Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whatever happened to imagination?

Photo by Alan Toniolo de Carvalho

I'm concerned about something. Well, lots of things, actually. But one thing, in particular, is the pervading trend in our society to rob kids of their imaginations. Take kindergarten, for instance. I remember when kindergarten included a lot of creative play time. There were no standardized tests to concentrate on. Teachers were not under pressure to make sure their kids passed the exams. What the heck is happening here?

And it's not just the schools that are failing our kids in this way. I'm really worried about all the parents out there who are sitting their little ones (and I'm talking toddlers here) in front of computers and other electronic devices for a variety of reasons. Whether the iPhone entertains the children in waiting rooms at the pediatrician's office or the car's DVD player keeps them occupied on trips, whatever happened to talking and playing with the kids? I mean, seriously! It's during those times that imagination can be fostered.

The fact is, according to a study done by the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, kid's test scores in the area of creativity have been steadily declining over the past decade. This could have serious consequences.

When Einstein stated that "imagination is more important that knowledge," little did he know where we were headed as a society. Without imagination and creativity, people struggle to brainstorm or develop new ideas. Instead, they consistently focus on answering all the questions correctly. They need to learn that sometimes there is more than one answer, and it's likely they won't learn that on an iPhone app.

It's up to you to teach your kids to be creative problem solvers. It's up to you to draw out the writer or artist in your child. It's up to you to say 'no' to the trends that are assaulting this generation.

As you shop for the upcoming holidays, I urge you to bypass all the electronic gizmos and opt for toys that encourage creative play and imagination. And for the sake of being green, shop local, bypass batteries and support sustainable companies.

And if you're worried about your kids falling behind their peers who are already proficient on the iPad or a laptop by the time they're 3, don't be. Your little ones will have plenty of opportunity to catch up. And just think, without being exposed to all that radiation and dirty electricity, they'll probably be a whole lot healthier for it.

Caring for this generation of kids,


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