On Meaning & Education: Inspire the Soul | Brent Kaneft | 5 Min Read

November 6, 2023

In his 1992 Preface to Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl laments the success of his book: “if hundreds of thousands of people reach out for a book whose very title promises to deal with the question of a meaning to life, it must be a question that burns under their fingernails”—in other words, people’s interest with and investment in a search for meaning is an “expression of the misery of our time.” Since Frankl’s death in 1997, the book has sold about 6 million more copies, which suggests that the question has yet to be extinguished. Now in 2023, we enjoy more comfort and wealth overall, at least materialistically, than any population in human history, and still, we are struggling to find meaning in our lives; discovering meaning, then, lies elsewhere, beyond material.

Our soul—that indescribable yearning within us—echoes John’s sentiments in Huxley’s Brave New World: “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” Our soul doesn’t crave social media feeds, that second piece of pecan pie, the next episode on Netflix, or limitless buffets. Our soul requires more…

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Brent Kaneft

Brent Kaneft is Head of School at Wilson Hall School, a PK-12 independent school, in South Carolina. He holds a master’s in literature from James Madison University and earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Indiana University (Bloomington) in May 2022. Since 2016, Brent has led teacher workshops on how to translate Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) research strategies into the classroom, and since 2020, he has focused on research-informed practices in the areas of social-emotional learning, mindfulness, and equity and inclusion. Brent’s recent publications include "The Belonging Apocalypse: Woke Bypassing, Contemplative Practices, and a Way Forward for DEI" (IntrepidEd News) and "The Problem with Nice: Moving from Congenial to Collegial Cultures" (Independent School Magazine).