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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's podcast my guest is Professor William (Bill) Damon from Stanford University Graduate School of Education where he directs the Stanford Center on Adolescence. He is the author of many books, including The Path to Purpose. We discuss how students can be helped to find purpose in life. Among the topics discussed on this week's programme are:

  • Many young people looking for something to believe in - about a quarter of them “drifting”
  • Responses to being adrift: hedonism, anxiety.
  • Being adrift originates in not finding something that is a positive direction for themselves.
  • Profile of young people who are drifting
  • How young people have found purpose in previous eras (national, economic…)
  • Difference between seeking a purpose and seeking a meaning in life
  • How having a sense of purpose can help you have a psychological balance
  • Any activity can be purposeful if you believe in it, do it well and give it your all
  • How teachers can model a purposeful life for their students
  • Profiles in purpose
  • A teacher’s role in helping students find their purpose
  • When parents dislike the purpose chosen by their daughter or son
  • Most of us have multiple purposes in life
  • The link between purpose and entrepreneurship
  • Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal
  • The relationship between mission, commitment and purpose
  • Where people find purpose
  • The importance of “why” questions for teachers
  • How exams could be purposeful
  • Barriers students encounter in trying to find their purpose in life
  • How he conducts his research
  • Questions to help people find their purpose
  • Diane Ravitch
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