Experimenting on American Children with Soviet Psych and Political Theories as Federal Policy

What’s that line from the movie Casablanca about “of all the gin joints in all the world you had to walk into mine?” I read so much troubling stuff, from theories to open declarations, that I tend now to take what is going on for granted and try to figure out ways to explain it.  When I read statements about research into “characteristics of users” I know users refers to actual children and their personalities and what makes them tick and what their family background is. When a federal report talks about “solid evidence of combinations of user characteristics and specific adaptations that matter” the report wants to use American students as guinea pigs to see what it will take to make students change behaviors and feelings and values and other motivational factors. The report seeks to examine how the level of resistance or ease corresponds to personality traits and family back ground.

When I first read http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/Expanding-Evidence-Approaches.pdf released by the federal DoEd in February about “assessing noncognitive features” I knew the feds wanted to investigate feelings and beliefs and values at a horrifically intrusive level that does not belong in a free society. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-the-system-seeks-to-destroy-the-ability-to-think-can-james-madison-save-us/ is a piece I wrote more than a year ago explaining that under the US Constitution the feds are targeting areas that constitute personal private property that is supposed to be off limits. I had no idea then at the level of sought intrusions, only that I was looking at principals and Supers who seemed to assume there were no barriers except personal ambition on what they and their staffs could do to students in the classroom. Think of it as a cultivated belief that a title or Ed doctorate authorizes all except sex with an underage student or embezzlement.

The recognition that the schools plan to conduct cutting edge research through “learning sciences theory” into “metacognitive factors” that have previously been inaccessible in a mass way and use “educational data mining and learning analytics [to] uncover patterns of learner behavior” that can lead to “insights as to whether alternative A or Alternative B is more promising” was alarming when I read it in that federal report. It also put the controversy last winter when both Glenn Beck and Michele Malkin did stories on the hugely troubling Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance Report into context.  http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf .

Grit, tenacity, and perseverance are all the so-called “metacognitive factors” the federal DoEd wanted to use digital learning to do research into. When the stories came out the media dutifully responded with attempts to portray the stories as out-of-line, over-hyped to get readers and viewers, and consistent with a black helicopter view of the world. A rather strange way to characterize accurate reporting of an official federal agency report. That had been quietly released without publicity.

The critical reports would have had more bite if Beck and Malkin and others had known about “Expanding Evidence Approaches Learning in a Digital World” that laid out the broader research agenda. Especially looking at all the Recommendations on page xii that the federal government wants to do or have others push with its support. And great gratitude with its coffers of taxpayer treasure and ability to regulate to show its thanks. When recommendation 2 says “Learning technology developers should use established basic research principles and learning science theory as the foundation for designing and improving digital learning resources,” the feds are saying to the private sector and venture capitalists that to gain the lucrative education contracts, they need to design based on the cultural-historical activity theory that radical professors who studied with Soviet psychologists like Luria and Leontiev developed. The theory that rejects individual mental thought altogether except what is picked up from personal experiences interacting with others. I first explained this shift here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/

Coincidentally I was actually reading a 2005 book this week called Culture & Context in Human Behavior Change: Theory, Research and Applications to clarify why this new sociocultural emphasis for the classroom that comes from Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky had become so vital to the actual Common Core classroom. The book kindly informed me that references to improved student performance or achievement or learning are all euphemisms in sociocultural, learning sciences, theory for changed human behavior. And that emotions are a type of behavior. Comforting, huh?

So who are the lucky schools and districts doing this experimental research on their students to use computers as the Vygotskyian sociocultural tool that mediates thought and makes collaboration with others the whole point of education? Well the initiative is called Digital Promise and the feds are hyping that it is bipartisan and authorized by Congress. Arne Duncan also likes to call it an independent third party nonprofit which is rather Orwellian since the seed financing was $500,000 from the federal DoEd with another $2,000,000 or so from the Gates, Carnegie, and the Hewlett Foundations. The very foundations who asked for and underwrote that Education For Life & Work report rejecting traditional education research as too oriented to individual thinking. And its governing Board is congressionally appointed. Does anyone on the Rep side on Capitol Hill appreciate what CHAT and learning sciences theory is and why all this matters? Why getting digital and blended learning to US classrooms is an essential part of a stealth long-term political coup financed with taxpayer dollars?

The initial guinea pigs are students in the 32 districts and schools that have signed this Organizational Charter to join the League of Innovative Schools.  http://www.digitalpromise.org/content/uploads/LIS-Charter-FINAL-5.23.12.pdf Unfortunately one of the districts who signed was my school district, Fulton County. I was not following what Fulton was doing but looking at what is cutting edge research now. And Fulton, like many districts with a strong property tax base and lots of upper middle class neighborhoods, is quite full now with ambitious people who want to sell what they are willing to do to children as a means of getting the next promotion or maybe even their own school district to manage.

That’s how ed administration works these days. “What will you agree to do no matter how horrified parents, teachers, students, and taxpayers are? Are you good at deceit? Can you dissemble with a grin as if you care?” Many of the districts on that list like Chicago, NYC, Houston, and Baltimore are typical urban districts but in a suburban district like Fulton, administrators are agreeing to take high schools that used to regularly produce 5s on the AP Calculus B/C exam and leave students only with a “strengthened ability to leverage cutting-edge technologies and to demonstrate 21st century skills.” That’s vocational as the new definition of what it means to be college and career ready. Deliberately levelling down while targeting the student’s personality for change.

To get the desired “real-time updates about what’s working and what isn’t” means taking the taxpayers’ property and sales taxes and using it to fund human behavioral experimentation. On their own or neighborhood children. There is no term better known from the controversial BF Skinner era of behavioral research of Stimulus-Response than the Black Box as in “I don’t care what goes on in the Black Box of wishes, I can train people like pigeons.” So when Digital Promise’s Charter agreement says ” A series of micro-level experiments will be rapidly conducted to unlock the black box of achievement and discover how technologies should be used to make classrooms and schools work more effectively.” these districts and schools are agreeing to impose CHAT sociocultural theory on classrooms and then conduct the kind of noncognitive research outlined above. The research that cared about student characteristics and what it took to gain adaptation. Change within the student.

There are only a few countries in the world that are listed as attempting to carry on the type of research that the League of Innovative Schools has agreed to deliver up their students as sacrificial lambs to do. Denmark, Norway, the UK, and now the US. The type of shifts that will constitute the new learner outcomes and the planned shift in both the classrooms and future workplaces (the attached new type of capitalism, remember?) are laid out if you have the time in a 2010 book called Learning Across Sites: New tools, infrastructures and practices.

So once again what is masquerading in the US as the Common Core is actually part of a much broader global vision to use education and technology to remake the nature of the economy and society. In the West that did not just try to overlay Uncle Karl’s vision of the future on an agricultural society but went though the Industrial Revolution and created high levels of wealth and technology. It is redistribution time.

You know how one of the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills is Collaboration? That Learning Across Sites book makes it clear that collaboration, either at school or the workplace, is NOT just joint activity. No, participants must see each other’s perspectives and appreciate each other’s experiences and aptitudes and collectively reach an agreement of how to proceed. Collaboration is priming the student to break down beliefs that he or she is entitled to their individuality. Instead, he or she is to adjust to being a contributing member of the group and a proficient user of the tools of technology.

I wish I was exaggerating or making this up. I wish I was straining to make pieces fit to tell a good story instead of dropping pieces into places they were created to fit.

I wish our children were not the next targets to be created to fit.

33 thoughts on “Experimenting on American Children with Soviet Psych and Political Theories as Federal Policy

  1. There may yet be a glimmer of hope in all of this. If there’s one thing all these theories of pedagogy, educational fads, and the corruption of K-12 by government money and its monopoly of education share (beyond leftist ideology), its that – they don’t work. Children aren’t being educated, and any actual testing of their competence in various subjects will demonstrate such.


    Empirical facts and actual lack of knowledge when asked to stand and deliver are still harsh taskmasters. I suppose the real question is whether we will be able to build a seawall against this before another generation arises that just doesn’t care whether it knows anything or not, so long as the benefit checks keep coming, bread and circuses are plentiful, and healthcare is “free.”

    • Loran,

      That’s a great link. Apple, Wireless Generation (now Amplify sub and thus part of the Corporatism Malkin mentioned),Cisco, and Pearson have all since joined Digital Promise as corporate sponsors. You bring in revenue via taxpayers AND you take out the next generation’s Axemaker Minds that might be able to come up with competing technology. Conveeenient indeed. Also this Follett company I was not familiar with. http://www.titlewave.com/ You also have all sorts of connections with who is backing that New Schools Venture Fund from the last post and who benefits from Digital Promise.

      Empirical facts still affect the consequences even if everyone is unaware. With this cultivated ignorance we have the unintended unforeseeable consequences biting but also the foreseeable for anyone with a brain that we are just ignoring. Irina Bokova’s planned coordination with the Alliance of Civilizations may lead us not seeing what is coming until we are literally in mortal peril. If someone truly hates us and wants to kill us it is best not to pretend it isn’t so.

  2. Another of my occasional comments about math …

    I’m not so sure I would mind shaking up the math curriculum even in the better districts. It’s weak by world standards and could stand improvement. (It’s weak by old-time world standards, that is. If they manage to dumb down the rest of the world, that might no longer be true.) I am just hoping for the best rather than the worst.

    I looked at some samples of high school common core math content around the time you were writing about Jason Zimba, the physicist-without-a-past who is setting math standards. Well he gives me the spooks, but the math stuff I saw was respectable, likely a good step better than what’s being done now in the “advanced” math track in high schools. It’s not like what we have been doing before is all that great by world standards. My high school produced a few 5’s on BC in my senior year and I got one of them, so it worked out for me and made me look good, but maybe I get to complain a bit about it too.

    Precalculus is a filler year in my opinion, we should have a slightly stronger Algebra 2 course in 10th grade, and get right on with Calculus in 11th grade. In my district, students actually take the Algebra 2 / Trig Regents exam, covering 10th grade material, in the middle of 11th grade Precalc., because it’s all the same sort of stuff. Which, to be perfectly honest, isn’t really different from what I’d consider a solid understanding of Algebra 1. Set up a problem (write down the situation in algebraic language), do algebraic manipulations as required, get the answer. So now (and for the past 40 years or more) we have the same material 3 times: Algebra 1 (8th grade), Algebra 2 (10th), and Precalc (11th). I would just make that twice (8th and 10th grade) rather than 3 times, then pull off the magic veil and start Calculus in 11th grade. (9th grade is Geometry, an oddball but still a keeper.) You can still build fluency and planning ability in algebra while learning the basic concepts of calculus. In fact, that’s where you see why you needed to learn certain things earlier, and I always learn better with a sense of urgency and knowing why I am learning something. Even if AP students get lower scores in 11th grade than they would have gotten in 12th, they are probably better off in terms of their ultimate learning.

    Why build suspense but hold the real calculus material back?? This will help us do better on worldwide math comparisons and let us to have stronger high school science courses too. Those students who need an extra of year of preparation can still take the first calculus course in 12th grade. But at least it won’t look like that’s all one could possibly do. For a technical professional calculus is basic toolkit, not a capstone. It’s better to start it early even if understanding is imperfect. so there’s more time to improve understanding.

    What I saw in those math standards and examples looked like that slightly stronger Algebra 2 course, coming after a stronger Geometry course. I think they could do what I describe above, on the back of the new courses if they are trying to do the right thing. Teach less things, teach them at sufficient depth (usual meaning of the word, not the PC meaning), then get on with the next thing.

    And so, to use the words David Coleman in a way he may not intend: we should push all students, even our best math students, into these opportunities. David has expressed no interest at all in having an AP Calculus 2 course, so his thinking is probably not the same as mine. Giving the best students an extra year’s worth of math learning does not exactly close the “gap”. So if they’re trying to do the wrong thing, or they’re forced to do some weird stuff with learning frameworks that wastes years of everyone’s time, then we surely get the bad outcome.

    Robin, what are they doing now in Fulton County? Are they messing up the advanced math sequence already?

    • It’s gone and they forced the most advanced students who were in Algebra in 7th grade to repeat the same course work in 8th so they would only be 1 year ahead and then what was classes as Honors was being ahead of grade level so the bright 9th graders are with the on level 10th graders and it’s all group projects.

      Equity means equity. You cannot provide content to anyone unless it’s accessible to all.

      Having been on the distribution lists for a number of years now I do not like what I see. It’s all real world applications assuming we are shifting to a Gaia’s got a fever, we all need to work together to reorganize our society economy. I actually use materials released a couple of years ago before the controversy broke out to compare the language in the standards to the planned tasks at several grade levels. It was shocking. I finished going through and reediting that part of the book about 10 days ago so it’s rather fresh in my mind.

      This is not what I used but it is Jason and Bill MacCullum’s site on how to implement the CC math. http://commoncoretools.me/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ccss_progression_frontmatter_2013_07_30.pdf You can play around on that site for whatever interests you but that’s a good resource.

      You seem to be assuming content will remain. Right now this is just a vehicle for social interaction using computers to model and obscure how little content is left that involves mental knowledge.

      http://commoncoretools.me/ is the main home page of the site.

      • Anon-

        I get the National Academy of Sciences publications and have the reports over the last two years forcing higher ed to remake their intro math and science courses to no longer act as barriers supposedly for women and minorities to pursue degrees in those areas. In other words, not being good in math and chemistry should no longer be a barrier. I personally do not want to cross bridges designed by someone who got their degree relying on group work.

        You would have to read what I read to truly appreciate just how much hostility there is to the very idea of logical mental work by an individual. Plus there is the idea that textbooks represent other people’s ideas and activities and are therefore inauthentic. If we go back to the David Christian Big History post we are talking about limiting access to the culture built up over generations so that people devolve back to little more than intelligent apes. It is absurd from a practical point of few but we are operating from understanding the consequences of these theories. Ed admin now is set up so teachers and principals will just push as they are told so that the political consequences can occur.

        This is an end game scenario now but we are already dealing with the consequences of not much knowledge and a limited ability or willingness to read and just prescribing ADHD meds at any sign of restlessness and a generation with degrees but not much to sell apart from their time. That’s why minimum wage jobs are what is available. It reflects time to sell but no expertise anyone wants to voluntarily pay premium for.

        Someone who can do traditional calculus is capable of discerning when they are being lied to because they can recognize when something does not follow. The Soviets discovered that expertise in any area made dissidence more likely. It also makes it easier to become an expert in another area. Instead we are to get what the Korean advocates of Big History are calling convergence education. Only what is relevant to dealing with current social problems.

        • I certainly agree with Robin’s comments at the end, which amount to the traditional definition of an educated individual. Knows one thing well and a bit about other things. A hard sort to lie to or rush blindly into a social-justice movement. We don’t do “blindly” very well.

          Engineering school improved my verbal GRE score vs. my SAT. And my humanities focus during it wasn’t literature, but music.

          Anonymous, your link linked onward to the MAA / NCTM position paper: http://www.maa.org/news/a-joint-position-statement-of-the-mathematical-association-of-america-and-the-national-council-of

          It’s pretty interesting. I think I am seeing the outline of where this is going for STEM.

          Contrary to my recommendation (!), they are trying to toughen and further restrict both high school and college calculus courses. Those students who don’t have high school calc. will be shunted to an alternative, probably “statistics” which, without quite a bit more than beginning calculus, cannot be other than a stats-for-poets course.

          They say in the MAA / NCTM joint statement that college math should be “new”. (Flying in the face of the idea of “spiral curriculum” they have been pushing since forever.) They don’t want high school students learning a bit about it first to get a head start. They want freshman math to be hard. That means more flunkouts. Even some from the accelerated track in high school will be dropped at this stage. You won’t need the first engineering courses to flunk out prospective engineers. Many won’t even make it through the calculus requirement.

          So I think they are trying to preserve some technically competent people and as I’ve said, the content standards for accelerated track high school courses look fine. But for those who don’t make the cut in about sixth grade, there will be no second chance. (I see this in my district. For kids to make that year up, rising seventh graders who didn’t make the cut this year were told they’ll have to take Geometry and Algebra 2 / Trig SIMULTANEOUSLY in 10th grade to get to calculus, they can’t take one outside or in summer school, or just jump ahead and try calculus after Algebra 2. It’s on the same letter that’s sent to everyone; fortunately my kid made the cut!) They’ll receive pablum with no help and opportunity to work hard to get the real stuff. They’ll be in a seamless web with everyone telling them it’s good enough and they are doing fine. And lots of very time consuming stats projects keeping them very busy.

          This will probably have another desired effect. Since boys are often out of control at that young age, some of them will not make the accelerated track. I expect this will somewhat equalize the imbalance between boys and girls pursuing STEM, by killing the chances of late-bloomers. The truly great American tradition of the second chance for late bloomers is being killed with full intention.

          Two other thoughts:
          (1) by making sure nobody gets more than one calc. course in high school, the NCTM ensures that the skillset of their existing members is enough, and
          (2) if we put the flunkout courses at the very front of STEM college curricula, by making calculus course “new” even for those who had calc. in high school, and something the kids are unprepared for, it may more leave more time for squishy social engineering stuff later in those curricula too, and we would still call the graduates “engineer”, “mathematician”, etc.

          • Robin and David,
            Thank you for your insight. I often see what educators are told, but you provide the history. Case in point, I know in NY we are told to TEACH the standards (not meet them), but why. No one at state ed is explaining, and often teachers aren’t asking. How do we educate the masses? It makes me sad to know that many kids will be deprived of calc or pre-calc. My own grown kids have benefited immensely. “Do I (we) dare disturb the universe?”

  3. Hugh Hewitt has been interviewing people this week regarding CC. people have been approaching him and asking what he thinks…he didn’t know so invited guests to explain. He had Bill Bennett, Jay Matthews from The Washington Post (who talks about an interesting alternative and who is writing a book),Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and others.
    no one mentioned anything about the main reason to be concerned, progressives and leftists messing with our kids in a big way.(Attitudes, beliefs, feelings, brainwashing) no one mentioned that we are being duped and lied to about the true deviousness that is at the core of Common Core. The transcripts do not cover every guest. One person he had on did bring up the fact that CC is “owned” by private funding, pointing out that “Governor’s Association” is misleading.
    Mostly those opposed repeated the same thing about local control versus the Federal Government. Massachussets was mentioned as a high performing state and CC would be a step down for them.
    I did e-mail him a link to this blog in the hopes that he will take a look.

    • Thanks Marlene,

      The Left has extensive academic scholarship going back decades that I have studied on how to get implementation with fidelity to the intentions of the creators in national ed reform. I find it sloppy that people who hold themselves out as ed reformers or politicians or consultants or pundits wanting to specialize in education are not familiar with it. The Community of Learners and the Effective Teacher evals are both designed specifically to stop teachers from closing the door and still teaching content this time. Both are to be legally binding. One by how teachers are to be judged and the other principals. Both are designed to force CHAT sociocultural theory into each classroom. CHAT was created as a tool to change the direction of conscious human evolution by targeting the culture and changing what is transmitted or accessible to a student.

      Maybe it’s the lawyer in me but the question of who and what institutions have jurisdiction to regulate and affect implementation is the essence of foundational questions.

      Content standards are not self-executing. The intentions of supporters or opponents or who they trust to do right by kids should not be the relevant analysis now. It is just naive about what the actual drivers are. The Left so thoroughly understands the drivers that they deliberately create lucrative conflicts of interest all along the pathways to the schools and classroom to make sure everyone involved is on the taxpayer funded, no real risk of downside, financial ride of their life to provide the incentives for continued fidelity. That is part of why I snarked bout ed admin in the post. To get people to start imagining how all this could be happening and why so many would go along without challenge.

    • ISCAR is a good example of the active international coordination we are up against and we are talking local vs federal. http://www.iscar2014.com/ In Georgia the accreditors with help from the counseling provided by the self-interested State School Board association is telling local school board members once they get elected that they have virtually no oversight jurisdiction beyond finances and hiring and firing Super. Where’s the local control there? A former central office bureaucrat sets up a consulting business to do the training for members of the local school councils to tell them their duties while chairing one herself and billing the school district for all the training? The local councils are supposed to have oversight but they only know what they are told and what they are told is what preserves the lucrative consulting contract. Again, where’s the real local control then?

      http://www.hkr.se/PageFiles/18739/ISCARflyereng.pdf explains what ISCAR is up to. When I was researching this post I looked t Michael Cole’s book Cultural Psychology. That’s where I read he had been an actual student of Luria’s. And Bronfenbrenner was an exchange student with Leontiev who proposed all this as an experiment on the West as I wrote about months ago. I get BEST searches almost daily so I know the Ecological Systems Theory metaphor is a huge factor in what teachers are being told they must now do except I am not sure very many get BEST is a metaphor for an aspiration of how people are to now see themselves in relation to society and the economy and their physical environment.

      • http://www.hkr.se/PageFiles/18739/ISCARflyereng.pdf

        “Another interest for some ISCAR members is to
        explore the main philosophical traditions that
        underpin the cultural-historica l study of practices. This includes the dialectical logic and historical materialism of Hegel and Marx,toward which the original psychological traditions were oriented, but many also work with concepts, principles and methods from pragmatist, narrative, poststructuralist and existentialist philosophies.?”

        To be honest, Robin, what this really sounds like is something like a kind of nascent pedagogical Frankfurt School. Hegelian phenomenology, Marxian dialectical materialism, existentialism, postmodernism, in fine, a substantial portion of the whole Continental philosophical ghetto (save for Dewian pragmatism, but Dewey had much good to say about Soviet-style educational theories and practices).

        In American one sees the same thing throughout the various movements and fads, only with “diversity,” multiculturalism, “sustainability,” and green ideology generally taking the place of the more rarefied philosophical concerns. The whole thing is, however, bathed in a broadly “cultural Marxist” broth with a distinct “critical theory” texture throughout.

        The jaw just drops.

        • I keep coming up with these strong titles but the tragedy is the links more than back up the accuracy.

          I went back to our friend Yrgo Engestrom today knowing he was one of the authors in that 2010 book and that he worked with Michael Cole. It is all those things you cited. I am going to revisit this again because I found an excellent recent link that continues to support what I have thought for a while.

          Engestrom came up with his Learning by Expansion theory in what I call the magical year of 1987. Literally ed all over the world was setting up to go on offense for reasons I explain in the book, they KNEW ed was going to become the means of gaining the desired transformation in the West while people had their guard down. When I first read that 1987 National Research Council paper by Lauren Resnick (who was on the Governing Board of the 2011 ISCAR Congress in Rome) I noticed that several of the people like Cole and Ann Brown who I had tied to CHAT or trips to the USSR were also involved with that paper laying out Higher Order Thinking Skills.

          I think it is all just slightly different ways of stating the same desired shift. It also fits with the paper I found from Pearson on what and how they would be assessing and why it was so important that it be group work and ambiguous, untaught, nonlinear questions. John Dewey called the same basic idea the Indeterminate Situation.

          It is an intentional coup but it is unclear whether the typical Super for example of one of these large school districts knows that or they know it but not the real implications. But if you read that Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World paper there is no question this IS the learning sciences theory. Like “teaching and learning” that is a term of art for sociocultural all over the world. But no lay person would know that and these Doctorates don’t include this kind of analysis of the underlying philosophy.

          Frequently sociocultural and CHAT just get hidden as the “new science of learning” or the “modern theories of brain-based research” without adding it is brain-based because physiologically making it weaker permanently is a desired goal.

          It truly is jaw dropping and if anything I keep the hype to a minimum once you read the original sources. I really could have happily gone to my grave without ever learning what was really sought with Dialectics. That word should always come with an adult beverage to take the edge off.

  4. http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf

    There’s a great deal here to chew on, but page 35 lays it all out in just a couple of terms:

    “Climate is fair, respectful, and caring; conveys high expectations, PRAISES EFFORT OVER ABILITY, provides opportunities for practice, feedback, reflection; MINIMAL EMPHASIS ON EXTRINSIC REWARDS (i.e., grades, honors, praise for being “smart” or having intellectual depth); supports development of psychological resources that promote grit…”

    So then, what do we really have here? A day care center stretching from kindergarten through the end of high school that presents us with a cross between Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and H.G. Well’s “The Shape of Things to Come” that is caring, respectful, and “fair” and apparently devoid of obvious failure and its consequences as well as any sense of differentials in individual aptitude, ability, and intellectual qualities and the possibility of setting fire to the imaginations and intellects of kids as individuals (not collectives doing Power Point presentations or puppet shows) by opening the world of the mind to them (not just preparing them to work for Bill Gates or the Tides Foundation), and in which effort is more important than actual competence or merit and individual rewards (the perception that one has personally succeeded) is discouraged.

    This is the next great civil rights struggle and civil (culture) war. It really is.

  5. http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf

    It gets even better as one progresses through this. From page 40:

    “Evaluation of student performance should be carefully designed not to undermine perceptions of competence and future expectations”

    Is it just me, or should this essentially be translated as “No one gets less than a B” regardless of the work they do? Apparently, as everything is to be “fair,” and effort is more important than knowledge, the modern classroom is to be essentially one grand exercise in group psychology.

  6. http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf

    Also from page 40:

    “• Extrinsic rewards and punishments that undermine intrinsic motivation should be avoided.”

    “• Authoritarian discipline policies that limit students’ options and opportunities for self-expression undermine intrinsic motivation and persistence.”

    Rewards for well done intellectual work “undermine” intrinsic motivation? I’m wondering now just what this concept of “intrinsic motivation” actually means to the theorists of true grit? I haven’t seen a clear definition (clear definitions of concepts being hard to come by, its seems, in many of these position papers and manifestos) yet, but it would appear that “intrinsic motivation” perhaps, being decoupled from reward for personal effort, may be related to some collectivist/communitarian notions of the “common good” (I do what I do in school for the glory of our great people’s revolution, not for any selfish personal ends like developing my individual potential as a person for my own self-determined ends and goals as a human being).

    The absence of discipline and the limiting of student’s “self-expression” needs more fleshing out, but I’ve not seen it yet. I’ve found most of these kinds of papers to be quite reticent about being clear and concise about what is really being said and promulgated and its implications in actual practice.

    You know, so much of this I’ve been researching with more intensity since finding this blog looks more and more like Obamacare – vote for it first, worry about what’s in it later.

    Trust us, we’re the experts…

    • Look at the pictures on p.44 of that “Grit” report. Facial expression camera, posture analysis seat, pressure mouse, wireless skin conductance sensor.

      We surely want to send our kids to schools using those. Or maybe we prefer the “stealth assessment” (see the caption under the figure on p.43).

      I guess they’re already doing some of this stuff in our middle school. The sample conduct report card looks like the same sort of stuff my sixth grader was rated on. It’s highly subjective and dependent on whether the teacher loves him or hates him. A positive mindset is indeed a good thing, and I’ve developed such attitudes for myself in the areas where I have succeeded. But I thought teachers, parents, pastors, etc. were already tasked with instilling these attitudes. The over-formalization to a ridiculous degree (facial expression camera!?) makes me think it’s the data collection they are after more than the teaching. One can collect an almost infinite and unlimited set of data when one is supposedly analyzing long-term and ill-defined characteristics like grit, tenacity and perseverance.

      • It is the data collection. The info being given off in this gaming and probing of motivation and tracking what strategies are when there is no right answer give off info that lets computers predict responses in the future within probability ranges.

        It was the pictures Beck and Malkin wrote about and did the show on and then what Ed Week and I think Fordham then belittled as if no such pictures existed. Like I said the responses were odd given this is a federal report. And it is clearly a subsidiary report to the other report. Which I only know about from Karen Cor’s keynote at the New Media Consortium Conference. She spoke there right as she was starting her new job as head of Digital Promise.

      • it seems like they want to measure how much abuse kids will take before they crack. in other words, how much deep learning or psychotherapy or SEL does it take to make each subject change their world view against the established Judeo-Christian foundations of their parents and society. the grit and tenacity measures and identifies who is not going along, whos parents are opposition to transformation to the epic convergence desired by the occultists and the psychosocial behaviorists and the progressives and the oligarchs.
        has anyone seen the video of the southafrican school teacher who requires her students to be beaten 5 times on the hand viciously with a stick before leaving class. many just take it and one is scared and she backs her into a corner its horrid!!!
        It is so painful to watch but illustrates who has the grit and tenacity and who does not. It is the overt method. here we have the covert method.

        • You could be right. Grit and tenacity for putting up with abuse, nonsense, the prevailing dogma. Not grit and tenacity in pursuit of individualistic goals, the way we have always used those words in America.

          Sometimes I think they do want my seventh grader to crack. And sometimes he is trying to get them to crack. But they are bigger than he is, and they seem to be eager to find an excuse not to leave him alone.

    • “(clear definitions of concepts being hard to come by, its seems, in many of these position papers and manifestos)”

      Part of the problem with engaging the edu-babble is that it IS babble, so it is very easy to get sucked into the incoherence. That’s why I keep focusing on the Underpants Gnome aspects of all of this. When these people say that they want to do X in order to accomplish Y, it is important not to get too taken up with Y, because usually X causing Y is an utterly absurd fantasy. Keep the focus on what they are doing — what is quite clearly evil — and try not to engage too much about their imagined outcomes. So someone asks you, “well why would this group or that group want to do this?” Your reply needs to be, “Well that group is in it for the money, but they are going to be as screwed as everybody else is when it results in widespread economic devastation.” And, “This other group thinks that we will have a utopia of happy people, but we know from the 20th Century that it always ends up in genocide, and that their skulls are going to be at the bottom layer in the new killing fields.”

      Otherwise you get suckered into being against “work skills” or “happiness” because you don’t ridicule from the beginning that their claimed ends could possibly be accomplished by their means.

      • I do get involved though in the imagined outcomes which is what I am doing this afternoon when they are clearly impossible and likely to be tragic. They typically are about as feasible as decreeing unicorn rides for all kids but not nearly as easy to recognize as not feasible.

        Some of my best research has come from looking at where the expressed intentions has to go, not where it says it is going. Frequently that pathway will be full of pertinent aspects of what is a much broader coordinated effort.

    • Yes it’s an abuse of language to skip ahead to the end of Bloom’s Taxonomy without doing the earlier steps. Then you can’t do the end right. So they fix that problem by redefining what the higher level steps mean, so they can be available to all students.

      The article shows an excellent example of why the “content” that’s skipped is not the sort of thing you can just look up on the internet as needed. Skipping the algorithms of arithmetic, which under good circumstances take at least several years of elementary school to master (for those who ever do master them) is a deficit that web-surfing in the heat of battle cannot remedy.

      I guess the problem is that some kids never mastered them, so they cannot remain in the curriculum. Too risky in terms of the achievement gap.

  7. Robin, I have an idea for the ISC site, you can take it or leave it: Can you create a sidebar on the site (that would appear on the side of every post) with a glossary of terms, abbreviations and acronyms? So we can keep in mind what all four letters of CHAT mean, and what the “new 3 R’s” are, etc.

    You may already have this for the book?

    • I agree that might be useful, especially for expansion of acronyms. CCSSO vs. CCSSI (which have no common words), etc.There are actually some clever puns, I gotta give them credit.

      Going beyond that though, some of the words and ideas might be hard to define suitably in one paragraph, since often Robin’s point is that that thing is not what it’s advertised to be, and so maybe it’s best handled by additional tags.

      Maybe she could define things in a purely legal way or by reference to the money sources driving them, and then as people read about things here or elsewhere, they can see the difference between Robin’s practical definition (practical as in “follow the money”) and whatever is being advertised. Sort of a sarcastic Devil’s Dictionary.

      • David-

        You and Cathy would appreciate this link to The Great Transition vision of using changed consciousness to try to drive cultural evolution. http://www.tellus.org/publications/files/ECOLEC3069.pdf

        It’s like ed becomes the driver for creating the Global Citizens Movement and no one in charge has any appreciation for what they are gutting.

        I am reading Juliet Schon’s 2010 book Plenitude because sociology profs make such good planners for all of us. She brings up Environmental Economics and says it was the brainchild of Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren. 21st Century Skills coupled to gaming and software geared to perceptual levels and accessing motivational info is tremendously useful to these transformation goals going back decades.

        • So looking at the two figures at the end, and knowing he favors the “policy reform” outcome not the “market forces” one, he allows two ways to get to his desired destination:

          (1) weak human response with shocks big enough to destabilize the system, or

          (2) strong human response (which he wants to promote as his policy prescription), tolerable shocks, and inadequate market adjustment.

          Basically he wants to build some sort of movement strong enough to overcome and defeat the market economy.

          And he thinks this is good!? He’s willing to make the assumption that once stability is gone, the “Global
          Citizens’ Movement” will have control of where things end up. Too bad the Mensheviks aren’t around to remind him how that worked for them in 1917 Russia.

          What’s a bit scary is that this is a well connected guy whose organization won the Nobel Peace Prize (though shared with Al Gore, and only Gore was mentioned by name in the prize announcement.)

          • These are the sorts of plans I just keep encountering. By influential people with access to power and deep pockets.

            I may touch on this a bit tomorrow in what will be the end of the tech trilogy but I am really going to come back to it in the next post after that. Not Tellus so much but the head of Tellus wrote one of the papers I read today in what was supposed to be a seminal, here’s the gameplan, publication. One article was on all the constitutional changes that would be necessary. It reminded me of Goodwin Liu’s reasons for needing ed and a national initiative like the Common Core.

            And the eco vision isZuboff’s support economy/distributed capitalism, Otto Scharmer’s Capitalism 3.0. Senge’s Regenerative Society, Boyte’s cooperative commonwealth etc. None will work as hoped. All have us accepting a no growth future driven by the government who gets to design the “systems.”

            And they all need ed to prime the next generation to give it a try out of frustration over the current eco stagnancy and the 2008 financial crisis. Never have so many false explanations been offered.

    • The CHAT tag at end has the full name of cultural-historical activity theory but yes I am going to have an acronym page.

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      New 3 R’s are rigor, relevance and relationships. There is a post explaining that from last summer that literally gets read multiple times every day and has for much of the past year. Harvard Prof Tony Wagner who is quite active with 21st century skills and ED Leader 21 pushes the new 3 Rs in his presentations and so does Willard Daggett is his expensive professional devt. So did our principal in last year’s high school orientation. Playing right into what I had written about 6 weeks before.

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