The Hero's Journey: Understanding Our Roles Through A Wellbeing Lens.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T.S. Elliot 

As we begin to emerge from weeks of remote learning and social restrictions, for many, a new sense of trepidation and unease begins to rise. While some are ready to jump the gates to return to life in the "new normal," others are experiencing a lingering fear of contagion of the virus, anxiety about social connections, and worries about coping with school work. Others yet are experiencing sadness about the loss of things gained during the lockdown. So how do we move forward together in a landscape with so many variables and ongoing uncertainty?

Many of you know the work of Dr. Arne Rubenstein from the Rites of Passage Institute. During the pandemic, he has held weekly fireside webinars to support parents to navigate this unchartered experience. This graphic outlines the ancient wisdom within the stages of the Rites of Passage.

"Marking the transition from one stage of life to another is fundamental in the growth, connectedness, and health of an individual and community" – Arne Rubinstein.

Another archetypal framework that mirrors this is the narrative of The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell. It offers a useful wellbeing lens that can be individuated and collectively celebrated. It is something that everyone is familiar with, as it provides the structure for almost every movie. Think Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Moama, the Incredibles, Toy Story.

In these movies, we identify with the "hero." He needs to leave a place of familiarity and safety, goes forth on an adventure, learns to overcome challenges as they present, find inner strengths overcoming adversity, and return home with new wisdom that is personal and beneficial to their community. 

Through a wellbeing lens, The Hero's Journey is a powerful metaphor to help explore & reframe the challenges student (and ourselves) are experiencing during the pandemic. In context, this narrative framework explains their need for self-determination: to experience autonomy, competence, and connection as a means to strengthen resilience.

  •  Separation from what's normal & familiar
  • Acceptance of the call to adventure 
  • "The journey." 
  • What have you learned from this experience to help us overcome challenges?
  • What gifts do you return with?

In preparation for students returning to school, we have surveyed our senior cohort to learn from their experiences, understand their challenges, and illicit the "strengths" they learned about themselves during this period, and what they are most looking forward to upon their return to school. 

I am both heartened and impressed by their candour and the authenticity of their responses thus far. 

"I've learned that even though things are different, I can still make the most of it. "
"That caring for others and I have become an even bigger thing for me to refine and focus on."
"I work so much better when I sleep!"
"I need social interaction for my mental health."
"I'm a much better independent learner than I thought."
"That I can adapt to change."

And, in regards to their return to school, the three most important things they have identified are:

  • Reconnecting with friends
  • Getting back to class
  •  Maintaining their wellbeing

If you're wondering, students in years 7-10 will also be allowed to respond to a survey to help us plan and respond to their needs.

As families preparing for your child(ren) to return to school, I offer the following for your consideration. The "supporting role" you play in this story cannot be underestimated.

  • Communicate Positively – Identify what went well? Share & explore home learning experiences. Play to your/ their strengths to build confidence.
  • Stretch Psychologically – begin to go out, test how it feels. No one size fits all. 
  • Reset routine & structure – Ensure that this includes a balance of academic, creative, physical, and social activities. Prepare mindfully.
  • Make a plan that includes identifying "supports" at home and school to reduce anxiety and keep a check on expectations. 
  • Re-new school-family connections. Reach out if you need assistance

Success in life is not about being good at everything. Success is about discovering what you are good at, developing those strengths and applying them to other areas where possible. Some children believe that unless they a good at everything, they are not smart or successful. If this belief persists, they lose motivation, fear making mistakes and avoid learning. A child whose parent knows how to help them discover their learning strengths and use them to build success in other areas is much more likely to remain confident and motivated. – Andrew Fuller

By applying a wellbeing lens to The Hero's Journey, our role and firm intention to welcome and support our students return to school. We hope that by to scaffolding the lessons learned in isolation into this next phase of their educational journey, we will respond to evidence that students' resilience is strengthened because,

"…there is no growth without struggle"….

Yours in supporting & promoting positive student wellbeing,

Director of Counselling