Sunday, August 25, 2013

"If your Life were a Book, and You were the Author..."

I have had this post in the back of my mind for a while now. The importance of imagination and pretend is more and more obvious to me as my experience outside of our community grows and as my own children grow. Sure, I am surprised and often amazed at what kids come up with but lately I've been so amazed by what this means for them as adults. Their creativity and imagination will change the way they see the world. It will help them find solutions to old problems that have plagued us and see pathways that many before them could look directly at and still not notice. Imagination is vital. In one of the links I've provided, Amy Purdy says it well: Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress. 

"This is the food for all the workers. Let's be really careful so we don't spill it or they might get hungry."

"I'm going to the store. I'm gonna make cookies!"
"See the bubbles? I'm popping them so them don't get away! Pop!"
"I'm making chocolate bread. This is the batter!"
"We are sawing the house down! Let's break it! We have to be quick or it won't work."
These children that I spend my day with are doing just that. They use their imagination to entertain themselves, to test out new ideas, to fail, to succeed, to put on a different role than who they are.... They use it to adapt to new social roles, to find out more about who they are and what they want, to find out more about the people who are there imagining alongside of them. For a long time imagination was undervalued. Jay Walker, the founder of Priceline, points out that the ruling classes did not want those underneath them to imagine. They didn't want them to see pathways out of their current situation or to think of new ways of doing things. This doesn't mean that imagination didn't thrive, simply that it wasn't encouraged. Over the years imagination has become more and more encouraged. As a result, imaginations grew. We are constantly finding new paths, new technology, new ways, new solutions, new cures... As Amy Purdy puts it, we continue to live beyond our limit. And each time the limit is defined, we break it again. 
"I'm a super hero guy! This block is going to get you!"...

"This is my shield! You can't even get me!"

So how do we support imagination? How do we encourage children to use their imaginations? I feel Nikola Tesla covers this well:

“Every night, when alone, I would start out on my journeys - see new places, cities and countries... This I did constantly until I was about seventeen when my thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then I observed to my delight that.. I needed no models, drawings or experiments. I could picture them all as real in my mind.”

Tesla's imagination thrived regardless of encouragement. Humans need, perhaps even live for, imagination. So give them time to play and time to imagine. Imagine with them. Fulfill your need and their need both... that is all the encouragement they need.

In case you missed it above, I highly recommend watching Amy Purdy's TedX Talk:

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