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.
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.
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.