“I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?”
Rather more prosaically, last night I dreamed I was a teacher, meeting a new class for the first time one September. Most were younger brothers and sisters of children I’d taught years ago. I smiled to see family resemblances.
I haven’t taught in school since 2008. My last class of bubbly 11-year-olds has just finished secondary school and – to my fairly certain knowledge – those younger brothers and sisters are non-existent in this world. In my dream, though, they were fully-formed personalities and I was working hard to get to know them, to decide which ones would need particular support and how I could best bring out their gifts and abilities.
So are the children in my dream class any less real than those in my waking classes? Is the help I’m giving them any less helpful than the support I offered to their ‘this world’ siblings?