John G Bell
Reflective Practicum 1
Spring '04 - Hormann

Assignment 2 – Self as Reflective Practitioner


Most of the readings and work that I've done at Antioch so far has reflected or confirmed things that I've previously felt to be true about change. Of course, what that means is that I've been able to fit everything within my existing frame and mental models. I have been testing, but not replacing. My previous frame and models still appear to be useful and still have descriptive advantages to other models and frames that I am examining.

One significant realization that occurred during this quarter was that the two essays I was preparing for Communication Design actually fit within a structure that I had used in a 15-minute class presentation on research paper I titled “Concentration, Consolidation and Culture - the dialectic over extracting value from social resources in a political economy.” (Bell, 2004b) For that short presentation, I distilled a ladder of culture to provide a framework for examining the consolidation and concentration of ideas and media which has been one effect of privatizing and marketizing culture. I developed a frame work that put these issue of ideas in a larger context of several elements of culture. The ladder I developed is comprised of time, place, things, culture, ideas and feelings. These form the substrate of shared history in the production of shared history, a symphonic truth, an inclusive and complex truth that recognizes that difference does not imply hierarchy. I'm realizing that this is a useful structure. The structure provides a launching place for the discussion of theatre as dialogue, which I'm developing and I was able to use that ladder as part of a short presentation of my theatre as dialogue papers in class. I have started to think this ladder may also be a structure that links all of the diverse collections of ideas in my Annotated Bibliography project.

This has to do with change because these elements are all tied together. It's not possible to focus on only one of these elements to the exclusion of all others or that change project will likely fail. This doesn't mean that concentration on a particular area or effort isn't worthy, but that a sustainable change effort has to recognize the connections and links to the environment, by which I mean the larger picture in which the change project takes place. Unless these inputs and outputs are taken into account, then sustainability is not likely to be reached.

Balance is a static strategy; Dynamic equilibrium is not the same strategy as balance. In the William Isaacs article, the concept of dialogic leadership is a strategy which takes on the roles of the others. (Isaacs, 1999) This is also reflected in the Thomas-Killman conflict model as the collaborative style. (DRC, 2003) Starhawk represented this with the center position of spider. (Starhawk, 1987) However, in each there's a conflation of the center position, a strategy of static balance, with a dynamic strategy of appropriate, useful tension between balance and imbalance. The strategy of taking on various roles as necessary is different than a strategy that sees each role as important and useful to take on at particular times.

During my mediation training I developed an entire paper that critically examined the Thomas-Killman model in this way. The collaborative style is the dominant world-view within the mediation process, and attempts to bring participants together with that style. Mediation is a process of training participants to become collaborative. Mediation is then a place where personal journeys are being facilitated with societal level change in mind. (Bell & Fenske, 2003a)

Keirsey examined the history of temperaments in relation to the MBTI model and points out that there are historical connections between the two. (Keirsey, 1998) That's not a surprise since MBTI is indebted to the work of Jung for most of its structures and Jung was working within that historical frame, including the alchemical world-view. The alchemical world-view is reflected in Keirsey's examination by the link to the work of Paracelsus. The work of Paracelsus was likely known by Victor Anderson, the person responsible for the Faerie tradition of Wicca from which Starhawk and the Reclaiming tradition comes. These all connect together, but there's important elements, if you will pardon the pun, that these models have not included.

Keirsey points out that Paracelsus talks about the idea of monstrous and infantile versions of the temperaments. In the Faerie or Reclaiming tradition there are gilded and rust versions of the iron pentacle, each pentacle being a relationship, or following Jacobs, a moral syndrome.

In Systems of Survival, Jacobs talks about two moral syndromes, or systems of survival, and makes explicit links to Plato's Republic, but does not do enough to examine the historical past of the work. (Jacobs, 1994) Jacobs fails to recognize the connection to Plato's four roles or the medieval estates or the three social centers that recur within Indo-European culture or the “tripartite ideology,” as recognized by Dumézil. (Maulin, 2004) Jacobs seems to focus on the 2nd and 4th estates, the ruling class and the merchant class, but then conflates the 1st estate, or priestly class, with the 2nd estate in her idea of the Guardian syndrome. To the medieval world-view the estates were not the same, and had very distinct roles to fill. In Indo-European cultures, these divisions into priest, warrior and peasant is reflected in the later development of the estates in medieval society, each with specific moral obligation and duties to perform as part of society. My point is that these are ideas with much broader development and much clearer historical reference than is provided by Jacobs. I had made very similar points in a critique of Ray and Anderson's The Cultural Creatives. (Bell & Fenske, 2003b) The connection to change is that these are models toward a systemic understanding the success and failures of conflict and change.

One very interesting thing for me is the connection between the work I've done on dissent and the idea of change. Linking this to my current studies, dissent itself can interact in any section of the Johari window and thus cannot be measured by conscious awareness of that dissent. Within the Johari window, personal experience that may not be known to be understood or even heard by the actor. (Luft, 1984) Therefore, effective dissent is measured by observable changes, not by trying to measure the effect of the actual act of dissent. Neither an actor nor an observer may necessarily know that they have been affected by something - whether they've heard it, whether it causes a change in thinking. But that there is a change, in behaviour or observable conditions, can be verified. An essential element to dissent is that there is intent to create change, because criticism without intent to change is merely being grumpy. Grumbling in isolation is not dissent. Dissent is the tension between the way things are and the way things should be. A function of dissent is to point out these spaces where change is possible or necessary. Dissent is based on some ideal or value that is not being met. Therefore, dissent is a viewpoint in opposition to another viewpoint with intent to cause change that surfaces injustice, the creative tension between what should be and what is. (Bell, 2004a)

I have also been directly involved with the project to create a Student Forum for C3, which is an interesting space where students across the Hyak and Arboretum cohorts are collaborating in an effort to be conscious and intentional about their involvement in the ongoing creation of C3. I have been finding the way that everyone interacts to be very fascinating. There's a wide variety of styles and agendas. The strongest participants are strongly claiming to have no agendas, but are the most seriously frustrated when the work of the Forum does not conform to the direction and process they want or expect. Having experience within C3 does not seem to necessarily make the change process easier to start or maintain, and perhaps has even created higher expectations for performance and unrealistic expectations that the process will not take time. The time required is to have the group develop norms of behaviour and an idea of how things will be done within the group. What is happening is that participants have expectations of what they want to have the group do and how to do it, but not allowing the group to develop those on its own. The forum, so far, is a room of social reformers not change agents. This is an important distinction. The difference is why changes are being championed and process is being advocated. If the group develops a particular process, then railing against the process is not an effective change strategy. If the group ends up focusing on particular issues, then becoming upset that the group is not doing another thing instead is not useful. The process of creating change seems to involve something more fundamental, and there's a group that must be formed and maintained. The Student Forum isn't a “field of dreams” where merely getting people together is sufficient to the development of a group cohesion and context. This is true of community also. There is an element of sharing that must be present, and a sense of belonging to something greater than the self.

There's also some apparent trauma over the idea of leadership in the Hyak cohort. No one wants to take leadership on as a role, but everyone's got ideas about where things should go and what should be done. Some people are trying to get other people to buy in to certain projects without taking ownership of projects themselves. It will be interesting to see how this works. Eventually people will start feeling the need to take up work and champion ideas, but everyone is waiting for other people to move. There's an element of diffusion of responsibility in the way that each person is waiting to see what the other people are willing to do and how much commitment there is to the group. Unfortunately, much of this waiting is going on before there is a clear idea of what the group is. At this point, the student forum seems to still be a gathering of individuals, and I am not sure that alignment on any topic will happen the way that each wants that to happen.

This links to my own experience in C3 so far. I've been waiting to see how the cohort behaves, how C3 functions. I've been waiting for something to happen. While waiting, I've been looking inward to C3, but have begun to recognize that if anything is going to happen I have to take some ownership for the change that I think I want and find ways to help that change to happen. If I want to do intense work, I need to create that for myself not wait for the system to spontaneously generate intensity. I have become more serious in looking for ways to develop this kind of change for myself.



Works Cited


Bell, J. G. (2004a). Analysis of dissent, injustice and the making of the United States: an induction from vitriol to victory; a deduction from justice to jurisprudence. <http://arlecchino.org/ildottore/diamoa/final.html>


Bell, J. G. (2004b). Concentration, Consolidation and Culture - the dialectic over extracting value from social resources in a political economy. <http://arlecchino.org/ildottore/peasm/peasm_research.html>


Bell, J. G., Fenske, R. (2003a). Mediation: A response and reflection on the mediation training, the DRC training manual and the book “Narrative Mediation.” <http://arlecchino.org/ildottore/palod/paper_-_safari_and_mediation.html>


Bell, J. G., Fenske, R. (2003b). Response and reflection on “The Cultural Creatives.” <http://arlecchino.org/ildottore/palod/paper_-_cultural_creatives.html>


Isaacs, W. (1999, Feb 1-5). “Dialogic Leadership.” Systems Thinker.


Jacobs, J. (1994). Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics. New York, NY: Vintage.


Keirsey, D. (1998). Please Understand Me II. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemsis.


Luft, J. (1984). “The Johari Window: A Graphic Model of Awareness in Interpersonal Relations.” Group Process: An Introduction to Group Dynamics. McGraw-Hill.


Maulin, E. (2004). “Georges Dumézil<http://www.france.diplomatie.fr/label_france/ENGLISH/LETTRES/DUMEZIL/dumez.html>


Ray, P. H., Anderson, S. R. (2000) The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.


Starhawk. (1987). “Toward Community: Structure and Leadership in Groups.“ Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery. San Francisco, CA: Harper.


Thurston County Dispute Resolution Center (DRC). (2003) Training Manual.