We are killing the imaginations of our young.
I started thinking about this recently while traveling on Virginia Route 522 from Winchester to Front Royal, because in the van to my left, a Disney movie was playing on a screen that hung down for the kids in the back seat. Adding to my irritation was the fact that we were within half a mile of Dinosaur Land, one of those old-fashioned roadside attractions that were everywhere fifty years ago. In fact, Dinosaur Land opened fifty years ago and just getting a glimpse of those giant, plaster T-Rexes and their friends would have held my imagination for another 100 miles.
Fifty years ago, in the days before DVD screens, or for that matter, power windows, headrests, air-conditioning, or seat belts, you had to entertain yourself as you cruised along on family vacation or anywhere else you were going. And you were not likely to be cruising on the Interstate because it had only been started 10 years before and was largely incomplete. In those days, if you drove past an abandoned house, that was automatically a haunted house, and you populated it according to your own imaginative taste. You read the billboards, watched the attendants wash car windshields at the Esso station, and noticed that the town you were now passing through looked a bit different from your own town. I am convinced that my sense of observation and imagination was developed because it was encouraged by Mom and Dad–and by necessity–and not anesthetized by electronics that could only be . . . well, that could only be imagined back then.
Indeed, someone had to imagine that an on-board DVD player could exist before it did. It is imagination that is the genesis for our modern world. Every inventor from the guy who invented the DVR all the way back to the guy who invented the wheel, had to imagine the thing first. It was definitely a guy who invented the DVR, the magical device that allows us to return immediately to what just happened in the game, for example, and determine for ourselves whether the runner was safe or out. Could have been a lady who invented the wheel, though. Maybe someone who wanted a practical conveyance by which she could bring home all that stuff that was on sale at some pre-historic Kohl’s, because adding up her coupons and Kohl’s bucks and the secret Kohl’s word of the day gave her 900% off, and so she got 78 blouses for a nickel. (Assuming the nickel had been invented before the wheel.)
Sorry. That last bit was just my imagination running away with me, but the point is this: If we want future inventors or bloggers or Temptations, we need to encourage our children to develop their imaginations, and not just passively consume what others have imagined for them.