In response to some of the regularly-appearing complaints that childhood is being lost and kids need to use their imaginations in low-tech surroundings, Deb Lewis wrote:

I'm really glad for the technology that lets me see comedy shows that were live, years ago, in some other country. I'm a better person for watching Eddie Izzard miming foreign exchange students being shot from tubas.

I don't know what a test ever did for me but playing Xena Warrior Princess made me want to learn how to do high, fast, spinning kicks and was instrumental in inspiring me to learn to do a back flip on the trampoline.

More, More, More!

Eddie Izzard
WARNING: opens with sound

Xena Warrior Princess

Ray Harryhausen

How a Monster and a Dead Guy Named Howard Led a Boy to a World of Connections

Tonka Trucks

Gammera

I do know what tests did to me. They pointed out how I was not meeting the expectations of others.

But as to kids suffering the loss of childhood because of technology I wanted to say that video games are an evolutionary leap in thinking and imagination. The people who make them, the people who play them, the people who master them are using their imaginations in the way of artists and musicians and the best scientists.

Childhood happiness and wonder being defined as time in the sandbox is the naive and simplistic blah, blah, blah of experts. Sit all day in a sandbox imagining different worlds and you still have to go inside to "eat your vegetables, no cookies for you and shut up and go to bed." Maybe time in sandbox world makes that easier to bear but first person shooter games make a lot of things easier to bear and you don't end up with sand in the crack of your butt.

Dylan's imagination took off when he saw his first monster movie. Monsters! Guys in monster suits. There are monster suits?! Model trains, model railroads, model cities, model tanks, model soldiers. Giant moths. Flying turtles. When he was four he'd say to me "Mom, do you want to watch Gammera? Flying turtles! You don't see that every day!" And, by golly, you don't.

And when he saw the animation of Ray Harryhausen the parade of clay monsters through our house was jaw-dropping genius.

And when he played his first Playstation game his mind was going so fast he didn't have time to change out of his pj's. How do you kill the Dragon? How can you get past the troll on the bridge? How do you defeat the Cyclops? Could you really fling a cow in a trebuchet? Anyone who thinks these things don't inspire and require imagination is too disinterested or unimaginative to think about it much.

Dylan's favorite sandbox play was wriggling out a hole the size and shape of his body and then laying in it will he ran the hose in there, fill the hole (and his clothes) with water. Maybe in some families that wouldn't have been the right kind of sandbox play. Maybe only Tonka dump trucks and diggers or buckets and shovels and sand castles would be the right kind of sandbox play. I think there's a lot of that. They talk about imagination like it's wonderful but then they don't like the wrong kind of imagination. They don't want kids drawing pictures with orange skies and blue trees and black grass. They don't want kids using markers as porcupine quills in clay animals. They don't want kids putting glue on the palms of their hands and peeling it off when it's dry. Evidence of imagination is great as long as it's the right kind of imagination, not wasteful, not too messy, and in the realm of what parents/teachers/expert know to be a representation of reality.

What they mean by imagination is a child who will go quietly outside or into another room and leave his parents and care givers in peace and who will seem happy enough and not require anyone spend too much money to keep him entertained.

Deb L


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Title art by Holly Dodd