SUMMARY AND OBSERVATIONS:
In the last two weeks I have stumbled into a maize of logistical roadblocks in pulling our backpacking trip together and at first glace very little emphasis has been put on the specific focus of my action research. In short: One week before the trip the VP apologized to me that she had not submitted the correct form to the school board last April for our overnight trip and that we needed two weeks minimum notice to them in order to “re-apply” for permission; My meeting last Tuesday with the students was scattered with apologies and uncertainty yet we still proceeded with the personal gear check and I included a structure we’ll continue to use called “Moment of Silence” to begin our inner exploration. The group limit has expanded to 15 and there were 18 at the meeting so we had a wide range of English speaking ability and familiarity with the Wilderness Rites of Passage program that we are piloting. The ten original students were selected last June and I have been in touch with them and their families since then but we wanted to include a demographic of native English speakers that are somehow involved with current school leadership to “balance our boat”. We rescheduled for October 8-11 and put in the right forms; Then found out that the gear we had reserved would be used by another group at that time; I canceled our meeting on Thursday because I didn’t feel prepared to proceed when we might have to re-schedule again or change our trip from backpacking to sleeping at a lodge. Currently I am scrambling for partners to give in-kind donations of gear through rental waivers or as a permanent donation to maintain the backpacking trip but I also investigated availability of a lodge who donated a total of 3 nights stay; On Monday AM I have a meeting with the district coordinator of Faces of Fitness and it looks like he will get us part of the way there for the gear donations; Monday PM is the re-scheduled student meeting and I’ll plan the agenda based on the feasibility of getting the gear – My overall intention was to go on the backpacking trip to form relational trust within our cohort of leaders and then dive into topics around environmental justice but now our trip is much later and I will need to dive into those topics before the trip – I am very nervous about this and still negotiating that territory.
I said that at first glance I have been off focus for the actual action research but now reflecting back I realize that there have been abundant opportunities for data collection. I have had meetings with the Executive Director (ED) for Wasatch Community Gardens and a founder of a youth lead gardening and leadership program in Austin Texas, ED for Utah Society for Environmental Education, the director of sustainability initiatives at Westminster College, outreach specialists at two REI locations, community relations coordinator for SPLORE an outdoor program organization for people with disabilities, the Salt Lake School District fitness specialist and the outdoor recreation program manager for the University of Utah. All of these people received some explanation the Wilderness Rites of Passage Program and some of them I also went into depth around the Utah 350 walk.
In summary, everything has not gone as planned and my paradigm of a “routine” for data collection was thrown off because I didn’t have the structure of teacher and student meetings. Below I will explain how I’m going to modify my data collection to be more fluid as I spontaneously adapt to changes in logistics.
After reading Coleen’s Rachel’s and Kelly’s feed back on my updates I feel more at liberty to shape this experience in a way that will most profoundly affect my teaching and learning practice. I am still captivated by the idea of teachers as healers and story tellers that we explored this summer and my teaching practice this semester will include a lot of sharing my story with others to see how that affects my well-being. The metaphor of analyzing well-being through weather and climate serves me because as I have chosen a topic that is controversial in the state of Utah I am bound to find gray weather days in terms of emotional and physical well-being yet uncover a positive trend of improvement over many days that would represent the climate of my well being.
Overall, since the last update I have been thrown off by my changes in logistics and kept saying to myself, “I’ll get to the well-being part and the journaling as soon as the meetings and structure of the Wilderness Rites of Passage are more consistent but right now I have to get the ____ ________ __________ (money, gear, partners, permissions, etc.). As I write this I realize this all fits into the upper right and maybe the lower right of an integral theory quadrant and part of what I always struggle with in any job setting is that I put off other aspects because I place priority on that objective side and I deny or put off, the personal feelings I am having and the emotional experiences of our collective group that is forming our culture – They are things I am aware of and I value them but they almost always come second. The thing I value about Integral Theory and why I want to use it for recording my well being is that there is an explicit honoring of both the objective and subjective in a way that does not place more value on one or the other – This is the “both, and” instead of the “either, or” language that Abigail has often used. I understand this conceptually but I am still trying to put it into practice.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND READINGS:
This week I focused on “reading the world” rather than “reading the word”. My elk hunt with the two friends I learned falconry with in college with will become a story to share with my students that demonstrates the three phases of the Hero’s Journey – Departing, Initiating and Returning – I will analyze the slide shown viewed here – – with the smaller sub-phases described from the appendix A in my proposal (see below) – Then I will share the story with my students and help them create a similar one of our backpacking trip – the slid show ends at the Returning Phase at which point we will have to decide what to do with our new found knowledge of self….
In reflection to what I wrote above I realize that I like structure and am lacking it right now. I am going to detail a modified structure for data collection in response to what Colleen, Rachel, Kelly and Judy have shared with me.
I will increase my journaling about my weekly meetings with students to include entries about email, phone and in person dialogue with anyone I encounter. I will also set another calendar to reflect our trip date change and when I will initiate student and teacher journals, interviews and questionnaires.
Before I leave on my Utah 350 walk I will analyze any trends in those journal entries. As the topic of the Wilderness Rites of Passage (WRP) program and the Utah 350 walk is brought up in formal meetings, informal dialogue or through teaching curriculum, I am recording journal entries divided into the four quadrants from Integral Theory. The entries start in note form for each quadrant and then I follow up with a reflection that combines field notes and personal narrative on my experiences. I would love some guidance on what to include in this portion i.e. sentence stems or some other consistent structure to help me follow through with the journaling – Right now I keep putting it off until too late, the four quadrants note taking helps because it quickly addresses many forms of well being (see below)
How did I feel? Spiritually? Emotionally? Physically? How did I view what happened?
What is my understanding of the group feeling? How do I think/feel this affects our group culuture? How did I view how others responded?
I am trying to write separate entries when I discuss the WRP versus the Utah 350 walk because although I am sharing the walk as a form of activism within the WRP program I notice that I am more hesitant to share details of the UT 350 walk when I’m talking with someone I don’t know well yet. If an interaction includes a discussion about both then I will indicate that – the codes for the two will be WRP and UT350.
I will also code the entries about each interaction with a I=informal (Peer to Peer context); F=formal (I hold the power seat and am sharing to a designated audience); C=Colleagues (This is informal by nature but different because I consider myself part of a professional setting) AR=Action Research Community (I will use this in relation to the ETL cohort and any others who fully understand my action research – some may start out as one of the other codes and move to this if they get more involved, for example interactions with Mike and Rebecca have fluctuated between I and C depending on where we are having the conversation and the tone of our conversation, it is usually one or the other).
As I am writing I realize that I can do this type of journaling quite quickly and I will likely do brief “well-being” sketches using the four quadrants after I read student or teacher journals, watch video of meetings and interviews, or re-read emails about the form of activism that I will be sharing.
In addition I plan to have the teachers and students journal about their own well-being as soon as I can provide a structure with sentence stems that helps define well-being and guides them to reflect on how they are being affected by our experiences together and the things I share through one form of activism around climate change.
One outcome that is not within the data I am analyzing through my action research project is that each student or the group of students will be able to identify needs of their community in relation to the environment and take action on addressing those needs. The way I am modeling my experience to set up and complete the Utah 350 walk will explicitly outline how I have arrived at taking that action (identifying needs – Departing Phase) and then initiating the action (The trials and courage to proceed – Initiation Phase) and finally what new conclusions and questions arrive after completing the action (Overall effects of the action and where to go next – Returning Phase). I only write this here to remind myself that this is within the program I am piloting and experimenting with but it does not have to be part of my action research – I think I will continually need reminders and help with clarification on what is related to my research and what is related to developing a new program – I need to imagine that the WRP is like my job and that while there are millions of things I am doing from curriculum design, to collaboration, to networking, to assessment, to fundraising – My action research is only one aspect of what I want to shine light on and improve which is my well-being.
Hero’s Journey – Summary of Steps
1. The Call to Adventure
The call to adventure is the point in a person’s life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.
2. Refusal of the Call
Often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to heed it. This may be from a sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a sense of inadequacy, or any of a range of reasons that work to hold the person in his or her current circumstances.
3. Supernatural Aid
Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his or her guide and magical helper appears, or becomes known.
4. The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.
5. The Belly of the Whale
The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s known world and self. It is sometimes described as the person’s lowest point, but it is actually the point when the person is between or transitioning between worlds and selves. The separation has been made, or is being made, or being fully recognized between the old world and old self and the potential for a new world/self. The experiences that will shape the new world and self will begin shortly, or may be beginning with this experience which is often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.
1. The Road of Trials
The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.
2. The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess represents the point in the adventure when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. It is also known as the “hieros gamos”, or sacred marriage, the union of opposites, and may take place entirely within the person. In other words, the person begins to see him or herself in a non-dualistic way. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely. Although Campbell symbolizes this step as a meeting with a goddess, unconditional love and /or self unification does not have to be represented by a woman.
3. Woman as the Temptress
At one level, this step is about those temptations that may lead the hero to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which as with the Meeting with the Goddess does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. For Campbell, however, this step is about the revulsion that the usually male hero may feel about his own fleshy/earthy nature, and the subsequent attachment or projection of that revulsion to women. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.
4. Atonement with the Father
In this step the person must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life. In many myths and stories this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This is the center point of the journey. All the previous steps have been moving in to this place, all that follow will move out from it. Although this step is most frequently symbolized by an encounter with a male entity, it does not have to be a male; just someone or thing with incredible power. For the transformation to take place, the person as he or she has been must be “killed” so that the new self can come into being. Sometime this killing is literal, and the earthly journey for that character is either over or moves into a different realm.
To apotheosize is to deify. When someone dies a physical death, or dies to the self to live in spirit, he or she moves beyond the pairs of opposites to a state of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state; the person is in heaven and beyond all strife. A more mundane way of looking at this step is that it is a period of rest, peace and fulfillment before the hero begins the return.
6. The Ultimate Boon
The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal of the quest. It is what the person went on the journey to get. All the previous steps serve to prepare and purify the person for this step, since in many myths the boon is something transcendent like the elixir of life itself, or a plant that supplies immortality, or the holy grail.
1. Refusal of the Return
So why, when all has been achieved, the ambrosia has been drunk, and we have conversed with the gods, why come back to normal life with all its cares and woes?
2. The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
3. Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often times he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience. Or perhaps the person doesn’t realize that it is time to return, that they can return, or that others need their boon.
4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. This is usually extremely difficult.
5. Master of the Two Worlds
In myth, this step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
6. Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.