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Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith Hardcover – November 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

According to theology professor Parks, twentysomething young adults, plagued by consumerism and cynicism, need to be challenged to examine their "meaning-making"--the quest to find a center for their beliefs and a focus for their lives. Sifting through psychological theories, Parks presents the guiding principle of "faithing . . . putting one's heart upon that which one trusts is true." She argues that, as young adults move from outside authority to inner knowing, it is important to find mentors who can inspire, support, and recognize young people, helping them to find their place within themselves and society. With the emphasis on spirituality rather than traditional religion, mentors are urged to ask the "big questions": Is there a master plan? What constitutes meaningful work? Mentoring environments, such as academia, the workplace, religion, and extended families, are examined in detail. Pertinent quotes from students and philosophers sprinkled throughout add a personal touch to this mostly theoretical book aimed at teachers and counselors but of definite interest to concerned parents. Candace Smith
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"No one who cares deeply about people in their twenties should be without this book. In Sharon Parks's lyrical company we learn so much more about their biggest possibilities-and our own." --Robert Kegan, author, In Over Our Heads and How the Way We Talk Changes The Way We Work; Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Parks's clear voice in Big Questions, Worthy Dreams is simultaneously that of a scholar, clinician, ethicist, and priest--that of a rare and capable generalist who can nurture both teachers and students . . . . [and] reveal the architecture of the process by which we merge the questions of ultimate reality with the immediate needs and duties of our generation. Stunningly transparent. Essential insight." --Janet Cooper Nelson, Chaplain of the University, Brown University

I have spent the last thirty years, over half my life, devoted to the education and development of young adults. This book is a must-read for anyone who is focused on this age group. I wish I had read this at the beginning of my career as an educator." --James I. Cash Jr., professor and senior associate dean, Harvard Business School

"In this book we are reminded that Parks is a keen observer, a probing listener, a rich and subtle theorist, and a resourceful teacher. She writes with a spirit that calls forth the best capacities in young adults and in all those who care about their becoming." --James W. Fowler, author, Stages of Faith

"Sharon Daloz Parks has done it again. With thoughtful observation and wisdom born from experience, she provides us with remarkable insight into the lives of young adults. Her skillful weaving together of both theory and practice raises the conversation on the mission and higher education to new levels. Ultimately, this book is a challenge, a challenge to engage more, listen more, risk more in other words to be more fully human." --Steve Moore, vice president of Student Life, Baylor University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (November 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787941719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787941710
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lois J. Zachary on March 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In Big Questions Worthy Dreams, Sharon Parks affirms the purpose, promise and possibility of mentoring for mentor and mentee. She recognizes the critical role of "meaning making" in the mentoring journey. The reader is at once (and always) aware of the awesome responsibility of the mentor in supporting "meaning making"at each stage of the mentee's developmental journey. Parks solidly anchors mentoring in the rich dynamic of developmental theory. At the same time, she challenges the reader to heightened levels of accountability. The examples she offers, documented from her own experience, and those of others, inspire the reader to create stimulating mentoring environments that foster growth and development. This thoughtful and well-crafted book hooks the reader from the very start raising big questions and worthy dreams for mentor and mentee alike. A mentoring must-read!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If it seems vague or overly theoretical, you may not be paying attention; and that's fine, if it's not what you need to be reading.

But to me it is always inspirational and powerfully motivating. It literally moves me to tears with some regularity - I see so many real people in these pages. After a little focused time with this book I consistently feel she is one of the few writers for whom every sentence and every paragraph are seriously written and contentful. Highly recommended.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Big Questions, Worthy Dreams" is a stunning book that delivers even more than it promises. I was expecting another philosophical/psychological tome on the intellectual and emotional development of young adults. I was also expecting yet another alarmist treatise on the lack of morality in today's youth--"and here's what we adults should do about it." Instead, I stumbled upon a wonderfully insightful book that weaves together developmental theory and inspirational stories, but--thankfully!--without the academic gobbledegook jargon that clogs up the prose of so many other books. But what I like best about this book is the hopeful, even inspiring, message of the book. Parks offers a clear picture of the challenges facing those of us who wish to be mentors to young people, and shows us why it's necessary--and rewarding--to take an active interest in the lives of others. This is truly an excellent book! I'm recommending it to all my colleagues.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen W. Hiemstra on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the father of three teens, I have frequently been torn between repressed anger, guilt, and a feeling of total inadequacy as a parent. Thanks to the influence of Sharon D. Parks, Big Questions; Worthy Dreams, I have found mentoring to be a reasonable response to my parenting situation.

Parks makes two points that clarify the mentoring task at hand.

The first point is her definition of a young adult. She asks: "When does one cross the threshold into adulthood? The response of North American culture is ambiguous" (p. 4). Finding work and a spouse are still important, but the time required to become educated and increasing problem of downward mobility make it harder to become settled. The ambiguity and instability of the young adult situation in society are reflected in the greater challenge facing mentors, including parents.

The second point is reflected in her title. Young adulthood is a life-stage where the formation of meaning is particularly important. Parks writes: "in the years from seventeen to thirty a distinctive mode of meaning-making can emerge, one that has certain adult characteristics but understandably lacks others" (p. 6).

The importance of challenging the young adult to take new faith steps is captured in her prescription--develop and expand a worthy, young adult dream. Parks writes: "If the young adult Dream is to have mature power and serve the full potential of self and world, then it must be critically reexamined from time to time throughout adulthood" (p. 219). The role of mentors is to help the young adult craft, refine, and be true to this dream.

The scope and depth of Park's scholarship suggests that this book targets graduate students and professionals focused on counseling young adults.
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