Children dare to dream:
I’m going to be an Olympic gymnast.
I want to be a pop star.
I’m going to be a writer.
I’m going to be on television.
I want to be an astrophysicist.
I’m going to be a clothes designer.
Children are so delightfully open to being inspired. Well, they see others doing these things and they have the audacity to believe that they could too. The sky really is the limit when you’re six or even sixteen. We adults just need to keep our doubts out of their way.
Miss Sophie, our local dance teacher, recently produced a show for all her dancers to perform in the local theatre. My daughter, who was in her show, and my son, who watched it, were so inspired by the experience that they vowed to create their own dance show. And they did, in three days, with ten friends, and performed it to over seventy people in our village hall.
Twelve children gathered at our home one Monday morning, full of hope, and overflowing with ideas and by Wednesday evening they were ready to perform a half hour show. They chose the story, the music, the costumes, choreographed dances, lighting, made tickets, programmes and had an absolute ball.
Imagine twelve enthusiastic children, all bursting with ideas, in one room, with a deadline two days away. Now understand that of these twelve children there were five sets of siblings, each with their flash points. Now think about how they would have to organise themselves, ranging in age from six to eleven, each with different expectations and concentration spans. And now remember that they had no adult instruction.
All I did was offer them our home, send emails, authorise payment for music downloads, book the hall, and provide copious snacks. Originally they had thought that three mornings would be enough, but after the first morning they all decided to spend full days – so worked six and a half hours together for the subsequent two days, before going home and working some more. My house was abuzz with activity. Great future employees!
Each morning I did half an hour of team building and project management with them. I used to be a management trainer working with some of the top trainee managers in this country – and I can honestly say that these children worked with greater harmony, better team work, higher productivity, and stronger motivation than any group of be-suited, and highly paid men and women who run our top international companies. And that’s not to say that the children didn’t have wobbles, and encounter obstacles – but their commitment to solving any problems was astonishing. They really rose to the challenge.
Their motivation was impressive. Part of this was that they had ownership. If I had been running it, telling them what to do, when and how, I think I would have had to rally them somewhat. Instead, with all responsibility resting with them, I found myself having to encourage them to pause for food.
I went with them to the hall for their dress rehearsal an hour before the audience were due to arrive, but they banished me to the foyer, so that the show would be all their own. After some debate they chose not to charge, so that everyone could come, and to specially invite their dance teachers as a tribute to them. Despite only having a day’s notice of the performance, extra chairs were needed and people had to stand in the wings.
The show was lively and fresh. The children were clearly having a great time showing what they had produced and the audience were touched by their enthusiasm. But what those children achieved was so much more than a fantastic production - they learned that together they could turn a dream into reality. It was a powerful reminder to me of how much more children can do than we usually imagine or allow.
The children gave me a card after the show thanking me “for NOT helping”!
Dreams are delicate – tread carefully, they are all too easily crushed.
What do your children dare to dream?