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Starting with the Big Dream

What dreams do we have for our students as they join our classes? As students come to us, do we think of what they would like to become? Do we teach just for the sake of teaching? Or do we teach to lead our students to BECOME someone?

Our universities have visions that summarize what they would like their graduates to be. Often as we develop our strategic plans we reflect on this vision and its implications on our work. But I have wondered whether as lecturers we reflect on this vision. Does it influence how we teach and the skills we develop in our students?

AFELT has been leading different lecturers in rethinking about their teaching. Leading them to redesign their courses to ensure that they are building critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Skills that are needed in the world of work.

As we redesign the courses, one question we have asked ourselves is what dream do we have for our students? What would I want them to become in five to ten years after they have left my class? What would I want my students to know in order to be able to do during my class so that they can become that person in ten years? Thinking with the end in mind according to the second habit of successful people by Steve Covey.

When we start with the dream, we think of several things. We first think of the knowledge our students need to acquire to be able to be that person. So what content do I need to have in place so that they can know? Then I have to think of how best to guide them to acquire this knowledge. What activities do I need to design that leads them to interact and use this knowledge?  What experiences do I need to bring into the learning space that will lead my students to learn? These experiences should lead the students to question what they know, reflect on what they are learning and be able to apply what they are learning solve problems.

This requires that as a lecturer I design appropriate learning spaces that allow for these kinds of experiences.  Who do they need to interact with? What materials need to be in the space? What experiences do I need to create for them to learn new things? How do I make them reflect on their experiences so that they can learn something new? How do I actually bring their current and dreamt future into this space?

As facilitators of learning, it is important to have a dream for your students. A dream that drives you bring that transformation in their own lives and their communities.