Constructing an Alternative Vision of Either the Natural or Human World As the Basis for a College Degree

Somehow the Beatles song “Say You Want a Revolution” just popped into my head as I was typing that title and preparing to give you the full quote from “The Degree Qualifications Profile” published by the Lumina Foundation in January 2011. is the link if you want to give this egregiously bad idea a good look. The quote I am about to give you is on page 13 under “Intellectual Skills, Engaging diverse perspectives, bachelor’s level”:

” Constructs a cultural, political, or technological alternative vision of either the natural or human world, embodied in a written project, language, political order, or technological context, and explains how the alternative perspective contributes to results that depart from current norms, dominant cultural assumptions, or technologies–all demonstrated through a project, paper, or performance.”

Perhaps performing a Dance of Despair of what will happen if fossil fuels remain in use and we remain a consumer-oriented society that values economic freedom. Art students could show the lovely Green World that would exist if we returned to an agricultural economy that used windmills and water wheels for power. Oh, that’s right, no artificial damming. Make that just windmills and solar cells and lots of back breaking labor as we return to washing our clothes in streams and drying them on rocks.

I wish I could say I am being facetious but that is close to the vision in these books and speeches (they do leave out the details about laundry but I remember those Little House books well) that underlie this supposedly new economy for the 21st Century that needs a new way of thinking. One that is not very keen on thinking as it has been traditionally understood in the West from the Enlightenment on.

In fact to read Peter Senge and the systems thinkers he represents who aspire to shape K-12 via Common Core or the Lumina DQP I am talking about today or Deep Ecologists like David Orr and Thomas Berry from this post is to constantly be assaulted with an insistence that the 21st Century must embrace radical new minds, mainstream Eastern spiritual practices in everyday life starting in K-12, develop a communitarian economic system that would destroy prosperity, constantly teach and monitor whether students, K-12 and college, are regularly demonstrating that they put others and the common good before their interests, etc.

I have written about the consequences of these initiatives before but the Lumina DQP really is an assault on how little of the past any student is to be allowed to know. And if you think the colleges and universities can escape this noxious mandate, the accreditors got on board almost immediately to “test” Lumina’s framework.  And the accreditors control who gets to participate in the federal student loan program. That’s a lot of leverage for the entities behind the 8 Year Study and developing “objectives” and “outcomes” and alternative assessments to distract the typical taxpayer or parent paying the bill that the focus of first K-12 and now college is shifting away from the transmission of knowledge.

Truly if someone in the Soviet KGB had hatched a scheme during the Cold War and afterwards on how to take down the US specifically and the West generally via its noetic system it would be hard to top the very policies and practices the accreditation agencies have imposed. Whatever their actual intentions or rationales accreditation has been and continues to be a highly effective and lucrative means of national and international cultural destruction.

Finishing up Peter Senge’s 2005 book Presence and its description of an integrated science I found horrifying but that I also recognized from recent carpool comments as I drove, it hit me how much Senge’s systems thinking reminded me of Marx’s famous quote:

“It is not thinking that determines being, but being that determines thinking.”

I think that is just as wrong as can be and I imagine you do too. After all we are essentially having a mental conversation through this blog to discuss some very troubling and potentially tragic ideas. My thoughts and all those private conversations I have had with amazing minds, some long dead, are a large part of the adult I have become. And that’s precisely the problem. That’s not a factual quote or something Marx and Engels and their admirers believe to be true so much as something they want to be true. It is aspirational.

Add in the reality of the K-12 monopoly and who may teach and what and how.  And now all of higher ed, public and private, is subject through the accreditation agencies and their powers to penalize noncompliance via the student loan program. Greedy schemers or political idealogues or just naive ignoramuses making a living as Professors or Principals or Supers and pushing whatever is required are now in a position to realize that Marxian aspiration from so long ago.

To make sure that nothing in education, K-12 or higher ed, public or private, occurs that bolsters the independent, abstract thinking capacity of the individual that would disprove that doctrinal statement. To try to undo the belief system and any Axemaker Mind attributes that came in from home or via religious practices. Instead, if you look at the math wars and reading wars and values clarification and SEL and implementing Dewey’s vision and systems thinking and 21st Century Learning, it is all about the Being side of Marx’s political aspiration.

In fact that is also one of UNESCO’s primary visions for education and Education for All–Learning to Be. Coincidence? I rather doubt it given what historians who have tracked UNESCO practices and preferences have written about which side they empathized with in the Cold War. Do you think celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s birth is a good reason for an official celebration?

Back to the DQP now that we have put all of these previous posts in a firmer context of where this is all going and why it matters so much. To each of us. Anywhere. It is clear that the DQP builds on the “standards for teaching and learning” ruse version of the Common Core we described here . Every description either mentions “learning” or “outcomes” as the goal. The DQP even says explicitly that (their italics, not mine):

“beyond what graduates know, what they can do with what they know is the ultimate benchmark of learning. They emphasize a commitment to analytic inquiry, active learning, real-world problem solving, and innovation–all of which are vital in today’s evolving workplace and in society.”

It’s that 2nd sentence that is the real killer because that assumed evolution is based on a rejection of capitalism and free markets and individuality and fossil fuels and personal liberty. That’s the Ecosystem redesigned and planned economy with the tech companies gathering data and running models so that government agencies can tell citizens what behaviors are deemed  Sustainable and permitted or unSustainable and forbidden. Every bit of college coursework envisioned by that DQP pertains to physical activity and experiences and projects examining and solving “a contemporary or recurring challenge or problem.” The student even “justifies the importance of the challenge in a social or global context.” No refusing to get on board with the need for a Transformation with a capital “T.”

It is hard to imagine the Soviet or Chinese thought police or the administrators of Moscow or Beijing Universities in the 1970s having more interest in limiting what their citizens were allowed to know or do than what the “standards for teaching and learning” prescribe for Common Core in K-12 or the DQP pushes in higher ed.  And then we have initiatives like AACU’s “Character Traits Associated with the Five Dimensions of Personal and Social Responsibility.” When did personality attributes become a matter for the federal government to intervene on? Or state or local?

Can someone please tell me where freedom is hiding in this vision of education? In the fact that there are no gulags yet?

Trust me, between systems thinking, SEL, and deep learning the mind will become its own permanent prison. And then what? What happens when you have expectations of a future without the knowledge or skills to back it up? What happens when the schemers finally begin to recognize central planning fails for reasons other than inadequate computing power or insufficient personal data?

See Mom. Told you I would make good use of that history major. No wonder it is being officially disallowed.


8 thoughts on “Constructing an Alternative Vision of Either the Natural or Human World As the Basis for a College Degree

  1. I wonder how many of them actually know that a lot of this is just warmed over Gramsci and Marcuse? At my college we are on the way to having to jump through the Higher Learning Commission’s hoops again for accrediatation and so I am reading their current criteria, the one’s still in process of adoption.and I am noticing some changes from their previous guides. The new one is available at HLC’s main website if you want to have a look for yourself Robin.

    • Thank you Bill. I have seen it. Long since copied those standards. What I have found is that there are certain areas that are highlighted for change and then other areas where the radical change stays in place but you would not recognize the real obligations unless you saw several versions of the standards over time. There are really only 3 accreditors (I count AdvancED’s subs as 1) in the US and they coordinate together and then there are the international Quality Assurance efforts through the UN.

      Sounds like you at least still have periodic accreditation reviews although no one seems able to get 10 years anymore. Takes too long to spread the poison. Some of the accreditors are going to a continuous process that just keeps ratcheting. What a misnomer Continuous Improvement is under those circumstances. Continually cranking up the Dewey Reconstructionist vision for education. There are statements in an April 2012 NACIQI report that the Presidents of both Dartmouth and Princeton have testified that accreditation has become a harmful process.

      Judith Eaton of CHEA wrote a February 22, 2012 statement that the federal government was now driving what goes on in higher ed and is simply using the accreditors as administrators. It looks to me like the Administration and the accreditors are all pushing a political vision for changing the noetic system via education just as John Dewey and Ralph Tyler and the Progressive Education Association all wanted back in the 30s with that Eight Year Study.

      Lots of things with respect to education get started in Chicago.

      • Thanks on the Dewey connection. I saw his stuff as poison long ago. My major fields of study are History, Philosophy, and Theology. The ed people are so old fashioned in their clinging to the failed philosophical ideas of Dewey. His positions are so logically untenable and, just like Logical Positivism, so self-defeating, how can anyone take this stuff seriously?

        • Some honestly believe human nature can be changed. Most have no idea that economic freedom is the source of so much prosperity and that they would be gutting the economic pie they rely on. That it is not fixed. One professor I read who is darn influential as he gave a TED talk, David Christian, as Bill Gates pushed him, has written that the problem with the Soviet Union was caused by switching from an agricultural economy. That it would work if you grafted it onto the industrialized West.

          It’s no accident that whatever the area, using education to destroy the concept of individuality is a high priority. Plus they do not really know Dewey. I do. I have read numerous biographies and consider him at best a naive dreamer. But the references to him remain quite current among the schemers. In fact Senge mentions Dewey admiringly in that Presence book from 2005 that talks a great deal about education. He also embraces Thomas Berry explicitly.

  2. Oh, OK. I get it. They are like all those pseudo-intellectuals fo the 1920s who droned on and on about Freud and sexual liberation but had never actually read Civilization and Its Discontents. If they had, they would have know Freud was not for throwing away all the Victorian rules but only loosening them a bit and that he actually thought a bit of neurosis worth it if it meant we got to keep civilization.

  3. The quoted statement in the post now reads, at the link provided:

    “Constructs a cultural, political, or technological alternative vision of either the natural or human world, embodied in a written project, laboratory report, exhibit, performance, or community service design; defines the distinct patterns in this alternative vision; and explains how they differ from current realities.”

    The greater conceptual detail embodied in the terms “political order,” and “that depart from current norms, dominant cultural assumptions, or technologies” appears to me to be indicative of perhaps a self-conscious recognition that they were giving away too much of the game.

    Dewey’s romantic infatuation with the methods and goals of education within the Soviet Union does, indeed, live on within contemporary K-12 education and the multitudinous intellectual fads that comprise its intent and content.

  4. “Every bit of college coursework envisioned by that DQP pertains to physical activity and experiences and projects examining and solving “a contemporary or recurring challenge or problem.” The student even “justifies the importance of the challenge in a social or global context.” No refusing to get on board with the need for a Transformation with a capital “T.”

    In reading the Lumina DQP and the Crucible paper, all of this stands out quite clearly (as it does in numerous other documents I’ve read over the years of the same kind), and really seems to be nothing more that a series of restatements, in various guises, of the Marxian concept of praxis. Everything, following Dewey and what appears to be the overwhelming fixation and focus of modern public education, must be “relevant.” It must have some direct connection to political action, agitation, “social justice,” and “change.”

    • But every barrier in the past that made this a partial implementation on certain campuses or in certain departments is being removed.

      We are in the process of getting a nationwide and international (if you read the Bologna documents which I have) transformation that is mandated. Like it or not. And essentially serving as the gateway to any job once you add on the Qualifications Frameworks.

      Thanks for following up with the linked documents. You can see why I am so worried.

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