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Nov 09, 2015



Global Voices article

  • VOLUME 9 | ISSUE 37


    BACKGROUND INFORMATION ! Viktor Frankl was born in 1905 in the Jewish

    section of Vienne, the capital of Austria. (Viktor Frankl Institute) !

    As a medical student in the 1920s, Frankl studied neurology and psychologystudying the human brain and human behaviour. As a doctor, Frankl was particularly interested in the theories of psychiatrists Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. Frankl developed his own theory that combined philosophy and psychiatry, which he called logotherapy. His theory was that people suering from mental health issues could heal by finding meaning in their lives. (Viktor and I documentary film biography) !

    From 1940 to 1942, Frankl was director of the Department of Neurology at Rothschild Hospital in Vienna. (Viktor Frankl Institute) !

    From 1938 to 1945, Austria was taken over and controlled by Germany, under Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. In all the countries the Nazis controlled, most if not all of the Jews (as well as communists, Roma, homosexuals, and other targeted groups) were sent to concentration camps where they were either used as slave labour, or were simply murdered. At least 11 million people died in

    Nazi camps. This is referred to as the Holocaust. (Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research) !

    In 1942, Frankl was arrested and sent to the concentration camps. From 1942 to 1945, he would pass through three dierent camps: Auschwitz, Dachau and Theresienstadt. Frankl was separated from his wife, Tilly Frankl, who died in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945. (Viktor Frankl Institute) !

    In 1946, after the end of World War II and after he had been freed from the concentration camps, Frankl wrote a book entitled Mans Search for Meaning. In the book, he talked about his experiences in the camps. He told a story of how, while being forced to work, he thought about his love for his wife, and in that love found meaning in his life. And that meaning helped him survive. He observed that the prisoners who felt they had a purpose or meaning in life were often better able to survive the starvation and disease in the camps. (Frankl, Mans Search for Meaning) !

    By the time of his death in 1997, Frankl had written 39 books, received honorary degrees from 29 universities around the world and lectured at more than 200 universities. He won more than 20 awards for his work.

    The following activities are designed to stimulate a current events discussion. Generative in nature, these questions can be a launching point for additional assignments or research projects.

    Teachers are encouraged to adapt these activities to meet the contextual needs of their classroom.

    In some cases, reading the article with students may be appropriate, coupled with reviewing the information sheet to further explore the concepts and contexts being discussed. From here, teachers can select from the questions provided below. The activity is structured to introduce students to the issues, then allow them to explore and apply their learnings. Students are encouraged to further reflect on the issues.


    KEY TERMSPsychologistSomeone who scientifically studies how the human mind and human behaviour works.

    NeurologistA doctor who deals with the biology, health and illnesses of the brain.

    HypothesisAn idea or explanation for how or why something works that has not yet been proven through scientific experimentation.



    Photo of Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl in 1994. Photo credit to Imagno.



    Themes: Education, Health, Socially Conscious Living, Values and


    Course Connections: English, Social Sciences and the Humanities, The Arts !


    Front board

    Student journals or note paper


    Students will:

    Develop and express responses to issues and problems

    Reassess their responses to issues on the basis of new information

    Participate in active group work and class discussions

    Communicate eectively in writing, orally or visually

    Demonstrate the ability to think critically

    Develop, express and defend a position on an issue ! MAP IT Have students locate the dierent locations mentioned in the article to gain an understanding of the expanse and involvement of this issue.

    Chicago, Illinois, US

    Canada! DISCUSS

    1. What goal did Mabel set for herself? How did this provide Mabel with a purpose in life? Based on Mabels experience do you think its important to interact with other people? Explain.

    2. Dr. Patricia Boyles research, found that elderly people who had a strong sense of purpose in their lives were more often driven by social goals than self-centered goals like accumulating wealth. Have you ever volunteered before? If so, can you recall how you felt after volunteering? Did you feel like you achieved something great?

    3. Do you feel a greater sense of fulfillment and purpose when doing something for others more than doing something for yourself? Explain.

    4. The use of social media continues to grow and has become more influential than ever. In your opinion, can social media help people find their passion and make a dierence in the world? If so, how? !!!!!!!

    DIVE DEEPER Write the definitions for the terms passion and purpose on board.

    PassionAn intense desire or enthusiasm for something.

    PurposeThe aim or goal of a person: what a person is trying to do, become, etc. !Now, ask students to take five minutes to quietly reflect on their response to the following: !What is your passion and what goals do you want to achieve with that passion? How might this passion provide you with a sense of purpose in life? !Explain to students that part of living a happy life is living a life of self-discovery and purpose. To truly know yourself is to know your passion and purpose, and then, hopefully, to use said passion and purpose towards doing good work in the world. !Tell students that they will create an identity tree to begin to uncover their hidden interests, passions and purpose. Explain to students that their tree will serve as a visual representation of their inner self. Provide students with the instructions below and allow them 15 to 20 minutes to work on the identity tree. Advise students to complete this activity quietly and independently to encourage a space for reflection and critical thinking. !Identity Tree a. Draw a large tree on your sheet of paper with roots, a trunk,

    branches and leaves.

    b. The roots represent your foundation. Write down your network of family, friends, pets and/or heroes who are significant to you in a positive way.

    c. The trunk represents the strength that helps the tree stand tall. List your strengths and passions that will help you grow and flourish.

    d. The leaves represent the achievements of the tree as it reaches maturity and becomes full grown. Label six bunches of leaves with your goals and aspirations. Keep in mind these may change as you grow yourself. !

    Once students have completed the activity ask students the following questions:

    Have your passions changed from when you were younger?

    How might you turn your passion(s) into your cause or purpose in life?

    How might you use your passion(s) to help others and/or make a dierence in your community?

    Collect the identity trees and post them around the classroom to remind students of their strengths and passions. ! ADDITIONAL RESOURCES !Photo Credit: Imagno on Getty Images. Definitions from Oxford Dictionary: !