Saturday, May 15, 2010

Concordia Irvine Chooses New President

Concordia University, Irvine has chosen its new president and he has accepted. It is Dr. Kurt Krueger, currently of the LCMS Board for University Education and previously provost at Irvine. Kurt is an excellent choice who will provide fine leadership to the university! Read about all of it here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had been one of the finalists. I am very honored to have been considered by the university and am deeply thankful for the collegial manner in which I was welcomed to the campus by faculty, staff, students and administration. It was a terrific experience for me. At the same time, I'm delighted at the choice of Kurt. He'll continue to be in my prayers as he transitions from 1333 S. Kirkwood to Concordia Irvine!

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Amy, my wife, pointed me to a very interesting review of a book by Annie Murphy Paul titled, The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves. (Free Press, 2004). She found this after we had long discussion on the accuracy/usefulness/interesting character of such tests. The review is worth reading in full, which you can do here, but below are a few key paragraphs.


What is the allure of personality tests? They provide ''an unwavering self-conception, a foundation for relating to others, a plan for success and an excuse for failure,'' Paul concludes. But, alas, the virtues of tests that try to assess personality types are illusory: research shows that a single person's scores are unstable, often changing over the course of years, weeks, even hours (a subject may be ''a good intuitive thinker in the afternoon but not in the morning,'' some researchers have noted). And, worse, there is little evidence of the correlation of test scores with school performance, managerial effectiveness, team building or career counseling.

On a deeper level, enthusiasm for testing may be a particularly American phenomenon. After all, a society that extols freedom and self-determination is one whose citizens have choices. And with choices come anxieties -- about educational options, career paths, even mate selection. Better self-understanding and advice are thus welcome, if not eagerly sought. Besides, what could be more attractive to a society as individualistic as ours than devices that explore and exalt our perceived uniqueness?

THE paradox, Paul is quick to emphasize, is that personality tests ultimately give us a cramped vision of ourselves; instead of opening opportunities, they may confine people by identifying weaknesses that are either not there or that can be overcome. When personality typing is applied to children, Paul writes, it imposes ''limiting labels on young people who are still developing a sense of themselves and their capacities.'' Attempts to fit people into manageable categories end up being the best evidence -- if any were needed -- that we encounter the world in highly idiosyncratic ways.