The Politics of Arrested
Development: Deepening the Purposes of Education
“Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.” William S. Burroughs (n.d.)
Some Notes on the Flow of U.S. History
How do you turn the voters of the world’s lighthouse democracy against their elected government? How do you convince the mass of those citizens to deny themselves basic human rights and economic security?
In terms of its politics, America is often called a center-right nation. This analysis stirs approval in allies of the right, and remorse in those of a progressive bent. If correct, the label describes a voting public that is generally less prone to get out in front of change and to instead value constancy and tradition. As evidence of this disposition, one can argue that the last era of sweeping political reform in America was President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, which fought wars on poverty and discrimination. Roe v. Wade (1973) followed shortly thereafter, along with the creation in the early 1970s of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Since 1980, however, there has been a notable retrenchment of this type of reformist instinct, and the political tide has shifted. The decline of unions and the rise of income inequality are indices of this trend. Also noteworthy are struggles with minority educational achievement, limits on abortion rights, rising bankruptcies due to health-care costs and under-regulated financial practices, and an inability to manage immigration. At the same time, military and security costs remain extremely high. At the university level, government support of public institutions continues to decline with commensurate tuition increases. For public schools, government funding is diluted by privatization initiatives, and policy is steered by a centralized system of standards and testing (Shaker & Heilman, 2008). Teachers, along with other state workers, find themselves vilified for their middle-class compensation.
Culturally, there are progressive achievements, such as the rising integration of gay Americans in society and (white) women’s achievements in the professions and politics. The internet has grown in an open and largely unimpeded manner. Popular acceptance of our ethnic diversity seems to advance. As to political progressivism, a second president in 220 years has been elected who is not a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant male. A tentative next step has been taken after Medicare to assure universal medical care. Gay rights in the military have been secured.
Although America is a bastion of economic opportunity and cultural expression, it has allowed poverty and inequality to ebb and flow; it is still in many ways racially segregated; and its social safety nets pale in comparison to those of many European nations, and to those of Australia, Canada, and Japan. All this is of concern to educators because our professional values center on transforming as well as transmitting, society’s values. Since the Progressive Era, we have evolved as a reformist field. At the same time, since we orient toward change, our institutions and we ourselves are the objects of revanchist politics: The politics of the right include breaking tenure and unions for teachers, issuing vouchers that can be taken to private and charter schools, and encouraging home schooling. There are also efforts to deregulate teacher preparation, including lowering academic requirements. The autonomy and professionalism of the classroom teacher are challenged by curriculum standardization and evaluation by standardized testing.
America is caught up in massive social problems that could be addressed by policy initiatives. The Sixties showed us that rights for women and minorities could be expanded; that Medicare is a viable concept; that focused government programs could reduce poverty. Free or low-cost public higher education was a reality. Today our challenges include providing for the deficiency needs of all children; making health care a human right in America; accommodating our immigrant population; asserting the popular will over lobbyists, including particularly those of the defense industry and Wall Street; protecting the middle class; and developing a demilitarized foreign policy. The evidence of the past several decades is, however, that our government is broken and divided; that we are unable to respond to our major problems. The efforts of reform are watered-down (like the recent health-care initiative), or dependent on deficit spending (like Medicare’s drug benefits), or devoid of substantive content (like No Child Left Behind), or dead in the water (immigration reform).
This essay is an effort to
explain the stagnation of our politics by placing it in the context of human
development, a central goal of education. Although this unfolding takes place
in each individual, the story of each, multiplied by millions, can contribute
to an understanding of our collective politics. If America is, indeed, a
center-right nation politically, dominated most often by a preference for constancy
and tradition and resistant to change and transformation, there must be cultural
reasons for this preference. Nations vary, and one narrative seems not to fit
The Wayward Path of Ego Development
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” (New International Version Bible, 2011; Corinthians 1:13)
There is a standing joke that children learn to speak spontaneously and that this skill is learned more effectively than reading, which we teach in school with the help of trained professionals. Setting this familiar dismissal of educators aside, let’s instead pose this parallel question: Why do children mature physically into adults with little coaching, but psychological health and development come about haltingly and imperfectly? Why is it apparently innate to speak but not to read, and to develop our bodies to maturity, but not our psychological side? One answer is that physical growth, as well as oral communication, is governed by genetics and instinct so that children put in an environment that meets minimal standards of interaction and nutrition will experience these types of development with little conscious intervention. On the other hand, reading and psychological maturation have less to do with instinct and more to do with enculturation. The social interactions that cause such growth to unfold is much more specific and complex. So complex, in fact, that contemporary society tolerates widespread illiteracy and evidence of chronic psychological maladaptation. Among the latter indices are antisocial behaviors such as violence, and self-destructive actions such as addiction. What kind of education is necessary for an individual’s psychological development and search for a meaningful life?
The key process of psychological maturation up through adolescence can be summarized as the emergence and strengthening of the ego. This concept, when applied to psychological experience, is commonly seen as our conscious choice-making faculty and our sense of individual identity. The ego emerges through a process of identification and differentiation whereby individuals gradually adopt from their social environment an outline of attributes they identify with and ones they see as differing from their own. The categories that are sorted in this way range from gender to ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, and so on. These categories go from the profound, such as spiritual orientation, to the trivial, such as the sports teams whose jerseys one wears. As is well known, there is a black-and-white and intolerant character to early ego formation. A cultural environment, like a school or family that is itself marginally developed will be unable to explain for individuals the insight that identifying with one category should not entail hostility to the categories that are set aside: Patriotism need not become chauvinism, for example; religious zeal ought not to spawn sectarian intolerance. Such conflicts are, sadly, only too common; so common, in fact, that rejection is normal in the sense that persons feel hostility to those others who occupy categories with which they do not identify. Prejudice and intolerance are, sadly, only too normal. In schools and social media, common manifestations of this Manichaeism are scapegoating and bullying.
The ego is characterized not only by differentiation, but also by identification, and individuals adopt the notion that the ego is what they are and who they are. That is, they identify their being and humanity with the ego, the choice-making and differentiated dimension of psychological experience. They believe that their personhood is the same as their ego. Self-consciousness emerges with the onset of the ego, and it is understandable that in the process of psychological maturation we would, therefore, go through a stage of development where we confound the two. Through the ego, we first come to have a sense of personhood; it is the original sense of individuality and separation from the parents. The linkage between ego and self-consciousness is more than simply an overlay of timing, however. Since the mechanism of ego is to invite identification, there is also an invitation to stasis at this point in the process of maturation. The power and utility of the ego are obtained by differentiating oneself from the larger environment and identifying with a limited set of distinct categories of being. It isn’t obvious to a person that letting go of the strategies and values that created the sense of individuality and free will would promote growth. To put it in the language of Erik Erikson, “The strength acquired at any stage is tested by the necessity to transcend it in such a way that the individual can take chances in the next stage with what was most vulnerably precious in the previous one” (1963, p. 263).
This change in self-consciousness away from identification with the ego and its exclusionary character is a transformation. The insight to let go of the associations that have created self-consciousness in order to advance self-consciousness is not straightforward or linear. In religious terms, it is a second birth. Also to employ religious insight, this transformation is best sustained by a commitment to compassion. Compassion as a gateway to enlightenment is a recurring theme in the work of Karen Armstrong. For example, “All the sages preached a spirituality of empathy and compassion; they insisted that people must abandon their egotism and greed, their violence and unkindness” (2006, p. xiv). In theory, the insight is simple: By loving thy neighbor, one breaks the dominance of the ego and opens to further growth, along the lines of Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development (1981). Compassion, valuing the other, is a foundation of self-consciousness without animosity. In practice, however, we know that human society is rife with egotism, greed, violence and cruelty. The ego is not so easily transcended. For schools, this insight has special meaning, since it lends a profound rationale for compassion as a fundamental value in classrooms.
Jung offers the concept of the Self to define a focus for one’s personhood that goes beyond the issues of the ego (Jung, 1960, p. 134). The difference between ego and Self is illustrated by the terms identity and entity. Ego evolves from infancy around a principle of either/or. It identifies with some aspects of experience and disidentifies with others. Ego builds on differentiation. Self for Jung represents a feeling of wholeness and autonomy that welcomes experience broadly. The Self accepts for consideration those experiences that are alien to it. The Self does not reflexively identify with experiences formerly seen as integral to the person. It sees those perceptions often as transitory elements of ego. The Self allows the individual to have autonomy, that is, a withdrawal from external identifications. The opportunity is created for experiencing oneself as an entity, a unique being, more than the sum of the world’s actions on himself or herself.
Think of the feeling of
choice restriction that occurs in dreams. Just as the ego struggles to assert
itself in dreams, so does the Self try to express itself in waking life. It has
been said that life is a dream of the Self. We have the impression that at our
fingertips are actions that would free us to a richer experience of life. Some
unseen force, however, has oppressive power over us. Our better insights are
suppressed, and often we feel as though we were witnesses watching our own
lives being played out before us. So much of our science and art are expressions
of rebellion against this unknown force of suppression. Could this be the
parasitic being of which Burroughs spoke?
Society’s Miseducative Schooling
The ego remains entrenched due not only to internal states of attachment and continuity, but also by external factors. Social networks and media at least as powerful as those that advocate for transformation argue for the static point of view. There is no shortage of groups, including those that are based in patriotism, ethnicity, or faith, that advocate for identity through differentiation, exclusion, and feelings of superiority. There is a multifaceted establishment dedicated to propagating stasis. Since humans are profoundly social and affected by the social environment, these institutions and organizations are powerful purveyors of what Dewey called miseducation. In his definition, those experiences that inhibit the process of continuous growth are miseducative (Dewey, 1938/1963). The techniques that are employed to bolster the ego and cling to an attitude of identification with a similarly minded subgroup include, for example, encouraging negative emotions toward the other, such as fear and anger. Also, there is support within the group for positive feelings of grandiosity, supremacy, superiority, and holiness. Then there are totems or symbols of worship such as flags, religious icons, and guns. Additionally there are slogans like love it or leave it, my country right or wrong, the right to life, drill, baby, drill. And there are jargon and buzzwords that carry symbolic meaning: socialism, evolution, freedom, big government, and liberal. Of course there are explicit entities marked out as other, such as Arabs, Muslims, socialists, multiculturalists, feminists, illegal immigrants, atheists, The Democrat [sic] Party. Homosexuality has proved to be one of the most powerful of contemporary litmus tests. Acceptance of gay rights continues to rend religious groups and other organizations. All this is evidence that ego consciousness is resourceful and resolute in its quest for dominance of the psyche. People in groups organize entire movements to shelter and support their points of view. It’s no wonder that change toward a gentler, more inclusive social order is halting and that the process is often subverted. Schools are frequently caught in the middle of the conflict: obliged by law to recognize human rights that are widely challenged within the social world of parents. This divide haunts curricula treating sex education and gender and affectional issues.
The power of the status
quo cannot be underestimated in human affairs, and this bias exists for
good reason. Human civilization is fragile and the costs of disruption include
war, chaos, disease, and starvation. Transformation is by definition a leap, a
radical reordering of fundamental values and practices in society, and it can
result in a Great Leap Backward as readily as an Enlightenment, or a
Robespierre rather than a Jefferson. Life without change, on the other hand, is
fraught with its own perils that are well documented in history, including
extinct civilizations and defunct or co-opted social movements.
Ego Traits and False Equilibrium
Jean Piaget commented in an educational context on the phenomenon of developmental intransigence (1937/1954). Let us recall that to Piaget, assimilation is an immediate response to new circumstances with old strategies, and accommodation is a long-term change to our concepts brought on by new stimuli. In Piaget’s language, here is an explanation of how the ego is confronted by new challenges to its legitimacy and responds with denial and rejection:
Why then, does this accommodation remain, in the true sense of the word, superficial, and why does it not at once lead to correcting the sensory impression by rational truth? Because, and this is what we are leading up to, primitive accommodation of thought… is undifferentiated from a distorting assimilation of reality to the self and is at the same time oriented in the opposite direction. (Gruber & Vonéche, 1995, p. 293)
In other words, rather than a new synthesis arising in the form of a useful accommodation, a primitive accommodation takes place. This accommodation is, in Piaget’s terms, a “distorting assimilation,” i.e., a false assimilation. In this process, an unhealthy response to a growth-oriented concept, such as someone who is different from you is not necessarily a threat to you, is met with rejection. This rejection is a reflexive, thoughtless egoistic response that, sadly, is taken to heart as a proper and healthy response. The new concept is added to the list of rejected values that define the ego. An expansive accommodation, that is, an expansion of respect and tolerance, is never seriously contemplated. The growth process is arrested.
Jung describes this phenomenon in this way: “Naturally, in these circumstances there is the greatest temptation simply to follow the power-instinct and to identify the ego with the self outright, in order to keep up the illusion of the ego’s mastery” (1960, p. 134).
Piaget (quoted by Duckworth) brings this response into the world of education in this statement:
…This is a big danger of school–-false accommodation which satisfies a child because it agrees with a verbal formula he has been given. This is a false equilibrium which satisfies a child by accommodating to words – to authority and not to objects as they present themselves to him. (Duckworth, 1964, p.174)
Here the mechanisms of egoistic response are taken to another plane. The authority of the institution itself facilitates distorting assimilation and false accommodation. If the miseducative words come from an apparent authority, they have a greater chance of affecting the person, since they play on a penchant for the status quo with all the credibility that institutional authority has with the student. Whether coming from a priest, teacher, politician, television commentator, or other authority figure, the words are given greater power to influence. Implicit in Piaget’s insight is his criticism of the lack of critical awareness in this example. He suggests that taking these words on faith is an accommodation based not on reflection and insight, but on authority. In this example we can see why jargon repeated by authority figures in the media would have significant influence in steering listeners toward stasis. Critical thinking never enters the equation as the reflexive response patterns of the ego are employed to reinforce its dominance of the individual psyche.
Analysis is replaced with labeling in this process. Instead of an argument for or against something, the act of labeling is deemed a sufficient response. Common labels include, socialist, liberal, ideological, racist. Language is used as a fixed icon, rather than as a living conveyance for communication, compromise, and meaning.
Whether in certain media that
parrot people’s prejudices back to them, or in some religious schools that
encourage a cult of in-group superiority, we find this mechanism at work. In
such schools, inquiry and analysis are subordinated to orthodoxy and
sectarianism with a resulting inhibition of growth and maturation. Being told
with certitude that one is right and superior has proved to be a
popular, if unfortunate, message.
Four Ways of Looking at the World
Arrested development goes beyond the issues of ego and Self into other qualities of maturation. In describing his theory of the psyche, C. G. Jung described four cognitive functions or ways of experiencing the world and our inner life: Thinking, which is associated with logical analysis; Feeling, a rational application of personal values to experience; Sensing, the direct and deep response to sensory data; and Intuition, a disposition to give high priority to insight and the future implications of events. As students of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI, 1962/2011) know, these functions are paired to give four core types: NF (Intuition/Feeling), NT (Intuition/Thinking), SF (Sensing/Feeling), and ST (Sensing/Thinking). The commonest core type among American men is ST, and, for women, SF predominates. Up to three-quarters of all Americans are oriented to the Sensing function, as opposed to the Intuitive. About two-thirds of American men prefer Thinking to Feeling. For American women, Feeling dominates, about two to one. Intuition accounts for a third or less of Americans (Center for Applications of Psychological Type, 2011).
In brief, this suggests that Americans who are Sensing types tend to relate to experience more often through concretia, as opposed to abstractions (favored by Intuitives), and to give present events more weight than the future implications of events. Men and women have converse relations to Thinking and Feeling, with men much more oriented to a logical, but impersonal approach, and women setting aside logic in favor of commitment to a hierarchy of values. Political power, of course, has been largely in the hands of men, at least overtly, and the ST core type has become the dominant perspective in American politics. The ST worldview is at home with the center-right perspective associated with U.S. politics. An appropriate slogan for this population is, if it works, don’t mess with it. Society is considered to be working unless there are pressing immediate crises happening for the voters themselves. Long-term, slow-developing problems (like peak oil or climate change) have little purchase. Rolling suffering that affects a significant few at any given time (such as bankruptcy from medical bills) is similarly undervalued until bad luck brings misfortune to one’s own doorstep. Statistical literacy is trumped by magical thinking. In other words, by this logic, regardless of probability, people can plan for the lottery to provide for their retirement, while assuming that medical bankruptcy won’t strike their family. Belief and optimism displace analysis and an understanding of probability. Rather than deliberate government policies to extend reliable safety nets, voters opt for low taxes on the chance that they will be the lucky, healthy multimillionaires who benefit.
If one, as a Sensing type, gives little priority to long-term consequences, transformation has little appeal. This conservational tendency contributes once again to the reinforcement of the ego, since it is the first vehicle of self-consciousness. At the same time, the Sensing disposition lessens the appeal of any transcendence that requires letting go and a radical reorientation of one’s psychology. Strengthening and reinforcing what one has, in this case one’s orientation to the ego, is a more attractive alternative than inviting a new perspective: Continuity is preferred to change. Since the ego in itself is an abstraction, the concrete symbols, objectified language, and other markers described above carry the weight that material objects would otherwise convey. Persons do not look too deeply into what the slogans and buzzwords mean: They relate to them as iconic articles of faith, beyond analysis.
Fudjack and Dinkelaker (1995) present an in-depth look at the paths not taken in American life as a consequence of the majoritarian ST perspective. Their claim is that science and scholarship that are S and T oriented are far in advance of the undervalued F- and N- oriented fields. They write,
…the definitions of 'thinking' and 'sensing' that are in general usage reflect a comparatively higher level understanding, whereas what is normally meant by the words 'feeling' and 'intuition' refer to comparatively lower levels of accomplishment with respect to those functions.
Fudjack and Dinkelaker go on to describe five levels of development for Feeling and Intuition that parallel taxonomies for logical thought or the observation of sensory data.
This analysis is germane to the discussion of ego development because, without a sense of quality and progressive development in the Feeling and Intuitive functions, the costs of stasis are much less apparent. For example, level-four Feeling is described this way:
At level four, the essentially INTERPERSONAL [sic] nature of the individual's 'feeling field' is experienced…Our capacity to feel gives us direct access to the experience of 'oneness' with others. We experience reality as shared or 'consensual' by 'feeling with' or 'feeling into' those others - that is, through sympathy, empathy, and compassion. In other words, we learn to synchronize our underlying feeling states with those of other persons… (Fudjack & Dinkelaker, 1995)
If a person has no awareness or commitment to such an advanced stage of Feeling, there is no reason to expect the person to aspire toward it. Individuals without such an awareness or commitment experience no conscious loss in missing out on level-four Feeling.
In an analysis of Intuition, Andrew Dinkelaker (1997) offers “The Developmental Levels for F and N,” including for Intuition these five descriptions:
One goal of this essay is to
explore what Dinkelaker calls level-four Intuition, i.e., the idea that a great
deal of societal potential is being missed by a lack of awareness and
development of the F and N functions in contemporary America. This deficiency
disposes society to set as an ideal success that is achieved only in the realms
of S and T, that is (1) material acquisition, (2) research in the hard
sciences, and (3) technological accomplishment. Fundamental to this imbalanced
approach is the dominance of the ego in its present form, which is one of S and
T preeminence to the exclusion of the other functions and their potentialities.
The implications for educators are many, beginning with the need for curriculum
that examines lifespan developmental psychology and proceeds through
understanding of type differences and the strengths and weaknesses of each core
type’s point of view. Another priority would be focused efforts at illustrating
cause- and-effect relationships in science, politics, and history. The
desirability of greater literacy in statistics and probability would also be
Channeling the Feeling Function
To get further insight into what is missing from the dominant viewpoint in American politics, we can examine Fudjack and Dinkelaker’s levels of the Feeling function:
The spate of crying outbursts in late 2010 by politicians, particularly John Boehner, comes to mind as a vivid example of level 1. It is difficult to imagine a clearer example of this state. With appropriate irony, it surfaced among those whose politics so demonstrate a denial of the Feeling function in general. Glenn Beck’s tirades are another model of undifferentiated and unspecified emotionality, loaded with affect but often at the same time without coherence. Jung, it may be recalled, labeled Feeling as a rational function along with Thinking. In other words, he saw the experience of Feeling as subject to reflection and analysis, whereas Sensing and Intuition are spontaneous in their character. In the view of Jung, we can come to our feelings, like we come to our thoughts, through a reflective process. Alternately, sensory data and intuitions arise in us. They can be recognized by reflection, but not analyzed in the manner we weigh feelings and thoughts. Education can raise our awareness and competence in relating to such experiences (Mayes, 2007).
At a conscious level, emotions are given short shrift in U.S. politics. During times of crisis, a few mournful and empathic words are shared, but public discourse quickly reverts to the logical and mechanistic with a notable absence of feeling states. The suggestion is we should not be influenced by the vagaries of feelings when making critical decisions. As level two suggests, however, not all emotions are equal in nature or intensity: To be sad is not to be depressed; there is a difference between loving a car and loving a person; one can feel moral outrage without feeling hatred.
U.S. politics has risen to a higher level during times of crisis when presidents are expected to speak out with healing messages. This processing of emotion, level three, is an elusive state in American public life. When the dust has settled and the soothing words fade, the public often reverts to the barricades of confrontation and mutual exclusion. We seem unable to sustain an attitude of continuing rapprochement and reintegration of our social context. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a stunning example of institutionalizing such a transcendent process. Rarely is such a commitment made in modern societies, although clearly there is a need for the mechanism, and it had considerable success when implemented under the leadership of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The compelling challenge for U.S.
society is to consider the wisdom of level four. Our egoistic worldview resists
admitting our communal condition. Grudgingly we might admit we need each other
to sustain the comforts of modern life, but we are less prone to recognize the
way our emotional climate is a collective creation. We ultimately cannot escape
the suffering of others. We are made to feel their pain through the costs of
prisons, Medicaid, and mental health facilities, by crime and terrorist
attacks, and simply by their sorrowful presence among us. We act as though we
can live securely in pockets of luxury while driving by those who are desperate
in the streets. There is another point of view, however. To put it in positive
terms, there is a beneficial impact on the lives of all in knowing that our
society is limiting the suffering of the vulnerable. To the ego, compassion may
be woolly-minded or bleeding-heart. On the other hand, we would see caring for
others as enlightened self-interest if we were alert to the emotional climate
we live in. It is another way that Self is discriminated from ego. Over the
decades, this type of content has ebbed and flowed in the social studies
curriculum. It has not, however, been adequately theorized and fit into a
comprehensive model of the school’s role in human development.
It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by caring very much about our own pleasures. We can only have the highest happiness such as goes along with being a great man, by having wide thoughts and much feeling for the rest of the world as well as ourselves. (George Eliot, n.d.)
Looking around the world we can see that there is adequate wealth in advanced societies to provide freedom from want for all of each nation’s citizens. Not only can food, shelter, and employment be guaranteed, but also education through university, medical care, and old-age security. For those interested in the welfare of all members of society, it is difficult to understand why in America, for example, the voting public insists on denying themselves these basic human rights. This essay has been an attempt to respond to this question through the insights of Jung’s psychology and related studies, such as that of psychological type, specifically MBTI. Looking through this lens, several patterns emerge.
Jung categorized cognitive functioning through use of four terms: Thinking, Sensing, Feeling, Intuition. According to this analysis, in light of compiled data from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, American society favors Thinking and Sensing over Feeling and Intuition, particularly in its exercise of political power. A practical consequence of this imbalance is a preference toward present material gratification over long-term planning that would better account for emotional as well as material well- being. These preferences have resulted in practices like spending the Social Security Trust Fund rather than setting it aside in a lockbox; chronic deficit spending aggravated by an absolute commitment to tax reduction; an inability to move away from dependency on foreign oil; and the militarization of foreign policy and a de-emphasis of diplomacy in foreign affairs.
Extending this analysis, contemporary theorists speculate on how American society would change if the undervalued functions of Feeling and Intuition were consciously integrated with our public life. These theorists provide a hierarchy of development that would help establish balance in society. For example, a more developed appreciation of Intuition would open the world of aesthetics to wider audiences and provide more persons with the ability to experience the rewards of the fine arts and nature. The pursuit of pleasure is fundamental to humans and motivates many of our actions. It is not to be dismissed as incidental. Aesthetic experience can be a source of profound pleasure, accessible to all with informed sensibilities and at little material cost or cost to one’s well being. More developed Intuition would also act to reconfigure our relationship between current gratification and appropriate planning for the future. The familiar miracle of compound interest might be taken more seriously than the failed god of the Laffer curve (Wanniski, 1998).
Most profoundly, however, is the assertion that our Feeling function should be honored and its application refined: “Emotional fields are communal.” Whether from enlightened self interest, the desire to provide security for one’s own family, or a Christian ethic of love thy neighbor, we need to come to a realization that our fundamental calling should be the alleviation of human suffering. Instead of resolving to make this our central societal goal, however, we treat suffering as something that happens to other people who are to blame for their fates. Educators must bear some responsibility for this failure to sort out our values and withdraw wrongful projections onto others.
This leads us to a final word on compassion. There is an ancient philosophical and spiritual insight that through care for others, we liberate ourselves. If we are not to be consumed by Burroughs’ “parasitic being” within us, we must recognize the social foundations of our existence. The inflation of the ego can only be countermanded by an appreciation of our social nature and our debt to the community that sustains us. We honor that community by an ethic of care.
Our societal progress is
halting. Although we have advanced in many ways, culturally, economically and
politically, we remain at risk. Educators, as a profession, are vital to
rebalancing and widening our sensibilities at a time when politics are stalemated
and riven. There are values and insights that can guide our intervention and we
must bring them into our world of teaching and learning.
Armstrong, K. (2006). The great transformation: The beginning of our religious traditions. New York, NY: Knopf.
Burroughs, W. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://thinkexist.com/quotation/every-man-has-inside-himself-a-parasitic-being/357103.html
Center for Applications of Psychological Type. (2011). Estimated frequencies of the types in the United States population. Retrieved from http://www.capt.org/mbti-assessment/estimated-frequencies.htm
Dewey, J. (1938/1963). Experience and education. New York, NY: Collier Books.
Dinkelaker, A. (1997). The new frontier in democratic theory and practice. Retrieved from http://quadrant4.org/thesis/chapter3b.html
Duckworth, E. (1964). Piaget rediscovered. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2, 172-175. Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tea.3660020305/pdf
Eliot, G. (n.d.). 1-Famous-Quotes.com. Retrieved Tue Oct 11 08:32:22 2011, from 1-Famous-Quotes.com Website: http://www.1famousquotes.com/quote/930614
Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and society. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Fudjack, J. and Dinkelaker, P. (1995). The 5 levels of the 4 Jungian functions. Retrieved from http://tap3x.net/ENSEMBLE/mpage3a.html
Gruber, H. E. and Vonéche, J. J. (1995). The essential Piaget: An interpretive reference and guide. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson.
Jung, C. G. (1960). On the nature of the psyche. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kohlberg, L. (1981). Essays on Moral Development, Vol. I: The Philosophy of Moral Development. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.
Mayes, C. (2007). Inside education: Depth psychology in teaching and learning. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (first published in 1962). Retrieved Tue Oct 11 08:33:22 2011 from https://www.cpp.com/products/mbti/index.aspx
New International Version, Bible. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2013&version=NIV
Piaget, J. (1937/1954). La construction du réel chez l'enfant / The construction of reality in the child. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Roe v. Wade (1973). 410 U.S. 113.
Shaker, P. & Heilman, E. E. (2008). Reclaiming education for democracy: Thinking beyond No Child Left Behind. New York , NY: Routledge.
Wanniski, J. (1998) The way the world works. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway.