Children are dangerous. Children with imaginations are even more so. We cannot have children growing up to be anything more than resources for our industrial, consumer-driven culture. With a cultivated imagination children will become free; with freedom, they may grow up to form societies… or worse, cultures of their own! No! Children must play by the rules, the rules we adults━free from imagination━have set in place.
So Anthony Esolen argues in his new book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. Mr. Esolen puts forth, with wit, humor and thought-provoking honesty, an investigation into children, their purpose, their education, and the impact education has on their imaginations. He does so after the manner of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. Like Lewis, who writes from the perspective of the devil, Esolen writes from the perspective of someone who abhors a child’s imagination and seeks to destroy it. In doing so, Esolen is trying to open our eyes to the importance of a good education and an upbringing that develops an imagination. In doing so, he stresses the significance of a wild imagination in the process of encouraging to a child become fully human.
This book is a fun read. Your own imagination will be stirred as Esolen journeys through the ten ways you can destroy your child’s imagination. At times, you will see yourself in his descriptions, but that will spur you towards bettering yourself and your child! At times, you will laugh. At times you will cry. But at no time will you fail to see the importance (or the danger!) of the imagination.
Here are Esolen’s ten ways to destroy the imagination:
Method 1: Keep your children indoors as much as possible. The adventure and exploration that are afforded to children when they are outside, whether in the countryside or city, can only lead to imaginative trouble.
Method 2: Never leave children to themselves. In this chapter, Esolen tells the story of a group of kids who organize a stickball game. The life skills that are exercised in such activities are amazing! These are the things that teach kids they are able to form their own societies!
Method 3: Keep children away from machines and machinists. Hands-on learning, never!
Method 4: Replace the fairy tale with political clichés and fads. Reduce everything to politics and therefore to irrelevance. This is the only safe measure to protect children from caring about things.
Method 5: Cast aspersions upon the heroic and patriotic. We can’t have children seeing a need for heroism.
Method 6: Cut all heroes down to size. Or, as the movie “The Incredibles” taught us, make everyone a superhero so that no one is a superhero.
Method 7: Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex. After all, we are nothing more than biological bags of meat and bones.
Method 8: Level the distinctions between man and woman. Clearly defined roles might lead men to die for women!
Method 9: Distract children with the shallow and unreal, and what imagination they might have will never be used.
Method 10: Deny the transcendent, and thereby destroy glory and honor, and any desire to attain it.
Read this book. Decide you will either destroy the imagination and raise a generation of resources, or decide to encourage imagination, and raise fully human, fully free people━people who will build civilizations.