I recently read an article built on the assertion that students who discover a purpose in life have more enthusiasm and motivation to learn than their peers who don't find such a purpose. The article discusses many benefits our young people gain when they feel connected to what they otherwise see as an enormous and overwhelming world. The article then talks about the role teachers play in helping kids discover their purpose, and how leading them to an experience of "awe" might jumpstart this discovery. You can read the entire article here:
How Awe Can Help Students Develop Purpose
One of my first thoughts after reading the article above was how important education is in our boys' lives. Elliott just finished his first year in the public school system, and I've already written about the wonderful kindergarten teacher he had. There were many days he came home in awe of something. She'll be his teacher again next year, which makes us happy.
I have many friends in the teaching profession who tell me to enjoy the elementary school experience. They say that once the kids get to the grades where there is standardized testing, their teachers will be more interested in helping them pass tests than being tour guides who lead them on a search for purpose. That's not their desire, they tell me, but instead a necessary response to federal and local mandates that require a certain number of kids pass these tests. Apparently, there are no such requirements for the number of kids who discover a purpose in the world.
This may come back to bite me someday, although I'm willing to bet it won't, but I have no interest in having boys who score well on standardized tests and get straight A's in their classes if they fail to discover they are surrounded by an awesome world. I have no interest in having the world recognize our boys as intelligent if our boys aren't filled with passion and drive to do something for the world that desperately needs them.
The article stated that most kids end up finding their sense of purpose through a teacher or someone else outside their immediate family. I don't find this hard to believe. Teachers inherently expose kids to a wide range of ideas and subjects. It's also a fact that many kids don't have immediate family members actively involved in their education. I believe building the sense of discovery in our children that ultimately leads to them finding purpose is a team effort.
I am thankful that Katie and I have already had many opportunities to see looks of awe on our boys' faces. Many of them didn't take resources beyond our yard. Whether explaining to them just how far away that moon is as they are staring at it, and oh by the way fellas, a little boy like you grew into a man who stood on it, or witnessing their excitement when they discover one of the seeds they've planted in the garden has sprouted followed by a splendid silence as they wonder how that happened, we've been moved by the force of awe.
Much is made in parenting "how-to" books about raising children who are well disciplined and molded in the general image of society's picture of a "good kid." I don't discount the value of this information. Not much. But I do wonder what good any of it is if you end up with a smart kid - a good kid - who never has the occasion to lose their breath when they hear the world around them call their name.
I encourage you to do something this summer that brings a look of awe to your child - to any child. You might just be changing the world.