Explaining the Sudden Ubiquity of Psycho-Development Theory: Changing Students Now to Alter the Future

Macroshift and Megachange. Holos Consciousness. Ambitious changes to society, political structures, or targeting human behavior itself need theories and models. Not to reflect reality as it currently exists, but to alter reality in the future. It is that vision of the future that then refers back to what kinds of activities and experiences students are now to have. It’s not that lectures and textbooks are not a good way for students to obtain useful and correct information. That method of transmission though leaves the nature of the current culture as a given and the nature of the future not just unpredictable, but grounded on the foundations currently in place. As Professor Jaan Valsiner stated in his 1989 metatheoretical textbook, Human Development and Culture: The Social Nature of Personality and Its Study:

“the collective culture undergoes change and development as a result of the economic and educational changes in society, political events, and the collectively coordinated effects of individuals’ personal cultures.”

Radical Ed Reform (defined in my book as well as the history of previous attempts) is always about collective coordination to obtain a radically altered future. Actual proclaimed collusion. It is also always accomplished by altering students’ personal cultures–their perspectives, beliefs, feelings, visual mental images, associations, attitudes. That has always been the goal whenever education reforms are tied to political purposes. Even if that vision is left unstated, or is tucked away in poorly unknown documents that clearly show the collusion and collective coordination going on. Computers, adaptive software, a gaming emphasis, formative assessments (also explained in book), and all the data being thrown off simply make it easier to know what an individual’s inner mental representations are like. These also reveal what it will take to change them and thus the student.

The February 2014 Pearson report Impacts of the Digital Ocean on Education (ht/ Mercedes Schneider’s Edublog yesterday) makes that quite clear and just in time for the rollout of Pearson’s All Digital Common Core Curriculum. That report admits that “Teaching and learning is a specific social process designed to change behaviour within the learning setting.” Something to remember as you wave good-bye to that school bus in the morning. Later, in describing the kind of data being generated by the game Nephrotex, as students role play engineering firm interns assigned the design task of creating a dialysis machine filter (science? biology?), Pearson reveals:

“Researchers have developed methods of analyzing chat logs not only to measure knowledge, skills, values and identity, but also to illuminate the connections between these factors. These very interactions, which are not captured in the digital desert, allow us to make more detailed inferences about learners. [Computer can actually know us better than we know ourselves and is in a position to change that Identity and those values]. In addition, playing the game appears to increase not just learning [Remember that behavior change is the above definition], but also motivation in groups underrepresented among engineering majors.”

Some way to gain equity. Continuing on, let’s shift to another psychologist who also pushed the developmental approach in education, while he too is being honest about its purpose as a means to “shape a new reality.” In his 1986 book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds published by Harvard, Professor Jerome Bruner ended with this acknowledgment of purpose:

“When and if we pass through the unbroken despair in which we are now living, when we feel we are again able to control the race to destruction, a new breed of development theory is likely to arise. It will be motivated by the question of how to create a new generation that can prevent the world from dissolving into chaos and destroying itself. I think its central technical concern will be how to create in the young an appreciation of the fact that many worlds are possible, that meaning and reality are created and not discovered, that negotiation is the art of constructing new meanings by which individuals can regulate their relations with each other.”

I am going to pause in the middle of this quote to point out this kind of misunderstanding of reality and power and relations may be precisely why current UN ambassador, and former Harvard prof Samantha Powers, ended up being literally laughed at by the Russians this week at the UN. It is even caught by photograph. Was she taught such nonsense when she was young? I get wanting the world to be different, but we are intentionally creating dangerous misconceptions and beliefs. Let’s continue, Bruner is still spinning:

“It will not, I think, be an image of human development that locates all of the sources of change inside the individual, the solo child. For if we have learned anything from the dark passage of history through which we are now moving it is that man, surely, is not ‘an island, entire of itself,’ but a part of the culture that he inherits and then recreates. The power to recreate reality, to reinvent culture, we will come to recognize, is where a theory of development must begin its discussion of mind.”

That supposed recreation of reality and reinvention of culture is hidden today behind the ubiquitous explanations for 21st century education reform about the need for ‘creativity’ and ‘problem solving skills.’ I learned this week that in 2009 the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association began colluding (and not disclosing it, at least in the training session I attended in 2012) to transform public education in Georgia around development theory. The 2010 document, A Vision for Public Education in Georgia: Equity and Excellence, went so far as to hire the ed lab known for advocating Second Order Change via Education, McREL in Aurora, Colorado. See  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/second-order-change-why-reform-is-a-misnomer-for-the-real-common-core/ These two trade groups who both live off taxpayers even openly proclaimed that this troubling 2008 Texas Coup by Certain Supers was their inspiration. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/the-intentional-insurrection-in-texas-supers-override-governor-legislature-and-taxpayers/

There’s a great deal to be horrified by in that 2010 document, as the supposed watchdogs join hands with the supposedly overseen, but for the moment I want to use its acknowledgment that this planned transformation was based on the idea that these two trade groups could “develop a theory [to predict the future and] to make sense of the real world and test it against that real world over time.” Practicing on children’s minds and personalities at taxpayer expense. The hubris and arrogance continues:

“We believe that the leadership of public education [those anointed trade groups again] has an obligation to develop a theory–a vision–for the future of public education in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world. We can then work diligently to ensure that the future we envision is realized.”

Only the genuinely uneducated, no matter how many degrees they have, or someone addicted to munching from the public trough of taxpayer funds could write or embrace such  a ridiculous statement. Yet this “single, shared vision” of experiential education using technology and emphasizing collaboration and projects is now supposed to be binding across the state. I wonder how many more states have comparable documents? I know every state I look at now is using comparable developmental language, usually starting with what is meant by ‘student-centered learning.’ All experimental. All social engineering with a tsunami of expected personal behavioral and motivational data.

I am going to come back to these theoretical models of using education to try to alter human development and thereby the future in the next post. I wanted to end by reminding everyone that knowledge is not going away completely in this vision, even if it is being reimagined and given a new ‘constructed meaning.’ No, the Georgia document reminds us that the new curriculum should be relevant to real-life, real world problems that need to be solved. The activities should also be centered around ‘overarching concepts’ and ‘themes.’ The report suggests ‘conflict’ or ‘transition’ or ‘revolution’ as useful concepts and the ‘environment’ as a theme.

Somebody, certainly the McREL ed lab, seems to appreciate that there is a Great Transition planned around trying to prevent supposed global environmental crises; that the changes sought will be radical; and that conflicts involving race and ethnicity and gender and wealth and income inequality will be nurtured to fuel the desired political change.

Now do you see how the Macroshift and Megachange and the creation of a Holos Consciousness and research involving a cybernetic theory of human behavior control can be found hiding behind the Common Core banner? With no one the wiser unless tracking the real implementation is a full-time research effort?

19 thoughts on “Explaining the Sudden Ubiquity of Psycho-Development Theory: Changing Students Now to Alter the Future

  1. From Our Superintendent’s Newsletter

    Did I think we were still planning “the shift” to SEL (social emotional learning)?

    No, it’s an everyday practice. Here are excerpts from the newsletter:

    “We have embraced a number of programs and practices to help teach our students about emotions, mindfulness, and social thinking. In addition, the IB program integrates many self-regulated learning components each and every day. Specifically it helps to develop the cognitive domain and reinforces reflective practices to allow students to continue to develop their ability to be metacognitive (to think about their thinking). You may see students taking a moment to breathe along with our MindUp chime, or express which zone they are in according to the Zones of Regulation. . . . While self-regulation is not a program or a lesson plan, it is a lens through which we are viewing students’ behavior and through which we are teaching them to view their own behavior.”

    Amazing! So much of this comes from autism-spectrum disorder approaches. Chimes?

    • Straight out of development theory Tunya. I also have Valsiner’s later book Human Culture and Development but I find the earlier book more revealing and graphic.

      Remember the 1962 Maslow/Carl Rogers book with NEA sponsorship on dramatically changing the nature of education based on their book Perceiving. Behaving. Becoming.?

      Your language comes from concepts laid out in that book. In the US the comparable goals are hidden in David Conley’s actual definition of what it means to be college ready.

      Making someone aware of their thinking is a means of regulating future behavior and making it predictable. It also ferrets out what Galperin wanted to know–images, associations, concepts.

      Did you know about a week ago the Germans and the UK started pushing Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset instead of Fixed and Angela Duckworth’s Grit and Perseverance work? Both are admitted to be grounded in Vygotsky’s work if you go back far enough. These are not ways to better gain knowledge or skills. They are a means to alter the person in politically desired ways.

      The Georgia report also cited McTighe and Wiggins’ Understanding by Design work. You start with the objective end you want in learner and design curriculum to get that end state. The end state can be called a Competency or Standard or Outcome or Objective. It gets called whichever is not currently infamous and usually the terms are used interchangeably. Wiggins has acknowledged many times his UbD is based on Ralph Tyler’s work that began with the 8 Year Study in the 30s financed by the Progressive Education Association. That of course also takes us back to John Dewey and his view that education was the best means to enact his socialist philosophy of how the world should be. He always recognizedm as the book lays out, that personal independent factual knowledge is a barrier to he desired change in consciousness.

      The desire to shift consciousness is always a key component of radical change. The only variable seems to be what a given generation has decided we should be conscious of.

    • Tunya-look at this Tony Blair quotes from the Davos for Education summit on Global Education and Skills that just ended. http://www.rsablogs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Blair-photo-cut.jpg

      Now remember his wife Cherie is a back cover endorser of the Social Lab Revolution book.

      I noticed the other Reos founder, Adam Kahane, is a keynoter at Peter Senge’s global SoL conference this year.

      The Common Core is merely the US name for what is a global template and a collective coordination we have not been invited to.

    • Found the chime reference: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/streams-of-consciousness/2012/11/27/how-social-emotional-learning-could-harm-our-kids/

      The “core practice” taught in MindUP is akin to certain forms of Buddhist-style mindfulness meditation including Anapanasati and Samadhi. In MindUP, the teacher strikes a Zenergy chime, and students are generally asked to sit cross legged, palms up and eyes closed. They are to direct their attention to the sound of the chime and focus intently on their breathing. The chime can gradually evoke a conditioned response in the children, as similar tools do in Buddhist monks. Teachers are encouraged to use this core practice several times a day. Mindfulness meditation such as this can be a way of bringing the mind into an altered state of consciousness. Many people who practice meditation have encountered unexpected negative side effects such as a sensation of being disconnected from one’s body or from reality, among other frightening reactions. Teachers of MindUP are exposing children to these potential dangers.

  2. We seem to get all the good ones here. This was in an weekly email from sate chief education officer Nancy Golden today. Is it coincidental that she sits on the board of Conleys firm? If parents only knew they should shudder at the mention of the names below.

    On March 13, representatives from Governor Kitzhaber’s Office, the Oregon Education Association (OEA), the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), and the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) met to discuss building an ideal assessment system.

    Each group shared its vision of an ideal assessment system. The group developed a common knowledge base by reviewing the federal and state mandates regarding assessment and reviewing information on the federal waiver. They began the conversation by reviewing “Creating Systems of Assessment for Deeper Learning” by David. T. Conley and Linda Darling-Hammond (LINK). We discussed the challenges, barriers, hopes and the dreams of an assessment system that would meet the needs of all students.

    The group began to generate ideas for the ideal system and all agreed that assessment that informs instruction is a key element. This group will continue to meet a number of times. Experts and other education leaders will be invited to collaborate with the group to inform their thinking and ultimately generate a proposal that will be shared with the Governor.

  3. I am fascinated at this new (to me) use of the verb inform. I had to read the phrase “assessment that informs instruction” about four times, then I had to look up the definition of inform to really get it.

    A key element, the most important element is to be that the test drives the curriculum. Teachers teach to the test. Which I have no problem with if the material covered in the test is valid as a curriculum. But that is for me to determine as I look at the test, and I know my curriculum. If they are aligned, it is a good test and I am already teaching to it. In Algebra the curriculum is the scope of algebra appropriate to the mental maturity of the students, by grade or by ability, determined by math teachers and County Office employees in Secondary Programs. At least in my county. Hopefully math oriented people, who have been in the classroom recently and know student abilities and behaviors in the local area and State.

    This does not describe the group who created CC and I am quite sure it doesn’t describe the designers of this “perfect assessment” that will inform (drive) all instruction, and keep the little sheeple in public schools, teachers and kids, on that slow track to ignorance and apathy they are working so hard to achieve in our children.

    The scope and sequence driving math Ed in my community is so totally messed up now that I am doubtful the local students, which include some of my grand babies, will recover quickly. I mean I struggled to teach most of my middle school students over the last 20 years, and that was with a curriculum that made sense to me. Now? The colleagues I still hear from are crying out in pain.

    • Tina-look at Lauren Resnick’s work going back more than 20 years.

      Reread formative assessment discussion in the book.

      Assessment that looks to see if desired “images, associations, and concepts” are in place. If not, it asks UbD’s Essential Questions to get linkages in place. Remember only basic skills are desired, even though students at the center’s site obscures that by having student stand in front of a blackboard with trig formulas on it.

      • Robin, Your reference to Lauren Resnick brought to mind that the Waters Foundation has their for-profit corporation, Systems Thinking Group, located in Pittsburgh. Isn’t Lauren Resnick in Pittsburgh? Also, isn’t Peter Senge close with Waters Foundation? L.L.’s school district’s in the Pacific Northwest seems to be completely immersed in all of this Systems Thinking, SEL, Mindfulness, etc. up in the Pacific Northwest. Also, seeing the comment about altered states of consciousness by Mike86 brought to mind the work of Dan Goleman who also has published with Senge and worked with Waters Foundation. Seriously, altered states of consciousness and Buddhism to arrive at deeper learning? How specifically is this the transfer of knowledge in the education system and using OPM? All of the above are also are associated with the Garrison Institute (you have mentioned them before in prior posts).

        • Yes, Old School. Resnick has been involved with the Learning Research Development Corporation since it was founded in the early 60s. She was involved with the creation of what were then called alternative assessments for the New Standards Project in the 90s attempt at Radical Ed Reform. She was also on the Common Core Board and has been involved within last year in the OECD’s key competences push. She was also involved with Yrjo Engestrom and Michael Cole in a systems science international convention in Rome. She is very involved with the very developmental focus I have been focussing on, as is Senge.

          The Planetary Ethic Statement drafted by Laszlo was written with the Dali Lama, who is also a part of the Club of Budapest. He was involved in this very troubling 2009 conference on Educating World Citizens. http://www.educatingworldcitizens.org/ We have Dan Goleman involved with that as well as CASEL along with Mark Greenberg whose Positive Behavior and Psychology work is now required under federal disabilities law Response to Intervention, many NCLB waivers, and the President’s Positive School Climate Executive Order.

          See what I mean about Common Core being a banner and a bucket that hides the real shift in emphasis?

          Also notice that Linda Darling_Hammond, who is in charge of Smarter Balanced’s development is listed as a speaker at the 2009 conference. All this change in focus and shifts in consciousness to what is aligned with Eastern religious practices gets hidden in definitions of Competency and student growth and achievement. It’s also what the definition of teacher effectiveness is aligned to: Effective at changing what a student believes or feels or cares about, not really what they know anymore.

          Remember the Waters Foundation and Senge being hired by the State of Nevada ed Dept to help it come up with a measure of Student Growth? It’s getting at altered consciousness. It’s also, I believe, why the Hewlett Foundation hired Senge and Robert Kegan to make sure the Common Core would be targeting the kind of deeper learning it seeks. It knows of their interest in these alternative consciousness. Kegan is associated with Integral Life and Ken Wilber for goodness sake.

          So much consistency at this level of peeling away the layers of the onion that is education reform when we make the actual implementation the focus as I have in my book and this blog.

        • I was nosing around some more on the chime/bell concept. There is one YouTube video I found that is a little spooky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a_1rFrgrGU

          Based on comments from my mother, a first grade teacher for over 20 years, the concept of somehow automatically calming kids during class would be very alluring. However, it was reminding me of a Pavlovian experiment. If done frequently enough early on (like the four times a day referenced), wouldn’t the sound of a chime/bell (especially if they got the frequencies consistent) eventually start reflexively throwing people into that mental state whenever it was heard?

          • Mike-

            I keep thinking of what Michael Barber, now head of Pearson’s ed division, and Vicki Phillips, now head of Gates Foundation’s ed efforts, did in their 2002 or so paper on Irreversible Change.

            Performance, before Competence. Require the behavior first and then desired mindset will eventually follow and become a habit.

        • Old School-this is the Rome 2011 conference I remembered Resnick being involved in. http://www.iscar2011.org/eng/scientific_committee.php

          Along with Michael Cole and Yrjo Engestrom of CHAT fame (with their own tags) and also the author of the book, Jaan Valsiner, I was quoting from in this post. It certainly puts LRCD’s work in the correct, but usually unappreciated, light.

          Its focus is not on how to best teach content, but rather on how to change the child in desired ways. Much like Senge and his systems thinking or CASEL.

  4. To all: Grant Wiggins has a wordpress blog.

    Google Grant Wiggins and it will show up right away. I encourage those who are still spirited enough to fight this, to go challenge him on his blog.

    If nothing else, you raise awareness to the readers of his blog, and as a result, spread the word.

    • Thanks DA. I have read his posts for years and it is how I know his work ties to Ralph Tyler’s. Grant has said so. He also came out of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Their philosophy of education tracks closely to the actual Common Core implementation in the classroom.

      In fact, ATLAS–Authentic Teaching and Learning for All Students–was Ted Sizer’s work coupled to James Comer’s social and emotional learning emphasis and Howard Gardner’s work. UbD fits well with all of these and gets at what students values, believe, and care about.

  5. Notice how programs such as Social Learning and MindUp are trademarked/ registered commercial properties. Can’t wait until all the fights and law suits over infringement, unfair use, etc etc start. Infighting among the elites is good for us.

    • For all of the readers that aren’t familiar with MindUp, you need to know that it is a product sold by The Hawn Foundation. Yes, Goldie Hawn is the Hawn Foundation. The Hawn Foundation at one point last year worked with the Garrison Institute to get their product out to the public. Many of the Social Change Agents (Senge, Goleman, Jones, etc.) you read about on this blog use the Garrison Institute to get their products out to the public by seminars, etc. And this is what is accepted as mindfulness in the public schools? Scholastic, Inc. is the publisher for the MindUp products by Goldie Hawn.

      • Old School-the League of Innovative Schools has announced that its national LIS meeting is this week in Sunnyside School District, Tucson, Arizona. As you know, Sunnyside is tied to Peter Senge and the creation of 21st century skills and Ken Kay’s current EdLeader 21. It is also tied to the Waters Foundation’s work where they have pushed Bela Banathy, one of the creators of GERG with Laszlo. LIS is formally a White House initiative with ties to the congressionally mandated Digital Promise. There are also ties to Knowledge Works.

        To put it mildly, we have a coalescence of the vision of what innovation in education is and it most certainly is not about content anymore.

  6. “the question of how to create a new generation that can prevent the world from dissolving into chaos and destroying itself.”

    I think this one quote captures all the egotistical megalomania involved in trying to “change” learning into conditioning. If only we knew how to prevent the world from dissolving into chaos and destroying itself! On all times and places I know about any culture not in sync with reality has eventually broken down.

    As a science fiction aficianado I have read many, many stories playing on the theme of how socialistic, autoritarian cultures eventually dissolve into chaos because in the long run they fall apart because that kind of system cannot continue indefinitely. It is not compatible with how human beings actually function. Eventually the dissonance between the social conditioning and reality comes to a peak. The Hunger Games book and movie is the latest one. I was gratified that it is receiving such a wide following.

    • Yes Philo. Now we need to get people to understand that this is coming in through education with a mind arson focus. I was in a meeting yesterday with a principal who thought it was funny he was such a lousy student in high school. That makes it easy to believe that knowledge does not matter. Go along and hope that gets the next promotion into a central office vs the consultant whose whole business is pushing this developmental model with no recourse by anyone who catches on to the lies. She also lives well at taxpayer expense. She heads the School Governance Council while doing training for other governance councils. $2500 a day to teach those who get elected to Governance Councils that they actually cannot intervene.

      No governors against psychologically abusing our children. Sneering at knowledge.

      I raised the issue at a PTA meeting that the school was using the same professional development model, Teaching For Excellence, implicated in Columbine and created by the co-creator, Spence Rogers, of Transformational Outcomes Based Education. In reality we now know that TR OBE and Achieving Excellence used in CO were grounded in psycho-development theory and a desire to create adaptation of consciousness. School becomes the antithesis of a safe place.

      It is incompatible with how human beings actually function, but when the adults in charge have always lived at taxpayer expense and been promoted for this advocacy, they neither know or want to know that. It will take widespread knowledge of the facts to stop this, but there is no dispute about those facts or the actual declarations of purpose.

      Which is why I write, even when explaining it hurts.

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