Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is a sarcastic, yet spot on guidebook of ways parents and society can ruin a child’s imagination and creative spirit. Anthony Esolen mixes a comical tone with serious insights and includes numerous citations to great literature. The references to important books alone is worth noting. But of course, it is the ten methods that make this book so excellent.
Method 1 – Keep your child indoors as much as possible.
I feel for kids that do not have outdoor spaces to play in. My own kids benefit so much from being outside. While I would like to take them on more hikes and go camping more often, simply digging in the garden provides so much more than sitting in front of screens.
Method 2 – Never leave children to themselves.
This is one I struggle with. Modern society seems to dictate that we monitor our children constantly, both for safety and to teach them. Plus my kids tend to break things a lot which leads to method 3.
Method 3 – Keep children away from machines and machinists.
Again, this seems to be more difficult in modern society. Children used to apprentice at a young age and now many kids decline even to learn to drive when they turn 16.
Method 4 – Replace the fairy tale with political cliches and fads.
Method 5 – Cast aspersions upon the heroic and patriotic.
Method 6 – Cut heroes down to size.
Methods 4, 5 & 6 are closely related. These all seem to be what “progressives” or “woke culture” are trying to do all the time. We belittle historical figures or even pop culture icons because of their faults, failing to understand that everyone has faults. This leads down a dangerous road of disrespect towards parents as teachers become more heroic than those actually risking their lives or livelihood to help others. Not only do we diminish heroes, but we wash away their virtues.
This reminds me of “spaghetti” westerns. The hero is always flawed but we have no trouble rooting for him. He stands for honor and justice among many other virtues.
Method 7 – Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex.
This method was brief but pretty straightforward. If you are a Christian, you believe that love is much more than quenching your physical desires. Doing whatever makes you feel good in a moment, over and over again leads to an empty, shallow life.
Method 8 – Level distinctions between man and woman.
Another section that rings true to today’s declining culture. Men and women are greatly different in many wonderful ways. This is OK.
Method 9 – Distract the child with the shallow and unreal.
This section covers again screen time and tendency to over structure a child’s day. Kids need down time and unplanned events. They are in school for many hours, many days of the year for many years. They need to be able to find quiet and creative moments as well.
Unfortunately, for a child on the autism spectrum, structure is often a necessity. Many of these methods need adaptation in regards to the autistic mind.
Method 10 – Deny the transcendent.
The most important method is saved for last. Removing God and failing to teach Christianity is a surefire way to ruin a child’s imaginative spirit. Esolen recounts his childhood experience reading the family Bible. It was vital to his imagination as well as his spiritual well being.
It is an uphill battle, but schools should stop fearing teaching Biblical stories. Much can be learned, regardless of your religious beliefs.
Overall, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child is a quick and insightful read. Anthony Esolen covers ten methods that we should avoid. He provides wonderful references to important literary works and is a great resource for parents or anyone who provides real education to children.