If we teach our students history…they learn about society.
If we teach them economics…they learn about money.
If we teach them test taking strategies…they learn about tests.
Yet if we teach them about who they are and what they are meant to be in life, then we have taught them the most important lesson of all: Purpose.
Far too often we have placed the carrot before the horse. We focus much of our energy on defining our youth by cold hard numbers and statistics. Then when they do not meet those standards we respond by investing even more in tests, standardization and punitive measures. What we do not realize is that those youth that we deem as failures in our classroom are often the same ones that are lost in understanding who they are outside of it. We cannot expect for a child to fully realize their academic potential if they have no sense or realization of their own identity and abilities. Unfortunately, our society has become so enamored with terms such as “test ready,” “learning ready,” or “college ready” when defining our youth that we have forgotten the importance of developing them as individuals or to become, as I say, “purpose ready.”
When we take the time to teach our children about who they are and guide them in understanding their skills, their strengths and inner talents we build purpose ready students. Individuals who have a strong sense of identity, a clarity of their goals in life and the discipline and will to see it through. A purpose ready student is one who understands their place and role in the world and uses their education as a springboard to achieve those ideals. This idea is neither new or innovative, it’s an idea that has been around since the dawn of time but truly reared itself in the 1950’s, coincidentally during the era in which we once called “the greatest generation.”
During the 1950’s a student was not measured based solely on grades or standardized tests. They were measured and assessed on standards such as “responsibility,” “skills,” “etiquette,” “promptness,” etc. These were human qualities that society felt children needed to be productive members of society back then and it is the same human qualities we need to invest and emphasize among our youth today. We need to increase the number of advisers and counselors that our youth have. More personal time and communication in and outside of our classes. Increase mentoring opportunities for them. More “pats on the back” than “bubbles on the sheet filled” for them. We have to create an environment of discovery of self in our school systems again if want to see our youth thrive as purpose filled individuals. Because it does our society no good if we are so focused on our children’s academic standing that they lose sight on who they are and what they stand for as individuals.
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