Anyone hoping for at least a PG-13 post with that title will be disappointed I don’t mean the sexual definition of seduction. Instead, this type of seduction is when someone changes what they support or advocate for because they have a carefully arranged misunderstanding of the issues and what is actually in play. That applies perfectly to competency-based education (CBE) with its neural emphasis that lies behind most of the K-12 reforms and, increasingly, also higher ed. In case someone thinks I cannot tie the desired bullseye to the constant drumbeat of False Narratives around the Common Core, CBE, or its essential component of social and emotional learning (SEL), the acknowledgments page of the book I am about to quote from thanks the influential Bradley Foundation for its financial support.
That book Our Posthuman Future by Francis Fukuyama is the source of the first part of the title. In discussing the famous book Brave New World, Fukuyama quoted the character who said “The Controllers realized that force was no good” and then went on to state that “people would have to be seduced rather than compelled to live in an orderly society.” That’s a great metaphor for how ‘student-centered learning’ or ‘personalized learning’ really work so lets borrow the metaphor. Later Fukuyama talked of “those who believe in the social construction of human behavior” and then listed first the French Revolution and then the 20th century attempts for “radically rearranging the most basic institutions of society…with the socialist revolutions that took place in Russia, China, Cuba, Cambodia, and elsewhere.”
Before anyone exhales with a sigh of relief that those efforts are thankfully behind us, Fukuyama then complained that “the tools of the past century’s social engineers and utopian planners, they seem unbelievably crude and unscientific. Agitprop, labor camps, reeducation, Freudianism, early childhood conditioning, behavioralism–all of these were techniques for pounding the square peg of human nature into the round hole of social planning. None of them were based on knowledge of the neurological structure or biochemical basis of the brain.”
Think of CBE, learning standards like the Common Core, or SEL mandates as a means to use prescribed experiences and other curriculum activities to biologically alter the brain so that suddenly that square peg of human nature is now a round peg. Then it can fit easily into the round hole of social planning. Think of all the data being gathered, that has no need to be personally identifiable to work for purposes of neural change, as a means to “enhance our knowledge of, and hence our ability to manipulate, the source of all human behavior, the brain.” In http://invisibleserfscollar.com/battle-for-the-mind-and-who-we-ought-to-be-portrait-of-a-graduate-in-2030-thanks-to-charlottesville/ we found the behavioral scientists creating the curriculum and dialogues admitting their purpose was a Battle for Human Nature.
Now, between that last quote and this one “we may be about to enter a posthuman future, in which technology will give us the capacity gradually to alter that [human] essence over time,” we had Fukuyama admitting the known aims. Somehow too many of us get seduced by terms like Growth, Success, or Continuous Improvement into not recognizing what it is that ‘learning’ is changing. This past week iNACOL released “Quality and Equity by Design” to chart the Course of the Next Phase of CBE. The reenvisioning of education it laid out is premised on the “steady march towards equality and justice within our country” that regards the neural level as the ultimate in evidence-based policymaking.
After all, CBE needs to “overcome the history of bias, bigotry, discrimination and oppression that has shaped many students, communities and institutions, including our K-12 education system, and realize educational equity?” How? Why, through ‘brain-based learning’ of course where “QUALITY refers to efficacy–the capacity to produce the desired result or effect…to support academic and lifelong learning outcomes for students.” Lifelong learning is another seductive term that actually has to do with what is hardwired into the brain as well. The next paragraph explained how educators use their “understanding of their students as individuals, adapting as needed to personalize the learning pathway towards common high expectations.” The learning goals do not vary. Only the means of proving the desired neural installation varies and what it took to create the change. Educators look to “academic skills, social-emotional-learning, habits of success and the strength of students’ growth mindset are all taken into consideration” in determining what needs to be changed at a neural level and how to go about it.
Since physical activity, especially when tied to an idea, certain goals or Purposeful activity, is known to have a physiological effect on certain regions of the brain, we get the CBE mandate put into state or federal laws or regulations quietly issued by a federal Ed secretary where “Students in turn are active co-constructors of knowledge, rather than passive consumers of content.” To make sure future behavior in the real world is predictable, we get a CBE mandate that “Learning is visibly and authentically connected to meaningful and important outcomes.”
On October 12, 2017 Betsy DeVos https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-10-12/pdf/2017-22127.pdf released proposed regulations for review that enact many of the controversial reforms decried as Positive School Climate, an SEL focus, Fostering Communities of Learners, a communitarian focus, constructivist math and science to be taught in a hands-on inquiry environment, and many other programs that were unquestionably developed in the USSR during the Cold War as this blog or my book Credentialed to Destroy documented. DeVos may not understand that and could be relying on perfidious employees or her time on various think-tank boards. These proposed regulations (that no one can comment against if they remain unaware they have been issued) also fit with that iNACOL paper and its desire to enact a vision of education that supposedly fits “the moral imperative of supporting and empowering the next generation of adults” through CBE and its effects on the students’ brains.
Permanent neural rudders are such a better way to steer people if anyone is concerned about a willingness to accede to these visions of earthly transformation. Instead of top-down visible commands, use the decentralized theory of polycentricity. Then the seduction can be pitched using alluring euphemisms like federalism, standards, states as ‘laboratories of democracy’, and local control. https://www.icsu.org/cms/2017/04/Policy-Brief-No.6-FG_FIN3ed.pdf was released back in September and is tied to that same alarming Earth System Partnership/Belmont Challenge the UN is quietly pushing that caused me to start this blog originally. If I had a tricorn cap, I could go by Robin Revere. The first paper in the Bibliography led me to Polycentricity and its ties as a political theory that could introduce social justice into public policy decision-making frameworks. These could then be pushed by think tanks and politicians pretending they are ‘market-based reforms’ instead of overt social planning.
Sound familiar? Decentralized decisionmaking that “depend on the values and culture of the individuals creating them.” Gee, if we could only make values and culture the focus of education just like those DeVos regulations, CBE, the Science of Virtues, and the Jubilee Centre Moral Framework all do. If a political theory of social planning like polycentricity being cited in current policy briefs relies on “whether or not a significant number of individuals share or aspire to those values is critical to the operation of the system,” then that theory needs learning standards and CBE to work. It also needs for no one to appreciate precisely how these reforms really work or what they really aim to do. Hence, so many of the False Narratives oblivious to the facts and seeking both public funding and implementation as a matter of law.
The NSF is currently using taxpayer money to set up a Big Data Innovation Ecosystem in the US that certainly sounds polycentric. It has 4 Big Data Innovation Hubs to play the convening and coordinating role with area academia, industry, governments, and nonprofits. Anyone who has read my book, think Turchenko with new tools of social planning. The Hubs are now creating a Spokes system extending into all 50 states that is explicitly looking to partner with State Boards of Education and local school districts. This Hub-Spoke System is expressly tied to the NSF-funded BRAIN Initiative we have covered to map the brain and its areas of function. All these plans for us and our children were supposed to be invisible. My blood pressure would probably be lower if somehow I had not been given a means to discern what is being attempted and why, but here we are.
These are authoritarian plans for thought control tied into the brain’s structure. To recognize what is going on is to feel compelled to share this agonizing story. In order for these pernicious plans to work though, they need to remain undetected or misunderstood. The plans need to change the nature of education without the true nature of the change being grasped. Most of all, these plans need the tool of the law and its ability to compel even when the effects of such compulsion are neither felt or really understood. To work, all polycentric visions require “an encompassing system of rules” brought in by accreditors, the terms of promotions for principals, learning standards, or the terms for receiving grant funding to give just a few decentralized, but binding, illustrations.
It turns out that bottom-up social planning to achieve transformations needs two things: the human brain, malleable and adaptable to experience, as well as “the rule of law.” Those are the two essential factors that supposedly can, over time, alter human nature from a square peg to a round nail that fits the desired Blueprint.
Luckily for us, I keep finding those Blueprints and interpreting them accurately using my non-21st century store of factual knowledge.