No one dreams like children. They are freer than adults and dare to dream big, not allowing obstacles to inhibit their desires. Ask children what they want to do or be when they grow up and you hear things that adults don’t dare to say out loud – actors, professional athletes, presidents, astrophysicists, princesses and dragon slayers. The world and all of its opportunities are there for the taking.
How do schools keep dreams alive? What do they need to do to create both a literate populace and promote these dreams? Realistically, we know that most of the children we teach will not become famous athletes, actors or presidents. However, they will be famous to someone or something. Following their dreams will ensure fame in an arena that they may not yet be able to identify or articulate. Adults who work with children of any age, and parents of children can best identify with the last line of “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye:
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.
Educators and schools have the obligation to remind children of what is possible, what they are capable of and to help them “never forget what they can do.” That, above all else, is the way schools can support children as they grow into capable and educated adults. The dreams are theirs, not ours.