Ballad of the Long Sought Shift to Being Educable, Not Educated: Adaptation Via Dissolving the Logical Mind

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Do you ever won­der where these titles come from? The sec­ond part comes from descrip­tions in the 2004 book The Great Adven­ture: Toward a Ful­ly Human The­o­ry of Evo­lu­tion that I will end this post with. First it described elim­i­nat­ing the “bricks and mor­tar” of the tra­di­tion-ori­ent­ed log­i­cal mind. Lat­er, the same book, hav­ing laid out its plans on using K-12 edu­ca­tion to get a more “flex­i­ble,” intu­itive, mind, then pro­ceed­ed to describe how to lock those changes firm­ly and invis­i­bly in place. Long term read­ers can prob­a­bly guess that those changes will be hid­den in the real def­i­n­i­tions of Stu­dent ‘Growth’ and ‘achieve­ment’ and whether the stu­dent is show­ing progress to being Work­place or Col­lege and Career Ready. The tech­niques used to dis­solve that log­i­cal mind and prac­tice new behav­iors come in using strate­gies cre­at­ed in the class­room via activ­i­ties billed to par­ents as ‘rig­or­ous’ and involv­ing ‘High­er Order Think­ing Skills.”

It all links togeth­er. Let’s go back to the 1960s first to a pro­fes­sor, Philip H. Coombs, who also served in the Kennedy admin­is­tra­tion before bolt­ing for Paris to help UNESCO (the UN enti­ty cre­at­ed in 1948 for the express pur­pose of using edu­ca­tion glob­al­ly to grad­ual shift cul­ture away from the West’s his­toric focus on the indi­vid­ual as my book explains) set up its Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Edu­ca­tion­al Plan­ning. In 1967 Pres­i­dent John­son, a for­mer ele­men­tary teacher with a life-long rev­er­ence for John Dewey (the rea­son that mat­ters is also in the book), ini­ti­at­ed an Inter­na­tion­al Con­fer­ence on the World Cri­sis in Edu­ca­tion in Williams­burg, Vir­ginia. The result­ing book The World Edu­ca­tion­al Cri­sis point­ed out that K-12 need­ed to “expand and democ­ra­tize itself and that keep­ing “the old logis­tics, cur­ricu­lum, and hal­lowed mono­lith­ic stan­dards” would be:

as if a spe­cial­ized gift shop for the well-to-do was sum­moned to con­vert itself into a mas­sive depart­ment store for con­sumers of every descrip­tion, includ­ing a thrift base­ment for those in strait­ened cir­cum­stances.”

Now, of course, all stu­dents are being asked to accept to offer­ings of the thrift base­ment. Elab­o­rate name changes and unknown ini­tia­tives as we saw in the last post sim­ply obscure the dra­mat­ic shift. Inter­est­ing­ly, it all still fits with what LBJ, Coombs, and UNESCO all want­ed back in 1968 (ital­ics in orig­i­nal text; bold­ing from me):

Edu­ca­tion­al sys­tems must under­go a shift of empha­sis. The new stress must be not so much on pro­duc­ing an edu­cat­ed per­son as on pro­duc­ing an edu­ca­ble per­son who can learn and adapt him­self effi­cient­ly all through his life to an envi­ron­ment that is cease­less­ly chang­ing.”

That’s the new goal of K-12 edu­ca­tion in the West, which is why the aca­d­e­m­ic results have been dete­ri­o­rat­ing ever since. Those insid­ers who know the real rea­son can­not remain empow­ered to bring about the change desired via the schools if they admit to what is going on. Peo­ple like me now, who know and can prove the real­i­ty, always run up against par­ents who can­not bear to know. The prob­lem is these sought changes are psy­cho­log­i­cal and the Com­mon Core in the US and 21st cen­tu­ry skills every­where mask that real­i­ty.

Con­tin­ued igno­rance means that tech­niques that real­ly are ground­ed in acknowl­edged brain­wash­ing tech­niques are being imposed on teach­ers and stu­dents in our class­rooms. Let’s con­tin­ue our jour­ney to exam­ine how cru­cial this abil­i­ty to have an adapt­able mind and per­son­al­i­ty is to those who real­ly want whole­sale polit­i­cal, social, and eco­nom­ic change. Always seek­ing ambi­tious admin­is­tra­tors will­ing to impose this on class­rooms.

Around 1986, just after the 1985 agree­ment on edu­ca­tion among the US, USSR, and the Carnegie Cor­po­ra­tion (the same one Richard Riley is now a Vice Chair of that is now push­ing Com­pe­ten­cy-Based Next Gen­er­a­tion Learn­ing to guide the real glob­al shift) was signed ( ( ) is a good source for the actu­al doc­u­ment), a study began under the ban­ner of the US Depart­ment of Labor. It pro­duced in 1990 a series of Work­place Basics, Train­ing for a Chang­ing Work­force, man­u­als that pro­vide the actu­al Blue­print still being fol­lowed in today’s K-12 edu­ca­tion reforms. The longest and most graph­ic of the books on The Essen­tial Skills Employ­ers Want lays out the need for stu­dents and employ­ees to “tran­scend log­i­cal and sequen­tial think­ing and make the leap to inno­va­tion.”

Where have we heard that hos­til­i­ty to the Axe­mak­er Mind before? Paul Ehrlich’s 1989 pitch for New­mind­ed­ness. What a time­ly coin­ci­dence. Now tell me if this quote from the 1990 man­u­al does not sound like today’s sales pitch for a Growth Mind­set, instead of a Fixed Mind­set? “Each adult brings a dif­fer­ent per­son­al data base of expe­ri­ence and learn­ing to the work­place. This base can­not remain sta­t­ic because our lives are a cal­dron of exper­i­ments respond­ing to the need to adapt to chang­ing cir­cum­stances.” Stu­dents in school are to be tar­get­ed for change for the same rea­son. Ana­lyt­i­cal, rule-based think­ing like tra­di­tion­al alge­bra, geom­e­try proofs, or gram­mar all impede this desired adapt­abil­i­ty. It is fas­ci­nat­ing to me that the pro­fes­sor, Lau­ren Resnick, who cre­at­ed the terms ‘rig­or’ and High­er Order Think­ing Skills back in the 80s is quot­ed by name in the book mak­ing this point:

School should focus its efforts on prepar­ing peo­ple to be good adap­tive learn­ers, so they can per­form effec­tive­ly [aka be com­pe­tent or pro­fi­cient] when sit­u­a­tions are unpre­dictable and task demands change.”

The now-ubiq­ui­tous goal that Stu­dents should Learn How to Learn is also in the 1990 man­u­al of new Work­place Basics. It goes back to cit­ing noto­ri­ous Human­ist psy­chol­o­gist Carl Rogers and his 1969 book Free­dom to Learn to illus­trate the con­cept of Learn­ing to Learn: “The only man who is edu­cat­ed is the man who has learned how to learn…how to adapt and change.”

I had a read­er recent­ly who also teach­es ask me how the omnipresent con­cept of ‘prob­lem-solv­ing’ under the Com­mon Core dif­fered from the clas­sic (if painful) clas­sic math word prob­lems. Let’s use the still rel­e­vant def­i­n­i­tion from the 1990 man­u­al: “Prob­lem solv­ing is the process of bridg­ing a per­ceived gap between what is and what ought to be.” A very use­ful skill indeed along with adapt­abil­i­ty if fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tions are the real goal and edu­ca­tion and peo­ple have become mere con­duits or tools to effect the sought changes. Here’s anoth­er use­ful tool: the POWER Mod­el of Prob­lem Solv­ing.

Project a vision of how the sit­u­a­tion should be dif­fer­ent

Observe the dis­crep­an­cy between what exists and what should be

Work out, after con­sid­er­ing choic­es, an action plan and imple­ment it

Evaluate/monitor progress and achieve­ment

Revise plans as indi­cat­ed by eval­u­a­tion find­ings

As some­one who has read many of the blue­prints involved over the decades with these sought trans­for­ma­tions, that POWER mod­el is pre­cise­ly what Big Data and super­com­put­ers and gov­ern­ments at all lev­els think is the new way to plan soci­eties and economies. Edu­ca­tion at all lev­els sim­ply needs to pro­duce the peo­ple with mind­sets and world­views to either tol­er­ate the whole­sale shifts or to embrace them. Both involve dis­solv­ing the log­i­cal mind of the Enlight­en­ment and believe me, the advo­cates just keep say­ing that.

Inter­est­ing­ly too, here is the new def­i­n­i­tion of lead­er­ship. Notice how use­ful this will be to bring­ing about whole­sale change, espe­cial­ly when it becomes the entire basis for grad­u­ate degrees, as in edu­ca­tion or pub­lic pol­i­cy doc­tor­ates.

The most suc­cess­ful leader of all is one who sees anoth­er pic­ture not yet actu­al­ized. He sees the things which belong in his present pic­ture but which are not yet there.”

Now imag­ine if a will­ing­ness to ‘prob­lem solve’ using the POWER Mod­el or be a leader as described above gets you lucra­tive jobs or grants from mas­sive­ly rich char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tions or pub­lic sec­tor jobs where pro­mo­tions are tied to how aggres­sive­ly you push this trans­for­ma­tion­al vision to make stu­dents ‘adapt­able’ and ‘train­able.’ You would get pre­cise­ly what is going on now as this Next Gen­er­a­tion Learn­ing graph­ic across all sec­tors and insti­tu­tions from Ford makes clear.

On July 17 and 19, 2000 there was a meet­ing of so many of the long time advo­cates for trans­for­ma­tion social and polit­i­cal change using edu­ca­tion in Toron­to, Cana­da. They laid out their plans to use a “teacher-stu­dent-dri­ven, glob­al­ly active alliance between evo­lu­tion­ary sys­tems sci­ence and human­is­tic, transper­son­al, and pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy to kick-start what is need­ed.”

What was need­ed, of course, is that very same adapt­abil­i­ty and mal­leable mind and per­son­al­i­ty we just keep encoun­ter­ing as the new goal of edu­ca­tion. To be edu­ca­ble, not edu­cat­ed. Learn­ing how to Learn and Growth sound so much bet­ter than the real goals of a “rad­i­cal expan­sion of brain, mind, and con­scious­ness” that will allow step-by-step achieve­ment of “per­son­al, cul­tur­al, social, polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, edu­ca­tion­al, and tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion.” The term rev­o­lu­tion prob­a­bly bet­ter describes what is sought, but since these fun­da­men­tal changes are all sup­posed to be blood­less, evo­lu­tion sounds bet­ter. Plus it fits the invis­i­ble shifts involved over time until the dra­mat­ic changes over time can be locked into place.

How? Through a moral and spir­i­tu­al trans­for­ma­tion in what enough peo­ple to be the major­i­ty elec­torate val­ue and believe about how the world works, what they are owed by oth­ers, and what the world should be.

David Loye in that The Great Adven­ture book laid out “how to actu­al­ly build it.” Next time we will trace that blue­print against the real imple­men­ta­tion. It start­ed last week where I live.

Unless you want the next gen­er­a­tion to remain psy­cho­log­i­cal adap­ta­tion guinea pigs, this is some­thing all par­ents and tax­pay­ers need to know. This is no time for rose-col­ored glass­es.