Opting Out as the Remedy May Mean Accidentally Accelerating Nonconsensual Transformations

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Did you notice that transformations is plural? That added ‘s’ is  not a case of early morning hyper typing. As I have mentioned numerous times with substantial evidence in my book Credentialed to Destroy and this blog, we cannot separate out the end goals in our real world from the intention of using education to change what “type of person” students will become as adults. That inextricable reality of global K-12 education reform that the Common Core is tied to was brought painfully home this week when I came across this new report from KnowledgeWorks.  http://www.knowledgeworks.org/sites/default/files/Improving-Student-Outcomes-Through-Collective-Impact.pdf

In case you are not familiar with KnowledgeWorks, it is a well-connected nonprofit that has Clinton’s Education Secretary and Carnegie Vice Chair Richard Riley on its Board. It gets financing from the Gates, Carnegie, and Hewlett Foundations and pushes the Education reforms that were controversial in the 90s. This time though “There will be no Notice so There can be no Choice” could be the motto. So when KW creates a Policy Guide for Federal Policymakers (aka DC bureaucrats) that says that only those communities pushing a shared vision grounded in Uncle Karl’s vision of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” will be getting “federal place-based education grants,” we are about to have a problem. Especially if the local mayor or city council or school board wants to tout the disguised communitarian mandate as a ‘local’ idea.

Committing to transforming workplaces, the built environment, economies, and all the things governments will now do for all citizens is rather a large transformation. Everywhere in the world that is pushing this, which unfortunately amounts to everywhere ordinary people have ever been free to make their own choices, sees education as the means for forcing this change, like it or not. Here is as succinct a description of the end game person to be carved out by all these reforms as I can find. It is as if people now are to be treated as a block of ice to be produced into a form ready for a tony reception centerpiece on demand. Apt snark in brackets.

“Individuals who: (1) are constantly authenticating or reconstructing their beliefs through experience and reflection [Dweck’s Growth Mindset]; (2) are capable of critically analysing and transcending given texts, contexts, systems and structures [ready to jettison the world as it is for a world that might be and may work even worse]; (3) are able to prosper in changeable social, cultural and economic environments [all those other transformations to be pursued above as collective impact partnerships to get federal funds like the WIOA I despise]; (4) have recognised and developed passions, talents, and capacities which they willingly contribute to productive and cooperative purposes [that would explain why putting others first ended up as a requirement of the Career Ready Standards and all the references to collaboration]; (5) have a strong sense of identity, autonomy and self-efficacy [precisely what Facing History and the Anti-bias Standards are determined to create]; and (6) have a genuine respect for themselves and others [remember the Affirmative Code of Student Conduct now mischievously required in all classrooms?]”

The Australians call that the Key Abilities Model created by Global Change Agent Michael Fullan’s New Theory of Education and we simply cannot get there via a fact-based, lecture curriculum that is about content knowledge in the traditional sense. I mentioned Opt-Out because that is the remedy I kept hearing about while I was out in California. If the model of Next Generation Learning and Competency-based is to get rid of traditional tests altogether, opting out may be the proverbial jump from the frying skillet into the fire itself. Let’s quote an April 2013 Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) document called “The Pathway to Possibility” on the new type of “measures of learning” desired. Please remember that KnowledgeWorks is closely tied to NGLC.

“Different approaches to learning and revised definitions of success require new metrics that accurately reflect both the process [of personal change] and the product [the changes in the student] of learning and attainment. Such a shift would mean enormous changes in measurement design by itself, but that level of change is compounded by new thinking about the role of assessment in learning, both in the United States and internationally. Rather than being used primarily (often solely) for summative purposes–e.g., an on-demand final exam–assessment is increasingly understood to be an essential, ongoing, highly integrated component of the learning process.”

Embedded then in classwork like gaming or the online software increasingly ubiquitous in classrooms, this change the student capability goes by the names “assessing for learning” and “formative assessment.” If parents are unaware that changing how the student perceives the world from the inside out is the new purpose of curricula and what happens in the classroom, they may miss that the Opt Out hype aids this always intended transition. I personally believe that the pain of constant testing has been deliberately heightened precisely so that frustrated parents will proclaim no more objective measuring of what is happening in the classroom. It’s too frustrating for the kids. Then the real extent of the psychological shifts and the lack of real factual knowledge will be easy to miss. At least until the transformation is irreversible.

That’s the hope anyway. Let’s go back to Australia then to once again appreciate that the student’s basic assumptions about the nature of reality are what these reforms are really targeting. http://www.aare.edu.au/data/publications/2004/sea04954.pdf lays out the New Global Educational Paradigm. It’s just a matter of social science theory and our children and society itself are the intended guinea pigs for real-world testing. Wish we could opt out of this. Maybe we can if enough people are aware in time. These are the 15 Constructs of the desired changes in identity, dispositions and orientations to the world K-12 education is to be creating in students. These are the “transformational outcomes” desired.

Construct 1 is “Reality is not discovered, but constructed.” The world is what a person perceives and believes and there is no objective reality. That would certainly explain the disdain for lectures, textbooks, and phonetic reading to allow a dialogue with the past.

Construct 2 is “Human life transcends the appearance of duality.” That stunner insists we are not in fact separate from the world we inhabit and this historic duality gets bridged by making action and experience the classroom focus.

Construct 3 is “Human life is purposeful.” How a person interprets “objects, concepts, ideas, speech, events, actions and contexts depends on the individual’s purposes or perceptions of a problem.” So facts gets minimised and values and beliefs get all the attention so that purposes and perceptions can be usefully manipulated.

Constructive 4 is “Human Consciousness is evolutionary.” Not in a way that has anything to do with apes. Here the brain must be constantly willing to adapt how it interprets that real world. This theory calls for deliberately introducing conflict [aka rigor] so that the frustrating inconsistency will force a revision of our “internal schemes or internal reference standards (the experiential goals which drive our behavior)”. That would be the authoritarian goals I mentioned in the previous post that are supposed to be superior to mere rote learning of facts.

Construct 5 is “Human individuals are autonomous agents.” This translates into a person will fight external demands or limits imposed by arbitrary authority. So of course the answer is to make the control invisible and internal via education.

Construct 6 is that “Human beings need to be familiar with the world around them.” That one bluntly boils down to how people organize their experience impacts their willingness to act to transform the world.

Construct 7 is that “Human beings are vulnerable to conditioning.” Exploiting that has become the entire basis for graduate education degrees.

Construct 8 is “Particular forms of experience alienate human beings from our selves and the world.” Book knowledge gets in the way of transforming current reality is the concern.

Construct 9 is “Authentic human beings can help others to become authentic.” Authentic means transcending current definitions and given systems and changing everything that currently exists. No, there’s nothing about collective impact but it fits.

Construct 10 is “Intelligence is adaptive action.” Beginning to see a pattern? A person should be willing to change how they see the world to fit with their aims. Yes, this is a construct only a tenured prof would come up with, not someone spending their own money.

Construct 11 is “Life is change.” So is drowning, but that’s no reason to actively pursue it.

Construct 12 is “Particular forms of experience create a disposition to intelligent action.” Of course those types of experiences must become the virtual reality of gaming or apprenticeships in the new design of high schools.

Construct 13 is “A human being’s identity can transcend definitions.” That is particularly easy if the education paradigm proclaims the Death of the Gutenberg Era in order to deemphasize the magical effects on the mind of print.

Construct 14 is “Every human being is a conscious and autonomous process of becoming.” That is almost precisely what the NEA, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers wanted to make the new focus of K-12 education back in 1962. Everything old is new again for the 21st Century as Next Generation Learning. Sounds better than Humanist Psychology, doesn’t it?

Finally, Construct 15 is “Human beings change ourselves and our world.” Education here seeks to create an “awareness that texts, contexts, systems, and structures are not unalterable givens, but things that challenge us.”

That sounds precisely like the goal of that Collective Impact report we started with.

What’s the correct word to describe the intentions of these 15 constructs?

What happens when all these sought changes are involuntary and undisclosed to the people being changed and the taxpayers funding it all?