Education column: Accomplishment doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy

I came across a quote by Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search For Meaning, which read: “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” It made me think about purposeful living.

How easy these days to fall victim to information overload in the world we now live in. We’ve become so consumed by the busy-ness of life: We try to keep ahead of the deluge of e-mail messages and keep up with posts on social networks.

We twitter and tweet; read books and newspapers on Kindles, iPads, and the Internet. We watch our kids (sometimes enviously) multi-tasking effortlessly on an array of electronic devices, perpetually in contact with friends and classmates.

We race here and there to get our kids to the right activity on time. All too often, we become over-committed to events and activities that may well be worthwhile, but sap our strength to the extent that we don’t perform or contribute as effectively as we would if we simply had fewer commitments.

When are we making the time to stop and live deliberately? When are we reflecting on our goals and the things that are important to us; the things we want to pass down to our children? How many of us are living truly satisfying lives filled with purpose? How many are just trying to keep their heads above water because of the busy-ness of stress-filled lives?

This concerns me because the children in our lives — whether our own or our friends’ or our students — watch our every move. It comes as no surprise that they do what we do … not what we say.

What are we teaching them by the lives we’re living? What are we teaching them to value?

We want our children to be successful, and that made me think about “success” and how we measure it. It always saddens me a bit when we link higher degrees to higher paychecks, with no mention of the great satisfaction, the enrichment that a good education can add to a life.

The dictionary I use defined success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” The accomplishing of an aim or purpose may not be easy, but that’s OK; in fact, the harder the road, the greater the satisfaction.

Sometimes it is easy, though. I happened to be in a classroom the other day, and as I waited for the teacher to finish with one of her reading groups, I tip-toed near a volunteer “grandma” who sat reading a book with three first-graders.

She’d stop now and again and answer their questions with great patience, clearly relishing the moment. The kids were so enraptured they never even noticed me. I listened for a bit and was humbled.

How easy to do something purposeful: find a kid … read a book. It’s a start.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org.