Sometimes children need to dream. Actually, often. And no, I’m not talking about a daydream in the middle of the Mathematics lesson you have worked long and hard to prepare for, but a real-life goal or vision of something that they feel they have been called to pursue. I believe that most children, up to a particular age, will instinctively feel like they can dream big – like almost anything is a possibility for them. When is it that those dreams begin to fall away under the weight of what appears to be a harsher reality? Do we as teachers unknowingly contribute to the crushing of children’s dreams in the way we present a lesson, or in a casual comment, which may somehow imply to them that their dreams are not worthy of pursuit?
Sir Ken Robinson is an inspirational writer, researcher, adviser, teacher and speaker. He seeks to transform the way we run education today by moving away from the traditional methods and pushing for more creativity in the classroom. And by creativity, he isn’t necessarily talking about the teacher’s delivery of a lesson plan. He states that it is crucial to “inspire creativity in students.” He is talking about teaching students to be creative. To think creatively. To act creatively. He also states, “creativity is as important now in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” Words, which I believe, some teachers would struggle to come to grips with.
God, our Creator, who made us in His image, has given us gifts and talents to use for His glory if we choose to submit to His will for our lives. For us to find out what that will is, I believe we first need to find our passion, which will inevitably lead us to our purpose. None of this happens overnight. The journey is often long, and sometimes those seeds are planted in childhood by persons of significance in the life of the child, i.e. family members or teachers.
I will always remember the impact my grade 5 teacher had on my life. She was kind, creative and caring. What I did mattered to her. I was not just a fish in the sea of the class (which was more like a pond at the small school I attended). I mattered, and my interests mattered. She encouraged me in my passions (particularly in drawing), to the point I can still clearly recollect what it felt like to receive her encouragement back in my primary school days. Thanks to her positive affirmation (along with that of my parents) I was able to place a lasting value on my interest in the arts, even when I entered high school, where suddenly (and unfortunately) creativity was not nearly as important.
Despite this setback, which caused me to put aside my interests for a time to concentrate on the “more important” school work, I eventually came back to it. That seed had been growing there all along. The seed that I believe God placed there, and others (such as my grade 5 teacher) watered and nurtured. I now feel that art and writing are part of the greater purpose God has called me to, and that these gifts He has given me will hopefully inspire others to uncover their passions.
It’s not unlike the feeding of the 5,000. Share what you have, no matter how insignificant some people may think it may be. Our job is to turn up. God’s job is to turn our fishes and loaves into something that will meet the needs of thousands.
If we can share our passion and inspire our students to embrace their own, we don’t know how far that ripple will go. It is never our job to tell a student they are not capable of something, or that their dream is an unrealistic one. If we believe in a God of miracles, then perhaps we need to prove it by daring students to dream big and entrusting those dreams into God’s hands.
Sir Ken Robinson said, in response to a poem by William B Yeats, “…every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams under our feet. And we should tread softly.”
Let us not trample the dreams of the students in our care. Let us water the seed of their passion, to help it grow into the plant of their purpose.