Over my (many) years as a teacher, it seemed to me that the children were finding it more and more difficult to activate their imaginations.
There was absolutely no doubt that imaginations were present, but to have the students set those imaginations buzzing was becoming an evermore strenuous exercise. They were able to retell any number of stories they had seen on television, in the movies or on a gaming site but were at pains to come up with an original storyline.
Now, I know that students have struggled with creative writing for as long as teachers have been expecting them to do it but it has been my experience that imaginations are being left idle. A total waste of a valuable resource if you ask me.
The big question is, of course, why this is happening. Is it simply that our kids are being exposed to so much visual stimulus via screens and monitors that the imagination ‘receptors’ have been dulled? Probably not, but in my opinion, this certainly has some bearing on the problem.
We can’t hide our children from modern technology. It is part of the modern world and they need to be able to function within that world. But perhaps it comes down to how much of their days we allow to be ruled by technology.
Old fashioned as it may be, I believe that kids need time to be kids. I have seen, in recent years, the phenomenom of the “helicopter parent” (c0nstantly hovering) evolve. These parents timetable every minute of their children’s days in the well intentioned belief that they are keeping the kids out of trouble and filling their lives with experiences. The children are busy all the time. They do not get to slow down, quieten their minds and let the world flow around them for a while. It is in those quiet moments that the imagination can wander, explore and develop.
People are time poor these days, either by circumstance or mismanagement, and this too has an effect on family interaction. Many don’t have time for the family dinners, mentioned by Robert Dornan in his article on this blog, which so encourage discussion and provide the opportunity for ‘I wonder’ moments. You know the ones I mean. Mum says that the dog has a scratch on its belly from trying to climb up the fence to catch the neighbours’ cat. So Dad can then say, ‘I wonder what he thinks when he sees that cat up there?’ and so the imagination receptors are prodded.
But, of course, the very best way to fire up those receptors is to read….reading to our kids, reading with our kids, letting our kids see us reading, talking with our kids about reading. It only takes a few minutes each day but the rewards are massive.
Imagination is one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal. It is the key which opens doors to other worlds both real and fantastic. It is there in each of us to be utilised and enjoyed but needs to be nurtured and encouraged for it to flow freely and fluently.
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! ~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!