Saturday, December 5, 2009

An Apple for The Teacher

SAGE (Society for Advancing Gifted Education) Conference, 2008
University of Calgary
Adjectives for Meta-cognition within the Dynamics and Disintegration inherent to Metaphorical Minds
By Richard Michelle-Pentelbury B.A., B.Ed., M.A. Gifted Ed.

1) Exordium:
(the winning of attention)

If one’s aim is to be integrative, enlightened, wise, then a specific body of knowledge of itself may not necessarily suffice. Knowledge does not necessarily engender practice. Understanding may not become a habit. The variety of thinking styles or habituations as suggested by Dabrowski, Dillinger, Graves, or Kohlberg, among many others, provide for the instinctually meta-cognitive some tools by which one may more effectively evaluate one’s thinking, nurture the potential in us all, and more perspicuously assist to accept, integrate, absorb, assimilate and have compassion for the many paradigms of mankind’s proclivities. It is the realization and use of such thinking tools that may well provide keys toward paradigm shifts within the aspirant, whereas a lack of such tools may well inhibit, handicap, or suffocate a given individual, gifted or not. History has given us honorable as well as horrific leaders, tremendous as well as tremulous intellects, and a chronological populace that has worked itself up from the survivalist needs of its origins to the threshold of what now becomes a necessary integration of the sheer volume of humanity, or not. Differentially seeing the constructs of man’s divining, being habitually dynamic, often experiencing disintegration, or inadvertently exercising from a psycho-geometric pattern is the issue; the value lies not only in one’s choice of an adjective (or moderator) for the subject of ourselves as we view and practice our being in this world, but in the very use of the choice itself.
2) Narratio:
(the survey)
Children and adults are naturally affected by the past and present in a series of adaptations to the status quo, despite perhaps innately knowing better, or feeling that somehow there is something greater. The degree to which the individual succumbs to peer, political, or authoritative pressure can greatly affect one’s potentiality. That potentiality is expressed by Graves, Kohlberg, or Dabrowski, in particular, in terms of a hierarchy of values. More relevantly, it is the individual’s actual ability to surmount the lower hierarchical levels of a given predominance of thinking, rather than the innate ability to surmount the paradigm in which one finds oneself, that is at stake. To rise above, or not. We all, in this presenter’s view, have glimpses of the universal; at issue is the degree to which we actualize the universal within us.
3) Propositio:
(resolving discourse, with definition)
A typical (?) individual is introduced in Harry Chapin’s song, Flowers Are Red. A little boy, affected by a teacher who curtails his creativity by forcing him to accept that “flowers are red, green leaves are green,” eventually moves to another school where he in turn countenances the creative teacher by saying “and that’s the way they’re always seen!” Perhaps we all know of such a person? Affected by the paradigm of someone else, or of the group, we think in a certain way. We adopt the political, religious, philosophical, ideological, or overt stance of the status quo. We in fact become a habituate of the habits inculcated in us by our society, nationality, schooling, group, congregation, or club. To be an individual, or even with more difficulty, to accept another for being an individual becomes a series of life-making choices. And is there indeed both in the progress, as well as in the summation of one’s life a hierarchical evincing of growth, or merely an accretion of incumbent, inherent, and conditioned substantiation of time-worn habituations? The gifted child, or not, is given to growth. The adult that results continues to grow, one trusts, but in which direction? Horizontally, or hierarchically?
4) Partitio:
(the dividing up and revelation of arguments for the case)
While not the purpose of this paper to explicate the given theories, knowing something about the ideas of Dabrowski, Graves, Kohlberg, or Dillinger, among many others, provides us with some of the tools by which we may evaluate meta-cognitively ; that essential ability to think about our own thinking. Without such tools we might less readily be aware of the habits of processing or indeed the habits of living that imbue our lives as well as the lives of others, gifted or not.
Dabrowski’s hierarchical levels of differentiated beings in the potential journey toward one’s “unique and autonomous personality” are quite clear in their distinction through first or second factor First Phase unilevel living, through disintegrative and psychoneurotic Second Phase overexciteabilities, or through Third Phase multilevel and integrative experimentation. The dynamics of one’s personality, potentiality, and paradigmatic proclivities perpetually propel a person, or not. It is one’s given proclivity for a paradigm that may inhibit the route through the “ever higher levels of universal development” of the Theory of Positive Disintegration. It is through our intentional awareness and integration of Dabrowski’s Levels One through Four, as students, as teachers, and indeed as humans in the very evolution of mankind that we each may more readily find our “autonomous and unique personality”.
Grave’s Spiral Dynamics Theory similarly apportions mankind into a hierarchy of nine essentially substantive values. In the six levels of First Tier thinking are Judgmental Attitudes, in the Second Tier is Evaluative Integration. Since the first six levels (Memes) are essentially judgmental and disassociative, it is interesting that each First Tier level would dovetail with Dabrowski’s Level One, which is about the simple perpetuation of left-right choices. At Grave’s1st level is BEIGE, which predominantly needs primarily to satisfy/gratify its own needs. At the 2nd level is PURPLE, which predominantly needs to belong to a clan/clave/closed family/club that is esoteric/closed membership/ and is fundamentally “exclusive.” At the 3rd level is RED, which predominantly needs to have The Self exercised/extolled and promoted despite or over or above others. At the 4th level is BLUE, which needs predominantly to associate itself with an “ism”: Communism, Capitalism, and any Religion-ism. It can discount/devalue/judge/disparage, even hate those disagreeing with its fundamental beliefs. At the 5th level is ORANGE, which may strive to provide service and opportunity for many kinds or creeds, but has high exclusion factors if others don't meet with its expectations. At the 6th level is GREEN, which attempts Egalitarianism and Equity for all, everywhere, yet “does not suffer fools lightly.” In Second Tier is YELLOW, the 7th level (akin to Dabrowski’s ‘overexcite-abilities’). Yellow is fragmented between integration of concepts/precepts/constructs/proclivities and its frequent adherence to/inculcations by, or the usage of/familiarity with the First Six Levels. The 8th level is TURQUIOSE, which is fundamentally integrative, experiencing degrees of individual preferences and wants. At the 9th level is CORAL, where "integration" means a complete inclusion and absorption and compassion and acceptance for every and anything. At each level one becomes more integrative, or accepting, but in the First Tier one still deems differentially (and deferentially) integrative beings to be “lesser”. Ouch!
In Kohlberg one comes across a ready framework of thinking by which one may evaluate the awareness of one’s responsibility to include others. Level One is where the consequence isn’t sufficient enough for a person; and so he does what he wants again. Our jails are full of such people. Level Two is where we’ll stop doing something only because we don’t want the consequence. Level Three is where a person’s predominating concern is about one’s affect upon one’s immediate others, best friends, and the family. Level Four is where a person thinks about the larger community he or she represents, and realizes that all behavior reflects on that community; affects it. In Level Five we’re aware of being a concerned citizen whose primary focus is about contributing to the welfare of one’s city. And such thinking is the beginning of Levels Six and Seven and even Eight. For we go, one and all, from caring about how we affect the City to how we affect the Country, the World, and indeed, the Universe. But where is one’s thinking really at? Where does one predominantly come from?
Psycho-geometrics is Dillinger’s metaphorical way of partitioning people into essential shapes that have strengths and weakness. While there are very many such personality-type models, it is interesting to note that the predominance of being any one shape, a circle, a triangle, a squiggly line, a square, or a rectangle does not determine any given hierarchical level, although implicit in one’s choice of such a shape is the degree to which one is inclusive or integrative of others. As such, being a circle is to be all encompassing, but perhaps not to have sufficient enough boundaries. Being a squiggly line is to be entirely flexible, but perhaps to be fickle. Being a triangle is to have strength and purpose, but perhaps to be prickly about it. Being a square is to have structure and sense, but perhaps to be obstinate, and being a rectangle is perhaps to be indecisive. (In this writer’s pedagogical experience only a very occasional hand will go up to acknowledge having picked a rectangle.)
5) Confirmatio:
(proving the case)
Gifted, or not, people do find themselves identifying with Dabrowski, Dillinger, Graves, or Kohlberg, among many others, and gifted, or not, there is great variance amongst people’s evaluation of themselves and evaluation (or judgment) of others. The thinking person is given to horizontal accretion of knowledge and, one hopes, a hierarchical apprehension of the journey of responsibility to the whole. It is in acquiring some of the tools by which we may more readily monitor our thinking that recurring disintegrations of habit-forming paradigms may more readily take place. As such, flowers are given a plethora of adjectives, disintegration may itself be seen as ‘positive’, and dynamics may be understood as a spiral of integration, rather than a linear progression beyond “lesser beings left behind.” At every level there is still the personality itself to deal with, which is in essence the ego’s manifestation of an individual, or might that be an individual’s manifestation of an ego? To be, or not, is indeed up to you.
6) Reprehensio:
History has given us honest and well-intentioned leaders, teachers, and missionaries. It has inspired us with visionaries and mystics. It has also given us brilliant and gifted psychopaths. And in each of these passages of people, as well as in all others not made so public to us, we may find those who are gifted, or not. The level of one’s thinking is not dependent on one’s intelligence; it is dependent on one’s ability to be integrative. The tools of other’s thinking, their insights, observations, and discoveries, may well help homo sapiens to be more aware of our individual and collective thinking, or not.
7) Peroratio:
If every Individual is EVERYTHING the degree of Predominant Realization/Identification with any given portion of Everything becomes the issue. The degrees of dissatisfaction/disassociation/and even confrontation will naturally depend on a given inherent want to protect/establish/align the self, the ego/comfort-zone as separate from Complete Integration. The more matured the soul (no matter its chronological age) the greater the realization and aspiration toward complete integration; the less mature the soul the greater the realization to stay entrenched in the familiarity of the level/tier/rung/step with which one most predominantly identifies, despite being ‘everything.’ In the awareness of how and why and what one thinks lies at least a route toward positive disintegration, inclusive, or spiral ascension, universal awareness, and effective consideration of where oneself or another is coming from. In the comprehension and use of an adjective, like colorful flowers, spiral dynamics, positive disintegration, or the metaphorical mind, lies all the difference. Always.

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