Taking a Walk on Dr Luckcock’s Wild Side

Followers were first seduced by the Master, then subordinated, and finally thrown out, often for no apparent reason. Many, unable to do without Gurdjieff’s support, begged to return, and some were allowed to do so for a while, but in the end Gurdjieff himself sent away all his major pupils or provoked them into leaving by making their situation intolerable. — Peter Washington, 1993.

Contrary to the accurate perception of his staff, who have filed a collective grievance report against him, Dr Tim Luckcock, in his more reflective transcendental moments, likes to write about the caring spiritual side to his personality. A spiritualism which is displayed for the world to see in his 2010 journal article “Spirited Leadership and the Struggle for the Soul of Headteachers.”

Within this strange convoluted piece, Dr Luckcock writes that in his utopian “dream of the future, …policy-makers, practitioners and educational researchers learn to work with a more soul-friendly sensitivity and synergy.” Apparently, he “dream[s] of renewing school leadership as a helping profession that is not only supportive of others but also receives appropriate levels of support from others.”

Dr Luckcock says, “the world is crying out for headteacher-activists” (like himself) “who have the drive to intervene in situations of injustice (including those engineered by government)” and can “take control of systems that exploit the vulnerable and excluded.” Thus one can only imagine his personal frustration given the fact that the staff at Uplands Junior School identify their very own headteacher-activist as the perpetrator of injustice.

It is always useful to have “leaders who are also scholarly, able to bridge the gap between academic and professional discourse, who are valued for the profound knowledge they have mastered and are continuing to research, which they can convey to others with clarity and precision.” But alas, considering his failure to grasp the simple matter of the vital role played by Teaching Assistants at his own school, Dr Luckcock is clearly not a leader either willing, or able, to bridge such chasms.

In light of Dr Luckcock’s all-to-evident management deficit, it might seem sensible to ignore some of his favoured spiritual imports for improving the British educational system. One of these imports — which is the centrepiece of his aforementioned article — being something known as the Enneagram of Personality.

Most probably you won’t have heard of this “theory”… for good reason.

Dr Luckcock has been “a student of the enneagram for six years, attending several retreats and workshops,” and he adds, “I have completed professional training with the Trifold School for Enneagram Studies in Berkley, California…” He tells his readers:

In recent years, my journey of self-understanding has been profoundly informed by the enneagram. The enneagram (derived from two Greek words simply meaning nine-sided model) has been developed as a map of human consciousness and as a personality typing system for psycho-spiritual development and depicts nine basic structures of our inner life that affect our predispositions to feel, think and act in certain ways… [I]t was introduced to the west by the early 20th-century Armenian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and used as a symbolic tool to represent the dynamic, flowing processes of life. Important thinkers who have continued this application include John Bennett, Anthony Blake, and most recently in the field of organizational leadership and complexity theory Richard Knowles.

With such weird ideas in our trusted headmaster-activists mind, his staff can breathe with a sigh of relief — as although Dr Luckcock is “introducing this tool for the purposes of intrapersonal and interpersonal enquiry,” he “hope[s] to avoid the dangers of its potential misuse for mind-management, commodification of selves, or ideological control…”

But it would appear that to fully understand enneagram(ology), we do however have to enter into the murky world of mind-management and New Age mysticism. This is because John Bennett (1897-1974), the author of Enneagram Studies, was the best-known disciple of the Armenian occultist, G.I. Gurdjieff; while Anthony Blake in-turn picked up on the Gurdjieff-vibe through the work of Bennett.

In 1996 Blake published the The Intelligent Enneagram, and two years later founded something called the DuVersity in order to further Bennett’s “principle of integration without rejection.” A principle which aimed “to open minds to the challenge of embracing multiple kinds of information, transcending specialist confinement, which could then lead to a new way of thinking and understanding. It involved creating bridges between the ‘esoteric’ and ‘mainstream’ mentalities.” (For the record, the aforementioned Richard Knowles is similarly a board member of the DuVersity.)

Confused? Well to be honest I think we are meant to be. However, for those who wish to delve a little more critically into Gurdjieff’s magical and authoritarian background, so as to better understand where Dr Luckcock is coming from, I would recommend Peter Washington’s intriguing book Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America (1993).

Finally, one should note that another enneagram proponent who is favourably cited by Dr Luckcock is Claudio Naranjo, the developer of the Enneagram of Personality, and author of The Enneagram of Society: Healing the Soul to Heal the World (2004): a man who has had a star-packed magical life, even being named as one of Fritz “Gestalt Therapy” Perls’ three successors.

Other highlights from Naranjo’s career include working as associate at the Institute of Personality and Ability Testing in the early 1960s, where he worked alongside the Institutes’s founder the famous eugenicist Raymond Cattell. While in later years he became the “closest friend” of the New Age hoaxer, Carlos Castaneda, and in 1969 joined Willis Harman at his Education Policy Research Center based at SRI International.

The connection to Willis Harman is noteworthy because Harmon had served as the President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences from 1975 until his death in 1997; an Institute whose mystical “mission is to advance the science of consciousness and human experience to serve individual and collective transformation.” The link being vaguely significant as one recent chairman of the Institute of Noetic Sciences is the long-serving Gold-mining executive, Ian Watson, who currently serves on the board of development of Dr Luckcock’s favourite charity, the Sutton Trust.

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