Viktor Frankl Response to Adele Peters Modern Middle and High School Project

Adele Peters’s report of the project on building the modern middle and high school is an intriguing output considering the current formation of schools in India. According to Adele Peters, the entrepreneurs’ in the project focus on ensuring that the students will always be taught happiness, rather than the normal studying pattern. The article by Adele Peters outlines the issues about the school, and its focus on students, which is teaching them happiness and not math as the common schools. “Man’s Search for Meaning” is Victor Frankl’s work detailing his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi Concentration camps during World War II. The work largely bases on the experience of Frankl as a psychotherapist, with a focus on identifying the purpose of life to feel positive, and imagining the outcome. Considering Viktor Frankl’s work, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” there is a need to confirm whether Adele’s work would amuse Frankl. According to Frankl, “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.” Frankl claims that man should focus on finding meaning in life more than happiness. Despite Adele Peters’s work being essential for the children’s happiness, a consideration of “Man’s Search for Meaning” confirms that Frankl would be against the school’s idea and instead preferred Peters to set up an institution that focused on searching for meaning amongst its students. Frankl considers meaning as more essential than happiness as it gives individuals a reason to live, Frankl also considers meaning as essential since its help individuals find purpose in life, and taking responsibility of themselves, lastly, Frankl argues that happiness should not be pursued, but ensued.

The main reason to create the school with a focus of teaching student’s happiness as brought out by Adele Peters article was to ensure that the students learn with a focus on achieving great heights in education. According to Peters, the foundation of outstanding achievement and great lives is built on happiness. The school’s idea was to come up with an institution that ensures students’ happiness is cultivated all through. The school co-founders believed that students’ happiness is required to ensure a successful institution is set up. The idea by Peters on creating the school, however, does not resonate with Frankl’s thoughts. From his book, “Man’s search for Meaning,” Frankl believes that human beings should only pursue meaning for fulfillment. Peters’s ideology does not resonate with the thoughts of Frankl, since Peters believes that happiness is the core of success for students. From Frankl’s thoughts, meaning leads to the survival of human beings (Popova 1). It is only through meaning that one has a reason for surviving. Frankl also suggests that man’s life should freely lead to their finding of meaning, and not in a guided practice form; “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task” (Frankl 127). Therefore, meaning is supreme to happiness, and schools should support students towards finding meaning by allowing them to explore, rather than guiding them towards happiness.

Peters and the counterparts in the creation of the school wanted to focus on changing the norm of the present types of schools. The focus of the new institution is to flip the typical school setting, which deals with knowledge acquisition for students through cramming, imparting skills, and maybe personality and character (Peters). The current school setting with a focus on the above-outlined attributes is an institution that focuses on enhancing knowledge distribution among students. According to Peters, the knowledge being taught in schools at present is not the same type of knowledge that students will be taught in the future. Peters further confirms that the foundation for knowledge is very limited. Therefore, the school that the group focuses on setting up is majorly related to the idea of focusing on the future. The school aims to cultivate learners who can manage to relate to future issues and effectively relate to other students who could be taught later. As compared to current institutions, the focus is on knowledge, which turns out to be different or changing with time. Such denies students the opportunity to relate to learners who went through the institutions before them.

Frankl puts more consideration into finding meaning in life as compared to happiness and success. From his work, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Frankl would likely object to the idea of the school as his primary focus could be on the cultivation of a school that helps students find meaning. Frankl believes that it is through finding meaning that individuals during his period at the areas where they were confined managed to hold on to the end. Frankl gives examples of individuals who were able to use their identified meaning in life to hold on to the life they were living with the focus of having a better tomorrow. Frankl’s work focuses on enhancing the ability of individuals to find meaning in life, which can help to guide and lead them in their lives. Through finding purpose in life, man can always follow their path towards achieving what they believe they are destined for, thus, have a focus in life. Frankl ties a lot of importance to finding meaning in life, to the extent of even preventing suicide, “it may well be that an individual’s impulse to take his life would have been overcome had he been aware of some meaning and purpose worth living for” (166). Frankl would rather have the school teach students how to find meaning in life rather than happiness.

Frankl believes that happiness, just as success, should come automatically as a consequence of some other actions, and not forced on people. As detailed by Esfahani Smith, The Atlantic reporter, Frankl wrote that “Happiness should not be pursued but ensued, one must have the reason to be happy.” Esfahani Smith further claims that it is the very pursuit for happiness that thwarts happiness (Smith). Frankl thought of happiness, as brought out before, is that it should just occur automatically. Individuals should not pursue happiness. Instead, people should just have a reason to be happy. Happiness has to come automatically when people focus on doing things of fulfillment. The thoughts of Frankl on happiness are different from the layout of the school, which focuses on enhancing happiness for the students. Peters believes that they can create a school that focuses on making the children happy. According to Frankl’s thoughts, such a school or institution should not be put in place since happiness is not something that should be pursued. Frankl believes that in such a case, the institution should only focus on enhancing the student’s ability to find meaning, and from the process, the students can focus on finding their happiness. Depending on what the students feel and how they want to operate, they can find their happiness, judging from the outcome of their lives.

Pursuit of happiness should not be an independent venture, but instead, it should be accompanied by meaning. Smith argues that happiness should be accompanied by meaning to avoid possibilities of “a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life.” Happiness and meaning are dissimilar and mean different things to individuals. Individuals can be happy and find meaning at the same time. However, most of the people in the current world do not have reasons for finding meaning in their lives (Smith). Instead, they consider their happiness more than achieving meaning in life. When one is happy, they are often contented with their status quo. However, finding meaning makes individuals more fulfilled than just when they are happy. Human beings should focus on finding meaning more than on being happy. With meaning, one can even pass through the most challenging times in life but remain focused as they understand their meaning. On the contrary, when one is happy, their happiness might be negatively impacted by an eventuality, and since they lack meaning or direction, the happiness might not last. “What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment” (Frankl 131). Therefore, Esfahani Smith details the thoughts of Frankl on the importance of pursuing meaning over happiness, while Frankl urges individuals to always focus on finding meaning at every moment in their lives. Frankl could not have supported the school’s ideology but considered it to focus more on helping students to always find meaning rather than happiness.

Happiness is a factor that cannot be pursued in a human’s life. Popova’s critique on Frankl work links happiness to success, which should not be made a target, due to lack of capabilities for the pursue (Popova 11). For one to be successful, one has to work hard. Success should come as an unintended side-effect of an individual’s dedication to work. The more one is dedicated to performing, the higher the probability of being successful. Similar to the case of happiness, there should be no struggle in pursuing happiness among individuals. Instead, happiness should come through individuals living fulfilling lives; “As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy, last but not least, through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation” (Frankl 162) The school by Peters is contrary to the opinion as the main focus of the school is to help students pursue happiness. For one to experience happiness, they have to let it happen automatically and not through forcing it out. Therefore, Frankl’s ideology could not support Peters’s decision on the school, as his focus is always on letting happiness occur naturally, as an unintended effect of the process.

The school by Adele Peters and the associates focuses on creating an environment where students will find happiness in their interactions. Adele Peters considers the school as the best fit for students as compared to the contemporary types of institutions that focus on enhancing knowledge among students. Peters argues that the knowledge offered to students in the schools is not universal, and the possibility of having a shift in the type of knowledge might negatively impact students’ learning and their future. A school that focuses on giving students happiness will be universal. Despite Peters’s argument on the benefits of the school and happiness on students’ success, Frankl believes that happiness should not be pursued but ensued. Individuals should always have a reason to be happy. Therefore, Frankl would never support the idea of the school by Peters. Instead, Frankl could have suggested having the school teach students to pursue meaning, as compared to happiness.

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