The form of Taking Yourself Seriously

The forms (Levine 2015) of Taking Yourself Seriously (TYS) are ones in which the students and participants bring themselves into to grow and develop so that they leave having more self, i.e., more tools in their toolbox, to bring into the forms of work and life outside TYS. The students/participants take up/in the tools by experiencing their use and practicing them in projects of research and engagement, including engagement with themselves, that is, taking themselves seriously.

The importance of the multiplicity of tools is, firstly, the processes of each of the four TYS frameworks cannot be collapsed into a single goal or product. As is explicit in the Phases and in the Synthesis of Theory and Practice frameworks, there are two sets of 10 goals–some related to producing the product and some related to developing as a reflective practitioner. (I wonder what the set of goals would look like for the Action Research Cycles and Epicycles and CPR spaces frameworks.) The importance of the multiplicity of tools is, secondly, work and lives get heterogeneously constructed, that is, there are multiple practical decisions that get made over time. The refractive practice needed so that it is impossible to simply continue along previous lines doesn’t happen by recipe, but by bringing alternatives to the surface and holding them in tension with existing approaches. There are many tools to choose from in support of that.

Notice, however, this discussion has identified a vision–taking yourself seriously–and spoken of a sense of self, a person having projects to bring into the forms. In other words, it is not heterogeneous practical decisions “all the way down,” but heterogeneous practical decisions in tension with a guiding sense of taking yourself seriously and of it being impossible to simply continue along previous lines. There may also be alternation between periods in which the guiding sense dominates the student’s/participant’s consciousness and periods of refraction.

Levine, C. (2015). Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor teaches and directs programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context as well as innovation in teaching, group process, and interdisciplinary collaboration (see He is especially interested in conversations with others who are, in diverse ways, "troubled by heterogeneity" (

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