I find myself getting into more and more debates related to our education system-particularly related to reading and writing. We’re often talking about the basics of reading and writing, but even so… I’m passionate about those particular subjects, and it tears me up to realize that so many are functionally illiterate.
Reading can open one’s mind to a world of imagination and possibilities; we can travel the world with a small volume, or encounter ideas that will change our lives. And, writing is no less important–as it allows us to free that inner voice, to respond, to communicate, to contribute.
I have to believe that the imagination is alive and working in children (and even adults), even though studies have shown how TV and other modern-day distractions have affected its vitality. In Poetry, Imagination, and Education, Amy Lowell says that the “imagination is forced to strive against adverse circumstances both at home and in school.” But, we’re still left with those comments from people who say they don’t read, that books are boring, and that they just don’t have the time.
Have we lost our imaginations? Or, has work, family, life, and exhaustion wrung the last semblance of creative inspiration out of us? Is there a way to encourage the imagination in the young, and re-invigorate it in those who have long since given up on the prospect of enjoying a book?
And, as for the why and wherefore, Amy Lowell says: “Imagination is behind all the great things that have been said and done in the world. All the great discoveries, all the great reforms, they have all been imagined first. Not a poem has been written, not a sermon preached, not an invention perfected, but has been first conceived.” If the imagination is so important, why don’t we do a better job of making sure that it survives through whatever life has thrown its way?