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A Means for Self-Actualization

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2005 02:52 pm
Long ago I saw a cartoon showing a bug-eyed, long necked chick standing beside a large eggshell and the chick shouting "Whoa! Paradigm Shift".

It appears to me that the fundamental problem faced by most Western democracies is a lack of intellectual sophistication of the total population. Our colleges and universities have prepared young people to become good producers and consumers. The college graduate has a large specialized database that allows that individual to quickly enter the corporate world as a useful cog in the machine. The results display themselves in our thriving high standard of living, high technology corporate driven life styles.

We are excellent at instrumental rationality and deficient at developing the rationality and understanding required for avoiding self-destruction. It seems to me that our societies are not prepared intellectually for the demanding task ahead. The only solution seems to be a change that will significantly increase the intellectual sophistication of the society as a whole. We need a rising tide of intellectual sophistication.

I propose a paradigm shift in our attitude toward education. We must start thinking of the graduation from college as the end of schooling but the beginning of self-actualizing learning.

I would like to introduce a concept that perhaps many have not given consideration. I would like to introduce post-schooling scholarship.

I think we have placed scholarship on a too lofty pedestal and in doing so we have placed it beyond reach or consideration. I want to suggest that middle class scholarship is something that we all should consider as a friend to be embraced as our own.

It appears to me that we give this description, scholar, to the young student in an aristocratic English Academy and to the pipe smoking, dressed in tweeds, English professor or American equivalent.

The development of an economic middle class is the hallmark of success in any mature nation. I think it is possible that the development of a scholarly middle class If our middle class citizens are to learn how to think they must learn that on their own time.

I think that when Socrates extolled his listeners that the "unexamined life is not worth living" he was telling us that self-actualized learning is a necessary condition for an enlightened understanding of reality. Schooling may make us employable; it will seldom make us an enlightened citizen.

Post-schooling scholarship is a meme that I think we would all profit from if it becomes an intellectual virus infecting our total population.

Chuck
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goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2005 07:44 pm
Chuck - don't take this the wrong way, it's not meant to be a criticism - but I assume you have a good job and are financially secure. That being so it means that you are free to self-actualise through learning. I recognise that because I was in a very similar situation. I was in a very good job and earning well and decided to go to university as an adult student. I was hooked into the "self-actualisation through learning" idea and I still ascribe to it. I also got hooked into the idea that people should learn for its own sake and not merely treat it as a form of utility. As an adult educator (among other things) I certainly subscribe to the idea of lifelong learning. But I also now understand that learning is a very utilitarian act. A kid coming out of school or higher education is going to need a job and they see their education as a means of getting that job. Later they will develop a taste for learning for its own sake. Hopefully.

One of my basic values is an appreciation of the idea that every individual should be assisted to self-actualise, by whatever (lawful) means. Some will do it through higher learning, some will do it by being a great bowler. I'm happy just to see people achieve.
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yardsale
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2005 08:50 pm
Good topic

Quote:
Some will do it through higher learning, some will do it by being a great bowler. I'm happy just to see people achieve.


I agree with that goodfielder, but I do see where Chuck is coming from. I do not agree with a DNA test that predetermines a persons intellectual path because a person potential can increase as they learn new things and etc.

This would never float though! Government depends on, and religion thrive on, the uninformed/unenlightened. If everyone where enlightened then religion and governemnt would potentially suffer. Presidents would have a tougher time getting the masses to support a war campaign. Opposition to the government could increase and in order for a government to function smoothly it must have support by the people. Religious groups could have a tougher time getting new converts, as a result.

Quote:
the fact that our educational system is designed to teach us what to think and not how to think.


This seems to be the case as far as I am concerned, but I doubt that it could be corrected.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2005 08:58 pm
A 3 year old can become self-actualized the day they learn to use a toilet. A 5 year old can become self-actualized by learning how to ride a bicycle.

The point being that you don't learn to become self actualized - it's something that happens (thousands of times during the average life span for most of us) but you can't establish some codified process that will get you there. Establishing a process would probably have the effect of preventing most people from becoming self-actualized.
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yardsale
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Oct, 2005 11:06 pm
Quote:
Establishing a process would probably have the effect of preventing most people from becoming self-actualized.

Good point!

Although, I am not leaning toward the idea that S-A is a random process or happens multiple times in a day and etc. The latter is definitely a possibility (not to discredit it).


Quote:
The individual creates her or his own learning in a process of developing a Self-Actualizing person based upon individual intellectual DNA.


I am not sure if we could individualize the DNA analysis enough to create a program that would actually lead to a person's S-A. Potentially, S-A could be achieved through a random set of events that could not be predetermined. Oh! Of course, genetic determinism is embedded in this whole proposal. I see! I am not sure about the validity of determinism; that is a whole other can of worms
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 06:49 am
Goodfielder

I agree completely. I am a retired engineer with time on my hands. I raised five children and certainly understand the strains of family and job obligation.

I recommend expending time and effort in self-actualized learning only when family and job permit. I really began to put time into this effort after mid-life. I think that at mid-life people begin to seek many things that were not available when the demands of family and job were very pressing. However, I think that a part time hobby of intellectual enquiry is possible and useful when younger as the opportunity presents itself. I call myself a September Scholar because I started this as a strong hobby after mid-life.

Chuck
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 06:51 am
Goodfielder

I left this section off my reply

I do however take exception to your note "that learning is a very utilitarian act." I think that learning has both an instrumental and an intrinsic value. Our society, which is so focused upon maximizing production and consumption, has successfully commodified education to the extent that we have lost the understanding that learning has an intrinsic value. I think that Socrates' admonition to examine life is an admonition to find and cultivate the intrinsic value of understanding.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 06:53 am
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 06:56 am
Fishin

I am using a phrase "Self-Actualization" first coined by Maslow in his analysis of the "Hierarchy of Needs" see the thread "Self-Actualization" posted on this forum.

The pinnacle of needs Maslow labeled S-A (Self-Actualization). In "The Farther Reaches of Human Nature" 1971, Maslow speaks of these needs and he apparently (as far as I know) introduced this new concept S-A as in "mid-stream rather than ready for formulation into a final version".

Maslow said "The people I selected for my investigation were older people…When you select out for careful study very fine and healthy people…you are asking how tall can people grow, what can a human being become?"

I found on the Internet the following information regarding this matter:
"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization ... It refers to man's
desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming…"

Maslow says there are two processes necessary for self-actualization: self-exploration and action. The deeper the self-exploration the closer one comes to self-actualization.

Chuck
0 Replies
 
flushd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 07:35 am
Good topic.

Actually, it got my adrenaline going. I'd like to add my piece here.
I'm 26 and I have no (formal) secondary education. In high school I was an achiever: fantastic grades, an athlete, extra-curricullar etc. I learned right there....there is no special value in 'higher learning' except as a social instrument. There is no 'measurement' for learning except a personal one: and soceity does not support individual learning.

The message I got seemed really simple.
More school = More money = More things = More acceptance

So, I was at a cross-roads: Be in debt years into the future(poor family) and go to uni w/ my scholarship; or work and help the family while saving for myself. I chose work.
Work: most places are non-challenging and reserved for uni students and grads. Or they require experience.

For 8 years I have been working jobs and creating my own jobs. I have found some very good jobs which I have put and gained a lot from. I have never made A LOT of money, but I make enough to live like a queen! I could even be "rich" in the common eye if I so chose! Materially, I am filthy rich. Look at me: I have a computer, a refridgerator, beautiful place to live, animals, luxury food clothes...you get the idea. Still, I would be considered "close to poverty line". Yet: I have what many others don't at my age....Time that is my own! No debts! Connection to community and an appreciation for my health.

I chose this because I wanted my time to be my own, and my life to be my own. The bank does not own my soul re: debts and loan payments. My 'career' does not own my soul: if I get fired I'll be fine. It is difficult carving a life out that goes against 'the system'/the norm. But independent study and exploration is a priority for me.

People should start taking a clue and looking at the rates of depression, suicide, broken marriages etc. 'One way' isn't working and it's making people sick. Questioning is good, learning is good, and doing things your own way is good.
We can all choose this at any time!

I think there are a lot of people my age and all over the spectrum who struggle with this. My age group in particular: You either were in university or you are carving out a niche on your own. The whole storyline was there from the beginning.

I apologize for writing so much and/or straying completely off-tangeant!!
You sparked something.

I will return later and reply to your original post properly.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 08:28 am
Flushed

I must say that you are an excellent writer. You write clearly and cogently. You display the wisdom of a much older person--in fact I cannot remember many older persons with such insight.

Thanks for your reply and good luck.

Chuck
0 Replies
 
yardsale
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 08:50 am
Quote:
The beautiful aspect of my proposal is that "we can have our cake and eat it". We can keep our present educational system and we add to it an extension of adults through self-actuated learning adding a sophisticated intellectual community capable of adding what is needed.


So the idea would be more similar to adding "interdisciplinary" S-A focused curriculum to a students major, concentration, or etc. That makes sense, and could potentially work! I guess the key would be getting legislation passed to make it mandatory for all edu institutions to integrate such a program.

The only thing that concerns me now is the whole S-A theory itself. I am not sure if we have done a sufficient number of case studies to further validate it, or any to that note. I think that we would first have to completely validate the S-A process in order to get the intellectual community to except it! Acceptance in the public sentiment is key!
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 12:26 pm
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yardsale
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Oct, 2005 02:04 pm
Oh! My bad! I thought that we were about to step off into something deep! Embarrassed

Of course the September Scholar is a great idea, but I think that the educational system should be arranged in such a manner as to foster SA earlier in life (not to take away from the Sep Scholar). I guess that the SS idea could be the first step in a broader SA effort. :wink:

Cheers!
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 03:06 pm
coberst wrote:
Fishin

I am using a phrase "Self-Actualization" first coined by Maslow in his analysis of the "Hierarchy of Needs" see the thread "Self-Actualization" posted on this forum.


I'm famaliar with where the term comes from. I taught a course on Maslow for 3 semesters.

Quote:
I found on the Internet the following information regarding this matter:
"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization ... It refers to man's
desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming…"

Maslow says there are two processes necessary for self-actualization: self-exploration and action. The deeper the self-exploration the closer one comes to self-actualization.


Maslow is often misinterpreted too. Take that musician for example - Are they self-actualized in all they do simply because they spend 6 hours a day making music? Do they remain self-actualized if they stop making music? Maslow would argue that both would be highly unlikely.

Maslow often spoke and/or wrote of self-actualization as being "peak experiences" and he fully recognized that no person can maintain "peak" for extended periods of time. Being self-actualized and dropping from that state can happen in a matter of minutes or the process can play out over an fair period of time but it isn't something one can achieve and maintain for the rest of their life.
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goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 09:40 pm
In another thread (about books we're reading at the moment) I mentioned I'm reading Richard Hoggart's "The Uses of Literacy". Wanting to know a bit more about Hoggart other than this book I google him (I love the ability to read a book by an author and then find out all about them and their other work). Happily I found heaps of material on him and to realise his work is very extensive.

Now to my point. I found a lecture by him given at the 50th anniversary of the University of Glasgow's Department of Adult and Continuing Education (as it happens it was given four years ago to the day as I write this...)

Here it is:

Richard Hoggart.

It's entitled "Adult Education: The legacy and the future." I admit my enthusiasm for adult education may cause me to be somewhat uncritically appreciative of what Hoggart is saying here but it may be of interest to those who are following this thread. I was particulary interested in Hoggart's views of those working class people who sought out adult education and those who sought to teach them.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Oct, 2005 04:35 am
There's so much wool on this thread you could knit a battalion of soldiers two pairs of socks apiece and have enough left over to provide the NCOs with itchy long-johns.

Assertions are posited on other assertions.All expert testimony brought in for support is being read the way it helps best to be read.

The one useful thing in it all is this-"Establishing a process would probably have the effect of preventing most people from becoming self-actualized."(From fishin'.)

I would cut out the "probably" though because I'm not as nice a person as fishin'.

The thread proper begins with this-

"It appears to me that the fundamental problem faced by most Western democracies is a lack of intellectual sophistication of the total population."

How much wool is that?Apparitions are all very well but they do tend to be fleeting ephemeral things and to sweep one's arm across "most" Western democracies on the basis of them is a bit of a liberty to say the least.And that is putting it as politely as I can manage.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Oct, 2005 05:33 am
Spendius

Perhaps my opinion and your opinion are of equal value. In my opinion my opinion is more weighty than yours. Knit a sock out of that.

Chuck
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Oct, 2005 05:46 am
Well-light opinions skip merrily across the meadows and float down the mountain steams whereas heavy opinions sink to the bottom and are soon forgotten.I'd rather be a bobbing cork than a Titanic.

No,seriously cobber,are you going to defend that statement of yours I quoted.There's enough mileage in that for now.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Oct, 2005 07:35 am
Spendius

I have no idea how to defend my statement than to say it is a conclusion based on personal observation. I suspect that I cannot defend it as being true nor can anyone else defend its falsity. I consider such statements to be incosequential enough to be considered as 'boilerplate'.

I will however attempt to defend those other statements I made that are of a more substantial nature.

Chuck
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