Think about what archetypes relate to learning. Typically the mentor, teacher and student come to mind first right? Over and over again, people lump these three together. However, these archetypes differ beyond the oversimplified distinction between who is in charge.

The work of deciphering which archetypes belong to you is so important because it challenges you to get specific about who you are. If you are interested in knowledge and passing it on, could you choose just one of these three archetypes to identify yourself? How well do you know your hunger for learning?

The mentor archetype looks a lot like the teacher because both are in the position of giving instructions. And, these two are always learning like the student, so how are they any different?

Mentor Archetype

The mentor archetype not only invests in the student learning certain material, the mentor takes interest in the route the student goes with the know how. By definition, the mentor imparts advise. Advice is to “offer suggestions about the best course of action to someone” or “to give someone a recommendation about what should be done” (per Apple dictionary and Merriam-Webster dictionary respectively).

The mentor is the person you go to for help in making a decision. An empowered mentor artfully guides the student to an authentic resolution without getting the way. The student not only attains her answer, but understands how to get there on her own the next time. In the shadow, the mentor archetype becomes rigidly intent on the student following her direction and opinion. Another downfall of the mentor is giving the solution up front without letting the student work her own way there.

Intimately tied with wisdom, the mentor archetype uses experience as a teacher. She shows by doing rather than telling. She encourages the person she’s taken under her wing to try things for herself. The enlightened mentor is able to stand aside and watch mistakes. She knows that her role is not to control every move her student makes. She is there to help the mentee learn how to think for herself.

The relationship between mentor and student is one-on-one. The mentor dedicates a great amount of time to taking one student under her wing. She accepts responsibility for one student. She usually fosters that student through the entire process of learning a craft or skill. Her goal is to see her students fully fledged in the world, a master in her own right and no longer in need of advise.

Teacher Archetype

On the other hand, the teacher archetype has to do with a classroom full of students. Thus, her teaching style is more generalized than customized. This is a common point of struggle for the teacher – wanting to reach every student, but not being able to given the constraints of working with so many personalities at once. In the shadow, this is a major stressor for those with the teacher archetype. Letting go of the need for control is a critical factor for those with this archetype.

Teachers commonly take students through a phase of a learning process (such as a school year), unlike the mentor who covers the beginning, middle and end of a topic. With the teacher archetype, the focus is shifted from mastery of a subject to measurable progress in ability. One challenge of the teacher archetype can be an over-identification with student’s grades and test scores. The teacher that understands that learning is never ending is able to relax these unreasonable tendencies.

In the shadow, people with the teacher archetype can develop the annoying habit of thinking every moment is teachable and every person needs to learn something. The teacher becomes the lecturing expert and students stop listening.

Like the mentor, the teacher also prefers to teach through experience, but she understands that no two students learn alike. Some students need hands on activities, others need time to read information, and others still need to talk through things. The light aspect of the teacher archetype embodies the marvelous ability to juggle, weigh and balance all of these needs at once.

The Teacher Contains the Student

A constant student in her own right, the teacher archetype continually researches how to teach. She learns how to read her students needs and how to better meet them. She learns how to manage the classroom and teach life skills alongside algebra. The balanced teacher understands that lessons of conscience are as important as grammar lectures. The teacher archetype carries the knowing that the best way to learn something is to teach it.

The teacher archetype contains the student, so if you choose this archetype as one of your primary archetypes, you can rule out the student.

Student Archetype

The student archetype is primarily interested in learning, period. Sure, if someone wants to hear what she’s learned, she’ll be glad to share, but she often lacks the patience needed to wait for someone else to get it. The student relishes acquiring new knowledge. Her insatiable hunger for information can be all consuming, bordering on obsessive.

For the student archetype, good grades and being the top of her class can be everything. She can be intensely perfectionistic. Her self-image relies on her GPA. In the shadow, the student archetype points the finger at her teachers and mentors when she fails. She blames the system and badmouths the school. Whether the accusations are true or not, this is the shadow student archetype talking.

When it is time to strike out on her own, the shadow student uses a lack of enough credentials, degrees, credits, and certifications to justify her unwillingness to act. The antithesis of trial by fire, the shadow student would rather talk about or read about what ignites her. The risk of getting out there and putting her knowledge to the test scares her to death. She’d rather take another exam and hope for a better score. She much prefers the critical eye of her teacher or mentor over that of public opinion.

The enlightened student archetype accepts herself as a work in progress and knows when she knows enough to stand on her own two feet. She stands back from the impulse to be a smarty-pants know-it-all and opens up to the intelligence of others. She sees everyone as her equal regardless of who knows more or less than she does.

The student archetype in the light aspect understands that there are many kinds of intelligence including emotional intelligence, common sense, and intuition. She opens herself up to learning on all levels. She walks in the world with equal doses of confidence and humility, understanding the difference between knowledge and knowing. Wisdom, not just information, becomes her ally.


Want to know what archetypes are yours?
Schedule an Archetypal Consulting Session
and Find Out!


About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. Couch, Certified Archetypal Consultant through Caroline Myss’s CMED Institute, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as sources of guidance and healing. Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of symbolism and archetypes easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.