Children today are tech-savvy. At face value, this may be a good thing. “Oh, my Johnny plays the most sophisticated games on the computer. He has 1,000 Facebook friends.” However, Johnny, although adept at downloading games and navigating Vine or Instagram, is nothing more than a ‘user’. He can use programs that have been designed to be ‘easy to use’. Cushioned by his vast list of ‘friends’, confident in his prowess to rack up money in Grand Theft Auto or create Lego-style structures in the worlds of Minecraft; he has become an inactive observer, a follower.
The reality is that our children are sitting prone, exercising their thumbs. Modern technology is fun; it’s useful; it’s clever — there’s no doubt. I’m not dissing it. But, for children to step beyond ‘user’ and enter the realm of ‘creator,’ a vibrant and expansive imagination is required. They need to imagine the possibilities to make the reality. Build their imagination. Encourage them to read. Readers construct worlds in their minds based on words. Readers turn a good book into a movie in their brains. They are not fed entire images. Their minds learn to fill in the gaps; seamless worlds, seemingly formed from a thread of black ink on white.
Considering the present rate of consumption and the overall health of our planet, our children may very well need to build the world new. They need to be science wizards. We must give them the tools to succeed. If we expect them to be innovators of the future, we must cultivate their imagination today.