Question about development


I love viewing development as organizing complexity. I think this is a beautiful description of development from the upper left. What’s interesting about the lower right is the necessity of generalizations when you create systems. Generalizations are necessary to create organization but I think integral LR systems need to have capacity for improvisation to order to allow for creative interplay and individual uniqueness; all the beautiful complexity you are describing.

Development certainly has individual uniqueness, but I don’t believe it’s independent of age. Not every child walks by 9 months, but if your child isn’t walking by 2 you need to talk to a doctor. Primary education is completely organized around developmental understanding. Most schools today have structures that allow for that interplay of uniqueness as well. From what I am seeing, primary schools are killing it. But something is dropping off in high school and colleges.

Back to your description of development as driven by the complexity of life conditions. What’s interesting in the feedback we are getting from manufacturing and business is they are having a hard time finding employees who can meet this complexity. What is happening?


You’re right of course Michelle, Clare Graves was reporting primarily on the upper left quadrant. His understanding seems to apply to AQAL though. He used the term ‘life conditions’ to mean whole-of-system. So in that context, your age is an element of life conditions (ie it’s not independent). The problem with attributing something to age alone is you forget the rest of the whole-system. I know you’re not doing that, I’m just making a point in relation to the general problem of classifying stages by ages.

The educational challenges you mention are a great example of how increasing complexity is creating new problems that can’t be solved by old systems (like most of our education systems). This is in turn creating tension, which given time will drive change. If more people understood this, social change could happen much faster (and will, in the future). For now, most people don’t think about changing anything until the tension gets unbearable. As consciousness expands, we’ll be more aware more quickly and will act faster when needed.


What’s interesting too is so many progressive education systems like Waldorf or Friends school stop in the 8th grade. For some reason no one wants to look at higher ed. What is the resistance here? I am finding the people in the systems very eager to change. The stereotype of the old system bureaucrats not wanting to do things differently is not at all what I am encountering.

It’s more a disconnect between the UL and the LR. It’s like there is almost an attitude about the LR, like it’s “lowly” to design systems, there is somehow some UL compromise on freedom and individuality to look at this. I hear it even in the conversation on Alex Jones. Everyone wants to keep in the UL, but the question is really a LR issue on system responsibility and process.

In my field there is a paranoia about the LR. I typically find it funny, but it may be actually not funny at all. Why is there so much fear and anger directed towards the LR? As I write that sentence, I can give 1000 answers. Corruption, abuse, sex scandals, etc. We don’t trust the LR. But what’s weird is why cant we differentiate the pathologies from the system. Everyone is always screaming about the “system is broken”. Is the system actually broken? Is it we just don’t have proper methodology for handling LR pathologies?

The other thing I find is no one in the public wants to take responsibility for the LR. Everyone will complain to the point of completely vilifying the LR yet when I ask what they are doing they look at me blankly. Example: There was a zoning hearing for a new multiuse development by a local elementary school that had everyone hysterical. Everyone was outraged that the city “would allow this to happen”. As soon as I asked if anyone was engaging the city with alternative proposals they looked at me like I don’t know what…Like I asked them if they walked on the moon or something. The idea of anyone engaging in the LR was out of their realm of possibilities.

I told them the city is actually very amenable to ideas, but if you don’t go down and talk to them, nothing will happen. We had a similar issue on our street where a development was going into old growth green space. We got the city to buy the land from the developer and turn it into a park. We did that through organized LR engagement and understanding the system, not by complaining in coffee shops or shouting down people in hearings.

This is where conservatives piece of the truth mattered. Too much power at the federal level makes people feel disengaged with the system. Eventually they just don’t understand it and that breeds fear. The dark side of the civil rights movement plays into this too. Civil disobedience can be necessary or at least sympathetic when dealing with a deep pathology like racism, but it’s like it has become standard process.

Educators want to change the system, no one is engaging to help direct the change.

One edit: All the stake holders are not engaging. Educators alone can not create the system.


What you’re describing is a symptom of the global values shift underway, between Orange (Graves’ Stage 5) and Green (Stage 6). The difficulty results from different values dominating the UL and LR.

Orange is an I/ME MINE (individual) masculine-themed system that’s very materially minded. It designs systems that specialize (and thereby disconnect) and it likes to go deep within a narrow area of interest.

Green is a WE/US/OUR (communal) feminine-themed system that has enhanced emotional sensitivity and seeks to re-organize systems around networks of relationships (rather than specialized knowledge).

These two stages have strongly conflicting values, for example Orange sees the planet as a resource to be exploited whereas Green sees it as sacred and to be preserved. It’s normal within the first tier of consciousness for every new stage to reject the values of the previous stage.

So Orange social systems don’t meet the Green worldview’s needs. Above the 8th grade I guess education needs to be more tailored to suit existing social systems and our existing social systems are mostly outdated (ie Orange or even Amber)! The world is moving closer to a major reset (tipping point) where Green will become the dominant paradigm and our social systems will transform accordingly. In the meantime the tension will keep building. We can help by pointing out this mismatch between the new values and the old systems and by helping to design and implement humanistic, network-centric systems that suit the emerging Green paradigm.


What’s fascinating is there actually seems to be a convergence right now that is forcing integral to come on line quickly. Systems like Waldorf are green systems but there is not time to install that in higher ed, not because of orange resistance, but because the world doesn’t have time (or interest) to live through the economic problems a green social economy will create.

From what I am hearing in these schools, no one is arguing to mindlessly deplete the earths resources or have radical pay inequalities. I’m sitting in rural Georgia for heaven sakes hearing people talk with integral consciousness. What’s missing are the systems to implement it. I think what’s really happening is there is a push to implement green and the resistance is they already recognize they need teal! Green reads this as a push to keep orange, but that is really not what’s happening.

These chats have been so helpful for me to identify issues. Thank you all. It’s fascinating how helpful this language system is. I have so many people around me who have integral consciousness, but no one can talk like this. I feel like I can move so much faster through issues with this language. I was ready to give up and now I have direction again. Integral rocks!