I have been thinking about dreams this week. I am beginning the teaching for Of Mice and Men, and I wanted to start by looking at the American Dream, so I asked the students to draw a picture of their dream future. This is the kind of thing they drew:
Granted, they're not art students! The thing that surprised me was that they all seemed to have such realistic, normal dreams. One male student said he wanted to be a primary school teacher or teaching assistant. Another said a nurse. Another one said a social worker. They all said they wanted to own a house. Occasionaly, they wanted a mansion, but most just wanted a normal life with a normal amount of money.
This links closely into the American dream - having a secure home, a career and a family. I was surprised that these things hadn't really changed.
I was wondering if it made a difference that they were aged 16-18. I guess by this time, they realise that they won't become a famous actor, footballer or musician but that a simple and secure life is important. They are more realistic, rather than having big dreams. Saying that, one student did say he wanted to be Batman, but I think he was just saying that for effect.
The thing is, this life used to be much more achievable. These students are ones that have got a D in GCSE English before, and much lower in other subjects, and many are probably going to achieve a D again. It's not that they're not intelligent in their own ways, but many of them lack the willpower to force themselves to study and revise, and would never cope with a University course. Without being able to study at degree level they greatly reduce their chance of making a high income. They definitely could, but it isn't the same as 30 years ago where you could much more easily walk into a job and work your way through the company.
Many of these students will struggle to own a house. I would struggle to own a house, and I'm a teacher with a social worker boyfriend. We are professional people, yet we can't afford a good deposit and it will take years of saving. These students have such basic hopes and even these are difficult to achieve for this generation. It makes me sad that fairly average young people, who are willing to put in a fair, but not immense amount of work, are never going to get rewards. Of course, the extremely hardworking among them will claw their ways into decent positions, but not everyone has those levels of motivation, or should be expected to.
What are your views? Do you realistic dreams for the future? Do you think your dreams are achievable?