Category Archives: Social Sciences

What Dreams May Be…

Dreams for some people, are a place of wonder and for others it can be a place of horror, but for most it is merely a series of exercises for the brain while the body is at rest. For many people the memories of dreams are vivid and inspiring while for most, there are rarely even vague memories. Either way, it does not change the fact that dreams are place of magic and curiosity, but the most important fascination is why we dream.

There have been many explanations over the centuries as to what dreams are and how they function in the larger patterns of life. What is their purpose to and in the brain and how do we track the dreams that we have has been a focus of research for many psychologists. While a lot of data has been collected on the brain waves while dreaming, it has provided little information as to the purpose. In fact, there are many that have stated that dreams serve no real purpose at all though some research has found that not dreaming can be damaging.

The current scientific stance on dreams is that they serve to help to brain sort through information that has been collected through the awake time activities and then moved the information into long term storage. The spiritual and therapeutic beliefs are that dream serve to organize information to not only provide further information but to also provide information that is outside of the understanding of the human conscious. All three of these stances are correct and the goal of this paper is to show that not only are all three valid but they also work together to help the human mind to connect with the world it lives in.

De-fragment

The first form of dream is the De-fragment Dream. This is the well-known dream of random events, objects and situations that get mashed together in to a random collect of stuff. Often these dreams are fast, jumbled and rarely remembered. These also tend to be the dream most frequently studied because in the lab environment most people are woken up after the physical indications has noted that the dream has been concluded. The physical indications are often referred to as R.E.M. (rapid eye movement) sleep because of the movement of the eyes and other noises and movements people make while dreaming. Once these physical movements have stopped, the researcher will wake the test subject up and have them record their dream.

It has been theorized that these dreams are needed for the brain to sort through the information it has collected and then either store the needed material or dispose of the unneeded material. In a sense, the brain is de-fragmenting the information into more comfortable forms. The result of the de-fragmentation process of the brain is often dreams that has no basis in a story or a theme that identifiable but instead it is random in the selection of material and rarely does the dream have any real sense of flow through it. Additionally, these dreams are rarely remembered because of the information already being in the brain in a different and more grounded format.

Symbolism

The second type of dream could be referred to as the Symbolic Dream and is most often see in situation in which a people “sleeps on” a problem or difficult situation. Many of these dream will have imagery that is symbolic in nature and there is frequently a story attached to the journey of the dream. Many of these dream will evoke a strong emotional response in the dreamer either during the dream or when the dream is remembered. In many cases the dreams are remember as vague images and emotional responses after the dreamer is awake. Some people, these dreams have resulted in works of art or fiction as examples on H.P. Lovecraft’s collected work, and stories like ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

The goal of these dreams to assist the person through their subconscious to come an answer to a problem or resolve a frustration. These are the types of dreams that Freud wrote about in his work on dreams, concluding that the objects and actions in the dreams had symbolic relevance to the person and was a way for the mind to provide a message to the dreamer. Additionally, the symbolism of these types of dreams are analyzed as part of therapeutic processes in order to gain insight to the client’s needs or desires that are being neglected (the id part of the brain). Many people have attempted to explain the variety of symbols that present themselves in dreams and there are many different books with explanations for each of these symbols but in the end, the symbol interpretation can only be done by the dreamer because each symbol will have a different meaning to each person.

While these dreams are more frequently remembered than the De-fragment Dreams, they also happen less often. A person might have a dream that is Symbolic once a month unless there is an increased need, such as a stressful series of events. Many people can evoke a symbolic dream through thought exercises, not unlike praying or meditating, right before going to sleep at night. Contemplation on a problem or situation before sleep will often result in a Symbolic Dream in order to come up with a solution.

Premonitions

Premonition Dreams are the rarest dreams and the most frequently remembered with the highest levels of consistence over years. For many, these dreams will evoke an emotional response that is consistent with waking times emotional responses. For many whom have these dreams regularly, they are able to recite the turn of events with a story telling style and often have a Deja-vu experience when the dream happens in waking time. Additionally, many of these dreams will be in locations that are unknown to the dreamer and may include people whom are unknown. One of the most important ways to realize that one has one these dreams is that the objects and activities are grounded in reality, meaning that there is nothing in the dream that is different from the way it could happen in the real world.

Many might mistake a Symbolic Dream for a Premonition and this is part of the reason that the idea of these types of dreams has been dismissed by scientific communities. Jung did believe that these dreams did exist and wrote about the idea that dreams helped people to connect to the Collective Unconscious and Premonition Dreams were a communication with the collective energy that all humans share. It has been argued by many gurus and spiritual leaders that humans have the ability to connect with larger realms of reality and that dreams of foretelling are just a method of connecting to the higher self that humans have the capability to do. It could also be argued that these dreams indicate an ability of the human to evolve in to something more powerful and amazing, a being of great skill and energy.

Ties of the Mind

How this all ties together is simple: Every human on earth has all of these dreams. There is no special person in the world that has premonition dreams more than another person. The difference is that ability to believe in what you dream. If you believe that dreams are unimportant de-fragmenting at the end of a day, then you will see all dreams as being such, and this is the same of the premonition and symbolic dreams. Efforts to manipulate the mind have be recorded since the beginning of time and as a result, humans have forced their brains to process dreams in the same controlled ways. All three types of dreams are needed for the human to survive and thrive in the world. The de-fragment dreams help to sort through the thousands of bit of information we take in every day, the symbolic dreams help us to answer questions or see where problems are in life, and premonitions have always been there to help the human survive in a world filled with danger and excitement.

Conclusion

It has become common knowledge that humans spend a third of their lives asleep and though the numbers may vary from person to person, this is true. While we sleep, we also dream and there are few that can argue that humans will have many different kinds of dreams. The Defragmentation Dreams help the human brain to cope the large amounts of information internalized on daily basis. Symbolic Dreams help the mind to sort out difficulties and problems and are often associated with “sleeping on” a problem. Premonition dreams are part of the collective energy that the world shares and efforts to communicate with the larger world through insights into the present and future. All humans have all of these dream throughout their lives and how often one type of dream or another is identified depends upon the individual’s beliefs about dreaming and usefulness of it. R.E.M. sleep happens for all these types of dreams and is important to the mental health of the human mind, which lends to the idea of the need to get “a good night’s sleep.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder or Seasonal Slow Down?

Funny Sleeping Bear

Human believe that they are not the same as other animals in the world and in many ways this is a true statement, but there are many things that are the same between humans and other animals. One of the most important similarities is the need for rest, whether it is sleeping or just relaxing. Another similarity is that all animals have lower activity levels in the winter months (colder time of the year) as compared to the summer months (warmer time of the year).
This paper is going to examine on area of similarity that has been misunderstood for so long that there is no longer any fresh materials on the subject. This is the topic of torpor or a significant slowdown of bodily function in a human being. Additionally, I am going to provide information to show that humans go through a period of slow down just as much as other animals do and this has been mistaken for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well as how this mistake is causing more problems than doing any good.
Winter Time
The world slows down in the cold months of winter and this is a phenomena that has been known for centuries. Animals with the ability to hibernate will do so, plant will go dormant and all of the rest of the world will slow down. History has shown that humans will also go through a period of slow down during the colder months, which was usually obscured by the patterns of agriculture. While humans have believed that they were more than highly developed humans for centuries, the belief in overcoming all of the effects of the natural world only started in the 1700’s when the rational skill became highly prized. In fact, during the modern times of the 20th century and going forward, it is believed that a human can have the same levels of productivity throughout the whole of the year even though there is incidences that can be cited through all of history that show that even humans have to take a step back in activity during the coldest time of the year.
Before the end of World War II, most humans worked with the patterns of nature, but this is also when most of the working world still lived on farms. Farms are far less active during the winter months and the humans were allowed to rest on the food stores like other animals do. Also, many traditional human activities such as Christmas and Thanksgiving are related to the need to increase calories for the torpor of the winter and prepare food for long term storage. Other holidays such as Brigid’s Mass (Groundhog Day) and Lent (40 days of fasting in many of the Christian religions) are to assist the humans in managing through these slower months and surviving.
Cold season during the winter months of most parts of the world and it is believed that this is mostly the cause of the restrictions to indoor activities, but it is could also be because of the immune system not being as activity during the colder months. The human body like so many other animals go into a type of torpor during the colder season and this affects the immune system, as the whole body is functioning at a far lower rate of productivity and efficacy. Other evidence of the slower system of the human body is found in longer hours of sleep and deeper sleep during this time of year. Higher numbers of mistakes, less work being completed and over-all sleepiness. Many people complain of fatigue and/or a notable loss of productivity during the colder months.
The symptoms of seasonal torpor include: long periods of deep or deeper sleep with periods of activity between sleeping spells, sluggishness, dullness, stupor as well as higher levels of fatigue during the awake periods (Medicinenet.com, 2015). Additional symptoms noted in other animals includes decrease in overall appetite but increase desire for higher fat and higher protein foods; lower body temperature, lower heart rates and more shallow breathing.
Winter Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a disorder of the modern times, having been a disorder only since the earlier years of 1980’s (Rosenthal, Sack, Gillin, Lewy, Goodwin, Davenport, Mueller, Newsome, & Wehr, 1984); and in many ways, the fact that there is a disorder for this is also a sign of the changing times as well as the expectations of what a person does with their time. In many ways the symptoms of SAD are similar to those of torpor, including low mood and concentration during particular seasons (often the winter time), increased sleeping, cravings for sugars and other fat sources, low energy and fatigue. As outlined in the earlier section, these symptoms are all associated with the torpor states of most animals.
There is a lot of speculation that there is a relationship between the torpor states or at least the slowing downing of the human body during the winter months. Tests have been completed to find that there is a relationship between hormones and sunlight (Judd, 2008) and the Melatonin the brain produces and gets rid of. Melatonin is associated with tiredness and fatigue as well as many of the other symptoms of SAD. There has been other research on this disorder to locate the cause but little has been found outside of the changing the hormones that naturally adjust through the year.
In many ways, it is argued that SAD is just a more extreme form of the Winter Blues that affect everyone and the difference is that the affected people are not able to fight the symptoms off with large amounts of coffee and ‘mind-over-matter’ therapies. While this might hold a candle of truth, there is another side of this, in that most people are not able (not a willing issue) to fight of the winter blues. SAD diagnosis are people that need a break more than most during the winter months and there are plenty of people that do need to take the time of the winter to relax and recharge for the coming year. A person that takes this time and does so happily often is not seen as having a disorder. A person that fights the needs of the body will become distraught over the lack of energy and there could result in a feeling of depression from a fight of the mind with the body.
It was noted on the Mental Health America website (2014) that the age groups primarily affected by SAD are 18 to early 50’s or the ages in which a person is the most active and living with the highest expectations for community activity, productivity and involvement. The pressure of the social activities in addition to the natural torpor state might in fact create the feelings of depression and also result in the far more extreme symptoms that are associated with SAD. In other words, SAD is a disorder that has been culturally created because social and productive culture has not taken natural processes into consideration. Instead of allowing the human body to do what it is supposed to naturally, fighting has resulted in a Seasonal Disorder.
Hot Chocolate for the Soul
While many might not see the creation of a disorder as a problem as there at least half a million people in America affected by severe cases of the “winter blues” but on the other hand, there are too many people that are still fighting the natural state of winter living instead of letting it be what it is. For many of the people that have SAD in milder forms, they might be better off allowing their bodies to process through the natural seasonal patterns instead of using lights and other measures to force themselves into more productive states. There is nothing wrong with sleeping a bit more and spending more time watching TV during the winter. Much like sleep is a time for the body to be at rest, so too is the winter season. This is a time for reading, resting and rejuvenating for the rest of the year.
As for treatment of the seasonal blues, one should examine what has been done in the cultures closest to the Arctic Circle as well as what agrarian cultures did during the cold months for hundreds of years. Most of these people survived the winter with no light bulbs or medication because they understood something about the cycles of time and life. Also, the celebrations of the passage of time like Christmas and Groundhog Day should be held in the highest esteem. The darkest days are battled with the greatest hope, and the knowledge of the end of suffering is the greatest hope of all.
Conclusion
Humans have been encourage to believe that they are not animals and as a result they are not victims to the calls of nature and cycles of life like all of the other animals on this planet. But time again, this has been proven to be a fallacy, not only because of the relationship of physical similarities we have with primates but also because of the core behaviors humans engage in for survival of the self and the species.
One area of the cycle of life that has been placed in the realm of human self-control has been the responses to the seasonal cycle but the prevalence and views of the disorder Seasonal Affective Disorder have shown that humans are as much victims to the seasons as all other animals. And instead of accepting the colder, winter months as a time for rest and rejuvenation, humans elect to fight it and as a result causing pain to a half a million people in America. This paper outlined the similarity of the symptoms for torpor states of winter rest and the diagnostic criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This paper also indicated that the better treatment for the disorder is for humans to accept that the cycles of life are real and should be allowed to follow like so many other things in the natural world. Sometimes, the best solution for a problem is to realize that it is not a problem at all.

Bibliography/ References

Crossingham, J. & Kalman, B. (2002). What is Hibernation? New York, NY: Crabtree Publishing Company.

Hickman, P. & Stephens, P. (2005). Animals Hibernating: How Animals survive extreme conditions. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press Ltd.

Judd, S. J. (Ed.). (2008). Depression Handbook. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, Inc.

MedicineNet.Com (2014) Defiantion: Torpor. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=24814

Mental Health America. (2014) Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/sad

Rosenthal, N. E.; Sack, D. A.; Gillin, J. C.; Lewy, A. J.; Goodwin, F. K.; Davenport, Y.; Mueller, P. S.; Newsome, D. A.; Wehr, T. A. (1984). “Seasonal affective disorder. A description of the syndrome and preliminary findings with light therapy”. Archives of general psychiatry 41 (1): 72–80. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1984.01790120076010

Zancanaro, C., Biggiogera, M., Malatesta, M., & Ayre, M. (2004) Mammalian Hibernation:
Relevance to a Possible Human Hypometabolic State. Retrieved from http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/doc/ARI/ARI%20Study%20Report/ACT-RPT-BIO-ARI-036501-Morpheus-Verona.pdf

Changes in Masculine and Feminine and Suggestions for the Future

The world is changing and to some people it has been very fast in the last 100 years and for many others, it has been far too slow or not enough. But there is no debate that the world for women has changed a great deal, and as a result it has also changed for men. The movement forward for women has been an on-going process since the early suffrage movements and there have been times of sprinting forward and other times of uphill battle, but is does not change that the social expectations and roles for women have changed a great deal. But it has not changed quite as much for men though they have had significant change, especially in the last 20 years.

This paper is going to briefly recap the focus issue and the theory behind the issue, as well as provide a sentence or two on the most affected social problems of the belief in masculine and feminine roles. Then there will be section to describe areas of which there has been significant change towards more equal roles and responsibilities and then a section on what further work needs to be done to resolve the social problems detailed in the prior paper.

It is important to remember while reading this paper that masculinity and femininity are referring to the gender stereotypical behaviors as they are related to gender roles and responsibilities. And while these roles and responsibilities had their place in the time and history, at this point there is less need for following the gender stereotypical roles and instead consider the division of labor tasks be based on skills and desires. Prior papers on this website have examined personality and this paper does not. It looks only at the activities that have been described as men’s and women’s work.

The Savage Male

Over the centuries most cultures have a division of labor that is split between males and females. Males engaged in the behaviors associated with going outside of the protected area of the village, home or lands and acquire resources as well as protection of the lands and village through defense building (fences, houses, castles) and war activities. Most male activities have been done through training and practice activities and then followed with a test, a show of the skills or active use of the skills. After the success of completing the activity, there is often an acknowledgment ceremony or celebration of the success of the activities before moving on to the next activity.

Females have been primarily responsible for the maintenance and delegation duties which have included keeping a home in order, storage and maintenance of foods, and child rearing. Most of these activities require daily attention and rarely there is a day off or times that the projects are concluded. Because maintenance is a daily routine of behaviors, there are few times in which there is a celebration of the completion of the tasks and proof of the skills like there is with acquisition and protection. For most women, their wedding is often the day that they are celebrated the most.

Many arguments over the years have expounded the ideas of bring back this division of labor and there is no debate that both sets of skills are need to ensure the survival of the cultures but there is nothing to prove without a shadow of a doubt this skills are inherited through the “X” or “Y” chromosomes. In fact, documentation through history has shown time and again that these skills are learned and most people are socially pressured to engage in one skill set or another because of the view on sex and gender. These pressures and the lack of appreciation for the maintaining and delegation skills have led to the rise of the feminist movements that started with seeking the right to vote and then followed forward with married women going into the work force (outside of a wartime) in the 70’s and 80’s. These movement have forced change on a massive scale and from where the culture was 100 years ago, our ancestor would not recognized the world we live in, but the movements for equality has stalled in the last 10 years and even though there are pushes to keep the change alive.

Social Problems as a Result of the Change and Stall.

One of the largest problems that has happened as a result of the change but not enough has been a failure to redefine the roles of males. While women are taking on more of the skills that were once designated as male work, males are still expected to engage in the masculine tasks. As a result this has created many social problems that have been growing and in many ways getting worse. One area that is a problem is the relationship between a status or position and the expected behaviors. One position of which has been the most deeply affected is the men in uniforms. Typically these are men in the military, police force and other industries of protection and high physical strength. This jobs have been typically male dominated and have a high standard of masculine behavior and expectations. These standards have been increasingly difficult to up hold alongside the increasing desires for peaceful behavior and non-violence.

One of the results of the problems with the high standards of masculine behavior and being seen in a masculine position has been an increase in violence toward women. While it is know that violence against women has a long history, there has been an increase in the recent years that has left many befuddled and wondering to the reason. When looking at the distribution of the violence, it is found to be highest in areas of which there are the highest expectations for masculine behavior from the males. It is reasonable to conclude that there is a relationship between strong masculine roles and expectations and the additional expectation of a female to engage and remain in their roles and behaviors. Women from the communities or seen by the communities that have these masculine standards are often threatened and in many cases, those threats are followed through. Rape is one of the most well know threats of violence toward women and in recent years there has been a documented increase in the same form of violence towards men whom are not considered to be masculine.

The violence and threats towards women are well known and public are often directed towards women that speak out to the assistance of the feminist movement/ women’s rights movement or take active roles in traditionally male dominated industries. Many of the women that have made efforts in the last ten years for the continued expansion of women’s rights and opportunities have been threatened with violence. This is no surprise partly because the women’s rights movement has stalled in the last handful of years and in many ways it has started to creep backwards. The same speech about ‘equal pay for equal work’ and distribution of household labor (women are still doing the majority of the house work) has dominated for the last decade with little movement in those areas. It is not because the women are better suited to the work but instead that if the women do not do it, then no one would. Males are not being socialized to these tasks and as a result it is still the women cooking, cleaning and being primary care takers for children.

The other side of the issue that deals with the distribution of labors is also found in the “fast-food nation” that people born in the 1990’s and later are moving towards. Many of these individuals have been socialized to put all of their efforts toward production and acquisition tasks and as a result have no time or desire to engage in the behaviors of maintenance, distribution and care taking. In fact, the skills that were once an important part of daily work are now considered hobbies to engage in because for many it is easier to go and buy the tools and skills needed. Additionally, other skills that cannot be bought such as care taking and teaching are being lost to the younger generations or not valued but instead tolerated.

The ‘fast food nation’ and violence towards women also brings with it the metrosexual males and the changes of homosexual marriage. Both of these issues deal with the views of male behavior and masculinity. With non-masculine males, there is a belief of being a failure as a human being and especially a male, often resulting the loss of self-esteem and self- respect. Many males have been taught to believe that they have a right to a female companion and behaving in masculine ways is how to get a female. Having a female is a sign of status and accomplishment. (A prime example of this belief held in highly gender ‘traditional’ society is the recent kidnapping and enslavement of women in the Middle East, of which males see having a wife as a reward for socially accepted behavior.) The males that are not internally of high violence and masculinity tend to bullied, and rejected which can lead to stress related further issues. The other side of this is with regards to men whom are attracted to other men. While on the one hand they are judged for being lesser because they are not desiring a female to take on the feminine tasks but also one of the males in the relationship is viewed as having to take on the submissive roles and this is against the belief of what it is to be a male. The protests against homosexual marriage has more to do with the male with male marriage and not as much with the female with female dynamic. In fact, there has been far less hostilely towards homosexual females than there has been towards homosexual males in all of documented history, and in some ancient times there were hints of female homosexual relationships taking place and being encouraged (please review historical information on harems for reference material).

One of the reasons that female homosexual relationships were permitted and encouraged was to keep a female able and willing to be part of reproduction. A female’s reproductive abilities are the primary focus for the control of females. While a woman will control a household and the care of the members of the household, the engagement of sex is reliant on the pursuit of the male. Additionally, a female is expected to not engage in sex until they have been engaged in a profitable relationship (usually marriage) and then afterwards her sex is to be determined, encourage or even forced by her husband. The efforts of the reproductive rights movement are focused more on the female having control of her own sex instead of being at the whim of a father/ mate or avoided as a fear of pregnancy and having more children. Birth control and abortion rights puts the power of the woman’s body into her hands which is against the rights and privileges of being a male with possession of a female.

There are many other problems that come from the male roles, obligations and standards issues, including feminine beauty, lack of emotional display by males, and failures to communicate because of biased views of either sex. There is a great deal of documentation on these subjects and research on gender roles as well as biological difference fill many bookcases in libraries and bookstores.

Changes that have happened

Women went into the work force in the 1950’s but it was not until the 1980’s that men started doing more of the house work. There have been changes in the last 40 years to encourage men to take on more of the maintenance and delegation roles of the household but much of this has been met with resistance. This created a group of kids known as latch-key kids and these individuals are now paving the ways for men to take a more equal role in the household. Women still do a majority of the work in the household but there are more men in the following roles:

Household Chores: In the 1970’s there were few fathers and sons that knew the skills required to clean a house (strong examples of this are made a joke in the television series “That 70’s show). During the 1980’s, more males where taught by family members to engage in the cleaning skills and in most households today have a more equal division of cooking and cleaning than there has been in prior decades. Women still manage most of the tasks and indicate which are to be completed by whom but males are actively involved more of the tasks. For some couples, the weekly cleaning of the house has become a bonding activity done together.

Stay at Home Dads: A new development since the recent recession of 2008 has been the stay-at-home fathers. Many of the jobs seeking skilled employees were positions that have been dominated by females and as a result, many women found work but many males did not. As a result, many males stayed home to care for their small children or work part time and take on most of the tasks of care taking for children and household. In the beginning, this was met with distain and criticism for the males staying home, there has been a significant shift in the short time to being supportive and accepting of this change. It is a sign of a step forward though there is now more pressure on females to always be in the work force or to not take time off for family interests. Interestingly, many stay at home dads have said that they enjoy staying home with their children and would like to remain in the task for long term.

Single Fathers: In the 1990’s there was an epidemic of children living with mothers whom were addicted to drugs or in deep poverty situations. As a result, there was a review of the belief that a child is always better with their mother and the conclusion was that there were times in which a child was better with their father. This began a trend of single fathers raising their children. While in most places it is still preferred to place a child with their mother, it is less of a socially unacceptable option to place a child with their father. Additionally there is less and less fear that a child will be molested by a father than there was many decades ago, which part of the reason that it was considered preferable to have a child with a single mother rather than with a single father. One area that is still an issue is the child support payments that are mandatory to the primary care taker. Men still make more money than women do and as a result, single fathers work with far less or nothing from the mother to support the children they care for.

Women in the Work Force: Other areas in which there is significant change in the roles of men and women has been in the work force. There are more women taking on a larger variety of positions in the work force than any time in the past, and though there are more men management roles still, women are taking more responsibilities than before. Now more than other time, women are not only taking major leadership positions but also being respected in those positions. As it has been addressed time and again, there is a lot more work to be done with regards to equal pay and balanced decision making in hiring but there has been more progress than in other times in history. Additionally, women are no longer expected to give up careers for family though it is still difficult for a woman to not be expected to drop all tasks for considerations of family and men to expect that women would handle family issues.

Women in Combat: Women in combat is another issue of the current era that has seen a great deal of change and this is partly due to The Cold War (there was an increased awareness of female spies and intelligence agents) and Hollywood showing the world of stronger women not afraid of a fight. There is a long history of women fighters going back to the legends of the Amazons and the Celtics and there is plenty of documentation of women disguising as men and entering the military. Recently there has been an increased push for women to take active roles in the combat operations on the front line though this is still an uphill battle. More women are involved in combat in the command stations, and making tactical decisions. While women as still few and far between on the front line, there are more women rising to the rank of general than any other time in history.

Recommendations for the Future and Conclusion

Why is the information in this paper important? The answer is simple: to fix a problem, one should be aware of where it came from and what it is affecting. Many are so focused on what is seen as the benefit of being male and how all people have a right to those same benefits that it is forgotten what benefits there are in the traditionally female roles. Also, many have bemoaned the loss of certain skills, ethics and moral behaviors in the last few decades while not being aware of where those skills were lost to begin with. This paper is about a problem and how deep that problem runs as well as the trouble it has caused. One must know what a problem is before they can seek a solution for it, and many say that they are not aware of these issues and the common tread until it is brought forward.

The best recommendation for the future is encouraging people to be what they are without the enforcement of masculine and feminine roles based solely on sex identity. This is being done but there is a serious neglect of maintenance and delegation skills. Teach these skills to all children as much as the skills of acquisition and protection. Teach all children how to build a fence as much as cook dinner and then the skills will be maintained by the person with the best skills instead of the person that is socialized to do it. There was a belief in science fiction stories and shows that there was going to be a day in which sex had no relevance on skills and with the on-going education of children becoming more gender blind, this might happen as long as we all believe that it can. The most important thing to be taught, learned and practiced is the sex identity is not destiny and gender roles are learned from the people that are not aware that they have taught them.

Social Problems of Masculine and Feminine

Watching a husband and wife interact with each other in their Oklahoma home, the husband is working hard to clean up the falling leaves in the backyard and the wife is busy preparing dinner for a family of five. There is no question about the pair of people using the skills that they are better suited for and there is no question if it is right that each person is in the socially accepted place within the household, but there is a question of if each person is better suited because of their sex or if they are better suited because they have been encouraged into those positions in life by social training.

Gender roles and gender stereotyping has been an issue of research, debate and recently, legal contention for almost 100 years now. This largely started in the early 1900’s with the women’s suffrage movement and then was followed closely by the two world wars. Between earning the right to vote and married women branching into the work force during the wars, the debate over the place and roles of women have been openly argued. And while much has changed in the ways in which women have been treated in the work force and the home; there is still a lot that is the same.

Science has gone through the human brain to find the significant biological difference between men and women; and instead of finding the big differences, science has found more that is the same between the sexes. While there are differences (small ones that deal with adaptation to the assigned roles of each sex) in the brains of males and females, the behavioral differences have not been found in the brain but in the socializing that starts in utero. Additionally, the socializing that we enforce upon adolescents increasing the restrictions that we use gender roles for. Looking at the behavior, role models, and presentations of male and female in television targeting teenagers, it is clear that there are gender roles that are trying to be reinforced.

Gender roles are not just about the socially expected behaviors of males and females but also the social responsibilities to the larger society and how those responsibilities affect to continuation of the social roles. I will also provide a brief explanation of why this roles keep going even if it is counter-intuitive to do so as well as examples of various areas of present society that are being held back from progress because of the beliefs in the social and behavioral roles of males and females. A follow-up paper will offer conclusions on why this information is important and what it can be used for in order to equalize the roles, responsibilities and rewards of a balanced society. First, there needs to be an explanation of what gender roles, sex roles, are and masculine/ feminine behavior.

Marvin Harris’ “The Savage Male”

Among anthropologists, Marvin Harris’ work is not the most popular but it is well known. Not only for the methods of explanation he used but also for the criticism that he received about using American culture as too much of a base for his explanations of cultural behaviors. “The Savage Male” is one of the works that got a lot of criticism for being too liberally based on American culture, and for the sake of this paper, that is an advantage.

According to Harris’ theory, war societies have the highest investment in male dominance because the males are the focus of fighting and as a result, death. It is no stretch to say that America is a war society not only because of the ways in which Americans glorify dead soldiers but also because we have many means in which males fight each other, while trying to argue that people are more peaceful than they have ever been. The jobs in which males are paid some of the highest incomes are focused on fighting and competition, either in the field or on the court room and investment floor.

Fighting and competition are the focus points and means to the responsibilities of the males in this societal format, those responsibilities are the acquisition and protection of resources. Males have the role of bringing in the resources that are needed to maintain the family units and without something to acquire and protect, the role of the male is incomplete. This is the reason that a male is expected to purse a mate (or a female) in order to have something to protect and acquire for. Competition for a mate to protect and serve (acquire resources for) is high and often done aggressively through means of competition among males and with “wooing” of females to prove the ability to complete these responsibilities of the social structure.

In direct response to this structure of protect and serve that is emphasized in male behavior, females are expected to complete maintenance and distribution of the resources that have been acquired by the males. Maintenance of the social structure includes: child rearing, training and retraining of socially accepted behaviors. Females are responsible for continuation of the social structure because they are responsible for the next generation and the education of social behaviors. Distribution of resources is another primary roles that has fallen upon females and this is done through activities like meal preparation and house work. Though there are maintenance tasks that have been considered male work, most of those tasks are not completed without either the training of the mother and/or the delegation of the wife.

The skills for protection and acquisition of resources are often trained for over a period of years and when the skills are put to use, they are into short term projects. Many of these projects are seen as having a beginning, middle and end and at the end, there is a celebration and glory. On the other hand, maintenance work is often an ongoing and long-term projects that comes with complacency to the on-going management and the cycled process. There is little to no glory in the maintenance process because it is an on-going but instead gets passed to the next person after the first person has moved on from the role.

Male and Female Work

In order to help with understanding what skills are part of the roles of protector and resource acquisition (bread-winner) and what are the skills of maintenance and distribution, this section will describe a bit of each. The best ways to describe what is typically male or female work is to see if either: 1) publicly noticed and commented on and 2) is an activity that is done once and rewarded or is it repeated over and over again with a general reward given once or twice a year for all of the work done.

Men’s work is seen as dealing with going outside of the protected area of their territory and being in a position to not only incur physical damage but also gain resources to bring back into the protected area. These are skills like hard physical labor, trade, and community interactions. During the years of hunting and gathering, male were the ones that would seek out meat and bring it back to the camp. During the times of agriculture, the focus was going into the fields and bringing in the crops. Much later, going to work and bringing back a pay-check for the women to spend on the resources that were needed in the home.

Additionally, men’s work includes protection. The skills for this are building safe, sound homes that are able to hold up to weather and attack (a large reason that castles were so often a goal for a young female looking for an ideal mate {Princess Fantasy}). Physical features most often described as attractive are once that are connected to the highest levels of protection and security, including larger bone structures, bulging muscles and facial features related to stubbornness and determination. Maintenance of the external property is considered male work due to the relationship to household protection. Most of the house work most commonly related to male work is dealing with protection of the property (yard work) and has little to do with ascetic.

Women’s work starts with training in distribution of the resources that are used and stored, as well as distribution of information and knowledge (often in education of traditions, norms, and skills within the community and family). Females also distribute labor among people making some of the greatest leaders to not be remembered in all of history. Most males were not allowed to ascend to the throne of their kingdom until they had a strong female to work with and for them as a people manager. Women manage the ill and ensure that they get enough, but not too much, in the way of resources to help them heal. (Until the 1600s, 90% of all medical treatment was provided by females.)

Medical care also falls into the area of maintenance which is part of the never ending cycle of birth, life and death. Females were responsible for the birth of children, and care of the females whom have given birth in addition to be expected to provide children for their mates to protect. Life is an on-going cycle of production, maintenance and consumption. During agriculturally focused times, males primarily worked from spring until fall with a celebration at the end of harvest, while females had the responsibility of storing, maintenance, and distribution of the resources year round. Other skills, like sewing and cooking are part of the skills related to maintenance and distribution.

Additionally, females hold the responsibility of maintaining the social structure and cultures. Traditions require time, investment and skill as well as education. Norms are reinforced and taught through the females to the offspring, often starting in the youngest years, and pushed heavily during the teen years of a child. Child-rearing is a distribution and maintaining set of skills that start as soon as the female is with child and does not end until death. Females had few celebrations in their lives which all are related to children; 1) coming out party, or availability to marry, 2) marriage and this is often the biggest party of their life and 3) the birth of the first child unless the women marries a high status male, then there is a celebration of each child birth.

Typical male or female work is defined against two standards: 1) publicly noticed and commented on and 2) is an activity that is done once and rewarded or is it repeated over and over again with a general reward given once or twice a year for all of the work done, if there is a reward or praise at all. Male work is most often publicly noted and rewarded with medals and celebrations in addition to it being done once and then rewarded. Female work is cycled, done in private or away from the public and rewarded once or twice a year (mother’s day and birthday) and in bulk, if at all.

The work that has been considered “male responsibilities” has not changed more than small amounts in the last 100 years (since World War I and The Great Depression) but the roles of women are far wider than they have been in any other time in history. Not only are women still expected to handle the responsibilities of maintenance and distribution, but now are increasingly expected to manage acquisition and protection (for at least themselves and their off-spring). In many ways, the maintenance and delegation responsibilities have slowly started to be neglected and replaced by machines in the American society and this has resulted in many problems that have become national issues in the legal system, and socialization of individuals. The following sections are going to cover many of the ways in which this unbalance is affecting American life and at the end will be presented a simple point of view of how best to resolve this single issue that affects all of the following issues.

Social Problems as a Result to Holding on to this System

Thy system of dividing labor between males and females as a means of making sure there is enough people doing each of the roles has worked, for the most part… and for a long time. But like all systems that are dependent on life remaining stagnate (and life does not), so it is with this system. Efforts to keep this system has created many of the major social problems that are presently being suffered. This section is going to provide a paragraph or two on several of the major social problems currently being debated and frustrated in American society.

Problem #1: “Love a man in Uniform”

The idea of loving a man in uniform can be traced back to the Roman times and there are very few times in history in which a man wearing a uniform was not seen as a good and desirable in a mate. The primary reason for this because the roles that require the use of a uniform are protective in service to the community and the larger environments. Police, firemen and even soldiers are all seen as very masculine and protective. Additionally, in the last 100 years, this positions have seen an increase in income from the work in the uniform and as a result, the uniform represents a stable job, income and means of acquisition of resources.

While many might not see this as an issue, that is primarily because of the belief that a compliment in any form is not a bad thing even if it is socialized to reinforce beliefs that are harmful. Men in uniform are expected to not only put their life in danger for the sake of protecting but they also have to up hold the standard of masculinity and if they fail to do this, then they are not seen as male or manly enough. The movie “I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry” did a very good job of pointing out the frustration of being seen as masculine when in a position of wearing uniform. The military has had this problem for years and the results of holding a tight, rigid standard for being a man has resulting in many damages including rape, emotional trauma and harassment.

Problem #2: Violence against Women

Violence against women has been an on-going problem since the beginning of fixed sex identity roles and the belief that males and females are separate in addition to a male being superior to the female are the root of the problem. Women whom violate the system have been beaten (privately and publicly), raped, stoned, publicly executed and punished for having any of these punishments happen for it with slander, gossip, and negative foot notes in history. Females are expected to submit to male whims if the female is “owned” (protected and provided for) by the male and this has in many cases resulted in the rape of a female by an old male relative and for hundreds of years, females were repeatedly beaten and raped by husbands and fathers.

Violence against women is on a pendulum or a wave, with periods of history that were highly violent and other period in which there has be less. In the recent times (the last 10 years), there has been a sharp increase in the violence towards women and with technology increasing global information, the violence is not only known worldwide but also noticeable higher all around the world. And the places that have the highest and most violent actions against women are the ones with the highest conformity standards for males. As long as males have that higher standard to hold up to for being masculine, it results in a tighter standard for being female and the responsibilities for be a female.

Problem #3: Feminist Movement has stalled

Among feminists, there is a debate of whether the movement for women’s rights has reached the climax or if there is more equality to have. Many are leaning one way or another based in part on whether many still have the energy to keep pushing. It is important at this point to note that women’s rights have come a long way since the beginning of the suffrage movement in the early 1900’s. But there has come a point in which the momentum slowed and then almost stop for women’s rights. This is that point now and is evidenced by the fact that the same statements for women’s rights have been used for the last 10 years.

What could have stalled the movement? There are several reason working together to explain the stall: 1) violence against women has increased, 2) failure to help men to adjust to more equal roles, and 3) women teaching gender selective behavior because the women whom are reproducing are part of the groups that believe that gender roles and gender behavior should remain the same.

Violence against women is an easy explanation: beating leads to compliance with desired behavior; in other words, beat someone enough and they will do what you want especially if the beaten person feels there is no escape. Some of the violence is as a result of making efforts to re-engage gender specific behavior and in other ways it is as a result of a failure to redefine masculine behavior. The feminist movement helped to push women to take more positions in protecting and acquiring resources but did nothing to encourage males to also take on the positions of maintenance and distribution. Because of the society still holding to the standard that males are the ones to acquire and protect before a female does these actions or behaviors, males are left to compete with females and this can result in violence towards women.

Another issue that has not been presented to the public attention is with regard to which women are primary in children rearing. Many of the more feminist females are having children later, having fewer children and many are not having children at all. The result is that the women that hold more to a “traditional” views of male and female behavior are the ones having and raising children with males that also hold to a more traditional view of sex identified behavior. As many studies in the decades past have shown, sex selected behavior is largely taught, and if the ‘traditional” parents are the only ones having children, then the behavior mention before will be reinforced and taught again.

Problem #4: Abortion Rights/ Reproductive Rights

One of the major responsibilities of a woman in many of the more traditional views of male/ female roles has been having children and for most of history, the point of marriage was reproduction. For centuries, going all the way back to the times of the Ancient Greek and Romans, the point of marriage was to have babies and raise families. During these times in history when mortality was high and the ability to bear children set much later in life (typical age of first menarche for a female was closer to 16, unlike now when it is as early as eight or nine years old), these focuses had their place. In fact, up until the 1700’s the idea of romantic love was scorned and seen as a path to pain and death (examples of this can be seen in stories like Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Romeo and Juliet). Sometime in the 1700’s, the idea of romantic love as the focus of marriage took hold and gained strength over the years, resulting in there being less and less focus on having children as a reason to marry. In the past, if a person did not want to have children, they did not marry.

As it was noted in the prior section, more women are electing to put off having children or not have children at all, but the investment of marriage for companionship and love is still strong. Mortality rates for humans in general and infants primarily has dropped to new lows and the result is a feeling of less need to produce many children. Many couples are rarely having more than two children except for in some areas in the US which will be more or less by a factor of 1. These two factors result in one thing, a need for birth control and abortion for unwanted or damaged pregnancies.

Another important factor to note: in the past females were taught to deny their sexuality and be submissive to their husbands with regards to sex. The males were the ones to decide when and how often to have sex and when a male decided that there were enough children, they would stop having sex with their wives. Because of the changes in the views of sex, love and marriage; the need for birth control is higher now and by restricting access to it, this is demanding a return to wholly male dominated sexual interactions. This might be satisfactory to some people but for most, this is not an acceptable option because sex is being seen as an expression of love.

Problem #5: Homosexual Marriage

In the last year (end of 2013 until now), one of the biggest issues to hit the courts, coffee shops and even the classrooms has been about Homosexual Marriage (Often referred to as Gay Marriage). Many of the opponents claim the following: homosexual couples can’t have children (this is not true, they just can’t have children without planning for it), homosexual couple can’t note provide a balanced parent relationship (once again not true because many of these couple have been together for so long that they are more balanced in their relationship than heterosexual couples) and little boys will not grow up to be men (there is the issue that causes the most panic). Dialectically, when the word “gay” is used to refer to a homosexual couple it is most frequently referring to a coupling of two men rather than either males or females. In the past, homosexual couple and homosexual people most frequently targeted were men and targeting female couples was an afterthought. In examining the relationship between male workload responsibilities and female workload responsibilities, is should be not surprise why male homosexual couples are targeted more.

One of the greatest insults and failings of a male is to be considered a female and in a world in which the box around male standards is still tight and immobile, the coupling of two males has resulted in believing that one or both of the males is ‘the girl’. To willingly give up the right to a female, which is the prize for being a successful male, is as a failure to be a man. A failed male was killed in the days of the cavemen and earliest history of man (and there are cases that are more recent of homosexual males being targeted and killed). There is still the attitude of loathing to a male that is not manly, even now which is a large part of the reason that homosexual relationships are still regarded with fear and loathing. The legal battles are another means to maintain the restrictions of male roles by making these relationships based on love forbidden even though male-female relationships based on love are accepted.

Problem #6: Stress on Non-Masculine Males

There is no question that many people in the present world do not behave in a stereotypical male/ female behavior. While it has become more socially accepted for a female to behave in terms that are considered masculine, a feminine male is still considered to be something of scorn. This results in a lot of stress on these males whom do not fulfill all of the stereotypical behavior standards and the result have been harmful physically and emotional, having in many cases lead to severe trauma and depression. Additionally, some of these males have felt an increased pressure to go against what is part of their nature and the conflict of social behavior and internal personality can have devastating effects on the person’s sense of well-being and strength of self. Loss in well-being and sense of self can create any number of emotional damages and other disorders, of which it is well known that these can cause other outward negative effects on the person and their relationships. Many of these men suffer from a unique form of discrimination that has led to many of the increases in depression and suicide in the recent years.

Problem #7: “Fast Food Nation”

All people in the present time are encourage to leave their mark on the world, one way or another. For many people their legacy is not only the children they have but also the work that they produce. Since women have gone into the work force with full time jobs and careers, there has been a hyper focus on production, acquisition of resources and consumption. Because of the increased focus of careers there has been an on-going loss of skills in maintenance of resources for homes. Many of the skills for maintaining a home are now being referred to as hobbies and as a result, disposable. More people of the recent generation do not have skills such as cooking, cleaning and sewing of which were skills of survival a short time ago.

One of the biggest consequences of not having the skills to maintain the house is out-sourcing. More business have opened to maintain life than any other in recent history. The purchase of new clothing has replaced the creation and maintenance of clothing that was previously done in the home. Fast food and restaurants are a sure business because it is easier to buy cooked food on the go. Many young people have limited ability to clean and the results in letting cleaning go until it has to be done, or hiring another person to do it. This phenomenon has been referred to as the “fast food nation”.

One of the greatest ironies about the “fast food nation” has been the interest in the post-apocalypse survival and the ideas of the skills needed to survive. Most of the survival skills that are focused on are neglected in day to day life. Because of these fears, and many others with regards to comfort and health, there has been a slow moving interest increase in these neglected skills, but this does not change the fact that most of the children in the future will not have basic maintenance skills that are needed for healthy survival into the future.

Conclusion

A simple internal structure of balancing the needs for survival is seen at the base of the sex-identified roles also known as gender roles. These obligations based on sex were created as a means of survival, not just for the individuals but for the family and tribe. Males took on the responsibilities of acquiring resources through farming and then later, business as well as working to maintain protection for the family and society. These skills are most often associated with uniform wearing and shows of wealth. The reward for success in acquisition and protection, is a female to maintain the resources and redistribute them out to the family and tribe. Maintenance and distribution also include the care taking and education of off-spring on social and productive responsibilities.

Because of the shifts of the social roles from a balanced and specialized set of tasks to more people taking on tasks from the acquisition/ protection skill sets, there have been a lot of other shifts in the behavior and perceptions of people. The next paper is going to look at the changes of the distribution of labor, how these changes have affected the social issues online here and then conclude with statement about what actions to take for the evolution of this culture. This paper served for present the issue and how deeply the issue is ingrain in the American society, the next paper will look at what has been done and what should be done in the future.

Reference:

Harris, M. (1974). Cow, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture. New York, NY: Vintage.

Burning Man: A Reflective Culture

The post-Burning Man euphoria is slowly passing as the flood of photos, videos, and blog posts are hitting the Internet. The first wave has passed and the second wave will be coming soon. While most of the comments and thoughts are positive and joyful, there will be many that have had a hard time with the events of such a festival. This is no surprise from an event that is “whatever you want it to be” because time, study and history has shown the people will find joy in their internal joy and misery in their internal misery.

Burning Man has been referred to by many social scientists as a Sub-Culture or a Counter-Culture, though this is done with hesitation. Part of the reason for the hesitation is due to Burning Man not fitting the finer points of the definition of sub/counter culture. Using a wide brush definition, then any group that have more than a handful of people could be seen as a sub/counter culture and in many ways that worked with the Burning Man groups for a while. But the growth and diversity of the groups within the groups of the population of Burning Man has revived this discussion.

Burning is Not a Sub-Culture

The definition of a ‘sub-culture’ is: “a cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture” (Google). And the definition of a ‘counter-culture’ is: “a way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm” (Google). As it can be see here, the definitions of each is the same as the other. So for ease of communication, from this point forward both with be referred to as ‘sub-culture’.

Sub-culture is about the opposed view or a variance (the fact or quality of being different, divergent, or inconsistent [Google]) from the larger culture and at first glance Burning Man and all of the smaller communities that have branched from it does fit the definition of a sub-culture because what is seen on the surface is a complete lack of control and what looks like a society built only on the use of drug and acquisition of as much sex as possible. While there are those parts it is on the surface, because it is what is or has been the most shocking parts; and Americans love the shocking. But these things does not make Burning Man a sub-culture, and in fact it helps to prove the opposite, the Burning Man is in line with the current culture.

One of the largest reasons that I have found outside of people referring to Burning Man as a sub-culture is the names. Because Burning Man has a name and the people that self-associate with the location, event, and activities call themselves “Burner”; is the reason that many will believe that there is a sub-culture there instead of referring to it as a very large crowd within the larger culture.

A Reflective Culture

As the title of this paper indicated, in order to explain what Burning Man is to the larger culture, a new idea had to be born and this idea is a Reflective Culture. A Reflective Culture is “culture within a larger culture that will reflect the views of the larger culture in either minimizing form or heightened exaggerated form.” While there are many people that might argue with this idea, spending a week or more at Burning Man might help to point out that this definition is a truer one than calling Burning Man a sub-culture.

In an effort to show that Burning Man is a reflective culture, here are five brief examples of things that are within the current scope of the American Culture and are being either exaggerated or reduced in the behaviors of the members of the crowd:

#1: Non-violence and Redirected Violence

The Death Guild and Thunder Dome has become one of the most well-known and popular attractions on the ground at Black Rock City. Partly because of the well-known dome and the association the Mad Max movies but more for the intense fighting that will be played out in the confines of the dome. Americans love to watch violence play out in many different forms and Thunder Dome is a form that has become a staple of the event. Outside of Burning Man, people will get their need for violence fixed through action movies and video game play; but at Burning Man, you not only have a chance to be part of the action but you can climb on to a large dome to watch it happen when others are fighting. In many ways, the presence of Thunder Dome helps to sub-due the need for violence that most people feel when frustrated.

Outside of the Thunder Dome there is very little violence, and as one person point out, there seems to be almost an excessive amount of love and happiness. In many ways, people seem to be compelled to be happy and excited all of the time. It could be argued that this is due to being on vacation but it is far more believable that the increased happiness comes from an environment that is encouraging of this behavior. This same sets of behavior is also found in American Culture in the form of the ‘be happy’ movements that started in the sixties and are still being forced on people to this day. In day to day life, most people are expected to be smiling and happy and if they are not, efforts are made to bring about this condition. One behavior that is often present is while people are walking down the streets, they will randomly yell “Woo Hoo” as if trying to encourage hyped up feeling and happy feelings.

Burning Man is an environment of emotional highs and lows. It is argued that the extreme highs and lows are because of the extremes of the environment, and while this might be true on the surface, the truth might fit more with the expectations of the environment. People are encourage to self-express their emotions with others, and recognize themselves; and this is exaggerated in the Burning Man environments.

#2: Community Involvement

America was built by smaller communities helping each other out and that is no different at Burning Man. The principle of “No Commerce” is in large part responsible for keeping the community support alive in a larger culture of purchase power. Interestingly enough, recent reports on the lower SES communities has shown that the power of the community is still very much alive in most of American culture and in many ways, Burning Man seeks to magnify these relationships. For many, survival in the harsh desert environment is about having a little help from friends and neighbors; and the community is heavily encourage to maintain these survival behaviors.

While there is increasing bemoaning of the loss of community, Burning Man actually shows that community does still exist and can thrive. The difference is where we are looking for people’s communities. Many people all over the country have communities, but they are not made up of their next door neighbors. Country clubs, churches, schools, local hang-outs and even online chat groups are the prime areas for finding communities. Burning Man is another place to develop communities and in many ways, is help to create national and international communities because the individual of a group are in fact scattered all over the world. For many Burners, it is the exaggerated community and sense of belonging that keeps them coming back year after year.

#3: Gender Roles

Gender roles and gender discrimination has been a hot topic on the news, in the government and in many areas of life for the better part of the last 40 years of American history. This issue has be focused on from many different angles including: sexual rights, reproductive rights, work place discrimination, affirmative actions, safety, violence, etc. Observations of interaction at Burning Man has shown that not only are gender role beliefs suppressed to a point of non-existence but there are environments in which people can work together and there is little to no bias based on their gender, sex or orientation. Burning Man is well known for being an environment that encourages people to look at skills, strength and weaknesses beyond the visual assessments. Unlike with the ‘be happy’ movement and community involvement, both magnified in the Burning Man culture, the gender roles is sub-consciously suppressed and has little influence, just as it is becoming in the larger American culture. It has been a slow process and there is more work to do, but Burning Man is leading the way into a less discriminating world.

#4: Drugs and Alcohol

One of the big concerns about Burning Man is the amount of drug and alcohol used there. While there are law enforcement officers at the event and they often ticket people for possession and use of illicit and illegal drugs, it does not change that there is a lot of it all out there. For some people, the start their drinking when they get there and might sober up enough to drive at the end of the week.

Many have complained that the excessive use is one of the variance items that makes Burning Man a sub-culture but that is also not true. Americans drink, and do drugs… a lot of them. In many ways, some of the foundations of American interactions are found in bars and parties, though not to the point of being drunk for a whole week. It is fairly common for a person to have a cocktail at the end of the day and for many, getting drunk on Saturday is the highlight of the week. For proof of how much Americans like their drugs and alcohol, watch television for a while or sit outside of a bar for a while.

Burning Man culture does not encourage people to drink too much, but it does nothing to stop them outside of asking people to be healthy and safe and when the person falls down, the community tries to get them to a safe place or a medical station. This is no different than would be found on the streets of any American city or town but at Burning Man it is magnified and larger.

#5: Sexuality

Much like with drugs and alcohol, Americans like sex and a lot of it. American culture has roots going back to the Age of Enlightenment, of which sex was believed to not only be something to embrace and enjoy, but also a fundamental right (the belief in the right has it’s own problems but that is for another paper). Evidence of the right to have sex is seen in the various different assaults and other sexual activities that have become increasingly public. Play parties, polygamous relationships, Viagra commercials and even sex therapy are points of evidence that Sex is seen as a right deserved by all willing and able people. In fact, sex is a very publicly private thing in American society, as could be seen in the ways in which American will show availability and public efforts to engage in sex.

And just like with drugs and alcohol, Burning Man culture does not stop people from seeking out what they think is their right to pursue, but instead asks people to be respectful of other’s rights and safety. The big difference between Burning Man and the rest of the America is that Burning Man takes the transparent world of sex and allows it to be see-through there. Many of the people in the culture treat sex as a fact of life and nature and so should be seen as an obvious fact of existence.

Conclusion

A first time attendant said to the author “Burning Man is not a vacation, but a survival experience.” This statement is very true and the culture of Burning Man has weathered it much in the same ways that the American culture has survive over time and through trials. Another person said that “Burning Man was a micro-cosmos of the development of America” and this is also a true statement. While Burning Man is reflecting the larger American culture it is also calling America what it is: an adapting, survivalist culture. Looking through the American history books and the media, one can see that Americans are invested in survival and when the world has gotten to easy to survive in, they will seek out another environment to survive in. Burning Man is surviving because of the facts of life (drugs and sex), shifting responsibility (gender roles or lack there-of), a little help from friends (community) and the ways of violence and happiness… and these are the same ways that America is adapting. The survival of America is not based in staying the same but instead adapting to the future and in many ways the magnifying glass and fun house mirror of Burning Man is showing the ways America is adapting, for good and for bad.

Authors Note: This document is wholly the opinions and thoughts of the author and has not sought or received approval from Burning Man LLC.

Sense of Self: Identity Theory (Paper #3)

Identity Theory Picture

Belief and Sexuality: Two Parts of the Confusion

Belief and sexuality have been a part of the identity that has often confused and frustrated the many different theories that have come before this one. A large part of the problem is that both belief and sexuality are a small piece of each of the parts of the larger theory and results in being a large concept that has difficulty being defined as part of any single idea. Belief and Sex are viewed through heavy cultural and social influences and as a result have a great deal of influence on the ways that culture will be presented to an individual.

Sexuality has had a role in the identity since before writing was the new technology in ancient Greece. Because human beings sexually reproduce and up until 100 years ago, the average life span of a human was at the most 50 years and often shorter, reproduction was a priority for each person (Baumeister & Bushman, 2011). Because of this priority that has a history going back more than 10 thousand years, it is not a surprise that there are patterns of learned behaviors that start as young as infants that influence the behaviors and personality of the individual. With regards to the structure of this theory, sexuality is distributed through each of the sections as follows: 1) Personality or the foundation has the orientation and the sex identity (physical body); 2) Memory is the learned behaviors associated with the sex identity; 3) Emotion has the part of the person that will be seen as feminine or masculine and will fluctuate depending on the situations. The culture part is more focused on the expected behaviors and will include the stereotypes of the sex identity and the gender identity as well as stereotypes about orientation identity. The interactions of the culture and the memory will be the parts of the person that is reinforcing the culturally identified ‘sex differences’. Additionally, belief has a great deal to do with the on-going reinforcement of the sex and gender differences prevalent through the concepts of sexuality.

Beliefs are a large part of the person and when that person looks into a mirror, they will not only see the parts of the identity but also the part of the beliefs they hold. The beliefs about themselves, their backgrounds, behaviors, feelings and even the roots of their personality will reinforce and encourage each of those parts of the individual. While sexuality will start in or with the physical bodily structure, the beliefs often start in the culture and then flow on to the other parts of the identity. Cultural environments will start the teaching of belief structures from the start of life and move on to influence the learned behaviors of the person. The learned behaviors will move on to influence the feelings of the person, which are often reflected in the feelings of right and wrong with regards to choices and actions. The beliefs are then instilled into the personality with the morals and ethics of the person and can be seen through each of the different parts of the person life. Many serial killers have expressed a lack of belief in certain ‘rights and wrongs’ not just because of the environments they have been in but also because of the physical structures of their brains being validated by one sense of belief or another (History channel special: The Brain). Additionally, belief are manipulated to help a person to feel validated in the various parts of the identity and the choices that they make based on the learned, foundation and emotional parts of the person. In many ways, to invalidate a person’s belief system works to threaten the person’s identity and will result in person questioning their own sense of self. This concept could also explain why it is so important to a person to defend their belief structures even if there are apparent errors in the logic.

Problems with the Sense of Self Theory and Structure

Errors and logical problems are threaded through every theory on the personality and the identity and this is no different for this theory. While this theory is logical in the overall structure, looking at the individual pieces of the puzzle will make seeing the logic difficult. Most of the other theories have focused on one part of the person and discounting of all other theories and influences resulting the criticism the field of Personality Psychology has suffered. It is important to keep in mind that this error of logic has been a source of frustration for all theories with regards to personality, to the point where identity has been shuffled into a corner and defined as being “whatever the individual wishes it to be”. The logical ground work of this theory is sounder because it takes into consideration different theories from the past and does not seek to alienate any of them. Moreover, it integrates them all into a single construct that is functional and sensitive to the individual needs and backgrounds.

The other major difficulty with this theory deals with testability and with this construct there is no clear way to test it. The only thing that is a verifying factor in the theory is that many of the individuals whom have heard and discussed the theory agree to the emotional satisfaction it leaves. Additionally, counselors are trained to take into consideration all of the factors listed in this theory, though not in the flow and conjunction of the form of this theory. Suggestions have been made on methods to test parts of the theory with regard to the influence of culture and a further paper may be provided with a survey study to evaluate culture influence on personality.

There are many personality tests available on the market and most of them will focus on the core or foundation of the person but will suffer because factors of experience, education, emotional state, and culture are not taken into consideration. This theory encourages the use of the different personality tests but under the stipulation that it is focused on finding the core or foundations of the person (the personality) rather than trying to narrow down the additional parts of the memory, culture and emotions of the individual. Furthermore, the nature verse nurture argument is focused in the following ways: Personality is nature, emotion is both nature and nurture, memory is nurture and culture is wholly nurture.

The last area of considered weakness in this theory is related to the research in human growth and development. The two leading theorists taught in human development courses are Piaget (Theory of Cognitive Development) and Erikson (Theory of Cognitive and Social Development). This theory does not dismiss either of those theories and in fact reinforces the theoretical constructs of both of the theories. Personality of the individual is most well noted in the early years of life which are the parts of both theoretical systems that focus on the self and the information gathering on the individual basis. Where as a person is learning about the cultures, behaviors and norms falls in line with the same places as both Erikson and Piaget describe and the final touches of the individual (or identity) fall right in line with the development of “role identification” (Erikson) and formal operational thought (Piaget). In many ways, development theory reinforces this Sense of Self theory.

While this theory, like most other personality/ identity theories, has many weaknesses that could result in a dismissal, there is little doubt to the many listeners that this theory has a more satisfying feeling and less to argue about than most other theories. It has been stated that this theory has taken from so many of the theories that have come before and in that regard confirming the validity of the prior arguments for the part of the person that they addressed. In fact this theory goes further than what most text books write and teach about what little has been considered about the identity and personality of the person and integrates information from across several specialized areas of psychology. The greatest flaw of this theory is the size and the layers of variables resulting in the difficulty, if not impossibility, of testing; but testing has always be a difficulty in personality theories and the current testing methods that are used now can still be used exactly as they are with the caveat that the test only look at and consider a small part of the person and not the whole picture. But a testable piece of the puzzle is better than nothing tested at all, and the classification systems that are provided for by personality tests (ancient, historical, and modern).

Conclusion: Wrapping it up

Personality is one of the great mysteries of the human mind and has been a source of conversation, conflict, and debate since the first writings came out. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates have discussed it and documented it in their works (Socrates by way of Plato). Legends deal with everything from inheritance of sins of parents to the development of a character through a series of events. Thousands of novels have been written about ‘coming of age’ and ‘finding one’s true self’ refocusing the fascination on the development of the sense of self. Even the story of Jesus is about finding one’s self and elevating to a higher level. Astrology, mythology, numerology, and palmistry are examples of the many ways in which a person will seek to find the whole answer to who and what they are.

Many of the first theories in medical documentation from centuries ago have brief theories outlined for the relationship between medical conditions and different personality types (Viney, 1993). Additionally, these personality type would be documented through families and in different environments. Over the centuries there has been plenty of documentation about the search for the soul, the personality and the spark of life in the human being. Many of the different sciences have tried and failed to find the single and consistent place of the soul for the human animal.

After not finding the location, efforts were made to come up with an explanation to where it comes from and how it is developed into unique people, which has result in as many as 15 different theories and probably several hundred more that are not in text books. There are theories that range from the nurture or clean-slate-at-birth idea to the soul and personality being 100% fixed by genetics and genetic manipulation. Most theories and theorists will fall somewhere in the middle between the two extremes by combining together 2 or more theories.

The theory introduced in this paper was started with taking pieces of all of the theories and working them into a consistent flowing model of the human identity with the personality as a fixed element but not the part of the person that is easily seen or described. Much of what is seen and understandable is based in how the personality, experiences of life and memory, and emotional state work while being manipulated through the influence of the cultures a person lives in. A commonly used analogy for the structure of the individual’s identity: the personality is the foundation of the house, the memories are the walls, ceiling, floors, etc., emotions are the windows, doors, vents and air that moves through the building, the decorations and furniture are the culture and at the very end of the line, the person’s identity is the tour you give on your own of what is there, and you will mention all the things you think you have to share (like the bathroom) and the things you want to share (like the lovely china). The identity of the person is the parts that are known to the world and often understood as being the personality instead of what it really is, which is the blending of all of the parts of the person.

In a brief explanation of the theory it seems very simple and straight forward, but when digging into the individual parts it can become more complicated. Especially when addressing the areas in which the parts are most stable. The foundation is considered highly stable and not likely to change much through the life time, memory is moderately stable and the emotions are limitedly stable with moments of being high unstable. The culture will be mostly stable but could be damaged easily or just as easily removed and replaced as it would be in a real house, though there are some that hang on to those items for their entire lives.

These extra layers of complication run the risk of making the theory difficult to test or research and as a result this theory runs the risk of remaining a theory. There is no way to test the theory due to having too many variables to look into for a form of a real research examination to be completed. But this does not mean that it could not earn its place in the text book because almost all of the theories with regards to personality have been difficult, if not impossible to test in a lab. This theory has many moving parts but just like the Bio-psycho-social Model, it works out at the end.

This theory was developed in response to a question of how the memory and emotions play a role in the personality. It took a month to develop the answer to the question and then another two years to work out the details of the individual sections and finish the whole of the writing. And the individual that ask the question was asked to review the second draft of the theory in hopes that they find their answer in the written pages.

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this theory.

Sense of Self : Identity Theory (Paper #2)

Identity Theory Picture

 

The “Sense of Self” Identity/ Personality Construct Overview

(Please refer to the diagram at the beginning of this post.)

            The best place to start in this theory is the bottom with the Identity. In this theory Identity is defined in two parts: the first is Identity as it is defined by the individual and the second, as it is defined by society. In the first part, the individual definition, identity is based on what information they themselves see and understand about themselves. The second part of Identity is based on the social or external perceptions who a person is and what defines them (e.g. their occupation, marital status, or whether they have children). It is important to remember that the identity of a person is not always in the individual control, as the social influences will have an effect on what is important to communicate about a person and what they are.

            Many of the stereotypes, explanations and generalizations of describing a person to another person is not describing the personality (personality being the root traits and innate parts of the person) but instead describing the Identity, and the focus of the flaws in the explanations of the personality are because it is in fact the Identity of the person that is what people are looking for. Starting with the end of the explanation is also starting at the beginning because when looking at a person and what that person is, there is a desire to understand the parts of the person that are in fact part of the identity. Overall statements of a person’s occupation, heritage, ethnic background, and even sexual orientation are parts of self-identity. The demographic information listed are the information that is easily defined and practiced, in addition to having the freedom of definition through all of the other parts of the self. When a person discusses who they are or wish to be, they are discussing their identity.

Personality Section: The Foundation and The Soul

            The personality is the next step of the explanation and the first step in the development of the identity. It is important to note that the personality in this theory is the point of greatest stability in the identity of the person. It represents the aspects of the individual that do not change from one situation to another or are generally, consistent. Personality traits and by further extension behavior patterns, are part of a pattern of consistence that is representative of the personality. Personality traits and behavior patterns can be identified and represented in many different ways but are the same across the life span. Examples of these lists can be seen in personality tests such as Meyer-Briggs, and The Color Code.

            Research has conclusively shown a relationship between the genetic, the biological and the personality and this holds true in this theory as well. There is little doubt that some traits are hereditary. Additionally, it cannot be ignored that personal concerns such as significant mental health issues are often passed genetically and ethno (family tree) studies are substantiating this claim. As a result, mental health consideration should be included in the definition of the personality, as the genetic, biological and mental health concerns are not gone from one environment to another, though some situations might trigger a larger reaction of the traits.

            The personality is the part of the puzzle that is the least understood for many reasons. The first is that it is part of the person that is the most difficult to see. A person is born with all of the characteristic of personality and each of the items is buried by myrid external influences, memories, emotion and culture. There a hundreds of tests that seek to tweeze out the personality but have difficulty standing up to the critique and poking. The most prominent counter argument to the idea of the personality being the inborn part of the person (nature) is the nurture side and memory of the experiences of life.

Memory Section: The Influence of Life as it is Remembered

           The information stored in a person’s memory is one of the most important parts of the person’s identity and in conversation, it stands out as the conveyer of identity information. Most people will use life stories to describe themselves to others and indicate personality traits that are the most prevalent about themselves. The memories that we focus on and repeat to the people in our lives are often the ones that are the prime example of traits, behavior patterns and other cognitive processes that are part of the core of the individual.

            Memory is an active and partially stable part of the identity and often the means of communicating with other people. This is the part of the person that includes the memories of life events (episodic), the memories of the sensations (sensory) and the information that influences day to day thoughts (semantic). Additionally, this is the part of the person that includes learned behaviors, methods of learning and how those learned behaviors are used. It is the part of each of us that works to learn survival techniques and adapts to the world as it changes and grows. This the part of each of us that helps us to connect with other humans and have the relationships that are important. The strength of the memory of certain details will be an indication of elements that are important to another person. The use of one’s memory and responses of a person to those memories will say a great deal about the environments they grew up in and how they reacted to the different environments around them. An example of this is found in the phrase: “Tell me about your mother.”

This is the nurture part of the ‘nature verses nurture’ debate. While the “Personality” is the root or foundation of the individual. This is the part of the person that is built upon the foundation. There is little argument from parents that the personality of each child is different from birth (nature), all of the children are influenced in much the same environment and educational background. The shared memories and experience are the glue that bonds families together and are the reasons for many of the shared behavioral patterns between family members, even the one that have no shared genetic material.

Many of the phrases and terms that used for communicating identity are the result of the hierarchy and scaled methods of the memory. Examples of this are the priority of occupational statements and then followed with what a person sees as being the most important part of their identity (family, hobbies, volunteering, etc.). The grouping and organization systems help the individual to describe the identity in a way that is understandable. The memories of social norms, symbols and stereotypes helps to communicate the information to others as well as to ourselves. Clive Wearing (the man with no memory [see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Wearing%5D) proved that the personality is a part of the mind that is finite and deeply ingrained but he is not able to communicate the information without his memories and experiences to draw from. In other words without memory there is no Identity because the story or history in a person’s memory.

It is important to note that the memory is far from perfect and that the forgetfulness, absent-mindedness, and even pervasive memories are an insight into the individual’s experiences and foundation (Personality). What information that is remembered at one point in life might also be forgotten later in life and vise verse. As many scientists have proven time and again, the human memory is flawed and much like a file on a computer’s hardware, the more time that passes the more likely that the memory will become damaged or corrupted. In a small way, that corruption or damage is just as important to the memory as the original experience or information is to the person. It is possible that some of the great works that defined a person’s Identity at the end of their life could be from a simple error of memory.

Memory is the in center point between the stable structure of the personality and the instability of the emotions. Emotions will trigger memory and memory will trigger the personality and then the reverse order will work as well. Both personality and emotions will manipulate the focus and function of the memory. The memory is the force of communication for both of the abstracts of personality and emotion. Many will use storytelling and other information from the memory to communicate the needs of the personality and emotions, and to transfer the information of personality and emotions to the culture.

Emotional Section: How does that make you Feel?

            The third point at the top of the Sense of Self diagram is the Emotions of the person and this the hardest to understand, easiest to explain and most volatile part of the individual no matter how their personality might influence the emotional centers. An individual could be any number of different traits but it is the emotional responses that will show a day to day picture of the person. No one in the world in not influenced by their emotions and every day the emotional relationships affect decisions made and commitments kept. The emotional status of a person will indicate if the person will use one set of memories and traits verses another set that might be stored in the back of a person’s memory. Archetypes and roles are remembered but it is the emotional state of the person that will influence the use of one role or another.

            The emotional component of the Identity is composed of: Likes and Dislikes, Moods, Beliefs, Feelings, and Reactions. Like and Dislikes are just that and will also include items that a person might not have any feelings about one way or another. Moods are a temporary state of mind or feeling, and are likely to run in patterns and have behaviors that are indicative of the mood. Moods are often shown with the display of behaviors that are learned from other people in the environment. For example, describing someone as ‘just like [a parent]’.

            Beliefs, feelings and reactions run in much of the same vein in that they have a higher likelihood of being more consistent over time and the behaviors are easier to track once they have been noted. Beliefs are the bias, prejudice and held thoughts with deep emotional attachments. Beliefs held in religion, about other people in general and even other situations will affect the person’s response and reinforce constant reactions from each experience. Feeling are likely to be constant like beliefs but unlike beliefs, the feelings are more targeted to objects, specific locations, or even specific individual people. Reactions (or affect) is the last element and are often sub-conscious and instantaneous. Reactions will frequently be constant for the person, the same reaction in similar and close events, but most people will not be aware of how they are reacting. The intensity of the reaction (affect) will vary from person to person but remain constant within the person until something causes a significant change. When people note a ‘personality change’ in another person after a traumatic event, it is in fact the reactions that have changed.

            Emotions change often, rapidly and at times without any notice at all. Emotions are also the most like to determine what information you remember better than other information and emotional reactions are the most like to determine which personality traits a person will use in a specific situation. Emotions can be easy to see and understand for most people and the biggest clue on how a person will be from one moment to the next, even in situations in which the emotions are difficult to express with words.

Culture Section: Where you are from…

            “Show me your family and I will know you”… this old adage has a ring of truth when it comes to the culture we are in and from, as well as how we interpret the world. Each culture has its own sets of rules, norms, and belief that are taught to the individual and internalized throughout the life of the person. This can result in certain stereotypes having a ring of truth to them and many cultures creating behavioral responses of the members. For example: students in American culture look others in the eyes as a sign of respect and in many Asian cultures it is considered disrespectful to look someone in the eyes if they have authority in the situation. These behaviors may have been considered to be part of the genetics of the ethnic background but recently it has become increasingly apparent that these are of many trained behaviors.

            Smaller cultural environment will also have an influence on the development of the person’s identity, often indicated by regional behavior expectations. People in the southeastern United States have a social expectation of how to treat person visiting them (Southern Hospitality) verses how many of the people to the north will react in the same environments. There is a strong expectation of quiet after a certain time of night in the Rocky Mountain West States as compared to the West Coast, of whom are known for “partying all night long”. This can compress even further to cities and towns and then subsections of the cities and towns. There is a notable difference between a people from San Francisco verses Los Angeles though both cities are part of the larger culture of California.

            Social groups and families will also influence the behaviors that a person will display in conjunction with the identity that the person displays. A person who grew up in a military household in America will have a different cultural experience as compared to another person that lives two doors down and has no family in the military. A person that is a member of social groups that spend time playing chess and other board games will have a different cultural experience from the person that grows up in social groups that ride horses or go backpacking.

            Time periods affect the person’s culture and these is becoming an increasing truth in the last century. Each decade of the last 100 years has been different from the year prior and this has resulted in the time period cultural differences or “being a victim of one’s time”. Looking at the history of the recent decades there is a significant difference in the behaviors and perceptions of the people that were teenagers in the 1990s as compared to the teenagers of the 2000s or the 1980s. Cohort studies have proven time and again that certain behaviors that were accepted in one generation will not be seen or acknowledged in another generation. Examples of this differences can be seen in the observations of the interactions between Baby Boomers and Generation X.

            The last factor of culture that further complicates the construct is the interpretation of culture, not only of the culture that one lives in but also the cultures that one encounters and responds to. Living in the state of Utah is a prime example of this. Many in the state are not of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) religion and will have an interpretation of the culture though they have been living within the influences of the culture. The interpretation will have an influence on the way that a person will manipulate their presentation of themselves in addition to the parts of the culture that are already manipulating the person’s behavior. In American culture the interpretation will go a step further due to the social focus on self-identification though ethnic background. A person of Irish background will manipulate their behavior based on the interpretation of what it is to be Irish, and the same goes for most other ethnic backgrounds. Some of the more memorable back grounds that are interrupted are Indian, American Indian, African American (not the same as African), Italian, etc.

            While culture is one of the most difficult areas for the understanding of the individual, it is one of the most important parts to note and remember. All of the parts of the person: personality, memory, and emotion; are interpreted and reacted to through the filter of the culture. Culture, whether it is the larger culture of the country or the smaller culture of a group of friends, will influence the ways in which a person will project themselves out to others in addition to what parts of the person that they will choose to self-identify. In some social environments, a woman will self-identify as a mother because the culture of the environment requires it and in others she will self-identify by her career or occupation. While there is a large part of the culture that relies on the interpretation of the person, there is a lot of the person that is manipulated by the culture, and that is largely based on the beliefs of the person.

 

Sense of Self : Identity Theory (Paper #1)

Authors Note: This paper has be divided into three parts because of the length of the full document. Much like the stories told in serials during the 1800’s, the next paper will pick up from where the last one left off. The second paper will be posted next month with the third to follow the month after. Thank you for your patience.

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Sense of Self: A New Theory of Identity and Personality

After reading a few thousand plots and spending a number of years studying humans thinking, feeling and moving; one begins to see patterns. Novels are a great example of what will draw people to read and invest, such stories as a ‘true love plot’ or the ‘over-coming an enemy’ plot, but one plot is the most compelling and drawing to the audience: the ‘coming of age’ or ‘finding one’s self’ stories.

Why are these plots of novels being addressed here? This is the simplest answer: because it deals with how we become the people that we are. How we become who we are and what we think we are is a never ending source of fascination and has sparked many different debates in the ‘how we become” and “what we are”. Some of the debating has gone so far as to digging inside of the brain to find the on/off switch and other have turned to magic and philosophy for answers… but none have been found to 100% satisfies the appetites of those that wish to know the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the individual. Examples of this have included the work done with Clive Wearing (the man with no memory) after he lost his memory, testing of hormone levels in the brain and even the efforts to control bodily possession by spirits, palm reading, and the Ancient Greek humor system.

This paper is going to propose a different way of thinking about what we are and who we are, but taking a different look at how we present ourselves. A professor asked once, write a list of who you are, your identity, and I wrote down my name; this was not the goal of the assignment but the wheels did start turning on how we are taught to identify ourselves. This paper is going to show how identity is the complicated part of who we are, not the personality.

The major point of this paper to convey an idea, and not to recite resource after resource of different works by many different people; the definitions are developed by the author to explain the idea with simplicity. The goal is presentation and argumentation of an idea. Flaws in the idea because it does not fit with the goals of a different author are not a flaw in the idea. If there is interest in expansion of the base concept presented in this paper, it will be produced at a later time. Citations offered will be limited to improve brevity.

The simplicity of the definitions and the diagrams is to not only help with comprehension but to also encourage flexibility for factors that the author might have missed and encouragement to expand in the future. Theories are observation, rationalization, and art mixed together into a picture that is moving and stationary at the same time. Many have debated that Warhol’s soup cans are art, focusing on issues of whether it is good, or has a point. Opinions will vary and fresh ideas will expand or at least give us clearer ideas the world we live in; just like abstract art.

To assist with the understanding, there is a diagram provided at the top of the text and there is an item by item review of each branch of the diagram, an explanation of the interactions of the different branches, several examples of how the model works in a functional environment and the final sections will focus on possible flaws that the author has observed and the arguments to whether these are serious flaws or benefits to the theory. No theory is 100% perfect every time and the flaws should be seen, known and addressed.

In addressing the future, remember the past; for they walked this ground before.

Who are we, what are we, and how did the ideas of ‘the self’ get to where it is? The history behind ideas of personality and identity date back to the oldest documents of medical care and science. Some of the first questions asked in medical science dealt with the idea that there is something inside of each of person that makes them who they are. Aristotle and Plato were some of the first to debate this subject with regards to what the primary factors that play into the development of the person’s uniqueness. The examination of what is nature and what is nurture started with the Ancient Greeks and was called “Nativism” and “Philosophical Empiricism”. “Nativism” purposes that there is much of the individual that is inborn and innate, leaning to the idea that a personality is a fixed object at the time of birth. While “Philosophical Empiricism” suggests that a person learns all that they are from their environments (Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner, 2013).

While this debate has gone on for several thousands of years, there is still no specific rule as to whether, the innate/inborn or the learned has greater influence. Each set of thinkers, scientists, and philosophers has leaned more one way or the other, while many have made an effort to remain in the middle of the discussion saying that the influence is 50/50. Research has committed decades of work to the topic and still has no solid concert answer.

The search for the personality and by philosophical extension, the soul, has also driven theorists to attempt to come up with new and different explanation for the development and strength of the personality. Carl Jung believed in the influence of spirituality and roles in the world through his archetype theory but also developed the original idea of the mix and match traits (Craver & Scheier, 2012). Many theorists have taken the idea of the humors (four element system [earth, air, fire and water] found in most cultures) of Greek Medicine and tweaked the ideas to fit more with modern beliefs, such as seen with “The Color Code” by Taylor Hartman. Then there is the belief that a higher power provided the personality to the individual and it is visible through markings of the skin (witch trial documentation and notes in the Christian Bible indicating this belief [statements like the lepers are judged by god to be of bad character]) and the use of star maps to explain the individual differences and similarities. No matter how many different ways in which there is to examine, explain, and decode the development of the personality, it has come back to the nature verses nurture debate. Even now with new technology working hard to locate the genes of the personality and the parts of the brain personality is hidden. At the end, how the personality is developed, maintained and transmitted is still undetermined and debated.

Everything and Nothing of What Once Was

To comb through personality theories takes a great deal of time, and in many ways there are ties from each theory to the next one. Each theory moves forward with a piece or pieces of the past theories and it is no different for this theory. This theory attempts to honor all of the theories that came before it while also being a new and more inclusive explanation of a concept that has been very difficult to understand and define.

One key problem of past theories has been the focus on the cause of the personality instead of looking at the collection of influences and factors. Much of the science is focused on finding causation, instead of looking for patterns and methods for usefulness. This theory attempts to find the balance points of all of the influences. Instead of looking for a single cause, this point of view tries to show how parts of all of the prior theories works together in a single theory.

It should be said at this time that theory would not work if it did not stand on the shoulders of so many theories before it, and as each section is described and explained, it will be obvious to the intense students of personality theories, what is being included. All of the greatness from before has helped to lead the way to greatness in the future and this idea of the sense of self is an example of how the transition is to be approached.

Paper #2: Proposal for Replacement of High School- Idea for a New Education System

This paper is going to focus on an outline of a different program for teenagers to participant in in order to make better use of the information that is known about development during these years of life. The outline will start with a brief description of the different parts of the new system and then will be followed up with explanations how this system supports the bio-psycho-social model and the other theories.

This model has several goals in mind to facilitate strong development of skills needed for a strong healthy life in the adult world. The primary goals are to teach the following: encourage responsibility, time and money management, self-awareness, self-confidence, and involvement with family and community. As the prior paper has shown, most of these goals are not supported with the current education system and in many ways the adaptations of the going technology is continuing to help with the failure to learn these skills and tools.

It is important to remember that this is an outline for a system and is not finite. If there is ever an actual interest in developing this program and funding is provided for full development and testing, then that bridge will be crossed. It is understandable to expect that the outline of the system is subject to extreme changes if there is a desire to design and test the replacement for high school.

Apprenticeship and Social System

The first step is to remove the teenagers from being in the high schools as much as they are now. As it was pointed out, placing teenagers in to environments where they are isolated together does not help with teaching strong interaction skills and it does not help to provide good role models of behavior, communication and interactions. One of the best ways to do this is to help the kids to be in environments in which there are opportunities to be exposed to role models of these skills.

Talking to many people of various age background about their memories of high school, most of the primary memories focus into one of two categories: job and socializing. When asked about classroom experiences and information learned during this time, the answers were limited or focused of one or two small items. With this in mind, the question was asked about where the energy of teenagers could be better used and learning be better focused.

The first answer was in apprenticeships. In the past, most teenagers would invest the years between being a child and being an adult in refining skills and learning to expand on those skills. Many kids at this point in time have an idea of what they would like to do in adulthood and as a result, this is a good time to test those fields of work. The author of this paper had a desire to be a kindergarten teacher until during her junior year of high school she had the opportunity to work part time in the classroom doing just that. The result was self-removal at the end of the semester and deciding against the career in elementary education.

Many industries are looking for people to fill part-time jobs and positions with individuals whom are willing and able to learn in the environments and high school student can test their desired field with these entry level jobs. With working only 24 hours a week (4/6 hour shifts), the students have a chance to try something new that could lead to a career in the future. Most of the placements will be for 6 months and can either be changed or extended depending on how the work and relationships are between the student and the teacher/ employer. This does ask a lot of many industries with regards to work practices and the education of student/employees but in the long run there will be a stronger work force for the future with a little extra work and patience now.

Another bonus of placing teens into the work force part time is the opportunities to make use of their innovation skills and creativity as well as encouraging the innovations that many teens have shown to have. With the chance to be in the environment, they can come up with new ideas and then work to see them brought forward. Research has shown that most humans will plateau in innovative thinking around the age of 40 though the skills that they are will be needed for many more years. Teaching those skills as well as being mentors, judges and listeners for new ideas are ways in which the finite memories can mix and work well with the younger and less experienced mind of the teenagers.

The next step is with socializing. Most teenagers will spend at least half of their time each day socializing with one another in one way or another. With the reduced hours required for school and extra school related activities, most teenagers will have a greater about of flexibility to spend time with each other in social environments. This gain an opportunity to encourage face to face interaction in a world in which there is ever growing use of the internet for the majority of interaction. Encouraging more face to face interaction helps a person to learn stronger communication skills like verbal communication and the use of body language in healthy and appropriate ways.

One complaint that is heard often is the lack of places for teens to socialize with one another in which there is both mild/ light supervision and freedom. The author has interacted with many people that wish to open a coffee shop/ café/ arcade for teens to spend time with each other in that awards them both freedom and light/ casual supervision. If more of these venues were available, the author is confident they will be used especially if the teens are paid for their work in their apprenticeships.

Debit Cards/ ID Cards

Most teenagers look forward to the day that they receive their drives license and this is not just because of the chances to drive, it is also about the identification card. To many, having an ID outside of school is an indication of membership to the larger society. With the mobility of people and how often teenage will travel together without supervision, it is important that they get a form of identification upon the completion of junior high school, if not sooner. With this ID card in hand, the system is also able to provide a means to pay students for their work with their apprenticeships and also have a means to pay for their social activities. Technology has already shown that it is possible to make the magnetic strips on the back of most ID card multi-usable and with combined ID and Debit Cards, teens will learn to keep track of their money and their ID. Also this works as additional security to make sure the teens are not buying anything that is illegal to them or that they are not stealing each other’s cards.

It should be noted that these cards should not be sent up so that the students can make purchases online with them. If online purchase need to be made, then the students should work that out with their parents and not use the funds that they earned from their apprenticeships. That money should be used for snacks, social activities and things the student purchase in person.

Community Service and Exercise

Two complaints heard often about teen activities is that they are not involved enough with the community and they do not get enough exercise. With this system, exercise is mandatory as well as the student’s choice. If they wish to go for a hike or play basketball with friends, then they can use their time for either. Vigorous activity for at least one hour a day is recommended for most teenage and currently they are only getting about 2 hours a week unless they are involved in sports at school. This is an area in which the current high schools can come in handy with the use of the facilities. Students would need to check in and check out to verify that they are getting at least 6 hours of exercise a week, and it should be encouraged to be higher. Exercise can be both interactive with peers as well as done alone for those whom like to spend that time thinking on their own.

Community Service should also be mandatory and can include doing things like reading to children at a day care or picking up garbage on the side of a highway. Most of the community service done now is used as a punishment and as a result, many community maintenance activities are neglected until there are enough prisoners to do the work. Community service should be seen as a social activity that can be both fun and rewarding and these skills can be learned during the teenage years with active participation. Encouraging community service can help students to learn to look beyond themselves and see the influence they can have in the larger world. Additionally, this is another area in which the creativity of the teenage mind can help to service the community as well as empower the future to stronger, better and more socially conscious thinking.

Interactive Education and Independent Study

In a 2008 documentary on teen use of the internet, a student admitted that he had never read a whole book and opted to use online ‘spark notes’ for reading assignments. He stated that he would love to actually read the whole of assigned works but he did not have time. With this system, there would be more time for reading and other independent study that is ideal for the rapidly growing mind, additionally this would give students the chance to practice skills that will be needed for growth and education in college and beyond.

Students will be expected to gather for no less than 4 hours a week to test, discuss and question materials they are assigned to cover independently. Much of the work will focus on basic reading, writing and arithmetic that they had been learning through each grade level up to the end of 9th grade. A great deal of the information that is taught in junior high school is repeated again in high school. This means that the information is already there and should be used rather than reeducated. Teachers can use the weekly meetings to cover specific information with more depth and variety and allow the teacher to have more fun and flexibility in the classroom. Additionally, each student will be assigned to a cohort with whom they will take all of their study time with and the cohorts can be rearranged every 6 months as needed. And there is no longer a need for summer/ winter breaks with this system, so there is no loss of education during breaks that are several months long. Many teachers specialize in one area of information and they will continue to teach in that area, but doing so in a far more interactive method of small classes of no more than 20 students.

Independent study is key in this model, and each student will be expected to work with others in their cohort as well as alone outside of the classroom. The expected time ratio for independent study is 2:1 or 2 hours of independent work for every hour in the classroom. This balances out to a total of 12 hours of learning in addition to the other activities. This study environment places responsibility on the student for self-management and other member of the cohort can encourage one another to remain active and involved in the work. Susan Cain argued in her work on introverts that creativity can come from collaboration but it also comes from quiet contemplation alone… this interactive and independent system allows for both.

Teachers/ Case Managers

By this point there is a question of what to do with all of the high school teachers whom will not be spending 8 hours a day teaching and the answer is simple. They will be cross trained to be case managers for the students. In order for a student to be placed in an apprenticeship, assigned community service, assigned a cohort and make arrangements for recreation/ exercise, they have to work with their case manager. Also, the case manager will make changes for the student as is needed such as going to a different job, needing a new community service project or if they are having difficulties with the studies. Case manager will act as a guidance counselor but unlike many guidance counselors now, they will have a case load of 30 students at the most. In most cases, it would be most helpful to have the case manager also act as one of the cohort’s instructors so that the case manager can see the students weekly without the need for phone calls or emails, unless there is a lack of attendance or the student seems distressed.

When a student is ready to graduate or move onto college or full time work, the case manager will help with future planning as well as preparing applications and other paperwork to go forward with those plans. In order to provide the best service possible without interruption of daily living, it is best if the student meet with their case manager for an hour or two, every six months.

Another benefit is if there is a shortage of teacher to cross train for case management, this would open up a breath of jobs for people with skills and a bachelor’s degree in any of the following areas: psychology, sociology, education, communication, liberal arts and depending on the individual, political science. For many with at least a four year degree, this could be a good job in which to be a role model and advice others of their possible future. If needed, a simple test and supervision could lead to a license in this area of work so to protect the students and provide work for a population in need of employment.

Free Time/ Family Time

This model seems to make a lot of use of a lot of time but when it is truly calculated, you will find that the students will have over 20 hours of free time. This is important for three reasons. 1) Teenagers need to be able to sleep, a lot. Several researchers have found that the ideal amount of sleep for a teenager is about 10 hours a night. Most teenagers in the current system are lunch to get 6 hours most nights and so the flexibility of this system is to ensure that teens are able to sleep as much as they need to. 2) The free time is family time. Teens still need time with parents, and other family members and so this time is for family dinners and outings with parents and siblings and even spending time with aunts, uncles and grandparents. 3) Alone time. Most teens need to be able to spend time alone. Whether it is to work on a project or playing video games and thinking about relationships and other problems, it is good to learn how to use alone time well and in healthy ways. Free time is so little used that when many have some, they have little idea of what to do with it. Encourage a parent/ child hobby that the child can work on alone, it is healthy and good for the cognitive functions.

Applications within the theories and models

In many ways it is easy to see the accomplishment of this system to fit with the goals of teaching responsibility, self-management, self-confidence, time and money management, as well as family/ community involvement. Additionally, this model works with the bio-psycho-social model and the many other theoretical approaches of adolescents.

Biologically, growing teenagers need plenty of sleep (this system budgets 10 hours a day for sleep), lots of exercise, healthy foods (most teens do not eat well or enough because of fatigue and time restrictions) and plenty of social interactions and alone time (to help reduce stress). Research has shown that teenager are bodily developing at the same rates as a child between the ages of 0 to 2 years old and so it is vital that good food, exercise, and plenty of sleep are had by the growing teenager.

Cognitively, the brain is developing connections and processing at incredible rates which allows for grand scale learning and adaptation but can also result in being over-whelmed and confused. This system allows for both conditions with working and independent study. Many of the teenagers will have good days in which they can be involved and active and then there is allowance for the frustrated days in which the teen can step back and allow another student their chance to shine while they pull back to a contemplative place. Most people have good days and bad days and with this system there is room for the bad day without causing problems for the teenager and there are days in which they can be active in the apprenticeship and possibly make a discovery that will be a benefit to the world.

Jean Piaget stated in his work that adolescence is the time for developing formal thinking skills and this includes learning about concept, abstractions and forward thinking. The abilities to reason through a problem using logical systems is supported in an environment in which there is freedom to make choices and also supervision to help with guidance. With this system, there is not only the parents and teachers to help guide the students but also employer/ mentors and the adults working in the social venues the student will frequently attend.

Socially is the most important area of development for teenagers, and this system supports that development far better than the current system does. The first area of support is found in variety. In most high schools, students will find their group of friends and socialize solely with that group in all other environments. With the community service, assigned cohorts, apprenticeships, and recreation time in addition to the social expectations, there is not only lots of time to spend with friend but also a necessity to interact with other on professional and academic levels. The working and community service environments will not have the same people as the education and social environments. The variety of interaction will help the student to develop a health set of schemes towards people of a variety of different background and additionally help to reduce and maybe one day, eliminate prejudice and discrimination.

Adolescence is about finding one’s place in the larger world (according to Erik Erikson) and with the variety of activities as well as the variety of people to interact with, there are many chances to try on different roles before concluding on which is the most comfortable for the teenagers skills and talents. With regular meeting with their case manager, there are plenty of opportunities to switch to different fields and different community service activities until a good fit is found, and this is done in a social supported system, thus reducing the risks of dangerous behaviors or habits.

The balance of family, work, friends and alone time is delicate, important to mental well-being and is best learned during adolescence. Most of the tools needed by adults for health lives are learned during adolescence including boundaries, regular exercise, and time management. This system encourages learning on all of the level the current system is failing to teach and encourage. Additionally, this system allows for people with a variety of tools and skills to participant instead of empowering a select few with the skills to make it through high school.

Conclusion

This was a brief over view of an idea to help improve the education for people between the ages of 15 or 16 and 18 years. This focuses on the ideas of learning while works as was once done with apprenticeship programs. Time is opened for a larger variety of activities such as time with family, friends and self through the use of a variety of venues for socializing and recreation time. Education is pared down to encourage independent study and critical thinking skills as well as freeing the teachers to engage with the student more and provide a variety of educational topics. Additionally, teachers will be cross trained to help with case management of the student’s schedules and help the students to navigate what will be expect of them once they graduate and go into the adult world.

Healthy activities like community service and regular exercise will be mandatory to facilitate teaching these skills so to be carried into adulthood. Other healthy living skills will include: getting enough sleep, money and time management, and strong social skills. Case managers, teachers, parents, mentors, and other involved adults will have the opportunity to coach student through the trials and tribulations of social interactions and will be able to encourage the development of healthy respectful relationships with all people.

In many ways, this model reflects the Bill Clinton’s statement “It takes a village to raise a child”. This has been found to be truer with each passing year and this system allows for the village to be available to the child as he or she grows into an adult. This system allows a lot of freedom to the adolescent and that freedom is necessary for growth… to make good choice, one must be allowed to make mistakes. But keep in mind that there are still people each step of the way looking out just in case a really nasty mistake needs to be stopped before it is made.

 

 

Paper #1: Proposal for Education for 16-18 year olds (to replace the 3 years of high school): The issues with the current system.

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If one were to stop and ask people on the street about how well high school education works today, you might get a small group that think high school education is working just fine. The majority of people asked, including most parents of teenagers and the teenagers themselves would agree that the education system as it is now is not working very well, if at all. Many parents will say that school is not teaching their child about issues and skills they will need in the future, and in many schools it is agreed that the classroom is more like a place for children to be babysat rather than taught. Even grown, successful adults now have a difficult time remembering any detailed information that they learned in high school; instead citing work and friends as much of what they learned during that time.

There are many reasons for the failings of the present school system including the often used statement “it does not prepare children for adulthood.” This is truer for high school than any other part of the education system. This paper will look at the many different ways in which high school does not prepare students for the future as well as addressing many of the larger social issues dealing with the 16 to 18 year old populations of Americans. Among the issues with the current system that will be considered here are issues dealing with the discoveries about the development of the brain, legal concerns about teenagers misbehaving, and the focus areas of the education system and how they are not addressing the real focuses of the teenage psyche and development.

This paper is a blunt, focused and simple description of what is a large national issue, there is little debate that the United States of America fails in our education of teenagers and young adults. This is a description of the difficulties with this system and will have a follow-up paper with a possible solution. The hope is that within 20 years America will have changed the ways of managing education in order to maximize the learning of each students by encouraging the use of positive reinforcement, proactive self-management and opportunities to look forward to the next step in life. These papers are an effort to bring attention to the problems with the current system and then offer up a solution to better aid the teen population to better and more satisfying adulthood.

Issues with Current System- Brain Development

Issues with the current system have been debated in many different environments and have been studied, analyzed and examined time and again. If you ask a teenager what the number one issue they have with high school, they will say ‘it is boring’. One of the first issues that comes up is that students are not really learning anything in high school classrooms. There have been debates as to the reasons for this including the students not paying attention, the teachers not being paid enough, and the lack of qualified instructors, but none of these make as much sense as the argument about the neuropsychology of an adolescent. Research that was outlined in the Frontline special “Inside the teenage brain” indicated that the development inside of the adolescent brain is as intense and massive as during the first two years of life outside of the womb. And during this time, most of the major brain structure is broken down and rebuilt within the walls of the skull, and American society is also expecting our teenagers to take on more work than ever before and retain more information than is expected in earlier educational settings. In many ways this is asking our teenagers to push a two ton boulder up a hill while suffering from a 5 year long headache.

In an unofficial survey, the author asked several dozen people what they remember most from high school, and the results focused on incidents of dating, school yard fights and working in low wage jobs. Very few people could remember an incident of learning a new piece of information, though they will tell you about a note that was passed to them during a class. Much of the brain activity focus during this stage of human growth is on learning about one’s place in the world (Erik Erikson’s theory of Development Stages). Many of the habits and behaviors that are considered to be within the roles and responsibilities of the person’s social place are trained and reinforced during this time of life. Examples can be found in groups of individuals that don’t ‘fit the mold’ of what is socially expected of the individuals. Comparing the childhood experiences shows nothing, but comparing the adolescent experiences shows that the social training of expected behavior is done with teenagers. An example is that most girls learn to be feminine during the years of puberty and the reinforcement of expected behavior is more profound in not only the home but also the school yard. In the modern day, it is not hard to find a movie or television show that reinforces the stereotypes of much of the roles American society expects. Girls act like girls, students like students, and accountants like accountants.

The current high school environment does not support the development of the brain in the focus points of social interaction and roles of the person in the large social structure. Much of the synaptic pruning during this point in development is focusing on the social cues, traditions, and other stereotypical behavior. Those individuals that were alienated to the outside of the typical social networks often don’t learn all of the details of many roles and as a result, tend to fall outside of the normal behavior expectations as an adult. For many of those people, they are referred to as eccentric and are frequently recognized later in life for strong success financial stories but socially maladapted. In many ways the environment of high schools makes this worse and there is an increased focus on the popularity of a student rather than the success in functional behavior. In other words, teenagers might learn more about appropriate social guidelines and behavior if they spent less time surrounded by each other.

Another major problem with our current system and the brain development of a teenager is that there is too little physical movement. Most of the day for an average high school student is spent sitting, and it does not require a lot of studies to see that the lack of movement is ill-effecting on the students; mentally, physically and socially. Though team sports are offered in most high schools it is not enough for all of the students and far from encouraging a diversity that needs to be learned but instead assists in creating a high form of selective skills, restricting learning other skills. Teenagers should be physically active during large parts of the day, partly to use up the extra energy of growth but also to facilitate and focus the physical development of the brain. For most teenagers’ brains to develop well there should be a diversity of experiences, social activities and physical activities.

Issues with Current System- Theories in Development being ignored

Development theories have agreed that there are many different parts of a whole that work together to assist a person in their growth and maturity through life. Adolescence is consider to be some of the most important time for the development. Up until the 1960’s, the teenage years were considered to be part of adulthood and as a result, most teenagers were treated as adults with adult expectations. In the 1960’s, the view was turned around and as a result, most teenagers are treated as if they were still children. Both views have their problems and the problems have created new problems. One of the first problems is found in a lack of balance in the bio-psycho-social model (the unbalance is out lined in the prior section). At this point in time it is fine for a child that is younger than a teenager but not suitable for an adult. The current system does not maintain a balance for a teenager’s needs; which are somewhere in between a child and an adult.

Other theories that are ignored are Erikson’s Development stages. Adolescence is a time in which a person works to find their place in the larger world and having teenager shuttle between home and school does not encourage self-learning of one’s place in the larger world. The theories and research support that this is the time that people should be the most involved in the community and larger society rather than locked up in a building with others having the same experiences of brain development.

According to Piaget’s theories, this is a time for the development of abstract thinking and comprehension of the emotional experiences. While emotions do run high during the high school, often they are hyper-inflated because of the isolation of the students with each other within the building. Many of the individuals that offered descriptions of their experiences said that they learned more about emotional regulations and abstract thinking while at a job or community service activity rather than the school yard which was often more stressful due to the ‘drama’ that was created in the actions of the other students.

In looking through the information about the current high school system, the author could find no theory to support the current system as being psychologically functionally, or even socially benefiting for anyone but the people that wish for teenagers to stay out of the way until they grow up. This also comes with the problem of ignoring what teenagers can offer the larger society. One of the greatest problems with the function of the current system and what research has shown about teenage growth is that this is a great moment for development and the high school system holds our student in a stationary place for 3 to 4 years, handicapping them much like a prisoner in a cell.

Issues with Current System- Involvement in the community

            Ask a teenager for an idea and they will give you ten… adolescence is a time of innovation and creativity. This is not a point that needs be researched because we have examples every year in the forms of awards given to high school students for innovation and creativity. There are more and more contests and competitions each year encouraging innovations and many of the results of these competitions have ended up helping to change and better the world. The loss of these resources can be considered when considering the possibility that each person has a potential for a world changing idea and for many that idea comes during those years of the freedom and lack of fear that comes from being a teenager.

Additionally, there are heard many complaints that teenagers spend too much time living in their own little worlds and not being involved in the larger community, society and world. While there are many adolescents that are proactive enough to find ways to get involved in their community, there are many that don’t know how or cannot find advice to ways to get involved; in addition to having a motivation to do so. There is a strong relationship between teenagers being involved in their community and later involvement during adulthood.

There are many high schools that require community service for graduation from students, and there are some teachers that require service for passing an important class for graduation. There are many churches that insist on teens volunteering and many after school programs that encourage and focus teenage energy towards community involvement. A common penalty for teenagers who break the law with less than a felony is community service. But this does not help with the majority of students that do not get involved in their community. While there are many in the current system that are trying to foster involvement, it is not enough to make a really impact.

Many adolescents have said that involvement in the community, either through work or service, is valuable but they would not have done it if it were not for being pushed by parents and educators (statements made in many different news reports and documentaries). Many teenagers are open and willing to be involved and many would like to be help, if only there is a way. The current system is not supportive of these drives and desires outside of the ways in which there is an effort to manipulate the time during the day for use towards a select amount of after school work and recreation. And because there is such a limited amount of time in the after school hours it is difficult to manipulate and fill the time well or comfortably. Most teenagers wish to have more responsibility like that of a job, a paycheck and involvement and the current system restricts this in addition to holding the teenagers back from many opportunities to grow in working and diverse environments.

Issues with Current System- Developing Healthy Relationships

Holding teenagers back from involvement in the community is not the only ways in which an adolescent is held back from their potential, there are also the skills of adulthood and the development of healthy relationships. Most of the focus of teenagers in high school is not on the school work or the future but on the relationships that are there. While there are some teenagers that have the select skills for being highly successful in the high school environment, most individuals will not develop those skills until they are in the college education world. Most of the skills that are being worked on during this time in the life span focus more on managing interactions with others, and finding one’s place in the social environments.

While many teenagers will claim to know that they will ‘want to be when they grow-up’ most of those decisions will change over time and experience. The idea skills to be learned during this time are: social balancing, social interactions, healthy boundaries, time and self-management, etc. Much of the learning for these skills are best done through practice and step by step guidance. The current system discourages interactions outside of very small windows and has resulted in socialization being done through technology and secrecy. The use of texting, instant message and many other tools has created a new set of frustrations with regards to the limits of communications and healthy relationships. Sometimes it is better to wait for a phone call than believe that the other person should respond right away, it allows time for thinking and processing of the information about the interactions and how the relationship should function.

The idea of a healthy relationship should not be limited to the current boyfriend/ girlfriend but should also include the healthy interactions of friends and family members. It is easy to keep a secret about distasteful behavior when you are interacting with another person through a limited medium like a computer or a phone, but it is harder to keep a secret when the other person is sitting next to you. While using text messaging and instant messaging has its usefulness, there is still a need for face to face interactions, and the current system does not allow for enough time to engage in these interactions. Because there is such a small window for socialization in the current system, many will put the use of their phone on a priority and then learn that is an acceptable behavior to engage in while in a social environment.

Because of the lack of time for interaction, when adolescents do find the time for socialization they will tend to focus their interactions on a small select group of friends and peers. These restrictions help to create a heighten isolation in small tribes or cliques and restricting experiences of larger social interaction as well as having those smaller groups facilitating the reinforcement of unreasonable beliefs about people from other groups. While it is true that there is less overt discrimination in the larger society, there is still a lot of implicit and subtle discrimination that is reinforced by an increase in isolation. Many of the stereotypes about sex, gender and behaviors is reinforced in smaller social groups like those found among many of the high school students now. Most students that have a strong healthy understanding for diversity and the failures of stereotypes have had experiences of which disproved and dispelled those beliefs, and the best time for these experiences are in the high school years.

One of the last areas of healthy relationships that suffer are the family and home interactions. While there are many high schools that have been able to foster a health relationship with family, most teenagers do not have good communication or relationships with their relatives. For many, this lack of a relationship or bad relationship can continue on until middle or late adulthood. Those individuals whom have good relationships with parents and family have had those relationships since the teenage years or before, and during the teenage years there was social interaction to reinforce the positive relationships. The current system keeps students in a state of non-stimulation (leaving them with little to talk about) and uses a great deal of the daily time which additionally leaves little time for social interaction between family and the teenager. If there is any interaction, then it is tense and there is not enough time to be able to relax, or the teenager would like to be in a different place spending time with friends.

One of the great struggles of the teenager is the development of communication skills and coping methods for the future struggles. The social interaction that teenagers have are the ones that help with the education in these skills. Not only with the interaction with the family, but also in social and employment environments. The current system does not support the interactions that many teenagers need to learn and be successful, and will encourage teenagers into increased isolation and smaller groups that increase discrimination. Additionally, in order to be successful after high school, one must be in the extreme with isolation and friend selection in order to have strong opportunities for the future. Time and again have shown examples of how this level of social isolation creates problems. One of the most telling is the use of popular movies as examples, like “Mean Girls” and “Heathers”. Working and being in diverse social environments improves a person’s chances of strong social skills, as could be easily seen by a person living in tight social environments like New York City or going to activities that have a lot of diversity.

Issues with Current System- Social Policy and Legal Concerns

            The current high school system is part of several other problems that are found in our society and if this system is changed, if could help to eliminate or reduce the ongoing issues. One of the first issues is with regards to gender stereotypes, of which the current system maintains. It is true there have been efforts made to reduce the gender discrimination in schools, and it could be reasoned out that the education system has helped to provide research and evidence for the discrimination that was not otherwise viable, it does not change the fact that the current system still facilitates and reinforces the beliefs about gender roles. Things like sports, cheerleading, drama, dance, etc. have helped to keeps the restricted guidelines on male/ female behavior. An additional paper can be written about the ways in which high school as it currently operates, works to maintain the gender roles and isolation that are still holding our society back from true equality.

Bullying is another concern for this age group and the current system of high school does nothing to dissuade this behavior no matter the efforts that have been made to modify and adjust the system. The larger structure of the system maintains a tiered hierarchy that is similar to chaste systems and make it difficult to move out of the way of the bullies. Bullies are the means in which most people learn to maintain the system and work the system to keep the people on top in that place. With the high school system as it is, the status of the person within the school is often the same out of the school because the large social structure places the school in priority. This often results in a person learning that the means to get what they want is to aggressively over-power a person and not compromise. These sets of behaviors could additionally be outlined in an additional paper.

Delinquent behavior has become an ever increasing concern for parents especially with regards to drinking, drug use and criminal activities. The concerns with regards to teenagers behaving in a way that could cause damage in the long term from the child and as a result there are ever increasing efforts to restrict the teenager’s movement and freedom. The increases in restriction has also created more desire to commit delinquent acts in order to meet the needs of independence, self-recognition, and autonomy. Restriction on the teenager to make sure that they have no chance of committing a criminal or delinquent act has created further issues of time management, lack of interaction, hyper-focus on productivity, and many of the other social issues that are related to difficulty with interaction and socialization. A common complaint about teenagers is that they will spend most of their time being idle and on the computer, and this could be traced to the responses that society has had to the rising numbers of criminal teenagers. Interestingly enough, looking up recent data from a number of websites, juvenile crime rates are no different now than they were in the 1970s and 1980s. Yes the rates have gone down since the 1990s but there is no difference between the 1980s and the 2000s, though there is a significant difference in daily activities and productivity pressure of teenagers from then to now.

More and more there has been an increase in the idea that in order for a person to be successful in adulthood, there has to be notable success in the high school years. The use of the time and the resulted judgment on the use of the time will have a larger effect on the judgments made from college, work and other adult opportunities. Those who do not succeed with the select skill that are required to be successful in this system have a difficult time with access to resources later when those skills have developed. For most, high school is a holding place to stay until the law says that a person is able to leave the system and move on to a different part of the larger society structure. Those whom do not succeed at this juncture with the limited skill set are often doomed to be left behind for the rest of their lives.

Conclusions

Development research, brain research and sleep research have all come to the same conclusions about the teenage experiences and the adolescent development, it is intense and requires a lot of energy and work to process through. Much of the focus of development during this time period works with this idea of the adolescent trying to find their place in the larger world that they live in and management of the choices that they will need to make for the future. The current education system does not allow for the flexibility that most teens need to navigate these tough learning experiences and in fact the current system does the opposite of help students to develop the skills they will need for the future.

The current system is set up to support a select and small group of individuals with a select group of skills that most teenager’s learn to develop after the turmoil and frustration of the adolescence years have completed. For most teenagers, the year spent in high school are mostly a holding place until the choices of adulthood as bestowed upon them with the graduation or dropping out. Additional, in order to be successful in high school, a student must sacrifice learning important skills like communication with others, including family, and learning boundaries with others to facilitate the developing of healthy relationships.

Most of the high schools require an intense amount of focus on the part of the student and for most students this is difficult due the events going on within the brain and what has been found with the development of the brain. The brain is working double time to develop into what the adult result will be and the taxing information processing and other work expected in high school does not get done well and is disabling to the needs for strong development. Additional stress is found in the difficulties with recovering after high school with the current system, most people who fail to reach the bar of expectations in high school have a more difficult time with gaining success later in life.

One of the areas of the greatest concern with regards to teenagers is the legal issues. More and more there are concerns about adolescent crime rates and the mis-behaving or violation of social rules. The current system does little to nothing to support teens developing these important skills and keeping teens from using criminal choice to gain access to desires and needs. There have been every increasing efforts to adjust the system in order to reduce the criminal behavior and social faux pas, but the statistics of juvenile criminal behavior have not dropped below the levels they were in the 1980s, even with the increased restrictions on students’ time and schedules. On-going efforts to reduce the crime rates of teenagers has created further restrictions on their free-will and resulting in less anatomy and free thinking, creating a new and more difficult set of undesirable behaviors.

This is one of a set of papers on the difficulties of the current high school system. The next paper will address a section of a solution, or better put, a completely different system for educating and making positive use of the strength of unconventional thinking and speed that adolescence offers the world. Additionally the new system will seek to eliminate or better manage the problems that were discussed in this paper. As the current system is failing most of the American youth, hopes are that the new system will provide the future with greater chances for success and happiness.