“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

Imagination and creativity are vital parts of human life which we discover at an early age. What saddens me is that some parents and even education are stripping children of their creativity and imagination.

Young children ask questions and are opinionated and it’s because they’re not afraid. They’re not frightened of being wrong about something. This child-like fearlessness is something many of us grow out of during our school, college and university education. Throughout education we’re taught that a mistake is the worst thing we can make, but without making a mistake how can we think creatively about how we can overcome it, using our imagination to picture the outcome of a different option?

Schools run a subject hierarchy, maths and English on top, arts on the bottom. I attended a secondary school specialising in performing arts yet there was still more emphasis on maths and languages than there was on dance and drama. Things such as singing, dancing and acting were made into afterschool clubs rather than being taught in depth as part of the curriculum. Those interested showed their dedication by participating, others let their talents rot away in favour of going home and watching TV. Those who excel in arts subjects often feel undervalued, imagining a future career as an artist or dancer but not seeing it as a reality and having their creative spark dampened by maths homework and textbooks. You’re an artist? What’s your real job?

How is a young child to discover their talent if they’re given an iPad to play with instead of a piece of paper and some felt tip pens? Electronic toys given to young children upset me. I remember playing with My Little Ponies and Barbie dolls for hours on end, making up my own stories – adventures for them to go on around my parent’s house. I played out Barbie’s Holiday so many times I could probably still do it today. I remember when I turned eight, I was a given a ‘laptop’ a pre-programmed device which received automatic emails, included a few games and played a few snazzy noises. I’d choose Barbie’s Holiday anyday. I thank Barbie’s Holiday, Pony Princesses and Old Cats Home for being the person I am today.

Imagination is said to be the source of business growth. It’s how we identify talent and it’s what gives us the strength to carry on if we fall down. With many having their creativity forced into their heads, putting a barrier up to stop imagination reaching their finger tips, how are we to know that the new data entry intern doesn’t have a hidden talent? Perhaps they’re the next Shakespeare, Picasso or Gaudi? Perhaps they don’t even realise? Perhaps those mindless doodles on the back of an envelope will forever remain mindless doodles on the back of an envelope.