Across the country, there is a growing movement to develop a sense of meaning and purpose in adolescent education. This is happening in a variety of forms and programming including:
- A new middle school (Millennium School) launching next fall in San Francisco with a focus on developing a young person’s sense of purpose
- A partnership between IDEO and Riverdale called the Purpose Project, a tool used to help young people reflect on their own meaning making
- Stanford 2025 was a Stanford d.school led project to re-imagine the future of learning and living at Stanford, including a focus on Purpose Learning
- Echoing Green launched a Work on Purpose program, including a Purpose Curriculum, that helps college and post-college students evolve and develop their own sense of purpose.
In January 2015, Echoing Green hosted a Purpose Convening in New York to bring together leaders in the burgeoning field of purpose education. As they noted at the convening, this is a growing field. And importantly they warned against the word “purpose” becoming a catch-all, or losing its meaning as it grows in popularity around the country. At Project Wayfinder, we want to be a part of this movement that is honoring the depth of purpose work and all the possibilities for young people to discover their own sense of purpose.
our point of view on purpose
We believe that being a “social entrepreneur” is not the only way towards a path to purpose. We respect the multiple paths that young people can take on their path to purpose - becoming an artist, a preacher, a sculptor, or small business owner. At the heart of it, a sense of wayfinding is essential to our viewpoint; it’s about not viewing purpose as aligned with a narrow version of success and achievement that dominates popular culture.
We do believe that every young person has a unique sense of purpose that can be unlocked with mentoring, nurturing, and exposure to different people and life experiences. We believe that every young person has a sense of purpose that can be discovered, not achieved or handed to them. We hope that Project Wayfinder contributes towards the larger conversation about not conflating achievement with purpose.
Many purposeful people achieve great things, but many people who achieve big things do not have a sense of purpose.
We want to develop wayfinders that value their own journey over the pressures put on them by our culture or parents about rampant achievement for its own sake.
An article by Patrick Cook-Deegan outlining Seven Ways to Make High School More Purposeful published on UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Center and another article on four experiential educational experiences to help develop a young person’s sense of purpose
Emily Esfani Smith, writer for the Atlantic, recently has written a number of articles about purpose, meaning, and happiness including There’s More to Life Than Being Happy and Meaning is Healthier than Happiness
David Brooks has also been writing about the importance of character education, inner education, and rethinking education to include more inner education in traditional schooling including this article