Keep imagination and creativity, especially with children!

For art yesterday, my son’s homeschooling teacher noted that the destination was their imagination. She said they were free to draw whatever they liked, however they liked and proceeded to play Florence Price’s Juba Dance from her Symphony 1 to help spark the children’s imagination. For my son, the first thing that came to his mind as he listened to the Symphony was space, a spinning solar space system, with all the planets in orbit. I have always known that he loved space and all the planets and stars and the galaxy. For Halloween last year, he was an astronaut. I have a video of him explaining how he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. This assignment though was eye opening. Granted, the destination was one’s imagination, but to think that space and all it’s inhabitants occupies his mind consistently is astounding to me.

My son’s solar system.

So I asked him why space? His response, why not space? Why not a place with giant planets orbiting close to the sun? After making his planets, hand drawn and cut by him, I expected him to line them up one after the other, in similar fashion most pictures depict the planets. Not my son. He placed them one by one instead, orbiting around the sun. The picture may seem messy, but take a closer look and you will find every detail you can think of worth knowing about planets, from their names, to their position next to the sun, even the stars next to the planets were all illustrated in his piece of art. The essential feature of his art as I observed him intently, was that he was drawing from memory with many, many details, as if he has indeed gone to space before. He was drawing what he knew about space. All this truly got me thinking, what really is the purpose of education and at what age do you start letting kids explore what matters to them, what fills their mind with rapt attention? These questions became more important when we moved to the next class on Zoom. Granted it was reading, but my son and his mind were still on the planets, his attention so fixed, so attuned to it’s specifics, that the idea of reading was frowned upon the moment I mentioned it to him. Luckily he had already completed the materials requested so he got more time to focus on that which truly sparked his curiosity, his creativity.

The famed Lev Vygotsky once shared the ‘all else being equal, the more a child sees, hears, and experiences, the more he knows and assimilates, the more elements of reality he will have in his experience, and the more productive will be the operation of his imagination.’ This to me is the fearsome power of a child’s imagination, their ability to trace impressions of things different, things distant, with accurate precision, accurate specification, for minutes or even hours, purposeful and so powerful. Through my son’s lenses I am beginning to understand and appreciate the power of imagination, the creative reworking of one’s impressions whether big or small, natural or acquired. It’s all worth it, especially when combined together in a precise fashion. Keep imagination, keep creativity.

My happy son with his solar system!

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