William Damon
Free Press

The country's foremost authority on character development and moral education, Stanford psychologist Bill Damon, has just published the findings of a path-breaking study of young Americans' faltering quest for purpose in their lives and the concomitant "failure to launch" that finds at least a quarter of them rudderless and "at serious risk of never fulfilling their potential." He and his team surveyed 1,200 young people and interviewed a quarter of them in depth. He notes the paradox that "purpose is both a deeply individual and an unavoidably social phenomenon" because people have to find their own direction and purpose in life yet those discoveries are "guided by other people in their lives." But he offers tantalizing suggestions for forging a "culture of purpose" via community endeavors, careful (but not overprotective) parenting, schools that "address the why question with students about all that they do" while engaging their pupils in community pursuits and civic activity, and--maybe the scarcest of all--"positive role models in the public sphere." This a manageable, thoroughly readable, extraordinarily timely, and very important book that you will surely want to study. Learn more here.

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