Perhaps as a child grows in their mother’s womb, the first sounds they experience are muffled by the barrier between the growing child and the outside world. However, these sensory stimuli have an effect.
In the growth process within the womb the child seeks the meaning of these strange noises. The quest for understanding begins, and the search for knowledge is born.
Entering into this world of overwhelming stimuli, the baby adapts to its environment and new world. For it is a new world from the enclosed saddle in which he or she grew for nine months.
What does not change is the quest for understanding and the search for knowledge. In this process imagination evolves because imagination is the wonderment of understanding as the child grows and seeks to comprehend this reality in which they exist.
I was once told by a university’s marketing director that they send their alumni who have experienced the joy of birth several items for the crib. A teddy bear with the university’s logo and various items representing their brand to hang above the crib.
As the baby lies there watching the dancing figures above, the images are impressed upon the mind. Once an image is impressed, it will always remain there.
As it embraces its teddy bear, the security which the baby feels is associated with the university. There is a very subtle psychological impetus on the growing baby.
A child’s imagination is aided by curiosity. Without curiosity the wonders of this planet traversing the cosmos are like the shadows on the cave wall which Plato described.
If parents or guardians as well as teachers foster this growing curiosity, the avenues opened to the child are myriad. However, dampening the child’s instinctual need to know or hampering their ever-expanding curious side is a detriment which has consequences for the future.
I remember distinctly from first grade; it was before the Thanksgiving holiday; we were sitting around the table drawing holiday figures. My cousin took off his sock and drew an outline of it on paper, we all laughed at his creative choice, especially the girls.
Keith probably did it to impress them, since next he placed his bare foot on the table. He probably should not have placed his foot on the table.
However, the teacher was miffed about something—which, based on my memory, seemed like a daily occurrence. She came over to the table and demanded that Keith put his sock back on and scolded him about placing his unsocked foot on the table.
She grabbed his sock drawing and crumbled it up. Her glare was lethal.
I must have raised an eyebrow or given a frown or some such because she grabbed me by the collar and marched me down to the principal’s office. I received a lecture about disrespect.
When we returned to the classroom of 30-plus students, you could hear a pin drop. The rest of the day it was like visiting an old mausoleum where the stifled ambiance was like a plastic bag over your head.
Unfortunately, this teacher did this a number of times during the year to her unwitting subjects. This type of milieu is the perfect incubator for the abeyance of curiosity and imagination.
Infants and children are fragile creations. They need love and encouragement and to roam the fields of imagination and ask their umpteen questions about the world in which they emerged.
Besides going to the library, one thing which we did in the summers was play. Living near a river, we made, with help until we were older, paper sailboats.
With a good breeze these sailboats would drift with the currents until they vanished out of sight. We imagined the great adventures they were having on the high seas of our river. We did not realize until much later that paper would eventually dissolve in water and that our creations suffered the tragic fate of being lost at sea.
A child’s innate curiosity and imagination are like the child’s paper sailboat on the streams and rivers of life. They need to be protected in childhood.
When the children become adults, they venture to sail their boats on the oceans of life. By then their childhood’s paper sailboats are lost on the rivers of time.
However, it was at that point when they first launched that fragile object that they were allowed to prepare for the voyages yet to come. One cannot undertake a voyage without adequate preparations, or there will be dire consequences.
The vicissitudes of life are the harpies which plague one’s journey. This is why preparation in childhood is so essential.
True education at home and in the classroom will always foster the gift of imagination with a heavy dose of curiosity. Like Albert Einstein once said,
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”
G. D. Williams © 2017