This is a bit like one of those wonderful #firstworldpains that I enjoy so much on twitter.
"I wanted to write a quick comment on another blog and it turned into a blog-length response".
To assuage the pain, I decided just to make it a blog in any case:
While the examples matter (see Matthew Mezey’s comment above) for me there are four main political/positional battles to be won in this area before the evidence will carry weight:
1) We need a shared recognition that ‘our way of knowing’ and not merely what we know continues to develop beyond adolescence. i.e. this language form has to be opened up and not reduced to something over-familiar like ‘skills’ or ‘personality’ or ‘experience’.
Your most helpful comment on the ‘Beyond the Big Society’ report was not to lose sight of the specificity of the argument.
2) We need to make the case, with a combination of theory, empirical evidence and practical examples of why this perspective is of central importance to social policy..not merely an afterthought or an intellectual game. You need to show the internal coherence of the ideas before their external relevance will look plausible.
3) We need to be less scared of fluid hierarchies. I think people stay away from this stuff because while they accept a natural boundary between childhood(immature) and adulthood(mature) which is really fairly arbitrary…we are needlessly scared of comparing development levels in adulthood. While making the case for measurement…we need to be clear that such ‘levels’ are not fixed(‘performs inconsistently’) and it is NOT like getting an IQ score that is never supposed to change. This was the most difficult part of the report to write.
4) We need to recognise that the map is not the territory. I like Kegan’s model a lot because the mechanism of change (subject-object relationships) is so sophisticated and yet so clear…but even that is just a map to help us find our way…the full reality of mind, identity, culture etc…remains beyond our grasp…we need to ‘walk the talk’ of maturation and speak about models of development in the full knowledge that they are models…it is a post-positivist view of the world. ‘Development’ is something we construct to make sense of human experience…it is not real in the same way that tables and chairs are real…this might sound a bit ivory towerish, but it’s important because if we turn development into yet another technocratic goal, we risk undermining its value.