“Imagination is more important than knowledge”
I am motivated each and every day to inspire young people of all ages to live this mantra. Imagination and creativity are the lifeblood of this nation and its greatest source of economic, political and social prowess. Allowing students to explore their own innovation in the classroom is what empowers them to take ownership of their education, remain engaged in their learning process, find their passion, and define themselves as young adults. I believe that the minds of our young people are the greatest natural resource available to our rapidly evolving world.
Imagination is something that has empowered me and shaped my own experience as student, mentor, and teacher. I have been a student of the arts, music, theatre, dance, walked the halls of the Louvre, the Met, the Tate and Getty. Seen TV’s go from 26 inches deep to less than two. I have read some of the greatest works of the past millennia. I have witnessed the proliferation of the internet. I have seen the Berlin Wall crumble. I have seen young people stand before tyrants in their fight for freedom. None of these things would have been possible without the strength of imagination. None of these artists, inventors, innovators, social changers would have created without imagination, without their mentors having empowered them to dream beyond convention. Our world would not be the world we live in today without the power to imagine something different, greater, stronger, more peaceful, more wise, more free, more inspired than that which has gone before. Teachers empower young people to dream and define their future under their own terms.
Teaching a language is about creating an environment that makes that language relevant. To a young man in Middle America, English is the only viable language. He may never leave that town without having been presented a vision of a world beyond his own understanding. Teaching this young man not only the vital importance of grammar and pronunciation, but also the intricacies of culture, society, and customs that surround a language like French, will open his eyes to new horizons and possibilities that before he could never have imagined. He must be immersed in that language and culture with every interaction. Language is a gateway to changing the world.
When I teach I aim far beyond the simple objectives of a single lesson. I seek to unfold my own passion for French as a culture, as a people, as a history and as a means to unite. My destination is to create empowered students that are capable of complex critical thinking, who explore with the eager imagination of their youth. Without knowing the destination I cannot plot the course. French language and francophone culture happen to be the avenue by which I can guide these young people to the destination that I see. I cannot however, derail their efforts to explore along the journey, which is what makes their mind a teaching tool for me as their instructor.
As I empower students to make their own path it will be my responsibility to guide them to discover lessons learned by those that have gone before without hindering their creativity. This must be done on a case by case basis helping students to create and mold their education within the guidelines set by state and federal directives. I will be able to format a structure, a roadmap, with numerous possible rest-stops along the way that will enhance the opportunities for unique learning. Language learning, in Middle America is difficult. Students often lack motivation, don’t see the point, have formed opinions based upon ideas of extreme English-only ideologies, and well, frankly their teenagers. I seek to create a haven for students to explode their creative energies in a direct and guided trajectory that will land them at the door of success. I will use my own imagination and creativity to open the doors of possibility and to build bridges of opportunity for my students. Rather than limiting students by constantly reminding them what they cannot do, I will make way for them, by giving them the tools they need to achieve beyond just what they can do.
Education is not a profession. Education is not a job. Education is not a field. Education is a passion. I must share my passion with those in my charge as I guide them to learn. Learning is a lifestyle. Learning can happen in any and every interaction that we have with those around us. I will continually help students to discover their own best selves. I will be authentic. I will help these young people to ignite within themselves the same fire I have for life, for francophonie, for learning. I will empower students to reach out with their imagination and broaden their capacity to dream. Knowledge will only embolden their vision of the world and as they seek to encircle the globe their imagination will become the wings upon which they will guide us all to better future. I am an idealist. But I’m tired of living in a world where we force young people into a box and tell them, “This is what the world is.” I would much rather allow young people, with their limitless capacity for reverie, to tell me, “This is what the world could be.”