I love the website TED because of its many intellectually stimulating ideas. Today i stumbled upon one of the most curious and elaborate things ever. It is called The Museum of Human Imagination (this is a link to a video preview) and it’s curator is Jay Walker (here is a short explanation video: Jay Walker’s Introduction to the MoHI). I saw this and was amazed by the large historical presence and significance that this one collection contains, but it made me think about imagination of today. More importantly my concern for children’s imaginative abilities compared to those in the past. It seems to me that there is a problem with many youth today and even in my generation involving the ability to apply their imagination when having fun. What I mean is that people of my age (I am 20 by the way) and younger are reading less and relying on others to dream up fantasies for them. We can see that many children today enjoy games and especially video games but less enjoy archaic things like board games or books. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that no one plays board games or likes to read a good book every once in a while, but it seems like these practices are on the decline. I don’t want to sound like a braggart, but I have a very active imagination and do read many books (outside of schoolwork). I believe this can be pinned on a couple of reasons.
First, that technology is easier to get. My best friend, Dave, has a couple of cousins under the age of 10 that own cell phone and even my own brothers had their first cellphones when they were in 5th grade (I unfortunately was a late bloomer had my first when i was a sophomore in highschool). If this is happening with cell phones then imagine what is possible with video game systems (which now can play movies, games and tv shows). Secondly video games, movies and Television shows are much more immersive than a book. The fact is that video media requires less thinking about the setting and characters and more thinking on the story. In a game you can create a character or select from pre-made customizations but there are only so many lines of code and types of faces. However, this process is strewn to the side by the story because of the unimportance of image. There are set characters, items and scenery but multiple ways to end the story of the game which lets the player decide. Movies and TV shows may not let you choose how the story goes but it the imagination is not responsible for creating characters and thus is left to thinking about what happens next. Lastly, books are the messengers of education. what I mean is that books are a tool used in the classroom and thus are confused as work. This ultimately takes away from the appeal of a good book by replacing it with a deadline, project, or paper. Many books would be enjoyed if they were presented in a positive fashion allowing students to not be swayed from reading.
I just want to say, I do not believe kids have no imagination or that imagination is dying. Of course there other ways to express imaginative properties. Painting, drawing, inventing, music-making, and even writing are many ways to cultivate ones imagination. However one of the most simple and greatest creations, the book, is slowly dying with the advent of new technologies because of the lack of interest. In a world that strives for the ability to stand out and make yourself known, an imagination is important and is sought after, and it is shameful that many are slowly being lost to objectivity and scientific understanding or are hindered by the acceptance of others imaginings and creations. I will leave with a great quote from Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” and also, “ The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”