Distributive Justice is Not Enough We Must Break the Illusion of the Unitary Self

If you plan to use education in the US to “break the illusion of a stable and unitary self,” you will get my attention once it comes on my radar screen. We have already talked about the dominance of Communitarian principles in Common Core’s implementation through the actual definition of Career Ready and what is required for a Positive School Climate. I have mentioned repeatedly that the primary designers of Common Core have said social and emotional learning are the primary goals, not content knowledge.

Content is merely a tool for the students to visualize and emotionalize real world problems. To pretend that everything is fixable with discussion, enough tax money, and central planning. And maybe a new set of values too. Something the typical student and maybe adults who have spent their lives on the public payroll might actually believe. But what does this type of curriculum look like in practice?

I have said before that “Learning” is now defined as changing individual values or beliefs or feelings or especially behaviors. Learning is no longer about factual knowledge. This is true all over the world to varying degrees. We have a great deal of cooperating going on among teachers from various countries copying each others’ ideas for this new type of Learning. Supposedly more suitable for the Information Age and the hoped for New Caring Economy based on Sustainability in the 21st Century. Recently, the teachers have been linking to the ideas of an Australian blogger and teacher. Her suggestions include molding the curriculum around “What do you think is unfair?” and “What would you do to change the world?”

Now obviously a student with little knowledge of facts will feel her way to her answer. That’s considered to be deep, reflective thinking. Even better if the student writes her “thoughts” down. I use the scare quotes deliberately because unsupported, emotional beliefs are not what most of us consider to be “thinking.” Especially the kind of thinking we want schools or colleges to be cultivating. Indeed mandating. In case you wonder what the teacher’s motivations are she tells us: “Developing an awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act.” Her bolding to make sure readers got the point. Encouraging students to change the world.

The unfairness curriculum is supposed to draw the class closer together:

“as we reveal what bothers us and find commonalities. We make connections between the different injustices and relate them to our own experiences. We shift back and forth between personal and global perspectives. We discuss how global issues might affect us personally and how personal issues might be relevant in broader contexts.”

And a student with this type of Relevant, Authentic, Engaging Curriculum would be an absolute sitting duck for all these schemes to use education to change the filtering mindset. To gain A New, non-Axemaker Mind. To prime the students for a different social, political, and economic system than what created the West’s prosperity. We could honestly call this curriculum educating for Utopia and have no chance any teacher or student would be likely to grasp that Utopia means Nowhere for a reason.

Back to our quote from the title, this week I read about a Building One America conference held in July 2011 at the White House. It was supposedly about the Regional Equity Movement in the US. That really caught my eye as my reaction to every regional conference I have ever attended has been to wonder why no one else attending seems to appreciate they are describing a centrally planned economy with its terrible track records.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/and-governments-must-facilitate-everything/ is a post I wrote to describe what I heard and what it actually means if carried through. As you can imagine with my work on the Belmont Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance at the international level, the Building One America conference sounded like an awfully useful political vehicle for transformative change. Worth looking into in light of what we already know.

One of the listed speakers complete with powerpoint was an Ohio State professor, john a. powell (his preference is all lower case). He wants future students and citizens:

“animated not simply by visions of distributive equality, nor even equality of opportunity, but more fundamentally, by a transformed view of the self, of relationships, and of the world.”

powell’s new vision of self is about “interconnection, of interbeing.” He wants to build this new definition of self and “awareness into our institutions and processes.” That would certainly explain all this Communitarian emphasis we have been seeing and the rejection of individual thinking we described in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/.

Just to update that adoption of socio-cultural theory as the new basis for American education practices, the US Partnership for 21st Century Learning this week explicitly endorsed that Education for Life and Work report as providing the foundation for a new view of learning. I’ll say. I don’t think they were expecting anyone to go past the news release or Executive Summary.

Back to powell, this is the definition of freedom that permeates his work and the Regional Equity Movement. And it sounds just like that Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems learning theory we also discussed that is the specious basis for bad education practices all over the world now. Now isn’t this a definition of freedom that is the antithesis of the concept of the individual in the West and the type of freedom the US Constitution was created to preserve? Quoting cultural historian Jeremy Rifkin by name, powell says:

“Freedom is found not in autonomy but in embeddedness. To be free is to have access to many independent relationships. . . It is inclusivity that brings security–belonging, not belongings.”

Well, I suppose, it is good not to emphasize belongings in a social justice movement seeking to obtain racial equity, class equity (I guess they mean no classes a la that Line of Plenty for All), and spacial equity (they seem to want us all crowding back into urban areas and walking or taking transit). That is supposed to foster economic development for all. Not likely.

But breaking the illusion of the solitary self requires “new approaches to learning” and students and citizens “open to reexamining social and economic assumptions” writes a different Regional Equity architect, Paloma Pavel. You can see how not knowing much history would make that reexamination easier to push. Even if the actual consequences remain catastrophic. Who will know until the catastrophe occurs once education becomes about “the need for internal transformation within the consciousness of each individual?”

Stanley Kurtz in his new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities says that Building One America is to be a primary goal of an Obama Second Term. He thinks the American people have a right to know what that would entail. Last week I tracked down the education vision of the Regional Equity Movement. It sure does fit with what we already know about what Common Core actually looks like as well as the Belmont Challenge aspirations.

So maybe we need to decide whether the individual actually is an antiquated idea we want educators trying to eliminate. In malleable, captive minds. Using psychological practices.

Just thought I’d ask.