Identity

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Student Identity

From Existence to Meaning

For 99.99% of human evolution we spent our daily lives hunting and foraging for food. Slowly, we began to socialize and formed communities but still, almost all daily activity was spent working together to figure out how to survive in terms of shelter, food, and protection. Over the last 10,000 years during our most rapid development, it continued much the same. Over the last 100~150 years, however, mankind has gone through a massive transformation. Today, most of us do not have to worry about daily survival. What we have created for ourselves is new purpose and leisure. We create a goal and go for it. We really have no idea why - we just do it.

For most of our evolution we have been trying to survive, to exist, but now, in essence, since we no longer have to fight to survive, we have transitioned and are searching for meaning for our existence. Nothing is set; we are free to search in different directions. Still, we do not really know why we exist, so we just set goals and scramble towards what our society suggests is forward. Some people fare well, others less so. Part of what we are doing is to find out who we are and then to create some kind of meaningful identity in a busy world. We need to apply meaning to who we are, where we are, why we are here, and where we are headed. Meaning is everything and creates our own individual identity in a complicated world.

Today, whether we realize it or not, what everyone is doing is searching for meaning for their existence. And, when or if they cannot find it, they add meaning by creating purpose which gives them their 'own' particular meaning for their 'own' particular existence. The young mind that becomes self-aware early on has a better start and therefore a better chance of achieving more later.

 

In practical terms:

In this modern world where people move from place to place, many people may lose track or not even think about/know who they are. 'Who you are' is typically based on your direct roots and includes history, location, family, and knowing your place within all that. Many people never even consider it but it remains an important aspect of our mental health. Adults have had a long time to come to terms with all the change they see around them but to youngsters it is an indistinct shadow trailing behind, around, and ahead and sometimes it can be rather dark.

Accordingly, school should make a very determined effort to bring students to the realization of who they are, their own personal history, and their place in the local environment.

They need to be made aware of their present identity, which will be a combination of history, home, extended family, school, sports, hobby, and academics. They also need to set strong short-medium-long term goals.

They also need to be given forward vision of where / what they might be in the future. A child with future vision (Eg. job direction) will be more likely to make decisions (subject choices) that help them arrive. A child my not yet know, but a school should keep nudging them along.

If a child can develop a sense of purpose, it will add meaning to their existence and they will likely progress positively.

 

  The Good: If you grow up with two decent parents and four grandparents and generally live under decent economic conditions in the same area, then you may be about as stable as stable can be. Everything that happens around you affects who you are and who you grow up to be. School life ought to be stable; you have a good start but nothing is guaranteed. If you become surrounded by those with negative intent they may stun your development.

The Bad: As soon as things change, such as a move, a divorce, a death, the loss of a parental job, so our lives take a hit, and to a growing mind, it can be a be difficult to come to terms with. Everything that happens around you affects who you are and who you grow up to be. School life will only be stable for the more self-aware child. If you are surrounded by those with positive intent, your development will likely become more positive.

The Ugly: A combination of two or more negative changes, plus worsening family factors such as alcohol, drugs, crime, violence or outright child abuse can obviously affect children adversly. Everything that happens around you affects who you are and who you grow up to be. If a child's world is like this, there is also the high chance that it will repeat in the following generation. School will not be much of a focus in this child's life, but it is likely the ONLY stable place they have and the ONLY opportunity to drag themselves away from a potentially dark future. It is much harder to move these children in a positive direction - but not impossible.

The above is just - the way things sometimes are - but for a child to even begin to initiate change, the need to understand their environment themselves is an absolute MUST. Creating a strong sense of identity and promoting the positives will give any child a decent start. It should be the role of a school to recognize and help initiate this understanding. No one else will be there to do it.

 

 

 

 

   

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Last updated: 02/25/18.