Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Common Core and the Curriculum for Excellence

Common Core is the school curriculum being pushed into many states in the USA and has its critics. The Curriculum for Excellence was introduced into Scottish schools in August 2010 and the new qualifications will come on-stream from the summer exam diet of 2014. Here is what the Scottish Government has to say about it:
Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is the 3-18 curriculum in Scotland which offers a broad and deep general education from early years (aged 3) through to the end of S3 (typically age 15). It includes a senior phase of education (typically 15-18) which provides opportunities to develop skills for learning, life and work and obtain qualifications. It promotes the ability to learn and to reflect on their own learning, skills for life that will help young people go onto further study, to secure work and to navigate successfully through life. Ultimately, the aim is to make our education system fit for the modern world and improve young people's achievements, attainment and life chances; through enabling all young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Here is what Robin Eubanks has to say about Common Core on Trans Resister Radio. It is well worth listening to because of the concepts she refers to in her criticism of Common Core. These same concepts appear in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.

Although these two education systems seem miles apart it is interesting to note the parallels and to ask the question: from where does this common language originate?  For instance, both systems explain that learning will take place through experience and outcomes.  Then we have the emphasis on wellbeing.

With regards to Curriculum for Excellence, we are informed that `health and wellbeing` will occur across the whole of the learning framework.
The framework begins by describing features of the environment for learning which will support and nurture the health and wellbeing of children and young people, including a positive ethos and relationships, and participation in activities which promote a healthy lifestyle. These statements are intended to help to inform planning and practice within establishments or clusters and also by individual practitioners.  

Wellbeing plays an important role in Common Core too. Here is Robin Eubanks on the subject. will find quite a bit of meddling about what is supposed to make us "happy" going forward. Very much grounded in communitarianism as so much else seems to be these days. We had already noted in previous posts that the UN started a World Happiness Report in 2012 and the OECD has been pushing Subjective Well-Being as a means of aiding its Great Transition emphasis. 
When governments decide to shift the "focus of economic measurement from production [i.e. consumer choices] toward people’s well-being," that is a significant enabler of stealthily shifting to a needs economy. Especially when there is to be a focus on "equality, sustainability and nonmarket dimensions of well-being that cannot be captured well by conventional ‘objective’ means." ....
Interesting, because it could not be clearer that the Scottish Government through Curriculum for Excellence is shifting children in the direction of a needs economy.
The responsibilities of all include each practitioner’s role in establishing open, positive, supportive relationships across the school community, where children and young people will feel that they are listened to, and where they feel secure in their ability to discuss sensitive aspects of their lives; in promoting a climate in which children and young people feel safe and secure; in modelling behaviour which promotes health and wellbeing and encouraging it in others; through using learning and teaching methodologies which promote effective learning; and by being sensitive and responsive to the wellbeing of each child and young person. ...  
So GIRFEC, the child protection system for all children in Scotland, is enmeshed in Curriculum for Excellence but that was always made clear. What has been less transparent is that Curriculum for Excellence is a programme of behavioural change. Here is Robin Eubanks again who is able to explain the motivation behind attending to wellbeing. .
Now that mouthful term means that the governments now want insights into the "emotional states and experiences of people belonging to different groups." With those insights, factors like "long-term unemployment, depression, or lack of income" that are shown to be drivers of long-term suffering can supposedly be reduced. Because LBJ’s Great Society policies turned out so well. The idea is also that positive experiences can be enhanced or increased. Yes, ‘enhance’ was the word used and this could easily turn into a parody with the catch-phrase "I’m from the government and I’m here to help," but the intentions are quite serious. 
I`m from the Government and I`m here to help.` It`s not a sly joke in Scotland because it happens to be the reality. Here`s the Scottish Government:
The health and wellbeing of every child and young person is greatly enhanced through the individual support and pastoral care which they receive through having an identified member of staff who knows and understands them and can support them in facing changes and challenges and in making choices. Members of staff are often best placed to identify even minor changes of mood in a child or young person which could reflect an important emotional, social or mental health issue with which that child or young person needs help or support. It is important that children and young people feel that they can share their anxieties with an appropriate individual who has the skills, rapport, responsibility and the time to listen and to help, or can identify appropriate sources of support.

This is GIRFEC again but also note the emphasis on facing changes and challenges. Curriculum for Excellence is about making changes. Robin Eubanks puts forward her ideas about these changes being a massive attempt at social engineering.

Going into 2014, let’s keep in mind the intentions described in that report which are clearly laying the ground work for attempts at extraordinary levels of social engineering for the future. Think of it as teed up in the dark away from prying eyes that could ring an alarm. We were quietly lurking in the outfield though and have caught what was intended to be a most troubling concept. Now we get to frame sought 2014 policies through the "lens" of making Subjective Well-Being the domain of governments in the 21st century. As if we are all merely wards of the state in need of constant oversight.
`Wards of the state in need of constant oversight? Yes, that`s GIRFEC and it`s no metaphor. Here it is:
Children’s capacities to learn are shaped by their background and home circumstances as well as by their individual development. Exposure to different social and environmental influences contributes to the way that attitudes, values and behaviours are formed. These in turn affect their ability to make and take decisions. 

Note the emphasis on social and environmental influences which contribute to attitudes, values and behaviours.Why is a curriculum for education in schools discussing these concepts unless there is a will to change attitudes, values and behaviours. (social engineering) This is particularly worrying given that this document is supposed to be about educating children in a curriculum of excellence, so that alongside GIRFEC, Scottish children will not be able to `think` without approval from a Government appointed state agent.  

Progression and development in many aspects of health and wellbeing will depend upon the stage of growth, development and maturity of the individual, upon social issues and upon the community context. Teachers and other practitioners in planning together will take account of these factors, ensuring that experiences are relevant and realistic for the child or young person in his or her circumstances. Particularly within experiences and outcomes which span more than one level, careful planning will be required to ensure appropriate pace and coverage, and teachers and other practitioners will need to decide when and how the experiences and outcomes are introduced.

There is no discussion of educational content beyond health and wellbeing, experiences and outcomes. Common Core has been criticised because it dumbs down children in the USA. The critics have expressed concern about that curriculum particularly in relation to wellbeing, experiences and outcomes. So who are the drivers behind these changes in education and why should such divergent educational systems have so much in common?
Now for that second admission we can make great use of in 2014. We have long known that the accreditors answered to UNESCO and intend to use education to drive cultural change. We also knew that UNESCO globally is the driver of all the tremendous changes in higher ed. We have suspected UNESCO is the driver of K-12 reforms globally including the US Common Core, but I have been looking for the proverbial indisputable link beyond UNESCO being a named partner in the global 21st century skills movement. I now have that proof downloaded and hard copied along with UNESCO’s desired global curriculum and methods. Helpfully available on CD-ROM so with digital learning we parents will never see it.
Here’s the really fun part, UNESCO says it has, since 2002, been addressing education reforms with "renewed vigour" because it serves as the "Task Manager of Chapter 36 of Agenda 21." So much for people who consider any mention of Agenda 21 to be proof you are a "conspiracy theorist." It appears that the Paris-based UNESCO bureaucrats and their supporters have clearly been the ones theorizing how to best conspire and with the aid of our money and children. The stated aim is "the educational strategies and action plans at all levels and sectors of education in all countries." All means all, folks. UNESCO also confirmed what many of us have long suspected. The International Baccalaureate Organization is working hand in hand with it in implementing Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 in unsuspecting schools and districts. Frames the true intentions behind that IB Learner Profile, doesn’t it?
Chapter 36 Agenda 21

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