Seven Gateways to the Soul of Education

1. The yearning for deep connection describes a quality of relationship that is profoundly caring, is resonant with meaning, and involves feelings of belonging, or of begin truly seen and known. Students may experience deep connection to themselves, to others, to nature, or to a higher power.

2. The longing for silence and solitude, often an ambivalent domain, is fraught with both fear and urgent need. As a respite from the tyranny of "busyness" and noise, silence may be a realm of reflection, of calm or fertile chaos, an avenue of stillness and rest fro some, prayer or contemplation for others.

3. The search for meaning and purpose concerns the exploration of big questions, such as "Why am I here?" "Does my life have a purpose? How do I find out what it is?" "What is life for?" "What is my destiny?" "What does my future hold?" and "Is there a God?"

4. The hunger of joy and delight can be satisfied through experiences of great simplicity, such as play, celebration, or gratitude. It also describes the exaltation students feel when encountering beauty, power, grace, brilliance, love or the sheer joy of being alive.

5. The creative drive, perhaps the most familiar domain for nourishing the spirit in school, is part of all the gateways. Whether developing a new idea, a work of art, a scientific discovery, or an entirely new lens on life, students feel the awe any mystery of creating.

6. The urge for transcendence describes the desire for young people to go beyond their perceived limits. It includes not only the mystical realm, but experiences of extraordinary in the arts, athletics, academics, or human relations. By naming and honoring this universal human need, educators can help students constructively channel this powerful urge.

7. The need for initiation deals with rites of passage for the young -- guiding adolescence to become more conscious about the irrevocable transition from childhood to adulthood. Adults can five young people tools for dealing with all of life's transitions and farewells. Meeting this need for initiation often involves ceremonies with parents and faculty that welcome them into the community of adults.

© The Soul of Education: Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion, and Character at School (ASCD 2000) Rachael Kessler The Soul of Education: Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion, and Character at School