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How do I live a life that is good? How can I be a good person? What is my purpose? Why am I here? As far back as the Lascaux cave drawings from 17,000-19,000 years ago, humans have been striving to discover and communicate how to live a better life. Even then, humanity was aware of something other than the observable world, something below the surface and something beyond our grasp. There is a physical reaction to the unknown. A sinking feeling in the stomach or a rising feeling in the heart. These feelings are from the soul.

Everything that exists experiences change, everything that interprets has soul. Every soul has meaning and a story to tell. We use symbols and patterns to communicate, interpret, and apply these stories to increase knowledge and move progressively further, individually and collectively. With all the knowledge gained and all our knowledge-driven action  are we happier, are we fulfilled, are we better – have we grown? All questions, challenges, and obstacles we face can only be answered with interpretations. In life, there are no answers, only interpretations. Interpretation is art and requires soul.

Advancements in science have given us abilities to make the dreams of our ancestors a reality. We travel faster, live longer, and have opportunities they did not even imagine. However, we are also living on a sick planet. Animals, plants, clean resources, and livable spaces are disappearing. Humanity has expanded our knowledge of existence on this planet, but have we used it for good? Are we good? Can we be better?

Everything exists, always. A thought may disappear, but it does not cease to exist. It exists before it is created in the chain of events that will lead to that thought and after in the chain of events that will ripple from that thought. The same is true of all existence. When one thing has focus, the others fall below into the unconscious, but they still have influence. Like a rock in a stream. When the rock is placed in the stream, it creates a change in the flow. The same thing happens if a rock is removed, the void also affects change. 

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away” (Viscott, 87). Interpretation is a quest for knowledge. ‘What was?’, what is?, and what can be?’ The answers to these questions require depth, context, and fluidity. The complexity of the question, the desire for depth of knowledge, and the quality of the communication are all variables that will contribute to whether the answer is judged as having positivemeaning and value.  

Joseph Campbell explains life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life.” (Power of Myth). Life iswhat it is, neither good nor bad, it is experience. We need meaning, so we look for meaning, and create meaning.Ultimately, we have the power to create, interpret, and judge the changes that are created. We have the power, if we have the knowledge. What we do with knowledge determines who we are and the world we live. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive” (Campbell). What does it mean to live and how do we live? Campbell called the answer to this question finding your bliss, Jung labeled the person to be individuated, Maslow talks about self-actualization and transcendence, and artists transcend explanation to connect to the soul. 

When searching for meaning in life; we are searching to make ourselves worthy, gain efficiency for our resources, and create positive influence beyond our lives. Life doesn’t have a meaning on its own, we are the context, and so, we are part of the meaning. To live is to experience and to experience is to change. To find the gift of self-knowledge, to give that knowledge of self to the world, and to use that knowledge to create something that inspires growth, that is the drive that inspires people to create change. Whether we let life happen to us or create the changes to make the world suit our desires and the desires of others is a choice and something that can be learned, taught, and applied. 

Experience does not always lead to meaning, or growth. Meaning is created when experience results in transformation. “Change is inevitable, but transformation is by conscious choice.” (Amaraz,). Choice is the inner change. It is the catalyst for the change that is later observed. A choice may not manifest for days, years, or ever. The choice is only as valuable as the action taken as a result of the choice. The nature of growth, while known, is also mysterious and fluid because it changes with context. When I try to understand fluidity, the collective, the thing that is everything including the self, I imagine water. 

The stream that became magic, a story

When I was a child, my grandfather and I went on a walk in the mountains along a stream. I loved to watch the water change. We followed the path beside the water as it actively splashed over rocks, through crevices, and made various twists and turns. Then suddenly, the water disappeared into the ground. I was sad for the loss. My grandpa told me that the water was still there, it had gone underground. I stood and marveled at the spot for a moment. Part of me wanted to follow the water, to see where it went but I knew I could not. Any attempt to dig and follow the water would destroy the flow. This was a journey the water could only take alone. My mind created scenarios for what the water faced as it went below. In my mind, it had infinite possibility, but it was limited by the depth of my thoughts. 

We continued along the path even though the water was gone. As we came around a large group of rocks, I witnessed the return of the stream. The water mysteriously emerged from the darkness below. The stream transformed when it went underground and returned. It contained the same water, but it was not the same stream. I was amazed not that the stream disappeared, but that it returned. The water had also changed. The experience of going in the ground cleared debris from the water and my imagination created stories that added layers of context for understanding the water.

Deeper – Old experience through new knowledge

All life contains, needs, and is connected by water. Everything that exists is fluid, which means all things, like water, can experience and create change. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus wrote “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The story of the stream is a symbol for transformation and growth. Like many people, I have always found myself drawn to water and can feel myself physically pulled to water and calmed by its closeness.

A large body of water contains the same elements as an individual container taken from that larger body. In order to analyze a body of water, samples are taken from various locations and broken down, analyzed, and interpreted for patterns of meaning. The data is used to manage the treatment of the water. Interpretation of a sample, or of several samples, determines how we relate to the larger body of water. Research is the quest for knowledge but just like we can’t analyze an entire body of water and must rely on sampling; we must interpret experience using samples or definitions of the meaning. Definitions use context to describe meaning and are defined as much by the context as of the meaning itself. The definition is defined by the context and the context defines the definition.

Beyond and into new meaning

To create meaning for my work; this dissertation, my profession, my passions, and my community, I had to make the work solid. This has been difficult because I am fluid, my knowledge is fluid, and my work is to create something solid out of the fluid knowledge I am still working toward. In order to get the truest, at this moment, meaning on the page, I would have to revise because I can’t stop revising the thoughts in my head. Trying to define a thing while inside a thing is like trying to use words to explain words; it feels impossible, becomes cloudy, and leads to frustration. It feels like I am creating ice, freezing the knowledge in order to share it. It appears to die, like ice – cold, hard, and still. Then I remembered, ice may appear solid, but it is still water.

Creation is ice. Creation takes knowledge beyond self. Creation is hard but not dead. Ice is water, it melts when in relation to warmth. The human heart, the painter’s image, the writer’s words, the dancer’s movements have all been acknowledged as touching the soul. Creation is an attempt to share the soul, to share knowledge, compassion, and give faith to one another to inspire growth, not just push knowledge forward, not just grow in ability but to grow in soul. What appears to be death, ice, is just waiting for some warmth, relationship, to move and become something more.

The dual and fluid nature of definition creates relationship and tensions that fuel change. Nature desires balance, but balance is not easily attained or maintained. To keep the knowledge manageable, focused, and contained, I have chosen to use the context of a community college. Students are not succeeding academically but the reason for failure is beyond academics. This dissertation asserts that education needs to address academics, personal needs, and personal development for our community. 

In order to create a comprehensive curriculum that offers support to the complex needs of students, I had to create definition, or context. I chose six contexts to give meaning to my knowledge, my work, and my soul. The six contexts are: academic reading, stories, depth psychology, hero journeys and the underworld, curriculum development, and meaning.Learning to balance within these contexts has helped me grow, has healed my soul, and created meaning for my work to push me forward. Meaning comes not only from what I learned, but also, from what I create. It was not easy trying to contain the complex nature of the challenges I sought to address. I had to understand my quest. 

Problem Statement, Learning

Knowledge of self is “a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent” (JCF, 1). In searching for a topic for this dissertation, I considered my experiences. At the time, I was thinking of focusing on fairytales and the devouring mother. My children were 2 and 5 years old and this was my life. Then one day, in research strategies class, my professor said we should consider our dissertations to be a business card; to think about how we wanted to use our knowledge. 

This statement made me rethink everything I had been building toward in my studies. I had been studying where I was in order to make meaning of my experiences instead of researching where I wanted to go to make future meaning and growth. I was going into the project through my experience instead of thinking and creating beyond my experiences. I needed both. I needed the research to shape me, but I also needed to plan, create, and shape my research. 

The problem statement, Experience

I teach remedial reading skills to adults at San Bernardino Valley College, a community college located in San Bernardino, California. Remedial reading classes are designed to teach students how to comprehend and ultimately, respond critically to texts. Academic reading addresses comprehension often with direct instruction and active reading skills. The goal is to teach students how to understand. Many students can comprehend and respond to show understanding. The difficulty is with critical thinking.

The next step, critical thinking is an integration of the self.In order to integrate the self, the self must be known. Self-knowledge is the product of experience both with the collective and the self. The stated goal for the class is to prepare students for success by providing them fundamental reading skills to process college-leveled texts. However, the goal of this dissertation is to add the fundamental personal knowledge they will need to make choices that encourage growth. I want to give my students the tools to grow, not just learn.

College is a voluntary transformation in life. The catalyst for choosing higher education is personal but the experience follows the patterns for the hero’s journey and specifically, underworld myths, that can be learned to aid students with non-academic barriers. This is one reason the entry-level college classroom is the ideal setting for this material. It is relatable to the students because they have willingly chosen to transform their lives for growth and the material helps them to navigate the process.

Academic reading follows patterns and can be taught using the model for growth to add depth of meaning to the skills instruction. Children are not ready for this level of integration, but with age comes experience and knowledge that enrichens the material. Like with the stream, as a child I experienced the transformation on the surface. As an adult, I thought about the memory and transformed the experience into something I could not understand when I was younger. The primary goal of education is the transition of knowledge. Teaching transformation shows students to how to attain knowledge, to internalize the material to add meaning, and to respond with a new, informed knowledge. 

Academic reading is the process of learning material, incorporating old material, and returning with a new, hopefully better than the original, response. In literacy for children, there is a practice of teaching pre-reading activities before reading a text and follow-up exercises after to help students build knowledge. This process is called, Into, Through, and Beyond.’Into, through, and beyond is the pattern for all learning and growth. To learn, an individual goes into the information and analyzes it. Next, to think, the person relates through the information and adds to the original to create thought. Finally, the student goes beyond thought with a response. 

In order to help students achieve, this dissertation has created a curriculum that delves into myth as a way to prepare students to make it through the personal and academic challenges of college and beyond. It is a multi-layered approach to support students personally and academically and at the same time giving deeper meaning to both. 

Aims and objectives, Through meaningful text

As a myth student, I recognize the power of story – the stories we are told, the stories we tell ourselves, and how we interact with those stories. The importance of story is something so great that it is hard to put into words. “Neuroscience says we think in stories” (Cron, 2). The way we input knowledge is through story, we process knowledge through story, and the way we explain our ideas is through story. That our brain is, in fact, not just hardwired to think in story, but that our neural circuitry is designed to crave story” (Cron, 2).  Not only do we think in story and seek out stories, but stories also shape our reality.  

Stories are transformative, physically and mentally.  Listening to or reading stories is shown to activate and restructure the brain physically. Bibliotherapy, the practice of “prescribing books” for therapy, acknowledges the power of story by using it “as the ultimate cure because it gives readers a transformational experience” (Dovey). Learning to craft a story, learning to understand a story, and learning to create meaning in the story can support growth in class, in college, and beyond, into life. Like other transformations, meaningful interactions with text changes who we are as a person. This dissertation aims to give students the tools to choose stories of growth, stories of strength, and models for success.

Students know they want to be educated, but they often do not know why; they lack goals, support, and plans to reach growth. The motivation to grow is there, but the story of how to do it still needs to be written. “Stories give us a game plan on how to or not to face real life dilemmas” (Gottschall, 54). These students need transformation and this dissertation will show them how to become editors in their own stories.

As an educator, I break down the academic skills needed to comprehend, transform, and respond critically to college-level texts to tend minds. As a mythologist; I use archetypal models to provide meaning through integration of myth and self to attempt to touch the soul. Finally, as member of my community, I promote transformational growth for my community from within and rise by supporting others to become college learners and psychologically healthy members of the community. 

Beyond, Transformational growth through story

Students know they need academic skills because they struggle with the text. The text is the catalyst for the struggle. Often, students do not realize they need personal education because when they struggle with personal issues, they are struggling with themselves and with life. Inner struggles are deeper and not as easy to know. It is easy to dismiss a text as too hard and move on, but when the challenge is self and life, walking away is not an option. 

When students face personal challenges, they internalize the problem. It takes time, hard work, support, and guidance to succeed at any large task, including college. Students know they need academic skills because they struggle with the text. They do not realize they also need personal knowledge to go beyond trying to understand and make the text meaningful. Self-awareness is necessary to give students strength to face the challenges of college, but it is also critical for giving meaningful responses, succeeding in class, and getting more than skills, acquiring knowledge.  

Students go down, into the soul and into the self to critically respond to their studies. They must face and integrate their true self, their whole self, in order to know what they think. So many students know how to respond with the answers they find from others but thinking and creating meaning is much more difficult and can not be done without self-knowledge.  Since this is such an important and difficult task, it is necessary to have a guide or a model for success. 

Stories give students something to connect to when finding a model for success. Stories are indirect and require the student to work the material through integration of self. This is not the same with academic texts used in class. These texts have their purpose to skillfully transmit knowledge of literacy but without the integration of the knowledge of transformation and the relationship built through the connection to self, the information would not have personal meaning. 

Story for success, Methodology  

This dissertation emphasizes active reading, active interpretation, and active thinking for students. It incorporates stories to connect action and growth mindset. How to find balance of knowledge and thought. How to create balance between thought and action. How to unify the two to rewrite the story of knowledge to excess into a story that inspires compassionate, hope-driven action. 

Both action and critical research are centered in action and growth, more specifically in transformation. The first section of the dissertation focuses on self-improvement in education, professionally and as a student. For this, I chose to engage action research. “Action research serves to help teachers reflect on their teaching and consider how they might improve their practices (Dana, 2013, Mertler, 2014)” (Howard, et al, 2018). This addresses my goal to become a better educator and teach academic skills for comprehension.  

The second part of this dissertation concerns the mythological and psychological aspects, social change through education, and will incorporate critical research. This addresses my goal as a mythologist to address the needs of my students but also gave me support during my underworld journey to self-knowledge. Critical research “is defined by the interestedness of the researcher, more specifically by the explicit desire to use research as a tool for social change (Carspecken, 1996; Cushman, 1998; Kincheloe & McLaren, 1998; Morrell, 2004a; Oakes, Rogers, & Lipton, 2006).” (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008). Action research aligns closely with my goals as an educator to improve my curriculum through reflection and growth. On the other hand, critical research aligns with my desire to tend the souls of the student, including myself. These are the containers the research, the way I interpret and relate the material is through stories. 

This dissertation is a story of the process of learning, thinking, and growing. It is an attempt to discover something too fluid to easily contain. In so many ways, I tried to create separate elements as samples, but my fluidity of thought, the connections, and endless pages of details began to become rambling nonsense that wasted both my time and the readers. I created outlines and wrote pages to contain the purpose, motivation, and hope for this dissertation. Finally, I came to the realization, to be written is not to be perfect. Maslow revised his original hierarchy of needs to include the desire to know, the desire for beauty, and the desire to go above self-realization into transcendence. The creator of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, killed the puppet after one of his first encounters with trouble, leaving him sadly hanging in a tree; tricked, robbed, and murdered. It was only when the audience cried out for more that the author brought the puppet back to life with the aid of the magical fairy. This is why we revise, to make it better. 

A problem arises when making it better hinders progress. We can be paralyzed by the immensity of the work, but we can also become stuck when we try to contain keep it fluid. Creation is an attempt to freeze knowledge so it can be used to keep other things cold, to be shared, or to be turned back into water, to be saved. I’m adding connections for this dissertation right now, but I know I must stay where I was frozen in order to finish and share my knowledge. Trying to add to it, I would get a larger mass of ice; there would be more meaning, but it would never be perfect. In order to make it perfect, I would always be in revision and it would have no meaning when I’m gone if I didn’t create something with it while I am alive. My research would contain more meaning, but it would be meaningless. 

If our time was infinite, we could grow infinitely but we know that it is not. To give our life meaning, to share what we learned, what it meant to us, we need to create. For the creations to have meaning, they must be shared, and for them to have value, the interpretation needs to inspire growth. If my creation was perfect, there would be no growth and no inspiration.Perfect doesn’t exist. Only change exists. Something can be perfect for an instant and unbalanced the next due to external change.

Knowledge, like water can be contained and it can flow.Writing is like ice. The water doesn’t stop changing because it is frozen, it is there and can be used to keep other liquid cold. Icecan be used to create awe-inspiring works of art or it can sink the Titanic. It is the same water, archetypal. When frozen, it appears solid but with warmth, relationship, it melts and again becomes fluid. Ice can do nothing or everything, just like art. Ice itself is not powerful; what is created from ice, how it is used, and how it is interpreted is powerful. and this is how we live. Whether our passion is for the traditional arts or finding patterns in mathematical equations, creation is art when it is soul driven, and it transcends when it goes beyond to feed the soul of the world. My ice, my chosen art for this project is this dissertationand the method I use to interpret, craft, and relate my thoughts are through story.

Literature review, Relationship – Into, Through, and Beyond

Catalyst for beyond

A catalyst is an event or person that initiates change. The word is derived from Greek and means “to dissolve. The catalyst f or this dissertation was a desire to improve academically, professionally, and personally. The catalyst is a reason to do something and that reason internalizes to become drive, or motivation. The thesis paper for my first masters’ degree focused on motivation in the classroom. When I started teaching in college, I learned that I needed to go beyond motivation and into mythological solutions. 

The catalysts for a goal are infinite; there are known, unknown, and hidden catalysts. Relationships are catalysts. How we relate to self and how we relate to the collective, this is how we think. We think relationship. Relationship is the bridge. To understand relationship, I will look through depth psychology, education, and myth.

The relationships we choose shape us, which is why our choices matter. The way we communicate with each other, how we relate; this is the key to making change. The collective is infinite. The difficulty we find is in choosing relationships, both what we relate to and how. The amount of research partners is also infinite. As I write this, someone else is writing something on the exact topics that I am researching, and I am making new connections. They are everywhere and I keep wanting to includemore conversation partners for this dissertation. I need to choose which conversations to include.

Some conversations happen with authors (text), some with people, and some within my mind as a reaction to experiences.In order to make the text flow, I needed to make it static, and freeze it. This does not mean I don’t have other ways I want to use the text; it is just how I am forming it to be thawed out and shared with others. I chose to include John Langan for academic reading skills, Carl Jung for depth psychology, Joseph Campbell for mythology, Hornung. Abt and Pearson for mentors, and experience to tie it all together. Understanding how the ice was formed should make it easier to interpret the meaning and recognizing that, like the knowledge I gained from these authors, my writing is not solid, it is only frozen.  

Into, Academic reading skills

John Langan  patterns in reading

One of the original catalysts for returning to school was to become a better educator and, in that way, make a larger positive influence. This section provides the foundation for the skills instruction but is not a comprehensive discussion on the issues of or surrounding academic reading, it remains on the surface. This is appropriate as it is not a dissertation on reading; it is a dissertation for Mythology and Depth Psychology. Reading is merely the context to apply the knowledge gained in the research for this dissertation. 

As an academic reading professor, my professional objective is to address the students’ minds and teach them the academic reading skills they need to complete their college work. Without these skills, the students will falter. As a foundation, these classes are generally taken in the first year, before the higherlevel writing classes. The following chapter of the dissertation explains specific skills taught to improve students’ reading and ways to teach those skills. 

This section lays the foundation for the curriculum and adds validity and meaning for the class. It is not “just” a class for understanding personal growth or “just” to address the inner, unseen, forces that hinder a student’s progress. Since skills are seen and measurable, they are surface, they are valid; inner struggles and strengths are unseen and deeper It is widely accepted that students need to know how to deconstruct a text for understanding but it isn’t as widely accepted that the inner deconstruction, or descent, also needs to be modeled and practiced through stories. The pattern for academic reading mirrors the pattern for underworld mythology. Also, adults do not see themselves as needing growth. This curriculum gives them personal skills to manage the stresses of college in the accepted form of academic learning.

To address reading skills, this dissertation engages the Townsend Press college literacy program, specifically John Langan’s College Reading Essentials. I like these books for their ease of use and low cost to students. Another benefit for these textbooks is that they are part of a larger program for Townsend Press. The books are supported with online exercises and assessments for students, vocabulary work, PowerPoints for instruction and reports for progress monitoring.

Most of my experience and research in adult reading education has been with the John Langan “Ten Steps” books. These books break the process for understanding and comprehension into tens steps. I modified the book when I used it and had written the way I proposed to restructure the information and the reasoning for it. However, after I made my changes, Townsend Press published the “College Reading Essentials” book which addressed my largest issues with the previous texts by streamlining the material and limiting the process to seven essential steps. 

In high school, it is acceptable to merely comprehend the material because students do not always have enough prior knowledge, or experience, to critically think beyond the text.They know how to find information and understand the meaning, but they are not required to give it meaning. In college, students are required to go deeper than comprehension into critical thinking and original response. The difference between comprehension and critical thinking is the addition of the self, what does the individual think about or respond to the material. This is not simply a retelling of the information presented. In order to succeed in college, students need to have certain study skills to manage academics. Study skills are fundamental but the tools to face the internal challenges and conquer external personal and academic challenges experienced while in college are equally, if not more crucial for incoming college students. The combination of strengthening study skills and self-knowledge will give students the tools for critical response and personal story for success in college and beyond.

Into, Adult education and depth psychology

Carl Jung  The collective, the individual, and unity

As an educator and depth psychologist, I was drawn to Carl Jung and his knowledge of education and individuation. His words, though written more than fifty years ago, apply directly to education of adults today. Many students reach community college without the ability to comprehend a text, let alone think or respond in a critical way. These students do not relate to the text in a meaningful way. They do not internalize their reading; they just let the words wash over them without affecting change.Many students live their lives the way they read. They are passive, they let life happen to them because they do not know what they want or how to achieve their goals. These students see themselves as victims and let barriers become excuses instead of opportunities for growth. Modeling active reading and underworld growth and connecting the two to the college experience gives students a powerful tool to understand and manage college life. This connection is what makes the material have meaning.

Children are often trained; adolescents and adults need to be educated. “At present 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” (17, Essentials). Jung points out that education, whether formal or informal, is a necessary element of adult life. I believe this to be a key difference between training and educating because it adds the element of self. “The indispensable basis of self-education is self-knowledge” (Jung, 58). Some people only desire to be trained. They do not want to apply themselves or to be changed in any meaningful way. This is where art comes in because art can’t be interpreted without the soul. It is true what teachers often say, “you will get out of this class what you put into it.” The more of the soul a student puts into their learning, the more meaning they will get from their effort and they will have better motivation. In order to put the self into education, a student must first learn about themselves, their inner known and unknown, the soul. 

To add soul to learning is to add meaning. Reading for understanding doesn’t require soulful interaction. Reading for meaning goes deeper. One way to add soul is to provide meaningful interactions with meaningful texts.  “The educational method, then, that will 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” (Jung 58). Teaching through story internalizes the material though the self, or soul. 

It is more valuable to give examples and show students the possibilities rather than just pointing out the formulas and answers. Palmer argues, “real learning does not occur until students are brought into relationship with the teacher, with each other, and with the subject. We cannot learn deeply and well until a community of learning is created in the classroom” (xvi). Stories give another context to create relationships. Individuals can relate to the situation, the characters, and the feelings and find meaning. Bruno Bettelheim, an educational psychologistexpressed that our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives” (3). Reading is a way to find meaning and this dissertation asserts that the process is archetypal and can be translated and applied to many life transitions to encourage growth.

Through  Support, Mentorship, and application

Support, Joseph Campbell and the power of myth

The response, or way to unify depth psychology with academic reading skills in a meaningful way is to use stories, specifically myth. For this dissertation, I chose to focus on underworld mythology. The journey to the underworld requires digging, thought, and innovation to resurface into a better self. The problem isn’t that we don’t have the knowledge of how to do what we want, the problem is often that we don’t know what we need and what will be best for the collective self, others, and environment. The only way to learn this is to gain knowledge.

We need experience but we don’t have time to learn all things on our own. This is one reason we need to communicate knowledge. Stories share experiences to share knowledge in an indirect way that is more meaningful and soulful than transmission through data. Patterns aren’t enough without connections; those connections are thought. Thought causes intention, guides action, and colors perception. Thought cancontrol us, or we can learn to control our thoughts by editing the stories. What we think is what we become, individually and collectively. 

Joseph Campbell is an ideal partner for engaging the archetypes with myth. Jung identified and defined archetypes and Campbell created the model for the hero’s journey, the monomyth. This model has been interpreted and applied in a variety of ways. Many of the problems we face in our society are due to people not knowing what they want, not seeing value in what they have, or feelings of entitlement. These are all problems of immaturity. The hero’s journey is a map to becoming whole, of becoming a mature adult. This happens differently for each person when it happens, but it follows the same archetypal steps. To help a person navigate these steps in reading can result in mature writing and in life, mature adults. 

Mentors – Into, through, beyond, individual and collectively

Understanding that people need to go through a hero journey to become an adult is one thing; knowing how to apply that knowledge is another. My Research Strategies course shaped my topic, but Myth Motif in Cinema helped me go intoit, Folk & Fairy tales and Archetypal Psychology helped me work through it, and Egyptian Mythology helped me apply it. They became mentors for applying the knowledge in a containable way without losing meaning. In order to go into the influence from each of these classes and the authors they introduced, I need to tell the story of how I encountered the authors. 

In Myth Motif in Cinema class, the film scenes that were missing Aphrodite resonated heavily with me. I read and reread the “Aphrodite” chapter from Pagan Meditations by Ginette Paris, my teacher. I dove into the material in a very personal way. I realized Aphrodite had been missing from my life for a long time. By studying the chapter, I was able to invite her back into my soul. I began painting, learned the guitar, and began to see beauty in life again. I had not realized my soul was so fractured until I learned how to heal through the experience. I did not just read the material, I lived it and that gave it depth of meaning.

The next semester, I took the Folk & Fairy tales class and was introduced to Bruno Bettelheim whose influence helped to think through the material with personal experience. He and other authors opened my eyes to the usefulness of stories and made me think of why we need stories, individually then,collectively. After that, I took Archetypal Psychology. This classgave me a way to connect the archetypes with what I learned about stories and create something for my students.

Story connection – personal depth through experience

I read my children fairy tales from the time they were born. Around the time I was taking the Folk & Fairy tale class, my son was getting old enough to understand some of the deeper, darker elements of our favorite stories. He loved “Hansel and Gretel,” the story of a brother and sister that get abandoned in the woodsby their parents, kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch, and whom they must kill in order to escape. I started to think the storymight be too dark and mature and maybe I should read him something more pleasant, that would have been a mistake.

The class helped me understand the usefulness of challenging myths. The story Hansel and Gretel of two children that overcome some of the worst, scariest evil they could imagine. They did not have help, they had to rely on themselves and be creative problem solvers in order to triumph. They have a hero journey that is relatable and meaningful for children.

I was not exposing my son to bad things he could not imagine, I was showing him a story where children, like he and his sister, triumph over evil. I was giving him a tool to use when he was scared and needed to do something challenging on his own. I wasn’t damaging him; I was empowering him by giving him that story. The class material helped me in my personal challenges, but also helped me see the power of story. It helped me connect the material to my lived experiences and added deeper understanding and meaning. 

Using fairy tales is fun but not the best material for connecting with college students. I tried applying the material with my class. I mistakenly thought my students would be familiar with fairy tales like “Hansel and Gretel” or “Little Red Riding Hood, but more than half of my students were unfamiliar with fairy tales of any kind. I thought I would be building on prior knowledge and be adding depth, but I was wrong. To add to this, my students were needing maturity, not children’s stories. Many of my students expressed interest in mythology. They leaned forward in their seats when I told them myths. Myths are archetypal, complex, and mature – much more appropriate for college students. 

Archetypal psychology introduced me to ways to integrate the knowledge of stories with a knowledge of archetypes, victim mentality, and Carol Pearson’s models for twelve archetypes. Her archetypes made more sense to me than Jung’s archetypesand learning about victim mentality and recognizing it in myself and my students made Campbell’s hero journey have more meaning. While I liked Pearson’s archetypes, twelve was a bit unmanageable for me and I did not pursue it further. 

In the Egyptian mythology course, I was introduced to theAmduat. The Amduat relates the twelve-hour journey of the sungod, Re, as he goes into the land of night and back into morning.The textbook for the course was “Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality” and I carriedlike a religious text. I read and reread the chapters on the sixth and seventh hours and each time, I had a new discovery. The authors, Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung explain Re’s journey as an individuation journey. Their methods helped me not only understand the material, it mentored a way for me to apply the knowledge. I began using the Amduat in my class to talk about how to prepare for college. 

These experiences helped me apply my knowledge, but for the dissertation, I needed to deeper than application. My research brought me to a random article by a researcher that compared the process of writing a dissertation as a hero’s journey. The connections to what I was doing with underworld mythology and academic reading was overwhelming. Sometimes when I was researching, I would become stuck because of the immensity of the research but other times I would also get stuck from the similarity. Singularly, there is no part of my dissertation that is original except my stories. In the beginning, this would make me feel like I was not making a contribution. So much of what I discovered was not new, in fact, it has been known for thousands of years – so why was it important for me to discover it for myself? Connections, only I have the exact experience and thoughts to make the choices to relate the knowledge the way only I can by creating something that includes all of my soul. 

The researcher, Vanessa Villante, used Carol Pearson’s archetypes but she used the six archetype model. I found this model much more manageable and relatable. Maybe Pearson should have stayed with the six archetypes, sometimes adding layers and depth just creates confusion and disconnect. When I read the article, I found that Villante had done what I was attempting to do in the proposal. I will go into further depth with how she influenced this research but at this point, I do feel it is important to comment on two of her findings.

Villante broke the research process into six steps and six corresponding archetypes she felt were activated along the way. I will follow her lead and create a table to consolidate the connections she created. 

Table 1. Villante’s research process, active archetypes, task, and gift

Phase of research process Villante

Active archetype(s) 




Resulting gift 


Identifying research topic


Find his/herself


Conducting the literature review


Survive difficulty


Defining research questions


Find happiness


Collecting data


Find happiness


Analyzing data



Prove his/her worth

Transform his/her life



Writing results



Prove his/her worth

Transform his/her life



Missing archetype


Show generosity


(Villante, 2 and 8). 

Villante’s knowledge is a good place to build new knowledge, a way to connect, and a way to add to the existing conversation. This dissertation has much to comment on the knowledge that Villante created but will limit it at this time to one of her observations and one of my own. Villante noted in the research process, “the most striking aspect of my archetypal reflectivity for my dissertation study is the absence of the altruist during the process” (8). This is an important note when looked at beyond. When we train people to have strength and power without also educating in compassion and unity, we create a Gollum. A creature that can create or destroy based on the input, without will or knowledge. This is an education without soul. This dissertation bridges cold, power with soulful compassion. 

The other striking observation of Villante’s findings for the purpose of my research is the place where most people fail. From identifying a research topic to collecting data, the researcher is going into the material, they are gatheringinformation. This is predominantly surface work. This also takes the individual through the first step to the loss of innocence. This is where the individual becomes faced with adulthood. They have thought and gathered, gathered and thought; but they have yet to produce critical thought or response. From collecting information to going through it and analyzing it; from getting started in college to going through it. From analyzing and understanding the material to giving it meaning and writing it; from going through college, growing, and moving beyond. 

Application, Cranton and transformative education

When I began this dissertation, I had a simple goal; to merge reading and mythology to address the problem of low success rates for community college students, my focus was academic. Along with expanding my awareness of the collective unconscious and archetypes, research opened my mind to the larger issues involved in education, class, and race. Not only have I become more aware of the issues, I have become more aware of the solutions that are being proposed. This knowledge gives added meaning for my research. It gives me an outlet for my creation and give meaning to my work. 

Patricia Cranton’s book on transformative learning first opened my eyes to the importance of education on shaping society. Since then, I have found a sea of research on what needs to change and possible solutions. As a person from a lower to middle class family, it is important to me that people in my community not only have a voice, but have a mature, healthy voice. The people of the community need a collective voice that can understand where we came from, and through hard work, will make our community better. A population of mature adults that can think beyond self and now.

This curriculum was intended to encourage growth for my students, but the intentions were small compared to the implications. Research and thinking gives meaning for me, personally but to go beyond, it needs to be shared. Writing is one way to give my new knowledge meaning but it limits the meaning in one context, one form. I need to apply my knowledge to give it meaning. The applications are endless, and the significance is only limited by the stories it tells, the stories it creates, and the stories it inspires.

Beyond, Significance of study

Into: Academic Reading

The story of this dissertation has yet to be fully written. The hope for meaningful application, my faith that it is valuable, that I am capable, and that it is beneficial carries me forward. This dissertation has clear benefits for community college students. Students need support for the challenges of college into the academics, through self-awareness, and beyond into meaningful growth. Like a river, we need to keep moving and growing in order to avoid stagnation and decay. This dissertation is offering a solution to a need in education but also creates a discussion towards other solutions. When I have context to apply the curriculum, I am sure the experience will cause me to make changes and create growth. 

Through: Mythology and depth

This dissertation helps mythology resurface into the collective consciousness. Applying this curriculum not only brings an interest in mythology, but also gives people the knowledge of how to create mythological solutions to life. Mythology is necessary, this curriculum helps students know of its usefulness to increase their knowledge of its importance, give them the desire to learn more, and help more people to know how to apply it to life. Many people have forgotten how to use stories for joy. Mythology touches the soul, it answers the need to connect and this dissertation answers the personal need to share my knowledge with the collective unconscious, from our depths and into the light. We have grown in knowledge, but we can’t forget soul. The practical implications help us gain knowledge for growth, but the soulful applications go beyond to grow the soul. 

Beyond: Endless possibility

The fluidity of this knowledge limits its contribution only by imagination and application. This dissertation was sparked by a need to help my students in my community, but the applications are as endless. If knowledge is water, need is fire. Fire can grow and create more need or be quenched with water. Heat is the catalyst for change. Without change, knowledge freezes for later need. Change needs direction for growth and growth needs creation to be shared. With too much heat, water evaporates and disappears into the unconscious. Balance is keeping the heat just right for the knowledge to flow forward and beyond. 

Works Cited

“About AB 705.” California Community Colleges Assessment and Placement, July 2018,

Abt, Theodor, and Hornung, Erik.  Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality. Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications, 2003.

Amara, HeatherAsh. Warrior Goddess Training. Hierophant Publishing, 2015.

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Knopf, 1976. 

Campbell, Joseph, and David Kudler. Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation. Yogi Impressions, 2018.

Campbell, Joseph, et al. The Power of Myth. Turtleback Books, 2012. 

Cranton, Patricia. Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning: a Guide for Educators of Adults. Jossey-Bass, 2006.

Cron, Lisa. Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. New York: Ten Speed, 2012. 

Dovey, Ceridwen. “Can Reading Make You Happier?” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 17 July 2018,

Duncan-Andrade, Jeffrey M. R., and Ernest Morrell. The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools. Peter Lang, 2008.

“Follow Your Bliss.” JCF, 28 Apr. 2019,

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Mariner Books, 2013.

Jenkins, Davis. “Community College Research Center.” Community College Research Center, Oct. 2014,

Jung, C. G., and Anthony Storr. The Essential Jung. Princeton University Press, 2013.

Jung, C. G., Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, and Gerhard Adler. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. New York: Pantheon, 1966. 

Langan, John. College Reading Essentials. Townsend Press Book Center, 2018.

Paris, Ginette, and Gwendolyn Moore. Pagan Meditations: the Worlds of Aphrodite, Artemis, and Hestia. Spring Publ., 1991.

Pearson, Carol. The Hero within: Six Archetypes We Live By. HarperSanFrancisco, 2003.

Viscott, David. Finding Your Strength in Difficult Times. McGraw Hill Professional, 2003.