Are you a daydreamer? Were you accused of daydreaming at school? Many of us were. With minds that are easily distracted and work that is less than exciting, it is easy for thoughts to drift away into other realms. It can take anything, or nothing, and it is often difficult to back-track from where we find ourselves, along the path of thoughts to what initiated the journey. It can be no more tangible that the dream that escapes upon waking.
While daydreaming can be pleasant and good for relaxation and creativity, it is often frowned upon in students meant to be concentrating on what they are to learn. Children would probably find it easier to attend if the work was tailored to their needs, initiated by their interests, and involved them as participants rather than recipients. The fifteen minutes of play per hour that Finnish children enjoy would also help, I’m sure, in giving time for minds to be, not corralled into predetermined channels.
In this Conversation on Daydreaming with Jerome L. Singer in Scientific American by Scott Barry Kaufman on 10 December, 2013, Singer says, “I think that teachers need to recognize that often, the daydreaming is because some of the kids are bored”.
Whether through boredom or not, daydreaming can sometimes lead to breakthroughs in solving problems, creativity and productivity as described in this CNN article by Brigid Schulte For a more productive life, daydream. Brigid lists a number of daydreamers; including:
- J K Rowling
- Mark Twain
- Richard Feynman
Other famous daydreamers include:
- J. R. R. Tolkien
- Boy George
- Richard Branson
Here are a few other quotes about the importance of daydreaming:
Keith Richards is reported as saying that “Satisfaction”, the Rolling Stones’ most famous hit, came to him in a dream, and
Paul McCartney says the same thing about the Beatles’ hit “Yesterday”.
Neil Gaiman: “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”
George Lucas: “I’m not much of a math and science guy. I spent most of my time in school daydreaming and managed to turn it into a living.”
Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, the first Australian-born female Nobel Laureate, attributes her success as a molecular biologist, in part, to daydreaming. She is reported by the Sydney Morning Herald to have said, ‘I think you need time to daydream, to let your imagination take you where it can … because I’ve noticed [that] among the creative, successful scientists who’ve really advanced things, that was a part of their life.’
While speaking to students at Questacon in Canberra after receiving her prize, she joked, ”Your parents and your teachers are going to kill me if they hear you say, ‘she told us just to daydream.’
So why is it, if the importance of daydreaming is recognised by successful creatives, thinkers, scientists, and business people, that it is still frowned upon in school? Why do we still insist that children sit at desks, repeating mundane tasks in order to pass tests that have little bearing on their future success or on the future of our species and the planet?
In a previous post I wrote about John Dewey’s dream “of the teacher as a guide helping children formulate questions and devise solutions. Dewey saw the pupil’s own experience, not information imparted by the teacher, as the critical path to understanding. Dewey also contended that democracy must be the main value in each school just as it is in any free society.” According to Pasi Sahlberg in Finnish Lessons, What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? schools in Finland have dreamed their own dream by building upon Dewey’s.
Of course, on a much smaller scale, I have my own dream of a better way of educating our children.
This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills dreamed a dream and challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves a dream. This action could have happened while awake, such as daydreaming, or make up a dream when asleep. Go where the prompt leads as it could be a nightmare or just fond memories or ambition.
This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.
Off with the fairies
Each year the school reports told the same story:
He’s off with the fairies.
Needs to pay more attention.
Doesn’t listen in class.
Must try harder.
Needs a better grasp on reality.
Will never amount to anything.
Meanwhile, he filled oodles of notebooks with doodles and stories.
When school was done he closed the book on their chapter, and created his own reality with a best-selling fantasy series, making more from the movie rights than all his teachers combined.
Why couldn’t they see beneath the negativity of their comments to read the prediction in their words?
Of course, not all daydreamers become successful, and not all children have a negative schooling experience. For a much more appreciated and positive set of comments, read this post by Elizabeth on Autism Mom Saying Goodbye to Elementary School.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.