Framing, then Refining Lasting Webs of Mutual Social Understanding to Fulfill Aspirations Grounded in Infamy

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Since I do not want to be accused of a God­win’s Law vio­la­tion, I will not tell pre­cise­ly who uttered this sen­ti­ment that still lurks behind all of the cur­rent rhetoric of prim­ing stu­dents to act for the Com­mon Good. True ide­al­ism is noth­ing but sub­ject­ing the indi­vid­u­al’s inter­ests and life to the com­mu­ni­ty. I will note though that when Gov­er­nors and May­ors are now being instruct­ed by mul­ti­ple fed­er­al agen­cies to make work­force prepa­ra­tion the goal of K‑12 and teach­ers and prin­ci­pals plan to tar­get the Whole Child for mon­i­tor­ing and manip­u­la­tion, every­one is think­ing like a col­lec­tivist even if no one involved is real­ly famil­iar with the cru­cial dis­tinc­tions any­more. Luck­i­ly for us though, I have a copy of E. Mer­rill Root’s 1955 book Col­lec­tivism on the Cam­pus so we can revis­it these vital con­cepts dur­ing a pre­vi­ous hey­day when peo­ple still rec­og­nized what was at risk.

Root goes back to peo­ple like the famous 19th cen­tu­ry poet Ralph Wal­do Emer­son and reminds us that this strug­gle with the coer­cive poten­tial of the State has a long history:

col­lec­tivism would reduce unique per­sons to effi­cient func­tions of a dom­i­nant mass; and indi­vid­u­al­ism, that would exalt the sta­tus of the per­sons who freely con­sti­tute it… By nature, indi­vid­u­al­ism sees soci­ety as the means and the indi­vid­ual as the end. Man does not exist to serve soci­ety, as among the bees and the ants; soci­ety exists to serve unique, indi­vid­ual persons…collectivism by its very nature and by its effi­cient prac­tice reg­u­lates, pro­hibits, and compels.”

As we keep encoun­ter­ing the prin­ci­ple that democ­ra­cy is sud­den­ly to mean an abil­i­ty by the major­i­ty in num­ber to bind the minor­i­ty to its wish­es and per­ceived needs, which, I believe, is why this sta­tis­tic has been get­ting so much recent hype, let’s look at all the swirling inten­tions of fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tions in so many areas by remem­ber­ing: “all col­lec­tivisms, no mat­ter how they dif­fer in mood or means, are unit­ed in the social­ist prin­ci­ple of con­trol by the peo­ple col­lec­tive­ly, or the state.”

Now let’s come for­ward a bit, but not yet all the way to the present. One of the con­trib­u­tors to The Great Adven­ture book from the last sev­er­al posts was a cre­ator of the 1970 doc­u­ment The Predica­ment of Mankind that sought to lay the seeds for using the the­o­ries of the social sci­ences and the research from the behav­ioral sci­ences to begin design­ing social sys­tems in the West. It was to be the foun­da­tion of the Club of Rome. Now the CoR chose then instead, as the UN does now, to mask that actu­al inten­tion in phys­i­cal sci­ence mod­els that under­stand­ably nev­er work very well. They are an excuse to alter real­i­ty and exist­ing human behav­iors, not a means of reli­ably mod­el­ling what exists and pre­dict what prob­a­bly will be.

So Alexan­der N. Chris­takis, who we will now short­hand as Chris­to, resigned from the CoR and took his Struc­tured Dia­logue Design Process with him. It nev­er went away though and it came to my atten­tion in Chap­ter 6 of the book: “Tech­nol­o­gy to Lib­er­ate Rather Than Imprison Con­scious­ness.” Now if that catch­es your atten­tion as more and more ‘course­work’ to get ‘degrees’ or ‘work­place cre­den­tials’ shifts to online meth­ods, it should. First though let’s see what Chris­to actu­al­ly said were his inten­tions. He opens with this quote from fel­low sys­tems thinker and GERG social engi­neer Bela Banathy [see his tag on blog. We have met him before]. Remem­ber what Dia­logue means from the last post:

Dia­logue facil­i­tates the devel­op­ment of a com­mon lan­guage and col­lec­tive men­tal mod­els. Thus, the abil­i­ty to engage in dia­logue becomes one of the most fun­da­men­tal and most need­ed human capa­bil­i­ties. Dia­logue becomes a cen­tral com­po­nent of any mod­el of evo­lu­tion­ary transformation.”

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion For Social Change as the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion called it. As the Frame­Works Insti­tute seeks to pre­pare com­mon men­tal maps to reli­ably guide the per­cep­tions of the mass­es, so too SDD “brings the lack of a com­mon­ly shared meta­nar­ra­tive into focus and encour­ages cre­ative adap­ta­tions among par­tic­i­pants.” Change with­in the per­son in oth­er words just like the shift to stu­dent-cen­tered learn­ing. If this all seems a bit Egg-Heady to you and not a real threat to the way of life we all take for grant­ed, Fig­ure_1-_Amend­ed_­Clas­si­fi­ca­tion_of_59_In­hibitors_­to_Bot­tom-up_Democ­ra­cy makes it clear the Oba­ma cam­paign in 2008 used SDD by name to gath­er input into the vision that fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion must be allud­ing to: “Oba­ma’s vision for engag­ing stake­hold­ers from all walks of life in a bot­tom-up democ­ra­cy employ­ing Inter­net technology.”

The Nation­al Cen­ter for Dia­logue and Delib­er­a­tion that we just keep encoun­ter­ing announced the give­away of the SDD soft­ware to help encour­age the dis­sem­i­na­tion of the par­tic­i­pa­to­ry democ­ra­cy mod­el. Remem­ber the one that lies at the heart of how urban metro areas are to oper­ate polit­i­cal­ly in the future? The Work­force Inno­va­tion and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act and sec­tor strate­gies and Career Path­ways with Big Busi­ness are such dri­vers towards a real­i­ty of col­lec­tivism pre­cise­ly because they inter­sect with these declared goals of Met­ro­pol­i­tanism and the deter­mi­na­tion of so many may­ors that they are the place for achiev­ing Eco­nom­ic Justice.

Now added to that we get Chris­to declar­ing in a 2012 Train­ing Work­shop on Why and How We Ought to Rein­vent Democ­ra­cy that SDD is the means “for build­ing capac­i­ty inter­na­tion­al­ly for address­ing high­ly com­plex prob­lems using the sci­ence of dia­logue.” We also see in this 2012 pub­lished paper the inten­tions to use online course­work deliv­ered inter­na­tion­al­ly to allow broad inter­ac­tion to reach com­mon under­stand­ings of what are called Con­tin­u­ous Crit­i­cal Prob­lems. Dia­logue via the Inter­net and the vir­tu­al real­i­ties it can deliv­er to cre­ate com­mon expe­ri­ences become a means for “Striv­ing for Sus­tain­able Glob­al Democ­ra­cy Through A Group Deci­sion-Mak­ing Process: A Crit­i­cal Review of an Online Course to Mod­el Trans­for­ma­tive Prax­is.” 135–151

From now on every time we hear the word Sus­tain­able, we need to remem­ber that arti­cle’s lead-in quote that “Sus­tain­abil­i­ty is not sim­ply about chang­ing prac­tices but more cen­tral­ly about agree­ing to change prac­tices togeth­er.” Think of it as cre­at­ing a mass per­cep­tion of con­sen­su­al col­lec­tivism via dia­logue and delib­er­a­tion. SDD trains par­tic­i­pants, includ­ing K‑12 stu­dents where it is much more like­ly to be called Guid­ed Dia­logue or the Dis­course Class­room (unless we are in Fin­land where as we saw the required prac­tice over years is a com­po­nent now of what Glob­al Cit­i­zen­ship is to come to mean). Think of how handy the rejec­tion of facts, log­ic, lec­tures, and text­books will be, as SDD uses ‘trig­ger­ing ques­tions’ (or what the relat­ed Under­stand­ing By Design or Back­ward Map­ping call Essen­tial Ques­tions) to sup­pos­ed­ly exam­ine the roots and ‘deep dri­vers’ of messy, real world situations.

This allows the ques­tion to “frame the con­text of the dia­logue” where “par­tic­i­pants artic­u­late their ideas in their own words to the full atten­tion of the oth­er par­tic­i­pants.” Now one can see why a new affir­ma­tive Stu­dent Code of Con­duct would be nec­es­sary as the clar­i­fy­ing and dia­logue is to “authen­ti­cate each per­son irre­spec­tive of his or her edu­ca­tion lev­el or posi­tion of pow­er.” No more abil­i­ty to engage in that for­mer edu­ca­tion­al past­time at all lev­els of rolling eyes or oth­er­wise indi­cat­ing when some­thing is clear­ly igno­rant or absurd. It’s a per­spec­tive and dis­re­spect, even if deserved to punc­ture the con­tin­ued sur­vival of patent­ly BAD Ideas, would inter­fere with the desire to “build a sense of shared com­pe­tence with­in the group.”

The bet­ter to build a sense of enti­tle­ment to col­lec­tive deci­sion-mak­ing and the use of some­thing like that POWER Mod­el Antho­ny Carnevale con­sid­ered a New Work­place Basic 2 posts ago. Whether deal­ing with cap­tive stu­dents in the class­room or adults on retreat or show­ing up for com­mu­ni­ty input meet­ings, the idea con­sis­tent­ly is to get “par­tic­i­pants to rank the clus­ters of gath­ered obser­va­tions accord­ing to their rel­a­tive impor­tance. This step brings into sharp relief the dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties and val­ues with­in the group. In the ensu­ing dis­cus­sion, par­ties come to under­stand where their copar­tic­i­pants are com­ing from, which leads to a respect­ful work­ing rela­tion­ship, based on defined mutu­al interest.”

Now com­mon sense and a knowl­edge of his­to­ry would reveal this method for “great­ly enhanced deci­sion-mak­ing and action-plan­ning” is a glob­al pre­scrip­tion for dis­as­ter. That would be why this real­i­ty of the ulti­mate goals is so shroud­ed in deceit and the need to make com­mon sense and actu­al knowl­edge of his­to­ry uncom­mon indeed. Since I am noth­ing if not a Deceit Shroud Buster and just drown­ing in what used to be called Horse Sense, lets end with what Chris­to said was intend­ed. As you know, the pur­pos­es of the cre­ators run with their tech­niques, the­o­ries, and prac­tices, even when all those things are unknown to whomev­er is actu­al­ly using or requir­ing their use.

SDD under its vari­ety of names is a “method for gain­ing shared mean­ing, uni­fied goals, and the sys­temic wis­dom need­ed for effec­tive con­scious evolution…We mim­ic the webs of inter­de­pen­dence that exist in live­ly, liv­able com­mu­ni­ties and the buoy­ant activ­i­ty these webs fos­ter. We cat­alyze and nur­ture the qual­i­ties of Mutu­al­ism (or egal­i­tar­i­an give and take), Inte­gra­tion, Dis­trib­uted Intel­li­gence, Emo­tion­al Ties that Bind, Val­ues and Wis­dom (or the knowl­edge web).”

It seems sil­ly, does­n’t it when the actu­al inten­tions are spelled out that way? That would be why such dec­la­ra­tions are in books and reports we mass­es are not sup­posed to see. Dis­cussed in con­fer­ences we may fund, but are not invit­ed to.

Instead we get expla­na­tions for changes that may be plau­si­ble on their face, but nev­er fit the facts. We get euphemisms like Qual­i­ty Learn­ing that are fac­tu­al­ly true but nev­er accu­rate­ly understood.

It is past time to rem­e­dy that. Maybe a shared under­stand­ing is a good thing when it is about the real­i­ty and meth­ods for trans­for­ma­tion­al cul­tur­al change.