Keeping “Purpose” in the Forefront

Buddha Quote: “Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”

I am trying to work through some thoughts, so bear me as it is one of those “write to learn” posts.

My daughter Kallea and I are watching the movie Smallfoot (which she loves but basically if there is music and it is animated, she will love it) and there is one part in the movie that made me think.  Without going into too much detail and ruining the film for anyone who hasn’t viewed it, Danny Devito is a Yeti dad with a unique job in the community.  His son finds out some things that he reveals to his father that ultimately makes the dad feel like his job is no longer of value (or maybe never was). In short, you could feel Danny Devito’s character lose his purpose.

I think a lot about the importance of purpose in not only education but many aspects of life.  I remember watching my dad work seven days a week at a restaurant that he owned from basically 8 am until 10 pm, every day.  I thought that when he retired, he would be thankful for all of the extra time that he had, but I watched him struggle to find purpose again. The restaurant had brought him joy through the act of bringing others joy.  He continued to cook at other restaurants, but it took him a while to find that purpose again outside of the joy he had for his family and grandchildren.

Purpose matters, and we can still be in the same job but lose that sense of purpose if change happens too quickly, and we see as what we have done in the past as irrelevant in the future.  I remember a conversation I had with a teacher many years ago about shifting to more student creation in the classroom and how powerful that was their learning.  She said something to me that made no sense to me at the time, but for some reason, it was the first thing I thought of when I saw that scene from Smallfoot.

“When I became a teacher 25 years ago, it was because I wanted to stand in front of kids and inspire them to learn about an area that I was passionate about and now you are encouraging me to get out of the way?”

At the time, I didn’t understand why she didn’t want to celebrate the opportunity for what seemingly would be less work on her part, but when I saw that scene, I understood. Her purpose of why she became a teacher was disappearing in front of her eyes. I knew this teacher, and she was wonderful with students, and her focus was the same as mine; to do what is best for kids.  This is not a post regarding pedagogy and ultimately, what strategies best serve students.  It is to flesh out why some people, with the same great intentions as any person reading this, might struggle with change. They, in some way, might feel they are losing their purpose.

I am not going to share any strategies on how to remedy this as I am still struggling with this in my brain.  I might even be wrong in my synopsis.  I am merely writing this as a reminder to myself that I have always excelled on days where my purpose level was high, and that sense of purpose is just as important to others.

This Emerson quote is a good reminder:

Ralph Waldo Emerson Quote: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Source: George Couros