Teachers Must Teach How to Dream Big Dreams

There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.
–Kurt Hahn

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to stand before you today. It is a great blessing to be given that chance to speak before school principals, teachers, barangay captains, and parents.

Today, I hope you will claim your power to build the great schools– communities where your children, the hopes of this country, will be formed and nurtured. Years from now, when our dreams turned to reality, I would be grateful for the chance to share with you this moment.

Earlier, we talked about why all stakeholders must play active roles in the School Improvement Plan. I am happy that  you see the need to change the face of our schools.

In step number 1, we gathered, organized, and analyzed the data about our schools. The next step is of utmost importance that the impact of steps three to seven depend on it. The next step defines the success of individuals, of schools, of a company, town, province and country. I say that our understanding of the next step explains why most people are poor and few are rich, why some people go through life not knowing what to do, and some few are passionate, persistent, and principled. Without a close examination of the next step, we will go back to where we used to be.

Our next step is to craft or revisit our vision, mission, and values.

Dear principals, I know that you are mandated to post your mission-vision-values statements in the facade of your schools. How many of you can recite your mission-vision-values statements?

I won’t be surprised if very few of you can recite your vision. I surveyed people and asked them about the vision of their companies. Five of a hundred can. I did not ask them to explain. And this is the third time that I am leading this workshop. The first two affirmed the obvious. Most of our schools have mission-vision-values statements because you need to comply.

Let us now examine the Power of Vision.

Vision is your picture of the future.

It is your BIG picture of the future. You have with you your vision statements. Please read it now. Do you see the big picture? Can you imagine it? From your Vision Statements can you see your Great School? What kind of students do you have? How committed and equipped are your teachers and school leaders? Have you involved parents, barangay captain, mayors, and NGO’s? Are you excited and inspired to make that vision real?

When your vision is clear, you can become your destiny.

I have seen the power of vision in the lives of people I met. My study of world history educated me that “throughout the past centuries there were men who took the first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.”

I am now reminded of that beautiful girl who had grown up working in the palace with the ultimate goal of regaining her family’s honor, and clearing the names of her parents who both worked in the palace and were framed up.

Every night, forty percent of Filipino TV viewers were watching her life story.

I met a lot of teachers who said that their students cannot make it in life because they are poor. But poverty has always been here. And history has been showing us that it is not poverty that has been preventing us to reach our goal.

This girl was first trained to work as a palace kitchen servant. She worked hard to learn all the skills needed to become Chief of Kitchen. She excelled under the strict mentorship of Lady Han (who happened to be her mother’s best friend). But life was not meant to be easy for this girl. Her mentor Lady Han competed with Lady Choi for the post of Chief of Kitchen. Lady Choi together with her neice Keum-Young, made life miserable for this girl since she was helping her mentor get the post. Very much like how some people work in our country, Lady Choi wouldn’t allow Lady Han get the post of Chief of the Kitchen. Her brother supplied the needs of the palace. And again, like how some our politicians worked, overpriced all the supplies.

Let me cut the story short. This girl after she was framed up together with Lady Han,  was imprisoned, punished, and banished from the palace. She bounced back  and became the greatest and the first lady doctor of Korea. Her name was Jang Geum of the Koreanovela Jewel in the Palace.

Vision is not something you plastered on the facade of your school building. It is not something written on the company manual, or a mantra recited by leaders.

Vision is that place or state of being that your heart longs for.

I realized that Jang Geum did not really intend to be the Chief of the Kitchen. That was the dream of her mother for her. She worked to make the dream of her beloved mother happen.

If you have watched the Koreanovela, you would have observed that before she accepted the role of a doctor, she asked that she be made the Chief of the Kitchen for a day. When she had already fulfilled her mother’s vision, she fulfilled hers.

Everytime she cooked, she was not only after the taste or the appearance of the food. She was after the benefits the food could bring to the health of people. She was a doctor even before the title was bestowed on her.

Visions are written in the heart.

From that story of Jang Geum, we can also understand the characteristics of vision: has no limits, a stretch, positive, better than before, shared, and owned.

Vision has no limits.

God has given us the capacity to see great things. But along the way, we allow the narrow vision of people around us to dictate what we cannot do. This reminds me of what Spud Webb said in one shoe brand commercial. Spud Webb was a very quick guard who, despite his height, played 12 seasons in the NBA and became famous for his spectacular ballhandling skills, his jumping ability and his incredible dunks! In the commercial he said that he did not allow people to tell him what he cannot do. He showed them what he can do.

But sometimes people around us set our limits. And many of us allow them. How many times have we heard of parents telling their children,”you cannot go to college because we are poor”.

Why is that wrong?

That is wrong because we know of parents who sent their 12 children to school and had them all finish college.

That is wrong because we know of people who came from the most miserable circumstances, like being orphaned at the age of ten with five other siblings to feed, and who now manage their own companies.

We know that that is wrong because some of you here have proven that poverty is not a hindrance to a desired life.

Tradition cannot limit our vision.

Some people think that School Based Management cannot be done. They said that it has not been done before here in the Philippines.

All great things in the world had not been done before until a crazy soul said it can be done, and worked for it, and made it happened.

Some people are leaving this country because they believe that we have no hope. That is not true. They didn’t see the vision of beautiful tomorrow in this country. What they lack is not only the love for this country. They limited their vision. When people say that this country has no hope, look into your children. You will know that they all got it wrong.

According to Henri Matisse, there is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. I think the same is true with building a great school. We have to first forget all the “have been there, done that” way of thinking and create a new one.

Vision is a stretch, and something bigger and better than before.

Sometimes, that is expressed, sometimes not. When JFK said that man will land on the moon before the end of the decade (70’s), he was expressing something that was beyond the expectations of many. Some people might think us insane for dreaming big. But it is more insane not to. What is your dream for your school? Dream big. NO! Dream bigger. Let us clean the cobweb of doubts in our mind.

Vision is positive.

This is not so obvious. Why? All you need is to read the newspapers everyday and you will know that we always expect the worst  for this country. No thanks to our political leaders.

I wonder what kind of vision our children develop every time we talked about corruption in government. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that we should play blind to every anomalies in the government. I simply mean that we should not lose sight of the positive vision.

From where I stand, I know that we can all contribute to the positive future when we build positive vision in our homes, our school, and our barangay. We cannot simply let our politicians decide for our future. We are also leaders. And we can create the pocket of greatness in every home, in every school, in every barangay.

To visualize the worst is not vision. It is masochism. Do you want to know my positive vision? I see that you will continue your commitment to the education of the young, and you will work for the beautiful tomorrow. Do you like that vision?

Vision is shared and supported.

That is why we have the barangay officials, the parents, teachers, and principals here. In the past, we thought that the success of an organizations depend on “visionary leaders”. But visionary leaders know that nothing can be successful unless a vision, that picture of beautiful, bigger, and better tomorrow is shared and supported. That is why they made sure that we understand the pictures they painted.

But a school of today to be truly strong must not depend on the mind of one district supervisor or school principal. Everyone’s future is involved here–yes, our future and our children’s future! Therefore, it is imperative that when we revisit or craft our school vision, we must involve everyone, most especially our students.

Vision is owned.

We are seldom happy with a vision dictated on us by others. Unless we own a vision, we cannot pour our heart into it. A vision is not something that a principal should start writing one day only because she was told by DepEd to submit one.

You need to sit down, involve all the stakeholders, and craft a vision that you can all say you own. Don’t trouble yourself with the right words. Many well-written visions sound good only to those consultants who wrote them, but have no meaning to the people who are supposed to make them happen.

A vision you own always sounds better.

Believe me, miracles happen when you group together to create the picture of better tomorrow. Vision will give you the impulse to make the picture your own.

Revisit your vision, or create a new one today.

Dear parents what are your visions for your children? Do you want them to study in a school where four students have to take turn using one textbook? Have you envisioned to send them to a school with a library without books? What kind of lessons do you want them to learn from you, from their teachers, from your community? Do you want them to learn independence, self-reliance, love of country, and care for humanity?

Have you told your kids that the only wealth you can provide them is education? What kind of education are we providing them?

Our dear barangay officials, what are your visions for your community? I believe you all have been to school too. And you have children too. Do you like the picture we have now? What kind of future awaits your community under your leadership?

Dear principals and teachers, what are your visions for your pupils? Five years from now, do you still see 70 of them squeezing their bodies in that one small room? You are with them every day, do you like the picture we are building inside their impressionable minds? When was the last time you asked them this question,” What do you want to be when you grow up?”

What do you want your school to be five years from now? Let us think for a moment…. Do you want your school to develop creative, and globally competitive students? Do you want them to have committed, passionate, and highly qualified teachers? Do you dream you have supportive LGUs and that you  live in a healthy and happy environment?

Do you want children to have the best in the world?

Keep on dreaming. Some people say,”walang bayad ang mangarap.” That is not true. Dreaming is expensive. With dreaming comes risks.

Think of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Victor Frankl, and our own Jose Rizal. Think of those people who committed their lives to their dreams. Yes, from them you will know that dreams are expensive. You have to invest your life to a dream.

Think of Helen Keller despite the odds went to school, authored books, and devoted her life to learning and inspiring people. She was blind. She was deaf. And she had vision.

Before I end our discussion on vision, do you know of people who don’t know what they can be in ten years, five years, or two years from now? How about you?

Remember this: when you have no vision, you are blind.

You can accomplish great things for your schools. You must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act! This is what the School Improvement Plan is all about.

When you dream nothing, you get nothing. Because we all come here, I believe we are all to something. Big. Positive. Better. And beautiful.