Ever wish you had a different teacher, because you just couldn't get along? This week, in our ongoing weekly series on education and learning, we're going to look further into how fractal testing could be used to better match kids to their teachers. This time, we're going to explore a second aspect of Emergence Personality Theory, something called, the four "Social Priorities."
Chapter Twenty One
It's About Neediness. Remember
Last week we spoke about how babies are born, and how an aspect of human personality, "neediness," affects our ability to relate to others. Not just to some folks, but to all others, in fact.
I also told you that "neediness" is much more than a human emotion. Rather, as I define it, it is a full fledged drive within human personality. It is, in fact, our primary drive.
How, then, am I defining, "neediness?"
"Neediness" is the drive to resolve the pain of separation experiences without ever having to reconnect. Here, the phrase "separation experiences" refers to the middle moment of our three Birth Separation-Moment Experiences, the three being  feeling profoundly connected,  feeling profoundly disconnected, and  feeling needy.
These three events form our first experience of life. As separate beings, that is. These three experiences also define all experiences which follow birth as well. Moreover, by age four, we each adopt a default way of responding to those times wherein we relive this three moment separation sequence. And the essence of this strategy is where we look to resolve our needs. We either look inward or outward.
Ultimately, these strategies, which I call, "Character Types," fall into four separate categories, each associated with one of the first four years of life. As well as with how we once tried to resolve our neediness in that particular year.
"One's," meaning, first year of life folks, resemble babies in their first year of life who are trying to resolve their needs. These folks tend to look to resolve their neediness only from external sources. From outside themselves. From others and not from themselves.
"Two's" then, meaning, second year of life folks, tend to look only inward for this resolution. Thus, these people tend to look to resolve their neediness only from internal sources. From inside themselves. And only from themselves and not from others.
"Three's," then, meaning, third year of life folks, tend to do a combination of both. These people tend to look first outward, only, then inward, only. Thus, these folks look to resolve their neediness in both directions. First, they look to others to resolve their needs. Then they look only inside themselves for the solutions to their needs.
Finally, "four's," meaning, fourth year of life folks, tend to do the same thing three's do, only in reverse. First, they look inward to resolve their needs. Independently. All by their lonesomes. Then they look outwards, looking for others to meet their needs.
In a way, we could say these four Character Types act as a sort of "need compass," in that they point us in the direction in which we believe our needs will be met. As well as to whom we believe can and should meet these needs. Others, or ourselves.
Okay. So we each have a default direction we look in when we are needy. And this is called, our Character Type. The question then to ask though is, what exactly do we look for?
The answer. We each develop preferences for what kinds of experiences we believe will best resolve our neediness. I call these preferences, our "Social Priorities."
What exactly are our "Social Priorities?"
Social Priorities are the ways in which we humans distract ourselves from the pain of separation experiences. Literally. And like the four Character Types, there are four Social Priorities, in this case, representing the four main ways babies explore the world during their first four years of life.
What are the four Social Priorities? Comfort. Neatness. Understanding. Freedom. These four strategies are the four core ways in which we try to distract ourselves from the pain of separation experiences.
Know that in extreme cases, these four Social Priorities also form the core of most childhood learning disabilities, the four being Kanner's Autism ("comfort" type distractions), OCPD ("neatness" type distractions), Asperger's ("understanding" type distractions), and ADD ("freedom" type distractions). No coincidence, we refer to these conditions, especially the last one, as "distractions."
Finally, realize that what I'm saying here is not that these four priorities are how we make ourselves happy. Rather, they are the four ways in which we refocus ourselves away from the places wherein, in truth, we would ultimately be happiest; being connected to others.
Moreover, we do this because the Birth Separation Experience is so painful, we, from birth on, do our best to avoid being in situations wherein we might relive this painful separation. Thus, we focus our efforts to resolve our neediness on distracting ourselves, rather than on reconnecting.
Herein lies the heart of how knowing a kid's Social Priorities could be used to match kids to teachers. Because we tend to focus more on ways to work around connecting rather than on connecting itself, most of the times wherein we connect to others occur accidentally, in those times wherein we are in the presence of someone with whom we share a Social Priority. Thus, if we used Social Priorities to match kids to teachers, we could consciously stimulate these connections while at the same time, making things easier for teachers as well.
Know that ideally, we would need to match kids to teachers both by Character Type and by Social Priorities. Which may not always be possible. Or desirable. However, we, at least, need to explore how matching kids to teachers by Character Type and Social Priorities might lead to better classrooms. Why? Because doing this could improve our chances for better classrooms exponentially.
One last thing. While we each have one Character Type, we all have all four Social Priorities, just in different orders. Which is why they are called,"priorities." As for the "social" part, we call these priorities, "social" because they occur most markedly in social settings, especially in the times wherein we are entering into and leaving these settings.
Now let's look more at what these Four Social Priorities are, and at how they come into being.
The First Social Priority - "Comfort"
An obvious quality, in new born babies, is that they vigorously complain when they feel uncomfortable. Moreover, during this time of life (from birth to about six months), being comfortable is the main focus for all of us. Why? Because our main job during this portion of our development is to master our ability to use our senses. These senses include the five physical senses and the sixth sense, intuition.
Smelling, tasting, touching, hearing, seeing, and intuitively sensing the presence of. These are the six senses babies look to master from birth to about age six months. Moreover, these babies do not really focus on sensing anything in particular. They focus only on mastering their ability to "sense" their world in general. On "sensation" itself.
So what is driving this need? It's simple. Babies are learning to use comfort to distract themselves from the pain of separation experiences. And yes, while no baby does this knowingly, we all have this desire built into us by design. It's simply natural for newborn's to focus on comfort.
Now consider your own observations of babies at this age. And how they exhibit this Social Priority. What, in fact, have you seen babies this age do? To see, consider what we do to calm them down when they cry and complain.
What do we do? We "comfort" them. No coincidence we call what we're doing for them, "comforting" them.
Now consider the specifics of how we "comfort" them. We hold them (touch), feed them (taste), talk to them (hearing), and look at them. Very closely, in fact. So closely, they see us (sight).
We also smell them a lot, and they, us (smell). And of course, we also reach out a lot with our intuitive sense to make sure they're okay (intuition). Comfortable, mainly.
Of course, while we are sensing them, they are also sensing us. Why? To learn from us. What exactly? Basically, how we use our senses. Thus, inadvertently, we teach our children, by observation mainly, much about the very senses they'll later use to navigate with, and create their world.
About a quarter of all babies born will forever favor this way of exploring life. Why? It's complicated. And unless you're a personality theorist, there's no real need to worry about it. At least, for now. What is important to know, though, is that this group of babies will forever favor, "comfort." We, in fact, refer to this very preference whenever we say someone is, "sensual." Moreover, when we say someone is "sensual," we simply mean, these people, first, "sense" their world, then decide what to do in it.
For roughly twenty five percent of all kids entering school, their need compass will point to this personal focus; comfort. More important, these kids will forever be distracted by what they feel are uncomfortable classrooms, everything from the room temperature being too hot or cold to strange smells and noisy acoustics. Which is why these kids will feel strong urges to torment every teacher they ever have with requests to modify classroom environments, anything from where they sit and who they sit next to, to how light or dark the room is.
These kids have Comfort as their first Social Priority.
These kids love comfy chairs and beautiful classrooms and natural light. They fit best with Comfort first teachers.
The Second Social Priority - "Neatness"
What happens next? Baby experts tell us that at about six months old, babies develop depth perception. Of course, this is not something which comes on suddenly but rather, develops slowly, over time. The point is, by about six months, babies have pretty much mastered this aspect of sensing their world. Which then creates in them an expanded field of interest. As well as the need to extend the reach of their senses to beyond their own need for comfort.
To what do they use their senses to reach? To reach "things." Which is just to say that, at about six months old, babies begin, in earnest, to use the senses they've been mastering to begin to explore their world. And everything in it. In fact, to these babies, everything in their world is a "thing." Even you. Your nose. Your eyes. Your hair. And so on. Ouch!
In a way, we could say that a baby's job, at this age, is to use their senses in order to master the things in their world. Why? Because these things have become very sensually interesting.
Know this interest does not center only on seeing these things. Rather, babies this age explore all things in their world using all six senses. In other words, they ...
How long does this stage of life go on? For about six months. That is, until about age one. At which time, about half of all babies will alter their focus to the next Social Priority, which we'll discuss in a moment.
For the roughly twenty five percent of babies who comfortably settle into this second stage of baby development, life will forever be a stage on which to sense and organize things. Which is what makes these kids tend to be somewhat sensitive as to where they put, and who gets to touch, their stuff.
This is also why kids with this Social Priority tend to focus more on their notebooks and pencil boxes than on what is being taught. And why they need to get their stuff situated before they can even begin to focus on what the teacher is saying.
These kids have Neatness as their first Social Priority. Which is not to say they are all neat. They're not. It's just that they focus on all the things around them. And on how they are, or are not, organized. Including ideas.
These kids love sequenced lists and bar charts and numbered handouts. They fit best with Neatness first teachers.
The Third Social Priority - "Understanding"
Before describing the next stage of development, I need to mention a word. The word is, "developmental." Why mention it? Because many people may be assuming, I'm saying babies develop "progressively." And in a sense, I am saying this. Each of these four states does build on the prior state. However, this does not imply having a preference for a later "need focus" is in any way better than having a preference for an earlier one. Only that these states unfold in a progression of four stages.
In other words, no Social Priority is better, or more desirable, than any other. They are simply different. Moreover, as I said previously, we all have all four. We only prioritize them differently.
This said, now what is the third stage? To see, consider this. Consider how some people can't get enough learning. These are the folks who pretty much live in their local Barnes and Noble. The folks whose homes often contain many unread books and magazines.
They are also always ready to tell you, given the slightest invitation, whatever new exciting things they have just discovered. In fact, these folks seem to live to discover and learn.
So where do these urges to discover come from? They come from how they once lived in and around their second year of life. And they most resemble the way babies live from about age ten months to a bit before their second birthday.
What are babies like at this age?
Curious about everything. And into everything. You've gotta be fast to keep up with what they're into. And if you've ever spent a single day around even one baby in this stage of life, you know very well what I'm talking about. These babies seem to exude energy. And endless curiosity. Moreover, they cannot seem to pick up, twist, open, smell, or handle, enough things in a day.
What are these babies doing? They're using what they've mastered in the previous two stages;  the ability to manage their senses and,  the ability to sense things, to begin to understand the meaning of the things they are sensing. What are all these things anyway! And why can't I just touch whatever I want?
For most babies, this "can't get enough of discovering the meaning of things" is their main focus at this age. And for about a quarter of all babies, this focus is where their "need compass" will point to for the rest of their life. It will point to learning the meaning of all the things in the world. And how they work.
These kids have Understanding as their first Social Priority. Which is not to say they understand everything. They don't. It's just that they focus on learning what everything around them means and how it works. Including thinking.
No surprise, these kids love the sciences especially. Even the more obtrusively visual sciences, such as psychology and archeology. Colored breakout diagrams and how it grows charts. Wow! Seeds in the Dixie cups? Even better.
These kids fit best with Understanding first teachers.
One more thing. These kids often get mislabeled as ADD. They're not. Moreover, rather than seeing these kids as distracted, see them as hyper focused on whatever they currently wish to learn about. Which, in a way, is an oxymoron. Hyperfocused AND distracted?
The only thing to remember here is that for these kids, their need compass will forever point in the direction of learning. Not such a bad thing, after all. Unless, of course, what they want to learn about is not what is being taught.
The Fourth Social Priority - "Freedom"
Finally, we come to the last of the four Social Priorities, which we refer to as, "Freedom." Why "Freedom?" Because these kids do not want to be tied down. No how. No way. And whenever you do try to get them to sit, or think, or even be in one place for any length of time, what do they do? They squirm, and complain, and generally stir things up. Especially in classroom settings.
Willful little suckers, aren't they? Nothing abnormal here, though. Thus, despite what the drug and medical crowd would have you believe, squirmy, wormy kids are not some new variety of semi fatal disease. Rather, they are simply kids who are continuing to act as if they are still in their third and fourth years of life.
Now stop for a moment and try to picture what I've just said.
Now consider how well this picture describes babies in the "terrible two's." To a "T," almost.
No coincidence, age two is the age at which Freedom as a Social Priority comes into being. Leave me alone! I want to do what I want to do!
Amazingly, in the past decade, many schools seem to want every other kid to go on ADD medication. Or on ADHD medication, if your first Social Priority is neatness. Although, I have to say, diagnosing a kid as having "ADHD without HD" is like saying a kid has running disease that does not affect his legs. Kind of dumb, don't you think.
So what else do kids with Freedom first do?
Everything but what you want them to do. Except, of course, in those rare moments wherein you actually hold their interest. Which is to say, the main thing these kids focus on is rebelling against whatever currently may infringe on their freedom. Including their freedom to do, or think, or speak about whatever is being taught. I have my right to my opinion! You are all just putting more "bricks in my wall!"
One final note. Many teachers have a had time discerning between Understanding first kids and Freedom first kids. Both can distract a classroom to the point where a teacher is crazed. The difference is in what is distracting the kid, their "need strategy."
Understanding first kids tend be distracted when what is being taught includes fuzzy details or out of place logic. When this happens, these kids feel urges to blurt out corrections without regard to how this disrupts the class.
Freedom first kids tend to be distracted most when the whole class is focused and paying attention, almost as if their inclusion in the group depends on their being the center of attention. At least, to one person anyway. Themselves.
Moreover, these feelings happen independent of the quality of what is being taught, because what is being taught is more an impediment to their being seen than something imperfectly presented.
Freedom first kids are the one's who can have ADD. Or ADHD if you're a Neatness first person. The right label. Remember. And a simple way to discern the Understanding first kids from the Freedom first kids involves holding up an object up and asking them what it is. A pen, for instance.
If you do this while watching the kid's eyes, you'll notice Understanding first kids' eyes will widen. Do this with a Freedom first kid, though, and you'll usually see their eyes narrow. Brows and all.
From this one thing alone, you should be able to surmise how differently these kids respond to being in classrooms. All this said, though, they do pretty well in classrooms with Freedom first teachers. Simply because they understand each other better. And so, they simply fit in with each other.
This week, again, I've given you a lot of information. Have I overwhelmed you again? Are you too overwhelmed to go on?
Please know, we're getting close to the part wherein I show you the tests. Hopefully, we'll begin to get there in next week's column. Before closing this week's column though, I'd like to point out a few things, beginning with a few of the details in this week's diagram.
First, notice the four little icons, each representing one of the four Social Priorities. The first one is a little, pink comfort pillow. This icon represents the need focus of the kids who require special chairs and ongoing temperature adjustments in their classrooms; the Comfort first kids.
The second icon is a little blue, Organizing file cabinet. This icon represents the need focus of the kids who dream of organizing everything perfectly. Even if they never organize anything, because it's too overwhelming to know where to begin.
Third, there's a little yellow, "aha" light bulb. This icon represents the kids whose need focus is simply to Understand everything in their world. These kids are our future Einstein's and Da Vinci's. Or shut-ins and misunderstood folks, if they get passed by.
Lastly, for the kids who can never seem to be able to sit still for long, there's a little red Freedom butterfly icon. Kids with this need focus make distracting their classmates more exciting than chair Tai Chi. And almost as complicated.
Well, there you have it. The Four Social Priorities. The four strategies with which we distract ourselves from the pain of separating from each other. Even if we never notice we even have this anxiety.
Remember also, there are four Character Types, each of which determine where we look to solve these distractions, either to others, or to ourselves, or to both.
In addition, remember that we all have, in us, some degree of these same four ways of focusing away from the pain of separations. We merely prioritize these strategies differently.
My order? I'm a 3,4,2,1; an Understanding, Freedom, Neatness, and Comfort person. I'm also a Character Type 2, which means that my main focus in life is to Give to others (Character Type 2), Understanding (my highest Social Priority), Freely (my second highest Social Priority). Because Comfort is my lowest Social Priority, I'll also suffer the discomfort of hell in order to learn something I'm really interested in. And because Neatness in my next to lowest Social Priority, while I may, indeed, take the handouts, I'll usually shove them in a folder in some dark corner.
I could have been a heck of a student in my childhood. Unfortunately, I was teacher to student mismatched more years than I can count. Most years, in fact.
As I think about it now, perhaps this pain is one of the main things which is motivating me to make the world better for children. By Freely giving you my Understanding.
Are you beginning to see how much better things could be?
Until next week then. I hope you're all well,