MY most enduring memory about daydreaming was when our Grade One teacher gave my friend Musa a thunderous clap. The echo reverberated through the corridors at Masuku Primary School in Tshabalala.
Wherever he was, Musa was excruciatingly yanked from repose. The rest of us were obviously shocked.
The effect of that belligerent act was intentional, to show all of us that Ma’am meant business and that primary school was not going to be a walk in the park. At once we knew who was boss and the consequences of crossing her path would be painfully dire.
But what my unfortunate friend paid for was to drift from reality to a fantasyland. He was not paying attention to what was happening in class and was caught. But was what he was doing wrong?
Daydreaming seems to have been looked down upon merely because it took the daydreamer away from the present. Teachers demanded all our attention because this somehow guaranteed that we learnt what was being taught.
It was more of indoctrination than anything else. I was easily bored in those lessons because what we were being taught I was exposed to at home through the piles of reading material my parents gave us. I have mentioned here before that when I was in Grade Two, I was already fighting for the newspaper with my father.
While he read the front page I was straining to see the sports page. Just to prise me from his paper, he would take the inside pages and toss them at me. So basically, the teacher was hitting her head against a rock trying to get my attention.
So from reality, I would occasionally drift right there in class and let my imagination run wild. Rooted in the material I used to read about fighter pilots and comic book heroes, I dreamed as a pilot. That is what I was going to be even if I had to fail my primary to get there.
Unfortunately, life does not work like that. I just had to go through the boring lessons, the arithmetic, the spelling (I didn’t need that) and other debilitating maneuvres that did more to destroy my dream than build on it. Why do I say so?
You see, it was unheard of that a pupil at this stage would stand up and declare that they wanted to be a pilot. This was RHODESIA and as “Africans”, as we were referred to, we could not possibly become pilots. Teachers or nurses yes, but a pilot!
We simply had no role models who were pilots at the time. So dream I did and it seems I wasn’t wrong. If my teachers had not made a mockery of my dream and ambition, who knows. So it seems I fell back to my other passion which is writing.
Well at that time, writing was a given, but it was the drawing that the teachers took advantage of. It was child labour if you ask me. My talent in drawing saw me being shared among teachers at radio lessons. This meant that I would catch a series of glimpses of the lessons and then read them later because I had my copy of the manual. What is my point in all of this? Don’t kill the dream.
Every year, for generations, dreams have been stifled at conception. The reason why children dream is because they have no inhibitions. Children do not have to worry about rent, putting food on the table or how the mortgage will be paid. So they have all the ammunition to dream. A dream eventually leads to something definite.
What we are living is what dreams are made of. Someone should tell our teachers that dreaming is OK. Don’t whack the daylights out of students who drift away in your class. Otherwise it means that you should do something about prepping up your teaching because it has become BORING.
Without dreaming, how would have humankind progressed. Ideas come from dreams, daring to think outside the very box that we have all been built into through years of brainwashing. Dare to dream because being conformist destroys the spark that gives birth to the next big idea. Unfortunately, what society has done is to instil fear from the time we start “learning”, just like the clap that our teacher used with such telling effect to discourage the very process that leads to the inception of a great idea.
For generations, teachers have taken daydreaming to be frivolous and an expression of laziness. However, psychologists have found that motivation for success is what daydreams are made of. Criss Jami puts it succinctly when she says, “closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out”.
That includes my Grade One teacher by the way.