Targeting How Students See the World So They Will Feel An Irresistible Compulsion For Change

As I have charted through the economic or political or ecological visions of the future that underlie all these ed reforms,  I keep mentioning the lack of knowledge. The insistence that being able to search for information with a search engine is enough. That it no longer needs to be either in a student’s brain or a conceptual remnant, developed by the student from facts that passed through of how the world worked. What had led to tragedies in the past. What character traits worked well. What acceleration towards a personal abyss always felt like and what tends to provoke it.

The fact that education at all levels, K-12 and higher ed, plans to largely take that away under accreditation mandates or visions of equity that require only curricula ALL can engage in (even if it’s as a member of the group with project or problem-based learning) is so counter-intuitive to each of our experiences of what works. And what will not. So I wanted to spend some time today quoting these no knowledge aspirations. I am really not kidding. Or exaggerating. Or going to great trouble to locate a juicy nugget to get you outraged to take action. Every once in a while only a nerdy, 10 dollar word will do and here comes one—omnipresent. This essential component of the vision of the future is everywhere in these sources. It goes back decades. And it is integral to the vision.

As my readers who read the Climate Skeptics sites like Jo Nova or Watts Up With That or Bishop Hill  all know, yesterday the remainder of the ClimateGate emails as well as the password were released,. As we await those revelations of additional coordination to prevent reality from intruding on lucrative grants and false models intended to guide public policy, let’s think about the determination to shut down unapproved knowledge itself. This post was already outlined when that wonderful news came out yesterday. But the facts in this post just became more important.

Because paradigm shifts away from anything other than experiential education are being sold as supposedly necessary to prevent ecological calamity. This quote is from a Pew financed book published in the US by two Australian professors ready to accept a global authoritarian government to force compliance with this Climate catastrophe vision of the future. The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, published in 2007, put it this way in describing universities in the future:

“The freedom to pursue knowledge as the individual sees fit is a mistake, for freedom must be considered in the context of the needs of society as a whole. . . The Real University will have an agenda, which includes priorities for those tasks to be pursued that are essential to the future well-being of humanity.”

And you can bet it will be Paul Ehrlich’s and UN or OECD bureaucrats, with their tax-free salaries, deciding what will be in humanity’s interests and what will constitute well-being. I will get to that in a minute. Once again reminding you that Agenda 21 is no legend. It’s the mandate for action repeatedly cited in everything from the definition of Global Citizenship to Education for Sustainability degree programs. In fact, here’s a cite to a 2008 publication in case I run out of room in this post  http://www.developmenteducationreview.com/print/issue6-focus3?page=show . You can read about how education for knowledge is akin to “colonization of the mind” and thus unacceptable or how Education for Sustainability needs a systems or relational approach to be taught in the schools and universities. That way students will be trained to always look for “contexts and connections in order to build up whole pictures of phenomena rather than breaking things into individual parts. It is a way of seeing which focuses on processes, patterns and dynamics…”

And it will likely create ways of seeing that are factually untrue but they will be politically powerful and likely to compel action to create change. Why? Because as Oberlin Professor David Orr describes it as Biophilia and the Next Generation Science Standards just call “hands-on science,” the new preferred method based on experience:

“links sensory knowledge with the emotions that make us love and sometimes fight.”

In fact, Orr wants students to redefine what is patriotic and unpatriotic in terms of the environment and also fair shares of natural resources. Patriotism “should in the future also come to mean the use made of land, forests, air, water, and wildlife. To abuse natural resources, to erode soils, to destroy natural diversity, to waste, to take more than one’s fair share, or to fail to replenish what has been used, must someday come to be regarded as unpatriotic. And ‘politics’ once again must come to mean, in Vaclav Havel’s words, ‘serving the community and serving those who will come after us.”

http://exacteditions.theecologist.org/read/resurgence/vol-29-no-3-may-june-1999-6536/85/3?dps= is a link to the full 1999 Orr essay on “Rethinking Education.” As you will see it is a paradigm shift and it looks just like the implementation we now have coming to classrooms near us soon. Or already there. All actually based on the disputable premise that “the skills, aptitudes, and attitudes that were necessary to industrialize the Earth are not the same as those that are needed now to heal the Earth, or to build durable economies and good communities.”

And if that durable economy sounds like a needs economy as Scharmer and Zuboff envision in that earlier post or Harry Boyte’s concept of community, they do seem to have read each other’s work even if they do not actually talk. Who knows? They all, including that Pew book above, keep talking about wisdom and usually italicizing it just like that. Before we talk about that “approved deep understanding that compels approved action, ” I want to mention a crucial point on all this Harry Boyte lays out in his Chapter on “Spreading Everyday Politics.” He recognizes that in the information age, “those who do the conceptual organizing are in a particularly powerful position.”

That’s true of Hollywood and the nightly news but it is especially true in an education world both trying to deemphasize factual knowledge AND come up with the filtering metaphors that students will come to see the world through without appreciating they are metaphors and not reality itself. We know Don Schon saw this and loved its possibilities for social change with just the right Generative Metaphors. We have seen it with Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory now being taught as fact to both teachers and students. Harvard Professor AN Whitehead even came up with a name for it–“the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” Now instead of a warning, that fallacy is being deliberately cultivated as a key, politically useful component of desired 21st century thinking.

Wisdom in the vision ( I am using the Pew book again) being pushed for education in the future is all about “a desire and an active striving for values.” New ones. And just like Milton Rokeach figured out so long ago, it’s because values drive future behavior. This philosophy of wisdom treats the purpose of education as being to “help us develop wiser ways of living, institutions, customs and social relations-a wiser world.” But one not based on book learning from the past. One based on feelings and hopes and what David Orr (cited by name in the book) calls “slow knowledge.” It involves how to do practical things in the belief that book knowledge “may allow people to become greater and greater destroyers of ecological services.”

But which is more likely to lead to actual destruction in the 21st century? Jettisoning the accumulated knowledge of the past for political theories of what might work? Psychological theories of how human nature might change if education becomes more visual and group-oriented and grounded in social and emotional learning of new values daily in the classroom?

And virtually none of these underlying assumptions driving ed reforms globally are on anyone’s radar. Except mine and now yours.

I feel a bit like Mr FOIA of ClimateGate. This is too grave to be allowed to stand without at least trying to stop it by bringing it to your attention.

Done. Time for breakfast and the carpool line.

9 thoughts on “Targeting How Students See the World So They Will Feel An Irresistible Compulsion For Change

  1. Great article, and timely, too, as California pushes for Common Core to infiltrate public colleges and universities through its pending legislation designed to force higher ed institutions to give credit to students for taking third-party, online classes (like the ones being developed at Coursera). To put it as simply as possible, there is a push to standardize curriculum globally. They want us universally dumb. And you are absolutely right, this is Agenda 21, all of it. Who benefits? Well, Pearson (the textbook publishing company), for one. For another, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Keep looking, there are lots of others. Follow the money…this is all very obvious if you know where to look.

    • Absolutely Susan. The foundations are having a field day financing this transformation. The references to the equity argument are not just to the Equity and Excellence report in US I wrote about a few weeks ago. This is also part of the OECD’s current push and I read that report from May yesterday. Guess what? The OECD global equity of knowledge push was financed by the Carnegie, Gates, Hewlett, JP Morgan Chase, and MetLife foundations. Using their tax-free pots to limit anyone’s ability in the future to develop transformational technology or ideas.

      http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/self-efficacy-cultural-proficiency-training-critical-reflection-and-change-agency-development/ came from California documents and Hewlett financing. But this vision has caught the eye of the Aspen Institute as a national equity template. And those same foundations and more fund Aspen. Which too many people view simply as a nonprofit interested in doing good.

      Thanks for posting. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/college-ready-as-a-goal-of-k-12-is-not-helpful-if-first-you-gut-the-historic-purpose-of-college/ and http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/constructing-an-alternative-vision-of-either-the-natural-or-human-world-as-the-basis-for-a-college-degree/ are 2 posts from September where I tackled the radically altered vision of college that goes with these K-12 reforms.

      Arne Duncan has now explicitly adopted the UN’s Bologna Process for remaking higher ed. It is quite strong and controversial in Europe and Australia with the UK and the Nordics being the fartherist along. Left out of this determination to gain Equity of Credentials is the Qualifications Frameworks that go with it. Essentially telling private employers that the credential should be deemed proof of qualifications for a job so there should now be a proportionate workforce to the population.

      They really do view education as a system they can manipulate with impunity to adverse consequences. And the economy and society. Just as the Ford Foundation has always seen since the 50s.

      Also look into Linked Learning in California. It’s the new name for combining CTE and academic classes as polytech for all students. I have the docs but have not written about that vehicle for equity yet. Another Jeannie Oakes plan for democracy in the future.

      Welcome to the blog.

  2. The public private partnerships leaving no elected officials accountable to the people. Foundations to launder money around and fund studies by quacks and various and sundry non profits to give false credibility. Complicit media, mags, tv etc…. Push ” the big idea”. Hello EbD…..
    The ladies( term used loosely) of the view and bill maur to bully dissenters. The schtick of all aspects of a21, common core no different. Forgot the seducers, accreditation boards, county groups, partners like acheive or smart growth america or the apa, all there to offer you something great that will later eat your children. Pushed by a leader and some useful idiots.
    All classic ops.
    Voila, transformation

  3. The danger in the philosophy behind the reforms is that it sounds largely true; its destructive power lies in the HOW of implementation.

    I have four children in public education right now and another who I’ve just begun to homeschool. As part of my organizing process, I’ve spent a lot of time identifying the objectives of education and have come to some sort-of-similar conclusions as the Education for Sustainability paper outlines.

    Yes, a major purpose in education is to affect how our children see the world.
    But through what lens?

    Yes, we need a relational approach to give context and connection to everything.
    But what is at the center to measure FROM?

    Yes, wisdom requires desiring and actively striving for values, then learning to apply them.
    Which values?

    Those designing this newer system with ‘newer’ values have far different lens, center, and values than I do, or than our Founders did. Our Pledge of Allegiance gives us the key to what truly “common” core we are to have:

    One nation under God.

    Not a nation under Gaia or the related environmentalism, not under the influence of secular humanism, socialism or communism. The impending educational revisionism completely corrupts the system, taking something good and true and twisting it into something that takes away real
    love, learning, and freedom.

    • Hi Rhonda. Well said. That’s why it is so important that I track through to the level where the reports say these are our intentions and assumptions. And then I can prove the first is nefarious and the second are false or have a tragic past. I was working on some astonishing documents today. Clearly not meant for my eyes but boy can I do things with what they confessed.

      Your reference to a lens reminded me of this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/tearing-up-the-fabric-of-a-free-society-the-new-college-career-and-civic-life-c3-framework/ on the horrific Common Core C3 Social Studies Framework that the CCSSO tried to sneak through Thanksgiving week. The Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory C3 requires and describes in terms of lenses to practice with over time is the same BEST that I was able to tie to Soviet psychologist Leontiev and his statement about a transforming experiment in the West. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/imitating-the-ussr-in-striving-to-discover-how-the-child-can-become-what-he-not-yet-is/ is that post from about a week ago.

      My hands were shaking when I realized what the 1977 essay was actually describing and what it meant to the actual Common Core implementation.

      Please add more comments from what you are seeing in your children’s schools. And a state if you can. I am tracking states and districts that are especially aggressive.

      • To get a little context, I graduated from a conservative college with a degree in elementary education in 1994. Looks like I just missed Education for Sustainability.
        Two of my children are in a public high school, two are in a charter school, and then there’s the homeschooled one.
        I live in Utah, which implemented Common Core this school year (2012-13). Even our charter school uses it. I’ve been very frustrated with the math; it’s very confusing (too much emphasis on words and ‘why’, not enough HOW) in the younger grades, then lacks progress and rigor in the higher grades. The problem with math seems to have started a few years ago when my now-7th-grader was in 3rd grade. He had a fresh-from-college teacher who let me know she’d be using this amazing new math technique to help the children learn their multiplication facts, “We don’t drill to memorize. We just surround them with the numbers and facts. It will seem like there’s no way he’ll ‘get it’ with this, but it really works.”
        Guess what– it didn’t. It took until about 6th grade to get him functioning almost properly in math. And he still doesn’t feel comfortable with the facts because he’s been allowed to use a calculator for everything since about 5th grade. I do what I can with him at home, but most the time I feel that my work is to simply undo- or, at best, prevent- the damage done at school.
        There is far too much control at higher levels, and far too little at the teacher and parent level, which leaves both latter groups feeling frustrated and disenfranchised.

        • Rhonda-I actually came to this initially after tracking down the math story. Georgia’s performance standards were the pilot for the Common Core according to both Ga and the feds. I can still remember wondering why the middle school central administrator was so jubilant at the idea of gutting academics. And really obnoxious, telling us we had no idea what colleges were requiring. I was sitting next to a Duke grad who had a child there at that point so we both found it to be a bizarre, arrogant point.

          Now I understand it better. In fact what I am reading today talks about ending any advantage in school that is traceable to what is called “birth privilege.” It cites Michel Foucault who is about as bad as Uncle Karl himself and insists that the Common Core assessments not be testing for anything mental. Just personal attributes. Preferably in a group setting to move away from the idea that individuals should be the focal point instead of groups.

          In Utah your Brigham Young is part of John Goodlad’s National Network for Educational Renewal. Which means your K-12 gets the full Dewey vision ASAP.

          With math everything gets transitioned to applications so that you do not have decontextualized math problems fueling sequential, logical abilities or fueling the abstract mind. You are only supposed to use presupplied and vetted for political usefulness “concepts.” Same reason they refuse to teach reading phonetically. Abstract symbol system use is like throwing kerosene on a fire in terms of the effect on the abstract mind.

          Dewey is fond of limiting everyone to their everyday experience. Causing me to write a post at one point about citizen drones.

          I supplemented math for years when my kids were in private schools. With accreditation a major driver of ed and cultural poison, many parents are unaware that they have not bought their way out of the fads and propaganda.

    • Thanks Jeremy.

      Great link but trevor loudon would be really blown away if he understood how pervasive Marx’s human development model is throughout the actual implementation and assessments. I am working on the assessment component again today in documents where that Bowles & Gintis book on Schooling in Capitalist America is cited over and over again. Plus repeated mentions of the needs to ground education theory in a similar manner to legal critical theory in order to force social progress. I think the idea was that making legal theory the analogy would make it unassailable. It just confirmed to me how much all this is more my play pen with a broad liberal arts and then legal degree background than it is someone whose credentials are narrow and grounded in undisclosed Marxist political theories. One prof barely hid his analysis as being grounded in “materialism” rather than mentioning notorious Uncle Karl.

      Hope it is a lovely day in the UK. I was once in London with my daughters on St Patrick’s Day and they had dyed the fountain in Trafalgar Square green to go with the band and kegs. Great fun although with a 7 and 10 year old it was best not to linger.

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