Avenue for Achieving the Broader Social Vision of Equity, Full Participation and Collective Contribution

On December 19, 1969 Time magazine did a special issue in preparation of the upcoming new decade. In an article called “The Next Decade: A Search for Goals” Time began to set the framework for a hoped-for “profound change” in people’s way of thinking and acting. Here’s the aspect that is important to anyone, like a David Christian with his Big History or Paul Ehrlich with his catastrophe hype, who hopes for a conscious cultural evolution. By basically using education to remove the imagination ignition power of a store of facts coupled to reason. Here’s Time in 1969:

“The veneration of rationality was the special myth of modern man. The worldview created by the enthronement of reason included a universal belief in individualism and competition; now that myth is dying. Faith in science and technology has given way to fear of their consequences.”

Author Ayn Rand looked at such passages and the student riots of the 60s and what she saw in California’s universities and she remembered the deliberate Bolshevik assault on cultural traditions in her home country of Russia in the 1920s. Like me, she wrote to try to alert others of the urgency of what she saw and read. In 1970 she published an essay “The Left: Old and New” where she wrote this astute observation that is even more under assault today. Let’s listen to her informed voice because we will need these insights:

“reason leads to (and is the foundation of) individualism and competition, i.e., capitalism. Capitalism’s enemies know it. Its alleged friends are still twisting themselves into double-jointed pretzels in the struggle to evade that knowledge.

Let us also remind you that reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses–i.e., that reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge–and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction of the facts of reality.”

Handy, huh, if you are trying to use potential climate catastrophes to shift people globally into a Mindset to be Governed as we have also recently talked about? I have written before that James Burke’s book The Axemaker’s Gift made it clear that the assaults on how to teach reading and math that set off the so-called wars were really about diminishing the power of those abilities to nurture reason. To ignite an individual’s Axemaker Mind. That remains the goal now decades later in education reforms. That Bayard Rustin essay from the last post was not something that could be quoted by the mainstream press without jeopardizing the social, political, and economic goals themselves. Most of us are simply not going to be still or lay down if we know we and the traditions that created unprecedented overall national success and global prosperity are being attacked. So education becomes the means and the individual mind the target of an invisible, taxpayer-funded attack.

The MacArthur Foundation’s January 2013 report is simply the latest push to fulfill Bayard Rustin’s dream   http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/ConnectedLearning_report.pdf except with the treasure chest of untaxed gains from past innovative breakthroughs. Waiting I suppose to be called on by US Presidents frustrated that they are not getting their way with Congress on Climate Change legislation. ” I will call on philanthropies and college presidents” was in this week’s speech. And, oh, will they ever listen. Hard to find any group coordinating so actively to set in motion revolutionary transformations.

Connected Learning is all about using education as an avenue to a “broader reform and equity agenda” that will “serve the interests and needs of non-dominant young people and their communities.” And if all the report’s angry references to what “privileged families” do with their own children was not a dead giveaway on where this is all going, the report early on says it uses the term non-dominant (which it bolds for emphasis like these other terms) “instead of the more common descriptors of minority, diverse, or of color, as non-dominant explicitly calls attention to issues of power and power relations than do traditional terms to describe members of differing cultural groups.”

OK, well, we have known for a while, haven’t we, that the Common Core and 21st Century Skills were just a PR gambit in a much broader, hidden struggle? And I would agree. Education reform really is about power and intentions over future power relations. As in the public sector and its connected cronies want to call the shots in the future globally and have too few of us to matter in a position to object. So in part 1 to Connected Learning, MacArthur cites quotes from the heads of two other foundations, Spencer and Russell Sage, known for funding behavioral science research. That’s us folks and we behave more like the models if schools and the universities snuff out the Axemaker Minds of students and substitute politically useful concepts and ideas to be the guiding lenses of future behavior. Brought to us by people who prove in Part 1 they have no understanding of the economy because they don’t have to. The paychecks roll in regardless of knowledge. Fidelity and fealty to theory is all that matters now in too many places surrounding education.

Part 2’s lead-in cannot even get the name of John Dewey’s 1916 book right but this is all brought to us by foundations where the heart is pure, the intentions are noble, and the treasure chest is vast. Who cares then if the report is careless on facts or regularly uses the terms “our emerging hypothesis” or “we posit” in discussing what they plan to impose and set in motion. On students. In schools. And the rest of us given these express aspirations to remake society and gain a new economy. Car sharing and bike sharing and non-proprietary forms of business to get a more participatory economic future? Really?

Connected learning then is defined “by a set of values, an orientation to social change and a philosophy of learning.” Isn’t it good to know they are partnering with the federal DoEd on all this?   http://reimaginingeducation.org/speakers/ Connected learning is explicitly about achieving “progressive and equity-centered reform efforts in school and policy areas.” As Rustin and Harry Boyte noted this is about marching through and changing far more than schools and universities. All the social institutions are targeted. But it starts this time with all the new media and digital and computer gadgets. “Today’s technologies offer us the ability to pursue these progressive goals in new ways through purposeful integration of tools for social connection, creation, and linking the classroom, community and home.”

Connected learning “takes a networked approach to social change that aligns with our ecological perspective.” I will stop the quote for a moment to tell you the previous page absolutely referenced our old friend Urie Bronfenbrenner by name which means in comes his Ecological Systems Theory “metaphor” that classroom teachers and students never get told is just a metaphor. And long time readers know this also brings in Soviet psychologist Leontiev’s plans on how to conduct a behavioral and social change experiment in the West. As I say, fiction writers have nothing on education and political schemers in the ongoing struggle over power. Quickly the report disdains the individual unless he or she is contributing to the officially-endorsed vision of the common good and wants to put the emphasis on collective and societal goals. It sees digital and blended learning as means to achieve broader social, cultural, and economic visions.

And the second part of the quote I interrupted tells us again how offshoots like Agenda 21 and Clean Energy and Green Technology are in fact related through the broader overall social vision of change. “We believe that systemic shift requires linked efforts across different sites of learning, and that our best hope for educational change lies in connecting like-minded reform efforts.” It looks conspiratorial because it is intentionally coordinated. Especially through the foundations and federal agencies funding all these “like-minded” efforts at overall transformation.

All the Gaming posts I have written and GlassLab as assessments in the future come in as Institute of Play and its Quest to Learn school are one of the exemplary case studies. Those links and the Urie ones are easy to locate if you have not seen them via the tags. I am going to close with a link to an old post that readers of the report are not likely to recognize as related. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/we-are-at-the-historical-stage-for-the-emergence-of-one-particular-new-kind-of-person/

Do you remember that shocking James Paul Gee quote of the future aspiration that “There are no discrete individuals. Only ensembles of skills stored in a person, assembled for a particular project, to be reassembled for other projects, and shared with others within ‘communities of practice?”

The report’s Acknowledgments page thanks network advisor James Paul Gee for his thoughtful reviews and comments.

Not just a “networked” vision then but one with chilling implications that have been put to paper now and in the past once we know where to look.

9 thoughts on “Avenue for Achieving the Broader Social Vision of Equity, Full Participation and Collective Contribution

  1. “…non-proprietary forms of business…”

    * Forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture
    * Cultural Revolution
    * Great Leap Forward
    * Killing Fields

    They really are this stupid, aren’t they…

    • Well these reports are public but also need to know. Since I know the big picture and the feeding tributaries I monitor a lot of communication.

      It is quite graphic. The push in ed is about credentials. Genuine knowledge that can tell when it is being lied to or when an assertion is false apparently never entered into the discussion.

      It’s why a key part of this has been the attempt to “defer to us because we are the professionals.” This theory with no grounding in actual research which is what always comes out is NOT how real professions work. As you know. The point is not that I have a law degree. There’s a reason only mediocre lawyers use Esq. after their names on their cards.

  2. http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/ConnectedLearning_report.pdf

    This essay is perhaps the most virulently anti-individualist writing I’ve read in years. I’m tempted to label it a screed on the basis of the degree to which it drips with hostility to the individual, to the individual doing anything by himself, alone, outside the bounds of a collective social environment, to free market economics (euphemistically labeled “neo-liberalism”), competition, and, quite tellingly, to the fact that different people succeed to different degrees and at different levels of capability.

    The report is very interesting in that it continuously poses the question of “equity” in education and economic performance as an all or nothing proposition, in which either the “privileged” grab everything in sight or all share in society’s bounty.

    “What would it mean to consider an educational agenda that includes more flexible, informal, diverse, and interest-driven learning environments? Can we do this in a way that elevates all youth rather than serving the privileged minority?”

    That’s the choice: all youth are elevated OR the children of the 1% are. Just think of “Metropolis” transferred to discussion of educational policy.

    And, of course, it really isn’t “education” (becoming an educated, knowledgeable, critically thinking member of a free society governed by the consent of those governed) that’s at issue here, but, as always, “equality.”

    “Without this focus on equity and collective outcomes, any educational approach or technical capacity risks becoming yet another way to reinforce the advantage that privileged individuals already have”

    Now, we don’t EVER want to reinforce the advantage certain very smart axmakers might have as over against, say, the high school drop-out Louis and his budding (he hopes) career as a Hip-Hop artist. The worst thing we can ever do educationally is to encourage the brightest in certain areas to pursue their advantage. After all, that would be helping them to succeed, and we just can’t have that, can we, because…well, because that’s not fair to the other children who don’t have those aptitudes or capacities (or who don’t study, read, do their homework, and would rather watch the Kardashians and play video games then look up at the stars at night in a quiet, profound state of awe and wonder), and if its not fair then it will shatter their self-esteem, and make them feel bad, and they won’t make as much money as the other kids who studied hard and were encouraged by the adults around them to succeed, and we can’t have that either because that’s unfair too and no one should have any more money than anyone else because that makes the people with less money feel bad about themselves and shatters their self esteem and then they become criminals and do anti-social things as a cry for help in an unfair, inequitable world, and…

    Well, that’s the Oprahfied version of it.

    Oh, and by the way, its American, bourgeoisie middle class values and attitudes that are the root of the failure of many young, black and Latino kids from low income families and who have absorbed the thug “hip-hop” underclass culture surrounding them, not they themselves. It is that American education has not accommodated itself to the “linguistic practices,” “distinct learning styles,” and “modes of self-presentation” of certain sub-cultural groups that has continued to promote school failure among those groups. Culture, values, attitudes, has nothing to do with it:

    “In some instances what appears to be an opposition to academic achievement among African American and Latino students is, in fact, an opposition to the institutional authority and punitive practices that devalue their linguistic practices, distinct learning styles, and modes of self-presentation while also subjecting them to harsher in-school discipline.”

    What’s ironic is that just above this statement, in which inner city black and Hispanic underclass culture are singled out as a primary component of educational failure, just above we are told:

    “In recent years, scholars have criticized approaches that focus too much on the social and cultural deficiencies of non-dominant students as a way of explaining the achievement gap. For example,O’Connor, Horvat, and Lewis (2006) argue that placing responsibility on the culture or peer dynamics of African American and Latino youth ignores the structure of schools and their lack of curricular innovation.”

    In other words, inner city black underclass culture has little to do with it, but then, again, it has everything to do with it; its a clash of culturres by the author’s own admission ( “an opposition to the institutional authority and punitive practices that devalue their linguistic practices, distinct learning styles, and modes of self-presentation while also subjecting them to harsher in-school discipline.”) Or, in other words, artifacts of their culture.

    Wow. Just wow. If this stuff is really set in concrete and is fully hard-wired into American pedagogy, then American K-12 is doomed. I have no idea what it would take to root this out, or if such is even thinkable at this point.

    • Loran-it is hard-wired into the education doctorates and Ed Leadership masters so it pervades administrators and new principals. Veteran teachers less so unless they went to a John Goodlad affiliated school which is particularly a problem in SC or CO or Washington State.

      It permeates what the foundations are funding so yes this is what was coming at us like a freight train as the real Common Core change behavior emphasis. As you can see it does poorly in the sunlight. That report’s analysis of the economy is moronic which is why I talk about what makes economies work.

      I think the privileged are adults who don’t know much and are well paid because they are willing to lie to parents and taxpayers and push harmful practices on children. When I was General Counsel nobody begrudged me what I made because my knowledge and understanding made their jobs easier and them look better. They knew I had their back and was willing to be the bad guy if needed.

      Deciding you are not going to pay more for people who know useful things that make lives easier truly is a case of consuming seed corn. Famine is more visible than mind arson but both are lethal.

      That report makes me sad but MacArthur has put at least $145 million into this. I have something extra special planned for Monday too that will have you ready to print up T-shirts and hand them out to district employees and principals unwilling to cease and desist once this comes into the sunlight. Now you see what I mean about open declarations of nefarious intent.

    • “(becoming an educated, knowledgeable, critically thinking member of a free society governed by the consent of those governed)”

      The other thing is that you have to constantly be taking evasive action from their corruptions of the language. “Critically thinking” no longer means “thinking” at all, because they’ve corrupted the meaning of “critical.” So that needs to be: (becoming an educated, knowledgeable, analytically thinking member of a free society governed by the consent of those governed)

  3. “They really are this stupid, aren’t they…” said cathyf.

    Well, look on page 14 of the MacArthur Foundation report I quoted above. You can go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, or you can quote Freire. Either way, one has just given away the game.

  4. Liberals, don’t even deal with them, it will take 10 to 20 years to educate a new generation. If this revolution is a success, the greenies will be suicidal and enraged when they find out they have been pawns in the elites game. They will be just sorting bodies in the killing fields and babysitting slaves. We can educate in the classical style and recover Western Civilization….if we regain local control education.

    I can’t wait for your book Robin, I am waiting to buy ten copies.

  5. The purpose of education should be to educate the individual to the level that has been reached by others before in relatively concrete areas and then present social concepts and thoughts as they are – conflicting ideas and consequences of certain types of thinking and behaviour. The overall purpose of an educational system should be to short circuit the experience process – to get the individual up to speed so they can think for themselves. If there were no educational system, babies would have to develop a system of verbal and written communications from scratch (good luck on any progress then ). If (as has been attempted by the new math in schools) every individual must develop a number system (to a base – decimal, hexadecimal, octal, binary etc.) discover negative numbers, discover zero, develop imaginary numbers etc. instead of learning from previous thinkers – then humans would never advance. All the equity and social vision thinking should be handled by a mix of parents, society, religion (I reluctantly added that one ), groups etc. etc. – and under the mantra of – these are ideas that guide society ( poorly in some cases – well in other) and some seem to work well (Capitalism ) but can have some detrimental aspects that need to be controlled – others not so well – Socialism – can be (and often easily is ) abused, and is somewhat contrary to human needs (to each according to his needs – from each according to their ability – conflicts in large measure with human nature – but even there – if you see someone in need (individual basis only) wouldn’t you give them a hand up – unless they then take everything you have. The education system should keep out of these equity and social vision ideas unless they simply present them as choices that have consequences – and many of these consequences have never been explored much less experienced.

    • Well said Peter.

      I feel like my job is to pull what is hidden and going into effect into the public domain for discussion and to add in the likely consequences from studying comparable theories and actions in the past.

      By and large most of the people pushing this have no background for imagining what the consequences of gutting this will be. Welcome to our conversation.

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