Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Never Crush Anyone's Dreams


I never dreamed of being a college professor. Does anybody?

In fact, I always gave my teachers fits in school, as evidenced by grade school report cards:
- Second Grade: Improvement needed in self control
- Fourth Grade: Perry needs to exert more self control
- Sixth Grade: Perry needs to exercise better self control

As a little kid, I dreamed about playing professional basketball. I played and played for hours. In third grade, we had to write an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be 6’10” and play in Madison Square Garden. When the teacher handed back my paper, she laughed out loud and said “You can’t do that!” That was the first time someone had crushed my professional dream.

Why would a teacher be so unthinking? She may have been right about the 6’10” part, but this molder of young minds lacked the understanding of what negative reinforcement can do to little kids. She also lacked the understanding that height isn’t everything for a basketball player. Teachers, especially in the impressionable K-12 years, are my personal heroes. But they need to be dream builders, not dream destroyers. It’s healthy to discuss rational backup career plans, but why spoil youthful exuberance which could flower into the unexpected?

Take Away: Your words can stay with a student for his or her entire life.

Note: That's me at age 25, playing basketball with former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Mark Eaton (7'4" center for the Utah Jazz)

© 2009 Perry Binder, J.D. This article contains excerpts from my book:
Unlocking Your Rubber Room: 44 Off-the-Wall Lessons to Lighten and Transform Everyday Life http://www.yourrubberroom.com/

2 comments:

  1. I've always liked teachers but I never dreamed on being one when I was little. When I got into college, I started thinking about it. I liked the fact that you are helping other people shape their dreams and become and inspiration. And the other one is to replace old teachers who won't change the way they are teaching -- like talking dinosaurs. One thing, I truly believe though is to always positively encourage children. Children should be able to dream and think that they can do anything. Crushing them as such a young age makes them a pessimist or what have you. I'm really sorry to hear about your experience. And, I'm really proud of you that you didn't let your dreams be crushed.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words.

    It's amazing how an unthinking comment can stay for years: I know someone whose 4th grade teacher asked "What do you want to be when you grow up" -- and then she quickly added: "and don't say an astronaut or an actor!"

    Despite the warning, the kid said "actor," and he has been acting in TV and plays for three decades.

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