Surreptitious Vision: Ed Reforms as Designing an Internal Keel to Control People and Manage Society

No I am not a sailor although I did once have a very fun weekend on a sailboat in the Chesapeake as a hapless, but supportive, passenger. I am afraid this metaphor of a keel that allows steering regardless of the direction of the wind has been invoked as the official analogy of those who wish to use education in the 21st century globally to change human behavior and ” design a new, organic, socio-cybernetic system for the management of society.” Please do take a deep breath before we continue. At least now we know why the virtual reality science simulations planned under Common Core Next Generation Standards have been focusing on illustrating force and motion in addition to all the ‘supposed’ threats to the environment. These days any content allowed through virtually always has a purpose in creating a transformational mindset.

Today’s discussion is largely from a 2011 paper by Scotland’s John Raven called “Competence, Education, Professional Development, Psychology, and Socio-Cybernetics.” It has global aspirations and fits perfectly with UNESCO’s use of the term “Cybernetics of Global Change” as part of its MOST-Management of Social Transformations-official program. Apparently, we, the hoped-for victims and funders of these transformation plans, are the only ones NOT familiar with just how often the planners have begun to think in terms of how to invisibly gain control of human behavior to manage society.

That control lever can occur, according to Raven, through a socio-cybernetic, competence, focus in education plus new political rules. Since stating this out loud would create a popular outcry that might interfere with plans for subjugation, the same developmental push gets sold globally now under the blissful, but misleading, term–focus on Excellence. The other necessary component involves changing the political governance arrangements, which is of course exactly what the UN’s Agenda 21 seeks to do. Majority rule, judicial overreach or neglect, regulations, and power to appointed boards instead of elected ones all work quite nicely too.

Today’s focus though is on education since both UNESCO and Raven declare this is the Yellow Brick Road to Social Control. Just as adding a keel to a sailing boat is cited by Raven as “key to getting the boat to sail into the wind” so an education that rejects the primacy of individual “technico-rational competence” and content knowledge in favor of “helping people to develop and get recognition for, the diverse, often idiosyncratic, talents they possess” is key to the radical vision of social transformation. If that seems a bit odd, how about the admission that the key to “changing the way we run society,” (don’t you just want to ask “who is we, Kemosabe?” as if this were a Tonto-Lone Ranger skit), is rejecting the traditional focus of school since it “reinforces a social order which offers major benefits to ‘able’ people.”

Poor dear, all of civilization that these writers and planners take for granted is thankfully due to the herd-defying curiosity and mischief of just a few ‘able’ people. We will rue the day when their minds came to be molded into whatever was necessary to tolerate transformations.  Instead, we are to get education designed to change “people’s beliefs about society, how it works, and their place in it” even if none of those beliefs are grounded in reality. In fact in acknowledging and laying out the intent that project-based learning will no longer be a way to discover content, Raven begins to disclose the radically different goals of what is also euphemistically called ‘student-centered learning.’ As he states explicitly (and he is the one who loves italics), the purpose of the letters or pictures or slogans or poems “was not to depict what was seen accurately, but to represent it in such a way as to evoke emotions that would lead to action.”

Remember in the last post when I kept reminding that curriculum grounded in virtual reality likely would be whatever simulation created politically useful beliefs and values and that Holos Consciousness? That statement was based on having hung out with more than one software developer in my life and career. Turns out though the 1995 book Cybersociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community warned several times about the very same thing. The whole purpose of stressing computer simulations in the classroom is the computer’s “capacity to represent action in which humans could participate.” Perfect way to prime the pump for revolution we might say. In fact science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, then a Byte columnist, was quoted as fearing that “technology masks the constructedness of any simulation.” Here are his exact words and they remain hugely relevant to the mental keel being created within the student by digital learning and assessments of 21st century competencies:

“The simulation is pretty convincing–and that’s the problem because…it’s a simulation of the designer’s theories, not of reality…The fact is, though, the computer doesn’t say anything at all. It merely tells you what the programmers want it to tell you.”

And the programmers, such as ISTE keynoter Jane McGonnigal, have been quite graphic that these games are being designed to create a mindset that believes in the need for social transformation. Sim City creator, Will Wright, was quoted as saying his games are adapted from Jay Forester’s World Dynamics work, which once again takes us back to the Club of Rome, the 1970s, and the desire to push systems thinking in education, economic planning, and the now-proverbial means of managing society. Cybersociety recognized that “representing flux and change is exactly what a simulation can do”, making it a far more effective tool for altering the nature of human experience and illustrating the possible causes of social change.

A very powerful, highly visual, weapon we are mandating for classrooms and ‘assessments’ without giving a second thought to its use as a driver of how the student’s mind will perceive the need for social change. Computer games have become so ubiquitous that remembering that they were once recognized as “where we go to play with the future” gets overlooked. So does the fact that the future is not the least bit bound to follow the variables set up in a software virtual simulation. Just ask Putin. Fostering a belief in things that are not true, and collectivist values that leave you unprotected against either foreign invaders or domestic predator politicians, is no way to become an adult.

Making computer gaming the focus of the classroom because it is engaging and increases graduation rates still omits a crucial fact all the programming world still remembers. The gamer unconsciously and intuitively “internalizes the logic of the program.” Just the thing in other words for those who want social transformation and people who can be steered like the keel of a boat. Precisely the metaphor Raven chose to both use and illustrate with drawings of a boat. Marry those manipulative visuals to an express declaration for a “dramatic reorganisation of most peoples’ thoughtways” via schools and universities and we indeed have a problem. All being implemented into a classroom near you without a By Your Leave under banners like the Common Core or Positive School Climate or a 1:1 Laptop Initiative.

Left out will be the acknowledgment that now ‘intelligence’ is to be understood as an emergent property of a group rather than an individual characteristic. Furthermore, this intelligence depends on releasing and harnessing a huge variety of individual talents that are scarcely related to intelligence as conventionally understood. Thus conventional ways of thinking are unethical–destructive of both individuals and society.”

The attempts to manage society and achieve new forms of governance will not be successful. Only the extent of wealth lost and prosperity trashed is in dispute. The intended damage to be delivered via education to the psyche, false beliefs, and pernicious or naive values is unstoppable unless enough people realize there is no dispute at what is being sought or why.

Intentionally created financial conflicts of interest seem to be the norm to coerce adults into either complying with, or actively advocating for, this vision of education. In the US I see it being pushed under federal civil rights laws as necessary to have Equity and Excellence. The very title of the global ed summit that commenced today in New Zealand-“Excellence, Equity, and Inclusiveness: High Quality Teaching For All” tells me this developmental, obuchenie, new view of ‘intelligence’ grounded in group interactions is a deliberate global phenomena.

If only someone could create a computer simulation for politicians and school administrators showing the true social effects of such widespread mind arson.




24 thoughts on “Surreptitious Vision: Ed Reforms as Designing an Internal Keel to Control People and Manage Society

  1. Oh how I wish we did have that computer simulation! Why not? We should find someone to create it. They would just say, well we do see it that way….even when it’s factual and in face they can’t see.

    That Grabar article got me through the day, she is a good observer.

      • Don’t know. Never heard of it, but this is the most abjectly stupid ed article ever written.

        I don’t fear technology. I simply get it’s a visual tool that can be manipulated and that numerous people have said they intend to do just that in the virtual realities coming to the classroom.

        I also get history and what the printing press and mass access to symbolic systems did to the human mind and what amazing things were ignited. The smug self-righteousness of the ignorance makes it all the worse.

        And she writes. Think of how how this mindset as being fostered.

        • I don’t know what you are talking about, she has a education, you just don’t understand her IB mindset. You found out that you are not as smart as you think you is when U read that. Technology is dangerous because on the net, bullies like you are everywhere. (:

          • Oh, I understand her IB Mindset quite well. Unfortunately, that mindset has little relation to reality as it exists. It is designed to push for transformational change. So is the comparable view pushed by Marina Gorbis President of Institute for the Future where computers should be intelligent and people should be emotional.

            I am not sure how I am being a bully in pointing out that what she feels about technology is not factually true or that facts still matter. Is it bullying to still believe on objective criteria instead of all perspectives being equally valid?

            I think technology is a useful tool. Making use of a tool the point of school is making school vocational. That’s polytechism and should be acknowledged as such in discussions of the nature of these ed reforms. The actual goal of eliminating the techno-rational mind should also be acknowledged.

  2. Robin,

    Not sure where this fits in, but this link was definately interesting:

    I liked this quote: “Many paths to sustainability … exist and are mentioned in the 40 chapters of Agenda 21, the official document of the 1992 Earth Summit. Education is one of these paths. Education alone cannot achieve a more sustainable future; however, without education and learning for sustainable development, we will not be able to reach that goal.”

    • Education is a necessary predicate for the desired transformation, but it is not sufficient. Unfortunately for anyone interested in obfuscation of the rest of the story, so much of the additional necessary ingredients are also on my radar and were spelled out in detail with cites in the book. It’s also hard to get me to Cease and Desist looking just because something is the “law.” Often it is not actually. Even if it is, I read it through the lens of what the terms actually mean in their non-dictionary meanings.

      All of a sudden Jay Forester’s work is permeating everything. It was in Raven’s pper as the reason for the new mentality, just like Paul Ehrlich’s book from so long ago. Toward the end of Raven’s paper there is a heading–“The Wider Context: The Destruction of Life on Earth.” Same reason Professor David Orr of Oberlin also always gives for pushing practical knowledge instead of the intellectual.

      The rationales varies, but the end state–serfdom–with others trying to dictate individual behavior does not.

      • Mike, Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 is the chapter that addresses the education of sustainable development that is being brought into the curriculum. What’s interesting is that Agenda 21 is a UN non binding document and many “educators” are using this as their battle charge into their desired transformation or to make a lot of money off of the products they have developed. And they are using Jay Forrester’s systems dynamics to achieve this. L.L. up in the Northwest should be very familiar with education for sustainable development in schools.

        • I am aware. The NW is very much known for a stance on sustainability, even our IB schools push it harder than others. We also have a few environmental charters. We are pioneers in the sharing economy as well. All the good stuff is here….. :/ High hopes the rain will drive them away.

          • is the link to the December study. Reported by Psychology Today. Involvement of Harvard, MIT, Brown with the Annenberg Center and Ted Sizer’s old stomping grounds (Coalition of Essential Schools), and that Time Center tied to Mark Tucker, creator of the 90s’ version of Radical Ed Reform.

            I think I became aware of this in January or so. Fluid intelligence is what is meant by the omnipresent hype about “creativity and problem-solving skills” as the new focus.

            All funded by the Gates Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Tied then to measures of well-being to emphasize the growth of fluid intelligence instead of a fact orientation.

        • Old School-recognizing that the League of Innovative Schools chose Sunnyside School District because of its 25 years of working with STELLA and STACI and Forester’s group I went back to my not-so-little library of confessional books. 1994 book detailing all aspects of this project from its infancy including the existence of a longitudinal data system that gets at effects on motivation among other things.

          I will use it in next post. It is quite clear this is all about creating the desired inner mental images, associations and tied concepts just like Piotr Galperin laid out and Talyzina said would provide a cybernetic system of control. Raven is getting at the same thing. The idea is to apply the principles observed in the virtual simulation of physical systems to human and social systems.

          You may also want to take a look at the term bricoloage and its use in social lab and systems thinking. Seymour Papert used it as did the Social Labs Revolution and then a got a breakfast invite to a Charter School operator using the term Schools 4.0. It reminded me of the recent RSA paper pushing the Growth Mindset theories of Carol Dweck called “All Students Get an A” that is also in German. When I checked out came the name Bricolage Academy . It’s a philosophy about equity. Doesn’t this sound like Raven’s vision or what another member of LIS, High Tech High, is pushing?

        • Old School-Now we really have a problem. These Advanced Progressive Matrices Pearson is selling to school were created by the same professor Raven who wrote “Competence, Education, Professional Development, Psychology, and Socio-Cybernetics.

          Those sets, originally from the late 50s, are listed in the biblio to the book about the origination of STELLA and STACI in classrooms.

          Also ETS, Educational Testing Services, has always been behind this project, financially and strategically, to the point of recruiting the original schools beyond the one in Vermont. When David Coleman spoke about the implementation of the Common Core at the New Venture Schools annual meeting, he excitedly bragged about the College Board having all the resources of ETS behind them. ETS is also the backer of the Gordon Commission. Turns out ETS then has access to all the longitudinal data on the effects on motivation and conceptual change from systems thinking. The descriptions in Classroom Dynamics make it clear that the computer is simply the means of getting at the same inner representations Galperin researched.

          Now I understand why Bill Spady (Transformational OBE) in the 80s saw Peter Senge as a competitor for spreading the same view. He thought he was a better speaker than Senge and griped about how much better paid Senge was. They are both pushing the developmental obuchenie approach of how to get at and change student’s conceptualizations and also make sure that thinking was grounded in emotion and tied to whatever would motivate students. Excellence then=Triune Consciousness=Holos Consciousness (current term)

          For all the hype about not treating students as a vessel to be filled, the reality is that is PRECISELY what is being done. Cultivated down to the desired mental images and then monitored longitudinally to discover what curriculum materials or projects create additional change.

          Raven matters then even more than I appreciated when I wrote this post. His philosophy is already in classrooms, creating data that can now be acted on to change student mental representations.

  3. You both are using truth to bully those whose free speech, Utopian ideas are just as valid . You are afraid of change, just admit it. Why are you so angry Robin? Why can’t we just get along?! We have goals to meet.

  4. A brief search on raven in OR turned up results for tag testing. My oldest was tested almost yearly for gifted status. I don’t recall the raven being used, but it may have been. This link also came up in connection
    A link to ets is provided as a funding source for research. Are you saying this test is used more frequently?

    • Yes I am and about to be used even more frequently as pressure ramps up for proportionality in gifted classes. I did not know it was Raven who created it but these tests of fluid intelligence based on visual are being pushed as the appropriate measure as lack of English proficiency is not a barrier.

      Visual patterning becomes the measure of IQ instead of verbal or logical prowess.

      I think ETS was founded with Carnegie money and it looks to pursue its and Ralph Tyler’s fondest wishes on what the purpose of curriculum actually is. I am about done rereading Classroom Dynamics and that systems thinking is simply one means of aligning images, associations, and concepts per Piotr Galperin’s research and the cybernetic theory of controlling human behavior in predictable ways is hugely apparent once you have read Nina Talyzina’s book. There’s also much citing of Lauren Resnick’s 1989 The Thinking Curriculum published by ASCD. That would be 2 years after Lauren’s 1987 NRC report that laid out what would constitute higher order thinking skills. We have already discussed the extent to which that panel is dominated by CHAT devotees. I think all of this is what ETS wanted pushed in the mid-80s. It is based in Princeton so the likelihood of the World Order Models Project and the desire to get at consciousness of the masses is also not news. Especially not with both Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations funding. The omnipresence of that pursuit was still on its original time track in the 80s. It was losing the House in 94 and the outcry over OBE that slowed it down. I think that Macroshift shout-out was Laszlo’s way of telling Falk and Mendlovitz that the Club of Budapest was still pursuing WOMP’s original goals and calling it holos consciousness now.

      It is not an accident both Benathy and Csik came up with these developmental views of what would be excellence in the mid-80s and they are both involved with Laszlo in creating GERG. The Gordon Commission’s work and the League of Innovative Schools are all reminiscent of what ETS first hoped to achieve with STACI using STELLA. Now it’s everywhere. Senge and Scharmer’s work fit well with creating that holos consciousness too.

      It also fits perfectly with Charles Fadel’s work on redesigning curriculum down to everyone citing Roy Pea’s work, then and now.

      • Wow, Robin! Incredible research you have done.

        I think I need a flow chart. My brain is struggling to organize all of it. 🙂

        • Mari-sometimes when I have pulled a great deal together and am struck by the enormity of what is going on, it makes me sleepy and I take a nap.

          ETS coming up connected to Sunnyside School District in Tucson made me pause today and go back to reread the Gordon Commission newletters. It was also sponsored by ETS from 2011 to 2013. It is all obuchenie and Galperin.

          What Gordon wants also fits well with what Professor Raven describes, except Gordon calls it intellective competence.

          It turns out systems thinking is just a means of getting the image, associations, and concepts to guide future perception. Much in the same way Transformational OBE was or Teaching for Excellence is now.

          I have said before I think this story was supposed to come out

  5. Hi Robin,

    Forgive me, my comment is unrelated to this article. I’m trying to find a source for the “Eight Rules/Steps to Create a Social State”. I think I found it in a link in one of your articles. It seems it can not be attributed to Alinsky. Do you know who is the author or if there is a source that predates 2008?

    I appreciate any information you can give me. Many thanks.


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