Viewing a CORE Decree, Cognitive Reorganization for All Students, As Modern Day Spoliation

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

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.

18 thoughts on “Viewing a CORE Decree, Cognitive Reorganization for All Students, As Modern Day Spoliation

  1. Nicholas Maxwell, just another nutty eugenicist. He has no idea of what the values are that produced western Civilization and the ones in which we hold dear. Holocaust, French revolution, Marxist murder festival, take your pick…..he is on the path…
    Funny, he went to the same university as a communist that knew well. He says his ideas are probably wrong in the video, I quite agree. Why should we follow a man who knows he is probably wrong?

    • I had never heard of Nicholas until I started seeing him as the footnoted cite on what I knew were false assertions. On page 43 he claims that his “basic argument is that a major root cause of so many of the calamities of the twentieth century that humanity has inflicted on itself–the wars, the concentration camps, the totalitarian regimes, the poverty and starvation amidst plenty, the millions upon millions of lives unnecessarily devastated and destroyed–is our long-standing failure to have developed in the world a genuinely rational kind of inquiry to helping us realize cooperatively what is of most value in life. Our self-inflicted calamities in the end result from our general failure to tackle our common problems in a cooperatively rational way.”

      That is simply NOT true. It is bad history and ALL those calamities came from regimes that imposed an ideology of the collective and rejected any primacy of the individual. There is no room for individual logical thought in CORE or RECAST. Just like there was never any in Transformational Outcomes Based Education. The first time I read Spady’s description I nicknamed it unilateral intellectual totalitarianism. We cannot know because we might not do what is wished?

      After I wrote this post I started on a 1961 book by an American psychiatrist on what he saw as the Chinese thought reforms in the 1950s when he was interviewing escapees in Hong Kong. What I am saying is too grave not to have researched it from every direction. The author Lifton is winding up the book and he mentions the desire for everyone to have common beliefs and feelings. When you strip away all the PR, that is still the goal. It certainly looks to me like using education to get the West to unilaterally disarm mentally. Everything that made in unique and exceptional. It’s a dangerous world out there. Instead of understanding it accurately to the best of our ability, we get designated Understandings of Consequence that are not even true.

      This really is a prescription for devastation with our tax money or public debt being used to buy off politicians or interest groups at every level who might object.

      I think no one ever anticipated someone who would understand the background of these policies and practices and the underlying philosophy and political theory and history and especially the economic vision. And spoliation is absolutely what it is.

  2. All of the persons that you name here and study about have you tube videos of or about them. I find it fascinating to look into the strange non-America faces and hear the mentally ill garbage that comes flowing from the mouths. If parents knew these are the minds about to control their child’s education, common core would be stopped tomorrow morning. Liz

    • Liz-I did not know that. I am relying on who is being cited as authority and what they really said and how it all functions. I am not surprised though. It is not hyperbole to call this a final assault in the eyes of those who long for humanity to reorganize itself in another way.

  3. Isn’t this the core of the issue?: Nicholas Maxwell’s1984 book title, “From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution in the Aims & Methods of Science”.

    The point of all these plans, platitudes, and programs is to progress into “wisdom”. The problem with this is we have fundamentally different understandings of what ‘wisdom’ entails. Their answer is to destroy any belief system that does not make government control the endgame. I contend instead that there is no wisdom without God.

    Interestingly enough, during the same time that Nicholas Maxwell was writing his book, Marion G. Romney wrote an article entitled, “Converting Knowledge into Wisdom”,
    I highly recommend it and agree with its conclusions.

    • Rhonda-

      Notice there was no attempt to limit knowledge or treat academic knowledge or it pursuit as selfish. Nor is there a denigration of the individual. Your passage wants the individual to find wisdom.

      Maxwell’s wants to limit what anyone can know out of fear they might use knowledge in a way he does not wish. Moreover, everyone must work together to solve the problems of the world. The environment, inequities of wealth, etc. The decision of what to do is made collectively and all are bound. Which actually sounds a lot like the Community of Learners concept and the idea that meaning will be negotiated by consensus.

      Genuine wisdom really does require a great deal of knowledge of facts and history and what has gone before and what happened and how and in what ways all that relates to any present situation. None of those are the approach students are being allowed to take. Believe me, I have been at a school after Cambridge Education came in and the champion teachers feared for their jobs if they continued to teach knowledge. I have watched veterans who love literature forced to do mind mapping exercises instead.

      I think Maxwell is setting up what will become known as constructivism and now modeling as all over the CCSSI implementation. WE are in the realm of belief here not knowledge. As Von Mises noted, this is the realm of faith. But it is faith without either a God or accurate facts to provide guidance. The guidance comes from these concepts that become the means of finding causation where none exists. Which in turn fosters a belief on the need to take action to break the causes or fix the relationships. Belief is not enough. It MUST compel action.

  4. David-they are not similar. That’s the catch. Bring the two posts together. It’s also why the problem or situation has to be new and untaught and without a fixed answer or linear solution. It pushes kids to apply those default concepts or understandings across the board. It is Dewey’s Indeterminate Situation and it is what makes those exams rigorous. I actually have several of Dweck’s books. And I watched a video of her pushing this on New Zealanders.

    You find patterns that exist but are not readily apparent. Me too. That’s absolutely not what Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete is about. You try to find relationships within a system even though if it is a system it’s open ended with no clear causation. And certainly not as portrayed by the videogaming.

  5. so Robin,
    do you think Robert Muller had COGNITIVE REORGANIZATION in mind when he created his coo coo for co co puffs WORLD CORE CURRICULUM? and do you think the common core is a play on Mullers fantasies and the Gro Harlem Bruntland ” OUR COMMON FUTURE” paper?
    listen to DAVID COLEMAN’S MOTHER, pres of bennington college.

    before I had any idea of this I had a blow out meeting with our principle and school director, I said We need more fact teaching, what is all this psychology? well said alot more, showed evidence, vygotsky etc. their response, again this is 2 years ago almost, prior to my incessant research as you know, and the principle said ” we want them to have an authentic eduation”. the director said,” I am seeing that you are looking for more balance”. Now I know what that all means and where it comes from and when I learned was certainly stunned.

    • Mad Mommy-

      To say I have had a good day would be a major understatement. I have been calling attention to Elizabeth Coleman’s TED talk for a long time because it is so telling in the reverence she holds Dewey in. If there was a shrine to Dewey in the house . . .

      Muller is important but the New Age aspects are off putting when I have so much more. And other authors have handled him well in the past. Back in the 90s. He is also important for appreciating that the idea that UNESCO was a neutral party in the Cold War was ludicrous. It was created to stack the deck. Still is but that is part of the reason it was such a good day.

      I remember being that shocked parent in a private school and then having the Lower School Principal make threatening comments if I passed on what I had just figured out. And all I had done was ask a pertinent follow-up question assuming she was acting in good faith. Snarl is an inadequate verb to describe her response. I was shocked and remained so for years (we left the school the next year),. Later I realized the Headmaster was on the Board of AdvancED and was pushing the privates comparably to where the publics were going.

  6. Common from the same Latin root as communism, shared belong to all, (our kids) and core containing the seeds the most essential part, so common core is the seeds of communism, the most essential part, this is the open to my video.

    The Yrjo Engestrrom video is the best one as he stammers in English with heavy accent, activity theory, created by soviet psychologists in the 1920s and he is so happy to explain how in modern sense activity theory shall evaluate learning , collective learning and cultural learning…ha ….measure the success of the soviet indoctrination he means…

    • Again I did not know there was a video. I just recognize the theories and now who has pushed them. Engestrom is important but has been graphic I suppose because he believed the only people reading what he was writing or listening were believers.

      My mom told me a few weeks ago that I needed a vacation. I agreed but said it was so important to get ahead of this story. And it has been.

      You can have different experiences but in the end the idea is to have common values, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings. So in the vast majority of cases behavior becomes hugely predicatble and easy to influence. Media being the other prong from education under the category of communication. When you are dealing with ideology. And actually I have read that reference numerous times. Media and education.



  8. “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.”

    That is exactly right, and if parents knew, many would be appalled – although most might not even believe it because it sounds so far fetched. That can’t possibly be the best answer to improving students’ science and math skills or for preparing them for a future in any century.
    So the metacognitive was previously called the non-cognitive? That’s very interesting.

    Do you think it is just a coincidence that the implementation of PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments come in the 2014-2015 school year – which is the conclusion of the U.N.’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-14)?

    • It’s also the end of the timeline for the UN’s Millenium Development Goals. And it ties into the Belmont Challenge timeline that fits with the new AdvancED accreditation Quality Standards that has schools collecting the very information on students (physical, social, and emotional needs) that constitutes what both the Belmont Forum and the UN view as integral to making well-being not economic growth the prevailing standard of prosperity in the future.

      I know all this fits because I do not have a crystal ball. I have followed up on the rhetoric in meetings I attended and reports I have read,. That’s where the connections come from. I do find it interesting thought that SACS (one of the AdvancED subs) is on the advisory board for Next Generation Learning and is a sponsor of CCSSO AND the trade group that consists of all the ed labs elected the President of AdvancED their President before I pointed it out in print several years ago. All of this is just riddled with conflicts of interest with one thing in common. People wanting to live at public expense or have regulatory power used for their benefit.

      Spoliation is like dirigisme. A term I wanted to bring in so we could use it in the future as a shorthand for what is really going on. A shakedown by the public sector and already established Big Business to try to rig the future in their favor. But we are not alone. China holds so much of our Treasury debt. If they view the Common Core as a means to get the US to intellectually disarm what brought it prosperity and funds our military, we need to appreciate that before its too late. And they do. That is clear from those Global Cities Education Network reports but not at the level of comfort where I was willing to write about it. Until yesterday when I read a 2010 UNESCO report that was a part of the Shanghai World Expo. And China and UNESCO’s vision for everyone globally in the 21st century.

      I have what I need. I just need to figure out how to say it so I sound factual and not alarmist and tell the parts of the story that are essential without overwhelming everyone in the details. It fits with the Metropolitanism and Regional Equity Movements I have already written about.

      Lots of moving parts indeed. Now to come up with a joke to break the ice.

      • Robin please do show us how China is one of the players pushing this stuff! I would not be surprised at all.

        And as a side issue, does it tie into your earlier report that Shanghai and Hong Kong are switching to one of these “new” curriculum ideas?

        • Absolutely. The intent of that table coupled to a definition of 21st Century Skills that fit that updated view of Dialectical Materialism was too perfectly fitted to be coincidental. But the gravity of what I write about is such that I have to nail down proof first. Which I did yesterday.

          The really fascinating part involves South Korea because what is is doing is also being used to exemplify a “Learning City” or “Learning Region.” If S. K. is piloting what the Chinese and UNESCO see as their economic, political, and social vision for the 21st, it certainly put the client-state in the North and its sabre rattling into an interesting perspective. In both the Chinese and SK visions the point kept being made on wanting to move the students away from facts and an exam-based focus. The state apparatus has no use for anything fostering the logical abstract mind with its own conceptual understandings cultivated from accurate facts. Too capable of defying the herd and maybe even culling away parts of the herd.

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