I found a good example of why social and emotional learning, under its various euphemistic names, just keeps being inserted as a critical, mandatory component of what Preschool through College education must now be, whatever the parental outcry through the decades. The Aspen NCSEAD covered in the last post is merely the most recent, but its assembly of a so-called Council of Distinguished Scientists to create a Consensus Statement of the Evidence Base for Learning and Student Success is an attempt to leap over previous outcries and local obstacles to quietly impose the controversial model as a requirement under federal law. Let’s go back then and be sure of the precise political and economic theory being brought in through the classrooms, using childrens’ minds and personalities as the invisible conduit.
One of the cited sources for the statement that all reason must be grounded in emotion and that the two cannot be separated in instruction anymore was a 1992 book Reason and Emotion written by a John Macmurray. He regarded “intellectual awareness” as “egocentric” since it “uses the senses as its instrument.” Instead, Macmurray called for the “wider use of the senses for the joy of living in them.” Methinks, Macmurray would have adored the Maker Movement and Project-based Learning and a STEAM focus since that is clearly what he desired. Thankfully he gave a wonderful metaphor for the kind of outcome from school curriculum he wanted so let’s borrow it for the insights.
“…the direct sensual awareness has its centre in the world outside, in the thing that is sensed and loved for its own sake. There is a drawing of George Morrow’s which illustrates the difference humorously, It shows a couple standing on a hilltop watching a sunset. The sky is aglow with bars of bright clouds. ‘What a lovely sunset,’ the woman says to her husband. ‘That reminds me,’ he answers. ‘Do remember to tell our landlady that I like my bacon streaky.'”
So EVERY student must now have “training in this capacity to live in the senses.” Why? we can ask, but only if we are aware of this shift in focus. We cannot ask if we are lost in deliberately deceitful narratives insisting that social and emotional learning is somehow about a federal database of personally identifiable information. Education now is supposed to become “training in sensitiveness.” Then our future behaviors and “modes of action” and awareness should not be determined by the individualistic, logical, dreaded Axemaker Mind–“if we limit awareness so that it merely feeds the intellect with the material for thought, our actions will be intellectually determined.”
Horrors! then to anyone with transformation on the mind, which would include Macmurray. It turns out his book was not written in 1992, merely republished by his estate. Nor was it originally written in 1962. That was the Second Edition somehow magically timed to coincide with what we now know was the first launch of the Marxist Humanist (MH) vision of education by the NEA and humanist psychologists like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. http://invisibleserfscollar.com/psychological-approach-to-a-humane-politics-restructuring-the-west-quietly-and-effectively-via-ed/ is that old post. No, the First Edition of that book came out in 1935, a decade when plenty of people were interested in political and economic transformation. Insisting that education must be about the cultivation of emotion and social development matters more than ever now if the basis for the assertion is:
“Emotion is not the Cinderella of our inner life, to be kept in her place among the cinders in the kitchen. Our emotional life is us in a way our intellectual life cannot be; in that it alone contains the motives from which our conduct springs.”
I will let you in on a little secret. I recognized the MH vision throughout Macmurray’s book, but that was very confusing as Professor Daniel Bell writing in the late 50s while a fellow at the always troublesome Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences stated that Marx’s work laying out his Human Development Society vision and its need to control morals and consciousness was unavailable in English until 1956. My first thought was that maybe Macmurray read German and thus had earlier access to the long-unknown early Marx work. Good reasoning, but Macmurray himself in the 60s wrote that his interest and access came from being invited to a “conference held in October 1932 which brought together a number of leading religious and lay thinkers to ponder the question of the rejuvenation of Christianity in the modern world…”
That would explain the false narratives we keep running into surrounding the Common Core by people who go out of their way to wear their religious beliefs and their role in their daily lives on their sleeves, wouldn’t it? So if influential people have from the get-go seen religious faith and education as the two main conduits for the MH vision and its desire to transform the world through individual hearts and minds, let’s look at Macmurray’s vision since he did not mince his words. If the vision of education as activity to thread together the cognitive, social, and emotional is to guide modern education, let’s see what Macmurray told us was the purpose of that vision. Macmurray did not see religion as a matter of personal faith; rather, it was a
“demand for a new step in the creation of human society…universal in its extent, based upon the communion of persons…We have to address ourselves to the task of creating the life of truly personal relationship between men, and of destroying those elements in modern society which frustrate and deny it.”
Suddenly, we have a merger of what religion is supposed to be about with what education is now supposed to create. Eliminating a curriculum grounded in the intellect is the essential first step. Macmurray’s statements from the 30s sound a great deal like the rationale for why 21st century education must be relevant to the real world and authentic to everyday life:
“unless you deal with these external conditions you cannot develop a true moral attitude to anything. Indeed, the effort to construct a true and just order of society is the main part of the effort to create a true moral outlook. The two things are intimately bound up. Those people who try strenuously to develop moral and religious ideals in the community without altering the conditions of life are trying to make bricks without straw.”
So emotion has to be actively cultivated in every classroom as a new definition of what enables student success because, in reality, it is a necessary component of the “task of creating conscious community among all men everywhere–nothing less, and it necessarily included all the conditions, economic, political, and personal, which are involved in this…a new and universally human social order.”
Now if the NCSEAD was using that rationale as its sales pitch for what it asserts as ‘evidence-based’ under ESSA, we could protest such a wholesale transformation, especially since it is unquestionably grounded in a notorious political philosophy with much blood in its history. So we aren’t supposed to know and simply defer to the eminence of the Appeal to Authority of the Council of Distinguished Scientists statement released September 13, 2017. All hail! No one notice that we are dealing with lots of the very same people tied to lots of the controversies in education including the Dalai Lama’s desire to cultivate a global Holos Consciousness (a very long way from an Axemaker Mind). I am going to pick a member that may be less familiar to you, Gloria Ladson-Billings, an ed prof who wants a culturally relevant pedagogy “committed to social justice and equity.’
How nice to be able to mandate that controversial agenda under the Evidence Base Consensus Statement for Learning. If what you have desired since at least 1995 is to “help students to recognize, understand, and critique social inequities” of course you are going to adore education grounded in emotion instead of the intellect for the very reasons Macmurray laid out. His desired focus on material conditions–economic, political, and personal–is a perfect fit for Ladson-Billings’ desire that teachers no longer be “reluctant to identify political underpinnings of the students’ community and social world.” She wants to implement the vision of acknowledged radical Paulo Freire (who was also an advisor to the World Council of Churches which is probably not an accident) that teaching should be ‘mining’ or pulling knowledge out of the life experiences of the students.
So suddenly Student Success and a supposed prerequisite to academic success turns out to be about forcing classroom practices “through which people are incited to acquire a particular ‘moral character’. As both a political and practical activity, it attempts to influence the occurrence and qualities of experiences.” Those experiences again that allow for the direct training of the student’s senses until the desired behaviors become Habits of Mind.
I am pretty sure we are never supposed to actually look up the cited sources in all these footnotes. I think we are merely supposed to blindly accept what is asserted as the Consensus Statement of the Council of Distinguished Scientists. We are most assuredly not supposed to track the mandated practices back to its actual goal:
“This dictates its goal, which can be nothing short of the complete integration of all human beings in community and of humanity with the world in which it lives.”
Someone really should have omitted the reference to the philosopher who was among the first to write about Marx’s Human Development Society in English.
No wonder there is such a determination to quash any outbreak of Axemaker Minds in this current generation of students. They are to be emotionally charged to be the desired Marxian Makers of History asked to finally bring about the “material sharing of our material substance. Until our material possessions are at the disposal of all those with whom we are in communion for their need, it is idle to talk of sharing our lives, or of having the reality of our lives in common.”
If that’s the prerequisite for this emotional, collaborative vision of education, by all means let’s talk about it instead of simply being asked to embrace it via a Consensus Statement of Distinguished Scientists.