Sunday, August 01, 2010

Panel: Development and Ethics: Katie Heikinnen, Zak Stein, Elliott Ingersoll, Susanne Cook-Greuter, Roger Walsh (Part 1) #itc2010

Panel: Development and Ethics: Katie Heikinnen, Zak Stein, Elliott Ingersoll, Susanne Cook-Greuter, Roger Walsh

This is part one of two - part two will be up tomorrow.

We started with a 10-minutes guided meditation led by Roger. He slowly and progressively moved us into a boundless state and had us find the questions that move us about this panel - these were mine: (1) How do we disconnect development scores from self-esteem/identity? (2) How do we care for the individual while applying these models and measures?

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not direct quotes - they are my best effort at recording and paraphrasing the conversation.]

Katie (the moderator) then had each panelist introduce themselves in terms of what they want to say about the up side of developmental & psychometric testing and models. I'm going to abbreviate these a bit, simply because I'm really tired and this was a bit less interesting than the rest of the conversation.

Elliott: First, do no harm. Great koan, and so hard to actually do it. People attach meaning to numbers and scores in the subjects - people's expectations are a challenge. Post-test debriefing is essential, and it doesn't often happen.

Susanne: I have no experience in ethics, so I am not sure why I am here. But I am a person who cares about other people, about scoring tests with fairness and compassion. I resist the impulse to transform everyone. And yet I am a developmental psychologist. This is also a business - how to maintain ethics in that marketplace. maybe staying small is the answer? Is that silly?

Zak: The state of the education in the US is the biggest ethics issue in human development. Models and metrics. Education is for profit. We test the hell out of people/kids and we measure little of any value. And the models are not useful. We need a bio-psycho-social model. Too many kids are taking drugs just to stay in school when we would be better off looking at the classroom culture, their environment.

Roger: (He kind of just listed a series a huge issues that concern him, so that is how I will present them.)
  • I'm not an ethicist, not a developmentalist
  • We need to consider the ethics of the test, and the validity, and also how the details are used
  • We have to be careful - reading about higher meditation states derailed my practice for at least two years while I tried to reach those higher levels
  • Also, we need to watch issues of specialness - seeing ourselves as a stage/color - comparing mind is a big trap, as well as elevationism
  • Uncomfortable with efforts to map groups or cultures as any stage
  • Trap of pigeon-holing - intolerance of ambiguity - results in stereotyping
  • We must be values-aware since we can't be values-free
Katie began the panel discussion with a few guiding questions:
  • Why do we do developmental assessments and hold developmental views?
  • What are the dangers and risks?
  • What does it do to our sense of self?
  • What does it do to our sense of other?
  • Why do we believe in a developmental perspective?
  • Believe = fervently hope.
  • Value comes in the discussion after the test as administered.
  • Insight into their meaning-making - better relationship, better therapy experience.
  • We need to not be sure . . .
  • We need to wonder about how they (clients) explore their experience of self
  • Feedback = test of the test, not the person
  • Constant questioning is important
  • Development is not stable and people are not static - even the theory is not static
  • We must leave space in the methodology of testing for its growth
  • I believe in development because it's there - it's really happening - maybe I'm young enough to still believe - Evolution happens
  • It's about trying to create conditions that generate autonomy in the deepest sense
  • Standardized testing is designed to monitor return on investment, not in the best interest of the growth and education of children
  • Opening new possibilities
  • I have a faith that truth will set us free - that truth is an on-going exploration - helping us recognize and invoke potentials within us
  • Pitfalls - money in the equation?
Elliott: (Jumping in, in response to some other side comment)
  • Types . . . not a fan - none of them have proven reliable (Enneagram, Myers-Briggs)
  • But as a metaphor of a style, you get a sense of the client, and where they are
  • BUT, the risk is that clients will use the results of a test they request to beat themselves up (not advanced enough OR not living up to potential) - not useful in that sense
  • Pop psych/self-help books (we buy other people's books to help ourselves?) - no feedback from the quizzes, no context - no debriefing, which is crucial
  • These tests and models create an illusion of certainty where there is none - "Word Magic"
  • Very few scorers due to the stringent requirements we hold for people
  • Testing is never the first option for our coaches - maybe down the road, but only if indicated
  • Must be cautious because testing can create harm, wounding
  • Integral is guilty of of this in its arrogance - not valuing how hard it is to be an adult
  • Being a part of integral is a great gift, but it has also given me 50 more ways to be neurotic, at every level, in every state
  • Regarding the educational crisis - we are in over our heads
  • Just choosing a cell phone plan, actually comparing and choosing one, is a Level 11 (in our model) task demand - life is so complex - we are often not competent to life's demands
  • But this is now a knowledge based economy - huge demand for psychometrics means no standards, no limits on their use
  • Testing is crucial in education - but we rank and sort, we regulate self-esteem based on test scores that do nothing to help kids learn - tests should be diagnostic, not prescriptive
  • Based on some recent journal articles:
  • Psychological testing is the most important contribution of behavior science to the culture
  • No discussion of ethics
  • There's a sense of the test knowing us better than we do, better than we know ourselves
OK, then, this is the end of Part 1 - the next installment will feature the question & answer session.

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