The Hero’s Journey
StudyTrust uses the archetypical Hero’s Journey as a metaphor to structure our support programme. A talented young person is called to be extra-ordinary and embark on a journey. There is the crucial role of the mentor, but this journey is simultaneously an individuation, and must be travelled independently. Monsters and dragons are to be slayed and in the process the death of the old identity is not excluded, painful as it is, before a new normality is attained – for the process starts all over again with the next transition.
The StudyTrust student support programme targets crucial stages in this process and is aimed at equipping beneficiaries to not only scrape through but to excel. This programme is modelled on the Response To Intervention model and provides for 3 tiers of intervention, with all beneficiaries involved in Tier 1 interventions, aimed at equipping them for academic, personal and eventually professional success. Students who are regarded as being at risk academically, or psychosocially (or mostly both) receive targeted or individual interventions.
Our first year students are assisted through normalising the difficulties and even failure they will have to contend with, and with labelling the various experiences. We make use of the insights into the workings of the social brain to help the students to identify the dragons they will have to slay, and to explain why their experiences elicit such strong flight emotions (30% of South African first year students drop out of university during the first three months).
Our own research findings were brought together in the so-called RAPID model of the student experience by former colleagues Nadine van Westrhenen and Mahleke Matome. The three positive and 2 negative factors that will hinder and foster survival during the first year experience, likened to a rapid in a river, are Resilience, Alienation, Personal Leadership, Intellectual Pressure and being Driven by Purpose:
Our beneficiaries are generally extremely resilient and very responsive to the soft skills we impart through workshops and mentoring conversations. Our campus communities based in peer mentor groups as well as our community building workshops do much to foster a sense of belonging. Skills for coping with the intellectual pressure caused by a dramatic increase in the volume and difficulty level of the work without any hours added to the 24 available per day, form the crux of our mentor programme.
Thinking strategies, learning strategies and life strategies that form part of our brain science-based Headworkx body of knowledge are integrated into the programme.
The so-called 21st Century Skills is the framework for the Tier 1 interventions, to move the students from merely passing to excelling. This framework for 21st Century Learning was developed to define and illustrate the skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work, life and citizenship, as well as the support systems necessary for 21st century learning outcomes.
Within the 21st Century skills, the 3R’s and IT Literacy is covered by the universities, or so we assume. Our focus is on Learning and Innovation skills, or the so-called 4Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.