March 2010 / Feature Articles

Higher Education and Bad Practice
by José van den Akker


Jose van den Akker

Universities. And What about Miscommunication and Accountability?

Universities usually control context and supply the dominant logic. A problem lies in remaining unaware of hidden programmed or indoctrinated thinking that produces predetermined values. Usually accompanied by an emotional impulse to correct or amend, it reinforces an automatic tendency to discipline, control, and bring into line.

Society’s resistance to this approach cannot be resolved by simply adding new values, stories, or issues to support the pre-programmed rationale. Continually replaying auto-patterns of common agreement that strengthen preconditioned thinking does not and will never resolve human dysfunction.

Only self-inspection can do this. Since the collective ego is even more unconscious than the individuals comprising it, a profound and evolutionary shift of direction is needed along with the willingness, intention, and decision to resolve the human condition. Potentially, universities can help by providing an appropriate toolbox towards that end, assuming of course that they are capable of making the necessary changes away from established status-quo thinking models.


In a lively, active communication, which holds that all life is sacred, that all life is intelligent…we can access information from multiple levels of information sources…we don’t narrow the parameters the way western science does and break it into the smallest part.

Dr. Apela Colorado, 2009, 2010

Most communications resonate resentment towards life (Tolle, 2005), and ignorance to this fact reinforces the resentment. A father promises his daughter to reimburse her airfare when she comes to visit him. But after her arrival he ‘forgets’ about his promise and never makes the payment. Unconsciously she resonates his resentment but denies this. She pretends to be ‘above’ this. So she reinforces the resentment that now affects not only their mutual both all their other relationships in a downward spiral. It has a negative effect on their entire environment in a physical, mental and spiritual sense.

A university promises its students excellence in nurturing talent wherever it is found (or buried), and to call soft bigotry that lurks behind warnings of mediocrity. It advertises positions that sound encouraging as it seeks to attract, retain and develop ‘very high quality staff’ that can fulfill these promises. When alumni respond to the advertisements so as to implement this ideal, the ‘soft bigotry’ that inevitably guides selection panels blocks them from becoming a university staff member. They now harbor the resentment which the university’s collective ego cannot resolve since its (self-adopted) task is to continue the dynamic of breaking the whole into the smallest part.

Another university promises casual lecturing and post-doctoral positions to recent PhD-graduates. They say they want to pump fresh blood into a stifled and stifling pool of staff. Mutual verbal agreements are made two (2) months before the new semester starts. The graduates move to the city where they expect to start work, but when the two (2) months have passed, there is still no concrete work-offer on the table. Resentment builds up in the relationship between the prospective employer and employees, especially when the PhD graduates seek clarification but receive no answers.

Both parties and their environments suffer from this atmosphere of broken promises, where agreements are disregarded or changed knowingly or not, due to lacking consultation of the other party. This engenders consequences of future distrust, which damages or destroys overall goodwill.

The communications in these examples are tainted by dynamics that reproduce the human dysfunction. Systemic failure to address thinking without awareness or compulsive thinking reproduces this dysfunction. So dogmatism reproduces what Loye (in Volckmann, 2008) refers to as ‘a succession of tame disciples who are still imprisoned within barriers to a larger vision’ (p. 102). Because this rational produces incoherent values, Wittgenstein saw little – if any – validity in theorising (Kuusela, 2010).

In my PhD thesis titled Exploring the Dynamics in Cross-Cultural Education (Van den Akker, 2009b), I wanted to show there is another way of going about, of walking a course away from, processes and structures that reproduce this hegemonic ideology and make people, including those in leadership roles, feel caged, oppressed, exhausted and reduced in their capacity to pay attention (Wheatley, 2008). I wanted to emphasise currere (Eisner, 1972, 1979): the running of the course whilst walking it, and doing so responsibly. This requires deeper understanding of communication (including the intention behind it), human attention-bandwidth (Davenport & Beck, 2001, p. 2) and what it takes to be in ethics rather than moralistic.

Ethics standards cannot be defined by moralistic, statutory, ideological, religious or cultural laws, as ethics comes from a far finer and higher level of appreciation.

> Ormsby-Green, 2003

In a sense the thesis takes a moralistic stance that is reproduced in this article. I believe the following issue needs to be addressed: Human beings are far more perceptive than what is generally accepted (Ormsby-Green, 2004). Lacking exercise of physical, sub-physical, metaphysical perceptions does not excuse higher education institutions from ignoring these and relying instead focus on ‘the individual morality of individual key people’ (Van Hoorn, 2007, p. 160). What’s more, as organizations they are responsible for maintaining a hidden, though highly active dark force.

The highly active dark side to organizations is barely acknowledged in organization studies. [They] place emphasis on the positive, treating these darker manifestations as exceptional, abnormal, dysfunctional or pathological aspects of human behaviour…The dark side [however] is not exceptional – it is part of the normal community of everyday organizational practices, and it merits just as much attention from theory as “normal” organizational activity does.

Academics have often been blind to the possibilities of acknowledging the full complexity of this dark side as well as frequently being accomplices to the continuing obliviousness of much of organization studies to it.

> Linstead, Maréchal & Griffin, 2010

Thinking without Awareness

Certainly there are times when we wish to explain in more fulsome depth to clarify or provide missing data, but if there is any heat or emotion in the exchange we know full well we are into protecting some game or programmed mental pattern. The main problem with justifying is that it injects false cause, prevents us looking where we should, and denies opportunity for improvement. When we go into defensive mode we are not looking in the right area but concentrating instead on covering up, sanitising, and asserting righteousness. The fact that the entire population does this is no valid reason for us to fall headlong down the same dismal pit.

> Ormsby-Green, 2008.

Thinking without awareness or compulsive thinking is the main dilemma of human existence (Bohm & Stewart, 1991; Bohm, 1996; Tolle, 2005, p. 32). It reinforces the role of masks in organization and relational distance. It produces an information glut, but also incoherent values(Bohm, 1996). Unless this type of thinking is confronted, the religious/political notion of ‘right’ education (Apple, 2005) will simply reproduce a stratocratic (supported by armed forces) and death-oriented landscape. Placing the spotlight on androcratic (Eisler, 2002, 2004) and wishing for a life-oriented education is not sufficient to help the learning and teaching professional as the connoisseur of one’s path (Eisner, 1979). Making wrong (blaming), escaping from or otherwise resisting compulsive thinking, reinforces compulsive having, being and doing.Recognizing the want to counter-intend life, however, dissolves resentment and the illusion of ownership in the regular sense (Tolle, 2005, p. 22).

But recognition does not come about by itself. It takes courage, willingness, intention and an unquantifiable amount of spadework. An appropriate toolbox is needed to help people resolve the need to create a ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘mine’. These tools are available, but the unquantifiable role of masks in organizations protects each individual ego that resists, as it wants to win at all cost. As a collective, the egos combined are particularly stubborn. They collude and cannot be detected unless one has learned to see through a variety of masks and excuses. The common agreement is to resent Silence (Rabbin, 2009) which is ‘the ineffable source of existence that belongs to all of us. It is who we are. It is what we are’ (p. v).

Role Playing

An ego that wants something from another – and what ego doesn’t – will usually play some kind of role to get its needs met, be they material gain, a sense of power, superiority, or specialness, or some
Tolle, 2005, p. 85

Like individual people as self-organising systems, higher education institutions—due to their make-up—will attract and employ human and other resources so that general dissatisfaction is guaranteed. As an interactive whole, an organization that buys into and organizes the ego’s complete identification with roles creates an attention-economy (Davenport & Beck, 2001; Goldhaber, 2007) that divides communication into bits and bites. Roles need or give attention as if it is a currency. There is always a division between the giver and the receiver: one ‘pays’ attention and the other receives it (Goldhaber, 2007, p. 2). This illusion gives the ego a ‘rightful’ sense of existence as it bargains for power, time and place.

In educational institutions, teachers and students may be seen as playing central aspirational roles, e.g. in generating new meaning, purpose and expression. But a role is necessarily temporal. When there is complete identification with a role, formless attention (Tolle, 2005, p. 103) is inverted. This intention creates separation. It necessarily agrees with downward spiraling dynamics that resist the upward pull towards self-realisation (Van den Akker, 2009a; 2009b).

Withdrawal of admiration, financial assistance, losing control, or simply feeling stupid can upset the ego. It will protest, complain, resent what is happening (Ormsby-Green, 2006, 66). ‘Thinking positively’, that we’re shit hot or undervaluing our moves will not resolve this protest. Using the intellect as a sword to cut through the pile of stuff it has created will prove moreproductive.

Protest reinforces the self-generated and collectively accepted story of being right and triumphing over others (Tolle, 2005, p. 61). Just below this mental/emotional violence hides the want for physical violence (ibid, p. 62). In an organized sense it produces a structural mould in which the educational community is embedded (Galtung, 2004, p. 85). It produces cultural violence (Galtung, 1969): some acts of violence are legitimized and others are rigidly punished (ibid). Protest creates the drowning man paradox (Dimitrov, 2000b): when economic and social turbulence increases, bureaucracy activates and tightens up its role, the rules, restrictions and regulations (ibid). So economic and social turbulence increase. This structural mould of thought in which the educational community is embedded (Galtung, 2004, p. 85) is a massively reinforced systemic: a group mind that runs its own show and is completely on automatic.

So we witness what Pelzer (2005) calls a ‘hostility triad’ of contempt, anger and ‘moral’ reasoning. This ‘triad’ is easily felt in some organizations, communities, gangs and families. It can give us a ‘bad vibe’ that often represents itself in classroom situations. Harrison (2007) talks about a ‘double discourse’ between students and teachers, which is reproduced through what is taught and in what is considered knowledge (p. 42).


What we say, hear and see is illusory, virtual, and has significant consequences that we say we dislike; yet we create and agree upon this giant façade, all immersed in this role-playing game. We know this and we keep doing it, creating self-imposed ‘deadlocks…that are either externally ’(Dimitrov & Weinstein’s, 2002).
Van den Akker, 2009b, p. 48

Lacking exercise of physical, sub-physical, metaphysical perceptions in educational settings, most people in the Western world miscommunicate. I know of a university that offers a course titled ‘communication and thought’ that supposedly teaches students about ‘effective communication’ and ‘effective teamwork’. But by using Eunson’s (2005) book Communication in the 21st Century, the focus is on content and text-structure, not context. The attention-economy is not mentioned let alone the idea of a human race as something more than an attention paying and receiving species.

It is important to firstly acknowledge that universities partake of an attention-economy, and secondly help to create a serious attention deficit disorder as a collective of egos. But even more important is to envisage the implications of a combined lack of focused awareness, and not only in a business sense. Missing the important stuff because there is no time or space to look into how we perceive thus create and respond to ‘the world’ is ultimately a picture in our collective head inverted into a hyper-reality.

Though preferable it is to attain and maintain a useful balance between fear and trust as an organization (Van Hoorn, 2007, p. 159), without some sort of practical and substantial assistance the balance is inevitably corrupted by the attention-economy’s myths. The reptilian part of the human brain, the ‘robot mind’ (Long, 1996) likes competition, drama and special effects too much. Without an appropriate toolbox and an aware and experienced practitioner, a collective ego will continue to suppress, correct, or otherwise resent and reject the presumed ‘other’ – sometimes with anger (Tolle, 2005, p. 64). Or it will ask for comfort, nicety or ‘positivity’ (Judge, 2005) so as to strengthen the dominant position behind which resentment hides.

Can Universities Be ‘Accountable’ and Visionary?

The vision of becoming a more competitive knowledge-based economy that only targets for economic growth and ignores the environment is no longer acceptable (Bussey, 2010b). Another vision is wanted, but what if it is tainted, tunneled and funneled by the most basic mind structure: to make the same (Tolle, 2005; Van den Akker, 2009a, 2009b)?

Being a communication expert is not enough when unaware of the fact that the ego’s self-imposed boundaries are not really separations, but there for descriptive purposes only (Bohm, 1996, p. 99). Proclaiming oneself an ‘ecoversity’ (Matthews, 2009, as cited in (Bussey, 2010b, p. 21) is not enough either with the idea in mind that working in closer with the community or replacing one set of values or story by another will do the trick. They will sabotage higher level projects when their ‘soft bigotry’ is left unaddressed as this state of mind will continue to want to make the same.

An educational organization that does not understand and work with the human dysfunction will resist what Buddha called ‘the suchness of life’. It will recreate the negativity that the ego thrives on, and the unhappiness it loves (Tolle, 2005, p. 115). Its ‘vision’ will recycle strategies that reproduce injustice and unconsciousness. It will preserve the human dysfunction and regurgitateincoherent values, hence unable to allow multiple viewpoints to be (Bohm, 1996). So it will produce more cultural violence. Is that what is meant by ‘accountability’?

Institutions shape people and people shape institutions (Bussey, 2010b), but organizations are emergent and evolving dynamics when the people drop their need to shape. Understanding and transcending limitations is possible by stopping to see them as obstacles, which is when the limitations can serve as a stimulus to realize and thus empower human creativity (Dimitrov & Weinstein, 2002). But ‘being accountable’ translated as being responsible for somebody or something else or being capable of being explained is an idea easily corrupted by ethnocentricity: the belief that how things are done in our own culture are right and proper. In the Western (globalised?) world this means banking on attention, associated with dominators who lack revolutionary consciousness and consider themselves privileged (Freire, 1972, p. 118).

In the case of a university, the interest in education is of one kind: a means of massification through the spread of ‘certain’ ideas or pictures in the head. Inevitably their managers and associates completely identify with their roles so as to systematize thus avoid the threatening alternative: the true organization of emerged and emerging people who are active in the organizing process, and where organizational objectives are not imposed by others (ibid, p. 117). Their ‘soft bigotry’ attracts, retains and develops ‘very high quality staff’.

Perhaps ‘accountability’ is not what is wanted, since it not only infers that someone or something can be responsible for what people do and don’t do, but also that things can be explained, which disserves dialogue (Bohm, Factor & Garrett, 1991; Bohm, 1996): the allowing of different viewpoints to be (Senge, 2004).

Considering universities are institutions that are politically endorsed, they generally reproduce incoherent values-systems. Their vision may vacillate between institutional definition (stability) and openness to change (dynamics), as Bussey (2010a) suggests. They may instigate a series of discussions on ‘good practice’ and look into issues such as leadership, community/staff relationships, involvement of key stakeholders in matters such as curriculum and building design, planning processes, teamwork, feedback systems, diversity in ways of learning, and performance measurement. But their ‘vision’ resonates the early stages of the mythical consciousness structure: ‘a movement that creates polarity… But that polar movement from the vital center is not yet directed towards something else. It is a movement that goes back to the center itself (Mickunas, 1997, p. 5). This psychic polarity is still functional in our interpretation of the human internal constitution (ibid, p. 8) and the institutions it creates as a consequence.

So ‘accountability’ implies a fixation on ‘the future’ or ‘the past’, both of which do not exist but as a picture in the head. As Mickunas (1997, p. 13) suggests:

Four dimensional consciousness does not project anything. In fact, it comes from its own future. It is open to that future, and that future coming, so to speak, as open, is the very consciousness which is the never exhaustive coming of the future as well as the ranging across past. What we call time turning back upon itself as Chardin would say is the radial energy curving back upon itself and revealing that the entire evolution is simply a metaphor for consciousness which is open on our side and on the metaphorical side as time is open from the future. Hence, we have, as Goethe once suggested, a consciousness which is “world open,” and we call that world without opposite, in which the world of dualism breaks down.

But knowing ‘about’ four dimensional consciousness does not mean we are able to reach into that pool of consciousness. Also exposing the story we tell ourselves and the public only partly helps us ‘change’ our assumptions about the ‘real’. Replacing one story with another definitely makes no sense, as it will only shift the premises, but not the mechanism that does the building. That type of ‘changin’ is ego-based, a technique of ‘manipulation with all its series of deceits and promises’ (Freire, 1972, p. 118).

Talking from Personal Experience

Brought into existence by a team of six (6) drama teachers, the Academy for Expression & Communication (AVEK) in The Netherlands—where I undertook teacher training in E&C from 1981 to 1986, offered an integral approach. Students and teachers learned from whilst they taught each other, and assumed responsibility for the learning process of each individual and the organization as a whole. The overall aim was for each individual to learn as a teacher/researcher in Expression & Communication (E&C) and facilitate people’s learning processes as an integral being.

The AVEK was an autopoietic organization: open to diverse external and internal forces that, in combination, gave birth to chaotic dynamics that were reproduced and evolved and shaped themselves in a vital structural coupling with the ever changing dynamics of the environment (Dimitrov & Fell, n.d.). The idea was that life offers challenges that are to be understood and worked with, not avoided or ignored.

When I studied at the AVEK, it consisted of four (4) learning collectives. Mine consisted of 64 members. We held weekly meetings to discuss any matters that any of the members wanted to explore and—to some degree—resolve. New initiatives were taken but any proposed action was brought to the general vote, no matter whether they involved people’s personal learning or that of the learning collective. If any member of the collective would oppose the decision, the action would not be taken. The issue would then be explored more in-depth so as to better understand the different dynamics in play.

Twice a year we held a one or two week assessment and evaluation period in which the academy as a whole (about 220 members in total) examined and evaluated each person’s learning process and where one was ‘located’ in terms of his/her development as a teacher in E&C. We made use of the Learning Plan’s diagrams that described the dynamics involved with each learning phase. We also used six (6) criteria which were seen as dynamic principles: self-awareness, cooperation, coming from life-experience and -knowledge, equal validation, developing self and environment, and utilizing Expression & Communication media. We also assessed and evaluated the learning collective’s progress and that of the academy as a whole in light of societial and planetary wants and needs.

At the end of each assessment and evaluation period, each person designed and implemented projects to help realise one’s personal aims for the next semester as well as those of the academy as a whole learning organisation. With increased understanding and capacity to work with human dynamics as one went on came a different emphasis in learning. Fourteen (14) learning phases were identified: seven (7) that applied to students and seven (7) to teachers/lecturers.

The result of this holistic way of learning and teaching was a growing number of people who were able to lead other individuals and organizations in ways so that relational knowledge emerged simultaneously between multiple dimensions of experience, the E&C media, the process itself and the disposition of the situation. But another, unseen result was that something remained hidden: a dark force which tested but ultimately squeezed the life out of the organization and the Academy for Expression & Communication (AVEK) ceased to exist. This dark side of the organization which ‘killed’ it, may have been part of the historical fact that organizations have a history of and an interest in repressing basic human impulses such as sexuality, carnality or violence whilst simultaneously institutionalizing them (Foucault 1977; 1990, as cited in Linstead, Maréchal & Griffin, 2010). This force is witnessed for example in covert abuse of power, political manipulation, intimidation, ambition, greed, careerism, obsession, revenge, and maintaining ‘the sacred’ in organisation.

Whatever the reasons may have been, with this example from personal experience at the AVEK I hope to show evidence of an organization that even though it saw people as ‘actors in a Network’ (Latour, 2005) and we learned to interlink historical and cultural assumptions whilst bringing them to the present, as a whole the organization remained unconscious. In fact, it seemed to have been its intent despite its encouraging rhetoric. When I sought to address this dark force in the collective make-up, a group of people asked me to leave the academy without ado but also without a teacher-degree in my pocket.

Another Approach in Miscommunication: Moving into the Area of Difficulty

The living earth is a self-regulating system, or Gaia (Lovelock, 2001). In the words of Merleau-Ponty (1964): an emergence of ‘inspiration and expiration of Being, action and passion so slightly discernible that it becomes impossible to distinguish between what sees and what is seen, what paints and what is painted’ (ibid, p.167).

Is it possible to communicate with this emergence?
The answer in short: Yes and no.

It has to be understood that miscommunication is an area of difficulty produced by information gaps that are something either (a) totally unknown, (b) known but not understood or appreciated, (c) known but not available or acted upon, or (d) available but closed for public access or detectable by existing systems (Hopfl, 2003). The gaps are protected by ousting, or by simply not inviting in other viewpoints. So we see that dialogue is almost impossible. This ousting but also the opposite of it—attracting—is usually an unconscious process and part of the dark side of the human condition. It is unconscious. This dark side is only dark as it has not had a light shine on it, just like the earth and the moon have a light and a dark side. This dark side has not received due attention.

People need appropriate information that was hitherto amiss so as to shed a light on this dark side, and expose and disempower its tricks. Without this information, people are continually taken out by miscommunication. Van Hoorn (2007) labels these spaces in organizational contexts as ‘the area of difficulty’ that makes insiders and outsiders feel they cannot enter into, but only ‘go around’ the area as they ‘rub up against’ it (pp.101-102). The ring surrounding this area is stubborn and causes dis-ease within the organization, but also outside of it.

To understand institutions as expressions of collective consciousness is a powerful insight (Bussey, 2010b). It allows those working in them to access deeper resources in challenging unsustainable practices and promote forms of cultural development that transform dominant modes of activity (ibid). But understanding this intellectually only is not enough. Institutional intelligence (Bussey, 2010b) is a highly debatable concept that must be actively explored as an ongoing, self-organising story in time-space that is the beginning and the end; the snake that bites its tail; the hole and the whole (Van den Akker, 2009b).

Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are conditioned. Their idea of freedom, therefore, is simply their ignorance of any cause of their actions.
De Spinoza, 1951, pp. 108-109

Among a range of other wise people, Krishnamurti (1955, 1978) pointed to the inappropriateness of an education that breaks up the whole into parts to serve the hungry, fragmented mind (Bohm & Stewart, 1991). Compulsive thinking that believes in ‘lack’ produces words that are but a façade to go through and move beyond (Rabbin, 2009, p. iii).

Calling to the fore all dark side activities that interfere with the ‘I am-ness’; that potential to be moved, to be affected, without anything else getting in the way (Sills & Lown, 2008, p. 74) will help expose the collective ego’s common agreement. This agreement lives at the level of myth/metaphor that relates to the deep unconscious cultural tropes that societies and civilizations rely on for inner meaning and sustenance (Bussey, 2010b, p. 8). Only then is it possible to dissolve the story of ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘my’ so that a transformed ego can re-align itself with higher level projects and the living earth as a self-regulating system, and as such emerge as ‘inspiration and expiration of Being, action and passion.

Another Note of Warning: Reflecting on the Area of Difficulty in PhD Research

In the PhD research I worked with participants and explored in dialogue when, where and how the area of difficulty had manifested in their organisations. They recognised that the human psyche is deeply influenced by religiously/culturally reinforced mechanisms such as blaming, attachment, significance, protest, beliefs, intolerance and denial. In the process appeared a group mind that participants unconsciously sympathized with and this resonated in our meetings. The socio-emotional tone of this group mind was dull, self-protective, focused on face-saving. Kegan’s (1982) developmental model and Fowler’s model of Faith Development (1981/1995) link these mechanisms with tribal thinking.

Another group mind also emerged. It had the socio-emotional tone of an adolescent that wants independence. It shouted and screamed but it still supported level II Learning (Bateson, 1972/2000) associated with face-saving and self-protection (pp. 292-306). It demanded compulsive obedience: ‘an obedience without true self-control, an obedience which is not the consequence of an awakened and exercised will [and] brings whole nations to disaster’ (Montessori, 1948/1989, p. 123). This voice asked questions but to reinforce ‘identity’, competition, rankings, economic accountability and quality assurance. Its intent was ‘to Other’.

By exploring these tones a ‘vortex of communication’ (Dimitrov, 2000a) emerged which reflects the unique inseparability and the emergence of new meaning in verbal and non-verbal ways (ibid). It became clear that attention as a formless state of Presence (Tolle, 2005) is a state ofevocation. It is a context shaped by individuals whose intention, willingness and decision to work as partners enable intuition and a ‘Maieutic Silence’ (Van den Akker, 2009b, p. 47). Maieutic pertains to the Greek word maieutikos which implies midwifery, and Silence is that which Rabbin (2006) states

is before words, before thought, before self, before everything; the unmanifest, formless, wordless. That is where Reality slowly manifests within you, comes into form, into words, hovering between and surrounding these two seeming separate worlds: unmanifest and manifest, formless and form, wordless and form.

In the experience described above Maieutic Silence resonated—as it were—an angelic choir. Maieutic Silence is the space Sills & Lown (2008) refer to as an interconnection at three levels. There is the third field of attention that is ‘much wider than individual people or the impact of their relationship’ (p. 78). It expands beyond thefirst and the second fields of attention, which respectively mean establishing a vertical connecting by individual meditation practice and by concentration, and extending this ‘horizontal connection’ by establishing an energetic relationship with other people and energeticallymbodying a larger space (pp. 77-78).

The research-group was not able to sustain this Maieutic Silence for more than a few minutes. It was corrupted the moment a participant asked why ‘people’ corrupt this space. Her want for explanation dropped her attention back into the realm of the attention-economy. Not recognizing what was happening, the other participants sympathized with her ‘drop’ in tone and the group quickly re-assembled itself as part of the contemporary world.

I learned that the bought into and taken on board need for structures, rules, behaviors, beliefs, and patterns of culture is not only corporate or incorporated, but embodied and personal in the most profound and strongly defended sense (Morgan, 1997, p. 245). I also learned that a sufficient amount of willingness, intention and decision is needed to explore the ‘area of difficulty’ including its resonance, so as to potentially transform a socio-emotional tone. But most importantly I learned that appropriate data are needed that help resolve the protest that compulsively corrupts ‘Maieutic Silence’: a space that calls my attention as if a spatially undefined hourglass emerges through which time (the flow of communication) moves, transcending all roles, rules, strategies, boundaries and disciplines.


The current global context more than ever requires an education that is not restricted to the most basic state of mind. Making the same does not produce communication. Though some universities acknowledge that educational change is wanted and needed, their systemic feeds into and out of compulsive thinking, or thinking without awareness by

  1. employing people who do not question the status quo
  2. emphasizing people’s roles and the human drama
  3. proposing futures education scenario’s that recycle the game of miscommunication
  4. withholding re/sources that are capable of identifying and dispelling the protest-mechanism.

“Accountability” opposes progress and witnesses a collective ego’s ideology that is necessarily hegemonic. It systemically and systemically corrupts dialogue and ‘Maieutic Silence’.

A world in transition from industrialization to ecological thinking and the related meltdown of three disintegrating systems involving the economical, environmental and psycho-social (Gidley, 2007, p. 7) requires ‘outside the square’ methodologies. It requires self-aware practitioners who already understand and work with the dark side of the human condition, without which the structural mould of the educational community is embedded but regurgitates cultural violence.


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About the Author

José van den Akker’s practical interest is in helping individuals to align their professional lives with their personal wants, and facilitating organisations as collective bodies to align as better cohered entities with improved side-effects of reinforcing ethical practices and procedures by dealing with human behavioural elements rather than procedural ones. Recently having completed her PhD, her theoretical interest is in sustainable interactions especially in cross-cultural contexts. When appropriate, her preferred research methodologies and ways of writing stay in the tension of the ‘space in between’. They reflect the complexity of the subject from multiple perspectives, are ‘enlightenin’, and treat the subject matter of cross-cultural communication with aesthetic sensitivity to the fuzziness of embodied learning and its emergence, and articulation through image. Her aim is to express and communicate so that the audience will construct its own understandings by patiently attending to the ‘felt sense’ in which the understandings are embodied.

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