Other than first wanting to be a gun-totin’, horseback-riding woman of the Wild West and then dreaming about being what used to be called a stewardess (flight attendant) and later thinking that I could be something called a pathologist, I’ve not had much imagination about what I wanted to be. Perhaps because surviving the present was always a necessity, I didn’t feel as if I had the luxury of big dreams.
However, after I had achieved some of the requisite credentials to dare call myself an educator, I imagined how, if I ruled the world, I would create a teaching method that could fulfill the fundamental goals of education. Every ill I can recall about teaching and learning could be remedied if my dream were to be implemented. My dream was the proverbial hammer that saw everything as a nail.
It was only when I was close to retirement that I dared to put a name to my dream and attach my voice and face to it. I offered up my dream on platters as main dishes when I made speeches and as side dishes when I was on a panel or facilitating workshops. Like a chef, I kept working on the recipe to meet the expectations of the people with whom I wanted to engage in further conversation about my dream for teaching and learning. My dream dish just never generated a groundswell of interest.
Why didn’t it catch on?
- My commitment was not strong enough to add meat to the bones of an idea;
- I needed a team to think with me about how to adjust the method to different environments; and
- Change is hard, and the dream required that some ingredients be left out and new ones added.
My thinking has evolved and I’m even more convinced that my idea about how to best help students acquire the knowledge and skills they need for a career. Developing cross-cultural and interpersonal communication skills, identifying priority values, practicing how to live in community, and being poised to take social responsibility as citizens in a democratic and just society are salient skills needed even more today.
I wish it could have been me, but I have no doubt that someone will pick up where I left off and bring my dream forward. (See my June 22, 2015 blog on adaptive skills for a little more about my dream.)