Search for Meaning

Apr 08 2012

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.
- David W. Orr

The main work of the teacher, I believe, is to recognize those peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers, and to assist them in their efforts to attain their most noble ambitions. And this is not necessarily about career or college readiness, or data-driven lesson planning.

Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, and Nazi concentration camp survivor, believed that an individual’s primary motivational drive is the search for meaning.

The clip below is from a lecture Frankl gave in 1972. In it, he expresses what he claims is the “most apt maxim and motto for any psychotherapeutic activity.”

“If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take man as what he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be.”

Common Core, Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind – all are standards-based afflictions that are dragging us into the pits.

6 responses so far

  1. Thanks for this reminder Doug. This is a great gift to carry around each day in the classroom.

  2. I needed to hear this today.
    I really needed to hear this today.

    Thanks for reminding us. Not sure why I forget sometimes, but when reminded again, am sure I’m in the right place.

  3. Some days, reminders are more necessary than others. I’ve had a lot of those days lately.

  4. Absolutely inspiring!
    Even tough, we should reflect about the quote:

    [...] But if we take man as what he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be

    Who defines “what a man should be”? It is quite easy for many people to assume that they know “what a man should be”, but that may not be a correct assumption or a very subjective one.

    Thank you for sharing this! ;-)

  5. Orr’s observation about the cultural context in which we define “success” has always been a source of consternation in my mind. A teacher and mentor in k-12 schools the last 25 years, I’ve always felt the public schooling system failed me, as it has many millions of other children, not because it didn’t prepare me for the world of work, home, car, a boat, etc…. but because it wasn’t designed to address or even acknowledge the most fundamental aspect of my nature, my humanity.

    I know-I know, we have dozens of religious affiliations and denominations to address those needs…. but is it education, or indoctrination?

  6. This was awesome. As a future teacher I found this to be quite inspiring and helpful for developing my philosophy of education. Great Video