By Nancy Hickey, Steelcase Chief Administrative Officer and former English teacher
This year, Steelcase launched the 100 Dreams Classroom Project as a part of our “100 Dreams, 100 Minds, 100 Years” centennial celebration. Steelcase is a company dedicated to providing great environments where employees can do their best work. To commemorate its 100th anniversary, the company is looking to the leaders of tomorrow to see what dreams they have and how they hope to achieve these advancements. For the project, we designed a simple lesson plan for teachers to download online and implement in their classrooms, which invites children to use crayons to envision the future.
The 100 Dreams Classroom Guide helps educators lead their students through a simple exercise meant to evoke students’ visions of the future and the goals they hope to accomplish in their lives. It prompts them to express their visions creatively through whichever medium is most comfortable to them: pencils, paints, crayons, oil pastels, markers, etc.
We started the 100 Dreams Classroom Project by bringing it to six countries around the world—Mexico, China, India, the United States, South Africa, and Germany—and inviting 10-year-olds to imagine their futures. We partnered with Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Daniel Junge to create a film, “One Day,” which followed one dreamer from each country to delve deeper into their hopes and dreams for the futures of their countries. The film showcases the art of hundreds of students involved; art which illustrates how they see their countries and their environments evolving.
The art that students produce is meant to serve as the spark for a conversation about the future. The conversation starts, at first, in classrooms as students express themselves, see their peers’ art and watch the documentary. It then builds into a school-wide conversation as images are displayed in schools. Eventually, it becomes an international exchange of ideas as the images are posted to 100.Steelcase.com/100-dreams and the Steelcase Facebook page.
Through this project, we at Steelcase were reminded of what many educators and former educators—myself included—already knew: young people are brilliant, and they already have insights and knowledge that will help them to shape the world. Each child’s dream provides a sneak peek into his or her promise as a person, as well as the astounding potential of the next generation.
The beauty of this project is that—much like the modern workplace—it melds creativity and technology in order to bring people together from all parts of the world and enable collaboration. The students who get involved with this project are already thinking about what they would like to do as world citizens to build the futures that they’ve envisioned. Their dreams will be our future… and it all started with crayons.