Saturday, August 29, 2015

Where have all the imaginatives gone?

Neil Gaiman has written a well thought out article on the importance of creativity and imagination.  I was surprised to know the ladders and stair wells to these places in the minds of the younger generation are being eroded or simply torn out. Various places are shuttering their libraries and are not introducing students to excellent fiction.  You can read his work here:

One of my favorite sections in this missive was a quote from Albert Einstein:'"If you want your children to be intelligent," he said, "read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. ' Children need a world where they play creatively and spend some time away from the controlled play of video games. They need to be read with and too and invent great stories with adults.

This generation of children are not as literate as people who were born before personal computers.  Many do not know how to play and something has happened to the natural curiosity I observed even ten years ago.  It has not been as evident lately. 

In the mornings I sit in the hallway and greet students as they enter the building.  One morning I brought an Arduino project which I assembled using an Arduino, LEDs, as many different colors of wires as I could lay my hands on, and a bread board. 
 If you pressed a button three lights would light in succession then an alarm would sound.  

I sat the device on top of the box on my lap.  Most of the children greeted me but walked by without a second glance at the device.  A couple of 5th graders stopped to look but they did not ask any questions.  I am concerned about this.

Isaac Asimov once said, "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' "- Brainyquote.  Those two little words, 'that's funny', are said when people are curious about something they see or notice and their imagination begins to work.

We need to change the direction of our educational system to allow time for unstructured creative play and reading for pleasure so children have time to let their imaginations breathe. We are treating education as if it's main job is to create workers.  The best education starts with the child in mind not the adult worker in mind.  It fosters a sense of wonder, creativity, and imagination.  Great education creates memories children cherish and tell their grandchildren about someday.  These experiences go into the 'favorites file' in their memory. 

If I could search through the favorites files of people education in our schools I would find examples of play time, related Arts science experiments and connections.  I suspect I would not find single memory of a favorite bubble test.  Tests are not favorites. Tests do not build creativity but they do build anxiety which is anti-creativity.  I think it's past time to return to an educational design which fosters imagination. Let's build schools where the whole child can be educated and flourish.  And let's head to the library or local bookstore this weekend to pick up some of our favorite fiction books from when we were children to share with young people in our lives.

Do you want to know what fiction the folks at teachersandcompany and their families are reading?  Here are some links:

The Cricket in Time Square

Myth series by Robert Aspirin

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

We would love to hear what you are reading or recommend in the way of great, non-dystopian, fiction .  I am trying to build our library of hopeful fiction for young ones.

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