Gullibility and Obedience.
… An essay on education and what passes for same in K-12 ‘education’ today.
Before we go forth on this revisited attack on K-12 education today, let‘s argue in broad terms on what we mean when we speak about education.
There’s been some pertinent argument by philosophers, (but not philosopher kings , 😦 )regarding what we mean by the ‘education ‘ word:
‘Education,’ says R S Peters, ‘is not a term like gardening, which picks out a particular type of activity. Something of course must be going on if education is taking place and something must have been gone through for a person to emerge as an educated man, for education is associated with learning, not with a mysterious maturation. But no specific type of activity is required.’ (R.S.Peters. ‘Ethics & Education.’ (Allen and Unwin 1965.) p25.)
‘In this respect, education is like reform,’ Peters says, ‘it picks out no particular activity but rather, it lays down criteria to which activities must conform.’ Whatever it is, education implies ‘something valuable’ for the learner, something good in itself and not for extrinsic ends. ( P p25.) and education, Peters argues, also implies acquisition of some kind of broad cognitive understanding in the learner.
Education is not a ‘task word’ but an ‘achievement word’ says Gilbert Ryle, indicative of something worthwhile to the learner’ and ‘done in a morally acceptable manner.’ On these grounds, conditioning is ruled out as a process of education. ( G.Ryle.The Concept of Mind London 1949. pp149-153.)
From the above regarding criteria and process, it follows that ‘education’ is not ‘training,’ though training, involving focus, acquired skills and problem solving, may be a useful adjunct. And education is certainly not indoctrination, moulding ‘learners’ to fit some vision of your ideal state or maintaining a power elite in control. Contrast Plato’s process of producing philosopher kings as rigid possessors of received knowledge, with Socrates’, non-dogmatic, critical of his own errors, engaging in open discussion with the young, even with slaves.
Oh those aspirations to narrow down human diversity for Utopian ideals. From Plato’s Utopia to UNESCO’s Millennium Goal vision, social engineering programs, however noble the motive, don’t end well. We see Plato’s Republic- a blue-print to arrest all change, necessarily tailoring the plebs into docility requiring a ‘noble lie’ to bring it about, and still these top-down efforts continue. In the name of social equity, one size fits all, Western Civilization in its education program is abandoning that basic individualism inherited from thinkers of classical antiquity like Pericles, Socrates, Euripides, and the scientific and creative geniuses of the Renaissance and Scientific Revolution, Brunelleschi, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Copernicus and Galileo… (The reader might care to peruse the education curricula vitae of some of them via Wiki.)
Here in Australia, not so many decades ago, before K-12 Core Curriculum began it’s social agenda transformation of State Education, schools generally taught subject content, concepts and skills which, when taught by good teachers, emphasized critical thinking and developing student autonomy. Values education, such as it was, focusing on respect for self and others, reliability and honesty, was promoted separately from curriculum subjects. Now values education permeates every subject area in schools and would seem to be the education’s main goal, transformative education for pre-determined socio-political ends.
Take a look at what’s happening here in Oz right now since the federal government introduced its Core Curriculum. Might sound okay, a means of ensuring nation-wide standards of literacy and numeracy. Can’t argue with non-negotiable basic standards in important skills as a part of students’ journey to something of autonomy. But K-12 has a mixed agenda, it is mainly about inculcating ‘values education,’ by a concerted program from Prep to Year 12, values that the progressive state (and supra-state) hold sacred. Herewith the Australian Government document, ‘Values Education and the Australian Curriculum.
In its Introduction the document defines good practice as ‘whole school approaches to sustain values education,’ employing ‘pedagogies that are values-focused and student-centered within all curriculums,’ … ‘units are designed to assist students to integrate values teaching and learning within all the areas of the curriculum,’
The Curriculum Introduction promotes values education ‘to consciously foster intercultural understanding, social cohesion and social inclusion.’ ‘Focus at all levels is on Cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and on Environmental Sustainability. A couple of examples: ‘Celebration Ceremonies’/critical and creative thinking/changing values, changing nation/inter-cultural understanding.’ ‘Eating Green’/ critical and creative thinking / food technology, geography.
A recent social-activist program introduced into schools, the ‘Safe Schools, All of Us ‘ program is exciting some controversy, being a focus on LGBTI, i.e. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender bullying, involving radical program changes. While ‘Safe Schools ‘has as its kernel, a reasonable proposition that no one should be bullied for perceived differences, you would expect a school to deal with any bullying by promoting respect as a civic duty, even stepping up teacher presence in school recess yard duty if necessary, as in the past, But this eight million dollar tax payer funded program, introduced into schools without parental consent, goes way beyond this, involving inappropriate cross gender role play for eleven and twelve year old students, even looking to speech reforms, avoiding hetero-norm language, ‘boy,’, ‘girl’ references, ‘father,’ ‘mother,’ also targeted. Seems children at school are being made the cannon fodder of adult sexual politics.
Similar values education is taking place in the United States with a K-12 core curriculum designed to make-over students via internalized learning. Attorney Robin Eubanks in a blog called ‘Serf’s Invisible Collar,’examines K-12 aims and programs and the policies and statements that are its basis.’
In several posts from September to December 2016, Robin Eubanks analyses the factual stories, false narratives and radical transformation of policy and practices in US schools over recent decades, the many philosopher kings aspiring to be drivers of future behavior.
Exemplifying Gramsci’s ‘long march through the institutions,’ centres of education policy like Princeton and Harvard, are promoting a behavioral science approach to education to align motivations of students with socio-political goals involving actual cognitive changes in students at an internalized level… a cognitive make-over that Robin Eubanks calls ‘mind arson.’
Education for socially (politically) desired ends.
What’s going on certainly doesn’t meet Peters’and Ryle’s criteria regarding education as ‘something valuable in itself and done in a morally acceptable manner.’
There’s the UN guidelines promoting an extrinsic aim of ‘education based on the ideal of building more just societies’… ‘educational experiences must be created so that each student’s commitment to the ideals of social justice is not ‘an adherence that is purely rhetorical or cut off from how people actually behave.’
UNESCO is in agreement. Robin Eubanks cites an August 2015 paper stating that ‘the purpose of curriculum in the 21st century is to make sure that there is no ‘contradiction’ or dissociation between the cognitive and the ethical dimension in learning.’
From the above post by Robyn Eubanks a few extracts about methods and revealing more big guns behind a push for internalized behavioral changes in learners.
‘During the last two weeks documentable, official confessions of just how much our children’s very synapses and whether the regions used in thinking are rational or tied to emotions have come out on an almost daily basis…
The US BRAIN Initiative (which began in 2013) coordinates actively with Human Brain Project and goes to its programmess in Europe. Turns out part of that initiative included a Bioethics Commission http://bioethics.gov/ where we can locate the BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision report as well as the two Gray Matters reports that leave our government’s desire to interfere with internalized mental processes for political purposes in no doubt. It is also chaired by Penn Pres Amy Gutmann who was probably chosen by President Obama precisely because her 1987 book Democratic Education called on schools to shift away from the ‘well-intentioned misperception’ that schools have an “obligation to impart information.” Instead, Gutmann wanted teachers to develop the moral character of students so that they “feel the force of right reason” to reshape society.’
Targeting the reasoning brain.
In her May 23rd essay, http://invisibleserfscollar.com/fracturing-the-personal-and-social-failsafes-and-omitting-the-most-pertinent-parts-of-the-plans/ Robin Eubanks on emotions ostensibly as motivation in education, but intentionally to lock in experiences at a deep level. Here’s sociologist Anthony Giddens’ telling us‘that behavioral scientists know that what guides and motivates behavior is not what is actually true, but what is personally and emotionally believed to be true.’
Robin Eubanks refers to ‘ the organized media juggernaut hyping emotion as the key to learning. On April 27, 2016 Education Week wrote a story called “Emotions Help Steer Students’ Learning, Studies Find: Scholar sees passion as mind’s rudder” which hyped the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her new book Emotions, Learning, and the Brain. Here’s the lead quote that should probably be read with a reminder that one of the definitions of using cybernetics in education is to create a steerable keel with a student’s mind and personality. One that is locked in neurally that the student is largely unaware of.
“People think of emotion getting in the way of cognition, but it doesn’t. Emotion steers our thinking; it’s the rudder that directs our mind and organizes what we need to do.”
Gives new meaning certainly to a declared goal of ‘standards-based reforms’ and competency-based education that seek to create Habits of Mind and desired Dispositions and Attributes to be deemed College, Career and Citizenship Ready, doesn’t it? That hyping article was followed by a May 4 New York Times piece called “To Help Students Learn, Engage the Emotions.” It also hyped the same professor’s work exclusively with more quotes that resonate with initiatives like Hewlett’s Deeper Learning (omitted from article) where “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about.”
In other words, it is experiences carefully crafted for the classroom so that what will guide and motivate future student behavior gets practiced and then locked in at an unconscious level.’
Here’s a case study, students in ‘the hive’ learning empathy …
A Texas school that is pushing an emotionally-grounded moral thinking of the kind Professor Damasio, who heads the Brain and Creativity Institute, promotes as what a new kind of 21st century learning grounded in Equity should look like.
Say, whatever happened to critical thinking at a conscious level, the kind employed by those Classical and Renaissance thinkers and artists? And if you want to harness emotion to your task, what’s wrong with curiosity? Likely Copernicus and Galileo would agree with that.
Regarding this supplanting of reasoning by emotion, there’s some cover up, such as the phrase, ‘higher order’ thinking skills, maybe Gilbert Ryle might call this ‘a cloaking phrase’. Robin Eubanks identifies obfuscation of language in the common-core’s reference to the phrase, ‘a euphemism for what the new federal legislation ‘Every Student Succeeds Act ‘requires every school in every state to assess, those ‘values and concepts that government wishes students to internalize.’
And by this regulatory Act, another false narrative is exposed, the myth of school choice in education. Behind phrases like school choice, by whatever private system or via home schooling, is the concealed monopoly of regulated outcomes-based education, designed to achieve desired transformational learning.
All together now…
If you think that government vouchers allow you to bypass that top down K-12 values, all – on – the – same – page education, think again. Brer Rabbit had his briar patch escape route, no escape route from pervasive state, values- education. The same evaluation outcomes installed by law for all schooling, ‘high quality assessment’ measuring and monitoring precisely what students have internalized and ‘what guides their sense of self.’
I leave you with this reminder by H.I Mencken regarding education and the state and a concluding comment from Robin Eubanks.
“The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”
― H.L. Mencken
This, says Robin Eubanks, from the Foreword to the 1990 book, written by the Brookings, https://www.brookings.edu/book/politics-markets-and-americas-schools/
“the nation’s education problem, then, is an institutional problem. To overcome it, the authors recommend a new system of public education based on fundamentally new institutions. They propose a shift away from a system of schools controlled directly by the government–through politics and bureaucracy–to a system of indirect control that relies on markets and parental choice
…and herewith a nice example of gullibility and obedience