For: Upper School
Pathmaps Point: Meaning and Purpose
Part 1: Discussion
Have students discuss at least three of these questions with someone else who is not in the class. For each question, have students summarize both their response and that of the other person. Ask students: "If either your responses or the other person's responses changed over the course of the discussion, then describe what the response was at the beginning of the discussion, how it changed and, if possible, describe why it changed."
• Do you imagine your life as having one or more specific goals? Even if you were not “created” for some particular reason, do you feel there is something you should try to accomplish?
• Do you think there is there something the human species should try to achieve while we exist on this planet? If so, why? If not, why not?
• What do you imagine happening at the end of your life?
• Imagine the world the day after humans have become extinct. Imagine a thousand years after. Any changes?
• Do you imagine an end to the universe? If so, what do you imagine, why does it happen, and how does it make you feel to imagine it?
• What motivates you to do the right thing or to better yourself?
• What motivates you to get up in the morning – or to do anything at all (including staying alive)?
• If you knew that you would be happy and safe, would you care if our country (or the world) became more and more corrupt or was headed towards destruction? Why would you care or not care?
• What are the top three most important things to live for and why?
• If you were in isolation or suffering terribly, what would help you survive? What would give you hope?
Part Two: Essay
This is a written assignment designed to promote self-reflection. The key concepts come from Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning. The essay could be anywhere from three to five pages long.
The essay should answer the question: What kind of life is worth living? And should include at least three of the following topics and the student's current views on them:
Does having a meaning/purpose matter?
Can you find satisfaction/meaning in your life? How?
Am I here for some purpose?
Does it matter if you laugh and enjoy life, or are these silly meaningless activities?
What are some of your current most deeply held values?
What holds meaning in your life, what you think matters about meaning?
What is your understanding of the phrase “Know Thyself”? Why does it matter to know yourself, if at all?
How do you think people should treat others? What is the role of forgiveness and/or reconciliation in human life?
What is friendship and how does it help create a life of meaning? What does it mean to be a friend? To be a good friend?
What does it mean to be able to handle suffering well? Is that an important skill?
What is freedom? How does it connect to responsibility? What about freedom matters in creating a life with meaning?
What role does beauty play in “how to live”?
In what ways does creativity matter in how to live?
What is the role of good and evil in life?
What is the role of discontent in your idea of how to live?
What skills are necessary for finding meaning in life?
Have students consider the consequences/implications of their viewpoint. Have them reflect on the impact of these ideas on their own life. The conclusion should explain the significance of their points.
Note to students: This is an essay based on your opinion, you also need to support your opinion with evidence. This can be experience, training, or the words of others who are expert in some way. Be sure to cite your sources. Grading will be based on evidence of these:
You define the purpose of your writing.
You analyze and reflect on your reading. This should include discussing some of the implications of your point of view.
You explain the key questions as you discuss each topic.
The clarity, accuracy, and relevance of your writing.
Are you fair and logical in your writing? (For example, do you explain your assumptions and your biases? )
You support your inferences when you make them.
You follow the conventions of good writing (spelling, grammar, construction ,citation etc.)