ERIC Number: EJ1069044
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
What's the Point of Me? James Hillman's Acorn Theory and the Role of Teachers
Roberts, Susan C.
Independent School, v74 n4 Sum 2015
On the subject of identity crises which we all face from time to time, The late James Hillman, a maverick Jungian psychologist, summed up the problem this way: "Today's main paradigm for understanding a human life, the interplay of genetics and environment, omits something essential the particularity you feel to be you." In his 1996 manifesto, "The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling," he offers a solution to this dilemma with his "acorn theory." Beyond nature and nurture, he posits the existence of a third force shaping a person's personality and character, namely the imprint of our unique individuality that is stamped on each of our souls. This imprint, or "acorn," as he puts it, carries in seed form our habits and mannerisms, loves and hates, predilections and passions. It is that irreducible essence to which a man of 80 refers when he claims he is the same person he was at age 10. Only now, near the end of life, is the image contained in the acorn displayed for all to see, in the form of the full-grown oak tree that is his biography. The process of growing this oak tree, becoming the person one was meant to become, is what gives meaning and purpose to life, according to Hillman: "For that is what is lost in so many lives, and what must be recovered: a sense of personal calling, that there is a reason I am alive." As the forces of globalization, economic downsizing, and runaway technology seem to reduce human beings to antlike insignificance, Hillman's ideas seem more vital than ever. Hillman would restore dignity and value to the individual. Here Susan Roberts believes his acorn theory has particular relevance for those in the field of education who lament that our schools are losing touch with a central piece of their missions: the care of young souls and the fostering of community.
Descriptors: Teacher Role, Social Cognition, Professional Identity, Theory of Mind, Motivation, Motivation Techniques, Educational Practices, Educational Philosophy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
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