Even get a teacher you were badly matched to, a person who seemed to grate on your nerves from the first moment you laid eyes on her? This week, in our ongoing weekly series on education and learning, we're going to be exploring some of the ways in which fractal testing could improve our kids' educations. Including how a fractal test taken from Emergence Personality Theory could be used to all but eliminate these student to teacher mismatches.
Big Groups - Yea! - Little Groups - Hmm!
Let's start this week by briefly recapping what I've said so far about statistics versus fractals.
To me, that we need statistics is a given. Including that statistics should be the tool of choice for measuring certain parts of our kids' educations. The thing to be clearer about is which parts.
The answer? The parts which assess big groups of measurable things, such as the big group of measurable things I referred to in last week's column; the state wide math achievement levels of all U.S. eight graders.
Clearly, what we should not be using statistics for is to assess kids at the individual level. Why not? Because as any professional statistician will tell you, the validity of statistics falls apart as soon as you try to analyze anything below the big group level. For example, things at the single kid to single teacher level.
Unfortunately, the way we currently assess things in our kids' educations often ignores this fact and uses statistics anyway. For what? For things like matching individual kids to individual teachers.
How do we make these matches? In essence, we make them based on statistical averages of both classroom work and standardized tests. Along with an occasional bit of human input, should these statistical outcomes outright challenge our sense of logic.
So how has this been working out? The truth? Not well. In fact, many teachers will tell you, it's down right uncomfortable. A regular, pressure filled, lottery type crap shoot. So much so, in fact, that every year, parents, regularly and frequently, assault their kid's schools with demands their kid be reassigned.
Can this situation be changed for the better though? Yes, it can. We could augmenting our accurate-at-the-big-group-level, impersonal statistical analyses with a simple fractal test taken directly from Emergence Personality Theory. A test which, in less than six minutes, can accurately predict the overall quality of peoples' one-on-one relationships. Or lack there of. Even before these people meet, and with no need for in depth, psychologically personal questions.
Sound intriguing? It should be. Why? Because if what I'm going to tell you about in the next few weeks is even partially true, then these little tests could effectively raise the quality of our kids' educations in less than one year. Not just for some of our kids, but for all of them. For all the kids in the United States.
Does it sound like my ego is currently verging on inflating to the size of the whole United States? If this is what it sounds like, please forgive me. I do tend to get a bit enthused at times. Nonetheless, I am in no way exaggerating the potential of these tests.
I guess the question then becomes, so how can I be so certain they're this good? The answer? I, and my colleagues, have been accessing the power of fractal testing for over a decade now, for one thing, in guiding our efforts to find where peoples' stuckness comes from, both in personal relationships and in classroom settings. These efforts include a New York teacher who has been blowing peoples' minds with how he has been using Emergence Personality Theory to design a way in which kids not only learn to read and write but also, come to love learning to read and write.
Unfortunately, in order to understand what going on here, and how to use this power, you must first grasp the basics of fractals. Learning this stuff is a bear, to be sure. I know. I've read enough books on fractals wherein an author tries to explain fractals and fails.
I've also had my own share of failures in this area, including in my teachers' group, wherein our whole group is currently struggling to learn how to use fractals in everything from physical therapy and accounting to massage therapy and graphic design.
Admittedly, as a group, we're progressing slowly. It's hard work to be sure. Still, our progress is clear and exciting to say the least.
My point here is, what I'm about to describe to you requires you understand fractals. At least, the fractal nature of the examples I'm about to show you. Know I'm admitting that this learning is hard. As well as outright encouraging you to endure this struggle. Why? Because if you can learn to create your own fractal tests, you will unlock in yourself an amazing ability. You will be able to blamelessly and accurately assess everything from your kids' math scores and reading abilities to the real problems underlying all personal relationships. Including your own.
Okay. So in order to grasp what I'm about to say, you need to understand at least the basics of fractals and fractal testing. So if this is so hard, how the heck am I going to do this?
I'm going to start by teaching you the basics of Emergence Personality Theory. Why? Because for one thing, this theory is where I derive my understanding of fractals from. For another, this theory is entirely fractal in nature and so, to understand it, you must understand fractals. Finally, because our minds are, by nature and education, biased against trusting anything non linear, unless you can see the good in fractals, you'll have a hard time trusting any of what I say. Including that in one-on-one analyses, the fractal tests taken directly from this theory can blow away traditional statistical grade testing.
Here, then, is where we will start this week. With a bit of background on Emergence Personality Theory. Beginning with how babies become needy.
Birth as the Source of "Neediness"
When we say someone is a "character," we are referring to that this person is noticeably different. Emergence Character Types (which is what you see represented by the four babies in this week's diagram) also refers to how people are different. But only in one area of personality.
Which area? The area which determines where we believe the solutions to our neediness lie. Our "need compass," so to speak.
What is important to remember here is that this "need compass" happens to be the most basic way in which we differ from each other. Moreover, being able to read this in people means you can intuitively know how to best relate to others. Including knowing how to best help kids to relate to their teachers. And visa versa.
Know these "need compasses" can be boiled down to four general types. The "me" focused people (the "one's"); the "you" focused people (the "two's"); the "me then you" focused people (the "three's"); and the "you then me" focused people (the "four's").
Know also that we all begin life in the very same place. We begin without a "need compass." And this is where we need to begin. With talking about how life was for us before we had a "need compass."
What were we like before we developed a "character type?"
The answer? We lived in a virtual "Garden of Eden." What I mean is, we existed in a state of consciousness wherein we never felt need. At least, none we ever had to face alone. Imagine? Never having to face your needs without someone there for you. Someone who was literally connected to you, night and day, both physically and spiritually?
Then one day, it happened. This virtually perfect relationship ended abruptly. When? In the instant in which we physically separated from our mothers. In this moment, we experienced the "birth" experience.
Know that when I refer to the "birth" experience, I do not mean the whole long painful process. Nor am I referring to any specific medical or spiritual aspects of birth. I am only referring to what happens to us in the actual instant in which we physically separate from our mothers.
What happens to us? A sequence of three things. Starting with that we abruptly leave paradise.
This is the first state of being then. We begin to exit the only real, "never face a need alone," soul-mate state we will ever experience. In our whole entire lives. In Emergence Personality Theory, we call this state, a "two that are one." Thus, before birth, we are literally two beings that are one being. Moreover, this is true even though we commonly refer to pregnant women as two beings, as a mother and a baby. In reality, before birth, these pairs of beings; mothers and babies, are literally a single, physical being no matter how we may try to overlook this truth.
Now consider, for a moment, what this must have felt like, to live in such a connected state. Can you imagine never having felt alone, not even once? Not ever? This is what we felt like before we were born.
Now imagine what it was like to have this state of connection abruptly end. Without explanation. In effect, we were physically expelled from our personal Eden in a sudden unexplainable event. So what was this part of the birth moment like?
What was it like? For the first time, and with no forewarning, we were forcibly separated physically from our "eternal twin." Then, in the next instant, we begin a new kind of life. A life wherein we were forced to exist, for the first time, as a "two that are two." As two separate beings. Which meant we felt a whole boat load of neediness, for the very first time, with no one there to be with us.
Now let me ask you. Have you ever actually witnessed this particular moment? The instant in which a mother and baby physically separate? If so, then you may recall what happened in your gut in that moment. Which happens to be the same thing which occurs to everyone else in the room as well.
What happens? Every being in the room stops breathing. At least, for that one dreadfully empty instant. Then, in the next instant, everyone in the room feels incredibly needy. Including the baby, who, for the first time, faces neediness on his or her own.
This, then, is a baby's first conscious experience of need. Moreover, these three birth experiences;  connect,  disconnect, and  need, are what we all have in common. They are, in fact, the single most important thing to know about human nature, regardless of our cultural or ethnic differences.
Now because this idea is so important, please allow me to reiterate it.
The birth experience is the sequence of our three, most personal, human experiences. It begins with the experience of  Connection (the profound experience of being connected as a "two that are one"); then moves to the experience of  Disconnection (the profound experience of separating into a "two that are two "); and then ends in the experience of  Neediness (the profound experience of feeling incredibly powerful, personal urges to resolve the separation experience, while at the same time, avoiding reconnection.")
Know that understanding the implications of what I've just told you could easily take you a life time. And me, many, many books worth of words to even marginally describe. Fortunately, for our current purposes, we need focus only on how the third state; neediness, affects kids' abilities to learn. And how knowing this can guide our choices in matching kids to their teachers.
Basically, what we'll be looking at here is how this one instant generates four human need resolving strategies. And how we all, without ever knowing it, by about age four, have been programmed to respond to feeling needy with one of these four need strategies.
Now let's look at how these need strategies, the four "Character Types," come into being. Starting with Character Type, "One."
Character Type "One"
What I've told you so far is a lot. I know. Especially considering educators are not personality theorists. Bear with me, though, for just a bit more and I promise you'll see why I'm so enthused. As well as seeing how teachers have a lot to gain from knowing about this area of Emergence Personality Theory.
Before diving in, let me recap, once more, what I've told you so far. And add a bit more detail.
Personality theories can generally be divided into two kinds of theories, those which focus on the things we all have in common; our human samenesses, and those which focus on the things which make us all unique; our human differences. Emergence Personality Theory manages to accomplish both and in such a way as to honor these samenesses and differences.
We begin with the theory with what we all have in common. The Birth Separation-Moment Sequence (Connection; Disconnection; and Neediness). We see this experience as being the basis for all human neediness. As well as the motive which propels us into adopting a strategy for resolve the pain of this neediness without ever having to reconnect.
Developing this strategy is our most basic drive. No this would help us in knowing how best to help kids in classrooms.
Some might ask, why a strategy which accomplishes this "without reconnecting?" Why? Because we are programmed to make attempts to try to predict, and avoid, pain. We make these attempts by trying to remember how and where our pain occurred. Why? So that we can then avoid being in these places and states.
Character types, then, are our basic human strategy for avoiding pain. Including the pain of neediness. And what is the essence of all this pain? Having to face neediness alone.
Now let's take a look at the four need resolving strategies. What is "Character Type" anyway?
A Character Type is an inner guidance system. What does it do? It tells us where we should focus our efforts in order to prevent pain and relieve our neediness. Moreover, the essence of this inner guidance system is that we look for relief either outwardly or inwardly. Something like Carl Jung's terms, "extrovert" and "introvert," but with a much more refined focus.
Know this directional focus takes the form of very unconscious, primitive urges, most of which no one ever teaches us to notice, let alone master. Ironically, we it's not that difficult to learn to both see and master these urges, and in doing, we can better manage every single relationship. Including the ones we have in schools.
Now let's look at where this system of urges comes from. How does it come into being?
It begins in the third experience of the Birth Separation-Moment Sequence, wherein, for the first time, we feel unmet needs. And unresolved pain. And where do newborn babies look for relief from this unresolved pain? Of course, they look every where but inside themselves. Why? At this point, they have no idea they even exist as separate beings. After all, they just spent the prior nine months, their only life experience, having their needs without even having to ask.
Thus, when babies are born, they all feel urges to find their need relief from somewhere outside themselves. This makes them all what I call, little "me's." In other words, all babies feel things like, "Who has needs? Me! Do you hear me! I need have needs! Right now! Pay attention to me!"
In the language of Emergence Personality Theory, we call this state, being in a "me" state. Essentially, this is just our way of saying, these babies see the needs of only one person. Which person? Why me, of course! I'm the one with valid needs. ME! Remember!
Realize that when therapists call someone "narcissistic," they are referring to people who are in this exact state. In truth, however, saying someone is narcissistic is somewhat pejorative and outdated. To see why, consider this.
Consider how well a six month old baby girl would do, if, at three AM, she had to consider the needs of her parents. Say, too, that she had become twisted up in her blankets, and that she was presently gasping for breath.
If she had to consider the needs of her parents, in all likelihood, she might die.
Fortunately, because we all get born in the "me" state, babies have no trouble waking up everyone in the house. With not a thought as to how this will affect anyone else. Moreover, all of us remain in this self centered state for the better part of our first year of life. Which is why Emergence Personality Theorists sometimes call these babies, "one's," as well as, "me's" In other words, what year of life does their need resolving strategy resemble most? A baby's first year of life. Year "one." The year of ME!
Character Type "Two"
Up to this point, then, most babies literally are quite similar to each other. At least, in the sense of where they focus their efforts at resolving their neediness. At about ten or so months old, however, something happens to about three quarters of these first year of life babies. They begin to notice others have needs too.
What triggers this realization? Basically, learning to walk. And as this happens, parents, for the first time, must reach out to their babies with words. Why? Because they begin to find themselves in situations wherein they are physically unable to keep up with these little explorers.
How, exactly, do parents attempt to reach out and protect these babies? Simple. They reach out with the word, "no." Of course, these parents have said "no" to their babies many times before. However, all this has fallen on deaf ears. Why? Because, before this, babies have no way to interpret the needs of others. Which means these "no's" literally had no meaning.
The "no's" parents say at this time though have a different effect. Why? Because babies begin to hear these "no's" as coming from some place outside of themselves. Why? Because they are literally being said from a physical distance. And for about three quarters of all babies, at about age ten months, this event causes them to have epiphanies, the essence of which is that they are not alone.
What's the big deal here? The idea that about three quarters of babies emerge from their narcissistic "me" state and realize others are alive. In other words, these babies realize that somewhere out there, there is another being besides themselves. The mysterious source of the word, "no." This discovery then triggers in babies what is roughly a year long search for the source of this mysterious "no." During which time the baby focuses inward, more and more, for the source of their need resolution.
Why the switch in direction? Because they focus their efforts in the same direction in which the mysterious "no" is being directed.
This second year of life state then is the basis for the legendary relationship dysfunction, we call, "co dependency." The overwhelming compulsion to read and fill the needs of others. It is also the polar opposite of babies' first year of life state, the traditional therapists refer to as being "narcissistic."
Finally, remember that I said only three quarters of babies become second year of life babies. So what happens to the remaining quarter? Essentially, they remain in this first year of life state for the rest of their lives. Which is why many them become our heroes, leaders, and cultural icons. Self centeredness has it's upside.
And the three quarters of babies who go on to become, "two's?" Do they remain, "two's?"
Only about a quarter of all babies will remain in this second year of life state. Which is why we call these folks, "two's."
What happens to the remaining two quarters then? Something very interesting. Let's take a look.
Character Types "Three" and "Four"
Even witness a child entering the "terrible twos?" In Emergence Personality Theory, we say these kids have become little "me then you's." Here, then, is where the remaining two quarters of babies move to next. Somewhere at about age twenty months or so.
What triggers this change? Obviously, a revolt. But what kind of a revolt? What could babies revolt against?
Very simply, they revolt against having to meet their own needs. Or even having to consider the needs of others. Thus, the fifty percent of babies who move past being second year of life babies attempt to return to their original "me" state. The state wherein they lived 24/7 as little kings and queens.
In this state, they never had to consider the needs of others. And in fact, they were encouraged to demand their needs on call. Imagine!We once asked them again and again, "What do you need, honey. Just tell mommy."
Then these babies spent most of their second year of life modulating their urges to demand things. How? By focusing on some vague "other," a being whose sole purpose in life was to say "no" to them. Which is what eventually triggers the revolt.
"Screw that. I've had enough," they say. "It's my turn again." Which, despite their inability to put these demands into words, is exactly what is at the heart of babies' tantrums. They are literally fighting to be recrowned as the little king or queen.
Unlike during their first year of life, though, by the third year of life, babies have experienced the state in which others have needs as well. Thus, even when they throw tantrums, they usually close these tantrums with some manner of refocusing on the needs of others, usually on the needs of whomever they just tormented.
"I love you mommy." Hug. Hug. And even when they neither act out nor verbalize these sentiments, they experience them none the less.
These babies are what we call, "me then you's." Whose needs are important? First, ME! Then You.
Know that about a quarter of all babies will end up here for life. Which is why we call these folks, "threes." Third year of life babies.
And what of the remaining twenty five percent? The remaining quarter then go on to do this same thing, only in reverse. First they attend to the needs of others. Then they throw a "what about me" tantrum, as a means to regain the focus.
We call these babies, little "fours"; fourth year of life babies. Which is to say, they are little, "you then me's."
So where are the personality matching tests I promised? And what is so fractal about what I've just told you? More to the point, what good does knowing all this theory do for us anyway? We are teachers, not therapists.
The good here derives mainly from knowing how these four groups interact with each other. Opposites types attract in romantic relationships. Likes attract in friend type relationships.
Thus all romantic relationships form in and around a person who starts in a "me" place, and a person who starts in a "you" place. Conversely, all true friendships form in and around two people who start in the same place, either in a "me" place or in a "you" place.
Now consider for a moment, how this plays out in schools. "Me" type teachers connect better with "Me" type kids. And "You" type teachers connect better with "You" type kids. Why? Because the nature of learning rests entirely on feeling safe enough to be openly ignorant, and openly curious, at least, in front of others. And as simply as this description may sound, openly admitting you do not know something is probably one of the hardest things we human beings ever face. Certainly publicly. And perhaps even more so personally.
Now consider this. Consider how feeling safe enough to admit to ignorance forms the basis for all real education. Without which, we cannot learn, no matter how we are encouraged.
Can you now see what makes knowing character types so important? Especially in the way we match kids to teachers?
Very simply, we could be matching kids to their teachers based on our natural human propensity for being at ease in and around our friends. The very opposite feeling from how we feel around our parents, wherein we must be, to some degree, on guard.
Know that only one of our parents is a "parent type" parent. What the heck is a "parent type" parent? It's the parent who begins in the opposite place from where your Character Type begins. Moreover, since the basis of all romantic relationship is that opposite Character Types attract, we all have one one of each, both a "friend" type parent, and a "parent type" parent.
This translates to that we all have both a disciplining parent and an advocating parent. Moreover, this happens, not because parents are dysfunctional, but merely because it is programmed into our very natures to be this way.
The bottom line is, kids learn best in safe environments. Using Character Types to match kids to their teachers could go a long ways toward making our children's classrooms safe.
Finally, know that there is a second, equally important personality trait. Something, I call, a person's Social Priorities. Moreover, taken together, these two personality traits could easily be the basis for an astounding improvement in out nation's educational system.
Sound interesting? I hope so. We'll continue next week.
Until then. I hope you're all well,