everyone can do that too. Except they usually leave off the full name: Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to ditch such a graphic tipoff as to what is really going on.

There’s another possibility for our Equal Opportunity classroom. A developmental progression that focuses on personality development in a social context. That would be the education theories of Erik H Erikson. He practiced in Chicago and it’s hard to imagine Arne is not familiar with his views of child development or the sociocultural approach to education. Especially since the University of Illinois in 2007 published a paper in Educational Theory announcing all of this as the new approach to education.,%20DePalma,%20Drye,%20Whose%20development,%20ET,%202007.pdf . And also because numerous government agencies including the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation embraced sociocultural theories instead of cognitive theories grounded in individual thinking as the basis of their future work. is the post from July 2012 describing that official report and its troubling implications.

What I had not read in July was a 1982 book by CCNY/CUNY professor Marshall Berman called All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity.  That book laid out Marx’s developmental ideal and “how crucial” it was to all his political beliefs. Also that it was grounded in the German humanist and Romanticist culture of Marx’s youth. Berman did leave out the part about how that ideal facilitated the national collective mindset that led Germany to launch two world wars in the 20th century. But then Berman is an admirer of Marx and that’s such a picky little detail for me to mention. Berman does mention though that this Marxian/Romantic German developmental ideal was “still very much alive in our own day” and that Erik Erikson is its “most distinguished living exponent.” Erikson actually passed away in 1994 but his work does clearly seem to be gaining momentum. Probably because without Berman’s book it would be harder to link it directly to Marx.

With that book though we don’t even have to infer. We can quote directly from Berman and Marx (pages 96-98 if you want to locate a copy).  Marx has a vision of education that does not transmit the values and knowledge of the current culture which he of course wanted to disappear. Hence the Melt into Air metaphor he used. Educators pushing Marx’s personal development theories today through later adopters, like Dewey or Erikson or Vygotsky, are pushing the same goals. Change the foundations that support the current economy, society, and political structures.

That’s in fact why this type of education is not just called Progressivism. It’s also known as Social Reconstruction and that is precisely where that Equal Opportunity declaration takes us. Very similarly to the goal Goodwin Liu also laid out for the Common Core here . Same basic desired Transformation goals coming from a variety of directions. With the same vehicle–education, K-12 and higher ed and creating false beliefs and new values to get different future behaviors. At least from a voting majority. What Paul Ehrlich and his MAHB seek as well

Berman first quotes this passage from Marx’s Communist Manifesto:

“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we will have an association in which the free development of each will be the condition of the free development of all.”

A desire that 21st century educators will relabel as the Universal Love Principle or Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory and impose in the classroom in the name of Character Education or a Positive School Climate. Let’s continue on with how crucial this developmental ideal was to Marx. Berman cites several examples but this one rings consistent with the actual current definition of  College Ready: “the goal of communism is ‘the development of a totality of capacities in the individuals themselves.’ Berman goes on with this passage from The German Ideology that is consistent with the Communitarianism we are have found in Career Ready Practices and the Positive School Climate (again!):

“only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions; only in the community, therefore, is personal freedom possible.”

Bill Ayers just loves that definition of freedom. I do believe it’s what sent him into education in the first place. I mean who would know? Who reads Marxist professors to locate such a quote back to Marx himself? Me when the footnotes cite someone.

This final quote from Marx is reflected in the actual definitions of Student Growth and Student Achievement being used in the States as part of Common Core. It’s why feelings and social and emotional learning and changes in values, attitudes, and beliefs measured through collected data about each student and classroom are so much a part of the actual Common Core implementation. This is from Volume One of Capital:

“it is essential to communism that it transcend the capitalist division of labor [that would be differences in knowledge and skills among students in less stilted language]… the partially developed individual, who is merely the bearer of one specialized social function, must be replaced by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of labors, ready to face any change in production, for whom the different social functions he performs are only so many modes of giving free scope to his own natural and acquired powers.”

That’s a fairly concise summary of what is now being called College and Career Ready if you go back to the original documents as I have. It also fits perfectly with the OECD’s definition of Competency driving international education reforms through PISA.

Now I am not saying everything going on in education globally is about resurrecting Communism. For one thing it now has a terrible reputation. But education globally is trying to displace any right of individuals to make their own decisions about how to live their lives. Right now the 21st century being shaped for us through education is the Age of Statism where politicians and government employees and Business and Nonprofit cronies make decisions for us. It’s not to be the Age of the Individual or the Consumer or widespread prosperity.

And the educational theories being used to mold New Kinds of Minds and Different Personalities really do track back to Marx. Which then makes 20th Century history hugely relevant to where we are headed in the 21st.

I wish this was not true but it is. And the only way to get us off this current planned pathway is to stare this Marxian foundation square in the face.




Changing the Filtering Perception, the Way We See the World, is Key

Key to shifting the dominant Social World-view away from the fruits of the Enlightenment. Apparently modern-day Schemers who prefer to do our planning for us in the name of a theoretical Ecological Cultural Worldview they have been writing about, and speaking at conferences about, now want to jettison the:

“dominant techno-scientific worldview which influences us all, is essentially positivist, objectivist and reductionist, and based upon the root metaphor of mechanism.”

In plain English, mechanism means Cause and Effect which seems to be a dangerous thing to try to jettison. Bet it really won’t leave. Reality is always out there whatever our manufactured, perhaps false, perceptions or ignorance of it.

My scheming prof from the UK whose Systems Thinking dissertation was widely cited in the run-up to last March’s Planet under Pressure confab in London says we need a new way of thinking. Sounds much like Paul Ehrlich, doesn’t he? Or “reperception.” Whatever is necessary to “allow us to transcend the limits of thinking that appear to have led to the current global predicament.” I am tempted to ask what global predicament and what really caused it.  I can also smell Hayek’s “the fatal conceit” coming where professors or bureaucrats are redesigning complex social systems that were never intentionally designed in the first place.

First note to Social Engineers–“Remember, Piecemeal is Your Friend!!” But no one invited me to participate in the Caviar and Champagne confab so I will have to tell you my thoughts instead. Then track this through to the All Important How. We deviated to discuss Spirituality as a Target and a desire to manipulate the human desire for inspiring motivational beliefs for a reason.

My scheming Ecology Prof says Perception is “informed by the inspirational, the affective, the imaginal, and the experiential domains.” I think we can now agree that radicals with plans for fundamental transformation via education are targeting all those areas. That’s what the last 3 posts especially have been about plus everything all summer on social and emotional learning. Check Box 1.  Moreover, the perceptual filter each of us has, whether we are aware of it or not, is “colored by:

1)Our spiritual grounding and awareness;

2) Our Belief System;

3) Our creative imagination; and

4) Our experiential histories.

So education targeting any of those goes after Perception. This is especially critical to reforms like Outcomes Based Education and Systems Thinking that are really targeting all of the above. Why? Want a refresher?

Before murderer Che Guevara became venerated as a pop art icon suitable for mass apparel, he wrote a book called Man and Socialism in Cuba. In it he wrote that (my bold):

“The vanguard group is ideologically more advanced than the mass; the latter is   acquainted with the new values but insufficiently.”

If you want a revolution or a paradigm change or a rejection of the dominant world-view, especially one that did bring unprecedented levels of global prosperity to the masses, you need New Values. It’s apparently part of the Overthrow 101 Syllabus. And that is consistent with what we are seeing throughout the real Common Core implementation and what we are seeing all over the world.

Now for the how. On November 30 Ed Week had a small story called “Multiple Perspectives in an International Classroom.” This paragraph jumped out at me. The Multiple Perspectives Instructional Design:

“compels students to analyze the past not through a textbook, but through various primary-source documents. The aim is to integrate the stories of conquered groups with the opinions of the conquerors, thereby enriching the classroom discussion. By incorporating these new perspectives, students develop a clearer understanding of how historical events have shaped society today.”

Misunderstandings building on emotion and ignorance and perhaps valid frustrations is far more likely. Then there is the alarming passage that “teaching with student perspectives refines students’ identities and beliefs.” Well, how fragile those must be then. I wasn’t quite hyperventilating yet but this is a painful strategy to read about. Especially when something called a four-corners discussion got thrown into the Bubbling Cauldron of Emotion. This technique pushed by the cited group “Facing History” is meant to “illustrate how political statements draw upon personal experience to articulate a viewpoint.”

The question asked was–“Those who make more money should be taxed more money.” Students go to corners based on Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Then they try to persuade each other to switch corners. Two points come to Mind. First, this is not History whatever the name of the class and it is only Social Studies in the Deweyan sense of Social Engagement and Interaction as the purpose of the classroom. Secondly, what a tremendous exercise in priming students to yield to the herd instinct. To the primacy of the Group. All alone in your corner? What do you think you know that we don’t? Or what selfish interest are you trying to protect?

I am also tempted to tell you what I think of seeing former colonies as about having been conquered when it was the only time some ever had a rule of law and some protection against predation by the Ruler over the Ruled. And yes there should be a special ring in Hell for what the Belgian King did to the Congo. This is a curriculum that builds on Ignorance and plays to Stereotypes and then lards on Grievances and then Builds up Personal Identities from that Bubbling Brew? I had enough false lenses in that new C3–College, Career, and Civic Life Framework.

To make sure I was fair though I went to the “Facing History” website to take a further look at what was being pushed. I knew it had famous patrons now living in DC but I had never systematically looked at it. My analysis so far from looking at the website and reading both “Margot’s Journey” about founder Margot Stern Strom and her “A Work in Progress” is this is not a history course in any traditional sense of the term. In fact, it appears to be a fair amount of Bad History. Why? It is a combo of creating New Moral Values and a Sense of Identity from the “lessons” and a Personal Behavior Intervention program. All to create a Mindset for Social Justice.

And not to be elitist about History but Totalitarianism and its causes is a dangerous thing to misapprehend. Pushing emotional false beliefs for political gain is playing with fire. Especially when using the Holocaust and talking about a regime that itself rejected reason in favor of cultivated emotional beliefs. What gave rise to the Nazis was not individual hate so much as using education in the 19th century to create a widespread unconscious motivating belief that the Group and the Race and the Country had Primacy. There was no room for the individual in that Belief System. It was not a place where individuals and their personal choices were the prevailing drivers.

So I am worried that horrific events are being used to create false Beliefs and erroneous but Useful (to a Political Schemer intent on Transformation) Values. We seem to be back to a curriculum similar to the one Robert Hutchins laid out in 1968 without being honest that is what is being pushed. I picked that post for a reason. Carol Gilligan and Kohlberg a la Stages of Moral Development are both involved with “Facing History.” So is esr, Educators for Social Responsibility, with its PBIS/ Social and Emotional Curriculum for Middle and High Schoolers, that we saw in our Responsive Classroom post. And honestly too many other people we have encountered in this blog. All pushing changing values and mindsets and morals to change society. Selling the Vision that 21st Century Utopias could be a Reality.

I think it is dangerous to teach students, especially those whose misperceptions are unlikely to be corrected at home that “history is largely manmade.” History is a lot of accidents and unintended consequences. Intentions are not the viable reality. Going on to tell students that “what civilization is and what it may become is directly related to each one of us” is misguided and downright dangerous. It’s woefully not true and leaves students unguided by accurate lessons from the past. It leaves them prone to jettisoning what is flawed but fixable in favor of a Dream that is unworkable.

So how do you get to a new Paradigm or Prevailing World-view? In the name of history you teach false but Transformative Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs utilizing the power of the Group and encourage each student to use them “in our lives, take it in, and make it a part of our identity, individually or as a community” as the recommended way of “dealing with ourselves.”

Then you make the definitions of Growth or Student Achievement measuring each Student’s developing Competencies about what a curriculum like “Facing History” is pushing. How is it changing the student? With that Change being defined as Learning.

Orwellian redefinition being another part of the Overthrow 101 Syllabus.



Using Education to Shut Down Free Choices and then Redefining as Personal Autonomy: Orwell Lives!

George Orwell that is and the Newspeak he warned about in 1984 where thought is  confused because none of the official terms being used means what is commonly assumed. We have talked about that before in education with terms like Quality Learning or Excellence. But what about when personal autonomy means the choices made after primary education is used to monitor personal behaviors and interactions with others to make sure that a person is putting the needs of the group first? Or that the person is building their self-identity during those crucial adolescent years around being a member of a Group?

You think you see where this is going? Yet more insistence on the primacy of the Common Good? You would be correct Sir. Ten Points in the Bonus Round of Diminishing Personal Freedoms as THE 21st Century Goal for All Learning. Everywhere apparently. This is from the controversial Moral and National Education Project that went live for Hong Kong primary children last month and for the remainder of secondary schoolchildren in September 2013. And before anyone says “That’s the other side of the Globe. It will not impact US or Canadian schoolchildren.” The sources cited are American profs. Ontario profs.

This is a global political coup being mounted through our K-12 schools. At least the Hong Kong parents, students, and politicians knew enough to be outraged. They aptly called it brainwashing but to no avail. We in the US still have comparable obligations being imposed in classrooms but it is hiding behind Positive School Climate mandates and the actual Orwellian definitions of College and Career Ready or Deep Learning Strategies or Higher Order, Level 4, Thinking.

“As far as altruism is concerned, children should be taught to extend their love and sacrifices to their parents and significant others to include acquaintances, neighbors, strangers in one’s country and people in other countries.”

How useful to anyone in power to redefine personal autonomy as the choices of someone AFTER they have been indoctrinated through K-12 education to have such a sense of mandated altruism. Isn’t this all the Kremlin or Mao and every tyrant in history ever wanted? To have educators instill this so-called Universal Love Principle so that young people believe:

“They are expected to sacrifice their personal needs, benefits and even their basic rights for the sake of the stability and prosperity of the country. Betraying one’s country is not only immoral but also evil and sinful.”

Betraying one’s country is selling state secrets, not refusing to defer to the majority consensus! Seriously. Moral education is being defined as teaching that the “majority’s opinion and interests precede individual’s opinions and interests.” Now won’t this come in handy with the promotion of Systems Thinking and telling each student they are merely a part of the much broader Whole?

US Constitution be damned if the Colleges of Education decide to remove the primacy of the individual emotionally. Through their monopoly over what happens in the Classroom. And if you think again this is Hong Kong, search out Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development/Universal Principle and see how influential it is in teacher education for the classroom. Or here, about two weeks ago, Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory as the basis for Child Development activities in Pennsylvania classrooms.

So yes I am lifting these quotes from Hing-keung Ma’s work but she in turn is quoting the Western education profs and feminist profs like Carol Gilligan and we have the same names for the same interpersonal and mandated social altruism as we are seeing in the West. The highest stage of Ma’s world social altruism in preparation for a desired sense of world citizenship is called Global Perspectives. That just happens to be the name of the  company with its affective inventory (Global Perspectives Inventory) of desired personal traits in college students created to implement the radical new vision for US colleges and universities.

The way to foster world citizenship then is using the concept of moral education to push these ideas of universal love and universal justice on schoolchildren. What a dream for parasitical UN bureaucrats and their tax free salaries to have students all over the West being taught these ideas as Systems Thinking and Education for Wellbeing as we saw in this post on what Australia is mandating with US advisors.  In fact the advisors are from the same US college campus where that Global Perspectives Inventory was created. What are the odds?

So self-actualization in this Orwellian world of Newspeak becomes a declared aim “at the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” And woe be us once public employment plus beneficiaries crosses that 51% threshold to be a majority where education says self-actualization means:

“if there is a conflict of interest between an individual and the majority, the individual should be prepared to sacrifice himself/herself for the majority.”

Well this is certainly yet another way to fracture the concept of the Unitary Self as the Regional Equity and Environmental Justice advocates seek. Seriously long term regular readers are thinking. What is going on? This is all clearly related. And global. And a stealth implementation of what are clearly collectivist political and economic theories. Could you please give us a date you say? Somewhere in particular to help us really frame what we are dealing with here?

Well, I have quite a few illuminating choices to answer that one but this week’s Tiptoe through the Footnotes Journey yielded yet another Glittering Gem of an Epiphany. This one is from 1968–an important year because we are at the height of the Cold War and the beginning of the student riots that changed American culture and education so much.

The book, The Learning Society, is by a man, Robert M. Hutchins, who was once the President of the University of Chicago in the 30s and 40s. We have talked before about Ralph Tyler and his Eight Year Study which laid out a way to implement the progressive vision for education originated by John Dewey . Hutchins was a close friend and mentor to Ralph Tyler in addition to being his boss. It was Hutchins who put Tyler in the chair positions at Chicago where the entire concept of Behavioral Sciences and Systems Thinking originated. So when one of the scheming Systems Thinkers cited the book, I thought it was time to read it.

Hutchins lays out a new vision for global education that will be applicable to all students–to set their minds free. Education that cultivates the Common Good. What Hutchins called an “education designed to help people become human” by “connecting man with man.” An education that is not about the transmission of information since “why should data be memorized if they can be instantly available by pressing a button?” Education that promotes a “deep understanding” of issues and questions where “there is more than one answer or no answer at all.”

Sound familiar? An education that “introduces all men to the dialogue about the common good of their own country and the world community.” Now Hutchins wanted this education for new values centered around the concept of Humanity to be pushed everywhere. To use education to change the culture to “one in which living wisely and agreeably and well is the object.” Communist China and the Soviet Union and Kuwait and India and Japan and Africa and the US. But these countries differ drastically in the level of influence their students and citizens have over government actions. Or refusals to act.

What we are seeing in 2012 is just a continuation of this previous attempt to snuff out personal liberty and individualism everywhere on this globe where these ideas have ever flourished. And especially in those countries where they are cherished. So in the US we get our assault on freedom wearing Orwellian masks and tucked into little read but still binding regulations. But the assault is no less real.

And the draw bridge is down. And the Armed Guard went into town to fetch some mead for a planned banquet. And the moat has been drained to allow for easy to access organic gardening.

We are wide open and largely unsuspecting. And it is coming.