Meta-Cognitive Prowess And The Danger of Meta-Cognitive Frameworks

After my last post, “Mapmakers, Toolmakers and Complex Developmental Systems” I was encouraged by a friend to read about Robert Keegan’s Constructive Developmental Theory as an alternative model to Spiral Dynamics for how human’s consciousness, thought and values evolve. Here was the best quick overview I found.

I thought I would post this quick take on how I think people increase their meta-cognitive ability and some of the dangers of I’ve seen with falling in love with meta-cognitive frameworks.

After reading about Constructive Development Theory I’m pretty sure I’m in the process, over the last 6 months, of making the jump from thinking in systems to thinking in “systems of systems”. I’m not sure what triggers this jump for most people, but it seems my jump was both a combination of realizing the limitations of just one system, expanding my own self-awareness through interior practices and specifically learning new systems that would allow me to concretely think in multiple perspectives, not just have an intuitive feel that multiple perspective are better.

What I’m getting at, is that I’m not sure “5th order” thinking will just “emerge” on its own, unless people specifically commit to learning the intricacies of new systems, like Constructive Developmental Theory, Integral Theory, EvoDevoUniverse etc. People don’t just learn new systems intuitively, it requires deliberate action to seek them out.

I think it’s also important to differentiate high order meta-frameworks from more practical frameworks. CDT is very meta-cognitive. Moving up the developmental hierarchy of CDT won’t directly improve any hard skill. Hard skills still require a lot of practice, although increases in meta-cognitive ability should lead to more effective and efficient practice, and thus an overall faster rate of practical skill acquisition.

I want to clarify this because it seems that many people who learn about these meta-frameworks never apply their increased freedom and complexity of thought to anything practical because they get obsessed with “leveling up” and mistake meta-cognitive expansion as a means rather than an end.

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