Here's a not-so-shocking stat to start: According to the pollsters at Gallup, too many teens (50% of 13-17-year-olds who participated in the poll) associate school with boredom and fatigue. Although each student's circumstances are different, their overall lack of focus and attention seems to stem from antiquated pedagogies that push kids toward graduating and going to a good college without explicitly telling them the reasons why. With such a heavy focus on GPAs and SAT scores, schools across the country have fostered an environment that reinforces the notion that external motivation is one of the best ways to achieve student success. Compound that with the fact that teens' passions, hobbies, and interests aren't often incorporated into the classroom, and it's no wonder they feel more disconnected from their future than ever. So, what's the solution for getting students more engaged in classrooms and in turn, more motivated for their future? Surprisingly, it's as simple as helping them to find their purpose.
According to the Stanford Center on Adolescence, a person's purpose is comprised of three integral parts: skills and strengths, passions and interests, and global needs and concerns—things like finding a cure for Zika or figuring out how to combat the effects of climate change. And how do we help our TXGU'ers find their purpose in school, in college, and in life in general? Like most things, there's no one, single solution, but classrooms that nurture collaboration, accept—and learn from—failure, and emphasize the 'why' behind projects or procedures seem to have students who find that their time at school is meaningful. And that's super important because according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 41% of students who enrolled in a bachelor's degree program had yet to complete the program or dropped out entirely. The supposed reason why? A general feeling of uncertainty among students and their purpose or career. With that said, we can all probably agree that there's no better time than the present to make it our purpose to help TXGU'ers find theirs.