Serendipity has always been one of my favorite words. I used to tell my children that a great vocabulary word has a sentence full of meaning in a single word. Several weeks ago I was out of town and catching up on emails when an investment newsletter just happened to use the following quote to make a point:
“A world of unseen dictatorship is conceivable, still using the forms of democratic government.”–Kenneth Boulding, University of Michigan
Yes, that is a troubling quote, but I recognized the name as being the professor I had cited in my book Credentialed to Destroy. He was behind the push that began in the 1970s to force ‘systems thinking’ into the classrooms. The quote was credited to a 1957 bestseller I had never heard of called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. Getting that book zoomed to the top of my To Do list even before I knew that the quote introduced a section of the book called “Persuading Us as Citizens.” It covered how the motivational research the PR and marketing firms were using to sell products and services had been introduced into politics in order to “influence the state of our mind and to channel our behavior as citizens.”
What was then at least understood by its dispensers as ‘depth psychology,’ and controversial enough to drive a bestselling tell-all explaining it, is precisely what is now known as Whole Child Education and Deep Learning. It must be used by teachers and principals, who may never have encountered anyone explaining the true background of these practices and techniques. Why? To be deemed Effective. This is why I created the term Inadvertent Change Agent in my book. It is also tied to what the new K-12 federal legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), mandates as the means of establishing ‘success’.
“Forced ideological homogenization” and “equitable economic development” have long been regarded as necessary components of an attempt by systems thinkers to reorganize society and individuals and redefine what constitutes ‘self-reliance.’ I am really getting tired of all these non-asterisked redefinitions, aren’t you? There was a February 1976 annual meeting of Boulding’s General Systems Research Group followed the next day by a meeting at Harvard of virtually every group we have ever covered on this blog or in the book including representatives from the Club of Rome and the World Order Models Project. I located the minutes of the meetings in a book which was kind enough to tell us this:
“in order to carry out the program proposed by the model, one really has to carry out very deep structural and attitudinal changes. This is why we say that the main problem is a sociopolitical, not a material, resource kind of problem, in the sense that there are paths and strategies which can take us to the satisfaction of basic needs. But the main problem remains of a sociopolitical nature.”
Good thing, huh, that systems thinkers specialize in a remaking of education and the creation of think tanks and a public policy network that will cause politicians to believe that they need to mandate and plan all these areas in the name of Equitable Economic Development? In fact, that is what the 2014 federal legislation–WIOA–now has all states and localities on record as planning. Since all the legislation to force the needed sociopolitical changes is now in place in the US, let’s go back to see what motivational research already knew in the 50s. After all the Congressionally created and White House visiting League of Innovative Schools was created to obtain desired research into what ‘motivates’ students.
Boulding, in a 1973 paper he wrote for the Social Science Education Consortium, laid out his interest in viewing the “whole human being as a system” whose “concepts and perceptions are often strongly influenced by our motives.” Is it any wonder then that motives have been officially targeted for research and that ‘concepts and perceptions’ are officially required for annual assessment via ESSA? Vance Packard shorthanded Motivational Research and its goals and techniques as MR in his book The Hidden Persuaders so we will too as we access some of its insights as to why education is now taking the same techniques and forcing them deceitfully on classrooms and students everywhere.
Packard quoted the magazine Advertising Age as stating the wide use of MR in politics–“This is all to the good.” What was not good, however, was the “growing public discussion of the importance of advertising in politics.” If public awareness that politicians were seeking to influence them emotionally and at subconscious and unconscious levels was problematic in the 50s, by all means let me continue to try to force a discussion of these same MR methods into K-12 education now. After all, if ‘role playing’ is a ‘psychological technique’ used to ‘modify the behavior and attitudes’ when it is used on ‘key personnel’ in large industrial organizations, it still has that same function when it becomes a required classroom practice for students.
If an insurance exec admitted role playing was used widely because “we needed a motivational device…[that] at the same time teaches at the emotional level,” that remains true when the methods are transferred from adults to the far more malleable minds of students. When Packard quoted the book The Engineering of Consent on how the MR methods are of “considerable value…to those who wish to modify society” and that “People must be controlled by manipulating their [instincts and emotions] rather than by changing their reasonings,” we get to remember that quote when the Davos crowd suddenly this month calls for https://www.weforum.org/reports/new-vision-for-education-fostering-social-and-emotional-learning-through-technology .
That’s even more true once we realize that MR users in the 50s knew already that “if you are engineering consent, then I think the social sciences would like to warn you that you should begin with a basic analysis of three levels upon which consent moves in a society like ours.” Try not to get ill when we recognize that education now is all about manipulating level two and public policy think tanks and many pundits from every spectrum and announced party affiliation are all about targeting level three. The man being quoted above and below is a social anthropologist Lyman Bryson describing 1953 seminars on the social sciences held at Teachers College, Columbia for PR firms. My bolding.
“The first level, he said, is human nature. He added that little really could be done here to ‘manipulate’ people. The second level was cultural change, which is where you must operate, he said, if you want to influence people’s ideas. The third level is the region of choice. Here is where an impulse is running in a particular direction, and some sort of choice will be made regardless, ‘as when a choice between similar products [think tank or media deceit functions here] is made.’ At this level, he said, ‘it is relatively easy to manipulate people.’ On the other hand, if you are trying to change their ideas, ‘you work on the second level,’ where different ‘psychological pressures, techniques, and devices from those successful on the third level’ must be used.”
Think of that quote and the ubiquity of the School Choice mantra that the think tanks push as their solution to education and the needs of public policy. Suddenly the imperviousness of the phrase to facts that show there is actually no choice becomes clearer. Likewise, Packard quoted a Dr Samuel Stouffer, director of Harvard’s Laboratory of Social Relations telling his listeners that “it was a good working rule that people’s attitudes are more easily reached through their emotions than through their intellects.” Back to role playing and a Whole Child emphasis and that Science of Virtues, then, huh?
It should bother us a great deal that Dr Stouffer considered that to be ‘learning theory’ research. Looking for ‘triggers of action’ in the form of words or visuals, learning theory even in the 50s knew that “behaviors can be changed by changing ‘the motivational forces working upon them.'” Think about that when you reread Chapter 7 of my book about how the Common Core and Competency-based education really target values, attitudes, and beliefs. If people are systems as Boulding and others hoped, then those are the areas that must be changed in order for personal behavioral goals to change as well. Once again the redefinitions kick in as the socially reengineered student, and then adult, gets described as ‘autonomous.’ It’s called Hidden Persuaders for a reason as the MR techniques “can create wants in people that they still didn’t realize existed.”
Trained through learning tasks and classroom experiences to act. Requiring ‘performance standards’ precisely to force daily practice with engineered mental models and manipulated emotions. Meanwhile no one planned to disclose the engineered existence of an internalized noetic keel consciously carved during years of preschool-high school ‘student-centered’ education. Carved precisely so that politicians and agency planners can steer society as they wish and reward cronies as they want. Packard ended his book with this worry:
“The most serious offense many of the depth manipulators commit, it seems to me, is that they try to invade the privacy of our minds. It is this right to privacy in our minds–privacy to be either rational or irrational–that I believe we must strive to protect.”
Federal law now requires, and states and schools, public and private, everywhere are happy to go along with, a now mandated invasion of the privacy of our minds. That’s the purpose of education research and the mandated databases. Longitudinal is another word for what used to be called more clearly ‘time series data’. The point is not what is personally identifiable, but the changes over time to allow this desired steering process. Packard was lucky. He was able to get the word out to enough people that MR became notorious. So it went underground and got new names and is now mandated for all of our children. To ultimately control enough of us for this steering to guide all institutions, but installed through deceitful false narratives and K-12 education.
Let me end with the remaining purpose that I believe has motivated who has been deemed acceptable for the Presidency and other political offices by either party since at least 1988. I think it is why ESSA and WIOA were “Bipartisan and Bicameral” as necessary components of the mostly invisible steering process. It’s 2016 and the oligarchs think it has taken far too long for what was planned in earnest from the 1950s on. Removing all obstacles, down to the level of the mental models of our minds, that might block the planned:
“most important social engineering role of them all–the gradual reorganization of human society, piece by piece and structure by structure.”
Person by person, starting with the children and euphemised as being about Learning, Student Growth, and Success for All.