Descending to a Connected Kleptocracy Via the Digital Learning and Climate Change Ruses

In the continued reality where the truth involves far more official coordination than anything Agatha Christie ever imagined, the UNESCO global aspiration for media/digital education as the be all and end all for Everyone really does say flat out–“we need to get the media involved.” That would mean newspapers, broadcast networks, film studios, all aspects of the entertainment industry plus the computer tech and software companies and broadband providers like AT&T. Not a presumed coordination but an explicit one. Just chock full of those generous public/private partnerships where the only risk is to the already put-upon taxpayer.

This is more quoted language from that 2010 “Media Literacy and New Humanism” that literally laid out how to use education globally to get to every dream of transformation Uncle Karl ever had. Literally dovetailing not only with the Marxist Humanism vision we have now tracked in the West from the early 60s on but also the rather horrific UN vision of the Knowledge Society where we all organize around central cultural themes. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/all-that-is-solid-melts-into-air-but-does-it-really/ lays it out if you can bear the details.

Today is more about how and the fact that US Education Secretary Arne Duncan is clearly behaving as if the obligation to coordinate as a partner were already in place. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/2013/06/arne_duncan_decries_imaginary_attacks_on_common_core.html is the story on yesterday’s speech to the Annual Convention of the American Society of News Editors. The one where he explicitly laid out the role he expected of the media in sending out the administration’s desired message on the Common Core. I will point out if you read the speech that he is describing the 21st Century Skills focus as the actual CC implementation. And he keeps referring to deep learning. And since I have UNESCO’s definition of curricula from its mischievous report and it does dovetail with what the federal government is financing or urging on, we will use that instead of his false gauntlet of textbooks (which by the way the feds have been financing for years through their math and science grants through NSF).

Because digital learning and cyberlearning are such a huge part of where the feds and their cronies are pushing education globally, they have redefined the word curricula as “an educational experience programmed for a learner.” Which apart from the assessments that Arne wisely stayed away from in his gauntlet tossing speech, the feds and the tech companies absolutely are getting involved in designing those types of experiences. And insisting that 21st century education must be about experiences and group activities and not be mental. If you are going to complain about imaginary assertions of federal overreach it is probably best not to give interviews to Pearson’s Michael Barber where you state that “our decentralised system has its pros and cons” and then show enough irritation that Barber described it in the report that:

“we’ve been too slow to move in the direction of hybrid learning. The question is …how do you make that standard practice?”

Hybrid learning is that blend of digital computerized, Benjamin Bloom Mastery Learning of skills and outcomes coupled to a physical school with interactions with real students and teachers. What is being called Blended Learning or the Flipped Classroom in most of the US hype. With lots of lucrative funding for the companies pushing this model. Courtesy of You Know Who.

So gag me on the ire and misinterpretations of the feds’ efforts. If anything the utter coordination globally and the economic, social, and political visions it is tied to remain way too unknown in the US and most countries. Which is possible if you “get media involved” and then go on to detail that “this emphasis took shape in two ways [as always UNESCO loves to italicize for emphasis]:

a) the development of relations with the media industry and cooperation platforms [like news editor annual conventions?] and

b) the proposal to develop quality standards applicable to the messages and the media, which would contribute to making communication professionals more aware of the effects of their work.

Honestly if you can get that kind of direct and explicit and intentional coordination of the “media, professionals, legislators, and civic and political institutions” aligned to what is allowed or not in the classrooms via the real Common Core implementation. Then you throw in all the affective Big Data on frustrations and motivations that hybrid learning and gaming throw off and no one will ever need to actively censor again. Talk about nipping in the bud. And Arne’s speech yesterday and Karen Cator’s to the New Media Consortium a few months ago make it quite clear the era of this active coordination of messages and knowledge itself and communication to the serfs, I mean citizens, is upon us.

What is really problemmatic apart from the mockery of personal liberty such clear and intentional and regular coordination creates from “womb to tomb”, as the new favored phrase goes, is where I got that peevish hybrid learning quote from Arne. It’s in a report Barber and Pearson Education did with the Institute for Public Policy Research, which bills  itself “leading progressive think tank”. That must be another way of saying where Fabianism remains alive and well and excited about the 21st century. It was prepared as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in September 2012 on Russky Island off the coast of Vladivostok, Russia. The report was named “Oceans of Innovation: The Atlantic, the Pacific, the Global Leadership and the Future of Education.”

The report lays out the global coordination using education (and climate change sustainability too but that’s not what I am stressing here) to get to the “collective future” desired globally. It also makes it clear that the age of the individual and the era of the UK and US is over. Which is in large part due to previous decades efforts to use K-12 education to “destroy the talent myth.” Which is much easier to do when internationally benchmarked has come to mean an emphasis on “equity and diversity” and “progressive immigration” to developed countries. AND “a standard of education that will enable [everyone] to adapt and change as they respond to the constant dramatic shifts in the global labour market. As American reformers put it, every student needs to be ready for college, work and citizenship.”

All that within the overview we had feared as we tracked the Global Cities Education Network and UNESCO’s Shanghai definition of the 21st century Learning City with its all-encompassing views of what is to be planned and what is coming in under the Global Competence Asia Society presentations in individual US states and cities. It is all part of a globally coordinated effort involving the UN and Pearson and foundations and the stated idea of political radicals with a real fondness still for Uncle Karl’s philosophy for the future that:

“As traditional institutions, such as the family or church, break down, increasingly schools are the only social institutions we can rely on to inculcate in young people the values or ethical underpinning on which our collective future depend…some values are universal and vital: respecting individuals equally regardless of their wealth, gender, sexual orientation or origin; recognising the diversity of life–not just human life–on Earth and understanding the threats to environmental sustainability…”

Well, the Canadians had tipped us off already that the real common core was about new values but the Vancouver brigade must be in the ascendancy instead of the Montreal area of Canada. They left off the part about the “eclipse of the Atlantic economy by the Pacific”  and a rejection of the individual ‘rights’ culture of the West. With a planned 21st century replacement from the rise of the Pacific and China in particular. And a new collective-oriented ‘responsibilities’ culture which asks what citizens “could offer the state.” According to the ASCD in the US, I believe the answer is the Whole Child with its “full personality.”

So the innovation you keep hearing so much about as a selling point for the Common Core and its equivalents in other countries turns out to be a desire

“to innovate as dramatically in our capacity to make peace as we are in our capacity to make war. Moreover, the next half century demands in other spheres too–in social and economic realms and indeed, fundamentally in human relations…unless there is also innovation in these more subtle and subjective domains, the future looks very bleak indeed.”

No wonder Arne was so peevish about delays in implementing hybrid learning everywhere. And increased opposition to the federal machinations, in support of the international coordination, hiding in the US as the poorly understood Common Core. It’s past time say the global key players: “society must furnish a culture that is progressive and open to the transmission of new ideas.”

Except those ideas are actually almost two centuries old. Uncle Karl really is back globally. And coming in through ed reforms and hype over Sustainability and Climate threats.

Any excuse for governmental planning. And lifelong deference from the planned for.

Can an Education Degree Authorize Bait and Switch Political Insurrections With No Recourse?

No I am not talking about a car loan. And I am also not picking on teachers. Truthfully we could substitute a psychology, sociology, anthropology, or even a legal degree in the place of the education degree. The very important point to recognize is this: can education credentials empower people to disregard the language of the US Constitution or comparable legal protections in other countries? Because right now all over the world we have colleges and universities creating degree programs that are designed to use educational institutions to change mindsets and values and beliefs and attitudes and feelings of the students passing through. Higher ed and K-12. Soon to be preschool. A long time to be under organized assault with data being gathered on your current personal attributes. All while getting paid with taxpayer funds.

And the reports they are issuing if you know where to look state or cite to quotes like this: “we support the development of a revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.” As taxpayers are we bound to support that agenda as long as the person pursuing it has the right kind of education credentials? Is there really nothing we can do? You can say vote them out of office but many with this desire are tenured profs or appointed bureaucrats. That inflammatory quote came from Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis’ Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life that I have already mentioned in a previous post. So when one of the reports this week from the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education cited that book, I knew exactly what economic vision went with their vision of fairness and a just society for all in the 21st century.

The Gordon Commission is largely out of sight since it was set up by Educators Testing Service in Princeton using grants made to them. But out of sight does not mean not influential. Not with the movers and shakers selected for that Commission and their connections to the actual Common Core implementation and education globally. And these reports have an explicit economic and political vision attached to them. And cites to people with notorious philosophies like Michel Foucault. Are we all just screwed because these people are education professors or evaluators or vendors and that means a free pass?

How about if the report on “Technological Implications for Assessment Ecosystems” starts off with a quote from Paulo Freire and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Here goes:

“The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the doxa is superseded by the true knowledge at the level of the logos. [Freire is interested in shifting away from academic knowledge to everyday practical knowledge like what David Orr called Slow Knowledge]. Whereas banking education [Freire’s term for the transmission of subject-matter knowledge] anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. [or at least how radical political reformers wish reality to be seen. Think Don Schon’s Generative Metaphor altering daily perceptions] The former [banking education] attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness; the latter [problem-posing] strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality.”

Now isn’t that just the mentality you want in people developing the tasks and problems used to assess students? Oh, I forgot. The 2 authors, John T Behrens and Kristen E DiCerbo, now work for Pearson. You know the global publishing giant so involved in developing the Common Core curricula and the assessment administrator for Texas’ STAAR as well as both CCSSI consortia, SBAC and PARCC? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ talks about how Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Michael Barber, once advised UK citizens that Global Citizenship could replace God and Marx as a guiding value. Is it a conflict yet to be involved with all these assessments and having employees writing alarming reports for the Gordon Commission?

What if the employees also write that assessments are “complex performances parallel to those learners would complete in the real world?” Sure sounds vocational to me. Especially with that report stating we are shifting from the Item Paradigm, which had questions with correct or wrong answers and sought particular information, to the Activity Paradigm. In the Activity Paradigm the assessment is not for particular information but rather an interest in “assessing specific attributes of an individual.” I feel so much better.

Especially after a search of the authors’ names brought me to the website of the Journal of Educational Data Mining. No more need to stress over hypotheticals involving education’s collection of Big Data on students. We appear to be there. How lucrative for Pearson. Is it publicly traded? Can we all cash in on this connected boondoggle? Precisely what data will come from assessments involving “activities” that “request action,” “have features.” “provide attributes, ” and “provide multi-dimensional information”? In other words, it’s not what a student knows but the essence of who they are being assessed while the student is a captive in a K-12 institution.

Seriously no need to worry about the fact that “digital devices of all kinds are typically enabled to collect data in ubliquitous and unobtrusive ways.” After all it was a different Gordon Commission report that pointed out that “Practices of assessment do not so much reflect the nature of the individual as they construct the individual in their terms.” Gulp. Did you understand that aspect of the Common Core? Is that what educational institutions in a free country are empowered to do while lying to the public about the nature of the changes? You may want to take another look at the nature of these performance assessments and Pearson’s confession that they are really assessing 21st century skills. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/throwing-an-invisibility-cloak-over-the-classroom-to-get-to-deweys-participatory-social-inquiry/ . Behrens and DiCerbo also mention they are assessing 21st century skills.

Which is also a problem. A 2004 book, The Education Gospel: The Economic Power of Schooling, is also popular among the insiders planning the 21st century on our behalf while profiting greatly. The book explains that all educational institutions now are engaged in what it calls the “Occupational Purpose of Schooling.” The College for All, increasing high school graduation rates through gaming or whatever it takes to keep everyone in place to get their diploma, and Equity of Credentials drives we have talked about are creating dangerous expectations in students. A belief that there is a promise that if they stay in school and get the degree, they will find “well-paid jobs with prospects for the future, careers or vocations rather than mere work.”

That implied promise so many are relying is the Education Gospel. It in turn requires what the authors call the Foundational State–the kind of reinvented workplace we have already seen Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Zuboff’s Support Economy pitch as an intrinsic component of all these ed reforms. The prerogatives of employers and students and parents supposedly just have to be subordinated to the needs of the Foundational State. Which, 1, 2, 3 “requires a very different approach to politics and democracy than we have now. It provides a clear vision of the common good: a society in which human capacities are consistently and equitably developed.” Which is a good summary of Marx’s human development theory. Back for its 21st century run on the Industrialized West via stealth and education and apparently poorly understood assessments.

I will close with a quote from the end of the book where the authors note:

“Perhaps we as a nation cannot develop the politics necessary for the Foundational State. But then we should stop prattling on about “skills of the twenty-first century,” the “common sense” of college for all, and the imperatives of the knowledge society including lifelong learning, because we cannot achieve any positive version of vocationalism without the policies of the Foundational State.”

And I say, amen to that. The Swedes said basically the same thing when they piloted these ed reforms as part of their move to the Welfare State in the 1950s and 60s.  You cannot unlink the actual Common Core implementation from the radical political, social, and economic changes that are essential components. Everyone consistently says so if you know where to look.

I know where to look and have. Already downloaded and hard copied. Can we get enough parents and taxpayers and politicians to listen in time?

Throwing an Invisibility Cloak Over the Classroom to Get to Dewey’s Participatory Social Inquiry

The IHDP report from 2011 laying out the use of education “reforms” all over the world to shift all of us towards Societal Change talks about the need of a “positive vision for the future” to mobilize global society toward a perceived “common good.” And yes it is more along the lines of what Paul Ehrlich will pick than anything you or I would freely choose. Listed motivating possibilities for visions include:

“sustainability technologies (non-fossil fuel automobiles, LED light bulbs, geothermal power), policies (the wide scale introduction of policies to promote renewables, recycling and reuse), new strategies and methods for education that foster understanding and practice for sustainability and equity, or innovative approaches to creating synergy between environmental and economic concerns.”

Boy those do sound familiar, don’t they? Interestingly enough in order to deal with these contemplated “environmental and global change challenges,” schools get called in again– “more inclusive ways of knowing are required to bring together the partial and incomplete perspectives of different actors faced with uncertainty, diversity and change.” The more diverse the group of people who can be brought together to problem solve these “new, emerging and complex issues” the more knowledge, experiences, and values that can go into the consensus developed to impose on everyone.

That would Change the World based on theories first despite uncertain and potentially risky and speculative global or local problems. IHDP seems to grasp that tentativeness and recommends using “emotionally connective forms” of media to get ideas across. I guess that’s because spectacular graphics can trump any uncertainty. Now I have a good idea what is planned for getting to Equity because I have read Jeannie Oakes among others (and getting that diverse group into a classroom may be why most of the no tracking “scholarship” tracks back to her). Oakes laid out precisely how Participatory Social Inquiry in Urban Schools is to work. She points out that “equal terms” education conflicts “deeply with a long history of White supremacy and the fundamental norms and power distribution of democratic capitalism.”

I just want you to appreciate now how Open-Ended Performance Assessments calling for real-life scenarios will come in handy for this Equity agenda. The one that aims to move all of us toward a “democracy in which people of all races and social classes engage “on equal terms” to learn from one another as they make decisions about how to live and work together.”

So if you are in a high poverty school everything wrong gets blamed on capitalism and racism and nothing involves any poor personal behavior. Not a contributing factor at all. More upscale schools should be made to feel guilty about any privilege and there’s always Sustainability and lots of other scenarios to push the need for fundamental changes to everyday behaviors. And with online curricula and online assessments, it will be quite hard to see any of this going on. Perfect way to bring in IB’s Critical Thinking and Barber’s Global Citizenship too. You as parents and taxpayers will not be able to see these changes. Just ask anyone in Texas about the controversies over the C Scope curriculum where school kids were told to draw a flag for an imagined socialist country as a classroom activity. Concerned parents were told the curriculum was private and they had no right to learn what their children were being asked to do or believe in the classroom.

Now I have mentioned that Pearson is involved with the Texas and both Common Core assessments. So the fact  that in 2012 Pearson assessment said all of these assessments were actually assessing 21st Century Skills should interest all of us. They say that the US National Research Council says that’s what college and career readiness means. Which would explain why David Conley’s 2007 report reminded me of the 21st century skills push. It also means that our assessments are really just looking for those listed Life Skills from the last post. That’s a low bar and gives all sorts of flexibility for what can go on in the classroom. But wait, it gets even better. One of the skills that will need to be assessed is collaboration. Which implicates Albert Bandura’s Self-efficacy from the last post. I would snark what are the odds but it was checking for a link among Bandura, Pearson, and the Common Core explicitly that turned up this fascinating report.

Here’s what I found so fascinating especially in light of those IHDP aspirations. Pearson wants open-ended tasks to assess 21st century skills in authentic real-world problem contexts. And these tasks are to be done as a group in order to assess collaboration. And if the tasks were “obvious” or “unambiguous” there would be “few opportunities to observe student negotiation because there is nothing about which to disagree.” Tasks “relying on:

“stimulus materials designed to evoke cognitive conflict (ie, that reflected uncertainty, ambiguity, disorganization, and contradiction) better elicited critical thinking skills than tasks that used stimulus materials that were orderly, well-organized, and coherent.”

You know these quotes really are going to take the fun and comfort out of being told your child is doing well at school and has excellent “higher-order skills.” Instead, she may be stewing in frustration with “ill-structured” problems deliberately created because they:

“have no clearly defined parameters, no clear solution strategies, and either more than one correct solution, or multiple ways of arriving at an acceptable solution.”

Are you like me wondering why no one is being honest that these so-called tests are actually just a means of getting to a Social Interaction classroom centered around Social Justice without saying so? The tasks are deliberately laid out to require “knowledge, information, skills, and strategies that no single individual is likely to possess.” Then Norman Webb of the Depth of Knowledge template Florida and Texas and PARCC and SBAC all admit to using is cited as saying “when ill-structured tasks are used, all group members are more likely to participate actively, even in groups featuring a range of student ability.”

And that’s the whole point beyond using the assessment to drive classroom activities to create a perceived need for Global Transformation–politically, economically, and socially starting at the level of the individual student. “Groups featuring a range of student ability” will limit the top-performers from soaring as they were able to do in the transmission of knowledge classroom. They do not get to keep getting mentally stronger. And the able student’s strengths will mask a great deal of weaknesses. Leaving those students free to focus on the injustice and unfairness of it all.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s when these performance assessments were first proposed they were called alternative measures to boost graduation rates and show student “growth” even though there was very little knowledge and most of the changes were values, attitudes, and beliefs. And the university research center that has always pushed for some alternative to normed-standardized testing in the schools going back decades is CRESST at UCLA. The same UCLA where Jeannie Oakes was an education prof when she wrote the book I quoted from above. CRESST has been getting Gates Foundation funding to help prepare Common Core curricula and assessments. How convenient is that?

In January 2013 CRESST released a report “On the Road to Assessing Deeper Learning” on the status of both SBAC and PARCC. This report though was funded by the Hewlett Foundation. That would be the same Hewlett Foundation that has a Deeper Learning initiative to guide the classroom implementation of the Common Core. The one that says Common Core is not about content but new assessments and curricula and classroom interactions.   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-deep-learning-and-systems-thinking-radicalizes-the-student-factual-reality-ceases-to-matter/ The same Deeper Learning that is part of that Self-efficacy Equity Framework I mentioned in the last post.

Yet more proof that what is coming to our classrooms everywhere is not what we have been told. Toward the end of the book, Jeannie Oakes mentions:

“we step into utopian realms gingerly, knowing that social movements have the power for good and ill associated with all utopian projects. We are also well aware that some social movement scholars caution that such efforts rarely achieve the virtuous ends they seek. Nevertheless, we believe that, given the current threats to our democracy, these risks are all worth taking.”

Now, that’s mighty presumptuous of her and the other professors and foundations involved in all this. Nobody told us the Common Core was about a Journey to a possible Utopia.

Mandating Global Citizenship Mindsets by Assessing Whether Students Adopt Social Altruism

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

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

We have talked numerous times about Sir  “Irreversible Change” Michael Barber who now heads up Pearson Education, the world’s leading education company. You know Pearson. They have the contracts for the SBAC and PARCC and Texas STAAR assessments measuring the results of what goes on in Texas and soon to be most US classrooms. They are global. So the fact that Barber wants to “shape new ways of thinking and forge new, sustainable behavior” as the January 2011 UNESCO meeting in London he helped chair put it probably has something to do with the kind of open ended, no fixed solution real world problems likely to make it on any of these assessments globally.  Especially since the assessments are supposed to be at Levels 3 and 4 of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. You know the one that mirrors the Dewey Indeterminate Situation I have written about. To foster a recognition of the need for social change? Won’t the nickname “Mad Professor” come in handy imagining potential scenarios for change to use? http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/14/michael-barber-education-guru

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

Barber goes on to say that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

To link up with the last post on what will be a 3 parter before I am done, the September 2012 IB presentations in Madrid talked repeatedly about Global Citizenship. But IB was citing this 2005 Oxfam document based on the 2001 UK Citizenship Standards I have been describing.  http://www.oxfam.org.uk/~/media/Files/Education/Global%20Citizenship/education_for_global_citizenship_a_guide_for_schools.ashx It sure does fit with all the US Common Core curriculum I have been seeing and the Texas CSCOPE curriculum currently attracting so much controversy. It also calls for “active and participatory learning methods.” Sound familiar? As in Michael Barber recommending Cambridge Education in 2007 to NYC to launch their lucrative US operation of telling schools and teachers they may not teach the content directly anymore. Yes that same Michael Barber. I wrote about it last May.

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

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

I am going to close with a link to a July 4, 2012 letter by Pearson to PARCC detailing all the assessment and testing work they do. But insisting there will be no conflicts or breach of confidentiality. http://www.edweek.org/media/37act-pearsonreply.pdf It’s rather startling to have that much power and they leave off the ATC21S work in Australia with Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco. Oh and the US National Academy of Sciences. And others. http://atc21s.org/index.php/about/team/ That’s a great deal of global reach for one company. Especially one led by a visionary for Irreversible Change that compels personal action.

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

Second is to “improve access to quality education for all students.”  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/why-quality-learning-may-be-the-last-thing-you-want-for-your-child/ Quality learning and education is a term that tracks back to John Dewey with unappreciated,  emotional and intuition meanings. Again quite convenient if you want students to “use their imagination to consider other people’s experiences.”

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

Using Teacher Evals To Coerce Irreversible Change in the Drive Towards Statism Globally

One of the ways I deal with all the Schemes and Blueprint reading it has taken to pull together this story of the Common Core’s real aims or the CAGW hyping to cover all the meddling to gain a Crony economy based on Low Carbon or Green Growth or Sustainability–whatever this week’s buzz word is, is to retreat into history. Usually I try to read scholars who have been cited in those ever revealing footnotes in order to get to a “these are our intentions, this is who is involved” level of discussion. This blog is actually not Robin’s opinion for the most part. It is a searching out the actual facts in the relevant places where most people would never think to look.

It’s impossible to read through the last several posts or the entirety of the blog and not recognize all these education reforms and the insistence on redesigning the economy under government direction and not think–“that’s Statism and aren’t we past the L’etat, c’est moi mentality of Louis XIV or a Stalin?” Well no, state control over people and natural resources for the benefit of the political class is actually the historical norm and we forget that at our peril. All the references to the Knowledge Society while actually trying to restrain any unapproved accurate knowledge and then calling it College Ready is par for the course. A common aspiration when the drive is towards organizing people and an economy around Statism.

As an image of the palace at Versailles may remind you, Statism is oriented toward power-maximizing for politicians, public employees, and their Cronies. These can be Big Business wanting to protect their current revenue with no need to innovate. Or media seeking influence and access. Or foundations and colleges and universities all wanting to participate in the redirection of the future. For Statism to work, at least short term, it needs an ideology to march under–like Equity or Social Justice or Sustainability in a World at Grave Risk without Intervention. Check. Statism needs to keep going after an ever increasing number of subjects and issues to control and regulate. And it needs to go after its citizens at ever deeper levels of consciousness. Hence all the social and emotional emphasis with no lecturing unless it’s about a politically useful topic.

Professor Manuel Castells commented on how the Soviet authorities were able to move away from submission due to outright terror to a passive routine based on  “a lack of information and views of the world.” That appears to be the intended model for people all over the West in the 21st century. Use education “reform” to cultivate false beliefs, new values, different attitudes. The dominance of feelings and intuitions and impulse. The exact kind of initiative that enraged people in Hong Kong  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/using-education-to-shut-down-free-choices-and-then-redefining-as-personal-autonomy-orwell-lives/ going on in the US or elsewhere but off our radar screen. The invisible aspect of the drive for power and control.

We have talked on numerous occasions about Michael Barber. From foisting Cambridge Education on the US in 2007 to tell classroom teachers they may no longer teach the material to his leadership in that 2011 UNESCO meeting in London. You know the one where they wrote:

“Responding to climate change also starts in the classroom. Education is the way to shape new ways of thinking and forge new sustainable behaviour. . .

Fundamentally, education is about values.”

Well, back in 2000 when the UK was in the midst of its controversial reforms in education that mirror what is going on in the US now, guess what? Teachers in the classroom were seen as the main impediment to creating “radical change.” That phrase “radical change” and the desire to control and alter the classroom interactions of teachers and students (sound familiar?) caused several papers and presentations by Barber and Vicki Phillips from our last post. Back then she was  the School Superintendent in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but somehow she and Barber knew each other and were seeking to Unleash Irreversible Change-Lessons for the Future of System-Wide School Reform. Apparently their presentation style on how to win consent for Labour’s education programme was memorable because a description of it made it into a 2003 book.

A graphic description. As the authors of the book, Chitty and Simon, describe Barber & Phillips analogizing to prayer saying “You learn to pray by first going down on your knees. Only then will you create the conditions for belief, and be able to address God accordingly.” The analogy for education, they said, was “you don’t try to change minds through argument, consultation, debate, dialogue. You change them first of all through changing people’s behavior, through the element of compulsion.”

Having had children at a high school in the throes of an ideological Super and Principal, using Cambridge classroom reviews and Spence Rogers for professional development of teachers, compulsion is the right word. Psychological terror is also apt. But this was actually already envisioned and long before Vicki had the money and leverage of the Gates Foundation to back up her intentions to coerce. Students and teachers. First do, then believe. Here in Barber and Phillips own words from the book:

“There is a popular misconception about the process of change. It is often assumed that the key to successful change is ‘to win hearts and minds.’ If this is the starting point then the first steps in the process of change are likely to be consultation and public relations campaigns…The popular conception is wrong. Winning hearts and minds is not the best first step in any process of urgent change. Beliefs do not necessarily change behavior. More usually it is the other way around–behaviours shape beliefs. Only when people have experienced a change do they revise their beliefs accordingly…Sometimes it is necessary to mandate the change, implement it well, consciously challenge the prevailing culture [to make it Positive, perhaps?], and then have the courage to sustain it until beliefs shift…The driving force at this critical juncture is leadership.”

That is a mindset that appeals to political fanatics and greedy bureaucrats with a chip on their shoulders about their own childhoods. Or intimidates frightened teachers trying to keep their jobs. It makes promotion these days in education not about what teachers or administrators know or can do with students but what they are willing to impose on teachers and students.

Professor Castells writing in 1998 about the lessons from the collapse of the Soviet Union said this:

“As for intellectuals, the most important political lesson to be learnt from the Communist experiment is the fundamental distance that should be kept between theoretical blueprints and the historical development of political projects. To put it bluntly, all Utopias lead to Terror if there is a serious attempt at implementing them.”

Well the Common Core implementation is overflowing with theories and  blueprints in pursuit of political, social, and economic Transformation. At the level of the student. From the inside-out. The local results of the piloting districts have been miserable when not outright tragic. Yet still we proceed. By compulsion. Nationally and internationally.

Political lesson not learned in the least. And no distance between theory and sought action at all.

 

 

Second-Order Change, Why Reform is a Misnomer for the Real Common Core

This is the definition of Second-Order Change used at a January 2012 presentation by Peter Senge and the Waters Foundation to the Nevada Department of Education. Second-order change:

“is doing something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing things before.”

Irreversible Change. That sure does remind me of a 2000 book by Vicki Phillips and Michael Barber that was the bible of the UNESCO ed vision all over the world in the last attempt at radical ed “reform” in the US.   Fusion: How to Unleash Irreversible Change-Lessons for the Future of System-Wide School Reform would be a worrisome title if its authors were influential people. Let’s see. Barber was Tony Blair’s Ed Advisor when he was UK Prime Minister, then on to McKinsey where he pushed ed reform globally by telling governments what the world’s “Top” Systems were changing. Now the Pearson Conglomerate’s Chief Education Advisor as of May 2011. Don’t worry. It’s not like Pearson is involved with the curriculum or assessments coming to a classroom and school near you. And not just in the US.

I will let you search out Vicki Phillips’ busy history as an Education Change Agent before she got to her current position at the Gates Foundation which is funding so much of the Common Core curriculum in preparation for those singular Learning Progressions that are mostly missing from the PR campaigns. And that funded what will become formative assessments in the classroom. What makes me feel even more reassured that Common Core is not in fact a noble effort to make content comparable state to state is knowing the main business actors in the global 21st Century Skills push, ATC21S, thank Vicki Phillips by name for her help. Doesn’t it make you feel like we lost an invite to some spectacular parties in scenic global locations pursuing how to use education to profitably remake the world around the meme of Sustainability while the ignorant masses don’t even know what changed, when, or why?

Since we are paying attention, let’s get back to where the influential Professor Senge said was the vision for 21st Century Learning. And if your instinct is to say “I don’t live in Nevada,” remember that the regional ed lab in Aurora, Colorado pushed Second-Order Change as part of its 2007 vision for School Improvement in the recreated OBE template we have already talked about   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-is-really-standing-in-the-school-house-doorway/ . And Nevada administrators have now moved on to places like Charlotte-Meck to spread this systems vision and 2nd Order Change. And districts like Winston-Salem, NC; Portland, Oregon; Tahoma, Wash; and Carlisle are all mentioned in Senge’s Systems Thinking work as being part of his coalition of implementers.

“An Exploration-Vision of 21st Century Learning-Systems Citizenship Made Real Through Innovation, Systems Thinking & Education for Sustainability” does not sound like something I will be pledging allegiance to via a national flag. I suppose that’s what all the references to a new way of thinking and high leverage mental models for students are all about. It is portable and travels unseen and perhaps undetected within each student influencing behavior and guiding perceptions of daily experiences. It seems quite intrusive and rather psychologically precarious to me but then I am not an MIT Lecturer. I am sure their computer models are much more revealing about real kids in real classrooms across America getting ready for a real future as an independent adult.

Oh, not to be independent? Not a future based on the past? That may explain the disconnect. Let’s take a look at what Peter’s colleague, Otto Scharmer, has written about this Systems Thinking vision for the future. When Peter mentions Blind Spots or Social Evolution as he speaks, that is where we need to look for the definitions that will impact the school vision or the state or district implementation. And if any of you are breathing a sigh of relief that your teachers and administrators are doing Daggett Model Schools Training or Spence Rogers PEAK training instead, William Spady himself saw his OBE work in the 80s as comparable to what Senge was doing at the time. Except Spady was annoyed because Senge was paid so much more and Spady thought he gave a better speech. Lots of well-paid egos have been cashing in for a long time on using education to create a different kind of future and changing the students mental mindset.

Let’s look further for more insights. And take a deep breath and put down your beverage. You might create a sticky keyboard otherwise. First, as I have said repeatedly, this is about creating a new post-capitalism, non-fossil fuel based economy. Even the Scandinavian social welfare state is not sufficient.   http://www.ottoscharmer.com/docs/articles/2010_Oxford_SevenAcupuncturePoints.pdf Systems thinking is literally about reimagining a future with little connection to the past. A future where emotions are the paramount drivers in people and anything that fosters abstract thinking, like phonetic reading, sequential math or sciences, and actual factual knowledge, are rejected because they stand in the way of action thinking (Scharmer calls it analysis paralysis).

The mental models of students have to be changed, Senge and Scharmer maintain, to save Mother Earth and to transform the “relationship between business, government and civil society from manipulation and confrontation to dialogue and co-creation.” In case the extent of the US and global social transformation being sought is not yet clear, this systems thinking initiative involved so closely with Common Core is intended “to facilitate profound innovation at the scale of the whole ecosystem.” Boy, that does sound like the Belmont  Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance again. And to think Scharmer was explaining that Blind Spot at a 2010 Economic Forum in China.

Th Blind Spot is the hidden source of human behaviors. What OBE advocates always refer to as values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings and target expressly through SEL. Systems Thinkers get to the same point of trying to dictate human responses and behaviors but their theory and rhetoric are slightly different. Both will have most of us with invisible mental serfs collars guiding our “free” choices.  Systems thinkers are concerned that “most people relate to the future by reflecting on the trends of the past.” Systems thinkers reject the past as inapt.

“They see the emerging future as an advent, a coming-into-being of something profoundly new. To connect with such a field of emerging future opportunity we have to open up, let go of the past, and tune in to what we feel is a field of future possibility, something that might be possible, something we could bring into reality, a future that would be very different from the past. . . I call this deeper learning from the emerging future presencing. . . Presencing means to sense an emerging future possibility and then to act from that state of awareness in the now.”

To get to a Presencing state requires a rejection of individualistic thinking that the systems thinkers call the egosystem and an embrace of the collective. “Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Will” is the motto. This systems theory that is to be the basis for children’s classroom experiences under Common Core, not just some Fortune 500 execs on a pastoral retreat, is based on the “assumption” that each human being and each human community is not one but two:

“one is the current self, the person who exists as the result of a past journey; the other is the Self, the self that we could become as the result of our future journey. Presencing is the process of the (current) self and the (emerging) Self listening to each other.”

Not in the school classroom. If the so-called Blind Spot is an aspiration for US educators pushing Systems Thinking, then nothing in the US is sacrosanct anymore. There is effectively no impediment to tyrannical intrusions and the US Constitution is just a historical document, not a living source of protection against statist predations.

And these predations are expensive to boot. Our money. Our debt.