Recently, my middle schoolers finished drafting and revising their pioneer pieces. Each of them chose a pioneer--someone who had broken barriers--and had researched, took notes, composed, crafted, edited and revised. They studied how the person had changed the world. They also examined the person's obstacles.
Several of my students discovered their person had been told they shouldn't have the dream they dreamed. For example, Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go into space. However, years ago she was also a kindergartener who said she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up.
Her kindergarten teacher said, "Mae, I'm sure you mean you want to be a nurse."
Mae grew up and became a medical doctor... and then she became an astronaut.
Some of my students, in their conclusion, touched upon the idea that everyone has the right to have their own dream, that nobody should be able to tell other people what they will grow up to become... and yet it still happens.
Sometimes it's parents who perhaps unwittingly squash dreams. Maybe they cannot fathom how somebody could make a living off a particular idea, so they try to steer their child in a different direction. For example, there are people who make Youtube videos--and some of them are doing quite well financially. If a kid had said, "I want to make funny little movies for the internet," ten years ago, we probably would laughed or scoffed, figuring it was no way to make a living.
But it is.
Sometimes it's writing colleagues who don't mean any harm, but do some damage nonetheless. Perhaps you normally write creative nonfiction, and then decide to write outside your box. You write a piece of horror. Or a fluffy romance piece. Or some sci-fi. And when you bring it to the group to share, there's one member who doesn't get it... who's puzzled... who cut it down a bit too roughly--which makes you second-guess yourself. Should I have even tried that? What was I thinking, doing something different? Which makes you return to your box, never to try something new again.
Nobody knows exactly what makes up a young person's dream--or an old person's dream, either. Nobody can predict the future to know exactly what will be the next fad in the publishing world. I'm sure if George R. R. Martin had said, "I'm going to write a whole series of books--each one will be big enough to be a doorstop--and it's going to be about kings and queens doing unspeakable things to each other... oh, and there's going to be dragons, too--and it's going to be for adults," people might have laughed. But now? Now Martin is laughing all the way to bank.
And nobody knows how strong a person's will is. If a child or a friend has a strong will, if they're packed to the gills with determination, they might just succeed in achieving their dreams. Instead of laughing (even inwardly), try to discover the loops and knots that make up the dream--and encourage rather than discourage...
Sioux is a middle school teacher (as she mentioned at the beginning) and savors reading her students' work. She also is a freelance writer (is the proud author of Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story--a historical novel published by a traditional press--Editor-911 Books) and rescues dogs. You can check out more about Sioux on her blog.