Assemblies are an integral part of life at Ben-Hem. Assemblies provide a unique opportunity to get together as a school, talk about important issues, and create a shared understanding of the ideas and values that are most important to us.
This week’s assembly posed the question, “Where do you want to go?” Students thought about this question while Mr. Kelly read Oh the Places You Will Go! by Dr. Seuss. In true Seuss form, he captures powerful messages in a story that deftly balances humor and content. The story characterizes the effort, perseverance, and complexity involved in getting where you want to go in life.
After reading the story we shared examples of people who, when they were young, most likely did not know exactly what they wanted to be but knew who they wanted to be. Herein lies a critical distinction; who you want to be vs. what you want to be. The question of what you want to be focuses students on goals and aspirations that are situated so far in the future that they can lose meaning and begin to seem unattainable. The question of who children want to be focuses them on the character traits, skills, and abilities necessary to become the person they envision. Focusing on self-knowledge and growth is always present (which young children do best with) and always produces results that kids can see and feel. As Seuss describes, life will take individuals down all kinds of paths. Our children and students will wind up in places they (or we) never expected them to. It is the substance of their being that will guide and maintain them on their journey towards who they aspire to be. What they want to be will follow.
This process of identifying who they aspire to be allows them to begin considering how they will achieve this end. Students must ask themselves what they will need to do, who will help them, and what kinds of skills they will need to acquire along the way. Goal setting and strategic planning are essential skills in life and learning. As such, the development of personal goals not only focuses students on the critical process of developing into caring, effective human beings, it reinforces the underlying cognitive processes that support the development of independent, adaptive learners.