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Teaching Strategies to Help Students Find Their Purpose

Janelle Cox

One thing most high school students would agree upon is that they don’t learn anything in high school that is relevant to their lives. In fact, many students find school boring. This feeling is very common among teenagers, so much so that a study was conducted to find out how students really felt about school. They were asked to choose three adjectives to describe how they felt about school, and half of the teenagers felt school was “Boring.” This data may suggest that boredom is due to the technological lifestyle that many teenagers lead. Children are constantly being overstimulated with technology at home, which makes it hard for teachers to use teaching strategies to keep their attention in the classroom, therefore students feel bored. In today’s classrooms, not too much has changed from when you went to school. You will still see students staring blankly into space or constantly looking at the clock to see when class is over. For many students, they have no real sense of purpose. Some students are just trying to get by until they graduate and get a job. For others, receiving good grades so they can get into a decent college is their main purpose in life. It’s our job to use teaching strategies to help kids find their life purpose.

Teaching Strategies to Find a Sense of Purpose

How do we bring a sense of meaning and purpose into our high schoolers’ lives? Discovering one’s purpose is one of life’s biggest questions. When you have a strong sense of purpose, it can make a significant difference in your life. In fact, research links purpose to improved health, well-being, and having a more meaningful, successful life. Embarking on this voyage is critical during the adolescent years. During this time, when teenagers struggle with self-esteem and acceptance, having a sense of purpose can help children feel more hopeful about their future. Studies report that pursuing your purpose can also help to lower stress hormones, is associated with psychological well-being, and can help lead a more satisfied life.

Helping Students Cultivate Purpose

There are a few things that teachers can do to help their students cultivate a sense of purpose in their lives. They can start by asking students questions about their life. They can ask questions such as “What is important to you?” and “What do you want to do in your life?” They can help students set goals and turn those goals into reality. They can talk with their students and discuss what their own purpose is and what drives them to succeed. By connecting with your students and starting a conversation related to purpose, you are encouraging students to explore their own goals and values that are centrally related to their life’s purpose.

The Purpose Challenge

There is an inspiring new and innovative online tool called the Purpose Challenge that can help high school students find their path to purpose. This challenge was produced by ProSocial, a campaign management and strategic consulting firm, in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science CenterTheir intention is to help high schoolers and college transfer students find their sense of purpose. Through video content, reading material, and brief exercises, students will think deeply about the things that matter the most to them.

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Here’s a sample activity that students would complete online:

“Imagine you are 40 years of age and things in your life have gone as well as you could have hoped. What will you be doing? Who will be in your life? What will be important to you? Why? Spend five minutes picturing your best possible future and five more minutes writing about it. Describe it in as much detail as possible.”

According to the site’s research, only about 20 percent of adolescents have a clear sense of purpose for themselves. That’s 1 out of every 5 young adolescent who have specifically identified their purpose. While 87 percent of those students say there is in fact an overall purpose for life, only 1 out of 5 have already found it. The Purpose Challenge can help these students identify what is meaningful to them and send them on a path to success. For more information and to enter the essay contest visit Purposechallenge.org.

Going through high school bored and unengaged is no way to live. You can help your high schoolers find their purpose by challenging them to look within themselves and explore what is meaningful to them. Create a purpose-driven curriculum and have students join the Purpose Challenge. This will give students a chance to explore their passions as well as pursue them.

How will you help your high school students find their purpose? Share your thoughts and teaching strategies in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.