Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory on Students While Pretending the Impetus is Equity for All

The term cybernetics to me was always just a vague concept that had something to do with computers. I was following up on the Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin and his behavior-orienting systemic-theoretical instruction by reading a 1975 book (translated into English in 1980, except curiously the footnotes) by one of his students, Nina Talyzina. Called The Psychology of Learning it kept referring to cybernetics, but there were no computers. Instead, cybernetics is described as a theory of control over processes. One of the processes that the Soviets and certain American educators wanted to control was human behavior.

Before anyone thinks this is just a haunting history lesson with me pouncing on disturbing intentions from the past, let me remind everyone that the US Common Core are designed as performance standards. They are about what students are to be doing. Competency is the same globally as is 21st Century Skills. Performance assessments are about action.  The shift from a mental focus to an activity focus (because that is what Marxist-Leninist theory required as Talyzina laid out) has already taken place. The significance of that deliberate shift is simply not well enough appreciated. Cybernetics, as applied to education, seeks to optimize “control of the learning process.”

That learning process is no longer to be “through the development of capacities that already exist at birth,” like mental ability, but is rather “a process of assimilation of various types of human activities by students and hence of the set of actions that bring this about.” What is going on with the learning tasks created for Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of the book), as well as the digital curricula being unveiled by Pearson (with Microsoft as partner) and Amplify (rolled out for middle school this week) among others, and the Connected Learning agenda being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf , are all examples of designing the teaching-learning [obuchenie] process in accordance with the requirements of a general theory of control.

When I recognized the full implications of what the Consortium of school districts from the last post sought (hence the hunger for Student data and continuous mentions of feedback in personalized instruction) and the gaming in classrooms (with its ability to control the visual images associated with any chosen concept and force the virtual world to conform to desired models of either reality or the future) to the cybernetic theory of how to control human behavior without that being apparent, I did some searches to see what was happening now.  One of those pulled up an essay that had been in the 2002 UNESCO Encyclopedia by the radical constructivist Ernst von Glasersfeld who I had talked about in Chapter 3 of the book. I gulped since I had not been looking for UNESCO or Glasersfeld. The essay is called “Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge” http://www.vonglasersfeld.com/255 and it lays out how crucial the theory of constructivism in education is to the goal of behavioral control via cybernetic principles.

More gulps. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word “Kybernetes” which referred to a steersman of  ship. It is the etymological root of the English word “governor” as in the lead elected state officials who seem so determined these days to combine economic development with education as workforce development. The word also retains its same control function in its use as a governor on an engine, regulating possible uses. Maybe we didn’t really appreciate the significance of the term cybernetics or its applicability to education, but radicals interested in political and social transformation at the level of individual consciousness certainly do. Everything to be required, or condemned, in a Common Core classroom is now driven by turning to Vygotsky and especially Galperin (image, associations, concepts) as the necessary psychological theories (instead of Skinner’s behaviorism). Galperin’s theory especially, backed up by decades of research, laid out a means and rationale for specifying the desired activity in the real world that would then produce the hoped for mental concepts.

Those mental conceptions, because they are created by actual activity in either the real world or a virtual immersion world (of the sort pushed by MIT’s Media Lab or Amplify’s Zombie Apocalypse game), are thus controllable in a way conceptions built up by facts delivered from lectures and textbooks are not. Then we have the new assessments and now to be a new SAT to monitor the extent to which the desired concepts (in the hermeneutic-dialogical sense we met in the previous post) are connected to associated  relational qualities (also supplied) and then tied to real world problems or phenomena. Understanding here is like a web and assessments are looking to see what strategies the student’s web of understanding reaches to apply when there is no fixed or correct answer. That tells a great deal about how the student will behave as an adult when they are on their own.

Now the Cold War implications of this psychology of learning and Galperin and cybernetics as a feature of education in a supposedly free country, especially since Talyzina mentioned a UNESCO symposium in 1976 on the psychological bases of programmed instruction, are obvious. Despite what is going on now in the Ukraine and the Crimea and the current Russian role in the UN’s digital learning and Information Society initiatives I have written about, our problem in 2014 are not the big C threat of decades ago. Subjugation of the individual and control over consciousness though clearly remain a primary government goal though. That Connected Learning report above makes it painfully clear that the digital and media agenda now in education is tied to a social and economic transformation to a shareable, collaborative consumption economy.   The new motto is to be “sharing reinvented through technology.”

If you go to the writings of the professors cited to show the economy is changing, we find the sociologist Juliet Schor (see her tag) who wrote Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. That pulls in her commonwealth vision of the future and the agenda of Gar Alperowitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Another cite turns out to be Harvard Labor Economist Richard Freeman. Finally, there is a cite to a 2008 paper by Bowles and Gintis. Uncited is their book from 1976 Schooling in Capitalist America that predicted a socialist transformation of the US that might need to become violent. I mentioned that book in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ . Its central point that education is so crucial to social change because “socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself” is even more relevant when cybernetics is in use.

Making the cognitive activities, such as learning tasks or computer games, and the internal mental states created, the focus of instruction is certainly a fine way to develop and manipulate such a consciousness. It’s not like we are not drowning in evidence at this point of such broader transformative intentions from every direction. Foundations, local districts, states, federal DoEd (they openly work with MacArthur on Reimagining Education), and internationally via the UN and the OECD. Page 91 of that Connected Learning report even links to ITU’s 2011 Measuring the Information Society report. It is what led me to the UNESCO Sakhalin Declaration I wrote about already.

I can find the M-L roots of what is being pushed now. Talyzina was quite graphic about them. The public sales pitch now though for the same theories and practices is that the shift to digital and networked media (that makes cybernetics so much easier via adaptive software and the visual emphasis) is necessary to protect the life opportunities of “non-dominant youth.” To force “an environment in which opportunity and outcomes are widely shared across the citizenry” as if productive wealth is not in the minds of talented people, but in some pot ready to be rearranged. The constant drumbeat that these shifts are necessary “begins with questions of equity” and “centers on an equity agenda.” If you got a quarter for every time that report mentioned “privileged” youth or families or the “elite”, you could go out for a fine lunch.

That report once again quotes John Dewey making me very glad I laid out in the book why his vision remains so relevant to what is sought today. If we go down this road of cybernetic control over the development of a student’s adult personality (what college and career ready actually tracks back to) and adopt the vision “as progressives have argued for generations, the functions of schooling should be to prepare young people for contributing and participating in social life, which includes economic activity but also civil society, family, and community” where will we be as a nation or world in five or ten years?

Will it make the world a peaceful place? No, we will simply not see the aggression coming until it is too late. Will the public sector workers lying to us now on their intentions and lining their pockets with tax money decide to suddenly act altruistically in the name of the common good and genuine social justice? No again.

Equity and equal opportunity for all strike me as a means to federalize issues of education practice so that change can be required without consent or notice. Through civil rights law edicts. Secondly, it forces a surrender of individual primacy and sovereignty. It takes a citizen as subject to be molded at will approach.

No wonder we just keep running into all these Soviet techniques and theories. They were free to do the preliminary research on cybernetics in education. Guess where it will be continuing now?

Translating the Off-Putting Term Dialectical Materialism and Discovering the Intended Process in ALL Classrooms

And if ALL classrooms, preschool through graduate school, is not sufficiently alarming, how about in ALL students and teachers and professors and administrators? Plus with a little luck, and using active coordination of themes and cultivated beliefs between education and the media, those interested in transformative change in the 21st century hope to spread the mental and emotional contagion to parents and enough voters generally to ignite the change via the ballot box and ALL institutions.

So how does the mouthful phrase ‘dialectical materialism’ fit into this vision? That is something I have struggled with for a couple of years now. I basically got it, but not well enough to translate into a pithy analogy for mass consumption. I suspect much of that is deliberate to prevent alarms from going off recognizing its use to prompt revolutionary cultural change. I knew it was about consciousness and had been coined not by Marx or Engels, but by Joseph Dietzgen. Like them, his revolutionary intentions forced him into exile in the Anglosphere, countries much more accommodating of dissent than Germany or other parts of 19th-century Europe. Instead of London or Manchester, England though, Dietzgen relocated to the Chicago area. But what precisely merited exile by authorities wishing to retain existing political power?

The recent recovery of some lost Nelson Mandela transcripts that quoted him as saying: “to a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the logic of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.” I read that and immediately wished someone would concisely explain that logic as I was quite sure it was still lurking in our midst, ready to mount an invisible attack against existing institutions, values, beliefs, and other cultural norms. Last week, my personal project, supposedly unrelated to the blog or book or speaking engagements, was to investigate when the law shifted to being seen as a cultural weapon. Just a matter of personal curiosity so I ordered a book I had seen mentioned, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. It was published in 1983 by a then Harvard Law Prof, Harold J. Berman.

I was expecting a more straightforward history than what I encountered. I certainly was not expecting to read on the first page of the Preface that “A world ends when its metaphor has died.” Well, that got my attention as nothing is more prevalent now in education ‘reforms’ than the determination to excise factual knowledge of the past or science or human nature and substitute some type of metaphorical belief, usually called a ‘lens,’ as in the new C3 Social Studies Framework or a Generative Metaphor from Donald Schon and Chris Argyris’ Action Science work.

Continuing on in the Introduction, I found a determination to jettison the reverence for the Anglo tradition of the common law, and language about the law being not “a body of rules,” but a “process.” That statement sounded eerily similar to what radical education reformers like Linda Darling-Hammond, or sponsors like CCSSO, are using to describe what the REAL Common Core implementation is about. Not transmitting a body of knowledge anymore, but cultivating desired ‘habits of mind’ and hoped for ‘dispositions’ amenable and primed to act for wholesale social change.

Perhaps because it is a book designed to change the nature of a particular institution-the nature of law, law schools, and the role of the judiciary, Berman’s book is quite graphic about using the word ‘dialectics’ to describe the process of changing values and beliefs in people so it will have an impact on how and whether they act. Those actions in turn can affect the material world and the physical environment, which in turn acts upon those who inhabit it. A dialectical process back and forth involving the material world, but it all starts in consciousness. Mental and emotional beliefs. Dialectical materialism. Change the consciousness of enough people and the world itself and the future can supposedly be changed in predictable ways.

That’s the theory of how to “transform the social and political and economic realities” and it was revolutionary enough in the 19th century to merit exile and, perhaps, prison in certain times and places in the 20th. Now a willingness to push it can get you a lucrative ed doctorate credential intended to secure a six-figure taxpayer paid salary and then pension for life. That is if you cooperate with the right people and force the right theories on unsuspecting schools and students. What a transition that is for an infamous theory!

Dialectical materialism then is the actual theory that underlay outcomes based education and what was really being sought from it. Because it is an off-putting term with a clear history and proponents calling it the equivalent of a cultural “rifle, bomb or missile,” the real name for the theory gets left out. Instead, we get language about Growth Mindsets and not Fixed and Grit, Perseverance and Tenacity to euphemize the actual dialectical mental and emotional change to arrive at the desired synthesis in a person who will act.

This vision of education as dialectical materialism to change the student’s values, beliefs, and dispositions so they will likely act as desired upon the world can be seen as recently as last Friday as Michael Barber and Pearson released a Michael Fullan authored document called A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. That report also helpfully ties together the actual intended Common Core implementation in the US to what is going on in Canada, Australia, South America, and Europe. A global vision of the kind of perspectives and Worldviews that education is to inculcate for the future.

Everything is designed around experiential learning and getting students ready to act in desired ways. To see the past through so-called present and future needs. It’s not just the students being primed to act in desired ways. I keep hearing reports of teachers being told to stand and chant as a necessary component of new required professional development, while I notice how the leaders of the training just happened to be active in outcomes based education in the 90s. Or a recent story of videos being shown of enthusiastic cheering at various emotional public events like sports. Then the teachers are told that they must stand and cheer exuberantly at every mention of the phrase “Common Core” during the presentation. Does it remind anyone else of Michael Barber’s work with rebellious UK teachers years ago where the mantra was “First, act, then belief comes?”

To me, it is reminiscent of another of William Henry Chamberlin’s observations from his 30s experiences of collectivism that we encountered in the previous post. He noted that “human personality, for instance, may sometimes be dwarfed and standardized under the influence of democracy. But in the totalitarian states it tends to disappear altogether; the individual is simply sunk in the collectivist mass that votes, marches, salutes, cheers with the regularity and precision of an automatic machine.” That term ‘totalitarian’ may seem a bit misplaced when talking of the US or UK or Canada or Australia, but every one of the political and economic and social philosophies Chamberlin was writing about from personal experience was grounded in dialectical materialism. It is the foundational theory behind changing values and beliefs. What varied, then and now, are the particular beliefs that can be deliberately cultivated as useful for transformative change.

It is easy then to see the belief in Catastrophic Manmade Climate Change as one of today’s useful cultivated beliefs as well as the hyping of Inequality and the push for Communitarianism (misleadingly hiding in the definition of Career Ready as well as what will constitute a Positive School Climate). The intense focus on continued racism and sexism in reading selections and classroom discussions provides the same function. Useful beliefs that will likely compel a belief to act to transform the world in predictable ways. Others are more subtle, like the regular complaints over the religion of Islam being portrayed as inherently innocuous in ways that disregard known, provable, potentially dangerous facts. Or the economic misconceptions being deliberately cultivated and then tied to revered figures like Martin Luther King as Democracy Collaborative/Good Society’s Gar Alperovitz did recently. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/01/beyond-dreamer

We are going to talk next time about how this dialectical vision has become incorporated into the teacher evals for licensure and promotion to ensure compliance. Another dialectical process to ensure actual change in the material world.

Unfortunately all these intentions just cannot shake off the effects of unintended consequences and perverse incentives in that same material world.

The one where we all live and pay taxes to finance these millenarian visions of unrealistic, and nonconsensual, transformations.

 

 

Agents of Ideological Hegemony: How the Real Common Core Shifts Us to State Capitalism

A state capitalist society may sound off-putting but it is the proper term for what we are living through now. Education is an essential component because of the need for a ‘consensus’ ideology among the broad population that comes to see the desired ends and policies of the politically-connected and public sector class as consistent with their own beliefs. Or necessary to avoid economic or environmental disaster. Even if those To-Now-Be-Desired beliefs have had to be heavily propagandized by the schools and the media.

When the “politicizing of economic relationships” emerges as the dominant decision-making power in an economy, state capitalism is actually the proper term. Since your mayor or Governor or Congressman is unlikely to speak in those terms, we all have to learn to recognize that such politicizing is precisely what is going on with the calls to no longer distinguish between the public and private sector or for “partnerships between government, companies and universities” to quit thinking in terms of silos and working together to “drive innovation and entrepreneurship in [insert the major city closest to you].”

That was the spirit of that Dalian, China conference discussed in the last post. It was the underlying mindset of a program I attended last week sponsored by the world’s most famous search engine on “Georgia’s Digital Economy” that probably will have a variant coming to your state. Where access to the sovereign powers is what counts for future prosperity. The last quote above is from the program materials for my next field trip. And the needed radical changes to education, K-12 and higher ed, are essential components of all these pushes.

We have had a mixed economy for a while in the US, with the resulting stagnation and distortions and favoritism (on who gets bailed out of bad decisions or a waiver from a mandate like Obamacare) that interventionism always brings. But each of these new programs are symptomatic of a wholesale sought ideological shift to finally obtain the needed prevailing mindset. As John T. Flynn noted when he compared New Deal economic policies to fascist policies in Europe, we are now looking at a consistent and coordinated drumbeat across governments at all levels that they get to be the ultimate decision-maker in allocation decisions. Flynn’s precise and apt description for what is coming at us, quickly and methodically, is government–local, regional, state, and federal–who intend now to “insert itself in the structure of business, not merely as a policeman, but as partner, collaborator and banker.”

There is a name for this as it has been tried before–Zwangswirtschaft was Ludwig Von Mises’ term from his experiences in Europe. Others have astutely called it “authority capitalism.” But whatever it is called, there is no mass prosperity involved. I am going to quote here something that Murray Rothbard recognized back in 1977 and we all need to know to see the tragedy inherent in this sought pathway:

“In fact, it is the state that is robbing all classes…it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind. And who is the state? It is any group who manages to seize control of the state’s coercive machinery of theft and privilege. Of course these ruling groups have differed in composition through history, from kings and nobles to privileged merchants to Communist parties to the Trilateral Commission. [Today we might add the Davos and Dalian invitees]. But whoever they are, they can only be a small minority of the population, ruling and robbing the rest of us for their power and wealth. And since they are a small minority, the state rulers can only be kept in power by deluding us about the wisdom or necessity of their rule.” http://mises.org/daily/6537/Who-Are-the-Champions-of-the-Common-Man

And centralizing control over the messages being delivered via education and making it psychological and visual in focus using gaming and virtual reality is, oh so useful, in perpetuating the needed delusion. The level of interventionism being sought in our society and economy requires comprehensive planning. And that “presupposes complete unity with regard to a scale of priorities” which again implicates schools and the media. I am quoting here from a June 1975 paper called “From Laissez-Faire to Zwangswirtschaft: The Dynamics of Interventionism” by John Hagel, III and Walter Grinder. They say the only way out of this destructive trajectory is for people to come to recognize just how destructive this pathway is. I am doing my best with this blog and particular post to do just that.

A transformative, uniformity imposing, vehicle of standardizing values, attitudes, desired beliefs, and feelings via education during the years when the human personality is most malleable is necessary for this mass shift. Grinder and Hagel (citing Hayek and his 1944 The Road to Serfdom) note that “since comprehensive planning requires ‘general acceptance of a common Weltanschauung [Worldview or Mindset is the common 2013 term], of a definite set of values,’ the transition to a system of Zwangswirtschaft is accompanied by increasing efforts to assert ideological hegemony over the social system and thereby mobilize support for the planning priorities selected within the state apparatus. As a consequence, ideological purity becomes a prominent concern and the educational system in particular is progressively integrated into the overarching system subjected to …management. Just as the market place of goods has been progressively subjected to controls [the essence of the needs, cooperative commonwealth economy we have encountered and discussed under a variety of names], so must the market place of ideas submit to the dictates of the state as ‘wrong’ ideas are perceived as a potentially disruptive element within the system.”

And that real aim is why fathers in Maryland are being arrested now for trying to speak out against the Common Core at a school board meeting. It’s why high-achieving Fulton County in Georgia needed a conversion charter that actually commits it to gut academics with no effective recourse by parents, taxpayers, or students and why the charter is being touted as a model for other suburban districts. It’s why elected school boards are being increasingly stripped of authority by the accreditation agencies who rarely advertise that they see their positions as using their lucrative government-provided monopoly positions to invisibly advance cultural change towards this very Zwangswirtschaft vision.

All of this matters so much because state-directed economies are enormously wasteful in addition to the lack of genuine individual freedom. In a different paper linked to by Rockwell above, they point out that the “political means alone is unproductive and parasitic” and it needs a private sector of labor and exchange to survive but planning and intervention, once started, create dislocations that led to more interventions, which leads to more economic stagnancy and unemployment. Which leads to more political demands to do something. Precisely where the US finds itself in 2013 after that 2008 crony financial bailout and a Stimulus Act in 2009 that could best be described as “friends, family, and large supporters” on who was helped. Not to mention what is going on in healthcare.

And now the Common Core and the attendant transformation of higher ed can target students to create the desired consensus and ideology and Worldviews. Remember UNESCO has said this is precisely what they are doing now globally via education and the sought complicity of the media. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/decreeing-the-interdependence-of-environment-economy-society-and-cultural-diversity-in-the-21st/ was that revelatory post.

I have to get ready to take good notes at another confab of what is being billed as “the elite” assembling to learn why and how to push this vision. With no mention so far of the attached poison that comes with it. The term in the title “agents of ideological hegemony” is the precise term used repeatedly of what it takes to get this vision in place and I will be listening to see whether I am hearing from a knowing, duplicitous agent or a naive, inadvertent one.

I strongly suggest using the same tactic whenever you hear a pitch for the Common Core or PISA or 21st Century Learning and other education reforms. It really does describe what Marina Gorbis is actually up to in education or Peter Senge. And so many others who are being marketed by school districts and politicians as authorities to trust and defer to.

Remember always where this vehicle intends to go. And that economic stagnancy or collapse is the inevitable result, whatever the PR hype.

Accomplishing One of the Biggest Transformations in Human History Largely Out of Sight

The problem with having an experienced Due Diligence lawyer figuring out what is really going on in an industry is we do tend to blow through ordinary barriers. It is just reflex to figure out who really owns what and where the funding is coming from and who else is connected. Which may make me a pain sometimes in casual conversation but it was darn useful to clients. Now since I have chosen to use writing to explain the connections and why they matter in education and how it relates to planned social, political, and economic transformations globally, let’s get going again. Because with this story, the real question becomes who isn’t affected, not who is.

A book that is probably not on your radar screen that should be came out in 2009 in the UK and 2010 in the US. Called The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger it lays out a vision to “inspire us to create a better society.” It argues that the developed rich countries have “material success and social failure” and that “the broken society and broken economy resulted from the growth of inequality.” Now I would argue that what has broken the rich countries is too much government intervention, like in the mortgage markets, that creates perverse incentives and loads of unintended consequences.

We have discussed before that many economists like Joseph Schumpeter realized that if you keep blaming the ill effects of interventionism on capitalism instead of the reality of cronyism coupled to government coercion, you will steadily get socialism quietly and invisibly. That is precisely what appears to be happening and The Spirit Level is intended to be a key component in creating the desired mindsets and political will for change. Blind, ignorant, but effective change.

Because of its thesis on what is broken and why, the book wants to “shift attention from material standards and economic growth to ways of improving the psychological and social wellbeing of whole societies.” Now that dovetails perfectly with both the UN and OECD’s current global emphasis even though the authors do not say so. As we will see though the dovetailing does have a lot to do with who gets published and why these days and who gets a fat nonfiction advance. And with the merger of Penguin and Random House as of July 1, 2013 that will become even more true. That one entity controls fully a quarter of the world book publishing business and the two previous competitors were frequently the sole bidders on major nonfiction.

Now Penguin is wholly-owned by the largest ed company in the world, Pearson PLC, which is a lot of influence in virtually every area of the information that gets out. If you remember, Pearson’s Chief Ed Advisor is Sir Michael  “Irreversible Change” Barber who thought Global Citizenship would make a nice substitute ideology to guide daily behavior since, he said basically, the Christian religion was no longer compelling and Marx had a bad rep in the 90s. He has his own tag detailing some of these pushes and his links via public meetings to Irina Bokova, head of UNESCO, who currently wants to use Media Education, including digital learning, to drive the planet to Marxist Humanism in the 21st century. Yes, she has said so. See those tags as well. Does she have any connections then to media? Yes, I would say so especially as German media conglomerate Bertelsmann controls 53% of the new publishing company to Penguin’s 47%.

If we quit thinking of socialism and the rest of Uncle Karl’s visions as being about the Kremlin or Mao and begin thinking of it as government led control by connected insiders of the economy and everyone else, what is really going on makes a whole lot more sense. Accurate perception also means we can strategize over both effective defense and offense in the coming years. At the end of the Spirit Level book, the authors remark that “creating the political will to make society more equal is more important than pinning our colours to a particular set of policies to reduce inequality. Political will is dependent on the development of a vision of a better society which is both achievable and inspiring.”

Now creating such political will and vision is Oh So Much easier if the largest ed company in the world owns Penguin which can simply publish such a book and many more.  Then that ed company can have its employees write reports and Forewords like this one just released  http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/Alive_in_the_Swamp.pdf that push to have digital learning “irresistably engage” students. Software and gaming and assessments “personalized with the goal of unlocking the passion of the learner.” We have discussed before that digital learning can provide expert systems that teach but that is NOT the vision of digital learning actually being pushed. This is to be about behavioral change and the role of the teacher is to be a change agent “trained to focus on the personal experience of the individual student and to help uncover values and motivations.” Which again is darn useful since everyone involved about two levels up from the classroom, if not less, is intent on using education to obtain that political will and impose that social vision and create new values.

So the development of modern technology according to the book “will help us rein in consumerism and ease the introduction of policies to tackle global warming.” It believes “profit-making institutions” will “appear increasingly anti-social” which is highly likely given such media control over education and what gets published as nonfiction in the future. Who needs censorship when so few control so much of what will make it to most human minds as available information? We will likely get more of  http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/park-avenue-how-much-inequality-too-much types of documentaries. Notice that just came out too and is classified as an educational material. Also  notice Equality Trust is preparing curriculum materials for 16-19 year olds and has a June 17, 2013 blog post explaining that we all have a flawed understanding of liberty.

The graduate student writer seems to have the life comprehension skills of someone who has always been supported by someone else as as he wants to define “liberty as the absence of relations of domination and dependence between persons” so “equality and liberty are not in conflict, but are in fact compatible and self-reinforcing concepts.” Honestly, if the government and connected insiders are in charge of making equality for all a fact as they are under all these visions, there will be a whole lot of domination and dependence and it will be hard to escape from. All in the Gutter Together with no ladder up or out. We will be back in the kind of status society referred to previously as feudalism. And we are not being assigned to the Castle with Moat class either. Someone has spent too much time in poli sci and cultural studies classes or reading the Howard Zinn view of history.

The authors are now turning The Spirit Level into a documentary for a planned release in Summer 2014 which will give emotionally compelling visuals for students going into US midterm elections. http://thespiritleveldocumentary.com/blog . The Foreword of the US version of the book was written by former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and the co-sponsor of that Nesta Digital Learning Innovations report is the hugely influential and connected California-based New Schools Venture Fund in case anyone thinks this is only a UK invisible coup. I explained the Marxist Humanist theory of changing attitudes and values here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/naming-educators-as-the-levers-shifting-the-human-personality-to-marxs-moral-revolution/ and that post fits with what is being explained in this post as well.

The Spirit Level ends with this rephrasing of Uncle Karl’s vision, still being sought so many years later:

“To sustain the necessary political will, we must remember that it falls to our generation to make one of the biggest transformations in human history. We have seen the rich countries have got to the end of the really important contributions which economic growth can make to the quality of life [they have gone through the requisite technology stage to supposedly make redistribution possible believed Uncle Karl] and also that our future lies in improving the quality of the social environment in our societies.[me again, that’s why there is so much emphasis in ed reform on the common good and community] The role of this book is to point out that greater equality is the material foundation on which better social relations are built.”

That certainly is the role of that book and isn’t it helpful Pearson is in a position to publish that book and use digital learning and its role as provider of so much of the curriculum and so many of the assessments to be used with the Common Core and for Texas’ STAAR? In a unique global position to prepare tasks and projects and questions that push that vision and create that political will? That it has a foundation pushing Global Learning in the US with the Asia Society mostly out of sight?

And is there any question whose vision we are about to use education to experiment as to whether better social relations can be built if nobody knows much and education becomes about engaging the passions through activity and visual stimulation?

Should we start a pool on how these transformations are really likely to turn out?

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.

Once Again the Official Target is Scrambling Rational Thinking, Do Pro-Social Purposes Make It OK?

What should horrify us more–the intention? Or the fact that numerous editors at Ed Week must have read the language and merely nodded. Because after all the idea that now “Teachers design spaces and experiences that rearrange the neurons in young people’s brains for pro-social purposes” is not news to readers of this blog. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2013/06 /change_the_frame_two_ways_to_rethink_education_for_reform.html?cmp=ENL-EU-VIEWS2 is the link from last week. It is the lead-in to paragraph 4. And the author is the educator who first led me to focus on gaming after a conference he hosted at MIT.

Ramping up for the 90s version of these same “reshape the personality and values” reforms, which became infamous as Outcomes Based Education, there was a flurry of books on creating new kinds of minds. Willis Harman’s Global Mind Change from the previous post was one. Paul Ehrlich wrote New World New Mind and we also had The Axemaker’s Gift that gave us the useful Axemaker’s Mind metaphor to explain what is being targeted. Well, the sought goal has never gone away. Apparently the era of Positive Humanism (aka little c you-know-what) can only commence if the rational “ego-mind” that promotes individuality has been anesthetized. Put into deep sleep via K-12 education. To be reenforced periodically through lifelong learning and today’s new term–media education.

This time around we again have more illuminating books to guide us toward the future others want for us. First we have Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want published in 2011. Ecologist Frances Moore Lappe, who also serves on a new global entity http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/ (with Riane Eisler if you have ever read the Caring Economics post)  wants to reframe the “largely unconscious mental map made up of big ideas orienting our lives.” She points out a very useful phrase to keep in mind as we keep reading about Enduring Understandings and systems theory “lenses” and Understandings of Consequence that are to be provided in the Common Core classroom to help organize every student’s beliefs about the world and the past. “Can we remake our mental map?” Lappe asks. Because she points out that “while we often hear that ‘seeing is believing,’ actually believing is seeing.

Which will of course come in quite handy in an education now to be focused on the visual and modeling future scenarios on the computer.  Because the tech companies and their broadcasting allies globally have been quietly sponsoring (as in literally funding the conferences) the idea that “society has evolved from a literacy culture to a media culture. To be able to function in this new culture, people need to develop sufficient proficiency in media literacy in much the same way as people in a literacy culture need to be able to read and write.”

And if this is news to you the Common Core literacy standards do mention media literacy but no one seems to be focusing on the implications yet. Probably because they have not been reading the programs of the Media & Learning Conferences that started in Brussels in 2010 and noted the significance of the statement that “different media provide access to different parts of the brain.” And, yes, games are an important component of this new view of K-12 education as digital and media-based.

As the 2011 “Harnessing the power of Media to support Learning” Conference put it so succinctly, games are “tools to support training in soft skills and understanding of complex situations.” Of course this is all in the context of an assumption that globally we are moving toward a “more participatory,” equitable society. And to get there as a speaker noted, the role of education needs to be seen as the “physiological and psychological growth of the child.”

Why that sounds just like Student Growth in the US! What the feds are now requiring as the measure of an effective teacher. Just coincidental I am sure. Actually you have probably already noticed the shift to integrating media creation into the classroom. You just did not know it was part of an organized, ideological shift. Or that a conference would be organized to push “the underlying principle was that video production includes a whole process of skills which, once acquired, can be transferred to solve other complex tasks.” Oh good. What IB and UNESCO call homo faber–man the maker.

By the 2012 Conference called “Media as an Agent for Change in Education and Training,” a keynote speaker, Andrew Keen, was warning the audience that digital learning was a “form of ideology that is shifting us to a flatter global societal structure” with a “disappearing middle class.” We could heed his points that “such widespread democratisation in education is already leading to the radicalisation of education” if only anyone in the US or anywhere outside of Europe were being honest with the general public on what is really going on with these ed reforms.

If you think this is just a European problem, then you are unaware that the New Media Consortium and this new view of education actually originated in the US. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, it just had its 15th anniversary conference. http://www.nmc.org/ And I listened to Karen Cator’s Keynote speech on “Participatory Learning-Powered by Technology”. And then I found the federal reports she mentioned. Which told me precisely how important ICT is to the new assessments. It allows a move away from “covering subject matter” to a “concern with cognitive skills, including those that have been identified as 21st-century skills.” The “subject matter content emphasis” of traditional schooling led schools to “neglect the higher order or complex cognitive components such as inquiry, problem solving, and explanation.”

The new assessments via ICT are “designed to handle the interdependencies among a learner’s actions in dealing with complex, multistep problems or inquiries.” Now remember from our previous posts that these complex problems are deliberately “ill-structured” or “Indeterminate Situations” for which there is no fixed answer. And the computer is obtaining a tremendous amount of data generated by students at an unconscious level as they try to come up with an answer. And we also know that part of the intended aim of this confusing structure is to force the students to rely on creative, deep intuition to apply existing concepts or big ideas to new situations. Then the computer can adapt to give students immediate feedback to get the students back on whatever the pathway the game or software designers programmed into the instructions.

Don’t worry. It’s not like game designers have said they intended to use these programs to target student’s belief systems. It’s not like the designers are using positive psychology principles to make the visual as compelling as possible. Book Number 2 this time around came out in 2010. Marina Gorbis from the last post mentioned The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction by Rebecca Costa. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyYrSw26jNQ is her as the keynoter at last October’s Bioneers Conference. Costa is a well-connected sociobiologist who considers Capitalism to be an example of “Extreme Economics.” She views widespread public skepticism over Global Warming and whether climate changes are manmade to be an example of the kind of irrational beliefs that have led to catastrophic civilizational collapse in the past.

She says the answer lies in turning to Insight and the unconscious mind as the solution to the increasing complexity of the modern world. The insight she describes sounds much like Harman’s deep intuition or Alice Bailey’s creativity if you want to go even further back to the same pursuit in the 30s and the 50s. It’s once again the nonrational mind that is to be given free rein except for one big difference this time. Rebecca admits she wants to abandon the norm of analytical problem-solving or right-brain synthesis of facts. Rebecca also points out the part of the brain that thinks inspirationally is now known. It can be found in a fold in the brain called the anterior Superior Temporal Gyrus (aSTG).

Functional brain imaging can now show that when someone is using insight or intuition or creativity to solve a problem, this “little-known fold ‘lights up like a Christmas tree.” So radicals have targeted this nonrational, unconscious capacity as part of their Transformation to Utopia plans for decades. All of a sudden numerous commentators are talking about reorganizing the brain’s neurons. Literally. And in early March President Obama announced a brain-imaging initiative.

Costa wants people to make “novel connections rather than continue to rely on reductionist thinking.” The actual implementations in the K-12 classroom globally appear designed to give the aSTG a workout. That’s what all those references to Higher Order Thinking Skills are about. The part of the brain that thinks logically and sequentially is under concentrated, coordinated attack.

And all this desired New Minds for a New Future can be physically measured now.

And we could address the implications of all this for personal freedom and the legitimacy of the individual in the future. If only these reports and conferences and expressed intentions were better known.