Meaning and purpose are two of the most powerful sources of deep, persistent learning. They are so influential that their presence helps people overcome even the most dry and disengaging of learning experiences. A sense of meaning and purpose can turn reading a dictionary into a quest. It can empower a new parent to endure a litany of sleepless nights to care for a child. It can fuel the persistence of a medical student who finds herself sitting through long, monotone lectures, still managing to extract the knowledge needed to become a competent doctor. As history shows us, meaning and purpose allow people to conjure Herculean strength and fortitude to endure some of the most painful and inhumane of circumstances, sometimes even to flourish in such environments.

It is for these reasons that Birdhouse Learning Labs is committed to an ongoing laboratory dedicated to exploring meaning and purpose for learners. We call it “The Meaning Lab”, and its charter is to create research-informed tools and methods that help learners discover & attach greater meaning and purpose to learning experiences and the lives for which those experiences prepare them.

This lab is expected to launch in 2020, while a pre-launch exploration of and “play” with existing research and promising practices is already underway. As an example, consider the simple infographic below, partly inspired and informed by one of the leading scholars on purpose among youth. The goal is to draw from existing research to develop simple tools and frameworks that can be piloted as a means of gaining further insight.

Also look for future announcements about online and in-person forums and events intended to explore, curate, and cultivate existing research and promising practices that can lead to new tools and resources that help in nurturing meaning-inspired and purpose-driven learners.