The more I think about this idea of looking at students in terms of their future instead of our present, the more I experience two simultaneous yet conflicting emotions: hope and futility.

The hope comes when I hear other educators promoting similar ideas. Barbara Barreda wrote today about this, commenting that when she sees alumni returning to her school,

…who they were as students and who they have become often are very different. Their growth, wisdom and direction sometimes challenge the assumptions we made when they were students. We have had many pleasant surprises but what is troubling me is that I was surprised! I was chagrinned that I still held some underlying assumptions about these students.
Barreda also refers to an article by Damien Lopez which argues convincingly that we need to think about education for elementary students in terms of preparing them for college. It isn’t that we expect every child to go to college, but that we have to stop assuming that certain children won’t.

Both of these articles highlight the importance of seeing a child from her future instead of determining that future based on our present.

But while I feel hope about the possibility of seeing this kind of shift in perspective, I can’t help but feel that the whole attempt is futile. There are so many forces pushing back on educators to prevent just this kind of thinking. As just one example, consider the way we evaluate the effectiveness of schools today. The entire system is explicitly designed to take our attention and energy off of long term goals and look only at incremental improvements in a few narrowly defined categories.

I believe, like many others, that education is in the midst of a significant change. My hope is that I will live to see a better system on the other side of the change. My fear is that the change process will crush my passion for educating children and drive me out of the profession. My dream is that I would rise above the fear and make some kind of difference. There is a plaque on the wall of my house that displays a quote by Janos Arany, “In dreams and in love, there are no impossibilities.” May it be so.