“What are your dreams?”
This is the question I posed to my Year 9 tutor group in January 2016, the first phase in a manipulative and meticulous six-month plan to get them used to the idea that their form tutor would be abandoning them to face their GCSE years with some unknown and, highly likely, far less fun teacher.
The answers I received were not quite as awe-inspiring as I had hoped:
“Get really rich.”
“Live in a massive mansion.”
“Have three wives.”
I exaggerated on that last one. Apologies: the English teacher genes in me insist on lapsing into the occasional bout of hyperbole from time to time.
Clearly, the first question hadn’t particularly inspired their young minds. So I decided to change tack.
“Ok, well what do you think my dreams were when I was your age?”
Blank faces. Utter silence. The mortifying thought that their teacher was once like them. I reassured them that I wouldn’t be offended (I definitely would) by their ideas.
The answers I received were almost identical to their own dreams – barring the three wives. I felt a little underwhelmed that their impression of me after three years of (attempted) honest, humorous, and inspirational leadership was of someone aiming for a wholly materialistic, hedonistic lifestyle.
Anyway, on I went to explain that my dreams were as follows:
a) To write a novel.
b) To travel the world.
c) To live a life that helps other people.
They barely batted an eyelid, and mostly looked confused as to why I had hijacked their PSHE lesson on the dangers of smoking to talk about fulfilling lifelong dreams. However, they are teenager-y enough not to feel any compulsion to ask why we were talking about this, and instead nodded and did as I said, and obediently wrote down their own dreams in their barely-written-in green exercise books.
But the process had begun; now that they knew my travelling dream, it would be hard to begrudge my following it, even if it meant I was abandoning them. Also (and I genuinely mean this in the most cringeworthy sense possible) I really hope that by seeing someone in their life taking a risk and following a lifelong desire, that they might be inspired to do the same one day.
There is a high chance that I’m overthinking all of this.