Rip Aside the Mask: Society Becomes an Existential and Experiential Lab for Students to Become Citizens

That title comes from combining two different confessional quotes on the purpose of all these education reforms now hiding as the Common Core, Competency, or 21st Century Learning. We are sticking with Marcus Raskin’s book The Common Good we met in the last post. That initial phrase came as Raskin laid out how to “Reorganize the government for the common good. ” The “first task in a program of governmental reorganization which asserts social reconstruction [just like I described in my book Credentialed to Destroy] and citizen participation [no wonder we keep encountering the National Center for Deliberative Democracy] is to rip aside the mask of concern for efficiency to determine which group or class is being served by a particular way of organizing the governmental process.”

Wondering why all of a sudden the word Equity as an obligation is everywhere? How’s this for an open declaration? –“the criteria which are used to reorganize government should be consistently and deliberately discussed according to specific value standards: equity and caring, egalitarian interdependence and cooperation.” Now before I switch to the other quote and the vision of democratic education to create the necessary citizen to get there, some people may be tempted to ignore these declarations as from decades ago. In one of those serendipitous occurrences that remind us just how thoroughly we are tracking what is really coming at us, since I wrote the last post, Raskin and many others from the Institute for Policy Studies signed on to and published http://thenextsystem.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/NSPReport1_Digital1.pdf .

“The Next System Project: New Political-Economic Possibilities for the 21st Century” features many of the radical names we have already covered on this blog. http://thenextsystem.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/nextsystem_ForWeb.pdf is the list for those who want to play Recognize that Name and Contemplate the Implications. Since everyone can read those for themselves, let’s get back to the source for the second part of the title.  I also want everyone to keep in mind the ubiquity now of CTE for All (last post again) and authentic, real world, active learning for all students.

“For most students a practical, concrete and non-abstract education encourages their productive and imaginative side. [Think of Creativity as one of the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning] If schools pursued this course the society would become an existential and experiential laboratory for students. Schools would become the central place to bring one’s personal experience, other people’s experience and findings together with human needs. The experiences themselves, the way they were described and understood could and should include the ethical ought and the nurturing of the artistic.”

“…the way they were described and understood” sounds precisely like what the Frameworks Institute from our last post does in education and beyond. Minimizing facts makes perfect sense for anyone who believes “the educational process becomes the central way to bring forth value considerations in relation to actual situations in the lives of people and their institutions and in the way human beings relate to nature.” If we did not already know that the phrase Democracy is usually no longer about candidates, voting, and elections, this should do it:

“Democracy’s project is the sharing of responsibility between the citizenry, finding common uses and ownership of property where that benefits the whole [in whose opinion?]–while continuously recognizing the needs of the person…A modern democracy recognizes the need to generate situations and relationships which simultaneously recognize similarity in the Other…it moves beyond individual and group interest to hammer out shared values which can be located in the whole, the group, but which cannot be found in the individual.”

That alarming project, coming at us like pollen on a spring day in Atlanta–fast moving and everywhere–views education as the means for how “skills…where people share their public and private lives and where problems of everyday life and abstract problems are considered.” That sharing and consideration gets masked behind the non-dictionary meaning of yet another 4C–communication. And if that communication is ultimately about “social regulation which needs and demands alternative modes of thinking and living,” values, beliefs, and thinking itself can be changed and molded with few parents being the wiser as long as “the grades are OK.”

I have mentioned that I have learned enough political theory in the last few years to recognize Marxist Humanism whether it uses the M word or simply attributes the change to sociology or brain science. Yet sure enough, there was Raskin quoting “the Marxist philosopher Roger Garaudy” to hype his point that “authentic esthetic education is also the cultivation of the senses that have become atrophied in our Western tradition as a result of the exclusive emphasis of logic and discursive reasoning.” New modes of thinking indeed. Those who wish to dramatically transform society and the economy hate “the cold, abstract madness that parades as reason and ‘objective reality.'” We can each  contemplate where the madness truly is in this vision.

Now Raskin was definitely not afraid to call a spade a spade and used the M word as an apt description of certain beliefs and hopes and the means to get there. Hint: EDUCATION as my book laid out. He did, however, criticize Marxists by name for having “failed in comprehending the ethical dimension to political power and the role it must play.” Raskin saw the role of the “experience and process of democratic education” as a means for transcending the “type of social science that explains passivity from the dominated and control from the dominator as the natural order of things.” Raskin must be in ideological heaven with all the classroom hyping of White Privilege now as he helps roll out the Next System Project.

What happens when education is seen as the means of making some students feel guilty while others are emboldened to feel entitled to “change the political system by integrating procedural rights with political demands. The demands are meant to get the social, legal [Remember progressive, polyphonic federalism and the Constitution in 2020?], and economic systems to change so that the person forges a set of conditions that guarantees his or her egalitarian interdependence in all aspects of society.” ‘Do for me. I am owed’ has never, ever been a basis for mass prosperity. Heaven help us that this vision is to be locked into place invisibly through little known legal shifts binding all of us.

Such as revamping the nature of citizenship “to allow the person to comprehend in concrete terms the way each aspect of life is related and interdependent.” Substituting supplied concepts, core disciplinary ideas in a ‘domain’, and cross-cutting issues for facts plays right into training students to comprehend things that are not so and misattribute causes in ways that will only make the problems worse. For those of us with Axemaker Minds and a factual body of knowledge from history or science it’s hard not to imagine the tragedy from teaching future educators and their administrators and all those public policy degree holders that “social problems can be framed to yield humane and progressive solutions.” Maybe, but probably not.

Enduring Understandings, Understandings of Consequence, Understanding by Design–all huge components of the actual Common Core implementation and especially the new assessments make perfect sense if you believe, as Raskin stated, that “how we categorize can help us organize energies for the common good.”  Social and emotional learning, role playing as a slave to appreciate the Civil War, and a Whole Child emphasis likewise  makes perfect sense as a necessary component if the goal is to “bring the purpose of equity into lived reality.”

In the world of the same curriculum for all from the proverbial dimwit to the Super Nova intellect and the elimination of tracking, I want to close with how Raskin concluded his book’s vision. He saw a “great struggle” although with all these deceitful terms being used to describe the shifts in purpose, policies, and practices, who will know in time to resist?

“People are not prepared to surrender their present comforts or those knowledges which helped them achieve such comforts either for the protection of humanity, the building of a world civilization–let alone egalitarian interdependence.” That’s not just a chilling declaration of purpose.

It reminds us that a huge component of the means to accomplish these admitted transformations is to destroy fine, well-stocked minds. Anywhere they can be discovered.

What a thing to be implementing blindly while hyping the skills gap and the need to be internationally competitive.

Authoritarian FantasyLand: A Place With Required Habits of Mind but Disdain for Facts

Back from my jaunt this week to Orange County, California to talk about all the things coming into K-12 classrooms under the cloaking banner of the Common Core. Since I was taking notes on Monday night and the pro-CC side zealously conceded a great deal in their prepared presentations, I thought we would talk about what was admitted upfront and what the implications are for all of us. It is safe to say that California is further along than many states so this will fit with what is or will soon be going on everywhere. If authoritarian seems awfully strong, it is partly a reaction to the number of speakers who insisted that the Common Core was now “the law” and there was thus no reason for further discussion. Now no one actually uttered the phrase “resistance is futile” or “submission is mandatory,” but that was the drift of the arguments.

Gone is any concept that the United States is a country conceived on a premise that the individual is ultimately so sacrosanct that even a king needs to ask permission to cross his threshold. No, if a school board, legislature, or city or regional council adopts a law or enacts a regulation, apparently obedience is now mandatory without further discussion. That crucial shift is one reason the authoritarian description seems apt. The other is the number of times I heard speakers, especially one who was a former California 4th District PTA President and a current Huntington Beach school board member utter phrases in support of the Common Core like “its purpose is to create habits of mind” and dictate “concepts to be absorbed” by the student. Another speaker spoke of “internalizing” knowledge.

All of those references, whether the speakers know this or not, are to what Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin called theoretical instruction to guide future behavior. We covered it here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/transcending-the-individual-mind-as-the-analytical-unit-of-learning-while-still-guiding-how-we-will-act/ . My dictionary defines authoritarian as “unquestioning obedience to authority rather than individual freedom of judgment and action.” Now let’s face it, if concepts have been implanted in student’s psyche at an unconscious level, which all these speakers are admitting and I have been warning about, there’s not even any opportunity to question. Is there anybody out there that denies our definition is being more than met with these openly declared intentions?

One of the Board members read two passages from my book. One is that we are looking at the “Marxist theory of education.” I suppose he was trying to paint me as some kind of 21st Century McCarthy threatening to name names. As the book lays out in detail, Uncle Karl wanted education to be all about controlling consciousness. Let’s face it, the pro-CC speakers themselves admitted that aim several times. If educational theorists and professors use the M word among themselves for what they advocate, we get to use the term as well. That’s me–factual, not raving. The 2nd quote had to do with the assertion in the book that Common Core actually wants to limit knowledge. I explained quickly about how a concept-based education worked, but I have a better example to actually quote now that I am home with access to all my materials.

The term “rigor” and “cognitively demanding” both got used a lot as reasons for the shift to the Common Core. No one mentioned though that the purpose of this kind of classroom work was to foster a “tolerance for ambiguity” in the student. More psyche in the classroom crosshairs then. I mentioned in my testimony that to work the problem MUST be ambiguous, be previously untaught, or have no single correct answer.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct08/vol66/num02/Rigor-Redefined.aspx is a 2008 article by Harvard prof Tony Wagner elaborating just that–“a complex, multi-step problem that is different from any they’ve seen in the past.”

The pro-side did not care for my pointing out that when they stated that CC were “learning standards” they were saying it was about “social and emotional changes in the student” and “goals” for changing a student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors.  That came out on rebuttal even though our former PTA President and Board member had cited “engaging experiences” as one of her reasons to support the CC transformation of the classroom. What precisely does she believe the “experiences” are getting at? Plus, I now have access to the standard definition of ‘rigor’ which is “the goal of helping all students develop the capacity to understand content that is complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally or emotionally challenging.” I took that from an SREB powerpoint, but plenty of school districts use that quoted definition verbatim too.

Another reason cited in support of CC was it “promotes Equity.” As we say in the South “Yeehaw.” Dissimilar treatment of students in order to get them to the same outcomes is not likely to be a popular selling point, at least until we get a generation trained with those Anti-bias Standards from the last post. So we get Equity imposed invisibly by Supers and Civil Rights edicts and local city councils. Alarmingly, Brookings’ Metropolitanism guru, Bruce Katz (see tags)  announced this week http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/10/22-metro-growth-uk-us-katz  that  “it’s time we rewrote our own federalist contract [that would be the US Constitution] and realign power and responsibility for the modern era in which cities and metropolitan areas, rather than nations and states, drive economies and progress.”

Right into a ditch in all likelihood, but this is the political vision all these education reforms embodied in the full CC implementation are relying on as the future they are preparing our students for. In that link, you will find a link to a UK report that makes it clear that geography is being used to disguise the shift to the needs-based, economic justice vision that Uncle Karl lusted about achieving at some point in the future. As the report said “the scale of metros means they are best placed to drive the strategic integration of public services and economic development.”

That’s the vision for Manchester in the UK and the greater LA area, my neck of the woods in Georgia, and everywhere else as well. Everything I have read suggests a Folly of monumental proportions is planned, but it will be quite lucrative for a while to those connected vendors who form public-private partnerships to receive taxpayer money for meeting ‘needs’ like housing, education, or healthcare.

I want to close this discussion with a Keynote Address noted Change Agent Shirley McCune gave back in 1981 called “The Future of Educational Equity.” She saw “struggles for equity” as the “whole rationale for the formation of the United States” which tells us what can happen when we let graduate degrees in social work dictate how we educate our kids. What I found fascinating since I had always seen the Reagan Block Grants to state and local governments as a ‘conservative’ shift was how A-OK she was with this plan. So someone who wanted to see comparable economic and social outcomes among groups and “groups of people represented throughout society in proportion to their representation in the population” viewed state and local governments as the place to achieve that.

Something to think about as commentators assume that the Common Core is an acceptable dictate if a local school board requires it. That the only problem with the Common Core is the federal fingerprints all over it from Arne Duncan’s actions. Really? Authoritarianism that goes so far as to dictate personality traits at an unconscious level to drive future behavior is not a problem now as long as it is not federal authorities mandating it? McCune believed that the “only way that persons would be willing to ‘buy equity concerns’ is if it is demonstrated that it is an innate part of quality education.” That of course is precisely what embedding Racial Equity Outcomes in coursework or those Anti-Bias Framework do.

It’s McCune and others view of how to use a misleading term like quality education for “building a new consensus on equity.” She also viewed quality education for equity as about equipping students with the “highest level basic verbal and mathematical skills consistent with their individual ability.” The only way to read that language is that slower students will get a variety of ways to show their skills, but able students still cannot go beyond basic. They can just go faster through the basics.

Just as we are seeing with all the current emphasis on Career Pathways, where California is one of the lead pilots http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/files/aqcp-framework-version-1-0/AQCP-Framework.pdf McCune’s plan for equity relied on ALL students now receiving a combined academic and vocational education where everyone would obtain “the skills and attitudes necessary for working cooperatively with both the same sex and opposite sex in the paid workforce and in the home.”

Finally McCune’s version of quality education “would equip students with the flexibility and self-confidence that would enable them to cope with the rapidly changing society through continuing adult learning and growth.” Doesn’t that sound just like what the Common Core is touting as having a Growth Mindset? Everything old is new again apparently until total transformation is finally achieved.

Apparently the products of a “quality education” grounded in ‘rigor’ will not object to the fundamental rewrite of our “federalist contract” and in the mean time, governments at all levels seem to be pursuing this Equity vision without any genuine disclosure or consent. Leaving it to the lady who reads too much and has for a very long time to lay it all out.

Hopefully Just In Time as the slogan goes.

History as Psychological Reality-Transformation Tool Must Begin Well Before High School

We may never have thought of history as a means for altering our Identity–how we see ourselves and what guides how we are likely to behave in the future-but everyone with fundamental transformations on the mind seems to. The previous post’s steering through how all education pathways now seek to push communitarianism was a reminder that in the 21st century, the nation is no longer supposed to be “the community that defines history and political identity.” That quote was from the keynoter at the La Pietra Conference, Professor Prasenjit Duara. Thomas Bender in his Introductory essay to the 2002 Rethinking American History in a Global Age says that the “aim is to contextualize the nation” to avoid the “danger of complicity, conscious or not, in a triumphialism that justifies the current phase of capitalism.”

So if you ever wonder why I regularly see the need on this blog or in my book to discuss the economic transformation intentions, whose theories they are tied to, and why dramatically changing education to minimize anything that bolsters the continued validity of individualism, it is not because I am the One with the proverbial Bee in my Bonnet on this issue. Education may be the means to fundamental revolutionary transformations, hopefully without violence, but it is especially the purpose of subject-matter content that had to shift. Otherwise, traditional knowledge of any sort nurtures a reverence for the world as it is and provides hard factual info that prevents fully imagining a world as it might become. What reality supposedly should look like. When all coursework quietly turns into an examination of current social conditions, it becomes important to see the past in ways that justify and help ignite the passions to change today.

History not grounded to facts, but tied now to experiences, makes an important mechanism for student role-playing in alternative social worlds. Instead, of treating history and anthropology as separate subjects, that division is to be dissolved per Bender’s proposed new framework so that “peoples organized into nations, with literatures and archives” no longer have primacy over “all differently organized peoples.” There’s a good reason, in other words, why the NAACP and La Raza are so excited by the Common Core as a vehicle for transformative broader social change. Now let’s dive into elementary, middle, and high school classrooms to see precisely how classroom activities get reimagined to guide perceptions, nurture current grievances, heighten emotions, and shape Student Identity as if it were an overcoat to be taken on and off whenever cold winds shift.

These examples are all from a 2002 book called The Parallel Curriculum that caught my eye because I knew how involved one of the authors had been in developing the new Teacher and Classroom evaluations. See why factual knowledge is such a nuisance for those who view one of the “key goals of education itself–helping people understand the past in order to invent a future“? Again that would be a reenvisioned K-12 education that can create students with “a greater capacity to adapt to change.” Apparently having students with solid textbook knowledge who can tell a grasping mayor or legislator that “we fired King George for less overreaching than that” is in the way of our acceptance of being ‘governed’. So is any coursework that nurtures reverence for what social planners have long referred to derisively as the “distinctive organization of law in the United States” or the dreaded obstacle of the “practically cast-iron Constitution.”

In pursuit of not being the last Generation that Remembers, let’s delve into precisely what is planned. Think about how these activities and areas of emphasis play into the intention we are now aware of to inspire, or at least tolerate, fundamental transformations of current realities most of us take for granted. This is from a planned middle school history unit: “Throughout the year, three concepts are used to organize the curriculum: culture, continuity, and diversity. At the end of the second quarter all students will work with projects that ask them to use these concepts to compare their own culture with that of Russia. Many students will select or develop a family that is similar to theirs but that lives in Russia.”

Raise your hand if you think the unit will stress commonalities, not differences. One of my most frequent observations when reviewing planned activities is to recognize all the deliberate encouragement of inapt analogies. Here’s another example from 4th Grade Science: the class examines the weather ‘systems’ and “other systems (e.g. family systems, the school as a system and body systems.” Notice how natural systems that respond based on physical principles, that are not impacted at all by our intentions or understanding of how they work, are being married to social systems that supposedly involve the decisions of free individuals. This is a recurring theme and, in my opinion, why ‘systems thinking’ as a required component of Radical Ed Reform goes back decades and is now featured prominently in that July 2014 federal legislation, WIOA, defining workforce readiness for every student in every state in the US.

The 4th grade teacher is supposed to “help her students look at it through a conceptual lens, stressing the key concept, ‘system.'” What is ‘it’ referring to there, you ask? Why that would be the goal to have students “generate and test principles that would show the relationship between weather systems and ecosystems in general–and between weather systems and particular elements in ecosystems (animals, plants, rocks, and food chains.)  ” As we can see the ecosystem assignment does leave out at this point the most dominant participant in ecosystems–real people–but it does a nice job of completely muddling in the child’s mind physical systems with natural laws and social systems that some people now hope to socially engineer. What nice preparation from an early age to simply accept such plans with nary a second thought.

That’s the advantage when K-12 education becomes about creating behaviors through “guided experience.” Where the student is to “understand [in that phronetic sense of the last post] the nature of the discipline in a real world manner” and then “assume a role as a means of studying the discipline.” Common Core would certainly have a greater PR hurdle, wouldn’t it, if it owned up to its real purpose of role playing various future behaviors until “what it feels like” becomes a “habit of mind.” So history, for example, becomes a “means of looking and making sense of the world” so that students can begin “escaping the rut of certainty about knowledge.” There is more in the book involving this Curriculum of Practice that can be used for all coursework that still has a content-oriented name. It is all anything other than the Transmission of Knowledge.

How about an elementary social studies class that uses the topic of the American Revolution as a reason to scan newspapers and news magazines “for the purpose of identifying contemporary revolutions.” Anyone else think Inapt Analogies are supposed to become a practiced habit of mind? So the topic of the American Revolution becomes “a means of thinking about causes of, reactions to, and potential effects of a contemporary cultural change.”

How about the new planned use of the Civil War in a 5th grade classroom? Instead of the past emphasis on  “the events related to the Civil War…addressed in chronological fashion, moving from the causes…to the events and people involved in the battles and the war,” the teacher, “equipped with  new knowledge about the importance of big ideas and concept-based teaching,” will have students spend four weeks looking at the livelihoods and economies of various people and groups. The book bold faces those big ideas like nation and federation and especially the plan to have 5th grade students examine “various perspectives within the emerging nation [notice this not-so-subtle intention to time bound the concept of the nation. Forged by the Civil War really and thus expendable as conditions change in the 21st] about state and civil rights issues.”

Next thing the Civil War becomes a vehicle for discussing “perspectives, viewpoints, balance, conflicts, compromise, consensus, and resolution” generally, which is certainly going to be handy since we have already encountered numerous explicit intentions to push shared understanding as the new required norm. Remember the posts on the Rockefeller-funded Communication For Social Change, the participatory governance push of Structured Design Dialogue, or the Discourse Classroom Courtney Cazden envisioned while on a Cold War trip to the USSR? Now the concept of civil itself becomes a means for the students to practice being “thinkers and analyzers.”

Want to guess what the exemplar of an ‘expert’ of the concept would be? Why that is described as the student belief that “People have civil wars when they can’t resolve their conflicts or achieve their rights peaceably.”  Peace is always the answer then. At least until we discover actual evidence in illegal tunnels leading to day care centers of plans to kidnap children during Jewish holidays or, more likely, the actual terrorist event like the World Trade Center occurs. The listed example of an expert acquisition of the desired Principles and Rules is that “Empathy, compromise, and consensus, can be used to resolve conflicts peacefully because they honor individual perspectives and values.”

That’s what Chamberlain naively thought in 1938 because he lacked Churchill’s deep grounding in actual history of events. Destined to repeat itself is a lousy way to face the future just because it is conducive to social planning and engineering by the politically-connected few against the many. To end with that Civil War quilt I mentioned, an individual interpretation of the scenes depicted on the quilt and whether their “conclusions are well supported in information they had studied” is simply an excuse for All Propaganda All the Time.

Now to all this, let’s add on being able to depict any scenario desired in the virtual reality brought in through the laptop or IPad.

Will the next generation know anything that is true?

Or will everything be guided by what is influential in building support for fundamental transformations?

Transcending the Individual Mind as the Analytical Unit of Learning While Still Guiding How We Will Act

In 2003, Peter Senge, also tied to MIT’s Sloan School of Management just like Alex Pentland from the last post, wrote an article “Creating Desired Futures in a Global Economy” based on remarks he delivered at his Society of Organizational Learning’s first Global Forum. It was held in Helsinki, Finland. Like John Dewey’s purposes for education, Peter Senge’s purposes or Alex Pentland’s or those who push practices unaware of their background, the purposes still attach to the desired education practices. No matter what or where. No matter how pure the heart may be or how noble the personal intentions. The purposes need to be a part of every discussion of education reform, and no degree from any institution should enable anyone to impose these practices with their undisputed collectivist intention in a country that intends to remain free.

Otherwise we have precisely what seems to be occurring. Education being used to mount a nonconsensual political coup at the level of the human mind. In that article Senge quoted a physicist David Bohm, who in 1980 expressed the sentiment that “the most important thing going forward is to break the boundaries between people so we can operate as a single intelligence. [J.S., another physicist] Bell’s theorem implies that this is the natural state of the human world, separation without separateness. The task is to find ways to break these boundaries, so we can be in our natural state.” Senge apparently agrees with Bohm and gave a similar quote from Einstein.

He also waxes on about the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton (interestingly, that’s the same noosphere project I drew attention to in the book). If this were simply a matter of personal beliefs that would be one thing, but when these beliefs drive education policy no one should lose the right to avoid declared manipulations of minds and feelings, values or complete personality, just because the person pushing these ideas got a certain kind of degree or works at a school or district or university or government agency or has a lucrative consulting contract.

If the nature of the education policy or practice is to foster that Marxist change in the student and the world to make history that we encountered in the last post, then the people pushing these policies are Marxists. Whether they admit it or not and whether they are aware or not of the ancestry of what they are pushing. I don’t know about what you feel when reading the word Marxist, but when I have to type it feels like I am insulting someone. Like telling them they have bad breath or must turn sideways to make it through a door. For many of the people developing and pushing these education ideas though, it’s a term of pride. And when it comes to pushing Vygotsky’s theories or those of Piotr Galperin, who we are going to talk about today, it is not merely that they personally had Marxist sentiments or lived in a country under its sway.

Using education to create “forward-looking transformative practices that are needed to enact history in the present” is the entire purpose of their theories and instructional practices. If the actual implementation of the Common Core in the US and comparable education reforms elsewhere are grounded in Vygotsky (usually admittedly if you know where to look) and Galperin (by the function of the required practices and how closely they align with his theories), then the purpose of the education reforms is every bit as much of a Marxist transformation as anything that happened in Russia in 1917 or Cuba in 1959. Nobody is goose stepping or shooting or fleeing abroad this time, but that does not change the aim. Nor does it change admissions that these theories and practices are “ideology-driven” to foster a different kind of future world.

What Galperin set out to do, and what his decades of research on students in the USSR showed, according to Igor Arievitch and Jacques Haenen, was how to use the “active construction of actions in the external form [what the Common Core calls learning tasks]” to guide “transformation of those actions into mental processes.” That’s what ‘teaching students how to think’ and a ‘thinking curriculum’ actually mean. To put it in the language used in a different essay by Arievitch and Anna Stetsenko, Galperin’s systemic-theoretical instruction laid out “how to arrange teaching-and-learning processes [what he and we now call by its Russian name obuchenie] in such a way that they indeed lead to a profound developmental change in children’s minds.”

How you ask? You provide a conceptual understanding from the beginning that encompasses the point of instruction (maybe true, but what a student is to believe regardless) and what types of physical phenomena it applies to (supposedly) and the (mostly invisible) relationships among those phenomena that physically exist in the real world. So real physical things encountered in daily life by a student or adult evoke “a chain of images, associations, and concepts”  in the mind that is designed to pop up like a reflex response. Let’s tap that knee says the doctor.

Now if whoever created the textbook or software or video wants actual knowledge, you could actually use Galperin’s “technology of instruction” to accurately build up a fairly accurate understanding of reality. Such programmed instruction is not inherently bad, but there’s no real safety valve to protect against manipulative creators of virtual reality gaming or software or any other means of instruction from pushing concepts that are not true or do not apply. Nor is there any means of ensuring that the taught relationships among things accurately reflects real, verifiable, connections. Like Senge’s systems thinking, the instruction may be about hoped for connections transformation advocates want students to believe exist.

Because the manipulative potential of Galperin’s ‘technology of instruction,’ as his research demonstrated, stems from the fact that it orients future behavior in predictable ways. In other words, systemic-theoretical instruction has tremendous potential to anyone wanting to change reality and guide perception and govern individual behavior. All without saying so. Well, at least not at the typical PTA meeting. Now how is this different from that theory you learned in science class or as an interpretation in history? Glad you asked. In traditional education, those theories come from known facts. Remember though we are in the age when facts are being rejected as boring, or too print intensive, or unnecessary in a world of search engines.

Theory in the Galperin instructional practice and to Alex Pentland in the last post, and as used throughout the actual ed reform mandates, comes first. It comes from the philosophy that there is nothing as practical as a good theory for fostering social transformation. It shapes and alters how people perceive reality. It interferes with the absorption of facts when they do manage to come along. Remember all the classroom visions we are seeing pushed are experiential. Usually in a group. Physical activity. Visual encounters. Projects. All the references we have been encountering about providing students with ‘lenses’ or ‘Understandings of Consequence’ or ‘Enduring Understandings’ or ‘Generative Metaphors,’ to cite a few examples we have encountered, all seem to be used precisely as Galperin outlined. That means this is the attached vision (Arevitch & Haenen 2005):

“In fact, Galperin’s teaching strategies can be used to reduce if not virtually eliminate the gap between declarative and procedural knowledge. Namely, in his stepwise teaching model, each action that students master can be comprehended conceptually because it is introduced, from the beginning, in its functional relation to a broader, meaningful task to be learned.

At the same time, each concept students are learning is represented as a sequence of procedures (actions) that serve as a basis for solving problems. Therefore, declarative [facts traditionally] and procedural [how to do it] knowledge are essentially merged into an integrated whole. This can be achieved when teaching and learning are organized into meaningful activities, thus putting the acquisition of new knowledge to the service of orienting and guiding new actions.”

Highly useful theory of education, instruction, and knowledge to anyone with a transformation agenda, isn’t it? We started with Peter Senge, let’s close with a statement from the same paper since it applies to so much of the stated rationales for needing these so-called 21st century education reforms.

“The fundamental difference between creating and problem solving is simple. In problem solving we seek to make something we do not like go away. In creating, we seek to make what we truly care about exist. Few distinctions are more basic.”

Few education theories then would be more useful than one that orients future behavior in predictable ways.

Supposedly Creating a Generation of Solutionaries by Using Education to Create Futures Oriented Change Agents

There is something fundamentally suicidal about intentionally  limiting students’ knowledge of actual facts of what has worked well in the past, or been catastrophic, while emphasizing that they should imagine alternate futures for themselves and the world. Does it strike anyone else as encouraging children to play with nitro while the advocates sit firmly protected in school district or university offices living off collected taxes and tuition? It gets even worse with professors determined to jettison the current political, social, and economic systems using education–K-12, college, and graduate–to create the desired perspectives for change and then planning to build on the “growing movement of discontented young people” to force the change. The motto might as well be “We broke it and intend to use the breakage to get an even bigger hammer to keep breaking while blaming others for the destruction.”

Once again our invitations were lost for yet another planning meeting. The so-called Next System Project did hold a workshop December 12 at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard with many recognizable players that this blog has already looked into. Led by Democracy Collaborative advocate Gar Alperowitz and environmental activist James Speth (author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy wanting to use a new view of education to build the requisite consciousness), the workshop talked about a project, thenextsystem.org, that would be launched in 2014. Here’s my problem: many of the participants like Tufts Professor Neva Goodwin and the Tellus Institute (The Great Transition post) have been laying out their radical transformative intentions for a number of years so what is really new? I think what is new is the national K-12 initiative known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSSI). It becomes the catch-all excuse to shift all classroom instructional practices and the curriculum towards creating the student beliefs and values and perspectives in the need for such a new system.

Moreover, I think CCSSI gives the perfect excuse to push the Agenda 21 vision percolating out of the UN and the Subjective Well-Being, Green Growth, and Great Transition global initiatives announced by the OECD in Paris. If we go north to Canada and look at a 2012 document from the accounting and consulting firm Deloitte & Touche (apparently having governments as clients and then writing advocacy papers for the dirigiste vision is the consulting and legal nirvana of the future) called “Ready or not? Preparing youth for 21st century responsible citizenship,” we can see what the UN’s Education for Sustainable Development looks like in practice. Once again the focus of education is on changing what the student values and believes and what theories or concepts they use to filter their daily experiences. In fact, the Final Report has the banner “Viewing education through a responsible citizenship lens.”

Obuchenie then is till sought and the Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete framing Mindset and conceptual lenses are still the new purpose of education globally but rarely will we find those particular terms used. Instead, the philosophy shows up in phrasing like this:

“The goal of responsible citizenship calls upon education to adopt a different set of learning tools and a different teacher-learner relationship that involves learning based upon inquiry and action. Paulo Freire [a major advocate of social justice education globally who viewed the transmission of knowledge as reproducing current privileges] terms this the ‘problem-posing’ method of education, where teachers and students learn together through combining theory with action [a/k/a experiential or hands on ed] and emphasizing the importance of inquiry.”

That inquiry of course occurs with the supplied Big Ideas or Lenses or Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequence as we went through in the previous post. They become how the world is seen whether they are true or not. When a student consistently applies them in how they see the world they are deemed to now be ‘autonomous.’ No sense of Orwellian irony that a person is now labeled autonomous only when she appears to be preprogrammed to respond in predictable ways. Another way these concepts come into this new vision of ed is by pushing the idea that K-12 students should “engage in praxis.” Once again this is defined as “combining theory and action–a goal that should be accomplished by taking students outside the classroom to learn from first-hand, real-world experiences.”

This “theory and action” aim seeks to have students come to see the world as in constant flux so they will believe they must be able to adapt to the changes. Supposedly, “learning this can help youth to see democracy as a work in progress, with room for more voices and views in its development and transformation. When the conventional student/teacher dichotomy is altered, learners are able to see that knowledge is not only delivered by those deemed as experts, but can come from personal investigation and interaction. Learning to be open to more forms of knowledge building can allow children to value their own discoveries and understandings.”

Now I hope Deloitte was well-paid to write such nonsense as part of the Learning for a Sustainable Future Initiative. Children and young adults may in fact come to believe that their own discoveries and understandings are just as important as what an expert knows, but they would be WRONG. It is our job as adults and the purpose of education to correct such misconceptions, not to foster ignorance and logical fallacies because such advocacy pays well. Governments at all levels in countries all over the world may have decided it would be nice if they can treat citizens as mere chattel and hide such intentions behind rhetoric about sustainability and responsible citizenship. The mask and obfuscatory language doesn’t change the abusive intent of the public sector and its collaborators within the private and ‘charitable’ sectors one bit.

Self-dealing by public officials, politicians, private sector lackeys, foundations, and higher ed wanting the gravy train to never end are simply hiding behind ostensibly noble language about “creating a generation of ‘solutionaries’… this begins with our young people. As such, we need to address these issues within our learning environments by creating authentic opportunities for young people to experience the power and possibilities democracy provides in loving and supporting community. We can transform our educational system to one based on respect for human rights and one that values freedom and responsibility, participation and collaboration, and equity and justice. To create a more just, sustainable and democratic world, we need democratic education.”

That sounds much more glorious than saying we need education to cripple our young people and future voters mentally and emotionally. When it turns out that they cannot in fact create the future they want despite what we insisted they be told during their K-12 years, few of these young people will have accurate facts to appreciate why there are not enough good jobs anymore. They will thus be the very change agent advocates that the UN and the OECD and all those participants in the next system workshop have said they desire.

Deliberately creating the discontent and then mining it for ever increasing political power and diminishing mass prosperity. That’s the true global vision of education in the 21st century that began in the 1990s and is now truly cranking into high gear.

And the longer we wait to accurately apprehend that this is the true nature of what is sought in K-12 and university classrooms, the more irreplaceable national treasure, both physical and noetic, will be lost.

With these intentions the likeliest next system is chaos as no one’s expectations can be met. The mind arson and destructive public sector spending will simply have consumed too much.

Unveiling the True Focus of the Common Core: Obuchenie within Students to Gain Desired Future Behaviors

Have you ever noticed we do some of our best thinking when we are not trying at all? This year I vowed to not think about education for at least a week and to immerse myself in some good historical fiction while relaxing at the beach. Right as we were leaving though I did print out a 2012 white paper from Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins called “From Common Core to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas.” Because McTighe & Wiggins do so much training of teachers all over the country in how to implement education reforms (even in states like Texas that did not formally adopt the Common Core), their vision of the classroom implementation is quite relevant to what is really going to happen within schools. That paper really hammers home the extent to which the desired focus is now on specifying desired behaviors in students and then setting up the opportunities to practice those behaviors until they become a habit.

Standards for College and Career or Workplace Readiness is then a euphemism not for certain levels of knowledge that prepare a student to be an independent adult, but for having practiced performances in authentic contexts enough that what a student will do when confronted with “messy, never-seen-before problems” or “new challenges” becomes predictable. That’s what McTighe & Wiggins want to emphasize as the ultimate aim of a curriculum: independent transfer. Unfortunately for them, I have encountered these aspirations of trying to program students so that their likely perceptions have already been gamed long before they encounter new experiences. My reaction has always been “So you want the student to apply this analogy even though it is not apt or follow beliefs that are not true?” And honestly, if transformational social, economic, and political change is the ultimate end game as all my sources repeatedly assert, cultivating a capacity to act in predictable ways, regardless of the current facts and without awareness of the likely circumstances, is an effective, if dangerous, means for facilitating mass change.

Now McTighe & Wiggins acknowledge the longevity of this behavioral pursuit of “desired performances by the learner” by tying it back more than 60 years to Ralph Tyler. They quote Tyler that the purpose of standards or outcomes, or his own term ‘objectives,’ is to indicate the “kinds of changes” to be “brought about” “in the student.” They do leave out the fact that Ralph (who had worked with John Dewey) was also coining the very phrase “behavioral sciences” at about the same time he conceived of making behavior the focus of curriculum and then using the ambiguous term ‘objectives’ to obscure such a radical shift. A proud tradition of obfuscation over actual intentions that continues in education to this very day.

Which is what kept teasing at the edge of my mind while I tried to relax. The recognition of just how often the phrase “teaching and learning” or “learning and teaching” keeps recurring not just in connection with the actual Common Core implementation, but also as a headlining description in English of UNESCO’s Agenda 21 education work and the primary phrase used to euphemistically describe radical ed reform in the 90s. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/didnt-the-president-just-admit-ccssi-was-a-ruse-to-change-classroom-interactions/ All that musing also reminded me that when I first started researching the so-called math and science wars in curriculum, the university based curriculum centers that pushed all these bad ideas in return for massive grants of federal money were consistently called “Centers for Learning and Teaching” or CLTs. Now I knew that the English phrase “learning and teaching” in whatever order was an unappreciated term of art translating a Russian word for guided psychological growth called obuchenie.

By the time of my return trip from the beach, the number 1 research item on my list was to resolve my curiosity about whether the term obuchenie accurately summarized what McTighe and Wiggins were describing as the actual classroom focus of the Common Core and what the new assessments should be measuring. Now the nice thing about correctly surmising how something is linked and that the same concept is hiding under multiple seemingly innocent names is that simple searches throw out lots of open declarations. Even so, I was floored to find both a 2012 Russian Journal of Cultural-Historical Psychology from Moscow State telling me I was correct http://psyjournals.ru/en/kip/2012/n3/57239_full.shtml along with a 2009 article from Professor Michael Cole, the US overseer of CHAT-Cultural Historical Activity Theory http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Journal/pdfs/16-4-cole.pdf  .If this were all a game, I would be able to yell out “BINGO!” now for the win and the pot of money.

Every single one of these sources is consumed with the stated problem of transfer. What can be done to guide future adult behavior in desired ways? Long-time readers know we have already encountered the nerdy expression Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete from Soviet psychology and its ties to Professor Cole’s work (see tags for him and CHAT). That Russian psych term is helpfully a part of the Mindset to be created now apparently in American students and students all over the globe. Instead of a focus on teaching factual knowledge, the Soviets saw the behavioral implications of teaching theoretical concepts instead. The theories then become the lens through which everyday experiences are perceived. Knowledge itself becomes construed as the perceived relationships among objects (i.e., the repeated insistence on thinking in terms of systems), instead of factual qualities of the objects themselves.

What the Russian journal calls theoretical concepts, the US Common Core tends to call  Big Ideas or Enduring Understandings or Understandings of Consequence. It’s the same idea as what the Journal described as:

“The importance of the interplay between the scientific concepts derived in theoretical learning and the spontaneous concepts formed in empirical learning is central to this account of development. If the two forms do not ‘connect’ then true concept development does not take place. Thus theoretically driven content based teaching which is not designed to connect with learners’ everyday empirical learning will remain inert and developmentally ineffective.”

‘Developmentally ineffective’ is another euphemism for saying it will not guide future behavior in predictable ways. The Common Core would decree that ‘Deep Learning’ (as championed and financed especially by the Hewlett Foundation) has not occurred. Now we can also see the reasons for hands-on science and math and project-based learning as a new focus. It provides the empirical experiences that the desired theoretical concepts like fairness or social justice can be pegged to so that the student believes over time what ever the curriculum developers want him to believe. As you can imagine this will be really handy for anyone intending to push climate change regardless of actual facts, as the RSA and the Garrison Institute have both announced underlies their ed work. It is also handy if you intend to push a new economic system and blame all the current problems attributable to too much previous government interventionism on the “continued adherence to free market capitalism.” See http://www.50plus20.org/film for a preview of the last installment of this trilogy.

At the end of the Russian psych journal, it concedes that obuchenie or making education about psychological development in predetermined ways is the means by which All Students Can Learn. It is the method of  “democratic solutions to mass education.” A phrase that should give us all pause as we have constant demands to close the achievement gap and ignore real differences among students.

Free societies do not cultivate ideological thinking as a matter of habit in their young people. Free societies do not try to program future behaviors to be prompted at an unconscious level in their young people. Free societies do not measure effective teaching by whether obuchenie is occurring within the student so that they can be relied upon in the future to act without regard to facts. Free societies do not assess students to see if an obuchenie Mindset and Worldview is taking hold in a student.

Since none of this is speculation about what is being put in place in the name of the Common Core, where are we really headed in 2014?

 

Developing Dispositions/Character Traits as the New Global Focus: Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness, Reciprocity

The idea of deliberately fostering muddled minds via K-12 education that we encountered in the last post and the overall disdain for Axemaker Minds in the 21st Century that is practically a theme for this blog makes perfect sense when we remember all the entities and people we have encountered, in either my new book or this blog, who have openly proclaimed a desire to use education to drive radical political and socioeconomic change. From John Dewey and Karl Marx as I describe in the book to the OECD’s current admission of The Great Transition or the UN’s related The World We Want 2015 campaign, we are just being overwhelmed by people generally living at taxpayer expense who want wholesale transformation. The US Common Core Initiative and 21st Century Learning globally are simply methods to stealthily get US schools, teachers, and students “in transition” without being honest with parents or taxpayers as to what is going on.

To truly appreciate how so much change could be attempted in plain sight without being properly understood, it is important for us to take a look at the new RSA report that came out this week. http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1536844/J1530_RSA_climate_change_report_16.12_V51.pdf The so-called “New Agenda on Climate Change” described in that graphic report is to cease debating the reality of manmade climate change and to turn it into a “social fact.” Widely believed and therefore influencing behavior whatever the actual facts. Needless to say, K-12 education that is no longer fact based but instead focuses on key concepts usefully presupplied will come in awfully handy to such a “social fact” aspiration. Not to mention a muddled mind and a trained willingness to act in the face of ambiguity and “persist in the face of difficulty” as we encountered in the last post’s mention of those desired learning dispositions.

Called the 4 Rs by Claxton and UK documents, these Learning-Power Dispositions of Resilience (Feeling or the emotional aspects of learning), Resourcefulness (Thinking or the cognitive aspects of learning), Reflectiveness (Managing or the strategic aspects of learning), and Reciprocity (Relating or the social aspects of learning)   http://www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk/images/blpia_extract.pdf make perfect sense as a focus of the classroom if change to and in the student is what is sought. As an invisible means to broader transformation. Claxton even said that the 4 Rs are part of a needed  Epistemic Climate Change in the schools. So let’s go back to what Jonathan Rowson wrote is now desired to appreciate why it is the student, and ultimately voting adults, whose values and guiding beliefs and personality need to all change.

Rowson and the Social Brain Project and its work are not interested in dealing with an environmental problem. He wants to “refocus the debate away from the existence of the problem towards competing ideas about solutions.” Which again is very useful if the problem does not actually exist and was always just an excuse for social, political, and economic transformation in a desired collectivist direction which is precisely what we have discovered on this blog going back to the early 60s. RSA is simply going to assume away the dispute. It knows about the governmental monopoly over education that allows a radicalizing focus on bringing students on board with the desired changes while erroneously believing they are essential. Rowson acknowledges the extent of RSA’s goals on behalf of the UK and actually the rest of the world by announcing:

“we have to connect with the root causes of the climate problem, which is partly about using way too much energy to fullfil socially and culturally needs and desires, but is more profoundly about the price of fossil fuels [what was that quote from candidate Obama about necessarily skyrocketing?] that produce that energy, and political and economic structures that keep us addicted to them.”

So it is the political and economic structures that need changing. Rowson concedes why getting at individual values, attitudes, and beliefs is so essential in all these radical change efforts as the agenda seeks to get at “how the behaviours of consumers and citizens serves to perpetuate the economic and political basis of the energy production and consumption that drive climate change.”

Or don’t drive climate change at all but are useful to social, political, and economic change. Those 4 Rs as the student and classroom focus instead of knowledge would certainly help if the solution to be pushed is some kind of Universal Love or obligation to care for others. Rowson mentions Robert Kegan in the paper and we know Kegan spoke at RSA this past year so Kegan’s Stages that are in turn based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s globally influential Stages of Moral Development are very much on the mind of the RSA, the OECD (remember this is what their Key Competences are built around?), US implementers of the Common Core, and new Hong Kong definitions of Citizenship traits to be fostered in school. Such global commonality around what is basically the same set of desired personal dispositions and moral beliefs at the same time can hardly be coincidental.

Especially when the Rowson paper explicitly mentions that what President Obama (no insertion of ‘US’ there as if Rowson considers him everyone’s President Obama) did with the climate change discussion that was so crucial was to frame it in “distinctly moral terms.” We keep coming back to the same goal to be encouraged in students and ultimately everyone: “the ethical responsibility to safeguard the welfare of people we care about as well as those we are never likely to meet.” Necessitating our need to take someone else’s word for what those unknown people want and need from us.

Now if this is the change you want in the future, how useful is an official Learning Quality Framework   http://learningqualityframework.co.uk/index.php/using-the-framework/ that has a New Vision for Learning? That the school should now be “investigating social, economic, moral and personal reasons for revising the school’s vision of and for learning.” To make the new focus of school how “teachers now plan lessons around the learning capacities they are trying to help students to build.” And the “development of learning capacities is planned to ensure progression.”  That’s not knowledge folks and this view of the focus is not confined to the UK either. It fits perfectly with descriptions of how the College and Career Ready Index and Student Growth are being touted in US school districts too. Elsewhere the Framework makes it clear teachers are to be “drawing students attention to learning behaviours they are using” so that the students will be “progressing in developing learning habits.”

The purpose of content under this vision is merely to “drive learning opportunities and stretch and progress learning capacities” although it of course remains terribly useful to taking an unknown and getting students to know regard something as a social fact. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Guy Claxton talks about meeting with David Perkins of Harvard who we have encountered in connection with the NSF-funded Understandings of Consequence approach to science and social studies learning under the Common Core. Nor his mention of working with one of the best known Whole Language advocates Shirley Brice Heath or fuzzy math advocates-Jo Boaler. All of these education so-called wars makes much more sense if affecting what the student believes is the actual goal of all these controversial philosophies.

So many of us still hear the word assessment and simply erroneously assume we are still talking about measurements of knowledge. The Learning Quality Framework makes it clear that assessing for learning is about “tracking and authenticating the growth of learning dispositions (with regard to when, where, and how they are used)” and insists that such tracking, likely to be revealed to parents using opaque terms like data and feedback, “builds learners’ motivation and informs learning design.” Which of course gets sold under the euphemistic term “personalized learning for all students” but sounds rather like BF Skinner’s operant conditioning.

Again having such intimate data and detail about the essence of each student is very useful if the goal is “challenge the values, structures and processes that led to this case of overconsumption and resource depletion, and which otherwise leads to more.” And that is precisely what Rowson says the new goal is. He also proclaims the need to shift mindsets and must be excited about the prominence in the UK of Guy Claxton’s Learning Power work.

Does anyone doubt that a ‘learner-centred classroom” in the UK and the US and elsewhere will really come in handy if you believe we as a society need a “broader cultural shift that reframes ‘prosperity’ as something with social, relational and experiential dimensions”?

How about if it is your intention to challenge “the structure of the macroeconomy and the logic of capitalism”?

Stay tuned as I drop yet another related disclosure bomb next time.

 

 

Developing Adequate Personalities and Psychosynthesis: An Odd Way to Define College & Career Ready

Sometimes I think I am suspected of shopping for gruesomely grabbing quotes to try to crystallize the extent to which the new focus of education is to be at a psychological level. I wish. These well-paid, frequently tenured or pensioned-for-life clowns really do write and talk about accessing the unconscious so that future actions will be guided as if by auto-pilot. (Search out RSA Social Brain Centre & Robert Kegan if and only if you have an adult beverage handy. A sense of humor and irony will serve you well too.) I can in fact take this all forward in multiple places but first let’s go back and thoroughly check out the enduring vision. And remember we went back to look at psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli’s 1965 Psychosynthesis vision of education used interchangeably with psychotherapy as a means of creating a desired self-identity NOT because I was bored and looking for something tantalizing to read.

The League of Innovative Schools planned research involves conation and personal motivations as does the OECD’s current Subjective Well-being push. Looking into that pulled up 4 giants: Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, and a Roberto Assagioli. Who I had never heard of. That book title was a grabber. Even more troubling was seeing the book had been brought back into print for use in 2002, 2008, and 2012. If I was role playing Sherlock Holmes we would call that a keen indicator of current interest.

As I talk in this post about targeting personal perception, if the names Yrjo Engestrom (Finland) and Evald Ilyenkov (Soviet) and the Enduring Understandings and Understandings of Consequence and the C3 Social Studies Framework component to the Common Core classroom vision are not ringing a bell or if you are new to the blog, they all have tags. They are all examples of how crucial getting at the personal perceptual level is if you have the pursuit of government power and utopian transformation of the future as a goal. Let’s go back to 1962 and a vision of dealing with the conflicts and competing ideologies involved in the Cold War globally via education. Here’s Perceiving, Behaving, Becoming:A New Focus again (my bolding):

  “The new situations and new problems we face today and which we cannot predict tomorrow call for new ways of seeing and dealing with the world. Subject matter is too often used as a way of teaching people to look backward, to recite past performances, instead of as a medium for preparing students for future developments. Content then becomes sterile, even negative, if it inhibits new leads and new solutions. Education must deal with subject matter, not as an end in itself, but as a means of helping children to achieve the intelligent imagination and creativity necessary to find adequate answers to the world’s increasingly complex problems.”

I am going to interrupt the quoting for a dictionary alert to add to your Orwellian Decoding Glossary of Education terms. That’s right. It is the ubiquitous but vague term of 21st Century schools–‘learning to learn.’ Now if the 1962 vision had gone as planned and for sure in the new Positive School Climate (PSC) classrooms of 2013 the “exciting experience of exploring and discovering meaning is the central activity.” We need a PSC of course because ALL students need to feel an ‘atmosphere’ that is ‘fundamentally accepting’ so they will NOT keep their perceptions safely tucked inside themselves. They will share with their fellow comrades, I mean students, so they can all explore for meaning. That way those personal perceptions can be examined and changed to create new ways of looking at the world.

That’s right ‘if’ the new “objective of instruction becomes that of perception building, students may become aware of, or sensitive to, the importance of meaning…They learn how perceptions or meanings are broadened or changed and how they are built. They learn how to learn.

In 2013 learning how to learn gets billed frequently as self-authoring–Robert Kegan’s 4th stage of consciousness, or Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. It is alive and well and coming to a K-12 or college classroom or workplace retreat near you soon. The global bureaucrats and politicians and Big Business are intensely determined that this time we will get a paradigm shift, starting at the unconscious mental level. And it all really does track back to what Maslow and Rogers sought for their humanistic psychology that led to a strikingly Marxian human development vision. Today HP runs around most often calling itself Transpersonal Psychology. As always, new names for enduring transformative ideas anytime notoriety intrudes.

So one more time here’s the vision that is viewed as aiding transformative political, social, and economic change, coming in invisibly via stealth:

“It is the unsolved problem rather than the factual question and answer that encourages freedom of thought and children’s respect for their own mental processes. It can help them to change concepts in light of new evidence and to build a sense of personal responsibility for increasing knowledge and solving problems.”

That’s solving problems by creativity and imagination and feelings unimpeded by a body of knowledge about previous consequences of a similar set of facts. It may be a grand way to encourage attempts to model and redesign societies and economies but the consequences will come from reality. Not the perceptions that launched the attempts to transform. But hey, I am a history major and I just don’t see how peace in our time is going to flow from stressing “emotional as well as intellectual experiencing. Learning about people involves an empathy, a feeling with them, an acceptance of differences, and an appreciation of variability in values and behavior.” That is the kind of nonsense that forgets that there really are bullies in the world who can only be held in check from fear of power and likely retaliation. It also forgets that not all cultures are compatible or willing to co-exist peacefully. It is all a prescription to ignorantly and in good faith lay down and await your fate. No wonder history now is only about reinterpreting the present.

The ‘adequate person’ by the way reminded me greatly of the current drive that students only need to be ‘competent,’ not well informed. The adequate person in 1962 being prepped for social change was to have “a field of perceptions, rich and extensive enough to provide understanding of the events in which he is enmeshed and available when he needs them.”

Available for what? Glad you asked. So the individual “will act on his information when the appropriate time and place occur.” And this kind of hoped for behavioral pre-programming was before Big Data and adaptive computer software and the planned gaming emphasis. Same desire now but much better and effective tools.

What was so special about the 1962 new focus that has guided education as the real pursuit going forward was the “recognition of the part played by perception and the emphasis placed upon perception at the immediate moment and in the life and behavior of the individual. The job of the school is to work with present perceptions, with feelings, attitudes and ideas of learners so that they grow in the direction of greater adequacy.”

That’s adequate for the future plans of transformation. Then and now and at all times in between. Psychosynthesis‘s publication in 1965 gave another tool in targeting the psychological and conation. Assagioli regarded a search for self-identity as the new purpose of education. Of course since he was a psychiatrist, he used the techniques of psychotherapy. Now we just call the same techniques brain-based learning theories or epistemological reflection and launch them on students in return for tax dollars and tuition payments in the case of private schools and colleges and universities.

I used the term ubiquitous before and these theories are everywhere now. And not well understood. The typical doctorate program credentialing a Principal or Super doesn’t go through this as I have. It might impact the sought role as a Social Change Agent. Once again we parents, taxpayers, and students are going to be called on to understand the real drivers in education better than the credentialed professorate and the public sector and their consultants. All of whom we are paying handsomely.

I will close with a mention of a potential tragedy that happened locally last week when a middle schooler took a loaded gun to school. Parents have been concerned with how the incident was handled and what info was provided and the lack of interest in any public airing of what happened. School districts can deal with the world as it is or they can put their energy into switching to this Maslow inspired humanist psychological vision of changing the student at the level of their inner core.

But reality does intrude. I suspect another tragedy that goes all the way through is only a matter of time because the focus of the administrators at all levels is on psychological innovations to gain social transformations. While hiding from the public that this is what is up.

And duplicity takes even more energy and is a distraction from the realities all these students bring to school.

Something to keep in mind.

Psychological Approach to a Humane Politics: Restructuring the West Quietly and Effectively Via Ed

We stopped to pick up that nerdy expression Triune Consciousness in the last post because it rather succinctly explains why nothing in education over the last several decades makes much sense to us. We have a worldview on what education should be that makes it very difficult to accurately perceive that education has become about creating a new “framework of values, a philosophy of life, a religion or religion surrogate to live and to understand by.” The German expression for such an all-encompassing guide of daily perception is weltanschauung. We just translate it Worldview and it has been officially under attack for decades. Why? Because of a belief that humanistic psychology could adopt the human development component of Uncle Karl’s vision and use K-12 and higher ed institutions to invisibly change personal perceptions and culture. Shifting “personal politics can make for a more humane politics for both America and our larger world.”

Triune consciousness then simply reflects the idea that a new, radically different structure of social relations needs to be grounded in emotion and passion. In order to create a need to act to change the world as it now exists to the vision desired. I think such “a ‘knowing-of-the-heart’ which is not an unambiguous knowledge like that of clear and distinct ideas…” is a dangerous thing for our schools, churches, or universities to be cultivating. But I am also warning everyone that such a dramatic shift is precisely what is being sought in the Positive School Climate, Flow, systems thinking, happiness, mental health first aid, and other pushes we have discussed previously. How do I know for sure? Why the people involved have told me in their books and conferences and websites. It is all grounded in the humanistic psychology of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. That appears to be the all-encompassing vision we are dealing with. Still.

I am beginning to think that this naive idea that we can redefine what humanity is and promote specieshood and use education to target the foundation of all social institutions: “how people think and feel, how they comprehend the meaning of being human, how they experience the self, how they perceive their relationship to the environment and each other” really came under an organized, global attack back in 1962. First we have Robert Tucker, the Princeton poli sci prof laying out the idea that the US was closer to little c communism than the USSR and pushing Uncle Karl’s human development vision of the future. Then we have Evald Ilyenkov coming up with his new dialectics that supposedly will later inspire Gorbachev but was also very interested in altering perceptions. Remember our trips through the nerdy expression “Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete” and how Ilyenkov’s work has recently been brought back into print in the US by those Cultural-Historical Activity Theorists in San Diego?

To that interesting cauldron of timing that was almost certainly impacted in a delaying way by the Cuban Missile Crisis later in 1962, let me add a fascinating link. In 1962, the ASCD, then a division of the National Education Association–the NEA–published Perceiving, Behaving, Becoming: A New Focus proposing that the nature of education be dramatically shifted with Maslow and Rogers among the authors. The new type of education would be centered in the psychological tenets of humanist psychology in order to build on human potential to change, instead of the transmission of knowledge. Sound troublingly familiar?

The 1960s and taking these ideas in the direction of hedonism may have stopped much of the historic role of schools in academic learning but the desire to use school’s to alter student’s personalities hit a snag. The Journal of Humanistic Psychology created a dialogue all through the 70s and early 80s on what a good instrument for changing society and the nature of the economy HP (no, not Hewlett Packard even though all the foundations now are imbibing these theories deeply) would make.

Somehow that magical year of 1986 became the point in time to put all those broader political and social intentions and Maslow’s ideal of using education to integrate self-improvement and social zeal into another book. This one was called Politics and Innocence: A Humanistic Debate with Maslow, Rogers, Rollo May and others participating. One of those was a Walter Nord who pointed out that the “writings of Karl Marx have much in common with what modern writers have described as the essence of humanistic psychology.” That’s our HP and we had noticed that striking resemblance in function and sought effects. Nord simply points out that HP needs to be used to create support for “major changes in economic organization and the distribution of power.” Systems thinking and outcomes-based education to the rescue please!

Then in 1999 during the last round of Radical Ed Reform at the federal level before Gore’s loss slowed down the full implementation, the ASCD published an updated book edited by H Jerome Freiberg. It contained the original 1962 essays with new contributions from people like Barbara McComb’s from the Aurora, Co ed lab, McREL, involved in the A+ Achieving Excellence systems thinking, OBE innovation, that would later become an issue in Columbine. This “Motivation and Lifelong Learning” paper  http://www.unco.edu/cebs/psychology/kevinpugh/motivation_project/resources/mccombs91.pdf published in 1991 gives a good feel for what HP sought whatever it calls itself. Plus it makes its links to the current lifelong learning push and what that League of Innovative Schools is really trying to research on suburban school kids without parental consent. The 1999 book was called Perceiving Behaving Becoming: Lessons Learned.

In 2013 HP comes in as the social and emotional learning mandate that the accreditation agencies are requiring in their standards for what constitutes “Quality” as well as what gets incorporated into all that planned gaming. How am I so sure about Positive School Climate though? Because Carl Rogers writes repeatedly about what he calls the “psychological climate” and the “growth-promoting climate.” It’s the necessary school, classroom, and social environment that may prove Rogers belief:

“I do not find that this evil is inherent in human nature. In a psychological climate which is nurturant of growth and choice, I have never known an individual to choose the cruel or destructive path. Choice always seems to be in the direction of greater socialization, improved relationships with others. So my experience leads me to believe that it is cultural influences which are the major factor in our evil behavior.”

I think Rogers is wrong. Rollo May did too but that is the guiding philosophy behind the Positive School Climate mandate. Use education to change the student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions and you can change future behavior. Do it in enough students, especially if the heads of foundations and other social and political institutions are quietly on board with this invisible revolution and you can supposedly get an out of sight revolution.

How else do I know for sure that we are still dealing with HP in 2013 in the plans for the actual Common Core implementation? Because Martin Seligman of the Positive Psychology and global School Wide Positive Behavior and Happiness pushes said it tied to Maslow’s work.   http://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/martin-seligman/ Because Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi, whose work is described here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/excellence-means-education-putting-what-we-feel-wish-for-and-think-in-harmony/  also ties his work back to Maslow and does the research on that nerdy word “conation” that is tied to the OECD’s Subjective Well-being excuses for making us the Governed.

Finally there was the Third World Congress on Positive Psychology, June 27-30, 2013 in LA that Seligman and Csik basically led. http://www.ippanetwork.org/assets/1/7/IPPAThirdWorldCongressProgram.pdf is the program that clearly ties it all to Maslow and shows the global importance of the Positive School Climate model to achieving the desired transformations.

I think I will close with the admission from the End of Innocence book (citing Frankfurt School member Erich Fromm) on how important it is to use education to reframe “all perceptions of reality” whenever social change is sought. School then becomes a method of social conditioning that gets at the “system of categories which determines the forms of awareness. This system works, as it were, like a socially conditioned filter; experience cannot enter awareness unless it can penetrate the filter.”

Whoever creates that mental filter creates what is perceived as reality. What will guide future action and what will be ignored despite real consequences.

Now you know why we keep hearing about conceptual lenses and Understandings of Consequence and Generative Metaphors and Mental Schemas and frameworks. Every radical with plans of transformations is familiar with Fromm’s insight. We needed to be too.

Student-centered learning=humanist psychology emphasis in the 21st century classroom

Now you know why all recourse from an alarmed parent or taxpayer or teacher is being turned off.

Schools that Break Down Obstacles to the Formation of Revolutionary Personalities

No, David Christian, the Professor pushing the new Big History course has said and written some doozies as we will see but today’s title was not one of them. I borrowed it from aspirations for Italian schools in 1972 since David so clearly wants today’s students to learn to think as idealogues instead of factually. And with Bill Gates’ backing and his Foundation’s funding and McGraw Hill debuting the textbook Big History: Between Nothing and Everything in August, this may be nonsense to those of us who prefer facts and knowledge but it is about to be influential nonsense. And in more places that the “enlightened” high schools already on board. There’s a reason for connections too between Big History–BH for now– and those NSF-funded Understandings of Consequence that are also frequently false. You see, BH combines natural sciences and humanities within a single framework to emphasize the interconnections. Here’s the international newsletter http://ibhanet.org/Resources/Documents/newsletters/Newsletter_III_05.pdf  for April so you can mull over why this is now called Convergence Education in Korea.

Now in case you have always thought of ideology as an insult, let’s use the working definitions of some experts who knew it well and spent a lifetime pointing them out and refuting them. Here’s the great Kenneth Minogue again, this time from his 1963 classic The Liberal Mind: [my snark in brackets]

“An ideology may therefore be defined as a set of ideas whose primary coherence results not from their truth and consistency, as in science and philosophy, but from some external cause; most immediately, this external cause will be some mood, vision, or emotion. [Wouldn’t an emphasis on values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings be oh so useful?] The psychological mark of ideological entrapment is the feeling of despair which accompanies the prospect of defeat in argument. [usually resulting in an irrelevant but nasty personal attack] Ideologies seek to avoid such painful experiences by framing their key utterances in a vague or tautological form, in order to make these propositions impregnable. The intellectual mark of ideology is the presence of dogma, beliefs which have been dug into the ground and surrounded by semantic barbed wire. [Think Climate Change models that ignore actual temps and omit key influences]. Ideologies incorporate some kind of general instructions about behavior–ideals or value-judgments, as they would commonly be called.”

Now since we learned in the last post for sure that we have a modern class of international nomenklatura who wish to govern us whether we like it or not, what better tool than schools that dispense Mindsets of Ideology instead of facts. No more making your own concepts, remember? Those will now be assigned as the acceptable Big Ideas to guide 21st Century student thinking. No parent need ever know. Who are they compared to a Social Studies Education major anyway. Now the typical ed major or doctorate that gets to be in charge of such a change in curricula may be blissfully unaware of the dangerous, even murderous, past of ideologies, but we are not. Especially after this post. Let’s borrow a few more key components from Jean-Francois Revel’s 1988 (1991 translation into English) book, The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information. Our title came from one of his stories.

Ideology is

–“concerned with a view to action. It transforms reality, indeed far more powerfully than exact knowledge does.”

–“refuse to heed displeasing arguments and facts–something that is the very negation of the scientific spirit.”

–“One can only begin to talk of an ideology with respect to collective beliefs.”

–“always active…a mixture of strong emotions and simple ideas, linked to a certain mode of behavior.”

Now I am going through this at some link because truthfully a push to have K-12 and higher ed be active dispensers of ideologies is exactly what we are dealing with in so many areas. And it is especially what the ed degree programs are all about. The District Central Office and the college deans and maybe your principal have all been trained to think ideologically without really knowing it. So we have to know ideology better than they do so we can always recognize both the poison and its advocates. Yes, this is about far more than BH.

Revel has one more vital insight we need to keep in mind. Many people prefer to think ideologically if they must think at all. As he notes:

“Human beings experience all sorts of needs for intellectual activity other than the need to know. The libido sciendi is not, contrary to what Pascal said, the principal motor of the human mind. It is only an accessory inspirer, and only among a small number of us. [See why TAG and Honors classes must go?] The average human being seeks the truth only after having exhausted all other possibilities.”

Well, not on this info-filled blog but Revel raises an important point for us to remember. Now I am going to start with a link to 1991 since David started pushing this project before the broken glass had been cleaned up at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/journals/jwh/jwh022p223.pdf And David’s specialty was not just history but Sovietology. So I want you to remember this desire for “large-scale maps” that “reestablish {history’s} centrality as a discussion about what it means to be human” in light of a certain ideology that had come into disrepute at the time he was writing whenever it was upfront with its name. Beyond usurping the roles of philosophy and religion, BH wants to delve into “human impact on the environment” so ecology comes in too. In fact, BH is to play “as significant a role in modern industrial society as traditional creation myths have played in nonindustrial societies.” By that I guess he means “who are we and why are we here?” Boy, will BH get along well with contemplative education.

Christian is far more graphic on his intentions in the 91 article than he is now. He pointed out there “that growth, far from being the normal condition of humanity, is an aberration.” Trust me with these education policies and practices, that aberration is about to cease if it hasn’t already. Somehow if BH referred to how “the ‘bacillus’ man is taking over the world”, I am wondering if it might slow down textbook sales and funding. Probably not but someone who writes about the “sudden breakdown in an ancient equilibrium between a large mammal species and the environment it inhabits” will certainly be on board with the No More Axemaker Minds campaign Paul Ehrlich and the UN are mounting.

Honestly if BH “blurs the borderline between history and the natural sciences” then none of these subjects are in a form we would recognize. http://www.thegreatstory.org/universal-history.pdf is that troubling “History and Theory: The Next 50 Years.” Christian makes his intention that history “will have a powerful impact on public thinking about the past” quite clear. He thinks this “shared history” suitable for China or the US, Russia or South Africa will “help educators generate a sense of global citizenship.” Gag. That phrase again. Since Christian is fairly deceitful in marveling over where have all the Universal Histories gone, he is avoiding saying that was the role played by Uncle Karl’s theories. He clearly does NOT want to point that out. So I will and cite to Robert Heilbroner in his 1980 Marxism For and Against for pointing out that “No other study of history is so consciously oriented to mastering history, as is Marxism. For that reason alone it warrants our respect.” You didn’t think I would quote a Tea Party historian to refute Christian did you?

Here’s Heilbroner again: “Marxism is intended to provide more than an understanding of history. It is intended to serve as a guide for making history.” Why, how active. See above under Ideology.  So a “history that looks to the future” as Christian claims for BH is a history that functions just like what Uncle Karl envisioned. Something to think about as it becomes mainstreamed.

http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/6.3/christian.html makes it clear that David is quite aware that it is the power of symbolic language and the storehouse of cultural info across generations that has driven the human ability to adapt. To change our environment. He and others involved with global education reform know it is unique to our species and they are not too happy about its potential. You can take a look yourself to see if you think BH, like Whole Language, is an attempt to diminish that human ability to adapt and innovate.  http://usm.maine.edu/sites/default/files/The%20Collaborative%20of%20Global%20and%20Big%20History/christian%20historically%20speaking%20big%20history.pdf is one more link for you to see if you share my belief that this type of “underlying unity of modern knowledge” is because it fits Minogue and Revel’s definitions of ideology.

Because if it does, this is just another tool in that giving more power to Governments and the Public Sector vision. Which is precisely where ideology is the most entrenched.

Who knew it was going to be such a ferocious struggle to maintain the legitimacy of the individual in the 21st century?