Research Room - Articles and Essays on Multicultural Education, Diversity, and Social Justice
Share/Bookmark an EdChange project by Paul C. Gorski
Home
Teachers Corner
Workshops & Training
Equity Case Studies
Awareness Activities
Curriculum Transformation
Equity & Diversity Quizzes
Printable Handouts
Research Room
Humane Education
Social Justice Speeches
Social Justice Songs
Social Justice Quotations
Multicultural Links
Join Our Listserv
Contact Us

Receive Email Updates
Awards & Recognition
About Paul C. Gorski

EdChange Consulting and Workshops on Multicultural Education, Diversity, Equity, Social Justice
SoJust.net Document History of Civil Rights and Social Justice
Least Harm Most Good Blog
Drawing Outside the Lines:
Value Systems, Memetics, and Education in the Third Millennium

By Caleb Rosado*

As schools in America move into the Third Millennium, they will face challenges far greater then their current operational models are prepared to handle. Demographic shifts in the nation, the increasing gap of quality education between schools, differing views on what constitutes a "quality" education, what values and norms are non-negotiable, what should be and not be included in the curriculum, the challenge of multiculturalism. racial diversity, and sensitivity to sexual orientation, these and many other issues will challenge the very foundations of education in the next millennium.

This article seeks to provide a scaffolding for aligning educational systems along an evolving spiral of human development that pulls from an interdisciplinary approach to learning, a bio-psycho-social framework. Spiral Dynamics, the practical theoretical framework presented here, is a broad synthesis as opposed to simply being another theory, package, or set of solutions. It explains why what is next is next, and how to get there.

A Value Systems Framework:

Nearly fifty years ago, Dr. Clare W. Graves, late professor of psychology at Union College in New York, introduced a theory important for understanding problems in education, in society, and the world today, as well as in other areas of life-the Levels of Existence Theory, or Spiral Dynamics. Spiral Dynamics emerges from the seminal, original research of Dr. Clare W. Graves. A contemporary and close friend of Abraham Maslow, Graves disagreed with Maslow's hierarchy as being too limited. The same goes with the stages of development of Erik Erikson, Lawrence Kohlberg, Carl Rogers, Jane Loevinger, James Fowler, and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.1 Graves saw their understanding of human development as limited and closed. Whether seeing human nature as going through 4, 5, 6, or 8 stages, the problem with all of these theorists is that they all speak of a "final stage" or "level" of human development. This is where Graves differed. For him human development was a open-ended process, with no end in sight but capable of continual growth. Realizing that the various psychological theories of human development differed and did not, to his satisfaction, totally explain all of human reality, Clare Graves in 1952 launched into a 30-year research career seeking answer to one question: "What are the conceptions of psychological health extant in the minds of biologically mature human beings?" In other words, "What does the biologically mature adult human being look like?" Graves sought to get to the mind of the matter and explore why people are different, why some change but others don't, and how better to navigate through the emerging and often chaotic versions of human existence. After thousands of interviews worldwide, Graves' research resulted in a theory which he laboriously called: "The Emergent, Cyclical, Double-Helix Model of Adult Biopsychosocial Systems Development." He later modified to "The Theory of Levels of Human Existence." Graves summarized his theory in this manner: "Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change."

The reason why most educators have never heard of Graves, nor are his ideas mainstream, is that he published very little. Thus, the axiom is true-"publish or perish." In fairness to Graves, however, other factors ensued. Since his research drew from biology, psychology, sociology, and even religion, he encountered much resistance for an interdisciplinary approach from colleagues who sought to protect their guild-like disciplinary boundaries. But more importantly, due to serious health problems, he died in 1986 just before releasing his major work, a book he was going to title, "Levels of Human Existence." The heart of the theory, however, was published in an article titled: "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap," in The Futurist, April 1974. Two of his students, Don E. Beck and Christopher C. Cowan, have published the essence of his research and theory in their book, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, (Blackwell, 1996). Graves' theory is now called "Spiral Dynamics," a simpler and more descriptive term. Since the death of Graves, Beck and Cowan have enhanced the theory by drawing from the fledging science of Memetics, the study of "memes." Coined by English biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (Oxford 1976), what Dawkins was after was a concept similar to "genes," the biological code carriers of DNA, that would show the same replicating influence but culturally. The result was the term "meme" from the Greek word "mimeme," imitation. Memes (rhymes with "genes" or "themes") are cultural units of information, "viruses of the mind," cultural "DNA" that self-replicate by means of thought-contagion, using the human mind as a host, and attach themselves to individuals, organizations, entire cultures, and societies. Beck and Cowan, realizing how similar the concept "memes" was to Graves' essential ideas, assimilated the word and added the term "vMEMEs," for value-memes, associating it with Graves' understanding of Value Systems. For Graves a "value system" is a worldview, a set of priorities, a paradigm, a mindset, an organizing mental framework for deep-level thinking at the bottom-line-the threshold of no negotiation.

Let me explain how Graves' "values" and Dawkins' "memes" are similar and yet different. Graves spoke and wrote of surface values, what people, groups, and societies usually quibble over: geopolitics, beliefs, education, crime, justice, religion, norms, racism, business practices, etc. This is similar to what Dawkins called "memes," self-replicating ideas or cultural DNA, beliefs, and actions that like viruses infect the human mind and are transmitted from mind to mind. Albeit in a good way, though sometimes memes, like recessive genes, can be lethal. Throughout human history memes have not only killed genes, but other memes as well. Case in point was what Hitler's memes of a "master race" did to the genes of 11.5 million people in the 20th century.

But Graves contribution went further than Dawkins. What he discovered was that beneath these surface values or memes [Graves never used the term "meme"], there were deep undercurrents, or worldviews, paradigm, if you will, that served as the operational frameworks to guide all decision making and belief formation. These Value Systems, or vMEMEs, were "systems in" people, ways of thinking that determined human behavior, not types of people or personality traits, or fixed categories. These emerged in an open system that oscillated from an express-self to a sacrifice-self, from a focus on "me" to one focused on "we," in what Csikszentmihalyi calls "a dialectical motion....between turning attention inward and then outward, between valuing the self and then the larger community. It is not a circular motion that returns to where one started, but rather, it resembles an ascending spiral."2 It is an ever increasing and widening spiral of development as people move through the various levels of bio-psycho-social complexity. Every time people move from one level to the next, they undergo a major paradigm shift, a different window through which to look out on the world, a transformation of their basic system of beliefs and values.

The model not only depicts the evolvement of individuals, but also of institutions, nations, and even the human race. People and nations, however, do not automatically move up the spiral from one level to the next. Often people and societies can remain at one level of development their whole existence, and even achieve "self-actualization" at that level. Graves called these levels "deep-level Value Systems," or what Beck & Cowan termed as "vMEMEs", the little "v" standing for "values" or "value-MEMEs" (pronounced "vee-meems"). These Value Systems or vMEMEs are like magnetic fields that attract or repel surface values or little memes-ideas, beliefs, behaviors that may or may not be compatible with one's basic value system. Thus, memes are cultural replicators that cluster around specific vMEMEs or Value Systems. Different Value Systems gather to themselves different memetic ways of life and beliefs. This latter point is most crucial for education. More on this latter.

Values Systems are complex Coping Systems-decision making motivators and ways of thinking-that emerge in response to Problems of Existence. Graves, in his article in The Futurist, said that these Value Systems or vMEMEs, "alternate between focus upon the external world, and attempts to change it, and focus upon the inner world, and attempts to come to peace with it, with the means to each end changing in each alternately prognostic system. Thus, man tends, normally, to change his psychology as the conditions of his existence change. Each successive stage, or level of existence, is a state through which people pass on the way to other states of equilibrium. When a person is centralized in one state of existence [read "vMEME"], he has a total psychology which is particular to that state. His feelings, motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning systems, belief systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated, preference for and conceptions of management, education, economic and political theory and practice, etc. [read "memes"], are all appropriate to that state." There are nearly 6 billion people in the world today, and though we all come from some 100,000 genes-ALL of us-we share only a few basic Value Systems, eight have emerged thus far. Though Graves initially used letters of the alphabet to identify the levels, his students, Don Beck and Chris Cowan, have color-coded these Value Systems for the sake of clarity and ease of understanding. The table below identifies the eight systems.

QUICK SUMMARY OF VALUE SYSTEMS CODES

_____________________________________________________________________________

MEMES COLOR THEME FOCUS THINKING VALUE SYSTEMS LIFESTYLE
Level 1 BEIGE SurvivalSense "Me" Automatic Group bands together to stay alive Lives for survival
Level 2 PURPLE KinSpirits "We" Animistic Sense of family/tribe with time-honored traditions Lives for group
Level 3 RED PowerGods "Me" Egocentric Power-driven, exploitative, no boundaries Lives for now
Level 4 BLUE TruthForce "We" Absolutistic Purposeful, authoritarian, "one-right-way" Lives for later
Level 5 ORANGE StriveDrive "Me" Materialistic Entrepreneurial, strategic, success-driven Lives for gain
Level 6 GREEN HumanBond "We" Humanistic Community, harmony, equality, relativistic Lives for harmony
Level 7 YELLOW FlexFlow "Me" Systemic Flexibility, spontaneity, competence supersedes status Lives for mutuality
Level 8 TURQUOISE WholeView "We" Holistic Compassionate, spiritual, intuitive, interconnected Lives for wisdom

______________________________________________________________________________

Graves' research showed that these stages or Value Systems are like themes or movements in a symphony, beginning with its simplest expression and working through ever-increasing levels of complexity. As humans evolve from one level to the next, as in a spiral, their world and their thinking becomes more complex. The values of the previous levels do not disappear but slip into the background, and, though present and may re-emerge if a change in Life Conditions calls them up, they are no longer the dominant vMEME.

The significance of the colors is only to identify the systems and has no symbolism beyond that. Notice how the Focus alternates between dominance of ME-oriented Express-the-self (warm colors) and WE-oriented Sacrifice-the-self (cool colors) life focus. Note also the differences in what is valued in each system as they flow from survival (Beige), to safety and security (Purple), to raw power and instant gratification (Red), to purpose in life (Blue), to strategies for success (Orange), to community awareness (Green), to alternative forms (Yellow), to global connectedness (Turquoise). At each level there is a different Lifestyle, from living for survival to living for wisdom. The levels are open-ended, there is no final stage of development.

Here's the essence of the idea. Not only different nations, societies, cultures, and subcultures, but different groups and entities, are at different levels of bio-psycho-social emergence as displayed within these evolving levels of complexity. What moves one from one level to the next is when old explanations and experiences no longer adequately explain one's reality as a result of changes in one's Life Conditions, which now exceed the parameters of one's present worldview. Like Russian Matroshka Dolls that are "systems within," when one's cup overflows one then moves to the larger, more encompassing system. Previous Value Systems, however, do not go away; they just shift down the spiral, remaining active within the value system stacks, thus impacting the nature and content of the more complex systems And, if changing Life Conditions warrant, we may return to these previous systems. It is this interaction between our "real life" experiences and our mind/brain capacities that causes these Value Systems to awaken, ebb, and flow. Life conditions outside interact with latent thinking capacities inside the mind to awaken the next vMEME level. Without our latent mental capacities, the world outside has nothing to trigger. This is the experience of the mentally ill and psychiatric patients. Without the stimuli from outside, systems within may not have cause to be awakened. Such is the situation of the Amish and people that live in "closed communities." Thus both nature and nurture are important.

Life is an ever increasing and widening spiral of development as people move through the various levels of bio-psycho-social complexity. Every time people move from one level to the next, they undergo a major paradigm shift, a different window through which to look out on the world, a transformation of their basic value system. This is a key aspect of what makes each level different, for the complexity of the thinking must match or exceed the complexity of the problems of existence. Yet, and here is a critical element-a person can be at more than one memetic level in different areas of their life, even though one value system dominates their outlook. Thus, while their overarching vMEME may be a conservative Blue, especially in terms of family values and the school, in relation to their family they may be Purple (tradition-driven), at work they may be Orange (success-driven), in sports they may be Red (power-driven), and in relation to others they may be Green (people-driven), but their basic paradigm and way of seeing the world is still Blue (order-driven).

Implications for Education:

Strain between these systems is the home of all human conflict and group misunderstanding. Here is where this theoretical yet practical approach to human development helps us to understand the challenges facing education in the years ahead. The challenges confronting education stem in part from the fact that administrators, faculty, staff, students, parents, and communities are at different levels of existence with conflicting and clashing Value Systems.

Current critical issues in education-from changing neighbors that pit ethnic groups against each other with the ensuring conflict spilling over into the school, drugs-gangs-violence in school, from public education versus charter schools versus voucher systems, from community based curriculum versus a state-mandated one, from a multicultural curriculum to a tradition-based one, from incompetent teachers that cannot be gotten rid of to qualified faculty that are taking higher paying jobs in industry, and on and on-are surface symptoms of deeper level decision systems beneath out of which these surface controversies emerge. All these issues plus an unending list of other ones can best be sorted out by defining the relationships between deep-level decision systems and the surface-level issues. Unfortunately, educators, administrators, board members, parents and community leaders are caught up with these surface manifestations of differences, while underneath the conflict and struggle rages on without any hope of solution in sight. Yet any hope for effecting change can only come by learning to draw outside the traditional lines of a "flatlander" view of the world.

Edwin A. Abbott, in his fictional classic, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884), describes "Flatlanders" as persons unable to recognize the vertical, spiral structure of human development. Rather, they focus on superficial, horizontal differences, rigid categories, simplistic types, and on labels to put on people. They put everyone through the same car wash, paint only with broad horizontal brush strokes, as "flavor-of-the-month" educators who project their own values, fears, biases, and prejudices on others, due to a failure to see other dimensions and perspectives. The result is a Flatlander perspective-a one-size-fits-all approach-reflected in much of education today, which may also be a reason for a decline in the quality of instruction.

Administrators and teachers need to grasp the realization that not everyone sees the world the same. Different people at different levels or stages of human development have different operational Value Systems. These attract or repel different surface expressions of values, beliefs, actions, and behaviors, which will often conflict with those of others. Failure to recognize this vertical dimension of education, the memetic spiral of human development, results in surface conflicts and a concern with solutions that are at best superficial for they do not get to root of the problem, the deep-level decision systems within. These operative vMEMEs guide all people's thinking and action. They determine not only what people say and believe, but more importantly why they say and believe as they do. Most immigrant families, and a good portion of Latino, Asian, and African American families, as well as groups in the Southern part of the country, are at PURPLE (tradition-oriented, often group-focused, with a "culture of honor"4 mindset). Most teachers and administrators, tend to reflect BLUE, ORANGE, and GREEN Value Systems. Such encounters are bound to result in conflict, especially when the more tradition-focused groups tend to not understand where the administrators or teachers are coming from and feel that they are not sensitive to the cultural expressions and values of the group. The result is that everyone sees RED as subtle or open conflict breaks out, and parents decide to remove their kids or pus for reform. What Spiral Dynamics enables us to do is to get below the surface of human action and reaction to understand the migrating memetic tectonic plates of Value Systems beneath from which spews up the hot rhetoric of human conflict. Understanding where people are coming from and why is of greater value to conflict resolution than what they simply say or do. A grasp of Spiral Dynamics also enables teachers to recognize the diversity of learning styles and thus the different approaches to teaching (see table)5. Depending on their operative Value System different students respond to learning in different ways, and the "spiral educator" will recognize this and employ different methods of instruction suitable to the different learning styles at the level of existence of the student.

EDUCATION and vMEMEs

CORE vMEMEs LEARNING STYLES TEACHING STYLES
PURPLE
Level 2
CLASSICAL
(imitation)
REASSURANCE
(repetition; insure safety;
honor customs & myths)
RED
Level 3
CONDITIONED
(operant, through
reinforcements)
REINFORCEMENT
(empower individuals;
tough love' rewards)
BLUE
Level 4
AVOIDANT
(so as to not be punished)
AUTHORITARIAN
(impose order & discipline;
punish mistakes fairly)
ORANGE
Level 5
EXPECTANCY
(to succeed in objectives)
EXPERIMENTAL
(build autonomy; use trial
and error; competitive)
GREEN
Level 6
OBSERVATIONAL
(watch, feel, and learn)
AFFILIATIVE
(facilitate acceptance;
foster belonging)
YELLOW
Level 7
INFORMATIONAL
(freedom to be & discover)
INTEGRATIVE
(access knowledge bases;
seek connections; diverse)
TURQUOISE
Level 8
EXPERIENTIAL
(participate with senses)
HOLISTIC
(guide to become more complex; open doors)
The Spiral Educator understands three things: (1) there is no single right way to teach; (2) there is no universal best way to learn; and (3) the ideal classroom is possible. The Flatland Educator, however, believes there is only "one right way" . . . their way.

Take also the burning issue of racism in schools and the need for diversity training, which spews out more social lava than perhaps any other single factor. Because of the superficial, light-weight approaches often used in such training and education, focused on surface differences of skin color, ethnic origins, and cultural preferences rather than on the deep-level Value Systems within people and organizations, long-lasting change is not taking place. This is not to negate that these differences may not impact negatively one's life conditions, for more often then not they do. The point, however, is that focusing on them does little to resolve group conflicts. Of greater importance are Value Systems and ways of thinking from which emerge choices that impact what happens at the surface level of human interactions. A Spiral Dynamics (SD) approach does not just focus on diversity issues, but seeks to do systems alignment, since diversity problems do not happen in some vacuum, but are symptoms of other problems, namely the whole system being out of balance. Rather than putting different perspectives or worldviews into conflict, SD provides a scaffolding for aligning systems along an evolving spiral of human development that pulls from an organization's vision, values, and mission statements. Rather than promoting ethnic, racial, class levels that stress differences, SD offers a way of dealing with the deeper Value Systems that create and sustain these conflicting identities, artificial boundaries, and development gaps in the curriculum. SD does not replace traditional diversity training, it simply goes beyond it to the next level of bringing about change.

What this new approach to education enables us to understand is that human diversity at the deep levels of cultural Value Systems and thinking systems may be the greatest, most empowering, diversity of all, for these determine how people think, not just what they say, value, or do. It exposes how thinking systems and the choices they lead people to make often result in different socioeconomic outcomes between groups. The key question for educators is: "What kind of thinking prompted that kind of behavior?" not just the behavior itself. The first approach gets to the root cause, the latter only addresses surface matters. Our struggle is not with human types, but with the memes within us that are at war. Since memes are deep decision systems in people, not types of people, they transcend race, gender, age, class, culture, societies, and time periods.

Value Systems and Listening to the Other's Worldview:

While each of these levels or vMEME system has an Entering, Peak, and Exiting phase, at the peak of the hypothetical curve each has a unique view of the world. However, since people are only able to understand up-to those systems which have become operational in their life, anything at a level higher than their own, they will reinterpret so that it comes out the way their system of thinking understands it. This is because as Graves declared, "A person who is centralized at a lower level cannot even understand people who are at a higher level." "Higher" does not necessarily mean "superior," but "appropriate" to the milieu or Life Conditions of the person or group.

Thus, at each level a person can be at an Open state (one Value System dominates yet is open to any information that may enter the perceptual field of the individual); Arrested state (only information up-to the Value System that is currently operating will be accepted into the perceptual field of the individual, information that is from any later Value System will not be accepted); Closed state (no information will be accepted that does not conform to the current Value Systems. Generally only one Value System is operating). And, as Bill Lee, former student of Dr. Clare W. Graves, describes, at the "closed state," each Value System manifests a different attitude and behavior in listening to the other and in respecting the other's worldview.

BEIGE and PURPLE value members of their own group. They live in a world of fear of strangers-of others who are different. They have no reason to listen to or to accept the experiences of any human being outside their own group-people who are different. PURPLE is a communal-collective system where listening to others within the system may be important, but not outsiders who are different. . . and for these two system almost anyone is an outsider. Parents with this operational value systems tend to be opposed to students not of their race or ethnicity coming to their school. "They will lower the standard and quality of education" is their creed.

RED trusts no one but themselves. They are reluctant to listen to the signals from any source except from within themselves. They don't even begin to value the experiences of others and have no desire to listen or to accept what others have to say-unless it can increase their own power over others and/or enable them to survive in the had/have/have-not world in which they live. RED is an individual-elitist system where self is primary-at the expense of others. This is often the level where many students finds themselves, especially those that come from dysfunctional (read "closed") families at RED (egocentric and exploitative with no boundaries). What these students need is tough love (BLUE responsibility, respect for authority, and order), with immediate consequences and sanctions. Make no threats, only promises.

BLUE has a need to listen only to the right authority. Absolutistic thinking does not tolerate viewpoints other than those of the right authority. The worldviews of others that are different from the worldviews of BLUE are, at the most, tolerated . . . but not accepted-even for the others. When you already have the "truth" it is a waste of time to listen to another's "truth." BLUE is a communal-collective system in which there is only listening to and acceptance of those of the same "ism." This is often the case of administrators, teachers, and staff who operate with a "flatland" perspective-one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone gets treated the same, no exceptions. Unfortunately, children do not come out of cookie-cutter environments, nor do they live in such a world, nor are all minds the same. The results of such an approach can be nothing short of disaster.

ORANGE may listen to others but primarily to gain any kind of information that will enable ORANGE to better manipulate the others in the "real" world of competition. ORANGE is Machiavellian. Machiavellians use their rational-calculating minds to manipulate, to win over others . . . and they know that this cannot happen if they become involved with caring about others, allowing themselves to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others, to actually accept the worldviews of others. StriveDrive means to be driven to succeed-if necessary-over others. ORANGE knows that to become a caring person showing emotions is a waste of time . . . and time is money. ORANGE is an individual-elitist system where self is primary-not others. Faculty, administrators, parents, and students at this level are only concerned with themselves, and what is in their best interest. Image is indeed everything, as well as status. "We mu7st uphold academic standards."

GREEN is the first system which begins to accept others. One of the most important needs which GREEN has is to know the inner world of others and to share their own inner world with others. GREEN must be successful in interpersonal relationships. To do so means that authenticity, congruence, honesty and trust must exist for self and others. Between individuals or within the group GREEN listens deeply to the experiences of others-to their worldviews. GREEN listens deeply to others because this is how the system operates. But even in this system there is only the beginning efforts to accept the worldviews of another. GREEN can accept the worldview of another as long as that worldview produces behavior which is acceptable within the group community. In this communal-collective system others are primary but the others must accept the worldview that is the consensus of the community. Even a general definition of Empathy is inadequate. Empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experience of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another person. It is one thing to be deeply empathetic; to know and to appreciate the thoughts and feelings of another . . . but it is an entirely different matter to accept those thoughts and feelings as right and good for the other person. This is why "political correctness" is such an issue for GREEN. Here the concern is with equity and everyone being treated the same. It therefore strongly conflicts with closed BLUE. While closed BLUE is often self-righteousness from the right, closed GREEN is self-righteousness from the left.

From a quick examination of these first six Value Systems, it is easy to see where much of the conflict in our schools is to be found. When systems clash, everyone sees RED! The solution to these conflicting worldviews does not come from these six "subsistence" levels, the First Tier, but from the next systems or levels that are now beginning to emerge in the world and among some educators in our schools. These are levels at the Second Tier, the "being" systems, levels 7 and 8. YELLOW is the first system to listen to and to accept another human being's worldview simply because the other human being's worldview is important to the other human being. This constitutes a major shift in the way human beings interact with each other-a valuing of the other in a manner that we have not historically seen. YELLOW is not frustrated with ambiguity and can actually enjoy ambiguity. YELLOW is an individual-elitist system and it is the beginning system of the 2nd Tier. YELLOW is the first system as Dr. Clare Graves has stated that not only values self but it also values others. YELLOW listens to others because what the other is expressing is important to the other, not because there may be a power gain for self (RED) or because one must be kind to others even though there is no intention of accepting what the other is expressing (BLUE) or to enable self to win over others (ORANGE) or in order to determine whether or not the other is acceptable in the group community (GREEN). YELLOW values being. And as Clare often said; "Dam it, a person has a right to be." YELLOW also flattens the organizational pyramid to eliminate redundant levels in order to share power and decision-making with those who are closest to the problems. The result is ownership at all levels because the focus is on competency and on who can best do the job irrespective of who they are, either by gender, age, race, ethnicity, or class.

The worldview of TURQUOISE is still in development, but its focus is on the "global village" and the interconnectedness of all lifeforms.

Drawing Outside the Lines:

As we head into the 21st century, it is becoming more and more plain that our school systems are in desperate need of teachers and leaders that know how to "draw outside the lines"-move outside their narrow frames of operation. What does this mean to "draw outside the lines?" It means that the solutions to the current problems our schools are experiencing cannot come from the same level of existence and operation where the problem is located. It means that the same way of thinking that created the problems we are experiencing cannot be the same thinking that solves those problems. Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Flatland thinking is out, Flowstate thinking is in-thinking that understands the flow-currents of diverse Value Systems and awakens in others this understanding of systems change. The solution must come from above, from the next level of development. This is because the present mode of thinking, worldview or coping system is too narrow or closed and cannot address the challenges posed by emerging problems of existence and social change. Albert Einstein recognized this dilemma and declared, "The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level as they were created." This raises a question of leadership. In light of these Value Systems reflective of different levels of existence in our schools, in the community, and in society, what kind of teachers, administrators, leaders per se will schools need for the next millennium? What we don't need are "flatlanders" who approaches life and decision-making with a one-dimensional mindset and practice. We also do not want teachers/leaders who are "closed"-ones who operates only on the basis of one Value System and are unable or unwilling to explore options other than those that conform to their own. The world has seen far too many leaders (read "tyrants") operate at this level.

What we need are persons at YELLOW-"Spiral Teachers," "Spiral Leaders." A Spiral Leader is a person who is able to see the whole spiral of human differences and knows how to speak the "psychological languages" of people at their respective levels of existence. She is a visionary, inclusive, and competence-oriented person, who understands the "natural flows" of human development. He enables people to see the next steps of human growth they need to take, while keeping the well-being of the whole, the school system, in mind. But as was said earlier, this is a level of leadership rarely seen in history. Yet, it is the only style of leadership best suited to confront the challenges of the 21st century.

As we head into the 21st century, it is dawning on many thought leaders that there is no single future for America or for America's schools, just as there is no single level of existence at which all of humanity is located. Thus, what lies before us is a situation of multiple futures or realities rather than just one, depending on the operative Value Systems. Failure to grasp this vision of futures will result in a recycling of old problems and an implementing of trite and tired solutions. Only "spiral educators" will have this understanding of multiple systems and how to address their respective needs. Welcome to the future, America!

_______________________________________________________________________

1 Abraham Maslow. 1954. Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper; Erikson, E. H. 1950. Childhood and Society. New York: W. W. Norton; Kohlberg, Lawrence. 1984. The Psychology of Moral Development: Essays on Moral Development, Vol. 2. San Francisco: Harper & Row; Rogers, Carl. 1951. Client-Centered Therapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin; Loevinger, Jane. 1976. Ego Development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; Fowler, James W. 1995 [1981]. Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. San Francisco: Harper Collins; Csikszentmihalyi, Mihalyi. 1990. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row.

2 Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi. 1993. The Evolving Self. (New York: HarperCollins), p. 235.

3 See Clare W. Graves. 1974. "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap." The Futurist, April, p. 72; and Don E. Beck and Christopher C. Cowan. 1996. Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.

4 For an understanding of "cultures of honor," see the research of Dov Cohen, "Culture, Social Organization, and Patterns of Violence." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1998, Vol. No 2.408-419, as well as his manner other published works.

5Table is by Don E. Beck and Christopher C. Cowan, used with permission.

6 E-mail from Bill Lee to Caleb Rosado, November 2, 1998, explaining the various levels and their views of the other.

Department of Urban Studies
Eastern University
Philadelphia, PA

an EdChange project
© Paul C. Gorski, 1995-2017