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Intuition vs Tuition: Where Does Learning Come From?

Hello readers,

I have been reading James Hillman’s “The Soul’s Code”, and I feel a great affinity for the concepts he espouses and explains.  His respect for the necessity of the invisible to give meaning to human life is really the backbone of my own quest in life.

In “The Soul’s Code”, Hillman delves into biographies of many illustrious people, using exemplary stories to expound on his theory of the “acorn”.  The acorn is an image which illustrates the hypothesis that each and every human being is born with a destiny, contained within ourselves, and which unfolds over the course of our lives.  Teachers, mentors, parents, friends all can influence the process of unfolding, but we each also have spirit guides, which Hillman chooses to call “the daimon” or “genius”, who accompany us along our journey on this planet and help us to unveil our fated potential.  Hillman is also very much interested in the education of children, and how conventional educational systems do not respect the individuality of the child and his or her acorn. 

This is where the definitions of “tuition” and “intuition” come in.  I was intrigued by the use of tuition in this context, as I was previously unfamiliar with tuition being defined as instruction, teaching, and more archaically, guardianship.  And, conversely, intuition would mean the lack of tuition or instruction – leading to the concept of knowledge or belief obtained neither by reason or perception (definition found in an on-line dictionary).  Many famous individuals as children have either  resisted traditional school-based learning or were qualified as downright stupid.  If structured instruction cannot help the unfolding of each child’s acorn, then what form of instruction would be more helpful?  Intuition suggests that each child would require a unique set of circumstances to set in motion the blossoming of its inner seed.  Resistance to conventional schooling might even be part of that process.  Hillman suggests that mentoring or recognition by an older person who sees the potential within the child is an important factor in a child’s growth.  He even goes so far as to say that there is an erotic but non-sexual aspect to this type of relationship between the adult mentor and the child.  Perhaps the over-sexualization of our culture has caused the impulse to mentor to become perverted and misappropriated.  Children and even adults need the encouragement of more experienced individuals in the field where inspiration calls.  What Hillman also suggests is that our societies have rejected the mythical, invisible aspects of life, what is of the spirit or the soul.  We must cultivate our relationships with the spirits; otherwise they desert us.  And when they desert us, our lives become devoid of meaning and dimension.

Intuition, or “the power or faculty of attaining direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought or inference” is a tool with which we are all born.  It does not come from without, but from within.  Echoes of truth in the physical world are felt or perceived rather than learned from an external source.  Sometimes I sense the necessity to read a particular book as relevant to my current situation, simply knowing that the answers to my questions lie within those pages.  In this manner, knowledge and intuition work together.  Life is much more complex, interesting, and mysterious than our educators and leaders, both political and spiritual, want us to believe.  I wholly agree with James Hillman in that we need to return and take another look at our pagan ancestors and how they worshipped the Gods, who were highly differentiated.  These intricate relationships with the Gods allowed us to be more human, and to lead meaningful lives.  Now that in the Western world we have created an intense sense of individualism with nothing to populate our uniqueness and give it meaning, the task at hand becomes clear for educators and parents alike.  We need to listen to and learn from our children, not impose on them a system that responds to the supposed needs of society.  In fact, the true needs of any society lie as dormant seeds within each generation of children.  These seeds need to be awakened carefully and lovingly, for within them lies the secret to our future and most optimal development.  We do not know better than the seeds, for the seeds come from a place of highest knowledge.  In order to awaken to our best selves, we must learn to welcome the new through each child born to this Earth.


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