Friday, April 02, 2010

In the footsteps of James Hillman 19





Intuition Versus Tuition

This is an interesting contra-distinction and we are not surprised that Hillman comes up with these more extraordinary insights.  It is wonderful to read an author who sets you thinking at every juncture as he questions accepted truths and traditions, and follows where his intellect, his feelings, his sensations and his intuition take him.  He is such a sui generis thinker that he reminds one of other such thinkers like Edward de Bono and Dr Ronnie Laing, and is as interesting and as riveting to read as they are.

Now for the distiction between Intuition and Tuition he takes his inspiration from one of the great American transcendentalist thinkers, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882).  Emerson sees In-tuition as Not-tuition, and correctly realised that many people who left formal education or Tuition early were anything but unsuccessful - in fact many of them got to the nvery pinnacle of their professions.  Then Hillman embarkes on a thoughful exploration of our schooling system.

School Days and Nightmares

Our author quotes many international studies and biographies which report that some three-fifths of successful people had serious problems at school, and they came from every type of school system im aginable.  He then embarks on a list of school drop-outs, or those who hated or did very badly at school, and went on to have very successful careers.  Hillman's list of such individuals name the following: the famous Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann, the great Indian scholar Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Sigrit Undset (Norwegian novelist), the Nobel physicist, Richard Feynman, Kenneth Branagh (actor and director), John Lennon, Robert Browning, and Paul Bowles.  Many of these, or all of them hated school, but they never resented learning.  In fact they were great learners - they were different learners! Any worthwhile philosophy of education will take account of this distinction.

Education is not co-terminus with the school system.  It is not confined to or merely contained in the systems we as a societry have put in place to communicate its rudiments.  Real education is life-long and exists both inside and outside of our schools and uniuversities.  My own late father used always say that atrtended the university of life, and how right he was.  He had to leave school at 13 in 1926 to go to work for a local farmer to earn a few shillings to support his family as his father had died tragically from T.B, but he never stopped learning.

Others who disliked school that Hillman lists are Edvard Grieg (composer), Thomas Edison (Inventor), Stephen Crane, Eugene O'Neill, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paul Cezanne, Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Albert Einstein, General George S. Patton, Winston Churchill, Paul Erlich (bacteriologist), Puccini, Gertrude Stein, Anton Chekhov, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and H.G. Wells.

Hillman declares that exams test more than your endurance, ability and knowledge; it tests your calling.  It's as if they are such questions as: Does the daimon want the path you have chosen?  Is your soul really in it?  A failed exam could mean that the soul does not want us to go in that particular direction.  Sometimes "failed at school" should read "saved from school."    Then our author gives an interesting insight for those of us involved SEN:

Not every child will... profit from missing school, but for those of us who watch over them and supposedly guide them, this door to the invisible factors at work in their disorders must be kept open , just in case it is an angel knocking and not just a malady.  (The Soul's Code, p. 108)
In all of this, and as its greatest implication for our very culture(s), the aim or goal must be the fostering of, the safeguarding of, the promotion of, the advocation of the bridges between the Visible world and the Invisible World.  The great task of any life-sustaining culture, then, is "to keep the invisibles attached," by using all our traditions and rituals and habits and customs, all that makes every culture rich beyond its own imaginings.

Above myself teaching in Coláiste Árainn Mhóir, Iúl 2003.

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