Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hopes & Dreams

"When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme."
~Jiminy Cricket

Little did I know that when I lifted my youngest daughter, Melissa, on a pony when she was age 4 that I had unleashed a life-long passion with horses. Lissa never looked back! Though many obstacles got in her way, including her father's sometimes luke-warm attitude, she persevered. She dutifully and successfully did her stint in the local school system and was involved in high school basketball and field hockey, but in the end, these were just distractions from her real love. She went on to UMass to get her B.S. in equine sciences, though her father rather dismissively called it horse-ology. She presently works for a large stable that raises Dutch Warmbloods just outside Amish country in Pennsylvania . . . and Lissa absolutely loves her work!

My daughter, though I'm sure she doesn't realize it (Do you think I should tell her?), has taught me a great deal about the power of having hopes and dreams. Sadly, I never knew where I was going, just sort of floating wherever the wind took me. Because she had a dream . . . a vision, if you will, she was able to doggedly persevere, to be persistent in her efforts. Her dad is proud.

All of which is an attempt to lead into a topic that I think is too often overlooked in our schools: The issues of student outlook/attitude/point-of-view, social class, and behavior management. It seems to me that there is an incredible effort to adjust the curriculum, reorganize schedules, and to measure what has been learned, which at times seems like just reshuffling the chairs on the Titanic.

Perhaps more effort could be put into looking into our culture, and the effect that income disparity has on learning in schools.


• What can our schools do to put hope for a better future in student lives?
• How are dreams that motivate created?
• What are the most productive methods of dealing with behavior that gets in the way of student learning and that just might open up some limited horizons?

To such end, I highly recommend Mike Muir's presentation on poverty and discipline. . Mike has a wealth of information at the Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning.

Also recommended: The 8 Conditions that Make a Difference
Other related resources:

Behavior Management Resources
Process Skills Resources

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