Continuum of Purpose: Fostering a Meaningful Life

The purpose of learning is about learners being prepared for their future and reaching their fullest potential as lifelong learners. This means that they have a voice with the confidence to express their ideas and opinions so they are heard and taken into account in any situation.

Continuum of Purpose TM by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Graphic design by Sylvia Duckworth.

Establishing a clear purpose for learning encourages a desire to increase a deeper understanding of that purpose. In stating a purpose, learners can make their expectations for learning clear. Purpose goes beyond what we listed under the other continuums because the learner is identifying a challenge or problem based on something that they are passionate about. It is more than pursuing their purpose. The whole sense of purpose is bigger than self. When you have a purpose, it has a broader reach, is self-fulfilling, and gives you a meaningful and purposeful life.

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy



Conformity is when learners match their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors to the other learners in the class. Learners tend to follow orders and are more concerned with what their peers believe. They feel peer pressure from the majority of the group. This can be called “groupthink.” The only purpose they have is similar to the group purpose or other extrinsic factors like grades and being accepted by the group.



Self-Awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability for learners to recognize that they are separate from others. Learners seek to learn more about who they are as a person by having a clear perception of their personality, strengths, challenges, interests, talents, and aspirations. They also understand how other people perceive them and create opportunities to change behaviors and beliefs. They are just starting to recognize their hopes and dreams as the first step in determining what they may want for their life.



In the Discovery phase, learners search for what matters in life for them. The learner is open to trying new things and taking risks so they can pursue and discover their passion. When they realize that they can take control of learning around their passion, they are intrinsically motivated to investigate everything they can about it.


Making a Difference

When learners find a problem or challenge that they are passionate about, this is where empathy can come into play. The learner looks beyond their own self interests so they can foster a meaningful life. They want to make a difference by finding a solution to a problem and tackling it. This gives them a sense of purpose in the world. When learners have a clearly stated and understood purpose, then they have the foundation for the process in building concepts, skills, and information. They want to learn more because it is something they are interested in and passionate about. When they do this, they may find their purpose or their purpose may even find them.

“Follow your passions to discover your purpose” – KMcClaskey

Thank You to Sylvia Duckworth @sylviaduckworth (http://sylviaduckworth.com) from Crescent School, Toronto, Canada for designing the graphic of the Continuum of Purpose 4/12/2016.

*This page including the chart was created by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey of Personalized Learning, LLC (c) on 4/12/16 and published 5/8/16. The Continuum of Purpose is also copyrighted in our publication, How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper (Corwin, 2016). For permission to adapt, distribute copies, or to use in a publication, contact Kathleen McClaskey at khmcclaskey@gmail.com.


Other Continuums

Continuum of Choice
Continuum of Voice
Continuum of Motivation
Continuum of Engagement
Continuum of Ownership
Continuum of Self-Efficacy


Cross-posted from http://www.personalizelearning.com/2016/06/continuum-of-purpose-fostering.html