The Ancient Art of Arkhelogy: The Importance of the Core Self and Core Writing

Jennifer van Bergen

[Note: This is the sixth part in a seven-part series.]

PART SIX: International High School Writing Programs

This part of my series on the Ancient Skill of Arkhelogy will discuss the international educational system standards. The next and final part of the series will consider the possibility and efficacy of adopting the archetypes approach in place of current writing curricula, in addition to it, as an elective writing class, or as a the basis of a new understanding of writing and of education. To start with, let us take a look at two international schools and their writing programs.

The UNIS Curriculum

The United Nations International School (UNIS) web site offers a short, useful description of its curriculum goals for English:

UNIS students love to write. Writing is at the heart of the English program in the Junior, Middle and High Schools. All students write almost every day, in school and at home, in script and with the computer, in draft and for publication. Students shape their experiences, imagination and reading into literary responses of stories, poems, plays, memoirs and series. They learn to write with clarity, grace and accuracy by practicing, reading, listening and editing. They study grammar throughout the process.

Reading fine literature inspires fine writing. Students at all grade levels are exposed to classic and contemporary literature by women and men from different countries and cultures. The curriculum includes works by North American, European, Australasian, African, Asian, Latin American, Caribbean and Native American authors (UNIS, 2008, English).(Full citations are included at the end of part seven.)

The goals of this program are high-level and laudable. However, the program addresses writing as a discipline of English, rather than as a means of personal expression and development. Of course, the inclusion of literature reading and creative writing suggests that such matters are addressed in the program. However, the subject of “the creative process” is not mentioned in the English curriculum; rather, it is mentioned on the page for the Art curriculum (UNIS, 2008, Art). The description of the Junior Art Program states that the program “assumes that young artists gain the confidence to express themselves naturally when given the opportunity to explore, to practice skills and to try out new ideas in a supportive environment” (UNIS, 2008, Art). The focus, therefore, appears to be on the students “expressing themselves naturally.” Nonetheless, the description adds: “For the early years, the emphasis in teaching is placed on building a broad foundation that will provide each child with the meaningful experiences needed to make informed decisions in creative work” (UNIS, 2008, Art). Thus, it appears that the real focus in the Art program is on “making informed decisions” in “creative work.” While it is unclear what that means, it seems apparent that the intention is to foster knowledge, not self-expression.

This conclusion is confirmed – despite the caveat that “students work with considerable independence on portfolios that form the beginning of a personal artistic direction” -- by the description of the Middle School Art program, which notes that “sketchbooks are intended to build an understanding of art as an investigation in developing ideas, exploring process, making connections to different traditions and learning specific skills and vocabulary” (UNIS, 2008, Art).

On the page for the music program, UNIS states: “Music is fundamental to the human condition—it is an essential source of communication, expression and understanding” (UNIS, 2008, Music). This description is closer to the Arkhelogy premises. The music page further states: “Through the study of music, students are encouraged to be more comfortable with the scope of their own feelings and more considerate of the feelings of others” (UNIS, 2008, Music).

Similar to the general approaches outlined for Art and English, the music program offers younger children “[s]inging games and dances [to] help to internalize music concepts and teach music in real-life situations,” while the emphasis for older children is technical skill and discipline: e.g., the music program develops skills that increase “technical proficiency and expressiveness on an instrument or voice, self-discipline, personal organization and individual effort” (UNIS, 2008, Music).

In all three programs, older students are given the option to specialize but there is no option for them to pursue their real writing – nor could there be, since real writing has not been (and could not be) identified or defined.

UNIS has created a set of guiding principles which are too lengthy to quote in full here (UNIS, 2008, Mission & Guiding Principles). They are attached in Appendix A. These guiding principles are, interestingly, inherent in Arkhelogy premises. For example, UNIS students are exhorted to care for others, as they would have others care for them. This value is inherent in much of archetypes work, but most directly in analogues work. (Again, in the analogues exercise, students are asked to identify what they think another person is feeling in a particular circumstance and to find a circumstance in their own lives in which they think they felt similarly.)

According to the guiding principles, UNIS students are expected to build understanding and trust, develop personal values, attain depth and breadth of academic knowledge and understanding, acquire the skills that support intellectual endeavor and academic success, solve problems independently and in cooperation with others, acquire aesthetic appreciation, and so on. Some of these will be immediately familiar with anyone who has read my book; others are not as obvious, but are understandings that are embedded within Arkhelogy and without which it could not exist.

For example, building understanding and trust is part of the process of doing archetypes, either in the process of gradually unearthing one's own material to one's teacher or in using the new skills on others. Academic knowledge and understanding may be acquired independently of archetypes work, of course, but are also a natural outgrowth of it, since when one works towards the realization of one's own writing, one naturally seeks to acquire knowledge and understanding to support it.

Importantly, the fact that Arkhelogy may incorporate the guiding principles of UNIS does not mean that the UNIS guiding principles add up to the promises and mandates of archetypes work. Such principles should be seen as fundamental, sine qua non components of Arkhelogy, but Arkhelogy proposes something far greater.

This discussion of the UNIS curriculum, reveals some underlying principles that inform Arkhelogy. It also reveals what an arkhelogist would see as critical missing elements, when viewed in the light of archetypes work.

PART SIX: Current Trends & the IB Program Current Trends

Before looking at a particular program model into which an Arkhelogy program may be incorporated, it may be useful to look briefly at current trends in “creative writing” programs.

One educator writes in The Times Higher Education Supplement: “Creative writing is as popular today as critical theory was a decade ago” (Hancock, 2008). The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) states that “classes in creative writing are among the most popular and over-subscribed electives among undergraduates” (p.2). However, AWP also notes that, despite the popularity of creative writing courses, “BAs in English have fallen from 7 out of every 100 BAs conferred in the 1970s to less than 4 out of every 100 conferred today” (p.2).

The reason cited by AWP -- referencing National Education Association’s report “Reading at Risk” -- is that the “percentage of adults reading literature has declined by 28% among 18-year-olds to 24-year olds since 1982” (p.2). Scholars with the Council of Writing Program Administrators confirm this view and note that reading pedagogy “is rarely included in composition research, graduate composition courses, or first-year writing program development materials” (Adler-Kassner & Estrem, p.36).

The AWP distinguishes between, on the one hand, “courses in writing offered by an undergraduate or graduate literature program or department, and, on the other, a coherent curriculum in literature and creative writing designed for writing students” (p. 6). AWP also distinguishes three categories of writing programs: (1) “Studio writing programs [which] place primary emphasis on the student’s writing experience within the program,” (2) “Studio/Research writing programs [which] usually place equal emphasis, in their curricula, on the student’s writing and literary scholarship, with the belief that the study of literature is crucial to one’s development as a writer,” and (3) “Research/Theory/Studio writing programs [which] emphasize literary scholarship and the study and practice of literary theory”(p. 7).

AWP suggests that a “successful creative writing program has accomplished writers as faculty members” (p.9). They define “core faculty” as those who “have distinguished themselves as artists who have published significant work in one or more of the following genres: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, drama, or screenwriting” (p.10).

My opinion on these issues differs significantly from the sources cited (who may be considered experts on the matter). As noted earlier, my discoveries about the global skill of “doing archetypes” show that this skill, which is a core skill required to do one's own writing, has nothing to do with the skills needed to be an accomplished, published writer (in any genre or form). Neither literature-reading, itself, nor composition classes, grammar skills, writing workshops (in which students produce and have critiqued their own writing), nor critiques from “distinguished” writers – while all valuable and even necessary to “good” writing -- will foster the innate skill of doing archetypes.

The IB Model

An archetypes for writers program could be added into or merged with other standard educational programs. Particularly in the international educational system, an archetypes writing program has great promise. While this paper critiques international educational programs and shows them lacking an educational component which is critical and essential to education, it does not purport to reject, supersede, override, or disparage international school programs. Indeed, the international educational environment is the one most viable for the incorporation of an archetypes curriculum, where it could set the standard worldwide.

Let us take a quick look at one model for international schools into which an archetypes for writers program may be incorporated. The International Baccalaureate (IB) program offers a model for international schools. The Diploma Programme [sic] is a “challenging two-year curriculum, primarily aimed at students aged 16 to 19” (International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), 2009b). The IB web site importantly notes that: “Students learn more than a collection of facts” (IBO, 2009b). The web site continues:

The Diploma Programme prepares students for university and encourages them to:

ask challenging questions
learn how to learn
develop a strong sense of their own identity and culture
develop the ability to communicate with and understand people from other countries and cultures (IBO, 2009b).

In the program, students study six subjects chosen from the six subject groups, complete an extended series, follow a theory of knowledge course (TOK), and participate in creativity, action, service (CAS) (IBO, 2009a). “Three of the six subjects are studied at higher level” and “the remaining three subjects are studied at standard level” (IBO, 2009a).

The core requirements are: the extended series, the TOK course, and the CAS program (IBO, 2009a1). The series “offers students the opportunity to investigate a topic of individual interest and acquaints them with the independent research and writing skills expected at tertiary level” (IBO, 2009a1). TOK explores “the nature of knowledge across all disciplines“ and the CAS program “encourages students to be involved in artistic pursuits, sports and community service work, thus fostering their awareness and appreciation of life outside the academic arena” (IBO, 2009a1).

The other components of the program are language, second language, individuals and societies, experimental sciences, mathematics and computer science, the arts, and additional subjects comprised of school-based subjects and trans-disciplinary subjects (IBO, 2009a). The aim of language study is “to engender a lifelong interest in literature and a love for the elegance and richness of human expression” (IBO, 2009a2).

The individuals and societies unit “provides for the development of a critical appreciation of human experience and behavior, the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit, and the history of social and cultural institutions” (IBO, 2009a3, spelling Americanized here). “In addition, each subject is designed to foster in students the capacity to identify, to analyze critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments relating to the nature and activities of individuals and societies” (IBO, 2009a3, spelling Americanized).
In the arts program, music, theater arts, and visual arts may be studied (IBO, 2009a4). “The emphasis is on creativity in the context of disciplined, practical research into the relevant genres” (IBO, 2009a4).


Appendix A

UNIS Guiding Principles

The United Nations International School provides an environment for optimal learning and teaching in an international setting that fosters understanding, independence, interdependence, and cooperation.

Within this context we believe that:

UNIS students are committed to the spirit of the UN Charter by:

  • Demonstrating respect for human rights
  • Demonstrating respect for the principle of equal rights irrespective of race, sex, language or religion
  • Developing skills for the peaceful resolution of conflict
  • Practicing tolerance and living together in peace
  • Understanding individual responsibilities within society
  • Understanding the relationship between rights and responsibilities
  • Acquiring knowledge of universal ethics
  • Providing leadership that demonstrates awareness of ethical and moral issues
  • UNIS students benefit from an international education whereby they:

  • Gain historic and contemporary knowledge and understanding of the world through intellectual endeavor
  • Acquire international understanding through interaction with the uniquely diverse school community and by studying and experiencing other cultures and belief systems
  • Maintain the fluency of their mother tongue while valuing the acquisition of other languages
  • UNIS students strive for academic excellence by:

  • Learning how to learn
  • Discovering the joy of learning
  • Attaining depth and breadth of academic knowledge and understanding
  • Acquiring the skills that support intellectual endeavor and academic success
  • Solving problems independently and in cooperation with others
  • Acquiring aesthetic appreciation
  • Understanding modern technologies and using them wisely and effectively
  • Preparing themselves for the demands of higher education
  • UNIS students must be part of a caring community which encourages them by example to:

  • Share, cooperate, and contribute responsibly to a global society
  • Develop sensitivity to appropriate work and social relationships consistent with the principle of equal rights, including gender equality
  • Display sound decision-making skills by reflecting on choices and consequences
  • Think and act critically, creatively, and independently
  • Lead a positive, healthy life
  • Care for others, as they would have others care for them
  • Share resources
  • Build understanding and trust
  • UNIS students, being individually and culturally diverse, appreciate the significance of:

  • Developing personal values
  • Respecting the values of others
  • Valuing one’s own culture
  • Understanding and demonstrating respect for the culture of others
  • Understanding multi-culturalism within a global society
  • Being able to make a difference

  • Appendix B

    NCTE / IRA Standards for the English Language Arts

    Guiding Visions

    All students must have the opportunities and resources to develop the language skills they need to pursue life's goals and to participate fully as informed, productive members of society.

  • These standards assume that literacy growth begins before children enter school as they experience and experiment with literacy activities—reading and writing, and associating spoken words with their graphic representations.
  • They encourage the development of curriculum and instruction that make productive use of the emerging literacy abilities that children bring to school.
  • These standards provide ample room for the innovation and creativity essential to teaching and learning.
  • They are not prescriptions for particular curriculum or instruction.
  • These standards are interrelated and should be considered as a whole, not as distinct and separable.

  • The Standards

    1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works./li>
    2. nts read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

    3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
    4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
    5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
    6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
    7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
    8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
    9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
    10. Students whose first language is not English make use of their first language to develop competency in the English language arts and to develop understanding of content across the curriculum.
    11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
    12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

    Appendix C

    IB Diploma Programme curriculum

    Programme model

    The curriculum is modelled by a hexagon with six academic areas surrounding the three core requirements.

    Over the course of the two-year programme, students:

  • study six subjects chosen from the six subject groups
  • complete an extended series
  • follow a theory of knowledge course (TOK)
  • participate in creativity, action, service (CAS).
  • Normally:

  • three of the six subjects are studied at higher level (courses representing 240 teaching hours)
  • the remaining three subjects are studied at standard level (courses representing 150 teaching hours).
  • Subjects, other than languages, may be taught and examined in:

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish.

  • ___________________________________________________________________________________

    PART ONE: Arkhelogy: A Gateway to the Self
    PART TWO: The Archetypal – The Eternal & Eye of the Soul
    PART THREE: Some Principles of the Ancient Art of Arkhelogy
    PART FOUR: The Arkhelogy Program
    PART X: The Arkhelogy Skill: Lost in Time
    PART SEVEN: An Arkhelogy Program for International Schools

    Jennifer Van Bergen is an author, educator, and environmentalist currently living in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches English and Law at Sante Fe College. Van Bergen is a former faculty member of the New School University in NYC, where she taught a course in the Writing Program that she eventually developed into her book Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious. Van Bergen is also the author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America. She has also published several scholarly law articles, including one on the 1801 electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, here. [ ]


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