Stifling the Individuality of Thinking to Standardize WTPs–Ways of Thinking and Practices

Yes I do know it is summer, but the UN was busy last week putting out the global ed vision at a High Level Policy Forum we were not invited to (as usual). Plus my life seems to have calmed down from the multiple pots overflowing stage to just a slow simmer so let’s use this post as an opportunity to get out of the sun and heat and talk about these laid out plans for us so we will develop the desired skills and dispositions https://education-reimagined.org/hey-teacher-what-shall-we-call-you/  , WTPs, “21st-century student outcomes” (iNACOL, July 10,2019),  or “the achievement of relevant and effective learning outcomes” from  https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/hlpf2019 in the Beyond Commitments link. To really appreciate what all these references actually have in mind, let’s go back in time to 1967 when E.D. Hirsch was not yet writing about what every American needed to know. Instead, he was writing the following in his book on the topic of ‘Understanding’ called Validity in Interpretation. The passage really clarified for me just how learning standards or competency frameworks can quietly force ‘shared meaning making’ and prescribed ways of thinking.

The inadequacy of identifying textual meaning with ‘tradition’ or some other changing norm is seen first of all in the total impracticality of such a norm on the level of scholarly interpretation. Certainly, in scriptural questions, changes in interpretations can be institutionalized at any moment by an authoritative pronouncement about the ‘consensus ecclesiae’. Similarly, in legal questions, changed interpretations can be institutionalized by a pronouncement from the highest court. But in the domain of learning such pronouncements cannot carry authority. No one, for example, would hold that a law means “what the judges say the law means” if there were not a supreme tribunal to decide what, after all, the judges say. There could never be such arbitrary tribunals in the domain of knowledge and scholarship.

Now, when I read that passage, I immediately wrote “not true” in the margin since I have documented that Common Education Data Standards and UNESCO’s education standards classifications do, in fact, operate quietly as just such arbitrary tribunals. More fascinatingly, a few weeks after I read that passage and objected (with at least one cat as my witness), an Elements in Public Policy White Paper by Daniel Beland confirmed I was right in my analysis by laying out “How Ideas and Institutions Shape the Politics of Public Policy.” Once again I wrote in the margin of the paper that it’s no wonder think tanks of various purported visions keep misrepresenting how learning standards work or what Competency education really is. They are part of the process of quietly institutionalizing these ideas, just like legally mandated learning standards themselves.

Let’s go back to something else Hirsch wrote earlier in that same book where he pointed out that the “necessary requirement” for the “shareability of verbal meaning” is the “existence of shared conventions.” That’s precisely what learning standards specify, as well as prescribed DCIs-Disciplinary Core Ideas, Enduring Understandings, and other ways of stipulating the desired categories of thought students are to use. Here’s Hirsch:

An implication belongs to a meaning as a trait belongs to a type. For an implication to belong to verbal meaning, it is necessary that the type be shared, since otherwise the interpreter [aka each student in a standardized classroom] could not know how to generate implications; he would not know which traits belonged to the type and which did not. And there is only one way the interpreter can know the characteristics of the type; he must learn them. (For those characteristics are not usually ‘syncategorematic’ or absolutely necessary like color or extension. Even the Pythagorean Theorem is a learned characteristic of a right angle, no matter how ‘necessary’ it may seem once it is learned.) Implications are derived from a shared type that has been learned, and therefore the generation of implications depends on the learner’s previous experience of the shared type. The principle for generating implications is, ultimately and in the broadest sense, a learned convention.

I quoted that passage in its entirety because as soon as I read it I realized that everybody involved in education reform wants to control not just the meaning of words we decipher, but also the implications we draw from interacting with any text. It answered my question as to why suddenly so many states are pushing phonetic reading via regulation or statute after years of citing Marie Clay, Guided Reading, or a Balanced Approach. Because now we have conceptual frameworks in place to act as the circumscribing barrier of shared meaning that all students are to interpret with. That passage helped reaffirm my intuition that had been brewing this legislative season.

Even more confirming was this passage from a more recent book by Noel Entwistle called Teaching for Understanding at University which laid out the true purpose of the use of academic disciplines and what the ‘intended outcomes’ for the students would be. The acronym WTPs comes from that book complete with italics as the ways of thinking and practicing in the subject.

The great disciplines like physics or mathematics, or history, or dramatic forms in literature, were…less repositories of knowledge than of methods for the use of the mind. They provided the structure that gave meaning to the particulars…The object of education was to get as swiftly as possible to that structure–to penetrate the structure, not to cover it…[And] mastery of the fundamentals of a field involves not only the grasping of general principles, but also the development of an attitude toward learning and inquiry, toward guessing and hunches, toward the possibility of solving problems on one’s own…

Now let’s go to yet another source to confirm yet again what kind of desired mental structures and new ways of thinking, and the extent to which both will be politically imposed, from the related world of Classical Education and a book by Vigen Guroian called Tending the Heart of Virtue. It recognized the same point we have found behind the terms Guiding Fiction and Anticipatory Assumptions (related to UNESCO declaring last year ‘decision-making’ to be the new global purpose of education). As Guroain noted:

while not all seeing is believing, believing is still a form of ‘seeing’. Or putting the matter somewhat differently, one truly ‘sees’ when one believes. When one believes, then the scales fall from one’s eyes and one ‘sees’ into the deeper reality of things.

Or at least fervently believes that you do since this “way of knowing and experiencing the world is not the objective knowing normally associated with physical science; nor is it the subjectivity of solipsism. It is an intersubjective and relational way of experiencing and knowing. It is a way of interpreting the world that requires memory and a moral imagination; otherwise a moral self cannot come into being.”  Whether it is the so-called Right wanting to promote a moral transformation at an internalized level in the name of virtue necessary for a “Constitutional Republic,’ or an admitted progressive pushing the same transformation in the name of Democracy and Uncle Karl, the bullseye euphemised as Student Success or Achievement is the same in the individual human being. So is how it will be instilled.

Fairy tales and modern fantasy stories project fantastic other worlds; but they also pay attention to real moral ‘laws’ of character and virtue. These laws ought not to be high-handedly shoved down the throats of children (or anyone else). More accurately, they are norms of behavior that obtain in patterns of relation between agent, act, other, and world. Rational cognition is capable of grasping these norms. They become habit, however, only when they are lived, or, as in the case of fairy tales, experienced vicariously and imaginatively through the artful delineation of character and plot in a story.

See why we get so many euphemisms for what must be changed? Can any of us imagine the outcry if people understood that education globally is now about prescribing norms of behavior without that being readily apparent? Can we all see why standards of achievement and student success had to cease  to be about what is rationally known so that students had provide behavioral performances or tasks instead? Proves it is a habit and neurally hardwired to lock in that desired future decisionmaking and motivations to act.

Now that we have put what is aimed at into context and stripped away the deliberate vagueness of ‘outcomes,’ let me end with another, much shorter, vision UNESCO put out last week in the form of a comic book called ‘Let’s Work Together’ https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000369006/PDF/369006eng.pdf.multi on the role education is to play in the UN meeting its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As GEM put it in a blog post on July 10, “every goal in the 2030 Agenda requires education to empower people with the knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies.” If we wonder why implications of words must be shared and constrained, why knowing must become a matter of habit and grounded in emotion, and why our very categories of thought must now be prescribed in advance, it would be hard to put the reason more succinctly than this quote from the second page of that link since in order to “work together” apparently–

Education must teach people to think collectively and not individually.

Explains so much doesn’t it? I feel like I should end this post with a declaration of still being a defiantly individual thinker. Who would have thought that would become such an issue in the 21st century?

Aspirations of Controlling Consciousness, A New Kind of ‘Thinking Beast,’ & Another School Shooting

In the last post, we talked about the planned evolution of human cognition using curricula for K-12 and higher ed, as well as through learning standards that are consistently misexplained to obscure their actual intended effects. Then we had the tragedy last week at Highland Ranch STEM, which turned out to be about ten miles as the crow flies from the McREL ed lab, which has long hyped cybernetic ‘Second Order’ Change at the level of students’ minds. When I pulled up Highland Ranch in a map location search looking for McREL, in my left hand corner (representing to the west) was the now rebuilt Columbine High School. I am familiar with the interest of what was called the General Evolution Research Group in the 80s in education reforms and their piloting in these school districts of a template called ‘Achieving Excellence’. Excellence had to do with reimagining Consciousness so that what is thought, felt, and desired are united as motivation to act.

Now before I shift to what I found at Highland Ranch where “Our goal is not only to prepare students to thrive in the constant world of re-invention, but to lead it,” while hyperlinking to the UN Sustainable Summit page https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/summit/ as well as the also relevant https://woodrow.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/WW-Reimagining-American-History-Education.pdf released last week, I want to go back to a 1968 international conference on the Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation. What the STEM ‘About Us’ page says it desires, and what the Remagining History Education declares as its intended effects on how students “make sense of a chaotic present and inchoate future”, fit with:

we ought to look toward our willingness to enter our individual consciousness into the system comprised by this new kind of organism. We have to ask ourselves whether in some way we can understand the world and act on it better, with passion and commitment, through becoming an organ in such an organism…[sensing] the need for a new kind of ‘thinking beast’ in order to cope with the crisis the world is in.

Just after that quote, cyberneticist Gordon Pask, whom we met in the last post as relevant now to all sorts of 21st century plans for us and our children, spoke up about the need to “redefine an individual” as “one named class of programs,” which fits perfectly with what I have been warning about the way learning standards are actually intended to work. He went on in an explanation that makes Whole Language in reading and constructivism in math and science make far more sense, than the repeated bogus explanations that they are simply “another way of teaching.” It’s about controlling and evolving consciousness in predetermined, politically useful ways.

…Because of this interpretation of the individual, one can perceive a separate sort of evolution that I refer to as ‘symbolic evolution,’ which is perhaps exemplified by this conference. To avoid overpopulating the world with general-purpose machines, what we have to do is control the symbolic evolution process. To do so, I believe that the first thing we must do is redefine what we mean by an individual, get away from this idea of individuals as heads.

Before I get back to that conference, let me excerpt from the About Us page found here https://www.stemk12.org/ under the “Never Stop Innovating” link in case accurate perception of the intended changes in consciousness results in a subsequent takedown.

“Welcome to STEM School Highlands Ranch. We are an innovative, free, public, charter learning community that exists to innovate K-12 education in order to prepare every student to lead change, solve problems and succeed in an exponentially changing world.

We are more than a school. We are a think tank, a learning lab and a catalyst for creativity. We are a haven for continual innovation, creative exploration, and rigorous discovery. We defy definition and break with convention. Because that’s what innovators do.

We see school differently.  Although our curriculum has a college preparatory focus with emphasis on developing core liberal arts skills in reading, writing, mathematics and science, we use creativity, problem-solving and innovation to inspire and challenge our students.

We are more than just STEM. We infuse STEM into all classrooms. We challenge students with STEM-based, real-world problem solving fueled by constant exploration, inquiry and discovery.

We foster innovation. We equip every student, every day in every classroom with the knowledge, skills, confidence and character to thrive in a constantly changing world. By using continuous inquiry, constant discovery and trial and error as critical pathways to new discoveries, we create a culture of safe failure and fearless innovation.

We empower students. We put students in the driver’s seat of their learning, engaging and empowering them to push their own unique boundaries of innovative learning, thinking and doing.

We see teachers as catalysts. Here, teachers are role models and innovation coaches who provide the framework for learning. Our teachers are experts in teaching appropriate use of technology, collaboration, and teamwork that sparks interest in STEM and learning at an early age.

We innovate and learn together. Here, we leverage the power of collaboration, teamwork and group think to build, design and create solutions to real world problems.

We’re fostering tomorrow’s innovators, creators and change agents. We work tirelessly to nurture and develop integrity, respect, responsibility and honesty within our students and take pride in encouraging well-rounded student development. Link here for some of our notable student accomplishments over the last school year.”

That’s a school grounded in manipulating and practicing with the created neural change in its students. It wants to control their purpose in the same way that the cyberneticists envisioned. So now let’s go back to that conference again and see what they wanted to do to the mind “to act, again to use the Marxist terminology, as midwives to a humanistic change…where we might have to change man radically, give him a new morality or something, otherwise we might fail.” That reference to Uncle Karl was not gratuitous or inflammatory as a personality theory psychologist with a 1949 PhD from Harvard explained to the conference that “the notion of transforming thought, taking actuality and changing it through work, was the crucial concept in Marx.” Euphemizing that same aim as a 2011 chartered STEM School and then hyping yourself as a global template makes it much harder to see for anyone who doesn’t already possess all these detailed plans for change where the mind and its instilled ideas can be a “cause of history” defined as “movement that gets someplace.”

That’s precisely how that link above wants to Reimagine American History, while pretending it is a matter of Equity and Reaching ALL Students. Yes, because of the needed changes to all those conceptual systems to reestablish “the common bonds that all Americans [should] share in a time of deep national political, economic, and social divisions in which Americans’ differences overshadow our commonalities.” Pask would call that a new set of programs because our cyberneticists believe:

that it’s impossible to get at this supposedly real world independent of some sort of conceptual system, so that if the real world in real time is filtered through successive conceptual systems, then the history of these conceptual systems is the ‘history of consciousness,’ I think, [and] highly relevant to anything you’s like to say about the ‘real world.’

The Highland Ranch vision, the new history education vision, and that conference are all about change in the material world of reality created by controlling the conceptual systems of students. For “establishing the engaged and informed citizenry needed to preserve a democratic society” is how the Woodrow Wilson history vision pitches it. The 1968 conference said the purpose was to create people “whose point is not homeostasis, but change.” Today, that gets euphemized as Change Agents, Lifelong Learning, and Growth Mindsets as a STEM vision. All are grounded in treating people, and the mind especially, as not independent in the actual historic sense where the King could not cross the private threshold of a citizen’s home without permission. Now we stealthily get governments, at all levels, using prescribed learning standards to form:

a system which is self-corrective, maintaining constants about relations between the parts and relations to the environment: a steam engine with a governor. Mind is immanent where energy is stored so that the system can be responsive to abstract cues. [Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequences?] Mind is related to purpose, especially the kind of goals which Gordon [Pask] called evolutionary goals, and any material system with an evolutionary goal deserves to be called historical in a sense going beyond the simple fact of change.

Do you think it is accidental students are being bombarded with terms like “chaotic present and inchoate future” or have the word ‘innovate’ thrown at them constantly as Highland Ranch does? Even that link to the UN and its Sustainable Development Goals using students and education fits with the idea that creating a “system of ideas and ideals” can allow the systematic control of prevailing consciousness using “internalized, conceptualized goals.” Remember too that the word ‘standards’ is just another word for goals. Let me close this disturbing, but illuminating, post with another quote from “A Human Family on a Ledge” from the last day of our 1968 conference.

We need to become, uniquely in the history of life on our planet, a species that does not compete with every skill and weapon to monopolize resources and guarantee the survival of as many of our immediate offspring as possible. Instead, we must begin not only to include ourselves within our understanding of nature, but include our understanding of nature within our understanding of ourselves, consciously fostering natural balances because we have a vision of the whole, rather than simply moving within it. We need to see ourselves as parts of the system, and we need to develop an internalization of that system, like an actor turned director who must discipline his wish to steal the show.

STEM is no longer actually about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as bodies of knowledge and History must be reimagined to create a new kind of conceptualization of what the world ought to become. Consciousness itself has become the point for creating change, while parents and taxpayers get misled to believe that these shifts are about better Engagement and Achievement.

And once again I find school shootings occurring in schools adamantly announcing their innovative changes to the human psyche. At least we no longer need to wonder why no amount of shed blood will cause a deviation from this transformational template with such a troubling history in its documented implementation.

Focusing on the Conceptual System of the Mind for a 21st Century Imposed DiaMat

What if I told you that global conferences none of us were invited to have Slideshares available laying out “By transforming individual conceptual systems, we can change society?” All of a sudden all that emphasis on New Kinds of Thinking and stipulating the desired categories of thought and, even in the US, making annual assessment of those ‘Higher Order Thinking Skills’ a federal mandate for virtually all students, begins to make sense. Transformation plans need malleable citizens either unaware of the plans for them or eagerly on board. There was a meeting in October 2017 in Chengdu, China of the International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences where the IASCYS President usefully pointed out the desire to examine the “effect that a theory has on the system observed.” If you control the conceptual framework of a student or adult citizen’s mind, you control the theories they will use to perceive and interpret the world.

Very handy for anyone seeking to reject the status quo in terms of political, economic, and social structures. Suddenly, science needs to shift to include purposeful systems and education needs to shift to control the purpose of human systems. In a Newtonian, transmission of knowledge world via textbooks or lecture, “scientific theories do not alter” the physical structure of the world and how it operates or can be made to operate. “Theories do not change the way that nature works…But theories of social systems are constructed in the hope that theories will guide actions that will change the way social systems operate. There is a dialogue between theories and societies.” If theories are to be introduced via public policy think tanks and a new vision of the law to transform social and political institutions and practices and economic structures and activities, controlling the human conceptual system turns out to be the foundation for making the change without overt coercion.

IASCYS is a cybernetics honor society that features many names we have stumbled over in education plans such as Ervin Laszlo, Mary Catherine Bateson who was at the 1987 World Order Models Project meeting in Moscow (her dad Gregory Bateson coined the term ‘framing’ back in 1972 in his Ecology of the Mind), Ernest von Glasersfeld of constructivist math fame (covered in Chapter 3 of CtD), and George Soros, international mischief maker. If the President of that society on one of his last slides stated that “If Cybernetics is seen as a theory of experimentation and reform in social systems, it will connect the earlier work in cybernetics with political reform and the evolution of society,” then we have powerful people wanting to use the mind’s conceptions to change how the world works. They can do that if education targets people’s goals and purpose by altering how they make sense of the world.

Almost simultaneously with stumbling across that slideshare, the globalist Center for Curriculum Reform published Artificial Intelligence in Education: Promises and Implications for Teaching & Learning which also stressed targeting a Core Concept emphasis where the curriculum would develop the highly malleable ‘expert amateurism’ that “aims for ‘a robust and flexible understanding of the fundamentals.’ By internalizing the most important concepts of each discipline, and across disciplines, which we call core concepts, students are better equipped to deal with multifaceted problems and have a more diverse set of tools with which to interpret the world.” Then in Appendix 1 under desired Cross-Cutting Themes we are told that students need to have Design Thinking because “the twenty-first century challenges we now face are demanding a major rethinking and redesigning of many of our societal institutions from education, to agriculture and energy use, to product design and manufacturing, to economics and government.”

Well, that’s confessional, but it followed a push for the theme of Systems Thinking which “requires a shift from the mechanistic and reductionist model of twentieth century Western culture [where the theories did not impact nature. See Slideshare above], toward a more balanced approach.” You know who else wanted to get Theory into Practice? Uncle Karl and John Dewey. The Appendix then goes on to hype:

According to educational theorist and cognitive scientist Derek Cabrera, students should be encouraged to consider distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives (DSRP).

**Distinctions: develop increasingly sophisticated characterizations of ideas and objects

**Systems: Deconstruct ideas and re-constructing new integrated concepts with a variety of part/whole interactions

**Relationships: See connections between things

**Perspectives: See things from different points of view

By considering the common properties of complex systems, learners can apply this approach to view more traditional disciplines from a modern, systems perspective.

Now two things jumped out at me when I read that, DSRP functioned just like Dialectical Materialism did as a guiding philosophy of academics in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Plus I remembered reading that after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Soros’ Open Society funded the conversion of the DiaMat departments in Eastern European higher ed to a sociology (science of society) emphasis. Secondly, I had never heard of Derek Cabrera which is a tad unusual at this point. I was able to locate his “Simple Rules of Complex Conceptual Systems” paper and was told that “Context is a set of processing rules for content,” which seems highly useful for someone seeking transformative change in the status quo. Even more forthcoming was his statement in pushing DSRP that:

all human and group identity is derivative of the aggregation of conceptual systems for the individual or group. In other words, humankind is what it thinks either alone or in groups or sub-groups…In general, human beings are not irreparably divided by biology or geography, but instead by their conceptual systems…What causes humans to be incompatible are their conceptual systems in the form of beliefs, ideologies, ideas, and assumptions.

Another speaker at Chengdu also wrote a paper “Addressing the Critical Need for “New Ways of Thinking’ in Managing Complex Issues in a Socially Responsible Way” which ominously has a section called “Starting with the Young”. It made it clear that the foundation that must be changed to achieve sustainability is to alter Prevailing “Mental Models/mind Maps/ People’s Understanding”. That is the prerequisite transformation which is precisely why it gets pitched euphemistically as ‘student-centered personalized learning’ or ‘citizen-centric governance’. Having targeted the individual mind and imposed the desired theories, categories of thought, values, and attitudes practiced until they are Habits of Mind, “Systemic Structures–What does the System Look Like?” can be adjusted. That’s exactly what Cabrera’s DSRP trains students to do (and motivates them to want to do it.)

It’s not just CCR advocating this type of thinking, the website features school systems touting his Systems Thinking Made Easy “will transform your school district” and that “Developing every child into a systems thinker is an ethical imperative.” If that is not alarming enough, we have a closing quote around “developing shared consciousness across the district.” How very comradely. Cabrera did rather betray the transformational intention by admitting that “DSRP also provides a mechanism for the memetic behavior that must exist in order for evolutionary epistemology to be a viable proposal.” In other words, a transmission of knowledge curriculum does not force the needed change in worldview and daily behaviors desired for the Inclusive, Equitable, Transformative vision all these education reforms and new ways of thinking are tied to.

To add to the global push for these changes  I found this https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/K-03-2017-0120 showing the Russian Science Foundation’s current interest in this kind of conceptual, 3rd order cybernetics. Finally, school districts may be imposing Cabrera’s DSRP, but Cornell Policy Review clearly shows it is a university level textbook intended for public policy coursework. Two purposes in social science achieved with one book. Changing the conceptual mind’s function via K-12, and also using it to credential in higher ed so that students can go to work for think tanks, philanthropy, governments at every level, or even run for office implementing these theories in the real world.

Today the OECD, working with the US NSF Science of Learning Centers Project released “Developing Minds in the Digital Age: Towards a Science of Learning for 21st Century Education” that laid out precisely how curriculum and technology will quietly implement this agenda. In a preschool, no less. I guess that fits with Cabrera’s quote that “When a mind is young, few conceptual bonds have been made and there is still much conceptual space in which to work.”

Practically a blank canvas is another way to put that aspiration. Just the vehicle for DJEM–Designed Joint Engagements with Media.

Rising Like a Phoenix from the Ashes Despite Repeated Autopsies and Pretend Burials

The last line about Pretend Burials is my addition to a quote I took from a translated book from 1970 called Three Faces of Marxism .The active disinformation campaign we started looking at in the last post contradicts the informed contents of that Leonhard book, which quoted one Eastern European after another from the 1950s and 60s on the “true renaissance of Marxism … that is the beginning of an event, the beginning of something historic that concerns the future of us all.” I think that same something is going on now and it’s behind the documentable deceit surrounding (1) what learning standards like the Common Core are and why they are needed; (2) the determined effort starting in the late 80s to pretend the MH aspiration never existed and pretend that Soviet Communism=Marxism; and (3) the misrepresentation of what Martin Luther King aspired to engineer through civil rights laws and in the name of the Beloved Community that essentially coincides with the MH aspiration and the purpose of learning standards.

That interconnection woke me up over the weekend and covering this up made me think of the need for pretend burials to protect these theories from the infamy of their history. If you think I am being disrespectful to Dr King, last week I noticed that part of the brigade pushing the organized disinfo campaign about the Common Core was involved with “The Life and Legacy of The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King” https://www.baylor.edu/washington/index.php?id=951374 .The event was somehow sold out before it was even publicly announced. That suggested to me that KIng’s legacy and the civil rights laws and their use to push Equity and Excellence in education had turned into a vehicle for something else that King may or may not have imagined. Since one of the speakers, Cornel West, wrote a book on the ethical dimensions of Marx’s thought I had an idea what that theory might be.

Since Excellence in education means to combine what is felt, thought, and desired into a single active performance, learning standards are an awfully practical vehicle for gaining access to a means of invisibly implementing those ethical dimensions. That insight turned out to be true as I tracked down another book West had written in that momentous year of 1989 where the MH vision seems to have been renamed as ‘prophetic pragmatism’ with John Dewey and his Democratic Education as its exemplar. Ding. Ding. No need to follow just bread crumbs anymore as everyone who has read Credentialed to Destroy will appreciate, but West went on to quote the architect of the MH view of culture and the role of action (praxis), Antonio Gramsci, and his desire for “a new cultural process, different in character from its predecessors,  a process in which practical movement [performance standards like the Common Core?] and theoretical thought [like Enduring Understandings or Thinking Like a Historian?] are united [Higher Order Thinking Skills?] (or are trying to unite through a struggle that is both theoretical and practical).”

See the role of learning standards in these goals of real world transformation and a reimagined future? See why we keep coming across a push to pretend Marxism has no interest in ideas even though categories of thought are actually front and center to the whole scheme? West himself wanted to shift the conception of knowledge to something that would promote “power-laden people’s opinion” as a means of engineering his desired “culture of creative democracy by means of critical intelligence and social action.” Sounds like the MH vision again and after all I have these old books telling me that back in the 1960s there had been “a renaissance of Marxist thinking” that had begun to “crack the ice of Stalinism and to become a stream once more.” A similar observation proclaimed that “After several decades of grave crisis, we may today speak with assurance of a renaissance of Marxism. It rises like a phoenix from the ashes even though it has repeatedly been subjected to an autopsy.”

It’s much harder to autopsy something that is supposedly buried and past history. If renaming it allows a theory to be operative without scrutiny or infamy that’s an excellent reason for deceit. Sure enough when I looked into whether that renaissance in a certain perspective influenced Dr King I found https://acton.org/publications/transatlantic/2018/01/15/3-reasons-martin-luther-king-jr-rejected-communism a recent attempt to misrepresent what MLK believed from a think tank active in pushing School Choice and once again falsely treating Communism and Marxism as synonymous. That whitewashing makes perfect sense if School Choice is actually a Trojan Horse to spread that unity of “practical movement and theoretical thought” in every type of school or education initiative. Let’s compare to this http://ownershipeconomy.net/2015/08/30/martin-luther-king-called-for-a-higher-synthesis/ as well as http://rajpatel.org/2010/01/18/martin-luther-king-we-are-not-interested-in-being-integrated-into-this-value-structure/ and we get a more accurate feel for where Dr King fits with our MH template.

It turns out that everywhere we look into this vision of how to bring about a more just society sooner or later we find a forthright declaration of the need for “comprehensive information” and a new value structure that will be the “powerful force for altering the internal psychological structure of a human being”. We learn that a NEW kind of education is needed that will “develop the skills and deep habits of partnership and working across differences…the work of rebuilding our world requires a revitalization of abilities to see beyond what is to what can be. [This] combines a sacred and public spirit with the work of culture change to rebuild the moral and civic fabric of our society.” Now if that spirit gets wrapped up in the Good, True, and Beautiful or as a return to “the principles of America’s founding” will anyone notice the shift in the definitions or principles from what is historically accurate?

The three areas of deceit not only come together when MH is properly understood, but framing as a civil rights issue brings in the rule of law as the enforcer. If we compare the quotes from my last post or in the comments there to Leonhard laying out the disdain of the USSR as representing a ‘historically transient form of socialism”; and “the humanist Marxists of different countries all agreed that neither the economic model of the Soviet Union (state ownership of the means of production; economic management by central, hierarchically structured planning), nor the political structure of the Soviet Union (dictatorial rule of the Party apparatus over all spheres of social life” and compare that with what so many so-called ‘conservative’ or libertarian think tanks are telling us Marxism is about, it is clear there is even more of an organized disinfo campaign trying to hide the MH vision than there is over what the Common Core is and what competency-based ed is really about.

Student-centered learning as the convergent aspiration pushed by the Aspen Institute, Jeb Bush, and iNACOL makes sense once we know that “the humanist Marxists consider it necessary to move the human problem once more into the foreground of Marxist theory.” Sounds just like King’s ‘higher synthesis’ and what the state of Massachusetts recently said was the inspiration for all standards-based ed reforms. Personalized learning and Betsy DeVos’ repeated hype that students be educated to their’ full potential’ fits right in with the MH “emphasis on man as the starting and finishing point, as the ultimate objective of the entire practical and theoretical work of Marxism.”

If ‘human socialism’ or ‘the socialism of self management’ need ‘ ideas and concepts’ to become operational and “create the social and political prerequisites for any further development,” suddenly all the deceit about outcomes-based ed in the 90s, and the Common Core and the reasons for data collection now, makes sense. It is no longer a shock that when we looked at the National Constitution Center’s curricula we found communitarian redefinitions of Liberty and Freedom. The deceit makes sense if we understand MH theory from Kolakowski’s actual books instead of lectures about him. Perhaps we should remind Mr Kimball from the last post that Kolakowski quoted MH theorist Erich Fromm who “regards the Manuscripts of 1844 as the fundamental exposition of Marx’s doctrine…Totalitarian doctrines and Communist regimes have in his view nothing in common with Marx’s humanistic vision, the chief values of which are voluntary solidarity, the expansion of man’s creative powers, freedom from constraint and from irrational authority.”

Just the way learning standards and competency frameworks really work and consistent with West acknowledging that he needed Gramsci’s thinking to get to his desired social transformations. We also have Kolakowski marvelling at how Gramsci and Marx got to the same place even though Marx’s manuscripts were still not known when Gramsci went to prison in the 20s. Both men were interested in “the question of the relation of human thoughts, feelings, and will to ‘objective’ social processes.” I just boldfaced those words to remind everyone that those words combined are what the definition of Excellence in K-12 actually means and what the civil rights laws are imposing in the name of Equity. I am going to close with a quote that in my mind connects all these aims to why these psychologically transformative techniques for a political purpose may be partly behind the rise of mass school shootings in places using them.

Kolakowski was greatly worried decades ago about Herbert Marcuse and his advocacy for an “ultimate all-embracing synthesis in which thoughts, feelings, and desires are merged in a higher ‘unity’. Such an aspiration is only possible when a totalitarian myth claims supremacy over thought–a myth based on ‘deeper’ intuition, so that it does not have to justify itself, but assumes command over the whole of spiritual and intellectual life.” Kolakowski was right to be worried, but wrong that this desired unity would have to be accomplished by “replacing the tyranny of logic with a police tyranny.” Learning standards represent another way to get around what he said has been “corroborated by all historical experience: there is only one way of making a whole society accept a particular world-view.”

If no one can recognize the psychological manipulation and there is organized deceit around learning standards, Marxism, and Dr King’s vision, who can even see the coercion creating the desired worldview? Once we can see what is being imposed through the mind and learning standards, we can share Kolakowski’s concern of what will happen when power decides that “normative essences must prevail in every domain.” Like him, we may come to see that the words Freedom and Liberty are being used in ways that have “taken on the contrary of its normal sense.”

But that requires accurate factual information and that’s the last thing this vision of education for the future has in store for us or our children.

Hijacking Concepts to Control a Student’s Framing, Sense-Making, and Thus Their Minds

This post arose from my watching two different videos in the last month that left me deeply disturbed at the implications. The first was Learn Liberty’s “Marxism Explained in 2 Minutes” by Deirdre McCloskey where she said “Ideas themselves create consciousness. It’s not an outgrowth of the world’s material condition and the class struggle as Marx believed.” All of my extensive collection of books on what I shorthand as the MH philosophy–Marxist Humanism–regard Marx as believing that Ideas matter very much because they guide and motivate action in the present to change the nature of the future by transforming the nature of society. After I finished researching this post, we had the 200th anniversary this past weekend of Uncle Karl’s birth. This generated yet more pushes like this https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/05/karl_marx_at_200_his_lethal_legacy_lingers.html pushing the idea that Marxism=Stalinism in Russia and that Marx did not believe Ideas mattered.

If Ideas do matter in the MH vision and especially if the needed ideas can be sales pitched as ‘conservative,’ ‘grounded in the principles of America’s founding,’ or ‘necessary for self-governance’, then the MH vision comes roaring into everyday perception and actions via a new kind of education that gets at the neural structure of the mind and sells it as ‘learning to think critically’. That last quote was from a recent Freedom Center video touting the need for a Code of Ethics in K-12 and rightly complaining of Indoctrination. My problem though is that if the admitted Left wants a child to perceive and act through White Privilege or Racism as the motivating Category of Thought and the so-called Right hyping for School Choice wants the Child to think using “Do the Good. Seek the Truth. Create Beauty,” they are both providing Categories of Thought. All these concepts are designed to change behavior in the present in order to transform existing society by altering prevailing consciousness.

See the problem? We have “conceptually synonymous lexical” phrases with the same function. If the MH vision is all about transforming ourselves and the world, we are headed down a troubling pathway with nary a head’s up as to what is really going on. I said there were two troubling videos. The other was a speech David Horowitz of the Freedom Center gave to a Young America’s Foundation luncheon on March 16 at the Reagan Ranch that was touted as “Unveiling the Left’s Agenda of Destruction”. Horowitz used language about America’s inspirational vision that “all people are equal in the eyes of God and therefore must be equal in the eyes of government and that they are endowed by their Creator with the right to Liberty” that reminded me a great deal of the humanistic slogans used in the MH vision.

That created my working hypothesis that if the Left and Right can create shared understandings and motivating ideals in a substantial group of people under a variety of names and rationales, then the MH vision, especially in its cybernetic form, can come waltzing into the America that we love, or other free societies, without people being aware. Saying Marx didn’t care about Ideas makes that easier to do. Taking noted MH philosophers who fled to the West and taught, like Leszak Kolakowski, and then misrepresenting their criticism of what they called they called wrongheaded fallacy of Institutional Marxism of Stalinism as being what Totalitarianism is all about as this paper did https://www.newcriterion.com/issues/2005/6/leszek-kolakowski-the-anatomy-of-totalitarianism or giving essentially the same speech at a Hillsdale College forum in October 2017 on Soviet Communism and never mentioning all of Kolakowski’s MH work means that not only do Ideas matter, but few people even trying to listen in the 21st Century are likely to hear an honest representation of the continuing collective goals that must be accomplished via the mind.

Unlike Kimball, I did not study under LK at Yale in the early 70s, but I do happen to have his translated into English book from 1968 called Toward a Marxist Humanism so we do have some ability to still eavesdrop on what must have been said. Contrary to what McCloskey stated above the MH philosophy is very much desirous of “replacing economic laws” with the “influence of ideology”. We should be very afraid in 2018 with all the talk all over the world of evidence-based policymaking that LK wrote that “theoretical knowledge of society continues to be a condition for the successful struggle of the communist movement.” Remember how I keep warning about a little c vision that we keep encountering as a communitarian ethos hiding behind supposedly conservative terms like Liberty and Freedom?

LK wrote a great deal about the need to gain control over “man’s conceptual apparatus” so that what was True would not be about whether a theory accurately described existing circumstances. It would be measured by whether a Theory was useful in motivating action to Change Circumstances. “Is the model useful?” would become a new criteria of truth. That might explain all the false narratives we have encountered surrounding education reforms that seem to be financed by the same think tanks or philanthropies now driving a misperception of Marxism as a historic philosophy of how to change the future via Ideas that are believed and that drive changes in behavior. LK knew the necessity of getting at people’s “intellectual organization of material” that were “an integral part of the most elementary activities of the human mind.”

Imagine the transformative power of first prescribing, and then being aware of, what a student was internalizing as a Habit of Mind that would then guide his seeing “the world in such terms and from such points of view as are necessary for him to adapt to it and transform it usefully.” And predictably too in known ways if you happen to be the prescriber aware of what the Categories of Thought are that are being inculcated into a student’s “conceptual apparatus.” What makes something totalitarian is actually not the existence of a gulag, but rather prescribing the categories that “constitute the total apparatus of concepts permitted in use and [that] are imposed as the sole and obligatory system of organizing one’s thinking.” Anyone not recognizing that concern of LK’s having been made operational in the new federal law that applies to the next school year’s requirement that all students must be assessed at least Higher Order Thinking Skills and whether they guide behavior?

When Horowitz said in that same video mentioned above that the new Code of Ethics was needed because “You can’t indoctrinate young people. You have to let them make up their own minds,” I couldn’t understand how that rhetoric could be squared with how Learning Standards actually work or his call to Teach the students to Think Critically. Critical Thought requires the use of prescribed abstract categories. How is that actually making up your own mind? It seems more like the semblance of autonomy where the actual coercion gets internalized and becomes the driver of our decision-making but out of OUR sight (but not the prescribers in education, philanthropy, or the think tanks).

Here’s another quote from 1964 discussing the role of cybernetics in the USSR after Stalin’s death unlocked the Role of Ideas again. These same ideas were coming to the US, which is why Notre Dame’s Press published the book The Social Impact of Cybernetics and we should all be aware that “the abstract ideology or the utopia expressed in concrete terms plays a critical role in defining social purpose and hence in conditioning social decisions.” Acting on goals is one of the hallmarks of competency-based education all over the world so its ties to cybernetics and the real MH aims become clear when we read that “action upon the environment is regulated by a continuing process of perception in which the perceived external reality is compared with the end state to be achieved.”

Is Project-Based Learning then about academics to be learned or simply a means to change the child at the level of their mind and personality? If you think changing the child neurally will always come with rhetoric about social justice, any category of thought that seeks to impose a “viable system of value and perceptual relevance (ideologies)” will actually do. Notice the same language from Classical Education and the Barney Charter School Initiative being used back in 1965 from “The Development of Cybernetics” in The American Behavioral Scientist: “Hence in dealing with social systems in which men form the ultimate self-regulating components, we must deal with the problem of the adequacy of perception and of value to effective action within a natural and human environment. The analysis of men and societies as self-regulating systems brings us back to the perennial philosophic problems of the Good and the True.

We need to consider now whether all the deceit about the Common Core and now Marxism may well be hidden in language about ‘conservative thought’ or ‘principles of self-governance’ as used in this press release. http://www.bradleyfdn.org/Portals/1/PDF%20Files/GEORGE%20WILL_Press%20Release-23Apr2018.pdf .After all, one of the other historic terms for the MH vision that I did not have a chance to cover yet is the “socialism of self-management”.

What if self-governance, self-regulation, self-discipline, and self-management are all conceptual synonyms describing a person with the desired internalized systems of thought and value that can act as a steerable rudder for anyone with power who knows they exist? That would be the MH vision of Freedom and Liberty and that really should give us pause.

We are all in agreement though that Ideas do Matter. It’s why they need to be known and discussed accurately and not just in terms of their Usefulness for Social Planning Purposes.

Stripping Away the Veneer of the Imperious Autonomous Self to Create Cathected Identities Instead

Years ago, back when I was a college student, I spent a summer studying at Oxford University in England. I got to pull books and work in the reading room of the Radcliffe Camera and cut through worn stone paths in medieval colleges. For me, historical people and ideas are not something anyone supplied as a useful perspective on how to see the world. These are frequently people I almost feel like I could carry on a conversation with. I certainly have been known to carry on conversations about them. I suppose that is what makes it far easier for me to see when Ideas or people are being misportrayed. If someone has transformational plans for society, our economy, and our political systems and does not want opposition, what better tool than K-12 education? And if you want history to be at the core of a drastically revised curriculum so that “we can leave it to our students to apply their knowledge, values, and experiences to the world they must create,” what better reason can there be to manipulate those values and experiences and the Ideas that are now to substitute for knowledge?

The latter quote was taken from the 1987 “Education for Democracy: A Statement of Principles: Guidelines for Strengthening the Teaching of American Values” that those new Massachusetts standards we met in the last post said was the impetus for all the standards-based education pushes since, including the Common Core. The Ideas come from domain-specific literacy, which Reading Like a Historian said in italics just like that had been created by the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices. As I discovered yesterday when I was at an Emory Law program that sought to interpret the Parkland mass murders through the ‘lenses’ of Domestic Violence and the Legacy of the Lost Cause, the offered Ideas and concepts to guide perception and the interpretation of people and events may have little connection to actual facts on the ground.

Likewise, at a legal program last fall that turned out to be very Idea-centric in what I was supposed to accept with ‘facts’ used merely to illustrate the point, it was very clear to me that the presenter hoped that his audience knew nothing about Henry VIII other than his much-hyped six wives. Likewise, when I read Larry Arnn’s book The Founders’ Key because of Hillsdale’s heavy involvement now in K-12 reform I discovered erroneous examples to illustrate his Ideas from first, Thomas More, and then poor Queen Anne, the last of the Stuart monarchs. My point is that in all these instances it was extensive, preexisting knowledge of the type that is now disallowed unless someone is a voracious, independent reader that led me to recognize that the offered Ideas or illustrating points were inapt.

The Ideas are generally offered up to appeal to emotions and to create motivation to push for transformative change. If, like me, cathected is a new word for you, I found it in the vision of this author  https://nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/democracy-and-its-discontents which had common financing via the Bradley Foundation with the same new history standards called for in 1987 and the communitarian-oriented Council on Civil Society funded in the late 90s and then the 2003 Hardwired to Connect. Weigel’s call for ‘cathected individuals’ who would reject the ‘imperious autonomous Self’ reminded me a great deal of the Tranzi OBE remake of the students pushed in the 90s until it became notorious after Columbine and the Portraits of a Graduate or Learner profiles we are seeing now. It was all originally called for back in 1987 with clear ties to the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEH, and even Martin Luther King’s actual vision via his close friend, Bayard Rustin, who signed.

My dictionary defined cathexis as the “concentration of emotional energy on an object or idea,” which certainly sounds like this new Idea/Conceptual Framework: “we aim at nothing less than helping the student to comprehend what is important, not merely to memorize fact and formula.” “Notions and sentiments” was how the 1987 Education for Democracy also put it. At its core is always the Marxist Humanist vision where “we recommend that a central theme in the study of history be the dramatic struggles of people around the globe and across the centuries to win, preserve, and extend their freedom.” Cathected also fits with this MLK vision released just before his murder, which was cited this week because of its 50th anniversary. https://poorpeoplescampaign.org/index.php/poor-peoples-campaign-1968/  laid out the Bayard Rustin-inspired shift from civil rights to ‘human rights’ with its essential ingredient of economic justice for all. Dr King:

“knew that for the load of poverty to be lifted, the thinking and behavior of a critical mass of the American people would have to be changed.To accomplish this change of consciousness…the poor would have to organize to take action together around our immediate and basic needs. In doing, we could become a powerful social and political force capable of changing the terms of how poverty is understood and dispelling the myths and stereotypes that uphold the mass complacency and leave the root causes of poverty intact.”

That was MLK and ultimately number 1 of those Fundamental Principles is that “We are rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all. Moral revival is necessary to save the heart and soul of our democracy.” Those new Ideas and values need to be embedded neurally as practiced Habits of Mind. It may only be Catholic educators referring to the ‘cathected’ student, but the concept of cathexis, even if stated through euphemisms, is at the core of all these curriculum reforms throughout every type of education alternative I have reviewed. Having poked around on the Left and recognizing names like Diana Ravitch, Chester Finn, and Bill Bennett on the 1987 document lets look likewise to the supposed Right and what the Charles Koch Institute and other members of the State Policy Network are pushing that gets to the same place.

Back in March I saw an article from the Independence Institute with a title “How to Restore the Founder’s Vision of Liberty for America?”, which sounded rather Idea-centric and contrary to where my personal store of facts would take me. I did notice though that the broad Ideas would fit with the Marxist Humanist vision I keep encountering in my education research (without looking). At its core, it is where both that 1968 MLK position and the 1987 Education for Democracy, and thus the 2018 Massachusetts standards, all intend to go. The article was by a William Watkins so I looked up his background and saw he had been a fellow at the Center for Humane Studies at George Mason. That got my attention with their push of History Matters (covered in last post) and ties to Neuroeconomics. Looking into IHS further pulled up more ties to the insights and individuals we have covered at ISC and in my book Credentialed to Destroy.

Too extensive to lay out here, but every reason to look at their Learn Liberty initiative launched in 2011 to “Explore the ideas of a free society.” Me, I just want to go back to Oxford and get away from that now ubiquitous ‘I’ word, but my knee is still not ready for that much walking. So I settled in with a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea to watch the videos where “we tackle big questions about what makes society free or prosperous and how we can improve the world we live in.” http://www.learnliberty.org/blog/learn-liberty-turns-7/ gets you to what I watched. In case the word ‘Heuristics’ is missing from your vocabulary as it once was in mine, you can substitute other words–Ideas, Concepts, Lenses, or Guiding Principles. If there is a desire to get a ‘change in consciousness’ and a broad segment of the public is to have ‘shared meanings’, few things work better than common learning standards that get at How to Think and Ideas we should use in our decision-making.

I took notes on all three provided videos there and then saw one by economist Deirdre McCloskey (whose book Bourgeois Equality we quoted in the last post) offering up “Marxism in Two Minutes”. She omitted the part about Marx’s Idea of the Human Development Society where a remake of prevailing Ideas and values would be so crucial and just covered that Marx was wrong about the class struggle creating the desired consciousness. McCloskey believes Ideas create consciousness and I think her book title, like the euphemistic Learn Liberty phrase, is really an excellent way to hide the Marxist Humanist template. But like one of those old-fashioned holiday commercials from Ronco I can say “Wait! There’s more!”

Learn Liberty posted a January 8, 2018 video from a professor Howard Baetjer called “What is Communism?” that appears designed to mislead away from the Marxist Humanist visions that are so in play in 2018. The vision MLK wanted, what Education for Democracy sought to create, and what learning standards and competency frameworks also impose, no matter what level of government is pushing them. For anyone without Wolfgang Leonhard’s Three Faces of Marxism: The Political Concepts of Soviet Ideology, Maoism, and Humanist Marxism or Leszek Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism: The Breakdown not just on hand, but read and marked up, I am not calling names or making allegations here. There is a template for little ‘c’ communism and when everyone is using euphemisms and Idea-centric K-12 education to impose that vision without scrutiny, we have every right to notice if we still can.

I think all these videos, but especially that Baetjer one want us to see communism only as “common ownership of the means of production” and never “private ownership”. Meanwhile, the K-12 programs being offered online, in public schools, in parochial schools, in independent schools, and frequently now what gets pushed on homeschoolers via what is eligible for Educational Savings Account reimbursement are ALL Idea-centric and value-oriented.

Have you noticed that all these pushes about Ideas do not seem to want us to strip away from the Idea As Supplied that veneer that it still means what we all traditionally associate with any of these terms? I thought we better start talking about all this while the Internet still remains somewhat free.

I really don’t want my generation to be among the last to have had the liberty to have a genuinely free mind.

Lucrative Deceit: Managing Consciousness By Conjoining Social Media & Charter Schools

This post was outlined before the outcry over Facebook’s gathering of data, but the outside in power of all that data on so much of the population should be kept in mind as we look at the Chan Zuckerburg interest in transformative charter schools. It also fits with the interest we have seen since my March 8 post on Parkland and the meaning of that motto of the PROMISE Program in Broward County. I have repeatedly read since then numerous articles from supposedly conservative sources misportraying the clear developmental focus of the required practices. It gets pitched as simply a matter of federal overreach and coercion via funding. Yesterday, the charter-supporting Heritage Foundation https://www.heritage.org/firearms/report/focusing-school-safety-after-parkland joined what looks like a well-coordinated campaign to make Paul Sperry’s derivative and whitewashed description of the Program the official narrative. Mustn’t accurately explain what one intends to use so let’s just mine ISC for information and skip over Robin’s inconvenient interpretations that shine an accurate light on these practices.

After all, we know charters have a likely chance to be deemed effective and gain a right to more federal funding if they have a Whole Child focus that Infuses Developmental Neuroscience into the curriculum and required practices as this link lays out. http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(12)00192-9/pdf Likewise, notice how often a private or charter school has language in its mission statement about its purpose “to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring, and contributing citizens” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12971193 or hyping their “strengths-based approaches to child and adolescent development…and emphasis on students’ resilience in the school and community” (quoting the National Association of School Psychologists), or Promoting Youth Development (PYD). http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/Taylor%20et%20al%20-%20FINAL%20document%206%2017%202017.pdf

All of the linked SEL research matters because they are tied to the PROMISE Program when accurately interpreted using its cited foundational research and not whitewashed for political purposes. The whtewashing is no surprise though as the charter schools use the same developmental template as Broward’s PROMISE program when the latter is properly understood. Let’s switch to something else charters use to ensure their efficacy and are not upfront about. I am quoting from a 2011 book by Duke prof Cathy N Davidson called Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century where Davidson profiled the innovative new forms of learning being implemented by a number of cited charter schools. When we talk about the use of categories, concepts, or guiding principles, recall how useful it will be to have the News Literacy Project we encountered in the last post working hand in hand with the categories of thought pushed as Reading and Thinking Like A Historian or Higher Order Thinking Skills.

This post begins a trilogy and that will be the in-depth topic of the next post. In the mean time let’s appreciate what charter operators all know. “How we use our brain (what we pay attention to) changes our brain. Those things that capture our attention–our learning and our work, our passions and our activities–change our actual brain biology.” That’s a direct confession, isn’t it? Plenty of reason for deceit there. The emphasis on Disciplinary Core Ideas to use just one of the euphemisms or Enduring Understandings makes sense when we all become aware that “once everything is located in a proper category, the category itself (for better or worse) answers a host of unaskable questions. A category is a shorthand.” And whoever controls those required categories of thought can insist all day long that “they are teaching students how to think, not telling them what to think” but that repeated assertion doesn’t make it true. Whoever controls the prescribed categories of thought, controls thought. Period. Especially once it becomes a Habit of Mind.

Quoting Davidson again: “distinctions are normative, sensory, behavioral, social, cognitive, and affective all at once. Learning happens in categories, with values clumped together in our words, concepts, and actions. And this is where attention and its concomitant attention blindness come from.” All the emphasis now on Engagement, activity, and relevance really make sense when we appreciate that a classroom emphasis on these has become required because they “transform not merely our behavior but the underlying neural networks that make attention possible. Every manifestation of attention in the real world begins in the brain” and every successful charter school operator knows that as well as so should we. Davidson went on to call out Canadian Donald O. Hebb by name as the “father of neuropsychology” because:

“he was the first person to observe that learning occurs when neurons streamline into pathways and then streamline into other pathways, into efficient clusters that act in concert with one another. This is now called the Hebbian principle: Neurons that fire together, wire together. This means the more we repeat certain patterns of behavior (that’s the firing together), the more those behaviors become rapid, then reflexive, then automatic (that’s the wiring). They become patterns, habits, groupings, categories, or concepts, all efficiencies that ‘wire together’ sets of individual reflexes or responses.”

Now if your child’s school of any type or online curriculum is grounded in creating such a Hebbian neural web that will ultimately guide their future behavior at an unconscious, but predictable, level, don’t you want to know that? Isn’t all the organized deceit making more sense now? I feel though like those old Ronco holiday commercials when many of us were kids advertising for some useful gadget that we supposedly cannot live without in every house. “But wait! There’s more!” As part of the case after the Parkland shooting for why more social and emotional learning and an antibullying emphasis were needed came this story https://www.educationdive.com/news/creating-schools-that-fit-our-kids/518917/ hyping a report from the Aspen Institute and its panel of educators.

Now I first wrote about that panel back in September here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/capturing-every-thought-captive-and-sculpting-students-as-systems-driver-of-perfidy/ and in several of the following posts. That report and Consensus Statement were always going to come out, but the Parkland mass murder gives gave a chance to pitch the change in emphasis as urgent so that “social, emotional, and academic development” can be integrated. That also fits with the links above that are the basis for how charters really work and what the PROMISE Program was actually designed to change. Now I have written about one panel member before, Linda Lantieri, and how she trains classroom teachers in techniques that are billed as New Age on some days depending on her audience and on others as Positive Psychology. I recognized other names too, but the Council of Distinguished Educators member that really caught my eye was from a chain of charter schools called Valor Collegiate Academies.

That’s where our conjoining reference comes from as we have funding coming from the Left Pincer in the form of the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative and from the Right Pincer that seemingly does not want the PROMISE program accurately understood in the form of the Charter Schools Growth Fund. Now Valor openly trumpets in its materials that it uses required regular group Valor Circle practices that are “grounded in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology which posits that relationships ‘inspire us to rewire our brains toward integration.'” Well, that’s certainly one way to create change in the student effectively and thus ensure additional funding and opportunities for expansion. Valor has graphics about targeting the students’ “drives for agency and communion, or self-determination and connection… and helping scholars (and adults) create their own ‘inner compass'”.

Now, I am not disagreeing that people need an inner compass, but if a school is deliberately rewiring childrens’ brain in a Hebbian manner, parents should be told that forthrightly before they act like programmed automatons. How many parents appreciate that neural rewiring emphasis when they read language (bolding in original) about “All Members of the Valor Community aspire to balance their Sharp Mind and Big Heart and to live their Noble Purpose through Aligned Actions, all the while accessing their True North” to make meaningful choices in their everyday life. ” That True North: Habits of Center is grounded in Mindfulness research, which is certainly an interesting remedy for preventing another Parkland type shooting.

It’s not just that I recognize what is cited as Mindfulness, but here’s a quote from a draft I downloaded of what was to be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year per “True North ‘standards’ or intended learnings.

“True North practices range in duration and focus. Many of the True North practices at Valor are informed by curricula such as Mindful Schools and Applied Mindfulness: Inner Life Skills for Youth and are attention training activities [remember the Cathy Davidson quotes above on the effect on the brain] to help scholars increase concentration and well-being while reducing stress levels. Practices range in focus from one’s basic goodness to posting attention and from compassion meditations to mindful movement.”

Is that what anyone was expecting to be touted “at a time when the nation is looking for solutions to violent tragedies like the Feb. 14 shooting” at Parkland? Is this why we cannot get accurate reporting except at ISC or in my book Credentialed to Destroy of what competency-based education and frameworks actually aim to change or what the Broward PROMISE Program and Restorative Justice programs really hope to alter? Are charter schools, online providers, and private and parochial schools all afraid they will not get access to public funds if parents recognize that they too are aimed at neural rewiring “to produce knowledgeable and competent adults able to participate as informed citizens in the democratic process”?

We will discuss the source of that last quote and its ties to the School Choice funding campaign in the next post–Part 2 of this Trilogy of Lucrative Deceit.

Embody or Perish: Unmasking the Communitarian Motto Behind Student-Centered Learning

If this blog provided sound effects, I could blow the whistle now and holler that we have reached our destination. This is the 6th post in a series that began on February 27. I used the unexpected DeVos declaration of our ‘moral obligations’ and the IPEN paper on global education as recent examples of what the UN had enacted in the late 90s as the Universal Ethics Framework. I found that because well-known communitarian advocate Amitai Etzioni cited it as he laid out his vision for The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society that seemed to accurately reflect the actual classroom and school implementation of Radical Ed Reform going back to the mid-80s. It also seemed to track all the organized deceit I had found about SEL Standards, the Common Core, and other matters which are too consistent in what is being suppressed to be coincidental.

Let’s dive right in because as I have warned, a communitarian mandate pops up on a regular basis and it is always mired in deceit. Now I know why. To prevent resistance to what is being sold as an italicized regeneration of American Society that seeks to penetrate ALL schools and ALL colleges and universities. Here’s the quote that also fits with what was laid out in A Call to Civil Society and Hardwired to Connect from the last post. It explains the neural emphasis we just keep coming across now:

“The communitarian analysis, at least as practiced here, involves a keen awareness that values need to be embodied; that is, for values to guide behavior, a society needs to evolve social and personal formations that undergird the society’s values…Embody or perish is the communitarian motto behind much of what follows.

Embodiment refers to the need for shared values to be internalized by the members and for these values to be integrated into the societal formations [like schools and churches] that help shape behavior.”

Won’t federally required ‘performance standards’ be so useful in making this needed internalization and embodiment an invisible component of how every student will succeed? If such sarcasm seems unbecoming, we need more quoting, especially on how a communitarian society differs from an authoritarian one. My succinct explanation is the coercion is imposed neurobiologically via education to become a Habit of Mind so the coercion is mostly invisible. At least it was until I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then this presciently named blog. Communitarian societies are steered in “a new shared normative direction. Communitarian societies differ from authoritarian societies in that they require a smaller core of shared values (although significantly more than the societies individualists envision).”

That antipathy toward “individualists” sounds straight out of the new Classical Learning Test hype, doesn’t it? That’s not coincidental, as I will show later. Etzioni stated that:

“the new golden rule requires that the tension between one’s preferences and one’s social commitments be reduced by increasing the realm of duties one affirms as moral responsibilities–not the realm of duties that are forcibly imposed but the realm of responsibilities one believes one should discharge and that one believes one is fairly called on to assume.”

Education, of course, is first on the list of the ‘normative means’ used to create the desired moral commitments which enough people have internalized as the basis for their likely future behavior to change the direction of the society. In case anyone thinks this is just the admitted Left pushing this, remember that Hardwired to Connect from the last post with its ties to the supposedly conservative think tanks pushing School Choice vocally also stated explicitly:

“… an ‘us’ strategy is quite different. It is much broader and more radical. Its focus is cultural, not merely political or programmatic. It aims less at a specific intervention than a fundamental social shift–a change that involves the society as a whole. A ‘them’ strategy is about getting specific things done, but it is more fundamentally about guiding an entire society in a certain direction.”

My book’s pivotal observation that the actual Common Core implementation targeted student’s ‘values, attitudes, and beliefs’ makes so much more sense once we become aware of the widespread desire for Social Reconstruction that is no longer just a project of the admitted Left. Did you know that Chester Finn of Fordham, who we have tracked back to the mid-80s duplicitous Project Education Reform and forward to his work with Diane Ravitch and now Fordham’s co-sponsorship of the PEPG forum at the Kennedy School of Government, is listed as a signatory to Etzioni’s Responsive Communitarian Manifesto? So are several other people tied to those IAV papers in the last post. This truly is where the Right and Left Pincers want to take education. They want the coercion to be invisible and binding.

As I told my kids when they were growing up, wanting something doesn’t mean you are entitled to get it. To avoid the invisible coercion we have to know this vision “requires that most members of the society most of the time, share a commitment to a set of core values, and that most members, most of the time, will abide by the behavioral implications of these values because they believe in them rather than being forced to comply with them.”

The role of all these think tanks makes much more sense to this vision if we know that “a core of shared values also enhances the ability of a society to formulate specific public policies.” Try not to be too shocked that elsewhere those policies must include society and its individual members meeting all needs to provide for ‘individual well-being’. The Communitarian agenda says that is the 21st Century purpose of government. Nothing like 21st Century euphemisms redeeming Uncle Karl’s real vision of human development.

Lamar Alexander doing a presentation at AEI last week pretending ESSA supposedly gets the feds out of education makes perfect sense if ESSA laid out a mandate for the needed framework to force internalization within each student. Remember the requisite Internalization must occur without effective opposition from parents and taxpayers. Also, the local hype fits with the statement that “reconnecting the political decision-making bodies to community dialogues is one of the most important items of the communitarian public policy agenda.” Fits right into what AEI’s President Arthur Brooks called the true tenets of Conservatism. It requires a  Revolution of the Heart too.

The calls of SEL Standards for self-discipline or self-regulation, or what the Faux Narrative refers to as ‘self-government,’  ( https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/03/common-core-damages-students-college-readiness/ )  which is also straight out of the Manifesto mentioned above,  call for a longer quote from Etzioni that explains all:

“From a communitarian viewpoint, to draw on public schools as developers of character (for a stronger, higher self) it is most important that they focus on development of personality capabilities that enable people to act civilly and morally. [Soft Skills for All!] First among these capabilities is the ability to control one’s impulses [Is that what the above link calls the ‘right and responsibility of self-rule’?]…Second, a well-formed person must have what Adam Smith called ‘sympathy’: roughly, the ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes, what we would refer to as empathy. Without this quality, there is little likelihood that children will develop charity, fairness, respect for other people, or the other virtues. When a person possesses these twin capacities, the psychological foundations for abiding by internalized values are in place.

Once schools are restructured in ways that enhance personality development, the question of which specific values are to be taught recedes in importance but still needs answering.”

The requisite ‘non-cognitive factors’ that must be a component of the State Plans under ESSA all go to that personality development prerequisite in one way or another. It’s not a database, but a starting point to get the needed internalized change to support this communitarian vision of a new moral order. It’s not coincidental that the definition of the law taught in elite law schools has now been altered quietly as the “enterprise of subjecting human conduct to the governance of rules.”

I personally reject the distinction that something is not coercive as long as people and governments can successfully misrepresent what they are up to via education and the law. It is also greatly troubling I keep coming across references to collecting data on where students are in each of the 24 listed characteristics of the VAI-Values in Action–Character Survey.

I need one more quote from Etzioni that goes a long way towards explaining what makes education through provided conceptual lenses and themes about what is important, cross-cutting, or Good, True, and Beautiful so necessary to a transformationalist. We will need it in the next post as I continue to prove this IS the vision ALL of education is being organized around. Long time readers will recognize this is the theory with the nerdy name of Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete created in the USSR in 1962.

“Such statements about moral causes that present themselves to us as compelling are similar to what religious authorities speak of as revelation. This does not mean we cannot reason about these matters. The fact that some cause initially appears to one as powerful does not obviate the need to examine it closely. However, here reason follows and buttresses revelation, and not the other way around…It should be noted that reason plays a rather different role here.”

I’ll say. I wanted to shout “Transfer” as Lauren Resnick has been pushing for in education reforms for decades. She must be so pleased that her integral Higher Order Thinking Skills that embodies this very concept of Revelation first, and then Apply the provided concepts to real world, concrete situations, is a required ESSA component. Measuring every student for compliance at least annually.

That will be so useful for imposing this requisite Internalization.

Next time we will find this same goal being stated in terms of the US Founding Fathers and the purported requirements of “constitutional government.” We will see more clearly then why facts get in the way of simply accepting the provided concepts as Revelations that are to be accepted, internalized, and never disputed.

I feel like such a naughty Individualist sometimes for recognizing when we are being lied to and when something else has the same function.

Making Man Moral through Integrative, Holistic Education Focused on Purpose

Sometimes these days I feel like I am a part of that old musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” not because all these machinations via education and deceit are funny, but because suddenly between posts something happens that proves just how correct I am on how this fits together. Last week, the blog Cafe Hayek run by George Mason economic profs mentioned a January 24 piece by “my colleague Peter Boettke on the late economist Kenneth Boulding.” Now that may seem innocuous and even dry, but there cannot be a more seminal person other than John Dewey to the sought transformation of education. Boulding laid out its purpose and how it could be used to control other social systems. Is this further evidence of a Convergence of the Right and Left Pincers we can see so much evidence of? Confessions, after all, are so much nicer.

http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2017/01/kenneth-boulding-on-the-task-of-interpretation.html is the post and it tied in my mind to why everyone suddenly wants education to be about moral values, guiding principles, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Classical Concepts, and other ideas first that can then guide a child’s perception. How they interpret their daily experiences and what they never even notice. This is the end of the Trilogy so let’s pull all this together so we can appreciate How to Invisibly Control Future Personal Decision-making with No Need to Admit It. Bolding (without the ‘u’) is mine.

“Themes without facts may be barren, but facts without theories are meaningless. It is only ‘theory’–i.e., a body of principles–which enables us to approach the bewildering complexity and chaos of fact, select the facts significant for our purposes and interpret the significance.

Indeed, it is hardly too much to claim that without a theory to interpret it there is no such thing as a ‘fact’ at all…what, then, is the ‘fact’ about the wart? [Boulding’s example that should be read in full while thinking about the meaning of Disciplinary Core Ideas or Enduring Understandings] It may be any or all of the above, depending on the particular scheme of interpretation into which it is placed.”

When I was a student, part of what made for A+ work was the ability to develop an appropriate scheme of interpretation by myself, in the privacy of my mind, using what I saw as the pertinent facts. Something that made the prof go “That’s it! Wish I had expressed it that way.” This is something else. These are essentially presupplied ‘constructs’ designed to guide perception and future action in a way that makes a person likely to desire and instigate transformational change in the circumstances we all live under. If they cannot do it, they can organize together so politicians will implement the changes. That’s why I created the term Politicalism. What Boulding was known for was “incorporating the ideas, concepts and tools from the natural sciences into social scientific analysis.” Why?

His good friend Bela Banathy, who also has a tag and was involved in the creation of the concept of charter schools and what now goes by School Choice, told this story that his close friend Boulding shared with him in 1983. In 1954, at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) where so much else was hatched:

“four Center fellows–Bertalanffy (biology), Boulding (economics), Gerard (psychology), and Rappoport (mathematics)–had a discussion  in a meeting room. Another Center Fellow walked in and asked: ‘What’s going on here?’ Ken answered: ‘We were angered about the state of the human condition’ and ask: ‘What can we–what can science–do about improving the human condition‘ Oh!’ their visitor said: ‘This is not my field.’ At that meeting the four scientists felt that in the statement of their visitor they heard the statement of the fragmented disciplines that have little concern for doing anything practical about the fate of humanity. So they asked themselves, ‘What would happen if science would be redefined by crossing disciplinary boundaries and forge a general theory that would bring us together in the service of humanity?'”

That overdone analogy to the ‘outmoded factory model of education’ is actually a cloaking metaphor to mask this complete change in the purpose of education that drove the education reforms in the 60s, 80s, and now covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy. It’s also why Tranzi OBE and Competency needed to be deliberately misdefined as we saw in the last post. Why do we keep coming across an emphasis on Character or Moral Dispositions and Attributes? Because social and political scientists like Boulding came to recognize “that the universe of ethical values is a driving force in human life” and can be altered to drive a transformation in what is acceptable in the future.

If you want to drive cultural change, alter human consciousness by instilling new ‘active principles’ that people must now use to organize their lives and institutions. Then have them practice it in the classroom or workplace or even their church until relying on these principles becomes a Habit of Mind. In his 1969 AEA Presidential Address, Boulding informed those economics professionals that “any system contains the seeds of its own transformation or future genesis, and that this works through a learning process.” See why education had to change away from an emphasis on facts? Economics was just one of the human social systems that interested Boulding and he knew change had to start with the very mental models each person internalized:

“All these social systems are linked together dynamically through the process of human learning which is the main dynamic factor in all social systems.”

That’s such a useful quote for anyone who wonders why I cannot stick to just writing about education. Because it’s a tool to a transformation for a different purpose and a new, unlikely to succeed well for most of us, vision of the future. When should we talk about it? After the carnage is more advanced and even more resources depleted in the name of education? I am going to shift away from Boulding for a moment, but his vision was covered in the Trilogy begun here with his book The Meaning of the 20th Century and its effect on the Commission on the Year 2000 covered in the post that followed. Rereading those yesterday almost took my breath away because it fits so closely with what was in the Roadmap for the Next Administration and the Architecture of Innovation on what data can be made to now do.

http://invisibleserfscollar.com/reimaging-the-nature-of-the-world-in-the-minds-of-students-alters-future-behavior-and-social-events/

This post’s title comes from a book Robert George–Princeton professor, Bradley Foundation board member, well-known spokesperson for Catholicism, and founder of the same American Principles Project that did not want to define certain terms accurately in the last post, wrote in 1993. If ‘common guiding principles’ and shared meanings are in fact what makes people and organizations act as ‘systems’ as Boulding and systems science generally believed, it makes perfect sense not to concede that is what ALL Competency-based education reforms, and what I nicknamed Tranzi OBE, are about. The aims are no different then from the Catholic Curriculum Framework although some of the offered concepts, principles, and the justifications for the changes may differ.

Like Boulding in the quote Boettke chose or in my quotes from his 1969 AEA address, George in his making men moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality wanted education to provide “first principles of practical reason…to guide choice and action.” Fascinating, huh? Everybody seems to want to carve that rudder that will guide future decision-making without being forthright on the connection. All we get are School Choice!, Federal Misedukation, and Autonomy to the Locals and parents. Some autonomy as both education and “laws have a legitimate subsidiary role to play in helping people to make themselves moral.” Then sell it to parents that way and admit Classical Education IS designed to create a steerable rudder both parents and students are not being told about.

Character is a wonderful thing, but not when it operates at an unconscious level as a Habit of Mind and parents are not told that their children are being steered in the name of Goodness. Truth. and Beauty or Equity and Justice or Sustainability or other Guiding Principles to guide practical reason and likely future action. The same Spiritual and Moral Framework that can be used by New Agers like the Ross School from the last post or Social Justice Warriors grounded in Paulo Freire Pedagogy for the Oppressed aligns with the aim of instilled Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions from the Catholic Curriculum Frameworks. They ALL want to provide the ideas, emotional motivations, and values students internalize as their guide to future decision-making. School now wants to provide their purpose for living and the vision of what the future might be.

To truly get the dangers of this personalized, student-centered, transformative vision of education perhaps it will help if we follow those Moral and Spiritual Frameworks (as well as the cited Ron Miller’s “What are Schools For?”) right straight to a School of Education and Psychology in Isfahan, Iran. If “Holistic Education: An Approach for 21st Century” from 2011 is okay with the mullahs and their tyrannical vision of people, we really need to quit using the word ‘autonomy’ to describe the student when this vision of education is through with them. Yes, they have a purpose, but is it really theirs? I will quote from the Abstract because it fits with the vision I have described in this Trilogy. Think of the implications of that.

“Holistic education encompasses a wide range of philosophical orientations and pedagogical practices. Its focus is on wholeness, and it attempts to avoid excluding any significant aspects of the human experience. It is an eclectic and inclusive movement whose main characteristic is that educational experiences foster a less materialistic and more spiritual worldview along with more dynamic and holistic views of reality.

It also proposes that educational experience promote a more balanced development of–and cultivate the relationship among–the different aspects of the individual (intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and Aesthetic), as well as the relationships between the individual and other people, the individual and natural environment, the inner-self of students and external world, emotion and reason, different disciplines of knowledge and forms of knowing, holistic education is concerned with life experience, not with narrowly defined ‘basic skills.'”

Doesn’t that life experience/basic skills distinction sound just like the erroneous definition of Competency from the last post? Isn’t the US goal of College and Career Ready just another euphemism for this holistic life experience vision that seeks to control what gets internalized to guide the adults our children will become?

How is it not authoritarian for any government at any level to make education holistic or integrative using those aims?

How on Earth can this really be “education for humanity” when the type of human we become is subject to undisclosed political control?

Straddling the Worlds of Action and Knowledge: Values as the Driving Force of History

Let’s go back to that aspiration for “Rethinking Patterns of Knowledge” from the last post since what has been admitted as being ‘controversial departures from the Western traditions’ is laid out in documents we were never supposed to see. We were to simply accept vague terms like ‘standards-based reforms’ being mandated for the classroom as within the unquestionable domain of anyone with an education degree. Even if the implementers and school and district leaders are totally unaware that there is an underlying controversy or that the real purpose of a required practice is that: “we are perhaps ready now to apply Marx’s dictum–that the point was not to understand history, but to change it–in a way quite different from what he intended.”

Now, shouldn’t that aim be accurately understood and not simply rolled into standards, pedagogy, and practices like Project-Based Learning or formative assessment via virtual reality gaming? Now the author of that quote, who also saw people as merely the steerable “individual elements of a complex system” went on to state a view of education and its new transformative aims at a neural level that we must pay attention to if we are to have any hope of avoiding the “leveling the playing field” plans for us. Seriously that is a quote from the Global Silicon Valley ed tech investment bankers and their 2020 Vision: A History of the Future publication that coincided with their well-attended summit in San Diego a few weeks ago. They even paid a stipend to make sure leaders from all the Congressionally sanctioned and White House favorite League  of Innovative Schools districts were all in attendance.

The conclusion laid out the vision of “initiatives to create equal access for all Americans to participate in the future.” I have covered the federal BRAIN Initiative before that began in 2013, but this document announced that the funding had been increased “from $100 million to $500 million per year, aiming to create a dynamic understanding of brain function in a decade–doing for neuroscience what the Human Genome Project did for genomics. Importantly, we narrowed the program’s focus to two key objectives; mapping the circuitry of the brain, and then applying this knowledge to improving the design of education models/product and curing cognitive disorders.”

We have to wonder if being insufficiently communitarian will become classified as a ‘cognitive disorder’ in the future given how that ethos has made it into everything from Career Ready Standards to what constitutes a Positive School Climate and unappareciated obligations now in Student Handbooks. Mapping the human genome though did not alter what had been mapped. The whole purpose of the BRAIN Initiative though is to develop education models, products, curriculum, and ed tech software to rewire that brain circuitry to create the citizens amenable to political planning of economies and societies in the name of Equity. I quoted equal access above as the intent. The document reiterated the point of the “Mapping of the Mind” yet again by pointing out that the point of “optimizing the way we learn” was “to level the playing field and create a more productive workforce.”

Productive to whose benefit is a fair question, but let’s go back to the “A New Logic of Human Studies” essay from 1988 that our title and the Marxian quote above came from where Frederick Turner said “our hardwiring–whose proper development we neglect in our education at great peril–is designed to make us infinitely inventive.” Inventive as in not bound by what has worked well in the past and with the “Rethinking of Patterns of Knowledge” emphasis, no likely knowledge of what has factually led to the great nightmares of history when political power had no check on what it could force people to do.

If that seems melodramatic, my tiptoeing through the cited footnotes regularly forces me to encounter passages like how transformative social and political theories always also need new concepts, ideas, and categories to mentally guide perception in desired ways. Then I see the shout out to someone notorious like a Marx or a Hegel and then I get to see the same concepts whitewashed and introduced as Understandings of Consequence that must have applications to the real world. The philosophers will write about the need to ‘control meaning’ so that ” a rational consensus on the part of citizens concerning the practical control of their destiny” can be ‘attained.’ The educators simply take the same aims and goals and enact it blindly and under coercion of job loss in the name of authentic learning and a New Civics.

We know that the National Institutes of Health is pushing a Science of Virtues with help from the Templeton Foundation because I covered that here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/locating-the-internalized-information-guiding-human-behavior-so-it-can-be-controlled-and-transformed/
in March. We know Character is being added as a requisite component next fall for assessment in California. Now take that reality and tie it to this aspiration from Turner:

“The real forces at work on the stage of history are values. And values are uniquely qualified for a role both as tools to understand history and as forces at work in it. One qualification is just that: they straddle the worlds of action and knowledge, they admit candidly our involvement, our partisanship, our partiality and our power. Objectivity in a historian is an impossible goal in any case. Another qualification of values is that they give a kind of direction to history, the possibility of progress, which as we have seen is the logical precondition of any inquiry. [bolded because this is the entire focus of Project-Based Learning] Values are essentially dynamic, readjusting, contested, vigorous, as the word’s derivation from the Latin for ‘health,’ and its cognate ‘valor’ imply.”

So if we change values in students and the public at large we can change what motivates people to act to transform the world as it is. Transform the categories and prevailing concepts and ideas of thought and we can change people’s perceptions of the need to act. A powerful combination together in other words when both of those things become the focus of education, especially when locking in the changes at a neural biological level is the true goal. Now lets come back to the future and this terribly well connected report https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Pathways_New-Accountability_Through_Every_Student_Succeeds_Act_04202016.pdf tied to Stanford and Linda Darling-Hammond and the call for “achieving an equitable school system that leads to meaningful, relevant, and engaging learning opportunities for all students.”

If that vision sounds like it has the makings for the very type of straddling called for in Rethinking Patterns of Knowledge, there’s more even beyond a conclusion calling for “evidence-based interventions that support deeper learning in contexts that further equity goals.” The report list three pillars for this new system states and local districts are to create and one of them is the undefined term–‘meaningful learning.’ Except it was not undefined to me because I knew it was a term tied to cognitive scientist Joseph Novak who helped develop all the theories of concept mapping and internalized mental models in the first place. Remember the useful partner to transformed values laid out above?

Meaningful Learning is actually a global phrase for Novak’s transformative theory of education he has been writing about since the 60s. This article from Brazil http://www.if.ufrgs.br/asr/artigos/Artigo_ID7/v1_n2_a2011.pdf explains that “Meaningful Learning underlies the Constructive Integration of Thinking, Feeling, and Acting Leading to Empowerment for Commitment and Responsibility.” How’s that for the desired straddle? And conveniently locked into the legal obligation under federal and state laws as a new concept of accountability where no one is likely to notice the true nature of the required shift. Who would ever track this all back to being a Marxian Maker of History other than Robin who reads too much (and who notices even more) now that we are so fully on the right track.

How useful is this to seeing people as goal-seeking systems who can be redesigned at a neural level as needed for the hoped-for transformation? That paper was presented at Porto Allegre, which is known as the city that first developed the concept of ‘participatory budgeting.’ That’s the idea that the poor and various ethnic groups have a stake and the right to a say in determining how much, and for what, government budgets are to be spent. Just this morning one of my newsletters wrote about how participatory budgeting is catching on at the local levels of cities in the US as a means to promote Equity.

Use government spending to promote Equity and education to transform values and the internalized categories and conceptions of thought to “level the playing field” as the GSV report put it. Accountability needs ‘meaningful learning’ because insiders who create these policies and who wrote the Every Student Succeeds Act know quite well that “knowledge stored during meaningful learning is fundamentally organized differently than knowledge learned by rote, and affective associations are also different” as Novak put it in 2011. He also wrote that as “we learn new concepts and propositions, we are really learning the meanings of the concepts and the relationships between them. Through the process of meaningful learning, concepts and propositions are organized into the cognitive structure of our brains.”

That cognitive structure and what education can do to alter it is precisely what the US federal government admits it is now spending $500 million per year to map for the purposes of Equity and leveling the playing field via education.

In the next post I will cover the ‘affective’ component of meaningful learning using numerous examples from just the last few weeks. With a few trips back in time of course so we can have an accurate narrative of what is being attempted here instead of the Faux Narrative the Powers-that-Be had planned for us to simply accept.