More than Men in White Sheets: Prioritizing the Power of Imagination Because Antiracism Demands Equitable, Just Systems

This post follows up my previous post by quoting from the sources cited in the various Bibliographies. They make the aims of Critical Race Theory under its various euphemisms utterly explicit. In fact, the confessions are so graphic that EVERY use of italics in this post is original to the source. Let’s start with Kevin Kumashiro’s Spring 2000 “Toward a Theory of Anti-Oppressive Education” published by the same AERA that elected Bill Ayers to a leadership position. You will see why student-centered learning can be so psychologically dangerous and why a social-emotional learning focus is always integral to the desired new form of consciousness.

Students must always look beyond what is known; they must ask, ‘what is not said?’ and then go to places that have, until now, been foreclosed. Of course, such a process is antithetical to the ways we traditionally think about teaching and learning…Teaching, in other words, like learning, cannot be about repetition and affirmation of either the teacher’s or the student’s knowledge, but must involve uncertainty, difference, and change. I should note here that the goal here is not merely any difference, since not all changes will be helpful. Rather, the goal is a change informed by these theories of anti-oppression, a change that works against oppression.

Got that? Not the old-fashioned transmission of knowledge–lectures and textbook vision–and what is being learned are THEORIES justifying the need for transformation beginning at the level of what the student thinks, feels, and wants. That would be the actual definition of what Excellence means in education as long time readers will recognize. It’s also why the quote at the beginning of the post title came from another cited article we will get to shortly published in May 2005 in Equity & Excellence in Education. Back to Kumashiro:

anti-oppressive education involves crisis…learning things that force one to re-learn or unlearn what one has previously learned cannot always be done rationally…learning about oppression and unlearning one’s worldview can be upsetting and paralyzing to students…by teaching students that the very ways in which we think and do things can be oppressive, teachers should expect their students to get upset. Consequently, educators need to create a space in their curriculum for students to work through crisis…teaching and learning really take place only through entering and working through crisis, since it is this process that moves a student to a different intellectual/emotional/political space. In noting that both teaching and psychoanalysis involve ‘liv[ing] through a crisis,’ [Felman] explains that they both ‘are called upon to be performative, and not just cognitive, insofar as they both strive to produce and to enable, change. Both…are interested not merely in new information, but, primarily, in the capacity of their recipients to transform themselves in function of the newness of the information.

When we erroneously make a discussion of CRT, or new equitable practices for learning in education, about mistaken facts in the 1619 Project or Action Civics as getting academic credit for attending protests, we miss the intentional, psychologically traumatizing, aims of these confessed practices and stated purposes for a new kind of pedagogy. If the cited authors state that “anti-oppressive education also involves self-reflexivity (and the change of the individual)”, we should take them at their word, even if most parents and taxpayers never read the sources I am citing here. If they say they want to alter students at an internalized, psychological level “significantly changing how they see themselves and who they are,” don’t think that disputes over whether CRT is taught in schools are about whether the history of slavery or Jim Crow laws can be discussed in class. That is utter deflection from what is being aimed at in the name of antiracism and anti-oppression.

The change this pedagogy will produce cannot, of course, be known beforehand. Its goal is not, think like this, but think differently (and not different in any way, but different as informed by these theories).

Think about that line and those italics next time you hear the cry of Misinformation to something that is provably true as we have been seeing so much in the coverage of CoVid in the last two years, or when someone argues for, or disputes, that Mass Formation Psychosis can be deliberately arranged by collaboration of educators and the media. It’s how Standards for Teaching and Learning in K-12 all over the globe actually and intentionally work. Its why UNESCO created them and the US helpfully apes them. Informed by these theories is a chilling phrase, especially to an article that concludes with “how we want students and society to change.” Sounds like an essential component of any Great Reset or Building Back Better to me. To fully understand why these shifts are essential, we have another cite as I mentioned above by Sheri Lyn Schmidt called “More Than Men in White Sheets: Seven Concepts Critical to the Teaching of Racism as System Inequality.”

Created as a framework for college students, the concepts guide what teachers are taught and made to believe so that “students move from viewing racism as individual bigotry to recognizing its complex nature as a systemic phenomenon that pervades every aspect of United States society.” Theories, then, that justify the supposed need to transform “our systems of education, justice, business, health care, and government.” Students need to be taught that

Racism is part of a system that is larger than individuals and operates with and without conscious support…To help make the concept [a theory] of institutional racism concrete for students, it is important to use statistics and clear factual examples of the current disparities found in a wide range of institutional settings..,it is very important to concentrate on current examples so that students can see that racism is still very much a part of every aspect of our institutions.

That was my bolding to highlight what is now known as Mass Formation Psychosis if the shared instilled belief is pernicious and Shared Meaning-Making if the beliefs and attitudes support a Collective Understanding on the need to shift to a Just, Inclusive Society. Either way, the technique is intentional, the same, and quite well understood as necessary for the desired internalized change at the level of each ‘citizen’ in a society. Schmidt even has a section on Internalized Racism that states “it is important for our students to understand how racism has become internalized within the human psyche” and refers to the phrase as “this psychologically-based concept” in case anyone still thinks that the CRT dispute is a battlefield of ideas, rather than the intended psychological bullseye it really targets.

Why? From the section on Historical Inequality, we have this explanation that clearly aims at what the Political Theorists call Social Reconstruction:

Understanding history is central to an ability to understand ourselves and the world in which we live. History is a valuable tool that social justice educators can and should use as a foundation upon which to construct the current realities of oppression…History can be studied as a way to understand the current situation of all racial groups…a historical review can help students see that oppressive circumstances can change through the concerted efforts of committed individuals…Centuries of ‘historical forgetting’ have taught them that the United States is a place where anyone who works hard can get ahead. Therefore, it is crucial to share with them a history that makes clear the ways that past events and policies have directly shaped the social reality of today.

If those quotes are not graphic enough, I was following up recently on a webinar for educators tied to the Roadmap for American Democracy civics/history initiative and how it intended to use the topic of Oppression in the classroom. It planned to push a concept called ‘co-processing’ which sounded like a new way of describing shared meaning-making and what theories must now be used to shape each student’s thinking. A little internet sleuthing pulled up a March 2019 OECD paper called “Imagination Unleashed: Democratizing the Knowledge Economy.” Recognizing one of the authors who has a tag here at ISC, Harvard prof Roberto Unger, its education vision fits with the above, but is not sold in terms of antiracism. Nevertheless, its needed Education vision (which used bolding instead of italics for emphasis) states:

We must equip citizens not only to participate in the economy and society but to transform it, through a lifelong education system that promotes cooperation and prioritises the power of the imagination…The knowledge economy, therefore, calls for education, both in youth and throughout life, that develops character, mindset, and non-cognitive as well as cognitive skills…as crucial as these immediate questions are, they also form part of a larger challenge: how to equip every student with the tools they need not only to flourish within their societies as they currently exist but to transform them for the better. Teachers and students must have the political, legal, and financial means to deal experimentally with the central tension in education under democracy: preparing people to flourish within present arrangements and assumptions while equipping them to defy those assumptions and arrangements.

Some of the four basic elements such a vision ‘demands’ of education are that “engagement at depth across disciplines, around themes or projects, counts for more than memorizing facts.” It can be viewed as a ‘dialectical approach to education’ that emphasizes “jumbling up disciplines and methods. It would aim to form a different mindset: one that refuses to treat radical doubt and intellectual experimentation as the prerogatives of genius and turns them instead into a common possession.” The same classroom function of that global vision then gets pitched in the US in another cited CRT paper from March 2005 published in Race Ethnicity and Education by Tara Yosso on “Whose Cultural Has Capital?”. So when your local school board, a legislator, or the media insists that CRT is not “taught in our schools,” be ready to recognize that its advocates write about it as reflecting a focus on ‘experiential knowledge’ and a refusal to make any student a ‘deficit thinker’ because of their lack of factual information.

Yosso stated and anti-racist educators cite her work in their Bibliographies that

I define CRT in education as a theoretical and analytical framework that challenges the ways race and racism impact educational structures, practices, and discourses. CRT is conceived as a social justice project that works toward the liberatory potential of schooling [Imagination Unleashed?]…CRT utilizes transdisciplinary approaches to link theory with practice, scholarship with teaching, and the academy with the community…CRT finds that racism is often well disguised in the rhetoric of shared ‘normative’ values and ‘neutral’ social scientific principles and practices.

So next time anyone is told “CRT isn’t taught to students in our schools”, turn that statement into its actual, openly declared purpose as laid out in this post. Are its tenets and practices USED on students in the classroom, whatever it is called? Is it their thinking and emotions being targeted for transformation? Are we prescribing Theories and Conceptual Understandings that they MUST use in evaluating their lived experiences and current situation? The advocates say quietly in publications not intended for us that all these things are components of CRT, whatever it calls itself and whatever its pitched rationale. If we investigate by function instead of name, we can still recognize what we are dealing with.

And remember that it ALWAYS aims at social, economic, and political change at an institutional level. The individual student and their psyche is merely the conduit for mass, almost invisible, change.

Tickling the Brain to Invisibly Assert Control: Guard Rails and Common Rules, Student, Then Citizen

When I laid out the authoritarianism from the inside-out definition of the Chinese term–Tianxia in the last post, regular ISC readers may have seen the reference to a “common choice” and remembered that UNESCO has made “decision-making” a main focus of its education efforts globally. Likewise, last week UNESCO was one of the key sponsors of this event https://www.aiathens.org/ , where one of the highly influential speakers https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210430005340/en/Bruce-Simpson-Former-McKinsey-Company-Senior-Partner-Hired-as-CEO-of-the-Stephen-A.-Schwarzman-Foundation-Co-CEO-of-Schwarzman-Philanthropies made a reference to the 3 Rs no longer being enough. He envisioned “tinkering with our brains” so that “Aristotle and Ethics” could be integrated into a focus on gaining knowledge via education.

It’s Tranzi OBE (covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy) all over again but now with access to Digital Technology and Immersive Learning Experiences tied to learning standards grounded at the neurological, intrapersonal level too few are aware of. It is how the Sustainability Agenda is actually to be implemented as an article in AI and Ethics called “Conceptual and normative approaches to AI governance for a global digital ecosystem supportive of the UN SDGs” laid out. It seeks to get to people at the level of “what people are able to do and to be” and have “government, private sector and others coming together to promote guard rails and common rails” so that people will develop “a common purpose” and “shared principles and values”. See why I brought the term Tianxia to our attention? We all see these same aims when Portraits of a Graduate or Learner Profiles lay out creating a common North Star to guide student’s actions.

Anyone who has read CtD and reads ISC understands what is really going on in education–K-12 or higher ed–but I was quite struck by two different quotes recently where the writers were responding to the Pandemic hype and what governments have mystifyingly decided they now can and MUST do, See what I mean? From this essay https://dailysceptic.org/reaping-the-whirlwind/ from December 7th:

…In each case, we find the same conclusion that to successfully govern complex, massified modern societies is not to thrash citizens to within an inch of their lives (the state riskily showing its hand), but, rather, to mould and shape those citizens into people who won’t ever need to be thrashed (the state remaining safely in the shadows).

Doesn’t that perceptive quote get at the aim I had in mind when I created the Invisible Serf’s Collar metaphor for what is really going on in education? The author may not be aware of the global education learning standards and competency frameworks but he grasps that their essence is government mandated action to ” help inculcate certain values, behaviours, habits, mores and beliefs within the hearts and minds of Italian citizens.” And not just Italy we can all add in unison. We also have the insightful essay–“The Death of Europe” cited to here https://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2021/12/13/2021-the-year-freedom-died/ that aptly recognized that:

we are living through a chilling overhaul of the entire relationship between the state and the individual, with the state empowered to such an extraordinary degree that it can now instruct its citizens on what to inject into their bodies, and the individual so politically emaciated, so denuded of rights, that he no longer enjoys sovereignty over himself, over that tiny part of the world that is his body and mind.

I think that is precisely right, but my point is that required vaccinations to avoid punitive measures and learning standards aimed at controlling hands, heart, and minds to create Habits that guide at an unconscious level are part of the same aim. The idea that Tianxia is an acceptable aim of governments in the 21st century. The belief that neurological synapses can be tinkered with to fit collective normative aims no one asked us to consent to. It all comes out of the assertions we are seeing all over the world that Wellbeing is THE Goal of Government in the 21st Century. That means there are no barriers to regulation, even if the realms to be dictated and controlled are far more out of sight than Lockdowns and required vaccinations.

That “Death of Europe” essay may have helpfully gone back to English philosopher John Locke’s assertion in 1689 that “even if a man ‘neglect the care of his soul’ or ‘neglect the care of his health,’ still the authorities have no right to interfere with him. No man can be forced to be healthful'”. Well, that kind of vision may have stoked the Glorious Revolution Locke had just lived through, and ultimately the American Revolution, but it is certainly in the way of all these 21st Century plans for us that require a common purpose, values, principles, and common mentally and emotionally tools grounded habits of “sensemaking”. That aim gets us back to the real meaning of the Social Credit System being pushed by the Chinese beyond its geographic boundaries once all these education initiatives and Pandemic remedies are better understood.

An Essay by Braden R. Allenby called “World Wide Weird: Rise of the Cognitive Ecosystem” published in Issues in Science and Technology lays out just how crucial control over cognition is for all these plans for us. As the article subtitle tells us that “social media, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the data economy are coming together in a way that transcends how humans understand and control our world”. Yes, that’s the aim, which is why I write. Quoting usefully, we should never forget what Allenby owned up to here:

As historical examples suggest, the emergence of the cognitive ecosystem has the power to transcend and radically reshape everything from individual psychologies to institutions to societies and geopolitics, and indeed the world.

That’s the real purpose of Critical Race Theory under its various aims or Intersectionality to give two current examples. To change how this world is seen and motivate beliefs about what must be done to transform it. Same reason learning standards now make Knowledge about Concepts that then must be tied to current real world examples illustrating Global Challenges. Interestingly, Allenby then pivoted to the Soviet Union in the 1970s as his illustrative example and its desire for what it called ‘reflexive control’ over people who had no idea they were being programmed.

To understand what this looks like today, and how it differs from the past, remember an example from the Cold War. During the 1970s, the Soviet Union developed a theory of ‘reflexive control,’ which involved structuring narratives and disinformation campaigns causing people, such as activists in the United States, to act in ways they would believe were voluntary, but in fact were predetermined by the Soviets to benefit their country’s interests, Such a strategy, while seductive, proved difficult to implement given the technological and geopolitical environment of the time.

Well, it’s no longer difficult to implement, which is why I included the Marc Tucker interview link in with the last post. It’s why it matters that the IEEE discussed here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/stealthily-weaving-cybernetic-citizenship-at-the-requisite-neural-level-in-the-name-of-universal-well-being/ was a major sponsor of that AI Athens Conference. Not only have they incorporated normative goals into their standards for educational digital platforms, but the US entity–NIST–that gave the Chugach School District in Alaska its innovation award https://www.nist.gov/image-19594 for its Competency-Based education learning standards, had a speaker at the conference–Elham Tabassi– who spoke about how closely NIST works with IEEE and ISO–another global standards setting organization. Guard Rails and Common Rules–that’s what standards are, even when what they target is the human mind, emotions, or the soul itself.

Allenby’s second case study was China’s social credit system and he recognized that digital technology and the “rise of the cognitive ecosystem” now allow the targeting of “the individual citizen” with “a degree of granularity”, which was previously impractical, if not impossible. Much like the quote above that recognized a subtler shift away from directly “thrashing” citizens, the Social Credit System which can use “data regarding many aspects of an individual’s private and public behavior” [now do vaccine passports make more sense regardless of the efficacy of the vaccine?] evaluates “how good a citizen that person is”. Do that exhibit characteristics and behaviors showing they adhere to the Common Rules and stay within the desired Guard Rails? Digital technology, the common learning experiences it can easily provide, and the tremendous data it produces when tied to standards offers “For the first time, this powerfully ubiquitous tool offers governments the ability to design social and cultural stability with reasonable efficiency and cost.”

It’s supposedly a way around “traditional authoritarianism” being implemented that represents a “new technological reality that the Chinese are using well, and the Americans and the West, so far, are not.” It may be true that the Chinese are successfully targeting the cognitive, social, and emotional realms of their citizens, but the truth is the West, and especially the US, are trying to keep up. I think it’s why we have had so much organized deceit around the Common Core learning standards and what competency-based education really is. I think it’s why we have the overlap laid out here between the targets being aimed at in the name of the Pandemic or Structural Racism and what must be transformed in the name of a new kind of education to be grounded and shrouded by the term Equity. It must be Equitable because it aims at All Hearts, Hands, Minds, and Souls.

The banner being raised and the rationale being offered change depending on the audience. The targets never do. Well, maybe, the lexicon of vocabulary does, but it’s why we keep track of the targets by the function of the tools used. Learning Standards being a misunderstood, global favorite.

Ubiquitous being one of my favorite words. Good to be able to spot Ubiquity, even when it utilizes a variety of words to obscure its continual presence.

See you in 2022.

Tianxia Aligned to Thinking of the Person as a Platform: Physical, Psychological, and Social

Tianxia is a phrase translated from Chinese aspirations that caught my eye because it fits so well not only with what I see being mandated via K-12 learning standards all over the world, but also with False Narratives and Accurate, but Irrelevant, Narratives that seem to be used to distract parents from the true focus of changes they might rebel against. Personally, I think parents would be really outraged by a politician or principal openly admitting that they seek to control each student’s ‘cognitive system’ so they can control “what they can do or be” in the future. That’s far worse than simply hyping White Privilege or Gender as a Social Construct. Both those examples that now rightfully have many parents in an uproar are simply components of larger, more invasive aims that we need to talk about.

The Chinese idea of Tianxia, like other aspirational terms we have illustrated here at ISC like Upravleniye or Dirigisme, become useful shorthands that allow us to know it when we see it because we now have a concept that illustrates an effect or plan that would otherwise make no sense. Tianxia struck me as akin to an invisible and unconscious Mental Habit of Mind being fostered that guides, and even controls, future decision-making, perception, motivation, and likely behaviors since it is defined as “a common choice made by all peoples in the world, or a universal agreement in the ‘hearts’ of all people.” In fact, after I first outlined this post, I came across this https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/commission-on-information-disorder-final-report/ released this week. Those recommendations simply reinforced my sense from reading materials and reports being pushed all over the globe that there was a common effort to control what must be thought, believed, and valued.

That Aspen Commission insisted such common beliefs must be held, mentally and emotionally, “at all levels of American society, paving the way for sincere collective progress.” That emphasis on collectivism  fits with the Chinese emphasis, as would Aspen’s insistence that We the People now begin to build “trust across division, which is a precondition for societal cohesion.” Collective Progress and Cohesion in some kind of alliterative motto then rely on Control over each Individual’s Cognitive System. There’s a pattern here! I know there are skeptics reading this that think I am only inferring that aim because of my analysis in my book Credentialed to Destroy that this is how Competency-Based Education grounded in Learning Standards like the Common Core actually work, but like a seasonal Holiday Ronco commercial from my childhood: “Wait! There’s more!”

Back in early October the National Science Foundation in the US, which has done so much to finance the now no longer mysterious ‘constructivism’ in reading, math, and science because it turns out teaching the actual subject matter is passe, released its “Next Generation Earth Systems Science” vision urging a shift in emphasis from the physical sciences primarily to including the social sciences. Things begin to make far more sense when we remember that Pedagogy and Psychology are Social Sciences. When they are then rounded in Neuroscience we suddenly have an excellent tool for the classroom to combine the physical sciences, with social sciences’ normative aims as to what society can become. All it supposedly takes is for the typical student, and then citizen, to have the desired values, attitudes, and beliefs instilled in them via prescribed learning experiences.

The always useful Bibliography to that Initiative’s paper linked a 2013 article from Systems Research and Behavioral Science called “Understanding Systems Science: A Visual and Integrative Approach” that included just such an explicit aim. It also helpfully provided a graphic illustrating “The Function of Systems Science in the Field of Sciences.”  Cognitive Systems were one of 5 listed Areas of the Phenomenological Sciences–Physical, Living, Social, and Technological Systems are the others–that will need to be controlled in the 21st Century. This will allow for all 5 systems to then feed into a desired “Systems Design” vision where collective decision-making, problem solving, and design can all be guided from afar to yield the needed Values and Aesthetics. See how the aims of Tianxia fit?

It fits in even better once we become aware of a paper by a Chinese professor from Lanzhou University published in the International Journal of Education, Learning and Development in mid-September called “The Construction of a Learning Field Based on Lewin’s Equation for Behavior”. It calls for thinking of each person as a platform with the targeted human elements listed as the “physical, psychological, and social.” Redefined as competencies in education, those aims would correspond to the Cognitive, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal that were the topic of a 2014 White House conference and now are tied to mandated Whole Child learning standards. Without outlining that paper fully at this point, it also aims to hack the cognitive system to rearrange its synapses in order to create ‘fitness’ “for the modern, interconnected world.” Now we have a vision of learning that seeks to “redesign and reconstruct [each student’s] inner psychological structure.”

We have comparable aims in the US, but they tend to get obscured as Civic Education initiatives or Personalized, student-centered learning. Such nice euphemisms for aims that function just like Tianxia and the Human Being as a Redesignable Platform to fit new political and normative aims. Rather than summarize any of these papers with a common aim in this post as I wade back into writing, let me call attention to one more influential recent paper with global aspirations. https://ncee.org/quick-read/rethinking-education-systems-for-tomorrow-a-conversation-with-marc-tucker/ is from the group that originated the first set of Learning Standards back in the 90s . Tucker also wants to make sure that students all “develop the social and emotional attributes to function effectively in relation to others” which rather fits with all this emphasis now on working together as a collective, as does the “need to understand and develop empathy for others near and far who may be very different from them.”

Beyond that emphasis on the psychological and social attributes, we get another Cognitive hack of students being trained to use prescribed abstract concepts as they “draw on that deep understanding of multiple disciplines to analyze the enormous challenges society now faces” and draw also on the cognitive “ability to interweave the study of theory and concepts with the constant application of theory to real-world problems great and small.” Those aims are what makes a school, district, or country Top Performing in the 21st Century, even though even a cursory knowledge of history would be a tip-off that applying theories of what might be is a poor model for redesigning what already exists. That, of course, would be what Tucker’s paper decries as “the accumulation of facts and rehearsed procedures” instead of the sought, far more flexible to upending the social status quo: “deep understanding of core concepts and the structure of knowledge.”

Nobody then has the pesky facts to notice an Inapt Metaphor being used to hack the Cognitive System. In the next post we will cover all these papers with a common, global, and internalized aim for students as “adaptive agents” who will practice experiences to “take the [conceptual} frameworks they had learned to understand in one part of the world and use them to gain a new and more creative perspective on another part of the world.” There’s a reason such Higher Order Thinking Skills are considered a prerequisite to envisioning a new society, economy, culture, and even a new ethos for humanity itself.

It all goes back to hacking the Cognitive System and grounding its perceptions and interpretations in emotion and useful transformative images. All these game plans and more plan to take us to a common destination. Shouldn’t we all know the Itinerary before inadvertently climbing aboard? Especially since it is so detailed if we know where to look?

Here we go again here at ISC.

Enshrining a Neural Expansive Universe of Obligation via Collective Cognition and Calling It Good Citizenship

Consider this post to be the mother of all syntheses from this past year of confessional online webinars coupled to insights that go back to the research from my more prescient than ever book Credentialed to Destroy. At one point I even considered using the post title “Most Apt Analogy Ever!” to describe just how well the metaphor of this blog that there is a quietly imposed, via education, ‘serfs collar’ of owed obedience planned for each of us all over this globe in the 21st century. Education and communications generally, including the media and public policy think tanks, are a big part of this coordinated effort. I have known that for years, but recently the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US (that is so involved with the absurd response to COVID in the US) put much of what I have found into perspective. https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/118/27/e2025764118.full.pdf explains the pandemic, learning standards in education, climate change hype, and allegations of ‘structural racism’ and inequality generally are all tools for “Stewardship of Global Collective Behavior”.

Inferring is one thing, but that’s quite the admission, isn’t it? Now the term–Expansive Universe of Obligation–is not in that paper. It comes from a civics curricula Facing History and Ourselves has created for K-12 teachers and students on the Holocaust and Human Behavior, but I recognized it functioning the same as what already has a tag on this blog–Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory. We also covered it years ago as being part of the Hong Kong Citizenship K-12 Curriculum imposed by the Chinese Communist Party. I guess the new phrase gets the function without any notoriety, but in two separate webinars this summer on the new ‘history/civics’ Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy (EAD) I heard the presenters hype creating a belief in the students that they have a responsibility to enact what was laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That this is what Democracy entitles all people to in the 21st century.

I even clarified through the CHAT function that students were to be taught that Democracy now means an “Expansive Universe of Obligation coupled to an Economic Justice Vision”. The speaker, who works for the Illinois Holocaust Museum, thought that was a lovely, succinct new definition of what is intended. So when the White Paper linked to above mentions that ” A consolidated transdisciplinary approach to understanding and managing human collective behavior will be a monumental challenge, yet it is a necessary one” and that “decisions that impact the structure of society should not be guided by voices of individual shareholders but instead by values [functions like Principles or Ideals from previous post] such as non-maleficence, benevolence, autonomy, and justice,” they mean that they will create “ethical standards” to be imposed via a new vision of education globally that will impose “a globally held normative framework for deciding what constitutes healthy societies or desirable socio-technical interactions.”

As that paper detailed, this stewardship process has to intervene at a personalized level that gets at beliefs as to ‘perceived reality,’ in order to inculcate desired ‘feedback loops’ to address ‘injustice and inequality.’ It must also get at ‘individual motivations’ and provide new ‘ethics’ for future behavior. All of that fits both with how personalized learning in a Competency-Based Framework really work, especially when coupled to a digital environment delivering some of the desired experiences. None of this is an accident, since I recognized one of the institutions–the Santa Fe Institute–from both the proclaimed (ny name, not function) Marxist aspirations for the US of some of its fellows using education, as well as Santa Fe’s Artificial Societies research. The first matters because Samuel Bowles has now moved on to selling his vision in terms of “Good Citizenship’ in his 2016 The Moral Economy: Why Good Incentives Are No Substitute for Good Citizens. Add the word ‘Citizen’ to our list of hijacked Abstract terms to be wary of.

The second matters because David A. Lane’s “Artificial Worlds and Economics” paper from Santa Fe, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation [both heavily involved with learning standards and pushing Constructivism in education], laid out a new theory of learning that it contrasted as follows:

In the rationalistic view [the old transmission of knowledge/textbook/lecture approach], the world is composed of definite objects, properties and relations, and ‘learning’ is the process whereby an agent forms a mental model of the world that correctly describes these features. Learning in classifier systems is acquiring circumstance-specific behavioral propensities that function together to produce reward. That is, the agent is learning how to act in the world, rather than how to describe it.

Bingo!! Best explanation I have read for Constructivism in subject-disciplines, competency-based education, and all the hyping now about Conceptual Frameworks to trigger ‘Higher Order Thinking Skills’ in all students. Those HOTS skills have to be assessed now at least annually in the US to keep track of each student’s needed ‘internal states’ and the mental ‘classifier system’ the student is using.

A learning-based theory directly models the transformation from information-stream to actions.That is, all the mechanisms that process the information stream on the basis of which the agent is assumed to act are handled internally to the theory. In principle, agents in such a theory could learn to ‘choose’–but the theory would be responsible for describing how the agents identify situations in which they regard choice as appropriate, how they organize what they perceive about the environment into the ingredients of a problem of choice, and how they develop the methodology that they apply when they go about the act of choosing.

I guess we could define Misinformation then as factual information that incompatible with the Theories needed for this invisible stewardship? Remember when I explained that UNESCO wanted to make education globally about getting at decision-making processes and how the Rockefeller Foundation in 2014 began to focus on getting at ‘anticipatory assumptions’ students were using? The above quote is saying the same thing. These are all a means to get at:

the internal states…agents [use] to progressively ‘model’ their world: that is, to generate broad categories that describe the world, to develop plausible hypotheses about the relationships between these categories…and to refine these categories and hypotheses on the basis of increasing experience.

See now why Knowledge has become about Concepts, Principles, and other abstractions with a supplied illustration to fit a Narrative instead of a body of facts as in the past? In late July the Institute for New Economic Thinking put out “The One-Earth Balance Sheet” explicitly stating that “a new collective mental map is needed” because “siloed thinking created many of our problems with inequality, injustice and planetary damage.”  Now all the Misinformation hype makes more sense. We must not have Information circulating that disagrees with this desired new Collective Mental Map. It’s also why UNESCO is pushing the idea now of an Infodemic that is as dangerous to its plans as the Pandemic. https://gemreportunesco.wordpress.com/2021/08/16/reflections-on-the-covid-19-second-wave-in-india/ Education now is needed to create desired ‘internal states’ in students to “help create shared efforts for a common understanding of shared threats.”

Anyone in a back-to-school sudden hyping of Humanities and STEM should recall that the needed collective mental model calls “to evolve trans-disciplinary thinking that integrates the natural, social, biological sciences and arts by transcending disciplinary boundaries.” Now imagine those concepts for the Collective Mental Map coming from those who admit wanting “active management and guidance” of collective behavior using internalized mental maps and new values. I am fascinated to see so much fascination with “vaccine refusal” in a paper from people who want to ‘steward’ our behavior with no right to say no. Who want to create the Theories through which people “model the world’.

I want to close with a recent anecdote from my alma mater that it is calling the Deliberative Citizenship Initiative. It let me know about “our common humanity” and how the term Citizenship bolded just like that was NOT being used “as a narrow marker of legal status but as a source of identity we all share as human beings, a collective identity that complements our individual commitments and associations”. In other words, there is a vision being put out by educational institutions at all levels that each of us has an obligation to “transcend our existing positions as we work together to solve the deep challenges that face our society” and that this obligation is “the work of citizenship“. Italicized just like that.

If alumni of highly-ranked colleges and universities are getting these kinds of lectures unsolicited, just imagine what is occurring on campus with the young people. I mentioned FHAO above and the materials being used as part of the professional development webinars for the EAD Roadmap. This unit https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-holocaust-and-human-behavior was referenced in the webinar along with the question “What does learning about the choices people made during the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust teach us about the power and impact of our choices today?” Anyone not convinced this is not ultimately about getting at that internalized Classifier System within each student and the teachers as well should read this concluding Learning Goal that came up in connection with what is supposed to be ‘integrated history and civics’. This really is NOT about a body of knowledge being transmitted at all.

Make connections between universal themes related to democracy, citizenship, racism, and antisemitism that this history raises and the world they live in today. Understand their responsibilities as citizens of the world to make choices that help bring about a more human, just, and compassionate world.

Mappae Mundi, Psychological Governance, and 21st Century Citizenship Priming

Let’s start with a quote that will help us recognize the bullseye that needs to be manipulated by education reforms tied to social and political transformations. This blog and my earlier book laid out in depth that those transformations are the undisputed goal.

To acquire knowledge we need an apparatus of concepts to classify and organize our sensory experiences–the more so as the latter become, through all kinds of measuring equipment, elaborate extensions of those experiences…Beyond our immediate sensory experiences, with or without artificial extensions, we use inferences, hypotheses, speculations, conjectures and refutations as part of our genetic and acquired configuration…It may sound trivial but: you can only see what you can see. Yet even in the realm of sensory perceptions philosophical questions may arise about the relationship between those perceptions and the associated experiences, information and knowledge. There is always a lot of filtering and selection going on, followed by complex cognitive processes which add ‘meaning’ to the perceptions–or simply ignore them.

That’s what was being manipulated that gave rise to what were misleadingly termed the reading, math, and science ‘wars’–pretending the dispute was about how to properly teach a subject. As the book Mappae Mundi put it, “human beings are able to conceive new ideas, put these new ideas into practice and transmit their innovations that come after them”. That capacity, however, is not evenly distributed among human beings and is thus not equitable. Even more crucially though, those who possess that capacity, really do not fit well into a collective. Inventors of new ideas may not simply accept the transformational “myths, maps, and models” those with political power insist that they use.

the idea of myth as a narrative account intended to make sense of the present by explaining it in terms of events and developments in the past…[This interpretation of myth] has the advantage of not drawing a sharp dividing line between ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ images of the past…The standards by which we measure the validity of our myths evolve; but this applies to our maps and models as well. Maps are a pictorial means of orientation and communication…The standards by which we measure the quality of maps depends on the purpose for which we wish to use the maps…Loosely speaking, any scheme representing associations between events may be called a model…In the process, the complex forces at work are interpreted and simplified. Even rudimentary and relatively simple models can serve important heuristic purposes by pointing to significant problems for further research…Myths, maps, and models represent three modes of discourse, that is, of thinking and communicating, which are, respectively, mainly narrative, descriptive or explanatory.

Useful to control in other words for anyone wishing transformation in the world that currently exists, but not just at the level of conscious thought. In July 1999 American Psychologist published an important article entitled “The Unbearable Automaticity of Being” that recognized a crucial aspect used by learning standards and the conceptual frameworks they mandate. School curriculum can be created to manipulate “mental processes that are put into motion by features of the environment and that operate outside of conscious awareness and guidance.” See how useful controlling Myths, Maps, and Models can be once they become embodied in the neural architecture of the brain as Habits of Mind that can be activated without any conscious thought, but still actively guiding both perception and behavior? That article quoted a 1911 insight of philosopher Alfred Whitehead we should also be aware of:

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle–they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

Controlling conceptual frameworks instilled in students at both a conscious thought and an automatic level means that when the student believes they are making their own decisions–launching a cavalry charge to use the above metaphor–they are still coordinating their life in a way designed by others. When it is unconscious, it uses what that article called “a direct and automatic route provided from the external environment to action tendencies, via perception.” Makes the requirement that student achievement now be measured by action required–‘performance standards’ as the measure of learning make more sense, doesn’t it? The student as automaton, completely unaware of how much his or her future action has been programmed into them. A useful tool for anyone with aspirations for a compliant collective and disdain for the historic Western conception of the individual.

That includes john a. powell from Racing to Justice to build on the previous post, whose interest in dreams in the book, made it crystal clear that he too wants to reconfigure K-12 and higher ed to use the psychological fact that:

Mental representations designed to perform a certain function will perform that function once activated, regardless of where the activation comes from. The representation does not ‘care’ about the source of the activation…The activated mental representation is like a button being pushed; it can be pushed by one’s finger intentionally (e.g., turning on the electric coffeemaker) or accidentally (e.g., by the cat on the countertop) or by a decision made in the past (e.g., by setting the automatic turn-on mechanism the night before). In whatever way the start button is pushed, the mechanism subsequently behaves in the same way.

Think of it as BF Skinner’s aims, but not his methods, because the values, attitudes, and beliefs–the categories of thought whether myths, maps, images, models, lenses, or frames–become the activated mental representations guiding perception and behavior. Across the political spectrum, this bullseye appears to be what everyone wants to use education to remodel and control. It’s also the source of a great deal of deceit. Much of the deceit comes from think tanks, which makes far more sense given these totalitarian aims, when we become aware of a book from 2017 called Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the Mind, Brain and Behavior. No wonder there was such an organized effort to misdirect public attention away from the documented revelations in Credentialed to Destroy, especially in the areas of how learning standards, competency frameworks, and Tranzi OBE (as defined in book) operate.

They all utilize both the manipulation of nonconscious processes, as well as when the student believes they are making their own decisions consciously. Why on earth would a think tank that quietly advocates that governments and the law promote “the widespread use of psychological governance techniques” be forthcoming about such aims? Utilise the methods of 21st century governance that rely on

the ‘two-brain model’ that succeeds in gaining policy traction precisely because it does not challenge liberal democratic assumptions of political freedom…Certain nudges are aimed at cultivating deliberation and rational responses, whilst others seek to bypass conscious awareness to achieve rational responses through irrational (heuristic) means.

That 2017 book recognised valid concerns that such psychological governance techniques could be considered by some to be overly intrusive in a free society, but rejected that contention since there was supposedly no covering up of this nudging. My point in today’s post is to reject that contention because this targeting is being made in K-12 learning standards that virtually everyone writing books and white papers on behalf of think tanks is misrepresenting. That deceit then leaves no impediment to each student’s very mind, brain and behavior becoming a means where

Key to the exercise of psychological governance in this case, therefore, is a set of technological developments that represent certain tools and techniques necessary for the practical workings of governmental power…[It allows] the political and cultural normalisation of a therapeutic behaviour change agenda. In educational settings from early years to university, numerous policy reports reflect a wide, influential consensus that an interrelated set of psycho-emotional attributes, dispositions and behaviours…can be taught, learned and transferred over time as an essential foundation for successful education and life functioning…All mainstream political parties now agree that the inner states of human subjects determine the relationship between psycho-emotional responses and behaviours in complex, non-linear ways.

Ways that are now being deliberately manipulated via education globally to create the desired citizen of tomorrow, ready for the ‘wicked problems’ of 21st century living. For our own good supposedly we are seeing a new vision of 21st century education grounded in values, attitudes, and beliefs and controlling the instilled mental representations, operating largely unconsciously where

psychology is a source of knowledge and practice with regard to policies and initiatives designed to make live: to impel people to live in particular ways, to endorse certain views of the good or responsible life, to promote and normalise ways of achieving this good life.

In the next post,  I will track this aim through particular curriculum like a 21st century conception of American Democracy grounded in a new vision of History and Civics, as well as Global Education Futures new Learning Ecosystems: An Emerging Praxis for The Future of Education.  These qualities for a governmentally mandated and psychologically instilled ‘good life,’ with its need dispositions and attributes, are ALL communitarian in their vision. They all have the effect that at least john powell laid out explicitly as the real purpose of all this attention on race–to target and then rearrange–“the meaning of the Western self, to bring us into a new relationship with the other and the self. We can and must expand the circle of human concern and attend to our structures and the work they are doing.”

Rather than quoting more from powell that ties to the next post’s specific curricula or restate his tied to both K-12 education and higher ed, let me point out he has a tag for anyone interested in previous posts. Let me close by pointing out that he covered the importance of “framing and priming” because “what we call something can be consequential, affecting the way we think and what we do in relation to our conceptualization of it.” Mandating desired categories of thought to guide our perception and thought at an unconscious level are a major target of his book Racing to Justice as a way to get to his vision of a just society laid out here in a way that will fit well into the next post.

as humans, we are living beings, inherently connected with one another and with the natural world. So although our brains develop partly through categorizing and organizing in ways that can be challenging in a diverse society, our hearts orchestrate a system hardwired to care and respond empathically to one another’s suffering and joy. We can’t allow structures–economic or political–to block or blunt these connections…To embrace our commonality…will require new selves, who are citizens in the true sense of the term: individual, interconnected, and inclusive in ways that reflect the highest aspirations of our nation and our species.

Those new aspirations, to be instilled neurally at an unconscious level, just happen to be the target of the Roadmap to American Democracy and Learning Ecosystems for the global or species level. I guess we could call this the Instilled Mental Map Trilogy.

Education as a Form of Brain Surgery Means We Better All Appreciate the Function of an LMS

Gone for a while and here I show back up with a new acronym. An LMS is a Learning Management System. It provides the learning experiences, prescribes the activities, and collects tremendous amounts of data generated by online experiences about the student so that who the student is at a fundamental level–‘desired character traits’ was the term one LMS used–can be restructured at a neurobiological level. Hope that explicit explanation does not make anyone wish I had stayed gone. In fact, between personal issues this summer I have spent a great deal of time on webinars laying out precisely how LMS’s work. The so-called global pandemic has essentially made them mandatory in districts not already using them since, even in districts with in-school classes, the risk of sudden flareups has forced almost everyone into at least a hybrid model if not purely distance learning.

How’s this for a relevant quote for these times? The discussion was about the ability of the constructed virtual reality experiences an LMS can provide to illustrate how ‘models’ work. The example given in a book published back in 2017 by MIT Press went like this:

models are often used to develop predictions, test predictions, and explore relationships among variables. We use the content area of global pandemics to address different ways that models can facilitate decision making. For example, students work with a simulation model to test predictions about whether disease containment (e.g., quarantine, minimizing potential disease transmission on public transit) or prevention (e.g., vaccination) would more effectively stem a global pandemic.

That particular book was about an LMS being used by a university, but it has since expanded into K-12 https://www.gettingsmart.com/2020/07/new-standards-of-quality-minerva-baccalaureate-and-debt-free-college/ and the location of its use does not alter the planned physical and emotional alteration of students. So feel free to substitute any school using an LMS in the following quote instead of the referenced ‘universities’. Function matters, not the location of the manipulation.

…in order to develop the mind, universities must provide a structured approach. One could think of education as a form of brain surgery: education effectively changes the structure and function of the brain. And, as with other forms of surgery, there must be a clear plan of action before the education operation begins. [See why the prescribed Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profile matters?] It is not acceptable to start an operation and only then start thinking about what the next step should be. When universities perform this ‘brain surgery’ and try to grow the capability and capacity of the mind, they should not do so in a haphazard way. They should have a plan of action [maybe a Common Core of Learning tied to standardized goals each student is to demonstrate?]. And therefore the structure of the educational path, commonly known as the curriculum, is important.

The LMS is what is providing that curriculum in either Hybrid or Distance Learning. Even physical experiences get uploaded via a rubric to the LMS so it begins to have a picture of each student that functions like ‘Google Maps,’ as one summer webinar laid it out, for the desired Knowledge, Skills, and Personal Characteristics (Attributes or Dispositions are the usual terms used). Let’s abbreviate that as a useful KSA and the LMS acts like many people’s phone prescribing what a student needs to change and how given where they are now in their KSA vs. the desired destination. Skills is self-explanatory since it involves actions and behavior but our ‘K’ is something too few appreciate since it has quietly shifted to something known as ‘practical knowledge’.

We believe the basic task of a liberal arts education [feel free to substitute Classical Education such as the Barney Initiative in K-12] is to provide citizens with a set of intellectual tools that is applicable across a wide range of situations–and that therefore serves as practical knowledge. Practical knowledge, as we use the term, is knowledge that one can use to adapt to a changing world, helping one to achieve one’s goals…[Knowledge] becomes a set of habits of mind and foundational concepts… [that] everyone ought to use–something akin to a basic cognitive operating system.

Two of the terms being used to deal with a new vision of education being pushed in either the name of Covid     https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/restarting-reinventing-school-covid-report or systemic racism, or both  https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/brooklyn-laboratory-charter-schools-partners-release-guidebook-on-cultivating-learner-identity-and-agency-to-better-equip-students-to-deal-with-covid-19-this-fall-301117433.html has been Identity and Agency. It also fits with what is called Culturally Relevant Teaching in other summer webinars. It’s omnipresent as the remedy in other words with a variety of justifications. LMS’s are good at cultivating both of these as well since they can use the insights from “new technologies that afforded insight into how the mind functions and the brain reacts to the signals it receives from different modes of communication and different media.”

In fact, “because of their immersive narratives, video games have the potential to play an important role in communication and persuasion for socially beneficial purposes.” The LMS facilitates the creation of a shared understanding because it can be set so that it “requires developing a dialogue with previously unexamined layers of the self and one’s relationship to the world. This [manipulated] interior dialogue and self-examination are [supposedly] the first step to good communication.” Students can learn to use the models and simulations available in the LMS to study “how to change the behavior of groups and individuals” and move on to “some of the most pressing social and political challenges facing the world today.” These activities and experiences create an embedded reality “where students come to see themselves not as mere cogs in the complex systems in which they exist but rather as agents whose behavior and initiative have the power to change these systems, potentially in far-reaching and beneficial ways.”

Let’s pivot just a second away from what the LMS is facilitating to just how very useful it is. Last week, “The Anti-Racist Discussion Guide” came out for higher ed. Now just imagine the use of a higher ed LMS if this is the ultimate goal of the change in the nature of what will now constitute an education.

What we are exposed to shapes our worldviews. And in very real ways, our worldviews shape the world, through our perspectives, our words, and our actions. Because of this educators, have a unique responsibility to play an active role in helping students become aware of their role within larger societal and global systems, and to help students build the critical questioning skills and confidence necessary to create change in these systems.

What underpins an ‘anti-racist’ teaching method–or critical pedagogy–is the desire to help students question and understand the systems and structures of power which exist in our society, both implicit and explicit, and actively critique and dismantle them to create a society that maximizes the happiness, success, and freedom of all of its citizens.

Long time readers will recognize that last line as Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society, which again fits with numerous webinars from this summer, especially some quotes from both PolicyLink’s Angela Glover Blackwell, as well as Beloved Community. It also fits with the Happiness Curriculum being pushed globally. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Development-of-student-and-teacher-measures-of-HC-factors-FINAL-081920.pdf is from a Center that ties to UNESCO for anyone not familiar with their work.

In the Bibliography of that last paper was one published in frontiers in Human Neuroscience that also takes us back to the title of this post. “Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness” will be fascinating to anyone concerned about mindfulness mandates imposed on their local schools. The practices that go hand in hand with what constitutes education to promote Agency and Identity though also trigger those same neurobiological mechanisms if you actually read the paper along with what is laid out in the papers I have linked to (which are only the tip of the iceberg of what is out there from just this summer).

That’s right. These shifts laid out as remedies to COVID and Systemic Racism literally are designed to both alter the human nervous system, including the brain, as well as finally embody, in the most literal way, the qualities John Dewey laid out as necessary for a citizen in the reimagined democracy of the future. He does get mentioned a lot again in case anyone wants to go back and reread Chapter One of my book Credentialed to Destroy. He would be so excited about the potential of an LMS, as would the Communists who used their then precious resources just after the Russian Revolution to translate Dewey’s work.

It’s all coming together now in earnest. Best to understand now or we will all be targeted by the Revolution at the Level of our Minds–the ultimate microsystem.

Parrhesia, Bill Ayers, Reinventing Schools for Meaning-Making, and Rewiring Teens’ Brains

Does that title seem a bit like a Jeopardy Question that starts with an unusual word and then leads to a notorious name for click bait? I wish, but Parrhesia is a Greek word that was in the last post’s paper on how John Dewey’s Ethics of Moral Principles and Deliberation were to be incorporated per IEEE Standards (no one was to tell us about) into the ‘adaptive instructional systems’ being touted as the answer for the Pandemic’s need to social distance. Until a Vaccine!! The systems of ethical deliberation becomes a component via required practices adaptive instructional systems incorporate into supplied student experiences. These are to “allow participants to safely engage in parrhesia.” No mention of “Guilty as *, Free as a Bird” Ayers yet, as the definition is a democratic mode of being, that is “an ancient Greek concept…[of] telling truth as one sees it with honesty and integrity…parrhesia qualities include engaging in dialogue, questioning, having a passion for public affairs and human equality. Parrhesia requires intellectual courage and risk-taking in truth telling and pursuits of inquiry.”

Ok, then the footnote goes to a paper by Kerry Burch on “Parrhesia as a Principle of Democratic Pedagogy” helpfully placed on US education websites with the heading “Social Justice: A Language Re/Considered”, which seems to be something we should know about before assuming digital learning is the answer to all our problems. It starts with quotes from Cornel West (whose self-professed ties to the Marxist Humanist vision we have covered here at ISC) and Paulo Freire, whose name is associated with rejecting the so-called Banking Theory of Education. Bill shows up later in the paper, but not by his nickname or standing on a flag in a New York Times article published just before 9/11/2001. No, here’s the passage:

Few educational thinkers describe the kind of democratic personality traits [Dispositions or Attributes of cybernetic citizenship or Character Education?] that need to be cultivated today as elegantly as William Ayers. These traits cannot easily be brought about by relying on the mechanistic knowledge ordained in conventional approaches to ‘learning’ about ”democracy’. Ayers’ charts a different course: ‘We want to teach them to take initiative, to be creative, to be imaginative, to take risks, to question authority, to wonder about the world. This means fundamentally, in a school system based on democratic values, we really believe that the full development of all is a condition for the full development of each.’

Ayers said that and the footnote goes to a Winter 2009 published interview, but Ayers is in turn quoting from Uncle Karl and his Human Development Society vision of the premise for his little ‘c’ communism ideal. No wonder the Chinese and the UN love this vision of cybernetic citizenship, but what a mandate for ‘adaptive instructional systems’ to be cultivating in students to prepare them for parrheistic modes of being. Sounds a bit like the call for an Arational mind that we have discovered lies at the foundation of what is really student proficiency in a competency-based system. When we think of ‘adaptive instructional systems” for K-12, who thinks it is something that would please Bill Ayers and fulfill Uncle Karl’s plans? Who will be looking for “how the buoyant sociality of parrhesia would promote the creation of critically awake democratic personalities”?

Another paper I located called “The Ethics of Critical Inquiry: Educational Research Informed by Parrhesia” attributed this push to notorious French philosopher Michel Foucault, who in turn talked about Aristotle. Which one gets cited later for a similar vision with differing sales pitches and rhetoric does not seem to be about any disagreement on what is being sought through education. Instead, I believe, the different approaches stem from which name the audience, including people being solicited for donations, are likely to revere. Parrhesia here is an attempt to “contribute to social good and bring about positive change” by fostering educational practices that will create “an ethos of disrupting human subjectivities from within”. That sounds a bit disruptive to the student’s personality, doesn’t it? The

early meaning was to open one’s heart and mind completely to other people through his or her discourse…Parrhesia … became associated with transforming the soul of an individual. Most importantly the concept developed political dimensions indispensable to democracy. Parrhesia meant to engage socially and politically as a consequence of integrity of the heart. It required one to courageously say truthful things that are useful for all to hear…It’s not a ‘body of knowledge’ but a ‘body pf practices’ without reference to an external order…It allows for mediation between the ethos of an individual and the well-being of society. In short, it is through parrhesia that an individual constitutes him/herself as a moral subject in relation to others.

Just the thing if a moral revolution is sought at the level of the human mind, heart, and soul as Uncle Karl envisioned. If you don’t want resistance create a need for digital learning because of something like a Pandemic and then mandate ‘parrheistic practices’ into the programming the learning experiences provided by ‘adaptive instructional systems’ offer up. Now before we turn to the latter part of this post’s title I want to link to this article https://behavioralscientist.org/behavioral-public-policy-faces-a-crisis/ on the failure to properly respond to COVID-19 which calls for cultivating minds that can “understand complex systems in crisis”. Since we keep coming across the behavioral sciences and their desire to create a new kind of educational template going back to the 1950s at least, I thought that article’s confession that:

Behavioral public policy is rooted in the idea that biases, heuristics, and mental models determine behavior. If you reframe or alter individuals’ decision making context, you change their behavior.

We now know that is precisely what learning standards like the Common Core in the US or any tied to UNESCO’s ISCED globally and competency-based education frameworks are designed to do. The Pandemic simply makes this desire for “shared frames of reference” for meaning-making supposedly necessary. It’s to be perceived as a crisis, like climate change, that necessitates common ways of looking at the world and what must be changed to meet the demands of the crisis. Individual deviations are not allowed. Yes, tell that to Shelly Luther in Texas or that barber in Michigan.

Timely too is that the May 2020 issue of Educational Leadership published by ASCD, which is now independent of the NEA, unlike in 1985 when it first introduced an internalized common core as I covered in Credentialed to Destroy. The issue is devoted to “Learning and the BRAIN” and one of its articles called “Building Meaning Builds Teens’ Brains” lays out how “Connecting adolescents’ concrete work to big ideas may help shape their neural networks over time.” Research for the article was provided by the National Science Foundation, which certainly explains why they also funded the math and science constructivism covered in Chapter 3 of CtD, and the Templeton Foundation. It would explain the latter’s funding of the Jubilee Centre in the UK and its Virtues curriculum, which we have since tied to the Pope’s new Humanity 2.0 initiative and its new vision for education. Templeton also funded Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology and Positive Neuroscience work, among other things we have covered.

Remember so long ago here at ISC when I mentioned a new vision of Dialectical Materialism, a mouthful term, created in the USSR by Evald Ilyenkov called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete? We have now over time here at ISC tied to cybernetic designs, conceptual frameworks, and the now federally required assessment annually of Higher Order Thinking in virtually all US students. Now we have this new article informing us of the need for “Reinventing Schools for Meaning-Making”. What it bills as ‘narrative building’ by students certainly sounds like what the others described above suggested as parrheistic modes of being.

These curricular practices turn out to be expressly designed to rewire what the neural networks in teenage brains look like and what the students can do. In fact, by going to motivation, these practices act as an accelerant of future likely behavior. All of these intended interventions are probably helped by the co-authors connections that I have encountered in my research over time. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang shows up at both UNESCO conferences and Aspen’s NCSEAD on the need for social and emotional learning, as well as the NSF’s Brain Initiative. Perfect places to push a vision of education globally grounded in DiaMat that asks “How can we know when young people are building [brain networks]…predictive of success in school, self-actualization, relationship satisfaction, and other positive indicators in early adulthood?”

Think of the parrhesia invisible focus of ‘adaptive instructional systems’ and then ask the article’s question of “What kind of learning experiences strengthen connectivity across these networks?” Remember Bill Ayers’ mention of democratic traits above, which is why I bolded it? The ASCD article focuses on a similar target it italicized as dispositions of mind, which it goes on to say is not a new goal of education, citing to John Dewey among others. These are the stories or narratives the students tell themselves:

their inclinations to engage reflectively with issues and ideas, their tendencies to be curious and compassionate, and their proclivities to use what they learn to inform their emerging values…the patterns of thinking and feeling associated with these dispositions appeared to be influencing the growth of the networks of their brains.

Sounds like Parrhesia’s vision too, doesn’t it? That’s what education for meaning-making and tied to Big Ideas is targeting and it is what grounding adaptive instructional systems in John Dewey’s work also seeks to reengineer. No question about it anymore. This is not a peripheral aim and it’s not really about education per se. It’s education as a tool to reengineer at a neural level the citizens available for the global future. At the service of governments and their cronies.

As I will cover in the next post, it turns out that the stories we tell ourselves, and the concepts and categories of abstractions we use to interpret our daily experiences, are key to how we see the world and plan to act in it. Let me close with another quote from the EL article and just imagine the effect of the Pandemic on “The Stories Teens Tell” or at least what they will tell in the future.

…tying these dispositions to neural development, life success, and mental health gives this effort new urgency, and points us due north in an attempt to reimagine adolescents’ schooling. Evidence suggests that educators can learn to recognize, model, and support the development of these dispositions if they know what kinds of narratives to listen for and what kind of learning experiences lead to these patterns of thinking?

Now imagine the utility of standardizing ‘adaptive instructional systems’ in John Dewey’s work and Parrhesia will do for controlling the needed learning experiences to produce the desired ‘patterns of thinking’ and feeling for the new type of future citizen.

Gives new meaning to calls of May Day, May Day, doesn’t it?

 

 

Hotwiring the Second Wing of the Eagle: Utilize the Human Brain as the Sustainability Trigger in the 21st

I suppose I am giving away both my age (autos before too many electronics) and geography (southern) with that metaphor, but it struck me on a walk yesterday that the old technique for surreptitiously taking a vehicle you didn’t have a key for also fits with how global learning standards and digital curriculum immersions actually are designed to work. Instead of being forthcoming that a Portrait of a Graduate is not about knowledge in the traditional Periodic Table in Chemistry sense. Rather it goes to what physicist David Bohm meant when he wrote that:

Science consists not in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the creation of fresh modes of perception.

That quote was the Epigraph to a 1998 essay called “The second wing of the eagle: the human dimension in learning our way to more sustainable futures,” that was in turn footnoted in an 2019 article pushed last week called “Community science: A typology and its implications for governance of social-ecological systems.” That’s us, people, once we parse through that mouthful of verbiage because the keystone for the desired control over and coupling of human and ecological systems is so-called ‘social learning’. Learning and a transformed nature of education need to create a “shared understanding of the social-ecological system” for the purpose of  “complex social-ecological problems.” Those problems get highlighted via provided experiences and conceptual frameworks, images and emotions, that create common ‘shared beliefs’ of the type we covered in the Trilogy finished in the last post.

The Blue Dot July 2018 issue on “Digital Pedagogies” from the last post mentioned its use of something called the LIBRE process so I of course went a-searching and quickly located a September 2019 article called “Libre–Nourish the Brain So the Future Can Flourish” that insists that the UN’s global goals for sustainability can only be met if:

Education needs to shift from a utilitarian perspective to one that focuses on the greater social good. Recent brain research supports the multiple digital pedagogies of Libre.

Before we cover those,  let’s clarify what is meant by the Second Wing of the Eagle metaphor since as we will see the Right Emotional Brain Dominance of the Logical Mind, Prospection, and deliberately crafted virtual reality experiences from the Trilogy all fit with liberating that Second Wing. It fits with what both Community Science, at a collective level, and Citizen Science, at an individual level, want to transform via a new kind of education. It is clearly what LIBRE means by enabling the critical consciousness needed for ‘active citizenship’. This is from a review of the article in June 1999 in BioScience:

Environmental management has traditionally been regarded primarily as a technical task, whereas the causal agents of environmental damage are people. Until human behavior is brought into the equation, solutions will not be forthcoming. [The Second Wing essay] introduces the concept of social learning and discusses the need for integration of the scientific and social disciplines to achieve social action. The authors want to get the eagle that is environmental management flying again. The figurative eagle is currently skirting the issues, madly beating the one wing it knows how to use. The coupling between ‘human systems’ and ‘ecosystems’ can only constructively be addressed using the social learning approach.

Puts a new perspective on the hype over the supposed Anthropocene Age and man-made global warming that doesn’t care about actual temperatures and uses every graphic weather image to try to reenforce the theory, doesn’t it? It’s about the coupling and control–the need to resculpt human perceptions and link that to the motivation for future action. As the second wing essay puts it, the resolution to getting at both wings working in a manner that does seem like totalitarianism from within must get at “the self-understanding and self-definition of individuals [which are] in a state of flux.” This so-called “environmental crisis within” has two aspects that must be targeted by education.

The first has to do with values and beliefs…The second aspect has to do with knowledge itself…This is not a disguised attack on science…It is an attack on ways of thinking, approaches to problem solving, and political institutions founded on the ideological view that empirical science is the epitome of human reason and the primary route to truth and human understanding [Truth? Beauty? Goodness?]…The engagement of individuals in understanding the environmental crisis and in developing a willingness to promote or at least accept substantial change is essential…Social learning is an approach and philosophy which focuses on participatory processes of social change… It encompasses a positive belief in the potential for social transformation based on:

  •  critical self-reflection;
  • the development of participatory multi-layered democratic processes;
  • the reflexive capabilities of human individuals and societies;
  • and the capacity for social movements to change political and economic frameworks for the better.

Social learning, then, fits precisely with Libre as we are about to see. It regards knowledge from an “actor-orientated perspective…as a potentially powerful force for change. Such change emerges as actors ‘change their minds’ through interaction and dialogue with others.” Since I alluded to a link to Classical Education above, minus any link to Paulo Freire, let me do a quick link to a 1987 Virtue Ethics Essay I found when following up on the IEEE Standards for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (which includes people) and then recognized the Humanity 2.0/ Jubilee Center link that popped out.   https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/ethics-and-virtue/ also wants us to know that education and the “moral life is also a matter of trying to determine the kind of people we should be and attending to the development of character within our communities and ourselves.” Sounds like the IEEE is not the only entity desiring a common core so be wary about so-called ports in this storm.

According to Libre, “education needs to be restructured to respond constructively and progressively to both social change and technological advancement.” Its purpose must also change so that education will now “empower learners to question inequality, unsustainability, loss of common identity, and violence.” Libre intends to utilize the “neurobiological process called ‘neuroplasticity,’ which is the capacity of the brain to change, at the levels of both structure and function, in response to change in the cognitive environment.” Libre also makes it clear that ‘personalized learning’ is not about different trajectories for learning since shared understandings, beliefs, values, and motivations for future action are needed for the desired socio-ecological transformation. No, personalized is a reference that in the beginning, say preschool, “no two human brains are identical” and “each brain is unique.”

Remember that when you read now of required student assessments and inventorying of attributes in kindergarten. Beyond the EMCC we met in the last post, Libre proposes:

a problem-based approach to education that enables learners to build a critical consciousness to drive ‘active citizenship,’ develops their abilities to frame their identities; and empowers them to critically question any systemic, cultural, and physical manifestations of exclusions and marginalization…The ‘Libre’ process was developed to achieve such [full potential] learning by creating environments that ‘liberate’ learners and provide them with competencies to build knowledge using their lived reality…It adopts Freire’s ‘problem-posing’ approach in the classroom, which allows learning to be driven by the learner’s inquiry and guided through everyday words that have a direct connection to students’ lives.

The pedagogies of Libre and the learning experiences they create use 5 methods that all fit with both the Trilogy and the Second Wing essay. They are (1) Storytelling (“helps build a caring and cooperative attitude”); (2) Gamification (“failures become challenges, which encourages learners to revise their actions until they arrive at the ‘correct’ way of doing things”); (3) Inquiry (Mindfulness practices); (4) Reflection (OECD’s A-A-R Cycle in 2030 Learning); and (5) Dialogue (“seeks to adopt a collective learning approach”).

Putting the above back into the goal of bringing the human dimensions to learning so that dormant wing begins to flap we are told we are told requires a willingness to act despite:

unacknowledged conditions and unintended consequences of action. Hence, human judgement and political activity became things not to be simply made ‘scientific’; but rather are more encompassing dimensions of the human condition fundamental to our ability to ‘go on in the face of uncertainty and our potential understanding of the worlds we inhabit…Social learning, while not outright rejecting the utility of positivist methodologies, is predicated on a constructivist position…not with some external reality out there…but rather human experience (human life).

I need to finish up but think about the real reasons for constructivism in the reading, math, and science wars in light of the following quote that also fits with that Freire mention in the Libre aspirations for digital pedagogies now.

The constructivist alternative to positivism is based on recognizing the primary importance of language. Humans are reflexive knowledgable beings because of language. Consciousness and ‘reality’ arise from language and not vice versa. This shift places the emphasis for understanding knowledge not on the subject-knowledge relationship but on the relationship between human subjects. What we experience as ‘reality’ and hence knowledge is to a very large extent constructed by social processes.

If that was an aspiration back in 1998, we are now twenty years later with such uses of language and creation of experiences and social processes locked in by learning standards tied to digital technologies and required school practices. Then we add in where Libre intends to go globally under the euphemism Sustainability as it calls now for a “revolution in education–one that is restructured to promote global citizenship and allows humans to flourish rather than one that only caters to narrow political or economic agendas” and we once again find ourselves beginning to flap that second wing allowing total planning and control over the biophysical dimensions as well as the human and social. What Libre sees as “education as the life-long process of learning and un-learning [that] involves an intense churning of beliefs, values, and worldviews,” the second wing metaphor graphically told us that:

A process of ‘structural change’ in a person’s thinking can be triggered but not directed. The nature of the change will be determined by the pre-existing structure of the person’s ideas and theories of the world which have been learnt during life and their cultural heritage…the reality we perceive is determined not by what is external to us but rather by our own physical and cognitive structures. Because we are informationally closed systems we can only ever talk of our experience.

Neither you, dear reader, or I, the ultimate autodiadact, are ‘informationally closed systems’ although I guess reading this or my book qualifies as an experience. That’s the aspiration anyway and what is needed for the planned transformation in the name of Sustainability.

It’s all about getting access to our brains and minds. That’s the focal point for the planned revolution in thinking. I would argue, in fact, that the planned thinking is more emotion and visual images than what created the West, its economic prosperity and technological inventions, and regard for the individual. All on the chopping block now in the 21st century assault on the individual and genuine autonomy from political overreach.

 

 

 

Collective Cognition: Stipulating Right Thinking and Prescribing Prevailing Ideas to Defeat Polarization

Never heard the phrase ‘collective cognition’ before? Wouldn’t creating required learning standards and then assessing for their presence in guiding a student’s thoughts and actions amount to learning How to Think as a Community? After I wrote last week’s post, but knowing we were about to pivot next to something called the Hidden Tribes Project, I was fascinated to read the bio of the co-author of this recent article https://behavioralscientist.org/the-cognitive-science-of-political-thought-practical-takeaways-for-political-discourse/ where Professor Sloman admits that the cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences can be used to create Collective Cognition. If only some ultra-rich person would bequeath mega-millions to his employer, Brown University, to set up a Center to create models for K-12 education reforms.

Think of the Hidden Tribes Project as what to do about the adults whose minds and values got away when earlier versions of K-12 education reforms, like outcomes-based education, failed to shift as desired away from subject-content to changing:

the ideas that give your life direction. And the answers fit together into a larger picture–what we call a ‘worldview,’ a way of understanding and making sense of our world. Your worldview determines (consciously or unconsciously) how you interpret and respond to everything in life. This is why it is so important to begin thinking about your worldview and the ideas you believe to be true…develop a worldview that influences everything you do.

That is a really useful definition of worldview and why, I believe, we have found it as the aim of what my book laid out as Tranzi OBE from the 90s, and what we are seeing as Portrait of a Graduate or Learner Profiles now. It’s why learning standards globally carefully lay out the desired elements and seek to prescribe the ‘learning experiences’ that will create the characteristics at an internalized, physiological level. The Hidden Tribes Project, clearly related to the same aim but geared to adults and located at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, stated that its “focus is to better understand the forces that drive political polarization and tribalism in the United States today, and to galvanize efforts to address them.” I found the Project after it was hyped here in July https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_are_the_solutions_to_political_polarization and I recognized the links to both Seedbed of Virtues and the 1997 “A Call to Civil Society”.

George Will, in his Soulcraft book, kept using the same term “Better Angels of Our Nature” so let’s look and see how ‘our nature’ can be reengineered with education reforms and other social science projects. After all, one of the co-authors of the June 2019 More in Common report “The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart” is tied to the Templeton-funded Positive Neuroscience initiative at U-Penn that is also tied to the World Happiness Reports the UN has taken to publishing. If he states that “in coming years I plan on continuing to use the tools of social science to improve human interaction and society. Through teaching, speaking, researching, and writing, I hope to do my part to help humanity realize the best possible version of itself,” we would be wise to listen.

Humanity is so grateful, I reply with my usual sarcasm. Hopefully such aspirations and scholarship in “studying how social context in various populations can impact people’s moral judgment and behavior…” will get Mr Yudkin tenure somewhere. According to the 2018 “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape” the “work of rebuilding our fractured society needs to start now” and it needs to occur at the level of each person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs. This will allow “re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to building a renewed sense of national identity: A bigger story of us.” More in Common believes that “a healthy democracy…requires a sense of shared values and commitments, and a willingness to find common ground”. That desired answer to polarization and tribalism, a desired standardization at the level of “mind, heart, and soul” for all citizens, young and old, requires deliberately targeting:

At the root of America’s polarization are divergent sets of values and worldviews, or ‘core beliefs’. These core beliefs shape the ways that individuals interpret the world around them at the most fundamental level. Our study shows how political opinions stem from these deeply held core beliefs. This study examines five dimensions of individuals’ core beliefs:

  •  Tribalism and group identification
  •   Fear and perception of threat
  •   Parenting style and authoritarian disposition
  •   Moral foundations
  •   Personal agency and responsibility

This study finds that the hidden architecture of beliefs, worldview and group attachments can predict an individual’s views on social and political issues with greater accuracy than demographic factors like race, gender, or income.

So education at every level and the media, whether broadcast, print, or websites of various supposed spectrums, need to get at and change that hidden architecture. To uncover and understand core beliefs, and “explore how this understanding can be used, not to deepen polarization but to bring people together.” Does the coordinated effort to pretend that the Common Core was about workforce preparation or a database of personally identifiable information about students instead of an effort to change those prevailing values, attitudes, and beliefs suddenly make more sense? What if I told you that the initial indented quote on worldview came from something called the Lightbearers Curriculum from Summit Ministries that I found after a Daily Caller article this summer made a reference to something called a Blue Sky Worldview and a camp to create it? What if the same article simultaneously misrepresented socialism and asserted that Marxism is only what was found in the past in Communist countries or is what Bernie Sanders pushes?

Let’s just say our False Narrative purveyors were well-represented among the advocates for this curriculum that also seeks to control “what ideas will rule the world” and provide “guidelines for shaping society for everyone’s benefit”. It is a curriculum intended for “endowing [the student] with the responsibility for shaping the future of the world.” Theoretical Marxism, the non-historical kind that is a theory of Man as a Maker of History seeking to drive a transformational process in the real world, would recognize that aspiration as bringing about what Uncle Karl called the Human Development Society. It is still the same theory even when the M word is not used and the sales pitch is the need to “redeem culture as part of God’s creation.” Worthy aspirations and a theological emphasis do not change the nature of this theory or who created the idea of how to get such a theory into practice (Praxis?).

Calling it “faith in action” instead of praxis, or opining that “without action, students may relegate what they are hearing to dry academic philosophies and not realize that these ideas should become part of their lives on a daily basis,” doesn’t distinguish aims that function the same with comparable purposes. So religious based or classical schools want ideas embodied into action as an integral part of the curriculum to create Desired Habits and Behaviors and so do public schools now as part of learning standards and what is called High Quality Project-Based Learning. See what I mean about going to the same place and targeting the same normative realm in each student?

Tranzi OBE, in function even if now euphemized into a myriad of new names, still is in play if the curriculum actively seeks to tell students they should be change agents and

stop being conformed by the ‘water’ around them, the culture they were in. Rather, they should be transformed by renewing their minds. The idea behind the word ‘transformed’ is that of metamorphosis–changing into something different. While conformity to the world is something that happens passively, being transformed is something that happens actively. Conformity just happens, but transformation requires effort. Transformation only happens through mind renewal, changing the way you think.

I bolded that last part from the Lightbearers Curriculum to call attention to a discussion in the comments from the last post when I said that the predecessor to the Common Core was something in the 90s called the New Standards Project. Before Professor Lauren Resnick helped create that initiative, she called her curriculum a Thinking Curriculum to be grounded in HOTS–Higher Order Thinking Skills. Stipulated Ideas would dominate so that the real world perceptions would be controlled by Desired Ideas and Theories of What Could Be. The Soviets in 1962 called this a new kind of Dialectic Materialism that would allow a transformation of the existing world via a theory they called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete.

Its ideals still work the same today whether pushed on adults to supposedly bridge a Perception Gap and create a Convergence to defeat Polarization, or on children via mischaracterized learning standards and Thinking Curricula.

All of these advocates recognize that changing how we think leads to “transforming our behavior” in predictable ways. If anyone wants to prescribe “the basis of our decisions and actions,” as these various NGOs like UNESCO or the OECD, faith-based institutions, think tanks, or any other institution have explicitly said they wish to do if we know where to look, we should all be aware that has become the new purpose of education and the goal of much of what is broadcast or published by the media.

I suppose I should be grateful my book and then this blog set off such an orchestration of False Narratives. The deceit left the crumbs that enable us to see the common vision. Everyone seems to want to get at what we believe and feel in order to control how we will behave.

And it has nothing to do with training pigeons except that once installed in our neural circuits via cognitive psychology, we will be programmed indeed.

 

 

Stifling the Individuality of Thinking to Standardize WTPs–Ways of Thinking and Practices

Yes I do know it is summer, but the UN was busy last week putting out the global ed vision at a High Level Policy Forum we were not invited to (as usual). Plus my life seems to have calmed down from the multiple pots overflowing stage to just a slow simmer so let’s use this post as an opportunity to get out of the sun and heat and talk about these laid out plans for us so we will develop the desired skills and dispositions https://education-reimagined.org/hey-teacher-what-shall-we-call-you/  , WTPs, “21st-century student outcomes” (iNACOL, July 10,2019),  or “the achievement of relevant and effective learning outcomes” from  https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/hlpf2019 in the Beyond Commitments link. To really appreciate what all these references actually have in mind, let’s go back in time to 1967 when E.D. Hirsch was not yet writing about what every American needed to know. Instead, he was writing the following in his book on the topic of ‘Understanding’ called Validity in Interpretation. The passage really clarified for me just how learning standards or competency frameworks can quietly force ‘shared meaning making’ and prescribed ways of thinking.

The inadequacy of identifying textual meaning with ‘tradition’ or some other changing norm is seen first of all in the total impracticality of such a norm on the level of scholarly interpretation. Certainly, in scriptural questions, changes in interpretations can be institutionalized at any moment by an authoritative pronouncement about the ‘consensus ecclesiae’. Similarly, in legal questions, changed interpretations can be institutionalized by a pronouncement from the highest court. But in the domain of learning such pronouncements cannot carry authority. No one, for example, would hold that a law means “what the judges say the law means” if there were not a supreme tribunal to decide what, after all, the judges say. There could never be such arbitrary tribunals in the domain of knowledge and scholarship.

Now, when I read that passage, I immediately wrote “not true” in the margin since I have documented that Common Education Data Standards and UNESCO’s education standards classifications do, in fact, operate quietly as just such arbitrary tribunals. More fascinatingly, a few weeks after I read that passage and objected (with at least one cat as my witness), an Elements in Public Policy White Paper by Daniel Beland confirmed I was right in my analysis by laying out “How Ideas and Institutions Shape the Politics of Public Policy.” Once again I wrote in the margin of the paper that it’s no wonder think tanks of various purported visions keep misrepresenting how learning standards work or what Competency education really is. They are part of the process of quietly institutionalizing these ideas, just like legally mandated learning standards themselves.

Let’s go back to something else Hirsch wrote earlier in that same book where he pointed out that the “necessary requirement” for the “shareability of verbal meaning” is the “existence of shared conventions.” That’s precisely what learning standards specify, as well as prescribed DCIs-Disciplinary Core Ideas, Enduring Understandings, and other ways of stipulating the desired categories of thought students are to use. Here’s Hirsch:

An implication belongs to a meaning as a trait belongs to a type. For an implication to belong to verbal meaning, it is necessary that the type be shared, since otherwise the interpreter [aka each student in a standardized classroom] could not know how to generate implications; he would not know which traits belonged to the type and which did not. And there is only one way the interpreter can know the characteristics of the type; he must learn them. (For those characteristics are not usually ‘syncategorematic’ or absolutely necessary like color or extension. Even the Pythagorean Theorem is a learned characteristic of a right angle, no matter how ‘necessary’ it may seem once it is learned.) Implications are derived from a shared type that has been learned, and therefore the generation of implications depends on the learner’s previous experience of the shared type. The principle for generating implications is, ultimately and in the broadest sense, a learned convention.

I quoted that passage in its entirety because as soon as I read it I realized that everybody involved in education reform wants to control not just the meaning of words we decipher, but also the implications we draw from interacting with any text. It answered my question as to why suddenly so many states are pushing phonetic reading via regulation or statute after years of citing Marie Clay, Guided Reading, or a Balanced Approach. Because now we have conceptual frameworks in place to act as the circumscribing barrier of shared meaning that all students are to interpret with. That passage helped reaffirm my intuition that had been brewing this legislative season.

Even more confirming was this passage from a more recent book by Noel Entwistle called Teaching for Understanding at University which laid out the true purpose of the use of academic disciplines and what the ‘intended outcomes’ for the students would be. The acronym WTPs comes from that book complete with italics as the ways of thinking and practicing in the subject.

The great disciplines like physics or mathematics, or history, or dramatic forms in literature, were…less repositories of knowledge than of methods for the use of the mind. They provided the structure that gave meaning to the particulars…The object of education was to get as swiftly as possible to that structure–to penetrate the structure, not to cover it…[And] mastery of the fundamentals of a field involves not only the grasping of general principles, but also the development of an attitude toward learning and inquiry, toward guessing and hunches, toward the possibility of solving problems on one’s own…

Now let’s go to yet another source to confirm yet again what kind of desired mental structures and new ways of thinking, and the extent to which both will be politically imposed, from the related world of Classical Education and a book by Vigen Guroian called Tending the Heart of Virtue. It recognized the same point we have found behind the terms Guiding Fiction and Anticipatory Assumptions (related to UNESCO declaring last year ‘decision-making’ to be the new global purpose of education). As Guroain noted:

while not all seeing is believing, believing is still a form of ‘seeing’. Or putting the matter somewhat differently, one truly ‘sees’ when one believes. When one believes, then the scales fall from one’s eyes and one ‘sees’ into the deeper reality of things.

Or at least fervently believes that you do since this “way of knowing and experiencing the world is not the objective knowing normally associated with physical science; nor is it the subjectivity of solipsism. It is an intersubjective and relational way of experiencing and knowing. It is a way of interpreting the world that requires memory and a moral imagination; otherwise a moral self cannot come into being.”  Whether it is the so-called Right wanting to promote a moral transformation at an internalized level in the name of virtue necessary for a “Constitutional Republic,’ or an admitted progressive pushing the same transformation in the name of Democracy and Uncle Karl, the bullseye euphemised as Student Success or Achievement is the same in the individual human being. So is how it will be instilled.

Fairy tales and modern fantasy stories project fantastic other worlds; but they also pay attention to real moral ‘laws’ of character and virtue. These laws ought not to be high-handedly shoved down the throats of children (or anyone else). More accurately, they are norms of behavior that obtain in patterns of relation between agent, act, other, and world. Rational cognition is capable of grasping these norms. They become habit, however, only when they are lived, or, as in the case of fairy tales, experienced vicariously and imaginatively through the artful delineation of character and plot in a story.

See why we get so many euphemisms for what must be changed? Can any of us imagine the outcry if people understood that education globally is now about prescribing norms of behavior without that being readily apparent? Can we all see why standards of achievement and student success had to cease  to be about what is rationally known so that students had provide behavioral performances or tasks instead? Proves it is a habit and neurally hardwired to lock in that desired future decisionmaking and motivations to act.

Now that we have put what is aimed at into context and stripped away the deliberate vagueness of ‘outcomes,’ let me end with another, much shorter, vision UNESCO put out last week in the form of a comic book called ‘Let’s Work Together’ https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000369006/PDF/369006eng.pdf.multi on the role education is to play in the UN meeting its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As GEM put it in a blog post on July 10, “every goal in the 2030 Agenda requires education to empower people with the knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies.” If we wonder why implications of words must be shared and constrained, why knowing must become a matter of habit and grounded in emotion, and why our very categories of thought must now be prescribed in advance, it would be hard to put the reason more succinctly than this quote from the second page of that link since in order to “work together” apparently–

Education must teach people to think collectively and not individually.

Explains so much doesn’t it? I feel like I should end this post with a declaration of still being a defiantly individual thinker. Who would have thought that would become such an issue in the 21st century?