Levels of Learning
Last night we had a family dispute. Well, as usual it was a parents vs. child dispute (or row). I'm sure it fell into one of Minuchin's categories, but my knowledge of family therapy is a bit rusty and in any case that is more "knowledge about" rather than "knowledge by acquaintance". As is the way with these things, there's a lot of tacit taken-for-granted knowledge involved and it was conducted in a restricted code.
(Who is this guy? Are these theoretical perspectives more important to him than the feelings engendered in a family row? Far from it, but this blog is about reflection as a disciplined practice—take all the rest as given.)
Our son is 24 and living again at home after graduating while he finds a permanent job, so that he can move out and on; this is an aspiration for all parties. The point, for present purposes, is that he lived away from home as an undergraduate, and learned a certain life-style which is not really compatible with our middle-aged grumpy conservative daily routine. So, as often happens, his mother threw at him a series of accusations:
- You wake me up coming in late!
- You leave your dirty clothes lying about!
- You don't clean the shower!
- You're so inconsiderate!
- etc. There's nothing special about the content. [Note for any readers who have not yet got there—it's routine.]
My professional reflection was: what kind of learning does CJ have to undertake to deal with this?
- At one level, he could learn all the prescribed "rules" for living in the house, one by one; this is acceptable, this is unacceptable—a sort of domestic rule of St Benedict.
- But this is not what his mother was talking about, despite her accumulation of violations. Her primary concern was that he should be "considerate".
This is learning 2; the ability to put individual bits of learning into a context. Eventually, most of us acquire it, but how the blazes do you teach it?