How the Emotion AWE Can Help Students Develop a Sense of Purpose


I have been reading articles from the community website The Greater Good for some time now.

When discussing how teachers can instill a sense of purpose  Vicki Zakrzewski (2013) explains how Ryan Hreljac’s sense of purpose came from inspiration from a first grade teacher.

After telling your class of six and seven year olds that children in Africa are dying because of lack of clean water, Ryan, one of your students, is so moved he has to do something. What starts as extra vacuuming at home to earn money for wells eventually turns into Ryan’s Well Foundation that, to-date, has brought safe water and sanitation services to over 789,900 people.

Zakrzewski goes on to say that finding ways to set students on a path to a life purpose, may be one of the greatest services you ever render to your students.

William Damon, leading expert in human development and author of The Path to Purpose, discusses the proposition.  When students actively pursue a clear purpose they reap tremendous benefits both immediate and long lasting.

Some of these benefits include

  • extra positive energy
  • student motivation
  • acquisition of the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a purpose
  • becoming very strong learners
  • positive emotions tendencies such as gratitude, self-confidence, optimism,
  • a deep sense of fulfilment

Scientists find that these attributes prevent depression and anxiety. Vicki Zakrzewski (2013)  because research shows that adults who

feel their lives have meaning and purpose are happier, more successful at work, and have stronger relationships.


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