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age, accountability, and aspirations
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xcriteria Offline
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age, accountability, and aspirations

(Quotes extracted from the GPS tracking thread...)

Doc Johnson Wrote:Yeah, I know, off topic. But it's a little weird being on the board here, being an old man (36), a teacher, and it makes me a little nervous. I'm the freak here, if you follow me. I mean, I guess I'm The Man, if by being a teacher that makes me so. Hard to explain, but I imagine someone out there gets what I mean.
I kind of feel the same way, even though I'm "only" 25. (At least I haven't ended up in an institutional teaching position yet. Smile)

At the same time, I also feel that my participation makes sense, because I can relate to these school issues both in terms of my past and my present, and in terms of what I want to do with my life. I identify with being a learner in search of better methods with which to learn, despite a society that doesn't provide much support for that, for people of any age. This is essentially the same standpoint I've had for as long as I can remember.

Doc Johnson Wrote:I'm here, because I'm an advocate for students...
I'm here both as an advocate for students, and as a student myself. Even though I'm in college (by choice) and it's better than earlier years, some of the same themes of difficulty in self-determination, things moving too slow, etc. still make the situation a struggle (of the not-helpful variety).
I want to help people to learn (I prefer that phrase to "teaching"); but I simply can't see myself working in the sort of organizational structure people usually "teach" in. So I'm trying to figure out what options there are, that can allow me to make a substiantial improvement in some people's lives while earning an income -- without a typical institutional job. Not an easy task, but I think it's possible, due to how much demand there is for alternatives from a certain percentage of the "customers," the students.

Doc Johnson Wrote:I study how the standards-based reform stuff we currently have going in the U.S. is fucked up. Even worse, I think it justifies fucking over anyone who doesn't follow orders well...
Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I think that the standards movement has some positive aspects (mostly unrealized). The pressure is based on a genuine recognition of the failure of the schools to meet everyone's needs. The desire to "leave no child behind" is a fine starting point, and some accountability can help achieve that. However, the accountability/standards used are SCHOOL-BASED rather than individually based. Schools are accountable, collectively (statistically) to national standards on standardized achievement tests. But shouldn't there be accountability TO THE STUDENTS, individually? While students ought to have equal rights, it must be recognized that they have different needs, preferences, and desires.

The part of the recent education reform laws that especially has me thinking is the provisions for students with "special needs" in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA'97). Even though its basic use is for people with disabilities, that component of federal educational policy includes a requirement that students with special needs have an Individualized Education Plan, in which even students are supposed to have a role in crafting.

In fact, according to kidshealth.org, "Children with delayed skills or skills advanced for their age level may be eligible for special services that can provide individualized instruction and programs in public schools, free of charge to your family." and, "...children who have advanced skills, either overall or in one specific area of learning such as math or reading, may need an enriched education curriculum so they don't become bored."

I'm going to look into this in more detail, as this method -- backed up by federal law if the needs can be effectively documented -- may be a viable way for some students to exert input on their schooling.

Comments?

--Brendan

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10-25-2005 05:58 PM
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xcriteria Wrote:Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I think that the standards movement has some positive aspects (mostly unrealized). The pressure is based on a genuine recognition of the failure of the schools to meet everyone's needs. The desire to "leave no child behind" is a fine starting point, and some accountability can help achieve that. However, the accountability/standards used are SCHOOL-BASED rather than individually based. Schools are accountable, collectively (statistically) to national standards on standardized achievement tests. But shouldn't there be accountability TO THE STUDENTS, individually?

I think it's *possible* that standards-based reform might result in some good. However, the framers of the policy have given themselves a closed circle, rhetorically. Standards, assessment, and accountability are always already defined in terms of each other, so there really is no "outside" of the policy in logical terms. Any departure from reliance on collective measurement to assess "health" of schools undermines the public relations aspect of the policy. Parents, more or less, and younger teachers have been trained over the last fifteen years to believe in the numbers rather than to believe their lyin' eyes.

I spent about four years teaching a graduate course on public education refrom to public school teachers with anything from one to twenty-two years of experience in schools in Kentucky. From what they had to say, the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), NCLB, and other policies include language about individual education plans, and that could be a good thing. However, *could be* does not mean *is*. Here are some of the reasons they gave:

1. Each school's AYP determines what counts as progress, not each student's IEP. Principals, by and large, are held accountable for meeting AYP. There are no incentives in the system for helping out individual children. In fact, "problem" children often are shunted into Special Education to avoid being counted in the same way as "regular" kids. However, there is not really much incentive to do the work to establish and follow up on deveoping IEP for those kids. They get ignored until they become somebody else's problem, particularly if they are borderline cases (see below, #4). Some are encouraged in various ways to get GED, to drop out, or whatever.

2. There isn't enough funding for Special Education, or for NCLB overall. In fact, since being signed into law, it has not *ever* been fully funded.

3. Even with full funding, there is a shortage of Special Ed. teachers. On top of that, those teachers tend to have the hardest jobs, with the longest hours, they have the kids with the most useless parents, and so on. They get to deal with the damage cases, and this often leads to their being called upon to do a lot of social work for which they: are not qualified, are not compensated, do not have the time. They burn out at a rate approaching that of other social workers. They do not feel supported, often times, by their administrators. School administrators are rewarded for average performance, not individual performance. Getting rid of the "zeroes" raises the school averages. Even if teachers want to help, their ability to do so requires having administrators with the balls to buck the system. This is exceedingly rare. It also tends to result in the brutal weeding out of such administrators because they don't tend to meet AYP.

4. Schools often do their best to avoid assigning IEP for marginal students and students who are close to moving on to a new school. My friend's daughter, Renee, for example, is a good kid, smart, but kind of clueless. She's had a lot of problems in school. Her parents have been lobbying her school for three years to get an IEP. They don't want to, because then her "inadequacies" will count against their overall numbers. They "promised" to pass along a recommendation that she get an IEP at the high school level, but without a paper trail saying that she needed one, how exactly would that be justified. Basically they've been getting blown off. She's already repeated eighth grade, after they more or less shamed the admin into letting that happen, but she still hasn't been given an IEP because now, because she's been held back, she's doing just fine. Hence, no problem. Hence, no IEP. It's a con job, at best.

Listen, I could add a lot more to this list, but there's an easy way to say it: The game is rigged. It's rigged in a way that makes it easy to blame schools, teachers and students for the fucked up ways in which some kids are forced to grow up (poverty and abuse, mostly). It's rigged to blame kids and teachers for the boredom with school that is virtually assured by the fact that children are denied the means of production of their own knowledge (without autonomy there is not curiosity; without curiosity there is no interest). It's rigged in a way that makes sure that teachers teach in such a fashion that students, especially "at-risk" students, are both more likely to fail and easier to blame for their "failure." The best predictor of success in most cases is the level of "success" of your parents. Priviledged kids get good schools, good teachers, better funding, safer schools, etc. Kids who are not priviledged get less of these things. In addition, less priviledged kids are in a position to be blamed more directly for their failure under these adverse conditions. After all, since everone is treated the same under the policy, then individual outcomes are justified even if the game is rigged.

And all of this doesn't even begin to answer the questions about why we go to school in the first place, or why one would want to learn something, or what it really means to be happy, or... you get the picture.

If you'd like to see a little bit more of my reasoning in this regard, I'd be happy to share it with you or anyone else who'd like to see it (roughly 400 pages of it). It's a thrillilng tale of my encounters with school, with the Marine Corps, and with kung fu. Just email me at edgardjohnsoniii@knology.net and I'll send it to you by chapters.

Hope this is illuminating.Mad

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10-26-2005 02:00 AM
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Look, I'm not trying to defend the policy. I'm familiar with these problems, and collectively it is nightmarish. I have plenty of cynicism, but I'm trying to consider what can be done, especially in the case of individual students (or ex-students) who totally clash with the system and yet have some initiative to improve their situation. And I'm trying to figure out what kind of job I can do, when the entire system is so unworkable, both from the teacher and student perspectives.

Funding is a major issue, both outside the context of publically funded schools and within them. But what can be done about this? This is something that needs attention, and as I see it, starting in some individual cases rather than the system as a whole.

I think the role of special education teachers needs to be done totally differently for many students. In fact, this position ought to be closer to a psychologist, particularly because of the pervaseveness of the problems you mention. At a minimum, this sort of thing desperately needs consideration.

In my experience, nobody I've worked with has had the right combination (or much of any) of functioning as a teacher who is sensitive to my individual strengths and weaknesses, as a psychologist/psychiatrist who can deal with the psychological and neurological aspects of my functioning, and as some kind of strategist who can help me find adaptive ways to functionin the world (jobs, etc.) that are a good fit for my individual traits and interests.

I think this sort of role would have been, and still would be, very helpful for me -- and at least some other people. As it is, I'm attempting to do this on my own for myself first, with the goal of adapting some of the methods I develop to be applicable to others as well.

The thing is, how would such a position be funded? It barely intersects existing jobs in either (mostly publically-funded) education or (mostly insurance-funded or unfunded) mental health services. One way of looking at it is that a new business model is needed.

BTW, the issue of privilege could be analyzed and debated at length, but as an example, my family is not impoverished (though not rich) and my parents have advanced degrees and my dad is a professor. But this didn't help me at all in terms of recognition or doing anything substantive about my problems with school. (In fact, it aggravated the problem in that they were so invested in the idea that school is absolute.)

At least they agreed to my GED+college plan, but that doesn't make up for the years before I dropped out. And now, with college, I have some of the same problems and unmet needs, which can't just be solved with money.

The situation is definitely worse when money and other family problems are a factor. Homelessness makes things even worse. But this is not the only problem with schools and "privileged" people aren't automatically without problems. What would be a of great help, as I see it, is an alternative funding system that is based on individual funding -- especially from individuals or other private sources (foundations, companies) rather than the federal government.

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10-26-2005 08:04 AM
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xcriteria, I really didn't think you were defending the policy. The damn frownie face was s'posed to be after the next to last paragraph, about what I was writing, not about what you were writing.

I understand what you mean about the dilemma. I wonder though if such a position is possible. The qualifications would have to be either incredible or there would have to be one of these folks for about half the students in any given school. I also wonder to what extent students would really go for it. "Here, troubled/bored/angry (or whatever) kid, eat this spinach. It's really good for you." That's kind of how I imagine it. I also have found that most clinical types tend to *not* see the kids themselves, but their problems, or more likely their pet solutions to what they perceive those problems to be. I think the answer might be a lot more diverse than that.

Frankly, I think finding the answer to helping kids like that has a lot to do with getting rid of "age appropriate" approaches to schooling. Call it mentoring or apprenticing or whatever. Some of the best learning I did was from being around older people who, while not teachers, would put up with me and I got to see how it was done (whatever "it" was at the time). Frankly, some of those folks were drug dealers and thieves, but good folks nonetheless. Some were bastards. Some were music friends and book friends. Some would buy me beer if I asked them to. None of them, and I think this is the important part, worked particularly hard at trying to make me into something I didn't want to be, or frankly to try to make anything of me at all. They were, whether I noticed it or not, just people I used as examples of what to do (or not). I got to see where I was going and where I didn't want to go. As a matter of fact, I think some of my best teaching moments are related to times that, as a student or just as a person, I fucked things up. Relating that to people, getting them to understand that it's normal, natural, and sometimes enjoyable in a perverse way, that's good shit. It alse helps to share with them the fact that you know you're human, frail and fallible, and capable of continuing on in spite of the fact that you're kind of a fuckup in some ways. Not like "I used to be a fuckup just like you," but more an acknowledgement that you aware of the possibility having gone through some life experiences, good and bad. I think the worst thing is to try to empathize as a part of a job or requirement that you do so. It makes communication harder, because you're trying to professionalize the role of being a decent human being who's trying to understand, or who knows when it's best just to fuck off and leave someone to work it out by themselves.

Do you remember that old Suicidal Tendencies song, "Institutionalized"? The kids says something like, "Just leave me alone, and I'll figure it out. But they just keep buggin' me, and they just keep buggin' me, and it builds up inside..." and so forth.

"Professionals" of various kinds seem to fail at that. Some people don't want guidance, or need a listening ear, or want a hand with their lives. Some do. I think it depends on whether they can trust you to just be you and not try too hard to make *them* be like you as well. A lot of people who feel on the outside of whatever they're a part of may not care to have that fact continuously pointed out, because it's painful. Some may not be a part of it because they think it sucks. And some may be sort of caught in between, with a lot of competing pressures inside and outside of their heads pushing this way and that. "Help" may sound like "fix," which is a reminder of being "broken."

Does this rambling reply make any sense at all? It's like I'm trying to give birth to a beautiful idea and it's not quite... even... pretty. Oh, well, I can't really sing either. Laugh

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10-26-2005 02:35 PM
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Doc Johnson Wrote:xcriteria, I really didn't think you
were defending the policy. The damn frownie face was s'posed to be after the next to last paragraph, about what I was writing, not about what you were writing.
Hehe, okay Smile

Doc Johnson Wrote:I understand what you mean about the dilemma. I wonder though if such a position is possible. The qualifications would have to be either incredible or there would have to be one of these folks for about half the students in any given school. I also wonder to what extent students would really go for it. "Here, troubled/bored/angry (or whatever) kid, eat this spinach. It's really good for you."

That's kind of how I imagine it. I also have found that most clinical types tend to *not* see the kids themselves, but their problems, or more likely their pet solutions to what they perceive those problems to be. I think the answer might be a lot more diverse than that.
Right... the way I imagine this position, it wouldn't be on a per-school basis, but instead students/clients would be able to shop around and select one or more of these people or switch if they want.

Generally, I think one of the biggest problems with schooling is how positions (teachers, psychologists, etc.) get matched to students without any regard to their compatibility or what benefit is likely to come out of the arrangement. As you indicate, that results in aversion and resentment -- especially when such a relationship is pushed or forced onto a kid without their input.

Carl Jung wrote somewhere (I don't remember which of his books) something along the lines of, 'teachers should be careful not to push solutions onto students when in fact they are projecting their own needs (or past needs) onto the students without regard for the students' actual identity and needs.' He thought that a lot of well-intended educational theories suffered from that problem. And that's one of the things that scares me the most about being any kind of teacher or therapist. I think the problem can be dealt with, but it requires genuine understanding and a willingness to recognize when such understanding isn't present.

Doc Johnson Wrote:Frankly, I think finding the answer to helping kids like that has a lot to do with getting rid of "age appropriate" approaches to schooling. Call it mentoring or apprenticing or whatever.
I wholeheartedly agree. Especially for kids who prefer independence and have some initiative, adults serving as commanders who set the total curriculum down to individual assignments just doesn't tend to work. I have this same complaint about college, although to a lesser degree than earlier grade levels.

Students are capable of knowing more than their teachers about things they do independent research on, and I suspect this pattern is more common today when so much is available online for those interested to soak up.

I think adults can provide worthwhile guidance and feedback, but too often that's assumed always to be the case. Instead, the actual benefit of the contribution adults are making should be looked at more closely. Active student feedback and even criticism of adults' approaches is vital, but with the commonly accepted age-power structure that is usually virtually taboo.

Doc Johnson Wrote:Some of the best learning I did was from being around older people who, while not teachers, would put up with me and I got to see how it was done (whatever "it" was at the time)... None of them, and I think this is the important part, worked particularly hard at trying to make me into something I didn't want to be, or frankly to try to make anything of me at all. They were, whether I noticed it or not, just people I used as examples of what to do (or not). I got to see where I was going and where I didn't want to go.

Although I didn't have much of that sort of opportunity, I can understand what you're saying. I think it's bad when one person pushes their plans for someone else onto them, and unfortunately that's often the case between adults and kids (either that, or complete disinterest and neglect). Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I know of many people whose parents pushed them hard to be something specific, and other cases where the parents don't care at all. In my case, I've been fortunate to have parents who didn't have specific plans for me, aside from wanting me to be happy. (Unfortunately, that didn't apply at all to my time in school: "school is your job!", etc.)

Awareness of a range of possible lifestyles, jobs, personalities, relationships, and so on gives people a much better opportunity for self-determination -- to make conscious choices about what they want to be or aim for. This is one of many areas where school is woefully inadequate at helping students prepare for life.

Doc Johnson Wrote:Do you remember that old Suicidal Tendencies song, "Institutionalized"? The kids says something like, "Just leave me alone, and I'll figure it out. But they just keep buggin' me, and they just keep buggin' me, and it builds up inside..." and so forth.
I'm not sure that I'd ever heard Suicidal Tendencies, but I pulled "Institutionalized" from http://www.allofmp3.com. And yeah, sums up a common situation -- and feeling -- very well.

Doc Johnson Wrote:"Professionals" of various kinds seem to fail at that. Some people don't want guidance, or need a listening ear, or want a hand with their lives. Some do. I think it depends on whether they can trust you to just be you and not try too hard to make *them* be like you as well. A lot of people who feel on the outside of whatever they're a part of may not care to have that fact continuously pointed out, because it's painful. Some may not be a part of it because they think it sucks. And some may be sort of caught in between, with a lot of competing pressures inside and outside of their heads pushing this way and that. "Help" may sound like "fix," which is a reminder of being "broken."

Yeah. People who are interested in help may not trust others, especially if others don't seem to understand or would find fault with all sorts of things about them.

Personally, when I was younger I went out of my way to not be noticed by teachers, because I figured it would just draw attention to my dismal performance and trigger some kind of intervention, stupid rules, or some horrid ultimatum. This avoidant strategy worked surprisingly effectively for keeping me from that sort of thing, but the areas where I could have used help/discussion had to be especially concealed with that approach. In retrospect, I see a lot of problems with the avoidant strategy, and I think I could have tried harder to seek out appropriate help -- but that would have had its own difficulties.

Anyway, one aspect of this "help" issue is that for many people, what they want help or guidance with and what others see as their need for help are divergent, which means if either party tries to start the help process, the result tends to be a conflict situation where nobody can get what they want. (Typically, the person wanting help wants just enough so they can deal with the issue on their own, whereas the help provider pushes unsuitable or overbearing solutions.)

Doc Johnson Wrote:Does this rambling reply make any sense at all? It's like I'm trying to give birth to a beautiful idea and it's not quite... even... pretty. Oh, well, I can't really sing either. Laugh
It makes a lot of sense to me, and these are things that should have a lot more discussion and consideration. Unfortunately, the typical institutional structures that exist (school in particular) are presented as the only possible way... as if they are the only way things have ever been or could be.

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10-27-2005 06:20 AM
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Anyone else got any thoughts on this?

xcriteria and I have been having our little thing going on here for a while, and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. Sort of wondering if anybody else has anything to say. Is this shit just boring to you folks, or what?

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10-27-2005 07:49 AM
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Doc Johnson Wrote:xcriteria and I have been having our little thing going on here for a while, and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. Sort of wondering if anybody else has anything to say. Is this shit just boring to you folks, or what?

i was just thinking how it would be great if all of this info could be gathered into an article or something, lots of good discussion here. maybe when it's "finished" Biggrin

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10-27-2005 09:48 AM
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Doc Johnson Wrote:xcriteria and I have been having our little thing going on here for a while, and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. Sort of wondering if anybody else has anything to say. Is this shit just boring to you folks, or what?
Good question...

SoulRiser Wrote:i was just thinking how it would be great if all of this info could be gathered into an article or something, lots of good discussion here. maybe when it's "finished" Biggrin

That's what I was thinking Smile

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10-27-2005 01:06 PM
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Good Idea

That sounds like something that would be easy to do. Interesting perspective crossing too. The rhetorician and the psychologist (? I'm assuming here) in dialogue.

BTW, xcriteria, I see you're on site now. Did you get the stuff I sent you?

Also, BTW, the site is soooo slow tonight. What gives?

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10-27-2005 02:43 PM
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Yikes! So slow I caught up with a post and added to it before it hit the page.

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10-27-2005 02:55 PM
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Doc Johnson Wrote:That sounds like something that would be easy to do. Interesting perspective crossing too. The rhetorician and the psychologist (? I'm assuming here) in dialogue.
Yeah... it'll be interesting to see where it goes.

It sounds sort of strange (or new, anyway) to call myself a psychologist, but psychology is my main focus now (and my major). I guess it's because my interests are so broad that any one label doesn't capture them very well.

My other interests include law, business (particularly innovative/entrepreneurial), and media (even screenwriting). I'm not so far along on those but I'm trying. Smile I hope to take apply what I find out through psychology-related research to those areas, especially in ways that relate to the issues discussed on this site.

It's taken me a long time to sort out what to do with my strange mix of traits, and I'm still working on it. For a few years I did internet software development, and one of my ideas has been to create learning support software of some kind. So who knows where I'll end up.

As for article writing, my biggest problem (once I manage to start writing) will be focusing the content on things that matter. What do people want to read about, or what would be helpful to learn about?

"The reasons why some people are incompatible with school" or something like that is one theme I've been thinking about. If it can be argued persuasively that the typical structure of school is fundamentally out of tune with particular temeraments, and that people who have a problem with that structure aren't just undisciplined, lazy, or delinquent, maybe their viewpoint can carry more weight. The development and communication of this sort of idea may even facilitate the political influence and/or public image of such people. That is especially important because it seems to be so common that people who question school have a hard time finding support in school or at home.

Thoughts?

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10-28-2005 01:45 AM
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I'm not so sure about this. Conceptually, I think there's a lot to be attracted to in the notion of "types" of personalities. I took the test and I'm a "Rational," but that doesn't tell me so much. I'm also a Gemini. I'm also a first child. I'm also a white male. My body type is mesomorphic. I'm heterosexual (mostly). I'm a middle class guy who grew up working class. I'm a veteran. I'm socially libertarian and economically socialist. Pick a category. Which one makes the most difference? Which one can easily be dismissed?

Now, understand, I'm not trying to say there's nothing to it, but it does tend to priviledge what's in your head. But there's also the context you are in (economic, political, cultural, etc.). There's also your ability to grow and develop beyond your initial preferences. It's amazing, for example, how being in front of a class eight times a week has done to give me confidence in dealing with people I don't know. It's amazing how being in the Marine Corps for four years has changed my conception of "I can't do it" thinking.

It also sort of begs the question as to how we become what we become. Also, how to we change, if at all? Nature, nurture, culture, torture, yeah, sure, you betcha. All that stuff, and more. Plus, what about that "monkey stuff" that is a part of it. Sure, we're human, but we also have the lizard and the monkey sitting there underneath. Our blood is awash in hormones that more or less control our moods and sense of our bodies. Am I the same person when I am ill as when I am well?

I don't believe in determinism, biological, psychological, or otherwise. But then again, I do.

Site's working great tonight. Very quick. xcriteria, I noticed you also double posted last night. Slow connection as well?

I got nothin'.
10-28-2005 01:00 PM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Post: #13
 

Doc Johnson Wrote:Also, BTW, the site is soooo slow tonight. What gives?

Cry

yeah the server does that sometimes. going to move to a more stable one as soon as i get that domain Laugh

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10-29-2005 04:11 AM
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xcriteria Wrote:"The reasons why some people are incompatible with school" or something like that is one theme I've been thinking about. If it can be argued persuasively that the typical structure of school is fundamentally out of tune with particular temeraments, and that people who have a problem with that structure aren't just undisciplined, lazy, or delinquent, maybe their viewpoint can carry more weight. The development and communication of this sort of idea may even facilitate the political influence and/or public image of such people. That is especially important because it seems to be so common that people who question school have a hard time finding support in school or at home.

that would be great to shove in front of people who refuse to acknowledge that different people think in different ways Biggrin especially if you could tack on somewhere "written by a psychologist" Cool it's about time someone did something about all these damn misunderstandings!! Biggrin

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10-29-2005 04:22 AM
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Post: #15
 

Doc Johnson Wrote:I'm not so sure about this. Conceptually, I think there's a lot to be attracted to in the notion of "types" of personalities. I took the test and I'm a "Rational," but that doesn't tell me so much. I'm also a Gemini. I'm also a first child. I'm also a white male. My body type is mesomorphic. I'm heterosexual (mostly). I'm a middle class guy who grew up working class. I'm a veteran. I'm socially libertarian and economically socialist. Pick a category. Which one makes the most difference? Which one can easily be dismissed?
I'm not all that big on categories either, but I think dimensional traits can be extremely helpful in understanding people. Not every trait or category has significance for everyone. But some explain a lot for some people.

Basically, these are one means of conceiving aspects of people's identity, what makes them unique or different. One of the biggest problems with school -- and society in general -- is the failure to recognize such differences or aspects of identity. While labelling isn't always helpful, terms are a key way our brain _identifies_ things that exist -- aspects of identity of people or things.

Recognition of distinctive attributes of individuals, and especially of what those can mean for what's appropriate, helpful, or necessary for adaptive functioning (and quality of life) for different people is of great importance in some contexts. The failure to do this allows parents and teachers to say things like "what makes YOU so special as to be treated differently?" This is especially a problem when institutions work in a fixed way, that clashes with the natural modes of some students' functioning -- a situation I argue causes very real problems for those students.

Unfortunately, labels are often used for inapproprite purposes and in inappropriate ways. For example, stereotype-based discrimination, pejorative uses like insults, and even just stereotyping itself are common problems with categories. And cognitively, categories have the potential to obscure the truly significant differences or aspects of people.

Doc Johnson Wrote:Now, understand, I'm not trying to say there's nothing to it, but it does tend to priviledge what's in your head. But there's also the context you are in (economic, political, cultural, etc.). There's also your ability to grow and develop beyond your initial preferences. It's amazing, for example, how being in front of a class eight times a week has done to give me confidence in dealing with people I don't know. It's amazing how being in the Marine Corps for four years has changed my conception of "I can't do it" thinking.
Right, the ability of people to grow and exercise aspects of themselves they didn't even know about is significant. And that ability should be encouraged in people.

People tend to have areas of relative strength (or interest) and weakness (or disinterest). And those areas can be improved. For example, I might be able to improve my "discipline" to get everything done on time or my ability to get to class on time. But these things will always tend to be a struggle for me. And if school is primarily based on pushing me and evaluating me in those areas, while not even giving consideration, let alone appropriate structure, to areas I have temperamental inclination toward, my situation will (and has) tend(ed) to be extremely uncomfortable, unrewarding, and demoralizing. Maybe the most important thing is to give people some choice, rather than pushing things on the basis of categories.

Doc Johnson Wrote:It also sort of begs the question as to how we become what we become. Also, how to we change, if at all? Nature, nurture, culture, torture, yeah, sure, you betcha. All that stuff, and more. Plus, what about that "monkey stuff" that is a part of it. Sure, we're human, but we also have the lizard and the monkey sitting there underneath. Our blood is awash in hormones that more or less control our moods and sense of our bodies. Am I the same person when I am ill as when I am well?
Those are complex questions, but definitely important ones. Smile

People can change a lot over time, and even over short periods of time. But maybe there is a tendency over the long-term for a person to tend back toward certain ways of functioning/feeling after operating in other modes. I suppose, when these alternations build on each other and combine, that's a large part of what psychological/spiritual growth means.

My background in neuroscience compels me to question your comment about hormones. Smile Really, they exert only some influence on psychological functioning, including feelings. Furthermore, there are different levels of feeling, corresponding to the brain regions involved. For example, the amygdala (a brain structure involved in fear, anger, and aspects of many emotions) is present in lizards and monkeys. But while the human brain shares a number of structures with other animals, it is also quite a bit more complex.

And feelings follow from many factors, including gene variants (alleles), past & present experience, etc. Feelings can also be substantially influenced by thoughts and beliefs. (The ability to question and change these is the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Furthermore, I think a quick examimantion of this site will illustrate how being in a situation that fits or doesn't fit with one's temperament/nature/preferences can have a huge impact on feelings -- and not just due to hormones.

Doc Johnson Wrote:I don't believe in determinism, biological, psychological, or otherwise. But then again, I do.
Certainly, the universe operates according to cause and effect. But we have the ability to exert some influence amid all that. The ability of people to (sometimes) change their environment and influence their inner world are ways in which people can engage in self-determination. It helps a lot to learn about the nature of things, as that understanding can be applied to changing or using things for our needs. To some extend, even our own psyches can be dealt with that way. But at the same time, not everything can be changed, and I think aspects of temperament and other aspects of personal identity can be hard or impossible to change. But often they can be built on, and worked with, in more effective ways. People can (and do) get themselves into situations with aspects they prefer. But in many cases, that's hard to do -- such as when one is compelled to go to school, or desirable situations are hard to find. But again, learning (and communications media like the internet) can bring a wider range of options into view.

Doc Johnson Wrote:Site's working great tonight. Very quick. xcriteria, I noticed you also double posted last night. Slow connection as well?
Yeah, site site has been terribly slow for me lately. Maybe a server change would help. Smile

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10-30-2005 02:59 AM
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Post: #16
 

SoulRiser Wrote:that would be great to shove in front of people who refuse to acknowledge that different people think in different ways Biggrin especially if you could tack on somewhere "written by a psychologist" Cool it's about time someone did something about all these damn misunderstandings!! Biggrin
Yeah!

One of the main reasons I'm in school is that the degree(s) might be helpful in that way. For a long time I figured that if I worked out solid ideas, people who cared about them wouldn't care whether I had a degree. But, a degree might help my ideas/writing/views to be taken more seriously by others. So I'm sticking with it while doing most of my actual learning on the side. Smile

And maybe someday, the structure of college can be different at some institutions -- to be more supportive than disruptive to learning/working more independently.

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10-30-2005 03:08 AM
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RE: age, accountability, and aspirations

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RE: age, accountability, and aspirations

And rightly so, it has interesting and thoughtful discussion. We're listening even if were too dumb to comment xcriteria and doc!
04-02-2012 02:30 AM
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