EDU 6120 Session 6: Search for Meaning

When researching a topic, particularly for educational instruction, how does one go about the task of this research? A student should be taught to think, not just to parrot the material provided by an instructor (Scheuerman, 2014). If curriculum is also constructed in a manner to problem solve, teach students to construct new knowledge, and to promote transformative knowledge, students should be able to memorize information as well as be informed to construct criticism about those facts. When researching material for a lesson, it is essential to research in order to teach the material, but furthermore, to instill and inspire students to want to learn more about the topic.

For example, perhaps an educator decided to research Anne Frank, in order to teach a lesson about the repercussions of the Nazi reign. How would one find the material to instill a sense of creative and intellectual inspiration for their students but also provide a factual knowledge of Anne Frank’s contributions to human rights? It is deemed common knowledge that Anne Frank wrote a diary, one that educators can easily access and have read in their classrooms. When searching for meaning about an individual and their sufferings and reflecting on those that perished in the Holocaust, it is wise to also make personal connections to that circumstance.

The word “interest” stands in general for that kind of mental activity which instruction seeks to incite. Mere information does not suffice; for this we think of as a supply or store of facts, which a person might possess or lack, and still remain the same being (Herbart, n.d.).

An instructor can provide outside resources to their class such as a museum, memorial, library, monument, textbook, and so on, but perhaps forming a personal connection to the material, prior to the lesson, may instill a curiosity for students to search for more meaning in the lesson. Through transformative learning practices, teachers can instill a curiosity for students to empathize with those that suffered the Holocaust, being inspired to learn more about this situation.

There are many scenarios in which educators can inspire students to search for meaning in their educational content. Perhaps first it may be helpful to hold some preliminary reflection, asking the class if they know of relatives or other people that survived the Holocaust? There are also organizations, such as the World Affairs Council Seattle, that provide workshops and lectures for students and teachers about world issues (many of which can possibly connect to the study of Anne Frank). Another concept is to provide a classroom simulation of what it would be like to live in a fascist world, how that would impact the decisions and choices that they make (although this would have to be handled with care). The class may also reflect on modern suffrages and genocides in their current society. Facilitating a sense of importance, personal meaning, and self reflection will help instill a purpose for students to not only search for facts about a time period but to reflect on how to search for meaning about that period, perhaps in hopes to prevent it from reoccurring in their futures.


Herbart, J. F. (n.d.). The ethical basis and aim of instruction.

Scheuerman, R. (2014). Session 6: The enlightenment-rationalists and romantics. Personal Collection of (Scheuerman, R.), Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA.


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