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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Inspiring imagination?


~~Sierra, using her imagination to create interesting photos, with Flapjack as her background~~


There is a discussion happening at Unschooling Basics right now, about parents limiting video games/graphic novels...whatever they deem "lacking". It was sparked by someone saying they "hate" graphic novels and how certain media limit the imagination.

I heard that my whole life. TV or movies would turn my brain to a "vegetable", it would limit my imagination. Books would inspire my imagination, would help me learn, but television? No way. Bad stuff that.

I've discovered that anything can inspire the imagination. ANYthing. Gory, disgusting, horror films can be some of the most inspirational fodder if that's what ignites your interest. Graphic novels, comics, anything that makes a person pause and think "hey, that might be cool" is going to inspire THEIR imagination.

I've watched my children take a video game and parlay it into role playing games, costumes and wild discussions. I've personally taken my fascination with color and faces and fashion into an amazing career, in spite of the adults who thought it was a waste of my time. Adults are usually wrong about that kind of stuff you know.;)

Last weekend I got to be around the most inspirational makeup artists, sound editors/mixers, actors and other creative minds. I felt firsthand the passion and creative energy that surrounds the movie industry. There are no limits in that world...there is always something new to try, some new story to tell or craft to learn. Being around great minds helps you realize the potential in every single interest, the open horizons of passions explored to their fullest.

For James Coburn, an interest in sounds came at an early age. It translated into a career for him. How many children would get ignored for that kind of interest? How many parents can truly honor a fascination with sound and the recording of it? What if your child is fascinated with graphic novels or trains or color or eyes or clouds? What if.....

Sparking an imagination is not some black and white formula. Every new baby you look at is a puzzle waiting to unfold, the clues will come but you must read them. When the eyes light up, when a child babbles excitedly about something, when they want to pause and look longer...those are your clues. Ignore or rush them and you run the risk of invalidating the interest.

Some of us went on to persue the things that tickled our imagination in spite of that treatment...but it gets really old to hear about what develops imagination and what doesn't, as if ANY human can decide that for another human.

I don't think any of us know what develops imagination in any other person, other than trusting and nurturing whatever is inside of them. As the inner child reaches for and grasps at these interests-taking them from stirrings of the soul and manifesting them in the living world-we must take them seriously. Take them seriously in our children, take them seriously in ourselves.

If we hear ourselves saying "I hate _____" (fill in the blank) it is worth examining that road block to see if we are turning our children away from some seemingly minor fascination. When an interest is seen as unworthy or dangerous, we don't change that person or their interest, we alter our relationship with them. We become unworthy of their trust. Dreams and interests need to be held up by loved ones, not turned into something negative.

I could write about this for days. In closing, I will just say that all my time spent pursuing fashion magazines and mixing playdough and drawing eyes was time well spent. I could not have imagined at the time, that all of those interests would converge in a career as a makeup artist. They were worthy interests even if that never happened. But they did. So take every interest seriously and trust that interest is fodder for great imagination.

7 Comments:

Blogger Rainbow Rivers said...

I am with you on this one. I think it is so sad how much americans seem to "fear" TV. I must admitt, I sometimes wonder about the amount of time my son spends on video games, but he is a whiz at strategy and plays a killer game of chess for a 10 year old boy! I had to come to the conclusion, just because I hate video games, does not mean they do not hold value to my son and it fuels his imagination a lot! I believe anything that holds an interest can spark an imagination and help it grow, does not matter what that medium of inspiration comes from, magazines, TV, video games, it is all relevant to daily life and should not be limited, however I do believe we should be actively coming up with things of interest to do with our kids to keep sparking their interests even further.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Sandra Dodd said...

Kirby played games for years, and then was offered a job in a gaming shop. He supported his habit, and then some. :-)

Not that he's grown and gone (he moved into a house today, from an apartment), he works for a big gaming company, and that's pretty cool! We couldn't have consciously prepared him for this job, but it's a really good job and he loves it.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Sandra Dodd said...

Kirby played games for years, and then was offered a job in a gaming shop. He supported his habit, and then some. :-)

Not that he's grown and gone (he moved into a house today, from an apartment), he works for a big gaming company, and that's pretty cool! We couldn't have consciously prepared him for this job, but it's a really good job and he loves it.

9:45 PM  
Blogger laura said...

looove the video!!

i remember it was that my brain would turn to green slime from tv. this from my college professor/head of the art department/mentor. yeah, fun. i also learned from him that i wasn't a "real" art student because i didn't have my nose in an art book at the library all the time trying to learn about all the artists that came before me. but i didn't care, didn't want to. i just wanted to make art, not read about it.

anyway...

this was a good one!!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Snavleys said...

I'm sure you will get some great comments on this one- great post. I could add that Tristan learned to read from video game captions, all my kids learned much of their basic math from those games and I dare to say that 80% or more of their imaginative play came from TV shows. As they've grown older they watch more shows like the history channel, animal planet etc. They know a lot about a lot of things because they watch a lot of TV. Even South Park has sparked some incredibly deep conversations in this house. I personally remember more information from TV shows because I have that visual to go along with the information. And sometimes we just watch because it fulfills something, even if it is just to relax and not think. I think society likes to demonize lots of things.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Madeline said...

This was a great post! I am so glad to have finally had a good long conversation with you, Ren, and to have finally bookmarked your blog! That video is fabulous too.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Thanks for this post. I love Sandra's essay on what she learned from watching Gilligan's Island (I believe)...and this just supports it even more...

12:44 PM  

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