What We Can Learn From GenY – Dream On


Most students have big dreams; most adults just try to make it through the day. When and why do adults stop dreaming? I know at some point bills must be paid and the routine of a daily job takes its toll, and I wonder if dreams just cease as we enter adulthood and never come back. The dream of taking a nap is an exception to this theory, of course. Adults can take a cue from students and learn (or recapture) the ability to dream.

Another interesting observation is when adults stop dreaming in their personal lives, they tend to be a party pooper on young people’s dreams. Why do we do this? Adults who invest in students, whether it be parents or teachers, should be their biggest encouragers and help them set goals and make plans to take steps toward a dream. I don’t think this means we cannot be realistic and speak truth about ability and giftedness to students but let’s dream with our students for a while.

I love the story told by a dean at Mississippi State University during parent orientation. This dean served as an advisor to a sophomore who was a political science major. During registration, the student accidentally registered for POU SCI instead of POL SCI and found himself in a poultry science class. The dean immediately suggested dropping the class to which the student replied that he liked the “chicken class” and wanted to use it as one of his electives. At the end of the semester, he surprised the dean by declaring a double major in poultry science and political science because he loved them both and had a dream of somehow using both in a career. The dean thought that was the most ridiculous decision ever and tried to discourage the student from this path but was unsuccessful. When the dean ran into the student several years later at homecoming, he learned that the poultry science, political science student had become a successful lobbyist for chicken farmers in Washington DC. The dean told us that he learned a valuable lesson that day and has since encouraged students to follow their dreams.

Students often approach me telling me their dreams and wanting to know what I think. Sometimes I can envision students fulfilling these dreams but other times, I just don’t see it. I use these opportunities to speak truth to students but then take time to encourage them. Here’s how it often goes.

Student: I’m thinking about going to (fill in the dream school). Me: Wow. That’s a lofty goal. What are you doing to position yourself for that? Student: blah, blah, blah. Me: Those are good thoughts. Have you thought about blah, blah, blah.

Also when students ask me if I think they have a chance at whatever they are going for, I always say, “Well, you certainly don’t have a chance if you don’t try, apply, etc. Go for it!”

And what about you?  I have a dream of combining the three National Honor Society chapters in the county for an annual community service and leadership training day. I also dream of hiking the Machu Picchu then taking a nap. When is the last time you had a dream? What are you doing to make that dream a reality?

Look for a way to encourage someone’s dream this week then take some time to dream a little yourself.

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