Part 1 of How to Mount an Invisible Political Coup: Contemplative Education

What do I mean by contemplative education? Exactly what you fear I mean. And this is not a matter of personal religious preferences. This is a matter of the same individuals pushing social and emotional learning in the classroom as a legally mandated component of education reform and the Whole Child initiative of the Common Core. Then turning around and pushing the same programs and practices as core components of incorporating Buddhist and Eastern spirituality practices directly into the classroom.

Somehow it is deemed “secular” though because although the teachers may get lessons on “Educating the Whole Person in the 21st Century: An Evening with Sraddhalu Ranade” or Shamatha techniques to enhance meditation, you just ditch that B word at the classroom door. But you deliberately keep the practices. Which means the intentions come right along with it. Whatever the parents and students and teachers targeted through professional development are told.

And this is not an aberration either. As the 2012 article “Contemplative Practices and Mental Training: Prospects for American Education” makes clear, this is where 21st Century Skills is actually going. This is where CASEL’s work (see tag to right) is going and the article was written by founders and affiliates of CASEL. Also the creator of PATHS that I wrote about here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ goes back and forth pushing the practices as creating New Agey Mindfulness for entities like the Garrison Institute (where Systems Thinking Advocate Peter Senge serves on the Board) and then calling it SEL, depending on the audience. Same with Inner Resilience’s Linda Lantieri. Just look at the back and forth on her schedule in recent years. Contemplative Education also cites Tools of the Mind as one of its amenable programs. Being introduced like PATHS in Kindergartens and elementary schools.

These articles I will mention today make it clear that the metacognitive skills that David Conley also calls College and Career Ready   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/now-more-than-five-years-into-an-attempt-to-help-organize-a-near-total-revision-of-human-behavior/ are also to be grounded in these contemplative practices. So this is not a lurid detail designed to get you alarmed about what’s really taking place in K-12 education. Instead as this 2010 Mind and Life Summer Conference brochure makes clear, creating these “mental skills and socio-emotional dispositions that we believe are central to the aims of education in the 21st century” becomes the whole point of preschool and the K-12 years.

And it’s not just students being targeted, educators will also be expected to use these contemplative practices.http://www.mindandlife.org/pdfs/sri_conference_brochure_2010.pdf That’s you teachers, like it or not. Apparently such practices foster those to be mandated “communities of practice” that determine who is an effective principal. No coercion there. Just look at the pictures and speakers and topics and tell me how you would ever turn this into “secular” practices.

All of this is to be introduced first and then investigated to “explore the development of mind and the effect of contemplative practices on mind, behavior, brain, learning, and health of young people and those who care for and educate them.” And if that sounds like students are to be made into guinea pigs of the State, all these articles I have mentioned so far want and expect that these regular practices and experiences in the classroom will produce physical changes to the brain. Specifically the Prefrontal Cortex that we already knew CASEL wanted to target. We were just missing where these practices originated.

There is no ambiguity here that “Many people believe that the kind of education needed in the 21st century includes developmental outcomes well beyond academic learning, including young people’s social, emotional, and ethical development.” The cite after the quote is to Nel Noddings (who also has her own tag), thus making it quite clear that this Contemplative Education push aligns to what is called the Student Wellbeing Initiative in Australia. Explained here about a year ago.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-education-transforms-values-and-feelings-and-beliefs-to-control-behaviors-are-we-free/

The articles make it clear that these physical neural changes to the brain are hoped for as a means of fostering compassion and empathy for others and other politically manipulable “prosocial behaviors.” It does rather feel like something that belongs in a book or short story of science fiction, doesn’t it? And not coming to a classroom or school (including privates. I saw the list) with the intention of “bringing together the converging disciplines of developmental neuroscience, contemplative traditions, education, and social and emotional learning our goal is to create a synergy to inspire and support rigorous research and action to support the development of the whole person (including both students and educators) within more caring and effective families and school communities.”

And yes the word “Growth” which is to be how students are now measured, and what the feds have decreed teacher effectiveness be tied to, is used over and over again in all these Contemplative Education papers. Virtually synonymous with what constitutes “positive habits of the mind and heart.” Or “more adaptive brain functioning and prosocial behavior.”  Here’s one more link since what is sought really does have to be seen to be fully appreciated  http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/component/docman/doc_view/62-developmental-issues-in-contemplative-education-april-2008?Itemid=66

To link this even further to our earlier discussions of global awareness and global competency, the 2010 MLSRI brochure even mentions that at this point ” the use of contemplative practices in educational settings is hypothesized to promote resilience, decrease at-risk behavior, and cultivate positive qualities.” Just a theory in other words and thus ripe for research in American classrooms determined to squelch individualism and the rational mind. The brochure then goes on to mention that this desire for research was the topic of a 2009 “agenda-setting meeting in Washington, DC that brought together world renowned developmentalists, educators, neuroscientists, and contemplatives including HH Dalai Lama.” then it cites to the website created to commemorate that meeting. How’s this for a name that gives up Intentions? educatingworldcitizens.org .

Since popping over to that site might be inconvenient at the moment, let me tell you what you would find. A conference with the title “Educators, Scientists and Contemplatives Dialogue on Cultivating a Healthy Mind, Brain and Heart.” And if you still do not believe this will permeate the actual implementation of the Common Core and related global ed reforms, how about sponsorship by the Ed Schools at Harvard, Stanford, UVa, Penn State, and U-Wisc/Madison? How about the college at George Washington where Communitarian Amitai Etzioni teaches (also has his own tag). Rounding up the list of sponsors are CASEL and the American Psychological Association.

Finally, since we just had a poignant July 4 holiday in the US where many of us saw symbols but not enough celebration of the integrity of what the Declaration of Independence really means, there is the overall title of the conference.

Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century

Who apparently are no longer to know what freedom from government oversight and direction actually means.

At least that’s the current intention. Getting on to being time for a Civil Insurrection. Because clearly without one we are about to get invisible mental and psychological ones.

 

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.

 

When Gaming Intends to Shape and Distort Our Perceptions of Everything Around Us. Viva La Revolution!

A title that provocative really should be based on at least some speculation. Maybe with me looking bug-eyed and highly excitable. Nope. Everywhere I looked to try to make the K-12 gamification focus we encountered in the last post a fringe ambition–on the periphery–I just ran into more graphic, open declarations. From people with the money and power to make their visions a reality. A 2011 book laying out these aspirations approvingly pointed out that the “Microsoft game-testing lab ‘looks more like a psychological research institute than a game studio.”

That author, Jane McGonigal, of the Institute for the Future, is a keynote speaker of this month’s annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in San Antonio, Texas. She explicitly mentions Robert Torres’ Quest To Learn charter school vision in NYC as a means of reinventing public education as we know it. That Gates and MacArthur and Pearson Foundations vision of Reimagining Education. http://reimaginingeducation.org/ shows it is now the feds vision too.

Before I talk about the book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and its prescriptions for using immersion role-playing games and alternate reality games to encourage students to want to reinvent reality, let’s talk about how we get to this point in K-12. Last week President Obama issued a directive to the FCC “to take the steps necessary to build high-speed digital connections to all of America’s schools and libraries.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/connected_fact_sheet.pdf . The directive on Jumpstarting Learning Technology says our schools “do not prepare our student’s for a collaborative and networked economy” . Which really does sound like the kind of reenvisioned needs economy I have been telling you is integrally linked to these ed reforms. Anyway, here’s a full extended quote:

“We must make our schools an integral part of the broadband and technology transformation–particularly when that same technology can be harnessed to drive empowered, more personalized learning. From digital textbooks that help students visualize and interact with complex concepts to apps and platforms that adapt to the level of individual student knowledge and help teachers know precisely which lessons or activities are working. This technology is real, it is available, and its capacity to improve education is profound.”

That’s the real fundamental shift. All that wonderful personal data plus there’s no longer any need to use print to mentally envision what an author is describing or how things work. The video in the digital textbook or videogame will show the student.  Not influenced in the least by the fact that the creator of the game or textbook publisher openly acknowledged that as “we’re making these games, we dream of the other revolutionary things swarm intelligence might make possible. Low-carbon futures, mass creativity, living happily with less.”

Swarm intelligence by the way is part of what massive online player games can create.  The idea is that “experiencing communitas in an everyday game can spark a taste for the kinds of community action that makes the world a better place. Learning to improvise with strangers toward a shared goal” teaches that “swarm intelligence”–which game designers hope “makes people better able and more likely to band together toward positive ends.” I am really tempted here to bring in a comment about cultivating the little c era of association and community using the the benefits of a profoundly different new technology but I will refrain. Maybe. But even the White House says it is a new age–the Digital Age–and certain notorious political philosophies do believe that new ages grounded in new technology call for a new kind of consciousness. Do you agree?

At the 2008 meeting of the professional group for education professors, the AERA (yes that is the group that elected Bill Ayers to an executive position), Eva Baker of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing–CRESST–presented a paper called “What Do We Know About Assessment in Games?” She pointed out that Games work well when the point is measuring, as in the now federally-required measures of Student Growth. Rather than evaluating, as in traditional testing of the now-defunct knowledge unsuitable for the Digital Age. Her work seems to be the foundation for what GlassLab  is now doing. You “embed the assessment in the transactions of the game and build it into a game’s underlying engine.” The game then becomes the “types of learning to be experienced.”

But that would require coordination with game developers. Good thing then Eva (who you may remember also evaluated SBAC and PARCC for the Hewlett Foundation to ensure these would be measurements of Deep Learning) was a speaker at the 2012 Serious Games Summit. And CRESST is listed as a sponsor of the 2013 Summit. Also conveniently Jane McGonigal started writing her book soon after Eva’s AERA speech. Laying  out a vision on the Rise of the Happiness Engineers. The game designers who use the elements of Positive Psychology so that gaming can set off “the orgasm of positive emotions” such as awe. McGonigal quoted Dacher Kalter as saying that:

“The experience of awe is about finding your place in the larger scheme of things. It is about quieting the press of self-interest. It is about folding into social collectives. It is about feeling reverential toward participating in some expansive process that unites us all and ennobles our life’s endeavors.”

I am not trying to spook you. But if these are the intentions of the designers of the games that are now to constitute what is learning in the 21st century, it matters. The Institute of the Future does a great deal of consulting to famous companies and foundations. Apart from Jane’s high venue speeches.  Jane believes that games “have an important role to play in how we achieve our democratic, scientific, and humanitarian goals over the next decade and beyond.” Now her goals (or Eva’s or these foundations) may not be yours but they are the goals being designed into the objectives of these games.

And whether the student exhibits the desired beliefs, values, and attitudes (suitable for Transformation) is what is being assessed and measured as Student Growth. Jane by the way described her vision of a Sustainable Engagement Economy in the book. It reminded me of Shoshana Zuboff’s Needs Support Economy with its distributed capitalism. She also envisioned reinventing the workplace except she sees the new attitudes coming out of the gaming experiences as driving the desire for change. Making reality more like games is how she put it.

Reading Reality is Broken really is alarming since there really is no intermediary between the vision of the future designed into these games, the psychological and emotional methods incorporated into the games, and the student. And it’s not like I am inferring the vision here. There are many more troubling, to me, examples in the book. But the book reminded me of another troubling book I had read from 1988 called Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution In the Way We Think. So I went back and reread the marked passages. It was a reminder that if you want social transformation, which that author Willis Harman certainly did as well, you need to target the unconscious belief system. Harman even mentioned our old friend Milton Rokeach (see tags if not familiar). Here’s the vision:

“This concept of unconscious beliefs and the extent to which they are capable of shaping and distorting our perceptions of everything around us–and within us–is so central to understanding the global mind change that we shall make a temporary digression to look into it more deeply.

Each of us holds some set of beliefs with which we conceptualize our experience–beliefs about history, beliefs about things, beliefs about the future, about what is to be valued, or about what one ought to do.”

That’s precisely the real Common Core implementation targets. That’s what Digital Learning is designed to assess and reshape if needed. The assessments have to be performances and activities because as Harman said in 1988: “persons may not realize they have these unconscious beliefs, but the beliefs can be inferred from behavior–from slips of the tongue, compulsive acts, ‘body language’, and so on.”

Now think about this next quote and whether the phrase common core may be a metaphor and not just a factual statement about skills and knowledge and consistency among students.

“In the innermost core of the belief system are basic unconscious assumptions about the nature of the self and its relationship to others, and about the nature of the universe.”

The Game Designers say that is what is being targeted. Ed professors and ed labs and implementation theories openly call these reforms “second-order thinking” and “Irreversible Change” because it is the unconscious being targeted.

We are priming the emotions and using virtual reality to practice how to change reality. While simultaneously leaving the mind empty of knowledge of likely consequences.

Which might foresee a Revolution more likely to deteriorate as the French one did than build something wondrous. As the American one did.

 

 

 

New Mindsets and Changed Values Tied to ICT as the Long Sought Marxian New Mode of Production

Computers and ICT generally just keeps getting cited as the magic technology that Marx and Engels speculated could allow a world where everyone’s needs get met. Advances in technology was a hugely important concept in all their political theorizing of how in the future society would be organized in radically different ways. That the age of the individual and capitalism would be over. It’s the era I have explained as small c communism in previous posts because that is what they called it. Well, they also called it the age of association and community. Princeton prof Robert Tucker said it was to be a time of positive humanism. Since that term is less off-putting than either communism or Marxist Humanism, that strikes me as a better term for us to use so we don’t bring in visions of Kremlin Walls or Mao’s Black Book uninvited. But the future social and economic vision is the same as what we have encountered under varying names in numerous posts now.

And the prosperous West remains the target. With education as the preferred vehicle to gain the desired changes in consciousness and values and attitudes and especially feelings. We in the West assumed the PH vision was about who had what. But it turns out Uncle Karl’s theory had what might be called a magic trigger. Let me explain with a quote:

“every historical mode of production has been conditioned by the nature of the available means of production or state of technology. As [Marx] puts it in a vivid passage, ‘The windmill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.’ According to this view, the rise of a new technology, a new set of material productive powers…”

necessarily triggers a social revolution. Computers, the Internet, cellphone communication etc–what I and others abbreviate as ICT–are being held up as that triggering technology. And to put it bluntly we have political idealogues, ready to administer public sector and NGO bureaucrats, and tech and media companies ready to stop future competition, who are quite happy to use education to commence the needed changes in mindsets and values. All while being well-paid of course. All over the globe but especially in the US. That’s really a big part of what Common Core is about when you peel back the layers and delve into the ever present, consistent, feature–must use ICT as an integral part of classroom. The focus.

Being honest that this tracks back to Uncle Karl would of course be a bad PR selling point so instead we get university students being told that “unjust ecological and social conditions” require “transformation of existing power relations and even worldviews.” Radical change needs minds that have been primed to accept “a society based upon distribution according to need” and primed for activism. Students who believe in the “possibility of realizing it, of moving from the world as it is to the world as it ought to be.”

Gaming and role-playing and little factual knowledge are really useful to such aspirations of transformative change. Luckily for the Change-the-World Crowd the visual, concrete, nature of making school about the use of the computer and making films and power points ditches the abstract mind bolstering aspects of reading print that is designed around symbols for sounds. Remember that when you find out that Pearson and the MacArthur Foundation underwrote a 2011 PBS special called “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century” hyping the new types of literacy. How digital media is “changing the ecology of reading and writing” so it is no longer “doing the type of reading where you sit in your bedroom by yourself reading a novel.”

What about under an umbrella on the beach while working on a tan I ask in alarm?

No, “kids need to get a deep passion” for what they are doing and school needs to be about what will make them feel passionate. We shouldn’t be rewarding the “kid who stays up late reading a book” while “a kid who spends that same time working with his guild in ‘World of Warcraft’ is thought to have a problem.” Yes, these quotes are coming straight from the program’s transcript.   http://www.pbs.org/parents/digital-media/pdf/digital-media-transcript.pdf Have a read if you can stand it. The vision of “where learning and assessment are the same thing.” Which is precisely what Robert Torres said is a big part of the Gates Foundation’s current focus. So that computer, role-playing, games become the means of measuring whether learning is occurring.

No I am not kidding. Torres spoke at the G Summit in April 2013 on “Transforming Education with Gamification” and saw it as a means of determining if the Common Core Standards and the new science standards are being met. And I noticed that very time the interviewer, Gabe Zicherman, brought up knowledge, Torres switched back to his preferred term–learning. Behavioral changes then will do while the head remains quite empty.

In case you are stunned by this whole idea, here’s the June 28, 2012 News Release creating GlassLab–The Games, Learning and Assessment Lab–under the premise that “video games can revolutionize American education and students’ testing and learning. We can harness students’ passion and energy for video games and utilize that to reach and educate a 21st century workforce with skills critical for college and career readiness.” One can just imagine this idea of work or college but at least all the students will get plenty of daily practice with the designated new mode of production. http://www.instituteofplay.org/2012/06/2498glass-lab-press-release/ Torres is quoted as saying “we need projects that will work with students and speak to them in their native language: digital media. Through game-based learning, students will be challenged, and teachers and parents can get real-time feedback on student progress.”

Will the parents really understand that the Growth and Achievement are from being online and immersed in role-playing video games? Will they understand that the games will count as Literacy under the Common Core? This presentation is about 7 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahYeJ5LmnXI . You can decide if this is your idea of desirable Learning or Literacy. And with Pearson and NewsCorp’s Amplify and many of our Gordon Commission members involved with GlassLab, this really does look like the intended future. Have a look if you’d like  http://glasslabgames.org/

One of the people interviewed as part of that PBS program was Dr Nichole Pinkard, founder of Chicago’s Digital Youth Network. Which Gates is supporting but not quite as generously as the $50 million the MacArthur Foundation has plowed in. Here’s the vision of a different design for classroom learning  http://spotlight.macfound.org/blog/entry/pinkard-videogames-inspire-classroom-design/ Dr Pinkard made a very interesting statement in her interview with PBS. She said that “literacy has always been defined by technology.” Under this theory of history grounded in you know who’s writings, the technology changes the type of consciousness. So the printing press and moveable type are what made print the new designated form of literacy. And this line of thinking goes, since we now have tablets and films and videos on demand and computers learning to respond to sound, we should change the nature of what constitutes literacy.

Now John Dewey and the Soviet psychologists, among others, all understood that learning to decode and use symbols for sound or math that did not look visually like the concept they actually stood for is what turbocharged the potentials of the individual mind. (As compared with drawing a fish to symbolize a fish). And in the name of Equity and Mastery Learning and Gamification and Engagement and the new Era of ICT, we are trashing that herd-defying, capable of logic, abstract mind. Trying to put the Genie Back in the Bottle and deliberately regress in the average person’s working knowledge.

I simply cannot imagine a scenario where this will turn out well. It’s just a matter of how far down this Expensive Road to Ignorance we travel before recognizing what is going on.

I believe Marxism in essence is a Public Sector Subjugation Theory over the Individual and his or her Precious Mind. I get why people who currently have power, or who want more like the UN, would want to keep bringing it back. It levels the most capable and turns everyone else into reliable clients in search of “Bread and Circuses” delivered by the public sector and their privileged cronies.

And we may not be able to stop this but it is certainly time we understood what infamous theories we are really dealing with here. And thus why digital literacy and the use of the computer in some form is front and center now in education.

Naming Educators as the Levers Shifting the Human Personality To Marx’s Moral Revolution

The full quote was Change Producing Levers and it bemoaned their current disassembled status. But that was decades ago before education doctorates became about implementing Marx’s Human Development Theory in the schools and classrooms. And before all that psychology research from the late Soviet Union got rolled into pedagogy as we have discussed several times. And before Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, grounded in Hegel and Uncle Karl’s hope that man could change himself and his values and external conditions through practical activity in the world, got renamed to pitch to parents as student centered or project based learning.

Honestly I was a history major and I have spent the first five decades of my life not giving the disgruntled German revolutionary dreamer much thought. Especially since I wrongfully assumed it was a tired old defunct ideology anyway. But it just kept coming up as I charted what the real Common Core implementation, the one compelled by degree programs and actual definitions and the accreditors and laws and regs no one else seems to be reading, looked like.   So I dusted off my Phi Beta Kappa key for inspiration and rubbed it like a charm for good luck, shook the cobwebs out of my non-student brain, and dove into what turns out to be a still vibrant world of Marxist scholars looking for our answers. Especially why I kept seeing references to some unpublished 1844 manuscript that was still supposedly a vibrant vision for the future. The 21st century future.

I started with Gar Alperovitz’s new book that had struck me as fitting a vision of a small “c” communist future. That insight then pulled up economists Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick lecturing and writing away in an inspired way that showed no signs of being a defunct ideology. In fact they have said there are more Marxists today teaching in American colleges and universities than ever. I believe them but it also suggests that our collective guard is down about something that is still a real but unappreciated threat. If educators in higher ed and K-12, especially administrators, are committed to reorganizing our society and economy around Uncle Karl’s belief that:

“In a properly human society, we would find our freedom through our relations with other human beings. A proper human life is one which is lived, at least in part, for the sake of others.”

And no, Karl was not referring to spouse, kids, and friends. But that does read remarkably consistently with what is called Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development and the Universal Love Principle which we encountered in Hong Kong and all through teacher training in the US. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/using-education-to-shut-down-free-choices-and-then-redefining-as-personal-autonomy-orwell-lives/

So lucky me tackled several books by NYU prof Bertell Ollman that were quite enlightening on how important it was to Uncle Karl to provide the Concepts of Understanding that would then filter daily perceptions. Check. We had rather noticed the omnipresence of conceptual frameworks and how the planned assessments are tied to those supplied Enduring Understandings and Understandings of Consequence. And Harvard Project Zero’s CORE–Cognitive Reorganization. So the lineage goes back to how to spark an inner change at the level of the mind and personality. That will then ramp up the motivation to take action to change the world.

Another enlightening prof I tackled this week from London was Jonathan Wolff. His insights may also help explain why Bill Ayers goes running around declaring himself to be a small “c” communist apart from a propensity to be obnoxious. Wolff quoted from The German Ideology where Karl wrote that “communism is not for us a state of affairs which is to be established or an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.”

A quote to keep in mind as education and other degree programs trumpet their purpose of creating Social Change Agents. And with education reforms globally admitting their purpose is wholesale social, political, and economic change. Away from the concept of the individual and the primacy of the rational mind. And before we really dive into our Uncle Karl Scholarship 101 Cliff Notes version dialogue, remember how I have told you several times that the accreditors all over the world answer to UNESCO? That accreditation is actually being used as a driver of cultural and noetic change in higher ed, graduate programs, and K-12 and that the standards tie to what we have identified as the vision of Humanist Marxism we discussed two posts ago?

Well it now turns out UNESCO actually has a division called MOST–Management of Social Transformations–that ties to virtually everything controversial that I have ever written about. Including the Belmont Challenge and International Human Dimensions Programme–IHDP– that Paul Ehrlich has bragged will fundamentally alter human behavior. I mention both of those programs again because they are operational right now with far-reaching visions of global change. Especially to citizens of the world’s only superpower. See the tags on right to find those posts if you have never read them.

Now we come to Princeton political science prof and Sovietologist, Robert Tucker. He wrote a 1961 book called Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx. Now Professor Tucker had little use for Karl’s economic vision but he believed that:

“the aspect of Marx’s thought that is most live and relevant to the concerns of men in the contemporary West is the purely utopian aspect, the part relating to the post-revolutionary future…his vision of the future world was, if not scientific, at least rather prophetic of real possibilities. Marx’s concept of communism is more nearly applicable to present-day America, for example, than his concept of capitalism.”

That quote calls for both a deep breath and a sit down and gulp reaction. 1961. Especially as Tucker goes on to make the point that is so critical to the education reforms that commenced all over the West in the 1960s. Prompting outrage from the get go but never accurately perceived. The sought revolution is not military confrontation and it needs no pitchforks. “The world revolution would be the universal act of human self-change.” If that’s not clear enough, Tucker goes on:

“The revolution involved is not a political one but rather a revolution of man’s attitude towards himself and the purposes of his existence, a revolution of values.”

And if that is not clear enough Tucker goes on to say the sought change is “psychological” and “a moral revolution within the self”. This Growth (as in each student in the federally mandated teacher evals) is the “outcome of a gradual process” (like over years of collected data now starting in preschool). If you wonder why the ASCD is pushing the Whole Child as an essential component of the Common Core and why every one with any power over the classroom is decreeing a social and emotional learning focus, we need go no further than Tucker’s insistence that the revolutionary change needed to target each person’s personality. As Tucker wrote graphically: “it is only there, and by the individual’s own moral effort, that the egoism can be undone and the revolutionary ‘change of self’ achieved.”

Now I am not trying to spook you but those passages accurately describe precisely what is being targeted. And now we know for sure why. And for most of us the terms Marxism and Communism are bounded by visions of the Kremlin and Mao and Stalin. We remain dangerously unaware of the real threat to the West from Uncle Karl’s philosophies. And how it can come in and create the desired, revolutionary changes in values, attitudes, and beliefs without notice. And at a psychological level within the student.

The year after Tucker’s book many of leaders in the Behavioral Sciences in the US visited the USSR on an officially sanctioned trip to look into the psychological research being done there. Ralph Tyler and BF Skinner were both on that trip and Skinner kept a diary. And Ralph Tyler came back and basically wrote the legislation that launched Title 1 and the massive federal involvement in US education. And Skinner pushed the operant conditioning potential of education, especially if tied to the computer. And in 1965 federally funded research began to change the nature of the colleges of education to make Behavioral Sciences the focus. Others have written about that BSTEP program and the revolution it controversially ignited.

But not in the context of Tucker’s book about where the real communist, little c, revolution needed to begin.

I will leave you to mull all this over. But I will add that all the economic and social transformations we have encountered in post after post that all seem to be different names for the same vision are all consistent with this little c vision of the economic future and social citizenship.

Oh, one more thing. Robert Tucker turned out to be the father-in-law of Robert English. You know who wrote the 2000 book that gave the award-winning, officially sanctioned story of how Gorbachev’s New Thinking was actually the Marxist-Humanist thinking?

Small world, huh?

 

Pulling Up the Moorings Once Again to Transform Reality into the History of Desired Desires

If you want to “create a world where individuals will work even when they know that much of the fruit of their labor will go to those who are less fortunate,” you are going to need to use education to target prevailing social norms. If you believe that Marx’s famous quote “From each according to his ability and to each according to his need” has “morally resonant appeal” and wish to see a future society that does not dismiss that appeal “out of hand as mere sloganeering,” a perch as a World Bank economist is a tremendous platform to try to go about making it so. 21st Century Learning, perhaps?

It especially helps if you have a good working relationship with a Nobel Prize winning economist who wants to reframe economics in terms of Individual and especially Group Identity. And that economist, George Akerlof, in a 2010 book Identity Economics, recognized the value of his theories on education as the premier social institution with influence on almost everyone. An enduring influence on “what people care about, and how much they care about it.” A good working definition of Identity is values, beliefs and emotional commitments. Probably not coincidentally, precisely what the actual Common Core implementation targets for change. Which is interesting as Identity Economics defines “good schools” as those that “transform students’ identities and norms.”

Almost precisely like Transformational Outcomes Based Education sought to do in the 90s version of these education reforms. Names change but never really the goals. One of the aspects of Common Core that is consistent throughout but in the small print is its stated desire to create ‘habits of mind.” Think of those as unconscious reflexes. Now compare with Akerlof’s recognition that people “act as they do, naturally and without question, mostly out of habit. They are products of their social environment and unaware they might have behaved differently.” Remember also schools are a social environment of long duration.

So if you can use education, preschool, K-12, or higher ed (all of the above is even nicer to a future Transformationist) to create the desired feelings and values and influential conceptual understandings that filter daily life you can go a long way toward changing the future. Especially if you also rely on another insight from social psychology Akerlof points out: “individuals’ behavior depends on who people think they are.” So effective schools should get at Identity and define it in politically useful ways. Early and often. Like Chicago voting.

Now to do all that a theory of psychology based on a philosophy built on changing the nature of things in the real world would be very useful. And a factual theory of knowledge devoted to understanding the nature of things would be an obstacle because it would accept the world as it is. And maybe even keep a fondness for the past. Which would be in the way of someone who wanted to create a Worldview around his belief that:

“life is activity and to live means to satisfy one’s desires. Life is experienced as Desire: it is through desires that the subject realizes the discrepancy between the world as it is and the world he would like to have.”

Now I would assert that all of the mentions today that education must be Relevant and Engaging and about Real-World problems are merely a more subtle means of achieving that driving emphasis built on Desire. To change the world to something new. And if UK Professor Ivan Markova  wrote in 1982 that the twin Hegelian themes of activity and creativity in the acquisition of knowledge “have been emerging in various forms in social, clinical, and developmental psychology for some time and, quite probably without the knowledge of the authors concerned, that they have been reflecting Hegel’s philosophy.”

If those pros were unaware, what about now? Hegel’s philosophy is obviously a touchy subject to have as a foundation. A Soviet heritage is bad enough but tracking even further back to a common ancestry with what launched two World Wars and the Holocaust is undeniably even worse. And if the psychologists in 1982 were unlikely to know this history, how much less likely is it that a teacher or principal or administrator or politician know about this background to student-centered learning? To launder a notorious heritage you simply make it a basis for the amorphous terms “pedagogy” and “Best Practices” and “Constructivism” and then pronounce it as a better way to learn. Grounded in emotion is an easier way to remember and you simply leave out Hegel’s desire to bring values and human experience into how all science is done.

And since few know of the linkage back to Hegel, modern 21st century educators cannot rely on Scottish novelist and statesman Robert Buchan’s excellent advice from more than 100 years ago.  “A man who has been nourished on German metaphysics should make a point of expressing his thoughts in plain workaday English, for the technical terms of German philosophy have a kind of hypnotic power; they create a world remote from common reality where reconciliations and synthesis flow as smoothly and with as little meaning as in an opiate dream.” And you are wondering what does metaphysics have to to with Identity Economics and the Common Core?

Oh, you know the changing conceptualizations students are to be taught as they ignore obvious characteristics and look for new “cause-effect relationships”? Even something like RECAST, Revealing Causal Structures, that we have talked about is ultimately grounded in Hegel’s Conceptual Frameworks. Or CORE-Cognitive Reorganization. With his name left off and no warning that these are aspirational theories designed to alter current reality. When we talk of providing the Enduring Understandings that will frame everyday experiences, that’s Hegel’s insight on the usefulness to a change philosophy if education were to now be built around the recognition that “implicit presuppositions and conceptual frameworks do determine what is observed.”

Hegel so wanted to shake human consciousness that he talked about the importance of wars in human history. And pointed out that a “person has to go through disturbing experiences personally in order to grow as a person.” Which reminded me of precisely the curricula Bill Ayers and Maxine Greene and Nel Noddings were all describing in this post as necessary for “real moral growth.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/priming-delicate-minds-for-a-desired-disruptive-revolution-what-is-the-real-damage/

The idea of using activity and interactions with others to achieve personal growth is also Hegel. Which means the criteria of Student Growth that the US federal DoEd is requiring that teacher evals be based on ultimately tracks back to Hegel and his theories on how to change consciousness. Moreover, a change in values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings or a willingness to apply new concepts constitutes Student Growth. And usefully for the economists that started this post that would also be a useful change in Identity and over time prevailing norms.

I could walk you through how an Indeterminate Situation with no fixed linear answer as those Pearson assessments I have described fits within the kind of higher-order thinking that changed consciousness that Hegel described as Synthesis. What the Hewlett Foundation calls Deep Learning. But I believe you get my point that the overlap is high. The book is called Paradigms, Thought, and Language if you too want to immerse yourself in all the Hegelian foundations of what we are calling the Common Core. Or try to dispute all these troubling implications. Remember in the last post when the advocates for Vygotsky sought to assert that these theories need not result in totalitarianism? Showing the history was very much on their minds even if no one is giving us the heads up on the dangers of what we are mandating in our K-12 classrooms. This is how Markova ended her book:

“In all other areas of psychology the Hegelian framework will undoubtedly be the one with the future, and Hegel’s philosophy will prove a deep source of inspiration. Finally a word of caution…action can be sinister if based on non-recognition of the other person as a human being. The future of mankind depends on taking actions in which human beings mutually recognize each other as human beings.”

So are people basically good as so many of these philosophers and economists want to believe? Will we remember the lessons of history before we once again light this Hegelian powder keg for achieving social change?

I suggest we remember another turn of the 20th century insight when these German ideas were first exploding onto the world stage. It’s from a novel by the same Robert Buchan where his character wisely notes:

” You think a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Satan.”

The actual Common Core implementation and the intent of its assessments and the accompanying economic, social, and political transformations go far beyond a touch or a push.

Shoving into the abyss is more like it regardless of anyone’s good intentions. And without much accurate actual knowledge and a deliberate cultivation of a desire for change, there does not even seem to be a parachute or a tool to catch a ledge.

Treating Western Society and its Economy as a Train in Need of Rebuilding and Central Direction

When you get down deep into the aspirations on using education to shift the West away from its historic focus on individuals and economic freedom to considering new, untried forms of organizing societies and economies, you quickly come upon the desire that “learning” NOT reenforce currently existing “systems.” The fact that what is being called systems are actually people, like me and you, who are supposed to have legally protected rights to autonomy and private decision-making gets conveniently left out. That the countries to be reorganized have a history of success in the unprecedented opportunities available to their people gets left out. That free markets where they exist have delivered unprecedented prosperity to even the poorest among us also gets left out as inconvenient facts. Systems. Just systems that can be rebuilt with enough Big Data and supercomputers into a smarter planet. No one stops to ask whose vision of “smart” is being imposed.

Our friend, psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner of Ecological Systems Theory and transforming the West as an experiment fame  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ understood well that the theories he and others were creating were not based on some type of hypothesis about factual reality. They were and are aspirational. If implemented, these psychological and political theories become a means to “transcend the contexts given to you to produce societal change and personal developmental change.” That would be personal change in Uncle Karl’s sense of the word.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ . Or now hiding so well under the real definition of Student Growth. With lots of personal affective data being collected and shared to see how the developmental Learning is progressing.

We have a new global Change Agent to talk about. A professor who split his time between Finland and the University of California at San Diego, Yrjo Engestrom. His writing is important to our global story because of his Theory of Expansion and the influence of his book Learning by Expanding. Exciting for him and concerning to us, his Activity Theory is clearly the influence behind what are now being called euphemistically the Learning Sciences. As in the April 2012 Rand Corporation report for that Global Cities Education Network discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/misportraying-the-conspiracy-covers-up-the-broader-plans-of-political-and-economic-transformation/ . The report is called Teaching and Learning 21st Century Skills: Lessons from the Learning Sciences and it again shows why making poorly understood and defined goals like 21st Century Skills the new purpose of education has so much potential for anyone with aspirations for stealth cultural transformation.

Hidden at least in the West except at conferences of the like-minded. We know Urie was downright confessional on his aspirations in print. So quite frankly is Engestrom in his books and articles if you take the time to read them. What a fun weekend I had! The train metaphor in our title comes from Engestrom but he is quoting a frustration that Urie had with education in the US and the West generally. That human development in the West “takes place like in a moving train. One can walk forward and backward through the cars, but what really matters is where the train is going.”

I personally am hoping if I am being likened to a train car that I get to be a sleek luxury bullet train car and not something Amtrak has operating. But I digress. Engestrom then went on to say that Urie’s train metaphor “exemplifies the central problem embedded in most of the available societally and ecologically oriented analysis of development” [those originally Marxian or Soviet theories get to hide now by just being referred to authoritatively as the Learning Sciences. See above].

Here is the money quote that could have come from a myriad of social and behavioral scientists and education professors. Think of Engestrom as their voice too.

“The environments or societal contexts are seen as historically changing, but not as being constructed and reconstructed by the people living in these contexts. Contexts are imposed upon, not produced by humans. Nobody seems to be driving the train.”

Luckily as my regular readers now know the videogaming vision attached to the actual Common Core implementation will give students plenty of practice in constructing and reconstructing worlds. Even embedding them in strategies of what to do after a Zombie Apocalypse. How exciting and engaging! Engestrom’s sentiments on wanting a driver of a collective train are not the least bit unusual for someone who grew up with Uncle Karl’s theories of historical progression. In fact author Arthur Koestler who was so disillusioned by the turn Stalinism took that he wrote one of the great novels of the 20th Century, Darkness at Noon, could never quite shake his dislike of spontaneous, undirected processes where ever they occur naturally. Like in biology or chemistry. He still wanted direction. Central direction.

The kind that comes from cultural evolution if you can make education about transforming personal and prevailing values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. What became notorious as Outcomes Based Education but now hides quietly as unappreciated definitions of Student Growth and Learning. Still there but unlikely to be detected except maybe by hyperactive due diligence attorneys who read too much. Now Engestrom’s globally influential work made no attempt to hide just how much it was grounded in Soviet theories of dialectical materialism and how to try to push “a historically new form of activity into emergence.”

He certainly did not write in 1987 or again in 1999, when his book was translated into German and Japanese and he wrote a new Introduction, like someone who saw Uncle Karl’s or Soviet theories generally as assigned to the ash heap of history. For supposedly comatose or dead theories they appear in his pen to be full of vim and vigor and still existing hopes for transformation. I suppose it helps that our guard was down because “We won!”

In 1991 Engestrom wrote an article, published in Great Britain, that is clearly the blueprint for the reimagining of high school we are seeing globally and in the US as a component of Common Core. The article was called “Non Scolae Sed Vitae Discimus: Toward Overcoming the Encapsulation of School Learning.”  Now if that title was not pompous enough sounding, the actual article goes on to lay out “The Formation of Theoretical Concepts by Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete in Instruction.” Developed by V V Davydov based on Uncle Karl’s theory of finding defining relationships that can then filter everyone’s everyday analysis of reality, that theory was the subject of a great deal of research for decades in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. And it does not seem to have gone gently into that dark night either.

And neither ‘abstract’ or ‘concrete’ in Davydov’s theory have the meaning we commonly associate with them. ‘Concrete’ is NOT seen as “something sensually palpable.” Abstract does NOT mean “something conceptual or mentally constructed.” No, in this Davydov/Engestrom theory ‘concrete’ means the “holistic quality of systemic interconnectedness.” Which means that all of our encounters with Systems Thinking and Peter Senge and Appreciative Inquiry that push to teach students to see the world as interconnected and interdependent and full of relationships are back to Davydov’s theories.

Which in turn are explicitly supposed to be an updated, supercharged version of Dialectics. That’s not me alleging that. It’s me quoting those statements and then recognizing where else they are now being used. It also means that dialectical view of ‘concrete’ absolutely saturates that C3 CCSSO Social Studies framework I wrote alarmingly about here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/tearing-up-the-fabric-of-a-free-society-the-new-college-career-and-civic-life-c3-framework/

It is behind the 21st Century definition of ‘transferable learning’ in that Rand Global Cities Education Network report mentioned above. It is why we should be alarmed by that report asking “students to make analogies between a topic and something different, such as between ecosystems and financial markets.” Which are actually not analogous but neither the teacher nor the students are likely to recognize that. And if they all believe there is a connection and they act on those beliefs, we are back to our consequential false beliefs problem. Donald Schon’s Generative Metaphor who is absolutely cited by Engestrom by name.

The same guiding but false belief problem comes in when that Rand report “asks students to generalize broad principles from a specific piece of information.” Oh yes, that’s a good thing to practice. Practice creating and relying on dogma without anyone pointing out that is what is being practiced. No wonder students are being asked to computer model the discredited Limits to Growth scenarios from the 70s as part of Common Core science. It may not be factually true but it can now still be influential on future behavior. Plus bolstering that perceived need for transformation.

Some of you may have noticed that Common Core makes lots of references to student conceptual understanding for an approach that is so hostile to factual information. That is entirely possible if we are back to dialectical view of what concrete means as the real operating definition of conceptual understanding. Davydov’s ‘kernel’ becomes Common Core’s ‘lens’.

Which means that all of Davydov’s or Engestom’s or Uncle Karl’s aspirations for these theories come in too. Unannounced and so unopposed. No wonder the Chinese government thinks the Learning Sciences views in that Rand report are suitable in Shanghai and Hong Kong as well as the West.

They were subjugation theories against individuals and economies when they were written and they remain so now. Even if only a few of us appreciate those facts now.

Or should I say yet? And be more optimistic?

Placing a Global Bet that Psychology Infused Via Education Can Change Human Beings and their Institutions

Supposedly for the better which is why the initiative is called Positive Psychology to sound inspirational. But citing back to Abraham Maslow and Carl Rodgers’ work as foundational makes this push about more than instilling good work habits and hope. This Organizational Development (OD) push, that Appreciative Inquiry from the last post and systems thinking a la the higher profile Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer are an intrinsic part of, plans to act on the theory that human beings can be changed for the better. Globally but especially the US.

And it fully intends to try using the Global Quest for Educational Excellence and all those poorly understood international tests like PISA and TIMSS as the drivers of change. While you are thinking it’s about finally getting more knowledgeable students who are better at reading or math, these taxpayer funded visionaries have figured out how to also use Positive Behavior Interventions and Positive School Climate Executive Orders and data collection around Student Growth to drive continuous improvement toward “inspiring and shared moral purposes.” How very communitarian.

Apparently all the hyping about closing the Achievement Gap is just a ruse. Instead, the US CCSSI is part of a global attempt at “establishing the new and eclipsing the old in human systems.” So exciting that it really was italicized just like that in the 2010 Framework document I am describing today.  Coupled to a 2012 book by two Boston College professors called The Global Fourth Way laying out what really makes for a high performing school system. Hint: it’s not what you know but what you feel and are willing to do about it. Supposedly equitable outcomes for ALL students and Deweyan Quality Learning that changes the Whole Personality are just the thing that will “produce the economic and social outcomes that are essential for economic dynamism, social cohesion, and democratic ways of life.”

And before you get excited about the economic dynamism aspect during this Great Recession you should know it is premised on the idea that “going green might well become the biggest business opportunity of the twenty-first century.” Or not as all those bankruptcies from ventures like Fisker and Solyndra that got tax dollars in the 2009 Stimulus Act should show.

So once again the education component that is the real Common Core implementation is tied into a political and social upheaval that is not being advertised and an economic vision that shows no likelihood of working. No matter how many AI Summits like “Green City on a Blue Lake” cities like Cleveland hold envisioning a new green future and an extension of relatedness that will somehow save the Inner Cities and economic blight. The vision, that has Positive Psychology architect, Marty Seligman of UPenn (save Philly somehow please!) and David Cooperrider (a Taos Institute founder and Case Western, in Cleveland, prof), reportedly giving speeches to lots of famous companies, the US Army and Navy and the US Environmental Agency (no wonder it now plans with systems thinking), and the UN Global Compact among others around 2010, is called Innovation-inspired Positive Organization Development. Or IPOD as they call it to create an “economy and ecology of strengths.”

I wonder if they put their IPOD speeches on an IPad? Sorry. That IPOD Framework even mentioned that there was a “recent business leaders meeting at the UN to collaboratively design the future.” I guess it’s not collusion when it is for a good cause like Sustainability and preserving current markets. Which we should all keep in mind every time you hear “Business needs the Common Core or 21st Century Skills or Career Pathways.” This is SO not about what is best for our individual futures. In fact that’s why you keep hearing all these references to organizations. According to IPOD’s vision, organizations like schools and businesses are to become:

“institutions that serve to bring our highest human strengths into the world in a magnified way…They exist to serve a life-enriching purpose, and accomplish things no individual set of strengths can accomplish alone.”

Oh, I don’t know about that. An individual mind can be quite intrepid which is truthfully the whole problem with the old transmission of knowledge curriculum. It’s the real reason it must be jettisoned in the 21st century. None of these people want herd-defying individuals figuring things out without authorization or creating world-altering technology breakthroughs without permission. So they take Uncle Karl’s human development theory and give it a new disguise that sounds inspiring. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-knew-karl-marx-had-a-human-development-model-or-that-it-fit-our-facts-so-well/ .

The IPOD approach to change then is to be “collaborative [like group projects and Communities of Learners], educational based on experiential learning [hands on projects! service learning for credit!], dialogical [Courtney Cazden’s discourse classroom community], and contextually conditioned upon inquiry [just like a good IB Learner!] into the relevant content and process of a human system.”

No wonder we keep hearing a requirement for relevance and a link to real world problems. You get the IPOD, Fourth Way, vision implemented without having to mention it or get approval. Thus the IPOD framework says the “DNA pulsating through” it can be described by three essential features:

1. That special spirit of inquiry [they do love italics for emphasis] that seeks “to learn, experiment, seek feedback and build shared understanding through dialogue and open exploration of things that may never have been collectively explored.” How expensive and unproductive if simply based on the feelings of deliberately created Know-Nothings. Next.

2. The collaborative design of the future. Now this impossibility is based on the very accurate observation that “people build their commitment to change in direct proportion to the degree that they are actively engaged in designing the change.” Which is why you are unlikely to get the PTA President or members of your local School Council to listen to you when you point out, for example, that Spence Rogers’ own books cite Mao as a good example of leadership and that makes him a poor choice for teacher professional development.

The collaboration also primes all participants for the “assumed centrality of interdependence in organizational life” to force recognition that it is “the quality of the relationships, the processes–how the relationships give or deplete life” that make a human system work. No wonder relationships are one of the new 3 R’s along with Relevance and the imaginative Rigor [think of that Spirit of Inquiry above as what Rigor is really about].

3. A positive view of the human being. Now this is the age old question that has kept philosophers speculating for centuries. You will be glad to know that IPOD comes down on the side not supported by history. IPOD has not only “proclaimed a belief in people” from its “infancy.” It goes on to [this is a little long but it is a vision worth quoting in full. Maslow to Marx with the behavioral sciences thrown in to boot]

“Insofar as we might discover the conditions that help bring out the best in life–for example, Abraham Maslow’s studies into peak experiences–then we might well be able to apply this knowledge in our institutions. Drawing from the entire mosaic of the social sciences–from anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and biology and more–OD would be unique in not only propagating a collaborative, inquiry-driven approach to change but would be centered on advancing the developmental potentials of the human being. [And you thought I was being sarcastic about Uncle Karl or his 20th century leading advocate Erik Erikson and why they matter to CCSSI] Instead of being woven at random, like an afterthought design into our economic and organizational fabric, human development would be at the center. Lines would radiate out from the human dimension to all the others–the economic, technological, strategic, structural, political, etc.”

That would be truly all-encompassing and people focusing on who owns the means of production are not keying in on what parts of Marx’s vision are back for a 21st Century run.  The framework also mentions the good prof Csik as a key component of this positive psychology vision http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/ . Why look, excellence just like the Fourth Way. What a coincidence. Not.  But it also notes that for a new OD as described here to “truly emerge, it would need a new human science knowledge base.”

Well, guess what? All that data being thrown off –measuring Student Growth or soft skills or attitudes, values, and beliefs and continuous improvement in PBIS or PATHS and other “mental health first aid” or social and emotional learning curricula as we see from CASEL– is just what OD needs to be its “human science knowledge base.” No wonder ICT vendors are so excited. No wonder the accreditors now require its collection. And the US federal government by requiring teacher evals based on “multiple measures of Student Growth.”

Should it trouble us that the World Economic Forum just put out a report on creating the 21st century economy around ICT and Big Data? Coincidences surely abound these days.

Who Knew Karl Marx had a Human Development Model? Or that It Fit Our Facts So Well?

Or that it could be put in place in the US by executive fiat at the federal level? All you have to do is misinterpret the nature and language and case law of the federal civil rights laws. And then repeat. Early, often, and adamantly. It’s not like someone with a working knowledge of con law also reads education declarations and documents. It’s also not like changing the nature of education in the classroom could have any impact on a society or economy. Or political beliefs. Or future behaviors.

About a week ago the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent school districts a letter announcing that “We Must Provide Equal Opportunity in Sports to Students With Disabilities.” It included a 12 page Dear Colleague letter from the DoEd’s Office of Civil Rights. A number of commentaries (Rick Hess and Mike Petrilli among them) have wondered where such a pronouncement came from and noted how impractical it is. Equal opportunity in sports at whatever cost. What no one seems to be paying attention to is what both letters declared. To  quote Arne directly:

“Federal civil rights laws require schools to provide equal opportunity.”

No actually federal civil rights laws do no such thing. Congress can rewrite them or the courts can change their interpretation of them. But Arne and his employees, even the ones with law degrees, may not. Especially on a Friday afternoon in the first week of a Second Term in office. If you read  http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/01/we-must-provide-equal-opportunity-in-sports-to-students-with-disabilities/ the OCR letter you will see that sports is just an illustration of a much broader right Arne and his Department want to create. And they explicitly want to include learning disabilities, not just physical ones.

Think about that. If federal law did mandate that those with learning disabilities have an equal opportunity to students without disabilities or who are just plain brilliant, then school and high ed could not really be about intellectual pursuits anymore. That’s a playing field where inequalities in capabilities exist. Must change playing fields then. How about social and emotional learning since everyone has feelings? That would be an equal opportunity arena. All students can also interact at some level. Especially with computers. We also have a push now to promote life skills. Everyone can do that too. Except they usually leave off the full name: Life Skills for Psychosocial Competence. Can’t imagine why anyone would want to ditch such a graphic tipoff as to what is really going on.

There’s another possibility for our Equal Opportunity classroom. A developmental progression that focuses on personality development in a social context. That would be the education theories of Erik H Erikson. He practiced in Chicago and it’s hard to imagine Arne is not familiar with his views of child development or the sociocultural approach to education. Especially since the University of Illinois in 2007 published a paper in Educational Theory announcing all of this as the new approach to education. http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/vita/Articles/Matusov,%20DePalma,%20Drye,%20Whose%20development,%20ET,%202007.pdf . And also because numerous government agencies including the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation embraced sociocultural theories instead of cognitive theories grounded in individual thinking as the basis of their future work.  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/ is the post from July 2012 describing that official report and its troubling implications.

What I had not read in July was a 1982 book by CCNY/CUNY professor Marshall Berman called All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity.  That book laid out Marx’s developmental ideal and “how crucial” it was to all his political beliefs. Also that it was grounded in the German humanist and Romanticist culture of Marx’s youth. Berman did leave out the part about how that ideal facilitated the national collective mindset that led Germany to launch two world wars in the 20th century. But then Berman is an admirer of Marx and that’s such a picky little detail for me to mention. Berman does mention though that this Marxian/Romantic German developmental ideal was “still very much alive in our own day” and that Erik Erikson is its “most distinguished living exponent.” Erikson actually passed away in 1994 but his work does clearly seem to be gaining momentum. Probably because without Berman’s book it would be harder to link it directly to Marx.

With that book though we don’t even have to infer. We can quote directly from Berman and Marx (pages 96-98 if you want to locate a copy).  Marx has a vision of education that does not transmit the values and knowledge of the current culture which he of course wanted to disappear. Hence the Melt into Air metaphor he used. Educators pushing Marx’s personal development theories today through later adopters, like Dewey or Erikson or Vygotsky, are pushing the same goals. Change the foundations that support the current economy, society, and political structures.

That’s in fact why this type of education is not just called Progressivism. It’s also known as Social Reconstruction and that is precisely where that Equal Opportunity declaration takes us. Very similarly to the goal Goodwin Liu also laid out for the Common Core here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/ . Same basic desired Transformation goals coming from a variety of directions. With the same vehicle–education, K-12 and higher ed and creating false beliefs and new values to get different future behaviors. At least from a voting majority. What Paul Ehrlich and his MAHB seek as well

Berman first quotes this passage from Marx’s Communist Manifesto:

“In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we will have an association in which the free development of each will be the condition of the free development of all.”

A desire that 21st century educators will relabel as the Universal Love Principle or Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory and impose in the classroom in the name of Character Education or a Positive School Climate. Let’s continue on with how crucial this developmental ideal was to Marx. Berman cites several examples but this one rings consistent with the actual current definition of  College Ready: “the goal of communism is ‘the development of a totality of capacities in the individuals themselves.’ Berman goes on with this passage from The German Ideology that is consistent with the Communitarianism we are have found in Career Ready Practices and the Positive School Climate (again!):

“only in community with others has each individual the means of cultivating his gifts in all directions; only in the community, therefore, is personal freedom possible.”

Bill Ayers just loves that definition of freedom. I do believe it’s what sent him into education in the first place. I mean who would know? Who reads Marxist professors to locate such a quote back to Marx himself? Me when the footnotes cite someone.

This final quote from Marx is reflected in the actual definitions of Student Growth and Student Achievement being used in the States as part of Common Core. It’s why feelings and social and emotional learning and changes in values, attitudes, and beliefs measured through collected data about each student and classroom are so much a part of the actual Common Core implementation. This is from Volume One of Capital:

“it is essential to communism that it transcend the capitalist division of labor [that would be differences in knowledge and skills among students in less stilted language]… the partially developed individual, who is merely the bearer of one specialized social function, must be replaced by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of labors, ready to face any change in production, for whom the different social functions he performs are only so many modes of giving free scope to his own natural and acquired powers.”

That’s a fairly concise summary of what is now being called College and Career Ready if you go back to the original documents as I have. It also fits perfectly with the OECD’s definition of Competency driving international education reforms through PISA.

Now I am not saying everything going on in education globally is about resurrecting Communism. For one thing it now has a terrible reputation. But education globally is trying to displace any right of individuals to make their own decisions about how to live their lives. Right now the 21st century being shaped for us through education is the Age of Statism where politicians and government employees and Business and Nonprofit cronies make decisions for us. It’s not to be the Age of the Individual or the Consumer or widespread prosperity.

And the educational theories being used to mold New Kinds of Minds and Different Personalities really do track back to Marx. Which then makes 20th Century history hugely relevant to where we are headed in the 21st.

I wish this was not true but it is. And the only way to get us off this current planned pathway is to stare this Marxian foundation square in the face.