Did you ever think of dreams as a holistic kind of learning? It’s January and the kids will be back to school soon. They are probably learning reading, writing and ‘rithmetic as the old song proclaims. They study history, science and many other subjects depending on their age and stage. Schools, if they are good ones, engage a child’s mind and allow their innate curiosity and creativity to blossom. But I worry about their hearts and souls. Are they taught compassion? Is the practice of kindness encouraged? Are they taught how to calm themselves through meditation? And of equal importance, are they taught how to understand themselves; their feelings and emotions, their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams?

What if dreams were taught in the classroom? It has been done in small samplings around Canada and the United States when the teacher was following his or her interests but never in an official way as a regular part of the curriculum. Studying dreams offers the perfect holistic learning vehicle. One could study the history of dreams, social and cultural studies through tracking all the inventions, innovations and creative masterpieces that have come to scientists and artists through the ages in their dreams, practice creative writing, and perhaps most importantly, they can learn how to understand and work with dreams in a simple age-appropriate way. This will ultimately help them understand themselves. Perhaps that would even cut down on the number of people who drop out in later life to “find themselves”.

Last year I went into a grade four classroom to talk to 9 year olds about their dreams. Not only were they interested and full of questions, they were actively engaged for nearly two hours! Their questions were brilliant, rivaling any adult’s questions. Here are a few—all in the children’s own words:

  • Are my dreams something that will happen or something that has happened?
  • Can two people have the same dream?
  • How do dreams come to your mind?
  • Do newborns have dreams?
  • Why can’t we wake up from night terrors?
  • Do nightmares try to teach a lesson?
  • Why if you have a dream, sometimes it repeats over again?

I’ve also talked about dreams with other age groups and the reaction is always the same. First they are amazed that their dreams mean something then, they want to be taught to “crack the code”. Their excitement tells us that not only are they intellectually interested in the topic but it deeply resonates with their emotional needs and curiosities. Dreams are the perfect holistic and integrative subject that encompasses so many important goals of learning but most importantly, addresses body, mind, emotion and spirit. Ask your child’s teacher if they can do a unit on dreams! If they don’t know how to get started, refer them to me!

It’s time we take dreams further into the classroom and teach the children about themselves and their best dreams.