Mr David Mowbray
I recently read an interesting article (Harvard Business Review, August 2017) about finding your inner purpose and have adapted the storyline to reflect on what we are doing with your children.
Traralgon College is spending considerable resources on reinforcing our school values and developing a highly ambitious improvement agenda…to be the school of choice in Traralgon! Sometimes this work tends to fade into the background drowned out by the bustle of the work day, week or term.
What our students, your children, really need, to feel engaged in and satisfied by their attendance at TC, is an inner sense of purpose. A study found people feel loyal to companies, in our case this is the school, which support their own career and life ambitions — in other words, what’s meaningful to each student. So no matter one’s age, status, workplace or school, we all need to find a personal sense of meaning in what we do.
Making School More Meaningful
Teachers and parents can foster this inner sense of purpose — what matters right now, in each student’s life and study pathway — with simple conversation. Using regular check-ins that use five areas of inquiry are a way to help young people to explore and call out their inner purpose. We can ask:
What are you good at doing? Which classes and activities require less effort? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your school life? The idea here is to help young people identify their strengths and open possibilities from there.
What do you enjoy? In a typical school week, what do you look forward to doing? What do you see on your timetable that energizes you? If you could design your studies with no restrictions, how would you spend your time? These questions help people find or rediscover what they love about school and are often influential in course selections for years 9 to 11 students.
What feels most useful? Which learning / achievement results make you most proud? Which of your behaviours / attitudes are most critical to the class or year level? What are the highest priorities for your life and how do your studies fit in? This line of inquiry highlights the inherent value of certain work and is a strong determinant in the progress report scores.
What creates a sense of forward momentum? What are you learning that you’ll use in the future? What do you envision for yourself next? How’s your work today getting you closer to what you want for yourself? The goal here is to show how them how today’s classes, studies and achievements help them advance toward future goals.
How do you relate to others? Which classroom / yard relationship and interactions are best for you? What would a class of your favourite people look like? How does your learning and attitudes enhance your friendships and social connections? These questions encourage young people to think about and foster better and more positive relationships that can make school more meaningful.
It’s not easy to guide others toward purpose, but these strategies can help.