After reading the story of Amelia Earhart…

Teacher: Would you also be brave to go around the world just like Amelia Earhart?

Solina: I’m scared. I can’t go on an airplane.

Nita: Teacher, me, I want!

Solina: But she died.

Nita: It’s okay. At least, I’m able to fly.

Teaching children to dream is important. Teaching children to dream early in life is even more important. But how can we foster imagination among our students? How can we encourage our students not to limit themselves? And how can we show the students that there is a greater world out there probably waiting for them?

When children are between the ages of 4 and 9, children have a strong capacity for ‘having a go.’ Children do not limit themselves, their thoughts, their dreams. They have a strong capacity of popping up a solution in times of problems – building Lego blocks, flying a kite, catching a running frog, fixing a broken bicycle, even escaping from their time-out sessions. But once they grow and begin to see the daunting challenges of a world that is spinning faster than ever, these powers of imagination and dreams begin to gradually fade.

As an English teacher, every start of the school year, I always help my students to shape the dream of being capable to communicate in English. It is a great starting point for them to visualize themselves at the end of the school year. Do they see themselves able to communicate more fluently? At the end of the school year, will they be able to write a paragraph in English? Will they be able to perform something using the language? Will they be able to transmit their knowledge to someone else? Do they see themselves and their classmates chatting in English? The process looks so simple, but setting up one goal at a time can help them see how building and realizing a dream works. It creates a safe and free space for the students to think freely and accept the challenge they create for themselves without squashing the idea upfront as “impossible”, “difficult”, or “ridiculous”.

A lot of my students have big dreams about what they want to do as adults – whether that is to become a motorbike racer, a policeman, a farmer, a teacher, or even a pop star. However, there will always be a disconnect between the students dreaming and the students doing. To bridge the disconnect, I use literary pieces to show how people can dream and overcome challenges to be able to achieve that dream. Further, the literary pieces serve as their window to get a glimpse of the greater world outside Banteay Meanchey. In the story of Amelia Earhart, Nita said that she is still willing to fly even that may result in falling. In the story of The Little Prince, Sela shared that the prince taking the riskiest adventure of living his dream is remarkable. The film Coco taught them that before they can achieve great things, they first need to dream about them. And after watching Ratatouille, at times some of my Grade 7 students would meet a difficult task or activity, they would began chanting Remy said “Anyone can cook.” Through these scenarios, the students are being prepared to face the unnerving tests of the world.  

Our students are the future decision-makers, engineers, doctors, chefs, and pilots. Through activities like writing about their dreams, visualizing themselves from the future, acting as their future self, or crafting and advertising their invention can harness creativity among our students. Through this experience, we can prove that their dreams and ideas matter and can be actually brought to life. It can also have a lasting impact on them as a child and on society as a whole. Eventually, these students can grow up understanding that all accomplishments are the result of the decision to try, the encounters with failures and successes, and the will to dream out loud.

Ma. Kristina Velez
Ma. Kristina Velez

Ma Kristina Velez from Xavier School in the Philippines is the first volunteer teacher of JCAP Education Secretariat’s Teacher Volunteer Programme, which seeks to respond to the needs of newer and lesser-resourced Jesuit schools in Asia Pacific. Kristina has been missioned to Xavier Jesuit School in Sereisophon, Cambodia where she is teaching English.