I find it increasingly distressing that those who see beyond the words on the paper (or computer screen) and understand the deep-seated agenda of not only Common Core, and who talk about it or write about it, are seen a loony, conspiracy theorists, and overly-dramatic.
It occurred to me several years ago that Common Core and education reform has a unique language in many respects, encompassing terms and philosophies that many are not familiar with and that often hover under the radar. Is this accidental? No. Is this the first time such tactics have been used? No. Hence, the value of studying history.
The many, many inherent problems with Common Core are increasingly becoming clear; however, the creators already anticipated many of the objections, and carefully selected the wording of many documents, including the standards themselves, to be ambiguous.
Why, you ask?
Well, for three primary reasons:
1. Ambiguous language camoflauges hidden agendas.
2. Ambiguous language sells better.
3. Ambiguous language creates a distraction where people will debate the meaning of the small issues and lose focus of the overall big picture. Pretty handy when someone is trying to pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes.
Indoctrination needs ambiguous language. If it were clearly stated, the uproar would be much greater and any chance of success would be lost. The creators rely on most people making a literal translation. To do otherwise requires digging much deeper, and many people cannot or simply don’t want to, and those that do are labelled as nut-jobs.
Transformational education uses indoctrination. As a matter of fact, it’s the main goal. The Common Core creators do not use this term explicitly; however, you will see reference to “transforming” consistently used throughout Common Core-related material. Our current president loves this word. So did Hitler. Is this a coincidence? NOT! If you understand what transformational education is, you will see it deeply ingrained in our current education “reform.” Glenn Beck pointed it out about a year ago, urging listeners to investigate for themselves what he was referring to, and for good reason.
Dictionary.com provides the following definition of transform:
1. to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.
2. to change in condition, nature, or character; convert.
3. to change into another substance; transmute.
We seem to dislike the word “brainwashing,” but just for kicks, take a look at its definition:
1. a method for systematically changing attitudes or
altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries,
especially through the use of torture, drugs, or
2. any method of controlled systematic indoctrination,
especially one based on repetition or
confusion:brainwashing by TV commercials.
3. an instance of subjecting or being subjected to such
techniques: efforts to halt the brainwashing of captive audiences.
PARCC created a workbook called Implementing Common Core Standards and Assessments , and in it they boast “After 30 years of fits and starts, true transformational reform in education is not only possible but also entirely within our grasp.” On October 30, 2008, Barack Obama proclaimed “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” And on February 16, 2008, he declared, “Don’t tell me that words don’t matter.” I am so glad he pointed that out. Point well taken, because we are learning just how much words do matter.
Just a few more examples: CCSO claims on their website “State by state, we have made progress in these areas over the past decade-but we need to continue to support and effect the transformative change that will…” and “In 2011, member states of the Innovation Lab Network (ILN or Network), facilitated by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), agreed to work together under the shared belief that their states face a great opportunity to transform their education systems to new designs that prepare all students for postsecondary learning, work, and citizenship” in their “Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions” publication. “It is imperative that we transform the national education agenda so that each and every child may succeed. CCSSO, has worked in collaboration with members, partners and thought leaders to identify four areas of focus that will lead the systems change necessary for a true transformation of teaching and learning” they proudly proclaim in their publication “Delivering on Our Promise to Every Child.” Teach for America boasts bringing transformational change to the education arena, as well, “…in ways that are life-changing for children and transforming for our country.” It’s not a lie, it’s just general enough to avoid having to tell us what that really means. And, as Glenn Beck and many other solid resources point out, Common Core supporters rely heavily on this promise of “transforming education for every child” quite regularly.
Transformation in education has a nice ring to it, for our system has never been perfect, and since NCLB was enacted, the education system is gaining speed on the highway to disaster. Who wouldn’t want that to transform?
Unfortunately, transforming has a different shade of gray when it comes from our country’s leadership and the big corporations in whose hands lies much decision-making power. Go back to the definition of “transform” for a minute. Transform does not mean mere tweaks or moderate change; rather, transformation entails a complete makeover, or, as the definition states, a metamorphosis.
Transformational education is perspective transformation. What is perspective transformation, you ask? Perspective transformation is changing a particular set of attitudes and beliefs, or the way one regards something (any red flags waving yet?). There are three dimensions in transformational education:
1. psychological–change in understanding who you are
2. Convictional-revision of your beliefs
3. Behavioral–change how you act, interact and live your life
Do you see the overlapping principles between transform, brainwashing, and transformational education? Please tell me you are now alarmed. No? Alright then, let me continue.
Perspective Transformation: Effects of a Service-Learning Tutoring Experience on Prospective Teachers, written by David Malone, Brett D. Jones, & D. T. Stallings, informs us that “…education can be a transformative experience. The goal of learning is not simply the acquisition of knowledge, but the transformation of students’ perspectives of themselves and the world in which they live. Identifying ways to foster this kind of personal growth and perspective transformation should be particularly important to teacher educators since their primary goal is to prepare novice teachers to lead others through this transformative process.” Chapter 4 of Evidence of the Transformational Dimensions of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Through the Eyes of SoTL Scholars, by Connie M. Schroeder of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, further explains transformational education as “a change process that transforms frames of reference. His (Mezirow’s) theory defines frames of reference as ‘the structures of assumptions through which we understand our experiences. They selectively shape and delimit expectations, perceptions, cognition, and feelings.’ According to this view, actions and behaviors will be changed based on the changed perspective.”
You may have a completely different view of education; however, my intentions of sending my daughter to public school, up to this point, have been primarily for “the acquisition of knowledge.” I certainly expect an element of personal growth, including the continued development of social skills, understanding the viewpoints of others, and the maturity to work and play well with others; however, I do not expect public education to revise my daughter’s beliefs and the way in which she lives her life, nor will I tolerate reshaping her frames of reference for understanding her world. Our primary frame of reference is the bible, and I find it disturbing that public education has been given the task of “reshaping” any of it. Such revision would mean undermining the values and beliefs that it is my job to instill in her, not the education system’s.
Jack Mezirow’s, the father of transformational education, identified various phases of meaning becoming clarified during transformation:
- A disorienting dilemma
- Self-examination with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame
- A critical assessment of assumptions
- Recognition that one’s discontent and process of transformation are shared
- Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
- Planning a course of action
- Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans
- Provisional trying on of new roles
- Building competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
- A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective
When did education become focused on creating a “disorienting dilemma” and using “fear, anger, guilt and shame” to foster self-examination, with the end goal to change attitudes and beliefs? Indoctrination, anyone?
Mezirow further explains transformational education “Jürgen Habermas (1981) has helped us to understand that problem solving and learning may be instrumental—learning to manipulate or control the environment or other people to enhance efficacy in improving performance; impressionistic—learning to enhance one’s impression on others, to present oneself; normative—learning oriented to common values and a normative sense of entitlement (members of the group are entitled to expect certain behavior); or communicative—learning to understand the meaning of what is being communicated.” I don’t know about you, but I am not comfortable with any of that either.
Joseph Leon, Professor Logic at Logic&CriticalThinking.com, defines indoctrination as “…a form of teaching but it differs from regular teaching because the material is often unproven and fallacious. Indoctrination demands no questions or critical thinking about the subject. It can be found in many places but the largest indoctrination occurs between adult authority figures and children. However, it can be present in many other scenarios as well. It should be noted that usually indoctrination occurs in power structures where the one indoctrinating feels power and privilege over the indoctrinated…This behavior goes farther than merely following directions, it is duplicating behavior regardless of personal thought. We are genetically, as a species, susceptible to indoctrination. Although, some of us can and do break free.”
Many do not realize the subtle and slick nature of indoctrination, and the fact that it skulks in the shadows, a creature that has always been there, slowly growing into the intrusive monster it is today. Only when it becomes a monster, as with Common Core, do we start paying attention.
Remember, words are important.