The Great War, as World War I was called in the 20s, had the effect of forcing many Europeans to begin imagining a world where there would never again be such a violent convulsion. HG Wells’ The Open Conspiracy came out of just that kind of search to fundamentally change all the rules for the future. The essential part of Wells’ vision was to use education to remove the “outworn ideas and attitudes” and substitute concepts and values conducive to world reconstruction. To Wells, there could be “no half measures. You have not yet completed your escape to the Open Conspiracy from the cities of the plain while it is still possible for you to take a single backward glance.”
The NEA’s Life Adjustment Model we encountered in the last post came out of America’s reaction to the convulsions of World War II. Then, and in its current iterations stressing school as the source of a psycho-social catharsis of New Communitarian-oriented values, attitudes, feelings, skills, and beliefs, this change in the focus of the curriculum and the classroom should be seen through a recognition that “whatever we retain [of the ancient ideas and order] will come back to life and grow again.”
What I have been calling Mind Arson is actually just the deliberate pruning of educators working as gardeners of the Mind and Personality in pursuit of Wholesale Change. Because,as Wells once again recognized: “the more thoroughly we seek to release our minds and the minds of those about us from them and cut off all thoughts of a return,” the greater the possibility of the desired fundamental transformations in how people act and societies, economies, and countries organize their daily lives.
Wells even had a beguiling phrase for this intent–‘mental sanitation,’ which would certainly explain why it looks like mind arson and psychological manipulation to us. It is. An aspect we have been dealing with all along in the US and also the West generally is the idea of ‘myth’ hatched at the University of Chicago in 1948 (the year after the NEA began its revolutionary push in ed to make human relations its focus) where the ‘myth’ ceased to be a story that had never happened. Instead, a myth would become a vision of the world as it might be and ought to be. Education then quietly became a means of changing the student to make him or her ready to take action to fulfill that vision. Like the role of today’s similar terms-‘relevance’ and ‘real world problems’–the idea was that “constructive change of the world” would become the “guiding form of all human activities.”
Today we call those Learning Tasks as my book lays out. Consider this post further filling in around the edges of these long term pursuits at social reconstruction on a global basis, like it or not. Aware or not. I don’t know about you but I think we can attribute Ralph Tyler’s creation of the term ‘behavioral sciences’ in 1948 to the other activities going on at that Chicago campus on how to move the US and the West towards a World Republic grounded in distributive justice as a human award, not a reward for merit or a pick-up after bad luck. Likewise, Tyler’s 1949 book shifting the curriculum focus of school to Learning Objectives and away from knowledge. Those Learning Objectives remain the basis for the very outcomes-based education we dealt with in the 90s version of these reforms and what goes by the name Competency today. It always comes back because …
Following up on what I heard in year end meetings in a local school district that combines suburban affluence and urban poverty with a racially and ethnically diverse student body, with that 2011 NEA CARE Guide we have talked about, turned up once again the behavior modification and character manipulation curriculum hiding under the deceitful phrase Facing History and Ourselves. I have written about it before (see tag), which is why I was so alarmed to see it going international as the UK used it as part of its Journey to Justice, which also seeks distributive economic justice for all as a matter of human rights. Since I was already dismayed about this related upcoming conference in Boston http://commonbound.org/page/about-commonbound, it is hard not to feel that revolutionary change is coming from every direction to go along with these ed reforms in preschool, K-12, and higher ed.
FHAO turned out to be everywhere now with its proclaimed goal of pushing “policies and practices that prevent violence and promote peace.” Working with PBS, for example, to create a Choosing to Participate curriculum to “think deeply about what democracy really means, and what it asks of us.” Pretty sure that will not be the democracy as the tyranny of the mob that so concerned the US Founding Fathers since knowledge of that history might result in the forbidden backward glance. No, it will be democracy as a vision of what might be. Another reason to be concerned when FHAO representatives are listed on the program of this recent Immigration Day program that also talked about A New American Majority: Political and Personal Perspectives. http://www.kbcc.cuny.edu/nac/Documents/ImmigDay_2014.pdf
The US-based Human Rights Education Associates, as part of its Citizenship Education, Globalization, and Democratization push used FHAO to create a curriculum for South Africa called Facing the Past. http://www.hrea.org/pubs/tibbitts-prospects-sep06.pdf Instead of a focus on facts the point is to “infuse the question of values in the learning of content.” Teachers were told they must “‘unlearn’ any ‘official narrative’ of apartheid.” Instead the students and teachers would use “interactive, participatory methods of learning” to explore each other’s perspectives. They would role play and examine “human behavior and universal themes such as identity, group membership, obedience, and taking action.” Through “working with personal experiences and choice in these histories, links were intended to be made to issues and moral dilemmas facing young people today.”
First, have the students explore if “hate is innately a part of human behavior and experience? If so, how can we change that within ourselves?” Note to radicals, this amounts to the child who would never think about bullying others on the playground being asked to wear a T-shirt that says “Violence never works” and then wondering why he gets picked on. This type of emotional curriculum consciously milks stories to produce a sense of grievance, or guilt, depending on where in life one was born. There’s no knowledge being instilled of what actions might make the situation worse for everyone. This is a curriculum that actually cites that “[DM] was particularly moved by the video. He was crying afterwards. He wanted to know what the youth today can do to make up for the wrongs of the past–that their ‘white’ parents had committed and/or benefitted from.”
I am going to go into the US versions of FHAO more in the next post, but this New York Times ad from a week ago on the need for Equitable Implementation of the Common Core Standards in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Brown segregation decision should give us pause on the real intended purpose of the standards. http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/NYT-CCSS.pdf The listed Leadership Conference changed its name formally in 2010 to add “human rights” to its title and purpose of pushing “for progressive change in the United States.” Using the same concepts of distributive economic justice those World Republic dreamers in 1948 or Wells’ Open Conspirators in the 30s wanted to pursue.
Also pertinent to where all these reforms are really going is this recent Communique, a term always intended to announce revolutionary intent, from National Civil Rights and Education Groups http://nul.iamempowered.com/content/communique%CC%81-joint-statement-support-common-core-state-standards-and-equitable-implementation . Trust me on this as someone with a mother lode of implementation materials from my book and this blog, no one is planning on teaching that inner-city kid how to read properly. The equity comes from changing values in a manner that emboldens the belief in the need for fundamental transformations in how we live and what we all believe.
I am going to close by showing what such equitable education aimed at personal and social change actually looks like to a participant in programs like FHAO. “For the first time during my education, I was feeling and experiencing what I was learning. I was doing an inherently human thing, and my education was coming alive. [her bolding].
“Learning is felt.”
“that feeling that I can’t quite name, the one that gets my head all hot and my insides queasy and my muscles just aching to get up and go out and do something. Learning is experiencing what someone teaches me, letting it soak through and change me.”
Change me. Guided Inquiry. Planned activities and role playing “infusing the use of narrative, interactive methods and multi-media sources.”
No danger of a backward glance from these programs aimed at creating a “new collective memory.”
The danger comes from the internal redesign of what is clearly intended to be programmed future behavior.
In the name of democracy. Social Justice. Fairness. Globalization. Engagement.