The Question of Meaning Group Guide

Volume III, Number II

Artwork by Catherine Hochman

A big and often ambiguous topic, KidSpirit writers take multifaceted approaches to understanding how we create meaning in language, names, philosophy, and even our relationships with others.

1. What’s in a name? Caie Kelley writes a piece about a girl named “Zhi You,” who goes by the American name “Amy.” After a conversation with her mom, Amy is convinced to change her name back to the Chinese as a way of embodying the spirit of freedom that caused her parents to move to the United States. Can changing your name really transform the way you see yourself, or the way other people see you? Is it reflective of changes you’ve already made in yourself? Do you see your life, as Caie Kelley writes, “as a mosaic”? What parts of your heritage have shaped who you are?

2. In “Questions Without Answers,” Akash Mehta asks us to consider whether our thoughts are voluntary or involuntary—whether we truly exercise our own will over our actions, or if our actions are merely reactions to our experiences. What do you think? Do you have control over your thoughts, or are your thoughts controlled by other people or your experiences? Is it possible for us to know everything about our world or the universe, or are our thoughts ultimately limited?

3. Joshua Stanton’s PerSpectives article is about the development of his relationship with his grandfather in middle school. His grandfather had fled Germany as a boy when the Nazis came into power, beginning a new life in California. In spite of losing many family members, Stanton’s grandfather developed a life with purpose, which enabled him to appreciate life as a whole when problems arose. Do you know someone with a sense of purpose in their lives? What is meaningful to them? What is meaningful to you? Does focusing on those things help you through difficulty? How?

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