Academic Reading Skills

Link to word doc of dissertation

Transformational Literacy in Education

A dissertation submitted


Tracy Ann Marrs


Pacifica Graduate Institute

in partial fulfillment of

the requirements for the

degree of

Doctor of Philosophy


Mythological Studies

with emphasis in

Depth Psychology

This dissertation has been

accepted for the faculty of

Pacifica Graduate Institute by:

Dr. Maureen Murdock, Chair

Dr. Jacqueline Feather, Reader

Dr. Kathryn Weiss, External Reader

September 10, 2021

Copyright 2021 by

Tracy Ann Marrs


Transformational Literacy in Education


Tracy Ann Marrs

In California, more than two-million students annually enroll in a community college to achieve a specific goal. Historically, completion rates for these students show that less than half will achieve their intended goal within six years from the day they begin attending classes. The combination of reasons for not completing the transformational journey of academic success is as varied as the students that attend community college. The reasons to become delayed or to quit can include academic deficiencies, financial hardships, social obligations, and other personal issues. Community colleges have resources to support students’ various needs, but many students who fail will not or do not know how to seek that support. This dissertation is a qualitative study of mythological studies, depth psychology, and educational research to create a plan to increase students’ ability to become active participants in their educational careers.

To support students’ needs for academic literacy, many community colleges once required, and still provide remedial reading courses. These classes demonstrated success in teaching students the academic skills they needed to read and understand college-level texts. However, the students that completed these courses had a lower completion rate for college than the general student population. This dissertation proposes the reason these classes do not achieve long-term results is because they do not address the comprehensive needs of the students. These needs are addressed through the curriculum with the addition of archetypal transformational literature and personal narrative writing.

The curriculum created for this dissertation bridges the gap from where students are and where they need to be academically. More importantly, it also includes interpersonal and personal resources for academic success using mythological and personal narratives as models. After building an understanding of transformation through Underworld models, the curriculum incorporates personal hero narrative writing to address students’ academic literacy skills beyond reading and transfer the knowledge from the classroom into the personal life experiences of the students. With these tools, they will be more likely to persist through inevitable challenges and find success in community college and beyond, back into the community.

Dedication and Acknowledgements

It is with great love and extreme gratitude that I dedicate this work to my family and my friends that are like family.

Special, loving appreciation to my grandpa, Jack Jones, for giving me stories, my grandma, Peg Jones, for teaching me determination, and Cindy Grande, for being my mom and loving me always.

Great appreciation to my husband, Duane Gallagher, for being a true partner and understanding me, to Bernie Griffith for being my Ninshubur, and to my guardians, Susan Lenti and Shelly Lauterbach.

To my precious children, Steven and Julie Marrs – you are the beat of my heart and my deepest source of joy and strength. I will love you always and forever.

Table of Contents

Abstract iii

Dedication and Acknowledgements v

Table of Contents vi


My Stories 6

Going Deeper – Old Experience Through New Knowledge 8

Community College, Personal Narrative, and Transformative Growth 9

Comprehension and Active Reading 10

Critical Thinking and Self-Awareness 10

Departure from Academics 12

Why Underworld Myths? 14

Into, Through, and Beyond – Underworld Mythology 16

Literature Review: Taking a Journey Into, Through, and Beyond Academic Success 20

Methodology 25

Organization of Study 26

Limitations and Applications 29

Significance of the Study 31


Defining Purpose for Reading 34

Initiation – Reading as a Journey Through the Underworld 34

Vocabulary in Context 34

Identifying the Main Idea 36

Supporting Details 38

Patterns of Organization – Going Deeper 39

Transition Words: Mentoring Tools to Go Beyond 42

Making Inferences – Finding Deeper Meaning Through Self 44

‘ 44

Critical Literacy – Beyond Understanding 45


Indirect Instruction and Attitude 54

Transformation Process 57

Failure to Advance 58

Psychomotor Domain, Transformation Through Action 59


My Fairytale Failure 67

The Amduat and Transformation 72

The Amduat 77

From Ancient Egypt and Greece to Contemporary College Students 82


How the Amduat and Inanna Supported My Ascension 89

The Underworld Journey of Mona Ruiz. 99

Re, Persephone, and Mona as Models 104


Becoming a Class – Off the Page and Into the Classroom 109

The Course Outline of Record 113

Minimum Qualifications Become a Maximum Obstacle 115

Finding Purpose and Meaning with Real-World Application 116

Applying the Major 117

Applying the Dissertation Professionally 119



Course outline at a glance 2

Unit 1: Defining goals 4

Unit 2: Identifying goals 7

Unit 3: Engaging support to achieve goals 11

Unit 4: Reading and writing connection and midterm 15

Unit 5: Simple patterns and relationships in a text 18

Unit 6: Challenging perception 22

Unit 7: Critical thinking 25

Unit 8: Resurfacing: Planning beyond college 28

Unit 9: Culminating assessments 31

The style used throughout this dissertation is in accordance with the MLA Handbook (Eighth Edition, 2016), and the current edition of Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Mythological Studies Dissertation Handbook.

List of Figures

Figure 1 – Fifth hour 72

Figure 2 – Sixth hour 74

Figure 3 – Seventh hour 76

Figure 4 – Transformation close-up Curriculum 10

Figure 5 – Seventh hour Curriculum 13

Chapter 1: Introduction

In California, more than two-million students annually enroll in community colleges to achieve a specific goal. These goals include earning a certificate, degree, or units to transfer to a four-year university. Historically, completion rates in California show that less than half of these students achieve their goal within six years of enrollment (2000-2018 Student Success Scorecards, CCC). Students that succeed and students that fail come from similar neighborhoods, are from similar age groups, and have similar struggles with academics. They face equivalent hardships, yet they have different outcomes. The difference is inside the student, not in the external circumstances. “The struggle has always been inner, and is played out in outer terrains. Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society. Nothing happens in the “real” world unless it first happens in the images in our heads” (Anzaldúa, 87).

Community college is challenging for many students. The academics are more mature and require critical thinking skills unique to adult education. Literacy skills are universal, but in adult education literacy requires more depth and creativity of thought. “Critical thinking is a general approach, which means to think with complexity, to go below the surface when considering an issue and explore its multiple dimensions and nuances” (Sensoy and DiAngelo, 23). Critical thinking in adult education requires depth – unseen resources and understanding. This level of critical thinking requires personal awareness and awareness of others that can create confusion or frustration for students. These challenges, along with the general obstacles of nonacademic life (transportation issues, demands from work, childcare needs, or financial struggles) enables students to quit by providing reasons for not reaching a goal. Students that succeed face the same challenges but discover ways to navigate through them and improve from the experience.

More than one million of the students who enroll annually in a community college in California will get stuck in a two-year institution for more than six years; or they will quit, and the experience will not create the intended growth. For education to be successful, the student needs to experience growth, develop skills, and return to improve the community. Without growth for the individual, there is no benefit for the community. The goal for this dissertation is to create a curriculum to encourage advancement in the students’ literacy abilities and support their unique affective and psychomotor needs as adult college students to help them reach their goals using archetypal mythology and personal narrative work.

Archetypal myths are stories that follow established patterns and have universal truths that are relatable to all people in all contexts. There are different kinds of archetypal myths with different universal truths examined. To model the transformational growth that is the result of cognitive, affective, psychomotor education, the myths that are incorporated in this dissertation are personal underworld hero journeys, a specific form that incorporates three archetypal myths. Personal underworld hero myths are a combination of personal narratives, underworld mythology, and the hero/ine’s journey. Personal narratives are the stories that define an individual; it is their story. Our personal narrative, the way we view our own story, is especially powerful in shaping the future. By first identifying, then learning to work with the personal narrative, an individual can also learn to problem solve and work to overcome challenges. This allows the student to become more confident and capable for future projects. Transforming a personal narrative is not a simple task; it frequently requires shifting attitudes and perspectives. This dissertation asserts that one way to change a personal narrative is through critical reading and response to personal underworld hero/ine myths. These stories demonstrate that the struggles that students confront are archetypal; they are not alone, and they have the capability to overcome the trials of academic life.

Students who attain their goals possess stories of the challenges they have encountered and overcome. Underworld hero/ines do not permit obstacles to dissuade them and neither do the students that reach their goals in college. This dissertation seeks to reach the students that will otherwise falter, the students that will stay in limbo, or the students that need to find meaning, motivation, connection, and drive to give their achievements meaningful direction after the journey.

For each reason to fail, there is a story of a person who has faced similar–or more difficult challenges–and succeeded. A story of success and one of failure is only a difference of perspective and action. Perspective is the way a person sees and understands the world around them. Perception effects a person’s attitude, motivation, and inner strength. By learning to actively examine and modify their behavior students can learn to control their affective behavior that often limits the capacity to survive through the pressures of academic life and adult life. As children, learners are defined as “more or less passive, receiving and storing up information adults have decided that children should have” (Knowles, 55), but as adults, learners are required to be more active in their education.

Like passive reading is not mature, academic reading; passive learning is inappropriate for adult education. Passive thinking will allow outside obstacles to get in the way of inner growth. This mindset resists taking responsibility for the obstacles and instead using them as excuses. “By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them” (Maraboli, 37). Stories of disappointment often focus on circumstances as the reason for negative outcomes. “In myths, the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon” (Jung, 171). The character in the failure story is passive, and the situation controls the outcome. In contrast, heroes are active in creating their paths for desirable outcomes and success. The circumstances are not the cause for the outcome; the action changes the circumstances and controls the situation. These stories demonstrate how obstacles that cause failure in some are in reality opportunities for growth, self-discovery, and a story of success. Only by changing the perspective and shifting the narrative can a student turn an excuse to fail into a challenge to overcome and a story of success.

College is designed to be challenging to help students experience a hero/ine’s journey to help create community members that are mature, fully functioning, productive, unique, and generally happy, or pleasant to be around. “Successful people are not necessarily any more able than others; they just are more willing to see their mistakes as opportunities to grow” (Pearson, 191). These are the people that do not focus on negative aspects of situations but work to make those situations better. This dissertation asserts that students do not fail because they lack sufficient support–they fail because they do not know how to obtain support. They also do not lack goals; they do not know how to use goals to create stories of strength and perseverance. This is not true of all students that enter college, many have faced hero/ine journeys and have the inner strength to succeed. For these students, this curriculum is meant to reinforce the knowledge they already have from experience and to give the knowledge to those that do not. This dissertation includes a curriculum that incorporates personal narratives, critical thinking instruction, and underworld hero myths to support adult learners’ comprehensive needs. College students can use models found in underworld and personal hero narratives selected for this course to write new stories–their stories for success in college and in life when they return to the community full time.

“Understanding what motivates you and appreciating the perspectives of others are important ingredients of career and life success” (Pearson, 217) and connecting stories with the skills instruction give additional meaning to the work for the class by including this crucial knowledge. The curriculum introduced through this dissertation addresses the students’ cognitive needs for academic literacy skills, their need for emotional and social skills to face a variety of challenges while in college, and their psychomotor need to create by using the knowledge gained through the course for use beyond the class to achieve future goals. The curriculum incorporates distinctive stories and meaningful interactions with text to transform students cognitively, affectively, and with psychomotor growth. Stories teach us “facts about the world; influence our moral logic; and mark(s) us with fears, hopes, and anxieties that alter our behavior, perhaps even our personalities” (Gottschall, 148). Stories can be transformative because to understand and create meaning with a story, the reader must input personal knowledge and thought. The student discovers from the story about the author, about society, and about themselves.

My Stories

When explaining a concept in class, my practice is to incorporate a story to convey the concept in another way and to connect to the students. The following story is a personal narrative I could use to introduce the class to transformation and growth with personal connection and a visual, archetypal image. By using a story that has deep emotion and meaning, I create a sense of vulnerability that encourages students to become more authentic with sharing their personal narratives. The following story is meaningful because it has so many things I love and uses archetypal symbols, specifically a stream and a river, my grandfather, and discovery from an experience in nature. Jung wrote about archetypes and collective unconsciousness as the common thread that unites all humans. Pearson’s more poetic version is that “your individual life is one stream, pouring into the river of humanity” (288). I imagine the stream as the story that pours through the river of this dissertation.

The Magic River: A Memory with My Grandpa

When I was a small child, my grandfather took me for a walk along a small stream in the local mountains. The stream was small, but I was a small child, and all things of this nature were universally called rivers. My grandpa was an avid fisherman and he taught me how to fish and how to appreciate the water, the river, and nature. My grandparents, two younger cousins, and I were at a family camp for a week. He must have sensed my need to take a break from the planned classes and activities and took me for a walk. Grandpa often took me with him to the river to fish. I had my grandpa to guide me along my path and I was able to share his love with my younger brothers, my children, and others. He taught me to love stories, to seek joy in all things, and understand the importance of tending the souls of others, the world soul.

While we walked, grandpa explained how the water flowed and created little spots for fish to hide and hunt for food. He taught me to look under the rocks to see what bugs were in season so we could use the right kind of bait. He also warned me how moving the rocks altered the habitat for those bugs we wanted to protect because they fed the fish.

Grandpa guided me along the path beside the water as it actively splashed over rocks, darted through crevices, and made various twists and turns. With my small hand in his warm, steady palm, we rounded a corner and observed the disappearance of the water into the earth. Without warning, the river was gone. I was surprised and a bit saddened by the disappearance of the river. I did not know a river could die so suddenly. It would not have been shocking if it had grown smaller and slowly disappeared, but the water was just … gone.

My grandpa reassured me the river had not died. It was still there, and we could not see it. He taught me about faith in something I could not see, faith in the journey. I stood and thought about it for a moment. Part of me wanted to follow the water to see where it went, but I knew I could not. Like with the bugs, any attempt to dig and follow the water would destroy the flow. It would not be the same – only the water could experience the underworld. This was a journey the water could only take alone, but that did not mean we could not learn about the water and the ground to know about its journey. In my mind, it had infinite possibilities but was also limited by my experiences and knowledge of the world. That day, I learned that things are not what we may expect, and sometimes, they are better.

We continued along the path of the stream, even though the water had gone. The stream was gone. Then, as we rounded a large group of rocks, I witnessed the stream’s emergence from the darkness below. My grandpa was right; the water was still there. Not only that, but it had also returned, renewed, and in my mind – magic. The stream transformed when it went underground and returned. The experience of going in the ground cleared debris from the water, but more than that, it had gained wonder and depth. It gave me magic, hope, faith, and understanding. My grandpa did not teach me the science of the water; he taught me the story of the stream. He guided me through the experience as a mentor. With this experience and many others, I transformed, and my memory grew into something larger than the experience, into a story.

Going Deeper – Old Experience Through New Knowledge

That single day with my grandfather transformed into a powerful memory and teaching device because I transformed the experience into a story. The memory has deepened from the knowledge I have gained since that time, cognitively and emotionally. My grandpa and I shared a special relationship that gave the experience depth. Over time that relationship gained layers and depth of meaning. As a child, he took me fishing and my grandparents took me to a Christian Ashram twice a year. After high school, my grandfather and I worked together at the local newspaper. Also, I lived with my grandparents for a year and a half while working and in college. All the time we spent together, he entertained and educated us with stories from his life and stories he read or heard. My grandpa always had a story for us.

My grandfather passed away a year ago after a painful battle with dementia. The story of the river and the many stories my family have from our time at the river with grandpa continue to grow in depth and meaning with each time we tell the stories. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.” Not only is the person changed, so is the context. “What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us” (Alameddine, 450). The story we reveal about our past, present, and future is what our past, present, and future become. The story of the stream is physically an underground journey. The stream leaves the surface, endures an unseen journey through the unknown, and returns to the surface, reborn. The underworld hero leaves the known, surface world and makes a descent to the unknown, dangerous world below, and returns with gained knowledge, confidence, and strength. They have a successful attitude because they have faced their dragons and succeeded.

Community College, Personal Narrative, and Transformative Growth

Education can transform an individual and a community. Students who succeed in college are academic heroes because they weathered the challenges and did not succumb to circumstance or personal weaknesses. They have taken the metaphoric journey through the underworld and have returned to the “real world” with academic and personal growth. They become mature, rational thinking adults that are beneficial for society. They are “able to connect to the life-giving forces of the unconscious night world and are not destroyed by them” (Abt and Hornung, 25) by taking a hero’s journey through the unknown. Academic heroes experience descent into self-discovery and grow through their encounters to return with knowledge and self-understanding that is beneficial for themselves and their communities.

Comprehension and Active Reading

Comprehension is the foremost barrier to academic reading success. Many readers who struggle with comprehension are unable to make connections because they read passively. Passive reading is like listening to a speech, while active reading is like engaging in a conversation–comprehension and engagement (response) are expected. The goal of this curriculum is to teach students active reading skills. Once students comprehend the text, they need to learn to think critically about it and respond with original thought, relating it to their own lives and their world. Critical reading integrates self-knowledge with active reading.

Critical Thinking and Self-Awareness

Critical thinking requires prior knowledge and self-awareness. Students who lack knowledge of a topic or context have more difficulty with comprehending the material. The same is true with students that lack self-knowledge for critical thinking. Along with contextual knowledge needed for comprehension, critical thinking requires students to understand how they relate to a text and what the material makes them think. They need to go deeper than the text to go through the material.

College is traditionally a time for “finding or rediscovering yourself” because the experience can inform a student as much about themselves as the material they intended to study. The challenges students face academically; the awareness of personal limitations and the commensurate need for others; the students’ insecurities about their academic abilities, and the confidence that grows from facing and embracing the experience, are how a student gains self-awareness and experiences growth. The challenges and experiences in college should result in increased critical thinking and awareness. To achieve this, students must first learn how to change their perspective, so challenges build strength instead of becoming reasons to fail. Since self-awareness is so personal, it would seem like it is a journey one should take alone. However, “the journey into the unconscious – encountering, befriending, and integrating the shadow is not to be undertaken lightly” (Brewi and Brennan, 261). Students left without guidance can fall into victim narratives instead of learning how to think critically and control their context with purpose and action. These students, unlike those encountering their first journey into the underworld, need to learn how to rewrite their narratives to create new stories for academic success.

College naturally tests students in ways to encourage transformation, but the successful process must start with a goal and departure into the unknown. Students are initiated into the challenges of college through academic challenges. Next, they become transformed by experiencing ordeals. This transformation will result in growth if the student is improved academically or affectively, stagnation if the student fails to move forward, or decline if they let the challenge set them back. The circumstances are extrinsic sources of motivation, but success is a choice that must be actively pursued. “Students must be taught in such a way as to encourage intrinsic motivation rather than reliance on extrinsic sources” (Kellough and Kellough, 78). They must be taught how to be self-reliant and at the same time how to rely on others to give them support. This is one of the many contradictions, the opposites in life that students need to learn to balance through modeling and experience.

Learning to think critically is complicated. According to Knowles, adults want to be self-directing, but they are “typically not prepared for self-directed learning; they need to go through a process of reorientation to learning as adults – to learn new ways to think” (57). This process is difficult, challenging, and can feel like hell for many students. As a descent, it “is disorienting, emotionally battering, depressing, full of anguish, shame, envy, and despair” (Meador, 45). Not all transformations are as dramatic, but growth includes challenges that humble and strengthen the person as they transform. Young adults often believe their problems, experiences, and feelings are unique to themselves, making them feel less able to overcome challenges” (Kellough and Kellough, 22). Myths function as mentors for transformation and permit students to experience connection to others at an often-alienating time. Mythology allows “us to feel less alone while still retaining individuality and uniqueness in how we express that archetype” (Pearson, Psychology Today). Myths help students recognize that their descent does not have to be the downward slope to failure but is instead a natural part of the transformation process.

Departure from Academics

“Academic achievement of students increases when they are taught thinking skills directly; many researchers and educators concur that direct instruction should be given to all students on how to think and behave intelligently” (Kellough and Kellough, 80). Academic remediation is only a surface solution; it does not address adult learners’ comprehensive needs; it does not teach a student how to think. To fully support students in their success, education must also recognize students’ social and emotional needs.

Increasing meaning and personal connection with academic reading is beneficial for the student personally and academically. It teaches students to think critically about a text and then think critically in life situations. As Bettelheim explains, “(t)he ability to read becomes devalued when what one has learned to read adds nothing of importance to one’s life” (4). Skills need meaning and context to have value; mythology is one way to add these crucial elements. This dissertation aims to offer an alternative model for teaching reading to include narrative work. By restructuring the current teaching models to include personal narratives and underworld mythologies, this revised education and reading model will better prepare students for more advanced academic work and the personal challenges that come with the college experience.

Departing for change, initiation, transformation, and return is the basic pattern for successful transformation found in archetypal literature. However, it can apply to all transformations, including academic reading, academic life experience for many community college students, and facing trials in life to create a more positive outcome. Successful academic life aligns with the transformation pattern: departure for change, initiation, transformation, and outcome. First, the student chooses to depart the known world to become a college student. Next, they experience initiation through various challenges. The experience with challenges causes transformation and an outcome. The approach to successfully read academic texts follows the pattern: a goal for reading is set, the reader is initiated into the writer’s ideas with the main idea and supporting details, then the material is transformed into thinking, and a written response which is the outcome of the journey. Exposing the pattern in these contexts implicitly guides students to solutions for challenges to growth and strength to realize they can prevail.

In my education courses in graduate school, I was introduced to a process for instruction called “Into, Through, and Beyond” (Brinton and Holten). This pattern, Into, Through, and Beyond can be used to model the pattern for transformation of knowledge to understanding and thought. To learn, an individual goes into the information and analyzes it for comprehension. Next to think through the information, the person integrates prior knowledge with the information from the text. Finally, the student goes beyond the text and the prior knowledge to make meaning and a response.

The Into, Through, and Beyond pattern is archetypal for transformation, growth, and education. For academic reading, Into, Through, and Beyond aligns with comprehension, critical thinking, and response. The student plunges into the material to improve understanding of the context. With critical thinking, the student incorporates the knowledge from the text with prior knowledge to think through the material, and finally go beyond the text or self and create a critical response. Stories reach beyond direct instruction because students relate through their self-knowledge; they must think and formulate connections beyond the literature.

This dissertation creates a curriculum that delves into a myth to prepare students to make it through college’s personal and academic challenges and beyond into other parts of their lives. It is a multi-layered approach to support students personally and academically and, at the same time, give deeper meaning to both. Into the underworld, through the stories, and beyond into life.

Why Underworld Myths?

More than half of the students in California community colleges are from the eighteen to twenty-four-year age group (2018 Scorecard, CCC), which Jung identifies as a period of life for transitioning into adulthood (52). No matter the age, students enter college to transform some aspect of their lives, whether to improve their employment opportunities, to learn new skills, or to give better opportunities to their children. Stories are transformative physically and mentally. Reading or listening to stories is proven to activate and restructure the brain. The stories we encounter are incorporated into our accumulation of knowledge and affect our future interactions–not only with texts but also with contexts. Narratives and fiction create a need for interpretation and application of meaning. They require participation and active thought, which indirectly strengthens awareness and confidence in oneself. Mar explains that “even though fiction is fabricated, it can communicate truths about human psychology and relationships” (1) and reach students beyond direct instruction. Direct instruction may be sufficient for some students, but many students need another way to learn and connect. Stories can effectively create personal connections to the context through active reading, critical thinking, and integration modeled through the course.

Motivational narratives of success in the face of adversity are both informational and inspirational. Many curricula use motivational literature to model how students can succeed, and inspire students through example, but these narratives may be too explicit to be effective. Through stories, educators can reach students on a more personal level, but archetypal literature reaches students personally while helping them feel connected to others through shared emotions and experiences. Archetypes are “systems that are organized and ready to function in a specifically human way” (Collected Works of C.G. Jung: Volume 4, Jung). Archetypal mythology can provide guidance, inspiration, and self-knowledge through critical reading and thinking practice.

Underworld personal hero myths contained within in this curriculum follow a recognizable pattern like the archetypal journey for a successful college student. The hero starts with a descent. They leave the known world, into the unknown, depth of college. There is disorientation and a need for faith when leaving the known. Often, this process is supported by one or multiple guides. The next step is initiation, where the student announces their goal and crosses the threshold by attending classes. The hero has trials and adversities to overcome to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Some challenges may seem too immense, but these are the experiences that will be the most transformative because they will teach students the need to rely on others. Finally, heroes use their newly discovered skills to support their goals.

Into, Through, and Beyond – Underworld Mythology

The curriculum presented in this dissertation utilizes the Amduat from Egyptian mythology, the Abduction of Persephone from Greek mythology, The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz from modern American literature, and other support materials to understand how to transform attitude so challenges become growth opportunities. These myths model success and are applied to personal narratives to build the intrinsic strength and knowledge necessary for critical thinking and determination to overcome difficult circumstances.

Into – Underworld Mythology and Critical Thinking

In primary education, it is acceptable for students to merely comprehend a text, but the objective for the curriculum is for meaningful understanding and critical response. Students read material and show understanding by finding major supporting details or explaining the author’s intended meaning. The difference between comprehension and meaningful understanding is critical thinking, and the connections between writer, text, and reader. Critical thinking requires students to connect the material they are reading with prior knowledge and use those connections to create original thought. “A major goal of formal education is for students to apply school-learned knowledge to real-life situations” (Kellough and Kellough, 77). Students do this by merging their prior and learned knowledges to create new understanding, and then apply this understanding to circumstances in life to produce opportunities for growth. They need to learn to use what they know, supporting details, to create an outcome, main idea, or goal within the context of the real world. They must apply their knowledge and be active to create growth in cognition, emotion, or social areas and to benefit from their experiences.

Through – Underworld Mythology and Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is necessary for critical thinking and is the byproduct of educational growth, but it is not always comfortable. Sharing stories where the hero struggles but survives gives a sense of hope. These stories acknowledge archetypal struggles, which strengthens empathy and connections to that capability. Myths help us see that we are not alone, that we are part of a larger community of consciousness and our fears, challenges, and connections are not just shared, they can be overcome. Archetypal literature models how each journey is unique, but the struggles are often the same. Archetypal literature connects the readers to the broader community and the private community of self. It provides an understanding of self and a feeling of empathy with others through shared experiences which, in turn, helps develop intelligent thinking.

Beyond – Underworld Mythology and Transformation

The Amduat is one of the oldest texts to record the knowledge of transformative growth. It shows Re, the sun god, as he journeys from sunset to sunrise. Examining the Amduat as a transformational growth model exposes an abundance of insight into the human psyche. It is the night sea journey of the sun as it “sails over the sea like an immortal god who every morning is immersed in the maternal waters and is born again in the morning” (Jung, CW 5, para 306). The Amduat describes the necessity for social interactions, education, and self-knowledge in Re’s journey, all qualities that are important for academic success in college.

Underworld transformation mythologies, like the Amduat, use this reflective awareness to explain how to grow through transformation metaphorically. Abt and Hornung explain that “the Amduat, written 3,500 years ago, contains, in a nutshell, the knowledge necessary to reunite the individual soul with this inner guiding light” (9). The myth explicitly states that it is to be used as a guide for life and the afterlife. Transformative growth is an individual experience, but it is also archetypal. Successfully graduating from an academic program is an outward sign of transformative growth.

The Amduat and Persephone myths are both recognized as underworld myths in academic discourse. However, while Re is distinctly defined as a hero, Persephone’s character is not as clear. In the Amduat, Re–the ruler of the day, sets out to unite with Osiris–the ruler of the night, and rise in the morning sky. It is a deliberate action and follows an established pattern that occurs daily, without change. The archetypal journey is complicated and challenging but direct and instructional. In contrast, Persephone’s myths are more fluid and open to interpretation. Persephone is abducted and dragged into the underworld, suddenly and against her will. Her actions when returning prevent her from entirely escaping the underworld. In the myths, her thoughts and motivations are unknown. Persephone’s ambiguity makes her myth a good narrative for students to transform more implicitly through various perspectives. Comparing ways of interpreting the myth demonstrates for students how interpretation can transform reality in literature, including personal narrative. Altering perspective changes the story even though the context remains the same.

The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz is not traditional mythology, but it is a personal narrative with archetypal connections. Her story is relatable to many California community college students for several reasons. First, Mona Ruiz is from Southern California. She attended high school in Santa Ana in the early eighties. Her experiences are comparable to those of the students that attend community colleges in the area. In the book, Mona describes a childhood immersed in gang culture and street violence. Her father instructs her to stay away from the gang culture, but its’ allure becomes too much for Mona and she becomes a member of a local street gang. Circumstances transformed Mona’s opinions to recognize that her way of life was not beneficial for herself, her children, or her community.

In the narrative, Mona must learn how to transform her reality while also recreating her personal story. Mona Ruiz is a real-life example of an underworld hero who faces challenges that are relatable to community college students and gives empathy for others facing their personal journeys to growth. Her story helps students see how their emotional challenges are not unique but are personal for each of us and can be overcome. With inner strength that comes from embracing challenges and overcoming them, a person can create the outcomes they seek to achieve.

Literature Review: Taking a Journey Into, Through, and Beyond Academic Success

Defining the Goals and Needs of Students with Kellough and Kellough

While education researchers, Richard Kellough and Noreen Kellough’s book Secondary School Teaching: A Guide to Methods and Resources is intended for educators of secondary schools; their definitions for the purpose, methods, and rationale influenced this dissertation and assisted with identifying necessary areas to be addressed for preparing students for college. Academic dialogues on reading have generally centered on primary education. However, Jung states that adult education is necessary education, and self-knowledge is a way to become a mature adult, which is necessary for building a better community (The Development of Personality, Jung, 174). Kellough and Kellough understand that obstacles are meant to create opportunities for growth. They explain that for adult values to shape, non-mature students need to have negative or challenging interactions with others to make them compromise their ideals and commitments (21). In other words, they must go through trials to challenge their prior beliefs and allow them to think and respond with more depth and maturity. They need to gain self-knowledge and empathy for others. Stories help students to learn to think below the surface or beyond the binary thinking of childhood and into the maturity of adulthood by providing meaningful, challenging interactions with text.

Kellough and Kellough are employed in this dissertation to define the goals of education, the needs of the students, and to set the context for adult learning while discussing education for adolescents. To be successful, education needs to be defined by goals that are congruent with students cognitive, affective, and psychomotor needs. The goal of education for this dissertation and this book is to address the comprehensive needs of the students. For students’ cognitive needs, the dissertation includes academic literacy skills, for affective needs it incorporates stories, and for psychomotor application, the dissertation works with personal narratives.

Academic Literacy: Into the Journey with John Langan

I was introduced to John Langan when I began teaching at San Bernardino Valley College. Langan is the author of the Ten Steps to College Reading series of textbooks that guide learners through academic reading skills at increasingly complex and challenging levels. The texts are explicit, easy to use, and inexpensive compared to similar texts. His study methods have helped my students. They can understand what they read, but they do not know how to remember or use the material after they read it. Many students face the problem of retaining and using the material. They read the material and understand it, but it lacks meaning and connection.

Academic literacy, the ability to communicate academically, has three basic parts–main idea, supporting details, and context. Langan’s technique of teaching reading by breaking the material down, synthesizing the information through connections and patterns, and critiquing the text mirrors the movement of self-discovery from underworld transformation mythology. By teaching the process alongside the myths, the student can be taught to recognize the pattern through various lenses to add depth to the skills instruction. Academic reading alone is not enough to create meaning; support for writing and added layers for depth through the story adds meaning that increases the material’s connections and retainability. For the curriculum portion of this dissertation, I chose to employ Langan’s textbook The Advanced Reading-Writing Connection.

Carl Jung: Adult Education, Self-Awareness, and Community

As a father of depth psychology, Carl Jung has directly influenced this dissertation with his writing and indirectly through the writers inspired by his foundations. Jung’s book The Development of Personality is especially crucial for this dissertation. This book examines the concept of self, defines archetype, and contrasts adult education with child education. While written over fifty years ago, Carl Jung’s writings, specifically The Development of Personality, contain insights on how to support the students within our community. Academic dialogues on reading have centered on primary education, but Jung states the importance of adult education:

We educate people only up to the point where they can earn a living and marry; then, education ceases altogether, as though a complete mental outfit had been acquired. The solution of all the remaining complicated problems of life is left to the discretion – and ignorance – of the individual. Innumerable ill-advised and unhappy marriages, innumerable professional disappointments, are due solely to the lack of adult education. (Jung, 174)

If a lack of adult education produces these problems, it is logical that the solution would be to educate adults comprehensively, meaningfully, and with purpose.

Deeper Focus on Adult Educational Needs with Malcolm Knowles

Malcolm Knowles, an adult educator, researcher, and writer is well-known for popularizing the term andragogy, for adult education, as opposed to pedagogy, for childhood education. Knowles theory for andragogy includes four assumptions about adult learners that differentiates them from children. These assumptions are 1. adults have a perception of being self-directing, 2. their education needs to have more foundation in their experience, 3. their readiness to learn is based on the relevance of the material to their personal and professional lives, and 4. their motivation to learn is intrinsic and stems from the ability to apply learning to their immediate life problems (55). Adult learning is different from childhood education, therefore adult education must also differ. Adults want to be educated as adults, but sometimes do not know how to learn outside of pedagogy. These students need to “learn new ways of learning” (Knowles, 57) to become self-directed learners that can self-assess their strengths and needs, generate plans for action, and apply their education to improve “their ability to deal with life-problems they face now” (Knowles, 65).

Abt and Hornung: the Underworld and Transformative Growth with Re

Reading Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat, by Erik Hornung and Theodor Abt, is not easy or straightforward. These researchers explore the Amduat through depth psychology and individuation. Individuation is a term for discovering the nature of self and the relation of self to others. The first underworld story examined in the curriculum for this dissertation is the Egyptian story of life after death, or renewal and growth, the Amduat. Ancient Egyptians successfully maintained their culture in part because they were active in their quest for wisdom and growth. They did not let circumstances control them, they sought to control their circumstances (Abt and Hornung, 9, 20).

Abt and Hornung explain the sun’s natural process of disappearing at night and returning in the morning as an archetypal underworld journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and a heroic return. They show the natural phenomena of day and night through the myth to educate us in transformation and growth in individuation. This dissertation utilizes their research to apply the transformation to college students and their difficult journey. The Amduat is a model for overcoming difficulties by using inner and outer resources, in the Amduat, the reader has the knowledge that Re will be heroic, however the heroic return is not guaranteed in life.

Going Beyond and Into the Heroic with Carol Pearson

Carol Pearson’s research connects education, psychology, and archetypes to construct knowledge that can be applied broadly to many contexts. “When we understand the stories and recognize their universality, we can connect at deeper and more conscious levels, using the archetypal stories as a foundation” (Pearson, Psychology Today). Pearson’s research in A Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By aligns most closely with academic growth and transformation experienced in literacy. In this book, Pearson introduces six archetypes that go through seven steps to become a whole person and a hero. Pearson goes beyond the idea of personal success and into thinking about the ideal of education, which is to advance the individual and community. The goal for the application of her writing is to create whole, mature individuals who happily contribute to the community. Her literature gave me a foundation for further understanding of how “changing our narrative can result in expanding a sense of what is possible for us” (Pearson, Psychology Today). Her research makes Jung’s ideas of individuation and connecting with the unconscious and Campbell’s ideas for following your own path more applicable to modern education. Jung pronounces that any person can be a hero. That a “hero is a hero just because he sees resistance to the forbidden goal in all life’s difficulties and yet fights that resistance with whole-hearted yearning that strives towards the treasure hard to attain, and perhaps unattainable yearning that paralyzes and kills the ordinary man” (CW 5, Para 536). Pearson explains that becoming heroic is not just a goal, but a teachable skill.

Beyond the Self and Into Transformative Learning with Patricia Cranton

In her book, Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning, Patricia Cranton, a prominent author in adult education, rationalizes that “transformative learning has to do with making meaning out of experiences and questioning assumptions based on prior experience” (7). Transformative learning is concerned with taking learning beyond the classroom and into the community. Cranton defines three forms of knowledge: technical knowledge, practical or communicative knowledge, and emancipatory knowledge. Technical knowledge “allows us to manipulate and control the environment or to predict observable physical and social events and take appropriate actions” (Cranton, 9). Technical knowledge correlates with context which is defined as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed,” (New Oxford American Dictionary). Practical knowledge “is based on our need to understand each other through language,” which is learned through academic literacy skills. Emancipatory knowledge, “is gained through a process of critically questioning ourselves and the social systems within which we live” (Cranton, 10).


This dissertation engages action research methods to investigate and make meaning of the data. Action research is a form of “comparative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action and research leading to social action” (Lewin, 35) that “proceeds in a spiral of steps each of which is composed of a circle: planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action” (Lewin, 38). Kurt Lewin, the psychologist that coined the term in 1946, felt that research was worthless without its counterparts–action and training. Action causes change, the research incorporates knowledge from others, and training incorporates the knowledge with action to inspire growth (35-42). Action research aligns closely with the goal of this dissertation to help more students succeed in community college and influence the community for growth. As a social transformation tool, it follows the same pattern of spiraling steps of circles and is fluid to match education’s nature and the policies that shape it.

Organization of Study

The first chapter, this chapter, defines the goals for the dissertation and supports those goals by addressing cognitive, affective, and psychomotor needs of the students. This chapter is the main idea, and the final chapter will return to this context with the knowledge gained from addressing students academically, affectively, and giving them models for applying this knowledge. As an introduction, it provides the background, states the problem and possible solutions, explains the methodology used, describes the study’s organization, discusses significant texts engaged in the dissertation, and suggests the significance for the study.

In the second chapter the explicit academic literacy needs and skills are defined, and instruction for these skills is explained. A major initiation into college is academic literacy, specifically writing an argument paper. To succeed academically, students must understand the text, create original thought from the information, and respond with clarity and depth. The second chapter demonstrates how to navigate academic literacy as a transformation process for growth. It is the technical discussion of literacy processes and educational texts. This chapter is heavily modeled using John Langan and his textbooks for adult literacy and the Amduat to model how to take knowledge and create meaning. This chapter aims to comprehensively address students’ explicit, academic needs while subtly introducing implicit needs that are to be the focus of the next chapter.

The third chapter further defines the implicit, less diagnosed needs and skills of community college students. “Too frequently teachers focus on the cognitive domain and assume that the psychomotor and affective will take care of themselves,” but as Kellough and Kellough continue to explain; “many experts argue, however, that teachers need to do the opposite” (165) and unless the affective is addressed, not much will happen cognitively (165). These skills are difficult to measure and are generally more subjective and elusive. Beyond the need for academic skills, this dissertation identifies indirect instruction, models for successful attitudes and behaviors, personal meaning, and connection to the community as implicit needs for success in college.

The fourth chapter delves into stories, specifically archetypal mythology to support student growth. This chapter investigates the importance of stories for critical thinking, how we connect and relate through stories, and illuminates how humans are naturally taught using stories and experiences. Stories are powerful tools. They do not teach skills; they teach thinking and improve the structure of the brain. “The constant firing of our neutrons in response to fictional stimuli strengthens and refines the neural pathways that lead to skillful navigation of life’s problems” (Gottschall, 67). They give the reader an experience and require active thought.

Underworld myths are used to support adult learners’ non-academic needs and provide a connection to the academic material to add meaning. “Stories reveal who we are individually and in our collective manifestations, but they also inform us as to how we move through the stages of our lives, how to live dynamically in a dynamic world” (Anderson, 1). This chapter engages Theodor Abt and Eric Hornung’s Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat to more fully understand how to support the process of transformation. Researchers Abt and Hornung describe the Amduat as a model for connecting the myths to adult learners’ psychological needs. Once the Amduat is explored, it is used to understand and critically think about Persephone, Mona Ruiz, and real-life situations in college and beyond.

The fifth chapter includes work with the most compelling story, which is the personal narrative, and merges it with underworld hero mythology. A personal narrative is a story a person relates about themselves, and it becomes the way that person is perceived by others, and the catalyst for unconscious thoughts and actions. In A Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall argues that when an individual experiences a story, they learn facts, and that story can “influence our moral logic; and marks us with fears, hopes, and anxieties that alter our behavior, perhaps even our personalities” (148). Gottschall maintains that the future and past do not exist; they are just stories in our minds (169). He argues that we misremember our pasts, where we can remain the protagonist in our minds (170) which makes it only a story. The personal narratives written in the course purposefully create a hero for the protagonist modeled from the archetypal protaganists. These narratives are combined with real world planning to create applicable plans for success in college and beyond.

Carol Pearson’s The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By describes how knowledge of the journey permits an individual to rewrite their narratives to achieve desired outcomes. Pearson’s book adds the element of growth with becoming a hero. According to Pearson, heroes “take journeys, confront dragons (i.e., problems), and discover the treasure of their true selves” (3). Heroes, both real and mythic, think critically, act, and achieve transformative growth. They are “encouraged to do and discouraged from saying, “I can’t” (Kellough and Kellough, 78).

The sixth and final chapter focuses on returning the knowledge from gained from the dissertation to application in the classroom. For a curriculum to be considered for adoption, it must be presented in a specific way and be submitted through the proper steps. This chapter incorporates the process for submitting a curriculum from San Bernardino Valley College. I chose to use this school to learn the process for submission because teaching at this institution inspired this dissertation and has been the envisioned location for application throughout the process. However, submitting and adopting curricula is a standardized process, so following the framework set by SBVC would be easily translatable to any California community college. The curriculum is the culminating project for this dissertation, and this final chapter describes the curriculum and places it in the context of adult education and practical academic and life skills.

Limitations and Applications

Education has multiple definitions; the different goals for education can create confusion when speaking on the subject. Education is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as the “culture or development of personal knowledge or understanding, growth of character, moral and social qualities, etc., as contrasted with the imparting of knowledge or skill.” This is the definition used when writing about education in this dissertation. Academic skills are taught to support students’ cognitive need to be literate readers and writers of academic texts, transformational growth is analyzed to address affective needs of the students, and personal narratives are explored to help students establish goals and generate plans and addressing psychomotor needs for action.

When I began this research, I recognized the need for transformation in remedial literacy education for adults. Not just at my school but across the nation, remedial students were at the highest risk of failure. My response to this observation was to design a curriculum for remedial readers that addressed their specific needs. I intended to use it in my classroom. However, I was not the only one to notice that there was a problem. While I was working to create my curriculum, state legislators were also busy studying the situation for possible solutions.

Across the state, remedial classes were not producing long-term results. The additional cost of time and money to take remedial courses and their limited effectiveness influenced California legislators to write Assembly Bill (AB) 705, which was the catalyst for community colleges to rethink remediation. The bill was signed in 2017 but was not put into effect until the 2019-2020 school year. This bill cut the number of times students could take remediation courses and permitted students to bypass these classes.

Since academic literacy skills classes were no longer mandatory, enrollment dramatically decreased and the availability for these classes dwindled. Students often feel that they understand a text because they can find the facts, repeat the author’s ideas, and had functioned acceptably in primary education, which had not required the level of critical response asked of adult learners. Many students think of these classes as a bit boring, and a waste of time and money and will not voluntarily enroll in these vital courses. The disconnect between a student’s idea of understanding and an academic’s idea of understanding is often due to the misconception that reading is a passive act. Reading, especially critical reading, is active and requires time and thought to gain depth. This dissertation’s curriculum is for an entry-level course in academic literacy skills that incorporates underworld mythology, personal narratives, and into the world beyond. Initially, the curriculum for this dissertation was designed for remedial reading students. Research from this dissertation and the actions taken by state legislators gave me an awareness beyond remedial education and into the more significant problem of academic literacy and student success for all entry-level adult learners. Academic reading skills are universally essential and learning, or relearning, these skills can dramatically improve student success. Incorporating story utilizes knowledge from experience; to navigate and survive the present and plan for the future. The storied education helps students “set their life stories straight; it literally gives them a story they can live with” (Gottschall, 175).

Significance of the Study

Academic Literacy

This dissertation offers a progressive model of learning, which, if implemented, will benefit community college students. Support for students to meet academic life challenges can be developed through self-awareness and beyond–into meaningful growth. This dissertation answers the call for a new way to teach academic content and supports more students’ personal needs. This “(n)on-curricular support is a fundamental component of redesign discussions and efforts (e.g., counseling, mentoring, and guidance related to students’ goals)” (Hope and Stanskas, 8). My research offers a solution to a specific need within the current adult education system and prompts a dialogue that can lead to other solutions.

Mythology and Depth Psychology

This dissertation helps mythology resurface into the collective consciousness. Applying this curriculum brings an interest in mythology and gives people the knowledge of how to create mythological solutions to life. Many people have forgotten how to use stories for personal solutions to life’s universal and inescapable challenges. Mythological solutions are necessary for the complex world we live in. My curriculum is only one example of using myth to benefit a community, and in that way, tend to the world’s soul.

Chapter 2: Addressing Students’ Explicit Need for Academic Literacy Skills

The ability to communicate on an academic level is a major determining factor for academic success in college. Students read through a text and understand the words, so they may not feel they need help reading for college-level courses. However, educators do not want to teach students to “memorize content but rather teach learners to think” (Cranton, 48). Paul Langan explains that most students that think classes are too difficult can succeed merely need to be taught how to do the work.

Many students entering community college know how to find the facts in a text and point to answers in the chapter but cannot move beyond the knowledge within the text with original thought. They do not integrate the material or connect it to any other material. Without this integration, the material becomes meaningless, and the students struggle with their internal motivation to labor on assignments. They will not remember what they read because the content has no meaning or connection. Reading for college requires students to comprehend the text, read actively, and respond critically with depth and mature thought. For college-level learning, “into, through, and beyond” would be synonymous with these steps: comprehension, critical thinking, and response.

As with any practice, the more a reader reads, the better they become, but merely reading is not enough. Students must read with purpose, actively, and with depth. Students need to be taught academic reading; to enhance their reading comprehension and improve their critical thinking skills to succeed in college-level courses. Becoming a skilled reader means learning how to read academically. The first step in reading skillfully is to determine the purpose for reading.

Defining Purpose for Reading

Determining the purpose of reading can save the student time and assist interacting with the text. The more time spent with a text, the deeper the relationship will become and improvement for understanding will increase. By recognizing the various depths of reading, the skilled reader will also learn to approach a text for any class. The skilled reader knows the level of engagement necessary for each text, comprehends the text, understands textual relationships, and can evaluate it.

Initiation – Reading as a Journey Through the Underworld

Academic literacy can be broken down into several essential skills. After the purpose for reading has been addressed, the first skill to be mastered is to learn to build vocabulary through reading in context. Learning to recognize vocabulary in context is a helpful tool for understanding and aids with time-management in academic reading. Learning vocabulary through context is a small-scale transformation in communication because the students define a word by integrating knowledge from the text with prior knowledge to create meaning. Teaching vocabulary in context is an approach for teaching students a useful tool for reading, but also serves as a model for active reading, critical thinking, and transformation.

Vocabulary in Context

Students in remedial reading do not generally possess a sizable academic vocabulary, and therefore it can be difficult for them to comprehend texts even at the level of individual words. In college, even competent readers will encounter new vocabulary or known words used in new ways. Skilled readers encounter unfamiliar words in texts without much difficulty. They mentally bypass the word, look up a definition, decipher meaning using known roots, or uncover meaning through the context. When students do not possess these skills, encountering new words can be frustrating or intimidating. Instead of reading improving their vocabulary, this experience reinforces their aversion to reading. Since understanding vocabulary is essential to comprehension, learning vocabulary through context is the first skill introduced to students.

Learning words through context is beneficial for a variety of reasons. It saves the reader time and frustration since they do not need to stop reading to look up unknown words in a dictionary. It helps to increase their vocabulary because once a word is understood in context, it becomes a part of the reader’s working vocabulary. Finally, it helps give the reader shades of meaning. Unlike dictionaries that attempt to define a word, defining through context illuminates the subtle, implied meanings of a word through critical thinking.

To use context to find meaning students are taught to look for examples, synonyms, or antonyms within the sentence. With the first method, for example, the author introduces the new vocabulary and gives at least one example. “Dwelling might have the following examples in the same sentence: hut, igloo, mansion, and cave. The second method is to use a synonym. When an author uses a synonym, they use a new word and its synonym in the same sentence. For example, the author might say, “Hermes was known for his swiftness because he was speedy; he was the gods’ messenger.” In this example, swiftness is paired with speedy, and the reader can conclude that “swiftness” means to be “speedy.” This technique is performed to give variations in speech, but it is also a helpful tool for learning new words. A third way to use context to find meaning is to use antonyms, just like synonyms, but with an added step. The sentence or sentences using antonyms presents the new word with a known word with an opposite meaning. These sentences will often include a reversal transition word like but, unlike, or yet. “Jill wished she was graceful like a ballerina, but she was maladroit.” For this example, the reader can determine the word maladroit is the opposite of graceful, so it must mean something like “clumsy.”

When examples, synonyms, and antonyms are not present, students are taught to use critical thinking to find meaning from the general content of the sentence. Langan writes, “sometimes it takes a bit more detective work to puzzle out the meaning of an unfamiliar word. In such cases, you must draw conclusions based on the information given with the word. Asking yourself questions about the passage may help you make a fairly accurate guess” (31). A general sense of the sentence is needed for any context clue that does not fall into the first three categories. In this example, “The sadistic stepsisters took joy in making Cinderella do difficult and demeaning tasks,” the reader can use clues in the sentence to determine the meaning of the word “sadistic.” The reader thinks, “What kind of person would take joy from being mean?” and they have a rough definition for sadistic, “a person who gets pleasure from another’s suffering.”

Identifying the Main Idea

The most essential communication skill is identifying and defining the main idea of a text. The main idea is the reason the writer wrote the text, their goal. It can be broken into two parts, a topic and a point that is made regarding the topic. For example, a topic for a text can be as basic as the underworld. However, the main idea could be complex; for example, an underworld is where a person experiences the intensely personal yet universally challenging journey to self-awareness and education. The main idea is the writer’s goal for writing and the purpose of the reader to read. “It is the overall message readers are expected to take from a reading” (Flemming, 184). To find the main idea, the reader should first look for the general statement. To find the general statement, the reader needs to look for a broad enough statement to cover the rest of the paragraph. If the rest of the paragraph supports the sentence, then it is the main idea sentence. “In the Amduat, the first four hours represent the descent of going into the Underworld, the fifth through seventh are Re’s journey through the Underworld, and the final five hours represent his ascent beyond his underworld transformation” is an example of a sentence that could be the main idea for a paragraph that could have a supporting sentence for each of the three phases and a concluding/transition sentence into the next paragraph.

Not all texts have a defined topic sentence, and the student needs to dig deeper to determine the topic of the text and the point the author is attempting to make with the writing. Another way to find the main idea is to use keywords, like guides, to find the main idea and identify major details. Although there is an emphasis on looking for a topic sentence in many academic works of literature, I argue that it is essential that students understand how to identify the main idea as topic and point because not all paragraphs have a clear topic sentence. The topic is the subject of the passage and can be expressed in one or a few words. The topic alone is not the main idea. The main idea is the topic and the point. For example, suppose a class is assigned to write a paper about the Greek god, Zeus. Zeus would be the topic for the papers. However, one student may choose to write about Zeus as the warrior that led the gods to victory over the Giants. Another student may write that Zeus is an adulterous husband who fathered so many children outside his marriage. Both papers have the same topic, Zeus, but because the authors focus on alternate aspects of Zeus, they have different main ideas.

Supporting Details

Once the main idea is found, the next step is to see how the author supports their idea to determine if their argument is logical and relevant. Supporting details are the facts, examples, reasons, steps, results, or other evidence that develop the main idea. The main idea is the topic and point of the text, but the supporting details are the foundation. They are the way to go through and think about the main idea. The main idea is supported with the major details clarified even further by the minor details. While introducing this relationship between the ideas is an ideal time to model notetaking strategies.


The Langan texts teach the students to take notes using outlines, mapping and summarizing. Students are taught to pay attention to keywords and focus on the relationship between the main idea and supporting details through outlining and mapping. Through summarizing, the reader uses the same tools to find the main idea and supporting details. However, the information is taken to the next step of processing to be presented through paraphrasing. Summarizing requires judgment to be made by the reader of information that might not be necessary to write but outlining records every major detail.

It is essential to teach students various notetaking strategies, including specific techniques and various organization patterns in text. Notetaking is explicitly addressed in the curriculum. The instructor guides the students to make an outline as a group, then students are given short, one-page readings to outline individually. This will give students practice and the teacher feedback on students’ ability to identify the main idea and supporting details in larger text selections. Finding and understanding main idea and supporting details is the relationship within the text, it is how the information is related to its surrounding information, or its context. Determining the relationship between the ideas and those relationships’ patterns helps the students gain comprehension and remain active with the text. It gives the student the most efficient way to take notes. For example, by identifying a paragraph as having a comparison pattern, a student can write the items being compared and a list of their similarities. However, if the paragraph has a compare and contrast pattern, it will better serve the student to create a simple list of similarities and t-chart of differences.

Patterns of Organization – Going Deeper

Examining the structure of a text allows students to understand it and help them in their notetaking. “Recognizing the structure of prose is a great aid for students in comprehending and recalling text material. Students who can perceive the structure that binds the ideas in the text will understand and remember ideas much better than if they are viewed only as separate entities” (Readence, Bean, Baldwin, and Scott 147). There are many organizational patterns or ways of presenting the material, also known as the text’s relationship. The type of relationship can help the reader identify supporting details and know what notetaking strategies would be most effective. There are six basic patterns of organization students will most likely encounter in their textbooks. These patterns are definition and example, time order, basic list, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and classification.

The first pattern of organization is definition and example. It is probably the easiest to identify. With this pattern, a specific word is introduced, defined, and examples are given. The first sentence usually introduces the word, gives its definition, and is the main idea of the paragraph. The following is an example of a definition and example main idea introduction: A phobia is an exaggerated, irrational fear of a specific stimulus. For example, a person with a phobia of public speaking may cry or display other outward signs of fear if made to speak in front of others. One way to take notes on this form of a paragraph is to write the term with its complete definition and include any details that clarify the definition. The main idea is to write and understand the word in the context of the larger text.

The second pattern of organization is time order. In this pattern, the order in which elements are introduced is important. This form could be used for detailing directions for baking a cake or a description of the stages of childhood development. For example: Pandora, an earth Greek goddess, is created and then, she is sent to be married to Epimetheus. Finally, she opens the box that contains all the sorrows of humanity and hope becoming responsible for all the ills in the world. The order of events matters, so the relationship of the narrative is time order. To take notes on paragraphs that use this organization pattern, the reader needs to list and describe the individual steps that make up an identified process.

The third type of pattern is a basic list. With a basic list, the order does not matter, only the main idea and supporting details. To take notes on this form of writing, the reader only needs to state the main idea and any supporting details that clarify the main idea, often as a list. Here is an example of a list topic sentence: There are several opinions about the reason Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds. In this example, the reader can expect to read a list of opinions and possibly a differentiating argument for each opinion listed. It would be appropriate to make a simple list down the page to write a small note about each method.

Compare and contrast is the fourth pattern often seen in textbooks. Paragraphs can be a comparison, contrast, or a mixture of compare and contrast. An example of a compare and contrast topic sentence is: While Jung studied with Freud and shared many ideas with his mentor, his contributions to psychology differ significantly from the ideas put forth by Freud. With this sentence, the reader can expect to read how Jung and Freud compared and differed. The best way to take notes for this pattern is to write what is compared and contrasted and list their similarities and differences. A t-chart or box divided into four boxes are often effective graphic organizers for these paragraphs.

The fifth typical pattern of organization found in textbooks is cause and effect. Cause and effect relationships show how actions have consequences. The student shows the specific causes and effects of the paragraph and how they are related to taking notes for this pattern. Hera had many reasons to distrust her husband, Zeus, giving the reader the relationship of cause and effect and suggests the supporting details. The reader can use the information in the sentence to know that the cause is Zeus’s past actions, and the effect is that she is distrustful. The reader can expect the following sentences to contain examples of Zeus doing things to lose Hera’s trust. An efficient way to take cause and effect notes is to use bubble maps with the main cause or effect surrounded by the results or as a chain of causes and effect events.

The final typical pattern for organizations found in textbooks is classification. The classification pattern explains how a larger group is broken into smaller subgroups and gives information about those subgroups. To take notes on this pattern, the reader should include the name of the larger group that will be broken down, the subgroups’ names, and a brief description of each subgroup. An example classification topic sentence is “There are many forms of myth ranging from classical myths to modern myths and including religious myths.” With this example, it can be expected that the following information would classify these forms, and it would be appropriate to make a list of each category’s characteristics for comparison.

Transition Words: Mentoring Tools to Go Beyond

The following skill addressed in the reading curriculum is learning to identify keywords and utilize them to understand. There are three types of keywords: list words, addition words, and reverse shift words. Identifying these words helps students to recognize the main idea and supporting details.

The first type of keyword is a list word, and it can be found with the main idea. List words signify that a list of details is coming and include words and phrases like a few advantages, several reasons, three outcomes, or various kinds. List words are necessary to identify because they often inform the reader of the main idea and what to look for with supporting details. List words are used to signal to the reader that a list of items will follow. For example, a topic sentence for the Zeus paper on infidelity could be “There are many famous myths that include Zeus fathering other women’s children while married to Hera.” In this example, the reader is alerted by the list words many famous myths that signal that this is the main idea sentence. The reader can use these keys to know that the main idea is Zeus’s infidelity to Hera, but it also signals that the reader should expect to see examples of myths used to support the main idea. Sentences containing list words should be carefully looked at to see if they may be the main idea sentence and can also guide the reader to recognize the supporting details. By identifying the list word, the reader can identify the main idea of the paragraph and can anticipate what material will be relevant for their notes.

The second type of keyword is an addition word. Addition words signal the addition of supporting detail and include words and phrases like another, finally, third, or furthermore. Addition words help find major details and show students how to make their writing easier to understand. After the sentence, “There are three ways to trim a spruce tree,” the next logical sentence would be “One way to trim spruce…,” then “Another way to trim spruce …,” and “A final way to trim spruce …” In this example, the transition words, one, another, and final, give us our three supporting details, which the student would write in their notes under the main idea.

The last type of keyword is a reversal shift word like yet, but, or however that signal the writer is going to modify or reverse the previous idea. When the main idea appears in the second or third sentence, it will include a reversal transition word. In the sentence “Bicycling is a healthy, fun activity enjoyed by many, but there are three important precautions one should consider before taking to the roads with their bicycle,” the word but signals the reader that there is a shift in the topic. The first part of the sentence introduces the topic, bicycle riding, but the main idea is after the reversal transition word. The main idea is not about how riding a bike is fun and healthy; the paragraph will discuss the three precautions a rider should observe while riding. Identifying main ideas and supporting details is the most laborious task for students. Teaching students about keywords lays the preparation to make them successful as they move on to looking for supporting details in texts.

Making Inferences – Finding Deeper Meaning Through Self

“An inference is a statement about the unknown made based on the known.” (Hayakawa, 40). It uses depth to understand the surface. Inferencing was introduced with vocabulary building and as the process for transformation and growth. Making inferences is a formal way of asking students to “read between the lines.” “When you ‘read between the lines,’ you pick up ideas that are not directly stated in what you are reading. These implied ideas are often crucial for a full understanding of what an author means” (Langan, 273). Skilled readers practice inferencing, or drawing conclusions, in conversations and reading naturally, but for some struggling readers or writers, this skill must be taught, practiced, and routinely applied.

Inferencing relies on the reader to supply knowledge. To make an inference, the reader needs to understand the material and use their prior knowledge to make a conclusion. Making inferences can be done in three steps: first, use information from the text. Next, using prior knowledge, make a hypothesis. Finally, not do not assume the first inference is the only solution. Investigate before deciding on the possible outcomes for the text. With inferencing, it is beneficial to show how differences in prior knowledge or reasoning can result in differing conclusions. Inferencing and making conclusions help students to understand how learning builds on more learning and how individual perspectives can create different results when reading.

Critical Literacy – Beyond Understanding

After the basics are covered for academic reading, it is appropriate to introduce how to read critically and evaluate an argument. To read critically, the reader needs to think beyond the text and examine the author’s motivation and techniques. To evaluate the text, the reader can determine the author’s purpose for writing, the tone, possible biases, soundness of arguments, and look for any errors in reasoning. Taking these steps will lead the reader to go from an active reader to a critical reader and, in turn, recognize these elements in their writing.

Evaluating an Argument

In college, it is not enough to understand and remember an argument. Academic reading requires that the student think critically about the text and evaluate the author’s argument, both for organization and content. When evaluating an argument, the first thing a reader wants to do is make a judgment or take a position in the argument, but the first thing a reader should do is break the argument down for comprehension. Beyond comprehension, “adult education generally, reflective thinking is a goal of learning” (Cranton, 25). Reflective thinking takes the understanding gained from learning but adds personal knowledge and original thought. This notion can be traced to Dewey (1933), who defined reflection as “active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends” (p. 9)” (Cranton, 25). To evaluate an argument, the critical reader can identify and evaluate the author’s biases and identify and evaluate its elements.

Elements for Argument

When learning the essentials of academic reading, the students learn to identify the main idea and supporting details. In an argument, these elements need to be looked at critically to evaluate the argument’s soundness. A good argument has the author’s position clearly stated as the main idea, and the support will be both relevant and adequate. A well-written argument can be admired even when the reader disagrees with the conclusion the author ultimately provides. However, when the support is not relevant or broad enough, the author has made a weak argument.

There are three ways an argument can be inadequate: the support can be lacking, the author can be trying to manipulate the reader, or they can simply have errors in their reasoning. When the support is off-topic or lacking, it causes the argument to be weak. Irrelevant support takes up space on the page but does not contribute to the argument, while hasty generalizations or lack of support can also cause the argument to fall short.

Authors sometimes use propaganda techniques in their arguments to manipulate the reader. Critical readers need to learn about these practices in order not to be misled by propaganda. There are many ways authors manipulate the audience. Advertisers use these methods in a much more obvious way, which make ads an excellent way to teach propaganda because it is easier to spot and incorporates visual aids and everyday life. An example of a propaganda technique is using a glittering generality. Glittering generalities are when the author says something that sounds great but is not saying anything of substance. A well-known example of a glittering generality is the motto for the rainbow-colored candies, Skittles, to “taste the rainbow.” It sounds good, a bit exciting, and whimsical, but it does not mean anything. It is pretty fluff made to entice the reader without providing any reasoning or fact. Propaganda techniques all ignore the issue and try to use emotional appeals instead of solid reasoning.

There are two types of errors in reasoning; those that ignore the issue and those that oversimplify the issue. Propaganda is an intentional form of ignoring the issue, but some of these errors are unintentional. An example of an error in reasoning that ignores the issue is circular reasoning. With circular reasoning, the author tries to use the point as support. For example, a person might argue that they need a raise because they are not paid enough. An unskilled reader may agree with this reasoning, but the skilled reader sees that the author does not provide support, only restating the main idea. To make an argument, the author cannot just restate their position in different words; they must give support.

Arguments that oversimplify the issue are a bit more challenging to spot because they contain elements of the issue. A standard error that oversimplifies the issue is either/or, which creates the illusion that there are only two options. Issues are rarely binary, but many authors present only two alternatives and try to win the argument by default instead of sound support, while ignoring other alternatives. By recognizing the author’s purpose, tone, biases, and critically examining the main idea and supporting details, the skilled reader will be prepared to take their position on the text. Also, examining reading so critically will strengthen their writing skills and ability to present an argument.

Teaching students to read academically will improve their ability to succeed in almost every other class. “Academic achievement of students increases when they are taught thinking skills directly, many researchers and educators concur that direct instruction should be given to all students on how to think and behave intelligently” (Kellough, 80). The skills may need to be practiced and relearned to be mastered, but mastery of these skills is crucial to get the most out of the academic college experience.

The skills detailed in this chapter are the surface, academic skills essential for college success. However, academic skills are not historically sufficient to create significant improvement in student achievement in college. In their academic reading skills textbook, Langan and Nadell wrote, “as important as skills are, something else is more important, your attitude about being in school” (2). They wrote, “the inner commitment to getting the work done is probably the most single factor needed for success in college” (2). Success in college requires students to gain self-knowledge for critical thinking, learn intrinsic motivation, develop a sense of personal responsibility and community to foster an attitude for success. This chapter addresses students’ cognitive needs with academic literacy skills, and the next chapter addresses students’ unseen implicit needs to develop an attitude for success and inner strength to persevere.

Chapter 3: Defining Implicit Needs for Community College Students

Students need literacy skills to understand the material from their courses and effectively communicate ideas about their learning; these are known, explicit skills. However, academic literacy training alone was not improving students’ success beyond remediation. To succeed in college, students need more than skills; they need understanding, a good attitude, and a healthy work ethic. Students must gain self-knowledge for critical thinking, learn intrinsic motivation, develop a sense of personal responsibility, and build an understanding of community to foster an attitude for success. These are skills from the affective domain that students must develop for deeper understanding and an ability to communicate original thoughts. These skills have been called the covert curriculum.

Along with affective skills for a proper attitude, students need to strengthen their psychomotor skills to participate and foster growth. These affective and psychomotor skills are implicit needs; they are not explicitly recognized or supported in current academic reading courses. The cognitive domain is strongly supported with these courses, but the lack of improvement in completion rates demonstrates that change is necessary. The curriculum for this dissertation incorporates underworld mythology to support the affective needs and personal narratives to support the psychomotor domain.

In education, “too frequently teachers focus on the cognitive domain and assume that the psychomotor and affective will take care of themselves … but teachers should do the opposite” (Kellough and Kellough, 165) because “without the right frame of mind, students are not likely to do well in college” (Langan and Nadell, 2). Since addressing the cognitive domain alone did not increase success rates, incorporation of elements to the curriculum to support the affective and psychomotor domains may be a solution. The affective domain is below the surface. It pertains to students’ emotions, feelings, and attitudes. Patricia Kearney, Timothy Plax, and Jose Rodriguez, Speech Communication professors from California State University Long Beach, defined affective learning as “an increasing internalization of positive attitudes toward the content or subject matter” (81). It connects the material to the deeper, internal levels to effect change and grow positive attitudes. Affective learning also “motivates students to engage in task-relevant behaviors” (Rodriguez, Plax, and Kearney, 297), which supports students’ psychomotor need to create evidence of their learning.

The cognitive, affective, and psychomotor needs of the students are supported on campus. Students can enroll in and attend tutoring workshops for academic support. They can join clubs for a sense of community or join a sports team to remain physically active, but not all students take advantage of the support colleges offer. To benefit from most of the support offered on campus, students cannot be passive. They must actively seek support, follow-through, and be willing to work for results. Students fail because they allow challenges to become excuses instead of opportunities to grow. Education explicitly teaches students content material, but the experience is designed to challenge the student for growth. Students are implicitly challenged and supported in the affective domain but must actively participate to benefit from the support. Students who rise to the challenge gain knowledge and gain implicit growth in the affective and psychomotor domains with maturity, confidence, and the inner drive to achieve their goals.

This chapter’s primary purpose is to define these implied needs so support can be given to the passive students who need it but receive it passively. To use an approach that “encourage(s) intrinsic motivation rather than reliance on extrinsic sources” (Kellough and Kellough, 78) is necessary for success since extrinsic sources can be unreliable. The difference between the current curriculum and the curriculum proposed by this dissertation is the additional educational objective of developing those internal motivational sources. “By nature, people are interested in self-knowledge, growth, development, and freedom. Gaining emancipatory knowledge is dependent on our abilities to be self-determining and self-reflective” (Cranton, 10), which are skills that are added through the inclusion of stories. These skills are not easily attained, and the process for growth “can be a liberating and joyous process, but it can also have a dark side. We can grieve the loss of assumptions of beliefs that have long informed our lives” (Cranton, 122). The stories give students the support to manage these intense, mixed emotions.

Direct instruction of technical knowledge refers to the training of skills or information directly stated and learned. These skills do not change or require ingenuity to gain understanding. They may require practice or time to gather more knowledge, but instruction is directed by content and explicitly teacher led. In contrast, indirect instruction requires the information to be processed by the student. The lesson is not directly stated or explicitly taught. With indirect instruction, students access what they already know to create critical thought from their understanding of the course materials. With direct instruction, the knowledge to be gained is from an external source. With indirect instruction, knowledge is created by using the information from the course and processing it through the learner’s understanding.

The implicit portion of a curriculum “emphasizes the abilities and characteristics that will enable individuals to continue to acquire new knowledge and attain new skills in the future, both on the job and in their personal lives” (Appleby, 1). In short, the implicit curriculum is the indirect, personal learning gained from experience. Students need explicit skills learned through class content and implicit skills acquired from learning the content, but passive students do not receive the implicit curriculum because it takes active participation. To reach passive students, the curriculum supports affective and psychomotor needs directly and indirectly through meaningful stories. Students who are passive are provided with examples of the challenges they will face in college in all three domains. Then, they are offered support to prevail over those endeavors through indirect, meaningful instruction. “Stories let you instill values in a way that keeps people thinking for themselves” (Simmons, 20). Indirect approaches, like the use of narratives are a technique used to force action of thought.

Art, like literature, is one way to access this inner knowledge because it is indirect. It requires the students to make conclusions from their interpretation of the artwork. Indirect learning accesses inner, archetypal knowledge, “meaning is seen to exist within ourselves, not in external forms. We develop or construct personal meaning from our experience and validate it through interaction and communication with others. What we make of the world is a result of our perceptions of our experiences” (Cranton, 18), like what we make of art similarly results from individual perceptions. Myths offer indirect instruction by permitting access to archetypal knowledge and connections to the larger community while allowing students to find knowledge through interaction with the text. The myths create indirect learning of academic knowledge, but the underworld myths also create indirect learning of transformation, growth, and success.

To succeed, students must have the right mental attitude and take active steps toward making their goals a reality. They must have a hero’s attitude, a warrior attitude, an archetypal attitude for success, and the inner drive to act on their desire to reach their goals. “This inner commitment to getting the work done is probably the single most important factor needed for college success” (Langan and Nadell 2). Students seek academic (cognitive) learning in college, but they also develop affective (inner) resources by actively participating (psychomotor) to achieve their goals. “One must develop one’s inner resources so that one’s emotions, imagination, and intellect mutually support and enrich one another” (Bettelheim, 4). According to Bettelheim, “the most important and also most difficult task” to gaining maturity is “finding meaning in life” (3). The purpose of studying mythology is to help the student find meaning in life. Kellough and Kellough wrote that the “key to meaningful learning is thinking” (77), so teaching one to think critically and make connections is vital to making learning meaningful. They further wrote that another “major goal of formal education is for students to apply school-learned knowledge to real-life situations” (77). Students need to transform knowledge to adapt to different situations and increase value to the material studied for meaningful learning to be successful. When education produces an individual with more deeply developed cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills, meaningful learning for practical knowledge has been achieved.

To change passive attitudes for adult learners and attend to their affective needs, I have identified three crucial elements for the curriculum: indirect instruction, personal connection, and archetypal knowledge of transformation. The cognitive goals for instruction in critical thinking are emphasized further with students’ affective needs. Critical thinking is necessary for academic communication, and to think critically, students must access the affective domain to gain self-knowledge. It is also necessary for students experiencing transformation because it gives value to students’ past and helps them with their future problem-solving skills. Critical thinking gives value to experience because it recognizes that experience is the source of prior knowledge. Giving the students opportunities to think critically increases the value to personal experience, improves self-knowledge, and enables students to practice transformation of knowledge within various contexts.

Indirect Instruction and Attitude

A student’s attitude is a major determining factor for success. Seasoned educators can recognize students that possess the inner resources to persist and succeed but defining and addressing the right mindset is a task that requires going below the surface. Affective understanding goes in-depth, below the surface. This element of learning touches personal experiences, exposes archetypal truths, and makes connections to create meaning. Community college students have had experiences that give their emotions and thoughts more depth and complexity. “Only in adulthood can any intelligent understanding of the meaning of one’s existence in this world be gained from one’s experiences in it” (Bettelheim, 5). The understanding gained from life becomes a story the student constructs, processes, and can use for further understanding.

Indirect instruction produces critical thinking and acknowledges the significance of students’ prior knowledge. Jung wrote that because adults have acquired a will of their own, personal convictions, and a more definite consciousness of self than children, the best method to educate adults and “best meet the needs of the adult must be indirect rather than direct; that is to say, it must put him in possession of such psychological knowledge as will permit him to educate himself” (58). Indirect instruction allows the student to use past experiences to create knowledge and transform that knowledge into original thought. A critical difference between training and educating is adding this element of self, going below the surface, and recognizing the individual and archetypal knowledge in the students’ minds. “The indispensable basis of self-education is self-knowledge” (Jung, 58). Indirect instruction creates opportunities for critical thought, gives value to the experience, and helps students gain self-awareness for self-education and life-long learning.

Self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-education all include self. Students need material to have a connection to themselves and finding those connections is a skill that can be taught. Finding connections with material increases understanding gives the material meaning, and helps students retain the information. A connection could be to prior experience, or it could be made to future academic encounters. It could be to a future assignment in the class or to the students’ interests. To have meaning, to make meaning, students must learn about relationships and connections. Students learn about relationships and connections through understanding a text’s main idea and supporting details. Students learn to recognize relationships in the text with literacy skills, and they learn about relationships to the text with direct and indirect models for connection.

College is emotionally challenging. Students face obstacles that highlight their interdependence with others. They are challenged to demonstrate their knowledge with high-stakes tests or written assignments. Critical thinking and exposure to new ways of thinking challenge the world view of the student. Education requires students to consider alternate perspectives and various solutions to problematic situations. The experience creates self-awareness and empathy with others and creates self-doubt that is difficult for some students to navigate. Using connection and archetypal examples of transformation gives students an opportunity to realize that their struggles are not personal faults; they are universal challenges and are a natural part of learning and growth. These examples can give students perseverance and also assist them to make choices that will benefit themselves and their communities.

Young adults believe “their personal problems, experiences, and feelings are unique to themselves” (Kellough and Kellough, 22). Archetypal examples of transformation give students a connection to the process and a sense of community with others in transformation. Through the class readings of the Amduat, students witness Re, the old and weary God of the Sun, disappear into the night. Students visually travel through the central hours with Re and his helpers as they travel through the underworld to unite with his inner self and experience transformative growth. Last, they are introduced to the final hours, where Re works with his allies to ascend into the new day, beyond his transformation and the Underworld experience. The curriculum offers explicit instruction of critical thinking, reading, and writing as transformative processes. It also offers implicit modeling of transformative growth with underworld myths, which is the focus of the following chapter, “Understanding Transformation with Underworld Myths.”

The implicit instruction of transformation as an archetypal journey facilitates students’ personal connections with critical thinking to lessen the feelings of disconnect in the journey. The transformation process can be alienating; students “may feel very alone during the quest, at its end, their reward is a sense of community: with themselves, with other people, and with the earth” (Pearson, 3). Understanding the process is a way to support students to persist through emotional challenges they will face because they will see the struggles as a valuable part of growth.

Transformation Process

Leaving home to go into the unknown is the first step of a transformation. “The transformative process can be provoked by a single dramatic event, a series of almost unnoticed cumulative events, a deliberate conscious effort to make a change in one’s life, or the natural developmental progression of becoming more mature” (Cranton, 46). The goal of transformation is change and growth. Students enter school intending to make a change in their lives. There are many reasons students enter college, but those reasons equate to creating a better future for themselves, their families, or their communities.

The second part of the transformation is unseen. This hidden aspect of transformation is work that occurs underneath the surface. It is an implicit, covert aspect of the curriculum and is the bulk of the college experience. In mythology, this is the part of the story where the hero is in the underworld, facing demons and attempting to return home. This part of the transformation is implicit, as the affective domain, and cannot be directly explained. Like the river when it goes underground, transformation is only directly experienced by the transformed and explained with the experience’s story. The final part of the transformation is to create action. In a successful transformation, this action is an improvement or growth for the transformed. After the individual overcomes the challenges for transformation, they must take their unique knowledge back into the known world to create changes for themselves and others.

Failure to Advance

Some students do not move forward. Either they do not pass their classes or lack the focus to follow a goal through completion, but failure to move forward is also a disappointment. There are many reasons students become trapped, like Persephone, between their education and their futures. However, even if they become lost, they, like Persephone, can change the perspective for their stories to transform into heroes. A decline can be reversed. A assumed failure can in reality lead to new attempts for transformation and eventual growth, it only becomes failure when the individual ceases to attempt the goal. Persephone becomes caught in the underworld; even though she experiences periods on earth, she never escapes the inevitable return below. On the other hand, although students who succeed may take more time than the prescribed amount to complete their goals, they follow through and return to the surface. These students are also like Persephone but through a different lens. These students relate to Persephone as she becomes delayed in the underworld because she is transformed as she lives in that realm. She becomes the Queen of the Underworld that vacations yearly to her mother’s home instead of the victim, she is the heroine.

With an understanding of transformation, indirect instruction, and meaningful content identified as affective needs to be supported, the final domain that has needed to be defined is the psychomotor domain. Without strengthening psychomotor abilities with action, students can know what to do, know why they should do it, want to do it, and still fail for lack of action to do the work needed to succeed. Kolb explained transformation had two levels, a surface and deeper “either through internal reflection, a process I will call intention, or active external manipulation of the external world, here called extension (p. 41)” (Cranton, 116). The intention is a shift in attitude, and the action is the psychomotor domain. Psychomotor is the active domain involved with motion and creation. While many classify this domain as primarily concerned with physical movement, I define it as the active domain. Kellough and Kellough classify this domain as including communication and creativity, “thus coordinating skills and knowledge from all three domains” (168).

Psychomotor Domain, Transformation Through Action

Kellough and Kellough explain that initially, the psychomotor domain was primarily concerned with motor skills. However, they describe this domain beyond fine or gross motor skills as “the most creative and complex (domain), requiring originality and fine locomotor control” (168). They use Harrow’s taxonomy to model their explanation of the psychomotor domain, which is “(1) moving, (2) manipulating, (3) communicating, and (4) creating” (Kellough and Kellough, 168-169). Moving is an essentially physical aspect of the psychomotor domain. With manipulation, students must have some knowledge, but it is also primarily concerned with motor skills. The underlying aspects that pertain to psychomotor aspects of academic success are communication and creation. Communication is addressed with critical thinking and literacy skills in the previous chapter. The final level in the hierarchy, “creating is the highest level of this domain, and all domains, and represents the student’s coordination of thinking, learning and behaving in all three domains” (Kellough and Kellough, 169).

Creation is active transformation, and it is the culmination of critical thinking, attitude, and action into a unique representation of student learning. Creation is an external sign of understanding. “Acting on learning (or sometimes transfer of learning, defined as application in the world outside of the classroom) is often described as the goal of education” (Cranton, 3). The psychomotor domain returns the knowledge gained from study to the surface. Without active engagement with the material to express original information, the knowledge remains underground and unknown. The curriculum must include transformation as a process and a journey to address affective needs and create a system to strengthen students’ psychomotor skills.

Transformation in Action

I am fortunate to have witnessed and experienced how learning to read and write academically can transform a student’s ability to do the work needed to succeed in college classes. I have also witnessed and experienced how stories, specifically learning myths, and rewriting a personal narrative to align with the transformational growth modeled in the myths can support transformational growth beyond academic success.

Perception for Success

Success is a subjective word. Success to some people is simply an accomplishment of goals. For personal success, an individual could say it entails reaching a level of financial independence, having freedom within an occupation, or making a difference in society. In the community college statistics, success is measured in completion rates. These completion rates count students as unsuccessful if they do not reach their intended goal, even if they experience growth and choose an alternate path. They also do not count that student as successful if they reach their goal, but they need more than six years. According to the data, the student who takes too long is unsuccessful – even when they succeed.

It took me eight years to complete my bachelor’s degree, an achievement that “should” take four years. I am proud of that achievement. To me, the extra time is like a scar from battle, it is proof that my experience was not easily achieved. I worked more than 30 hours each week while in college, bought my first car, moved into my own apartment, and then to a house in the mountains all while in college. There were many reasons to quit, many opportunities to fail, that instead created self-knowledge and personal growth. The story I tell myself of my undergraduate studies is one of heroic determination, grit, and of an underdog that refuses to give up and finally succeeds. Some may say that eight years is too long for a four-year degree, but it depends on the story you tell, not the experience that determines the success.

Failure on Paper, Success in Life

When I began teaching at San Bernardino Valley College, I had a man in my class who was already a seasoned community college student. He had attended classes at Valley College for several years by the time he was a student in my reading class. When his mother was pregnant with him, she had a substance abuse problem and he was born with learning difficulties. This student was intelligent and had a great work ethic, but he had to study longer and do more work than assigned in class to ensure he understood the material. For this reason, he did not take many classes each semester. He knew his limitations and did not overburden himself so he would experience success.

Over the years, I would see the student on campus. We waved or said conversed briefly in passing. Eventually, this student graduated. He, like Persephone, did not leave the college. He became an employee at the school. He used the knowledge he gained from his many years as a student to guide others to find their success in community college. As far as the completion rates, this student would be counted as one that failed because he took longer than six years to graduate. On paper – his success would not count. However, in real life, he is heroic. The challenges he faced and his persistence to graduate make him a mentor and increase his effectiveness when working with students that struggle because he also struggled.

This man initiated the daunting challenge of college, although he had many years out of school and exceptional learning needs. He took his experience and returned to non-academic life as a guide to others on the journey. In real life, it is not arguable that he is a story of success. Just as Persephone became Queen of the Underworld, he became a leader in the place that was his underworld and a story of success in the world beyond.

Identifying critical thinking skills, indirect instruction, personal connection to the work, archetypal examples of transformative growth, and creation as implicit needs allows me to take the next step to offer ways to support these needs with implicit and explicit instruction. The following chapter details how stories, specifically the underworld myths, the Amduat and the Abduction of Persephone, support students’ implicit, affective needs. The chapter following Underworld mythology, chapter five, addresses how to support students’ implicit psychomotor needs with personal narratives. This fifth chapter reconnects the underworld myths from academic life to the students’ outside experiences with The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz and personal narratives. The curriculum is explained in the sixth and final chapter to bring together the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor goals and support systems for student success.

Chapter 4: Understanding Transformation with Underworld Myths

In the previous chapter, students’ implicit needs were identified and defined as belonging to the affective and psychomotor domains. This chapter explores two underworld narratives employed in the curriculum to support the affective needs to prepare students with an attitude for success. As implicit, the affective needs of the students are not entirely on the surface, and the way to support these needs must also reach below the surface. Indirect instruction, meaningful connection, and models for archetypal transformation are engaged in this curriculum to support the students’ affective goals for success while direct academic instruction prepares them cognitively.

As Jung explains in The Development of Personality, the best way to educate adults is through indirect instruction (58). It uses critical thinking, validates students’ prior knowledge, and pushes them to create their own learning. Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim stresses the need for learning content to have meaning. In his book The Uses of Enchantment, he states that “(t)he ability to read becomes devalued when what one has learned to read adds nothing of importance to one’s life” (4). Learning for the sake of learning is not enough. Students need to make connections to make the text meaningful, and both underworld myths are archetypally relatable and model connections through these relationships.

This chapter intends to show how the archetypal underworld myths The Amduat and The Abduction of Persephone included in the curriculum support students’ affective needs explicitly and implicitly. “There is no way that an educator (or anyone else) can ensure that transformative learning takes place. Learners must decide to undergo the process themselves” (Cranton, 105). Passive students must decide to become participants in their education, and exposure to the stories is an indirect way to encourage the students toward making that decision. With the support, students can strengthen their critical thinking skills, create meaningful connections, and improve their attitudes towards successful behaviors.

Indirect instruction is a means to teach students to make connections with the material and in that way, create meaning. Indirect instruction teaches skills through alternate materials. For example, “the educator working to increase literacy does not simply teach reading as a technical skill, nor does he assume that people will come to him when they are ready to learn to read; rather, he shares the experiences of the learners, learns about their culture and values, and works within that perspective toward his goal” of teaching reading (Cranton, 83). Indirect instruction is often employed in critical thinking instruction and to convey challenging ideas or concepts. A crucial aspect of instruction for the curriculum for this dissertation is the use of archetypal underworld mythology that generates another layer of connection. The myths model the college journey and prepare students to build their inner and external resources for success.

As described by Appleby, the overt curriculum is centered on the material to be learned and the covert curriculum on the student’s ability to continue to learn (1). The overt curriculum creates transformation – it creates understanding by transmitting knowledge. “Technical knowledge often provides the basis for transformative learning in that it gives learners the skills and knowledge that free them from constraints, change their concept of themselves as people, and perhaps redefine their notion of work” (Cranton, 90). The overt curriculum for this course is itself transformative. “When people learn the fundamental, technical competencies of reading and writing, they often experience their more ready access to information as powerful and liberating” (Cranton, 80). Literacy skills, the ability to understand and accurately express oneself is transformative and creates growth without the addition of the covert curriculum, in this case, the inclusion of stories.

The hidden curriculum creates growth – it connects the knowledge from class to the students’ real-life situations. Incorporating stories into the curriculum is an indirect way to bring the covert aspect of the learning to the surface where it can better be understood and applied by the students. The covert curriculum for this course, the stories chosen for reading and writing, are included to address students’ needs beyond literacy. Community college students need models for successful transformation to help fortify them for their challenges beyond the semester. These stories help connect students to others while also helping them learn about themselves. They relate personally and universally, which is essential since adult education is unlike primary education that seeks to create a uniform education of knowledge for society. Adult education and critical thought are comparable to Cranton’s description of individuation, which is “the process of distinguishing one’s self from the collective of humanity and learning how we are both the same as and different from others” (150). The Amduat and the Abduction of Persephone relate personally, universally, and apply to the college experience.

In the first chapter, I shared a story about a stream that disappeared and reappeared further along the path. On the surface, the water appeared to transport from one spot to another. However, the water went on an underground journey where the water does not always resurface. The observer has no way to witness the water unless it is on the surface. What happens below the surface that causes some streams to return and others to disappear? Science and knowledge from experience with water, gravity, and soil give us ideas of what happens underground. However, it can only be understood second-hand, through a story of the experience. It is not a given that the water will resurface; just like it is not a given, students entering college will rise to achieve their goals. The difference between growth and decline is experience and perspective. Some of the experience occurs on the surface, but much of what happens is unseen.

Mythology successfully transmits the covert curriculum because the reader understands the myths on a deeper, archetypal level. Unlike information that is given directly, stories initiate students to think and create original conclusions. Bettelheim explained that stories tell us how to behave in the world and give life meaning (3-5). He continues to write that in his book, that stories are therapeutic and create self-knowledge because they require the student to discover their solutions by “contemplating what the story implies about him and his inner conflicts of the moment” (25). These stories address “inner problems, which seem incomprehensible and hence unsolvable” (Bettelheim, 25). Many students quit because they do not think of creative solutions for their challenges or try to discover their resources. By solving the inner problems, the student gains self-awareness, and a new technique for problem-solving with complex situations. Through the underworld myths, students connect and relate through stories of growth and success in the face of imposing obstacles that may have seemed unsolvable until the characters in the stories overcame them.

Improving a person’s reading skills improves their quality of life but improving their reading skills and incorporating story can assist in realizing various goals and increase the quality of life in larger ways. The benefits of reading have been observable for centuries. However, with the advancement of neuroscience, those benefits are now also including how reading activates and structures the brain. “Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined” (Paul, 2). Furthermore, “the constant firing of neurons in response to fictional stimuli strengthens and refines the neural pathways that lead to skillful navigation of life’s problems” (Gottschall, 67). Therefore, reading increases a student’s knowledge through content, and fiction restructures and physically strengthens the brain to improve a student’s ability to create connections and think critically.

Fiction readers have more empathy, make more money, have better problem-solving skills, and are generally happier than non-readers. This is logical because stories permit the reader to experience various situations without risk or significant investment of time or resources. Reading facilitates more efficient learning, giving more time to discover additional material and experience more significant growth through the transformation. People that learn to read benefit from learning to read daily. “Humans are creatures of story, so story touches nearly every aspect of our lives” (Gottschall, 15). Combining the benefits of a story with the benefits of reading has a profound effect on the reader and is a powerful tool for creating social change. I decided to incorporate stories in my curriculum to support the implicit needs of my students better, but I needed to determine which stories would work for my students.

My Fairytale Failure

Through my studies in mythology and depth psychology, I began to see the influence of stories and better understand my students’ needs. My curriculum included a class novel along with many short stories and informational texts. I chose to include stories based on the students’ comprehension levels and interests. I thought that by giving the students the texts that interested them, I would increase their motivation to read. This planning style required extra work for me, but it did not equally increase students’ skills, motivation, or attitude. While I chose stories to challenge and improve my students’ reading abilities, I had never considered using stories to give students what they needed affectively.

Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist and educator, was dissatisfied with the children’s academic literature of his time because it did not address “difficult inner problems” and only focused on skills, not meaning. He concluded that the books needed to have more depth; “most of the books are so shallow in substance that little of significance can be gained from them” (4). I was trying to pick texts based on academic needs and interest, but not on affective or psychomotor needs. The class novels were interesting, motivating the students to read the texts and with better comprehension because I chose texts to connect to their interests. The stories helped students do the work, but they were not meaningful. They failed to address students’ affective needs because I could not connect the material and reach below the surface. In other words, the students learned from the texts, but they did not learn beyond the texts. They gained information from the experience but were not challenged to think critically or respond beyond demonstrating comprehension and understanding of meaning.

Students connect meaningful texts to their lives and can relate the story to individual experiences. When a student has a significant interaction with a text, they have a transformative experience. They may relate profoundly and emotionally because the story corresponds to an aspect of their story. The myth may expose an aspect of their own story that they had previously not known had significance. They may connect deeply to a character because they model personal traits like strength or determination that students need to believe they possess to continue through their underworld journeys. Students can connect and relate to these myths to create meaning and transformation.

I tried to use fairy tales in my class like Bettelheim used with his patients. I chose stories to guide students affectively and foster attitudes for success implicitly. It took research, planning, prepping materials, and class time to incorporate the fairy tales into the schedule. For each unit in the curriculum, I included a fairy tale that corresponded with a skill from academic literacy, a step in the transformation process, and the affective skills students needed to strengthen to succeed in college. For example, I incorporated Hansel and Gretel to model critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and transformational growth, and The Three Little Pigs to show maturity and advancement of thought. It was a well-intentioned effort; however, the fairy tales failed to connect with the students.

The affective models for the stories were appropriate, but the stories failed to connect with numerous students and did not relate to create effective indirect instruction. I connected to the stories because they were a part of my childhood, and I read them to my children. They were meaningful to me, and the connection to transformation and academic literacy had depth. However, not all my students read these stories. I must admit my ethnocentrism because I thought everyone experienced fairy tales the way I had. Many of my students had never heard of Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. These students knew Disney stories and television series, but many of my students did not have fairytales beyond the screen. Like Bettelheim, I returned to the stories used to see what was working, what failed to connect, and examine how to bridge the gap to give meaning to the text. Fairy tales were for children; adults required something more mature and relatable to their experience. The first obstacle was time. I was limited with the time required to add profound literature or writing assignments and the literacy content necessary. The second obstacle was content difficulty. Many archetypal narratives I studied were difficult to read. To use those myths, I would have to retell them in simplified versions or spend a large part of class to read and discuss. The stories had to be accessible, relatable, and model the skills needed to thrive in college indirectly.

Stories were a solution to reaching students on a deeper level, but I did not know which stories to incorporate or make them meaningful. Students enjoyed it when I shared the myths in class anecdotally. Even though the text was meaningful, the experience was not because it did not create indirect learning or critical thinking. These myths were seen as a break from work and only related to students that were actively seeking connections. Finding a myth related to the college experience, and that was not difficult or time-consuming to read, seemed like an impossible task. However, my studies brought me to Theodore Abt and Erik Hornung’s book, Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality.

The Amduat is one of the oldest Egyptian texts to record the implicit knowledge gained for successful transformation. The story is portrayed as a series of panels and as a text for clarity. It shows Re, the sun god, as he takes his voyage and disappears into night and resurfaces in the morning. The Amduat is written as a guide for the soul in transformation from death to rebirth, but it is also a guide for the living experiencing change. Examining the Amduat as a reflection on life reveals a great deal of insight into the human psyche, transformation, and individuation.

Students experience the Amduat directly through the images and create connections and understanding before an explanation is given. They indirectly gather knowledge before the panels are elaborated upon and explained through the information from scholars that understand the meaning of the symbols used in the Amduat. Using Abt and Hornung to interpret and apply the material to the transformational journey students will experience in college, I found a way to use a meaningful text in a meaningful way without a great deal of time or work for my students. The Amduat uses reflective awareness metaphorically to explain how to grow through transformation. “The Amduat, written 3,500 years ago, contains in a nutshell the knowledge necessary to reunite the individual soul with this inner guiding light” (Abt and Hornung, 9).

The Amduat explains through images how to transform knowledge into wisdom; a person needs to know themselves below the surface. Individuals must understand their motivation and learn how to do the work to be able to carry out their ambitions. Students need to unite their internal knowledge with the information they gain from class materials. They need to learn as much from themselves as from their texts. Thousands of years before depth psychology was developed, the Egyptians used the story of Re to model the process of transformation, growth, and renewal. Re’s journey through the underworld is a map for the afterlife and, I am proposing, a guide for an individual experiencing a developmental transformation, like education.

The Amduat and Transformation

The Amduat follows Re as he descends gradually into the perilous realm of night. He is attended by specific gods and goddesses who support him through his journey, these are his supporters. From the first panel to the fourth panel, Re goes through a series of gates to descend into and through the first part of his transformational journey. On the fourth panel, Re reaches the lowest, deepest point of is journey. After he completes his descension, rebirth is initiated in the fifth hour, as seen in the image below.

The Fifth Hour

In the fifth hour, Re is represented three times, once on each level of descent. According to Abt and Hornung, this hour is where the opposites come together, and “the joint presence of fire and water in this hour is the central feature, justifying its placement beside the twelfth hour” (70). To understand why the authors claimed that this union was the justification of its placement, the importance of this union must be understood. In the transformation process, there is a point where the transformative process is initiated. Re can be seen plunging further into the underworld until this point. The fifth panel shows how he will get through to return to the surface, it is a symbol of promise.

In the uppermost panel of the hour, Re is represented in the center as a scarab beetle extending out from the bottom of the burial mound of Osiris, Re’s brother and opposite self. The scarab beetle aids with towing Re’s ram-headed barque (or boat) through “the narrow pass, created by the cave with the head of Isis” who is “keeping the fiery desert and the primordial water apart and together at the same time” (Abt and Hornung, 70). Uniting opposites is not simple, and the support of the gods, goddesses, and the self, the scarab beetle, is needed to push through the journey. Even the sun god needs to utilize all the resources available to him to effectively pass through the development and reach a new self, seen in the final section on the bottom of the hour.

The process is mysterious and difficult to give definition because it happens simultaneously on the surface and below. It is the deepest, inner level that determines how a student will respond under pressure and other challenges they will encounter. “No wonder this precious very first manifestation of regeneration has to be protected in the most profound place imaginable, so to say in the underworld of the underworld” (Abt and Hornung, 71). The fifth panel is comforting although it emphasizes the struggle of transformation. The god, Re, uses all his allies and his most inner self, the resurrection of his most profound knowledge represented by Osiris, to succeed. Abt and Hornung said this panel demonstrates “that the forces of the ancestors in fact pull and thus support the process of renewal of consciousness” (70). No one is expected to go through the voyage easily or without support.

It is the assertion of this dissertation that each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh panels correlate to the three learning domains; cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. The fifth panel correlates to its surface-level or cognitive domain experience by showing the initiation of rebirth and bringing us into transformation. The sixth panel correlates with the more profound, unseen experience within Re, his affective transformative experience. The seventh panel begins the return to the surface with creation, motion, and action, which correlates to the psychomotor domain.

The Sixth Hour

On the sixth hour, Re experiences internal transformation. In the top panel, Re is excited by the eyes, which represent an inner change initiated and begins his journey. He reaches an obstacle as the water disappears, and he must pause in the middle register. The next part of the row shows the god of wisdom, Thoth, in his baboon form offering an ibis bird, a Thoth symbol, to a woman. The woman has eyes behind her back, and beyond her, there are several pharaohs and a figure of Re and a scarab beetle surrounded by protective snakes. This image is a model for transformation and can be connected to the transformative experiences for college or critical thinking.

In the scene, the baboon and ibis are both a symbol of knowledge. As an earth-bound creature, the baboon symbolizes the surface knowledge that is presented and gained explicitly. The ibis can fly. It is more connected to the spiritual or unseen knowledge that remains within the learner. The baboon offers the unknown woman the knowledge to trade for the eyes, a symbol for wisdom. Wisdom is beyond knowledge because it combines knowledge with experience to transform and employ knowledge. The woman with the eyes gains her wisdom from the pharaohs behind her and the transforming Re. The imagery is rich, and knowledge can be gained from the continued study. Each encounter with these panels can find a new detail to consider and gain knowledge. The Amduat may initially appear abstract and unrelatable to students. It contains images of baboons and birds, gods with animal heads, and plenty of snakes. However, when the reader looks closer, they find the archetypal truths in the text relatable and illuminatory. The baboon (student) must offer their ibis (affective knowledge) to gain wisdom (original response).

After the surrender of self, there is a reconnection “with the ancestors’ knowledge and experience of renewal. By respecting the ancestors, the one in need of renewal can find the necessary confidence and mental support” (Abt and Hornung, 83). The conclusion of the panel reveals that Re and his helpers are getting ready for the most difficult challenge, Apopis, on the seventh panel. Re has experienced transformation internally and is preparing to transform on the seventh panel externally. The sixth panel shows the hidden side of transformation. The seventh panel returns to the process’s external qualities and instructs students that their personal determination must have follow through. The student feels changed, but they must complete the work to achieve their objectives.

The Seventh Hour

The seventh hour shows transformation as it is seen, internally and externally. In the top part of the scene, Re faces his enemies as himself. The enemies are slain and presented by his helpers while he sits under the protection of a mehet snake. The middle section of the panel shows a similar scene with Re’s brother, Osiris, also presented with the enemy while under the mehet snake’s protection. In this panel, the enemy is Apopis; he is seen in the center row and is represented as a mammoth snake with several spears through his body. Apopis is the symbol of the most formidable challenges Re must face to complete his journey. This panel symbolizes triumph over the final obstacle before ascension.

In the bottom panel, there is an original god that results from the transformative process and the union of Re with Osiris. The new god is the comprehensive self; day united with night. Abt and Hornung explain that this is the goal of transformation and the reward for persisting through the challenges of the voyage. The others that accompanied and helped Re are also rewarded in this panel. Each one has a star above their head; like stars that travel with the sun, they descend with the sun and rise with the sun. “They proceed before the sun to the eastern horizon and share in the renewal” (Abt and Hornung, 94). The final part of the story shows Re’s preparations and work to return to the daytime realm. That is the return to the surface and is covered in the next chapter with the psychomotor domain.

The Amduat

In the Amduat, Re follows the same path every night. It is routine and is the model for transformative growth and an archetypal guide for life. It is an incredibly dense and complex story yet easily accessible to be used as a template for complex ideas because it is presented through images. These images give students ways to experience the myth directly and implicitly learn through that direct encounter. The myth is also presented as a written text that accompanies the images. Both have been interpreted by experts who understand subtleties of the language and culture; this allows teachers to explicitly teach the students as they are also indirectly connecting and learning. Seeing their struggles – actually seeing them through hieroglyphs that have been around for thousands of years – not only serves to give guidance but also gives hope. The knowledge from the Amduat can give students “the necessary confidence and mental support” (Abt and Hornung, 83) needed to persevere through various trials they will encounter through college.

Underworld myths like the Amduat and The Abduction of Persephone follow a set pattern not unlike the archetypal journey for a successful college student. Joseph Campbell first described this pattern in his book, A Hero with a Thousand Faces. He used comparative mythology to investigate patterns in hero stories. For the pattern, the hero begins with a separation from the known world for the world below – the underworld. Then the hero of the story struggles to endure by confronting a series of tribulations, which helps the hero gain confidence, self-understanding, and strength to overcome the final, most difficult encounter before they begin the ascent. The journey back to the surface is not free from obstacles. However, after the hero has overcome the major challenges that allows them to begin ascension, other challenges appear less daunting due to the hero’s confidence gained through experiences with difficult situation.

Implicit Lessons from Re

I learned about the Amduat and the Abduction of Persephone while I was both a teacher and a student. A large part of the knowledge I gained of the usefulness of these myths was how they helped me with my struggles as a student. I empathized with my students as I watched them manage their personal, work, social, and academic obligations. I empathized when they encountered self-doubt and feelings of insecurity. Through the knowledge I gained from the myths, I learned that my students and I were on an archetypal journey. When teaching the myths, I often included personal anecdotes of how I related to the myth and how it helped me persevere.

How asking for help builds community.

My most profound and transformational connections to the Amduat and Persephone are too personal to share with my class. However, I created connections with less personal and more relatable stories like how I connected my experience with Re and how it helped me learn to ask for help when I needed it. One example is the following: Because my mother does not care for red meat, I grew up not experiencing many different dinners that showcased red meat as the central part of the meal. One night, I was going to have my now ex-mother-in-law over for dinner. Their family primarily ate dishes that showcases meat, and I did not know how to make many dishes. Not only that, but I would be at work and would not have time to make anything extravagant. I went to the grocery store planning to get ingredients to make my usual red meat dish of beef and broccoli in the crockpot. It would work, but I was bored with the idea.

I had been studying the Amduat and was learning about myself. I knew I did not like to ask for help. I did not like showing that I needed help, and I also did not want to bother people, but I decided to apply what I learned from the myth and asked the butcher for help. I explained to him the situation and asked if he had a suggestion of what to make. He went to the back and brought back an older, more experienced butcher. This man not only gave me a suggestion, but he also taught me a little about beef and seasoned the meat for me, so all I had to do was put it in the crockpot and add my vegetables. The dinner was a success, and everyone was happy.

The next time I went to the store, I saw my butcher, and he asked about our dinner. By asking for help, I initiated a journey that created a relationship. The original butcher learned how to answer a question like mine and how to help customers. The experienced butcher was able to use his knowledge and value others beyond himself, and I learned how to make a great meal. This experience would not have happened, and this relationship would not have been established had I not applied the wisdom of the Amduat.

Specific students found a deep connection with the material. This connection was part of their experience with the material and part of the relationship we built through discussing the myths and their meaning as applied to self. This was meaningful interaction with the text and with the teacher that was successful on a small scale but not a model for a whole class. “The quality of all our relationships is a direct function of our relationship to ourselves” and believed that “the best thing we can do for our relationships with others . . . is to render our relationship to ourselves more conscious” (Hollis, 13). The myths build relationships with self, others, and text.

Community Support

While the journey of the Amduat belongs to Re, it is not a solitary adventure. One of the biggest lessons I learned from the Amduat was about community and unity. Both the sixth and seventh hours show the danger of undergoing transformation and the need for others to guide and support an individual that is transforming. It is through each other that we gain wisdom. It is through each other that we grow as a society. “It is through the support of others that we have the courage to challenge our own perspectives, assumptions, and beliefs” (Cranton, 122). The final register for the seventh hour illustrates how helping others transform allows others to grow and share in renewal. “Authentic action is to be found when individuals freely act in such a way that they try to foster the growth and development of each other’s being” (Jarvis, 113). We all grow through support. Together, we rise.

So often, people feel that they must go through life alone. They may be afraid to acknowledge they need assistance. They may think asking for help is a weakness. Some people think that to prove themselves, they need to do college on their own and without support. Whatever reason a person has for not getting help from others, the result is a more complicated transformation and, most likely, failure. “Heroic doesn’t have to mean extraordinary acts – if we all contribute and do our authentic path, we can make a difference and live heroically” (Pearson, 13). Without others to guide and support the transforming individual, it is all too easy to get lost, and for Apopis, the challenges of the journey, to gain power. Receiving help from others is not a weakness or inconvenience; it is an opportunity to turn obstacles into growth for both the receiver and giver; this is a lesson I discovered through the Amduat.


Re prevails because he has a comprehensive support system and because he is prepared. Re is systematic in his procession through the Underworld. Through each gate he passes, he prepares for the next step in the journey. He and his allies make sure things are done carefully and in the proper order to ensure victory. Guiding students through planning for success is a significant aspect of the support added to the literacy curriculum, explicitly through literacy instruction and implicitly with stories. Students make plans through generating personal narratives.

Transformation leads to growth, but not without action.

Re does not go directly from transformation to the surface. After transformation in the fifth, sixth, and seventh hours, Re still moves through hours eight through twelve to travel where he and his support system must work to bring the transformed Re to the light. Students may feel like the journey is complete because they have learned the material, but they must take the next step and apply the material. This next step is the psychomotor aspect of the transformation. Suppose the story of Re mirrors the process of communication. In that case, the descent reflects reading and comprehension, the time in the underworld that led to transformation reflects critical thinking and ascension is represented with creation and writing. If it mirrors the students’ journey, descent reflects entering college, and the underworld is the coursework and experience that gives the students self-awareness and understanding. The ascent is following through, applying their knowledge, managing the challenges, and reaching graduation and returning to the real world. Students understand through the myth that even for Re, the sun god, transformation is arduous, requires external support and the development of internal resources.

From Ancient Egypt and Greece to Contemporary College Students

Re is an archetypal transformation model, but his journey is not as painful or challenging as the years of sacrifice and work in college for many students. Most students have busy lives outside of school, and the external challenges they face may make their experience appear more difficult or impossible to overcome. Re is a god that knowingly embarks on a demanding journey. The readers know Re will be successful because the journey through night into the new morning is a daily occurrence. In contrast, the Greek goddess Persephone is thrust into her transformation when she is abducted and raped by her uncle, Hades, the god of the underworld. Her world was life, sunlight, maidenhood, and laughter. “She is a personification of innocence. It takes an abduction to transform innocence to something more meaningful” (Feather, notes). In an instant, her world was overturned, and she became a resident of the world below. The underworld was mysterious, a place for the dead and the opposite of Persephone’s former existence. Suddenly, it was necessary for her to mature into adulthood. Persephone’s trials appear to be more painful and less successful than Re. Persephone’s ordeals make her journey inspirational because she can still be successful if we, the readers, perceive her as active in her choices and in control of her situation.

Persephone’s Story

The myth of Persephone, her abduction by her uncle Hades, and her mother’s quest to find and return her to the surface correlate with the objectives for the curriculum because it is ambiguous. The ambiguity of the myth allows students to relate and allows the class to examine the myth through various lenses to change the perspective. The myth has been retold with various perspectives, but the story handed down to us through written language does not reveal critical details that would make the message of the story more straightforward and known.

In the story, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and her brother, Zeus. Demeter raises Persephone on her own in beautiful gardens, and she becomes the object of love for many suitors. Demeter keeps the suitors away until her brother, Hades, spies Persephone in her garden and falls in love. He approaches Zeus for his permission to marry Persephone. Zeus consents to Hades marrying his daughter, but he knows that Demeter would be against the union. Zeus and Hades create a plan to abduct the young goddess. Hades lures Persephone away from her protectors and snatches her down into the underground without a trace.

Demeter desperately seeks her daughter, and in her distraction and desperation, she allows the crops and plants to die. Zeus intervenes and reaches an agreement with Hades to send Persephone home to her mother. Meanwhile, Persephone is in the underworld eating a handful of fateful pomegranate seeds. In the Greek world, it was common knowledge that to eat in the underworld made one remain forever in the underworld. The action of eating the seeds negates the deal to return Persephone, and a new compromise must be arranged. Zeus is bound by the laws that require Persephone to stay with Hades, yet he does not want to lose all the crops and life on earth by upsetting Demeter. The myth’s resolution is for Persephone to spend part of the year with her mother and the rest with her husband.

It is the final part of the story that becomes most important for the curriculum. The question ‘Why does Persephone eat the seeds?’ transforms the narrative and how the interpreter perceives Persephone. As a class, the students discover various ways to understand Persephone. The way in which the question ‘Why does Persephone eat the seeds?’ is answered changes the perception of Persephone’s character and sets the path for her future.

Critical Thinking and Perception

‘Why does Persephone eat the seeds?’

In the myth of Persephone, the reader is forced to ascertain Persephone’s thoughts and motives. Demeter, Hades, and Zeus have their thinking displayed through their actions and the narrator, but not Persephone. The reader is unsure if Persephone was ignorant of the rules and consumed the seeds accidentally, or maybe she knew and did it on purpose. Is she a passive victim or cunning hero of the story? The reader may decide to view Persephone as a victim abducted, then further held hostage by her ignorant actions, and eventually becoming trapped between the two worlds. Another interpretation is that Persephone ate the seeds willingly.

Should the reader decide Persephone ate the seeds intentionally, the next logical step is to determine her purpose. She could have eaten them out of resignation to her fate, or she might have wanted to stay in the underworld. Part of the difficulty with success or completing a process, such as graduating, is an inner, often unknown desire to remain in the process without taking action to move forward. Persephone may have desired to remain to rule the underworld with Hades. This ambiguity gives the story the ability to be used as an example for transformative growth and editing for perspective and outcome.

The myth of Persephone is first employed in the curriculum to contrast the orderly journey of Re. Persephone’s story is messy. She does not willingly travel into the underworld, and she does not act to return herself to the surface. Her story appears to be passive; however, it can also be a representation of triumph. The difference in the story is perspective, as the difference in the outcome is the attitude. This distinction is an concept that can be addressed implicitly but is difficult to discuss directly without sounding patronizing.

Underworld myths give archetypal models for students that relate on deep, universal levels. They reach students’ affective needs by teaching students how to have an attitude for success. Some students will thrive regardless of what life offers them, and others will let the slightest obstacle stop their progress. Students who fail often define themselves by what has happened in their lives. They have a victim mentality. The stories they share are of victimization. They look at the future with a mixture of hope, fear, and longing. They do not realize that they have the power to create their own stories. Since they do not see the potential for change, they become apathetic. Apathy, as a symptom of depression, is extremely difficult to overcome. It makes a person passive both in reading and in life. “By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them” (Mariboli, 37).

Hopelessness and apathy are causes for passive living, but active participation produces caring and further action. As learned from Persephone’s story and the nature of perspective, active participation and intention are the difference between the victim of circumstance or hero of a story. Changing perspective is one way to change an attitude. Adding stories stimulates students to “engage in abstract thinking about and critiquing of their own as well as others’ perspectives” (Cranton, 97). By developing their reflective judgment, students can change perspective in life situations similar to the changes they make in the myth.

Attitude towards self and reading will both have an impact on the students’ chances of success. However, ultimately for a complete transformation to occur, students must act on their inner transformation and create surface change based on integrated knowledge and personal action. In the next chapter, the need to create and act upon knowledge to complete the transformative journey of the class is supported by the underworld myths, the autobiographical model of Mona Ruiz, and students’ personal narratives of success.

Chapter 5: Attending the Psychomotor Domain Through Personal Narratives

In the last chapter, I shared a story of how reading the Amduat prompted me to seek help from a butcher to learn how to prepare a dinner to impress my guests. I did not like asking for assistance. I erroneously believed that it was a nuisance to the other person. I also did not like showing ignorance or any other vulnerability. However, I was determined to apply my knowledge and experience the results. The encounter demonstrated that knowledge applied has more value than the knowledge that remains unused and unseen. Application of knowledge requires action.

From reading the Amduat, I realized that sharing knowledge and helping others is a way to create relationships and experience growth as a community. However, applying that knowledge and asking for help added value to the information and created growth for myself and others. By the expression on the butcher’s face, it was clear that he felt validated, not hassled, to share his knowledge with not one but two people. Both the less-knowledgeable butcher and I wanted to learn from him, and everyone gained from the encounter. His knowledge had value for himself, but it was not seen and recognized as significant until it was shared to be applied with others. A new relationship was created through communal involvement. His knowledge gained value because it was shared, and our ability to accomplish a task was improved. I saw the connections with the Amduat and later shared the experience with my students to encourage them to apply the wisdom from the myth. Experience and the creation of knowledge lack meaning outside the student until it can be applied because without the employment of knowledge, it remains unseen, below the surface.

It is assumed that “adults have immediate problems to solve and that they wish to apply their learning directly to their workplaces or to their personal lives” (Cranton, 3), and this assumption is the basis for educators including real-life applications to their instruction. “Mezirow (2003) suggested that transformation has not taken place until an individual has acted on the learning” (Cranton, 3). According to Kellough and Kellough, a “major goal of formal education is for students to apply school-learned knowledge to real-life situations” (77). The psychomotor domain addresses real-life situations through active participation and creation outside the unseen creation of knowledge or thoughts. The previous chapters highlighted the cognitive and affective support for community college students; this chapter focuses on the psychomotor domain of the brain with personal narratives encouraging active thinking and active creation for future classes and life outside of school.

The psychomotor domain is centered on movement and motion. This domain is often concerned with fine and gross motor skills, it is primarily physical and observable. The original goal for this curriculum was to help students succeed in college by imparting literacy skills necessary for college-level coursework to encourage long-term success because communication is crucial. Freire (1970) saw his work in literacy education in South America as a “deepening awareness of both the sociocultural reality which shapes [learners’] lives and . . . their capacity to transform that reality through action upon it” (Cranton, 27). Like Freire, I realized there was more to literacy education than technique instruction; it was instruction in navigating and utilizing resources, inner and external, to empower students to move forward and produce better societies.

As educators, “we strive to help people feel empowered, gain self-knowledge, and explore alternative ways of thinking, and we ensure there is support to balance these challenges” (Cranton, 123). Literacy skills, models for success, and understanding of transformation are skills to make it through the transformational experience of college, but for academic success beyond and into future classes, there needed to be more. The class took students into the underworld and through the seventh hour of transformation modeled with the Amduat, but it did not take them beyond into ascension.

How the Amduat and Inanna Supported My Ascension

While I was writing this dissertation, I was going through the underworld academically and personally. I felt disoriented and did not know how to proceed in life. I have a great support system but needed a way to internally understand my situation, options, and what I wanted. I was in a good place but needed to move forward. Like Re in the seventh hour, I realized I had experienced transformation, but I had not finished the work. Re transforms in the fifth through seventh hours, but the story is a long way from concluding. It takes five more hours for his eventual return to the world above. My studies had focused on the central hours of the Amduat; I had not studied the other hours with the same depth.

To determine how to proceed in the curriculum and life, I returned to the Amduat. Re’s ascension is informative and helpful, but I did not personally connect with the material from the last hours. At this same time, I read the Sumerian myth Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld for a class. The more than 4,000-year-old myth relates the account of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and earth, as she descends into the underworld. Unlike Re, Inanna’s journey is not a natural, daily routine; it is a perilous quest into the unknown.

The myth is introduced as Inanna decides to travel to the underworld to attend the funeral rites for her brother-in-law, the Bull of Heaven, and visit her sister, Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Dead. In the myth, Inanna makes plans before she sets out “on the road, From which no traveler returns” (Wolkstein and Kramer, 52). Inanna relies on Ninshubur, “her faithful servant,” “constant support,” her “warrior,” and “one who gives (her) wise advice” (Wolkstein and Kramer 52) to come to her aid should she become trapped in the underworld. She instructs Ninshubur to mourn her loss publicly and privately. After this display of loyalty, Ninshubur is directed to seek aid from Inanna’s powerful forefathers, from one to the next, until she finds a way to secure Inanna’s return.

As Inanna descends, she encounters seven gates. At each gate, Inanna is stripped; of her crown, jewelry, armor, and finally, her clothing. “Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room” (Wolkstein and Kramer, 60) and encounters Ereshkigal. Ereshkigal turns her judgment on Inanna, and with wrath and “the cry of guilt,” Ereshkigal strikes Inanna dead. When Ereshkigal strikes Inanna, she transforms her into a corpse which she hangs from a hook to rot.

After three days, when Inanna does not return, Ninshubur follows Inanna’s instructions to mourn Inanna and rally support for her return. However, “no one ascends from the underworld unmarked. If Inanna wishes to return from the underworld, She must provide someone in her place” (Wolkstein and Kramer, 68). When Inanna rises, she brings along with her the demons, known as the galla, from the underworld. Inanna finds her children in mourning and brings them the news of her return. The galla intend to take them, but Inanna refuses. However, when she finds her husband, Dumuzi, she sees that he has thrived in her absence. He shows no signs of mourning and, in his guilt, does not move when he sees Inanna. Her galla surrounds him and drags him into the underworld in place of Inanna. Unlike Re, who transforms and rises, and unlike Persephone, who remains part-time in the underworld, Inanna uses her transformation and ascent to benefit her community and punish the one that proved disloyal. Her rise is undoubtedly an improvement in context for Inanna. The myth continues beyond Inanna’s ascent and Dumuzi’s punishment. He seeks protection from his family and negotiates to share his punishment with his sister, each spending half of the year in the underworld. Inanna survives unimaginable horrors and disloyalty from her life partner, but she uses the experience to become stronger and more fully herself.

The underworld myths aided my realization that I could not be like Re and take the prescribed path. From the first day, my path through Pacifica was uncharted and very much my own. Three days before my first class at Pacifica, the doctor’s office confirmed that I was pregnant with my second child. This phone call dramatically changed the experience for myself and my family. I struggled with my decision to continue my education. Unlike my previous education, there was not a clear professional or financial benefit, and more importantly, my young children needed my attention and it felt selfish to spend the energy and money on a pursuit that did not have clear extrinsic gain for my family. I struggled with insecurities and feelings of isolation because I did not socialize after school or on campus outside of class or at lunchtime. During class breaks, I found quiet spots on campus to privately collect milk for my daughter who was nursing. After our classes, my classmates came together and created a community while I returned to my room, my bitter husband, and demanding yet awesome children. We ate dinner together as a family, and then I would be left alone with the kids while my ex would go out to drink and explore the local nightlife. It was a difficult time, but I endured with the help of my support system and the knowledge my instructors were sharing. There were many times I could have used my children and family as an excuse to quit, but instead, I thought of my family as a reason to persevere, and I earned a second master’s degree.

A few weeks prior to my final in-person semester of classes I had a major upheaval in my life and I felt like Persephone – violently ripped from the world I knew and thrown into darkness, despair, and chaos. I discovered that my now ex-husband, whom I shall call Hades because of my association with Persephone, not only had a drug and alcohol problem, but he had also been having an affair for over eight months. At first, I felt a freedom that I had never experienced and had not expected. Even though he was difficult to live with, Hades was all I had known in my adult life. However, shortly after, I realized that I would never fully be free from him because we had children together, and neither of us would abandon them. I had many mixed emotions. I did not trust myself because I had been so completely blind in my marriage. At times, I considered moving in with my parents. It would give us comfort and protection. It would also help me financially and with childcare. However, like Persephone, I would be an adult woman in my mother’s home. I also considered returning to Hades to stay full-time with my children and avoid the ugliness of divorce. However, like Persephone, I would be a woman married to the man that robbed her of her innocence and hurt her deeply. I did not accept either option because I did not stay with Persephone.

This month marks five years to the date that my life turned upside down, and I had to learn, transform, and ascend so I could grow through loss instead of decline. I had been with Hades since I was fifteen. Over the years, we grew together and built a comfortable life in the mountains with two children and a dog. The separation, divorce, and bitter custody battle that has not yet been resolved was devastating. Our family were active members of our small, close-knit community and news of our separation and the circumstances spread quickly. The other half of Hades’ affair lived in the neighboring yet very much connected mountain community. She had children in the small school mine would attend, and she and her former husband were overtly destructive toward each other, and my ex and I after the affair was exposed. I had to see them often and it was always unfriendly. It was ugly, it was embarrassing, and it was brutal. In my deepest despair and frustration with myself and my situation, I once again turned to the stories for comfort and understanding. The experience and trying to relate through Persephone began to make me feel more and more like a victim. It was at this time, I discovered Inanna and decided to rise from the pain triumphantly and on my own terms by aligning my story with hers and not with the ambiguity and confusion I felt with Persephone.

“Inanna was turned into a corpse,

A piece of rotting meat,

And was hung from a hook on the wall”

(Wolkstein and Kramer, 60).

It was a very dark period for my family. I did not know what to do because all my plans were destroyed, my identity was replaced, and my future was uncertain. I related heavily to Persephone, suddenly ripped from my naïve existence into chaos, darkness, and uncertainty. However, I did not want to be like Persephone, either trapped into existence with her captor or living under the supervision of a parent, not a proper adult. I wanted to move forward, and I wanted to regain control of my personal story. It was my deepest desire to rise triumphantly like Inanna, to return to my loved ones, to share my renewed strength with those loyal to me and send a reckoning to the husband that desired my absence. I needed strength to go to court, to protect my children, and to take the risks that led to becoming a heroine in my story.

To ascend and reinvent myself as a fuller version of myself, I needed a new archetypal model for transformation. My transformational journey was more personal and unknown than Re’s nightly voyage of archetypal renewal. At first, I related to Persephone who did not choose to enter the underworld but was abducted so violently. Unlike Persephone, Inanna chooses her path and is active throughout the myth. She embodies the psychomotor domain because she is active before she descends by planning, she is active through the experience, and she actively chooses her path upon her return by releasing the galla on her unfaithful husband, not her loving children. I believe I would have remained in the underworld forever had I not become an active participant in my story. I decided to become a heroine in my story, like Inanna, instead of a victim, like Persephone. In the end though, I realized how much I also needed Persephone’s story because life is not as clear as day and night and her story allows for many perspectives to practice critical thought. To understand myself and my vulnerability, I embraced Persephone. Then to ascend and create the life I wanted to live; I mentored my actions with Inanna.

Inanna would have remained on that hook forever had she not had a strong community, planned for her journey, and enlisted support before she began her quest. I studied Inanna. She planned for possible challenges she might encounter and studied her options before acting. She wanted success and created it through becoming vulnerable, authentic, and seeking the support of her community. She instructed her trusted ally, Ninshubur, how to aid her should she not return. She planned for possible negative results and instructed the ally with contingency plans and even a third plan, just in case. Her supporters are knowledgeable and influential. She chooses her company wisely, and when she returns, she carries with her rewards for her allies and retribution for her traitor. Inanna transforms and rises like Re, but with a vengeance.

Inanna became a mentor for my transformation. She embraces her opposites, rises from near death, and aligns herself with genuine and loyal people. I learned from Re, Persephone, and Inanna to rely on a solid base of loyal friends and family. Through the help of others, I made it through the depths of the journey and began my ascent. After my original transformation and as I began to rise, I fell in love and remarried an excellent partner and patient mentor for my children. I realized my long-term career goal of teaching in the Education department at the university where I received my first master’s degree. My family endured and grew through quarantine and my grandfather’s residency in a nursing home, his decline, and death. We found ways to enjoy challenges like distance learning and a 6-week evacuation from our home due to wildfires. The experience transformed me to be stronger, more confident, and, most importantly, whole. To become whole, I had to be broken down like Inanna. I had to be stripped. To transform, I had to learn from the stories, from others, and myself. To go beyond personal transformation into writing my story to become heroic, I had to learn to rise. To ascend, I learned to prepare for challenges by thinking through future actions and planning. I learned to slow down and do things correctly, rather than quickly or without preparation. I learned to think critically instead of quickly.

The knowledge I gained from this experience is not unique to me. It is archetypal and is contained in the stories told and research followed when trying to understand how to become the best version of ourselves. While my experience for transformation is uniquely mine, the knowledge is something humanity seems to know, but not really know until we learn from the surface and from within. The pattern for transformative growth is seen in mythology as far back as Inanna and in modern examples like Mona Ruiz.

Attempting to understand the process begins by going into the material to break it down. The mythologist and educator, Joseph Campbell popularized the theory of a monomyth, which he labeled the hero’s journey. He incorporated his studies of Carl Jung’s depth psychology and comparative narratology to apply the pattern for the development of archetypal stories containing heroes. Many women found elements of Campbell’s pattern to be difficult to apply to their experiences, just like I had trouble fully relating with Re. As a child with five brothers, I often did not embrace my feminine side, but as an adult woman and mother, I could not connect with the hero as solidly as the heroine. Maureen Murdock, a Jungian psychotherapist, educator, and author furthered Campbell’s theories to modify his pattern to better align with the modern, feminine experience for transformative growth with her book, The Heroine’s Journey. Like Theodore and Abt became a way to understand the myth of the Amduat and apply it to transformation, Murdock’s research and writing helped me to understand how and why the feminine myths were more relatable and important to me as I struggled to define myself as an independent woman and mother. However, the insights I gained from her work were more complicated and personally revealing, and so, like Inanna, her work influenced my understanding but was not directly included in the curriculum.

As a student of mythology and depth psychology, I engaged this material for my personal transformative growth. Campbell, Murdock, Abt, and Hornung all guided me through transformation, but the material was not easy acquired and it was even more difficult to teach. It took me more than a decade to learn this material, and because it is so large in scope, I had to make the pattern easier for entry-level community college students to digest in one semester. I simplified the pattern for transformative growth to three steps – descent, initiation with transformation, and ascension – and often further simplified it for my students as – into, through, and beyond. I encountered my heroine’s journey to becoming a stronger, more authentic self through education and the circumstances I encountered in life. I did not always choose my journey like Inanna, but like Inanna with the support from what I learned from these writers and my friends, I rose heroically.

Inanna was another perfect example for my curriculum, but my journey with her was also highly personal. To remain authentic and to avoid oversharing with my classes, I did not use the myth to show the psychomotor domain of planning and action. Instead, I thought about novels that created a deep connection with students I had worked with in the past. I considered narratives that showed a hero or heroine that is active in their transformative process to create growth. The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz, an autobiographical novel written by a former gang member turned police officer was a story that I remembered many of my students found interesting and highly relatable. This book modeled transformational growth, had an active and heroic model as the main character, and reconnected the curriculum to life outside and beyond college by including a contemporary autobiographical narrative.

Mona Ruiz’s story follows her transformation to escape the underworld of the streets through the underworld of the police academy. Mona confronts emotional difficulties that Re, Persephone, and Inanna as superior, immortal beings do not encounter. In addition to experiencing the emotional, academic, and physical journey through police training, Mona must also care for her children and make choices for their benefit. Like most students, Mona’s life is complicated and difficult. Her story is relatable because it is real.

Mona is a warrior, like Inanna. She is active throughout her narrative and does not back down despite the many hardships she encounters. As a model for the psychomotor domain, Mona’s story demonstrates how each of the trials she faced made her stronger and made her more confident. She sets her goals, finds mentors, asks for help when she needs it, and remains determined through unfair and countless obstacles. Unlike Inanna, I did not feel the overly personal connections with the story, but on many levels, I found Mona deeply relatable. I knew I had found the missing piece to the curriculum with Mona’s story.

The Underworld Journey of Mona Ruiz.

The Amduat and The Abduction of Persephone are classical mythology involving immortal beings and literally set in worlds on the surface and below. The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz is an autobiographical novel, and although there are no immortal beings, there is an upper and lower level of existence for Mona. The book begins near the end of the story with Mona working as an undercover police officer. As the introduction of the book, it is set up as the surface level. The next part of the book is the chronological journey from adolescence through adulthood, returning to the beginning of the book with Mona as a police officer.

The story is more than a motivational narrative. The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz follows the book’s author as she transforms herself from a gang member to a police officer in Santa Ana, California. Mona experiences a series of great trials, inner struggles to give up, and feelings of self-doubt on her journey. The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz follows the transformation model with the myths: surface, depth, and heroic return to the surface. While the myths connect students to the archetypes, The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz returns the archetypal underworld journey of myths to the surface and connects the stories back to the everyday, real world.

Mona is Relatable

Re’s journey is written as an example of transformation as an archetypal process. The journey is a metaphor for transformation and individuation and is seen as the correct way to experience the process. Re encounters challenges, but it is never suggested that he will not return. The account of his travel is relatable as a model for students, but it is not easy to relate to Re. He is meant to be a model and mentor, not a peer or fellow traveler on the journey. His path is routine and never varies. His story is meant to be a model, not a reality.

Persephone’s story and the characters in it are much more relatable. However, her story is also not intended to be considered “real.” The reader can use Persephone to work through their feelings in the transformative process because she is unknown, making her more relatable as an archetype. The missing details of her story are inserted in the reader’s imagination from their habit of mind based on prior experiences and internal knowledge. “People may not always deliberately set out to critically question their beliefs and values; many times, transformative learning is prompted by an outside event, and that event may be unexpected, hurtful, or devastating” (Cranton, 6). Persephone helps bring the cognitive knowledge of transformation to a personal level through the experience of relating to the story.

Mona Ruiz struggles with archetypal challenges to growth that are relatable to students. For example, Mona feels like she is betraying her former self because she strives to transform her life into something different. Many community college students are the first generation for their families to attend college. Most did not come from affluent homes or cultures that place a high value on academics unless they had “real world benefits” like a pay increase. Many of my students relate to Mona when she struggles with her sense of identity by enrolling in college. They relate when they read how she lost touch with friends because she had to prioritize school. As a person from the community where I taught, I related heavily with Mona’s story and chose the book because the culture mirrored the culture I experienced in the Inland Empire.

My family, teachers, and peers expected me to go to college after high school. I had above-average grades and had an interest in becoming a teacher. I wanted a career that required a degree and a credential, so taking classes to achieve those goals made sense. There was an extrinsic, financial reward for success that gave it value. When I enrolled for my first master’s degree, it was with the knowledge that I would receive additional pay in my yearly salary. Each time I enrolled in classes; I had an extrinsic goal to accomplish for an external reward.

In contrast, when I decided to enroll in the doctoral program at Pacifica, I did not have an immediate external financial reward. I was working as an adjunct at the college, so my pay was set by the position I filled, not the education I held. In the realm of K-12, I had already outpriced myself from many jobs with the first master’s degree because I was more expensive than my competition, who had the qualifications for the job but not education beyond becoming qualified. The doctorate was something I wanted to do for myself, making the journey more difficult to justify. Rereading The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz helped me navigate many of my feelings of insecurity, overstepping my limitations, and becoming myself.

Now that I am nearing the end of this journey, I see the value of the process, the transformation into whom I am becoming, and the knowledge I gained through the experience. If I had not been broken, I could not have been healed. I am more fully myself, happier, and I have a life that is comfortable, authentic and benefits my community. I cannot imagine a life without the experience of the doctoral program, and I am excited to apply the knowledge I gained in the world of education and beyond.

Finding connections with literature requires critical thinking. The stories relate to the student to validate their histories and the knowledge they possess outside the text. This experience provides a student an affective and underlying connection as an individual in transition. “Dialogue and support play vital roles in helping individuals maintain a good sense of self during a time when they may be making unsettling changes in the way they see themselves” (Cranton, 52) and their world. Mona also faces daily challenges, like drugs, childcare concerns, and financial difficulties. Her resources are also real and available to students, like government housing, financial assistance, and family support. Students relate to Mona as she navigates her underworld while simultaneously existing on the surface, day-to-day life, with social, familial, and financial obligations.

The underworld journey is so intense and challenging that the work needed to return to the surface after transformation is often eclipsed by its magnitude. However, the experience does not end with transformation for the individual. A successful journey must include follow through. The individual needs to return to community life to create transformation on the surface. The transformation is the internal triumph, and the ascension is the external success. Re’s internal transformation occurs from the fifth hour to the seventh hour, but his transformation is not complete until the twelfth hour when he returns to the surface renewed. When he resurfaces, he becomes a hero. Since Persephone does not remain on the surface or below, she remains ambiguous and is not a victim or hero. Students are in the process of transformation: they strive to be like Re, but they are more like Persephone since their success is yet to be determined.

Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey has been applied to various fields, including education, self-help, human resources, and most any area where transformation occurs, and growth is the goal. Applying this pattern in life and using the archetypal knowledge gained from hero myths, underworld journeys, and personal motivational narratives takes the individual on a hero’s journey. The conclusion for navigating to the completion of this experience is to have more fulfillment and growth in real-life situations. Carol Pearson’s works connect the hero’s journey and archetypal psychology to explain the power of stories and how to use the knowledge to build “healthier relationships, families, organizations, and communities” (Pearson, 281).

The literature in the curriculum is used to model transformative growth, success, and is applied to support students’ narratives for success. “Successful people are not necessarily more able than others; they are just more willing to see their mistakes as opportunities to grow” (Pearson, 191), and the stories are intended to lead students to conclude success is the result of determination to overcome situations. The affective resources needed to persist in college can be found in their narratives.

The stories we tell ourselves become our reality and shape our future. Our personal narrative, the way we view our own story, is compelling in shaping the future. “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it” (Marquez, epigraph). By learning to control the personal narrative, a person can also learn to control their present and future. Changing a personal narrative is not an easy task; it often requires shifting attitudes and perspectives, but this dissertation continually asserts that one way to change a personal narrative is through critical reading and response to meaningful texts.

“Most of us are slaves of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves about our lives. Freedom begins the moment we become conscious of the plot line we are living and with this insight, recognize that we can step into another story altogether” (Pearson, 17). Gottschall writes, “psychotherapy helps unhappy people set their life stories straight; it literally gives them a story they can live with” (175). He calls the psychotherapists “a kind of script doctor who helps patients revise their life stories so that they can play the role of protagonists again … who are moving toward the light” (Gottschall, 175). However, those stories are not the focus of this curriculum because they are concerned with the past, not the future. Gottschall explains that because “the past, like the future, does not really exist,” (169) they are stories. This dissertation uses editing of the past but centralizes in editing the story for the present and future. Pearson demonstrates through her work that as a story, the past can be edited to remember the sections that helped us grow, and the future can be edited to create a story the individual wants to live.

Re, Persephone, and Mona as Models

To create a personal story for transformative growth, students apply insights gained from the Amduat, The Abduction of Persephone, and The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz as models. Re is the archetypal, ideal model for transformative growth. Persephone is an example of the fluid nature of the story and the characters’ identity in the stories. Mona Ruiz, whose determination to create growth from perceived obstacles can serve as a powerful model for students’ transformation returns the material to the literal world. The culmination of understanding from the narratives concludes with the students writing their personal hero myths.

The writing of personal hero myths may seem insignificant, but the stories we create become the lives we live. It can be likened to making a movie. The script guides the story, but situations occur – like improvisation or weather occurrences – that can influence the story. Even with unexpected situations, the plot remains the same, and the actors all play their roles successfully because they know their parts in the script. As an internal story and external academic plan for success, having a plan will not change the situations that will influence the journey. However, planning for success helps the individuals involved in the episode ‘play their part’ in the mentally created stories as they become the stories created in reality.

This chapter emphasizes the inner, personal hero myths in narrative and writing. The next chapter returns the material to the surface by creating solid plans for success, transformative learning, and connections to the curriculum. “Often, students have already left us when they come to the point of basing actions on their learning, but we can help people prepare for that stage by planning for action with them” (Cranton, 136). Personal narratives help students to plan for success affectively. They help students expose their unconscious influences and help identify possible challenges and strengths to make them manageable and beneficial if they arise. The narratives assist students with learning to “create new spaces for themselves and to redefine their roles according to new knowledge” (Cranton, 138).

Jungian scholar, James Hollis wrote, “the quality of all our relationships is a direct function of our relationship to ourselves” and believes that “the best thing we can do for our relationships with others . . . is to render our relationship to ourselves more conscious” (13). It is essential to undergo an inner transformation and gain self-knowledge but returning to the surface is equally necessary. While personal narratives begin the process of returning to the surface, the student must continue the action to go beyond, into tangible change. “Individual transformative learning depends on a person calling into question her or his assumptions, beliefs, and values. Transformative learning related to social justice involves calling into question social norms, social values, and issues . . . What is being questioned is different, but the process may be the same. And if we accept the definition of transformative learning, the outcome is a deep shift in perspective” (Cranton, 42).

Through personal narrative, the knowledge of transformation gained from Re, Persephone, and Mona is applied creatively and directly to the students’ experiences in college. They use skills for reading, like prediction, questioning, and research, to make a story that aligns with the story they want to create in their reality. These narratives help students to connect to the material, but it also gives them a way to rehearse for the experience. Writing a plan is a way to experience the journey strategically but writing a personal narrative for success prepares students for the experience affectively. Like the snakes with their knives ready in the sixth panel of the Amduat, the plan and personal hero narratives prime students for the underworld experience they encounter while in college. The final chapter attempts to bring the journey to the surface and create something that will help others grow. “Transformative learning has to do with making meaning out of experiences and questioning assumptions based on prior experience” (Cranton, 7). The curriculum has to do with making meaning out of the knowledge presented in this dissertation. The final chapter applies the knowledge through the creation of a class to be taught in community college.

Chapter 6: Coming Full Circle: Discovering Unforeseen Benefits of Transformational Growth

The last section of the archetypal myth for transformation follows the hero/ine out of the underworld as they work to return home. However, the hero/ine, or the graduate, does not return home to the same context. The graduate is not the same person who entered college, and the context of the world has changed during that time as well. The graduate who does not use their educational transformation to benefit themselves and others is not completing the hero’s/heroine’s journey. The previous chapter focused on the psychomotor domain through the class novel and writing a personal narrative for success using the models from the stories in class. This chapter brings the psychomotor domain into the surface world of community college by applying the curriculum from this dissertation to fit the academic requirements for courses that have already been approved through the curriculum committee.

Once I began breaking down the process for submitting a course, I found the curriculum did not fit into the mold for remedial reading because it had grown with additional content not included in traditional reading courses such as writing and comparative literature. At first, I thought I had invalidated my curriculum to its original context, but then I realized I had expanded its possible academic contexts. I studied the Content of Records for various active classes to use as a template to prepare the curriculum. I saw how to apply it to other classes offered in community college, such as critical thinking, philosophy, and English. The area I saw as a disadvantage became its strength and expanded the possibilities. The curriculum continued to transform as it was applied to the templates for submission and acceptance. The conclusion for this chapter will include some ways I see my recent personal and professional experiences in education creating new applications for this material and expanding its potential for a wider audience. I hope that at no point does the knowledge I gained cease to change and grow as I continue to have new experiences and learning.

This chapter contains three distinct components – into, through, and beyond. First, I take the curriculum into the real world by transforming the material into the format to be accepted by the curriculum committee. Next, the specific requirements needed to submit this course are broken down and defined. Creating a curriculum based on my studies would lack meaning without acting beyond creation to applying the design to the classroom. This chapter includes my narrative for finding ways to apply the Mythological Studies discipline to my professional career. Finally, this chapter goes beyond the curriculum for this dissertation by suggesting new ways this material can be modified to serve various goals and audiences.

To be submitted for approval through the curriculum committee, courses must use standardized language and use an online submission form. This chapter follows the process of applying the curriculum for the dissertation in the classroom, but due to time constraints, the dissertation must end. I hope the course would become an active class and that I might teach the course one day. However, even if the course is never formally accepted, I have gained from experience. The process has shown me how the curriculum can be modified to meet the academic needs of different classes while maintaining the benefits of academic literacy instruction, underworld mythological transformation models, and personal narrative work. The process has also given me an awareness of transformation and understanding to create a better life for myself, my students, and my community.

Becoming a Class – Off the Page and Into the Classroom

Actively taught courses at San Bernardino Valley College must be approved and adopted by the curriculum committee. To be considered for approval, the course must meet the following five criteria: 1. Appropriateness to Mission, 2. Need, 3. Curriculum Standards, 4. Adequate Resources, and 5. Compliance. These criteria “were derived from statute, regulation, intersegmental agreements, guidelines provided by transfer institutions and industry, recommendations of accrediting institutions, and the standards of good practice established in the field of curriculum design” (Curriculum Committee, 24). In this chapter, I define the criteria and apply them to the curriculum to determine the viability of the class gaining acceptance for active enrollment. These are the requirements that must be considered when preparing a course for online submission.

The next step for submitting a class for consideration of adoption as a course offered to students is to create a Course Outline on Record (COR). According to the curriculum committee guidelines, all active classes must have a Course Outline on Record. The COR is the document that the committee uses to inform their decision on whether the course meets the five criteria for acceptance. The Course Outline of Record must include specific elements in a specific way and prescribed order. While many COR elements are similar to elements contained in the comprehensive curriculum, the curriculum needed to be simplified to fit the online format. COR entries for this dissertation are modified from the curriculum to highlight the academic content to be covered and eliminate the ancillary content for each course. Like simplifying the hero/ine journey patterns to make it accessible to students, the simplification and reworking of the curriculum to conform to the Content Outline of Record are necessary to bring the curriculum to the classroom and students.

After examining the five criteria for acceptance, this chapter will break down the elements of a Course Outline on Record to understand the terms for writing COR’s for the classes I will submit. According to the submission requirements listed on the page for San Bernardino Valley College’s curriculum committee, “all credit courses are required to have an official Course Outline of Record that meets the standards of Title 5, S 55002 (a)(3)” (1). In addition, the Course Outline of Record must include, but are not limited to the following components: unit value, expected number of contact hours, expected number of total student learning hours, prerequisite, corequisites, advisories on recommended preparation, a catalog description, objectives, content in terms of a specific body of knowledge, types of examples of required reading and writing assignments, types of examples of outside-of-class assignments, types or examples of instructional methodology, Student Learning Outcomes, methods of evaluation, and representative textbook(s).

Appropriateness to Mission

The first criteria, appropriateness to the mission, requires a definition of the mission, or stated values, for the school. This information can be accessed through San Bernardino Valley College’s website. According to the first three stated values, this proposed course meets the standard of aligning with the school’s mission. These values are: “1. That a well-educated populace is essential to the general welfare of the community. 2. That a quality education empowers the student to think critically, to communicate clearly, and to grow personally and professionally. 3. That an enriched learning environment promotes creativity, self-expression, and the development of critical thinking skills” (Mission and Values, San Bernardino Valley College website). These values are reflected in the goals of the course.

First, “a well-educated populace is essential to the general welfare of the community” (Mission and Values, SBVC). The course strives to create students who will have the strength to succeed in college and understand the community and patterns used in social interactions and relationships. Understanding the community’s social structures of support and strength by examining underworld literature underscores students’ dependence on others to make it through complex challenges. However, it also shows how it is the learner’s responsibility to use their gain to aid others along their paths. The gods and goddesses aid Re, and those same gods and goddesses ascend to the new day with him. Ninshubur and the others aid Inanna in achieving the almost impossible feat of escaping the death and the underworld. Ninshubur rallied in Inanna’s name, and when she ascended with her galla, she brought glory to her friends and family. Mona uses her growth to help her community and gain the trust and relationship to community members that officers might not reach without her shared experiences. All these examples from the course demonstrate the importance of returning with growth to benefit others.

The second value, “That a quality education empowers the student to think critically, to communicate clearly, and to grow personally and professionally” (Mission and Values, SBVC website), matches the stated academic goals for the class. The original, overt goals for the class are to teach students how to think critically and communicate clearly. However, the underlying added goals of this curriculum are to help students understand transformational growth and learn how to apply that understanding to real-life challenges in college and later. These goals align directly to the second stated value of aiding personal and professional growth.

The curriculum proposed in this dissertation also aligns directly with the college’s third stated value, “That an enriched learning environment promotes creativity, self-expression, and the development of critical thinking skills” (Mission and Values, SBVC website). The curriculum creatively incorporates literature to model and understand academic literacy skills and understand the process of transformative growth. The curriculum also incorporates exploration and reflection on self to inspire students to understand the transformation gained from their lives through writing personal narratives. With the overt academic goal of learning how to think and write critically, this curriculum directly aligns with this stated value.

Establishing Need

The next stated qualification for course adoption is for the class to fill a need that is not otherwise addressed by the courses offered. It is known that students need to learn critical reading, thinking, and writing skills and the college currently has courses offered that address these needs. Therefore, the need is not purely academic or visible. The needs incorporated into the curriculum are underlying, affective needs created by the transformative process of growth while in college. Establishing needs is an onerous section to address due to the implicit nature of the nonacademic needs and learning goals.

The dissertation explains how the students are learning the cognitive skills for success in academic literacy but not gaining the equally important affective support for understanding the process of transformation needed for future challenges. Many students that pass through the remedial reading courses offered while I was teaching did not go on to reach graduation. These students often become delayed by nonacademic areas of their lives, like family or career, and do not continue to finish. The modeling in this curriculum provides students a chance to reflect on confronting challenges to create opportunities for growth rather than quit struggling. The need is underlying, but it is known because so many students graduate from the academic courses that teach students the skills and do not follow through to achieve their academic goals.

Curriculum Standards, Adequate Resources, and Compliance

The third criteria on the list for adopting a course is for the class to meet curriculum standards, the fourth is that the college has adequate resources to offer the course, and the fifth is that the course complies with the various regulatory guidelines set out for courses in adult education. The courses I will be proposing with the curriculum included in this dissertation are modeled using the Course Outline of Record for active classes offered at San Bernardino Valley Classes. While I use the COR’s for these courses, and they often meet the same or similar needs, my curriculum incorporates underlying goals and support that meet other needs that may or may not be included on the COR submitted to the curriculum committee. In the COR, these courses meet the criteria for curriculum standards, having adequate resources, and complying because the models used to create them meet these standards.

The Course Outline of Record

The Academic Senate regulates the Course Outline of Record for Californian community colleges. This document is crucial for community colleges throughout the state “because it clearly lays out the expected content and objectives for a course for use by any faculty member who teaches the course” (Curriculum Committee, 1). The overt goals are implicit in the curriculum, but the underlying goals are not clearly stated in the COR for the class. The primary reason it is difficult to add these goals is that they are not easily assessed and cannot be documented with consistency or acceptable accuracy. My inability to document these goals was the first difficulty I encountered when writing a COR for a course using the curriculum from this dissertation. For this challenge, I decided to simplify the stated goals and rely on the content to address the underlying needs and goals. Simplification was necessary to make the curriculum fit the COR, but simplification lacked the implicit needs that were so difficult to assess and record.

It seemed I was stuck again because the curriculum could not be submitted “as is,” and simplification did not show why the class needed to be taught. The setback returned me down into the underworld because I did not know how I could teach the class if I could not get it approved. I did not know how to get it approved with the implicit needs attached and was afraid it would not be different enough without the implicit needs from existing courses to be seen, as necessary. It was puzzling and frustrating, after everything else, to be stalled by formatting and procedure. I decided to stick with simplification. It was “good enough,” but it felt like the curriculum was being stripped like Inanna as she descended through the gates into the underworld. This transformation was scary and painful because the curriculum was precious to me, and it was being changed in ways I was not sure would work.

With the first challenge of creating a COR addressed through simplification, the second challenge became visible. The paper written by the Curriculum Committee stated that “to ensure that core components are covered in all sections of a course, the integrity of the instruction relies on the COR to specify those elements that will be covered by all faculty members who teach the course” (1). With the elimination of implicit goals from the COR, the curriculum loses its core components and, therefore, the instruction’s integrity. This challenge became more difficult to address, but I attempted to find a solution within the Curriculum Committee’s resources which led me to the final challenge for creating a COR for the course.

Minimum Qualifications Become a Maximum Obstacle

When creating a course, it is necessary to assign the course to one or more disciplines. Generally, courses are assigned to a single discipline and to teach that class, a faculty member would need to have the qualifications to teach a course in that discipline (Curriculum Committee, 12). However, the curriculum for this dissertation has the versatility to be taught in multiple disciplines. Therefore, the course may be cross-listed or placed in two or more disciplines (CC, 12). The distinction between a cross-listed course and an interdisciplinary studies course determines whether the faculty member would need to meet minimum qualifications in one or both disciplines (Curriculum Committee, 13).

A faculty member would ideally need a background in critical literacy and mythological studies to teach the course effectively. Academic reading and mythological studies are an unusual combination, which is why I chose to merge the two when deciding to work toward a curriculum for academic success. However, the rarity of the combination also makes it less likely to find qualified faculty for the course. This final obstacle did not stop the transformation, and I decided to make the class a reality through a different approach. To teach the class, I would not take the curriculum and mold it into a COR; I decided to apply to teach courses that align with the academic goals and modify the content to match the curriculum. This decision will expedite the process of bringing the curriculum for this dissertation to the students who need it.

Finding Purpose and Meaning with Real-World Application

When I worked on this dissertation, my professional career took me from a remedial reading educator feeling my way through the early years with adult education to an experienced educator with the confidence to teach students ranging from kindergarten to graduate school. I have taught subjects ranging from reading and journalism to math and vocational skills. My experiences in education, combined with the ongoing research and mentorship I received from continued formal education, gave me transformational growth I did not anticipate and self-awareness that has brought both humility and confidence.

Now that I am nearing the end of my academic career as an enrolled student, I realize the many transformations that occurred while I was in school. For those transformations to occur, I had to go through a process and work to make it to the other side. However, growth became visible because I attempted to apply the newfound understanding gained from the material I had learned. When I decided to go back to school to pursue my doctorate, I had no defined purpose for setting this goal. I decided one day to explore the possibility of a doctorate degree. I began looking at English degrees but did not find any that were right for me. When I learned about the Mythological Studies program at Pacifica Graduate Institute, I instinctively knew it was for me personally but did not know how to apply it professionally. So, to start the process, I began without a defined goal other than to complete the program and no known way to apply the knowledge to my profession.

It was not until I got to the point when I needed to apply my knowledge by creating something meaningful and valuable with my transformed wisdom that what I had learned began to come together and have a purpose. There are two significant points where application led to growth beyond what I had hoped to gain. The first point was when I learned how the major could be applied in adult education. The second was when I applied the curriculum to create a class taught to community college students.

Applying the Major

When I taught in high school and junior high students on the Soboba Indian Reservation and worked toward my first master’s degree in education, my research centered on motivation and providing students with choices. However, it became clear that this model was not as effective at the adult level, and I had to change my approach to become a more effective teacher. At the time, I aspired to become a full-time faculty member at my school, teach at a four-year institution, or teach Literature at the adult level. During my first years as an adult educator, these goals were huge. However, I had no idea how large my goals could become, and I had no idea how much opportunity to narrate my professional story I would gain.

One unforeseen benefit for achieving my doctorate in Mythological Studies rather than English Literature was revealed in my second year of study at Pacifica Graduate Institute. It came to my attention that one of the professors in the English department at San Bernardino Valley, Sharon Chapman, was also working on her degree in Mythological Studies at Pacifica. As an adjunct professor, my social connections at the school were limited, but I emailed Sharon to introduce myself. I think I was looking for a mentor or a companion who lived in near enough to meet occasionally. Sharon was amazing and warmly accepted my invitation for lunch, but a professor’s life is busy, and we had trouble finding time to connect in person. We began email correspondence even though we worked in the same building. This relationship brought purpose and opened the doors of opportunity beyond my small hopes for teaching English Literature.

I had concerns about applying my degree in Mythological Studies because there were not many mythology classes offered at the community college level for me to teach. Rather than improving my marketability, I was afraid that this degree might not increase my chances of gaining employment. So, I talked to Sharon about applying the degree and how to best market it in education. She sent me an email containing a detailed outline and equivalency letter that she and her classmate and fellow educator, Shannon Sloan-Spice, created to illustrate how to apply the degree to several disciplines. Initially, I was concerned that the degree would not give me new options for teaching. However, this email showed me how the degree expanded my qualifications to include the ability to teach college-level courses in English, Depth Psychology, Religion, Philosophy, and Research and Writing courses. Thus, the unforeseen benefits not only met my goals but surpassed them tremendously.

My cohort had other students that were also unsure of how to apply their degrees in Mythological Studies. So, I shared Sharon’s email with students in my cohort and the cohort after mine. I hope that Sharon and Shannon’s work continues to ripple through the cohorts to benefit future myth students. Their creation originated from the need to apply their education to their profession, and they created a helpful tool. Sharing the creation with me and then with others created something that gave purpose and definition for many students who followed the same path.

Applying the Dissertation Professionally

I enjoy planning, and I like to find patterns of organization in life and literature. By my second year in graduate school, I learned to look for connections between my courses so when I wrote papers at the end of the term, I could apply the research to the papers for all my classes. This connecting and combining of tasks was a survival technique I learned from my academic experience to save time with research. While I was taking classes, I was also a mother, which profoundly influenced my research and writing. Having a newborn and a three-year-old became challenging to manage while trying to study. I slipped. I was disappointed with myself because I was depriving myself out of the education I was pursuing. Not only did I miss the social experience, now I was missing the academics. I had one teacher that saw me struggling, and unlike the others who took pity on me, she saw my struggle and pushed me further into the darkness to test my strength and make me worthy of my education. This professor, Laura Grillo, was my advisor, and she was not a warm and loving mother. Instead, she was the blunt and honest gatekeeper for success. Her comments on my papers made me question my worthiness to pursue a doctorate and almost made me quit. My cohort also struggled with her high expectations, but in the end, we all loved her for believing we could reach them and accepting nothing less.

The final year on campus, before being set adrift to work on research and writing, we had a research class taught by Dr. Grillo. I had been going over in my head how to approach her to be the chair for my dissertation. Meanwhile, I accumulated research for a dissertation on the devouring mother using Kali and Pavarti and my personal experiences of motherhood while under the stresses of graduate school and teaching. I had not figured out how to apply the doctorate to education but began holding retreats and day seminars for women applying mythology to self-help and collective strength. Even with Sharon Chapman and Shannon Sloan-Spice’s equivalency letter, I lacked the confidence to teach adults anything beyond reading. One day in lecture, Dr. Laura Grillo said something that changed the focus of my dissertation. Dr. Grillo told the class that we should look at our dissertation as our business card. She explained that we should think about our future professionally when considering our topics.

I was tired. I think I felt that my marriage was not secure, and I did not want to be stuck in the role of ‘tired mom’ forever. My children were starting to grow and gain independence. I was not going to continue to feel this way, but I knew that I loved teaching reading. Ironically, I also thought that because there was such an overt need for reading skills and implicit support, merging mythology and academic reading would be an obvious choice for a dissertation and my future career. I had no idea how that decision would transform with AB 705, Covid, and my transformation in life. When I began to apply the standards of the curriculum committee at San Bernardino Valley College, I quickly realized I had mistakenly gone beyond remedial reading. Once I realized I could adjust the curriculum to meet the academic standards of the Course Outline on Record I wanted to teach, I realized I had other possible applications for the course. The curriculum could easily be modified to qualify as Philosophy, Critical thinking, and English classes. The possibilities went from limited to limitless.

Since the pandemic last year, I have dramatically changed and grown professionally. When the pandemic struck, I was teaching a vocational skills community college course to high school students because our reading department was struggling to survive AB 705. I would not say I liked teaching vocational skills primarily because it was not my area of interest. I had no trouble teaching resumes and interview skills, but it bored me, and the students could feel my lack of enthusiasm well before we went on lockdown. Once the class became distance learning, the students dwindled quickly to no students and no job. I had applied and interviewed to teach in the education department at my alma mater, University of Redlands, the previous summer and was informed I would be offered a class when one in my subject areas opened. Working for Redlands was a long-term goal, and even applying took great confidence and filled me with trepidation and excitement. Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, the school shut down, and so did my hopes of teaching my dream job.

Life went on, and we survived and thrived. Despite the regulations on large gatherings, my husband and I decided to get married. It was a beautiful and joyous day, but later that week, while moving into his home and celebrating our family, I received an email from the University of Redlands. The email asked if I would be interested in teaching a course online (that started in less than three weeks). Since the pandemic closed the campus, going through the Human Resources department and finding ways to access the textbooks before class became challenging. I finally picked up the textbooks the day before I taught online for the first time. It was an initiation by fire, but then the fire became real.

Professional Peaks and Deepest Valley

Teaching a class online, in a new discipline, at a new school, and with virtually no preparation was a challenge but I started to be more comfortable and confident. Then, two weeks into the class, a fire enveloped the mountain where we lived, and we rushed to evacuate our homes. We helped our friends and neighbors get their pets and get out while getting our family safe. Unlike every other evacuation I experienced in the more than fifteen years I lived in Angelus Oaks, this evacuation was sudden, without warning, and immediate. I frantically tossed together clothing, laptops for myself and the kids, and the kids’ school supplies. My primary thought was getting the kids off the mountain, and I forgot my teaching texts. I had to contact the department to arrange to way to get another copy of the books I needed to teach my class; it was humbling. Once I had the textbooks and was ready to teach a lesson, the audio on my laptop stopped working. I taught two classes using my cell phone while I waited for a new laptop to be delivered.

Being evacuated is nothing novel for mountain life, but a sudden escape from town and a six-week evacuation were extreme. During the six-weeks, I taught from five separate locations while managing my children, our dogs, lizard, and the insurance company. I was not the teacher my students deserved. The students complained, not to the dean of my department, but the dean of their department. So, not only did my dean know about my failures, but the head of another department was also aware that I was a poor teacher for the class. I had reached the bottom of my career professionally. My students complained about my teaching, and I had to address their concerns in class formally. One student almost cried; some students were not dissatisfied with my performance. I knew I had not been the best teacher, and I was disappointed with myself.

Turning Disappointment into Determination

I became determined to teach better if the University gave me a chance to teach another class. While waiting to see if the University would risk hiring me for another semester, I took a job as the special education substitute at my children’s school. From the time my son started classes at Fallsvale Elementary School, I began volunteering every Thursday in the classroom of Susan Iles, affectionately known in school and town as Ms. Susan. Ms. Susan is flexible, silly, patient, and understands students’ emotional needs and the needs of their families. I watched and learned from Ms. Susan and her partner, Pamela Reno, in managing the “littles” of the school. The “littles” are the students that are in kindergarten, first, and second. There is a wide range of ability and developmental needs for this age group. Ms. Susan and Ms. Pam teach the curriculum for three grades while simultaneously permitting students to express themselves and feel like their teachers respect them, their ideas, and their work. I had so much respect for the Fallsvale staff, I was excited and nervous about being an employee after filling the volunteer role for so many years.

While I prefer teaching adults, it has been wonderful to work at my children’s school. Not only because I am near my children, but because the culture of the school aligns with the lessons I learned through the transformational myths. Along with the “Pledge of Allegiance,” each morning the children recite the “Fallsvale Pledge,” which is as follows:

“Today has been given to me fresh and clear,

I promise myself I shall use it to its fullest.

This is my life to use as I wish.

I am the only person who has the power to decide what I will be.

I am significant. I am capable and I will always remember it.

Success is my choice” (Fallsvale Pledge, 2018).

The Fallsvale Pledge reminds the students daily that they are the ones in charge of their lives. For the children, this is an empowering idea because many times children are not in control. The pledge reminds the all students – regardless of their backgrounds, while in school, they are equal and they are each responsible for their choices and ultimately, their success.

Eventually, the special aid teacher decided to return to campus, and my future in teaching was again unknown. Meanwhile, at the University of Redlands, I began teaching my second class online. I was prepared and excited to present the content and show myself as a proficient educator. Unfortunately, all but one of the students in the class were from the first class, and I never felt comfortable adding content, assignments, or personal experiences. I was not the teacher I knew I could be, and I was not too fond of the job. I had already signed on to teach summer school, and since my first two semesters were not my best, I needed to prove myself.

Back at the elementary school, the achievement gap that previously existed become more pronounced with the school shutdowns of the previous year from quarantine and the fires. The school decided to keep the special education teacher and created a position for me as an intervention substitute to bridge the achievement gap. As a created position, my job was basically to help the students that needed extra attention.

While working at the school, I became aware of the emotionally challenging part of the educator’s position. Many children experience trauma in their lives. However, the amount and severity of the trauma experienced by the students surprised me. Not only do I work at the school, but my children attend the school. These children were more than my students; they were the children of my friends and neighbors. My children’s friends who come to my house to play, eat dinner, and spend the night were now my students. Thus, I have twice the authority and responsibility to protect and educate these children about academics and life. There have been multiple occasions where my family has kept friends for dinner or overnight as their parents attempted to deal with issues of violence, alcohol, and police involvement. As a survivor of an ugly divorce, I have empathy for these parents, and as a survivor of childhood traumas, I have empathy for these children. I became aware of a new community in need of meaningful stories.

Unlike a story, life does not have a conclusion. The curriculum had to go through one more transformation to make the dissertation make sense for my current context. My next goal was to explore a way to bring the material to my younger students and help them navigate their complex and confusing world. Unlike college, where I had the freedom to create a class that stood independently, I was attempting to create something that had to use a material that was already a part of the curriculum for a specific grade. The challenge felt limiting, like the challenges I had previously faced. I thought of my experiences teaching English in high school and began mentally creating a unit incorporating The Odyssey and Antigone as part of the ninth-grade curriculum. However, I realized that this was still too mature for my students to relate. In a rush, the revelation came to the mind of my first attempts with my college reading students. I had already begun to create the unit for elementary students.

The first failed attempt with the college curriculum including fairy tales was almost perfect to be applied to younger students and address their developmental and learning needs. It was incredible that the path would bring me full circle to the same material, but with so much experience and transformed knowledge, the material is improved. I now realize that the limitations and fears I confronted during the development of this dissertation provided me with growth, strengthened the curriculum, and opened the opportunities for this work beyond my limited imagination.

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Academic Literacy Through Underworld Hero Myths for College Success

Descriptive data:

Grade/Level: Freshman/sophomore college

Time for Class: 14 weeks, twice weekly for approximately two hours for lecture and independent work time. Independent work time to be used for further practice, testing, or individual and small group work with the instructor.

The goal of the course: This course is designed to prepare students for the academic and nonacademic demands of college and academic literacy, from reading to thinking and to respond creatively through writing. Cognitively, this course prepares students to read actively, think critically, and respond thoughtfully to texts for college-level classes. The course incorporates underworld hero narratives to be used as models for students’ personal narrative stories and addresses students’ affective and psychomotor skills.

Rationale: The ability to read and write academically is a major determining factor for college academic success. However, literacy skills encompass more than the ability to read and write words and understand their meaning. Literacy for college requires students to comprehend the text, read and think actively, and respond critically. Self-knowledge is necessary for critical thinking and original response. The curriculum demonstrates several examples of characters facing difficult challenges to become stronger and return home. Like Pandora’s box, challenges can seem too much, but these stories offer students hope when all else is gone.

Course outline at a glance

Unit 1 – Defining goals

Unit 2 – Identifying the main idea

Unit 3 – Building support through strength

Unit 4 – Patterns of organization and planning

Unit 5 – Examining relationships in texts

Unit 6 – Critical thinking

Unit 7 – Applied knowledge

Unit 8 – Personal hero narratives

Unit 9 – Culminating assessments

Initiation to transformation and academic literacy

Day 1: Introduction, syllabus review, and entrance exams

Goals and objectives

Explain class procedures, expectations, and other functional information for the class.

Complete entrance assessments.

Instructional activities

Explain class procedures, expectations, and practical information for the class.

Answer student questions and/concerns.

Set up computer accounts for chapter practices and mastery tests.

Initiate preassessment tests – students will complete before next class.


The first session is for an introduction and set up of the course. The syllabus is covered with the class, major assignments addressed, and expectations defined. The students create their accounts for online class assignments and testing. Entrance exams are initiated and completed as soon as possible for more accurate comparison with ongoing and final exams.

Learning outcomes and assignments

Creation of accounts for class.

Completion of entrance exams.

Test results give stakeholders an understanding of students’ initial academic skills.



Copies of syllabus – physical or digital access

PowerPoint with projector

Unit 1: Defining goals

Day 2: Setting goals

Goals and objectives

Introduce class novel – The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz.

Define goals for the class, for students in general, and literacy.

Create a connection with students through personal narratives as a teachable story.

Instructional activities

Read Chapter 1 of The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz.

Use text to define goals, introduce personal narratives, and model active reading.

Use a story to demonstrate underworld transformation with a personal connection to initiate a relationship with students. (This is where I might use the magic river story from the dissertation).

Assign personal narratives to students to be completed after class.


This lesson defines the primary non-literacy skills related goals for class – The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz, the Amduat, the Abduction of Persephone, personal narrative work. The first chapter of the class novel engages students and encourages them to read the rest of the book. This chapter contains enough background for the story to begin a meaningful discussion of challenging a prior identity, overcoming extreme challenges, and persevering to achieve personal goals. This story implicitly connects the students to the implicit goals discussed using a personal narrative to demonstrate growth transformation – or an Underworld journey to success.

Learning outcomes and assignments

Students will begin with personal narratives and complete them individually.


The Two Badges of Mona Ruiz – chapter 1, digital copy if needed for students to read along.

Day 3: General overview of academic communication

Goals and objectives

Identify the purpose of reading and use this knowledge to guide reading.

Practice active reading skills to understand the reading-writing connection.

Instructional activities

A brief lecture on active and passive reading.

Connect to the novel – Mona Ruiz – passive victim or active hero?

Core reading skills: Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, Langan, 2-12

Use PowerPoint to review material and practice exercises from the text.


This class gives students a general understanding of the larger concepts for the course. Students will encounter a large amount of reading in college. By determining purpose, a student saves valuable time approaching texts with a goal and searching for support for that goal.

Learning outcomes and assignments

A general sense of reading-writing connection.

Practice exercises from Langan pages 2-12.


PowerPoints from Townsend Press with projector

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection students should have their copies by this class.

Day 4: Making definitions

Goals and objectives

Practice active reading in vocabulary development.

Use context clues (synonyms, antonyms, examples, and a general sense of the sentence) to determine the meaning when encountering unfamiliar vocabulary.

Practice a mastery test for future independent work.

Instructional activities

Vocabulary Development for Literacy,” Reading-Writing Connection PowerPoint with practice.

Compare finding vocabulary meaning through the context in a sentence with finding meaning in a paragraph using the goal, support, and context.

Guided “Vocabulary Development for Literacy” mastery test on Townsend Press.


Finding new words through context engages active reading on a small scale. Students read a sentence to define a new term. The student uses evidence from the text to support the new definition. It also gives students a tool to use when encountering vocabulary.

Learning outcomes and assignments

Students will learn to define words using contextual clues.

Students will practice vocabulary skills and learn new vocabulary.

Students will have practice with mastery test procedures and format.


Chapter PowerPoints and tests for Reading-Writing Connection found on

Unit 2: Identifying goals

Day 5: Setting the goal

Goals and objectives

Locate the main idea (goal of the author) by differentiating general and specific ideas.

Use the topic to find the point and determine the main idea.

Use keywords to find the main idea sentence – introduction to list words.

Instructional activities

PowerPoint on “Main Idea in Reading,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 15-40.

Locate the main idea differentiating general and specific concepts, guided to independent practice.

Personal goals – list various goals and focus on short-term goals that build long-term success.

Pair share goals – choose one goal to attempt before the next class session.


Students have their purpose for reading. As part of the communication process, the author also has a purpose for writing. Determining the main idea is understanding the purpose of the writer. In academic texts, authors write for a purpose beyond entertainment. Writers have a purpose, a goal for their writing. Ideally, they want you to make the same conclusion based on your strong support and rational argument. The goal is to convince the reader to believe as they believe. Since the class has focused on the reader and writer’s goals, the class’s final portion will focus on goals for the student. Students will use their identified long-term goals to create short-term goals. Students will choose one simple goal to try before the next class. This assignment gets students in the practice of setting goals.

Learning outcomes and activities

Students will do activities to practice general and specific ideas in small groups or pairs.

Students will practice finding the main idea of a text.

Students will connect the main idea of text with goals in communication.

Students will share goals and set a goal for accomplishment.


Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Day 6: Engaging external and internal support to achieve goals

Goals and objectives

Identify possible challenges and support systems – internal and external.

Understand the larger purpose of individual long-term goals.

Practice active reading skills using meaningful text.

Instructional activities

Report on goal attempts from the last session, turn in the written response of goal and outcome of actions.

As a class, read “Controlling Your Destiny,” p 325-330, Adv. Reading-Writing Connection.

Guided practice of active reading skills 331-334.


At this point, students have had a substantial general introduction to the reading-writing connection. This class session allows students to practice active reading, answer questions about the text, and become familiar with learning expectations for the course.

Learning outcomes and assignments

Students will read an underworld personal hero narrative.

Students will relate narrative to active reading skills learned on the third day of class.


Computers with internet

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks and digital copy for projection.

Day 7: What is the point? – Redefining goals

Goals and objectives

Become familiar with the Amduat panels and relate them to the personal college experience, literacy, and education.

Practice finding the main idea in the text on a more complex level.

Demonstrate mastery with chapter tests on the main ideas in reading.

Instructional activities

Introduce Amduat, panel 6, center row

Connect vocabulary development and reading-writing connection to education and the Amduat.

Practice locating main ideas, focus on implied main ideas using the topic to find the point, and using keywords to find the main idea sentence.

“Main Idea in Reading” chapter mastery tests from


This day concludes the lesson on locating the main ideas in the reading. More than any other element, the main idea is most important for understanding a text. Learning to find the main idea, especially when it is not implicitly stated, is a goal that appears simple but can become challenging. This skill is the focus of three days in class before the mastery tests are assigned. Students are also introduced to a visual representation of the primary purpose for college, education. The conversion of knowledge into something new and, hopefully, improved.

Learning outcomes and assignments

Students will identify the main idea in texts – direct and implied.

Students will be introduced to the Amduat as a model for success in visual and written communication forms.

Students will complete mastery chapter tests.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Unit 3: Engaging support to achieve goals

Day 8: Supporting details

Goals and Objectives

Identify support for the main idea in a text.

Identify the need for support in text and achievement of goals.

Instructional activities

Presentation from a guest speaker from the counseling department introducing school support resources.

Review “Supporting Details in Reading,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 53-68 with PowerPoint.

Mastery tests for “Supporting Details in Reading.”


In many schools, counseling departments reach out to teachers for class time to present available resources to students. As an entry-level course, this would be an ideal setting for such a presentation. This is a lesson about support for main ideas – which is support for a goal. Students all desire to complete their programs, and these resources are the extrinsic support that students may not be aware exist. The rest of the class centers on finding support in reading and demonstrating understanding of this crucial concept.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will learn about institutional support resources.

Students will identify and understand how support works to make the point for the main idea.

Students will demonstrate mastery of chapter skills by completing chapter mastery tests.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Day 9: Going more in-depth with the Amduat and Revisiting personal narratives:

Goals and objectives

Use Amduat to give students another connection to underworld transformation.

Use the seventh panel to show surface and more in-depth support and benefit for support systems.

Create personal visual representations of successful underworld transformation.

Instructional activities

Share Amduat, panel 7—Show transformation and connections to communication, school, and critical thinking. For this class, the focus will be the seventh panel.

Revisit Amduat, Controlling Your Destiny, and Two Badges of Mona Ruiz to look for common patterns and elements in underworld transformation narratives – descent, initiation, challenges, mentors, support, growth, and return.

Using the Amduat as a model, create a visual representation of personal underworld hero narrative and pair/share.


The Amduat is a critical aspect of this curriculum. It uses images to connect to the ideas in the class. Since this is a course for improving literacy skills, it is essential to have various ways to access the material. The Amduat uses both visual and written communication and Re, the Sun god, serves as an archetype for a successful journey through the underworld and back.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will use Amduat to gain a visual understanding of transformation and support systems.

Students will create personal visual narratives using Amduat as a model.


Computer with projection.

Images of Amduat seventh panel.

Paper and supplies for creating personal visual narratives.

Day 10: Transforming the text

Goals and objectives

Apply understanding gained for academic reading to create writing.

Connect the reading-thinking-writing process to gain understanding and mastery in literacy.

Instructional activities

Overview PowerPoint of “Main Ideas and Supporting Details in Writing”

Exercises from Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 81-97.

Return to the image for transformation from panel 6 to visualize literacy.

Review the main ideas and supporting details in communication.

Mastery tests for “Main Ideas and Supporting Details in Writing.”


This class completes the circle of scholarly communication. Reading is the students’ journey into the unknown. Thinking is transforming knowledge from the text using prior knowledge from personal or shared experiences. Finally, writing uses the same elements to share new, created knowledge and become the next reader’s writer.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will complete practices from the text.

Students will apply knowledge of reading to writing.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Unit 4: Reading and writing connection and midterm

Day 11: Understanding writing

Goals and objectives

Further, apply literacy skills to understand writing.

Practice writing skills with exercises from the textbook.

Instructional activities

Review of “Understanding the Writing Process,” Adv. Reading-Writing Connection, 105-112 with PowerPoint from Townsend Press with guided practice.

Writing exercises, guided and independent. Allow students to share in small group or whole class setting.

Mastery tests for “Understanding the Writing Process.”


The students are coming near a midpoint in the class. The next two classes are dedicated to the midterm. After the midterm, the skills require more depth and personal connection. The material will shift to understanding relationships and applying patterns.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will complete the circle of the reading-writing connection with “Understanding the Writing Process.”

Students will show mastery of the material through the completion of chapter tests.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Day 12: Review for midterm

Goals and objectives

Review for the midterm exam to support student success.

Instructional activities

Interactive review such as Jeopardy or Kahoots.

Guided practice test for students wanting a further review.


The midterm is a low-stakes test to gauge students’ comprehensive knowledge of main ideas and supporting details in reading and writing. The review is to be engaging and relieve the pressure that many students have about significant tests. The second half of the review includes written questions similar to the test to support students through test anxiety and gain familiarity with the types of questions to expect.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will have a chance to review material for the test.


Prepared review materials, interactive activity, and practice test.

Day 13: Midterm exam

Goals and objectives

Students’ comprehensive knowledge will be tested using a midterm assessment.

Instructional activities

Students have a brief review of the main idea and supporting details in reading and writing.

Students are given exams to complete in class.


The class is near a midpoint, and the material will be shifting from the main ideas and support to more complex tools for academic literacy. This unit is at an ideal point for midterm demonstration of understanding or needs for review.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the material to this point in class.


Copies of the midterm exam – to be created by the instructor.

Unit 5: Simple patterns and relationships in a text

Day 14: Surface relationships and their transition words in reading

Goals and objectives

Introduction to Persephone myth.

Introduction to relationships and patterns in literacy.

Instructional activities

Telling or watching of Persephone myth.

Review “Simple Relationships in Reading – Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 121-138.

Briefly discuss Persephone myth – find surface meaning.

Mastery tests for “Relationships in Reading.”


This class is the introduction to the Persephone myth and relationships in a text. It represents the shift after the midterms from Amduat, main idea, and supporting details to Persephone, patterns, and depth. The chapter in the text defines primary relationships of time or list patterns. It is either/or, not at all complex. The Persephone myth may seem basic on the surface, but it is much more complicated than the Amduat because it has so much ambiguity. The Persephone abduction myth relies so much on the reader’s perspective and judgment that it is a logical next step from the Amduat. It allows the class to enter communication with more depth – like going from time/list patterns of organization to the endless forms of literacy patterns like spatial, chronological, alphabetical, cause and effect, or comparison. Especially since this is a surface exposure to the myth – it would be better to show a clip or tell from memory than to have the students read the narrative.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will be introduced to Persephone for later classes.

Students will master the basic time/list patterns for organization in reading.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Day 15: Simple relationships in writing and narrative

Goals and objectives

Review simple relationships in reading and writing.

Use myth to do writing exercises with surface experience and understanding.

Demonstrate an understanding of simple patterns and transition words in literacy.

Instructional activities

Return to the Persephone myth and pose the question, “Is Persephone a hero or a victim?”

Have students discuss the question with reasoning from prior knowledge and the myth.

Review “Simple Relationships in Writing” – Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 151-156.

As a class, write an argument paragraph for each side – victim and hero. These should be five-sentence paragraphs and highly modeled with introduction sentences, three supporting detail sentences, and conclusion sentences.

Mastery tests for “Simple Relationships in Writing.”


This lesson continues with the basic patterns for organization – time and list but applies it to writing. Since this is an easy concept to master, the students will have time to work on the Persephone myth and guided writing. This exercise is highly structured and shows how to make a basic argument. It gives the students a model for writing and demonstrates how to make an argument based on evidence, not opinions. Affectively, this lesson shows students that a character can change based on the perspective of the reader. Like a personal narrative can vary based on the actions of the character.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will revisit the Persephone myth.

Students will become more aware of perspective and victim mentality through writing.

Students will show mastery of basic relationships in a text through tests.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Day 16: Staying on the surface

Goals and objectives

Evaluate relationships of purpose for reading, method of reading, and notetaking strategies.

Strengthen time management skills.

Instructional activities

Revisit purpose for reading and focus on time management.

Apply purpose for reading to real-life situations, having goals, efficiency, and focus.

PowerPoint on “Readlationships” and time management.

Apply depth of study to notetaking strategies.


This unit keeps the patterns and relationships in the text simple. It may seem too simple, but there are times when a student may spend too much time with an assignment and hinder their progress. This class focuses on knowing when to keep it simple and how to be efficient, active readers. Applying this knowledge to notetaking strategies is essential for students’ study skills and gives the material applicable meaning.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will review the purpose of reading.

Students will work on reading strategies to study more efficiently.


Computer with projector and PowerPoint

Unit 6: Challenging perception

Day 17: Investigating perceived patterns in reading

Goals and objectives

Introduce and review more specific patterns of organization in reading.

Instructional activities

Apply “going too deep” to Re, Persephone, and Mona Ruiz – sometimes going deeper is valuable. Review “More Relationships in Reading” – Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 165-184.

Work in small groups to practice recognizing patterns.

Use patterns to determine notetaking strategies.


Once students are comfortable recognizing and applying simple patterns, they are ready to go deeper and discover more specific and useful patterns for organization. This class session introduces students to specific patterns and their transition words. This is valuable information in comprehension but also applicable to notetaking strategies. The students will be instructed in the patterns, allowing them to practice recognizing the patterns and applying them for notetaking.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students are introduced to specific, familiar patterns of organization found in academic texts.

Students will learn how to apply patterns for taking notes.

Students will practice recognizing patterns in reading.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Day 18: Investigating perceived patterns in writing

Goals and objectives

Students review complex patterns in literacy.

Students show mastery of concepts through chapter tests on relationships in reading and writing.

Instructional activities

Review “More Relationships in Writing,” Adv. Reading-Writing Connection, 197-204.

Practice exercises from the text.

Mastery tests for “More Relationships in Reading.”

Mastery tests for “More Relationships in Writing.”


Students are given an additional day and practice with patterns in the text before taking the mastery chapter tests in reading. This material is more complex and more objective than the simple patterns of the last unit of study. By giving the students time to practice the material and adding the writing aspect of the patterns, they can do well on these tests.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will review specific patterns for organization in literacy.

Students will use keywords as clues to determine patterns.

Students will display mastery through both chapter tests.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Day 19: Academic Hero

Goals and objectives

Students will write a plan for college success using underworld hero journey patterns.

Instructional activities

Remind students and display patterns in a successful underworld journey.

Return students’ visual and written personal narratives from the beginning of the course.

Apply patterns for success to the personal narrative to make a hero story.

Students share their underworld hero narratives – compare/contrast with original stories.


When students first wrote their narratives, they did not have the underworld hero journey myths as models. With this exercise, students will apply knowledge of transformation, obstacles, and support systems to write a plan for achieving their academic goals.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will make a comprehensive plan and story for success in college.


Previous narrative and visual representation for reference.

Unit 7: Critical thinking

Day 20: Making inferences

Goals and objectives

Introduce students to inferences in academic literacy.

Practice inferences as active reading before, during, and after reading texts.

Instructional activities

Review “Inferences in Reading and Writing,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 217-230.

Guided practice inferences with texts.

Mastery tests for “Inferences in Reading and Writing.”


To think critically, students must use prior knowledge and make guesses before, during, and after reading. These guesses are inferences and the first step to adding personal expertise and critical thinking. Students are introduced to inferences and shown inferences in daily life. Students practice inferencing as a class. The instructor should include some far-fetched and incorrect inferences to discuss evaluation in inferencing and make inferences logical and well-supported.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will learn how inferencing benefits the reader in academic texts.

Students will practice inferencing with texts.

Students will show mastery through chapter tests.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Day 21: Argument paper introduction

Goals and objectives

Students will be assigned the major writing assignment for the course.

Students will have clear expectations and guidelines for academic writing.

Instructional activities

Use “Writing a Research Paper with Sources,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 451-462 to introduce academic writing expectations.

Distribution of peer evaluation worksheets.

Explanation of Two Badges of Mona Ruiz writing assignment.

Use the remainder of class time to discuss the assignment, address individual student questions, and begin work on papers.


Writing an academic paper can make some students anxious. This lesson gives students clear expectations and allows them to begin work toward this significant class assignment. This paper demonstrates students’ knowledge of making a point, supporting that point, and familiarity with the class novel.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will be given the major class writing assignment.

Students will start work towards the paper.


Copies of peer-evaluation worksheets.

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Day 22: Evaluating an argument

Goals and objectives

Students will learn to evaluate an argument.

Students will explain why an argument is weak – inadequate, illogical, or incorrect support.

Instructional activities

Review “Argument in Reading-Writing,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 243-260.

Determine the best support for situations that may arise. Use argument evaluation questions to approach real-life challenges. Is it enough? Is it logical? Is it correct?

Mastery tests for “Argument in Reading-Writing.”


This class session teaches students to evaluate arguments in reading and their writing. The goal is to make sure that support is adequate, logical, and correct. This class is taught after the students are given the major writing assignment. Students should already have an idea about their point and support for the paper. This lesson will provide them with an opportunity to evaluate their argument while they are in the development process.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will learn to evaluate arguments in reading.

Students will apply argument evaluation to writing.

Students will apply evaluation in real-life scenarios.


Computers with internet

Chapter PowerPoint found on

Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Chapter mastery tests found on

Unit 8: Resurfacing: Planning beyond college

Day 23: Life Isn’t Fair

Goals and objectives

Students practice active reading skills applied to meaningful text.

Instructional activities

Guided discussion on “First Impressions” questions – page 307.

Read “Life Isn’t Fair,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, 302-307.

With a partner, have students answer questions from pages 307-310.


This article emphasizes to students that life can be unpredictable. It reinforces the idea that attitude is more important than a situation. It gives a meaningful lesson while allowing students another opportunity to practice active reading skills.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will read the text and answer active reading questions with a partner.


Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Day 24: What Students Need to Know

Goals and objectives

Students practice active reading skills applied to meaningful text.

Students apply the text to personal planning and empathy toward others.

Instructional activities

Students read “Today’s Jobs Crisis: What Students Need To Know,” Advanced Reading-Writing Connection, pages 433-441.

Free write – “First Impressions” page 441.

Answer questions 1-10 to turn in, pages 442-444.

Assign “Paragraph Assignments,” question #1 for homework.


This article is a blunt description of the challenges students may face when entering the job market after college. By reading this article, students can make plans to meet these obstacles to reach future goals after college.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will read the text and answer active reading questions.


Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbooks.

Day 25: Personal Hero Journey Beyond

Goals and objectives

Students will discuss how to find employment after college.

Students will make stories for success after school.

Instructional activities

“Paragraph Assignments” question 1 – a brief review of dos and don’ts from the article.

Remind students and display patterns in a successful underworld journey.

Discuss needs, resources, and plans for entering the workforce after college.

Apply patterns for success to the personal narrative to make a hero story after school.


Students know that education does not guarantee improvement for life after school. For many, life after school means paying off huge loans. This article includes hard realities about students’ financial and career prospects after college. They will need to use the skills they use to succeed in school to persevere and achieve future goals. This class also allows the instructor to address employment needs like a resume, cover letter, and persistence.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will have a general knowledge of the necessary tools for employment.

Students will make long-term plans for after college.



Unit 9: Culminating assessments

Day 26: Peer evaluation of Mona Ruiz papers

Goals and objectives

Students will practice their active reading skills.

Students will be given valuable feedback from others in academic writing.

Instructional activities

Students are given a worksheet for peer evaluation.

Students will edit two papers and have two peers evaluate their essays.

Students will reflect on their papers and feedback.


Students are given worksheets to guide them in the evaluation process. Many students have experienced peer editing, where they correct spelling or grammatical issues. This is not editing for the paper; it is evaluating the argument. The worksheets guide students to focus on clarity of the main idea and support and the quality of the argument based on the standards outlined in “Evaluating an Argument.” Once they have evaluated two papers and had two peers evaluate their papers, they are given feedback and self-evaluate their essays. They may take their essays home and make any final changes before submitting the final draft in the next class period.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will evaluate each other using instructor-prepared handouts as guides.

Students will learn the value of evaluation from others and self.


Students need to bring two printed copies of their paper to class.

The instructor needs to bring evaluation handouts.

Day 27: Langan final exam review

Goals and objectives

Prepare students for the final examination.

Instructional activities

Students will turn in final drafts of Mona Ruiz essays.

Students will be given study guides for the final exam.

As a class, students will review the material together and write answers on the guides.


Students are given prepared material to make the review more efficient, but answers need to be written to ensure students remain engaged. The review may be done on the PowerPoint using Townsend Press material or teacher-created review material. Students still will need guides for engagement and study at home. The professor may also choose to assign internet-based practice reviews for the students – many of these are available through the Townsend website and mirror the questions on the exam.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students will review material to be on the final exam.

Students will be given resources for study in class and independently.


Copies of study guides.

Day 28: Langan final exam

Goals and objectives

Assess students’ comprehensive knowledge from the Advanced Reading-Writing Connection textbook materials, activities, and chapter reviews.

Instructional activities

Students use class time to take the final exam from


This is the last class and the final assessment. It is a surface test, like the entrance exam, to check students’ basic knowledge from the Langan textbook. As it does not guide further instruction for these students, I have chosen to do a computer-based test to give the students immediate feedback. The students and the instructor can see the entrance and exit exams to see where they had the most growth and where they may need to continue to strengthen their skills.

Learning objectives and assignments

Students demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of academic literacy skills from the class.


Computers with access to the internet

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