Thursday, October 21, 2021

Sell key feature: The 'Competencies‘ of Activism - forgetting to be gotten away with

So in previous posts we've gone through how Semantic Deception is at the heart of modern education, and how that's reflected in the nature of CASEL, the organization formed to promote SEL, and now in this post we'll start looking into CASEL 5's 'Competencies', and the disturbing issues they lead us into. The more obvious issue with what they've dubbed ‘evidence-based competencies', is that when
The third of five posts making up the substance of a presentation I gave to parents in the Lindbergh School District
you see ‘Evidence Based’, you need to understand that that entails data collection and the data-mining industry, which is what made SEL so integral to Common Core, and its successors - every school survey that you or your child takes, is collected into databases and monetized, with the intention of it being used towards affecting both of your futures - and, of course, the income of Atty General Garland's kids. Troublesome as that is though, the more important aspect is the Competencies themselves (don't miss those outer rings - we'll come back to those), and their intentions for them:
  • “Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a process through which children develop in their ability to integrate thinking, feeling, and behaving to succeed at important developmental tasks. The process includes, but is not necessarily limited to, recognizing and managing emotions, caring about others, making good decisions, behaving ethically and responsibly, developing positive relationships, and avoiding negative behaviors...“

  • , and are divided into:
  • The CASEL 5 addresses five broad and interrelated areas of competence and highlights examples for each: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
If you crank that glop through the ol’ disgronificator, and extract the ideology, misdirection and jargon, what you end up with are allegedly 'new & improved!' versions of courtesy & manners, morality, ethics & civic mindedness, personal integrity & friendship, and developing the ability to make prudent decisions, which were the hallmark of a person of good character. And of course it was by attending to those qualities and forming them into habits, that a person engraved their character upon their soul,
  • Character:
    1. A mark made by cutting or engraving, as on stone, metal or other hard material; ...
    4. The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; these constitute real character, and the qualities which he is supposed to possess, constitute his estimated character, or reputation. Hence we say, a character is not formed, when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities...” 
, and they and society as a whole, benefited greatly from that. In those dark ages prior to the coming of SEL 26 years ago, a person acquired those qualities of character through studying the stories, poems, songs, fables, and parables written by authors of skill and often genius - Homer, the Bible, Aesop, Plutarch, Shakespeare, and so on, which sparked private thoughtfulness and public conversations, and habitually acting on their understanding of them, which formed the popular cultural awareness of how a person should behave, and why.

Virtue & Character from Aristotle,
to Franklin, to the Boy Scouts

OTOH, what the practice of these 'Competencies' will engrave upon a person's soul, for reasons we'll soon see, is not something that anyone of good character would want to see embodied in anyone in their society, least of all themselves, or their children. The CASEL 5 might appear to be a nerdy attempt to restate the same general ideas as those of virtue and character, but here again, as with so many issues of semantic deception within our educational system, the similarity ends at the surface of their appearances, and below the surface, the purposes being aimed at by them are very different, both in their origins, and in their ends. SEL isn't using those ‘Competencies’ as a means towards thoughtfulness, but as givens to be accepted or imposed and reinforced with techniques for instilling them into a 'cancel' fearing public, such as by Transformative SEL's manipulative use of 'Lived Experiences':
SEL inserted into Families
    “Core features of Transformative SEL include:
  • Authentic partnering among students and adults with a deep focus on sharing power and decision-making between young people, educators, families, and communities.
  • Academic content that integrates issues of race, class and culture.
  • Instruction that honors and makes connections to students’ lived experiences and identities, and scaffolds learning to build an understanding of others’ lived experiences…”
Your first thought might be that 'Lived Experiences' deal with experiences that people have lived through, and most of the boiler plate lets it sound something like that, but unsurprisingly that is not the case. Recall from the previous post, that CASEL's current page for "Transformative SEL", was until a couple months ago when parents began to revolt, entitled "Transformative SEL for Social Justice", which is important to keep in mind, because as James Lindsay explains, “lived experience” is interpreted through the theory of Critical Social Justice, so that:
"... lived experience is the overwhelmingly primary way in which knowledge can be obtained. This should not be mistaken to mean one’s firsthand experience, which most of us already recognize to provide a rather weak claim upon knowledge, though it is both implied and claimed that this is what “lived experience” refers to in Critical Social Justice. Lived Experience... refers more specifically to one’s life experiences in allegedly systemic power dynamics of dominance and oppression that shape society structurally as understood with a critical consciousness and interpreted through Theory.... it is only the “lived experience of oppression,” as Theory will have it, that counts...."
What that means is, that 'Lived Experiences' are contrived anecdotes that follow from assumptions such as Robin DiAngelo’s famous assertion that: "The question is not ‘Did racism occur?’ but ‘How did racism manifest in that situation?'”, which is the sort of loaded question that surveys often use to lead students toward the ''authentic *woke*" position. One such position would be like this one described in a Teacher's College Press, publication, "Is Everyone Really Equal?", for 'Systemic Racism":
"...From a critical social justice perspective, the term racism refers to this system of collective social and institutional White power and privilege..."
, and 'Lived Experiences' will be anecdotes, brief or extended, taken from the supposed perspectives of those who feel oppressed by that power and privilege. Here a few examples of 'Lived Experiences' that I found in 'Pioneering Research from Boston University:
"Not only am I, you know I’m rebellious to authority—that may have me biased somewhat, but, my life experiences, man, I’ve always seen police mishandling me and my people. It leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, you know?" - A middle-aged man from Baltimore

"Now, you and I would say this…I tell anyone this…what restrains us African Americans is the Constitution. We wanna see—although we’re not in the Constitution—we wanna see our kids grow up. We wanna see our family members excel…" - A middle-aged man from Los Angeles

"It’s not a justice system. It’s a justice system to the point, it’s just for us—to go through. It’s nothing for us to get anything out of, but for us to go through" - A 69-year-old man from Los Angeles"
As is typical, they are given without citation or a means of verification, but they are 'authentic', soOooo... why would you need to verify them? Right? Ahem.

DiAngelo's question of "...How did racism manifest in that situation?" might be thought of as the (w)academically approved form of "Have you stopped beating your wife?", and questions such as those, through endless surveys, are meant to lead students into whichever authentic position is being discussed, which in the case of the 'beating your wife' question, might be something like: "Marriage is a patriarchal institution which empowers cisgender men and oppresses women.", and any number of anecdotes from women expressing the oppression they felt as wives, would be their 'Lived Experience' of a women subjected to marriage.

To continue with that ridiculous sounding but true to life example (if you think I exaggerate, you probably haven't heard about "Identifying and Countering White Supremacy Culture in Food Systems" ), if a man were to answer "But... I'm not beating my wife", that would be seen as his being complicit with the "dominant narrative'', and be evidence of his guilt in enabling the interests and ideologies of oppression.

For those who might attempt to logically explain their position by replying with something like "The problem I have with your question, is that I never have beaten my wife, so...", the WokeFolk at the U of Michigan have helpfully identified some handy strategies for dealing with such inauthentic instances of 'wrong think':
"To address the prevalence of 'Perfectly Logical Explanations' that students often bring to re-establish dominant narratives."
That begins with a helpful introductory example of how to deal with other such dominant narratives as "Slavery is good for slaves", and from which it moves to another offensive example - The American Dream:
"... America is a meritocracy, and anyone can achieve their ambitions through hard work and perseverance.”
, to which it provides a list of questions that the teacher should lead students through, once they've formed them into groups for considering the 'problems' with that statement. A few of those are:
"Who do you suppose would say this?...Who does this narrative benefit? Who does it harm?... What narrative is it attempting to silence?... How is participation in/belief in this narrative enforced?... How has this narrative impacted you? How do you benefit from it? How does it harm you?... How have you participated in/resisted this narrative?"
Inauthentic replies are problematized before the class, and woke ones are congratulated and elaborated upon. The questions such as those above, are meant to problematize the scenario, and like the 'beating your wife' question, they first presume your guilt,  and then 'explore' how that can be exposed through 'critical' questioning. Replying that "But I'm not beating my wife!", would be an inauthentic answer, and subjected to a problematizing 'critical examination', to which you either submit, or be cancelled.

A correct - woke - answer, depends upon which role you are expected to play - if you're a cisgender white male, then your answer must conform to the role of an oppressor, with something like "Yes, I am guilty of beating my wife - every time I expect her to make me a sandwich, that is what I'm doing.".

The wife's reply would be expected to conform to the role of the victim: "I experience an oppressive beating every time I'm expected to do laundry or prepare food! He murders my soul!". If she instead were to answer "But my husband doesn't beat me!", then she would be deemed as being complicit with oppression as well, and unless she quickly changed her tune, would be seen as being just as inauthentic as is Thomas Sowell, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or anyone else, regardless of color, gender, etc., who is not woke.

Remember, it's not really about race, or gender or anything else, it's about Power, as attained through the ideology of what is authentically woke.

Students discover what it is that they should affirm as being woke, through the leading nature of the survey questions that SEL subjects them to, which typically can include such educationally irrelevant quaint as how a student feels about their height, hair, breasts, gender, gender fluidity, sadness, anger, racial discomfort, etc., and of course whatever the current topic is, the sensitive details which the student's survey questions have exposed about themselves and shared with the class, will be used by the teacher who's been led to believe that they're competent to, to 'adjust' the classes' feelings and beliefs, until the subjects accept and align with the 'Lived Experiences' at hand.

There is to be no discussion outside of acceptance - students aren't meant to question the validity of the 'Lived Experiences', but to conform with the authentic narrative in a way that 'scaffolds' their acceptance into place without any weighing of evidence, or developing an understanding of the issue. These ‘Lived Experiences’ are pervasive and unquestionable propaganda to be asserted and reasserted wherever a question might be in danger of appearing. But propaganda for what?

What are these 'Competencies‘– competent at?
To understand what 'Competencies‘ are about, let's first look at what they are not about, what they are in fact replacing via education today, that being the Western understanding of character, morality, purpose, and virtue, which had been considered essential knowledge for the last 3,000 years, from Aristotle, up through to Ben Franklin and even the Boy Scouts. In that, the four most essential virtues were known as the Cardinal Virtues - Prudence (Wisdom in action), Justice, Fortitude (Courage), Temperance, to which the Christian age added (not re-invented, mind you, but added) three additional virtues of Faith, Hope, and  Charity, and those who habituated themselves to practicing these virtues could reasonably look forward to becoming people of good character - moral, self-regulating, and better able to live lives worth living because they understood what such a thing was, and why, and how to achieve it.

These timeless stories out of Western history which provided an inexhaustible source of lessons and questions, also served as the means of learning how to reason and apply logical thinking (Grammar used to be the means of studying and teaching Logic) within the reality of their own lives. For the diligent student, it became self-evident to them that becoming a person of good character made them more capable of living lives worth living, in liberty and society with others. That content, prior to 26 yrs ago, was understood to be the means for developing their character, from the inside out, by being attentive to them, by being respectful of what was objectively true, which entailed exercising their personal responsibility.

Those histories and stories, BTW, became the first targets of modernist education (see The Story Killers), beginning in the early 1800s, under the cover of adding topics that were more relevant, such as something useful for entering the workforce, or related to current events, and the old stories were gradually sidelined more and more, until now their removal, even banishment, is openly admitted to and promoted as 'decentering' literature and other fields from the oppression of 'Western dominance'.

OTOH, what the pedagogies of modern education are peddling, is something very different. With their 'competencies', aligning as they do with what teachers are taught in classes by the likes of Gloria Ladson-Billings, who is one of, if not the most referenced 'thinker' in our Teachers Colleges today (if you didn't read the paper of hers that I linked to in the last post, 'Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education' from 1995, - Read IT, you'll 'get it' in the first few paragraphs, it's short, you'll survive - no guarantees though if it continues to be ignored by parents and spread into their kids), they are taught to reject objective reality outright, and to reject individual rights in favor of collective privileges - which entails rejecting truth in favor of acquiring power. The CASEL 5 Competencies of SEL are similarly unconcerned with either content or truth (sorry, 'your truth', means no truth), and instead embrace emotional conformity to what's centered around gathering and exerting collective power for power’s sake, accordingly, its social ‘Virtues’, are:
  • Activism,
  • Social Justice,
  • Cancel Culture,
AKA: Wokeness (the *woke* now hate the word 'woke', BTW, because... they're *woke*). The Woke-Folk of CASEL make no excuses for casting the old materials of The West aside; having replaced it with whichever scientistic jargon best excuses their experimenting on students with new theories for 'producing' more desirable behaviors - or at least the marketable appearances of them. Above all, their materials, and the data mining and monetizing of them, are utilized as tools for promoting Social Justice, as "Transformative SEL as a Lever for Equity & Social Justice" (even if they don't say it as publicly as that now), whose
SEL is for Social Justice
purpose was and is to redistribute power as CASEL defines those goals as being - look back up at the outer rings of 'CASEL 5's Family, Caregivers, Community - they intend to, are, extending their reach well beyond the classroom & school, into your family, and every aspect of your life.

SEL’s ‘Competencies’ lead students in school (and increasingly adults in their workplaces) to repeatedly ‘confess your privilege’, which is part of a deliberate process for demoralizing a person and making them more malleable to influencing, further distancing, them from what was once known - 'Decentering' them away from the content, knowledge and wisdom which the West was derived from, as this example from the not-at-all-ironically-named 'American University' assures, in a course offering for its Technical Writing and Rhetoric Class:
"...In addition, students in Technical Writing and Rhetoric will focus on issues of accessibility, equity and justice, and how they relate to modern communication, says Lacey Wootten, director of American University’s Writing Studies Program. These include human-centered design of technical materials, technical communication that accounts for people with disabilities, and decentering Western values, assumptions, and languages in technical communication...."
It should be no surprise then, that as more and more of the old knowledge has become forgotten, more that more has been able to be gotten away with, in injecting ideological and politically partisan views into the unsuspecting character of those that these lessons are being taught to, and that is the nature of the character that is being engraved upon the soul of those unfortunate students whose parents are allowing them to be subjected to it.

Where sound character was once developed by a studious attention to virtue and morality, and reinforced and understood by an essential grasp of knowledge across time, SEL's competencies are focused upon the moment, the ever 'relevant!' now, which all moments are to be judged by (though without reference to other moments), so that the emotional moment becomes the justification for taking action in the moment, no matter what basis there may or may not be for those actions, AKA: Activism.

The Central Purpose of SEL is activism
SEL's 'competencies' are anti-virtues which promote envy, resentment, and hostility towards the forgiveness of others, as being desirable ‘character traits’, instilling an unquenchable thirst for political activism. That activism is encouraged not just in your student’s classrooms, but in their and your home life, and throughout your community, and in activities of businesses, community organizations, arts, sports, and other activities which its many surveys and programs are dedicated towards making happen.

SEL inserted into Families

SEL inserted into Communities
However guilty Social and Emotional Learning is of promoting this ideological approach to education, it isn't the source of it, and that source is less new, than something old that's been newly revealed to the public. The collectivist mindset of modern education is and has been thoroughly embedded into academia, and through subjects such as 'Social Studies', it has instilled that framework into one generation after another, through material that has always been more concerned with the social and emotional doings of the moment, than with the meaningful content of our history.

Believe it or not, following from its roots in Rousseau and forward through Wilhelm Wundt, and John Dewey, modern educational theory has actually changed very little in substance since the late 1800's. What has changed, has been in the appearances of it, and as more has been forgotten, more has been able to be gotten away with, and so has become more clearly and openly revealed - the last forty years in particular have been a sort of macabre dance of the seven veils, slowly unveiling the monster to be what we're now able to see so clearly before us today - it was always there though, but most of us just couldn't be bothered to look. The sad fact is that our educational system has, and has had, as little to do with education (as it was once understood) as it can get away with, and as much to do with ideological activism, as it can get away with - which today is almost unlimited.

And again, if you think I'm exaggerating, take a look at what the Social Studies bible, 'C3'(College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies), has been setting as the our schools expectations for students, from Kindergarten, to graduation: These are your school and your school district's 'Social Studies' expectations for Kindergarteners and Second Graders!:
  • D4.6.K-2. Identify and explain a range of local, regional, and global problems, and some ways in which people are trying to address these problems.
  • D4.7.K-2. Identify ways to take action to help address local, regional, and global problems.
  • D4.8.K-2. Use listening, consensus-building, and voting procedures to decide on and take action in their classrooms.
, by the end of the Fifth Grade they expect your child to have been well indoctrinated enough to be able to:
  • D4.7.3-5. Explain different strategies and approaches students and others could take in working alone and together to address local, regional, and global problems, and predict possible results of their actions.
  • D4.8.3-5. Use a range of deliberative and democratic procedures to make decisions about and act on civic problems in their classrooms and schools.
, by the end of Eight Grade these emerging activists should be able to:
C3 Activism
  • D4.7.6-8. Assess their individual and collective capacities to take action to address local, regional, and global problems, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.
  • D4.8.6-8. Apply a range of deliberative and democratic procedures to make decisions and take action in their classrooms and schools, and in out-of-school civic contexts.
, and by the time they graduate, you will be the proud parents of full scale woketivists who will mobilize to:
  • D4.7.9-12. Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
  • D4.8.9-12. Apply a range of deliberative and democratic strategies and procedures to make decisions and take action in their classrooms, schools, and out-of-school civic contexts
Note: Do not mistake "engaging in self-reflection... and complex causal reasoning", for what you naturally assume them to mean - they embody the most significant case of Semantic Deception of them all, which we'll go into in a later post.

The only way that any of that became possible, was by the knowledge that was once considered to be the norm for all to know - the knowledge that the West in general, and America in particular, were formed from and of - has been forgotten, is now unknown, and/or is now so successfully ridiculed by the 'educated' of today, that people are too embarrassed to admit to having any regard for it. And of course 'theories' like social and emotional learning, are the means by which they are able to pay as little attention to that 'decentered' content, as they can get away with, and with which they are able to get away with even less each new year, than the year before.

It is, IMHO, vitally important that we understand that this is not new, and in fact that even  the substance of SEL is itself not ‘new’, and neither is what is being advanced by (C3); what is new is only how openly they are now revealing their purposes and intentions to be. The reason that's important, is that if these roots continue to remain unknown, then all that this current call for educational 'reform' will do, is pluck off the thistles and stem of the visible weed, and with its roots still securely in place, it will regrow and spread even further and more rapidly yet again, as it has done so many times in the past, as is partly noted in this:
"...But one of the strategies the educators use to fend off the opposition is to propose educational “reform,” which requires billions of dollars to implement but never solves any of the problems that parents complain about. The teachers’ unions make sure that the legislators toe the line of phony “reform.” Indeed, in the name of “reform” the teachers’ unions have been able to get billions of dollars out of the pockets of the taxpayer, while delivering dross. The dross is celebrated as “improvements.”..."
Again, I'm not exagerating. 120 yrs ago, John Dewey was making clear to his fellow academics in the teachers colleges (which, BTW, we got as a result of Republican reforms that were pushed through in the mid 1860s), what goals that the new 'Progressive' schools should be pursuing, goals which he described in detail in his collection of lectures in 'School and Society', were published in 1900(!). Among his many goals, was one for our schools to become the active arm of government in each person’s home, business, and ‘individual’’ life, so that communities would be guided by 'those who know best' - that is what was being pursued, where he said that:
Totalitarian Education

  • " far as possible, the child shall have the same attitude and point of view in the school as in the home;..."
, and 'actuating' the child into action,
  • "...It is a question of the unity of the child's experience, of its actuating motives and aims, not of amusing or even interesting the child..."
And long before SEL's focus upon 'social learning' at the deliberate expense of content, virtue, morality and truth, Dewey had argued that modern education should not only not be too concerned with content, but that a student learning content on their own, was a bad thing:
  • "...The mere absorption of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning, there is no clear social gain in success thereat...."
Soon after that publication by Dewey, another committed 'Progressive', Elwood P. Cubberly, who was a key designer of our very modern School District/Superintendent system, the system by which schools were consolidated, and administrators and elected representatives were effectively inserted in-between parents, students & teachers (for the purposes of dividing them and making parents and teachers less relevant to what and how students were taught), boasted in 1909(!), that:
  • “Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
Of course, there was a parental backlash then as well, as America turned away from the 'Progressives' of Teddy Roosevelt & Woodrow Wilson, and began swinging, partially, towards the constitutional conservativism of Calvin Coolidge, but... because the nature of the ideas that they'd reacted against went unidentified, the pendulum was able to swing back under the cover of 'reform'.  So much so, that by 1991 our schools had sunk to the level where Rita Kramer, writing from within the Teachers Colleges, warned in her book "Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers", that they were no longer concerned with education, but that
"...The function of the schools is to achieve educational equity as a means to social and economic equity..."
Ideology instead of Education
Ed School Follies - 1991
, showing how successful the backward swing of the Pro-Regressive's 'Progress', was. 

But they had a problem. As successful as their ‘progressivism’ was at gaining a controlling voice in education, in politics, in law, in entertainment, and in the business world, something was still missing from their quiver. Something was keeping them from exerting the power they had collected, upon the society that they despised.

Gramsci's 'long march through the institutions' gave them control in each realm, but solid though it was, they were effectively siloed, so that one particular directive given in one realm, couldn’t easily crossover into another - something declared to be 'problematic' by the post-modernists, had difficulty moving beyond the bounds of the openly Marxist humanities in academia, or into civic action in positivist law, or into the lessons that could be publicly voiced in school, and so had little affect upon the daily actions of private life. Some vague sense of it did, to be sure, particularly with those flush with college degrees, but they were unable to go much further - comedians still made "PC" a punchline.

What they lacked was a means of inserting and asserting their power and control, over an individual’s thoughts & actions outside of the elitist silos. And that’s where ‘Wokeness’ came in, and came in with an ability to successfully jump from the easily mocked world of Political Correctness, into the unassailable world of Wokeness of today, and that was all thanks to the concept of Intersectionality, which is what we'll go into next.

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