Homepage Core Principles Through Personality Type Through Spirit Group Learning Real-Life Stories Social Responsibility
Relational Learning Global Learning Organizational Learning Constructive-Development Approach

Personality type - Patricia Cranton



One of the first scholars to work with Jack Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Patricia Cranton, Ph.D., experienced in adult education and faculty development, explores the role of Jungian personality type in the context of Transformative Learning Theory.   Author of Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning , as well as other books on adult education, Patricia Cranton has also collaborated with Jack Mezirow & Associates on Learning Through Transformation .   She is also editor of Transformative Learning in Action: Insights from Practice, Number 74, Summer, 1997, Jossey-Bass ?New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education series.?

           Cranton's book, Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning , is a powerful book on framing Transformative Learning in a way that practitioners, teachers, adult trainers, and others who work with adults on their lifelong learning process, can grasp the theory and have some insights into how they can personally help to facilitate their learners on their quest for learning; especially transformative, ?deep? learning.

Consciousness-Raising as a Critical Component of Transformative Learning

Consciousness-raising is an association with freedom from oppression and educator/theorist Paulo Freire, is his landmark book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed , wrote about the transformative power of education.   In his preface to his 30 th anniversary edition, Friere comments,   ?Critical consciousness, they say, is anarchic.   Others add the critical consciousness may lead to disorder.   Some however, confess: Why deny it?   I was afraid of freedom, I am no longer afraid!? (Friere, 2000, p. 38).

Cranton reminds us that this term of ?freedom from oppression has also been used by feminist theorists, also.   She tells us, ?Indeed, individual or personal consciousness raising as defined by Jung can be seen to form the basis of freedom from oppression as defined by Hart.   The psychological definition of consciousness-raising will be followed here: it is the process of developing self-knowledge and self-awareness   (Chaplin, 1985).   This definition also parallels the central process of transformative learning – becoming aware of and then questioning one's construction of meaning.   What can the educator do to foster consciousness raising?

In some situations, consciousness-raising is provoked by exposure to new information, knowledge, insights, or values, especially if they are discrepant with currently held meaning schemes.   Most commonly associated with the notion of consciousness-raising is seeing the familiar things from a different perspective, thereby increasing one's self-awareness regarding familiar things.   I will discuss approaches to encouraging the latter first? (Cranton, 1994, p. 174).  

The concept of consciousness-raising is critical to understanding transformative learning, since it provides the importance of an elevated awareness that transcends, or goes beyond, what we perceive as normal consciousness.    This elevated state of consciousness is characterized by our awareness that, ?Dorothy, this sure isn't Kansas anymore!? as Dorothy saw, when she entered the strange land of OZ.   When we experience a consciousness raising awareness, we find that we can put what we knew before, in a new and perhaps unique context, or we go beyond and leave what we experienced and knew before, and now are framing an entirely new experience which takes us beyond our former boundaries.    

Role of Personality Type in the Context of Transformational Learning

Patricia developed an integration of Personality Type Theory within the context of Transformative Learning.   Mezirow (1991) ?describes a meaning perspective as a habitual set of expectations that constitutes an orienting frame of reference.   This serves as a system for interpreting and evaluating the meaning of experience.   Among the influences that shape psychological meaning perspectives, or frames of reference, he lists characterological preferences.   In Chapter One of this volume, he lists psychological characteristics as habits of the mind.   Habits of mind are seen to be one dimension that acts as a broad, orienting predisposition filtering the interpretation of the meaning of experience.   I understand this to mean that personality preference acts as one filter for the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us? (Mezirow, 2000, Cranton, p. 183).

Cranton has chosen to use a Jungian approach to personality type since:

?            Jung is explicitly constructivist in philosophy, which harmonizes with                transformative learning theory

?            Boyd (1991) and others have used a Jungian approach in understanding               transformative learning theory

?              Jung's model has been popularized through several assessment techniques                (Cranton & Knoop, 1995; Keirsey & Bates, 1984; Myers, 1995)                             providing a common understanding for many educators

Jung's Theory of Personality – Dynamic, Life-Long Towards Individuation

Cranton's desire to use Jung's original theory was based on her understanding of Jung seeing his theory as a dynamic, moving, changing one, that could provide insight to individuals as they move towards what Jung termed, Individuation, or personality integration, a life-long, organic process.   Some of the more common type instruments tend to be perceived by users as more rigid categorization structures, that may provide stereotyping or ?excuses for failure to grow and change, by saying, ?but that's my type??

Jung's approach to personality involves the use of two processes that he calls   "Individuation takes place as we break from that collective and come to critically question the habits of the mind of which we have been unaware.   The differentiation and definition of our psychological preferences and the formation of our psyche is an integral part of this process.   It is not a onetime-event.   Jung describes individuation as a lifelong journey.   Neither is it the "sole aim of psychological education" (Jung 1971 [1921], p.449); that is, the goal is not to become only separate but to continue to group, differentiate, and regroup with other social collectives as we grow and develop.   Yet as Sharp (1995) says, we cannot develop unless we choose our own way, consciously and with moral deliberation.   The development of the personality means "fidelity to the law of one's own being," the segregation of the individual from the undifferentiated and unconscious herd," and this means isolation (p.48).

         One goal of adult education, and transformative learning in particular, is individuation, the development of the person as separate from the collective, which in turn allows for the person to join with others in a more authentic union.   If people run with the herd, if they have no sense of self as separate from others, there is no hope for finding one's own voice or having free full participation in discourse, as Mezirow puts it in this book." (Cranton,   in Mezirow, 2000, page 189).

"Perhaps it is in the movement from critical self-reflection to transformative learning that is most clearly related to psychological preferences.   The extent to which participants saw themselves as involved in aspects of transformative learning varied greatly, and the degree to which they were introverted or extroverted or preferred rational or irrational functions (using the terminology as does Jung) seemed to play a role in explaining the variations.   In the years that I have worked with transformative learning in courses and workshops, I have observed these and other differences among people on countless occasions.

         But Dirkx (1997, p. 81) writes that framing this learning as a ?problem of critical-self reflection understates the affective, emotional, spiritual, and transpersonal elements.' Scott   (1997, p. 46) describes the transformative learning as ?fundamentally extrarational and intensely personal.' The 'sitting' (listening or waiting) she writes, ?with the images requires us to descend into a kind of darkness.' Scott has a depth-psychology orientation to transformation based on Jung, as does Boyd (1991).   In this interpretation it is the unconscious and the collective unconscious where emotional work, as transforming learning is seen to be, starts." (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 191).

         Jung's theory of personality suggests that as we develop our whole selves, we move from a general, collective psychology, to our individual development of ourselves, and leave the group, or herd.   This process, called individuation, incorporates the development of a dialogue with ourselves, a way of becoming separate from the collective, developing an authentic self, and regrouping with the collective in a more authentic and real way.   This individuation is a life long, constant process, of finding one's self.

         One of Cranton's critical findings is the similarity of individuation, or the separation of the individual from the collective, to the process of critical self-reflection, the core concept of transformative learning theory.   ?Individuation takes place as we break from collective and come to critically question the habits of the mind of which we have been unaware.   The differentiation and definition of our psychological preferences and the formation of our psyche is an integral part of the process.   It is not a onetime event.   Jung describes individuation as a lifelong journey?If people run with the herd, if they have no sense of self as separate from others, there is no hope for finding one's voice or having free full participation in discourse, as Mezirow puts it in this book? (Cranton, 2000, Mezirow et. Al).  While Cranton originally saw a similarity between the critical self-reflection of transformative learning, and the process of individuation, she now sees individuation as a much more unconscious and intuitive process, more of what Dirkx would call, "soulfullness."

Why is personality type important towards understanding transformative learning?

Different ways in which we transform include handed-ness, brain hemisphere dominance and approaches that differ from abstract theorization to concrete literal thinking.   At an instrumental level, these approaches may affect the learner's ability to learn; however at the transformative learning level, our psychological preferences are a ?habit of the mind? and ?filter how we see the world, make meaning out of our experiences and determine how we reconstruct our interpretations? (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 190).   A study conducted by Mary Lou Arseneault in depth interviewing seven people revealed that while most of the people reported experiencing disorientation, self-examination, critical assessment, exploration of options, engaging in discourse, and planning a course of action, not all of the participants experienced transformative learning.   Cranton suggests ?perhaps it is the movement from critical self-reflection to transformative learning that is most clearly related to psychological preferences.   Interestingly, the extent to which participants saw themselves as involved in aspects of transformative learning varied greatly, and the degree to which they were introverted or extroverted or preferred rational or irrational functions seemed to play a role in explaining their variations?   (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 191).

Rational Functions of Thinking and Feeling

         Under preferences for the rational functions of thinking and feeling, Cranton explains a natural connection between ?becoming critically reflective of problematic frames of reference and generating interpretations that are more justifiable fall readily into the purview of thinking function while judgments made using the feeling function are based on values, the goal being to remain in harmony with the norms, expectations and values of others within the community or culture? (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 192).   What does this mean?   While both thinking and feeling are what Jung calls, ?rational functions? feeling is not critical rationality nor is it critical reflection in the same way as it is for thinking.   A person who prefers feeling might question a frame of reference when she or he finds herself or himself in conflict with others' values, and the goal of the process is to try and return to a state of harmony with others.   When considering the rational functions it is important to remember that a tendency toward subjective reframing follows from the introverted attitude, and objective reframing from the extroverted attitude.

         When considering the irrational functions of sensing and intuition, one who is more perceptive likes to continue to take in information and impressions through the five senses or their intuition, and put off coming to closure since they are still taking in information either from the senses or their intuition.   Perceptive functions cannot by virtue of definition, do critical reflection on assumptions or beliefs, since those are judgmental processes.   Insights from only from intuition and changes that emerge from immersion in an experience and the absorption of facets of that experience through the senses are neither transformations in frames of reference per Mezirow.

         ?When a person prefers either intuition or sensing, the actual transformation of frames of reference occurs through the use of the auxiliary rational function of thinking or feeling; when the perceptive functions are extraverted in attitude, they focus on the outside world – what is or what could be.   When the sensing or intuiting function is more introverted, the process is personalized and subjectified.   Introverted intuition reveals images, fantasies, and hunches that seem to come out of nowhere, from the unconscious, and trigger subjective, almost inexplicable reactions to things in the outside world.   To some extent, Dirkx's (1997) concept of soul in learning mirrors that which comes forth from introverted intuition?  

  (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 194-195).

Educator's Role

?Fostering transformative learning involves helping bring the source, nature, and consequences of taken-for-granted assumptions into critical awareness so that appropriate action can be taken? (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 195).

Cranton suggests three distinct, yet interrelated roles for educators.   ?First, given that our psychological predispositions form a habit of mind that influences how we make meaning out of experience, educators have a responsibility to assist learners in becoming aware of their psychological preferences.   Second, because we are involved in a continuous lifelong process of developing and individuating as human beings, educators have a role to play in encouraging critical questioning of psychological habits of mind and supporting the differentiation of the individual from the collective.   Third, if our psychological preferences influence the way we engage in reconstructing frames of reference, educators need to help create learning experiences that involve learners of different predispositions in that process.   Integral to each of these is the educator's own self-awareness of her psychological predisposition and how it influences her work with learners? (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 197).

Self-Awareness of Psychological Predispositions

?The better we understand how we learn, the more likely we will be to work with our nature to consciously develop, interpret our experiences, and reconstruct faulty frames of reference.   Epochal transformations that arise out of traumatic personal experiences or dramatic insights are not often within the scope of the educator's responsibility, though they may sometimes be stimulated by something an educator says or does.   More often we work, as educators, with incremental change based on careful examination of a variety of perspectives, the consideration of new alternatives, reflective discourse, critical questioning of expressed points of view, and nurturing the first tentative forays students make into a new way of seeing things.   To do this well, people need to understand how their minds work.   Helping learners become fully aware of their preferences assists them in seeing their strengths, their blind spots, their prejudices against others different than themselves.   As long as people believe that their way of being in the world is the only or the best way, it is very difficult for them to see alternative perspectives or to engage in reflective discourse? (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 196).

Cranton suggests a number of ways for educators to engage their students in increasing their self-awareness of psychological predispositions.   Among her suggestions are to use one of the available published personality type inventories – she cautions correctly that this should ONLY be done for self-development and never for an   end to themselves. She also will pass out notes the students may read in class, such as, ?I am a well organized person' and then have the student agree or disagree; this provides the students with a variety of types and subtypes, helping them to see the value in all.   Calling attention to the various types in class, and their learning styles also provides the students with additional understanding.   Additionally suggests that students of differing type keep a journal together and comment on their partner's entries, too!

           As part of mentoring students along their voyage of life, the educators can also facilitate the student's journey towards individuation through helping the student see their own views from the views of the collective.   For as Daryl Sharpe notes, ?Individuation is a kind of circular journey, a spiral journey, where the aim is to get back to where you started, but knowing where you've been and what for?as a developmental process and should be both a learning goal and a goal of adult education? (Cranton, in Mezirow, 2000, p. 198).

For more information read:

Boyd, R. Personal Transformation in Small Groups , London, Routledge, 1991.

Cranton, P., No One Way: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Toronto: Wall & Emerson, 1998.

Cranton, P., and Knoop, R., ?Assessing Psychological Type: The PET Type Check.? General, Social, and Genetic Psychological Monographs, 1995, 121 (2), 247-274.

Dirkx, J.M., ?Nurturing Soul in Adult Learning.? In P. Cranton, (ed.), Transformative Learning in Action: Insights from Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 74. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997

Jung, C., Man and His Symbols, London, Aldus, 1964.