Jungian archetypes of students … do you know these kids in your class?


image credit soulcraft.co

Why is it that every year we seem to have the same types of situations with the same types of students?  Well, no, not all of it can be blamed on your classroom management style — though that will be your chief method to form these different characters into some semblance of a working team. In fact, the tendency of human individuals to express certain groups of traits, or archetypes, has  been remarked on for centuries.  The Jungian model, posited by Carl Jung, offers, among others, these typical classroom characters.  Most of the descriptions come from Carl Golden at www.soulcraft.co, with me having added in “school desire” “Learning strategy: and “The challenge.”

The Innocent (image above)

Motto: Free to be you and me.  Core desire:  To get to heaven.  School desire:  To be your favorite student. Greatest fear: To be punished for doing something bad or wrong
Learning Strategy: to always do things “right.”  Talent:  To appear correct.  In a classroom, these are the “good kids” who always sit and listen when they are told.  They are likely to be teacher’s pets.  They are the kids everyone wants in their class and yet … The Challenge:  To get these kids to know themselves.  They may be so involved in their own perfectionism they may simply think of themselves as “ideal student.”  Can be academically stunted by refusal to take risks.

The Explorer

Motto: Don’t fence me in. Core Desire: To have the freedom to find out who they are through exploring the world. School Desire:  To avoid being bored.  To find stuff the other kids haven’t done yet.  To prove they are different.   Biggest fear: To get trapped in conformity and inner emptiness. Learning Strategy:  Surreptitious talking, writing, reading,  creative interpretations of set assignments, waiting until centers time and then hiding under something.   Talent: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul.   These kids can surprise you with their creativity and their new ideas and yet … Challenge:  They may find it difficult to engage with the class, have a tendency to aimless wandering, or being a misfit.

The Rebel

Motto: Rules are made to be broken.  Core desire: To get revenge or start a revolution.  School Desire:  To successfully oppose local leadership (the teacher.)  Greatest fear: To be powerless or ineffectual.  Strategy:  To disrupt, destroy, or shock.  Learning Strategy: To refuse to be taken in by the commonplace that has worked in the past; demanding accommodation and change.  Weakness: To cross over to the dark side, crime. Talent: outrageousness, radical freedom. Challenge:  Convincing them that they can transcend school by succeeding academically, not by burning the school down.

The Jester

Motto: You only live once.
Core desire: To live in the moment with full enjoyment.
School Desire:  To use the class as their own personal studio audienceLearning Strategy:  Routines which involve performing drama or creating communication media; times for sharing their work with the class.  Greatest fear: To be bored or boring others  Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny  Weakness: To be frivolous, to waste time The Challenge:  Keeping them from taking over control of the room without denying them their need to entertain someone.  

The Ruler:
image credit www.soulcraft.coThe Ruler

Motto: Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.   School Desire:  To be in charge.  Learning Strategy:   To master the material fast enough so they can show they’re in front of the other students. Greatest fear: Chaos, being overthrown.  Weakness: Being authoritarian, unable to delegate. Talent: To be responsible and a leader. The Challenge:  Finding opportunities for the Ruler to be in charge of someone or something lest he, like the Jester, form the intent to take over the class or at least deny you full control of them.

Do you recognize these types?  How many?


2 thoughts on “Jungian archetypes of students … do you know these kids in your class?”

  1. I loved this post! I have always thought of many of my students as commedia dell’arte stock characters. Yeah, yeah, every child is unique, but damn if they aren’t all so typical just as much of the time! The goal is to get each child to realize that s/he is so much MORE than just a type. It’s really not a matter of teachers pigeonholing their students; it’s much more the kids typecasting themselves– and each other. Great job, Sonja!

    1. Thanks Robert I was nervous preparing this post — I wondered if other teachers would get it. But I can put a name from this year’s class (some more than one of them) on every one of these archetypes, and I probably could have done so last year and the preceeding years as well.

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