SEMINAR ON EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
TITLE: "Spiral Dynamics&emdash;A New Approach Educating
Students of Color"
- To enable teachers/administrators
to understand that the roots of educational inequity are not found in
our genes, but in our memes&emdash;deep level value systems.
- To uncover the operating value
systems undergirding educational failure today.
- To show how the educational
systems can be transformed so that everyone wins.
INSTRUCTOR: Caleb Rosado (Ph.D., Northwestern University),
a former university professor of sociology, has been a consultant on issues
of diversity and change since 1978.
LENGTH: Two 8-hour days
For educators and school administrators.
On the verge of the 21st century, the educational experience of Latino
youth is more reflective of what it was for the nation on the verge of
the 20th century. The latest results of the national study, "No More Excuses:
The Final Report of the Hispanic Dropout Project," show that while the
dropout rate is declining for the majority of America's youth, White,
Asian, and Black, for Latinos it is alarmingly on the rise. The reasons
given for such a deplorable state tend to be the usual negative stereotypes
that: Latino families do not value education, language limitations, poverty,
lack of academic proficiency, etc. None of these reasons are new; they
have been expressed countless of times, yet the problems still persist.
Much effort has been directed toward improving the educational status
of Latino youth, but to no avail. Now the reaction to this final report
of the Hispanic Dropout Project has been Vice President Gore's announcement
of a budget of $618 million dollars to be spent for education for Latino
youth. But, if we are not careful, we can end up funding the same programs
that produced the problems in the first place. Where lies the solution?
The problem with the usual approaches
to solving such a crisis in education is to focus on the surface container
(race, gender, skin color, socioeconomic differences) rather than on the
contents (value systems&emdash;how people think and act in terms of the
world they are in). Such approaches, however, fail to recognize that education
functions on two dimensions&emdash;Horizontal and Vertical. To comprehend
these two dimensions one first needs to grasp Spiral Dynamics. Spiral
Dynamics is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual framework for understanding
human development and human systems. It unveils the hidden codes and dynamic,
spiral forces that shape human nature, create global diversities, and
drive social change. Developed by Don E. Beck and Christopher C. Cowan
of the National Values Center, Inc. in Texas, from two converging streams
of thought&emdash;primarily, Clare W. Graves' Value Systems theory of
'levels of human existence' and, secondarily, biologist Richard Dawkins'
concept of 'memes'&emdash;Spiral Dynamics explores the new science of
memetics, the study of ideas and their transmission.
Memes are cultural units of information
that self-replicate by means of thought-contagion, using the human mind
as a host, and attach themselves to individuals, organizations, entire
cultures, and societies. They culturally impact the body politic, just
like genes, the code carriers of DNA, biologically impact the body physical.
Spiral Dynamics shifts the focus from the WHAT of human behavior, the
surface issues, ideas, beliefs, actions, artifacts, and values&emdash;the
memes&emdash;that fragment or unify human groups, to the WHY and HOW of
such behavior&emdash;the vMEMEs&emdash;the core Value Systems awakened
by changing life conditions and manifested as a dynamic spiral of levels
of human existence. Memes operate on two levels, horizontally and vertically.
The horizontal dimensions of education
is what the report uncovered: that Latino students have a high dropout
rate for reasons stated above. People will argue over these reasons, and
millions of dollars will be expended to try to alter these conditions,
all focused on the surface level of education, the area where our differences&emdash;color,
gender, status, language, physical features, culture, values, beliefs,
actions, artifacts, worldviews, and national origin&emdash;conflict. To
focus on these surface differences, the what&emdash;the container&emdash;is
to miss the larger picture, the Vertical dimension, the why and how of
human action&emdash;the contents. This is the area of Value Systems, the
deep-level core intelligences, conceptual schemes, and frameworks for
beliefs and behaviors, from which emerge the surface differences.
Ninety-five percent of all educational
programs, workshops for effective education, restructuring curriculum,
teacher training, improving the academic standing of minority children,
multicultural education, motivational training, leadership, conflict resolution,
and social policy planning focus on these surface differences, the Horizontal
dimension. Yet our struggle is not with human types, or their socioeconomic
conditions, but with deep-level human Value Systems, that like migrating,
bio-psycho-social-spiritual tectonic plates, on colliding, release energy
that reverberates to the surface in conflict over group differences and
competition for scarce resources. The problem is not that we are Latino
or White, male or female, first-generation immigrant or several generation
native-born. It is the Value Systems within us that are at war. Since
these are deep decision systems in people, not types of people, they transcend
race, ethnicity, gender, age, class, culture, and societies.
The Latino dropout problem is
a surface symptom of deeper forces operating in groups and in society,
that like a deadly virus, infect all areas of life. What divides us in
society, however, is not our genes, but our memes. We look different because
of our genes; we think and act different because of our memes. Our genes
are only Horizontal differences. It is the deep, memetic, bio-psycho-social-spiritual
magnetic forces on the Vertical axis that attract and repel humanity,
and result in success or failure in academics. The dropout rate manifests
itself differently depending on the level of existence where students
are located. Failure to understand this results in a Flatlander approach
to education. "Flatlanders" are persons unable to recognize the vertical,
spiral structure of human existence, and thus focus on superficial differences,
rigid categories, simplistic types, and on labels to put on people. They
put everyone through the same car wash, one-size-fits-all approach, paint
only with broad horizontal brush strokes, as "flavor-of-the-month" consultants
who project their own values, fears, and prejudices on others. The result
is an insensitivity to the needs of individuals, organizations, and cultures
at different levels of existence. To concentrate efforts only along the
Horizontal axis, is merely to catalogue biosocial traits and inventory
cultural, IQ, and test score differences. To resolve problems of human
relations requires managing both axes. This is the new direction for educational
leadership and the arresting of the dropout problem in the 21st century.
MORE ON SPIRAL DYNAMICS:
For more information on Spiral Dynamics and memes see the book by the
founders of the National Values Center, Inc., Don E. Beck and Christopher
C. Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership,
and Change (Blackwell 1996), from where ideas for this
opinion piece were drawn, or their website, www.spiraldynamics.com.