The Hero's Journey and The Dip

IMG_1700The hero’s journey is a metaphor that we reference often in the elementary studio. It is the foundation of “learning to be.” When we talk about growth mindset, character traits, flow, and focus, we discuss these philosophical concepts in relation to each learner’s unique hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey is the backbone of many familiar, masterful stories of both fiction and real-life heroes. While reading the book Wilma Unlimited, we mapped Wilma’s story of trials and successes to the hero’s journey. After watching videos of Simone Biles’ early losses and Bill Gates’ initial setbacks, we connected their stories to this metaphor. During the Mythology Writer’s Workshop, we compared Odysseus’s long return home to the ten steps of the journey. 

The hero’s journey is not just for the famous, however. Every individual is on a unique hero’s journey, filled with calls to adventure, mentors, friend and allies, and trials. 

Two weeks ago, we discussed mastery in relation to the hero’s journey. The learners contemplated a graph that showed a long plateau after a spike in learning but before mastery. They mapped which path they are on in comparison to the hero’s journey: the hacker, the dabbler, the obsessor, or the master. Connected to this launch were ideas around independence, perseverance, and growth mindset. 

We returned to the idea during a morning launch with a slightly modified graph, this one called “The Dip.” Perhaps the place after an initial spike in learning can feel more like a valley than a plateau. At first, you experience a high because you have some initial success, but then things get tough. You are in the dip and feelings of despair might set in. You may think, “I can’t do this,” “This is too hard,” or “I’m just too tired.” But, if you press through, you’ll eventually have a breakthrough and reach even higher heights than you did before. You’ll progress toward mastery.

Learners were asked if they can relate to this experience and, if so, where are they on the map in relation to their greatest challenge? Do they feel a greater sense of pride when they accomplish something that is difficult rather than something that comes naturally or easily? In what ways does the graph connect to perseverance, the character trait of the session?

Their call to action was to move into the day with a mindset towards mastery. Despite the trials that are inevitable in any journey, perseverance is a key character trait of every hero.

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