Tag Archives: M. Scott Peck

Biological Development of the Frog: Spiritual Development of Frogs, Part 1

In continuing to dig through some of the archives of papers I’ve written in the past, I thought I’d share a fun one I write while attending Sofia University. This paper was for a class in the Psychology of Spiritual Development. The prompt for the paper was for students to ‘construct our own synthetic model of spiritual development that integrated/incorporated two or more traditional or psychology models.’ I don’t remember where I got the idea to couch this in the context of frogs, but I remember that this made it more fun to write. Also, I remember the professor telling me that he really enjoyed reading the paper. I hope you do, too!


This paper will give a summary of the biological development of frogs and pair spiritual development with the stages of biological development that a frog experiences. There will be reasoning offered as to why biological development belongs with spiritual development by way of support from other models of spiritual development. The biological stages of frogs are egg, tadpole, froglet, and adult frog. The spiritual stages of frogs are undifferentiated, protection, safety, becoming, individuation, and communal.

Biological Development and Spiritual Development

Biological development occurs across the lifespan from birth to death and it is arguable that spiritual development occurs across the lifespan, too. As we grow and age, we are forever embedded in a learning process. When we are babies, we learn mostly from our parents because they are constantly taking care of us. As we grow out of our baby stage, we begin to learn from other people in our environment, which could include siblings. We then move into early childhood and adolescence where we are not only learning from our parents, but we are learning from teachers, classmates, and any number of other people in our environment (bus drivers, strangers, cashiers, etc.) During these learning experiences, our body is also growing. Our body is in a constant state of change. When we are born from our mother’s womb, we are in one state of being – biologically speaking. This state we begin as babies is not even the same state that we are in the next day. There are multiple processes happening within our body that help us grow. Just as these processes are helping our body grow biologically, there are also spiritual processes that are taking place at the same time.

In M. Scott Peck’s, Stages of Spiritual Growth, Peck highlights that most children are in Stage one on his model. Peck has four different stages of growth and notes that most people progress from stage one to stage two (although not everyone does). Peck is not the only professional to posit that spiritual development occurs at certain ages. In James W. Fowler’s, Stages of Faith Development, Fowler highlights that Stage Zero occurs between birth and two years of age. Fowler has six stages of faith development (including stage zero), that people can progress through. Just as Peck noted with his stages of spiritual development, Fowler notes that not everyone can progress through the stages of faith development. Fowler’s stage six is reserved for those who have reached a state of being liken to that of Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. The case has been made for a similarity between biological development and spiritual development. In the next section, there will be a description of the biological development of a frog.

Biological Development of the Frog

Before we can understand the spiritual development of a frog, we need to understand the biological development. The unique factor in the biological development of frogs is that there is a metamorphosis. Before there can be a Life cycle of a frogmetamorphosis, there must be eggs. The majority of frogs start out as an egg. Most of the time, female frogs will lay eggs in the water, but sometimes, they will lay them on land. If these eggs are laid on land, they will be laid very close to the water. When the female frog lays eggs, they do not just lay one egg, but multiple eggs. These eggs are the subject of much predation and as a result, most frog eggs do not survive. However, those eggs that do survive from predators will hatch within one week.

Once the eggs hatch, they become tadpoles, which are sometimes referred to as polliwogs. Tadpoles have an oval body with long and vertically-flattened tails, much like the image of (a) in Figure 1. In this stage, the tadpole is completely submerged in water. There are no lungs, but there are external gills for respiration. The tadpoles do not have eyelids, nor do they have front and hind legs, but they do have tails that they use for swimming. These tadpoles typically eat algae. Tadpoles are very vulnerable to predation, just as the eggs. Something interesting to note is that their counterparts (fellow tadpoles) may eat tadpoles developing quicker than their counterparts do. That is, the late bloomers survive longer, which is not something that is common among other species, specifically humans. Tadpoles that develop early would grow hind legs faster as in (b) of Figure 1. Tadpoles can remain tadpoles for as long as one year depending on the time of year that they hatch. If they hatch into tadpoles near winter, they may stay as tadpoles through the winter.

Towards the end of the tadpole stage, frogs undergo a metamorphosis. There is a dramatic transformation in a frog’s physiology. These tadpoles develop hind legs and then front legs. The tadpoles will lose their external gills and develop lungs. The intestines shorten in length as they begin to shift from an herbivorous diet to a carnivorous. The position of their eyes shift to allow for improved binocular vision. This shift in their eye position is important and mirrors their shift from prey to predator. At this stage, the tadpole is no longer referred to as a tadpole, as this is inaccurate. However, it is referred to as a froglet. The image of this description can be found in (c) and (d) of Figure 1.

In the final stage of development to adult frog, the froglet undergoes a transformation known as apoptosis, which is the technical term for programmed cell death. The apoptosis for the froglet occurs in their tail. Instead of the tail falling off as in some other species, the froglet’s tail undergoes resorption, which is the technical term for the process of losing substance. This process can be seen by looking at Figure 1 from (c) to (d) to (e). In this section, there has been an explanation of how the frog undergoes biological development beginning with the egg. Then, there was a depiction of the process as a tadpole and as a froglet. Finally, there was a description of an adult frog. In the next section, there will be ties made between the stages of biological development and the stages of spiritual development.


Note: Check back tomorrow for the last two sections of the paper (spiritual development of the frog and the conclusion).

It is Important to Speak, but not More Important than it is to Listen

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about leadership and followership, the overwhelming majority of literature dedicated to leadership, and the dearth of literature dedicated to followership. When writing that post, it reminded me of the same relationship between speaking and listening. That is, how much literature do we see dedicated to speaking or communicating and how much do we see dedicated to listening?

Don’t get me wrong, I think that communication is an essential part of the human experience, but dont we think that learning to listen should be equally (if not more?) important than speaking. We can make the same comparison we did with leadership: how much time do we spend speaking in relation to how much time we spend listening? We spend far more of our time listening. So, shouldn’t it follow that we need to learn how to be excellent listeners?

Of course, if we don’t know how to speak (at all) then the listening is futile, but I suspect that if the majority of people were excellent listeners, we might be able to aid the speaker in communicating their point. Just as I made the case with followers who can make a leader better, I think that listeners can make a speaker better, too.


A slight tangent: how many courses are there in communication? There are probably quite a few more than there are in listening. In fact, there’s even an entire academic discipline dedicated to communication. Is there one for listening? Some may argue that clinical/counseling psychology might be how listening creeps its way into an academic discipline, but that’s only one piece of the training for clinical/counseling psychologists. It’s important to note that psychologists who don’t go the route of counseling won’t get this kind of training, so it’s necessary to specify clinical/counseling.

I like to think I’m a pretty good listener (and have been given affirmative feedback), but I don’t doubt that I would benefit from the insights of academic research on listening. In fact, I bet we all could benefit from academic research on listening. Until then, we’ll have to rely on the wisdom of quotes:

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

“If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” – Albert Einstein

“Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” – Andre Gide

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

“We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.” – Diogenes Laërtius

And one last one that I really like:

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” – M. Scott Peck