Collective Cognition: Stipulating Right Thinking and Prescribing Prevailing Ideas to Defeat Polarization

Never heard the phrase ‘collective cognition’ before? Wouldn’t creating required learning standards and then assessing for their presence in guiding a student’s thoughts and actions amount to learning How to Think as a Community? After I wrote last week’s post, but knowing we were about to pivot next to something called the Hidden Tribes Project, I was fascinated to read the bio of the co-author of this recent article https://behavioralscientist.org/the-cognitive-science-of-political-thought-practical-takeaways-for-political-discourse/ where Professor Sloman admits that the cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences can be used to create Collective Cognition. If only some ultra-rich person would bequeath mega-millions to his employer, Brown University, to set up a Center to create models for K-12 education reforms.

Think of the Hidden Tribes Project as what to do about the adults whose minds and values got away when earlier versions of K-12 education reforms, like outcomes-based education, failed to shift as desired away from subject-content to changing:

the ideas that give your life direction. And the answers fit together into a larger picture–what we call a ‘worldview,’ a way of understanding and making sense of our world. Your worldview determines (consciously or unconsciously) how you interpret and respond to everything in life. This is why it is so important to begin thinking about your worldview and the ideas you believe to be true…develop a worldview that influences everything you do.

That is a really useful definition of worldview and why, I believe, we have found it as the aim of what my book laid out as Tranzi OBE from the 90s, and what we are seeing as Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profiles now. It’s why learning standards globally carefully lay out the desired elements and seek to prescribe the ‘learning experiences’ that will create the characteristics at an internalized, physiological level. The Hidden Tribes Project, clearly related to the same aim but geared to adults and located at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, stated that its “focus is to better understand the forces that drive political polarization and tribalism in the United States today, and to galvanize efforts to address them.” I found the Project after it was hyped here in July https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_are_the_solutions_to_political_polarization and I recognized the links to both Seedbed of Virtues and the 1997 “A Call to Civil Society”.

George Will, in his Soulcraft book, kept using the same term “Better Angels of Our Nature” so let’s look and see how ‘our nature’ can be reengineered with education reforms and other social science projects. After all, one of the co-authors of the June 2019 More in Common report “The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart” is tied to the Templeton-funded Positive Neuroscience initiative at U-Penn that is also tied to the World Happiness Reports the UN has taken to publishing. If he states that “in coming years I plan on continuing to use the tools of social science to improve human interaction and society. Through teaching, speaking, researching, and writing, I hope to do my part to help humanity realize the best possible version of itself,” we would be wise to listen.

Humanity is so grateful, I reply with my usual sarcasm. Hopefully such aspirations and scholarship in “studying how social context in various populations can impact people’s moral judgment and behavior…” will get Mr Yudkin tenure somewhere. According to the 2018 “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape” the “work of rebuilding our fractured society needs to start now” and it needs to occur at the level of each person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs. This will allow “re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to building a renewed sense of national identity: A bigger story of us.” More in Common believes that “a healthy democracy…requires a sense of shared values and commitments, and a willingness to find common ground”. That desired answer to polarization and tribalism, a desired standardization at the level of “mind, heart, and soul” for all citizens, young and old, requires deliberately targeting:

At the root of America’s polarization are divergent sets of values and worldviews, or ‘core beliefs’. These core beliefs shape the ways that individuals interpret the world around them at the most fundamental level. Our study shows how political opinions stem from these deeply held core beliefs. This study examines five dimensions of individuals’ core beliefs:

  •  Tribalism and group identification
  •   Fear and perception of threat
  •   Parenting style and authoritarian disposition
  •   Moral foundations
  •   Personal agency and responsibility

This study finds that the hidden architecture of beliefs, worldview and group attachments can predict an individual’s views on social and political issues with greater accuracy than demographic factors like race, gender, or income.

So education at every level and the media, whether broadcast, print, or websites of various supposed spectrums, need to get at and change that hidden architecture. To uncover and understand core beliefs, and “explore how this understanding can be used, not to deepen polarization but to bring people together.” Does the coordinated effort to pretend that the Common Core was about workforce preparation or a database of personally identifiable information about students instead of an effort to change those prevailing values, attitudes, and beliefs suddenly make more sense? What if I told you that the initial indented quote on worldview came from something called the Lightbearers Curriculum from Summit Ministries that I found after a Daily Caller article this summer made a reference to something called a Blue Sky Worldview and a camp to create it? What if the same article simultaneously misrepresented socialism and asserted that Marxism is only what was found in the past in Communist countries or is what Bernie Sanders pushes?

Let’s just say our False Narrative purveyors were well-represented among the advocates for this curriculum that also seeks to control “what ideas will rule the world” and provide “guidelines for shaping society for everyone’s benefit”. It is a curriculum intended for “endowing [the student] with the responsibility for shaping the future of the world.” Theoretical Marxism, the non-historical kind that is a theory of Man as a Maker of History seeking to drive a transformational process in the real world, would recognize that aspiration as bringing about what Uncle Karl called the Human Development Society. It is still the same theory even when the M word is not used and the sales pitch is the need to “redeem culture as part of God’s creation.” Worthy aspirations and a theological emphasis do not change the nature of this theory or who created the idea of how to get such a theory into practice (Praxis?).

Calling it “faith in action” instead of praxis, or opining that “without action, students may relegate what they are hearing to dry academic philosophies and not realize that these ideas should become part of their lives on a daily basis,” doesn’t distinguish aims that function the same with comparable purposes. So religious based or classical schools want ideas embodied into action as an integral part of the curriculum to create Desired Habits and Behaviors and so do public schools now as part of learning standards and what is called High Quality Project-Based Learning. See what I mean about going to the same place and targeting the same normative realm in each student?

Tranzi OBE, in function even if now euphemized into a myriad of new names, still is in play if the curriculum actively seeks to tell students they should be change agents and

stop being conformed by the ‘water’ around them, the culture they were in. Rather, they should be transformed by renewing their minds. The idea behind the word ‘transformed’ is that of metamorphosis–changing into something different. While conformity to the world is something that happens passively, being transformed is something that happens actively. Conformity just happens, but transformation requires effort. Transformation only happens through mind renewal, changing the way you think.

I bolded that last part from the Lightbearers Curriculum to call attention to a discussion in the comments from the last post when I said that the predecessor to the Common Core was something in the 90s called the New Standards Project. Before Professor Lauren Resnick helped create that initiative, she called her curriculum a Thinking Curriculum to be grounded in HOTS–Higher Order Thinking Skills. Stipulated Ideas would dominate so that the real world perceptions would be controlled by Desired Ideas and Theories of What Could Be. The Soviets in 1962 called this a new kind of Dialectic Materialism that would allow a transformation of the existing world via a theory they called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete.

Its ideals still work the same today whether pushed on adults to supposedly bridge a Perception Gap and create a Convergence to defeat Polarization, or on children via mischaracterized learning standards and Thinking Curricula.

All of these advocates recognize that changing how we think leads to “transforming our behavior” in predictable ways. If anyone wants to prescribe “the basis of our decisions and actions,” as these various NGOs like UNESCO or the OECD, faith-based institutions, think tanks, or any other institution have explicitly said they wish to do if we know where to look, we should all be aware that has become the new purpose of education and the goal of much of what is broadcast or published by the media.

I suppose I should be grateful my book and then this blog set off such an orchestration of False Narratives. The deceit left the crumbs that enable us to see the common vision. Everyone seems to want to get at what we believe and feel in order to control how we will behave.

And it has nothing to do with training pigeons except that once installed in our neural circuits via cognitive psychology, we will be programmed indeed.

 

 

Evolutionary Epistemology: A Mouthful Term that Euphemizes a Wholesale Education Shift

In the last post we looked at Professor Cabrera’s DSRP template. I laid out its connections to current curriculum practices that get euphemized as ‘rigor’ or ‘high-quality instructional materials’, but left out a curious quote about targeting the human conceptual system via learning standards so that DSRP “provides a mechanism for the memetic behavior that must exist in order for evolutionary epistemology to be a viable proposal. For these reasons, DSRP should be considered a more robust alternative to logic where complex cognitive systems are concerned.” I am rather fond of logic myself, but apparently that’s no way to get a theory of how things might be different in the future into practice. Recognizing that the mouthful term obscures the reality that seeks to change prevailing culture by systematically prescribing new values and beliefs via poorly understood ‘standards’ in K-12 and higher ed, I looked up the term.

It turned up this 2018 Abstract https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29199093 from the same US government agency funding Science of Virtues and the BRAIN Initiative to create a Research Programme for Distributed Biological Intelligence. No wonder logic needs to be jettisoned. Suddenly the reading, math, and science wars and the focus on ‘close reading’  and ‘conceptual frameworks’ click into the appropriate context when we read:

The concept of ‘information’ acquires a new meaning because information processing is at the heart of biological intelligence. All biological systems, from bacteria to Gaia, are intelligent, open thermodynamic systems that exchange information, matter and energy with the environment. (v) The organism-environment interaction is cybernetic. As much as the organism changes due to the influence of the environment, the organism’s responses to induced changes affect the environment and subsequent organism-environment interactions. Based on the above principles a new research agenda can be formulated to explore different forms of biological intelligence.

I bolded those references to changes because they too get euphemized as student learning, even though the desired changes are not really about passing on a body of knowledge as in the historic conception of education. EE, as I am going to abbreviate it, “aims at understanding the complex relations between biological evolution, especially the biological evolution of human cognition, and the cultural evolution of scientific knowledge.” Because federal laws, mandated learning standards, accreditation criteria, and curricular materials and online activities are all aiming to change the nature of that cognition and then prescribe it for the masses, this is not a matter of speculation. Let me read a passage from a Norbert Wiener biography called Dark Hero of the Information Age that should make what is being stealthily targeted and why more clear:

As he made clear from the outset, the universal processes and principles of cybernetics–information, communication, feedback, ‘circular causality’ or reciprocal influence, and ‘teleology’ or purposeful, goal-directed action–apply equally to technology, biology, and all the complex systems of society. The biological and social dimensions of cybernetics were widely overlooked in Wiener’s day and in the decades since his death, as technology loomed ever larger. Yet those neglected aspects of Wiener’s science hold some of the most powerful insights cybernetics has to offer, and they are as important as any technical tool for understanding the complex forces that shape and influence all our lives.

The conceptual tools of cybernetics can help people think in more effective and productive ways, to create, innovate, and perhaps even begin to envision at the levels to which Wiener raised his most talented disciples to ‘see over the fence,‘ as he did, and down the road to the end result of any effort. Cybernetics, its sister sciences of information theory and systems theory, and their descendants in the new sciences of complexity and human communication offer scientists and nonscientists alike new ways to think systematically and strategically, to solve problems, paint scenarios, and identify potential trouble spots before disaster strikes…[It is] the next step on the learning curve of the global society.

Wiener and his colleagues could ‘see over the fence’ because they had huge stores of factual knowledge that allowed their brilliant minds to make connections that could then be proved in experiments. Prescribing the methods of seeing over the fence to evaluate the future for all without any ‘vast stores of knowledge,’ or even much in the pantry beyond the prescribed conceptual frameworks, means there is no safety catch between what is factual and what is a politically useful fiction. Now before I get to the curriculum I mentioned from Developing Minds in the Digital Age, I want to mention one more book, from 2015, called The Cybernetics Moment or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age that was funded by the National Science Foundation. That matters because that Developing Minds comes from the NSF Science of Learning Centers, as have so many of the curricula involved with the reading, math, and science wars (covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy).

The book’s author, Ronald R. Kline, who is a Professor of History and Ethics of Engineering at Cornell, where Derek Cabrera and his DSRP work is also based, has the Cybernetics Moment as ending in the 1970s despite its promise. I maintain that is not true since it migrated to education ‘reforms’. It thoroughly saturates the actual Common Core implementation and now what is known as competency-based education, correctly construed (which so few do these days). See if this sounds familiar from the discussion above.The NSF/OECD conception of a “Science of Learning for 21st Century Education…encompasses complex changes in the learner from his/her dynamic engagement with an equally ever-changing environment.”

Now I promised last time we could recognize the DiaMat/cybernetic intentions in the OECD/NSF DJEM–Designed Joint Engagement with Media. Since I initially read that report I also learned that some of the cited researchers are involved with the now 20-year old Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition that is a joint project of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. That matters because Carnegie Mellon gets NSF funding to create a great deal of immersive online learning curricula. U-Pittsburgh was involved with the New Standards Project, which is the forebear of the Common Core from back in the 90s. Both are in a position then to implement DJEM as:

purposefully created, shared experiences where individuals interact with one another while simultaneously attending to a media. DJEM can take many forms, including viewing a video, playing a game on a mobile device or reading a digital book together. DJEM grows out of the idea that joint attention or the coordinated focus of all interacting individuals on the same phenomena, is a necessary condition for joint engagement and is fundamental to human learning from an early age.

Now, if you have a goal of fundamental transformation in social, economic, and political systems, which the OECD and its affiliates in the UN make no bones about as in Leave No One Behind by 2030 and Equity for All, the Number One prerequisite is to get people to “common forms of sensemaking”. Precisely, what DJEM is designed to do so that:

Both the speaker and the listener play an important role in establishing, monitoring and sustaining joint attention during interactions, drawing both on non-verbal communication (e.g.-pointing, moving to share visual perspective, etc) and on meta-communicative verbal comments. The use of such strategies helps create a ‘between-person state of engagement‘ that draws on both the cognitive and the social dimensions of communication and helps partners develop a shared conceptual structure in which they collaborate and learn as they engage in media together…These shared conversations-joint social engagements–serve as sites for knowledge construction and meaning making.

So the purpose of these  prescribed learning experiences is not to learn math, science, history, or to become a better reader. It is to instill a common internalized conceptual structure about some real-life phenomena in each of the interacting students. And the NSF is simultaneously financing books saying the Cybernetic Moment is over, while funding online curricula and activities that use cyberneticist Gordon Pask’s conversation theory. No, they didn’t cite him in their Science of Learning push, but they did describe and use his Conversation Theory. We do get to recognize by function, not assigned labels, since I am still driven by logic and a vast storehouse of facts instead of an assigned conceptual framework. Anyway, the Center for Curriculum Reform’s recent book on Artificial Intelligence in Education happened to mention that the desired AI platforms to be used with students were based on Pask’s theories.

Cybernetics is not dead as all these links show. The new Science of Learning wants us to accept that “Expertise lies not so much in the number of facts an individual can state but in the way in which that knowledge is organized and the ability to apply it flexibly and appropriately in new situations.” My book and this blog exist because I have a highly organized understanding of where education is going, how it intends to get there, what the likely impacts are, and how the theories of cybernetics matter to all these efforts. It does not represent an Approved Conceptual Framework though, which sometimes makes me a persona non grata to discussions. Imagine instead that your child is in this Sid the Science Kid animated programme for preschool children from the Jim Henson Company that “explores everyday phenomena and provides models of science practices and science talks…to deepen and reenforce target concepts.” Tell me this doesn’t sound to you like Code the Kid at the Level of the Mind and Start Early to create Binding Habits of Mind.

To test the feasibility and promise of the DJEM theory, we developed and refined a curriculum supplement…[that] comprised an eight-week experience on change and transformation, foundational concepts across science content areas. Modules were two weeks long and included two to three days of instruction each week that integrated video episodes, classroom discussions, teacher guided book readings, and hands-on investigations. The curriculum supplements four modules targeted types of change that children likely observed in their daily lives: decay, growth, reversible change, and irreversible change.

Learning as creating common conceptual frameworks tied into emotion and the visual to guide perception and the interpretation of experiences in predictable ways at the level of a preschoolers mind. That is a vastly different realm to be standardizing than measuring weight or distance. Cybernetics requires common goals and learning standards are a means of dictating goals without that shift being readily apparent to the typical parent or student. It is up to those of us with Unapproved Conceptual Frameworks to grasp where these learning standards really seek to go. This is not a discussion on the metric system vs miles. There the chosen standard has no impact on the distance being described. Here, the purpose of the learning standard is to reimagine the mind and then turn it from the open system it can be to the closed system that will behave predictably. Which will change the environment, which will impact the mind and personality, which will then change the now altered Environment. Etc. Etc. Etc.

We need to wake up to how many of our young people are to be in this EE Research Programme. Anyone think it is coincidental preschoolers are being instructed on transformation and change? Me neither.

Unified Human Sciences of the Mind: Learning Standards Prescribe Desired Neural Patterns

Nothing like being at a journey’s end, when all of a sudden fireworks explode that remind us why it’s a good thing we have made it here. We will talk about the fireworks shortly, but what I saw in that “Developing Resilient Agency in Learning” paper from the last post made me sit back down with my copy of Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind/Brain from 1986. I wanted to rethink the manipulative potential of prescribing student goals or ‘performance expectations’ (PE) that go to ‘standardizing’ the fact that we humans are the “lucky organisms fitted out with cells coordinating representations of the world with movement in the world” as Patricia Churchland put it in italics. Churchland went on to quote Dominick Purpura from 1975 in a Chapter Epigraph to her book’s Conclusion stating that: “What we require now are approaches that can unite basic neurobiology and behavioral sciences into a single operational framework.”

Learning standards tied to CEDS in the US, or UNESCO’s ISCED framework globally, are creating that long-sought operational framework. Key to those aspirations is prescribing those internalized representations of the world. Sense-making was one of the perimeter nodes of that Learner Profile spider web we met in the last post per the Mindful Agency paper. It used the term ‘sense-making’ to combine two factors: “(i) making meaning and (ii) making connections” and stated:

Sense-making is a core part of learning, and…learning takes place through making connections in several ways: neurological, social, cognitive and experiential. People understand the world through schemata–‘a cognitive structure that consists of facts, ideas and associations organised into a meaningful system of relationships.’ It is through constantly comparing existing schema with new information and understanding that we develop through our encounter with the world, that we  adapt or stretch our existing understanding to accumulate richer and deeper knowledge…our understanding of the world and relationships is not just through storing information as an ‘objective’ entity. We do not passively receive information from our environment–rather we translate information into internal representations whose value is significant.’ They [human beings] actively participate in the generation of meaning in what matters to them: they enact a world’. Sense-making is, for them, a relational and affect-laden process grounded in biological organisation.

That was a long quote so we could go back to what was simply as aspiration and a theory decades ago and then forward to real time classroom instructions now. Then we get the fireworks in the form of last week’s release of http://fabbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/BRAIN-Initiative-FABBS-presentation-FINAL.pdf called the “Opportunities for the BRAIN Initiative 2.0.” Phase II or 2.0 turns out to be “Transforming dynamic neural patterns into understanding cognition, emotion, perception and action.” How does that happen? Here’s one current example from http://learndbir.org/resources/A-Phenomenon-based-Assessment-System-for-Three-dimensional-Science-Standards.pdf  It explains that the desired student “Performance Expectations are endpoints. To successfully prepare students to meet these goals, instructional materials must provide learning materials at the nexus of these three dimensions” of Science and Engineering Practices [the outside action], Core Disciplinary Ideas, and Cross-Cutting Concepts.

Those latter two strands go to creating the desired internalized ‘schemata’ for students’ sensemaking. ALL students. Suddenly science becomes a sociocultural “enterprise organized around asking questions in the natural world and seeking to build theories and models to develop answers to those questions.” Engineering becomes a matter of design “beginning with problems, needs, or desires of human beings that need to be addressed.” We would recognize three-dimensional learning as cultural activity theory, even if it did not admit it openly in all these papers. Its focus is on “Learning what is not yet there” because its purpose is on transformative learning that will create a different future via reimagined human activities. Recognizing that Professor Churchland taught in the 80s hotbed of cultural-historical activity theory–San Diego–complete with translations from Soviet psychology works I checked to see what ISCAR was currently pushing and pulled up Roberta Patalano publishing “From the Cradle to Society: ‘As-If’ Thinking as a Matrix of Creativity.”

Remember all the ‘uncertainty’ pushing from the last post, and now the Performance Expectations, that somehow get at coordinating Professor Churchland’s inside and out dimensions? It’s all what Soviet research stipulated would be necessary to create new kinds of minds that would act in new ways in the world. Let’s look at one more current exercise http://stemteachingtools.org/brief/46 from March 2017 called “How to define meaningful daily learning objectives for science investigations.” Uncertainty creates affect-laden ‘understanding’ just as I bolded above in that block quote. It warns teachers that “displaying the target concept to be learned–the disciplinary core idea that is to be the focus of instruction–‘gives away’ what students should actually be figuring out as they make sense of phenomena by engaging in the science and engineering practices.”

In case anyone thinks I am exaggerating on wanting to affect future action, let me quote that “Investigations should help students construct understanding. The framework vision [remember that Purpura quote] is about students seeing that science and engineering practices are ways that can help them make sense of and change the world. Students should be deciding together what they need to investigate each day, based on what they’ve already figured out and what they need to learn to explain or design. They shouldn’t know the outcome of an investigation ahead of time.” Explicit instruction as in a lecture or textbook would “short-circuit deep learning.” PEs require that “Students should be able to say what they are trying to figure out in their own words–and come to use formal science terminology once they have gotten a feeling for it after multiple investigations.”

That would explain why those of us with solid factual knowledge in an area see misapplied concepts, or Inapt Metaphors, as students use terminology they “have a feeling for,” instead of a solid foundation grounded in facts. Such a body of knowledge might interfere with an aspiration to change the world. What these prescribed concepts and learning experiences are doing though is creating internalized schema in the student’s mind. Precisely where all these learning and cognitive scientists and education researchers are trying “to invent and perfect new concepts suitable to nervous system function, and they all have their sights set on explaining macro phenomena in terms of micro phenomena.” We get a new kind of education breaking out in earnest in the 1980s when Patricia Churchland wrote, and Lauren Resnick began pushing the now required Higher Order Thinking Skills, where the traditional logical, sequential representations that had traditionally been the purpose of instruction get replaced by a neural network combining ‘patterns of activity’ with provided categories of thought.

The three-dimensional learning required now and laid out as Mindful Agency are grounded in what psychologists theorized would be necessary to create New Kinds of Minds as Paul Ehrlich put it in a 1989 book I have warned about. Now to the fireworks as that BRAIN Initiative link had a header that said “NSF SBE Grand Challenge Ideas.” What’s that I ask? I remember the NSF funded all the controversial, ‘discovery’ math and science curricula? SBE turned out to be Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and the SBE 2020 vision was launched in August 2010 https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2010/08/challenges when a Paul Ehrlich colleague, John Holdren, (whom he mentioned in thanks in his book, New World, New Mind) headed the White House office that oversaw the NSF. That’s one way to fulfill that book’s goal of Conscious Evolution, isn’t it?

I started reading those SBE 2020 papers over the weekend and found the link to the Krasnow Institute and its Neuroeconomics we stumbled across pursuing Thinking and Reading like a Historian in a paper called “Understanding the Mechanisms of the Mind through an Integrated Science of the Mind Initiative.” Whereas, Professor Churchland simply hoped a neural network that functioned like Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) in computers could become the end result of a new kind of transformation education, another co-author of that paper, James McClelland turns out to be a PDP expert. https://fabbs.org/our_scientists/james-l-mcclelland-phd/ . Another co-author at MIT, Aude Oliva, is working “to understand how humans encode, process, retain, predict, and imagine.” No wonder we get ‘bottom-up’ New Foundations for Readiness as we saw in the last post.

Another paper “Twenty-First Century Challenges and Opportunities for the Human Sciences” wanted to “develop a scientific understanding of the social processes that now shape [the natural world].” This would require the United States to finance a “significant and targeted investment in an integrated science of social and behavioral dynamics, or ‘human sciences’.” And the next year, 2011, the federal Department of Education held its first competency-based education summit to do just that and implement the developed “theory for human social action” using student-centered learning to create the needed personalized neural networks in each student. Coordinating the inside categories of thought and motivation to act with the external activity in any given environment.

It’s a good plan if transformative change in the ‘macro phenomena’ of society, economies, and political structures in largely invisible ways is the goal of education in the 21st century globally. I stumbled across this more than ten years ago now trying to figure out why the NSF had paid the State of Georgia and its University System tens of millions of dollars in grants to implement constructivist Integrated Math. None of the offered explanations held up to scrutiny. Now I know it was about creating New Kinds of Minds. Let’s close our Trilogy of Bottom-Up, Inside-Out, Neural Change in each student by quoting an SBE 2020 abstract that had no linked document, just this aspiration:

One of the most critical challenges facing next-generation social, behavioral and economic research is to understand the dynamics and consequences of interactions between human systems [that’s US!] and the natural world. To accelerate scientific progress, significant and systematic efforts must be made to identify and collect data across time and space that enable evidence on perceptions, attitudes, social institutions, situation-behavior relationships, and decision-making to be linked comprehensively to measurements of the natural environment. These data will lay the foundation for a science of sustainability.

Rereading that quote would explain why the same think tank employees or their affiliates misrepresenting how learning standards like the Common Core really work also envisioned misrepresenting the purpose of all the data gathering from the beginning.

It appears that education researchers aren’t the only ones aspiring to control our internalized ‘schemata’ that guide how we interpret the world around us.

 

Capturing Every Thought Captive and Sculpting Students as Systems: Driver of Perfidy?

Sometimes trains that appear to be running on parallel tracks or away from each other actually may be planning to meet up somewhere if we only had a more elaborate and long term map of the real train routes. That appears to me to be the case in two recent initiatives that on their faces could not be more opposite. The first is the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development–NCSEAD–issuing a so-called “Evidence-Base for How We Learn” https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/evidence-base-learn/ and stressing that integrated social, emotional and academic development is not a database of personal attributes as the False Narrative keeps wanting to emphasize. It treats the student, their mind, and personality as a system that can be consciously manipulated via education to “appeal to our higher angels. The goal really is to lead all of us on the pathway to a better life, a good life.”

No one mentioned that “you will simply love it Comrade,” but that is a bit how the papers and discussions read. Like the Portrait of a Graduate visions, the personal traits of the student/system are front and center as a desire to “graduate young adults who are self-directed, intellectually engaged, and possess a commitment to personal and civic responsibility.” The vision is supposedly “consistent with how brains take in and process information.” Now I would add a caveat to that since I have been tracking CHAT-Cultural Historical Activity Theory–across the decades and from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to New York City with Rockefeller Foundation financing, to San Diego when Carnegie seems to have taken over, to Rome, Italy and the 2013 ISCAR Summit. In the middle we have the original Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) mandates in the 80s (now in ESSA as an annual mandate for all students) and what was called the New Standards Project in the 90s that would morph into the Common Core we know now.

That was long-winded but the point is these ideas are trackable with a clear lineage and related tangents that have been covered at ISC through the years. I hereby declare myself a sufficient authority from all this tracking that statements about how this is how the brain DOES work are not true. The truth is that this is how the brain CAN be made to work if certain educational practices become required. The pithy expression is that “nerves that fire together, wire together”. If curricula highlights interpreting through supplied concepts, principles, and themes; forces an inquiry approach and ‘productive struggle’; or as with HOTS assessments, requires questions with no single answer but which deal with ‘ambiguity, empathy, and problem-solving,’ a certain part of the brain tied to emotion in the Prefrontal Cortex is what is being used.

My second train is the newly launched Child Abuse in the Classroom site which issued what is either an intentionally manipulative narrative on the the role of social and emotional learning and its ubiquity over the decades, or it is just ignorant of the entire push to make the student into a system. Perhaps it is a mixture depending on the person involved.Targeting certain parts of the brain has always been crucial to this manipulation, which you would never know from articles like this one.  http://www.capitolhilloutsider.com/congress-passes-psychological-manipulation-in-an-education-bill/ The logic is not emotional manipulation on top of academics. The purpose of academics in this ‘Make a System via Neural Wiring’ scenario is to create the activities that allow the desired neural rewiring. Reading the CAC press release caused me to get my hands on Phyllis Schlafly’s original Child Abuse in the Classroom book from 1984.

Whatever Mrs Schlafly’s intentions in publishing that testimony from hearings around the country, the book’s mere existence seems to provide an evidence-base for using social and emotional techniques in the classroom without any real statutory protection. Here’s why: the so-called Protection of Pupils does not let us use our dictionary meaning of “research or experimentation program or project”. Instead it defined it as “any applicable program designed to explore or develop new or unproven teaching methods or techniques.” We have a book with testimony on how many years these techniques had been in use in certain school systems and just how effective the curricula and practices were in changing who the student was at an internalized level–what they valued and believed.

See the problem? The book created a paper trail that disqualified the described techniques from its definition of “research or experimentation program or project.” No wonder an SEL emphasis keeps recurring. It’s impossible to read the book and not recognize that the described techniques are still in use today with no effective remedy because their true role has not been accurately appreciated. They all go to the same part of the brain’s Prefrontal Cortex as the new ESSA HOTS mandate. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Plenty of testimony on the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum in those 1984 hearings. Lo and behold, FHAO is also what the Aspen Institute recommends in NCSEAD’s August 2017 report “Putting It All Together.”

When I was following up on a recent National Academy of Sciences publication touting a synonym for SEL called Character, it led me to a Notre Dame professor, Darcia Narvaez, who also turned out to be a fellow at that Jubilee Centre that has issued the Framework for Moral Development and the Knightly Virtues curriculum. She has a book that explained precisely how learning standards like the Common Core or Competencies really are to work so let me quote her. Remember standards and curricula now are all about experiences and activity-oriented practices like Project-Based Learning. Members of the Aspen Task Force are also tied to the Jubilee Centre.

“Experience shapes which neuronal systems become more habitually deployed. Because it is dynamic, the theory is helpful for understanding how early experience can shape personality, including moral personality…Neuronal circuitry is formed by what is activated most frequently based on experience…resulting in the favoring of some neural circuits (value systems) over others.”

Narvaez also laid out how “intention and affection generate ‘narratives of vitality,’ regulating internally generated motives and the awareness of self and other in relationship. Such narratives not only structure the psyche but may contribute to the development of language.” A very powerful tool in other words and if the admitted Progressive Left is not the only one wishing to restructure culture and control the psyche, that’s a great deal of incentive for False Narratives about the Common Core, competency-based learning, and the actual purpose of SEL. No wonder we keep encountering the Personally Identifiable Information database explanation. It gets parents outraged and looking for a remedy. Meanwhile the neural rewiring tool remains a part of the supposed educational options we keep having offered up as our supposed choice to escape “government schools.”

Who needs a database of personal characteristics when the desired bullseye is neural rewiring invisibly installed in the brain and nervous system? Meanwhile, every group with transformational intentions in the here and now world, whether open Marxists, naive do-gooders, or religiously driven adherents wanting to impose a Heaven on Earth somehow knows this fact about this new view of education:

“Enduring states become traits…In a dynamic system, once the system is stabilized around a particular interpretation, expectancies are formed for future pattern recognition and action…A behavior at any given point in time is a function of the interaction of person with context, with its history and trajectory. Prior experiences and habits constrain present configurations and options. Prior experience constrains real-time interpretation and activations of connectivity across systems.

Learning in developmental time constrains learning in real time.That is, affective-cognitive structures that developed from emotionally laden situations form units of personality that limit future cognitive appraisals.”

Those ’emotionally laden situations’ were precisely what drove so many parents to testify back in 1984 and seek a federal remedy against these type of educational practices. We never will get an effective remedy against these intentional neural intrusions against ANY LEVEL of government until we grasp the aims of the student as a manipulable system. It’s no secret that many who seem to be active in weaving a deceptive interpretation of these education initiatives also like to wear their religious convictions on their sleeves. Nothing wrong with that except when the reason for the deceit is to allow religious groups to invisibly impose their vision using these powerful tools of behavioral science. The work of one of the more high-profile writers, Gary DeMar who created the Biblical Worldview Library, was cited in a footnote so I located Volume 3 of God and Government: The Restoration of the Republic.

DeMar was very hostile to what he called ‘autonomous reason’ and wanted to “bring into captivity all our thinking.” My noncompliant Axemaker Mind recognizes how he and those who agree with his vision for developing “an education program for dominion purposes that would cover the world. This means applying what we learn from the Bible to every area of thought” would just love the behavioral science/neural rewiring/systems science template that everyone but the parents seems to now know about. The purposes for manipulation now differ, but the planned techniques really do not. Again that’s a huge incentive to mislead parents about the nature of education reforms or to declare curricula “Common Core-free” even though it clearly aims at such neural manipulation when accurately evaluated. I want to close with DeMar’s definition of ‘self-government’ since that euphemism comes up so much, as well as the rationale for Classical Education since it sounds like such an alluring remedy.

“Notice the ethical dimension to education. It was not enough to teach the technical skills. For godly dominion to be extended, self-government had to prevail. Self-government is nothing more than keeping the commandments of God with a willing heart.”

Does ever parent and taxpayer appreciate that or do they still think classical education is about the transmission of knowledge? Hyping the Good, True, and Beautiful sounds so much better than matter-of-factly having the school vision state: “All teaching is goal-oriented. The Christian’s goal is not merely to fill students’ minds with facts that have no meaning, purpose or relationship to all the other facts in the universe; Christian education develops its goals from Scripture. While tests and degrees might be a part of all education, learning with a definite purpose is certainly the main element.”

That ‘definite purpose,’ to be internalized at a neural level to guide perception and motivate behavior, is what makes even religious education now about turning the student into a system. Maybe it is for his or her own good, but it’s not out in the open. Parents cannot have the much vaunted ‘say’ in their children’s education until they appreciate this neural aim and its consequences.

Hopefully it can be out in the open now because that is truly the only way to stop Child Abuse in the Classroom or, in front of a computer delivering virtual reality.

Best way to control those all important learning experiences and assess their impact in real time.

Embody or Perish: Unmasking the Communitarian Motto Behind Student-Centered Learning

If this blog provided sound effects, I could blow the whistle now and holler that we have reached our destination. This is the 6th post in a series that began on February 27. I used the unexpected DeVos declaration of our ‘moral obligations’ and the IPEN paper on global education as recent examples of what the UN had enacted in the late 90s as the Universal Ethics Framework. I found that because well-known communitarian advocate Amitai Etzioni cited it as he laid out his vision for The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society that seemed to accurately reflect the actual classroom and school implementation of Radical Ed Reform going back to the mid-80s. It also seemed to track all the organized deceit I had found about SEL Standards, the Common Core, and other matters which are too consistent in what is being suppressed to be coincidental.

Let’s dive right in because as I have warned, a communitarian mandate pops up on a regular basis and it is always mired in deceit. Now I know why. To prevent resistance to what is being sold as an italicized regeneration of American Society that seeks to penetrate ALL schools and ALL colleges and universities. Here’s the quote that also fits with what was laid out in A Call to Civil Society and Hardwired to Connect from the last post. It explains the neural emphasis we just keep coming across now:

“The communitarian analysis, at least as practiced here, involves a keen awareness that values need to be embodied; that is, for values to guide behavior, a society needs to evolve social and personal formations that undergird the society’s values…Embody or perish is the communitarian motto behind much of what follows.

Embodiment refers to the need for shared values to be internalized by the members and for these values to be integrated into the societal formations [like schools and churches] that help shape behavior.”

Won’t federally required ‘performance standards’ be so useful in making this needed internalization and embodiment an invisible component of how every student will succeed? If such sarcasm seems unbecoming, we need more quoting, especially on how a communitarian society differs from an authoritarian one. My succinct explanation is the coercion is imposed neurobiologically via education to become a Habit of Mind so the coercion is mostly invisible. At least it was until I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then this presciently named blog. Communitarian societies are steered in “a new shared normative direction. Communitarian societies differ from authoritarian societies in that they require a smaller core of shared values (although significantly more than the societies individualists envision).”

That antipathy toward “individualists” sounds straight out of the new Classical Learning Test hype, doesn’t it? That’s not coincidental, as I will show later. Etzioni stated that:

“the new golden rule requires that the tension between one’s preferences and one’s social commitments be reduced by increasing the realm of duties one affirms as moral responsibilities–not the realm of duties that are forcibly imposed but the realm of responsibilities one believes one should discharge and that one believes one is fairly called on to assume.”

Education, of course, is first on the list of the ‘normative means’ used to create the desired moral commitments which enough people have internalized as the basis for their likely future behavior to change the direction of the society. In case anyone thinks this is just the admitted Left pushing this, remember that Hardwired to Connect from the last post with its ties to the supposedly conservative think tanks pushing School Choice vocally also stated explicitly:

“… an ‘us’ strategy is quite different. It is much broader and more radical. Its focus is cultural, not merely political or programmatic. It aims less at a specific intervention than a fundamental social shift–a change that involves the society as a whole. A ‘them’ strategy is about getting specific things done, but it is more fundamentally about guiding an entire society in a certain direction.”

My book’s pivotal observation that the actual Common Core implementation targeted student’s ‘values, attitudes, and beliefs’ makes so much more sense once we become aware of the widespread desire for Social Reconstruction that is no longer just a project of the admitted Left. Did you know that Chester Finn of Fordham, who we have tracked back to the mid-80s duplicitous Project Education Reform and forward to his work with Diane Ravitch and now Fordham’s co-sponsorship of the PEPG forum at the Kennedy School of Government, is listed as a signatory to Etzioni’s Responsive Communitarian Manifesto? So are several other people tied to those IAV papers in the last post. This truly is where the Right and Left Pincers want to take education. They want the coercion to be invisible and binding.

As I told my kids when they were growing up, wanting something doesn’t mean you are entitled to get it. To avoid the invisible coercion we have to know this vision “requires that most members of the society most of the time, share a commitment to a set of core values, and that most members, most of the time, will abide by the behavioral implications of these values because they believe in them rather than being forced to comply with them.”

The role of all these think tanks makes much more sense to this vision if we know that “a core of shared values also enhances the ability of a society to formulate specific public policies.” Try not to be too shocked that elsewhere those policies must include society and its individual members meeting all needs to provide for ‘individual well-being’. The Communitarian agenda says that is the 21st Century purpose of government. Nothing like 21st Century euphemisms redeeming Uncle Karl’s real vision of human development.

Lamar Alexander doing a presentation at AEI last week pretending ESSA supposedly gets the feds out of education makes perfect sense if ESSA laid out a mandate for the needed framework to force internalization within each student. Remember the requisite Internalization must occur without effective opposition from parents and taxpayers. Also, the local hype fits with the statement that “reconnecting the political decision-making bodies to community dialogues is one of the most important items of the communitarian public policy agenda.” Fits right into what AEI’s President Arthur Brooks called the true tenets of Conservatism. It requires a  Revolution of the Heart too.

The calls of SEL Standards for self-discipline or self-regulation, or what the Faux Narrative refers to as ‘self-government,’  ( https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/03/common-core-damages-students-college-readiness/ )  which is also straight out of the Manifesto mentioned above,  call for a longer quote from Etzioni that explains all:

“From a communitarian viewpoint, to draw on public schools as developers of character (for a stronger, higher self) it is most important that they focus on development of personality capabilities that enable people to act civilly and morally. [Soft Skills for All!] First among these capabilities is the ability to control one’s impulses [Is that what the above link calls the ‘right and responsibility of self-rule’?]…Second, a well-formed person must have what Adam Smith called ‘sympathy’: roughly, the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes, what we would refer to as empathy. Without this quality, there is little likelihood that children will develop charity, fairness, respect for other people, or the other virtues. When a person possesses these twin capacities, the psychological foundations for abiding by internalized values are in place.

Once schools are restructured in ways that enhance personality development, the question of which specific values are to be taught recedes in importance but still needs answering.”

The requisite ‘non-cognitive factors’ that must be a component of the State Plans under ESSA all go to that personality development prerequisite in one way or another. It’s not a database, but a starting point to get the needed internalized change to support this communitarian vision of a new moral order. It’s not coincidental that the definition of the law taught in elite law schools has now been altered quietly as the “enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules.”

I personally reject the distinction that something is not coercive as long as people and governments can successfully misrepresent what they are up to via education and the law. It is also greatly troubling I keep coming across references to collecting data on where students are in each of the 24 listed characteristics of the VAI-Values in Action–Character Survey.

I need one more quote from Etzioni that goes a long way towards explaining what makes education through provided conceptual lenses and themes about what is important, cross-cutting, or Good, True, and Beautiful so necessary to a transformationalist. We will need it in the next post as I continue to prove this IS the vision ALL of education is being organized around. Long time readers will recognize this is the theory with the nerdy name of Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete created in the USSR in 1962.

“Such statements about moral causes that present themselves to us as compelling are similar to what religious authorities speak of as revelation. This does not mean we cannot reason about these matters. The fact that some cause initially appears to one as powerful does not obviate the need to examine it closely. However, here reason follows and buttresses revelation, and not the other way around…It should be noted that reason plays a rather different role here.”

I’ll say. I wanted to shout “Transfer” as Lauren Resnick has been pushing for in education reforms for decades. She must be so pleased that her integral Higher Order Thinking Skills that embodies this very concept of Revelation first, and then Apply the provided concepts to real world, concrete situations, is a required ESSA component. Measuring every student for compliance at least annually.

That will be so useful for imposing this requisite Internalization.

Next time we will find this same goal being stated in terms of the US Founding Fathers and the purported requirements of “constitutional government.” We will see more clearly then why facts get in the way of simply accepting the provided concepts as Revelations that are to be accepted, internalized, and never disputed.

I feel like such a naughty Individualist sometimes for recognizing when we are being lied to and when something else has the same function.

Chocolate Cities Strangled by White Nooses: Hacking Out the Rights of the Citizen

Isn’t that the most graphic metaphor you have ever read? I would say it has nothing to do with last night’s riots in Charlotte, but since I am quoting from a 2007 biography of Martin Luther King on his sentiments about urban areas and the suburbs, I am not sure that is true. What I do know is that the post title was already written up before last night’s events because I was struck by the anger in the statement. The sentiment there reveals a huge disconnect between what most Whites have been told about what King stood for and what Blacks and other minorities believe they are entitled to and have waited for too long. The book is From Civil Rights to Human Rights and it was cited in a footnote recently as I continue to piece together precisely what the synthesis is that public policy think tanks across the spectrum are coordinating around.

If the synthesis is actually what King called a Third Way where governments at all levels “would sponsor poor people’s activism for social and economic rights guaranteed by government,” everything that is going on now begins to fall into its true role. Interesting isn’t it that it was MLK who wanted “metropolitan wide-planning in housing and economic development [that] would break down city-suburb divisions of power and privilege.” In other words what is going on now under the Obama Administration is less his overreach in many people’s minds than finally fulfilling “King’s decision to build a nationwide coalition capable of empowering all poor people and moving the nation toward democratic socialism” as the book’s author, history professor Thomas F. Jackson put it.

Fascinating biography, but the point of this post is how much of a difference powerful images created by words can make in guiding perception about a person or an issue. That’s probably why that quote is not better known. It would have upset the narrative. Here’s another quote from someone at that Oxford Conference we covered in the last post, Eldar Shafir, writing to support a new book by Cass Sunstein called The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavioral Science.

“We typically consider ourselves rational actors, whose dignity derives from our autonomy. In fact, our behavior is easily shaped by other actors and by external factors, often outside our awareness and control. When government intervenes to influence our behaviors, often to improve our lives, we recoil. But if government remains uninvolved while other interests are free to shape our world, how autonomous are we then? Sunstein confronts our naivete with a penetrating discussion about how to balance government influence against personal dignity, manipulation against autonomy, and behavioral facts against political ideals. The book is an engrossing read.”

I’ll bet it is, but like our lost invite to Oxford in May, how many of us know this book exists or that Ivy league professors are busy creating degree holders in public policy and other areas ready to impose these visions into what now constitutes education in the 21st century or the ‘rights’ written into laws and agency edicts? Beyond being a prof at Princeton and Harvard, Shafir has been tapped to serve as the first director of the Daniel Kahneman and Anne Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy at Princeton. It was created with an anonymous $10 million gift in 2015 by someone who particularly admired Anne Treisman’s work in psychology. I found a bio on her at The History of Neuroscience site so let’s look at a shift she noted that is very important to governments wanting to control each student’s internalized capacities.

“Ulric Neisser’s book Cognitive Psychology was about to be published in 1967, definitively marking the end of behaviorism and its taboo on concepts such as imagery, mental representations, and cognitive models. Contrary to the behaviorist idea that stimuli activate responses to produce behavior, the cognitive revolution saw stimuli as conveying information-reducing the uncertainty about possible states of the world by modifying mental representations–a major conceptual change. Attention [think of the ubiquity now of the word engagement] was central to cognitive psychology from the beginning, in part because it involved a purely mental event that changed what people perceived.” Daniel Kahneman is Ms Treisman’s husband and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Economics.

http://www.gametheory.net/news/Items/088.html   is a good link explaining why the Economics Committee decided psychology had become an important element of the discipline. Kahneman was and is a psychologist known for creating a means for calculating the way in which “irrational actions can be predicted and quantified.” Very useful, in other words, for governments wanting to control and predict just that. Predicting and quantifying that, it turns out, makes it important to know what Values people have and what Concepts and Principles frame their perception. If that sounds vaguely familiar now it’s probably because it is another way of restating what the new federal education legislation–the Every Student Succeeds Act–requires every school in every state to assess regularly using the euphemism Higher Order Thinking Skills and Understandings.

That would also probably be why Getting Smart’s Tom VanderArk on May 27, 2015 reviewed Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow: How We Process and Respond to the World. When we find a report “Words that Change Minds” on what phrases, concepts, and framing should be used to push public policy issues http://www.frameworksinstitute.org/assets/files/PDF/chroniclephilanthropy_wordsthatchangeminds_2016.pdf   that is using Kahneman’s insights. When the Common Core Social Studies C3 Framework wants students to practice with the provided ‘lenses’ in role playing classroom exercises, that’s again Kahneman’s work. When we are curious about precisely what lawyers are being trained to do in seminars that blend Law and Economics, it is important to know that the Nobel Committee thought it important to recognize psychology work that gives insights into decision-making in ambiguous situations where there is no single correct answer.

If that also sounds familiar it is what P-12 education now calls rigorous coursework and assessments. Interestingly Dr Kahneman thanked DARPA for helping fund his work and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, where he and Professor Treisman were fellows in 1976-77, for its role in these theories. Yes, that’s the same CASBS where all these other still guiding us templates were developed, including charters, General Systems Theory, Amitai Etzioni’s Active Society, and School Choice just to name a very few. I sometimes wonder if anyone has started selling “Behavioral Science Can Rule the World!” t-shirts yet. After all, this new Princeton Center expects “that the research conducted at the center will directly influence local, national and global public policy, identifying new approaches to address social problems and improve lives.”

Now, knowing what is really going on in K-12 education with personalized learning, virtual reality, HOTS mandates, social emotional learning standards, and authentic assessments embedded in real-world problems, let’s read about the behavioral “approach pioneered at Princeton, [where] policies are developed with a focus on what really drives people in decision making–the idiosyncratic and sometimes surprising ways in which they view their choices, perceive the social, economic and political world around them, and decide whether or not, and how, to act.” In other words, the behavioral approach the Center intends to build its public policy insights on and then recommend using the law as the means to force implementation in real world settings is precisely the same psychological arena, perception, that ESSA in the US and student-centered learning generally and globally has decided is the focus of 21st Century education.

What are the odds? Notice just how much more clearly we could recognize the aims of Martin Luther King once biographers quit filtering his quotes to prevent us from recognizing precisely where he wanted to take the US to achieve his vision of economic justice.

Time to truly appreciate the power of frames and conceptual lenses to guide future behavior and make it very predictable.

Just like no one is inviting us to these conferences where these plans are hatched, no one is asking our input into the frames to be fostered in our children as internalized mental models and cultivated via emotions. I have seen many of the lists though and the real MLK and his vision of democratic socialism would approve.

Did I mention that his biographer noted that the vision looked precisely like Marxist humanism? See that phrase is a real aspiration and not just some fetish I keep wanting to bring up. I see it because it fits even though now it has new names like Opportunity Society or Innovations in Poverty Alleviation.

Maybe the t-shirts should read “Framing: What Works to Create Sturdy Houses and Manipulable Minds.”

Invisible Designed Neural Coercion: Controlling Guided Missiles and Misguided Men

Since it is summertime and the living is supposed to be easy, I wish I was off on vacation or taking a break from the blog. Instead, I have been dealing with a tsunami of corroborating research materials from all over the world on this neural emphasis in education. When I was writing my book Credentialed to Destroy and documenting what the required classroom practices would be under a Competency-focus, the Common Core, or any performance ‘standard’, I came to accept that what was being mandated would have a clear neural effect. It would alter how students’ brains functioned going forward. More research assembled in various places subsequently on this blog has made it clear that those neural effects are both known and desired. It is easier to rule people with little recognition they are being coerced.

The age demographics of who voted for BREXIT seem to show that as well as a desire to be coddled. As Bandura put it in our last post, the young people in the UK believe in proxy agency and institutions instead of individual achievement. What I have now had to come to grips with though is that the neural manipulation is the purpose of education reforms and standards-based education. It is the goal precisely because it makes a person amenable to manipulation without either recognition, resistance, or protest. Surely I am exaggerating, right? On Friday, the OECD linked to this paper  http://oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.com/2016/06/understanding-how-brain-processes-maths.html on “The Neuroscience of Mathematical Cognition and Learning.” It has pictures and graphs of the targeted areas as it is now clear that education intends to use “the scientific study of the biological substrates underlying cognition, specifically the neural basis of mental processes.”

Oh, c’mon, lighten up with seeing bad motives when all anyone really wants to do is help everyone learn to read fluently and be good at algebra, I can hear a few of my readers whispering. Except that is not the purpose and it is more than what is detailed at length in Credentialed to Destroy. The desire is to get everyone to ‘on-level performance’ and only to there. The hope is simply to get everyone to literacy and numeracy so they can understand and work with print, visual images, and numbers in ‘everyday life’. Prescribe a theory of classroom practices that creates “changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in environment and behavior.” Now are we beginning to understand the real implications of the federal ESSA law stipulating that all states must have ‘challenging academic content standards’ where behavior is the means to show ‘achievement’?

Please remember what I explained about Constructivism in Chapters 2 and 3 when you read this passage from that OECD paper’s conclusion (my italics and bolding):

“Research in cognitive neuroscience has allowed the possibility of exploring the neural basis of complex and sophisticated cognitive processes such as numerical cognition. Using an expanding range of tools from single-cell recording to brain stimulation, progress is being made in not only localising brain regions involved in overall functions, but also mapping the complexity of networks engaged in mathematical learning.

Overall, advances in cognitive neuroscience research is beginning to shed light on the ontogeny [physiology or neural formations are synonyms for that $100 word] of mathematical cognition, how cognition and behavioral performance can be modulated based on the knowledge of neuroplasticity, and how such findings can be used to understand the workings of the brain as a whole. Collaborations between scientists and educators and professionals relevant to the field of mathematics learning promises further advances in the understanding of not only mathematical cognition, but also learning in general, with long-term implications to enrich the mental wealth of mankind.”

That blog link also cites a 2007 OECD paper that came to my attention earlier in the week–“Understanding the Brain: The Birth of a Learning Science.” It outlined with numerous graphics precisely what the term Transdisciplinary is to alter and should be viewed through what UNESCO had in mind when it piloted this curriculum shift in Queensland, Australia covered here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/opting-out-as-the-remedy-may-mean-accidentally-accelerating-nonconsensual-transformations/ Since what is going on in education in the name of brain-based learning was not news to me, I went quickly to the chapter called “The Ethics and Organisation of Educational Neuroscience” with its cover quotes that “Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul” and HG Wells’ belief that “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

The chapter opens with a Martin Luther King Jr quote that–“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” Anyone detecting a theme among these quotes on the need to force internalized shared beliefs and values via education? How about if I further quote the authors acknowledgment that “traditionally, the ethical rules concerning biomedical research on human beings follow the Nuremburg Code of 1949 and the Declaration of Helsinki of 1964.”  See what I mean about purpose and aim? The bi-directional exchange between Trans-disciplinary Research on Learning and Mandated Classroom Practices and Required Assessments of what a Student has Internalized at a Neural Level are not the only reason I linked to that Queensland post.

When I first located that 2007 paper, I followed up on the Bibliography telling me that the US NSF had established Science of Learning Centers in 2003. I pulled up those materials and presentations and recognized numerous relevant professors and institutions. We have the creator of the 1987 HOTS report and the co-director of the New Standards project in the 90s–Lauren Resnick and Roy Pea of Stanford who is also now tied to NSF’s Cyber learning initiative and Charles Fadel’s Center for Curriculum Redesign at Harvard. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/drawing-back-the-standards-curtain-to-discover-the-global-coordination-to-redesign-the-very-nature-of-curriculum/ I knew back then these machinations were global, but not yet that we were looking at education research involving the physiology of real students in actual classrooms to “integrate insights about ‘micro-level’ mechanisms with evidence about aggregate, ‘macro-level’ outcomes that emerge from processes of implementing these mechanisms.”

In less stilted English (which I am capable of when I don’t have to quote for accuracy about indisputable aims), that would translate into monitoring the student’s neural network and which brain regions fire on prescribed tasks and how all that fits their shown behavior and how it changes. Data, data, data. Personal Identifiability is so NOT the needed area of focus in the Era of Sought Educational Neuroscience. I also wanted to go back to Queensland because there is a new Journal called the Science of Learning there and the Director of the SLC program at NSF wrote a letter to the Editor about two weeks ago. http://www.nature.com/articles/npjscilearn20169 See how real time we are here at ISC in tracking what is planned for us?

I started to write that Soo-Siang Lim was with the US NSF or the US SLC Centers with their declared emphasis on the “internal world of mind and brain” since so much of the prescribed emphasis has made it to all US classrooms in the name of the Common Core standards, but yesterday when I put her name into a search engine, I found out NSF has an office in Beijing and does Science of Learning work with jetsetting PIs at the University of Hong Kong. I found out Dr Lim sued for gender discrimination after she did not get tenure for an Anatomy Professorship at Indiana before joining the NSF and beginning her tour of the world. Found videos of interviews in Rio and dubbing into other languages. Perhaps most crucially though I found a January 23-24, 2012 OECD/NSF SLC conference in Paris called “Innovation in Education: Connecting How we Learn to Educational Policy and Practice.” http://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/49382960.pdf

Notice the presence of Dirk Van Damme. We met him when I wrote about Global Education Futures Forum and Redesigning the Future and the presence of Alexander and Kathia Laszlo as Co-chairs of the Silicon Valley event.  http://edu2035.org/pdf/what_is_GEF.pdf  I could be sarcastic and say that coincidences abound but none of this is coincidental. The neural transformations being sought are the common glue that allows control without effective opposition and every wanna-be planner in the world seems to know it. It’s time we all knew it too. Also remember the quote from the head of the OECD in the Conclusion to my book that all of the OECD’s education policies are to pursue their desired plans of social, political, and economic transformations.

I must admit these last several weeks have produced many “Oh. Wow” moments in my research so I decided to go back to earlier works from decades ago, as well as now, where these aims were both clearly hoped for and sought. Turned out that in 1989 Paul Ehrlich and Robert Ornstein in New World New Mind called for governments to “make new ways of thinking and new ways of handling our problems immediately available to society’s decision-makers. And while changing the form and content of education would be a major step toward conscious evolution..” They go on to state that “there is a new understanding of the human mind, developed from modern brain research and studies of thought processes.” I have never thought it was just coincidental that under President Obama the NSF and all these education initiatives like the League of Innovative Schools report at the White House to a close Ehrlich associate–John Holdren.

Could have the motto: “Finally in a position to make it so.” Let’s come back to the present and Rebecca Costas’ 2010 book The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson wrote the Foreword and is quoted as saying in 2009 that “the real problem of humanity is the following: We have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.” Sounds just like the quotes prefacing the OECD’s Chapter on the Ethics surrounding Educational Neuroscience and its potential, doesn’t it? It should make us all very nervous that the well-connected Ms Costas thought that the way to avoid civilizational collapse was to reject thought involving “analytical processing [and] deliberate application of strategies and operations to gradually approach a solution.”

My last quote confirms just how often the phrase ‘evidence-based policy’ in education or ‘best practices’ is obscuring a sought neural transformation in the parts of the brain trained to respond and the very nature of the student’s brain itself. Frequently the sales pitch is also put out in the name of Equity as in a 2014 paper called “Neuroscience and Education: Prime Time to Build the Bridge.” It stated that “rising education inequality is among the gravest of the world’s problems.” Now, education inequality is a natural condition of humanity throughout history. Only by interfering with people’s brains and how they process is Equity possible and that very interference is totalitarian, especially when the nature of what is being targeted is the subject of so much organized deceit.

Anyone else chilled to the bones by all this global coordination with known and Proud-of-It Authoritarian or Communist States? As I mentioned to someone yesterday, individual liberty is precious and rare in the annals of history. In the era of unrecognized Educational Neuroscience it is about to become extinct within the current generation.

In the name of obscuring slogans like Choice, Higher Standards, Personalized Learning, and Brain-Based Instruction.

I’d like to Opt Out Please.

Rewiring Student’s Brains at a Neural Level to Constrain, Guide, and Motivate Desired Future Behaviors

Part of the reason for the time gap between the last post and this one is my youngest child has now officially graduated. Hallelujah! Knowing what is really going on in American and global education in the name of euphemisms like standards, competencies, Whole Child, Positive School Climate, and Higher Order Thinking Skills I am afraid I think of schools now as psychological Auschwitzes. That is not a phrase I use lightly, but unfortunately, there will be no respite from this deliberate neurological assault on minds and personalities until we parents and funding taxpayers recognize what is really targeted for change and why. Also we need to grasp just how experimental all these sought shifts actually are.

During the last two weeks documentable, official confessions of just how much our children’s very synapses and whether the regions used in thinking are rational or tied to emotions have come out on an almost daily basis. Originally I thought all the reports I have read and downloaded since May 1 were tied to desired teacher training over the summer for a rollout next fall. That was before I came across the Human Brain Project’s announcement that it had shifted to the active, operational stage in April 2016 after being in the planning stage since 2013. Then I discovered that USC, the employer of Professors Immordino-Yang and Damasio from the last post, was one of the US partners of HBP. So are the entire U-California university system, Yale, and the University of Tennessee as well.

The US BRAIN Initiative (which began in 2013 too) coordinates actively with HBP and goes to its programmes in Europe. Turns out part of that initiative included a Bioethics Commission http://bioethics.gov/ where we can locate the BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision report as well as the two Gray Matters reports that leave our government’s desire to interfere with internalized mental processes for political purposes in no doubt. It is also chaired by Penn Pres Amy Gutmann who was probably chosen by President Obama precisely because her 1987 book Democratic Education called on schools to shift away from the ‘well-intentioned misperception’ that schools have an “obligation to impart information.” Instead, Gutmann wanted teachers to develop the moral character of students so that they “feel the force of right reason” to reshape society.

There’s that ‘feeling’ hype again. I know it is not coincidental because I have a few additional writings we can survey. I have Damasio’s 2010 book Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain where he stated that “emotions are the dutiful executors and servants of the value principle.” A useful target for emphasis for planners hoping to alter the drivers of future behavior. Since Professor Damasio elsewhere mentioned “the need to manage the behaviors of humans,” forcing student thinking to be grounded in emotion would appear to be an excellent place to start. UNESCO agrees too since I located an August 2015 paper stating that the new purpose of ‘curriculum’ in the 21st century is to make sure there is no “contradiction or dissociation between the cognitive and the ethical dimension in learning.”

In order to advance the ‘concept of social justice’ and the new UN “guidelines on the meaning of education based on the ideal of building more just societies,” educational experiences must be created so that each student’s commitment to the ideals of social justice is not “an adherence that is purely rhetorical or cut off from how people actually behave.” Rounding out our support is this paper that I-Y coauthored   http://iesteulada.edu.gva.es/portal/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Neuroscience-and-learning.pdf which ended with a diagram that makes it clear it is Emotional Thought, and not High Reason/ Rational Thought, that 21st century education wants to cultivate. Why? Because of its useful role in desired ” moral decision-making.”

Now all these reports have a great deal of aspirational goals for a changed society pretending to be how the mind works or how education must now be changed. Educationists cite Damasio as “neuroscience research says…” Ed Week cites I-Y for how emotions must now guide educational practices and no one seems to bring up Professor Gutmann’s earlier book. The truth is though this is not how the brain or education must now work, but rather how it needs to be altered if people are to be changed at a neurological level. Guided and motivated then by new values and images of how the world might be. Now you may be saying rightfully that I am not a neuroscientist, although I have read a great deal of their writings, and one of them, Zenon W. Pylyshin, helpfully told us back in 1980 precisely why the rational/High Reason brain is so targeted now by K-12 education.

In a published paper “Computation and Cognition” created while he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Pylyshin laid out precisely how the human mind was thought then to work with nary a mention of these now omnipresent emotions or feelings. Here is a quote from the end that tells me precisely what had to be suffocated for the social transformation use of the mind to prevail. The mentioned George Miller is another famous behavioral scientist.

“we ought to be far more impressed with the extreme flexibility that thought can exhibit. For example, we ought to take seriously the fact that there seems to be no specifiable limit to what the human mind can imagine or think. As George Miller recently remarked to me, the salient property of mental life is surely that we can will it to do practically anything we wish: given the appropriate goals and beliefs, we can alter our behavior and thoughts to a remarkable extent by a mere act of will.”

Feels a bit like eavesdropping from decades away, doesn’t it? We now know that picking our own goals, beliefs, and values is precisely what K-12 education intends to make sure no longer happens. In fact, now we can shift back to that BRAIN 2025 vision since it too envisioned mapping the brain because of its ‘special province’ as the “interior terrain of thinking, feeling, perceiving, learning, deciding, and acting to achieve our goals.” If anyone has any doubt that this initiative is about a transformative, social justice agenda this quote should obliterate all doubt: “our brains make us who we are, enabling us to perceive beauty, teach our children, remember loved ones, react against injustice, learn from history, and imagine a different future.”

Our Founding Fathers may have seen our beliefs as a form of property not to be subject to government interference http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-the-system-seeks-to-destroy-the-ability-to-think-can-james-madison-save-us/ but we get no such deference in the 21st century. To quote again  from an initiative we are now spending $500 Million per year to pursue: “In advanced organisms our concept of ‘behavior’ must be extended to include sophisticated internal cognitive processes in addition to externally observable actions.” The Bioethics Commission may hype neurological and psychiatric disorders so that the full extent of the neurological manipulation is obscured but BRAIN 2025 states explicitly that the “primary goal of the BRAIN Initiative is to understand healthy brain function.”

The purpose of the Bioethics Commission is not to examine if this emphasis and research is ethical, but to make sure everyone at all levels of education believes that such research is necessary and ethical. In fact, all we get is a question as to whether “inner desires, psychological states, or motivations…deserve more privacy protection than externally observable clues about the mind.” Consistent with my concern that all this agenda is about quietly forcing a shift to the Human Development Society Uncle Karl envisioned without saying that is the actual goal, we have the Gray Matters volume on the Integration of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society insisting that “the potential of science to improve human welfare grounds a societal obligation to undertake and support” this type of research.

Leaving no doubt as to why we have to discuss these initiatives to grasp why I now call schools psychological Auschwitzes being used to force a transformational political agenda at a neural level, we have that same volume stating “one desirable goal for ethics education is ‘transformational learning,’ which goes beyond cultivating cognitive learning or critical thinking to inculcate ‘habits of mind, attitudes, and dispositions.'” That’s neural change and designed to motivate future behavior from a level unconscious to the neurologically reengineered student. It certainly explains the odd affect and unfocused eyes in this video of high school students hyping personalized learning. http://www.cio.com/article/3002698/cio-role/how-one-cio-leverages-technology-to-transform-education.html .

Volume 2 of Gray Matters opened with a tribute to a now deceased commission member who was described as a “seeker of justice for all.” That certainly fits with the actual intention of all this neuroscience research and the stress on emotions as an integral part. So does this quote that “ethics education has a better chance of informing action when it is continually reenforced and connected to practical experience.” Showing us once again how a certain vision for education going forward is key to this entire transformation of people and institutions, the Bioethics Commission lets us know that Equity is such a focus of this new vision. that “if safe and effective novel forms of cognitive enhancement become available, they will present an opportunity to insist on a distribution that is fair and just.”

Oh. Good. Grief. Once again Gray Matters made it clear that it is not just education being called on to reengineer society at the level of the biological neural mind. The rule of law gets redefined to be a social reengineering tool as well. As a lawyer and student of Anglo-American history and the function of the common law, it is hard to read a federally-financed call “ensuring the progress and responsible application to neuroscience to the legal system and policymaking.”

The report may insist that “today, and in the foreseeable future, neuroscience does not enable us to read minds. Technology remains extremely limited and cannot reveal the inner desires, psychological states, or motivations that are worthy of the term ‘mind-reading.'” The problem is that covering, Nothing to Worry About Here, statement is not true. Those things are precisely what adaptive learning digital virtual reality platforms, formative assessments, wicked, open-ended problem solving and other now required educational practices turn up. That is a big part of what all the data gathering is about. It’s also why the Personally Identifiable Information hype is such a Red Herring that obscures what is really at risk.

Watching the students on that video, do we really want Presidential Commission’s questioning “whether ‘inner mental or neural processes’ deserve more privacy protection than external or behavioral elements such as words and actions”?

What does ethics actually mean if all these neurological planned interferences can be pursued in the 21st century in the name of education?

 

Statutorily Stipulating a Science of the Individual Driven by Useful Internalized Guiding Fictions

The first question then is “Useful to Whom”? Not the students themselves or the adults they will become, but useful to anyone seeking to benefit from this collectivist, steerable, scientifically-managed society and economy we just keep encountering. Useful to the decision-making oligarchs in this hoped for Upravleniye vision. The entire basis of the steerability must get at what each person has internalized at the level of the human mind and personality. Taking comfort that I am probably just exaggerating to drive sales of my book Credentialed to Destroy? Here is the link to the 2013 Harvard Ed School paper called “The Science of the Individual”  https://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ddl/articlesCopy/FischerGroundwork.MBE2009.3.1.pdf

There is a lot in that paper about the “new capacity based on technological innovation to collect and analyze massive amounts of data on individuals…for building realistic models of individual behavior, learning, and development.” What I want to talk about in this post is the confession about the “invention of a framework that can sustain a science of the individual.” In other words, the offered up theory–Dynamic Systems Theory–need not be factually true if enacting its practices through federal and state law mandates and required classroom implementations that get promotions for Principals and lucrative administrative jobs in central offices like being a District Super. Not true but useful to the Politically Connected.

Am I being mean here? No, DST grew out of NIH-funded research at Indiana University and its creators in 1994 classified this learning theory as “consistent with theories of the social construction of knowledge and in fact offers a biologically plausible mechanism for such a process.” Translated into English, the researchers want it to be true because advocating for the theory earns grants. Implementing the theory in school classrooms can have useful effects on guiding and motivating students to behave in desired ways that will ultimately be grounded, if the ‘research’ goes as hoped, into the students’ neural synapses. To quote again, “a dynamic systems approach to cognition and action provides a biological ground for cultural and contextual accounts of human cognition.”

Why am I hyping on these confessions? Because these are the theories adopted for the classroom in the famous 2012 federal “Education for Life and Work” report covered here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/ It is the theory guiding both the new federal education Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its companion 2014 federal Upravleniye legislation WIOA. That 2013 Harvard paper above is part of the IMBES–International Mind, Behavior, Education Society work and this 2014 meeting in Ft Worth, Texas shows just how thoroughly what ought to be off-limits in a free society and what used to be known as cybernetics research is rolling right into Texas classrooms, especially, with nary a barrier to entry.

http://www.imbes.org/Resources/Documents/2014%20IMBES%20Program%20FINAL%20for%20web%20%281%29.pdf They even have state legislators there describing how to get these theories and practices into effect. David Rose, the creator of that very same Universal Design for Learning covered in my book as incorporated into the Common Core required implementation, and now mandated in ESSA, was a speaker. Did you know he is a co-author of the US Educational Technology Plan? Another speaker, Fumiko Hoeft, is described as “interested in ‘understanding interaction between academic achievement, cognitive abilities, external environment, and [the student’s] ‘internal environment’ such as resiliency, self-esteem, grit and motivation.”

In other words, all the hype about instilling grit, resilience, and perseverence is not about creating those qualities. It’s simply as excuse to assess and collect data on what yet another speaker there, Paul van Geert (a name I recognized from systems theorizing) referred to as the simplex system. In a 2014 paper called “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? The Dynamic Interplay Between Educational Practice, Policy and Research” defined what he meant by  a simplex system. He was referring to people and what they have internalized. He used italics for emphasis so so shall I.

“We define such a simplex system as a connected whole of beliefs, representations, values, emotions, habits, practices and material tools that serves as a simplifying representation of the overarching complex system in which a person participates and that organizes the participants’ actions.”

When the Faux anti-Common Core Narrative makes protecting Personally Identifiable Information the focus of their False Flag coordination it leaves no obstacle to manipulating each student’s simplex system as needed so they are amenable to the Upravleniye vision of the 21st Century. When the same groups keep hyping ‘standardized testing’ they create popular support for a switch to the formative assessments (covered in detail in my book) that are far more effective at altering this individual simplex system than anything that can be put on a multiple-choice test of knowledge.

When I was following up on the implications of Kenneth Boulding’s definition of people as purposeful, goal-seeking systems and what that really meant ‘student achievement’ and ‘success’ were now about (my child can meet the behavioral goals prescribed by government officials who want to steer!!Hallelujah, indeed), I kept encountering references to a 1976 book Ego Development where I encountered this alarming passage: “The drives, including the sex drive, are subordinated to a person’s goal or purpose in life, his guiding fiction. The philosophical concept of the fiction was developed by Vaihinger (1911). Fictions are not fantasies but predictive schemes necessary to orient oneself in the world; they are subjective, created by the person, and unconscious in some sense.”

Now by the time I encountered that passage I had read The Scientific Management of Society and recognized the deliberate targeting via assessment and data collection of what we are now calling that internalized simplex. I knew that was what personalized learning was really getting at. I recognized, in other words, the Upravleniye implications if all the mind arson we are encountering and Inapt Metaphors being pushed was actually about Our Steering Keelsmen, in political office or public policy, wanting to create Guiding Fictions because they would be useful in creating that invisible noetic keel. Turned out Vaihinger’s book had recently been brought back into print.

A German, writing before the Great War and very concerned about the warlike, aggressive nature of the German people since the 1871 Franco-Prussian War, Vaihinger wanted to dictate and control “those ideas, associations of ideas, and conceptual constructs” which guide an individual’s perception. As if that’s not enough, given the current HOTS mandate in ESSA for annual assessment and the stipulation of CDIs–Core Disciplinary Ideas and CCCs–Cross-Cutting Concepts and Themes in Common Core and its state successors–Vaihinger also wished to limit thought to what was needed for practical action. Sounds just like Competency to me!

Here is his theory of Guiding Fiction (and his italics). Think about the Planning Potential of  inaccurate concepts and categorization prescribed by political power, to be instilled by education, under a government mandate. A potentially useful policy to the Steerers, if not to the Steered Student. Just “because such constructs are devoid of reality they are not to be regarded as devoid of utility…Any true insight into the psychological setting and origin of knowledge proves that many things may be theoretically wrong and yet from a practical standpoint be fruitful in results, taking the term ‘practical,’ of course, in a wide sense.”

Let’s go back to that fictional framework Dynamic Systems Theory that can be the foundation of useful classroom practices for guiding, limiting, and predicting thought itself. For motivating desired behaviors in an Upravleniye society where we have become the Governed. The DST authors insisted that there are “compelling theoretical reasons for not putting the cause of developmental change in the frontal lobe.” What if the reasons are that such factually-informed, personally-sculpted Axemaker Minds are simply not amenable to being Governed and will certainly notice all the hoped-for steering and desired false guiding narratives?

DST wants to make the individual-in-context the focus because that theory is useful for Social Engineering purposes, not because it is true. It stresses Perceive. Act. Think. as the desired order because it too wants to limit the nature of thought to what is “emergent from the activities of everyday life.” Just like John Goodlad and UNESCO in the 70s for those of you who have read my book. I will end this post with a story told by another prof who wants to use Guiding Fictions and history as about creating scenarios of the future to guide perceptions of what ought to be done now.

“A Hungarian detachment was lost in the Alps for three days before finally returning to their camp. ‘We considered ourselves lost and waited for the end,’ said the soldiers, ‘but then one of us found a map in his pocket. That calmed us down. We pitched camp, lasted out the snow storm, and then with the map we found our bearings. And here we are.’ Their lieutenant looked at the map and discovered to his surprise that it was a map of the Pyrenees, not the Alps.”

The belief that the map was accurate caused the soldiers to act and action was the way out. Both in the 90s version of standards-based reforms and now, the very word ‘standards’ is yet another misunderstood, ambivalent term that actually is a euphemism for goals. The 90s New Standards Project and the Common Core now are actually efforts by political power to use a fiction that students and people are merely purposeful organisms. To insist that governments now get to monitor and prescribe what our acceptable Goals can and must be. Just a goal-seeking system whose internalized simplex is subject to tracking and manipulation via education. Why? Because that is what political power and its financial cronies believe will benefit them.

They want to prescribe “those ideas, associations of ideas, and conceptual constructs” that they find useful “as a guide to thought and action in the present. The map in the above example was clearly not accurate, and yet ‘by taking some action, the soldiers started to obtain new feedback about their environment, and they entered a new learning loop’ which gradually built up their own understanding and mental map.’ That is, the map facilitated the process by which the soldiers could manage and navigate uncertainty.”

When Congress enacted ESSA it required states to annually assess  Higher Order Thinking Skills and Understandings for each student in most years. I typically summarize HOTS as the categories and ideas students use to decide what they should do when there is no single correct answer. How they will choose to act in a given situation when faced with uncertainty as to how to best proceed. Anyone think this is coincidental?

How about if I add that the author of the 1987 HOTS report, Lauren Resnick, was also co-director of the 90s New Standards Project and on the panel  for the Common Core set of student behavioral goals.

The real aim is so much clearer when ‘standards’ are described more accurately by their explicit purpose.

 

Niti, Nyaya, Government by Think Tanks, and Every Student Succeeds

Hope everyone had a great holiday season. I took an unplanned break from writing, but not researching, since the last post. With the statutory language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now in place, the plans for the future I recognized when I read my state’s (Georgia) WIOA Plan, and other shenanigans offline surrounding false narratives, I decided to get to the bottom of all the interrelated parts. Let’s just say if my understanding was 20/20 on the real agenda behind all these education ‘reforms’ by the time I finished my first book Credentialed to Destroy, the acuity now can best be described as X-ray vision with the capacity to cut through metal when called for.

Since the fundamental transformation of each of us, our society, and the economy has been decreed federally via Bicameral and Bipartisan fiats like ESSA and WIOA to be imposed locally by elected officials, let’s keep following the trail in 2016. After all, some of you may get the chance to quiz the candidates about why they supported these measures or simply offered ineffective opposition. “Why did you vote to bring Fascism to America?” is such a conversation grabber. To be ready for such an exploration let’s add a few more words and phrases to our arsenal of explanations.

In December I saw this announcement  https://www.atlasnetwork.org/news/article/entrepreneurship-center-of-easterlys-hayek-lecture-on-poverty-alleviation and decided to get Easterly’s book. After all, I had spent much of 2015 arriving at the conclusion that many of the members of the Atlas Network like Heritage, Cato, and AEI seemed fully on board with a planned economy and education that focused on changing the student at a social and emotional level. I found the promotion of both Easterly’s work and that of Human Capability theorist Amartya Sen to be both troubling in its implications of a true agenda and fascinating at the same time. After all, if the so-called Left and Right have arrived at a synthesis and are not planning to tell us lest it interfere with fundraising, then our answers are located in who gets promoted.

First of all, when the Acknowledgments page thanks Larry Summers and Joseph Stiglitz we have just tied Easterly’s vision to the Inclusive Prosperity Commission   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/dwelling-in-a-void-of-unknowing-within-a-sculpted-narrative-designed-to-manipulate/ and the UN’s Post-2015 Road to Dignity for All Plans. Easterly argued that the “cause of poverty is the absence of political and economic rights, the absence of a free political and economic system that would find the technical solutions to the poor’s problems.” If anyone else is having a Say What? moment, let’s skip to the conclusion of The Tyranny of Experts, where our tenured NYU prof decreed that “It is time at last for the silence on unequal rights for rich and poor to end. It is time at last for all men and women to be equally free.”

Now before any of us also request unicorn rides with that declaration and perhaps the waistline we had at eighteen, I want to transition to a paper released back in November that shows how such economic and social rights get created via education. http://static.politico.com/bf/c2/26608bc644989d5f5225e2eae861/educating-for-democracy-a-concept-paper-on-youth-civic-engagement.pdf We are not really having a philosophical discussion here. I am citing the relevant philosophers to explain what is to be happening in those train cars we call schools. This train has left the station and it appears to be an Express Bullet fit for Japan. When we declare substantive rights for all, someone else has the duty to provide and that paper and its well-funded vision for education teaches that “the best way to make positive changes in society is…by being active in or through engagement with government.”

If you do not want to confront this wholesale shift, let’s go back a page to where “this paper argues that young people must learn how to use the political system, and existing governmental institutions, to effect the change they wish to see in their communities.” This is the world of ESSA, WIOA, and the Left/Right synthesis of the future unfortunately where:

“it is not just economic inequality that affects the American experience. We have also seen increasing political inequality, as measured by the clout and power of different groups, often along lines of wealth, income, gender, and/or race. Educational inequality, measured by variance in the quality and access to educational opportunities, has also increased in recent years, leaving behind the country’s most vulnerable populations, and weakening America’s overall democracy. In turn, it has become our collective responsibility to work towards a system in which these inequalities do not exist.”

If these so-called rights and responsibilities are taught as factual entitlements in our schools with a vision of governments as the enforcer as a matter of law, these expectations fundamentally change our society. It’s 2016 and an election year, if this is the vision our schools and think tanks across the spectrum are pushing, we need to be aware. Back to our philosophers again, in this case Nobel-Prize winning economist Amartya Sen. He uses the Indian words niti and nyaya to describe the nature of the desired shift and even italicizes them for emphasis. Niti is identified as a theory of justice that is about having the right institutions and rules. That is not good enough anymore. A nyaya vision of what is to be required focuses on “actual realizations and accomplishments.”

If this discussion seems esoteric and a bit like an odd vocabulary lesson, all the language in ESSA about ‘evidence-based’ is simply another way to describe a nyaya vision of entitled intrusion and tracking of what the student has internalized to guide and motivate their behavior. ESSA didn’t make that a permissible activity for the schools. It created a mandate. When the Georgia WIOA Plan called for “immigrants and other individuals who are English language learners” to acquire “an understanding of the American system of government, individual freedom, and the responsibilities of citizenship,” it is that concept paper above’s vision, not what James Madison had in mind. The individual freedom is again straight out of Sen’s famous book Development as Freedom.

In fact, it is as if the Hewlett and Ford Foundations and Generation Citizen all knew Sen’s work where “different sections of society (and not just the socially privileged) should be able to be active in the decisions of what to preserve and what to let go.” If governments and think tanks have declared that we are transitioning to “an accomplishment-based understanding of justice” because in the 21st Century “justice cannot be indifferent to the lives that people can actually lead” and this nyaya view of an entitled justice is to be sculpted in the “minds of men” [and boys and girls] via formative assessments and the real meaning of assessing annually for Higher Order Thinking and Understanding, we need to recognize this reality and the nature of the shift. When Bloomberg expands the metro areas participating in What Works Cities, this is the nyaya theory of justice in play as well.

It is ironic that the Atlas Network seems to regard all these affirmative initiatives as what Hayek would have supported as part of his spontaneous order vision. As my book pointed out, Hayek took a dim view of trying to achieve conscious direction invisibly via internalizing the desired values, attitudes, and beliefs to guide wanted behaviors. I was pretty sure I had something directly on point to refute this odious vision of the future as Hayekian. Since I have a depth of knowledge that is anything other than just sound bytes and a very large library of resources, I found what I was looking for in Volume 2 of Law Legislation and Liberty. That volume has the subtitle The Mirage of Social Justice.

Hayek didn’t just write a chapter on ‘Social’ or Distributive Justice where he presciently recognized that such social goals and governmental initiatives “means a progressive displacement of private by public law” whereby the law “subordinates the citizens to authority.” A pithier description of either WIOA or ESSA may never be found. Nothing like an escapee from Fascism to recognize its characteristics and dangers. Hayek then wrote an Appendix to that Chapter called “Justice and Individual Rights” of what he believed would happen in a society that tried to enact the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in practice as UNESCO has declared it is now doing. It was also about what would happen in a society which engenders “a feeling that they have a claim on ‘society’ for the provision of particular things which it is the duty of society to provide.”

Anyone else get the feeling that which books or even chapters of Hayek’s get assigned or quoted is now greatly circumscribed? Censorship by omission we can call it. Hayek knew what we all need to know as well now that the plans for conscious direction are to be developed in students,’ and apparently immigrants,’ personalities.

“It is meaningless to speak of a right to a condition that nobody has the duty, or perhaps even the power, to bring about. It is equally meaningless to speak of right in the sense of a claim on a spontaneous order, such as society, unless this is meant to imply that somebody has the duty of transforming that cosmos into an organization and thereby to assume the power to control its results.”

Organization is a more anachronistic term for what today just gets called a system. It starts with student-centered learning and systems thinking is a requirement for every student to be Workforce Ready under WIOA. Not a coincidence. Hayek knew what we all must know recognize so I am calling on this unassigned Appendix:

“If such claims are to be met, the spontaneous order which we call society must be replaced by a deliberately directed organization…[members] could not be allowed to use their knowledge for their own purposes but would have to carry out the plan which their rulers have designed to meet the needs to be satisfied.”

Have I explained yet that in countries like Scotland that are further along this road of social transformation via education ‘reforms,’ the very Experiences and Outcomes for each student are specified? The “Es” and “Os” they are called in what is the best example of the intended deliberate reorganization.

Welcome to 2016 as the Year of Epiphanies.