Academic journal article Education

The Self in the System: A Revision of the Three R's in Response to Relevant Research

Academic journal article Education

The Self in the System: A Revision of the Three R's in Response to Relevant Research

Article excerpt

The essence of the human resource frame for managing organizations (Bolman & Deal, 1984) seems to be sensitivity to individuals operationalized by acknowledging individual differences, responding to individual needs, and cultivating individual growth for the welfare of both the individual and the organization. This orientation to the individual is predicated on a willingness to assume his/her perspective. An integral part of that perspective is the way individuals perceive themselves. Self-perceptions become a factor in interpersonal interactions by underlying, mediating, and contributing to other influences.

This paper explores the interactions between self-perception and educational institution. It focuses on the relationships among people and between people and the institution. The research on self-perception is integrated to explore the impact of these interactions on the quality of performance.

The Self is an Information Processor

Before proceeding, it is necessary to establish a common understanding of self-perception. Howard Gardner (1983) conceives of knowledge of the self and others as a type of intelligence which he calls personal intelligence. This is considered to be preeminent and more integrated than other types of intelligence. A person's sense of self mediates other capabilities since it processes and reflects on other capacities.

Significant others have a formative role in this burgeoning sense of self since it is interpreted and revised through relationships. This reference group provides comparative information to the individual that has an impact on self-perceptions (Rogers, Smith, & Coleman, 1978). Consequently, the self is a composite of intrapersonal and interpersonal knowledge resulting in multiple selves that reflect context and can be summoned selectively (Markus & Nurius, 1986).

The self is represented in cognitive schemata which process self-relevant information (Markus, 1977). The information processing function of the self can be directed internally or externally and fosters the ability to discriminate among moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions. Incoming information is subject to cognitive biases which attempt to confirm previously established information, attitudes, or feelings (Greenwald, 1980).

Self and Setting are Interdependent

Social psychologists are particularly interested in the relationship between the sense of self and the community. The individual and the context are interdependent because coping with the social setting activates the potential for self-growth. In this way, interaction contributes to self-knowledge along with the promulgation of the community (Gardner, 1983). This is because the way one chooses to present oneself in public influences self-perceptions in that direction (Rhodewalt & Agustsdottir, 1986). Even the implication of questions to which one freely responds influences self-perception and subsequent behavior (Fazio, Effrein, & Falender, 1981). The interactive nature of self-perception is a critical consideration in an educational setting.

The Self in School

Self-perception is an important variable in the educational environment. Sergiovanni and Starratt (1979) relate that the greatest deficiencies reported by teachers are at the esteem level of Maslow's hierarchy, i.e. those issues related to esteem, autonomy, and self-actualization. "The pressing need for teachers is need for esteem". This need is the most acute for those from 25-34 and the least severe for 20-24 year olds. It tapers off from 35-44 and is moderate beyond 45 years of age. Despite the varying intensity, it is obvious that there is a perpetual striving for these ego needs.

Ego needs are expressed in two forms. One form is the need for self-confidence, independence, achievement, competence, and knowledge. The other takes the form of seeking status, recognition, appreciation, and respect in the service of enhancing the ego. …

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