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Interpersonal Skills in Everyday Life Analytical Essay

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Updated: Dec 26th, 2019

Introduction

When it comes down to addressing different life-challenges, it represents the matter of a crucial importance to be aware of what may account for these challenges’ discursive significance. In its turn, this explains why the most effective methods of finding a solution to particularly challenging real-life situations are being commonly discussed within the conceptual framework of psychological and educational theories, the application of which can be deemed contextually appropriate.

In my paper, I will aim to explore the validity of this thesis at length, while describing the discursively relevant incident, taken out of my personal life-experiences, specifying how I was able to define the incident’s theoretical significance, and elaborating upon how I approached the task of putting my knowledge of this incident’s theoretical subtleties into a practical use.

Description of the incident

The incident, on which I am going to focus throughout the course of this paper’s initial sub-chapter, took place when I was still attending a high school. Back then, it used to be a commonplace practice, among our school’s teachers, to encourage academically successful students to help their not so successful classmates in addressing home-assignments, provided at school.

Being considered one of the class’s brightest and socially responsible students, it did not come as a particular surprise to me that I was asked to consider tutoring Jamal (the person’s name is being altered due to privacy considerations), whose parents have recently immigrated to Australia from Pakistan.

The problem with this student was the fact that, apart from lacking conversational skills in Australian English, which was assumed to hamper his socialization-related abilities, he was also exhibiting a strong aversion of theoretically intense academic assignments, especially when being required to deal with math-related homework.

At that time, I was fully convinced that the slow pace of Jamal’s academic progress was of an essentially environmental nature. That is, I assumed that the reason why this student was lagging behind his peers in just about every academic discipline, is that he did not have enough time to acclimatize to the realities of living in Australia.

In addition, I believed that the particulars of Jamal’s family-situation (he was the oldest child in the family of nine) were naturally prompting him to adopt a neglectful attitude towards the studying, as he was required to help his parents in raising his younger brothers and sisters.

Nevertheless, it did not take me too long to realize that there must have been a number of clearly non-environmental aspects to Jamal’s clearly defined inability to cope with many of his homework assignments on its own. The realization of this fact, on my part, took place when he and I decided to stay in the classroom, after the end of classes for that day, and to go through a particular math-assignment, which Jamal appeared to have had a hard time while dealing with.

The first thing I asked Jamal about, was about what he thought was especially troubling about the math-equation, he was required to resolve. To this question, Jamal replied, “It is hard for me to keep all these numbers in my mind, because I cannot relate to them personally”. Apparently, Jamal was experiencing a problem, while trying to understand the actual point in spending time to find a solution to the earlier mentioned math-equation.

I tried to explain to him that the reason why students are being required to take math-classes is that it is supposed to make them more comfortable with the realities of today’s highly technological living. I remember saying to Jamal, “Even though that math-equations are utterly abstract, without them we would not be able to design several life-enhancing technologies, which people in Western countries take for granted”.

Jamal’s response was somewhat dismaying, “I do not intend to become a scientist… Why should I be required to learn all of this science stuff?”. Eventually, it started to dawn on me that, far from being prevented to improve his grades by some external forces, Jamal was experiencing a problem with ‘digesting’ the taught material cognitively because the innermost workings of his psyche predetermined such state of affairs.

In its turn, this prompted me to consider the possibility that the very procedural framework of how Australian educators approach the task of teaching students, maybe ill-adjusted to Jamal’s learning-related psychological inclinations. This is because Jamal grew up in a highly traditional/religious society, where people do not necessarily think of the concept of scientific progress; as such that defines the foremost aspects of their everyday living.

As I continued trying to come to terms with what accounted for obstacles, on the way of Jamal striving to improve his grades, the validity of my initial insight, in this respect, was becoming ever more apparent.

This is because I realized that, apart from experiencing an emotional uncomfortableness with the thoroughly abstract content of what was being taught to him in math-classes, Jamal was also growing uncomfortable with the manner, in which academic materials used to be presented to him.

The realization of this fact, on my part, occurred when, after having tried to pay attention to what I was saying for a while, Jamal suddenly turned to me and said, “I do not think I can benefit a lot from being tutored by a girl. You do not seriously think you are being in a position to tell me what I am supposed to do with my life, do you?”. Apparently, due to the religious specifics of his upbringing, Jamal never ceased referring to women as being inferior to men (Moore, 1992).

This is why, while understanding perfectly well that he was indeed in a position to benefit from being tutored by his more academically advanced classmates, Jamal nevertheless could never get comfortable with the idea of gender egalitarianism, which in turn caused him to adopt a somewhat cautious attitude towards me, as a person who was genuinely interested in helping him to improve his grades.

However, being a thoroughly tolerant individual, I did not allow the realization of this fact to affect my willingness to help Jamal. After having spent some time with him, I concluded that one of the reasons why Jamal seemed to be rather unenthusiastic about taking care of his homework assignments, is that the strength of his motivation to pursue with the studying was somewhat undermined.

In order to confirm the validity of my suspicion, in this respect, I asked Jamal, “Do you realize that you should be personally interested in applying as much effort as possible towards becoming a thoroughly educated individual, because otherwise, you will not be able to attain a social prominence?”. To this, Jamal replied, “I do realize that. It is just the manner in which teachers treat me implies that I should be deriving an absolute pleasure out of the very process of being taught.

However, I cannot do this – the studying makes sense to me for as long as I perceive it as such that has a practical value. And, I do not think that the process of solving math-equations may have such a value”. This particular Jamal’s remark caused me to consider the possibility that the actual cause of his lessened ability to excel academically was concerned with the fact that the procedural framework of how teachers used to go about educating Jamal, was not consistent with his psychological predispositions.

In its turn, this can be explained by the fact that, even though that as time goes on, Australian society is becoming ever more multicultural, the teaching-related conceptual methodologies in the field of education remain thoroughly euro-centric. That is, these methodologies do not take into account the fact that the specifics of students’ ethnocultural affiliation do affect their attitude towards studying – hence, influencing students’ chances to obtain diplomas.

The earlier described incident prompted me to think that, in order to increase the rate of retention among students, educators may never cease being fully aware of what accounts for the biologically predetermined essence of every particular student’s cognitive inclinations.

In its turn, this would require teachers to familiarize themselves with the basics of Jungian psychoanalysis/Maslow’s theory of motivation, the application of which, within the context of how truly effective learning methodologies are being designed, appears indispensable. In the next part of this paper, I will outline the conceptual subtleties of Jungian psychoanalysis/Maslow’s theory of motivation, as such that is being consistent with what I consider the theoretical implications of the earlier described incident.

Own feelings and thoughts in response to the incident

The conceptual cornerstone of Jungian theory is the assumption that there are essentially two different realities – the internal (psychological) reality of one’s psyche and the external (material/social) reality of an outside world. A particular individual’s continual and simultaneous exposure to these two realities invariably results in him or her striving to attain the state of an emotional/cognitive equilibrium between them – individuation.

In its turn, this presents such an individual with a number of different challenges, because in accordance with the Jungian theory’s another essential provision, even though that one psyche’s ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ spheres do derive out of each other, they nevertheless function in a mostly unconnected manner (Jourard, 1974).

Whereas, formally speaking, one’s consciousness can be best described as being rationale-driven; the actual rationale behind an individual’s tendency to react to life’s challenges in one manner or another reflects the workings of his or her unconscious. For example, a well-known tendency of young men to strive towards achieving complete independence from their parents, often extrapolated by their behavioral aggressiveness, Jung refers to as the sublimation of these men’s selfish desires.

However, the strength of one’s desires, in this respect, is being defined by the extent of his association with the so-called ‘collective archetypes’ (historically predetermined matrixes for societal behavior), which exist in the realm of ‘collective unconscious’ – a rudimentary behavioral pattern, shared by all humans (Hillman, 1996).

Therefore, one’s emotional/cognitive contentment, reflected by his or her ability to act in a socially appropriate manner, can be best conceptualized as a byproduct of the sheer strength of such an individual’s commitment to remain on the path of self-actualization (individuation).

Self-actualization, however, can only be achieved if the concerned individual proves itself intellectually honest enough to admit what accounts for the qualitative essence of his or her psychological complexes (the suppressed values of one’s conscious self).

Hence, another important aspect of Jungian theory, relevant to the proposed study’s subject matter – every person can be referred to as a simultaneous bearer of masculine (animus) and feminine (anima) psychological traits, which usually sublimate themselves in such a person’s tendency to interact with the surrounding reality in either the introverted (rationale-driven/masculine) or the extroverted (emotion-driven/feminine) mode.

According to Keirsey and Bates (1984), “Extraverts, with their need for sociability, appear to be energized, or ‘tuned up’ by people… Pursuing solitary activities, working quietly alone… participating in activities which involve few or no other people – these seem to charge the batteries of the introvert” (p. 15).

In its turn, the extent of one’s affiliation with the values of introversion/extraversion can be well measured in regards to the qualitative essence of the concerned individual’s cognitive predispositions.

Because Jungian theory does not only establish dialectically predetermined links between the subtleties of individuals’ psycho-constitution and the manner in which they go about socializing with others, but also provide researchers with the scientifically legitimate methodology for conducting a qualitative inquiry into what accounts for the innermost triggers of people’s societal behavior, the adoption of Jungian psychological paradigm in our case appears entirely appropriate.

There is also another theory, the application of which appears to be potentially capable of explaining the significance of the earlier mentioned incident – Maslow’s theory of motivation. According to this American psychologist, the spectrum of just about all human motivations appears hierarchically structured – hence, Maslow’s famous ‘the hierarchy of needs’ conception.

The first premise of this conception is based upon the assumption that people’s needs can be categorized as animalistic/physiological, on the one hand, and intellectual/metaphysical, on the other.

After having satisfied their physiological needs (or first-order needs), concerned with ensuring that there is plenty of food, water and sex, people begin aspiring to satisfy their second-order needs, such as finding a well-paid job and securing their social niches.

After that, people usually move on to satisfy their third-order and fourth-order needs, such as striving to attain the sense of self-esteem and the respect of others. The top of Maslow’s ‘pyramid of needs’ features people’s longing for self-actualization.

There is one more aspect of Maslow’s conceptualization of self-actualization, which appears especially relevant to my experience of having dealt with Jamal – the fact that Maslow used to distinguish between ‘deficit-motivated’ and ‘growth-motivated’ modes of self-actualization.

According to him; whereas, the majority of the deficit-motivated individuals tend to think of the concept of self-actualization as something rather instrumental (for them, being a self-actualized individual is synonymous to being a socially established individual), growth-motivated individuals think of self-actualization in terms of a never-ending process, which represents a high metaphysical value as ‘thing in itself’.

That is, growth-motivated individuals actually derive much more pleasure out of remaining on the path towards achieving a particular goal, rather than out of realizing the fact that their goal has already been achieved. Maslow (1968) defines ‘growth-motivation’ in terms of “The ability of healthy people to transform means-activity into end-experience, so that even instrumental activity is enjoyed as if it were end activity” (p. 31).

Even though that Maslow does not specify a psychological foundation, upon which people’s growth-motivated strive towards self-actualization is based, we can well hypothesize that it is being concerned with genetically and environmentally predetermined particulars of how people tend to perceive the surrounding reality and their place in it (Rogers, 1961; Rogers, 1967).

The validity of such our hypothesis can be explored in regards to the fact that individuals with non-Western cultural backgrounds have traditionally been assumed to possess a so-called ‘holistic’ or ‘Apollonian’ mentality, which in turn presupposes their tendency to ‘blend’ with the surrounding environment rather than to be willing to subject alive themselves within this environment, as the active agents of its continual transformation (Neville, 1996).

In this respect, these individuals differ rather dramatically from those who happened to possess a so-called ‘Faustian’ mentality, which causes its affiliates to adopt a particularly active stance, while seeking self-actualization.

According to Greenwood (2009), ‘Faustian’ existential virtues are being concerned with the assumption that, “Individual’s willpower must never cease combating obstacles, that the catastrophes of existence come as an inevitable culmination of past choices and experiences, and that the conflict is the essence of existence” (p. 53).

Therefore, it makes a thorough, logical sense to think of people’s varying ability to choose in favor of adopting deficit-motivated (holistic) or growth-motivated (Faustian) modes of self-actualization in terms of what happened to be the characteristics of their ethnocultural background.

In the next part of this paper, I will aim to show how the earlier described theories (Jungian psychoanalysis and Maslow’s theory of motivation) can be applied, within the context of us defining the discursive significance of Jamal’s lack of academic progress. I will also come up with recommendations, as to what may be considered a proper approach towards reforming the system of national education, in order for it to be more consistent with the realities of a multicultural living.

Theory to make meaning of the incident and responses

While describing the incident with Jamal, I mentioned that he appeared to have experienced problems with the fact that he could not emotionally relate to what has been taught to him. In its turn, this can be well explained, once we assess the significance of this incident through the conceptual lenses of Jung and Maslow’s theories.

After all, the Jungian categorization of people, as such that belong to two qualitatively different psycho-types, does provide us with an insight into what can be considered the behavioral emanations of people’s affiliation with either of these psycho-types (Coleman & Hendry, 1990). For example, one of the extroverts’ foremost psychological traits has traditionally been considered their tendency to prefer the specifically collective forms of learning.

The reason for this is quite apparent – while studying in groups, extraverts are being able to establish emotional links between the significance of abstract knowledge, they acquire while participating in a particular academic activity, and their socialization-related experiences. Therefore, there is nothing odd about the fact that Jamal did not exhibit much of enthusiasm, while being required to tackle his home-assignments in a sharply defined solitary mode.

This is because there are several good reasons for him to be identified as an extrovert, who is being naturally inclined to prefer communally intensive existential pursuits. The validity of this statement can be illustrated in regards to the particulars of Jamal’s upbringing – ever since his early childhood years, he was taught to believe that the sense of self-identity, on his part, was not qualitatively different from what accounted for the reasons of self-identity, on the part of his numerous sisters and brothers.

Moreover, Jamal also used to be encouraged to access the significance of how he would position himself in life, as such that could not be discussed outside of such his positioning’ effects on the integrity of a religious community, to which he was born.

This is exactly the reason why, despite the Jamal’s appearance of a strongly religious individual (he would always wear a turban, while in public), which should have resulted in him being a somewhat socially withdrawn person, he always seemed to derive great pleasure out of socializing with his peers.

What it means is that Jamal’s academic failures can be partially attributed to the collapse of the Australian system of education to continue undergoing a conceptual transformation, as the mean of maintaining its effectiveness. After all, as the incident with Jamal indicates, while providing him with homework assignments, teachers were not taking into account the possibility that, due to the nature of his cognitive predispositions, Jamal could not excel in solitary learning.

Apparently, even though it now became a commonplace practice among many Australian educators to praise multiculturalism, only a few of them seem to realize the educational implications of this governmentally sponsored policy. For example, in the light of recent socio-demographic developments, the practice of encouraging ethnically diverse students to embrace the ideals of gender egalitarianism may no longer be considered thoroughly appropriate.

This is because, as the incident with Jamal pointed out to, a particular student’s chances to succeed in the studying cannot be discussed outside of what accounts for the qualitative essence of his or her affiliation with a ‘collective archetype’. And, it is namely students that, due to the specifics of their upbringing and the biologically predetermined workings of their psyche, are being predisposed towards professing the so-called ‘traditional values’, which appear especially ‘archetypical’ in how they address life-challenges.

In its turn this explains why Jamal used to refer to me in a clearly misogynist manner – this was nothing but a consequence of the discursive realities of his highly traditional/religious private living having been strikingly different from the secularized realities of Australian schooling. Hence, a particular paradox – if encouraged to disregard ‘traditional values’, with which he was endowed, while in Pakistan, Jamal would have indeed been more likely to attain a social prominence in Australia, as a highly secularized country.

Yet, this would simultaneously result in his sense of self-esteem having sustained a powerful blow (Moreno, 2010). However, one’s endowment with this sense is one of the crucial preconditions for him or her to be able to excel in academic studies, “Research indicates a positive correlation between self-esteem and school achievement… School-based programs aimed at enhancing students’ self-esteem have been found to increase positive feelings about self, decrease absenteeism and enhance students’ success at school” (Krause, 2010, p. 103).

What it implies is that it is either the country’s policy-makers reconsider the appropriateness of incorporation of ‘celebration of diversity’ policy, as an integral part of the national system of education, or they do in fact revise the very principles, upon which this system’s current functioning continues to be based.

Being thoroughly compatible with the methodology of Jungian psychoanalysis, Maslow’s theory of motivation will also come in particularly handy, when it comes to discussing the significance of my experience with Jamal. Given Jamal’s responses to my questions, he can be well-identified as a deficit-motivated individual.

That is, while recognizing rationally that it was in his interests to refer to his studies in terms of his foremost priority, Jamal nevertheless proved himself quite incapable of doing it.

This is because, unlike what it happened to be the case with growth-learners, who derive an emotional satisfaction from being in the process of addressing different educational challenges, Jamal could not help but to perceive the discursive significance of his student-status from an essentially utilitarian perspective – just as deficit-motivated learners usually do (Kegan & Lahey, 2001).

Therefore, the Jamal’s lack of enthusiasm in solving math-equations is fully explainable – he simply could not understand how his potential proficiency in this particular activity could have benefited him, in the social sense of this word. After all, Jamal never considered the possibility of pursuing the career of a mathematician.

This, of course, does not suggest that, as opposed to growth-motivated individuals, Jamal could never grow comfortable with the process of acquiring new knowledge.

What appears to be the issue, in this respect, is that, as it was already mentioned, the system of Australian education remains thoroughly euro-centric, which is why its representatives, in charge of designing educational policies, continue referring to growth-motivated (Faustian) learning methodologies, as such that is being universally applicable, regardless of happened to be the essence of the concerned students’ psychological inclinations (Pajak, 2000).

This situation can hardly be referred to as being entirely appropriate, because as my experience of having dealt with Jamal suggests, many ethnically diverse students in Australia are being denied an opportunity to focus on studying what they feel they really want to study.

There is another significant aspect to the application of Jungian psychoanalysis to the earlier mentioned incident – the fact that it does imply the full objectiveness of Jung’s idea that, when it comes to defining the nature of a particular individual’s cognitive leanings, it represents the matter of a crucial importance to be able to gain an in-depth insight into the varying extent of his or her affiliation with masculine (animus) and feminine (amine) existential virtues.

This is because a closer analysis of how Jamal acted towards me and how he addressed my remarks, suggests that, despite having been the representative of a ‘strong gender’ (which partially explains his misogynist attitudes), in the psychological sense of this word, Jamal was more of a ‘female’.

After all, as opposed to what it is being the case with introverts, known for their tendency to address life-challenges in a thoroughly logical and rationale-driven manner, psychologically extroverted individuals prefer relying on the sheer strength of their subliminal intuition, while trying to make the best out of life.

The fact that Jamal unconsciously disliked the procedural methodology of a conventional learning, concerned with the practice of students being handed out home assignments and prompted to work on them in the privacy of their homes, does indirectly validate this statement’s legitimacy.

However, the practice indicates that individuals with plenty of anime inside of them (extraverts), are being emotionally vulnerable to the attempts to ‘correct’ their innately felt cognitive predispositions (Belenky et al.,1997)

Therefore, the fact that eurocentrically-minded teachers continued giving Jamal a hard time, because of his failure to live up to their discursively defined expectations of an ‘academic fitness’, was not entirely justified. In fact, the reason why at times Jamal appeared being affected by depression, may well be discussed as a result of his holistically functioning Apollonian psyche having been forced to appropriate Faustian (rational) values (Faber & Mazlish, 1996).

Given what has been said earlier, we are now being in a position to summarize this paper’s main argumentative points:

  1. The assumption that, regardless of the specifics of their ethnocultural affiliation, all students are being equally comfortable with rationale-driven (euro-centric) educational methodologies, can no longer be considered as such that represents an undeniable truth-value.
  2. While exposing students to a particular learning methodology, teachers may never cease remaining thoroughly observant of what may account for the discursive essence of the concerned students’ collective archetype.
  3. Students should be provided with an opportunity to study in a manner that is being fully attuned to their psychological needs, which in turn derive out of the biologically predetermined workings of their unconscious.

I believe that the earlier deployed line of argumentation, in regards to what can be considered the actual significance of my experience with Jamal, is being fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis.

Apparently, the time has come for educators not only to be proclaiming their formal allegiance to the ideals of multiculturalism but also to apply a practical effort into establishing objective preconditions for ethnically diverse students to be able to explore their full existential potential, while in Australian schools, colleges and universities.

The utilization of Jung and Maslow’s theories, as instruments of identifying the innermost nature of students’ cognitive inclinations, may come in particularly handy, in this respect.

References

Belenky, M., Clinchy, B., Goldberger, N., Tarule, J. (1997). Women’s ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind. New York: Basic Books.

Coleman, J. & Hendry, L. (1990). The nature of adolescence. London and New York: Routledge.

Faber, A. & Mazlish, E. (1996). How to talk so kids can learn. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Greenwood, S. (2009). Anthropology of magic. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Hillman, J. (1996). The soul’s code: In search of character and calling. New York: Random House.

Jourard, S. (1974). Healthy personality: An Approach from the viewpoint of humanistic psychology. New York: Mcmillan Publishing Co.

Keirsey, D. & Bates, M. (1984). Please understand me: Character and temperament types. Del Mar: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.

Kegan, R. & Lahey, L. (2001). How the way we talk can change the way we work: Seven languages for transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Krause, K. (2010). Educational psychology for learning and teaching. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning.

Moore, T. (1992). The soul: A guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life. New York: HarperPerrenial.

Moreno, R. (2010). Educational psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Neville, B. (1996). Five kinds of empathy. In R. Hutterer, G. Pawlowsky, P. Smith, R. Stipsits (Eds.) Client-centered and experiential psycho-therapy: A Paradigm in motion (pp. 439-453). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Pajak, E. (2000). Approaches to clinical supervision. Norwood: Christopher- Gordon publishers, Inc.

Rogers, C. (1967). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. London: Constable.

Rogers, C. (1961). A therapist’s view of the good life: The fully functioning Person. In C. Rogers (Ed.) On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy (pp. 184-196). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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