College Ready as a Goal of K-12 is not Helpful if First You Gut the Historic Purpose of College

That would be the Transmission of Knowledge about what the Greatest Minds in History Understood and Wrote About and Lived Through and Experimented Over until they had figured out many of the mysteries of Nature. But then that knowledge supposedly allowed man to subordinate nature and our systems theorists like Senge and Scharmer and Deep Ecologists like Orr and Berry from the previous post think we need to stop exploiting nature. Assume our new position as just another species without the magical gift of abstract reason. Rely on feelings and instinct and working on relationships with others and surely Peace will finally come. And the species will all get along just like everyone did in their natural environment before that intrusive stranger Christopher Columbus showed up in the Americas and ruined it all.

As I am reading these high on hopes and short on facts utopian schemes related to Ecology and New Minds, I keep wanting to scream at the book- “You are celebrating cultures that engaged in human sacrifice.” Often. But then my history major and Axemaker Mind are proving to be an obstacle with climbing aboard the Sustainability nirvana train.

We talked about how the President used the term “standards for teaching and learning” and “first time in a generation” and Ed Week insisted he meant CCSSI. We said not so fast . Well he said the same thing in his nomination acceptance speech last week. Moreover, the Democratic platform itself does not mention CCSSI by name or make any commitment to content or the transmission of knowledge. Its goal is to have ALL students “College and Career Ready.” Sounds good except we have already determined Career Ready is just generic skills of getting along coupled with a communitarian emphasis on daily demonstrating that you put others first. The primacy of the Common Good. Now with that title we can be sure the platform drafters have not been reading my posts. Otherwise they would have recognized they were tipping off their real goals for American education and local schools and classrooms.

Today we take on the second half of that express K-12 Goal for All Students. What does College Ready actually mean when we put all the pieces together? Well back in January, the White House put out its vision for American higher education complete with festivities. Called A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future it contains an extremely troubling political vision where your campus activities and what you are willing to actively advocate for determine who gets a diploma in the future. Others, notably Peter Wood at the National Association of Scholars, have mentioned this report. I am going to focus on aspects that have not been covered.

The first involves picking a new company formed in 2008, Global Perspectives, to essentially shepherd the Crucible Moment vision on behalf of the federal government. Paid of course. That seems a surprising and lucky break for a newcomer until we look into Global Perspectives and discover the Dean of the College of Ed where Bill Ayers was deemed a suitable prof and where CASEL is located. Social and Emotional Learning for a Political Purpose Grand Central Station is apparently an accurate name for certain departments at U-Illinois at Chicago. When we pull up the Global Perspective Inventory to be used on college students, ages 18-24, on their “journey of life.” GPI wants these young adults to

“grow, change, and develop along several dimensions–intellectual, social, civic, physical, moral, spiritual, and religious. And we develop holistically and not departmentally, i.e., we simultaneously develop our mind, sense of self, and relationships [remember our new 3 R’s?] with others. . . We live in a global world, in which multiple perspectives about knowing, sense of identity, and relationships with others are distinct and serve as powerful influences in our society.”

College as a real time, experiential Cultural Anthropology dialogue. How enlightening. Now GPI’s college vision for what it calls “holistic human development” is based on two theoretical perspectives [have you noticed no one implements based on theory when they are paying, only when the taxpayer is?]: intercultural maturity and intercultural communication. GPI then cites our old friend Robert Kegan as the source of its views of intercultural maturity. You know, the Harvard prof working with Peter Senge to get K-12 school districts pushing systems thinking as part of their Common Core implementation? How exciting for students to have the opportunity for Deep and Continual Personal Change for years at a time extending into college. Except that kind of psychological and emotional manipulation using data and feedback and grading and credentials is not typically associated with a Free Society. At least not one that will remain free for long except on paper that few will really understand anymore.

Since students are going to be swimming in systems thinking throughout their formative years, let’s look at the college version to go along with all the posts we have done on K-12. Intercultural maturity is the theory that:

“as people grow [bolded because Growth is now the measure a number of states are using to measure what happens in the classroom] they are engaged [my Gypsy Principal’s favorite word] in meaning making, i.e., trying to make sense of their journey in life. In doing so they not only rely on their thinking, but also on their feelings [there it is again, to be dominant over reason and logic and facts] and relating with others [a synonym for relationships again] in forming and reforming their journey in life. He [Kegan] has identified and labeled three major domains of human development: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal.”

Now before you get too excited at the mention of the word Cognitive remember this is all holistic human development which is based on the silly notion of using education to promote the idea that thinking, feeling, and relating are all equally important. Two come naturally and one only kicks in with instruction and practice. Treating them equally in school and college means thinking will actually be little more than instinct and emotion itself. Sure enough Cognitive becomes about “How do I know?” and acknowledging multiple perspectives and no Universal Truths. A point that is itself I must say Not True. If you do not believe me try going out a 5th story window asserting that Gravity is a Social Construct.

So despite all the knowledge of the Ages this is a view of college that celebrates ignorance and reinventing the wheel, maybe if you are lucky which the American Native Tribes never did. The Intrapersonal domain is “Who am I?” and becoming aware of your values, strengths, and personal characteristics and sense of self. Seems like a waste of tuition to me. I can remember having those insights from studying the Great Works and having the Great Conversation. Now it is just a dialogue among representatives of various interest groups to discuss grievances. How sad.

The Interpersonal domain “How do I relate to others?” tracks how willing the student is to “interact with persons with different social norms and cultural backgrounds, acceptance of others, and being comfortable when relating to others.” Now does it strike anyone else with these definitions of what should be occurring in college, the Critical Reflection and Change Agency push we discussed here will be the best K-12 prep for this view of college? Far more than studying Great Literature or knowing Chemistry or what led to World War 1. See the benefits of College Ready as the Goal when you change the nature of College?

Now once again I have run out of space to start another angle to College Ready. Next will be the Diploma Qualification Profile. Accessible to everyone willing to recognize and then campaign for Transformative Political, Social, and Economic Change. In the US and globally. And once again the accreditors are the enforcers for the poisonous vision.

Stay tuned.

5 thoughts on “College Ready as a Goal of K-12 is not Helpful if First You Gut the Historic Purpose of College

  1. Robin, this is the arena where I am. I am a History Prof at a small Christian college. The two most important “schools” are business and education at our college. We constantly get the “group think” junk from the education people. Overall, the basic outlook of the school has been conservative but we can always count on a kind of imperialism from the ed folks since they assure us they are the only ones who really know how to teach. I can’t even imagine the damage at schools that are not basically conservative and therefore at least somewhat resistant to this stuff. It is bad enough here, especially when we get students who have never learned to think critically at all being fed in from high schools and the state run junior colleges. I always try to stress fundamentals of logic and logical fallacies as a way of awakening their brains and as I tell them “tuning up their baloney detectors.” Keep up the good work Robin. I love your posts. They sometimes help me stay sane because I see I am not the only one who sees the problem.


    • Bless you, Bill, and Robin, for fighting the good fight. As an Algebra 1 teacher in middle school, for 10 yrs I was priveleged to teach some of the brightes minds in the county in a pre pre IB feeder program. Many of those children post on FB and it is getting worse and worse as the election nears. I had no clue, while I was teaching these students, about the truths discussed here and the connections to the past and the future which were never revealed in a history class in public schools. At any levels.

      Now that I have had a year of retirement, immersed myself in Gatto, Iserbyt, and here at serfscollar, read all the back up data I could as I studied these folks and their words, written in books, videos on YouTube, or internet sites like this, I am sick.

      My last few years I was awakening, until I felt like a shiny clean splinter emerging out of a puss filled wound. EEEgads! Now I have to read on FB the results of the public school non-history leassons, given by colleagues I used to respect, and it is political horse manure. Some of the brightest young minds have totally entered the Dark Side. Not all, but most. Prof Bill, keep on teaching, Robin, keep on publishing, and me. . . I can put it out on a website, but now that old friends are discovering what I’m up to, I doubt anyone will read it. I am like a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye. . . .”

      • I am trying to stay with humor for the moment. I keep referring to my youngest’s high school as Vladivovstok High at the moment as the Gypsy Principal shows his loyalty to the large AdvancED banner he put up that reads “Transforming Education Worldwide” by implementing all the socio-cultural theories and practices designed to create the perfect socialist man under Stalin. I am not even kidding.

        I was working on Constructivism and its links to Systems Thinking this morning using a very graphic thesis from Sweden. It pointed out that the emphasis on visual models makes that the dominant way used to gain a group understanding of a concept. A shared understanding, correct or not, is thus the purpose of all this collaboration. I remembered all the exams I took in college and law school with blind grading so that the prof did not know which student he or she thought was doing brilliant work until the grades were turned in.

        No such luck anymore. Too individualistic. So we get mind mapping and conceptual frameworks and learning progressions to direct and constrain thought and try to get everyone visualizing in common ways.

        Who thought we would be regurgitating the bad philosophies behind the 20th centuries tragedies so soon?

        Honestly I had no idea that history major and all that adult reading was going to be quite this interesting. It’s like having the blueprint since it is the broad outlines that repeat and human nature that endures. Regardless of what the IB Learner Profile says.

  2. A sad fact it surely is that most of the history teachers I know don’t even consider those tragedies tragic. When I saw a plaque of Che with a quote on a good friends desk, I asked what it was doing there, in a place of prominence. She mumbled something about a gift from an ex-student of ours, I mumbled back that Che was a murderer, not easy to just mumble. She was not phased, obviously couldn’t begin to relate to my comment. Even then I didn’t see the writing on the wall. When I read what former students post, especially those Ivy League grads of ours, I wish I had been a history major instead of a math major. I still wouldn’t have been exposed to the truth, just like her. Maybe I am better off.

    • It can be quite hard to find history and English programs at many famous schools that are not completely dominated by Postmodernism. You would probably enjoy Keith Windschuttles’ book Killing History. It is from the 90s and Australia but this is a worldwide phenomenon and it is still right on the money. I really recommend parents read the course catalog of the colleges their children believe they want to attend. You may very well find out none of the actual courses being taught are anything you would want to take. At many schools all history is a variant of cultural anthropology. One of my kids picked the college that laughed when I asked the Chair of the Dept what their attitude was to what we had jokingly learned to call (IB Program) “victims lit.”

      Another book I think you would enjoy is Jean Francois Revel’s Last Exit to Utopia. His insights are superb and no one in France was masking what he was dealing with. As a result you learn what various political ideologies actually function like. You’ll soon be able to recognize what you are dealing with if it calls itself Havana Banana Dacquiri with a lovely umbrella as an accent.

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