The Life Goals Approach to Education
This is a guest blog post from Uplifting Education
What we do with our life, how our life unfolds, and how we influence those we love stem from an accumulation of choices. Our parents and their parents made choices. We’ve made choices. The environment we now live in is a reflection of choices. Much of our life situation, the love we are experiencing, and the amount of joy we feel has been nurtured by choices. How we are from this moment forward will be decidedly influenced by daily choices. The question is: how can we improve life for our descendants and the society they live in?
Dr. Ben Carson is a prime example of a person who had all the perceived disadvantages (poverty, single mother, African American male) to make excuses for his actions, but instead he made a choice:
I nearly had stopped myself through my belief that I would never amount to anything. But instead of choosing to fuel my anger further, I turned to books as a way out. As I read about explorers, entrepreneurs, industrial leaders, and inventors, I saw a common thread in their lives of the desire and ability to work hard in order to accomplish something. I was particularly inspired by the story of Booker T. Washington, who was born a slave. It was illegal for him to read, yet he taught himself and read everything in sight. Because of that commitment to continually better his life, he eventually became an advisor to two presidents.
As a result of his choices, Dr. Carson has already influenced innumerable people with his views, medical advances, and books making a positive impact in this world. Although Dr. Carson’s mother had only a third grade education; it was from her deep concern that she pushed her son, Dr. Carson, to read.
When it comes to making a difference, world-renowned experts Drs. Renzulli and Reis describe the crucial role using our passions and skills to make a difference in the lives of others: “… much of the satisfaction and the driving force as well, come from the possibility of affecting the human condition by contributing something original to the sciences, arts, humanities, or other areas of society and life.”
When students are given the proper guidance and internalize the value of using their education for a productive purpose; they try harder, mature deeper, learn better, overcome obstacles, retain more knowledge, and develop critical skills. Our communities and societies will see unimaginable enhancements to the quality of life as this attitude develops and proliferates.
There are three life goals that systems of education should to be aware of and address if they are to educate responsibly. Bearing these objectives in mind models education to fulfill its deepest purpose: to produce well-rounded, capable, and benevolent people who are an asset to society.
Developing a mature heart and character is the first life goal. Ultimately the aim of growing heart and character is to become a person capable of altruistically loving others. True love cannot be separated from virtues such as respect, responsibility, fairness, honesty, loyalty, unselfishness, and others. Virtues facilitate the flow of love in human relationships. A person of virtue is a mature person capable of beneficial and loving relationships, which are further contexts for fostering human development and growth. To develop loving relationships, especially in the context of a family is the second life goal.
Heart is the impulse to love and to be united with the beloved. It is more than infatuation or sentimental emotion. Heart is the source of love and the core of the person. It is deeper and more internal than emotion, intellect, or will. Heart is the central driving force in human life and all human endeavors. It is the most fundamental aspect of our nature. Heart is an irrepressible impulse to find joy in loving an object. We experience joy through loving and being loved. When this desire is satisfied, our life takes on profound meaning.
As people develop their knowledge, skills, and technical expertise, they have the potential to be of enormous benefit to the larger society. With their maturity and sense of social responsibility, such people can balance their natural desire for personal success with the larger purpose of serving their society. Making a contribution to society is the third life goal.
The “Life Goals Approach” pursues and achieves objectives that point the way to valuable and productive lives. By designing our educational system around these three outcomes, we can help our young people find true satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Students can realize their full potential as human beings as communities and populations thrive as a result of their efforts.
To find out more about the life goals approach to your children/teen’s education, scroll down the Uplifting Education publications webpage for topics and areas of application. Individual chapters are available and each one uses anecdotal, theoretical, and empirical examples to illustrate the main points assisting parents and educators in their efforts to enlighten children and youth.
Get free access to all chapters until March 31st. (2016) Use Coupon Code: special4u
 Carson, Ben. America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012. p. 68.
 Renzulli, Joseph S., Reis, Sally M, & Thompson, Andrea, Light up Your Child’s Mind: Finding a Unique Pathway to Happiness and Success. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. p. 41