Two trains of thought have recently pulled into the same station in my brain.
Firstly, an overheard conversation between parent and teacher about a child I know well, the parent bemoaning a, “lack of confidence.” Something about this analysis seemed to miss out a vital ingredient, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Secondly, I’d been pondering recent buzz-words in education and business, and how they come into and then fall out of favour. What was likely to usurp ‘Innovation’ in the same way that it had taken over from ‘Creativity’, and, given a choice, what would I like to see held aloft as the new gold standard.
And the station those trains of thought pulled into, is called imagination.
Something without a very high status at the moment in our society, but something without which we are utterly scuppered as a species, and something that we need now more than ever.
In fact, not only is imagination undervalued, but when people (usually children) are described as having a ‘vivid imagination’, the comment is often tinged with connotations of something to be wary of, probably treated with caution and definitely not encouraged to grow further. The very fact that the phrase ‘over-active imagination’ is commonly used is very telling, how can an imagination be over-active?
Which brings me back to the overheard conversation. Yes, the child in question presents behaviour consistent with a lack of confidence, but there’s something behind that. It is as if she is unable to imagine the boundless possibilities that are hers.
Far from being an irrelevant plaything, imagination is absolutely at the core of our being. What we imagine for ourselves defines how we are able to progress and grow through life, and far from being a given, is something that it is possible to nurture and coach in an individual – of any age.
So, I would like to put forward the case for imagination to take it’s rightful place at the heart of our personal development – something to be treasured, encouraged and lauded as possibly our most precious tool.
And maybe it’ll get to be a buzz word too.