Teaching Students to Dream Big

Posted Webmaster DIHQ
Teaching Students to Dream Big

August 25, 2015

Written by Austin Uebelhor, DI alum

Everyone has a different dream in life. Whether your dream is opening your own bakery or discovering whether or not a piranha is ticklish, our dreams are our ideas of what a perfect life looks like. They’re unique to each individual, similar to a fingerprint or a birthmark. But how do we learn to dream in the first place?  We didn’t open our eyes as newborns and decide, “You know what?  I’m going to learn to cha-cha like nobody’s business.” We all develop our dreams over time, and the path we take to them is often more twisted than those awesome loop-de-loop straws.

In today’s society, dreaming is at a premium. 

With 24-hour access to all forms of media, original ideas are few. Many of us spend so much time watching other people accomplish their dreams online, we forget to spend time thinking about our own. I know I’m guilty of it. Like that one time, when you were going to look up the requirements to apply to nursing school, but you just wanted to check Facebook real quick, then saw that link your friend posted about the 10 things all 20-somethings should know about traveling to another country, which had a picture of a really delicious looking potato casserole that you definitely need to find the recipe for so you can make it tomorrow when your nephew Joey comes over. I wonder if he lost that tooth that was getting loose the other week?  Is it normal for a 2-year-old to start losing his teeth already? Let me Google that real quick. Wow! Did you know that dentists encourage kids to start flossing as early as 18 months?  It’s true! Click here to learn more!

Wait, what was I doing online?  Something to do with potato casserole…

As demonstrated above by my completely real and definitely not made up scenario, there are so many distractions with the Internet that you may never get where you want to go. 

So where do our kids learn to dream instead?

School has always been the traditional learning environment. However, with standardized testing determining curriculum, teachers whose dreams were to help our youth turn into the bright shining stars of tomorrow are finding themselves constricted to sets of facts and figures that they must turn into a one-size fits all program for their students. It’s hard to help kids discover who and what they want to be when they’re too busy memorizing what year the War of 1812 ended (hint: it’s not 1812).

Our children need other ways to explore who they are and who they want to be.

Destination Imagination (DI) not only encourages its participants to dream of new people, places, and ideas, it relies and thrives on it. If dreams are a plant that starts as a tiny seed and grows into something beautiful, then Destination Imagination is the nuclear-powered super soil that lets it grow into a giant beanstalk.

Destination Imagination gives our kids the chance to discover and explore their dreams.

DI provides something that our children are increasingly lacking:  the ability to explore topics that interest them at their own pace and in their own way. The challenges they are presented with encourage them to create a solution that best fits their way of thinking. There is no right or wrong way of solving the challenge presented to them. If they believe channeling their inner art critic will help them create their solution, great! If they think testing out their interest in astronomy will provide a good angle for their challenge, awesome!  If they think dressing themselves like a rubber duck so they can go on a journey to save the magical bubble man from the evil fire-breathing panda bear sounds like fun, sweet!  Destination Imagination is all about dreaming big and exploring topics that students would never otherwise come in contact with on their own.

Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” It is almost as though Disney was speaking specifically about DI. In a world increasingly about conformity and fitting within specific guidelines, Destination Imagination gives our students, the future of our world, the ability to dream big and explore who they can be. That is something we should all encourage and nurture, as without dreams, we are all just going through life without actually living. DI gives our kids the chance to discover and live their dreams, and we should be thankful for that. After all, without dreamers, we would still be drawing stick figures on cave walls and wearing saber-tooth tiger skins for clothing.

And I don’t know about you, but look I terrible in tiger print.

*Article written by Austin Uebelhor. Austin is a Destination Imagination alum who spent four years in the program. He recently took a position at the Indiana University Center for Aging Research in Indianapolis and sits on the DI Alumni Ambassadors Council.   


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