The first time I visited the website for The Future Project, I was asked to name my dream. For most people, the question, "What is your dream?" never comes up. We do what is expected of us from day to day, and get on with the business of living our lives. For most of us, dreams are just that; fantasies, relegated to sleep, idle daydreaming, and Disney movies. But the founders of The Future Project have made it their mission to ask children to name their dreams.
You might expect this would be some kind of whimsical feel-good exercise. But dreaming has never looked like such a practical, powerful step: What recent research is telling us and what The Future Project founders Kanya Balakrishna and Andrew Mangino are betting on is that dreams inspire learning - not the sort of rote, superficial learning that will help students pass state standardized tests but then disintegrate, but real learning that inspires deep, meaningful, life-changing mastery and purpose. Learning that inspires positive change both for the individual and their community.
The Future Project 'Dream Director' Tim Shriver says the idea for The Future Project was born out of Balakrishna and Mangino's observation that "students have become disengaged from their own education, and education policymakers are missing the point in the debate over school reform." The Future Project returns students, rather than curriculum and governance, to the center of the discussion about education. In Tim Shriver's words, "Student transformation is critical, but it's only the first step in what we hope will be a social movement and the transformation of education. When human beings are passionate and exploring their dreams, when those things become a part of a person's life, they can do the impossible." To that end founders Mangino and Balakrishna, along with a team of twenty-five staff members including so-called "Dream Directors," mentor over one thousand students in campaigns born out of that simple question, "What is your dream?"