TEACHER: Seeking the Vocational Archetype

Jung says: “The only thing that distinguishes [an individual] from all the others is [his/her] vocation. He has been called by that all-powerful, all-tyrannizing psychic necessity that is his own and his peoples affliction.”

~ The Development of Personality, CW 17, par.304.

TEACHER: Seeking the Vocational Archetype
As a teacher, I equate the teacher-student relationship with one of both mind and soul – learning and child development. Teachers inspire the minds and nurture the souls of their students.
The consciousness of mind and soul are different. Soul consciousness has an imagistic nature that can see the classic, cultural models of perfection, rarely achieved by an individual, but always present in the form of the spiritual archetypes that stand behind the individual’s personality. Thus, an archetype is an ideal that resides within.

For example, there is an archetype for the child found in the image of the “divine child” in many cultures. In the adolescent, the imagistic nature in the soul is that of the young heroic archetype. In young people, these archetypes can be wounded and fall into the darkness. The archetype of the teacher dwells in the imagistic nature of the soul and is expressed in personality and character. However, in the modern world we have lost touch with this imagistic archetypal essence within that calls us to our vocation, our calling, and we must seek that vocational archetype on our own, through trial and error.

This book is a picture of my own process of seeking the teacher archetype during the first years of my teaching career. I hope that you will enjoy my descriptions of experiences with my students that were a major part of that process. The other part was to find and defend a philosophy of education that worked in the autonomy of the classroom and evoked the teacher archetype in front of my students, their parents, and the administration.
Autonomy in the classroom, built on trust and respect from students, their parents, and the leadership in the school community, gives the archetype of the teacher a strong voice in that community. This book will inspire, encourage, and empower teachers who are seeking the vocational archetype in themselves and giving voice to the vocational archetype in our school communities and in our culture.

Mitchell elucidates for us how he had to fine and to give strength to the archetype of the teacher within his own personality. This is the true meaning of vocation: vocare, to be called.
The teacher archetype exists in a unitary reality, and it has “two feet,” one in the world and one in the hidden depths of one’s own personality, and it needs to be evoked. Robert Mitchell carefully explains all of this in a pragmatic, down to earth way, with personal stories eloquently interwoven throughout the book. In this sense, the book is exemplary: a model for teachers who are actively seeking the archetype of the teacher to help them become truer to their own calling from which to speak as authorities on education at whatever grade level. Mitchell embodies today not only the teacher archetype but the archetype of the psychosocially and psychologically attuned mentor, to teachers.
Steven Herrmann, PhD, MFT, Author:
Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

President Eisenhower warned of the growth of the “military-industrial complex.” Lawrence Cremin Dean of U.S. educational history, extended Eisenhower’s warning to the “military-industrial-educational” complex. In this cultural complex, schools would serve to depersonalize education by neglecting – indeed, by erasing – the child’s individual potentials and perspectives, by means of a standardized curriculum, mechanical assessments, and obedient teachers, whose classrooms would be increasingly surveilled by the state.
Mitchell’s distinguished career has been a heroic response to this dire threat posed to the souls of our children and the dream of democracy. TEACHER takes his game to a new level by his particularly adroit deployment of the fullness of Jungian psychology to the wide range of problems besetting our schools today. TEACHER is a must-read for anyone who loses sleep over what is wrong with American education and what to do about it.
Dr. Clifford Mayes, Professor of Educational Psychology, Author: Archetype, Culture, and the Individual in Education: The Three Pedagogical Narratives.