Things they don’t teach at Uni: Dreaming.

The other day I saw a status update by one of my Facebook friends who I quite value. She wrote something similar to “Now that 2013 is almost over I realize that I had so many dreams for this year and none of them came true. Should I just give up on them or continue chasing?”. Of course all responses where like ‘chase your dreams’ – that’s what friends do and reply to such messages. But when thinking a bit more about this status by someone who usually isn’t the kind of ’emotional poster’ it made me realize that dreaming becomes more and more, well, it disappears more and more from people’s minds. That’s sad!

At University (and schools) we usually try to focus on skills that students can use right away. No matter if it is accounting, crafts, business, ICT or so on. We teach things that students could use right away and that have proven right. We rely on things that we know and that have been around for long. We show facts, figures, case studies, etc. and make students learn all those things. They learn about famous people and how to create business plans & presentations. What we usually don’t teach though: Dreaming. Doing and exploring new things. Being ‘crazy’, ‘wild’ and simply doing things different for the sake of finding new ways of doing things. When I look at ‘Entrepreneurial’ classes or ‘International Business’ classes I see facts, figures and case studies as mentioned above, I don’t see classes that let students explore their own, different, ideas. If there are classes that let students create their own ‘stuff’ (business, craft, etc.) it’s usually within the boundaries learned at Uni. Of course there are exceptions, and I highly appreciate them, but the common case, as far as I experienced, is what I just described.

Besides the point mentioned above we also show students their ‘way’ in a very specific manner. If you study major A you will then go on to do X, Y or Z. ¬†Study plans are quite straight forward and leave students almost no choice. Follow this plan or you’ll take way longer than you’re supposed to! And if you take longer everybody will think you’re a loser. So be straight forward! Don’t look left or right and for god’s sake just don’t stop to have a closer look! Don’t question anything and simply do what we tell you. After all we’re your University, we know what’s best for you.

While I’m not a big fan of those ‘long time students’ – students who spend ages at university because they have to ‘find themselves’ – I also don’t like that students these days don’t have much time to figure things out on their own. Life is not always straight forward – even if you have a plan in place. Sooner or later you’ll stumble and then it’s important that you don’t fall or that you know how to get up again. If you don’t learn that at University, where else?

Now why do I keep talking about those things after I started with dreams? Dreams usually get lost on those straight forward ways through the educational system. “I want to be this and that..” “No you can’t…try this instead…” – that then reflects in real life. We accept that giving up on dreams, even the non professional ones, is ok because we are used to letting them go. It’s not!

While there are dreams that one hast to let go or adjust (sometimes you simply can’t be a Knight or a Cowboy forever) lots of the dreams we have are always worth chasing. I would even say dreams are what keep one going – once you let go of all your dreams you lose your motivation and there’s nothing worse than just being an empty body doing all the same stuff over and over again with no dreams, hope and inspiration left.

I know this is a quite emotional and less methodology or scientific related post but I just felt like it – after all it’s December. Review and reflection time. So if there’s one thing that I would give students with them on their way it would be a quote by one of the all time greats of modern pop music. Quite fitting when talking about the “Journey” of life: Don’t stop believing!

However, the final words have to be, of course, the words of Madiba: A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.

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