One of my favorite quotes from John F. Kennedy is “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”
Every teacher, especially those who have worked with weaker or more challenged populations, knows the difference between a student who is on the path to dropout and failure and one who is on the path to success. It all comes down to one simple question: does this student have a dream, and can he or she see a way to make this dream a reality?
A child with a dream has hope and has a chance. Beyond the exhilarating success experienced and the gratifying medals won in the recent Olympics by Israeli athletes Yarden Gerbi and Ori Sasson, these individuals are heroes because they fulfilled their dreams. These dreams started at a young age while they watched the Olympic games on a television screen, and thanks to their hard work and determination, these dreams were made into a reality this past summer. This is the journey of a human being who set a goal for himself and reached this goal. This is the face of personal and educational success. Of course these two individuals are worthy of recognition, but so are their parents, teachers and coaches who believed in them, guided them, and helped each of them reach their personal best.
Today’s schools must be a place where students can develop their imaginations, dream dreams, and most important, learn the skills and tools to actualize them. Parents, teachers and students need to focus jointly on selecting and developing dreams, and focusing on success and support for these young dreamers.
A century ago, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote that, “Big dreams are the foundation of the world.” Dreamers become the builders of the world. Israeli dreamers have brought our country to tremendous heights, each in his or her own field and area. Professor Aumann, the Nobel Laureate; Ehud Shabtai, the developer of Waze; Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, the founders of Coursera; Zvi Tabor, the father of Israeli solar energy; each of these unique individuals were dreamers from a young age. Every single one of them began to dream while sitting opposite a chalkboard and a teacher. In each case, an adult helped develop the “dream muscle.” Behind the heights that each of them reached stands an educator who taught them to dream.
Israeli teachers need to be the champions of educational dreams. As someone who has been focused on empowering teachers and helping them become the guiding force that shapes today’s schools, I have encountered many individuals who are fulfilling lifelong ambitions of educating, helping and mentoring students achieve their dreams. These teachers enter the classroom each morning with a spark in their eyes gratified by fulfilling their own dreams, and driven by a true sense of enthusiasm and excitement.
We must strive to have more and more dreamers in our schools, both students and teachers. Our country is known as the Start Up Nation because we are a country of dreamers. Our students will be the ones to conceive the new technologies, medical discoveries and so much more. They will only continue that legacy if we vigorously encourage their passion to dream.