Helping teens find purpose


“Project Wayfinder was born out of trying to make advisory more meaningful,” Cook-Deegan said. “And it was born out of a question about how you get students to develop a sense of purpose in their lives, which for the most part high school doesn’t really do.” Cook-Deegan believes purpose is a critical component of adolescent development that is utterly lacking from traditional high schools. His theory is based largely on the work of Stanford psychologist William Damon, who says a sense of purpose is “the long-term, number one motivator in life.”

“For you to have a sense of purpose you need two things: One, you need to know what’s important to you and what you care about,” Cook-Deegan said. “And two, you need to know how your work is going to have consequence in the world.” Many high school students go through four years of school doing exactly what they are told to do. The work often feels divorced from the real world — a prescriptive set of “shoulds” that adults say will lead to a happy life. But for many students, the end goal of all that work — college or a career — is a hazy future, not a tangible one.

This is a good read explaining the importance of relationships with mentors and positive adults for teens.
The Lotus School of Liberal Arts Grades 9-12 weaves these interactions throughout the school year.
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