Mythos and Logos in Transformative Faculty’s Toolkits
Transformative Learning (TL) is an instructional approach well suited to helping prepare graduates for the new world of work, which Reich (2019) and others say is increasingly characterized by contingent contracts and a gig economy. TL helps students discover themselves via reflection, an important step toward being able to narrate themselves successfully when they’re required to bridge from one employer to another, to change positions, or to pitch themselves and their ideas when launching their own businesses.
An education that helps students develop in this manner must be an intentional mix of logos and mythos. As faculty, we are trained in a logos mindset and depend on rationality and the scientific method to determine the objective truths we share with students in the form of our course content.
But to prepare our students for employment in a world that has chunks of their logos-grounded learning obsolete by the time they graduate and where employers oftentimes must value adaptability and resilience even more than content knowledge and skill, our role should include providing opportunities to engage in the mythos necessary to help students “narrate the meaning of their lives”:
The extent to which people can narrate the meaning of their lives indicates how much of what they do will matter to others. This process is referred to as narratibility, and it is about people’s ability to say who they are (narrate their story). (Maree, 2013, p. 52)
If what Maree (2013) says is true, discoveries about self and the ‘ah-ha,’ transformative moments we seek to prompt in students are necessary to help students know and communicate their authentic selves.
“Who am I?” “Why do I matter?” and “What is my value?” are precursor questions to the statement that is, “My ability to add value to your enterprise is ___.” Even more importantly, helping our students answer the precursor questions means we equip them to successfully match themselves and their abilities to contribute to the enterprises where their passions lie and in which they will succeed and self-actualize to the greatest degree.
In other words, the logos of students’ programmatic knowledge must be balanced with the mythos of their heroic journey of self-discovery. They can then launch themselves into employment and life by making choices that align with who they really are and which successfully balance head and heart. Hoyt puts it this way:
[L]ogical thinkers have figured out, for example, how to cure illnesses and prolong the average human lifespan, but they have learned through mythical thinking to value human life enough to bother. Products of logos enable us to communicate with the people who matter most to us (even when they are thousands of miles away), but mythos provides the context for us to know which people matter and what we should say to them when we do communicate. (2009)
At UCO, our Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR) process has us prompting students to reflect on their learning as connected to one or more of our Central Six Tenets when they complete a STLR-tagged assignment. With well-constructed prompts nudging students to consider prior assumptions in a new light, we certainly have seen hundreds of instances in which students come to know themselves better and/or conceive of themselves differently among the more than 26,000 assessments of rubrics-determined badge-level achievement that have occurred to date.
Logos may have sufficed when workers could count on remaining with the same employer for a lifetime, benefits provided, at a livable wage. That age is gone, replaced by one in which employment is a more fluid affair, requiring the mythos of revelatory knowledge of self in order to know and communicate one’s value, regardless the amount of upskilling one manages across a lifetime.
The successful university in the new world of work educates students from both logos and mythos perspectives because graduates who know their stuff and know themselves are better arbiters of the mix among what they want to accomplish, where they can do that, and how they contribute best to self, others, community, and environment.
Hoyt, R. (2009). Mythos and logos: Two ways of explaining the world. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from http://journeytothesea.com/mythos-logos/
Maree, J. G. (2013). Counseling for career construction — Connecting life themes to construct life portraits: Turning pain into hope. Rotterdam: Sense.
Reich, R. (2019, June 2). The gig is up: America’s booming economy is built on hollow promises. The Guardian. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/02/gig-economy-us-trump-uber-california-robert-reich