The Nature of Goals

Goals affect learning. Our minds, hearts and wills are goal directed. Truth, love and justice should be the primary goals of our minds, hearts and wills and make all other goals positive and powerful. The more we are aware of our goals, define them and consciously work towards them, the more likely we are to achieve them. This process can be learned. It takes time and effort. It is the responsibility of parents and educators to assist their children and students in developing their capabilities to reach worthwhile, long-term and meaningful goals.

The goals we aspire to, we will tend to manifest. If we use our knowing, willing and loving capacities for material ends or lower purposes, we will reflect and move towards them. Because of our natures, we can become attracted to and pursue selfish ambition instead of justice, prejudice instead of truth, and hate instead of love. We can use our powers and knowledge for harm, arrogance and pride rather than to help and serve. People with selfish, individualistic and materialistic goals can become savage, unjust, cruel and harmful.

We can assist learners to set their goals high, to strive for noble goals and purposes, to control their passions and desires and to avoid frivolous and useless endeavors. Children can be encouraged in this process and taught these skills from the beginning of their lives. Such training will result in high resolve, sense of purpose and personal capability, self-esteem and an internal locus of control. These aspects of will enable then to accomplish things and bring to successful conclusion whatever they undertake.

Goals evolve along with our sense of self. Our first unstated and unconscious goals in life are satisfying our basic needs and desires. They have little to do with loving and doing for others beyond our inner drives. As we grow, our goals move from self to family, and then expand to community, culture, nation, world and beyond. If our goals do not move outward to encompass higher truth, love and justice, then growth will be limited. As educators, we can assist young people to adopt and pursue these healthy goals. We can help them create meaningful and coherent representations of reality, which will require moving beyond limited conceptions based on earlier and less mature views to those that integrate self, family, and ever widening and more inclusive social groups and knowledge into a unified whole.

Goals give meaning to life. They direct our energy towards the things we value. If our goals are positive and healthy, they will take attraction, time and energy away from less worthy goals. Educators can help students value useful goals and work toward them. One reason education is so important and vital, is that children’s success and prosperity depend on it. Success, honor, distinction and prosperity come from service, being the source of social good and the cause of peace, well-being, happiness and advantage to others. These are goals that are worthy of striving for and that give meaning and happiness to life. Unfortunately, they are not the goals often promoted in our media. Lofty goals will not indulge unhealthy selfish concerns and interests.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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