Saturday, June 13, 2015

Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates

I read Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates because another mom recommended it based on her love of the Myers-Briggs methodology. She said it explained SO MUCH! Since I almost always read recommended books, I put it on my list.

It was actually interesting to be able to see the different personality types and how each relates to the world. The point of the book is to realize that people are different and there is no point or even reason to trying to change someone. I was especially interested in the section on education. It is noteworthy that all kids do not react to formal education in the same way. (Duh!) It is also of interest to see what might best work to excite a child who has no interest in school. It turned out to me much more interesting than I thought it would be.

They first have you identify yourself. I am an ISTJ ( Introvert, Sensation, Thinking, Judging) I had previously tested as an INTJ, but after reading this book, I’m pretty sure that ISTJ is a much better fit. She then takes the 32 variations possible and narrows them down to four basic personality types using other historical attempts to classify people. 

First is the Dionysian Temperament. (ISTP, ESTP, ISFP, ESFP [38% of population]) These SPs must be free! “To do as he wishes when he wishes, that’s the ideal. To wait, to save, to store, to prepare, to live for tomorrow -- that is not the way... Today must be enjoyed, for tomorrow never comes.”

Next is the Epimethean Temperament (ISFJ, ESFJ, ISTJ, ESTJ [also 38% of the population]) These SJs (me) “must belong, and this belonging has to be earned. Here is no freeloader, urging his dependency upon the donor... The SJ feels guilty for his dependency... Moreover, he must be the giver, not the receiver; the caretaker, not the cared for.” The are the “good, responsible, rule-following, tradition-loving” people.

Since this is me, I add more so I can have insight into myself! “The SJ has a keen sense for detecting ingratitude and lack of appreciation, dealing as he does in giving, service, and care. Strangely though, he cannot ask for gratitude or appreciation because it is his duty to give, serve, and care for. He feels obligated, responsible, and burdened, and wants to feel that way. to feel otherwise is to be useless and not belong.” SJs clean up after the party an SJ threw. 

“The SJ is society’s natural historian, and it is the historian who learns, for society, the lessons of history... [and] history’s most important lesson is the reciprocity of freedom and equality... Unfortunately, this lesson of history is not learned by most... the SJ instinctively knows it., seeing in inequality (hierarchy) the only way to freedom... Just as history should govern what we do in the future, so there are fundamentals which should serve as foundations for what and how we build and how we maintain our edifices and our institutions.” Preach it!

Third is the PrometheanTemperament (INTP, ENTP, INTJ, ENTJ [12% of the population]) The NTs have a strong desire for knowledge and competence. They are highly self-critical and have a high standard for themselves. He is the mirror opposite of the free-spirited SP. He never quite believes that he is good enough or accomplished enough and therefore always feels he is on the edge of failure and so pushes himself even more. He also comes off as arrogant in that his expectations of others is both that they will fail because they do not have his standards, and yet he is disappointed by other’s failure. He has a serious passion for knowledge and focus on the future. These would be the socially odd, probably very smart, “nerds” who have trouble relating to others. 

Finally, there is the Apollonian Temperament (INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, ENFP [ 12% of the population]) “‘How can I become the person I really am?’ asks the NF. He hungers for self-actualization, to be and to become real. To be what he is meant to be and to have an identity which is uniquely his. His endless search most often causes him guild, believing that his real self is somehow less than it ought to be. And so he wanders...” These NFs spend their lives searching for meaning and purpose. Some find it and are happy, others spend their lives miserable. 

Then the authors break down how the different type act in different areas of life. I focus on my SJ personality here. 

As to Mating, it seems that most people are attracted to their opposite, although that many not necessarily be the best choice. SJs like their time structured and rarely waste time. They do not mind demands on their time by family as long as it seems sensible. They enjoy routine and are seldom bored. They both nurture and criticize their families and believe in passing onto children The Right Way to do something. 

As children, SJs are usually the perfect student. In fact most teachers are SJs and the system is built for SJs. School “focus on responsibilities, on the development of good study habits, on the development of proper social attitudes, on the completion of well-structured tasks executed in an approved fashion.” All of this appeals to SJs. 

This is a book I’ll be returning to when I get my own classroom! In fact, they provided this handy-dandy chart!

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