Locking in Marx’s Dream: Psychophysiological Means Precisely What We Fear as the Real Goal of Education

I always feel odd writing down that infamous name, but as I learned when I was researching my book, Uncle Karl is never very far away from the theories behind the actual classroom implementation. Sometimes the link is too direct and too huge in its implications for me to use a cute euphemism either. Especially when Marx is cited directly as the support that leads to all the current hyping of Neuroscience and Brain-based instruction. How direct? Well, Etienne Wenger from our last post wrote a book Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity that I found deeply troubling. Diving into the relevant footnotes pulled up a book I had never heard of that turned out to be $800 used on Amazon when I looked.

Not wanting to eat PB& J sandwiches for the next 6 months to secure a copy of The Concept of Activity in Soviet Psychology, I decided to go internet surfing to see what cited Soviet psychologist AN Leontiev actually wrote about “The problem of activity in psychology.” In case you haven’t noticed, the requirement of active learning and a shift away from print, lectures, and textbooks is what I would call omnipresent in the real Common Core implementation. Knowing how crucial learning tasks are I thought I would gain some more useful insights. What I was not anticipating was for Leontiev to lay out aims and practices I recognized from all my research and then cite repeatedly to pages from Marx and Engels or from some of Marx’s other works.

Suddenly euphemisms won’t do, not with stated aims like using education and carefully crafted classroom or digital virtual activities to literally “lead to a reconstruction of the ensemble of brain psychophysiological functions.” If the aim becomes analyzing which kinds of student activities produce what types of physical changes in their brains, it sure would explain all the interest now in functional MRI, adaptive software, and longitudinal data. When I read those words and others being attributed by Leontiev to what Marx and Engels really desired that are as provocative as stating:

“This convenient formula [of separating psychology and physiology] leads into a greater sin, the sin of isolating the psyche from the work of the brain”

Waiting until the next book could be published simply will not do. Just last week, independent of this research, someone asked me if I was familiar with the White House’s new Fattah Neuoroscience Initiative. The answer was no, but it did not take much insight to guess that it would be linked to John Holdren, which turned out to be quite correct. http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP19/20140227/101775/HHRG-113-AP19-Wstate-HoldrenJ-20140227.PDF is some recent testimony from him on all that federal activity involving the physical structure of the human brain. Notice though that Holdren leaves out that Digital Promise and the League of Innovative Schools also report to him and they happen to be carrying out precisely the kind of education activity that Leontiev wrote about.

Holdren also leaves out his long time ties to Paul Ehrlich and his stated desire for Newmindedness no longer grounded in a logical, rational mind. Just think of the implications of all this Neuroscience and Grit, Perseverence research for Ehrlich’s current global research project–MAHB–the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior. Now that I have reminded everyone of the real current links to where K-12 in the US and globally is going, let me add one more thing. I found this graphic Leontiev book on servers at the Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition at UC-San Diego. The place where Michael Cole and Yrjo Engestrom [see tags] have created the global base for Cultural Historical Activity Theory in the years since the Berlin Wall fell.

Happy 25th anniversary for that Happy Event by the way. Let’s commemorate that Death of Tyranny by continuing to expose that so much of the ideology we thought we were leaving behind in 1989 came on into the West invisibly through a new kind of psychology and a new vision for K-12 education. To bury such destructive required collectivism once and for all we have to know it is there. If you have not yet read my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon, get it.

The findings on this blog are not a substitute for it. They are the icing, cherries, and birthday candles. It simply keeps getting more pertinent with time. Given Leontiev’s disclosures though, we simply cannot escape the fact that everything now envisioned for the K-12 classroom globally in the 21st century is based on  a decision “at the beginning of the 1920s” in the Soviet Union to “consciously structure psychology on the basis of Marxism.”

Specific cites and everything. That psychology is sensory in its base, not mental as we have historically assumed, which really does explain all the links in the previous post. It is a view of psychology and education that “in the modern world psychology fulfills an ideological function.” Yes, which is why Leontiev keeps mentioning its use to create a consciousness in people suitable for a “socialistic, communistic society.” All three words, just like that. Apparently all our encounters with communitarianism and the references to meeting needs are part of this vision linked now directly to Uncle Karl. There’s that softening euphemism again. I guess I just cannot quite adjust to open proclamations of intent of the sort Leontiev uses:

“It must not be said that psychology has exhausted the treasure chest of Marxist-Leninist ideas. For this reason we turn again and again to the works of Karl Marx, which resolve even the most profound and complex theoretical problems of psychological science.”

What do we do when the actual and only support for what a charter or Principal or District Office or foundation grant are mandating for a K-12 classroom turns out to be Karl Marx’s social theories for how to gain the kind of brain and personality that would fit his vision for the future? Here again is what Leontiev wrote, the old view of psychology and education:

“isolated cognition from sensory activity, from the living practical ties of man with the world that surrounded him…Introducing the concept of activity into the theory of cognition, Marx gave it a strictly materialistic sense: For Marx, activity in its primary and basic form was sensory, practical activity in which people enter into a practical contact with objects of the surrounding world, test their resistance, and act on them, acknowledging their objective properties.”

What happens when doing all that as a physical, sensory activity involving group participation becomes the very assessment of student ‘achievement’ or Growth?

What happens when the purpose of digital learning is to access a student’s internal “picture of the world” so that learning tasks, virtual reality gaming, and adaptive software can provide virtual and physical experiences to alter that picture in desired ways? Ways that are chosen by others for their intended effects on the student at a physical level.

What happens when, having cited to Marx and Engels on the effect of vocabulary and words generally on consciousness and perception, educators then do everything they can to limit vocabulary, manipulate the words and concepts that are supplied, and minimize the historic role of print on the mind?

What if K-12 education seeks to circumscribe human thought in the 21st century so that it is “nothing else but a derivative of practical activity”? With the stated goal being a “true solution to this problem of the origin and essence of human thought.” And why is human thought problematic?

Because independent rational human thought with access to a store of facts does not submit to Overlordship easily. All these required practices hiding now as pedagogy and Effective Teaching are all actually about subjugation of the mind.

And personality too. Leontiev’s Chapter 5 has with a lead-in header of “Personality as a Subject of Psychological Investigation.” How’s that for aspirational? Do free societies do that nonconsensually using deceit? That analysis, by the way, has to get to the relationship of “motives and needs” just like innovative education seeks to do.

Let’s end with an aspiration that does explain all the intended use of social and emotional learning and an emphasis on the Whole Child. It fits with all the current UN hype of the post-2015 Sustainable World that will meet the needs of all. It fits with the goals we have encountered that we become a “Spirit Society”. This is how Leontiev ended his vision of a new kind of education arising from a scientific, materialistic psychology grounded, he declared, in Marxism:

“Lost from view here is the fact that it is necessary also to go through a transformation of material consumption, that the possibility for everyone to satisfy these needs does away with the intrinsic value of things that satisfy them and eliminates that unnatural function that they fulfill in private ownership society…”

Lost no more and just in time. Historian Richard Pipes in the book mentioned in the two previous posts pointed out that even animals show repeatedly that acquisitivesness is innate. Trying to dislodge what is innate via K-12 Whole Child education premised on practical activity and social participation is simply not going to end well.

Now would be a great time to start recognizing the ancestry of all these required changes in the nature of education.

No more euphemisms. Not with the stakes this high or the aims so personally intrusive.

40 thoughts on “Locking in Marx’s Dream: Psychophysiological Means Precisely What We Fear as the Real Goal of Education

    • Controlling future behavior is the whole point. http://www.ibe.unesco.org/en/communities/community-of-practice-cop/competency-based-approaches.html is linked to what communities of practice means to the UN and under that cooperation agreement with Microsoft from the previous post.

      “Competence is an organizing principle of the curriculum is a way to bring real life back into the classroom. It is thus a move away from the idea that curriculum is mainly implemented by having students reproduce theoretical knowledge and memorize facts.”

      That would be competency-based learning as in Next Generation Learning that Gates sponsors among others.

      Wenger is so engrossed with Marx (and thankful to the Xerox Corporation for sponsoring his research) that makes statements like “concerns with issues of practice go all the way back to Karl Marx’s use of the notion of ‘praxis’ as the sociohistorical context for a materialist account of consciousness and the making of history.”

      Your link shows Pearson in that same mode of monitoring actual behavior in the real world to see if there are signs of the desired state of consciousness. Remember Sir Michael Barber’s Act, then Believe approach to stubborn objecting teachers in the UK when he worked for Tony Blair?

      • Do you think that applied for jimmy seville repotedly at blair parties at Chequers?
        Barber listed as colleague on michael Fullan’s website as is his research partner accused pedophile Ben Levin.

        • Anon-I am not following you and I believe the accusations that led to Levin’s arrest were possession of child pornography. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/university-of-toronto-professor-facing-child-pornography-charges/article13063793/ shows readers we are not just throwing out random comments.

          Who is jimmy seville? No one is contesting that there is a close working relationship between Michael Fullan and Michael Barber or Levin’s close involvement until his arrest.

          Linda Darling-Hammond works closely too on this global vision as does Ken Robinson, Pasi Sahlberg, Dian Ravitch among others whose names stand out.

          Sex may sell, but it’s not the point of being concerned about Levin’s arrest. What bothers me most is that perhaps a vision of exploitation is inherent in the psychological practices inherent in this ed visions talking about “holistic transformation” of the student from the inside out.

          Remember when I wrote about Johann Fichte in the book and his desire to cultivate in Germans an unconscious impulse to act collectively and from emotion?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG6PVCMb3tE is from January 2012 and is Microsoft’s VP for Education talking about the use of computers to create a “desired emotional response in the student.”

          At the 17:42 mark he talks about ATC21S just like I pointed to in the book except he misrepresents PISA as ever having been content based as I lay out in the book. The purpose of learning history is no longer about knowledge of content but preparation to be a good leader.

          How manipulative is that. The purpose of algebra is to learn to think abstractly and then he goes on in my mind to tie the way of teachng abstract thinking to Ilyenkov’s Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete.

          At 19:26 he shows Jane MacGonnigal and her Reality is Broken paradigm just as I warned about here but he embraces her vision. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/when-gaming-intends-to-shape-and-distort-our-perceptions-of-everything-around-us-viva-la-revolution/

          I care about the bones underneath Games Based Learning because it creates a core incentivation for Learning. What Salcito is saying is it creates a willingness to submit to psychological change in prearranged directions created by the software and game designers.

          Charming stuff. Then at 21:40 he touts Service Learning as the easiest way to get the paradigm of changing the student in place because it gets students fully away from content.

          That is a totalitarian vision being advanced there. BF Skinner must be so excited that computers have evolved to the point that they can create immersive experiences to advance the desired “emotional response.”

          My thanks to the reader who sent this to me after hearing me speak with Gary Thompson in California. She recognized that this is what she heard us warning about that night.

    • They monitor the teacher too. You’re supposed to push the button if you see more than 5 consecutive 15 second intervals of Teacher Directed Instruction (TDI). (slide 26)

      I guess the teacher shouldn’t talk to the whole class for over one minute.

      I’ve heard that an elementary parent’s daughter at the elementary my kids attended is required to ask her questions to another girl who is doing better in the grade, and she is not allowed to ask the teacher directly for help.

      Bringing real life into the classroom. OMFG.

  1. More than once, I have come across Christians with kids in the public school system who claimed they “prayed about it”. All they do in school is take everything that can be found in the Bible and turn it upside down. Scripture, when it directs on an issue, always trumps prayer in its wisdom and guidance; If “The Word” has spoken, why are Christian parents petitioning to God for a different answer? This is in itself upside down. Unfortunately, maybe because of their schooling, they haven’t read the “full council” of the document they hail by?

    As John Gatto points out, turning your kids over to strangers you know nothing about, to work on your kids’ minds behind closed doors for 12 years is a mad idea. Gatto’s (I don’t know if he is a Christian, is he?) statement is in line with Scripture: “… keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:20).

    According to Scripture, public school is no place for a child, especially a Christian whose family is claiming the title. I have pasted a collection of passages to share with any Bible believers who may need to see these: (they are posted at http://trueteaching.blogspot.com):

    …Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. Mattew 22:37-38

    Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7),
    Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish (Psalm 1:1-6),

    [Edited by ISC as this comment was going to be longer than the original post. The scriptures provided can be found at the linked site]

  2. The makeup of the newly elected Congress should absolutely scare us to death in light of this article. Leontiev’s influence on the thinking of neoconservatives and their fellow travelers is and has been direct and real. Harvard claimed him proudly and the 1994 Republican Revolution was built on his theories.

    • Gracious. One hopes they are responding to the Cliff Notes version uploaded to a powerpoint.

      Chapter 1 is “The Theory of Consciousness.” Next is “Psychic Reflection,” then “The Problem of Activity and Psychology.” Chapter 4 is “Activity and Consciousness” and 5 is “Activity and Personality.”

      Please do not tell me this is also about Congress and who influences them. I am having a hard enough time dealing with the influence on the classrooms and schools that is absolutely trackable.

  3. Robin, who do you think makes education policy that allows these things to go on in the classroom and be funded? That, of course, is a rhetorical question since I know you know the truth. Hate to honk my own horn, but “When Is Assessment REALLY Assessment?” covered a lot of these connections. Unfortunately, that article is still currently relevant.

    • CP-you know I never wanted to write a book, but felt compelled to when the troubling facts became impossible to escape. This post in particular upset me because honestly I prefer the oblique references to the political intent.

      Now you are telling me it is even worse and permeates our political class on top of wanting to take power away from them as well. Stakeholders.

      Honestly, you are making me wish I was somewhere I could call out for a nightcap. B&B or Drambuie, please?

    • CP-we had an offline discussion about that coding event in early December. Now it is attached to what governments should look like in the 21st century. http://www.codeforamerica.org/governments/principles/

      We might not all actually be interdependent in the real world, but all these educational initiatives certainly are. Plus they are all instrumental to an undisclosed actual purpose that only comes out with digging.

      • “Government’s purpose is to serve residents…”

        Residents? As in they have bequeathed to us their tolerance for our existence?

        Surely, they meant Citizens. Taxpayers? Voting constituents of the democratic republic of the United States of America? Property Owners? No?

        Residents. Oh dear.

    • Remember Lauren Resnick is tied to ISCAR as well, in particular the 2011 meeting in Rome. The creator of the terms ‘rigor’ and ‘higher order thinking skills’ as well as the creator of the new type of assessments for the 90s version called the New Standards Project.

      New comers to ISC should note she was also on the CCSS validation committee and that there is a video of CCSS architect David Coleman just gushing in his praise of her.

      Hope your power stays on too. Looks like you are on a productive track. Me too.

    • Hard not to put that 2nd link into the context of the other events at that time I describe in Chapter 6 of the book as well as the discussion in Chapter 5 of the Holmes Report.

      Wertsch was the editor and author of all those Vygotsky materials I used in the book, but I never noticed him mentioning this 1981 book The Concept of Activity in Soviet Psychology.

      Probably because we would draw the links to the new vision for education that was to be rolled out.

    • Ever heard of Morning Star Christian School in Bend, Oregon? https://www.pltw.org/sites/default/vfiles/PLTW%20Launch%20Brochure_PL_1401.pdf

      Clearly how STEM becomes CTE without most parents noticing and it’s alll grounded in practical activity about the material world. Just like Uncle Karl and his Sugar Daddy Pal Friedrich envisioned to create change.

      PLTW is tied to the most highly touted school in Cobb. The one people move into the neighborhoods to get a place at.

      • Oh the irony…

        I did not immediately remember that CTE stood for Career and Technical Education and a quick search turned up this as well:

        “(CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain ..”
        It makes me so sad and angry to see tax dollars and good will and unbelievably enough, actual brain power, going to aid plans for brain research whose ultimate goal is creating and controlling a population whose brains are complacent, compliant, numb and dumb.

          • So we are basically talking about training phlebotomists, home healthcare workers, nurses aids and werkers on computer chip assembly lines?

          • I am not sure which doc you are on, but these Career Pathways coupled to blending CTE with academics for all students, tied to the Middle Level STEM vision comes out to training everyone for nothing mental.

            Just skills. The right Mindset. A willingness to adapt.

            This is such an unworkable vision that any focus on what is really going on would stop it in its tracks.

            Probably why everyone with connections is in a frenzy to cash in in time.

            We should call that “grubering.”

        • They are all over Orange County, CA too where I went out to speak. Fits with Linked Learning and the Career Pathways CA is piloting along with other states.

          It makes the polytech discussion of Beck’s documents all the more timely doesn’t it?

          Also all over the Salt Lake City area.

        • One of my kids took “Introduction to Engineering Design” under the PLTW curriculum. It was all about mechanical drawing and doing all that precisely, but there was no engineering in it. The second year “Principles of Engineering” might be better but who cares, we didn’t get that far.

          If you want to learn basic engineering principles, take a basic physics course. That’s how we’ve done it since forever, and it works.

          • David-this kind of ability http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/Why-Augmented-Reality-Enriches-Student-Learning.html sounds really good to the uninitiated except the software developers admit they usually visualize a metaphor for what is occurring, not a literal representation.

            Once again the student is being primed to perceive through provided metaphors. What also gets left out is that the Center for Digital Education is a sub/dba of the Center for Digital Government. It seeks to advance the e-Governance vision which sees us as submissive subjects ruled over by Government Overlords at all levels. Apparently virtual learning can be made quite conducive to creating fitting mindsets. e-Republic is quite tied the the National Conference of Mayors and their Agenda 21 vision of our planned future.

            Bet by starting with how cool it would be to play around with a visualization of the heart, the rest of what can be mischievously coded for the purpose of guiding erroneous beliefs gets left out. MacGonnigal though was quite frank in her book and so have others on what they create. Donald Schon called this Generative Metaphors for a reason and it fed his reverence for John Dewey’s vision of how to use ed to gain transformations in the here and now.

          • David-the assumptions in this paper may be the stupidest assertions I have ever seen. http://staging.community-wealth.org/sites/clone.community-wealth.org/files/downloads/paper-treuhaft-et-al14.pdf

            Because your education and personal choices or mine really should not be allowed to be a reason our children succeeed as adults at a higher % than other demographic groups. Who would of course do better if the Educrats had not started using urban schools to drive demand for political transformations starting in the 60s.

          • Why don’t they just call it “Mechanical Drawing” or somesuch? That is what it used to be called. Then I have no problem with it, as it is a gateway and often prerequisite to CAD and machine tools, and even engineering. It is not normally considered an academic course like physics.

            Long ago I ordered some items from Timberdoodle. I was pleasantly surprised to see instructional materials on technical drawing. I just checked and they have CDs/books for “Complete-A-Sketch’ and “Practical Drafting.”

            I suspect that many or most ‘STEM’ courses have little to do with ‘STEM.’ I suspect that if you showed the ‘STEM’ materials to a practicing engineer/scientist/computer programmer etc. they would say it was worthless. Just my hunch.

    • Did you see this that just came out on Personalized Learning? http://cdno2.gettingsmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Lighting-the-Path-to-Personalized-Learning_REvised-117.pdf

      Once you learn Leontiev’s descriptions of what is sought and how he ties it back to Uncle Karl’s language for the purposes laid out, the same function in the Personlized Learning/NGL models are readily apparent. No wonder Tom went to that troubling Moscow ed summit in October. It’s all actually the same vision.

      I saw the announcement that it was coming out. CASEL joins with systems thinking fits with the desire to model the internal structure of perception and then ground it as a reflex in emotion. Or as the pro-CC advocates kept mentioning in California–create habits of mind. Yes, grounded lastingly in the physical structure of the brain’s neurology where the student may not even be conscious of what has been cultivated or why.

      • Ok. The psyche in psychology implies that there is actual empirical affirmation that the soul exists. The mind the soul, psyche. Therefore the entire body ofstudy called psychology would be ficticious if this were not true, correct?
        So it seems that like a surgeon has no right to come into your kids school and slice open their body, or a teacher has no right to physically effect or alter or molest your child, neither do they have any right to psychologically slice open, alter, effect, or molest your child as their psyche is a legitimately recognized part of their person.
        This would be why covert operations surrounding all transformation are obscured, obfuscated and confused by doublespeak, and buried in copious amounts of repetative odious language.
        it is illegal and unconstitutional to do so to our children.
        Reason why so much local law altering going on under cover of revitalization etcetera. Otherwise delegitimize entire effort for sAy social and emotional learning, if a there is no acknowledged soul or psyche or connection as part of human person, yet slicing under guise of education.
        In war much of this goes on in re education camps, ask john mcCain.
        So illegal .

          • I am poking around some more before I write again and I discovered that this annual conference

            that Salsito’s presentation was from was discontinued in 2013 because of “inadequate funding.”

            Now since the Gates Foundation has not run out of money, the real reason is more likely that this transdisciplinary vision is now going mainstream through GELP, ATC21S, and Competency-Based Education and New Pedagogies.

            So in 2014 the conference appears to have been absorbed as a component of the World Summit on Innovation in Education. Yes, indeed, being absorbed into the Orwellian term ‘innovation.’

            Look though http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/learning-reimagined-9781474222730/ is the book from that summit and High Tech High is one of the models being trumpeted. That would be the League of Innovative Schools tied to John Holdren and Competency-based Education per the post. So Learning without Frontiers with its admitted radical transformation vision is hiding now in the US under Digital Promise, the League of Innovative Schools, and the acknowledged psychophysiological pursuit of the individual mind for socio-political change.

            No wonder Sir Ken Robinson said at the (co)lab event in Atlanta in September 2013 that he recognized the theory embodied in Fulton County’s charter and “quite liked it.” Fulton is a Digital Promise/League of Innovative Schools district too.

            It may not be pretty, but the links are as formidable as the chains an 18 wheeler uses for snow transit.

  4. Further… Look what Sir ( really?) Michael Barber did for Great Britain. It is now Grim Britain. His collegues are all over Australia and the US pushing their poison.( Fullan, Hargreaves, Levin)
    Look what Sir ( really?) Jimmy Sevile has done in tandem to Grim Britain.
    Children are capital. A commodity. It is medieval.
    They recognize the psyche, the soul as threat to their enjoyment. Therefore need to destroy it any way they can.
    Unesco, Gates, planned parenthood… They see life as there for their amusement whatever that might be. Free will is a problem, the human soul the psyche is a barrier.
    Just read Unesco founders and friends, they tell what they want.
    Gates is wide open on his population desires. Unesco convention on rights of the child is clear that parents are not in charge in their eyes, ” children have the right to join any groups they choose”…. US has not signed it but 190 countries have to their demise, see Holland.
    These things all feed the jimmy savile’s and their not so flashy friends.not excluding their friends in the clergy….. And theretofor a ticking time bomb in every institution. For the big marxist cultural explosion.
    Mind Arson is key to the big win, but still US law is on our side. When will enough be enough?

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