Tethering the Logical Rational Mind Via K-12 Education to Emotionally Grounded Experience

The language from the ESEA Rewrite on closing the achievement gaps between groups that objectively have had very different life experiences basically limits what can now go on in a K-12 classroom in any state or locality. Some local control, huh? Interestingly the only kind of education that will now suffice is precisely the same as what political and social transformationalists intent on social justice also want. It’s the same kind of K-12 education that members of the Chamber of Commerce also endorse since it makes genuine, shift the paradigm invention and technology far less likely.

To illustrate how once again all roads lead to the same place and how it does not benefit ordinary, non-politically connected, people at all, let me turn to an essay “Educating the Rainbow: Authentic Assessment and Authentic Practice for Diverse Classrooms” from a 1997 UK book Assessment for Equity and Inclusion: Embracing All Our Children. What that paper calls authentic assessment that is activity-based, group-oriented, real world problem-based, and designed to get at the motivating emotions, values, and attitudes that get hidden now in the phrase “high-quality” are called formative assessment or assessment for learning most often in 2015. Whatever the name, what’s the real purpose? That would be to create shared beliefs among all the participants in the classroom and eventually the school so that the students can also embrace shared meanings from interpreting their experiences and ultimately develop shared language to describe them.

Now won’t those things come in handy if the goal of K-12 education globally has shifted to “Introducing a new way to think, talk, and act”? http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1550609/The-Seven-Dimensions-of-Climate-Change.pdf came out last week on basically the same day that the President of the Rockefeller Foundation went to the RSA to speak about building Better, More Resilient Cities. Hmm, wouldn’t authentic or formative assessment then be helpful to the Rockefeller-funded Communication for Social Change they are pushing all charities to guide their funding by? Talk about tethering. That paper seeks to skip over the entire debate over whether 2014 was the hottest year on record and whether we are warming, cooling, or the physical climate is simply behaving like a ‘climate’. “Changing climate” must become what “social scientists call ‘a social fact’.”

The great thing about ‘social facts’ in sociology theory (which is after all a huge component of education theory and pedagogy in degree programs) is that they are designed to ultimately change us, from the inside-out. Hmm, just like authentic or formative assessments? Why yes and won’t those be so useful if people now need to have a “new sense of collective purpose that embraces the diverse elements of human experience–without new vocabulary and cultural currency that allows us to overcome climate fatigue, a social silence, and stealth denial.” Not to mention actual documentable facts about the reality of scientific principles that must now be excluded because such abstractions are not equally accessible to all people. Equity excludes what builds up the analytical and intellectually-oriented Left Hemisphere of the brain from acceptable classroom practices. Equity does, however, provide education with a means for developing shared beliefs, meanings, and language.

How convenient, huh? Especially with the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) that is part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University (where so many of the authors listed in the above book are profs at the Teacher’s College) creating reports on how to frame climate communication so that it can “Speak to the Two Parts of the Brain.”  http://guide.cred.columbia.edu/pdfs/CREDguide_full-res.pdf   That’s, first of all, the Analytic Processing System that concerns about Equity, social justice, and civil rights now insists must be starved of everything but pre-approved,  politically useful ‘concepts’, Enduring Understandings [see tag], or disciplinary core ideas and cross-cutting issues. The second side, what Marshall McLuhan called the visual-aural, holistic Right Hemisphere, is referred to as the “Experiential Processing System.” Fascinating, huh, since “learning experiences” are now to be the focus of K-12 classrooms since only they meet the Equity Gateway that allows Success for All.

That “Psychology of Climate Change Communication” paper helpfully tells us what a Mental Model is. Since that’s precisely what Rigor and authentic or formative assessment is designed to shape and alter and what concerns over Equity and Opting Out of ‘tests’ are forcing on all students, lets quote the report:

“A mental model represents a person’s thought process for how something works (i.e., a person’s understanding of the surrounding world). Mental models, which are based on often-incomplete facts [especially in a K-12 world where lectures and textbooks are treated as inequitable], past experiences [which will now include experiences of virtual reality created as gaming for the very purpose of manipulating mental models. See Jane McGonigal tag], and even intuitive perceptions, help shape actions and behavior, influence what people pay attention to in complicated situations, and define how people approach and solve problems. Perhaps most important to climate change communicators, mental models serve as the framework into which people fit new information.”

That very mental model is precisely what so much of the K-12 classroom implementation described in my book Credentialed to Destroy is designed to influence and control. It’s also the focus of so much of the required emphasis on digital learning. Everything being pushed in K-12 education now tethers that Analytic Processing System and forces and then manipulates the Experiential Processing part of the student’s physical brain. Gives new meaning to “brain-based curriculum”, doesn’t it? To be effective on any issue targeted for transformational change or political control, communication (one of the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning) needs to “make use of the following experiential tools”:

“Vivid imagery, in the form of film footage, metaphors, personal accounts, real-world analogies, and concrete comparisons;

Messages designed to create, recall, and highlight relevant personal experience and to elicit an emotional response.”

We see the latter tool in the omnipresent journaling that seems to be a part of every class now, including math. The former tool is not just brought in through computer gaming and the Common Core’s media literacy and relevancy requirements, but also group-based Problem-Based Learning and the Maker Movement. After all that CRED paper explains “How to Tap into Group Identity to Create a Sense of Affiliation and Increase Cooperation.” Very useful if a New Way to Think, Talk, and Act has become the entire point of education and much of the focus of media outlets of all kinds.

In the last post I mentioned Antonio Gramsci’s famous March Through the Institutions as a way to describe the actual effect of what Congress seems prepared to mandate, but RSA actually came right out and called for new societal institutions. All the more reason then to have the law mandate the Orwellian “high-quality education” we covered in the last post. After all, RSA (like the Club of Rome and ValuesQuest in the January 11 post) views “democracy” as a “mechanism for making collective decisions” and the “web of legislation” and the the “comprehensive system of law” as methods for “meaningfully constraining …the global economic engine.” Boy, that was not on the Bar Exam back when I took it.

These new societal institutions created then by a web of legislation like that ESEA Rewrite or your local city council’s edicts will “not be designed to make an economic case, communicate scientific facts or win an argument.” I guess that explains why the Analytical Processing part of the human brain that can do those things well is being tethered and starved of the kind of facts K-12 education traditionally provided. Instead, the experiential, social and emotional learning focus fits with the desire for new societal institutions that “allow people to express and discuss their concerns, fears, dreams, and hopes for the future. They would embed scientific inquiry into the nature of the problem and how it could be solved, in more complex debates about how we should live in a climate-changed world. And in that way, they would likely offer fertile place to explore the links between Science and the other six dimensions of climate change.”

That’s the vision of the future the authentic assessment, student engagement, digital learning shifts in K-12 education are all preparing students for, without anyone trying to tether students to the actually existing physical reality or what works or never has. Students who have a craving for unicorn rides in this socially just future will have nothing to prompt them this is not a realistic goal. Those seven dimensions, by the way, that plan to alter the present reality, like it or not, are:

1. Science: Forging a new social contract

2. Law: Constraining extraction

3. Economy: Investing in the Future

4. Technology: Scaling up deep decarbonisation

5. Democracy: Escaping the governance trap

6. Culture: Breaking stealth denial

7. Behaviour: Overcoming stealth denial

How binding in every way that matters would be one way to describe that list. Now, as a well-read adult in my 50s I can tell that paper is a fantasy. Nothing, however, in the planned K-12 implementation would create that kind of “Danger, Will Robinson!!” prompt. In fact, K-12 education is deliberately priming the mind and personality to prompt just such an urge to plan and act as the Seven Dimensions paper laid out. CRED even came up with an additional paper called “Connecting to Climate” in December that appears both tied to the planned transformations of mental models from K-12 education as well as a cronyistic politically planned economy being sold as ecoAmerica.

Once again this post is a heads up about what social, economic, and political visions are tied to the K-12 transformations everyone with any power is forcing on our children. This is not just about education, but education as a means for broader transformations. It is intended to affect all of us, whether we have children or not, and whatever our ages.

It needs to be on everyone’s radar screen where ever we live. Because no one in education administration is being honest in my experience and we are not likely to be among the cronies invited to an RSA program or an ecoAmerica annual invitation-only summit.

Thank goodness we can still read and our Analytic Processing Systems remain tethered to facts and likely actual consequences.

51 thoughts on “Tethering the Logical Rational Mind Via K-12 Education to Emotionally Grounded Experience

  1. The top video on this page, http://trueteaching.blogspot.com/, has a mother explaining that there was a two hour lockdown at her child’s school because a man in the neighborhood ran from the police. Her class went into a dark closet for two hours, hearing foot steps of a possible gun man, kids wetting themselves, etc. The event would have scared the average adult. I had a recent high school graduate tell me the same thing happen at his school, same story, a thousand miles away. [sarcasm on] Wow, what a coincidence!

    • That was an interesting video. There’s a lot of what Robin’s been saying in that woman’s commentary.

      The level of indoctrination appears to be increasing. It does make you wonder about the impact of having these “desired” behaviours and responses drilled into you for 13 (soon possibly 15) years. If someone shouts, “There’s a climate denier outside”, do they hide in a closet or run for the torches and rope?

      • Further into my research on this and where the tether metaphor came from was the acknowledgment by psychologists that the analytical mind can come to understand what prompts the experiential mind to act. An experientially bound mind, especially as neural connections are created via these activities, cannot ‘understand’ abstractly and analytically. The supplied abstract concepts are still viewed concretely and tied to the real world. I remember Mitchell Resnick of the MIT Media Lab saying that about constructionism as an ed school philosophy. The mental concepts and associations (sounds like a sculpted mental model to me) need to be tied to visual images from the real world.

        On the climate denier, there is language in several of these reports about making it a crime to reject these purported shared beliefs. Punishable by a fine if not prison.

      • Further into my research on this and where the tether metaphor came from was the acknowledgment by psychologists that the analytical mind can come to understand what prompts the experiential mind to act. An experientially bound mind, especially as neural connections are created via these activities, cannot ‘understand’ abstractly and analytically. The supplied abstract concepts are still viewed concretely and tied to the real world. I remember Mitchell Resnick of the MIT Media Lab saying that about constructionism as an ed school philosophy. The mental concepts and associations (sounds like a sculpted mental model to me) need to be tied to visual images from the real world.

        On the climate denier, there is language in several of these reports about making it a crime to reject these purported shared beliefs. Punishable by a fine if not prison.

        • Two things:

          1. Six years ago when my youngest was in second grade her school began a series of safety “shelter in place” type drills. A voice would come over the loud speaker announcing, ” Mr Smith in the building ” at which point the teachers were instructed to tell the girls ( all girl school ) to be very quiet and hide under their desks while the teacher went to lock the door and turn off the lights.

          Talk about manipulative BS. Shocking that my kids anxiety started creeping up then.

          2. Reading this post I could not help but wonder if were similarities between the Seven Dimensions of Climate Change and our dear Alice Bailey’s Seven Rays. And what do you know? There do appear to my eye to be some shared understandings. Snort.

          Alice Baileys Seven Rays- The Cliff notes version. Definition separated by forward slash indicate the Highest Manifestation of said Ray (/) and then Lowest Manifestation.

          1.Will, Purpose Power= Government/Politics

          2.Love,Wisdom= Initiation/Religion

          3.Active Intelligence= Means of Communication and Travel/ Use of Money or Gold

          4.Harmony through conflict( Hegelian Dialectic )= Hierarchy / City Planning

          5.Concrete Knowledge or Science= Esoteric psychology/ Educational systems

          6.Devotion and Idealism=Diversified Religions= Churches and organized religion

          7.Ceremonial Order= White Magic / Spiritualism

          • Mari-somewhere in that report or elsewhere since I have also read other COIN presentations like this http://www.open.ac.uk/researchcentres/osrc/files/osrc/NARRATIVES.pdf that is also about pitching to the metaphorical, holistic, experiential brain, I read that the number 7 in the report came from the reverence for that number in New Age spirituality.

            They were proud of it.

            As you know, I hate to get into the New Age links except when it cannot be avoided, but it does keep coming up. I believe the term that links all this and many of those we encounter as leaders of K-12 reforms is “transpersonal psychology” or Integral Theory.

            One of the reasons I pulled that Narratives link when I saw a reference to it (I read it before I wrote this post and it impacted the tethering metaphor) was I remembered David Coleman mentioning something about the Common Core bolstering the role of narrative. I thought it curious enough at the time to tuck it away. Now it does not seem curious.

          • Mari that’s creepy. Some poor guy is going to introduce himself to her someday as “Hi, I’m Mr. Smith” and she’s going to withdraw and get an involuntary fear reaction!

        • Regarding the analytical mind coming to understand the reflexive, reactivity of the unconscious and experiential mind.

          Absolutely!!! This is the entire reason cognitive behavioral therapy works. The brighter and more determined to change the patient is of course, the more likely he is to make in roads to changing destructive, albeit at one point, largely unconscious learned behaviors. Most of which are formed in childhood or adolescence prior to the rational mind being fully formed.

          The thinking rational mind comes to see the circumstances that trigger repetitive and unhelpful behavior and then makes a conscious decision to choose a different behavior, response through intentional awareness.

          Lots of good therapists are gonna be put outta biznizz when the arational mind becomes the norm.

        • Re “transpersonal psychology” or Integral Theory. Absolutely.This is a key connection. Many years ago, ten probably, I was hearing a lot about Ken Wilber. I did some research, scanned some of his material and walked away thinking ….huh?

          Lots of incredibly self important verbiage dedicated to teaching people to “be here now” in the extreme. So much so, that they disavow their inner compass, their analytical mind which supports their intuition and says, ” This is bollocks. I’m Out.”

    • This type of cognitive training using computer games is in actual fact re-wiring the brain by building long range connections between different parts of the brain.

      Slightly? That’s like saying Boston and NYC are about to get a slight snowfall. If the parents are not being told and the administrators are actively misrepresenting what they are doing, why does that entitle them to live and retire at taxpayer expense? If they were sexually abusing kids, that would be criminal but psychological abuse to hardwire the brain for collectivism is OK?

      I am used to this and basically try to let the reel out slowly to get people used to what is really going on. We don’t have a lot of time though. ANYONE WHO HAS NOT READ THE BOOK IS ALSO MISSING THE FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCKS.

      I did not mean to hit caps lock but it does make the point.

      • Robin,
        I just received an invitation to a professional development workshop in Denver being offered by ‘Dr.’ Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University.

        “Don’t miss Denver Academy’s amazing 2015 Symposium on Teaching & Learning, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid. Dr. Wolf will discuss the science and history of reading and why the human brain was never wired to read.”

        The invitation adds that “Denver Academy faculty and local experts will lead breakout sessions for practitioners and parents on topics ranging from Parenting Your Plugged-In Teen to Learn to Program or Be Programmed.”

        I’ve read your book and many of your ISC blogs and equally enlightening follow-up commentary and keep wondering how to spread the word, how to get people asking the right questions and reading your research.

        I can’t believe the promotion for this workshop? “Why the human brain was never wired to read.” I can’t believe that we teachers, supposedly smart, educated folk, are rolling over and accepting this as if it were fact, and that many will dutifully take notes and return to our respective schools and start spouting this conclusion.

        I can’t thank you for keeping this information flowing, for your tremendous talent for ferreting out the evidence and for not pulling out all your hair and throwing in the towel.

        I can’t thank you enough for your tireless work. I ask myself daily, what can I do to make this

      • No worries about the caps – anyone who sees this comment – if you haven’t read Robin’s book – READ THE BOOK. More than once. A lot to digest. A whole new alternate-universe vocabulary to learn. The mental gymnastics of dealing with the edu-crat Orwellian-speak.
        I’m still in shock. But it is the kind of shock of seeing a vehicle coming head on in my lane. A brief moment to grab the wheel and steer for safety.
        I’ve begun attending local school board meetings, to learn the who, what, where, when and how. Get to know the people. To be able to persuade when the time comes.
        Same for state house representative and state senator. I have some previous contact with them on totally unrelated matters – but building a relationship by small building blocks. Same for U.S. Rep and U.S. Senator. Figure out who is the education person on their staff. Again to have a platform to be heard when the time is right. While sadly realizing not much time left.

    • One more point, at the time of the Aurora theatre shootings the neuroscience community that Holmes was a part of thought that the nature of these programs would get scrutiny and they would come under fire. Most people erroneously believed though he was a med student and there was a collective sigh of relief. Enough that I read about it.


      I read about it on a neuro blog a few months later that they had dodged a bullet.

      • “Knewton uses anonymized student interactions”

        Really downplays what is going on. Student interactions how innocent sounding. How about some truth Newton. It would frighten parents to read Newton tracks all of your childs thought patterns and through our adaptive software guides your child through the adjustment of forcing new thought patterns ones needed for the new society we are creating. We promise you will not feel a thing or even realize we are probing your child’s mind.
        Carry on.

        • It’s worse than that because companies are being urged to contract with Knewton and incorporate these capacities. And as the Davos doc says, to work this needs data and that is what the digital learning mandate and something like a Conley Key Cognitive Strategies summa provides.

          My best wishes by the way to David and others in the path of this monster snowstorm. Don;t forget to check in.

          My colleg roommate was from Rhode Island and her parents sent pics after the 78 storm of them exiting the house via the upstairs windows.

          • “Digital pedagogy is not equivalent to teachers using digital tools. Rather, digital pedagogy demands that we think critically about our tools, and demands that we reflect actively upon our own practice. So, digital pedagogy means not just drinking the Kool-Aid, but putting the Kool-Aid under a microscope.”

            That’s University of Wisconsin prof Jesse Stommel in an essay called “Learning is Not a Mechanism” that’s behind a paywall. Perhaps someone should tell these ed profs and admins that our children and their neural pathways are not Kool-Aid to be examined under a microscope to decide on needed alterations.

            EduShyster is simply hyping too much testing (deliberately created to get parents fed up) to faciliate the shift to assessment that amounts to “putting the Kool-Aid under a microscope.”

          • This just came out from MS and Getting Smart. http://gettingsmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/SmartBundle-Microsoft-23Jan2015.pdf

            You” just love the nonsense on cursive. Hubby has written code since he was in high school and had to pay for flying lessons himself. The man who hired him called the calc teacher at his private school. The level of math and abstract thought it takes to create systems and languages makes a paper like this tragic. So the only kids who will learn such abstractions will be those whose parents have those abilities?

            Some social justice.

          • Is there a place to respond to that inane piece championing step by step instruction for coding, dismissing the value of learning cursive? I know it won’t make a bit of difference. But it has me so steaming mad I just want to have the truth floating out there in the webosphere. GAH.

          • Watch this that the fed Ed is sending out as the exemplary vision. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKyp_jBhHBk&feature=youtu.be

            “It’s not ABOUT ANY ONE OF US.” “It’s about the collective whole.”

            The teachers all look like children themselves, ready to sign on to whatever is different. This reminds me of James Comer’s work that became CASEL and joined with Ted Sizer’s and Howard Gardner’s to become Authentic Teaching and Learning for All Students.

          • Watch this that the fed Ed is sending out as the exemplary vision. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKyp_jBhHBk&feature=youtu.be

            “It’s not ABOUT ANY ONE OF US.” “It’s about the collective whole.”

            The teachers all look like children themselves, ready to sign on to whatever is different. This reminds me of James Comer’s work that became CASEL and joined with Ted Sizer’s and Howard Gardner’s to become Authentic Teaching and Learning for All Students.

            The teachers mentioned a CGI lesson. This is what it is http://www.dusd.net/cgi/about/ . A/k/a cybernetics or tethering the analytical, intellectual part of the brain to provided concepts that are understood phronetically via concrete experience and not rationally through the build-up of sequential knowledge.

            Here’s another http://www.uwosh.edu/coehs/cmagproject/cogn/

            No wonder Tom Romberg, as the book laid out, did not want to actually teach math anymore. And he had the vision on a 1979 Fulbright trip to the USSR.

          • I clicked on the link about CGI learning and a minute later ended up here


            and clicked on “Problem Solving Trajectory – Multiplication” to see what that was about.

            It was a document listing a whole bunch of ways one might imagine solving multiplication problems. Skip counting, this, that, student invented methods which should be named for the student to “celebrate” mathematical thinking …

            And at the bottom of the page:
            “**Standard Algorithm – Not on the trajectory”

            This is fifth grade, not kindergarten. Kids are not being taught times tables or compact method even in fifth grade, apparently. It seems teachers may be prevented from teaching these things.

  2. Apropos of nothing I thought I would mention that I have made a decision to never, ever refer to a student of any age as a “Learner”. How about student or pupil or child, can we leave it at that? And only if absolutely necessary will I use the word sustainable. But never in the context of weather.

  3. Please take a look at this man’s philosophy. It is currently being used at doctoral level studies to push the theory that in the field of ‘design thinking’, a woman’s (or any member of a victim class) has a right to make decisions that will be respected. Decisions not grounded in fact, or assessment of a situation, but rather decisions based on her “feelings”. This process will give many unworthy female students a ph.d upon which they can be moved into leadership roles for which they are not prepared. The refusal to do the hard lifting of logic and rational research is now justified.

    • FW-Bergson’s work is almost certainly what is being referred to in The Treason of the Intellectuals as it translates from the French. I mention it in the book because although it was published in 1927 the philosophies are still being pushed. The warnings are still pertinent too.

      You mention this in connection with gender and victimology, but it reminds me of colleges that are telling students that minority students feelings that they are regarded as inferior must be addressed in the students who are supposedly treating them as inferior. Having listened to the Admissions liason from my alma mater tell a group of minority students that there was no tuition if the family income was less than about $60,000 and not to worry about the list of books read in the last year that was part of the application because “they were counting anything between two covers,” it is problemmatic to have them come under those circumstances and then to insist that no one can treat them as being less academically oriented.

      In the old days who was or was not academically oriented was not a matter of race or ethnicity and plenty of white students were accurately perceived as connected but dim.

    • And this “Design Thinking” is being pushed for hyping in private schools most everywhere now. I knew my instincts about it being up to no good were right 5 years ago. Ironically it is this very term that started me down the rabbit hole of figuring out what exactly was going on in Ed, public, private and parochial. Sheesh.

      So, as the “intuitiveness” and assumed approval for all decisions or ideas, including or especially those not grounded in facts or reality, is deemed mandatory now at the secondary level of education these young minds will be firmly indoctrinated in magical thinking as they approach higher ed.

      And naturally, students trained to believe that ALL ideas are valuable regardless of grounding in reality will be perfectly primed for steering by any delphi /discourse trained “teacher” to follow his or her idea imagining it was actually their own because they have no store of knowledge to fact check against and they are of course just supporting the all important group.


  4. regarding comments on neuro, …the reason the narrative is so important in this inside out transformation is that the autobiographical narrative is stored in the right brain (supposedly). An implicit memory, trauma etc , one that has not been made explicit ie. left brain, factual, is said to be stored in implicit form (thus eliciting flashback behaviors as if in real time) and this “event” trauma must be placed into explicit form by creating an autobiographical narrative ie. right brain.
    The sheer evil of this is that anyone can assist the individual in doing this.
    recall Dan Siegel of the garrison institute http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/contemplation-and-education/senior-advisory-board/1258-dan-siegel and Berkley’s Greater Good etc. etc. Neurobiology of We…Mindsight work…this is precisely what Uber Ed is doing to these i-pad children..keeping them in right brain, social emotional, graphic, Limbic and cerebellar procedural areas of the brain
    studies demonstrate 20% loss of white and grey matter….specifically in frontal lobe and lacking structural integrity in white matter. the paths lead no where and the roads are corrupted.

    • Dawn-thanks. Make sure you look at the CGI links I put up.

      Also part of what I have secured since the last post is the OCD insisting that the left/right brain distinction is a neuromyth. Now that’s not true as the CRED reports and so many books make clear. Apparently the OECD is aware just how close to crossing a human rights line this is based on international biomedical research consent standards.

      They have actually crossed it once the i’s are dotted and confessions lined up. This though is what our politicians and ed administrators have bargained away in return for grants and public pensions.

  5. I am listening to a live presentation from Peg Luksik to the Idahoans for local education. She is talking about NCLB and test scores, cut scores. Comparing Idaho state test scores to NAEP scores. Low passing rates. she must be assuming NAEP is measuring knowledge.

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