“The Powerful Impact of a Positive Vision: Is a Future Barack Obama in Your Class?” by Rabin Nickens, MS Ed, tells the story of her being in a classroom when a young boy student appears to say hello and his former teacher sitting with Ms. Nickens — in a not-intended-as-malicious, dismissive and offhand manner after the boy leaves — remarks, “Isn’t he such a sweet boy? It’s a shame because you know he’s just gonna end up on the corner and not really amount to anything.”
Ms. Nickens is taken aback and the post goes on asking all sorts of questions in the context of the imperative of positive vision:
What is our “positive vision” for each student? In other words, in what manner can we see them successful as students and well-rounded human beings – now and into adulthood? Are we able to look at a child and recognize something that they are good at that could bring them success and happiness in their life? And by “success,” are we limiting that definition to test scores or are we expanding it to also encompass real life skills and goals that are personal, professional, or social?
She then briefly outlines why negativity — especially that which starts with teachers (though we’d expand that to anyone within a student’s sphere of influencers) — is such a de-motivator:
Understanding that negative thoughts emit negative energy into the universe, that in turn perpetuates more negative actions. Well, imagine what happens in a classroom when teachers do nothing but have despair and disappointment in their hearts and minds in regards to their students and what they can accomplish. That negative energy goes out from the teacher amongst the students, and the children (who are much more perceptive and intuitive than most adults give them credit for) not only perceive these low expectations, but internalize it, feed off this negative energy, and produce only negative results in the end for the teacher to see. Are we surprised then that many children seem unmotivated?
Over and over again, the deep understanding we’re gaining about the power of vision, the overwhelmingly positive impacts that occur when directing thought toward the positive, is so foundational, profound, inspiring and motivating to the student and anyone who is connected with them, that we adults must embrace ways to empower students to feel, dream, create and tell their vision to the world.