Treading on dreams

Towards the end of his TED Talk, Sir Ken Robinson quoted a poem from W.B. Yeats…. it goes like this:

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven”
from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats
He made the lover’s verse into an analogy to modern education and the way that we, as educators, have the power to promote or tread on children’s dreams.
I am reminded of this in a story in my own life.  I remember the way that a statement by a teacher along the lines of “that’s just not good enough” or “you call this an essay” would really cut you down. You went along with your piece of work that you felt was really good… because it was the best that you could do and then, in one swift retort, you are cut down, wounded and your confidence comes crashing to the ground.
I sometimes wonder just how many teachers have done this to their charges. I wonder if they are aware of just what they are doing when they do this.
My question is a simple one… do they have the right to do this? Does anyone have the right to tread on the dreams the feelings of worth of a developing human being? I don’t think so.
So this is a short piece to remind any teachers reading this that they have a great power and that they can help their charges grow and gain self-esteem or they can cut them down with a statement!
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