In October 1997 the lead professors in what became the Understandings of Consequence (UoC) Project and RECAST work on restructuring students’ assumptions on causation wrote a very interesting piece called “Teaching Intelligence.” Published in the American Psychologist, it laid out the CORE vision of what precisely needs to be reorganized. I am going to show how the reorganization goals dovetail with aspects of the Common Core implementation I have already mentioned. And the CORE Cognitive Reorganization is Transdisciplinary. It is not the content of the disciplines to be learned anymore but the opportunities disciplines like history or science provide to create dissonance and mediation. CORE recognizes that “reorganization is most likely when learners become aware of the strengths and problems of their current beliefs, understandings, and thinking patterns.” Just what we all send children to school to have go on.
And then barely six months later the first of the listed UoC NSF funded projects began. Called “The Challenge of Developing Systems Thinkers: How Misconceptions About Complex Causality Contribute to Fundamental Problems in Scientific Learning,” it was headed up by Perkins and Grotzer. It leads to the current UoC work described in the previous post. Now for all of you who are finding this damning so far but wondering what this has to do with leaving food out of the refrigerator, I did not mean that kind of spoliation. I am using the term as what the Italians called spogliazione. But then European countries that remember feudalism and absolutist rulers like Napoleon have understood state directed plundering of the productive classes for centuries. And they call it Spoliation. And talking about it for a minute using quotes from across the Atlantic and across the centuries should go a long way towards answering that Number 1 most asked question when reading my posts: “But why? What a waste.” Indeed. Spoliation and with lots of precedent.
All these economic philosophers understood well the tendency of “the immortal state, the state that does not fulfill its primordial duties [the protection of personal liberty and property] but makes itself the center of intrigues, of favors, of transfers of wealth.” And what do Digital Literacy and all those Green Growth schemes have in common with what concerned the 19th century so much? They all understood the need for some type of bulwark or governments will be ever-expanding since:
“the beneficial effect of State intervention, especially in the form of legislation, is direct, immediate, and, so to speak, visible, whilst its evil effects are gradual and indirect, and lie out of sight.”
For that reason, there has always been a battle throughout history between “privilege, secret interest, political advantage, everything that is capable of coveting”–what we today call rent-seekers and the great mass of consumers and taxpayers who pay the bills and have no lobbyists in DC or the state capitol. That’s not an anti-government rant but a historical observation. And quite relevant to what is being sought now in the 21st century in the name of education. Thinking is being reorganized and false beliefs are being fostered precisely to gain people who either will not notice manipulation or who will regard it as necessary in pursuit of a greater goal or averting a supposed catastrophe.
It is in that light I want to give you a heads up that RECAST and CORE are very much a part of an organized effort to supposedly shift humanity away from a selfish philosophy of knowledge to a so-called altruistic philosophy of wisdom. No of course nobody told us since we might have objected. Laid out by UK professor, Nicholas Maxwell, in his 1984 book From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution in the Aims & Methods of Science the philosophy of wisdom stance can be clearly seen in Common Core’s push that curricula and assessments be about solving real world problems. It is very much in line with what we saw in the Appreciative Inquiry posts.
Under the philosophy of wisdom, education must “give absolute intellectual priority to our life and its problems, to the mystery of what is of value, actually and potentially, in existence, and to the problems of how what is of value is to be realized.” Which of course, individuals cannot accomplish alone. They will need public policy to aid them in “cooperatively solving” the “common problems of living.” It’s no accident that in the back of the book Maxwell cites groups interested in the social responsibility of science as supporting the philosophy of wisdom. And the environmentalists. And something called Science in a Social Context. And UNESCO. This is a rent-seekers dream and very much consistent with one of Uncle Karl’s best known quotes which Maxwell cites approvingly: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” The philosophy of wisdom does that even when it is going by other names.
Which gets us back to CORE and RECAST. I don’t think it is coincidental that Maxwell cites John Dewey as a major devotee of pushing the synthesis he called the philosophy of wisdom. Nor do I think it is coincidental that what CORE and RECAST are getting at is what the 1971 book Inquiring Man called a radical new idea. Where “educational growth is not the accumulation of more and more pieces of information, but the development of an increasingly complex structure for organizing and inter-relating ideas.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? Like being a Systems Thinker? Or seeing race and class oppression as causes of any dissimilarity in life circumstances?
What Thinking Intelligence described as “helping learners reorganize their thinking around a more powerful pattern.” Pre-supplied by the ever helpful teacher seeking “transfer” through “thorough practice with deliberately diverse cases.” In other words, nothing really in common except being told there is a causal relationship. Find one. Make it up. Negotiate with the rest of the class for possibilities. Learn to think through abstractions NOT grounded in facts. Ascend from the Abstract to the Concrete of everyday life.
Learning to think ideologically until it becomes a habit of mind and hiding that desired widespread practice as “higher-order thinking.” Teaching Intelligence explicitly mentioned five areas of “cognitive reorganization (CORE categories): strategies, metacognition, dispositions, distributed intelligence, and transfer. We have already talked about transfer today and in that Yrjo Engestrom post. For metacognition it is intimately bound up in the real definition of college and career ready. It also explains why CCR architect, David Conley, sought to rename noncognitive skills as Metacognition. Laid out here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/now-more-than-five-years-into-an-attempt-to-help-organize-a-near-total-revision-of-human-behavior/
Strategies “reorganize thinking by providing patterns to follow that work against the defaults.” Like complex causation and systems thinking in general. Dispositions “emanate in part from underlying beliefs.” Well luckily there has been no organized attempts to foster any false beliefs. The paper then cites Vygotskyian scholar Carol Dweck without pointing out whose work she is so fond of. Today she is better known for her work on Growth Mindsets and Fixed Mindsets. Her books and passages are not only being assigned to teachers but I know for a fact they have been assigned in Honors English classes this school year. Of course the Chair of that English Department had a newly minted Masters from a Vygotskyian-oriented program so that may explain the determination to move fast.
Thinking dispositions “consist of both sensitivity and inclination.” They are what John Dewey called “habits of thought” and they reorganize thinking “through the sensitivity to detect occasions that call for a particular pattern of thinking and the inclination to follow through.” Again all this in an environment where teachers are not to teach factual content. And being told you have a fixed mindset at a tender age seems like such an insult. Must change.
Distributed cognition gets at “team thinking” and the use of cultural tools like computers. It also stresses “teleconferencing [to] allow the pooling of expertise and collaborative brainstorming.” Have you heard about mental mapping? This is where it comes in– “extensive use of graphic organizers-diagrammatic ways of representing evidential and other relationships that provide both physical and symbolic support.”
All of this is designed to force students to see the world not as it is. But as people with a political agenda for education, who actively seek to transform society to cause a shift to a centrally planned economy premised in a welfare state/ social citizenship structure, wish the students and future voters to see the world. All going on at the same time Europe is coming to grips with the perverse incentives and financial Unsustainability of so many of the programs this type of education was intended to promote. None of which is part of the sales pitch for the Common Core or its continuing propaganda campaign.
I guess everyone is hoping that the Cognitive Reorganization in enough voters will be a done deal before enough people grasp what has happened. And by then it will be too late.
I can just hear it now. “What do you mean the Common Core assessments were not actually tests and were not monitoring knowledge of facts?”
A West that couples low information voters to voters who live at the expense of the State and then adds voters who have undergone years of this ideological reorganizing of thought patterns will be dysfunctional at virtually every level.
And every bit as toxic as the spoliation that occurs without refrigeration.