Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Failure of Imagination

Language can still be an adventure if we remember that words can make a kind of melody. In novels, news stories, memoirs and even to-the-point memos, music is as important as meaning. In fact, music can drive home the meaning of words. " (Constance Hale. The Sound of a Sentence. New York Times. [Opinionator]. Retrieved June 13, 2012 from

I enjoyed reading this beautiful post by Constance Hale on writing, creative expression, and language. What we fail to understand in this maddening world of "tests, tests, and more tests" is the frightening realization that our expectations for learning revolve around multiple choice responses. It reminds me of the Pavlov Dog Show for Humans, so that ignorant politicians can brag their test scores are proving something.

But, what of creativity? How do we foster imagination and kindle that spark of inspiration that only a child will develop in wonderment?

In the HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" an interesting episode on the aftermath of the Apollo I disaster was presented. All the greatest minds in the country were investigating how this horrific fire could have occurred killing three astronauts. It wasn't until the end of the episode when Astronaut Frank Borman was being questioned by a congressional oversight committee that the true reason for the cause was revealed.

According to Astronaut Borman, we lacked the imagination that something could go wrong. We did not want to consider that something could happen that would prevent us from being successful. We lacked the imagination.

The same can be said in our schools and classrooms if we continue to allow the political demagogues work against the creativity and expression of our students. Children need to spend time each week in role playing, creativity scenarios, and expressive writing. These skills must be cultivated alongside the test-taking skills, and the rote memorization that certain people mandate.

Our failure to work on these skills will be our failure to imagine the future.