From Flexidemics Insights June 29, 2021 (source)
School should not be seen as separate from life. When we create school experiences that accurately reflect the lives that we are preparing students for, it will be easier to build communities that help students obtain the skills they may need.
However, if we create school communities that are based on passing standardized exams, then all we are preparing students for is how to pass exams. That doesn’t really come in handy when you need to know how to meal plan, apply for a mortgage, navigate the medical system, or buy a car without getting scammed.
There’s a lot of talk these days about preparing children to be “global citizens” who promote sustainability and social justice. There’s a push to move this into school curriculum.
In my opinion, learning how to work with others, how to accept differences of opinion, how to love the Earth, and how to understand different cultures are skills that need to be inherent in the fabric of society. It should be reinforced schools, but schools certainly shouldn’t try to be the facilitators of all experiences related to this realm.
Yet I understand the thought pattern that if you train the children to have these beliefs, then eventually it will spread to society. That is true, yet it is sometimes assumed that indoctrination is a positive thing. Before determining that, I believe in using critical thinking skills.
The first question is to ask, who determines what is essential knowledge and competencies for everyone on Earth? For some people it is essential to know how to grow their own food because that is how their life is set up. Others are able to exist and thrive even though they couldn’t properly plant seeds if their life depended on it.
For some, it is essential for them to know how to navigate social media because that’s how they make a living. Others are able to exist and thrive without knowing the difference between a SnapChat and a Tiktok. For some, it is essential to know how to use the full range of tools available on a computer, yet many students these days can’t operate outside of the tools available on a tablet or phone.
I had a teenage student who was annoyed that I sent a PDF instead of a Google document. The student wasn’t familiar with the file format. I did not judge this interaction as good or bad, I simply found the student’s comments to be quite interesting. Yet questions about children’s computer literacy skills are not new.
According to the 2018 International Computer and Information Literacy study, “only 2 percent of students reach the highest level of computer and information literacy and computational thinking skills, meaning they can work independently with technology to gather and manage information, and do so with precision and evaluative judgment” (Strauss, 2019).
Furthermore, an Australian study showed that children’s use of tablets and smartphones were replacing their ability to use technology in ways that are needed for work (Tablets eroding children’s digital skills, 2015). Will this be important in the future? Who knows? There are many factors to consider when thinking about the skills and values that children need to learn. This is why I am in favor of educational options as opposed to mandates. The traditional school system is not a solution for every child.
Parents need to know that there are choices like homeschooling, co-ops, alternative schools, and learning centers; and concerned educators need to know that they have choices as well. We don’t always have to try to change systems that exist. We can create our own.
But if we look at the world as if everyone is supposed to be doing the same thing – that’s quite burdensome. Who has decided that everyone needs to have the same goals in life, and the same views about how to create a more harmonious world? Where did the authority to make this decision come from?
Educators are taught that, “globally competent middle school students possess the attitudes, skills and knowledge for successful global citizenship in an increasingly interconnected world” (VIF International Education, n.d ). This sounds like a harmless statement. Why wouldn’t we want our students to evolve?
But the word interconnected stands out. Interconnected to what? Does that mean interconnected as human beings who want harmony and equality for everyone, or does it mean interconnected to a system of technocracy?
In his book, Technocracy rising: The Trojan horse of global transformation, Woods writes “The tentacles of Technocracy include programs such as Sustainable Development, Green Economy, Global Warming/Climate Change, Cap and Trade, Agenda 21, Common Core State Standards, Conservation Easements, Public-Private Partnerships, Smart Growth, Land Use, energy Smart Grid, de-urbanization and depopulation” (Wood, Year, p.5).
He goes on to note that these ideologies rely on monitoring every action within a system in order to make the right calculations to achieve a state of balance, or a balanced load. (Wood, 2014, p.86). Furthermore, “if it seems to you that such an economic model is completely Orwellian in nature, it is because that is exactly the case. It would micromanage every last detail of your life according to the formulas and algorithms created the enlightened scientists and engineers” (Wood, 2014, p.86).
Therefore when I read that the ideals for high-quality global education include topics like “awareness and a commitment to planetary sustainability” (Evans, M., Montemurro, D., Gambhir, M., & Broad, K., 2014) I wonder where it all leads. Does this get us to the utopia we dream of, or should we look deeper? I believe that people should be free to decide that for themselves.
Yet, Wood asserts that, “the fact of the matter is that Sustainable Development is conceptually identical to Technocracy’s ‘balanced load’” (2014, p.90). He also states that if you read his research and “follow along to the end, you will see all the dots finally connected in a way that makes perfect sense” (Wood, 2014, p.13).
I am not in alignment with agendas that disguise authoritarian tendencies under the labels of social justice and environmentalism. I am in alignment with the humanist worldview which values freedom, peace, unified cooperation, and harmony for all. One might be inclined to believe that it’s the same thing and I’m just using different terminology. But I’m not. One of the key differences is that world humanism is not compatible with ideologies that take away from personal autonomy.
In my MEd program, we were asked to take a Sustainability Student Experience and Impact Survey . One of the questions asked us to rate how we felt about this statement: “I am confident in my ability to influence the actions of others based on my knowledge on sustainability.”
Wanting to “influence the actions of others” sounds controlling. Trying to control leads to manipulation. Manipulation is a form of deception. Being deceptive in order to get what you want is not compatible with valuing free will and the right of the human being to have a sense of autonomy.
Therefore my point stands. We can gloss it up with terms like social justice, environmentalism, and equity all day- but that authoritarianism will eventually come out, if one dares to look carefully enough.
Mainstream global ideologies seek to control people and their resources. World Humanism does not seek to influence the action of others. It promotes that one should be an example of the values that one wants to see brought forth in the world. Being an example doesn’t need to show off “knowledge”- it simply needs to show actions that are congruent with what you say you value.
Remember to love yourself and to always follow your inner guidance. Therefore, take what resonates and discard the rest.