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

Aug 16, 2014 | Robin Eubanks | INVISIBLESERFSCOLLAR.COM

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.

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