Monday, August 15, 2011

Spin Cycle: Nature or Nurture?

When I saw Jen's Spin Cycle topic this week, I thought, "Oh, that's a fuck-ton (thank-you Jan's son for my new word) to deal with."

As a parent, I've thought about and discussed this topic endlessly with friends as we watched our children grow; we were baffled at the differences in personalities of the siblings we were rearing in our homes.

As an educator I have seen the gamut. I worked several years in a high risk youth program in the most poverty stricken part of the island and seen resilient youth rise above the most horrid of environments, while the majority succumbed to the same.

I worked many years in a middle class community with teens who had many advantages and parents who had the types of expectations and boundaries that should have sent these kids off into the right direction. Many of them chugged on down the channel while others were hell bent to swim against the current and make a mess of their lives.

I've shaken my head at fellow educators (usually the childless ones) who barked platitudes about apples and trees. Sometimes kids are on a path that has nothing to do with what they learned at home.

During the unbloggable, a friend of mine who has a graduate degree in psychology recommended a book to me. The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling by James Hillman. From Amazon review:


Hillman's work on soul has fed the public imagination with the nourishing idea that we are vastly deeper and more permeable to the influences around us than we may think. Here, Hillman discusses character and calling, introducing an "acorn theory" that claims that "each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny." Borrowing the language of Plato's Myth of Ur, Hillman suggests that this imaginary sense of our lives or callings drives each of us like a personal daimon or force. Drawing on extraordinary lives from Judy Garland to Coco Chanel to Hitler, he describes the movements of the daimon, showing how it can use everything in our environment, from lucky accidents to bad movies, to allow the acorn to "grow down" and express itself in the real material of our lives. Without succumbing to oversimplification or wishful thinking, Hillman challenges the reductive "parental fallacy," the contention that our early experience with our parents determines our selves and our futures.

The book made sense to me and filled in a bit of the gap between nature and nurture and added that something else. For more spins on this topic, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

12 comments:

Nubian said...

Nature vs Nurture is the recurring theme for me these past few weeks. Hence my rant. As far as my ex... he is one of the apples that without a doubt didn't fall far from the tree.

Brian Miller said...

based solely on the work i do with kids...i find this quite interesting...as with most things i go for balance...nice excerpt

formerlyonlyamovie said...

Oh yeah, I'm all set with apples and trees. No need to go there. I need to read this book, apparently. Adding to the stack...

xoxoxo
Maybe I'll write this spin.

Mama Badger said...

This sounds like an interesting read. I'm so so on nature and nurture. I think part of what we are starts with us, but that's like saying clay is made of earth. Yes, it will always have some earthy qualities, but it's what an artist does with it that matters...

Sprite's Keeper said...

Considering that a fuck is literally tangible, how much would a fuck-ton weigh?
This book sounds like a good one, and I've always been curious about what affects us more, nature or nurture? Is our fate written before we draw our first breath or do we write the story as we go? Or both?
I think you definitely have the front seat to this show watching these kids come and go, learning their back story, watching them either accept their natural feelings or rebel against the status quo.
Can I please work with you for a couple of days? That would be fascinating!
You're linked!

Kristan said...

Yeah, I don't think it's a black-and-white issue here, but rather a spectrum, and each person might fall somewhere different. There are way too many factors in a person's life to say definitively "this caused that." And, for a positive spin, I think that's what makes people and life so interesting... :)

Eternally Distracted said...

Coming from a similar work and personal background I feel this is one I should check out :)

VandyJ said...

I think nature and nurture are on scales. When we are born the scale is heavily weighted toward nature. As we grow the scale turns toward nurture and that influences us more than nature.
Of course, I may not know what I'm talking about either.

CaJoh said...

All of us will try to adapt to our surroundings. Nature will dictate how we adapt physically to things like cuts and bruises. But nurture will dictate how we react to getting those cuts and bruises moving forward.

secret agent woman said...

Sounds interesting. I just went to the link, hoping Amazon would have it as an ebook, but no dice.

hillgrandmom said...

The book sounded so interesting, I have ordered it.

hillgrandmom said...

Have got the book and have started reading it. It's interesting and, as a parent, kind of liberating...