Last week I was kayaking down the Rio Grande with the Critters and Crayons blogger, and Eric of Big River Outfitters. One of the great things about the trip was the peaceful time just floating thinking of nothing but the flowing river and the people who first set eyes on the area. I used my imagination to see the native North Americans who must have seen Laredo for what it would become, a very good place to cross the river for decades to come. I wondered if those native pioneers could have ever versioned that over 1,000 motor driven carts and trailers hauling billions of dollars of freight would be crossings a manmade bridge every day. Maybe one of the did have that imagination, and he/she passed that vision on down to the tribe, and that is how Laredo became what it is today.
No, this post is not about what Laredo is today, but about how people use their imagination and are our kids being robbed of the need to use their imagination.
I am not sure that all the technology that three and four year olds are exposed to today are really helpful in their ability to use their imaginations. Reading a book, without illustration, requires the full use of your imagination. You must base the objects and subjects in the books on places, things and people you are familiar with and yet at the same time you also will use your imagination to create a combined picture the author paints with their words.
How can kids today do that if they are reading only from the internet, or e-books that offer interactive connectivity? And how often do parents just send their kid outside to be alone with no formal activity assigned, so the youngster can look at the sky and see people and things in the clouds. Where a kid can look at a leaf floating down the stream and wonder if it will make it to the ocean? When do today’s kids have the time to just sit alone and dream of things we as adults cannot imagine?
I was lucky. I grew up when television was first coming of age. I had parents who both worked and allowed me lots of free time (as they were too tired to play with me) to dream and imagine. I hope that kids still have this time to themselves.
It bothers me to see kids under 10 years old with cell phones texting their friends. Texting, now that the cost is almost nothing, consume what I see as an enormous amount of time and energy. As does surfing the internet. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the internet is great for kids and adults. Yet, like any good thing, it needs to be used in moderation.
So, I ask you, the parents of kids today; Do kids still imagine, and dream? If you don’t know, you better find out and fix it, or we may never put another man on the moon, or see another new fangled Frisbee.