The Beautiful Mind of Dr Zachary Stein


An interview with Dr Zachary Stein by PatternDynamics founder, Tim Winton. Zak and Tim discuss complexity, how to see it, how to manage it, and the power of values aligned with a ‘systems view’ in creating a more generative humanity. Zak is Chair of the Education Program at Meridian University. He received his Bachelor’s from Hampshire College, and his Master’s and Doctorate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Zak co-founded Lectica, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting social justice through the reform of large-scale standardized testing, where he worked for over a a decade. Zak’s publications have bridged topics in the philosophy of education, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and psychometrics. He has recently completed a forthcoming book: Social Justice and Educational Measurement: John Rawls, the History of Testing, and the Future of Education (Routledge 2016). Zac co-facilitatings Thrive on Complexity, an online course at Meridian University. Click here for details.

PD Blog 10 Image Zak Stein close up with Alpha filter

Podcast: Download (Duration: 57:32 — 66.7MB)

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0:15 Indigenous Models: Mind as Organism
2:15 Piaget’s Natural View of the Mind
3:00 Baldwin: Mind as Metabolic System
3:45 Fischer: Piaget through the neuroscience revolution
4:45 Fischer’s Skill Domains: ‘clusters of inter-related lines’
5:35 Complex Adaptive System: mind as ecosystem
7:00 Transition from Machine Model to Living Systems Model
7:30 Using a living systems view to thrive in complex circumstances
8:15 Competing Paradigms: Newton and Descarte’s clockwork universe
9:00 Not Embracing Complexity but Simplifying It
10:00 Machines are Fragile; Living Systems are Anti-Fragile
11:30 Disruptions strengthen living systems, but destroy mechanical systems
13:10 Frameworks for Understanding Complexity
13:30 Practices for Managing Complexity Better
14:15 Transforming Consciousness to Thrive on Complexity
14:30 Embodied, Engaged, and Interpersonal Practices
14:45 Ten Directions Practices
15:00 PatternDynamics Practices
15:50 Cross Quadrant Patterns
16:15 First Simplicity vs Second Simplicity
17:00 GDP: Oversimplification (First Simplicity): ‘profoundly limits decision making’
18:00 Second Simplicity Involves the Patterns and Principles that Matter in a System
18:45 Human Systems are Normatively Constituted
19:45 Identities Have to Do with Values
20:30 Species Wide Identity Crisis
21:00 From the Grand Narratives of Modernity to the Fractured Pluralism of Post Modernity
21:50 The Big Bifurcation Point
22:45 The Values that Bind Us Together
23:00 The Most Powerful Force in Human Affairs
23:40 The Polarity of Love and Power
24:45 New Stories for Us to Emerge
25:00 The Story of Second Simplicity that Will Allow Humanity to Emerge
25:30 Kurt Fischer: Pre-eminent psychological Meta-theorist vs Ken Wilber: Pre-eminent Speculative/Philosophical Meta-theorist
27:20 Vision and Mission of Lectica: A Fischerian Liberating Structure
28:15 Separating the Facts from the Norms Only So You Can Reintegrate Them
28:35 Normative Loading of Systems/Ecological Insights
28:45 The ‘Is’ vs ‘Ought’ Thing
29:20 The Facts/Values Feedback Loop
30:00 The Third Story
31:35 Leveraging Emergence in Evolving Complexity
31:50 Post Conventional Identity Development
32:30 Self as Process
33:00 Re-Storying Humanity as a Complex Adaptive System
33:30 The Fluid–Flux-Based–Processural System
34:45 The Story of Who You Are
35:30 New Language, New Language Games
35:45 Signs of Catastrophic Bifurcation
36:30 Emmanuel Wallerstein: World Systems Analysis
38:30 The Danger of Eugenics
39:00 Little Things Can Make a Big Difference at Moments of Systems Bifurcation
40:45 A Time of Potentiated Change
42:30 Scaffolding Complex Problem Solving
46:30 The Role of Uniqueness (Diversity)
47:30 Cookie Cutter Roles Just Don’t Exist Any More
48:30 Love: The Normative Heavy Hitter
50:30 The Shadow Side of Totalitarianism
52:15 Central Normative Commitments:The Binding Social Force
53:00 The Zero Sum Game
53:30 John Rawls: The View from Everywhere
54:10 Moral Musical Chairs
55:30 Getting the Right Feedback Loops
56:15 Generativity Works for Everybody
56:40 Take the Rawlsian Test


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  • David MacLeod

    Hi Tim,
    It appears that the link to Download the podcast is linking to the interview with Julian Waters Lynch rather than to the new interview with Zak Stein.

    • timwinton1

      Nice pick up, David. Thanks. I’ve fixed it. Podcast download should now be the correct.