User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Vision for the Future: The Other 21st Century Skills

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Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to individually discuss each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.  This post focuses on vision for the future.

2013-05-22_1407Having a vision for the future is an natural extension of Hope and Optimism, another 21st century skill I proposed.  A vision for the future enhances hope and optimism. To clarify, having a vision for the future is identifying and taking steps toward fulfilling one’s dream.  It goes beyond and is qualitatively different than identifying what one wants to be when one grows up or thinking about college.  It is about dreams.

The following excerpt was from my post, Dream-Driven Education. . . Seth Godin in Stop Stealing Dreams states:

Have we created a trillion-dollar, multimillion-student, sixteen-year schooling cycle to take our best and our brightest and snuff out their dreams—sometimes when they’re so nascent that they haven’t even been articulated? Is the product of our massive schooling industry an endless legion of assistants? The century of dream-snuffing has to end. The real shortage we face is dreams, and the wherewithal and the will to make them come true. We’re facing a significant emergency, one that’s not just economic but cultural as well. The time to act is right now, and the person to do it is you.

We can teach them not to care; that’s pretty easy. But given the massive technological and economic changes we’re living through, do we have the opportunity to teach productive and effective caring? Can we teach kids to care enough about their dreams that they’ll care enough to develop the judgment, skill, and attitude to make them come true? (

I propose that educators take a proactive stance to move from a system that may steal kids’ dreams to one that promotes the actualization of learner dreams. I have a dream today and everyday that education can become a conduit through which learners are provided with the time, knowledge, strategies, and tools to make their own dreams come true.   We are living in an era that education can be passion-based and dream-driven.  In this context, the role of the educator becomes that of dream-facilitator.

The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen. (

2014-01-19_1529Some of the characteristics of a vision for the future include:

  • Vision for one’s own dream.
  • Identifying and taking steps to achieve one’s dream.
  • Finding and connecting with a like minded community.
  • Reflecting on progress towards achieving one’s dream.

Identifying Visions

One of the first tasks of the educator as a dream-facilitator is to discover and help his/her learners discover their dreams, passions, and interests. The message given to the learners can be something in line with the following:

Visions must be about your deepest dreams of what you want when you listen to you heart.  You can’t dream about toys or things we buy that only make you happy for a few minutes.  You must use your heart to imagine yourself creating a happy life –  what you want to do, who you want to be, and how you can help others. (adapted from

Some guiding questions to help learners identify and articulate their dreams include:

  • Given no restrictions, what would you like to do in your spare time?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and be or do anything you want, what would it be?
  • In one year from now, 10 years from now, what would you like to be doing that would make you happy?
  • What would your life be like if it were perfect?

Learners can be provided with a choice with how they answer theses questions: verbal or written responses, video or audio recording, or a drawing. Erin Little, a 5th-6th grade teacher, had here students blog about these questions.  Here are some example blogs:

An extension of this activity might be asking learners to create a vision board (see Vision Boards for Kids and Visions & Values for Kids).  Technology could be used for this process by giving students the opportunity to create a Glog or an Animoto of images that symbolizes their dreams.

20% Time or Genius Hour

Classroom time can be set aside for students to spend time with and work towards their dreams and visions.  Genius hour and/or 20% time is being implemented in many classrooms for this purposte:

For more information about Genius Hour and 20% time, see:

Student-Driven Personal Learning Networks

Support systems or personal learning networks could then be established based on grouping learners with similar dreams.  The group would act as cheerleaders, support-providers, progress-checkers, and resource providers for one another.   One of the group’s learning activities could focus on expanding their personal learning networks to include folks with similar dreams who they locate via social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other social networks.


Dreams will only come try if actions are taken to achieve them.  As such, the educator should facilitate a method for learners to reflect on progress towards their dreams.

  • What did you do today, this week to achieve your dreams?
  • What obstacles are you having or foresee having in progress towards your dream?  How can you overcome your obstacles?
  • What resources did you locate that can help you fulfill your dreams?

Blogging or micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter) could be used for this reflective process.

As a parting shot about young people and their dreams, here is a short film by high school student, Sam Fathallah. The asked his classmates to write their dreams out on a transparent whiteboard.

. . . and for those who just want some additional inspiration, Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams . . .

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm

4 Responses

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  1. It seems the issue goes deeper than just learning to care about dreams. At the core, what isn’t being addressed is the idea that each and every student’s dreams are worth caring about. There isn’t enough focus on self-development and on building social psychological constructs such as self-worth and self-esteem. Without these building blocks, there is no foundation for developing traits essential to pursuing dreams and reaching them successfully.


    January 21, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    • @Jackie-loved the post and am highly passionate about topic and empowering students. I would love to connect with you and discuss making change/impact. Laurie-I would love to delve deeper into “dreams worth caring about,” “self worth and self esteem.” Please contact me at jdelaneyJoAnn maybe we could GHO! @Sheri-feel free to join in 🙂 Check out what I’ve been doing to make global change…

      JoAnn Delaney

      February 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    • I absolutely agree I have written an entire program around it the ironic thing is that I have to believe I can do it……..


      May 19, 2023 at 5:00 pm

  2. Reblogged this on What Else? 1DR.

    Sheri Edwards

    January 27, 2014 at 12:42 am

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