Constructing Capacity

We build capacity based on our existing capacities. If these bases are weak, or not well-formed, then additional constructions on them are bound to suffer. As we learn and develop more, broadening and deepening our truth, love and justice, we add to, modify, refine, change and reorganize our existing knowledge, feelings and will. If we do this in a productive way, our capabilities strengthen to face new experiences in more effective ways. Earlier learning based on ineffective or wrong information, motives or behaviors may need to be replaced with more sound and useful constructions.

These three faculties of our minds, hearts and will, which are the seat of our knowing, loving and willing, must be integrated by truth, love and justice to be effective. As educators, we can help students to construct meaning, use it symbiotically and integrate it into their lives. Understanding how earlier constructions may need to be temporary structures or replaced in light of new understandings is vital for growth. Sometimes scaffolds need to be built to temporarily support and construct knowledge. Knowing when, where and how to use these supports will facilitate the learning process.

In terms of construction, not only do we build on what we have, we also build toward what we want to have in the future. Not everyone constructs, organizes or goes about this process in the same way, goes from the same bases of knowledge and experience or desires the same future results. As educators, we can give students the tools and organizers for learning representations and constructing meaning, such as generalization, categorizing and cause-effect relations. Knowledge of these tools allows learners to choose the ones that are best for them. Learning models help construct knowledge about developing human potential through concept mapping and organization and metaphorical, visual and mechanical representations of the learning and development process.

We have innate, inherited and acquired characteristics actualized through interaction with environment. Learning is a proactive and reactive process between the body and the soul. The body is an instrument and vehicle for the soul’s development. Our innate natural capacities are all good when used with good motives, but can be bad when improperly used. These abilities must be disciplined and trained according to laws of development. These competencies require effort for self-improvement.

Developing and realizing our potentials can be considered our purpose in life. The social structure the schools and teachers create will help determine the extent students will be enabled to grow. Teachers are to act morally to create a moral order in their classrooms—to act with truth, love and justice—so both individual and social good are served. As the education and training of children help them realized their potential, they can be considered among the most meritorious services one can perform in the world.

We grow intellectually analogously to how we grow physically: we take in, assimilate, utilize, grow and develop. Not all that we physically take in is good or useful. Like physical growth and health, intellectual growth can be healthy or not. Not all knowledge, love, actions or reactions are beneficial. There are many mistakes and errors made in this process of refining ourselves and helping others. Educators can create environmental influences and guide learners’ responses in healthy ways to develop their individual cognitive, motivational and social faculties. An individual is like steel, which needs the fire of education to help in refining and forming it to be made stronger. Iron left on its own becomes rusted and corroded with desires and ignorance.

Developing human potential is the process of using will to develop and then translate knowledge and love into action. It is only in living our lives with love and knowledge that we can gain a truer perspective of ourselves and reality. As we move away from self-centered views toward more universal understandings of truth, love and justice, we obtain a truer knowledge of self and become a better, healthier and happier people. If we focus on material and selfish aspects of life, we do not develop the faculties of our true potential. Truth, love and justice must work together for the individual and society to grow, develop and advance. Growth results from creation, expansion and consolidation of capacities.

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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