Asserting Political Will to Transform the Nature Of Education to Create a New Kind of Electorate

That title might describe the natural implications of the language in the Every Child Achieves Act or the Common Core sponsor CCSSO announcing in February 2014 that the purpose of the Common Core was to create desired ‘Dispositions’ in ‘Citizens,’ but unfortunately that quote comes from the purpose of the dialectical thinking we met in the last post. It’s also the purpose of what the Common Core calls Deeper Learning, ECCA calls ‘higher order thinking,’ and what 21st Century Skills calls Critical Thinking. Can we all say “thoroughly permeates the actual implementation” together in unison? Let’s go back to what Richard Paul wrote back in 1993 in the Introduction to his Critical Thinking book:

“Harnessing social and economic forces to serve the public good and the good of the biosphere…requires mass publics around the world skilled in cooperative, fairminded, critical discourse…it is essential that we foster a new conception of self-identity, both individually and collectively…[we must reconceptualize the nature of teaching and learning so that people learn] something quite new to us: to identify not with the content of our beliefs, but with the integrity of the process by which we arrived at them.”

All those references we keep encountering on having a Growth Mindset instead of a Fixed One make far more sense if education now insists that “we must come to define ourselves, and actually respond in everyday contexts, as people who reason their way into, and can be reasoned out of, beliefs.” Must be a malleable citizen in other words and not like those Bakers in Oregon who think they can decide who to bake a wedding cake for. Governments now get to decide what are unacceptable beliefs and practices. At least they are adults being told what they can and cannot do and believe and are being told openly. How much worse is it when the unacceptable beliefs involve our children and what they brought from our homes? How much more hidden is it when the unacceptable beliefs and values get taken out via formative assessment that a parent never sees or has anyone explain accurately?

Paul was quite honest (and fond of emphasizing with italics) that the required Critical Thinking involves an obligation for students to “have to empathize with and reason within points of view toward which we are hostile. To achieve this end, we must persevere [with Grit?] over an extended period of time, for it takes time and significant effort to learn how to empathically enter a point of view against which we are biased…We must recognize an intellectual responsibility to be fair to views we oppose. We must feel obliged to hear them in their strongest form to ensure that we do not condemn them out of ignorance or bias.”

In case anyone fails to appreciate why it is so revolutionary for the federal government to require all schools in every state to assess all students at least annually for (page 36 of ECAA) “higher-order thinking skills and understanding,” they are looking for whether the student has learned to think as Paul laid out. Is the student fixed in how they view or interpret the world or open to change? What concepts, strategies or ideas do they use in untaught situations where there is no single correct answer? Every group pushing for radical social change wants student assessments to be tied to HOTS because they, and with this post we do too, know that “the character of our mind is one with our moral character. How we think determines how we behave and how we behave determines who we are and who we will become.” [Paul again]

Who we are becoming is the whole point now of K-12 education as reenvisioned because as Paul explained (quoting in turn economist Robert Heilbroner):  “…the problems of capitalist disorder–too many to recite, too complex in their origins to take up one at a time…arise from the workings of the system….The problems must be addressed by the assertion of political will…the undesired dynamics of the economic sphere must be contained, redressed, or redirected by the only agency capable of asserting a counter-force to that of the economic sphere. It is the government.” Paul went on to describe “How are we to cultivate the new kind of electorate?” That cultivation became the focus of the Critical Thinking book.

Now the very same groups like The Leadership Conference head quoted here in describing the actual new purpose of a new kind of accountability in education are enthusiastic about the language of ECAA because it forces annual testing of HOTS. Wade Henderson also participated this week in the rollout of this plan calling for Government to massively intervene in the economy to ensure a reduction in inequality and Good, living wage jobs for all. Basically Heilbroner’s vision and Uncle Karl’s updated to 2015. The report also blames current wage stagnation and the weak economy on too little government intervention in the economy.

That kind of economy run by political will calls for a new kind of mind, values, and behaviors, which is precisely what the real implementation is designed to deliver. In my book I cover the first attempt to deliver this desired new mindset via K-12 education in the 60s. One of the things I have learned since the book came out is the widespread anger, especially among intellectuals, that existed in the 1950s and 60s over the American economy and society many of us grew up cherishing. Paul’s vision of Critical Thinking and a new philosophy of education that would deliver the new kind of needed citizen frequently cited a Professor Israel Scheffler. His essay on the New Activism presented in 1970 revealed that a didactic, traditional subject matter, transmission of knowledge approach to education was and still is viewed as immoral and amounted to “Fiddling while Rome burns.”

Transmission of subject-knowledge via lecture or textbook, for example, is held to reenforce the world as it currently exists. Perhaps the student feels no need to explore alternative viewpoints he knows he abhors because he is aware with facts of precisely why. No, K-12 education and ‘Critical’ or ‘Philosophical’ Thinking is designed to create mindsets ready to accept and adopt the “imperative task of altering an utterly evil status quo.” Education as traditionally envisioned and then practiced was “compliant with evil–an obstacle to the revolutionary transformation of society.” School “must transform itself into an agency of radical social change.” Moreover, education must develop people who are aware and feel responsibility for “the suffering of other human beings whose pain he might, through his efforts, alleviate.”

In a follow-up 1971 essay called “Philosophy and the Curriculum” Scheffler insisted that traditional subjects treat education as if it were about “fixed points.” Well, that obviously would be in the way of radical social change. In a passage that sure does presage all the transdisciplinary, Whole Child, conceptual lenses, and Charles Fadel’s Redesign of Curriculum work for the OECD and UNESCO, Scheffler noted:

“The educator needs to consider the possibility of new classifications and interrelations among the subjects not only for educational but also for general intellectual purposes. He must, further, devote his attention to aspects of human development that are too elusive or too central to be encompassed within the framework of subjects; for example, the growth of character [Fadel] and the refinement of the emotions [no wonder ECAA included PBIS, mental health and well-being and “non-academic skills essential for school readiness and academic success”.] He ought, moreover, to reflect on schooling as an institution, its organization within society, and its consequences for the career of values.”

ECAA in the form being considered by Congress certainly fits in every respect the functions of K-12 education and Critical Thinking called for by both Richard Paul and Israel Scheffler. That means their expressed goals for these shifts away from didactic transmission of knowledge come with the mandated changes in practice and assessments.

Does Congress understand the nature of what it is actually about to mandate? Do politicians from the federal level to the state and local care?

Or is cultivation of a new kind of electorate the whole point with few willing to openly admit they know this is the entire purpose of these reforms?

Is 21st Century Learning really all about creating that electorate that will tolerate an economy and society premised on political will?

Is the onset of the wage stagnation and economic weakness bemoaned in that report above as the result of too little government intervention actually a result of this announced shift by 1970 to make education an instrument of radical social change?

If so, what will happen now that we are essentially doubling down on that strategy?

54 thoughts on “Asserting Political Will to Transform the Nature Of Education to Create a New Kind of Electorate

  1. Ah, the sound of Truth and Reason being spoken (written) for consumption by the common man! Music to my ears! Thank you, Robin, for such a clear and concise evaluation of where we are, what is happening, and what we have to confront. The recent confession by popular blog posters that they do not read or understand what is before us, and their attack on those who do, has been shocking. Let those who join hands and minds with the former accept the shame that should come their way.

    In the meantime, the rest of us need to fully absorb the implications of what you have researched and set forth for our use. We truly are upon a precipice of destruction of all we hold dear. And we should put it into the context of the push by “conservatives” who would have us risk our Constitution by calling an unmanageable convention, risking the last of what we can cling to as a foundation of our government. Given the lack of resistance by these same “conservatives” to the devestation of education by the passage of ECCA, one wonders who is working with whom–and ultimately for what?
    Thanks again, Robin.

  2. “All those references we keep encountering on having a Growth Mindset instead of a Fixed One make far more sense if education now insists that “we must come to define ourselves, and actually respond in everyday contexts, as people who reason their way into, and can be reasoned out of, beliefs.””

    In that case, each and every proposition, claim, and argument in this book is on the chopping block. Relativism cuts both ways or it cuts not at all.

    Leftists like this, of course, have reached a gnostic awareness and insight that has transcended the epistemic and value relativism that plagues everyone else not among the Anointed.

    • Hi Loran. Yes until the perspective gets locked into the monitored and manipulated neural net as desired it must be flexible. I do not think it is coincidental in the least that Critical Thinking as Paul and Scheffler laid it out sounds remarkably like Robert Kegan (remember his Integral Mind work with Ken Wilber?)’s Stages 4 and then 5 that he spoke about at the RSA forum.

      Then we learned that the OECD has classified this ability to imagine yourself in other people’s roles and taking on their perspectives as a Key Competence based on Kegan’s work. Then the Hewlett Foundation hires Kegan and Peter Senge to make sure the PARCC and SBAC assessments will be measuring ‘deep learning’. Is the neural net in place and in the functioning as desired is how I would describe any assessment built around measuring ‘higher order thinking skills and understanding’.

      Whatever Lamar Alexander’s personal intentions, he and every Republican on that Senate Committee that voted for this monstrosity is a midwife to evil.

  3. It does all remind me of Brave New World. You know, in that story, every time anyone starts to ask questions about the meaning of existence or politics, philosophy, or the like, they become very anxious, agitated, and confused, and encounter a strong internal resistance to in any way thinking outside the programmed and prescribed box (the hero’s girlfriend, as I recall, was very prone to this, and would have to take her psychotropic drugs every time he attempted to engage her in any but fluffy talk about mostly trivial matters).

    The idea here, apparently, is to create a generation of adults who, when confronted by clear evidence that, say, for one example, dangerous anthropogenic global warming is not a serious scientific claim, will simply not be able to intellectually and psychologically process counter-evidence, and will hold to the formatted thought patterns (otherwise known as “political correctness”) regardless of the most compelling evidence.

    • Loran-that’s why there’s such an emphasis on the visual and why the Common Core and UDL privilege multimedia means of communication as being on par with print. The virtual reality simulations become how the adult will believe the world works and the software is consciously created to instill the desired visuals for that very reason. Jane MacGonnigal said that and so did Harman Willis in Global Mind Change.

      I wrote about the UNESCO sponsored Sakhalin Conference in Russia in fall of 2013 and its push on the effects of multimedia on the mind and then the same concepts and emphasis on K-12 showed up in the Aspen Institute report on K-12 “Students at the Center of a Networked World” chaired by Republican presidential wanna-be Jeb Bush. If he believes what is in that report he is a fool and if he signed his name to something without reading it he is careless. Either way his ties to that report make him unfit or unsuitable for his aspirations. Rand Paul should be asked why he voted for ECAA in committee.

      I have met and spoken with more than one US Senator in my life and none of them came across as anything special except in their own minds. With WIOA and now this, they are just flushing this great country down the drain by their active support for horrific ideas.

      • “I have met and spoken with more than one US Senator in my life and none of them came across as anything special except in their own minds.”

        This sort of understanding, of the way things work in the world, is to be forbidden.

      • Aligning one’s thoughts with positivity is all the rage now. Fertile ground for 21st century seedlings. Observing the zeitgeist’s response to Bruce Jenners desire to live as a woman it appears that there can only be supportive wishes offered publicly. I am not arguing for or against his personal choice. I am simply stating that in healthy and free societies a breadth of discussion regarding popular culture topics is usually on offer. To see such thick agreement even on such a topic as this which is no ones business is chilling. Rick Santorum of all people has has pledged fealty to the party line and I quote ” if Bruce Jenner says he is a woman, then he is a woman.”
        Bottom line: we are being coerced into agreeing to flexible Truth by truth opportunists. ESEA makes the hard work of coercion passé as it mandates a legal habit of mind.

        • Bruce Jenner, the man’s man, deciding he’s a woman. What a useful psyop. You can’t just create a Bruce Jenner in Hollywood, first he has to win in the Olympics!

          Wonder what kind of programming was done on that guy post-olympics to make this happen.

    • Loran, frighteningly, I am finding this very mindset in 40 plus year olds who I would have thought know better. Their self imposed lock down on thinking is not nearly as secure as what will horribly be the case for 21st Century Learners , but I think the culturally programmed hypnosis via media and entertainment affecting many adults currently has been an excellent beta test for what is to come.

      • I’ll agree 100 % on that. Peers my age in this category in the NW are either clueless or so immersed into this thinking they see nothing outside the sustainability bubble . The future is downright scary.

        • Not only does ECAA enshrine PBIS into federal law instead of misinterpreting IDEA, did you realize the Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports that created it as a tool of School Interventions had been at U-Oregon? Look at page 6

          Doesn’t this dovetail with David Conley’s work and the real definition of College Readiness he created for the Gates Foundation that we have covered. Also fits with his non-cognitive skills work that also is mentioned in ECAA.

    • It also comes out in their Proficiency Profile of Assessing Critical Thinking Skills for higher ed.

      I wrote in the margins how well it fits in with this vision of being able to measure and guide how students perceive the world. The references to “ability to reason in unstructured scenarios as I was describing last night we I spoke about the heural net and how formative assessment is essentially knitting the stitches in place as desired to what is already there. Then something like this Proficiency Profile can become the Congressionally mandated ‘high quality annual assessment of skills and understandings.”

      Notice that like Paul and Scheffler there is talk about “learning that is capacious and open-ended” and based on “the acknowledgment that complexity requires integrative thinking: the ability to see the world, a problem or a challenge from different perspectives.” If governments said this is what you must believe, people would be in open rebellion. So the same function gets knitted by high quality curricula and formative and summative assessments into the neural structure of the student’s mind.

      We are literally redesigning the future electorate here. Okker’s statement that “During one discussion, two political science majors bristled at the notion that there are no right answers” is again straight out of Paul’s stated purpose of what he called dialectical, critical, philosophical, or higher order thinking. They are all synonyms and also go to what Ilyenkov called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete. Locking in how world will be perceived. Did you know that Ilyenkov developed that theory for the Soviets in the same year Robert Tucker said Marxist Humanism commenced in earnest in the East as this post laid out

      It’s also the year Maslow and Rogers and the NEA launched the Perceiving. Being. Becoming revolution of Humanist psychology. I knew that which is why I tagged both of them to this post. is the Maslow post from almost 2 years ago

      We know what is going on and ECAA has the language involving affect and ‘high quality’ and PBIS and “mental health and wellbeing” that gives the death grip on the citizen’s internal psyche that this Marxian revolution via the mind and personality has always needed.

      “The realization that meaning isn’t something we receive from the outside, from others, but that it always must come from within us.” That’s what a high quality, meaningful assessment is looking for and proficiency is now having what is desired at an internal level. By the way NCLB laid the groundwork for this Proficiency shift too. It came out of the New Standards project and NCLB laid the groundwork for the desired synthesis that ECAA takes all the way to the end zone for the touchdown. I guess for the radicals NCLB was really scoring by field goal and it set in place the ability to hype achievement gaps. Then sel and udl and project-based learning become the only remedies. Only what is suitable under Cultural Historical Activity Theory can then survive civil rights scrutiny.

      Notice that at the end of this Yong Zhao powerpoint of what will be deemed world-class learning it is High Tech High being asserted as the model.

      Just like Institute for the Future wants and the Innovation Lab Network and competency-based education and Knowledge Works and the merger of CTE with academics for all.

        • I think it is also important that David Coleman, one of the chief Common Core ‘architects’, stated at the New School Venture Fund annual meeting in 2013 or so that he wanted to make it clear that the College Board was backed by all the data resources available to ETS.

          We also need to remember it was RTS that funded the Gordon Commission and that Ravitch, James Paul Gee, Lauren Resnick, Kenneth Gergen of Appreciative Inquiry, and plenty of others were all involved.

          He also hired the Big Data consultants that were behind President Obama’s successful Get Out the Vote in certain neighborhoods targeting campaign. Makes mire sense when we appreciate accurately the nature of the data on prevailing mindsets, values, strategies, conceptual beliefs being gathered in the name of assessments now.

          ETS was also involved with the original cybernetic research back in the 80s when they went looking for school districts to volunteer. It would become centered in Tucson, which is where Ravitch’s Network for Public Education says it is based. It is where P21 came from and also now EdLeader21. It is also where Peter Senge has had most of his Camp Snowballs. Will try to find the old post where we talked about Tucson and also Apple’s involvement.

  4. Robin,

    Did you see this post on Andrew Bolt’s blog?

    If we place ourselves in the position of parents who can’t or won’t read bedtime stories to their children, would be come to the position that it’s unfair for us to advance our children by doing so? Seems like a ridiculous question. Read twice as many books and let the devil take the hindmost is my first response. A better question would be, “what were these ‘adults’ thinking having children if they couldn’t provide support and nurture?”

    • The extent in the literature of the angst over the advantages offered by two attentive, educated parents is mind-blowing to read. I still remember my oldest when he was about 6 having a friend over from day camp. He recognized I was reading a story he was npt familiar with to his younger sister fresh from the library. He started to come in to listen. His friend said “you like books?”

      The determination to control vocabulary to control likely avenues of thought takes time to digest. I have quite a few of the Literacy Progressions. Hard to read when you know what minds that age are capable of when properly taught. When the nEA talks about the Common Core as a tool of levelling, they mean it/

      • Controlled Vocabulary to confine the parameters of required thought.
        It’s as basic as this:

        Or inveigled into the cultural lexicon like the words “green”, “sustainable” or “collaborative”.

        Any of the acceptable words can be
        “Applied” to practically any context. They are Flexible! And if one makes use of this “skill” he or she will meet with group approval and inclusion.

        The conversation is so very controlled already. It’s simple self hypnosis . And it is deadly.

        • Also look up Lauren Resnick and LRDC and their trademarking of Accountable Talk.

          Or Courtney Cazden and how her vision of the Discourse classroom really works.

          This was not easy to grasp and document, but my word there is such consistency now at the layer we are at on what is being sought and mandated.

    • Mike-I warned about this in a West Coast conference call last night and here’s the story on using Minecraft in lots of different classes.

      Pitched also as aligned with the Common Core ‘learning standards”. It’s not what you know, but what you do. Truly, the “behavior becomes the answer.”

      Story also says that Microsoft bought Minecraft last year for $2.5 billion. Now how does MS intend to recover that investment and does it have anything to do with what the Gates Foundation pushes with its funding?

  5. When i read the sequence of vocab for my 2nd or 3rd grader at the time:

    I knew there was a serious problem.


        Weltanshauung offers safety feelings of warmth understanding and collectivity . Communism and national socialism are examples of such ideologies.

        Found you another book, this one may not smell of mildew It’s a bit younger.

        Good heavens. What’s going on in Indiana!

        • Indiana is completely embued with regional economic development partnerships that extend into ohio as well.

          Weltanschaung, which actually gets used regularly for what is desired via ed now, is such a reminder of Fichte isn’t it and his ed vision laid out in the book.

    • To WIOA and the planned economy so that K-12 education is all about the ‘needs’ of existing employers and ECAA with its psychological, behavioral manipulation emphasis, we have a White House summit today to make sure regional planning is occurring around infrastructure development.

      Build America Investment Act again makes it feel like we have transported the Politburo function to the US and people, places, and economies must all be planned to ‘reduce inequities’. We could take a nice vacation from the role Of Equity in all these visions.

      Also federal funding of predevelopment for these proposed public-private partnerships simply cements this cronyistic fascist vision of the connected future at the state and local levels at the very same time we are making these massive changes in education and other areas. Of course connected businessmen will give sound bytes approving the shift in ed. Brookings also did a story today complaining that Advanced Industries were not “equally distributed’ among the states.

      The world is not naturally equitable. The fetish on Equity fostered from an early age makes constant interventionism by governments inevitable.


        Great call last night. Hope your voice recovers. Zhao is popular In the nw, especially with sos group. The testing inequalities argument is really ramping up. Mandating equity and changing school to be about developing non cognitive skills is not going to get these kids good jobs In the future .

        Word on wioa in the nw is still very quiet unless you go looking for it.

        • Actually have all my kids here for a few days so lots of errands to run. Back to the Learning to Cooperate, Cooperating to Learn book I mentioned in the call that came out of the 1982 Provo conference. They are admitting they are basing the research on the the techniques learned during a year at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. It was in a footnote and I am like “there it is again just like I mentioned when we spoke Sunday.”

          Also interestingly, the cooperative learning template grew out of a Child Devt Grant provided by our Deeper Learning Hewlett Foundation. Another pilot, involving NZ schools as well as those in San Jose and Watsonville, CA was funded by NIMH. Given all the references in ECAA to “mental health and wellbeing” it certainly sounds like a cooperative emphasis will be how that stautory language is meant to be interpreted.

        • This report on Personalized Learning that just came out from the well-connected Bellwether Partners makes not a single mention of ECAA.

          Yet what it advocates for it dovetails perfectly with the already existing language. It appears to be created to be an authority to be cited on why the language needs to be what it is. Notice the push into competency though and the need to clarify what the various student outcomes mean.

          Why that is precisely what I have been doing in these posts and conference calls. It is parents and taxpayers and perhaps some politicians being mislead on what these phrases mean and the true nature of the Growth or Progression or Achievement. Since my children want me to be a Mom first today, take a look at what this document shows as to how we can support “All Students to be Successful(PBIS)”. I alluded to it and especially the implications of Appendix A in last night’s call.

        • mirrors my thought as I read through the template for cooperative learning developed back in 1982.

          That it is Fostering Communities of Learners, High Tech High, Project-based Learning, Competency, and why Linda Darling-Hammond made the statement I quoted in the book about the Common Core being primarily social and emotional learning.

          I think I have said that the Lumina convening hyped PBL as what was necessary for the future in education. Also picks up Paul’s ‘critical thinking’ since there is lots of hype about role playing and taking each other’s perspectives. I guess we will keep the First Amendment on the book, but nullify it at a psychophysiological level in the classroom via the ECAA. What a world.

    • Thanks LL. I really do not the citing of the UCLA Civil Rights Project. That’s the place with the Ella Baker mural that now has Gary Orfield on staff having moved from Harvard. Everytime I read the original cooperative learning/prosocial behavior models that became PBIS I kept thinking of the Equity in Discipline push and it’s all oevr that site.

      It’s also where Jeannie Oakes was it before heading to the Ford Foundation’s ed work in 2009. Remember when she laid out Participatory Social Inquiry and how well that fits with this cooperative learning instead of actual knowledge model?

      Also shows the ties to deeper learning which function as another name for “higher order thinking skills and understanding” as in ECAA.

      • Yes. Although it makes more sense now. Did you notice the new school incubation ties to high tech high?
        WA Is now fully in unison with bats and the hagopian crowd. It was felt they would not achieve goals if not aligned. I once had quite the discussion with one that came down to admission of social change agent as the goal. That area has now largely moved on to anti testing being with the black lives matter movement.

        • I personally adored the confession from Riordan that High Tech High grew out of the New Urban High School Project. I just read that 1998 paper and it truly makes it all fit. (Kids have run out to see Age of Ultron). Love the confession that PBL is necessary to avoid “programmatic discrimination against the urban poor”.

          Late in the paper there’s a graphic and I noticed at bottom a mention of “common core learning goals”. Ding. Ding. Ding. No definition on that page but the previous one cites “SCANS or other common core standards.”

          Nice confession and fits well with WIOA now that I have read that State Plan Playbook. I think it is happy hour time while I cook a dinner for post-movie.

    • Thanks. First one in years all my kids are here. I caught that Conley confession when it came out and turned it into a post explaining what his view of College Ready really entailed and how it tied in with Paul Ehrlich’s MAHB–Millenium Assessment of Human Behavior work globally.

      The title comes from an Ehrlich quote. It’s always important to remember our Axemaker Mind metaphor comes in part from Ehrlich’s confessed desire in the late 80s to use education to create new kinds of Arational minds. Secondly, Ehrlich’s colleague, John Holdren, works at the White House and the League of Innovative Schools ultimately reports to his office along with other K-12 federal initiatives. Holdren is in a position in other words to guide K-12 curriculum and practices towards the outcomes Ehrlich wanted.

      To me the crucial Conley book is his graphic Roadmap to Restructuring book.

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