One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hooked in crisis and awareness

A- Defining awareness:

Awareness is a word that is much misused these days. Awareness is not a set of information that could be transferred using different Medias. It is a process that requires intentional and active participations. It is different from education but is an important component of education. Let’s take few examples to distinguish the boundary between education and awareness. A student is takes classes in ecosystem. By taking classes he is educated in this field. Comparing to this student is a resident living in wetland that faces ecological problems. This resident didn’t get classes on ecology but he knows about the living organisms, their life patterns and water bodies that these organisms are attached to them. He has observed the changes in living organisms and water bodies over years and his life is affected by these changes. Simply he has passed through a process. He is not educated but is aware of the problems.

If we make these two individuals sit together and talk with them, the student may explain the changes in ecosystem and even suggest some solutions to solve these ecological problems but both his explanations and solutions may cause worsen the problems as he lacks the key observations that requires longer times to have. On other hand, the resident may have the observations but don’t know the reasons and lack the idea to solve them.

Let’s take another example from social sciences. When you enter to an office of political scientists you may find the office filled with books, research papers and notes in different colored cards and cut pieces of newspapers and articles hanging here and there. You can’t stop yourself of not becoming impressed. When you check his website you will find long lists of published papers with big and impressive titles. He may visited several countries, can speak several languages, participated in several conferences and is members of several organizations. You may find links to his several books published and available in By following the links and searches you may also find his talks and interviews in media. For a while you think of him as a Socrates or Plato of your time. He is a well educated professor in politics.

On other side are you, an individual who has lived in an area, who has troubled for centuries due to complex demographic and geographic distributions of people. The conflicts force people to relocate regularly. An individual who has lived here knows the cultures, geography, economic ties and activities and different responses of people to the same act. When you enter to the office of professor and start talking the about politics, he focus his talks on your region because it is an area of his lifelong research and also because you are interested in this region also. During conversation you notice that professor can’t pronounces the names of areas and tribes and cultural practices that he is giving references. He is unaware of behaviors of people based on certain cultural practices. His description of history and politics is general and linked with famous players. When you start telling him of behaviors of people based on certain cultural preferences, historical developments of cultural practices, demographic divisions of people, economic practices and ties of people and above all the roles of these all in local politics and effects of them national politics. The professor starts scratching his heads. Later on you find that his visits to the areas were arranged, his sources of knowledge were specifics interest groups in local politics and sources of his references and researches were objective reporting of media, NGO’s, Think Tanks, research papers of academics, interviews of politicians and moves of politicians and intellectuals. You find professor as a well educated but unaware individual who judgments are mostly based on speculations.

B- Erikson's stages of psychosocial development and role of awareness in a healthy psychological development:

Erikson has divided the psychological developments in eight stages. In each developmental stage one confronts a main question that he or she has to resolve. We may add more stages or merge some stages or disagree in specific cases or with its generality but what all will agree on following points in Erikson’s work,

1- Every individual is facing a key question all time irrespective of their developmental stages or simply of any age.
2- By dividing and categorizing developmental stages, he gave us a tool in focusing behaviors in different age groups (Though the factor of age is become less and lesser important in adulthood. Some people won’t develop psychology with their age)

Erikson’s eight stages of psychological development
i. Infancy: Trust vs. Mistrust (0 to 1 year)
- Psychosocial Crisis: Trust vs. Mistrust
- Virtue: Hope
i. Toddler: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (2 to 3 years)
- Main Question: "Can I do things myself or must I always rely on others?"
- Virtue: Will
ii. Preschool: Initiative vs. Guilt (4 to 6 years)
- Main Question: "Am I good or am I bad?"
- Virtue: Purpose
iii. Childhood: Industry vs. Inferiority (7 to 12 years)
- Main Question: "Am I successful or worthless?"
- Virtue: Competence
i. Adolescence: Identity vs. Role Confusion (13 to 19 years)
- Main Question: "Who am I and where am I going?"
- Ego quality: Fidelity
iv. Young Adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation (20 to 34 years)
- Main Question: "Am I loved and wanted?" or "Shall I share my life with someone or live alone?"
- Ego quality: Love
v. Middle Adulthood: Generativity vs. Stagnation (35 to 65 years)
- Main Question: "Will I produce something of real value?"
- Virtue: Care
vi. Senior: Ego Integrity vs. Despair (65 years onwards)
- Main Question: "Have I lived a full life?"
- Virtue: Wisdom


The reason of giving a reference to Erikson’s work, is the importance of “main question” and the relation of main question to a “psychological developmental stage”. Resolving a question is a process that one passes through in his psychological developmental stage.

My point here is that, one can resolve the main question in each stage easier when he or she is aware of the developmental stages and the questions they are facing. As I have defined in start of the article that awareness is process that differs from education. If we expose the students to people of different developmental stages and let them interact during their educational processes, the students will be more emotionally balanced.

Another term related to this issue is become very famous and even common in usage and that is,”generation gap”. What is the reason for generation gap? Is it because of fast growth of technologies? Or is it because of economic migrations from villages to town, from town to cities and from cities to cosmopolitan cities? Yes! They are playing their role but the main role is our education systems. Limitations to class groups and age groups have caused the divisions and gaps in generations and it has it psychological costs. This problem is more evident in societies that lack joint family system. In joint family system, in single family there are individuals from different age groups and they interact and learn. The grandmother and grandfather is very close to their grandson and granddaughter and they are valuable sources of learning to these younger generations and healthy psychological developments.

Limited involvements of communities in learning processes of students in all stages of educational process will put a positive effect on both communities and students as it will increase awareness of both students and society.

C- Hooked in crisis and awareness

Starting teaching was a great experience for me as I was always focused to make a connection between psychological developments, behaviors and their learning. While teaching I was a keen observer of student of different ages and backgrounds. But after few years of teaching I am once again a student and taking classes and participating in class as a student make my observations clearer.

One of the issues that immediately caught my attention was growing use of personal devices like laptop, iPods and PDA's and iphones that students are most of the time hooked. When it comes to self awareness, we can't add a seventh sense to students to make them more aware. All what educators can do is to help students to use their senses intentionally and skillfully.
The growing use of personal devices has given students access to versatile information and capability to express them. Yes it is a positive side but also at the same time detached them from real experiences of nature and social environments. Students are more digitally connected to society and environments than a real environment. This shift in environment makes the developmental stages more complicated. The increasing capabilities of expressions and connectivity will make developmental stages narrower and the digital interactions with different age groups and social groups make students more vulnerable to emotional imbalances. The emotional imbalances and distractions due to hooked in crises will effect on the studies of students. We know that use of technology in education has increased the learning processes manifold as it providing a vast array of resources and experiences at less cost and even compensate the weaknesses of educators by exposing students to different sources of knowledge and information. Awareness (active participation of communities in social medias and as well as physical interactions in learning institutions) may increase the benefits of benefits of the personal devices and may resolve the hooked in crises.

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