If Education Transforms Values and Feelings and Beliefs to Control Behaviors, Are We Free?

Let’s pretend for a moment that someone, maybe they have just retired or won the lottery, was willing to be honest with us about how transformative the Common Core was really going to be. They suggest an undisclosed location. Looking downwards in a trenchcoat, fake moustache, and very large sunglasses, they whisper to you that Common Core was intended to actually “reexamine and redefine what we mean by education.”

Now who should be making such a decision? Who really has the knowledge and experience to impose Cultural Transformation Theory at our expense to see if we can create a better world in the future? I think some knowledge of history and economics would be nice. Life experience being responsible for others and making a payroll. Even more ideal would be to leave such changes up to individuals. Because after all the government is composed of individuals too. Government employees just have less information. They are further from the problems and the solutions. And they are not spending their own money. Or living with the consequences of poor decisions.

Our volunteer whistleblower then hands us a memo with the following statement from someone intimately involved with what Common Core would look like in the classroom:

“All children must learn to care for other human beings, and all must find an ultimate concern in some center of care: care for self, for intimate others, for associates and acquaintances, for distant others, for animals, and the physical environment, for objects and instruments, and for ideas.”

And this care mandate would be cultivated in each child and used to create a new caring economics that would be more equitable and meet everyone’s needs. So education would be about new ways of thinking, talking, and interacting to reimagine and explore different ways of looking at the world.

Now Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek did an excellent job of explaining why such a caring approach that mandates treating strangers as if you know them cannot work and destroys what drives economic freedom and the resulting prosperity. That can be a different post if you like at some point. You know where to find me.

So radically different actual purpose. Can’t work. Tragic history behind earlier attempts. What do we do? We need to be thinking of that reality because that’s where we are going to be once Common Core is fully in place. We have a little time though because that quote is from an influential American professor and it is a true explanation of our reality. But she came to my attention as a consultant to Australia’s National Student Wellbeing Framework. Another consultant was the the President of CASEL from the June 28 post. Finally we have a sociology professor tied into the Positive Psychology Movement. Positive Psychology is involved with PBIS, recently mandated for all US students under Response to Intervention mandates, and the Positive School Climate initiatives. They also get cited as the solution for the possibility of bullying. All that is discussed in the June 11 SEL post.

In fact it was an Aussie anti-bullying campaign that led me to those Wellbeing Pathways. It was called Friendly Schools and Families. Like the US programs we are seeing it decided to change those values and feelings and attitudes in advance for all students to preempt any problem from ever developing. Now I am quite sure it is merely coincidental that changing values, attitudes, and emotions to control future behaviors is the express desire of everyone wanting to fundamentally transform a society or economy or culture. Bullying must really be the dominant global problem of our time. Necessitating a fundamental restructuring of the human psyche. It’s not like anyone has ever tried that before or there were any problems. Well maybe a few.

So obtaining student wellbeing is officially deemed to be necessary for student learning. Of course it must come first. Of course to be equitable everyone gets targeted. So the new focus of Australian schools beyond its Core Skills Framework that looks so much like the US 21st Century Learning initiative and that Global Competence we talked about on June 30 would look like this:

1. A supportive, caring and inclusive school community

2. Pro-social values (ie values such as respect, honesty, compassion, acceptance of difference, fairness are directly taught and indirectly encouraged)

3. Physical & emotional safety (via anti-bullying and anti-violence strategies, policies, procedures and programs

4. Social & emotional learning (eg coping skills, self-awareness, emotional regulation skills, empathy, goal achievement skills, relationship skills)

5. A strengths-based approach (ie schools focusing on identifying and developing students’ intellectual strengths (eg using a multiple intelligences model) and character strengths)

6. A sense of meaning & purpose ( eg through one or more of spirituality, community service, participation in school clubs and teams, peer support, collaborative and authentic group projects etc)

7. A healthy lifestyle (eg good nutrition, exercise, avoidance of illegal drugs and alcohol)

So are the Wellbeing pathways coming to the US? Well every one of these is a part of some aspect of Common Core’s planned implementation. Like the Happy Planet Index, it would probably get a more palatable name. The new Quality Standards the accreditors are using also requires that info on each student’s physical, emotional, and social needs be obtained and kept.

But this is what Common Core’s mandate of equity looks like.  Only generic skills like an ability to communicate or collaborate are accessible to all. Genuine algebra never will be which means it’s not fair for anyone. All people though have values and emotions. So making those the focus is Equitable. Only someone looking for sinister possibilities would notice this also creates a new filtering mindset that skews each person’s perceptions from then on. How useful if you have transformative intentions you would prefer not to discuss with voters and taxpayers. And especially parents.

Does Purple America Come with a Toy Dinosaur or is it Just More SEL?

For those of you still upset by the June 11 post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/how-social-and-emotional-learning-as-the-primary-focus-is-coming-in-all-the-windows/ , today will be more of the same except this time it is backed up by the NEA. The National Education Association is a hugely influential US lobby and teachers association and financial contributor to elections at all levels. It is sort of a superunion since it does more than represent teachers.  But that’s where its dollars and tremendous reach into every school district and electoral nook and cranny in the US come from.

So NEA’s decision to create a values character education curriculum to enhance student social and emotional learning is no minor, likely to stay on the shelves, no one will pay them for it, curriculum. They have the clout and it is coming. The related names are all trademarked. The fee schedule for workshop training has been printed. The sadly likely-to- be-effective strategy of using students as recruiters and trainers of still more students is already named and laid out. Who could resist the opportunity for STARS–Students Training And Reaching Students? For students willing to take their involvement with Project Love to the next level after attending the Power of Kindness Workshop. Each STAR will be helpfully trained by NEA reps to:

“lead small group discussions for middle and high school students at Project Love Workshops

Use active listening skills, learn how to encourage discussion, how to handle differences of opinion and know when to get help

Serve as role models of kindness, caring and respect whereever they go

Become the ‘change agents’ for their schools and lead their peers in a positive direction.”

Well I suppose that might be OK if we were just talking about troubled schools or schools where students are struggling to have any positive role models or healthy personal visions in their lives. Alas, that is clearly not what the NEA has in mind as the market for Purple America. Are you as parents or taxpayers likely to know this is occurring in your local schools? No. As you are probably beginning to appreciate by now the banner of Common Core is being used to smuggle in a lot of dramatic changes that are the opposite of national criteria for content to be learned. In that soon to be antique notion of learning as actually knowing anything in your own mind. No Purple America is designed to be an integrated curriculum that can be embedded in any subject area for some good old fashioned authentic learning. It’s designed to get the whole school passionate about civic involvement. Much more exciting than studying the history of the country you want to try to change.

Now Purple America says it is not a political organization. It believes that we need to Re-Imagine America (that’s a registered trademark too) that is fully committed to its values. These values it says are not red or blue. The values Purple America wants to push are Equality, Faith, Family, Freedom, Love and Respect, Self-Expression, Doing the Right Thing, Community, Giving Back, the Good Life, Opportunity and Success. Again not to worry I know the NEA reps will have the exact same definitions of each of those terms as what you would have explained to your child. I know there’s no need to point out that those may be nice qualities to discuss in an informal setting. But mandating it in the classroom and then keeping track of Which student believes What, and where they are on the continuum of accepting Officially Desired Views, is deeply violating.

And if it seems I am just being paranoid, yesterday the Common Core Career Ready Practices were released. They insist that each career-ready student must “understand the obligations and responsibilities of being a member of a community.” That’s certainly consistent with always reminding people that they are not an individual entitled to liberty and privacy and autonomy. The long sought goal of telling people they only really become a person in their relations to others. That they are nothing in their own right is a pretty lousy thing to convince American students of. The person-in-community concept is not the individual Western culture or the free markets that brought so much economic prosperity developed around.

Likewise those same career ready students are now defined as people who “apply insights into human behavior to change others actions, attitudes and/or beliefs.” Now where on earth would students get the training for such manipulation of others?  Why I have an idea. It’s not intrusive training. Purple America just desires:

“Our mission is to help you connect with your personal values system and the values that unite us as Americans. We seek to inspire civil conversation about what is important to America, so together, we can imagine a future for our nation that represents our American values.”

Sounds transformational. As if societies are created in the first place and can simply be redesigned with sufficient political will and collective imagination. New readers may want to revisit this post to appreciate this is not a new goal for education.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/is-common-core-a-catalyst-to-dramatically-alter-system/ I mean it would be so much trouble to rewrite the US Constitution. Let’s just use education to change what a majority of the future voters will believe it means. How much easier is that? Stealthier too.

I don’t think it is coincidental at all that I found Herman E Daly’s controversial book for the common good: redirecting the economy toward community, the environment, and a sustainable future on the list of resources to be used on the School Climate Center’s website. The comment above about abandoning the concept of the individual and replacing it with person-in-community came from the introduction of that book. Sounds much like UNESCO’s vision of solidarity as well. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/is-accreditation-the-enforcer-for-unescos-vision-of-solidarity/

We have talked before how the bullying emphasis and School Climate brings in PBIS for all and the social and emotional emphasis in the classroom. Project Love and Purple America proudly proclaim their intentions to train for “values-in-action.” I have many new readers from many parts of the US and the world. That’s why I went back and gave links to especially important previous foundational posts.

Is there anybody still reading who can avoid appreciating now that this is education as a social, political, and economic weapon? That what’s to be transformed is the US and the West away from the traditions and practices and knowledge that brought unprecedented prosperity? There’s a lot at stake in the education masquerade. But we’re up for the challenge, aren’t we? I bet we know our history better too.