On my rock, thinking… VISIONING.

A few months ago I had changed the banner that sits at the top of the introduction page to my web space (which this is a part of).  I have been thinking deeply about change and really found meaning in the following quote.  It is a famous inspirational quote of Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi that has been translated into English.  The quote reads, “Be the change that you want to see in this world.”  Simple, yet profound.  In many ways this has been the mantra through which I have been viewing this course, and much of my own teaching this semester.  In many ways, this quote sums up my visioning.  I want to inspire change.  I want to awaken students to the understanding that change is inevitable, that change is necessary, that the needs are immediate, and that change is already happening.  I want my students to understand that they have the ability to create change; to be change.  I want this for myself, for my family, my children, and for my students.

As I try to envision the larger picture; the ideal situation towards which I strive, I see myself living as a positive example.  I see myself working hard towards living a lifestyle that contributes to the sustainability of human existence on our planet.  I dream one day of owning a house that is not only ‘off the grid’ in terms of demanding gas and electricity to be supplied, but one that generates a surplus of electricity to give or sell back to the community.  I dream of living in a community of like-minded people who are thinking, acting and living sustainably.  I dream of looking back on my teaching career and realizing that I was able to make a difference; that I was able to awaken teenagers to the realities and to the truths of our world; that I was able to communicate a message of hope; and that I was able to inspire young people to create change.  I hope that I can inspire children to create significant change; real change that has an impact on our culture and the mindset of many people; change that leads us to living sustainably as a culture.  I hope to be able to lead as an example.  I hope to be able to live as the best possible example, especially for my own children.  I want my own children to live healthy, happy, creative lives through which they have a positive footprint on the earth.

I want to educate children about sustainability and sustainable energy sources.  I want to educate children about carbon emissions and about positive global footprints.  I want to share the messages of so many important thinkers.  I want children to understand what David Suzuki, Chris Jordan, Al Gore, Peter Senge, and so many others are talking about.  I want children to be literate of the truths and the real issues of their time.  And I want to be careful not to overwhelm them.  There are so many problems and issues facing this, and future generations.  There are so many examples of how we are not living in sustainable ways on this planet.  The information, the facts, and the images can be completely overloading, overwhelming, and quite depressing.  I want to be careful at balancing informing with inspiring.  There is a serious risk of overwhelming individuals with truth, sometimes creating a feeling of hopelessness.  I want to provide positive examples of change that is already happening.  I want to communicate a message of hope. 

In a nutshell, this is my vision statement.  I want to be the change that I want to see in this world.  I want to awaken and inspire others to do the same.  The change that I want to see is to live sustainably in ways in which we are not taking more from the earth than it can supply, and in ways that do not take away from future generations.

Understanding the Visioning Process

   At first, I was caught completely off guard by the expectation of creating a visioning statement.  For whatever reason, I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept.  From the little that I knew about a visioning statement, I thought it was a term used mostly in the corporate world of companies and businesses.  When I first mentioned the visioning assignment to my wife, she was also confused, and questioned why we would be doing something so corporate in an education curriculum class.  I vaguely remember the term from a course in organizational behavior, and I initially had to agree with her that it seemed rather odd in this setting at first.

   After digging a little deeper, it began to make a lot of sense.  It only took a small amount of searching and reading for me to realize that the goals and ideas that I have been thinking about, were in fact a part of my vision statement.  From what I understand now, a vision statement is simply a description of what you are aiming for, working towards – a description of ideal goals or dreams.  As I searched, I found that (as suspected) many of the definitions of a vision statement do in fact come from a corporate world of organizational behavior.  However, I found a couple of definitions that were key in allowing me to understand that visioning has much broader applications than simply being used by business leaders. 

   The first definition that was important in aiding my understanding of the process was that “A vision statement is a vivid idealized description of a desired outcome that inspires, energizes and helps you create a mental picture of your target” (Constandse, 2008).  Visioning is a process that applies to anyone who sets goals or who seeks to achieve something. As such, visioning is certainly transferable to paths in education.  The second piece of information that cleared the fog for me was that, “most successful people have written vision statements.”  Reading this allowed me to understand that visioning is a process that ultimately applies to any person or organization with goals of being successful.  Visions statements are linked with the achievement of success, as they allow people to picture their goals clearly and concisely.  Visioning allows individuals to keep their goals in sight and sharply in focus.

   I also have come to understand the visioning is about thinking ‘big picture’, or about thinking about ideal outcomes.  Visioning is about clearly stating the ‘what’ that is desired, not necessarily even thinking about the ‘how’. 

   In hind-sight, it seems somewhat funny that I was confused about something that now seems so logical.   After the first day of this class, I changed the banner at the top of the introduction page to my web space to read the following quote that has been translated from the words of Mohandas Gandhi.  The quote reads, “Be the change that you want to see in this world.”  Simple, yet profound. 

   In many ways this has been the mantra through which I have been viewing this course, and much of my own teaching this semester.   In many ways, this quote sums up my visioning.   I want to inspire change.   I want to awaken students to the understanding that change is inevitable, that change is necessary, that the needs are immediate, and that change is already happening.   I want my students to understand that they have the ability to create change; to be change.  I want this for myself, for my family, my children, and for my students.