Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Bringing Forth Others

Originally posted on November 15, 2011

It occurred to me that the art of bringing forth others’ creativity and fullness has become part of the role definition of many types of people-helpers—including parents, managers, teachers, spiritual directors and counselors of every type, personal coaches, etc.

In the past, the job was simpler: For parents, get kids raised, fed, launched. For most parents the categories of fostering individual strengths and promoting their creativity were non-categories. Folks just didn’t think in those fine-tuned ways. (As an analogy, before vitamins and other nutritious substances were known, just eating “enough” was defined as nutrition. Now we recognize that a “balanced” diet is optimal—a concept that wasn’t recognized a century or more ago.)

For teachers, too, the role involved instruction. Now information is readily accessible through web-searches and other sources on the internet; the teacher’s role is to develop the more intangible skills for filtering, evaluating, and thinking about the implications of mere information. Promoting spunk, curiosity, aliveness, initiative, and the like are also considered part of the job, though it’s not easy to do this with the school system constructed the way it is (with a focus on information oriented tests and “right answers” for example).

Managers in the last century just wanted to get the job done; the job was fairly well defined. No longer: There is a desire to promote not blind obedience so much as creativity, and the job of the manager becomes less of a boss and more of a facilitator.

Ministers sought to impose orthodoxy and explain why the official version was adequate. Folks bought it in the olden days because it was incidental to personal and group identity, social networking, being with one’s own “kind.” In a postmodern culture with increasing mobility, people want a faith that’s relevant and as information expands, cross-cultural knowledge expands, people drift towards their own individual discovery of what works spiritually. What if the new role of the minister is to evoke what works spiritually for the congregant, rather than telling the congregant what “should” work. The common theme here again is “bringing people forth.”

Of course, psychotherapists of all types—psychiatrists, clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, many types of counselors, and so forth—all address this theme of a more individualized drawing forth of what works for their clients or patients.

And so it goes. Many teachers of improvisational drama, art, and other self-development workshops also are coming to respect the deep fact of individual differences and to promote not the “correct” use of whatever they teach, but rather the adaptation of their media to the purposes or styles of the various class members.

Given this trend, I see therapy of various types, coaching, parenting, managing, vocational and other types of counseling,  interactive or applied theatre of different types, and other endeavors all partaking of this wider umbrella function I call “bringing others forth.” It broadens the disciplines involved and recognizes inter-disciplinary commonalities within the context of a changing world.

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