“We talk a great deal about independence, but we loathe it as much as we loathe the blessed freedom of nothing to do. Children no longer play because we have taken from them the opportunity and, I’ll insist, even the capacity to play. And this, if we want to kill the imagination, is an altogether healthy thing.”
The above quote as well as the title of this post come from a book by Anthony Esolen:
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
I have been reading this book for the last three months, not because it is an exceptionally long book or because I am an exceptionally slow reader, but because I generally have four to five books going at once. And this is the kind of book that is so full of wisdom you don’t want to miss a thing.
Mr. Esolen writes in a satirical style (as you can gather from the title) using literature, history, personal anecdotes and more to show us how the imaginations of our children are being destroyed by things like: political correctness, a lack of outdoor play, the over-organizing of their lives, etc.
In the chapter Never Leave Children to Themselves, he writes about how children use their imaginations, when they are not over-supervised, to create games and art and even their own culture.
I have seen this in my own children during the time we have been on the road. It’s so easy to get ourselves and our children involved in a hundred different activities. Anything from sports, to drama, to church, and this leaves very little time for them to lose themselves in their own play and creations.
In the time that we have been here in Cloudcroft my three little ones (as we still call them although the eldest of the little ones is 11) have found at least ten ways to use a pinecone. They have built fairy houses and started their own form of commerce using shiny rocks, pine cones and flowers for trade. They have learned what makes good tinder and have diligently gathered it in the hope that they will get to play in the camp fire.
Since leaving behind the television, activities schedules, and fenced grassless yards their imaginations have truly blossomed. And we have, and will, all benefit from it.