In the lives of young people across the world, parents, teachers, politicians, mentors, lecturers, friends… we all ask young people ‘What is your dream for your life?’
Timidly you hear a small voice answer such things as doctor, lawyer, pilot, pastor, engineer, scientist, business person … and the list goes on. Why the timidity? Can it be because the person does not have the faith to believe it will come to pass? Or can it be that it is the parent’s dream for the young person, not their own.
These days we set too high an expectation on students to live up to. I’m not saying it is not good to give these young people expectations to which to aspire, but there are many times the expectations to pass exams in Division I, or made to feel a failure if one doesn’t achieve a scholarship. These are all academic expectations.
What if however, the student is not so academic? In Rwanda such emphasis is placed the academic performance of students. Educational psychologist Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Frames of Mind proposed the theory that learners have multiple intelligences. The proposed various modalities of learning rather than simply one general ability.
Students have several capacities to learn such as through Verbal-Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic and Musical-Rhythmic interaction. Such learning brings to account such activities as sports, creative and performance arts and a nature environment.
Some students have dreams of becoming great sportsmen and women. Some have dreams of become an acclaimed artist, dancer, vocalist, musician; the gifts and talents that lay dormant inside because society forces the notion that achievement and recognition can only be through academic performance.
A friend once told me that for half of his life, he only ever lived out his parents’ dream for his life. As a young man and new graduate from secondary Colin didn’t quite attain the marks to get into medicine so his parents forced him to repeat Yr 12 (S6 equivalent). Second time round, he made it, entered medicine, passed and became a doctor.
He practiced for several years completing internships and all that was required, accepted into the governing body licensing him to practice medicine. All this time he obeyed and respected his parents’ wishes, and yet all he ever wanted to do was become a renowned tennis player. Colin was often encouraged by tennis coaches to pursue and professional career he was so good. The heavy study load however took its toll and Colin almost stopped playing tennis. In later years, fitness precluded Colin from ‘Living the Dream’.
Each and every one of us has a higher calling on our lives which is “incorruptible and undefiled” (1Pet 1:4). However, too often, we can sabotage such purpose by our own endeavours or lack thereof. Who suffers really, when we aim high for a dream that is outside societal norms? Is it parental pride that suffers if our own students don’t reach academic standards of our relatives’ or neighbours’ children? Can a parent truly be honest with him or herself if we don’t encourage our young people to become the best at something that they want to be?
On the inspiration of seeing some students live out other people’s dreams, teacher Juliet Apio expresses young people’s rights to ‘Living the Dream’ through writing a play. The Drama Production to be showcased at Riviera High School this weekend not only expresses the intimate confusion facing our current generation, but also provides incredible opportunity for actors, dancers, vocalists, stage and costume designers and musicians to release the hidden talent dormant from within.
More than 60 students from S1 up to S6 are involved in on and off stage production. This experience has built new social skills across ages, released linguistic, acting and other talents never before seen, revealed different learning abilities in some students who are somewhat undisciplined in the academic environment, built teamwork among students and staff. Opportunities are endless.
‘Living the Dream’. Are you living out of your dream?
The author is Deputy Principal, Student Welfare & Boarding, Riviera High School.
Living the dream