Unfortunately we think of imagination as something for the children, and then as they grow into school age we accuse them of daydreaming, to stop and get on with their learning. But what we are doing is impairing their greatest faculty, when we should be encouraging them to explore it more. Everything we see, everything we hear all started as an idea, a thought in someone’s imagination.
But I have found that when I do listen to that little voice inside my head, the inspirational one, the Mr truthfully me... the answers come to me in many different ways; as a sign, maybe simply a word someone completely unconnected with my own conversation may utter to their friend; someone just saying something that at first seemed completely out of context to the chat they were having, but resonates with the essence of the question I had asked in my mind sometime earlier. And sometimes it just appears in my mind as a flash of inspiration, like it’s been dropped in from somewhere external; from a place much bigger than me.
Being a writer can be a solitary occupation and it’s very easy to become disengaged from life, to lose the art of conversation, of the simple joy of mixing and enjoying the company of your friends and family or acquaintances. Typing one word after the last you created is, in fact, more arduous, more demanding than you might think. So to give myself the break I felt I needed and to rekindle my conversational and basic humanistic skills, I decided a spell teaching those things I knew well enough to pass on to others with the same enthusiasms would be a challenge for me, and as it turned out in part, a very enjoyable experience too.
Once there as inside every large organisation I realised there is a hierarchy and a tightly specified way of doing things, things I felt were all too often created by someone simply justifying their job. I know how cynical that sounds, but that was my interpretation, and having never had a proper job before I was very used to doing things in my own way.
I was often hauled before my superiors for not doing things the correct way, for creating my own curriculum, for having conversations about life and living rather than sticking rigidly to my photography lesson plan.
'But why do we not teach these children about awareness, honesty and responsibility?’ I would ask, ‘in preference to encouraging competition, where being the best and learning the most is given priority. We reward them for that, and we record and grade their entire performance while barely considering each of them in their own place and at their own pace.’ They would all sit there judging me with a critical eye, their Bic pens poised above the fire him without delay tick box. After a difficult moment of silence they would all nod at each other in agreement; and I was sent on my way with another warning; that I must do things the way they had always been done, using the methods that had proved to be the best teaching model they could come up with.
A week later in the staff room drinking my coffee and staring out of the window again, I would hear my name called ‘Errrr… Mr Lawrence would you like to make your way to the office please for your next appointment with the principal. His teams are waiting for you,’ his secretary would announce awkwardly but loudly enough for everyone else to hear as a warning, that stepping out of line would not be tolerated.
‘We do not enjoy having to do this Mr Lawrence, I’m sure any more than you like being asked to come and explain yourself,’ the principal’s principal speaker would say in a firm but sincere way. 'Please take a seat.'
I stood... looking down at the row of inquiring eyes watching me. ‘What is wrong with teaching these wonderful children about logic and critical thinking and problem solving in the context of my subject?' I asked. 'What is wrong with teaching them about self-creation and learning intuitively, using their deepest inner knowing, in preference to memorising rules and systems and ideas about our society that continually proves it’s wholly inadequate, entirely inept and unable to evolve beyond what we see all around us?’
’Because Mr Lawrence, this is the way we do things here,’ said the principal’s principal speaker.
‘Have you looked out of that window recently?’ I asked, pointing at the window covered entirely with a translucent blind. ‘We should be teaching concepts not just subjects. But you think this is some crazy whacko idea, but there has to be a better way! You don’t want these children to draw their own conclusions; you want them to come to the same conclusion as you do. There is always more than one point of view about everything. We are dooming them to repeat the same mistakes we all made. When did you last say we need to learn from that experience so we don’t do it again? And we think if we allow our children to do that, to analyse it… critically I mean and as part of their education then we run the risk of them disagreeing with how we created our part of history!’
‘That is a subject perhaps we do not have time for Mr Lawrence!’ I quickly resigned before I was fired, and have since gone back to the arduous task of putting words into long lines.