I have been to a couple of Disney movies in my lifetime, and I have visited five of the theme parks that bear his name. Undoubtedly, most of us have heard that Disney parks are "the happiest place on earth", but I suppose that's subjective phrase.
Clearly, Disney and his "imagineers" had a magical vision. He found ways to make his vision real - even developing "unusable" swamp land in Florida into an unequaled economic empire based on fictional characters, places, and experiences.
In a recent blog post, Hillsboro, Missouri, teacher Krissy Venosdale wrote, "It is clear that when Walt Disney said 'Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children,' he meant it. He understood kids. He ‘got’ what engages people. He created an experience that develops wonder, inspires imagination, and instills dreams."
The focus in education has moved dramatically in the last 15 years. While being a teacher has required a Bachelor of Science degree for several decades now, it has always been recognized that teaching is a balance of Science and Art. Put in a different way, no one would patronize Disney movies if they were all about cause and effect, character descriptions, set dimensions, or cost analyses and financial projections. No, we patronize those movies because of the magic - the storylines, the deep character development, and the emotion. In short, what makes a good Disney movie is the wonder, exploration, and discovery!
In her blog, Mrs. Venosdale, who also created the images that accompany this writing, wrote:
We’ve spent so much time focusing on tests and collecting worksheets in our schools. I get that. Those are the things we’ve come to associate with learning along the way. Misguided traditions. But, it’s time we associate what learning is really about. More time focusing curiosity, imagination, and dreams. Teaching kids that ‘impossible’ is fun. Pouring wonder into our schools like it’s oxygen. Because inside every kid is a vision, just like the one Walt Disney had. A vision that we’ll never see if we don’t take the time to develop it, listen to it, and embrace it. A vision bigger than scores, worksheets, and points. A vision that will add something special to the world. We’ve just gotta remember where to focus, or we’ll miss it.
No, our children are our future. When it comes to our students, we must have a vision of an invisible future. Walt Disney saw a swamp and envisioned an amazing and magical kingdom. What do we see when we look at our students? More so, are we fostering a climate of vision within those students? No matter how bright our own vision, the future of the universe rests also on their visions. I doubt even Walt Disney could imagine some of the leaps forward that have been made in his industries since the time of his death. Only with our continual passing the vision forward, guided by the clarity of our faith, will society advance.