Malcolm Parlett, the author of Future Sense, writes:
“Here is a potted summary of my career…“
After studying at Nottingham University and then King’s College Cambridge, I moved away from experimental psychology, which I had studied for my doctorate. I was interested in human learning but as encountered in ‘real life’ contexts, not in a laboratory setting.
At first I worked in the Education Research Centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), followed by five years as a Lecturer in Educational Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. During this time I researched how students studied, and pioneered qualitative methods of educational research. I developed something called ‘illuminative evaluation’ as a way of studying innovative programmes and social innovations; this methodology has been used in many different countries. I was appointed for another year at MIT as a Visiting Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning Analysis, in 1974-75. Then, in 1976, I decided to go free-lance, as a researcher and evaluation consultant to universities, colleges, and foundations.
About that time, in my mid-30s, I also came across the school of gestalt therapy and consultation – a practical and theoretical approach which immediately excited me.
I liked the fact that it was an obviously intelligent approach, with obvious relevance to how people lived, developed, and experienced the world they lived in. Training in this approach changed the whole direction of my work, as well as opening my eyes to how I had been conditioned and moulded by my academic background in ways which limited my usefulness as a consultant.
Beginning in the early 1980s, I played a leading role in the development of the gestalt approach to consultation and therapy in Britain. This included
- setting up a training in gestalt methods in the southwest region of England (with Marianne Fry);
- co-founding the Gestalt Psychotherapy and Training Institute in the UK (with Petruska Clarkson);
- serving as founding editor of the British Gestalt Journal (retiring after15 years);
- initiating the first national Gestalt conferences (with Richard Tillett);
- teaching on a gestalt in organisations programme (with Trevor Bentley and Sue Congram);
- establishing with others the annual Marianne Fry Lectures (the next one, in October 2016, will be the 14th).
During the 1980s I held visiting professorships at the Open University, at the University of Surrey (both in educational technology and educational research) and in the 1990s the University of Derby (in Gestalt Psychotherapy).
My work has recently changed in direction again, with the publication of two books.
- One is FUTURE SENSE: Five Explorations of Whole Intelligence for a World That’s Waking Up, published by Troubador, 2015. In association with the themes of the book, I give talks, lead group events and workshops, and write a blog (this will appear shortly).
- The second book, Contact and Context: New Developments in Gestalt Coaching (edited by Ty Francis and Malcolm Parlett), is in press. My work includes a (part-time) practice as a coach and mentor.
I am also establishing ‘WHOLE INTELLIGENCE NOW’ as an organisation and focal point for thinkers and activists who recognise the necessity for a revolution in thought and organisational practices along lines spelt out in FUTURE SENSE.”