Question about development


#1

I have a question about development. My understanding is that development starts at birth and continues throughout your life. This makes sense. The challenge I have with it are the ways in which the levels are described and the generalized timing of when we go through it. Most models start at birth and have typical populations shifting at 6 months, 2-3 years, 7 years, and so on. This leads to the conclusion that certain adults are then stuck at 3 year old, or 7 year old development, which feels off. I notice Keegan deals with this “off” by making childhood development happen in 2 big steps. This feels off to me too. My question is has anyone ever considered that adult development is it’s own line? Childhood development will expand as the consciousness of society expands resulting in longer childhoods (this seems to happen). Then adulthood has to occur afterward or possibly synchronistically with latter stage childhood development (possibly what triggers boomeritis).


#2

Hi Michelle!

The best I could say as a direct answer to your question as it is currently written is: yes, all of the theorists represented on the AQAL map have likely considered that childhood and adulthood are separate but conjoined lines, and most agree that development is progressive (the earlier stages precede the latter stages). From my reading of the research, each tends to have functional definitions of adulthood depending upon the developmental line they are looking at. Some of the most prominent developmental lines which are included in the AQAL map are: cognition, self-identity (ego), consciousness (Kegan), values (spiral dynamics), morals, and faith/spirituality (also includes kinesthetic, aesthetic, etc. which tend to play lesser roles in directing folks’ behaviors). Values are highlighted in most of the AQAL maps I’ve seen, but I’ve also seen one which highlights ego development (Cook-Greuter).

It might be helpful in continuing this conversation if you were able share which AQAL map you are referring to, and answer these questions:

  • What “feels off” about the progression listed on the AQAL map (ages pertaining to value stages)?
  • What “feels off” about Kegan’s stages of consciousness complexity?
  • What do you mean when you say “childhood development” and “adult development”?
  • Are you referring to a specific developmental line or all of the developmental lines (that have been studied)?

:smile: I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation.


#3

Aligning Kegan to Wilber this is how I understand it:
Kegan-rough age------------------Wilber-------rough age
1st ------2-6---------------------------- Red----------3-6
2nd------6-adolescence-------------Amber-------7-9
3rd------Post adolescence----------Orange -----10-14
4th-------Varies--------------------------Green-------14-21
5th-------Rare (50+)---------------------Teal ---------Rare (no age given)

Working with kids (and raising kids) Wilbers ages seem right on target with the development of values, cognition and consciousness.

I have recently begun working with public education and the emerging field around career and college readiness and Kegan’s work is so on target and needed and it is certainly easier to sit down with schools and corporations and discuss development when I can discuss it without age associations. (Most of Kegans development is happening in adulthood)

I was just curious to see if I am the only one who notices something off here and I am interested in what this may be telling us. One thought I have is that adult development is its own line that starts back at the beginning. You have to learn to survive as an adult, bond, sow your wild oats, come to Jesus, achieve, etc…this time as an adult.

You develop through egocentric, ethnocentric and world-centric lines as a child and then you go through that again as an adult. Was Boomeritis caused by the synchronicity of world-centric (green) child development emerging alongside ego centric adult development? Boomeritis seemed to continue through GenX and Millenials to some degree but I notice with the kids I work with now something is shifted. I feel like I see it with the Parkland kids too. It’s like their childhood green is “more stable” by the time they start their “adult” journey so it’s not being processed so narcissistically.


#4

Neat, I’m an educator too!

I’m still not sure I’m understanding what you see that seems off.

“You develop through egocentric, ethnocentric and world-centric lines as a child and then you go through that again as an adult.”

Are you referencing a theorist with this assertion? I’m not following how you’ve reached this conclusion.

What exactly do you mean when you say “line”? It seems like you are shifting between multiple developmental lines (self-identity, values, and consciousness), but appear to be equating them as one line. Development along each line doesn’t necessarily happen simultaneously.

Boomeritis, I believe, refers to values development (Graves, Beck, Cowan) and the associated memes. It was coined by Ken Wilber to describe a specific interaction between stages along the values line of development. (Please someone correct me if I’m mistaken about this.)

Egocentric, ethnocentric, and worldcentric generally refers to self-identity (Cook-Greuter, Loevinger).

Kegan’s work relates to consciousness complexity.

Is it possible that you are equating these individual lines as a single line of development based on the colors that Wilbur assigns?

Are you familiar with Gardner’s multiple intelligences?

It would probably be helpful to know which version of the AQAL map you are looking at.


#5

It’s possible and even likely I am equating too much! I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this.

To start, I am not an educator, I am an architect. I have started an education program where I pair students with a social good company and work through a “design thinking” process to solve actual business problems. We are getting a great reception and hope to grow the program. I feel like it is ripe with integral possibilities, but I need to work through both my understandings of what I am doing as well as how to best communicate integral in a way that connects.

I am familiar with the ideas around multiple intelligence’s. All of these theorist seem to end up with the same pattern of development. That’s cool. The programs I am working with are identifying issues with these exact patterns and trying to figure out what’s happening with the education process. So my focus is more on the pattern than any specific line. It’s hard for me to separate my own lines honestly. Somewhere I can just feel out some sort of "average’ that I function in.

I have worked with these kids only briefly, but I feel like something is off. My gut is saying that we are not identifying, and therefor not preparing these kids for adult development properly. Where is the issue in education in your experience?

What’s exciting is corporations, big ones like Yamaha, are also seeing this issue. They are going to the schools to address this. There is so much potential here if we can get this understood. I am a lower right person. I love systems and I want to see real world application. I am ready in my life to shift from the exteriors of the lower right into the interiors. In Georgia, this is the leading edge and I would love to get integral input on this…we have a very cool gubernatorial candidate here that could set a national standard… what does integral education look like?


#6

Oh sorry, my mistake! I actually wanted to be an architect for a long time. My brother studied architecture, too. I’ve designed and built a small house, though the interior isn’t finished yet.

So I asked about Gardner because I wanted to make a comparison that might help you understand better:

The lines of development on Wilber’s AQAL map are like an extension or more thorough understanding of Gardner’s work, but it appears to emphasize the lines of development that are most likely responsible for individual behaviors and larger cultural trends.

This is such a huge question. Are you asking about K-12, Undergraduate College, Graduate College? Public or Private?

Short answer: As organizations, they don’t have a clear purpose and goals, both of which are restricted by politics. As a process, it hyperfocuses on cognition and doesn’t recognize the majority of human developmental lines. So much of both are restricted by inappropriate use of money, inefficient bureaucracy, and cultural trends that devalue education and intellectual honesty (again, politically-based).

So I guess a slightly shorter answer would be: education’s heavy reliance on politics for funds and a political process (first past the post) and dynamic (large corporations owning most news outlets and social media sites and using them to manipulate information and people for profits) which rely on the populace’s lack of education, specifically a lack of critical thinking skills in order to gain political and economic advantage.

Even shorter answer, using spiral dynamics colors: Unhealthy Orange taking the lead in the education process.

If you have a more specific question about the behaviors you are tasked with addressing, then I could probably be more specific and detailed with my thoughts. Feel free to private message me.

Wow, this is such a big question you might want to start a new topic on it. I’m not a part of the official Integral Life team, I only learned about the site at the beginning of this year, but I do have my opinions and analysis. The simplest answer I could give you to this huge, huge question is: something so different you might not even recognize it as education. I’m working on developing my own vision into an application that I plan to market/distribute as a game. (Something I’ve been researching and working towards during the last 6 years.)

I would highly recommend you take the time to study some of Ken Wilber’s books, or at least the wikipedia page + references. There’s a lot to be learned by studying the pattern of each line of development individually. I hope other folks reply to this topic with their resource recommendations as well.


#7

These are big questions. There is so much opportunity right now. What I see in education is a situation with no money, a big heart and a wide open door…integralist we need some applied theory!

I’ve read and studied and lived Ken’s theories for 25 years. I know from so much personal experience how valuable his work is. It’s an interesting experience to try and bring a piece of it into the world. thanks for the input…I sincerely appreciate it!


#8

Hi Michelle,
If you’ve concluded through your discussion with Coda that what you’re looking for or wanting is an “Integral model of education,” then you might google that phrase and check out the material on this subject.

I sympathize with the experience of having a foggy, fuzzy sense that “something is off” when trying to understand or apply Integral theory to a particular situation or project. What I usually find is that the morass of material I’m dealing with overwhelms my clarity, so I have to step back and start with sharply clarifying, not the Integral material itself, but my own questions. I get very basic and specific in doing this.

For instance, you say In your next-to-last post that “we…are not preparing these kids for adult development properly.” Questions I might ask myself would be:
Who is this “we” who is not preparing…? (The culture-at-large? The educational system? Parents?)
I would ask: What “kids” am I referring to? (Young children? High schoolers?)
I would ask : In what ways and areas are we “not preparing them?” (Are we not teaching them a 4-quadrant approach to life/situations? Are we not sufficiently addressing specific lines of development? such as cognition? self (identity/ego)? values? needs? interpersonal skills? emotional? moral? psychosexual? aesthetics? spirituality? Are we not adequately moving them through the stages of development, increasing/expanding perspective? Are we not addressing healthy and unhealthy stage manifestations? Etc.)
I would ask: What exactly do I mean by “adult development?” (Continued growth? Beyond what? Beyond particular stages/worldviews? Beyond particular levels in specific lines of development? Do I really mean ‘adult development’ or simply ‘adulthood’?–which brings a whole other set of questions.)

I find that the more I question my own thinking and the meaning of my own language/word choices, the easier it is to get clear as to what my real questions are, and the easier it is to identify what “seems off,” (which usually disappears in the process of questioning/clarifying), and the easier it is to pinpoint the Integral material that is most relevant to the particular situation or project I’m addressing.

You mention you are ready to “shift from the exteriors of the lower right into the interiors.” The interiors definitely deal with lines of development (again, cognition, emotion, values, self-identity, consciousness, etc.)

As to boomeritis, I understand it as a particular dysfunction or pathology that is related to the pre/post fallacy, meaning, for example, a person at say a post-conventional morality can be “infected” or driven by a pre-conventional egocentrism/narcissism. So called boomeritis because it was/is perhaps most prevalent in baby boomers. In “Boomeritis,” KW speaks of the fact that during the Vietnam War, protests fell off once the draft into military service ended, suggesting protests were being driven by egocentric/narcissistic impulses perhaps as much as by a sense of the immorality of the war. Basic green infected by red,with studies that backed it up re: boomers and protests against the war.

Good luck with your work! It’s nice to be excited about new projects.


#9

Thank you for expressing this suggestion so much more clearly than I was able!!! If I could give this response a “love” instead of a like I totally would. <3 <3 <3

This is the mechanism behind the “Mean Green Meme”, is that correct? Another way to put it might be: green values are consciously held by a self operating at the red (opportunist - self-protective ego) stage, would you agree?


#10

Hey, love you too Coda.
Yes, this is the MGM, and I agree with your statement about it.


#11

This issue has concerned me. I have felt for a long time that most adults (assuming they continue to grow) don’t get to Orange in the integral stages sense until they are in their forties, Green in their fifties. The childhood Orange is, in my opinion, a capacity for that worldview but not a stabilized experience. Same with the others. Assuming that one was “at” a stage in childhood leads to a greatly inflated idea of one’s stage as an adult. In the integral community, people may be at higher stages sooner, but I still don’t think we can see childhood stages on a continuum with adult stages.


#12

Thank you. It is good to hear someone else has similar questions. In my field we have a saying “you can’t build a concept”. There is something about Integral that stays too conceptual. It’s a very detailed, brilliant concept, but when you dig in and raise questions there is such a tendency to divert to another aspect of the theory.

In integral communities there is always the question of “why doesn’t integral go mainstream”…I always want to shout “because you can’t build a concept!”. Designers have to learn the heartbreak of leaving the perfection of their concept and fall in love with the imperfection of reality. It’s a hard process. Post modern designers were the worst at this. They actually created something called “paper architecture” in order to avoid this heart break. I feel like Integral shares a lot with the paper architects. The created spectacular images, but you could never inhabit them…

For me I have lived this for half my life. Something here is inhabitable and brilliantly important but what I inhabit is somehow different than the theory. I cant quite put my finger on it…it’s good to have someplace to for musings:)


#13

Yes, I think that is another question - habitability. For me, I find an answer to your wonderful metaphor of paper architecture in the saying that the map is not the territory. One doesn’t inhabit a map. However, the stages question for me is more about the integrity of the map.


#14

Exactly! That’s a great tie in to what I am trying to get at. You can start to look back of the map and question the integrity when you are standing in the territory and saying “Hey, this isn’t exactly right?” There is a critical difference if you are doing that from experience of the territory vs theoretical argument.


#15

What stages question? Are you able to articulate it?


#16

It’s the first question posed by Michelle and my response 4 posts ago.


#17

I’m sorry, I do not mean to be obtuse, but are you referring to


#18

This is what I was responding to (response included as well)
Michelle
I have a question about development. My understanding is that development starts at birth and continues throughout your life. This makes sense. The challenge I have with it are the ways in which the levels are described and the generalized timing of when we go through it. Most models start at birth and have typical populations shifting at 6 months, 2-3 years, 7 years, and so on. This leads to the conclusion that certain adults are then stuck at 3 year old, or 7 year old development, which feels off. I notice Keegan deals with this “off” by making childhood development happen in 2 big steps. This feels off to me too. My question is has anyone ever considered that adult development is it’s own line? Childhood development will expand as the consciousness of society expands resulting in longer childhoods (this seems to happen). Then adulthood has to occur afterward or possibly synchronistically with latter stage childhood development (possibly what triggers boomeritis).

Me:
This issue has concerned me. I have felt for a long time that most adults (assuming they continue to grow) don’t get to Orange in the integral stages sense until they are in their forties, Green in their fifties. The childhood Orange is, in my opinion, a capacity for that worldview but not a stabilized experience. Same with the others. Assuming that one was “at” a stage in childhood leads to a greatly inflated idea of one’s stage as an adult. In the integral community, people may be at higher stages sooner, but I still don’t think we can see childhood stages on a continuum with adult stages.


#19

Coda
for me the question I have relates a lot to how we use this information. Kegan’s model sets up that children don’t ever really hit orange consciousness. This is interesting. What are children hitting when they shift at 10? Cognition and self identity…that makes sense. So how does that relate to consciousness? If children are at an amber consciousness for a decade (or more) while developing through at least two levels of self identity and cognition how does that impact how we teach them? This seems important!

To Lawana’s comments: I would ask: What exactly do I mean by “adult development?” (Continued growth? Beyond what? Beyond particular stages/worldviews? Beyond particular levels in specific lines of development? Do I really mean ‘adult development’ or simply ‘adulthood’?–which brings a whole other set of questions.)

So what is adult development? That’s a good question! Everyone can, and is, talking about the problems with college education, but there seems little direction as to, in my language, what’s the program? What are we trying to design to?

What’s cool right now is the business sector is seeing this issue and coming to educators for answers. I really want integral to get involved here, but not just theoretically. Now is the time to build. In my profession there is another saying (we love sayings…I have a million of them) The saying is: “it’s time to put down the pencil and pick up the hammer”. I feel like we need more integralist engaged with hammers. What are we going to build here?

You gave me another perspective, which I love. Maybe the issue I am seeing is not one of a miss with the model but maybe it’s more that the way we understand the interaction and interrelationship of lines needs more understanding (certainly by me).

If consciousness develops as slowly as Kegan believes (and I agree), but cognition and self identity is developing quicker, what does that mean???


#20

Hi Michelle,

According to researcher Dr Clare W Graves (whose findings were used to write the Spiral Dynamics book) developmental progression is driven by the complexity of life conditions, not by age. Any attempt to pin stages of development to age is a generalization. No two people have the same life conditions (the term ‘life conditions’ encompasses AQAL), therefore everyone’s development is unique. As Integral theory indicates, we can be at different levels on different lines and so someone who seems ‘adult’ in one respect (eg the logical/rational line) can display childish characteristics on another line (eg the emotional line). Generalizations, like saying you reach a certain stage by a certain age, are an approximation only and the truth will vary radically between different life conditions (eg compare a 4 year old in San Francisco with a 4 year old in Mogadishu and you’ll see differences).

Development doesn’t necessarily continue throughout life, it depends upon the complexity of life conditions. Simple life conditions can be managed with simple consciousness. Complex life conditions demand complex consciousness. Another way of looking at it is, when you only have simple problems to solve, you don’t need to be Einstein to solve them. Development (and evolution) is fuelled by interaction between life conditions and consciousness. When there is a balance between life’s problems and our coping capacity (ie we can solve all our problems) then there is no tension to drive change. Only when our problems exceed our capacity to solve them does tension arise, which triggers our adaptive intelligence and we enter into a developmental (change) process.

Clare Graves wrote that people can be ‘open’ to change, temporarily ‘arrested’, or permanently ‘closed’ to change. These descriptions relate to whether a person’s ‘operating system’ is open to environmental input or whether it has become a closed system. When people are closed then they apply the same values to every situation (regardless of how complex) and are unable to adapt or grow. Some people become closed at a young age (eg due to trauma) and their growth stops, either temporarily or permanently.

There’s no need to invent an adult or childhood line of development when you understand the role of complexity as a developmental driver. Combined with the ‘lines of development’ concept it’s sufficient to explain developmental variation.

My source is The Never Ending Quest, Cowan and Todorov (2005), which is a compilation of Graves’ research notes. Unfortunately he passed away before publishing his work.