Re: Working for love and all that.

Teresa Gallagher (
Sun, 19 Apr 1998 18:24:13 -0400

OK, I can't help commenting on how temperamental differences lead to
disagreements such as this one. I've been refraining from doing so
because it will mark me as a complete temperament geek, but I know
several people on this list are familiar with MBTI temperament types and
might be interested.

I'd bet $100 that most people working in SVS schools, and the people on
this list, are either NF "Idealists" (ex. Gandhi) or NT "Rationals" (ex.
Einstein). I know I brought up the subject a while back, and indeed
everyone was one or the other minority temperament. Both types are
idealists and visionaries at heart. NFs are overrepresented in the
field of teaching, where they are know for battling the established
order on behalf of the children, so of course SVS schools would attract
them. One big difference between the two temperaments: The NTs value
objectivity and truth first, while the NFs value their cause most. An
NT might view NFs supporting a cause as cult-like, while NFs may view
the NT as a heartless attacker.

I've run into this situation over and over again on lists comprised of
NTs and NFs where an NT will analyze something critically and really get
pounced on. NFs normally have causes of some type which they advocate
(in this case Sudbury type schooling). The Cause is of utmost importance
to the NF. If they perceive their cause is criticized or threatened in
any way, the wagons are circled and the person doing the criticizing is
attacked, often personally or by attacking his or her motives (not
always, but it's very common). The logical points brought up by the
criticizer are often not actually addressed. NFs are also imfamous for
ignoring any facts or details which are contrary to what they strongly
believe in.

The NTs in such a discussion are thoroughly confused as to why the
discussion has suddenly gotten so mean-spirited, while the NFs are upset
about being attacked by a traitor in their midst (exageration, I know).
The NT continues to push logic and objectivity, and the NFs feel further
attacked and resist. The NT in turn is upset by personal attacks, which
are seen as an unfair response to the logic which they have put forth.

An example of this happening on another list composed of NFs and NTs:
Someone wrote that they never really looked forward to doing things on a
day to day basis anymore as an adult, and this would never change. One
NT replied that she had had a lot of good experiences with positive
thinking, talked about a book that helped her, and pointed out how his
posting was an example of negative thinking. Well, it turns out that an
NF on the list had worked at a suicide hotline, and thought the replying
NT was insensitive, mean, thoughtless, (and other personal attacks) for
suggesting positive thinking. Factions developed and this went on for
weeks. On that list I did know the temperaments of those involved, and
it was a very neat split between the NFs on one side and the NTs on the
other. The Working for Love debate has much of the same flavor.

I guess a rule of thumb I've learned is that NTs need to really focus on
tact when they present certain arguments, anticipating that others may
view this as an attack of something precious to them, even though it may
seem like a waste of time to the NT. And NFs need to focus on sticking
to the argument and never respond by making statements about the person
making the argument, their intelligence, motives or anything else about
them personally.