Redesigning Education Globally to Humanize Personalities and Make Each of Us More Susceptible To Peer Pressure

I have kept a constant drumbeat going now that what we are dealing with in education, Preschool–higher ed, and the hoped for changes elsewhere in all social institutions and practices are related to hoped-for transformations toward government-led collectivism. That seems so shocking and painful that it is easy to dismiss. It is perfectly understandable to feel that way, but the incessant drumbeat now has cymbals joining in and we are building toward a crescendo. Time spent ignoring these planned transformations simply increases the damage they are doing and the extent of the future clean-up. We really are dealing with educators, politicians, professors, and social planners who are determined to enact “forward-looking transformative practices that are needed to enact history in the present.”

That’s what Quality Education and Redesigning Curricula are all about. It is thus hugely alarming that a video surfaced this week of the director of the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program giddily bragging about the extent of the planned transformation. I don’t share his optimism that the acknowledged potential for evil to be the engineered result is unlikely because there is no central place for a dictator to get at individuals. Of course there is. That’s the new purpose of all these transformational practices in education that MIT is deeply immersed in. It is also the purpose of all the interest coming out of the UN in media cooperating on how it portrays, or ignores, daily events. UNESCO now uses the term Media Education as a means of advancing to what it euphemistically calls Scientific Humanism for a reason.

Alex Pentland, the talkative star of that troubling video where he says George Orwell was simply not imaginative enough of the possibilities, is also involved with the United Nations Global Pulse Initiative. GP began in 2009 and “serves as a laboratory through which the UN System and its partners are discovering how to harness the power of Big Data to meet the challenges of global development in a Post-2015 world.” So again I am not theorizing about what is going on here. I just have more sources and an intensive understanding of what is involved and how it is interconnected. I have already written about that post-2015 troubling agenda and how much it looks like what Uncle Karl envisioned as the human development society.

If the phrase little c communism still strikes us as off-putting, imagine my horror at reading Pentland’s new visionary book Social Physics which openly proclaims the intention to “reinvent our current economic, government and work systems” and having “Reflections on Primitive Communism” being a cited article supporting his vision. Say What? indeed. Likewise, the Sakhalin Declaration we looked at in the last post is just an update conference to the vision of the global common future laid out at the World Summit in Geneva in 2003 for “Building the Information Society: a global challenge in the new Millenium.”

It is to be “people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented” and the place to start for realizing this “common vision” is to “focus especially on young people” and the “opportunities provided by ICTs.” Yes, that is acknowledged as mind arson in the last post, but then Pentland is pushing social learning precisely because it makes people more susceptible to peer pressure that will change future behaviors. Brave New World should perhaps be retitled as Education to Promote Bullying by Governments, Cronies & Communities: the 21st Century Great Transition, Like It or Not.

Those are some of the background facts and declared intentions undergirding all this talk of changed instructional practices and curricula and measuring assessments to look for a poorly-understood Student Growth or Achievement. Orwell may not have been imaginative enough, but he was spot on about the use of unappreciated definitions of words to obscure intentions from the general public. This quote is taken from a 2006 article in Theory & Psychology called “Embracing History Through Transforming It.” It provides the rationale for Quality Education and Deep Learning and Social Learning and all these other transformative practices we have uncovered. It is the essence of the DiaMat process being pushed in education and the article says so.

“what is placed at the center is not the child alone and not even the classroom practice existing here and now, but rather the dialectical co-authoring of development and history by each and every individual child (and teacher) with the rest of humanity (including its past and present generations), through collaborative activities that continue and simultaneously transform history. [Now we can appreciate all the group projects or the emphasis on real world, authentic problems]

In this case, the students and teachers, instead of being de-individualized by seeing them as part of humanity, are in fact empowered to a larger degree than in any other, more individualistically based visions of education because taking the dialectical view of history means the ineluctable agency and responsibility of people, including each and very individual, as actors who together create society and history itself and are created by them.”

Boy, that’s a long sentence, but the sentiment could not be more clear. It also fits perfectly with the visions described above, in recent posts, and where I am going. That’s why there is a global need for a new vision of education and why its nature is obscured with Orwellian terms like Quality Education or Excellence. Remember I said I would talk about why subject-matter and content remain important to radicals who have no use for the transmission of knowledge? Because real knowledge empowers the individual mind (explained in detail in my book) and reenforces the existing social institutions and practices? Instead, according to Professor Seth Chaiklin, “subject-matter instruction should contribute to humanization, through personality development” and teachers and curricula designers should “consider how it could be used to work for those ends.”

“Teaching should aim to develop understandings of the central topics in a problem area” according to these CHAT and Marxist theory of development theories of education being imposed on us. Those understandings then act as conceptual lenses to interpret daily experiences in ways likely to fuel a personal belief in the need to take action to transform present reality. A/k/a act on history to change its course. It’s why facts are not important, but relationships among topics are. So the emphasis in a 1st Grade Math Lesson is on “More and Less” and “Some and Few.” Words that can come to correspond to a physical reality that should be changed in a world where economic justice is to be sought. The calculator can add or multiply, but it cannot become a Change Agent of History. Hence the need to change.

One of the most common terms now used to illustrate the need for classroom changes is the oft-proclaimed need for students to be ‘engaged.’ Now I always interpreted that term as social and emotional learning through experiential activities, but Pentland’s book helpfully tells us it is more alarming as a goal. Here is his quick definition of ‘engagement’ from the book’s Glossary. “Engagement is social learning, usually within a peer group, that typically leads to the development of behavioral norms and social pressure to enforce those norms.”

See where the title comes from now? Now “social learning consists of either: (1) learning new strategies (e.g. context, action, outcome) by observation of other people’s behavior, including learning from memorable stories [which of course need not be true, only emotionally impacting]; or (2) learning new beliefs through experience or observation.”

Well, no wonder lectures, sequential worked-out illustrations of math or science problems, and textbooks generally are now deplored. No wonder the great works of literature are treated merely as a means for making a transformative point. Making beliefs the focus and wanting them to be malleable to change, plus peer pressure to follow the always excitable herd, are so much more transformative in their potential as instruments for change.

Next time we will zero in on how Soviet psychology developed the use of instruction and curricula to create a Systematic Development of Orientation Towards Future Action. From the last psychologist (died in 1988) to have regularly worked with Lev Vygotsky.

No I am not going to sign off with Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel. That phrase would really date me wouldn’t it?

17 thoughts on “Redesigning Education Globally to Humanize Personalities and Make Each of Us More Susceptible To Peer Pressure

  1. So teach your children to read before they start school. At least then they have a fighting chance! Use my website – there is a free programme on it, safe for any age, dyslexic or not.

    • Mona-you have asked me about Common Core and reading beyond what is in the book, this makes it clear that ‘close reading’ is about teaching kids to read text using “conceptual lenses.” And a variety of them at that. Everywhere we look we are encountering the same push to guide perception of reality in fixed, predetermined, politically powerful ways.

  2. Speaking of Big Data and Skinnerian ideas and all that, from our friends at Digital Promise comes “Reimagining Teacher Credentials Using Digital Badges” ( See also What a GREAT idea! (Yes, if you’re a chicken “learning” to peck a button, I suppose.) As an aside, my city is eyeball-deep into a “Reimagining” campaign of its own. I’m seeing this word every time I turn around, it seems.

    I am a couple of lectures into the newly-released “Exposing the Global Road to Ruin” series. I’m hoping that if I get this information from a variety of sources in multiple ways (reading and listening), some “deeper learning” might actually happen!

    • Susan-the reimagining campaign is funded by the Macarthur Foundation. Has a web site and I posted their troubling cartoons from their summit.

      Those interested in those badges should search via Mozilla Foundation. They are financing that initiative.

      The Exposing videos are on my list but I keep getting detoured by people like Professor Pentland and his declarations. By the way, that video was being pushed by the Garrison Institute which is pushing contemplative education so hard.

  3. I love ” Same Bat Time….”

    Okay. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? I apologize for shouting. But really. What on earth are they thinking? Would they have been happy to subject themselves or their family members to this sort of educational ” Quality Learning or Engagement?

    Each of them at some level seems to have this incredibly arrogant disconnect from the consequences of their theories and models. While I don’t particularly care for their brand of creativity in bringing forth Uncle Karl’s dream the only reason that they can is that NO ONE interfered in what knowledge and learning they pursued as Individuals.

    This is a real head scratcher. Has no one posed this simple question to their eminances? ” Professor McGenius, if the model of social progress and teaching and learning had been in place when you were receiving your education back in the day, preparing you to go along with the group and priming you to accept that less is more, would you be sitting here now with your credentials and books and labs articulating your independent creative thoughts?”

    As I read Pentland’s definition of Engagement I saw in my minds eye ( I still have one ) a brief film noir vignette where some poor slob is handcuffed to a chair with a single lightbulb dangling over his head while one person in his band of captor’s hold’s a phone to his mouth as he tells his wife, ” ” Doris, I won’t be home for dinner. I’m terribly engaged at the moment.”

    • Mari-

      Look what I found

      We have quotes from Otto Scharmer, Alex Pentland, and Peter Senge. Interviews with famous progressive educators like Seymour Papert and Linda Darling-Hammond. The video that Harvard Ed Leadership Prof Tony Wagner was pushing at the ATL (co)lab that he said was filmed at High Tech High, which is of course part of the League of Innovative Schools. It shows the 21st Century Skills Framework as part of this vision. It also shows Salman Kahn saying his videos are about teaching the conceptual understanding so school can be about the creative, open-ended problem solving.

      I happen to know from a 2003 Senge article I have that the open-ended process is about creating a new future where there will sense to be a sense of separation among individuals and thaey will all see themselves as a component of Humanity.

      Senge also pushes the noosphere that I mentioned in my book. He did not call it that. He referred to it as the Global Consciousness Project and he believes in it. Footnote verified he was talking about that noosphere project at Princeton.

      All in all I would say these visons really are coming together into a consistency of vision of the future and how to use education to supposedly get there. Plus the need to make education about applying psychological research instead of building crystallized intelligence, the traditional subject matter knowledge view of schools.

      • Robin-

        That slideshow/video presentation is scary. Everything in it btw is represented in living embodiment in the private school I removed my daughters from several years ago.

        Their curriculum is now EVERYTHING these social planners could dream of. Right down to a Center for Entreprenurial Leadership within the school itself which teaches nothing, but cultivates a volunteer minded student who sees problems everywhere but empowers them to do nothing really accept advocate for change. Oh and assignments are not graded.

        And I hear through the grapevine that the classes related to SEL infuriate the students. They think it is a waste of their time. I’m shocked.

        • I watched the Prezi referenced above. Isn’t content curation the concern that many of us are having with the Federal Race to the Top Grant mandate of Common Core Standards? So, students would just be trading the physical classroom for the MIT preferred online/digital learning through their programs. Also, Pentland states he sees a greater increase in productivity with cohesive face-to-face networks versus digital. So, why that quote is in the Prezi doesn’t make sense given the point trying to be made for digital. If it is education for everyone, then this whole concept depends on everyone being connected. If everyone is connected, then everyone is logged on, then everyone will be learning what the SME(subject matter expert) decides needs to be learned, they will also know what we have mastered and what are our behaviors…… oh, I get it now. Robin, are you going to have all of your books in a vault that we can access when we need reference materials?

          • Uh-oh–

            Good thing there is no link to what the Gates or Pearson Foundations are pushing. Or Hewlett.

            I am about to start on my 3 bookshelf just devoted to all my books laying out this stuff. Bought 3 more today. One was published in Moscow in 1992. Better be worth the premium I had to pay, but it’s important given what I talk about that I be able to say “There’s not a dispute on this even if it’s not widely known.”

  4. Robin-

    Re; the link you provided above:

    Could they have been any more repetitive and redundant with the systems speak? I’m compiling a list of words I never need to hear again. Systems has been added. Collaborative and transformative are both vying for first place.

    I heard on NPR today the director of a music program for gifted students in Texas tell the listening audience that the students would be transforming classical pieces for piano. They were also to perform a piano duet. The director explained that naturally all piano duets were collaborative in nature.

    I am a word and language junkie. And when I hear these Orwellian eduspeak words popping up in places I don’t expect them to I worry.

    And I did notice the hat tip in the article to like minded folk that systems digital enforcement of the CCSS will take care of that pesky problem of teachers who insist upon teaching content and facts.

    “….the Common Core SYSTEM OF COURSES is a new, all-digital curriculum that’s designed for use as a SYSTEM OF COURSES. Underlying the development of the Common Core SYSTEMS OF COURSES is the belief that the teacher is the key to the quality of education provided to students.”

    Read more:

    • Mari-never forget that to be a ‘system’ there has to be a dialectical (we change each other) relationship contemplated. So that system of courses will just build that goal in a jigsaw fashion.

      I was working on something today that made me wonder, given who was being footnoted and the detailed vision, if there is secretly a long weekend in cabo where most of these ed schemers all stay at the same place and party and scheme all weekend. Not only do they know each other, but ed truly turns into just a vehicle quickly.

      • Robin-

        Ed does appear to be the vehicle doesn’t it? Once you see it you cannot unsee it and the evidence is hiding in plain sight. If these Socialist Swingers are not yukking it up with margaritas in Cabo my next bet would be Maurice Strong’s digs in CO or perhaps the UN’s meditation room. Who knows, but they seem to be a cozy clique.

        I was explaining ( preaching?) the other day to a friend that people need to read your book and blog with the understanding that the story is not simply about education but education a means to an end.

        So many other cultural trends and political machinations over the past 40 years make perfect sense when you can see what has been and is in the minds and on the agendas of the planners from day one.

        People forget that just because something is not known to them does not mean that it is not exist for others.

        But no one likes bad news so I appreciate the knee jerk response to deny or ignore.

        • Mari-

          One of my kid’s reactions to all this has always been that “if you weren’t telling this story mom it would still be going on and no one would know why.” I appreciate people not wanting to know, except only knowledge can prevent this. It is precisely the great concern.

          I find the consistency with what has been sought over the decades to be mesmerizing. When I wrote the book, there was no question with the accuracy of the statement that the ending of the Cold War being gamed by the determination to fight via education using Soviet psychological techniques. What is in the book was shocking to me at the time I encountered it and the same pushes kept recurring. Everything I know now simply embellishes the essential story I laid out there.

          I am about to write about Piotr Gal’perin and as I was working on my outline of the post it is so striking how closely what the Literacy Design Collaborative is pushing fits with Galperin. The book continues to provide the insights that let me see the connections I need to see to tell why the implementation is what I have already documented it as being.

          And as always thanks for the support.

  5. The last couple of posts were very informative and, as always, packed with stimulating insights and critique. Your website here has been for me a wonderful source of citations, links, ideas, and concepts that has helped me immensely in my own personal study of these interrelated issues.

    Keep up the good work!

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